Poetry Thursday


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

-Billy Collins

New stuff

We are starting to accumulate baby stuff. We've been trolling Craigslist for strollers, car seats, etc., and the guest room/future nursery is starting to fill up. It's a scary room for me now. We keep the door shut and occasionally I peek in just to freak myself out.

Our newest item is a set of crib bedding. Of course we don't have a crib yet to put it in, but I'm sure we will take care of that someday. We found the bedding by accident while doing an initial cautious walkthrough at USA Baby. It was on sale, and who could resist decorating a baby's room with stoned frogs? Certainly not me.

I'm hoping at some point I will get over the absolute terror I feel at being responsible for every aspect of another human being. But I'm afraid that now I'm just going to feel like this for the rest of my life. Maybe this is what it means to be a parent?


I'm so glad I live in such a pet-loving city. City ambulances and fire trucks will now carry oxygen masks for dogs and cats.


Bad dream

The only book I've ever wished I could erase from my mind is Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Aside from thinking the book sucked in general, the descriptions of violence were graphic and disturbing enough that they occasionally pop up in my nightmares. Such was the case last night when I woke up at around 2:00 am and spent another two hours trying to get back to sleep.

Has anyone else here read that book? Did it bother you? Am I just a big wuss?



Art Garfunkel's website has a listing of every book he has read since 1968. I'm not entirely sure what to think of it. A lot of the books he lists are good ones, but his favorites list comes across as very pretentious.

I don't believe anyone who would list both Bronte novels and Austen novels as favorites. Nor do I believe anyone who says they actually enjoyed James Joyce's Ulysses.

Also, I suspect he has left books off his list. I also keep a journal of books I have read - my list is also full of Literature (with a capital L), but is liberally interspersed with trashy novels, little known fiction from the bargain bin, and random low brow non-fiction. Those categories are suspiciously missing from Mr. Garfunkel's list. Although I guess if I were to publish my list online for the world to see, I guess I might clean it up a little also.

As to why I've been browsing Art Garfunkel's web page, um, I'm not really sure.



This headline from the Onion had to have been written with Monster in mind.

Dog Experiences Best Day Of Life For 400th Consecutive Day



Weird, isn't it? It still surprises me every time I look down and see my belly instead of my feet. The scary part is that I've still got a couple of months to go.


Making pregnant ladies cry

So I went to the tea store today to stock up B's supply of green. Carol, the owner, hadn't seen me for a couple of months. "Congratulations," she said. "When are you due?" I told her September.

Eyeing my belly, she replied "are you sure it's not August?"

Thanks. I wasn't feeling like enough of a cow.

Poetry Thursday

Unknown Age

For all the features it hoards and displays
age seems to be without substance at any time

whether morning or evening it is a moment of air
held between the hands like a stunned bird

while I stand remembering light in the trees
of another century on a continent long submerged

with no way of telling whether the leaves at that time
felt memory as they were touching the day

and no knowledge of what happened to the reflections
on the pond’s surface that never were seen again

the bird lies still while the light goes on flying

-W.S. Merwin

via The New Yorker


Baby update

Right now:
  • Proportions of the body are now quite similar to a newborn although thinner since he hasn't begun to form body fat.
  • Bones located in the middle ear harden.
  • Your baby is able to hear.
  • The eyes are formed, though the iris still lacks pigmentation.
  • The pancreas, essential in the production of hormones, is developing steadily. He has begun producing insulin, important for the breakdown of sugars.
  • If born now, your baby has a 15% chance of survival, his odds going up with each passing day. .
  • The average baby at this stage weighs 1.1 pound and is 11.38 inches long.
All of a sudden, it seems like everything is going much faster than I'm entirely comfortable with. We have a pregnancy journal that has a day by day update of what is going on with me and the baby. We read the days entry each evening before going to sleep. A few days ago, the book said that it was time to sign up for childbirth classes and hospital tours. For some reason, that completely freaked me out and I've been feeling panicky for the last few days because of all the things that have to be done.

My next checkup is tomorrow - I think this is the one where I have to do a glucose test for gestational diabetes. I think that means drinking a glass full of sugar water and then hanging around for an hour to get blood drawn. Not very exciting. I'm almost to the point where I start going in every two weeks instead of every four, and that is just one more milestone to make me get nervous.



Some of these are hilarious.

via BoingBoing


We had a great time on our trip to Savannah. The historic district looks just like the French Quarter in New Orleans - it's full of old brick mansions and townhouses, live oak trees covered in moss, pink and white oleander plants, and private walled gardens with small windows to the street. We stayed in an 1860's townhouse that has been converted into three apartments, one on each floor. It was so much better than staying in a hotel - cozy and comfortable and super luxurious.

I'm feeling very lucky right now - not only did I get to see one of my oldest and best friends get married to someone she is obviously madly in love with, but I got an incredible vacation in the bargain!


Poetry Thursday

The Room

The room has no choice.
Everything that’s spoken in it
it absorbs. And it must put up with

the bad flirt, the overly perfumed,
the many murderers of mood—
with whoever chooses to walk in.

If there’s a crowd, one person
is certain to be concealing a sadness,
another will have abandoned a dream,

at least one will be a special agent
for his own cause. And always
there’s a functionary,

somberly listing what he does.
The room plays no favorites.
Like its windows, it does nothing

but accommodate shades
of light and dark. After everyone leaves
(its entrance, of course, is an exit),

the room will need to be imagined
by someone, perhaps some me
walking away now, who comes alive

when most removed. He’ll know
from experience how deceptive
silence can be. This is when the walls

start to breathe as if reclaiming the air,
when the withheld spills forth,
when even the chairs start to talk.

-Stephen Dunn

via The New Yorker


New pet?

Over the weekend, while pulling weeds, B noticed an interesting hole in one of our flower beds. We speculated about whether a snake lived in it and then forgot about it. Then yesterday morning, when B came back from his morning run, he found a Texas brown tarantula on the driveway. Unfortunately, I was not there to see it. If I had, I would have lots of beautiful pictures to post. Instead, here is a picture from the internet, verified by B to look just like what he saw:

B says that it was "the size of a cd." This morning, I went out looking for him, but I couldn't find anything. I am working on figuring out ways to lure him out - maybe an offering of crickets and/or grasshoppers near his hole? I am hoping for a long residence and lots of baby spiders in August. I thought I might even see about keeping him as a pet, but B objects to all carnivorous bugs, and especially spiders. I know he is indulging me by not pouring our scorpion killer spray all over my garden.

I'm hoping that I might see him tonight - if so, I will try to catch him for a brief photo session (I know B, I'll keep him outside) before putting him back in his hole.

Does anyone know if there is a conflict between anoles and tarantulas? I would hate for one of my new pets to eat the other one.


Sometime this month, all EMI music on iTunes should be available in DRM-free form. I have been hoping that this would lead to more labels/online music stores following suit and it seems that might happen. Amazon just announced that it would be opening a DRM-free music download store. I think this is the first sign that the music industry is finally realizing that its business model needs to change and that customers need to quit being punished for wanting fair use rights.


Vacation and belly ripples

The latest baby news is that he is now strong enough to make my entire belly move. I know Annie mentioned it, but it is impossible to explain how weird it is to look down and see your belly rippling and bulging and moving of its own accord.

This Friday, at an ungodly hour of the morning, we will be flying to Savannah, GA for a combination wedding and last baby-free vacation. Tracy, my best friend growing up, is getting married. Instead of having a traditional wedding, they have invited a very few close friends and family for a wedding weekend. There will be a small ceremony on Saturday, but none of the frills and craziness of a regular wedding. Tracy and Frank won't even be leaving for a honeymoon after the wedding - they will continue to hang out with the rest of us and enjoy Savannah until Monday. I expect the weekend to be relaxed and enjoyable.

Also, if I can figure out timing, I might get to see my cousin Tim and his wife, who live just across the border in North Carolina. Tim is in the marines, and I don't think I've seen him since joined up, when I was around 16 or 17.

For me, this is like a family reunion! I (might) get to see Tim, I get to see Tracy, and I get to see Tracy's family, who I practically lived with for part of my adolescence.

There will be many pictures on Tuesday when we get back.



A Buddhist approaches a hot dog vendor and says: "Make me one with everything."

He gives the vendor a $20 bill and waits. Finally he says: "Where's my change?"

Says the vendor: "Change must come from within."

Summer, pt 3

You know it's really finally summer when Sebastian gets his mohawk. The Elton John glasses are gratuitous, I know.

Summer, pt 2

A new friend moved into our front staircase recently. We've seen him a few times, but this was the first time he was brave enough to hang out while I took pictures. He doesn't have a name yet - any suggestions?

Early summer

Before everything fries to a uniform brown sometime around the end of June, Austin is a beautiful city. I can stick my camera out the car window at random and be almost sure of taking a picture of something beautiful.



I missed Poetry Thursday yesterday, but with good reason. I was in the hospital writhing around in agony, begging for drugs. Ever had kidney stones? Apparently they are fairly common for pregnant women, although I suspect I had a particularly bad case.

So! That was my first overnight at a hospital, my first long IV drip, my first experience with those awesome beds that move fifty different ways at the touch of a button, and my first experience of hospital food. It really is as bad as everyone says!

Between my bouts of begging for drugs, I was panicking about the baby. The nurses obliged me by checking his heartbeat every hour or so and checking him on the ultrasound while they were looking at my kidneys. His heart rate went down as my blood pressure went up, but by this morning, both he and I were back to normal. He seems to have enjoyed the whole ordeal and his narcotics-induced rest, and was extra lively this morning. The nurse couldn't find his heartbeat for more than a few seconds at a time as he swam from one side of my belly to the other.

If I had to be in the hospital for something, I wish it had been something a little less prosaic and a little more romantic, but at least I'm feeling better about labor; it can't hurt more than peeing a bunch of sharp rocks, right?


More public radio

An 80 year old woman from Kansas was being interviewed about the tornado that totaled her house while she was inside. She told a horribly scary story about trying to get to the bathroom, and opening her bedroom door just as the roof blew off, and hiding under a rocking chair while sheet rock rained down on her. After the storm, some neighbors rescued her from the debris. The interviewer mentioned that she sounded very calm telling the story. The woman replied that she had prayed during the entire ordeal and had promised God that if he would just spare her life, she wouldn't be a whiner.

I like that. Start small.

More than one way to skin a etc., etc.

Before all you animal lovers get up in arms, I have to say three things:

1) Bella had a particularly thick coat this year that was shedding all over the house and causing her to have massive hair ball issues.

2) We didn't mean to make her look so bad - it's harder than you would think to shave a cat. This was only round one; we aren't done yet.

3) It was B's idea.



Here are a few more garden photos, including my new kick-ass aloe plant. And when I say kick-ass, I really mean it. I got a little bloody getting it home - those things are sharper than they look. I still have some things to plant, and I need to mulch all the beds, but it's starting to look more like a flower bed and less like a big mud pit in my front yard. In large part, this is thanks to B. Since my ab muscles turned into jelly overnight (thanks, kid!), he has been helping me dig out the bigger roots and lifting some of the larger plants (like my 4-gallon rose bush) out of the pots. It makes me feel so wimpy!

The human capacity for love

On this week's This American Life podcast about the ten commandments, Ira Glass goes to talk to a bunch of 7th graders about envy. The funniest part was when a girl was talking about her boyfriend. She said they had broken up, but were getting back together because they loved each other. Her friend replied "Nadine, you don't even know what love is. You can't know until you're 16."



A relative of B's is pregnant. She just found out that the baby has Trisomy 18, which is a disorder in the same family as Downs Syndrome but with much more severe symptoms. Babies with Trisomy 18 rarely live long enough to even be born, and of those that do, most die within the first month of life.

B's cousin will have an abortive procedure, presumably a D&E if they haven't made it illegal yet, sometime this week. Considering this is happening to someone I've never even met, it shouldn't affect me so much. But it does. I imagine that for a day or two at least, the worst day of her life is still upcoming. I imagine all the people who will say, in one way or another, to just get over it; it isn't that big of a deal; it's better this way; you can always try again. I imagine the pressure to forget what happened and move on once she is pregnant again, as if one baby can be substituted for another.

I'm not religious, and I don't pray. But I can think about her and hope she knows that she will make it through this.


Remember that little corner flower bed I planted about a month ago?

Look at it now:

I would like to take credit for this, but all I really did was look out the window every other day and say "Oh look, it's raining again. That's nice."


Baby Update

I am no longer comfortable referring to the baby as Rufus. Rufus was the name for the genderless, abstract idea of being pregnant. Now there is a real baby boy in my stomach, moving and squirming. He is no longer abstract. So I guess until we agree on a name, he's back to being just the baby.

This week, according to pregnancy.org:
  • You're half way there! (statements like this don't make me feel all warm and fuzzy. They make me panic about how much is left to do and how unprepared I am to become a parent.)
  • The rapid growth stage is about over. While things have slowed down, this next stage is vital to survival.
  • The baby's heart grows stronger. Find a quiet place, lay flat on your back. Locate your own heartbeat by finding your pulse. Next lay your hand on your belly. You may be able to distinguish the two heartbeats! (Nice idea, but it didn't work. I'll try again next week.)
  • His legs are reaching their relative size. With the increase muscle develop occurring as well, you will start feeling much more than tiny flutter kicks soon! (um, my baby must be stronger than most, because I started feeling much more than tiny flutter kicks awhile ago. I think he figured out pretty quickly how to get the best leverage when trying to get my attention)
  • Immunities are being transferred from you to your baby now. These immune cells will protect him from viruses you've already had for up to six months after birth!
  • The nerve cells for taste, smell, hearing, seeing, and touch are now developing in specialized areas of the brain. Production slows down as existing nerve cells grow larger and make more complex connections.
  • Your baby may startle in reaction to loud sounds. Amazingly, he can actually hear noises outside of the womb. Familiar voices, music, and sounds that baby becomes accustomed to during his development stages often are calming after birth. (I guess that means we'll be playing Lyle Lovett and The Pixies for him instead of singing lullabies...)
  • Baby is about 6.5 inches crown to rump and weighs around 12 ounces.
The baby also has a registry now. Making a baby registry is hard. When you register for a wedding, you just go around picking out things you want. A baby registry involves a lot of looking up what things are for and calling people with kids to ask how certain functions work. Plus, finding objects that are mostly free of teddy bears and cutesy stuff is harder than you would think.


This is a sweet story.


Poetry Thursday - going Victorian

See Granny, they aren't all sad!


First time he kissed me, he but only kissed
The finger of this hand wherewith I write;
And ever since, it grew more clean and white,
Slow to world-greetings, quick with its "Oh, list,"
When the angels speak. A ring of amethyst
I could not wear here, plainer to my sight,
Than that first kiss. The second passed in height
The first, and sought the forehead, and half missed,
Half falling on the hair. O beyond meed!
That was the chrism of love, which love's own crown,
With sanctifying sweetness, did precede.
The third upon my lips was folded down
In perfect, purple state; since when, indeed,
I have been proud and said, "My love, my own."

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Some of the lineup for this year's Austin City Limits festival has been announced - in particular, I noticed: The White Stripes, Björk, The Decemberists, Robert Earl Keen, and Joss Stone. I thought to myself "that's worth paying $145 for a three day pass." I've never gone to the full ACL fest before - B and I used to volunteer every year at the fancy kick-off gala, but we never paid for real tickets. Then I noticed the dates: September 14-16. Dammit. That is a few days before my due date. So now I have to decide whether it's worth it to pay $145 for tickets that I might not get to use. I guess I could always sell them on Craigslist...


Border security and Satan's minions

As I read this, I kept checking the URL just to make sure I wasn't at The Onion or something.

via Dooce


One more

Here is one more notable picture. Notable because Becka is not standing on anything, and I am not crouching. In fact, I am wearing high heels. Some (and that means you, B. We've all heard you opine that my mother did not feed me enough vegetables) would say that I appear to have quit growing in 7th grade, and that might be true, but I prefer to marvel that my sister is really freakishly tall.


It's getting downright dangerous around here. Last week, some dude put a bomb in front of a South Austin women's clinic, and now yesterday, a South Austin woman finds a pipe bomb in front of her house. Notice that both incidents happened in South Austin? That's because North Austin is a sprawling metropolis that aspires to be a Houston suburb. South Austin is where all the crazies live, myself included. There is a bumper sticker that I see around here a lot -South Austin: We're All Here Because We're Not All There! (I would get one if I could find one.) Anyway, if any of you are planning to come visit us anytime soon, you might want to bring your body armor.