Friday, February 29, 2008

Dead fish and wildflowers

Yesterday's "social hour" at work featured a cold appetizers menu of boiled shrimp, fresh strawberries, and pinwheel sandwiches. This morning the office smelled like a lake at low tide. Our intrepid* office manager, who had not bothered to rinse off the strawberries (which is neither here nor there, just gross), had failed to return last night to clean up, as promised. To remedy the situation, she emptied several cans of air freshener in and around the offensive conference room. When I walked past several minutes later, I inhaled so many chemicals I fear my reproductive health has been seriously compromised.

*I'm not sure what intrepid means, but I'm using it here to mean waste of a faux leather executive chair.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I get the feeling we've been here before.

After having a cold for six weeks, the baby got really sick the weekend before last. He ran a low fever, got good and congested and, my personal favorite, started having trouble breathing. I was up most of Sunday night and Monday morning giving him asthma medicine or sitting in a steaming bathroom. When he slept I remained vigilant, checking for blue lips and making sure he was asleep rather than unconscious, singing modified nursery rhymes, “Are you breathing, are you breathing / brother Gianluca, brother Gianluca?” I sent Sam off to the doctor with him the minute the clinic opened because I couldn’t get his breathing to a level I was comfortable with. I stayed home with Paolo for two reasons: I didn’t want him to pick up some foul illness from the waiting room, and he was scheduled to get fillings at noon.

I’d been dreading Paolo’s dentist appointment for weeks. Whenever I thought about it, my throat closed up and my stomach turned inside out. Remember, I had very good reason to expect the end of the world. I’d planned on getting all worked up Monday morning, surrendering myself to the black dread, before the appointment at noon. However, I was so fraught with images of Gianluca being hospitalized or having to wear an oxygen mask, I didn’t have as much worry to spare on poor Paolo. A person’s heart can only get so heavy.

Gianluca was diagnosed with a double ear infection and bronchiolitis, and prescribed three different medications, but the pediatrician assured Sam his condition wasn’t all that bad. His breathing was much deeper than it sounded, thanks to all the work we’d done prior to bringing him in. Hooray for us! Keeping Paolo from the grave during his first winter yielded a considerable store of experience, which appears to be paying off.

Now, on to Paolo. As noon approached, the sun was blotted out by a cloud of locusts. Not really, but that’s how hopeful I was feeling. Before we left the house, I overheard Sam tell Paolo that, if he went through with this, if he let the dentist do everything he needed to do, Paolo could go to the toy store and pick out anything he wanted. Anything. Before you shake your heads, you have to know Paolo. The promise of kingdom come will not mitigate the terror he feels at the dentist. Besides, Sam and I both knew the staggeringly bad odds those cavities had of getting filled, and Paolo isn’t greedy anyway. He ended up picking out a little Lego set. And, yes, that means he went through with it. I have never been prouder of my little boy, who isn’t so little anymore, not in my eyes.

Friday, February 8, 2008


Melissa: Remember that time her son called, sobbing and distraught, because he couldn't find his knickerbockers and he had to go to dress rehearsal?

Me: Yeah, and she yelled at him for being such a wuss. God, he's never coming out of the closet.

Melissa: Not to his mom, he's not. What are knickerbockers anyway?

Me: They're like short-pants with suspenders, I think.

Melissa: Knee-pants?

Me: Yeah, knee-pants.

Melissa: So there are tights?

Me: Definitely tights.


Me: They're like pioneer leiderhosen.

OverHeard on Country Radio

Gianluca's daycare teacher listens to a country station at low volume during the day. One morning I was there feeding him, and I overheard the strangest song. At first it was standard country song fare: some dude is all heartbroken over some girl, so he's drinking, but he can't drink enough to forget her. So he "put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger." Wha-wha-WHAT? What the hell does that even mean? Well, whatever he did killed him because they buried him under a tree. Next verse: the chick who wouldn't date the drunk was so miserable over his death, she started drinking, but couldn't drink enough to forget him. So, she put the bottle to her head, pulled the trigger, and they buried her under the same tree.

In the few beats of silence after the song ended, I wondered what sort of damage had just been done to all the innocent babies in the nursery, because I myself would never be the same. Then the DJ swooped in to proclaim, "Good times, great country!" Good times, indeed. Country music people, you need to lighten up.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Five Cool Things

1. Gianluca rolled over. Now that's he's figured out how to get from front to back, tummy time is over. Speaking of tummy time, I read an article about "container syndrome," which is caused by babies spending all their time in infant carriers, bouncers, swings, and strollers. Essentially, their muscles don't develop because they never get to use them, not to mention the emotional disconnect. Therapists recommend tummy time as a good way to exercise the little ones. I too have a suggestion: pick up your kid. Leave the damn infant carrier in the car and carry your baby. I promise you, babies are fun to hold.

2. I finished a New York Times crossword puzzle. I watched Wordplay recently, and it made me feverish to do some crosswords. If Jon Stewart and Bill Clinton getting all giddy over crosswords doesn't get you fired up, you are dead inside. Oh, and I work in ink.

3. Super Bowl Sunday. This really shouldn't be on the cool list. Roma lost 3-0 to Siena. Siena?? Damn it, Roma, you're in second place. How are you going to make a run for the scudetto if you don't win your 'gimme' games? What? Well, that was the big game on Sunday as far as I'm concerned. You didn't think I had anything to say about the Super Bowl, did you? Please. Although, our satellite provider screwed up the coverage and didn't broadcast the whole first half, so that was disappointing for some. Are there halves in football?

4. We rocked the vote on Super Tuesday. We turned it into a family outing, so I got to explain to Paolo what we were doing. He was less intrigued once I assured him we were going to vote, not going on a boat. I told him we intended to pick the nicest person to be our leader. He asked who the nicest person was, and I told him we thought Mr. Obama was, but that was just our idea. Other people have different ideas, and that's why we vote. How tolerant was that? Because I really wanted to say, "Other people have different ideas, but they are stupid and should be disenfranchised." Actually, I'd be happy with Obama or Clinton, so I feel like I can't lose. I can't wait to see what the final Democratic ticket will be.

5. Italy beat Portugal 3-1 in a friendly. Goals by Luca Toni (pictured here), Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Quagliarella. If you can pronounce that last name, you are a fan. The team is looking strong heading into the European championships. The best part of the game was the Scottish announcer. His accent is almost inpenetrable, but he loves the Azzurri, and it's so rare and refreshing to hear nice things said about my team. Thumbs down on the new V-necked jerseys. We're going to need to resolve that by summer.