His Linus Sense is Tingling

October 31st, 2007

Linus now spends about 95 percent of his time on his pizza box. I know when he is stretching, because the creaking sound of cardboard under intense pressure resonates through the house. There are a few reasons Linus gets OFF his beloved pizza box. They are all sound-related …

Linus leaves his pizza box to slink away and hide under our bed, or sometimes in some mysterious spot he’s found where I haven’t been able to discover him (I’m stumped; where does a 20-pound cat hide in this place?) if he hears one of these sounds:

Sound: Mia whining over having her claws trimmed
Reason: He’s figured out he’s usually next, and with a bath to boot.

Sound: The carpet cleaner guy unravelling corrugated hoses from his truck
Reason: Linus fears the carpet cleaning machinery.

Sound: A human sneeze
Reason: He got sneezed on once, by Stevel. Apparently it was severe enough to cause lifelong trauma.

Sound: Workboots, like the termite treatment guy’s or the plumber’s
Reason: I don’t know. Any theories?

Sound: The zipper on the cat carrier
Reason: While being at the vet doesn’t seem to bother him much, the 5-minute car-ride over there is devastating.

Sound: Me, thinking inside my head about the possibility of vacuuming the carpet someday
Reason: The vacuum cleaner = Enemy No. 1

Sometimes he also runs away low to the ground if he hears the blow-dryer, the ice-maker, or my electric toothbrush. At first, he was averse to the sounds of the Wii and would run and hide when we turned it on, but that seems to have abated. Also, once, I witnessed as Stevel played some random chord on the guitar that freaked Linus out. Zoom.

Some things get Linus off his pizza box with enthusiastic joy:

Sound: Steve’s car pulling into the garage
Reason: While Stevel claims Linus likes everyone the same, I’ve seen evidence to contradict this. He does like Steve best. He often waits at the top of the stairs for a hello-scratch on the chin.

Sound: Mia going into the kitchen or the basement
Reason: These are two places in which he can trap her simply by lying in a doorway, sometimes for hours. In these instances, Stevel or I often have to play hostage negotiator, or orchestrate a move Stevel calls “The Airlift” to get Mia to the other side of the blockade. Because while Linus is a very quiet cat who rarely meows or makes sounds, Mia lets the entire West Coast know when she is unhappy. (In fact, the raccoonish sound of her banshee-hiss can sometimes send Linus BACK to his pizza box in a “fuck that” kind of strut.)

Sound: Me, getting up at 4 a.m. to use the bathroom
Reason: Someone’s awake. This person likely has hands. It has been hours since the scratching ceased. It is therefore time to walk on the pillows and hair of the humans and paw at their eyes and mouths until their hands are in motion.

Sound: Kibble hitting the stainless steel cat bowl
Reason: While he rarely eats from it right away when we fill the bowl, Linus seems to like to be on top of what’s going on with his food supply. If the bowl gets empty, he goes into panic-mode and starts opening and shutting, opening and shutting, the door to the cabinet where the food is kept. Ka-bang ka-bang ka-bang. He seems to just want to be reassured that food is available, because nine times out of ten when I fill it, he looks at the full bowl and walks back to his pizza box for more sleepin’. If we don’t answer the distress call of the cabinet door soon enough, he begins a tour of the house, opening every single cabinet, closet, and bathroom door in an attempt to find food. Some mornings we wake up to that scene from “The Sixth Sense” where the kitchen cabinets are all open. Except this is our whole house.

Sound: The gardener sweeping the courtyard
Reason: Linus likes to watch through the sliding glass doors as the bottom of the broom peeks under the two inches below our patio fence.

Sound: The filtered-water dispenser on the refrigerator door
Reason: Since Mia’s liver troubles began, the vet recommended we give our cats filtered water. Linus LOVES fresh water. So much. So every single time someone gets a glass of water, he now rushes—RUSHES—to his water bowl and looks up into the face of the person with his most expectant expression. We respond to this by dumping the glass of water into the bowl and, while he gulps, refilling our glass. This quirky response on his part never ceases to amuse me.

Happy Halloween

October 31st, 2007

I’m going as a vomiting girl. Mia is here with me; she is going as a motor (“Prrr”). Linus is downstairs in his pizza-topping costume.

Check out the cool artist-pumpkins in Jeremy’s latest batch of photos.

Cinnamon Toast

October 31st, 2007

When barfed up, it looks like dough. Bad night. But very worth it. Although even the smallest social interaction seems to send me into stress-reaction sickness mode right now, I had dinner with Sarah-Architect, Erin, and Rachel (aka “The Girls”) last night at Koutoubia Moroccan restaurant. Food was tasty, and the conversation was a much-needed spirit lifter. What impressive, sharp, beautiful, kind people they all are.

We overcame real adversity to get together last night. Yesterday throughout the greater L.A. area, traffic was in a severe state. A giant crane tipped over cross-wise onto the 405 freeway, which is a major connector to all sorts of populous areas. This happened in the early morning. At 5 p.m., I crawled by it on my way home from work, and it was still there in the road, leaving only two lanes open north-bound, one south-bound (these are ten-lane freeways, again, heavily used and quite necessary). Such heavy machinery is tough to move, plus there was an investigation. Most of my students were late for class yesterday—up to an hour late—due to this accident and the miles and miles of backups it caused, first on freeways, eventually on surface-roads as well. Just about all of West L.A., and most of the freeways throughout the greater metro region, had come to a standstill by noon. Even at 7:30, when we were planning to meet at the restaurant, all four of us were creeping along on jammed surface roads, determined to get to some Moroccan food and our friends. That’s life in the big city, I guess. We need our big cranes.

The Most Normal Mammal in No. 6

October 31st, 2007

Stevel, aka man-who-cannot-tolerate-milk-or-cheese-but-who-does-not-want-to-be-”labeled”-lactose-intolerant, reading from a Wikipedia entry about breastfeeding:

“‘Most mammals stop producing the enzyme lactase at the end of weaning, and become lactose intolerant. Many humans have a mutation that allows the production of lactase throughout life and can drink milk—usually cow or goat milk—well beyond the age of weaning.’

Who’s normal now?”

Guitar Hero III

October 30th, 2007

It is here: Guitar Hero III. So far, I find it sluttier and more background-noisy than Guitar Hero II, but it is cool to have it on the nice TV in the living room. Not that I play. My brain doesn’t work that way. But Stevel is enjoying his new songs and new, hot, plastic, little black guitar. Right now he is trying to choose an outfit for the Harajuku girl guitaress. He changed to her after I decided the punk-girl guitarist was too bouncy.

Welcome, Asha!

October 26th, 2007

In Virginia, the little Parmar cutie has arrived! Congratulations, Susan and Bobby.

Not a Great Night

October 26th, 2007

Still coping with bouts of my body rejecting the pregnancy hormones. They come and go. I find most weeks that the stress of teaching on Tuesday lays me under for two to three days, during which I am pukey and can barely move. This week was rough. Yesterday afternoon I started throwing up, and it lasted all night. Hopefully that’s over now, but we’ll see. The trouble with anti-nausea medicines is that if you wait until you are sick to take them, they get thrown up.

This morning we went to the doctor and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. All is well in there. Despite my not feeling great, I am gaining weight a little at a time, six pounds in all, I think the doctor said, since the beginning. Just about at five months.

There are two doctors at this OB practice, and they work as a team. One of them is great. She is the one who gave me the medicines. The other one is not as cool. He’s an old guy who says things like, “You’re still sick? Are you taking the Zofran? [I nod.] Well, that works.”

Zofran is the medicine he gave me a prescription for in month two or so after I insisted multiple times that the things he was suggesting (ginger, small meals, etc.) were things I had tried without results, and that I was indeed throwing up as much as I was SAYING I was. He just acted like I was being dramatic or something. That’s one of the problems with bad pregnancy sickness. There’s a wide spectrum of experience, but a lot of people (even this doctor) assume every woman is having the same experience, the one that “just goes along with being pregnant,” and that, like every other pregnant woman, I should suck it up. I tried. I was not simply throwing up once in the morning. I was throwing up so much I couldn’t leave my house. At all. It was worrisome and depressing. Now that happens for a day or two at a time, then lets up, then comes back.

The other doctor, a woman about my age, is much more understanding and knowledgeable about this. When in my last visit the old guy said, “Well, that works,” I explained that no, it didn’t, and that’s why his partner gave me two additional prescriptions and advised Vitamin B6. THOSE things work most of the time if I take them every day as a preventive measure.

Today, I had an appointment with the lady, but she was running late, so it was the old guy again. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very nice and a highly recommended OB in the area. He just … doesn’t get it with the sickness. Today he said, “You’re still feeling sick? Are you trying ginger? [nod] Small meals? [nod] Blah blah? [nod] Blah blah blah?? [nod nod nod] Well, that should have eased up by now. You shouldn’t still be feeling sick, so let’s hope it goes away.” Hope. Yes, let’s hope. Then he said again, “Zofran should be working.” He added, “You’re still gaining weight, so there’s no worry about the baby.” That’s what I came to hear, so that’s good. But THEN he said this: “I’m not concerned about your health, but if you get too uncomfortable, we should check you into the hospital for a couple of days with an IV and no food by mouth.” Did I hear that right? Do a lot of people do that? Check themselves into the hospital for an IV because they are UNCOMFORTABLE? Because that sounds SO SOOTHING. Dude, we will check me into the hospital for an IV when and only when it is MEDICALLY NECESSARY. I don’t generally do that sort of thing to cope with discomfort. If he tells me the baby is fine, then we’ve addressed the primary concern here. As for the secondary concern, my “discomfort” (I prefer to think of it as fairly severe pregnancy sickness, but whatever), we will address it in ways that get me BACK to my life and friends, not in ways that sequester me away from them with no food by mouth.

So I continue the medicines and small meals and try to keep my stress level at a minimum. I am a high maintenance pregnant person for sure. It’s not how I pictured this experience being. I see super-pregnant women around town all dolled up in cute maternity clothes, wearing sneakers and walking, GLOWING. Whatever glow I’ve got to muster, I use up on Tuesdays pretending to be fine.

Busy, Busy, Busy

October 23rd, 2007

Well, I haven’t blogged in a few days. ‘Cause look who is here! It’s this girl. And boy, have we been having some FUN! I have offered her the following entertainment events:

-entertain yourself while Kristan naps
-entertain yourself while Kristan naps again
-entertain yourself while Kristan grades essays
-entertain yourself while Kristan naps again
-entertain yourself whi——-zzzzzzzz

Actually, we’ve done a little shopping, a little dining, some walking and cafe chatting. It’s been SO NICE to have her here! What a sweet friend.


October 16th, 2007

Number of hours over the weekend when I wasn’t feeling sick: 4

Total number of hours in the past five days when I wasn’t feeling sick: About 5

Point at which my printer ran out of ink today: Worst possible time

Number of times I screamed out loud at my desk today while grading the latest batch of essays from one of my classes: 6

Number of neighbors left who don’t think I’m insane: Yeah, that’s got to be zero

It’s the middle of the semester, and I’m still trying to figure out how to be pregnant (aka With-my-brain-seemingly-not-getting-enough-oxygen-to-do-anything-smart and Sick-most-of-the-time-either-with-the-pukes-or-the-puffy-headedness-or-the-exhaustion-or-the-SUPER-exhaustion-or …) and get my work done for my half-time teaching job. I really don’t know how women who work full-time pull this off. And if I had been teaching while I was in the FIRST trimester? I would have had to quit or would have been fired. If we women really want to get to a point where we are at equal pay with men, we are going to have to give up this whole continuing-the-species thing, because it is a serious career disadvantage.

In smilier things, most of the non-sick four hours yesterday was spent with Stevel and Sarah-Architect roaming the sort-of-lame Arts Festival at Virginia Park and then wandering to the very cool Arts Demos at SMC. Also, our stairwell has now been painted (green), and, after TWO years of living with half-stripped doors in our bedroom and without doorknobs upstairs, we now have painted doors WITH doorknobs. What a luxury it is to be able to shut Linus out for a night without having to barricade the door with random belongings.

In news of the WTF, why is my CVS selling this weird stuff?

Two, One, One-half

October 11th, 2007

This morning I woke up thinking about my nieces. One of them is complex, observant, smart, funny, inventive, somewhat anxious, sensitive, fascinated, a scientist, and a bit devious. She likes to watch movies, spoil her dog, and dismantle insects. The other is affectionate, beaming, intense, opinionated, particular, smart, outgoing, impatient, lively, and dramatic—an entertainer. She likes to clothes-shop and converse, often on her “cell phone.” I wonder what little personality will show itself with our kid. This morning I threw up my breakfast. (Still coping with a good bit of puke, although the all-day nausea has abated.) Is this an indicator, like some people think? Troubled pregnancy = good-natured baby? = smart kid? = … ?

My nieces are both impulsive and are skilled negotiators. As a team, they play beautifully and are dangerous. They invent detailed imaginary worlds and perpetrate extensive damage to property. As adversaries, they fight dirty. It’s all familiar. That’s life with a sister. “A sister is both your mirror and your opposite,” as Elizabeth Fishel says. (But isn’t your mirror somehow opposite, too? OK, don’t think too long about that quote.)

We’ve gotten occasional comments about our plans to have only one kid. Won’t she be lonely? (Not in this town.) Won’t she be spoiled? (I think we can handle that.) (And yes, maybe. You’ve never met spoiled siblings?) Everyone’s first question when they learn we are pregnant is, “Is this your first?” I know what they mean: “Have you ever done this before? Is this all new to you?” But it’s weird to say yes. First and last, yes. Only.

Steve and I had both separately, before we met, imagined a future life with one kid. Nice that we had that in common. It suits us for a lot of reasons. I loved having a sister a lot of the time. I couldn’t do without her now that we’re grown and friends. But having a sister is very different from having two kids, no? This we get to choose. (That is, assuming we can find more reliable birth control than, um, that kind we were relying on 20 weeks ago [Remember, woman-friends, the Pill is made INEFFECTIVE by antibiotics].)

Anyway, there’s half a baby in there now. She moves around some. I find this DISGUSTING, but it’s nothing personal against HER. Steve thinks it’s cool, so that’s good. This is typical of our response to the pregnancy. Everything about it disgusts and offends me. I feel imposed upon by doctors’ appointments and tests. I feel angry that we haven’t evolved medically/scientifically as a race to eliminate the need for me to physically carry a developing fetus around with me for nine months while my body changes in all kinds of unwelcome ways. And don’t even get me started on the lack of research into treatments for morning sickness, depression, and other maladies during pregnancy. The common doctor-answer to everything is: “It’s just temporary.” Yeah? Well, here’s a black eye. JUST TEMPORARY. Anyway, it’s Steve who watches the Ultrasound videos, Steve who listens to the heartbeat, and Steve who reads the books and literature (mostly because it’s all full of pictures of pregnant women, YACK). His mother taught Lamaze classes when he was a little boy, and he tagged along and drew pictures (of clocks) in the back of the room. He had seen “The Miracle of Life” fifty times by the time he was eight. I think this exposure made him immune to what is clearly, to any sane person, a super-gross and primitive physical process. (Actually, I understand there are women who find it not only NOT-gross, but somehow beautiful and natural. And I think these women would benefit from the additional research into pre-partum sanity medications for which I advocate.)

Anyway, I’ve been asked for an update on this situation, and there it is. Halfway there, wholly looking forward to momhood.


October 8th, 2007

I’ve been so preoccupied lately with my physical state, I’ve neglected to mention some good news among friends of ours.

Here in Southern California, Christina and Emilio got engaged. YAY! Sarah-Novelist is teaching a grueling courseload and thinking about looking into other work opportunities in the non-profit sector, so if you know of anything appropriate for a skilled writer and communicator in this area, let her know! Russ is in his final year of his M.Arch.

Jeremy-Poet is teaching full-time at a few local colleges and working on building a new house in San Pedro. Jeremy Sr. is working full-time for Apple, teaching Apple Store classes and doing various other projects suited to his renaissance-man-like skill-set.

Eitan and Jacquelyn just purchased a beautiful condo in Silver Lake, as Eitan puts it, “on the corner of Latino and Hipster.” They have the most adorable two kittens, which we met today!

Sarah-Architect’s projects are really rolling now. Her own little practice is running smoothly, and she is getting involved in a big, exciting project in Kentucky as well.

In Canada, the date is getting close for the wedding of Megan & Jeff. In other wedded-bliss news, long-time L.A. friend of Stevel, Raji, just got married to a woman who knows a lot about golf (Thippewan); they promptly moved to London, making it hard to hang out with them NEARLY as much as we would like! Stevel’s friend from his school days, Tony, is engaged to get married in February in Oregon; while this date is NOT CONVENIENT FOR US (baby is due Feb. 11!), we are both very excited about the event and Tony’s happiness with his squeeze.

In the Baltimore-D.C. area, Cindy and her man are enjoying their new lifestyle as motorcyclists. The White family just added a huge addition to their house, and it looks awesome! The Renner fam—Marisol, Jeffrey, and Braden—just bought a new house in Lutherville; they report that it has a nice big yard for a romping kiddo and two romping dogs. Emily is doing well (we have plans to catch up soon!), and Kelly is living with Blake now and doing her best to be patient while career opportunities swirl around her (this woman is IN DEMAND). I’m INTENSELY looking forward to visits in the next few months from her, as well as from Cindy AND from my cousin, Matthew, who lives in Georgia.

In Virginia, Asha is due very, very soon!

Back in the hometown and surrounding areas, the most rockin’ boxer on the planet—Leela, the pup of Bridget and Dave—recently turned one. Tracey has been very busy with family goings-on, between her brother’s wedding—all four Findlings are IN the wedding, how CUTE!—and other stuff going on, but she’s not too busy to help advise me as I put together my baby registry. She’s such a pal.

I know I mentioned the new Kresic home, but I don’t think I mentioned that a little while back, my sister got a promotion at work. She likes her new role quite a lot, and I’m super proud of her.

Other friends are doing well, status quo. I can’t think of any other news to report right this second, although life seems to be moving very fast these days.

When I was a pre-teen, I used to watch the show “Thirtysomething.” I loved that show, actually, and now that I AM thirtysomething, I’m just amazed as how accurately it portrayed the ups and downs and exciting life events of the thirties. There’s a certain element of the identity formation process that goes on that’s not always easy but is dramatic in deeply emotional ways. My friends are more important to me than ever, more important than they were in my teens or twenties even. This whole “OK, I’m definitely INTO adulthood” thing is sometimes disillusioning, sometimes incredibly satisfying and comfortable in a way that the early and mid-twenties were not. It’s important to share it with others who understand.

The Sleepiness Game

October 6th, 2007

When I can’t sleep, I play a little game whereby I choose a category, like cities of the U.S., countries of the world, movie titles, animal species, clothing label names (Stevel once played it with classic Arcade games). Then I go through the alphabet trying to come up with an example that starts with every letter. It’s pretty boring, so often I’m asleep by, like “L.” This morning at 3:15 a.m., though, I made it all the way through the alphabet playing “shades of a color”—I imagine I’m putting together a new line of specialty crayons in which there will be 26 shades of each color, and today’s color was red. So I give you your new box of specialty red crayons:


American Flag Red
Birthday Balloon
Don’t Go
Georgia Dirt
Hot Stove
Inner Organs
Jolly Clown Nose
Lover’s Bouquet
Mustang Convertible
Opie’s Hair
Queen’s Carpet
Underground Pipe
Wild Strawberry
eXit Sign
Yard of Autumn Leaves
Zesty Salsa

Friday Night at No. 6

October 6th, 2007

Stevel: “OK, let me take off my Crocs and my pants and make the cookies.”

Been Watching Babies Lately Everywhere I Go

October 5th, 2007

["Lately" = for four years]

you, little bundle,
will not remember
this day, but will you

stow somewhere
the feeling
of big adventure
seen from inside
arms and blankets


the toddler who will not
be tamed
explores the restaurant,
parents taking shifts
to follow, and

to follow is to be led.


if you throw that
on the floor
again, little cricket,

i will pick it up.


please do not scream.
screaming is inappropriate

unless you are
purely mad
or purely happy
or 21 and drunk
on the streets
of a college town.

Stevel on Baby Clothes for Newborns

October 3rd, 2007

Stevel: “What did you get?”

Me: “I bought a cute cardigan and some little corduroy pants.”

Stevel: “Don’t you think it’s weird to put pants on someone who doesn’t even walk yet?”

Tea and Brothers, How Can You Go Wrong?

October 2nd, 2007

I just watched a trailer for the upcoming movie “The Darjeeling Limited,” thanks to a link from Karen’s blog. Man, I can’t wait to see this movie. If you haven’t downloaded from iTunes the free short film “Hotel Chevalier,” I recommend it!

Old, Expensive Cats We Love

October 1st, 2007

Our cats are 11 (Linus) and 12 (Mia). They have FIV (Linus) and lymphoma of the liver (Mia). They also have little ear infections. This means that their annual check-ups, which used to be under $100 each, totalled more than $700 this year. Plus Linus’ dental cleaning, which, due to his age, requires special tests and a special IV. Bringing us above a grand, for the annual check-in business. We have a great vet. I initially discovered this vet when, a few years back, I called around town for the cheapest dental cleaning. Their prices are quite fair, and they are wonderful people who all know me and Mia by sight and ask about Mia when I am there without her for any reason. Everyone down to the receptionist and the tech having his smoke break outside said to me when I came in this time how pleased and excited they all are that Mia is doing so well. They call her OUR “miracle kitty.” So I am not complaining about the vet, I want to make that clear. Actually, I am not complaining at all. I’ve many times thought about pulling out the file where I keep all of the vet receipts and tallying up what it’s cost to treat Mia over the last six/eight months just to give my blog readers the juicy number. But how can I put a price on this? We expected her to be gone by now, and instead she seems to be feeling just fine. Her liver-function numbers are creeping slowly toward normal, and she’s about to start taking a little less medication.

We also got the report that, aside from his astounding weight, Linus is “the picture of perfect health.”

I’ve thought a lot about how the cats will play into our having a baby around here. Mia doesn’t like kids one bit. Something about the way my niece, Erica, would always fixate on and squeeze her. (I remember once when Erica was about three or four and visited Savannah, I found her sitting in front of the open closet. She explained that Mia was in there. She clearly had no concept of WHY Mia might have gone into the far-back of the closet and wanted to know, “Why does she keep making that sound? That ‘hcchss hcchss’ sound?”) Anyway, I predict that Mia will avoid a baby and make it clear to a toddler that she’s not a playmate. Linus, meanwhile, will need a little more help with the transition. My sister suggests we have some talks with him about how things will change and how we will love him just as much. Mostly I’m worried about his tendency to snuggle with anything that moves. If he recognizes baby-hands as “HANDS” (oh, how he loves HANDS), we might be in trouble. Seven-to-eight-pound infant versus 20-pound cat. It’s for this reason I ordered a bassinet that’s way too high in the air for Linus to get into.