Random Blog A Musing Farf: February 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


So this Friday, I am moving to Beirut circa 1984. Well, at least that is how the contractor described the condition of the new apartment. There is no running water and exposed electrical wires. There is no kitchen and no bathroom, and even if there was, they would be useless since there is no plumbing right now. There will be almost no furniture, which is not a bad thing since there is dust and bits of plaster everywhere. I suppose that since there are not bullets flying through the windows (as there may have been if I have moved to this neighborhood 25 years ago), I should count myself lucky.

A month ago, when we gave notice on our current apartment and decided to move into the new place during renovations, this seemed like a good idea. The contractor was confident that most of the apartment would be completed and that, at the very least, there would be a working shower and toilet, even if there were not yet tiles on the floor. But, through no fault of our contractor (who we actually adore and would work with again in a heartbeat), the co-op board delayed and delayed on the required approvals and work is really just beginning. So we are weeks behind our original timetable and I begin to understand why our contractor refuses to put a “time is of the essence” clause in a contract concerning co-op renovations.

But, Husband and I are up to the challenge. We are going to “camp” in our new place and Sister has generously given us the key to her place for middle of the night bathroom emergencies and morning showers. Husband, Tiki, Cody and I will all live in the master bedroom and hope that the dust we are inhaling contains only minimal amounts of lead. (And, if there is lead, then when Sesame is actually born and does something stupid, I can tell him/her that it is not their fault but because Mommy inhaled poison during pregnancy.)

I will continue updates as the renovations continue and, in the meantime, am glad to have an office with a nice clean bathroom. Somehow, I see many a late work night in my future over the next couple of weeks.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Just this week, the accountant at my office asked me if I was pregnant. Apparently she was out of the office when I made the big announcement in December and had just figured I had been gaining weight over the last few months.

"Congratulations!" She gushed when she saw me. We talked about when I am due (June 27th) and how much she loved it when her kids were born. And then this:

"I suppose when the baby comes, you'll want to be a stay at home Mommy, right?"

I have spent many a sleepless night lying awake feeling my unborn child kick me non-stop and wondering about how the impending birth is going to change my life. First and foremost on my mind is childcare.

I live in Manhattan and work helping low income people fight for livable wages. The problem is that while I feel really good about my career choice, I barely make a livable wage myself. I never really cared about this since Husband, Sister and the rest of my family are generous enough to pay for vacations and the occasional meal, and while I do appreciate having nice things, I can also live without.

And, while there are certain aspects of my current job that I really don't like, I do like working overall. In fact, I love being busy with my work and my volunteer activities and can not imagine giving them up. Do I want to be an attorney forever? Likely not. Are there other career opportunities that I am eager to explore? Most definitely!

So then, Husband and I wrestle with the different ways to handle child care. Mother generously offered to help out a few times a week, but I feel bad having her watch my child just when all of her children are grown. Mother has fabulous vacations planned and keeps a relatively full schedule. She does not need a nanny job.

And what about a professional nanny? Well, the starting salary is somewhere around $600 per week, not including healthcare and overtime. I make just barely more than that and I have wondered about the trade off of working just to pay the nanny.

And then there is day care. At $2000+ a month on average, it is slightly out of our price range and the places we have explored do not allow child to enroll before 8 months of age. So that would be 8 months where I would be out of work and the idea of trying to catch back up and re-hone my skills terrifies me.

Part of me thinks of the cost of child care as an investment in my career. Money I am putting in now to ensure a higher return in the future. And part of me wonders why I am so eager to leave my child and go back to work even before it is born.

But the other day, I met a group Linkof women who really helped to clarify my thinking on the subject. We had gathered for a roundtable discussion about how the Clinton campaign resonates with working women and, due to my obvious pregnancy, the topic of working motherhood came up. One of the woman who was part of the discussion runs Working Mother Magazine, so clearly she had some insight into the matter.

I was open and honest regarding my fears for the future: our lack of affordable childcare options, society’s expectation that I stay home, the fact that Husband’s salary is so much more than mine and thus the one we rely on more. And also I spoke about how I am happiest when I am busy and thrive on participating in things like NYC Shiba Rescue, Haven Coalition and even my job (especially when Evil Partner is on vacation). I don’t know if I would be satisfied with full time motherhood and think I may even begin to feel isolated from my friends.

The women of the group nodded in sympathy. They had all been in my position and all felt like they were fighting an uphill battle against the same forces I felt.

One woman nodded in sympathy when I explained how the nanny would make more than I do (or close to it) and told me, “Going into debt for childcare is an investment in your future. It’s like going into debt for law school. You are paying out money now and expecting a huge return on your future.”

That was a moment of clarity for me. It’s okay to work just to pay the nanny (if that is what I choose) since the personal and career rewards I would reap from that investment would more than pay me back. And, while that may not ultimately be the decision I make, and I certainly would never fault those who made a different decision, it is nice to know that when the time comes, I am not alone.

And really, whether I go back to work right away, take some time off or never go back to the workforce, I am investing in my future. I am doing something that may not be cost effective now because I know the benefits I will have in the future. And I am lucky to have so many options.

So, the next time someone like my office accountant makes the assumption that I want to stay at home, maybe I will just tell them that I will be investing in my future leave it at that.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I had meant to write a post about how the other day, I participated in a rountable discussion with working women in NYC in order to discuss how the Clinton campaign resonated with them. Whether or not these woman supported Clinton's campaign for the White House, they also saw gender as a huge factor in the race and felt that Clinton was judged differently from her male counterparts. This post was supposed to be about how these woman, all mothers, made me reevaluate my own priorities and offered insight into working motherhood which changed my plans for the future and made me realize that I was not being true to myself, but rather what I felt society expected of me. That post will have to wait.

Instead, I would like to offer a quick lesson to anyone moving homes who may have a dog: If you decide to consolidate your CD collection and remove all the cases in order to store the CDs in a box to later upload to iTunes, make sure that you don't use the same box where you previously stored dog bones. And, if you do use the same box for CDs as you previously used for dog bones, do not leave it on the floor while you attend a friend's birthday dinner. Nothing good comes from that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


So, I realized that I almost never blog about the pregnancy. And really, what’s the point? I feel fat and tired, have heartburn and insomnia and generally am no different from any of the other women before me at 21 weeks of pregnancy.

But actually, I am really lucky. I have a great support system of friends and family and two of my good friends are due within a couple weeks of me so my baby will have some ready made playmates. Plus, I am taking pre-natal yoga and made a friend in that class who is due right around the same time. But, despite the changes I have had to make – new clothes, no wine with dinner (well, less wine with dinner), more vitamins and meat cooked beyond raw – the fact that Husband and I are going to be parents has not really hit me.

I could never picture beyond the delivery day, never really pictured a baby or a small child in my life on a permanent basis. And when I did, I actually sort of pictured an arrangement like I have with my dogs – give them love and attention and they reward me with kisses and good behavior. But yesterday, all that changed.

Husband and I took some time yesterday to go to the doctor’s and get the required 20-week ultrasound where they check to make sure things like the fetus has all it’s fingers and toes and that the heart and brain are there. (Yes, I realize I am 21 weeks pregnant but since abortion is legal in NYC until 24 weeks, I knew that if something was wrong, we would still have time to make decisions). Thankfully, nothing appeared wrong. Everything seems to be progressing on schedule and normally. Sure, the fetus has unusually large feet, but so do I so it’s not like that was a surprise.

Going into the ultrasound, Husband and I decided that we did not want to know our future baby’s gender. There are so few surprises in life where either way is good, that we wanted to keep it a surprise from ourselves. Besides, the room was already painted yellow so it’s not like we were re-painting pink or blue. And being that my mother, grandmothers and countless generations of Jewish women before me have imposed their superstitions on me, it’s not like we are really buying anything before the baby is born anyway. But then, in the ultrasound room, the technician asked us if we wanted to know the gender and I looked at Husband who pleaded with me with his eyes to say “yes” and we looked at the picture and knew even before the tech said anything. So, we know that we are having a ______.

Oh, wait. Did I mention that we decided not to tell anyone what the gender is? We had actually decided that well before the ultrasound. We just wanted to keep part of the pregnancy to ourselves. And really, given that my family is mostly girls and Husband’s is mostly boys, we figured the odds were not stacked in any particular way. Plus, I was convinced we are having a boy and Husband was convinced we are having a girl and neither of us cared too much either way, so why make a big deal out of it?

But the thing is, it has become a big deal. My mother is so annoyed that we won’t tell and my father even tried to get it out of me. We are calling Husband’s parents’ tonight to tell them all about the ultrasound results and I am pretty sure they will be equally as unthrilled with our decision to not revel gender.

There is more to my decision though than just wanting to keep this one thing to ourselves for just a few more months (although that is the major reason), the other part is that my poor child will be bombarded by gender stereotypes pretty much from the moment it is born. Toys will be pink or blue, clothes will be the same and I am not sure I want all of that pressure pre-birth. I do not think it will scar a baby boy to wear a pink onesie (so Mara, pass on your hand-me-downs) nor will a little girl be disturbed by being in blue (Cari, that means I want your old stuff as well) and no matter the gender, this child will grow up with an appreciation of sports as well as the ability to whip up dinner and dessert for six without more than 60 minutes notice.

But for me, weirdly, knowing the gender made the fact that I am having a baby seem all too real. I can now picture future events from a specific perspective and the little thing we have affectionately referred to as “Sesame” (since it was the size of a sesame seed at the first appointment) now has an actual person’s name. I can look forward to a bris/baby naming and I can finally see a moment beyond the delivery.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Actually, I got back yesterday and pretty much slept the rest of the day. Those overnight flights are brutal for folks like me (read: people who are incapable of sleeping on airplanes without prescription drugs). And while I would normally pop 20mg of Ambien, down it with a glass of wine and wake up 11 hours later, my doctor has frowned on this sort of this since the whole pregnancy thing started.

The trip was unbelievable and Husband and I are already talking about going to Patagonia again. He is super jealous.

And yet, as much as I missed him and the dogs, I am pretty glad to have been gone this week. The weather was terrible in NY (it was 85 and sunny every day in Argentina), Cody escaped and had an afternoon running free though the wilds of Connecticut when Husband went to visit his parents (I played with a puppy on a ranch outside of Buenos Aires who followed me around), and both dogs were sprayed by a skunk (I saw baby penguins and elephant seals).

But to give Husband credit, he did a wonderful job of holding down the fort. The apartment was spotless upon my return, the dogs were bathed, lightening fixtures were purchased for the new apartment and all the shopping for the week had been completed. I was very impressed.

I happily relaxed at home last night, basking in the calm, when, of course, that calm was shattered. Husband and I ran out to buy a new dishwasher for the new apartment and upon our return, we realized that the dogs had unzipped my suitcase and eaten the chocolate and chocolate cookies which I had brought back from Argentina. Yes, unzipped a suitcase, taken the plastic wrapping off of everything and eaten all the food, carefully avoiding any tinfoil and paper. Grrr.

We sniffed the dogs and from the smell, determined that Tiki was the culprit and promptly induced vomiting. Gross. Glad we are moving from the backyard. But then, an hour later, Cody suddenly vomited on the carpet. Apparently Tiki did not act alone.

Since then, both dogs have been sick and acting off. Cody has diarrhea and Tiki was high on chocolate and kept us up all night. And me? I find myself wistfully thinking of heading back on another trip with Mother and Sister for a week….

Friday, February 15, 2008


So I am sitting in a hotel in Pategonia, waiting for a car which will take me to the airport so I can explore the glacier and thought I would take advantage of how the hotel has seemingly forgotten to charge for internet access in order to write a quick post. Of course, as this is a Spanish keyboard, there are certain to be spelling and punctuation errors (even more than usual!) but you will have to bear with me on that front.

Being in Patagonia is like waking through an episode of Planet Earth. I was inches from Penguins, feet from Sea Elephants (no need to get to close to something that weights almost a ton at birth!), and bobbing in a boat right next to Sea Lions. It is really unbelievable and when I can upload some photos, I will post some.

The interesting thing also is that is is really warm. Somehow, I has it in my head that being so far south it would be cold, but it is beach weather and smarter people than I, meaning those who packed weather appropriate clothing, see to be taking full advantage. And, while I had no idea what to expect, I certainly did not expect desert-like conditions. (I learned on this trip that to be a desert, a region must recieve 5 inches or less of rain, but this area recieved 7 inches annually so it just misses the cutoff. You could have fooled me though - it is hot and dry and dusty!)

Mother, Sister and I have been having a blast on our girls-only vacation and laughing pretty much non-stop. I have even recovered from the flight from NY where I sat next to a 2-year old child who did not just cry for the 11 hour flight, but actually screamed. I debated various tactics from smothering the child to slipping an ambien into her bottle, but both would have required me getting even closer than I already was to the loudest being on the planet. And all this on an overnight flight!

Ooops, so much to tell but the car is here and waiting. I am off to the next destination before heading home and will post more (and more coherently) when I am back.

And to Husband - on the off chance you are reading this - I miss you so much and can´t wait to see you. Thanks for looking after the dogs. You are a trooper for everything you handled this week.