Monthly Archives: November 2009

a slightly jet-lagged toddler

Ben’s sleep schedule is a little off today. Actually, that’s an understatement. The time change, plus an erratic sleep schedule due to travel and his stomach problems, has resulted in a Confused Internal Clock for my tiny boy. Tonight, it took me two hours to get him to go to sleep, resulting in a 9:40pm bedtime, not his usual 7:45pm sleep time. And those two hours weren’t easy because I was ON MY OWN. Paul went to his cousin Megan’s wedding, and I stayed home with Ben…just like how Paul stayed home with Ben when my cousin Capri got married this summer. We don’t want ANYONE ELSE to have to try to take care of him & suffer through the Ben Bedtime Resistance. Here’s why it took two hours to get him to sleep tonight:

7:30PM: Settle in to read Richard Scarry’s “The Very Naughty Bunny”, punctuated by cries of “Mun-nay!” (“bunny”), and pointing.

7:45PM: Cue up the white noise. Place Ben’s head on shoulder and turn out lights. Start singing to him (“Love Will Tear Us Apart” works nicely)

7:55PM: Still shouldering. Stop moving for a moment…and Ben’s head snaps up.

8:00PM: Give up trying to get Ben to put his head back down, due to extended yells of “Dow! DOW!” (“Down”) and suicide lunges out of my arms. We go back into the living room, where he immediately points at my laptop and chirps, “Ernie!”

8:01PM: Quell meltdown resulting from my refusal to cue up the videos on the YouTube Sesame Street Channel

8:02PM: Meltdown ends when I pull out the new Thomas the Tank Engine book Grandma bought for Ben

8:30PM: After much playing and chasing around the hotel room, Ben starts lying down on the floor for a few seconds at a time to “rest”, and rubbing his eyes to indicate he’s tired

8:42PM: I re-shoulder him and bring him back into the bedroom

8:43PM: Ben resumes trying to twist out of my arms and yelling “DOW? DOW!!!!”

8:44PM: I tighten my hold on Ben to keep him on my shoulder, and start singing louder.

8:44PM: Ben starts shrieking for “Da-da!! DA DAAAAA! Da da da da…” and sobbing hysterically

8:45PM: I give up trying to lull Ben to sleep with Counting Crows, and start singing the intro bass synth line to Covenant’s “Like Tears In Rain”. Ben immediately settles

8:46PM: Ben’s tortured, hysterical, desperate sobbing subsides into the occasional gasp. I reflect, again, on the fact that I have the only baby who is calmed by goth-industrial dance tracks.

8:50PM: I get my laptop and cue up a Bar Sinister playlist from two weeks ago. We dance through the same Covenant track, the Presets’ “Pretty Little Eyes,” Assemblage 23’s “Smoke” and the first few bars of a Combichrist track. After “Like Tears In Rain,” Ben chirps, “More?” After “Pretty Little Eyes”, I try to put him down…and he immediately jumps back up. I sigh and resume dancing with his head down on my shoulder.

9:10PM: Instead of putting Ben down, I fall backwards onto the bed out of SHEER EXHAUSTION, with him still on my chest…like he hasn’t slept since he was VERY WEE.

9:30PM: I open my eyes to realize that I have a sleeping toddler on me, who is, at last, peacefully unconscious. I carefully transfer him into his crib, and go to wash and sterilize his bottles by boiling them on the tiny in-room kitchen stove.

Now, I hear a wedding afterparty starting up, and after tonight, I totally deserve to go catch up on drinking with my extended family-by-marriage. Unlike my family, who always want to get up and work out or do yoga the day after a wedding – or who just don’t drink much because we’re Jews -Paul’s family knows how to TEAR IT UP. They’re actually loading in booze right now, into the conference room of the Staybridge Suites we’re staying at, for a WEDDING RECEPTION AFTER PARTY. Awesomeness.

a slight delay in thanksgiving

Paul and I made thanksgiving plans over two months ago. We booked a Virgin America red-eye flight from LAX to JFK, hoping that we could get Ben to sleep through the flight if it was at night. We chose the flight because:

a) It was a red-eye flight to the East Coast
b) It was less expensive than other flights for the airline price-gouge festival that is Thanksgiving
c) We like Virgin America. A lot.

Of course, any money we saved on the flight was eaten up by the ridiculous price of renting a car in New York. But we had a flight that we thought would work for our tiny family. We would take the red-eye and drive to meet Paul’s family in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

This was what we planned for Thanksgiving…right up until Ben started throwing up yesterday afternoon, three hours before departure. He woke up from a late afternoon nap, had some milk, and then vomited – not spit up – all over Paul. He didn’t have a fever, so we didn’t think he was sick, and thought, maybe he just ate something that didn’t agree with him. And so, the boys took a bath while I continued packing, and Ben seemed to be perking up and smiling again…until he threw up on me.

That’s when we shut the trip down. Ben kept throwing up after that, gagging and spitting up what little was left in him, every twenty minutes for the next two hours. He would cough and then start saying “no, no, no” as he started gagging. It was heartbreaking to see him so miserable, especially since he still doesn’t really speak enough English for me to explain to him what’s wrong.

I started making calls while Paul shouldered Ben, trying to get him to go to sleep. Actually, by “making calls”, I mean, “rocking the Internet”. In ten minutes, I had unchecked us in from our flight, and cancelled rental cars and hotels as applicable…and then I started re-booking. We decided to try to fly out the next morning, and actually ended up with a better flight schedule through Dulles Airport in Washington DC. A few clicks of the keyboard later, and we had our entire trip rebooked…well, a few clicks plus one phone call to the shuttle service we chose to get to the airport with.

Ben woke up at midnight hungry and thirsty, so we gave him a bottle…of canomile tea, not formula. Then we let him get up for an hour to play, before giving him a snack of formula laced with probiotic bacteria (I mixed in the powder from a capsule) and putting him back down. This morning, he woke up in a fine mood…grinning, cheerful, and not a trace of nausea or vomiting. And with him all better, we were able to finish packing and make our way to LAX…with our usual luggage complement of two giant suitcases, two diaper bags (one just with toys and clothes for the trip), my laptop bag and purse, one stroller and one carseat.

It actually worked out for the better that we had to change the flights, for the following reasons:

1) We can take a late flight back on Monday, instead of having to wait until Tuesday morning, because Virgin America added a new later flight from Dulles last month

2) We got to upgrade to Main Cabin Select, which I consider highly beneficial for travelling with a toddler. Extra space rules.

3) We don’t have to deal with JFK airport. Yay

BTW, for Ben’s vomiting? I blame the trayf they feed him at daycare. I found big ol’ chunks of hot dog in said vomit. Ew.

yeah, i’m out of it…on purpose

This is how out of it I am: I never heard that stupid Owl City “Fireflies” song until right this minute Not until this post showed up on Gawker comparing them to the freaking POSTAL SERVICE.

I LIKE the Postal Service, even though they are now a dated staple of the O.C. TV show. Remember 2003, when Death Cab for Cutie were just getting big and the Postal Service LP was released? I heard the Postal Service on a roadtrip to the Bay Area right after it came out, and I *hearted* it. (I was listening to a lot of dance music in 2003 and 2004, thanks to a couple DJ friends in Vancouver.) Comparing something this trite to the Postal Service is like comparing Twilight to Interview.

Anyways. I’m listening to “Fireflies” now, and recalling a KROQ segment on it. It’s a genuinely catchy song, and with better lyrics, I’d like it. But I have to agree with our local loudmouth radio personalities – these are genuinely the worst lyrics I’ve ever heard. It sounds like an inspirational novelty track from the 80s wandered into Williamsburg, like the Disney Channel version of Vampire Weekend. This also totally justifies my reluctance to find out what’s actually popular out there, lest I be forced to cringe in pain at lines like “I get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs // As they try to teach me how to dance”. And the only resemblance it has to the Postal Service is that they RIPPED OFF THE SYNTH SAMPLER.


Ever since Indie 103.1 shut down, I’ve been without contact with the new music world. Sure, I could probably read SPIN…but then I’d have to read SPIN. And I’m too short on time and effort to keep up with new indie music. Paul occasionally goes out looking for new music and new indie bands to listen to, so occasionally, I’ll hear them as part of his Rhapsody playlists. My new music sources come from the Bar Sinister playlists and the reviews in Gothic Beauty magazine. When you only have so much bandwidth to put into stuff like “finding new music to listen to”, it tends to go into the top priority genres.

I am making one foray into pop culture tonight though. I’m going to see the new Twilight movie. It’s New Moon on Monday!, as my friend Wendy titled the email about it. Ha. Duran Duran reference. I’m not even quite sure what the appeal of the Twilight franchise is, and I actually did read all the books, under much the same compulsion that I read any sort of plot-driven books (I read both The Lost Symbol and Under the Dome in the last week or so, and both were equally un-put-down able). Maybe I just want to see a pretty movie shot up in my homeland of the Northwest. Maybe I just don’t want my brain to work too hard. Which is pretty much the same reason I was compelled to listen to that Owl City track twice, even while mocking it.

o is for orca!

I bought Ben a Pacific Northwest Alphabet book when we were in Seattle: “O Is For Orca”. Sure enough, now, when I ask him, “what does the letter O stand for, Ben?” he says, “Awr-ka!” I’d bet I have the only 17 month old in L.A. who knows what an orca is. I’m so proud.

Ben actually knows a lot of words now, and what he doesn’t know the words for, he makes the noise for. Our last trip through Whole Foods sounded like this:

BEN: Moooo!
ME: Yes, that is a cow on that milk carton!
BEN: Riwey!
ME: Yes, that doggie on the dog food does look like Riley!
BEN: Elmo!
ME: Yes, that is Elmo on those cookies.

I’m very proud of Ben. He recognizes a lot of animals and objects (book, car, hat, Grover) and makes noises for animals he can’t pronounce (“ba-a-a-a-a-aaaa! mooooo! neighhhhh! buk buk buk!”) He can recognize and say “orca” and “owl”. And he can even tell us the names of some of his books: “beach” for Bats at the Beach, “Bah-bah” for “Babar”, “Nonny” for Noddy and “Wilethink” for “Where The Wild Things Are”. He learns more and gets smarter all the time, and it’s a miracle watching it happen.

to DC and back

I spent 24 hours and 15 minutes flying to Washington DC and back this week. I was attending the FDA Social Media hearings for the day. It was a very different reason than the last time I went to our nation’s capital though. I went to hear and see and speak on why the FDA needs to re-evaluate the rules and regulations on advertising in social media for pharmaceutical companies. There’s a whole list of reasons why this needs to happen…but I’ll list those in another entry.

The reason I had only 24 hours to go across the country and back though, was because my mother is here. November 11th is the one-year anniversary of my father’s death. My mother flew into LAX that afternoon, and I wanted to pick her up and safely deliver her to visit her grandson before I left. Which I did. Then I packed while Mom helped put Ben to sleep, dropped Mom off at the Westin Hotel downtown, and headed to LAX. I was scheduled on a 10:45PM red-eye flight to Dulles, and I had just enough time to get there.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t allowed for the ENDLESS CIRCLING OF LAX I had to do when I missed the exit off the 105. I somehow missed the last exit to LAX, and ended up on the four-lane road to Dockweiler Beach. I promptly U-turned, but couldn’t quite get back to the airport after that. I couldn’t get back off the 105, and ended up changing to the 405. Then I was lost around the Howard Hughes Mall, driving around Inglewood, almost in tears from stress and fear of missing my flight. Finally, by using the GPS on my G1 phone, I was able to Google Map my way to LAX. Let me just say, the freeways down there are easier to get lost on than they should be for their proximity to a major American airport.

I did make the flight, barely, and managed to even nap for most of it. I only woke up periodically when the pain in my knees woke me – I’m 5’10, and when I origami myself into a coach seat, the seat in front hits my legs when it reclines. Then, suddenly, I was on the ground, taking the ridiculously ineffective Dulles shuttle system (a sort of double-wide bus that goes between terminals), and awkwardly wriggling into my suit in a none-too-clean restroom before calling my driver to pick me up.

I used to be proud of my ability to hit the ground running when I landed in a new city. The last time I was in DC, I managed to figure out the transit system from Reagan Airport to the CODEPINK house I was staying at. But this time, I was at Dulles, and I wasn’t in the city for a protest – I was here as a representative of an ad agency. And it was raining. And I had open shoes, with exposed skin on my feet. So I gratefully jumped into the SUV that was there to drive me into the city, and watched traffic stop and go in the non-carpool lanes. I remember passing signs for Leesburg and wondering – did that town name have anything to do with Robert E, or with his father, Harry “Light Horse” Lee? I may be seeing it from the windows of an SUV, and not from the DC light rail system, but I’m still fascinated with what I think of as “old America” and how the history of it still shows up in the names of places. (Leesburg has nothing to do with the Lee family, according to their website.)

My driver brought me to the hearing location, the “National Transportation and Safety Board Conference Center”, in L’Enfant Plaza. I had forgotten that Pierre L’Enfant was the architect of DC. I also am totally disoriented in that city, still – I think I knew it well enough after my visit in 2005, but it’s been four years and a lot of other data, and I think my brain deleted that data in favor of Los Angeles maps. I was disorientated from the moment we crossed the Potomac into the city, even though I was fascinated and reminded of Washington’s origins in Paris. Like Philadelphia, DC is most influenced, design-wise, by the Paris of the 1800s, by the Age of Reason street layouts and buildings.

I went through the day of hearings, and afterwards was fortunate enough to catch up with my dear friend Deena. Deena, for those of you who may not remember, was one of my first new friends after I moved here. I was in a Ralph’s, ten days into my life here in California, desperately lonely, and missing my friends in Vancouver. I started chatting with the girl behind me in line, and we got along well enough that she gave me her phone number in sympathy, remembering what it was like when she had been new in town the year before. Through that meeting with Deena, I met most of my friends here in L.A., and it’s still a legendary event in my friend circle here. Deena herself, after creating a network of friends and bringing us all together, left for a trip around the world in 2007, and then moved to DC when she got back. She’s missed. I was so happy to see her – it’s been just over a year. We had about 90 minutes to catch up, which we made the best of. I left her at the HealthCentral Network party, after a few glasses of wine, and jumped in a taxi back out to Dulles.

Several hours, and a Virgin America flight later, I was back in L.A…exhausted. I planned to sleep on the flight home, but was never quite able to manage it. Instead, I did some minimal work, sampled the absinthe cocktail (less potent than its Bar Sinister knockoff) and played with the VARed entertainment console. Finally, I found myself back at LAX, picked up my car from the parking lot, and sped home to crawl into bed with my husband. It was an eventful and productive trip, work-wise, but a very long 24 hours. At least I got to sleep in the next day, since I had planned to take it off to spend with my mother. Not that “sleeping in” is an option the way it used to be – not with a Benjamin.

And that was my adventure to DC. It was a very different trip than the last time I went, and a much more…respectable…journey than the last time. Although, I do wish I had had more time. I would have liked to finish visiting the Smithsonian.

simply being loved, is more than enough

This doesn’t go with my goth tough-girl image, but I am a sucker for romantic movies. Not chick flicks exactly, but actual love stories. I can roll my eyes at a lot of romantic movies, but I’ve been snuffling away in the middle of my Virgin America flight for the last hour and change, watching The Time Traveler’s Wife. Then again, I also cried buckets when I read the book. I sobbed so much, in fact, that Paul actually heard me from down the hall, and then indulgently chuckled when I came to bed after finishing the book.

But then, most of that was because those kind of love stories remind me of how much I love my own husband. Paul and I have been lucky enough to find each other, to fall in love, to have that kind of true love. That’s really what makes me cry. It isn’t the sad love story, it’s that strange heartache that goes with true love, that ache of what is almost too much joy. I never knew how much I could love anyone before I met Paul. After three and a half years together, and one Benjamin, I still love him more all the time. I still believe, just as I did when we first fell in love, that he is my True Love, the man I was meant to marry. I can count a hundred reasons that I love him, but it all adds up into something intangible. I will love him for the rest of my life, and, if its possible, beyond that. (For lack of a better word, I’ve been gifted by the universe with the sheer coincidence of finding my husband at the right place and time. I know how fortunate this makes me.)

So that’s why I cry harder now at sentimental movies than I did when I was a teenager. It’s because I have proof that there’s that kind of ridiculous true love out there. Knowing it exists makes it affect me even more in movies or books. And it also makes me want to count down the hours until I can get home to my husband (about three, right now…two more on this plane, and then another hour to get my car and drive home.)