Monthly Archives: April 2009

An Increasingly Common Conversation: A Short, Short Play

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CAST:
Francisco: A man married to a pregnant woman.
Julie: A pregnant woman.

SETTING:
One bedroom apartment in Long Island City, New York.

ACT ONE:
Francisco and Julie are getting ready to go out to a literary reading. They will be taking the subway; the commute will be 30 minutes.

JULIE: Can you believe I’ve peed three times in the past hour?

FRANCISCO [putting on his coat]: Go to the bathroom.

JULIE: But I don’t need to go right now.

FRANCISCO: Go to the bathroom.

JULIE: I just said I don’t need to go right now.

FRANCISCO: Go. To. The. Bathroom.

Five minutes later. Francisco and Julie are walking to the subway station.

JULIE: I know you’re not going to believe this, but…

FRANCISCO, interrupting: You need to go to the bathroom.

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Two Types of Love

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My mom and I were having a conversation over the weekend, which, of course, eventually turned to the topic of babies.

My mom and her friend, also about to become a grandmother, had been talking about parental love versus the love of grandparents.

What she wanted to say was that I shouldn’t worry that she’d love her grandchild more than she loves me.

It’s funny– I’ve always been insecure when it comes to love, but the thought never occurred to me that my mom might love her grandchild more than she loves me. I’ve worried about all kinds of love, but not this one.

Here’s how I see it:

A grandparent doesn’t have to worry that love will be tinted by the frustrations and disappointments that are part of parenting. A grandparent has already overcome the learning curve of all things baby-child-adolescent related, and can simply be present to all the pleasure without direct responsibility. In other words, they can enjoy simply being with the child rather than having to worry (so much) about its needs being met. It’s a love a grandparent has earned, for sure, and it’s love on a different plane. I’m excited for my parents that they’ll get to experience that love soon.

And as for me, I do know I’m loved. Really. There’s enough love to go around.

It started with pickles…

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A few weeks back, I was going through the blogs in my reader and came upon this recipe for Chinese-style pickles. The directions were easy enough to follow and we had all the ingredients, so I made a batch and then steadily picked away at them for a week afterward (and for the record, they were delicious).

Every time I opened the fridge and snagged a pickle, I thought of my mom, who knows how to make pickles. She makes the best pickles, as a matter of fact (same is true of her potato salad, her coleslaw, her cornbread, her stuffing, and well, all the foods that moms make best and which you’ll never eat outside home for that reason).

I felt grateful for the memory of her making pickles in a huge ceramic crock, but I felt sad, too, because eating the pickles also made me think about all the things my parents know how to do– and all the things I don’t know.

A very partial list:

My mom can sew; grow plants; train dogs; and make pickles, preserves, and all other kinds of canned goodness. She knows how to saddle a horse and handle snakes. She knows genuses and species and zoological and biological classifications. She knows how to build cabinets, desks, and bird houses.

My dad knows how and when to plant a garden, how to neuter a cat, how to fix cars, how to hunt, fish, scout animals, and how to prepare your catch for human consumption. He knows all about polymer chemistry, he can use a compass, and he knows how to find arrowheads.

I don’t know any of these things, though it’s not for their lack of effort in teaching me.

There are other things I know, of course, and I feel good about them. I can speak Spanish. I know how to live in a city. I know how to make a living as a freelancer. I can research almost anything. I know how to cook squash blossoms and cactus paddles.

But still, I wish I knew everything my parents know.

Swine flu aside…

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if I could be anywhere other than New York City right now, it would be Mexico City.

There are a hundred reasons I’d go there, but the one that occurred to me today was that traditional Mexican clothing (which no one in Mexico City really wears but which I love) is PERFECT for pregnancy.

I’d head on over to the Ciudadela market and buy myself a couple of huipiles (the spacious, blousy tops that Frida Kahlo loved to wear) and Mexican muu-muus, which just look a heck of a lot better than anything you can buy here.

Yes sir, that’s where I’d be and what I’d do.

Just like Hemingway

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I learned something interesting about Ernest Hemingway (or, as a Cuban friend says, “Ernesto Emenguey’) when I toured his home on the outskirts of Havana last year.

Actually, I learned a few interesting things.

He had a room especially for cats (the live ones– he also had lots of taxidermied animals he’d killed on various safari excursions)–and rumor has it there were dozens of them. “Imaginate el apeste,” Francisco’s son said when we learned this fact. “Imagine the stink.”

He kept a running record of his weight in a list penciled on the wall of his bathroom.

And–this is the detail I intended to start with–he preferred to write standing up.

Soon, I might be just like Hemingway. Sitting down for extended periods of time (and that’s essentially what my work involves–sitting down at a desk I love, writing all day long) is becoming uncomfortable, so I’ll be needing to find a viable alternative sooner rather than later.

But don’t worry– I don’t anticipate designating a room in our home for cats.