Spook Country is on deck now and its not fairing well in comparison. I like Gibson’s tech heavy multi-culti aesthetic and his wasabi mashed potato comfort plots but I think his characters are getting a bit aggressively something. Like everyone has too many /’s in their descriptions – afro-chinese-cuban/midget/ninja/hacker/conceptual artist. Anyway, I’ll report back when I’m finished.

Spook Country got better but not that much better. When Gibson wrote about the mysterious footage in Pattern Recognition and Cayce Pollard’s obsessive search for its creator, it felt truly genuine – you got a heroine working on resolving much more than just the central mystery and a web phenomena that I could easily picture myself becoming involved with. This one never got there. The plot was limp and the most interesting characters were sorta peripheral.

Random other observations: to my great relief, the most obvious moralizing re: the Iraq war was delivered in a semi-oracular style by a stoned benzodiazepine addict.

Is “the old man” Winn Pollard? Other than mutual comparison to William Burroughs, I don’t think the text supports it – thank god.

Why are the recent heroines of Gibson’s work so prone to getting expensive haircuts on Blue Ant’s dime?

Here’s hoping the last book of this series turns Spook Country into a pleasant pause in the real action.


the silver lining

Yesterday, the AC crapped out on us for the second time this month. Since it was hovering around 100, I spent the day wringing my hands over the possibility of having to install a new furnace and wringing out my t-shirts. By 10pm, I was crabby and the kids (+1 friend) were wilted. Faced with the prospect of nursing a sweaty baby in our sweltering 2nd floor bedroom, I booked a room at the Sterling Inn. Yasuro, wonderful man that he is, opted to stay home with the dogs, the better to meet the repair tech scheduled to arrive between 8 and 12 the next morning.

A quick stop at Meijer snagged a 2$ bathing suit (score!) for our guest, 2 bottles of orange soda and a pack of Oreos. I checked in at 10:30pm, The Boy in arms, a 9 year old, a 7 year old, and a 28 month old trailing behind. The room seemed a bit dodgy but the sheets were clean. I cranked the in-room AC as high as it would go, turned on the Disney Channel and started handing out sugar. Everyone but me was fast asleep by midnight.

I lay across the end of the bed and read Alternadad till bleary eyed at 2:30, I passed out. Morning came (a bit too) quickly and we proceeded to check out, have breakfast at Tim Horton’s and return to the inn’s attached waterpark till 2:30pm today. Having 4 to keep a close eye on and entertain is exhausting but the kidlets all had a great time and the AC repair at home only cost 144$. Less than last time and not a new furnace! Woo!

shopping with halmoni

My mother in law and I were destined for one another. She may not have seen it at first but I think she’s coming around. From the proprietor of our favorite sushi/bibimbap joint telling her that she and I have a similar bearing to our mutual love of shopping – all signs point to “daughter you never had”.

If only I could speak Korean…

Today we had lunch at Steve’s Deli (Husband, Mom, the kids & I) then we went shopping at a boutique stuffed to the rafters with really cute and correspondingly expensive European children’s clothing. Thanks to Halmoni’s munificence, no one went home empty handed. I appreciate her generosity – but even more so, her happiness with constantly holding the grandson who is now approximately 1/5th of her total body weight.


paul frank skullie

ten years ago…

Around this time, ten years ago, I was living alone in a little apartment in Charlevoix. I was about 4 months pregnant with Mitten and I saw my grandmother every day. I would drive or walk from my apartment, along Main Street, over the drawbridge that spans Lake Michigan and Lake Charlevoix to her condo. I’d help her get out of bed and when her first bout of coughing was over, we’d sit on the porch and have coffee. It was an intensely lonely period of my life and our visits kept me afloat. Being able to help take care of my grandmother during her final months on earth was probably the largest benefit of having a surprise!baby, other than the baby herself.


In which I expound, quite redundantly, on the prodigious talent of Mr. Charles Dickens.

Somehow, I made it to 29 without having ever read a word of Dickens (just finished Nicholas Nickleby). It feels ridiculous to gush about a talent so thoroughly recognized but I can’t help it! The man is mind-meltingly good. I’ve gone from tears to laughter in the space of a paragraph, which isn’t hard to do, I laugh and cry quite easily – but Dickens manages to keep the sadness he’s just described fresh in your mind and then make it amusing without diminishing it’s poignancy.

Spook Country is on deck now and its not fairing well in comparison. I like Gibson’s tech heavy multi-culti aesthetic and his wasabi mashed potato comfort plots but I think his characters are getting a bit aggressively something. Like everyone has too many /’s in their descriptions – afro-chinese-cuban/midget/ninja/hacker/conceptual artist. Anyway, I’ll report back when I’m finished.


I’m a young mom. Mitten was born when I was 19 and a half, but I always round up and tell strangers or new acquaintances that I was 20. I think I’m understandably defensive. Most people equate parenthood before 25 (or hell, 30) with poverty, low educational attainment, questionable morals and Britney Spears. Sure, I have good credit, a B.A in Philosophy and am a great fan of underwear but not everyone takes the time to figure it out.

I can feel, if I pay close attention, the point during the “your age v. your kid’s age” conversation when my metaphysical label changes in the mind of the mid-thirties female suburbanite I’m getting to know, from “Mitten’s mom” to “reformed (?) harlot”.

Last year, I volunteered to help at a few of Mitten’s Brownie meetings. During one such, the girls I was working on a craft with asked how old I was. “28”, I said, inwardly cringing. A chorus of surprise rang out. I think 2 girls simultaneously said, “My mom is soooo much older than you!”

“Great”, I thought. “Way to endear yourself to other parents”. I could all too easily picture these girls going home and relating this information over dinner. I like to believe the best of people but I can’t help thinking that there might be a few, who upon hearing this, would be pricked by the comparison and easily soothed with a little condescension. If I’m lucky, I’m often regarded as a little sister. If not, well, play-dates are not forthcoming. To be fair, most of the people in our neighborhood fall into the former category.

A Girl Scout meeting isn’t the only time when being a youngish parent makes life “interesting”. After hours of worst-pain-of-my-life back labor with Toot, I burst into tears after being told I hadn’t dilated further. The nurse who was attending me laughed and said, “Honey, it isn’t a race!” As if the reason I was upset was unrelated to the horrible pain I was experiencing. Rather than ask, she assumed I had unrealistic expectations of the pace of childbirth because I was young looking. When Mr. Baby was born I finally got the satisfaction of answering a patronizingly cooed, “Is this your first?” with “No. My third.”

When I’m not feeling all brave and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke about it, I look forward to the time when Toot and The Boy will be in school and my age will be completely unexceptional. A time when women can dislike or mistrust me for reasons I’m comfortable with, like being better looking and more interesting.

I can’t say why it’s taken me so long to write the second part of this post except that I think I’ve been aiming for something really useful since I have friends who either recently had their first child or are due in the next few months. Also, I’ve been thinking about this crap for awhile and have only now developed an audience for it (a hazard when you have your last kid a good year before most of your friends have had their first) and as such, I’ve got a lot of material running around my brain.


Your crazy love for your baby will never go away — but as intense as your feelings for your newborn are you’ll eventually have to leave the house for supplies, return to work and/or visit friends and family. Resuming your normal activities helps blunt your desire to spend each waking moment contemplating the perfection that is your child. It sounds like I’m being sarcastic but I’m not. You *really* will want to spend every moment contemplating your infant.

This is all normal and good. At this point, if friends tell you you’re talking about your baby too much, I might seriously consider a friend purge.

The danger comes later. People who stay at home to raise their children are obviously at greater risk for identity loss than their partners and I would contend, have more at stake when they do. No one aims to be Patsy Ramsey (poor soul) but if you’re living through your kids, don’t be surprised if somehow your 2 year old ends up wearing a hoop skirt and mascara while you’re screaming “We’re Number One!” at another parent.

Accept that the person you were before you had children is gone. In her place stands the more compassionate, stronger version of you. Think of all the things you were capable of before kids and think of what you can accomplish now that you have real motivation.

Guard your self. Stay well groomed*. You need to read every day, stay up on current events and call your friends and gossip. Even if this means that the kids watch Teletubbies or Spongebob for an hour, APA, be damned. (This is also what nap time can be for if you have kids that, unlike mine, actually nap on their own.) Surprise your partner with some dirty talk that has nothing to do with diapers. As you cruise through town in your mini-van, blast a little “You Suck” for old times sake.

*How to take a shower: Bring your bouncey seat into the bathroom and put your infant in it. Shower quickly and if things start getting loud, peek-a-boo with the shower curtain is always fun. Common sense tells us that this maneuver should not be attempted when baby is tired.