’80s Basement Lecture Series, 18 Feb 2017: Satire

About a month ago I was feeling nostalgic about NYC, as I sometimes do, and I remembered that my friend Brook started a lecture series there where she would invite various experts to talk about their specialties. It all started in her living room with a small group then grew into an impressive crowd. She called it the Living Room Lecture Series.

This memory sparked in me a desire to copy her. I texted some friends to see what they thought:

Hey, friends! I’m thinking of starting a quarterly lecture series at my house. Maybe 20-minute talks, followed by discussion and treats. The lectures would come from us and cover a variety of topics. Reilly could talk about Family Guy, Maddie could discuss writing copy or songs, Kylie poetry or Ndichie, Jon film, etc. You don’t have to lecture if you don’t want to. Does this sound fun? Would you support this?

The replies:

  • OH MY HELL. I would ADORE THIS.
  • I strongly support this message.
  • YES!
  • If kids are welcome I’m totally interested. We used to do something similar in DC and I love that kind of thing! Also I’m also interested without the kid. Both ways, totally interested.

So we set a date and time, which was February 18 at 7:30pm. I thought about holding these meetings in our basement, which has wood paneling and strange patchy brown carpet from the ’80s. I decided to call this thing the ’80s Basement Lecture Series. Genius, I know.

This past Saturday the guests arrived, and we gave them a tour of our home. Then we ate some pizza and got really drunk. JUST KIDDING THERE WAS NO PIZZA. Just kidding, we had a lot of pizza and zero alcohol.

We headed down to the basement. I introduced Reilly, and he gave a terrific lecture about satire and its evolution on television over the past 30 years. He defined indirect and direct satire, using Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert as examples. He hinted a quick comparison of Tomi Lahren and Samantha Bee. He showed clips from the Simpsons and Parks and Recreation. We had a fascinating discussion about the current political climate and people who don’t get satire. And we discussed the purpose of satire: in what ways does it motivate us to act/speak/think? It was a lot of fun.

I looked at the group of us and wondered: Are THESE the people I like hanging out with, slightly strayed, slightly jack-Mormon AND incredibly faithful, moderate-to-left-leaning, super smart, extremely big-hearted; socially conscious, ever eager agents of change to make the world a better place?

Yes, YES.  A frillion times yes.

The conversation, their presence, their intelligence and spirit: I basked in it all.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s great bringing people together to share ideas and foster and strengthen friendships. But I may have started this lecture series just for me. Selfish little me.

Can’t wait for the next meeting.

18 Months

Dear Zinger,

I want to tell you a story. Don’t worry, it’s about you.

Nearly two weeks ago, you had woken up at least an hour earlier than usual. Dadda had prepared your morning bottle and got you out of your crib. I could hear all of this happening from the bedroom: the fridge, the microwave; Dadda greeting you as he opened your door. I was still under the covers, trying to decide whether I should get up. Maybe I was scrolling through Facebook or trying to blink away the dark static of dusk, but you were in the living room, drinking your bottle, staying relatively calm and quiet. Then after a few minutes Dadda said, “May, Z just threw up all of her milk.”

Friday.

I walked to the living room and Dadda asked what to use to clean up the mess. I looked at you and asked if you were okay. You were crying. I picked you up and said that I was sorry. Maybe it was the milk at 5am; maybe it was too early for your stomach to be so full. I gave you some water, and you ate two Goldfish, but that did not stay down. We took off your shirt and wiped the vomit from the high chair. We laid you on the floor, and I lay beside you as you drifted off to sleep.

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You managed a pretty long nap. You seemed okay with a little more water and a bit of banana. I texted two doctor friends, and they both said the same thing: Keep you hydrated. Sips of water at a time. If you can keep down the water and banana, then try BRAT the rest of the day — banana, rice, applesauce, toast.

We were making progress. You love rice, bananas, and toast, and you were hungry. You had a teaspoon of water through an oral syringe every 5-10 minutes.

You made it nearly six hours without an episode. Just before Dadda got home, it all came up, but slimy. Banana. Toast.

Rice. So much rice.

We started over again. You began to hate the syringe. But we learned that cold water felt pretty good going down your throat. And you knew enough to cooperate when you were thirsty.

We scaled back to bananas and toast.

About two hours later you started climbing over the arm of the sofa the way you often do, so it seemed you were back to feeling somewhat normal. One of your favorite Pixar cartoons was playing as you romped around. After your final dismount from the couch, you walked over to me and let out a whimper, which turned into a full-blown cry. I realized too late that this was THE signal. It came, and I was unprepared. Your tummy was a fountain of rice and bile, flowing onto the floor, spewing an irregular rhythm.

I wiped your face, picked you up. Held you close, and told you how sorry I was. I hated so much that you were sick.

Two hours later you wandered into our bedroom and rolled around in a blanket on the floor. In the dark. I watched you; I knew you were tired. After a few minutes you walked up to me and cried. I picked you up to carry you to the bathroom, hoping to make it in time, but I wasn’t fast enough.

I was so, so sorry.

The bright side was that you were keeping down water for at least two hours at a time, so you had wet diapers, just not as frequent as on your healthier days.

Another blessing was that you made it through most of the night without vomiting, and you had only one episode on Saturday.

Sunday morning you woke up crying. You were hungry and weak, only having water and Pedialyte and bread in the past day. You were prisoner to a stomach bug that offered no other choices. But the virus had stayed long enough and was on its way out, and when Dadda offered you a plate of banana pieces, your little hand trembled as you reached to the plate and brought real food to your mouth and remembered the exquisite sweetness and texture and the feeling of something substantial nourishing your body.

Nearly two weeks later you show no signs of ever having been sick. Even though I didn’t do anything wrong, I felt I was falling short. Your being sick meant something about me as your mother that didn’t make any sense, but ultimately it meant that I was worried. I’m allowed to be worried. But now that you’re better, I feel forgiven. I feel grateful.

You have mostly forgiven food, which shows in your restored appetite. I feel grateful for this, too.

Today, nearly two weeks later, you are 18 months old.

As much as we try to control your surroundings, predict your life—even in the short-term—I’ve realized that patterns of raising a child more closely resemble the uncertainty of your next hurl. There may be obvious signs, but will I be fast enough to avoid a mess? Will I ever be sufficiently prepared? Will the answer to these questions ever be yes?

The point is we recover, right? We get over the acidic and chunky and putrid. We appreciate the struggle in hindsight, but we truly cherish the fresh air now. At least we should. We bounce back stronger and a hell of a lot smarter. And hungrier.

Maybe 18 months barely scratches the surface — there’s so much more life to go — but the scratches are there. We’ve enjoyed your first year and a half with you, even when you passed your stomach bug on to me and Dadda. What a pleasant weekend that was! We’ve had so much fun and learned so many things. And we still have so much to learn.

Let’s keep going.

Love, Mom

Six Months

Food!

Dear Zinger,

Last week for my informatics class we talked about quantum computing. There are computers capable of factoring a buncha-bunch of numbers at the same time. And this is all for managing and organizing the ever-growing amount of information in the world. I guess in that aspect they work better than the human brain in its current 10% working state. Some people out there can use their 10% a lot better and more efficiently than other people, so maybe I mean the average human brain. Some brains can process math and logic quite well, and others have a greater capacity for emotional intellect. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about me, but I want my brain to do it all.

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And I want for your brain to do it all. My math abilities are weak, but I can listen and sympathize well. I can do a decent close reading of a text, but I can’t do organic chemistry. I’ve tried a lot of things, and I want you to want to try a lot of things. I don’t know if that’s blatant projection as a parent, but I think it’s a major part of wanting what’s best for you. And I think it boils down to wanting for you to realize your potential.

“Geez, Mom, I’m only six months old.” Yes, I know. But the thing is, I really don’t hear you say that. You know what I hear instead? I hear jabbers and happy squeals and perhaps even some sing-songy coos and sighs. Lots of them. And instead of seeing you roll your eyes I see a lot of diligence and persistence. But we’ll talk about that a little more later.

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I also see increasing curiosity. A pretty smart guy named Albert Einstein said, “Never lose a holy curiosity.” At your age, all curiosity is holy. You want to see and touch and hear and taste everything. If your Dadda and I don’t stop you, you put everything in your mouth. So with your growing wonder, your Dadda and I have to step it up as parents and consciously teach you about the world. Of course we want to let you explore, but there are times when we let you learn from your mistakes as well.

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The other day you were moving — not quite crawling — around the living room floor, and you found your way to the ottoman. The camera was on top of the ottoman, but the camera strap was hanging off the ottoman. I was nearby in the kitchen, fixing lunch or washing dishes. You were in my line of sight, but I turned my head for just a few seconds and then I heard you crying. I walked toward you and saw a classic crime scene: a camera on the floor and a sprawled-out crying baby, also on the floor. Some part of the accessible 10% of my brain deduced what happened, just like Sherlock Holmes. I picked you up and said that you were okay, and after a few seconds, you were back on the floor, on all fours, meandering or doing whatever it is you’re doing that isn’t quite crawling.

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Your curious love for books continues to grow. I look at your face when Dadda or I read books (or magazines, or junk mail) to you, and there’s just something about the way you listen and look at the pictures. Is it our voices? Is it the wonder of language? Is it the way authors and artists present language and art? Is it the way the pages and covers feel against your hands or their salty acidity in your mouth? When you look wide-eyed at whatever we read to you, we share your wonder, and this brings us closer together. I have a feeling you already know this.

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Always observing. Always studying. Always holily curiositing.

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Some days I have to go to work. I’m gone at least eight hours, but when I get home, you smile and kick your feet and wave your arms. And when Dadda gets home from work or class, you do the same thing. It’s one of the biggest thrills we have with you. We wondered how six months into parenthood would greet us, and we really couldn’t be any happier.

The diligence and persistence I mentioned earlier? This is what I mean:

Yesterday was your six-month visit with the doctor. He gave us percentages pertaining to your growth. He said that you are in the 56th percentile of babies for your height and your weight. Maybe that means that out of 100 babies, 44 are taller than you and 55 are shorter; 44 weigh more than you and 55 are lighter.

Does that feel weird, being compared to other babies? Even though this is a way to keep track of your development, and while I’m grateful that you’re growing well, comparing still feels weird. Maybe I should just let it go; if it doesn’t bother you, I shouldn’t let it bother me.

You know what, though. The doctor said the size of your head is in the 79th percentile of babies your age. And of course I immediately thought: BRAINS. You make connections in your brain. As you watch me type this, you know there’s a correlation between the movement of my fingers and what appears on the screen. Your stomach tells your brain you’re hungry. Your bum tells your brain you’re wet or poopy. Your body tells your brain you’re tired. Your heart tells your brain to humor us when we try to make you laugh.

But we all know you’re so much more than your brain. You know this, and it’s not your brain that tells you. You are time. You are complexity, completeness, love. You are what makes our world go ’round in a continuous, paradoxical blur of the single moment that is life. Thanks for an incredible six months so far. We’ve loved every single second.

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Love, Mom

 

 

 

Birthday Man

During your first birthday as a husband, we waited for Into the Woods to begin at Shakespeare in the Park at Central Park in New York City. We sat there while it poured rain until a couple behind us held their giant golf umbrella over us to provide a little relief. We sat for at least an hour and watched sheets of rain sparkle in the stage lights until they announced a rainout. We walked on Broadway in the 70-streets in our wet clothes until we found a place that served cake and hot chocolate. We ate cake and drank hot chocolate. We were two months into being married. You were helping me move my stuff out of storage to Utah. I was excited about sharing so many more birthdays with you.

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Today is your 3rd birthday as a husband, your first as a father.

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We began your birthday celebration last night at dinner. A little party, just the three of us. You and I talked while our daughter sat quietly and watched us until she started trying to stand, which turned into rolling over in her carrier. Then you held her while I ate. I watched you with her across the table from me and thought, man, how did I end up with this amazingness in my life?

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You have spent the last four months getting up in the middle of the night to rock our daughter. You’ve stayed home and fed her and changed diapers and sang to her and taught her to blow raspberries. I think she understands the time you spend with her more deeply than we know. You are totally killing it as a father, which not only inspires me but makes me ever so grateful that you’re my husband. And I know our daughter is grateful that you’re her dadda.

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Tonight, you have class, and that’s okay. I hope you have a wonderful and special day with lots of laughs and smiles and memories, and we look forward to more fun birthdays with you.

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Brain Lapses and Meta Sadness

Three little anecdotes, either because 1) the public shouldn’t know every lapse I have beyond three, or 2) I have been extremely alert and conscientious, and I only have three imperfections to report. You choose.

At church:

  • One time during the final hour of the three-hour block, I was walking around as usual, finding new people to talk to and asking people to offer the opening and closing prayers. I walked from the front of the room toward the left side (stage left/house right) and rammed my leg into a chair in the middle of the first row. An aisle divided the rows of chairs and my leg bumped into the first chair of the first row on the left side. It seems in a subconscious effort not to bump my tummy into anything, I leaned the upper half of my body away from the chairs while I let my legs continue in a straight line toward the chairs. It did not hurt, but I asked myself if I had bumped into more things I wasn’t aware of. No bruises, but a new weird self-awareness of my body.
  • Another day during the first hour of the three-hour block, Reilly and I were listening to one of the first two speakers. It might have been a young man who told a story about the time his mom told him not to eat candy in bed, but he kept a stash of candy under his pillow, and he checked the hallway to make sure his mom wasn’t coming to his room. He ate one piece, then another piece. He then heard his name in a whisper, so he checked the hallway again. No one was coming. He ate a few more pieces. He checked the hallway again, and no one was there. He ended up eating all the candy, savoring every piece. Then he heard his name again and his mom jumped out of the closet and busted him for disobeying the rules. When he concluded his talk (about obedience) and the congregation said “Amen,” I didn’t say “Amen.” Instead, I raised a sustaining (or opposing) hand. I realized what I’d done, but I leaned over to Reilly to make a comment about the talk and  didn’t look around. Looking around would have made me look guilty.

Just yesterday:

  • I met up with some coworkers for lunch up in Salt Lake. As in most cases where I don’t know people very well, I mainly kept to myself and listened to everyone else talk. One person ordered the white bean burger, another person ordered French onion soup, one person ordered the crab macaroni and cheese, and I ordered a blackened salmon sandwich. All the orders looked amazing (most food still looks incredible to me), but I want to talk about my sandwich. The decently-sized fish filet was well seasoned and perfectly cooked. It came dressed with baby spinach and a nice tangy mayo inside a sliced fresh ciabatta roll. Then there were a side of fries, which were also so very yummy. I cut my enormous sandwich in half, then I cut one of the halves into quarters. Everyone around me kept talking, and I listened while slipping into food ecstasy. While listening and occasionally interjecting nods and chuckles, I finished the two quarters of the sandwich and most of the fries, and almost an hour had passed. We paid our checks and I asked for a box, excited to get home and have my leftovers for dinner, perhaps even let Reilly have a bite. I readied the sandwich for departure. My coworkers and put on our coats and headed out. I did turn around and check the table to make sure I didn’t forget my wallet. Satisfied that I had remembered my wallet, I joined the others outside. When we got back to the office, I realized I left my sandwich at the restaurant. My heart instantly broke. I sulked on the train home. My forgotten sandwich is probably why I didn’t sleep very well last night. I’m still very sad about it.

The last story is the saddest because it’s my biggest, most tragic lapse during this pregnancy. Not pregnant, I’ve forgotten my food at restaurants, but I haven’t been this pathetic about it. While I can certainly blame “pregnancy brain” for this indiscretion, such blame will not bring the sandwich back. I guess I could also blame my hormone-befuddled brain for my intense affinity for sandwiches (HOLY CRAP I LOVE SANDWICHES), without such affinity I would not be in deep mourning.

So far this morning I had breakfast, did some homework, and did some yoga. My tummy feels good, Baby Girl has been moving around, and my back has responded well to the stretching. I even had a small second breakfast while writing this post. And I may even be up to making my own damn good sandwich for lunch.

I can get through this.

30 Weeks

Tweety Bird!

30 is 3/4 of the way there.

75%.

I feel like I should have something amazing to report from today’s doctor’s visit.

Well, the awesome thing is that we’re going to have a baby in about ten weeks. Can’t just brush that off.

From today’s visit itself? Let’s make a list:

Beepee: At every visit the nurse takes my blood pressure. Today it was 100/60. It’s been around this low the whole time so far. Baby and I are just chillin’ together. You know, smokin’ weed.

Eye urn: Since I’m at 30 weeks, the doctor wanted to know iron levels. The nurse pricked my finger and took a microslide of blood. She used my middle finger because it’s less sensitive than the other fingers. I leaned over to Reilly and said, “That finger is less sensitive!” The nurse laughed and said, “And also pretty mean!” The nurse came back after a few minutes to report that my iron is great. She even gave me a cool Tweety Bird band-aid.

Mo billadee: The doctor asked me to get up and sit on the cushy table-chair thingy covered in hospital paper. He observed from the way I stood that I still move pretty well.

Art beat: Reilly has become an expert at finding the baby’s heart beat. He put the gel on my tummy and the microphone where it’s supposed to go and voila! rhythmic swishing. The doctor said that Baby sounds awesome.

Maize your: The doctor stretched a measuring tape from one end of my bump to the other. He took about two seconds, and when he saw the length — whatever it was, and whatever it means — he said, “Perfect.”

Quest yons: The doctor answered our questions about taking a labor and delivery tour at the hospital we’ll be going to. He said the hospital will let us preregister so that we won’t have as much paperwork to sign on delivery day. He told us to ask the lactation specialist about breast pumps. He also said that if an emergency arises or something happens before 36 weeks, to report to Utah Valley hospital. All very useful things.

Phoo duh: We thanked the doctor, left the clinic, then went to a sandwich place to eat Philly cheesesteak sandwiches. All to mark a successful visit.

Ten weeks left, everyone.

A Test of Just Station All Dye a Bead Ease

Pretty colors!

One early morning in January, May went to the lab to undergo a three-hour glucose screening. Workers at the lab had instructed her to fast for 10-12 hours and only drink water. They told her to bring something to do because she would be at the lab building for about three and a half hours. Since the lab opened at 7:15am she stopped eating around 6:45 the previous evening. She made sure to drink lots of water, though she’d already drunk half a gallon during the day. Even though she wanted to snack throughout the night, she knew she could say no to herself.

Just after 7am, May checked into the lab the morning of her appointment. The lab assistant behind the counter verified her name, address, and insurance information. The lab person wore a Gryffindor jacket, which somehow helped her make sure the lab received the order for the screening from May’s doctor. She told May that a phlebotomist would call her name shortly, so May and Reilly sat in the waiting area.

Reilly came, aww.

At 7:15 a nice lady called May’s name and brought her back to a room where they draw all the blood and drink it as an elixir to prolong life. The phlebotomist — we’ll call her T — told May they need to take an initial draw to make sure her glucose levels weren’t already elevated. Once they determined the levels, May would then drink the stuff.

So T poked May’s vein in the crook of her right elbow and took a small tube’s worth of blood. She bandaged the tiny hole-wound and wrapped her elbow with red medical stretchy cloth tape. May then went back to the waiting area. Ten minutes later T came out and told May that she “passed” and handed a small bottle of clear liquid to her.

Drinky drink

T then gave her instructions:

  1. Drink the stuff within five to eight minutes (of now).
  2. You can drink water throughout the three hours, but no eating.
  3. The stuff might give you some nausea, but that will go away.
  4. If you end up vomiting, you have to do the test all over again.
  5. Try not to vomit.
  6. No gum or mints.
  7. You can get up to use the bathroom, but don’t walk around a lot.
  8. Draw blood every hour for the next three hours.
  9. You don’t have to wait for us to come get you; you can go ahead and come back to the room when it’s time.

T then gave May a piece of paper with times for blood draws.

A schedule!

T was super nice and reassuring. She asked May if she had enough water and to let her know if she needed more. Then T walked back to the blood room.

May twisted the lid off the bottle of stuff. She poured some of the stuff into the small paper cup that T supplied and began drinking. She asked Reilly to take a picture during this part of the process. May did not hide her disgust.

How unflattering.

The worker at the front desk told her that the stuff would taste a little bit like Sprite, but a lot sweeter. It did have a lemon-lime flavor, but have you ever drunk anything so sweet it tasted bitter and tacked onto the roof of your mouth? Cloying is the word that comes to mind.

Why was May even doing this? The Monday before she took a one-hour glucose screening at her doctor’s office. Similar procedure: 12-hour fast beforehand, only water during the fast, orange stuff (that made her feel woozy) instead of clear stuff, draw blood one hour later. The office called her three days later (which was later than usual because of the New Year’s Day) to tell her that glucose levels were abnormal, and that she would have to schedule the three-hour test. In the days leading to this longer test, May and Reilly read about gestational diabetes on the internet, just enough to get worked up to a moderate frenzy on the inside but managed to stay calm and cool on the outside. May also began glugging more water. She bumped up from a half gallon to three quarts each day. Why would her glucose levels be high?

So now May was sitting around in the lab building waiting area. She read, played games, talk to Reilly, and watched people struggle with the check-in kiosks. Slight nausea emerged but soon subsided. The only thing she looked forward to about the blood draws were the different colors of the stretchy cloth tape:

8:25 – purple; right arm, no problems because my right arm veins are trusty.

purple!

9:25 – blue; left arm, which had never been poked because the veins there aren’t as big as those in the right arm. But May didn’t want four holes in the same vein.

blue!

10:25 – pink; left arm. T had trouble getting the vein to shoot so she moved the needle’s tip around inside May’s arm for nearly 30 seconds until blood shot in a quick and steady stream into the tube. “Come on, vein,” she said, coaxing it. This did not hurt but was weird anyway because a needle was waving around inside May’s very own arm, and that’s just a weird thought.

pink!

Each time May went back to the blood room T asked how she felt. On one of the screens in the waiting room T’s bio appeared. It said she’s been a phlebotomist for 21 years and has drawn blood over 140,000 times. Experienced and nice. And early in the morning, when it seems easier to be nice.

The last time T drew May’s blood May said that the last hour of waiting was the longest. T sympathized. She also seemed pleased to learn that May would not be driving home. She said that she hoped May had a good lunch planned.

May asked how soon the results would come. T said she’d send the tubes to the lab right away and have the results in a few hours, but the lab would notify the doctor’s office. So if May doesn’t hear from the doctor’s office within the next day, she should call them. May thanked T for all her help then went out to a late breakfast with Reilly. French toast, eggs, sausage. Nothing overboard, but very delicious. May really enjoyed eating after not eating for 15 hours. Which is the longest she’s gone without eating since before she became pregnant. Six! months ago.

The next day May meant to call the doctor’s office at 4pm but forgot. And when she remembered the office had already closed.

The day after that May told herself that she would call in the morning. When she had been at work for about an hour, she got up to use the bathroom then talked with a coworker for about five minutes. When she got back to her workstation, she saw that she had a new voicemail message. She listened to the message from the doctor’s office and returned the call.

The results came back from the lab. Levels are normal. May does not have gestational diabetes.

May will continue to eat well and maintain drinking three quarts of water a day and go for short walks. Nothing will really have to change.

May let out a little “yippee!” on the phone and the front desk worker at the doctor’s office laughed. Sure, lots of women get gestational diabetes, and lots of those women go back to being perfectly healthy after pregnancy. May would have taken it in stride and managed just fine, but still, she and Reilly are extremely relieved.