"Our most ancient metaphor says life is a journey. Memoir is travel writing, then, notes taken along the way, telling how things looked and what thoughts occurred. . . .This is the traveler who goes on foot, living the journey, taking on mountains, enduring deserts, marveling at the lush green places...as a pilgrim, seeking, wondering." -Patricia Hampl

November 20, 2009

I Bet She Works a Mean Paper Snowflake

Devi's first art project is this here Mr. Gobblegobble: she did it in daycare, and man, oh man, are we proud. Now THAT is some fancy footwork.

Read My Tush.

Every morning when we peek in to the crib, Devi's blankets all askew as though they're the breadcrumb trail of her whereabouts during the night, we never know what we're going to see. Picutred here is this morning's peek-in, just before Devi woke up. Love it.

November 14, 2009

Seeing the Light

The only time I really only "colored" my hair was during a bum June in Boston, mere days after another school year had ended, I'd just broken up with a boyfriend, and was suffering the slings, literally, of having broken my collarbone in a motorcycle accident (a story for another time, but yes, readers, I know how stupid getting on a motorcycle is, and have vowed never to do it again). I was bored as hell, since I couldn't drive anywhere and it basically hurt to get dressed.

I spent most of those days on the balcony that adjoined my bedroom (oh, those old, New England houses) reading, sunning, and drinking Diet Coke. It occurred to me that perhaps all that time out in the sun was lightening my hair, and for some reason I decided to expedite it by using some Sun-In that I bought at our corner drug store.

There's a good reason they don't advertise that crap anymore. My hair got significantly yellower, not blonder, and by October, my seniors had a great time reminding me that my hair was greenish in spots. I vowed, then, that I'd never touch chemical to my hair again.

You know what's coming, because as my fabulously talented hairdresser Erika told me today, 90% of women have their hair color-treated in some way these days.

I've lived on the Dark Side, so to speak, for so long, that with the sprouting of gray hair sometime in the past few years, I vowed with every call to fabulous Erika that THIS WAS IT, COLOR ME, BABY. And then I'd chicken out.

Until today.

It wasn't the gray hair. It was the fact that I hadn't stepped foot in a salon in five months and my mane was as unkempt as a forgotten garden. Weedy. Stringy. Overgrown. Ridiculous.

When I called Erika at Gallery Salon, all I really knew is that I wanted a change. I scheduled a cut and color (highlights, really) and hoped that I'd figure out exactly how to explain to her what I wanted: something that didn't take forever to accomplish in the morning but that didn't look too much like a soccer mom and more like a rockstar, maybe a rockstar mom with a flair for drama. Something like a cross between Jessica Alba and... a rockstar. We found pictures, we discussed the difference between "piecey" and "shaggy" and "textured," we bartered length and style like two sheiks at market, hands a'flyin'. And when it was settled, Fabulous Erika got down to business.

There comes a chapter in the beautifying process when those who get their hair highlighted, as I did today, must perch elsewhere in the salon with several pieces of folded, aluminum paper resting atop and around her head. I was afraid to use my cell phone until I thought that maybe I'd get better reception. I felt utterly ridiculous until I saw two other women in the same predicament, so I relaxed and did some reading.

Truth be told, when it came to the crucial moment--that being the one where a portion of my straight, wet hair is being pinched between Erika's two fingers and facing a very shiny pair of shears. O.k.--ready? she asked. I shook my head no. In the grand scheme of decision-making, to get or not to get bangs is not wholly signficant, but most women really do care about this crap. Erika admonished me--did I really want change or not? And so I relented, and snip went the scissors, and before I knew it, I had bangs. It'll grow back, Erika reminded me. It grows out, I said, not down. To which Erika replied Monica, you have more hair than God. Right. I guess I do.

What I came out with looked like this:

See that? That's a happy wannabe-rockstar, English-drama-teacher, hot momma with highlights and less three inches of mangy split ends. My whole head feels lighter! And this momma feels better all around. Go see Erika. She knows.

November 10, 2009

Magic, Mickey, and Microorganisms

The weather, like Devi's temperature, lately, has peaked and dipped: during the first week of November, the outdoor temperature hit a record 70 degrees, and just days before, our baby hit her first fever over 101. Unseasonable heat and unfamiliar territory beyond the typical baby colds: it's an early flu season and this year, it's scary. As I type this, there have been two commercials to mention the H1N1 virus; Devi was lucky enough to get immunized last week when her ongoing cold abated for all of five days--consequently, it was during these five days when we traveled to Florida to join our niece Logan (and her parents--my brother and sister-in-law, and other, younger niece Nora), Logan's Noni and Papi, who graciously subsidized the trip save for the airfare, and my mom, who was all too happy to be traveling with her three granddaughters in tow.

I'm not a huge fan of The Mouse (why did he sound like a Lost Boy of the Castrati?). Never have been. But that doesn't mean the magic of Disney didn't find it's way into my childhood.

As a little girl, I'm sure I pinned all my romantic hopes on a Prince Charming thanks to the spin perpetuated by movies like Cinderella and Snow White; I can even remember the record album of Cinderella that I'd listened to at least 200 times a day (mainly for the 'bibbity-bobbity-boo' song). The 14 or so kids on my block, one summer in the early 1980's, performed our own version of "Peter Pan" in the Turner's backyard, probably because they were the only ones with a pool, a perfect respite after a long afternoon's rehearsal. I can't tell you what part I played, but the play entailed our swinging from the monkey bars on the Turner's swingset to simulate flying. I'm sure our performance inspired our parents toward a mean cocktail hour immediately following.

[And during the babysitting years (the truth, finally!), a romantic interest once surprised me while I was 'on duty' with a VHS tape of "Aladdin," which I think he hoped would inspire some action on some very trusting people's couch. It didn't, to his dismay--but the movie was fun, especially the raucous Robin Williams parts.]

Even as a young woman, I took issue with the Wonderful World of Mousedom when, walking down the aisle SOLO in my brother's wedding, already painfully and self-consciously processing as the older, single, sister, Staci had chosen "Someday, My Prince Will Come" to make the point. It may have been one of the lowest points in my life as a single woman, but, Heath reminds me, Your prince is right here, baby! Thank heavens.

But a trip to Disney World, as a parent, incited some panic in me I couldn't quite identify at first. Maybe it was the fleeting images of the faceless, massive crowds through which Heath and I would be weaving a mere nine-month-old in a stroller. Maybe it was the question of how a family of ten were going to manage through it all at once--two babies, only months apart, who'd need frequent breaks and diaper changes and snacks and hydration (Orland also, apparently, was experiencing record high temperatures). Or maybe--and most likely-- it was the threat of germs, germs, germs, in and around the Small World and Peter Pan rides, all over the life-size Pinocchio costume we'd doubtlessly be hugging (right?), The Surfaces of Everything at the park. Sneezy isn't sneezing in character, kids--that's the Swine Flu! Run! Run! Before the Evil H1N1 gets you too!

Welcome to my tendency towards worst-case scenarios. I'll admit that my germaphobic idiosyncracy (even though it's far less overt than some others' I know) is not a new topic on this blog and I'm sure it's getting old--witness that I did say somewhere here that if reincarnation really exists, I'll probably return as an airbag--and I'll admit that even en route to Japan, one of the cleanest countries in the world, I stocked up on the Handi-Wipes and made certain that each blind pocket of my diaper bag had some inside. Heath talked me out of seeking out a ventilated travel bubble for the baby (please, if you know of such an invention, get in touch).

But something funny happened on the way to Epcot Center. Maybe it was the heat, maybe it was overstimulation. But The Happiest Place on Earth somehow made me forget about germs--not the entire time, mind you--hands were washed and wiped and surfaces were wiped and bottles were wiped and faces were wiped and wiped down--there was just so much to take in. Even Devi's mouth fell agape as we walked here and there.

The real magic of this place, I suppose, is that even an infant was stimulated to ecstacy: Devi squealed and kicked her happy feet throughout the Finding Nemo ride and aquarium and our stroll around the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot; she was just as titillated by the Bear Jamboree at the Magic Kingdom; she seemed impressed by the muppets at Hollywood Studios (that's three full days of hot hot sightseeing, and this amazing little Devi maintained her sense of wonder). Sure, she slept hard when she slept, but she slept, as she has done since her earliest days, anywhere and everywhere: stroller, our arms on rides, in her carseat in the ten-minute ride between the parks and our hotel.

One of our favorite moments of these few days in the parks was finding ourselves in front of a replica of a temple we'd visited in Japan--but here we were in "Japan," at Epcot, sampling the sushi, en route to Morocco to sample the lamb kebobs. Devi was totally unfazed by the irony of it--so we captured the moment in a photo of me behind Devi in her stroller--exactly the photo we'd taken just a few months ago, and I believe both Devi and I were wearing the same clothes. (I'm still looking for those pics, and both might be trapped in Heath's iPhone.) It's a Small World After All...la, la la...

We were so impressed with Devi's wide-eyed wonder at it all that we even vowed to bring her back someday. Me. The girl who distrusts The Mouse. I'm coming back. Not anytime soon, mind you, but when the kid--kids, we hope--are old enough to appreciate it. I'll recount what a mom of three told me while I waited with a sleeping Devi on my lap for Heath (who was riding Soarin', which is the grown-up version of flying simulation without the swingset): you might spend a small fortune at Disney World--maybe the equivalent of a quarter of your kid's college tuition for a semester if you spend a week here--but they'll never be able to say you never took them to Disney World, and so if they happen to go into therapy one day, there's a chance it may not be your fault.

Until that time, we're hoping Devi will be happy with a modest aquarium and some trips to Marine Land and Sea World. We did buy her a small souvenier, though--a plush, orangey Nemo that made her laugh in the gift shop--which hopefully no other germy kid sneezed on or licked. It's a small world, sure, but after all, we don't need to share microbes.

If only there were a magic wand for making the aches and exhaustion of baby colds go far, far away.