Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Don't you know which clothes even fit me?

In which post I try to link disparate topics and sum up the past few weeks without having any reliable segues whatsoever.

Alllllllrighty then.

So: We went to Canada for a week, stopping along the way (okay, so it wasn't really along the way so much as it was a giant detour) in Boston to visit friends we hadn't seen since we'd moved last year. We tried to cram too much into our 24-hour visit to Beantown, and so left ourselves feeling rushed and almost as if we hadn't really seen much of our friends. But, short as it was, it was great to see everyone, and it did make me a bit nostalgic for Boston. And god, how I wish we had had the GPS when we lived there. It would have saved many hours and tears.

Then, we drove to Canada. Or, to be more accurate, we drove as far as we could and stopped to spend the night in Utica, New York because we were tired and the drive that should have taken two hours on the Mass Pike instead took four.

(Note: When you are road-tripping with a pregnant woman and a recently potty-trained toddler, your bathroom stop quota will rise not linearly, as you might expect, but exponentially, since no one in the car ever has to pee at the same time and all sudden urges to pee must be treated as emergencies.)

We got to Alan and Kathleen's house on Charleston Lake in Ontario the next day around lunchtime and hung out for a few hours, and then KB turned around and drove BACK to Syracuse for a second interview there and a first interview in Rochester. So he was basically working the first two days of our vacation week, and since I was stuck in the house all day with Nolan, I was working too. (I think I need to get better at communicating my expectations to people - I was sort of envisioning, "Ah, vacation! Relaxing on the porch with a trashy magazine and a glass of iced tea! Maybe KB and I can get a date night in!" and instead it was more like being at home, except without any of the familiar resources of home like the library and the car.) We definitely did have some good times later in the week - going out on Alan's boat and going to the beach, that kind of stuff, but then we had a

MAJOR TRAGEDY. Well, okay, it was, in retrospect, more of a minor tragedy, but it was horrific at the time. We were going to the beach with Kathleen and her grandson Duncan, who is 4 (and a younger brother to Alexander, 5, so he delighted in having someone younger to play with [read: boss around], and Nolan was thrilled to try and keep up with him). We had just parked the car and gotten to the beach and were walking along to a picnic table (when I say "beach" you have to picture a forest-y rocky hilly weedy lakeside beach, not a big open sandy ocean beach) when Nolan slipped on a rock and hit his mouth. Big-time. On the rock. Screaming, bloody, wailing horrible horrible-ness. When we finally got him calmed down enough to look in his mouth, one of his two front teeth was chipped and the other was at a wonky angle. We didn't know what to do. We're in the middle of rural Ontario, Canada, and our son had some apparently disfiguring damage to his mouth. Kathleen told us about a dentist she'd gone to in this tiny neighboring town, so we decided to try there and see if they'd take us as an emergency. So we drove for about 35 of the longest minutes of my life with Nolan wailing the whole way, "I don't wanna go to the doctor! I don't wanna go!" and me sitting in the backseat trying to comfort him.

But when we did get there (and I gotta be honest, the town looked like a shithole) the dentist was great. Nolan totally calmed down and she was very good with him. She gently took a look and cleaned his mouth a bit, and then we had an x-ray taken. She said it didn't look like the tooth's root was broken, so it probably won't die, but it will be crooked (and may possibly discolor) until his baby teeth fall out when he's six or seven. She said the only big problem will be if the jawbone ankyloses around the injured tooth, which will make it hard if not impossible for the adult tooth to push its way out, so if that happens we may have to have it extracted.

So we left the dentist's office with a prescription for ice cream and popsicles to reduce the swelling (the first time in my life I've ever gotten THAT from a dentist) and a recommendation to check in with our regular dentist when we got home. (And a bill for $139.95. For everything. Emergency exam, x-rays, everything. Thank you, Canadian healthcare!) I looked like an extra from a horror film, because I had blood all down my shoulder and back from holding Nolan when he was screming.

But, he's okay. On the whole, it wasn't such a MAJOR tragedy. It was very scary and upsetting and I felt like a lousy mother for not protecting my kid, but overall, everything's fine. KB says the crooked tooth will give him character, maybe it will make him look like a kid other kids won't want to mess with. I think it makes him look like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel, but at least it will only be until he's six. Or seven.

And we did get in one non-horrific trip to the beach the next day where we re-visited what we dubbed The Rock Of Doom, complete with Nolan-contributed bloodstain on it. We had some swimming lessons with Kathleen and some boating with Alan and some kayaking around their little bay, disturbing the turtles, and then it was time to come home.

So that was our trip to Canada.

Note the lack of segues.

Maternity Clothes 2: Electric Boogaloo

In other news, I have had to drag my giant Rubbermaid bin of maternity clothes out of storage, as none of my regular clothes are fitting properly anymore. I've been using the rubber band around the buttonhole trick for a couple weeks now, but I guess it's time to give in. I don't even really have a belly yet, it's just that my waist seems to have decided not to exist any longer. It also feels as though this is happening a LOT sooner than it did last time around, but at least I'm able to resurrect some clothes from storage rather than being completely unprepared. Some of the leftovers are going to be completely useless, of course, since this baby will be in a totally different season than Nolan was - I'm gonna need a lot more big-belly warm clothes for December and January. But I was generously given a huge stash of leftover maternity clothes from my friend Sonya, who had her new baby Paul in July. She's worn them through two pregnancies and is like, "Get them outta here! I'm never wearing them again!" so I was the lucky recipient there.

Sadly, Sonya and Ben and Spencer and Paul have moved to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Sadly for us, not for them.) They are starting their new life there where Ben is a professor at Gettysburg College and Sonya will be starting in a private medical practice. Nolan will miss Spencer, I know, and I will miss their company big-time. The last time we saw Spencer Nolan was having a fit of pique and refused to give him a hug goodbye, which just served to remind me how in-the-moment kids are compared to adults. Ben and I are like, "Nolan, give him a hug! You're not going to see Spencer again for a long time!" and Nolan's like, "Whatever." To him, it was just another day playing with Spencer, and if he didn't feel like giving him a hug, he wasn't going to give him a hug, god dammit. Future be damned.

All right, I gotta stop now. I started this post over a week ago but Blogger kept crashing and refusing to save and I had to keep starting over until I quit in a fit of frustration (gee, I wonder where Nolan gets it) and now it's SEPTEMBER and I need to write about pre-school and Kathy our Chinese babysitter and "Hair" and that's just too much for one entry. More later.

Thanks for reading.

(Also, can I just say that in the Clash song from which this post takes its title, I love how, even though they are all punk and anti-establishment and revolutionary, et cetera, they still manage to use correct grammar in the line "Exactly whom I'm supposed to be..." That's just so British and awesome.

Okay then. Carry on.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Long and dark, shiny and black

So believe it or not, KB and my mom and aunt and I went to see Bruce Springsteen play at Giants Stadium on Thursday night last week.

I've never really considered myself a Springsteen "fan," although I can certainly sing along to plenty of his songs, and I've never had any special antipathy towards him, either (like I do towards, say, Rod Stewart). I've never owned any of his albums myself, but both KB and my mom have a lot of them, so I've listened to plenty of his music and become, if not exactly a fan, then an appreciative listener. He has a sort of workman-like quality to his music - no frills, no fancy effects or over-produced noise, just basic, instrument-based rock and roll. His earlier albums are especially classic, and there's a quality of street poetry to his lyrics that reminds me of Tom Waits in a way.

So last December, my mom mentioned that she'd like to see him play and if she got us tickets would we be interested in going? And I was like, "Oh, okay. Sure. I know KB will want to go." So we got our $80 nosebleed tickets and I forgot all about it for six months. And when Thursday night rolled around, I can't really say I was all that jazzed about going - I'm still feeling pretty tired from the placentasmithing and I was coming down with a cold (which I'm just now getting over, thankfully, but of course KB has it now), so the prospect of driving up the Turnpike, standing up and screaming for three hours and getting home at one in the morning wasn't exactly floating my boat.

But boy, am I glad we went. The man knows how to put on a show, even when you're so high up he appears to be 1/8 inch tall and you have to look at the Jumbotron to see what the heck is going on. He's gotta be pushing 60, right? I mean, he and most of his band (for it was the full-on E Street Band Experience) have been making music for like, 40 years or something crazy like that. And he (and all of them) just so genuinely seemed to be enjoying himself, just playing music and having a good time. And they just powered through them! He didn't stop for a lot of stage patter, there were no "We're gonna take a short break" announcements - they played nonstop pretty much the entire three and a half hour show. It was pretty impressive.

He did kind of milk the New Jersey thing a bit - apparently this was the last time he'll ever play at Giants Stadium (they're tearing it down and building a new stadium 50 feet away. Ah, progress.) and he did a lot of "It's great to be home in New Jersey!" kind of stuff, but the crowd ate it up. It's funny, there seems to be a certain level of irony inherent in many of his songs, and I think it's fair to say a large part of the crowd was kind of oblivious to that darker layer of his stuff. Kind of like when Ronald Reagan wanted to use "Born in the USA" as his campaign song, and Bruce turned him down - Reagan didn't get the whole bleak, disaffected thing that song has going on. Ronnie heard the fist-pumping "Booooooooorn in the USAAAAA!" chorus and thought he could ride that wave, never mind that the lyrics are about a man who's been used and abused by his country. So there were a lot of T-shirt and Crocs-wearing, pot-smoking good old boys in the audience who didn't quite get the, how shall I say, deeper aspects of the music.

(It took me a while to realize that people in the stands were not, in fact, booing him throughout the show. They were yelling "Bruuuuuuuuuuuce!" I would hear all this booing and be like, "What's the problem, people? Let him play "Brilliant Disguise" if he wants to!" until I realized what was happening. Duh.)

Apparently, the band have a repertoire of 250 songs that they can choose from at any given show, and they take requests from the audience - you have to hold up a sign with the song you want on it, and he walks around and takes the signs from people and brings them back to the band and they all go through them and pick out which ones they want to play. So it was a nice mix of what they wanted to do and what the audience wanted to hear.

And he did play the one song I wanted to hear, which was "Rosalita." I love that song. We were talking about it before the show, what songs would we really want to hear, and when I said "Rosalita" my mom was like, "Oh, don't count on it. It's rare for them to play that one, apparently." (She watched the 60 minutes special with Bruce on Sunday, so she was the authority.) But it was the final song of the show! It was awesome.

And we didn't get home at one in the morning. We got home at three in the morning. There was a propane tractor-trailer overturned at exit 16W on the Turnpike (which is where the Meadowlands is) so everyone was late getting to the concert. It was supposed to start at 7:30, started instead at 9:30, and he played, including encores, until one in the morning. And I stupidly wore brand-new (cheap) sneakers and got blisters from walking from BFE (where we parked) to the stadium and back.

And I'm STILL glad we went. The man is a class act, all the way.

Thanks for reading.