Posted by: emjb | April 3, 2005

Cleaning out the fridge

These are bits and pieces I never got around to mailing before, like the crumbs in the bottom of the potato chip bag–they’re small but still tasty. Enjoy.

Art and Guilt

A while back the Gates were in town, and one of my coworkers said he didn’t like them. Not for artistic reasons, but because “I just kept thinking of all the money that could have been spent on better things.”

I thought, huh. What makes you think it would have been? The people who donated to the Gates–would they have donated the same cash to more worthy causes? Or maybe, they did–maybe they sent money to the Gates and to the spotted owls too (or whatever).

I think what bothered me about his statement was the Puritan sentiment behind it–the guilty idea that we must not spend money on anything frivolous like art so long as there are Real Problems in the world. But then I believe art has value–spiritual and emotional. It is part of creating that better world, just in a less tangible form. Nearly every human culture seems to have had art, no matter how grim and hard its peoples’ lives were. We apparently need to create art as much as we need to fight injustice or eat or sleep. So we must make room for it in our lives. If we are set on remaking the world in a better form, we mustn’t be humorless and grim about it. We must include our need for pleasure and beauty.

But then, I am a hedonist, in that I think pleasure and joy are good and virtuous in themselves. They can be wrong to pursue depending on the circumstances, but pleasure itself is not wrong. It’s a gift. If I didn’t feel that way, every good thing in life would be tinged with guilt, and I would never enjoy anything. I want to be able to see the bad things in the world and fight them, and also to enjoy the good things that come my way without doing penance because I don’t deserve them.

We need more pleasure, not less. My pleasure does not have to take away from that of others, and I have found, often it makes me more able to help others. It is not finite. It is related to love in that way, I think–it increases the more it is shared.

Stupid Food

If I had written “What to Eat When You’re Expecting” I would have subtitled it: “Everything You Can.” This apparently is the Prime Directive for my pregnancy: EAT. Feel queasy? eat something. Hate the sight and smell of food? eat something. Are dizzy and headachy? eat something. Are hurting and nauseous from accidentally eating too much? take an antacid, wait 10 minutes, and eat something again.

Ya’ll, this is my whole day. The only thing that works, except the occasional headache pill, is eating something. All the damn day long. I don’t even want to eat, most of the time; I have no appetite to speak of. But the only thing that makes my stomach stop hurting is to eat something.

All the pregnancy books say “eat healthy, and don’t overeat.” But you know, if the only thing that keeps me from barfing and passing out on the subway is food, then that’s what I’m going to do. It’s not up to me right now, sorry. I don’t have time to make a healthful barley soup with lentils, either; this kid loves protein and will take no substitutes. Grains and veggies last about 1-2 hours, that’s it. Meat, eggs, and cheese last a little longer. At least I have enough willpower not to feed it french fries, hotdogs, and milkshakes all day. Mmmmm, milkshakes. Man, that sounds good.

And while I won’t mind if the baby grows up big like its daddy, I would like for it to stay small enough while it’s in there so I can get it out in 7 months. Also, I am hoping it will not have Daddy’s giant head. Matt was normal sized at birth, I keep reminding myself.

(edited to update) I had a successful sonogram, and there he/she was, a little blob, just barely starting to be baby shaped. I wasn’t as far along as I initially thought; now it looks like Nov. 1 is the expected date, or perhaps I’ll get a little Halloween baby. Between that and the symptoms that roil my poor gut, I tend to think this critter’s going to hang around. And probably grow a gigantic head.

Coworker Trauma

Argh. ARGH. My cubicle-mate, while sparing me the flatulence and burping today, is having fits of random finger snaps and foot stomping. STOP. IT.

Otherwise, I’m in a good mood. Matt’s back home from Tejas, and I missed him, because I don’t feel right asking Dean to fetch me popsicles at 10pm. Also Matt brought back homemade cookies from my mother in law, which, yum.

Two Men and a Preggo

One of the stranger parts of my life right now is that I’m local-girlfriend-free. All my female friends are scattered hither and yon, and while I’ve met some nice ladies up here, none of us have become close pals. Sometimes this depresses me a little, but then I don’t think it will always be like this. We’ve been such gypsies since we got married that making any new friendships has been hard to do. At some point our lives will be more settled, and I’ll have the luxury of building up my social life again.

So the two closest friends I have right now are Matt and our roommate Dean. Which means that I end up sharing my pregnancy experience with two people who will never, ever, really know what it’s like.

There are good things about living with two guys, the first being crudeness. You can tell them not to go in the bathroom for a while, or let out an impressive belch, without shame. And perhaps even with a bit of pride. They tend not to fuss over dust bunnies in the corner, or shoes under the coffee table. Their dirt-tolerance, in general, is much higher than most girls I know, leaving me feeling virtuous even if I only clean off the stove top every three weeks.

With Matt and Dean, I also have the advantage of having a Very Tall Person who can reach high shelves for me, and an In-House Computer Guy, who will also occasionally fetch me a Diet Coke when he goes out for cigs. We can all three geek out watching Star Wars, though Dean has had to adjust to my tendency to make editorial commentary during movies, Mystery Science Theater style. Overall, we get along like gangbusters.

But the pregnancy stuff–well, I end up sharing it here with the “internets” rather than expounding on it much at home. Because here, guys (or girls) who don’t want to hear about cramps, bloating, maternity pants, etc., can just scroll on past. Either way, I don’t share quite as many gruesome details as I might with a girlfriend–that’s a lot to ask of a person, and if that person is not also a girl, well, I feel weird about it. Do they really want to know? Probably not. Because part of the reason you can share that stuff with other women is because they might have experienced it already, or will someday. If you’re never going to know the joy of spectacular stretch marks and possible episiotomies, do you really want to hear about them in harrowing detail? Doubtful. Are you going to want to watch A Baby Story on the Learning Channel with me? Probably not. It’s just not your thing.

All this by way of explaining why I come here as much as I do to talk about what is, after all, not that unusual an event, except to me. I still talk about politics, and the strangeness of life in general, and I’m trying fairly hard to not make this All Preggin’ All the Time. Because even I can get bored with the topic.

So by way of variety, here are some things I saw this week that had nothing to do with being pregnant.

1.The apt building on the corner where my office is has a lot of dogs that need walking, and most of them wear both coats and muzzles. Remembering the wild dogs we used to have running through our yards, who could roll and poop where they pleased, it makes me sad. New Yorkers, dogs are great. Which is why they don’t deserve to be stuck in a concrete jungle with no place to roll and poop. Also, the sidewalk right in front of the apt. building has a heavy pee smell from all the dogs, which is pretty unpleasant. Poor dogs. Poor my nose.

2.There is also a music studio in a building close to my work, and I see a lot of rock n’ roll wannabees hanging around or going down to the bodega on their breaks. No one I recognize so far, which is why I assume they’re wannabees. They’re trying real hard though, with the artfully ripped jeans and fashion tragedy hair. A lot of them are very cool-looking, but I can’t help but think they’ll mostly all be teaching or selling insurance in ten years’ time. The music business is a real bitch, no matter how good you look.

3.Two guys walked in front of the deli I go to, real Moe Szilak types—kind of squished up faces, windbreakers, and newsboy hats, those guys. One guy stopped to read the sign aloud “Fresh donuts baked daily! Man!” The other guy grabbed him, “C’mon, you ate already, what’s wrong with you??” and they hurried off, the first guy looking back wistfully at the sign, his friend still holding his arm in a firm grip.

4.I subbed for Matt while he was in Texas, by running lights for the play he was working for. It was real basic stuff, basically flipping light switches. Anyway, before the play, the director and one of the female leads came out from the back stage. “I don’t know WHY you won’t just TRY the music I brought!” exclaimed the lead. “You’re being a DIVA, that’s why, why can’t you just calm down and take direction?” yelled the director. “I am NOT being a DIVA, dammit, you just talking to me like I’m an idiot. I don’t take that. I’m from BROOKLYN, we don’t TAKE being talked to like that!!” screamed the lead, and then stomped off stage. I had to look away and fiddle with the switches, because, damn. You tell her, Brooklyn!

Not much else going on. I’m finishing a book on barrel racing, since being a Texan, I’m born knowing all about rodeo sports. And I am the only person at my office who’s ever been to a rodeo, so there you go. In fact, my coworker who is going to manage the production of the rodeo books next season, asked me nervously “Is rodeo cruel?” And I said, “Well, maybe bull riding or bronc riding. Mostly the riding stuff just pisses the animals off. Everything else is about skill.” Hopefully this will assuage his vegan conscience. Thankfully, we aren’t doing a book on bulldogging, the “sport” where you leap from your running horse onto a steer’s neck, grab his horns, and flip him onto his back. Again, I’m not sure it really does much damage to the 2-ton steer—mostly I think it just confuses the hell out of him, and gives him incentive to try to stomp your ass once he gets up.

Off I go. More after my book is done.


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