January 28, 2018 § Leave a comment
Community is one of the best parts about swimming. That is, until you are post-partum.
As referenced in the last post, this guy joined us about four months ago:
I got back in the water as soon as they let me. Which I thought was a great idea until I tried to fit into my swim suit.
After squeezing myself in, and realizing that the tiny health club towels no longer fit around my new body (which is incredible for your ego), I spent about 5 minutes in the locker room trying to figure out the fastest way to get out on deck and in the water without running into anyone I knew and getting stuck in a conversation out in the open in my speedo.
In the end I decided I just had to suck it up and embrace my new winter bod, because it was either that or not swim.
Getting into a bathing suit in public 6 weeks postpartum is a bold move, I know. But it was necessary.
Because today when I was in the pool I realized it is the one place that I actually have time to myself. Seriously. Life has been so chaotic and sleep-deprived the past few months that even when I am sitting in the quiet by myself (generally at 3am with a baby attached to my nipple) I am in a fog. I can’t think. Kind of like being in a dream…and sometimes you actually are in a dream, and then you jerk your head awake and scare the baby and it loses it’s latch and you have to start all over again.
But there is something about exercising, maybe it’s blood flowing to the brain. I don’t know. But suddenly my mind kicks into some sort of gear. For like at least 25 seconds.
And I get ambitious.
By the time I get out of the pool I have, in my mind, on my post-workout high, overcome my fear of sharks, signed up for a channel swim, made a list of 10 blog posts to write, and qualified for the Boston Marathon.
Unfortunately, once I get out of the pool and sit down to do anything about it this happens:
…and then I either fall asleep or spend the rest of the day obsessing about how exhausted I am.
But you have to start somewhere.
July 26, 2017 § Leave a comment
3 y/o: Alexa, volume down.
Alexa: Here’s one: How many surrealists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Two. One to hold the giraffe, the other to fill the bathtub with brightly colored power tools.
Sometimes I get anxious about having a microphone sitting in our living room, listening to everything, handing over all sorts of valuable information to corporations that will do who knows what with it. Then something like this happens. And I wonder how much I should really worry.
July 19, 2017 § 2 Comments
Last month Facebook reminded me that three years ago we moved to LA. And in a few days, we will be leaving LA.
The day I found out we were moving to LA I cried. A lot. In public. I walked outside AT THE MATCHING CEREMONY and cried. It was embarrassing.
I cried because I knew LA was sprawl and crowded and smoggy and congested was not a place I wanted to live.
A decade ago I spent a year living in a small town in the Czech Republic. It was (is) landlocked, formerly of the Eastern Bloc, with cold winters, few English speakers, high levels of alcoholism, and weird, pickled food.
czech bar food
I loved it.
This past fall, my friend from Brno came to visit LA, and she became mildly obsessed with California. She couldn’t get over the beaches and the mountains and the culture, and about halfway through her trip asked me if I had liked living in Brno. I told her I loved Brno. She stared at me, baffled. “Why? It’s so boring!”
Yes, Brno is small and cold and dark. But it also has wonderfully warm people, cobble stone streets, and fantastic beer. It has a castle and bizarre local legends and an entire holiday culture that revolves around day drinking plum brandy made in people’s basements. Brno will never be Southern California, or San Francisco, or New York. But you won’t find stuffed crocodiles hanging from the ceiling of the Town Hall in any of those places either.
When we moved to LA I discovered that I was not wrong about LA. It is, in fact, congested. And smoggy. This afternoon it took me 45 minutes to drive 5 1/2 miles (which, if I’m being generous, is a distance that at one point in my life I could have run faster).
But when I stopped fighting, stopped believing somewhere deep inside that if I were angry enough about the traffic and smog that they would go away and started accepting the place for what it was, I began to notice things.
Like all the cultural landmarks:
And incredibly long, uninterrupted bike paths:
And quiet views:
And local spots:
It actually is the LA of the movies. The same way Brno is the Brno of Kundera. And Kentucky is the Kentucky of this dude.
Paul once told me that when he drove from Kentucky out to California for the first time and saw signs for Los Angeles, he got super excited. He said his whole life California had been some place that you heard about and saw in movies, it didn’t seem real.
One day in grad school as we made the trip from San Diego north and passed under the sign for the 405 to Los Angeles, something he had done dozens of times since that first trip, he said it still gave him butterflies.
When you are new to a place, or are visiting it, it is easy to pick up on the things that make it unique. The people, the food, the stereotypes…you see it everywhere.
The longer you stay somewhere, the less you notice.
You stop realizing that finding yourself in the middle of Ice Cube’s posse at the airport doesn’t happen in Kentucky. You catch yourself talking about The Valley and riding #murderoustrains that leave you stranded in Crenshaw or chatting with soap opera stars in your lap lane at the local public pool. You forget that eating at the best taco trucks in the world and trying to decode parking signs, or sitting next to a former teen heart throb that recently started a cult while at a fundraising fashion show for some cause that I can’t even remember isn’t the norm just anywhere. It’s so LA.
And when you can hold on to that, when you can remember to embrace a place for what it is, life is so much better.
So on those days when I’m sitting in traffic on the 405, dead stopped, sweating in a cloud of heat and smog, one of a million+ gridlocked cars, feeling the road rage well up inside, I roll down the window, look up at signs for Mullholland Drive or Inglewood or Hollywood, think of all the lyrics and movie titles and iconic images inspired by those places, envision all the celebrities sitting in that same traffic next to me, feel the sun on my face, and invite the butterflies.
July 1, 2017 § Leave a comment
I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately for a number of reasons: migraines, ligament pain, the occasional sick child, or–in the case of two nights ago–laying in bed listening to Paul snore for almost an hour before he woke up to tell me, “Uuuuugh…I can’t sleep. I’ve been wide awake for the past two hours. I haven’t slept at all.”
I have never had trouble sleeping. Ever. In high school a girl drew a caricature of our Spanish class, and in it my head was on the desk, asleep. Airplanes? Please. That constant white noise puts me out before we take off. And if I can fully recline or lay down, I don’t even need to really feel tired.
Then I had a traumatic brain injury and the doctor told me that I needed MORE sleep. I was like, SURE! It was, after all, for my health. And in grad school I was known for taking hour+ naps on a disgusting couch in the student lounge–middle of the afternoon, bright lights, people yapping away right next to my head. Out.
Sleep is my thing.
But apparently not now. I guess insomnia is common during pregnancy, though I don’t remember having it this bad before. And it sucks.
Anyway, this has resulted in me a.) being cranky, b.) investing in a new pregnancy pillow, and c.) spending a lot of time on the couch drinking tea, reading books, and writing blog posts at 3am. Like right now.
The good news is that about a mile from our house is a Goodwill that is dedicated almost exclusively books.
It’s a total crapshoot, as most used bookstores are, but all of the paperbacks are $1.99 with an occasional 99 cent-er thrown in.
They also have two “leather” chairs that have been for sale for over a year, so I take the kids there and let them pick out new kids books and then sit them in the chairs to read them while I peruse the stacks. Because then it doesn’t matter when Mora takes a pen to “help write” the book and Eddie rips out all the pages. Hours of fun.
It is basically my favorite place.
Because there is no rhyme or reason as to what will be on the shelves, it’s kind of forced me out of my comfort zone. I’ve started choosing books based on the author, a review on the back by someone I respect, or Pulitzer Prize/Booker Award/whatever winner little sticker on the front.
most recent haul
Paul thinks it’s absurd that I am getting more books. He constantly asks me what we are going to do with “all these books” when we move. He does not understand.
He does not understand how bookstores provide me with a sense of calm. He does not understand how rare it is to find a public space that provides both entertainment for me and two toddlers simultaneously. Most importantly, he does not understand the important role these books are playing in our lives at this moment. $8 is a low price to pay for snoring in peace.
June 20, 2017 § 1 Comment
Conversation in the living room between my 3 yo and our Amazon Echo as I sat on the toilet one morning:
3 yo: (GASP!!) EDDIE! NO! Alexa, Eddie just spilled bubble water on the couch.
Sorry, I’m not sure about that.
Alexa! Eddie spilled all the bubble water!
Sorry, I don’t know that one.
No Alexa, Eddie SPILLED WATER ON THE COUCH.
I can’t find ‘Water on the Couch’ by Spilled.
ALEXA. EDDIE. SPILLED. WATER.
Water is spelled W-A-T-E-R.
ALEXA, NO! EDDIE SPILLED BUBBLE WATER ON THE COUCH.
Here is Water by Ugly God on Spotify:
(I drip on your bitch like water
I splash on your bitch with the water
NO ALEXA, STOP! NO! EDDIE SPILLED BUBBLE WATER!
Sorry, I can’t find the song ‘Eddie’s Meerwalk’.
UGH EDDIE!! NO SPILLING WATER ON THE COUCH! If you spill water on the couch again, you are not invited to my party.
May 5, 2017 § Leave a comment
the StoryCorps van was parked outside of our office in Kentucky for a few weeks back in 2012
When we lived in SF, every Friday I would catch NPR’s StoryCorps on my way to work. It always happened as I was pulling into the driveway of our office, it always made me cry, and it always ruined my makeup.
This morning I am flying solo — no Paul, no kids (more on that later) — and I woke up to no milk and no coffee in the house. But instead of that being the freaking HUGE DISASTER it would normally be, I just threw on a sweater, jumped in the car, and drove to the store.
As I pulled into the parking lot I heard the familiar dah dah dah dah DAH duh DAAAAAH StoryCorps intro music and braced myself for the tears.
But what followed was this gem, which totally made my Friday morning. Do yourself a favor and listen.
P.S. The dad in this is COMPLETELY ON POINT with the hardest thing about being a dad (or parent).