Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year!

Crazy weather out there! It's been pouring all afternoon. I'm glad I waited until today to water the plants!

Now that a working draft of our packing list is in place, we headed out to fill in the gaps. My mind reels at the idea of forgetting some essential item that would have made Ruo-Ruo happier or more comfortable. Or hell, make her like us more. ;)

But the human condition dictates that I will sweat over that packing list until the cows come home and still have a moment at 2 a.m. where David and I are wringing our hands, Ruo-Ruo is crying, and I am despairing, "If only I had more Benadryl/softer washcloths/goldfish dyed funky colors with food coloring!" David says I should just accept this certainty going in, and be Zen about it. Unfortunately that goes against every fiber of my being, accepting things. ;)

Oh, and our visas arrived! They are like very cool stickers in our passports, with a lovely drawing of the Great Wall of China superimposed behind all the numbers and names and dates and things. And we bought some suitcases today! I'm not sure why, but having visas and suitcases makes it real for the first time that we are going to China. The fact that our daughter happens to be there was somehow not compelling enough evidence for me. ;)

Happy New Year, dear ones! May it be filled with joy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

It's My Party And I'll Cry If I Want To

So last night's mini-birthday party for Jarrah and Joy was an unqualified success. Big shout-out to Mary for coming over early and helping me make soup and grate a whole mess of potatoes for the latkes. The brisket had been merrily simmering away since early morning. David facilitated the festive atmosphere by hooking up my Ipod to some speakers in the living room, creating what I called the "Smoke-Free Dance Party," a joke that was a lot funnier in the '80s. ;) By the time the Fortune Cookies started arriving at 6:00, the wine was chilled, the tunes were pumping, and the latkes were sizzling on the grill. Paul played an important role by taping pictures of the girls to the tops of rhinestone crowns that proclaimed "Princess for the Day," which Mary and I wore later in the evening. Highlights were a rousing game of dreidl, frequently punctuated by shouts of "Ante up!" and a disco interlude that included me, Beth, Grace and Julianna (who's six) breaking in Jarrah's new tricycle. :) Melissa and Bill brought amazing jelly donuts and Grace baked a scrumptious lemon cake, but the piece de resistance was the fluffy, pink birthday cake that Mary brought, topped with two candles, one for each of our daughter's first year. I did get a bit of a lump in my throat when we sang "Happy Birthday," but only because I was happy. It was so wonderful to have all that love in one house, and while I can't tell you what I wished for, I think you could guess.

Today I braved BRU with Mary and Jennifer, intending to get every last item on my list, including disposable fast-flow nipples, a folding potty seat, a Pack N' Play, and more. It was quite satisfying except the part where I was supposed to be triumphantly bagging our Grace Metrolite stroller at last, and on sale to boot, only to be told they were discontinued and replaced with something called the Graco Lindsey, all pink and ruffled, and which, despite his highly-evolved masculinity, I can't imagine David pushing around. I found another stroller I liked, a Peg Perego, but at $400 (ack!) the parking brake is definitely ON. Time to do some on-line searching.

I've been doing quite a bit of reading in my toddler books (weird that I'm somehow able to flip cavalierly (word?) past everything that says "0-12 months") and absorbing a lot (get it? diaper humor! :)) about potty training, fussy eating, tantrums and intellectual stimulation. While I am a researcher by nature, I do have a whisper of doubt that any of this stuff will apply to Jarrah, or, if it does, that I'll be able to implement the advice successfully. I think I just need to work on flexibility--there's that word again.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Happy Birthday, Ruo-Ruo!

Tomorrow is Ruo-Ruo's first birthday. We were planning to have a little get-together anyway, to give me an excuse to make brisket and latkes, but then the day obviously took on more meaning once we received our match. At first I thought it was just cute, the idea of singing happy birthday to her. But now I'm fairly certain I'm going to shed a tear or two, celebrating my daughter's birthday when I haven't even met her yet. It's like the parenting train is chugging into the station, but slows down only long enough for me to see it's there, and then speeds up again...wait! I want to hop on! I guess we can make up for it next year.

David and I have been busy bees at the house. He's drilling straps into the walls so our bookshelves don't fall over when climbed, and making our outlets safer (I always forget he's an electrical engineer!) He also hung some stuff on the walls for me, out of reach of curious little hands. I am cleaning and sorting and organizing, washing baby clothes, checking and re-checking my packing list, assembling little things I need like teething gel and soapy dishcloths and tiny gingham barrettes (hey, she might have hair by then!) It feels good to be in motion since otherwise my mind races. Still so much to do, and we are in the breath-holding stage where Travel Notices could come in any day.

And David cooked me dinner last night! It really does warrant an exclamation point because aside from the times he prepares something that I've already laid out and left him instructions for, this might be a first! He was off work yesterday, but I wasn't, so I laid down the gauntlet. He chose the menu, did the shopping, and made me an amazing meal--Rosemary Chicken with an Orange-Dijon Sauce and Wild Rice, and for dessert--wow!--Baked Apples with Apricot Compote Stuffing. I yummed up every morsel and was mightily proud of him, too. I said, "You're in for it now, my friend. My devilish plan has paid off."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Not a Creature Was Stirring

We're in a little bit of a holiday lull, for those of you keeping score at home. With all our paperwork complete and our visa applications being processed, we haven't heard a peep from CCAI in the past few days. We don't yet know for sure if we're on track to travel in 2-3 weeks. Mostly we've been indulging in good cheer and what promises to be our last few opportunities to sleep in and go out to restaurants.

This morning I'm teaching at a NIA jam with Kellie and hoping for a good turn-out. Tonight we're spending Christmas Eve with Mary's brother's family. David and I initiated what I'm calling The Fudge Project last night...I want to bring a decorative holiday basket of homemade fudge to the festivities. So far it's going surprisingly looks glossy and rich, and David scored the pan into perfect squares. Hopefully today we can get it out of the pan and arranged in the basket without incident. What's up with me and my Happy Homemaker tendencies these days? First gingerbread and now fudge. Next I'll be placing wicker baskets of potpourri all around the house. :)

Happy Holidays, one and all!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Have a Nice Day

Because I sure did. None of it was baby-related. Except maybe the part where I kept showing everyone Ruo-Ruo's picture. And talking about her constantly. :)

I had a rousing NIA class this morning--the room was packed despite the proximity to Christmas, what a nice surprise! I felt like I was back in a big way from my recent malaise. Grace came and brought her sister-in-law, who was taking her first class and had a great time. Afterwards Grace gave me a pendant with the Chinese character for "Love" on it and brought tears to my eyes. Then they invited me to lunch with the rest of their families, and I got to talk about Ruo-Ruo some more. And get lots of hugs from two adorable six-year-old girls.

From there I drove to La Jolla to meet Jane at her parents' house. The sun was glinting off the world in that perfect Winter Solstice way. I love hanging at Jane's house. For one thing, the snacks rock--today, satsumas, toast with English cheddar and homemade guava jelly. And great coffee, always. I get to chat with Jane and her parents at their big kitchen table and it's so relaxing. I met Jane on my first day at UCSD because we were sharing an office at Muir Writing. I admired her shoes and she told me that the strap kept breaking and what should she do? I adored her instantly, and we've been pals ever since. She only lived in San Diego that first year, but I have visited her in San Francisco and New York several times. And lucky for me, she always flies back to the nest here. Now she's a dermatologist and I'm very lucky that she can fix my face, should it ever need fixing. ;) And she's just damn good company.

We took a walk on La Jolla Shores beach, where the waves were pounding up and down like the North Shore of Oahu. It was so cool. We walked and got caught up on each other's lives, but that never really happens because we end up getting diverted into five conversations at once. Later, we got changed into what David would call "finery" and met him downtown at a new place I've been wanting to try called Confidential, so confidential that it seems to have no sign. It had all kinds of light displays inside and white, white furniture. The menu is tapas and we had these yummy little burgers called "sliders." The food was tiny but delicious, and the drinks were slurp-licious.

It was a nice, nice day. I hope I can sleep after the espresso granita I had for dessert.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Three Scenes

Last night at work:

I was showing (with glee) my photos of Ruo-Ruo to the two gals I work with, one of whom is 80-something years old and said "She looks just like you. And David." Sweet! The other, who prefers dogs to children, was neutral, but wore an expression of "Better her than me." A third gal, in a holiday sweater, was subbing and we hadn't met before. After I explained that the photo was of my new daughter, she whiplashed back, "Where are her parents?" I felt my temples tighten, but smiled. "You're lookin' at one of 'em." "But where are her parents?" (Ping-ponging.) "I don't know," I admitted. "Somewhere in China." "But where?" (Teflon-like.) "She was abandoned." "Why?" "I don't know." I admitted again, and it reverberated in my head. "Why? Why was she abandoned?" Good question. Who abandoned my daughter? I figured my "Congratulations!" and "She's beautiful!" were not forthcoming. Got that right. It's very depressing to show off photos of your own kid and hear only "Where are her parents?" in response. It feels incredibly bizaare. That's not where my head's at right now. This one is finally mine--why is someone questioning that? One of those inconvenient adoption scenarios I'd forgotten about.

This morning at the pediatrician's office:

It's weird to sit in a pediatrician's office without a kid. It's even weirder when the nurse comes in calling your name and continues straight through to the next room when she sees only you and your husband sitting there. She returned anon, looking puzzled. "That's me!" I said brightly. She knit her brow. She knit once and then purled twice. "Um." she said, flipping through the papers on her clipboard. (This clinic specializes in international adoption!) "I look pretty old, don't I?" I asked. "Um." she said again, still flipping. "You're wondering where the baby is, aren't you?" Now I had her attention. She smiled. "Yeah." "She's still in China." (beat) "OHHHH! Come with me!" She took us to a little room and proceeded to ask my age and some other stuff before she congratulated us and left. David whispered that maybe she was going to get one of those little rubber hammers to bonk me on the head and knees with. But our actual consult with Dr. Dern was delightful. She gave us some prescriptions, some free samples, and some peace of mind. She also suggested that the mark on Ruo-Ruo's forehead in her photos was actually a bruise (aka temporary) and not a birthmark like we've been thinking, especially since she spends her time in a playroom that has hardwood floors and walls. All in all, a satisfying visit.

This afternoon, at Long's Drugs:

Woman, not unsympathetically, surveying my voluminous cache of stomach and cold meds parading by on the conveyer belt: "Oh, someone's not feeling good." I smiled. "Actually, I'm feeling fine, but I'm going to China, and think I might not be feeling fine there." "China! How exciting!" She seemed so thrilled that I couldn't resist adding, "And I'm going there to adopt a baby." "WOW!" She was bowled over. "That is so wonderful!" Suddenly I heard the checker saying, "My nephew is in China right now, adopting a baby! He and his wife are picking up a little girl!" "They're in the travel group right before me!" I practically yelled. "Do you have a picture?" the checker asked, "I haven't seen a picture of my niece yet." "Well, I just happen to have some right here..." I pulled out one of the Ruo-Ruo business cards that David made me. "OHHHH!" chorused the checker and the woman in line. "She's precious!" Now this was more like it. "It's almost her birthday." I announced, warming to my subject. "You must not know what to do with yourself, waiting for her!" the woman in line burst out. You know, that's pretty close to being slap on the nose of what I feel. "Yes," I gushed. "Every minute I keep thinking things like, 'I have to get her some Baby Tylenol!' That's why I'm here." Everyone laughed with delight. At this point, a small crowd had formed, and by the time I left the pharmacy, I had the well-wishes and have-a-good-holidays of a bunch of really, really nice strangers. That was awesome.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Sleigh Ride, Silver Bells

Just returned from a long and satisfying day in Encinitas, precipitated by a need to hold Mary and Paul's hands throughout each step of our adoption paperwork. :) Mary and I were both pretty wretched yesterday (she with a cold, I with some sort of condition in which all my organs seemed rented) so we chose today to complete and mail our next round of documents from the latest Travel Packet, much of which was marked TIME SENSITIVE, and even more so with the impending holiday break.

The first order of business was notarizing a series of papers that can pretty much be summed up as "We agree to hold our agency harmless if our hotel does not provide hypoallergenic down pillows" and "We agree to hold our agency harmless if our child does not get into Harvard." Because of it being Sunday, Mary and Paul had hired a traveling notary to come to their house, which was pricey but very convenient. His name was Ash, he wore a baseball cap, appeared to be 14 years old and was carrying what looked like a delivery pizza when he arrived, but he was not only friendly and professional, but well-versed in the peculiarities of notarizing for Chinese adoption--a real plus. That was a fun interlude, following by a little less fun block-lettering the prescribed responses into our visa applications, but these were also dispatched with few impediments.

At this juncture my blood sugar was dipping dangerously, so we took a short break at The Original Pancake House (yum, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries!) and then continued on to Fed-Ex/Kinkos (our favorite hang-out) for more copying and more--you guessed it--Fed-Exing, with some documents departing for Denver and CCAI, and others headed to San Francisco and the travel agent that will arrange our visas and, ultimately, our flights and hotels.

After that we drove to REI for travel-type items like money belts, fanny packs, luggage locks and other funsy items that made it feel like we were going camping instead of to pick up a couple of babies. And then there was a brief sojourn to Office Depot for red envelopes (the customary delivery method for monetary gifts to orphanage directors, nannies and the like) and plastic document envelopes (one each for travel documents and U.S. Consulate paperwork.) It was pretty funny when we drove exactly two parking lanes to get to Target, but that's where our heads were. Target was overflowing with adoption travel deliciousness--we went there for our non-monetary gifts for the girls' caretakers in Chongqing, but discovered so much more: single-serving formula packets, re-sealable baby food containers, sippy cups, fleece baby slippers, and--my fruit-loving cup runneth over--toddler t-shirts festooned with pears and strawberries. Whee!

The gift shopping was pretty fascinating (David and Paul, if they were looking over my shoulder, would respond "NOT!") because each province has a list of pre-approved gifts, and they are weirdly specific. One list (I forget which province) asks for nothing but fish-oil capsules. That's right, it's Omega-3 fatty acids or nothing, baby. Our list had such disparate items as electric shavers and anti-bacterial hand wash. And--bien sur--everything must be "Made In America." Or at least not China. We ended up with Maglight flashlights (they have an American flag right on the package!) Swiss Army knives, boxes of eau de toilette (that stuff scares me, but I guess someone likes it) and will be adding some boxes of chocolate from various local sources as soon as we can figure out which ones won't disintegrate during the trip and don't weigh more than our entire baggage allowance.

And then we were done! We picked up some yummy chicken dinners and brought them back to M and P's, after which there was a viewing of some great photos Mary found on the internet of the orphanage in Chongqing, some featuring eight or more babies playing in the same space our photos of Jarrah and Joy were taken. We looked for them, of course, but the photos are small and all the little shaved heads were far away. Still, it was amazing to think of them playing there with dozens of other little girls, along with the young and smiling nannies we could see holding them, and to imagine ourselves there, too, also taking pictures, and then taking two of those girls far, far away to live with us.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Care Package

I sent Ru0-Ruo a care package today. The label, provided by CCAI, was mostly in Chinese, but clearly stated "Chongqing Children's Welfare Institute" at the top. Weird. We had also been provided with a letter--first in English, then translated into Chinese--that was addressed to the "nannies," asking them to snap photos of our baby with a disposable camera (enclosed) so we can have a memento of her stay. The rest was up to us, but we were instructed (warned, rather) to limit the package to the size of a shoe box. I bought a really fancy blanket and David and I slept with it for a couple nights, from whence it would emerge in the morning a squashed ball of fuzz and satin. We picked out a fleece sleeper with ladybugs all over it and washed that to include. Because we had been told she likes toys that make noise, I bought her a Sassy television remote control with buttons (we've been told that once she gets here, only the real thing will do. :)) And, of course, the ubiquitous Sassy cushy, waterproof "Who Loves Baby?" photo album, with room for six photos of Mommy and Daddy and friends and family. All of this fit quite nicely into the shoe-box-sized receptacle, some of it swaddled in bubble wrap, most of it sealed in Zip-Loc bags (because what if the box gets wet?)

At the P.O., I felt inexplicably nervous and shy, coupled with a sense of urgency that now that this box was ready I needed it to be in Chongqing yesterday. In fact, I suddenly wondered what had taken me so long since the idea of her touching items that we've touched (or slept with :)) is so tantalizing! Anyway, the postal clerk was in no mood for my ignorance about customs. She seemed deep into a Christmas spirit snit from having to deal with long lines of people holding boxes they can't see over all day. When I said I was mailing to China, she pointed at a far wall without comment, and no matter what I asked, she just kept pointing. When I wondered aloud where I should write "0" (part of CCAI's instructions were to call the package a "gift" and "write 0," which I realize now must be for the value) she rolled her eyes aggressively and sighed, "I don't have the faintest idea." (Which of us works for the U.S. Postal Service in this scenario?) I could see I wasn't getting any love from her, which made me even more nervous, and I started filling in the boxes as quickly as possible so I hope I didn't do something stupid that prevents Ruo-Ruo from getting her package of care.

I wonder if it would have made a difference if I'd told that postal lady that this box headed for China will be my first contact with my daughter, who lives in an orphanage. That it's going to be her first birthday soon, but I won't get to spend it with her. I wonder if she would have been a little more enthusiastic then. But I didn't let her dampen my spirits for long.

Little Mysteries

I've been confusing myself the last few days. Some of my feelings seem appropriate; for instance, my stomach hurts sometimes, and my appetite is not as hearty as usual. I fall asleep easily but often wake with my heart pounding. That seems like typical anxiety stuff.

Other feelings don't seem as predictable. For one thing, my concentration is totally, utterly non-existent. It's like I suddenly have the attention span of my soon-to-be 1-year-old child. Yesterday at the gym, I wandered around hopelessly for 10 minutes, asking people if they'd seen my purse, which I was convinced was stolen. When I finally found it, guess where it was? Locked in the locker, right where I'd put it when I first arrived. But since I'd forgotten I had a locker, see, that made it difficult to trace the chain of events. ;) I routinely drive away from the house having forgotten all the things I need for that particular journey. I dial the phone and forget who I'm calling. I walk from one room to another and spin wanly in circles, trying to determine why I've walked there. People keep saying, "Oh, that's just what happens to moms!" But I feel a bit sheepish being this way without an actual baby to pull my focus!

My emotions puzzle me. The other day I was driving to BRU in a perfectly happy mood and suddenly found myself crying when I realized that if I crashed the car, I couldn't be Ruo-Ruo's mom, and who would be her mom? A little abstract, but there it is. I find myself having the most inanely sentimental fantasies, like when I woke up this morning and I imagined that someday soon David might open the door holding the baby, and put her in bed with me, where we could play peek-a-boo with the down comforter and she would laugh and I would make noises on her belly. (You moms out there are probably laughing delightedly at the idea of me snoozing like a princess while my husband gets up and tends to the baby. It's a fantasy, all right? :))

The thing that freaks me out the most is that not only do I think she gets cuter and cuter every time I look at her photo, but I get more and more attached to her, to the point where I feel all these painful tuggings on my heart and start imagining myself hoisting trucks into the air with one hand. Although that seems very sweet and all, it's bizaare to me. For what reason should I feel attached to a photo? I didn't give birth to her. I haven't spent many an amusing hour showing her the baby pandas at the zoo. I haven't snuggled her and smelled her head. I've never even met her. And yet I am bonding with her photo? Is there a name for this phenomenon? Am I exhibiting some classic psychological complex? Am I a statistic in someone's graduate research? I don't like being a cliche. I don't want to be typical or ordinary. On the other hand, I don't want to be freaky, either. I guess the real problem is I don't know which one I am. :) It seems to be starting already. You know what I mean? The eternal question:

Will I be a good mom?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


For some reason (for some reason?? Am I on crack? :)) all I want to do is write "woohoo!" in my e-mails, and say it to everyone, too.

Today's "woohoo!" (aside from the obvious "woohoo!" of everyday in which I'm woohoo-ing because I get to meet Ruo-Ruo soon!) is because we just got an e-mail saying our Travel Packet will be ready to download this evening! This is serious stuff, people! We get to apply for a Visa and send back our initial requests for flight and hotel arrangements. There's also a bunch of stuff for us to read so we can be prepared for the trip of a lifetime!

They had told us it would be a week and possibly more before this information was available, so the fact that it's ready early seems to suggest that we are on track to travel before Chinese New Year!

I need to say "woohoo" again. Woohoo! Okay, that's better.

Also, my brother, sister-in-law and two nieces just sent a huge package that turned out to be some sort of life-sized building blocks with the message "Happy Birthday, Ruo-Ruo!" That was incredible. I just stared at it, stunned. People are sending gifts to the house for a little person who will also live here! The third member of our household! Coming soon to an Allied Gardens near you! Also the fact that it's my brother is very special to me. I don't hear from him much, and it makes me feel really good that he's paying attention.

I also learned today that the kind of parents they have in mind in "Parenting" magazine are more like Martha Stewart than I am. I have undertaken a holiday cookie project that is quickly becoming totally unmanageable. More on the results of this little homemaking enterprise soon.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Tiny Bubbles

I am really run down but happy. And David seems over the moon. Every time he talks about Ruo-Ruo he gets this huge, dopey smile on his face, and I often catch him staring at her pictures. I can't wait to see him with the real thing.

This morning Mary and I took a NIA class with Marguerite, who is giving a White Belt in Encinitas. Today's routine was "Miracle," which seemed uncannily appropriate for the occasion. (For you NIA virgins, there are nearly 50 routines.) The last song of "Miracle" is a meditation/free dance in which everyone places an object of importance to them in the center of the room. Of course I had to put Ruo-Ruo's photo up there. I had underestimated, though, how intense it would be to see everyone in the class dancing around her. I was holding back tears a couple times. The song is "Thank You" by Sinead O'Connor:

Thank you for breaking my heart
Thank you for tearing me apart
Now I'm a strong, strong heart
Thank you for breaking my heart

Afterwards a new student complimented my photo and shared that her daughter, who's 2, is also adopted. We started talking and it turns out she has recently moved here and is very interested in Fortune Cookies. And she likes NIA! :)

Mary and I spent a happy afternoon going out to lunch and doing some shopping, and then picked up Paul for his 40th birthday dinner at Karl Strauss! I wonder if I will ever tire of passing Ruo-Ruo's pictures around and hearing lots of people ooh and ahh over her. Already, I couldn't agree with them more when they say she seems just perfect. :)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

More of Matching Weekend

I'm incredibly tired and need to wake up early (no doubt both those states will become themes) but wanted to touch on another groundbreaking day. From the moment we awoke, we started tracking our match envelope through the FedEx website, and I was actually on the phone with Mary when theirs arrived, which was really cool. Ours followed hard upon, around 10:00 a.m.

When I saw the FedEx truck across the street I ran to the door in my pajamas and held it open while the driver, who looked like an extra from "The Sound of Music," took his sweet time getting to the door. "This is a very special envelope!" I announced, and he murmured "Oh, I'm sure it is," averting his eyes from my pink-striped flannel finery, which for the second time in as many days was being thoroughly captured on video. We were so excited when we pulled out the new photos of Ruo-Ruo, both taken in a wooden playroom, which uncharacteristically for referral photos contained no walkers, chairs or other propping devices, simply an adorable, plump girl in a yellow dress trimmed in bunny rabbits sitting with some toys. In one, she looks like she's playing a plastic keyboard, so we've been calling her musically gifted. ;)

We took the photos (a copy anyway) to the Families with Children from China Holiday Party (fine timing!) where we attracted a huge amount of attention just by waving around a color copy with a couple of baby heads on it. It was so fun telling other parents, including some who had recently returned from China, that we'd just received these photos this morning. A couple of the girls pointed to the pictures and said "baby!" We even coincidentally struck up a conversation with the one member in San Diego who has also adopted from Chongqing, and we got to meet her 2-year-old, Roxy, who is a beauty. She told us that she really enjoyed the city and the people were very warm. Hooray!

After that we went to FedEx-Kinkos with Paul and Mary and videotaped the hell out of signing our acceptance letters and mailing them back to CCAI. That made everything official; when CCAI receives these letters, they will forward them to CCAA, who will begin working on our travel arrangements. We're hoping travel approval will be issued in around four weeks, putting us in Chongqing well before Chinese New Year (January 29 this year.) This is going to be one Christmas season where more than visions of sugar plums will be dancing in my head.

I just have to say that every time I look at Ruo-Ruo's pictures, she looks more and more lovely, and more and more like one of us.

Friday, December 09, 2005


What a day. What an amazing day. We are delirious with tiredness, having thrashed for a few scant hours last night, waiting for the sun to come up. We knew that calls would start coming at 10:00 Colorado time, and that meant 8:00 for us. Well, we heard nothing until 9:45 and I was fairly passing out by then! When the phone rang, David had seen to it that a special recording set-up (that he described as "low-tech) would capture the whole conversation for posterity, and we put it on speaker phone, too. A gal named Jen identified herself as an employee of CCAI, and then asked, "Is this a good time?" We were laughing and crying simultaneously, totally overwhelmed by the surreal quality of the moment, the moment in which we would become parents in an instant, over the phone. The first thing she said was something like "You have a beautiful daughter!" and I just lost it. I'm so glad this no doubt charming display was also being video-taped, especially since I was still in my pajamas. :)

She gave us the information that many of you have already read on e-mail--her name, her age, her province and a few details about her most recent medical exam, nothing that excited any particular attention. She sounded plump from her stats, and she has a little birthmark on the side of her head. I don't remember much of what David and I said or asked, though I do remember asking, when I learned her name was Yu Mei Ruo and that she knows her name, what she is actually called. That's where we got Ruo-Ruo, and it just stuck! All day long I'd pull up her picture again and be unable to restrain myself from proclaiming "Ruo-Ruo!" in a high-pitched baby voice.

For the first few minutes, I know I was in a state of shock, first because many months ago I had a vivid dream that our baby was going to come from Jiangxi, and instead she was from Chongqing, and because I'd kind of imagined her at six months and she is going to be a year old in a couple weeks. Then we had some sort of technical difficulties accessing our picture (they send the first one over e-mail) and it was the longest 15 minutes of my life while we pressed "check mail" hundreds of times and I became more and more hysterical. We finally resorted to calling CCAI and shouting into the speaker phone, "Our picture didn't come through!" and I guess we were sufficiently urgent-sounding because then we received it about five times. :)

I had some really complicated feelings when I saw her picture. I remember thinking all along that the people who said "I took one look at her picture and fell in love with her" just didn't sound like me. I am a "glass half-full" type of girl; it's how I'm able to tell jokes. :) I was shocked at her shaved head (extremely common for girls in Chinese orphanages) and her relaxed stance and expression, as if already jaded by the prospect of the thousands of photos her dad will take of her. ;) But within a few minutes, all the details began to snap into place in my head, like the moment when you find that certain piece of the puzzle that makes the placement of all the subsequent pieces really obvious. Of course she was relaxed--think about who her father is, after all! Of course she laughs really loud and sleeps really late--she's her mother's daughter! And hey, doesn't she look a little like my dad?

The happiness of the moment was capped by a phone call back from Mary and Paul, who confirmed that their J girl is also in Chongqing and practically the same age as ours! It was like a dream coming true--we've thought about being able to travel with them for so long, and now it is really going to happen!

The rest of the day has been a blur--sending out an e-mail to our "blast" list with her little photo and receiving a wonderfully prodigious number of responses from loved ones, many of whom said they cried when they first saw her face. Lots of really sweet phone calls, too, and a lot of love gathered for a little girl in spicy southwestern China at the mouth of the Yangtse River, ready and waiting for her to come and collect it all.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Matches Are In!

The latest:

Dear David & Sam,

The CCAA posted on their website that the April matches were mailed and included log in dates (LID) from April 1st through April 14th. Click on the English button on the CCAA website and you will find the announcements on the right hand side of that page.

Again, matches were mailed from China on Tuesday so we are anticipating the packet to any day and it will most likely have your match in it. We will be in touch soon!

Judy O'Connor, MSW
Child Placement Supervisor

I just read this over and realized it still sounds hopelessly vague. But here's the real news:

THE PACKAGE ARRIVED IN DENVER THIS MORNING. Now it's just a matter of waiting for that phone call!

Tummy hurts. And now I'm crying a little bit.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Seasons of Love

I'm ready to crawl out of my skin! I'm not sure what is up but my organs feel all sloshy and I'm light-headed and have the short-term memory of a goldfish. Is this what motherhood feels like? I'm distracted and anxious and yet I'm still deeply in you realize that according to all sources, "the stork" will be arriving at CCAI by midday tomorrow, which means that they have to call us within 24 hours of that arrival, which means we could (will!?!) get "the call" by Friday afternoon? I simply can't process this.

Oh my stars. I don't really know what to think. Anyone out there who can confirm that I'm not just having some kind of psychotic break? Shouldn't I be floating on clouds? Instead I'm ripping out chunks of my hair. (I do that anyway, but now it's really pronounced; I will have to resort to hats.)

And I have this strange desire to eat nothing but ice cream. Resisting so far, but the Ice Cream Force is strong with me. Also I'm snappish and impatient. This is sounding a lot more like PMS than impending parenthood. Hey, maybe it is PMS. Well, there's some irony for you.

Saw "Rent" this afternoon. I had never seen the musical in the theater, and as an unrepentent high school drama queen I've always wanted to. Also, the one song I knew, "Seasons of Love," tears me into little pieces every time. The way all that stuff happens in 525,600 minutes. The movie is like a period piece of lower Manhattan in 1989, and that part is fine. But why won't these people pay their rent, and why are they so angry that people keep asking them for rent? Why is it always so cold, yet the characters gallivant around in mini-skirts in the snow? Why don't the people who actually have jobs pay their friends' heating bills and maybe spring for a pizza? And why are all the songs so forgettable except the aforementioned?

Mind you, the cast are incredible singers, and credible dancers. And the way they are all living with AIDS is heart-rending. But I grew weary of them leaping onto tables and singing every few seconds. Occasionally I felt a bit embarrassed for them, which is not a familiar feeling for me, who loves "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and has been known to burst into tears at the line "Way, way back many centuries ago/Not long after the Bible began..." I just had trouble grasping why these seemingly nice folks seem to have such a penchant for squalor and smack.

A great big shout-out to Aunt Cheryl in Wellington Mills, Western Australia, an amazing cook and a good friend to garden gnomes. ;) Your post surprised and delighted us! Keep those posts coming, everyone. I love knowing that you're out there!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


This just in:

We have learned that the CCAA has mailed matches. CCAI hopes to receive these matches within 2 to 4 business days. At this time, we cannot verify how many families have been matched for the month of April LIDs. We will update this site as soon as more information becomes available.

The April families who receive their matches this month will be on an 8 month timeline. The remaining April families who will be matched in January will be 9 months from LID.

For the foreseeable future, it appears that the referral timeline might be in the range of 9 ˆ 10 months from LID (log in date) to child match. We will keep our CCAI families posted as soon as we are able to confirm any timelines changes or receive official notice from the CCAA (

Wow! For those of you who have never understood a word I've said about LIDs and DTCs and the crucial difference between CCAI and CCAA, here's all you need to know right now:

Our LID is April 12.

That would be the April 12 that's in the FIRST HALF of the month of April. The half that may already be matched with information about our daughter chugging towards Denver (and CCAI) as I write!

Okay, that is exciting, and now I'm even more freaked out. Because that means that (gulp) there's a picture of Jarrah in that package. And we might see that picture by the end of this week!

I realize I'm a bit incoherent here. I'm trembling. I think I need some retail therapy. More later.

Much more later.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Loveliness (Sigh)

What a nice weekend. I hope I am doing a good job appreciating them. On Saturday morning David and I drove to LA because he was giving a talk at some HD film festival. I'll let him tell you about that. :) We stopped in the OC for my favorite-ever egg salad sandwich (really it needs some other category because its elements are discrete instead of mush) and then continued on to the Geffen Contemporary Museum in Little Tokyo (once charmingly known as the "Temporary Contemporary," but I guess they finally faced the fact that they weren't going anywhere.) This museum, an auxillary of MOCA Los Angeles, is a cavernous warehouse that specializes in installations, the kind that invite frolicking in their capacious innards. The current exhibit, "Ecstasy: Altered States" was so much fun. One room is entirely filled with giant twirling red mushrooms hanging from the ceiling. Another room was entirely dark except for pinpoints of light arranged in a grid pattern. All of the rooms had the effect of disturbing your equilibrium in a pleasurable way.

Afterwards we met Lindsey at a mall called "The Grove" for a bit of shopping and a wander through the Farmer's Market. It was lovely with all the holiday lights and stars, but incredibly crowded. The wind whipped around all day, leaving the sky so clear that the falling darkness looked velvety. And we saw Matthew Perry! He was just ambling through the mall on his own, kickin' it LA-style.

Speaking of which, what is the deal with distance in LA? Is that city 50 freakin' miles across? Any time we had to go anywhere, it took a half-hour. I felt like I was in the car forever. From the Grove, David went to Burbank for his event (another amazingly long drive, and I was not a good enough wife to keep him company) and Lindsey and I went to give Zooey her dinner and then out for tapas with Thomas. (Tapas With Thomas! Possible children's book? Chewable?) The first choice of restaurant involved eating out on the sidewalk, where the tablecloths were literally lifting off from the wind. I said, "I'm going to promise not to complain if we can just eat anywhere that's not outside." We ended up at another tapas place, where Lindsey doesn't like the ambience as much ("Indoors is good ambience for me," I said.) It was fun, though we had a good laugh when they brought the dessert, supposedly Spanish-style churros with chocolate dipping sauce. "What does that remind me of?" I asked when the waitress had walked away. "Chicken fingers?" Thomas asked, and I said "Exactly!" And then they TASTED like chicken fingers, which was altogether disconcerting.

We stayed at my parents' house because it was so late by the time David was done (the event started at least an hour late) and had a leisurely morning, including breakfast out, which is one of my favorite things in the world to do on a Sunday. And the food was perfect. After that we took a meandering two-hour walk on Balboa Island, including a detour on the auto ferry to the Peninsula, where we stood on the pier and watched some guys sail off on the world's largest kayak-type boat. Once again, the day was dazzlingly clear and sunny, and Balboa was blissfully empty of crowds, reminding me for the millionth time how delicious it is to be local.

Friday, December 02, 2005


December Nights was sorta-kinda fun. Do you know there are people who stand around in there all night with signs, picketing the fact that it's no longer called Christmas on the Prado? Don't they have anything better to do? It makes me sad.

Anyway, I am the weirdest, most controlling person in the world and I printed out a list of what all the International Cottages were serving, so we got to zero in on the stuff we wanted: stew from Ireland, naan and chicken tikka from India, crepes from Hungary. And, of course, hot apple cider, which is mandatory for each celebrant.

It took us a long time to walk from our parking place through the thronging hordes to get to the stage where the San Diego Men's Chorus was performing; I really wanted to see them. We arrived in time for about three songs, which is better than we did last year! They really are very good; it's a shame that some sort of Zipper midway ride was situated right next to the stage and the lovely harmonies were punctuated with rising gales of scream.

I finally got to see the San Diego Floral Association, but there was some serious crapcake in there; all kinds of trees and tchotchkes festooned with dying flowers, and signs proclaiming that some ladies organization or other was responsible for the carnage. And they had advertised gingerbread, which was not in attendance. Luckily on the way out we happened on the San Diego Civic Dance Company, and got to see a dozen or so Santa-attired little girls in tap shoes doing the most fabulous Rockette-style kick line to an Ethel Merman-esque song called "I Need A Little Christmas." That alone made the whole evening worth it.

Still no news, by the way, if you were wondering.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Bah humbug. It's December and I'm crabby today. Scrooge-like. And I've always suspected Scrooge was Jewish, haven't you?

But first....shout-outs to Amy, Caroline, Marlene and Teresa! Woohoo! I've always wanted to have a reason to do shout-outs, like they do on "Television Without Pity" (awesome website, if you've never checked it out.) And to all you perfectly sane people who confessed to attending Howard Jones concerts--I am in good company!

So why am I all crabby today? Well, it's December Nights this weekend. This is an event that's better in the imagining than the execution. Most years David and I have dutifully trudged up the hill from our old place to Balboa Park and fashioned a make-shift dinner out of tiny, expensive bites of greasy goodness hailing from countries around the world. Grudgingly admitting, hours later, that we are full, even though we're fairly certain we haven't eaten more than a quarter-cup of food washed down by some indeterminate holiday glog. I like the acapella singers but David is virulently opposed to the greedy, grabbing crowds and kvetches mightily when I insist on going and even more so when we're actually there. It's a kvetching paradise for a man who otherwise does not kvetch.

But why am I crabby? Well, I think this is the time of year when I start sensing that everyone is gathered in homes with fireplaces wearing snowman stick pins on their turtlenecks and singing carols with their loved ones and I want in! I don't want to be left outside, pressing my nose to the frosty glass and peering around an evergreen garland. Wah wah wah.

Also someone posted an e-mail from Judy this morning where she, in her maddeningly cheerful and conservative way, estimated it could be two weeks before referrals are even MAILED from Beijing, because I guess those donuts are just too tasty for those CCAA folks to stay focused on their objective, which is to find me a baby! :) Of course she could be wrong, and of course I'm living the enlightened life now, where I don't wish for time to pass, but ARGH! Mostly I feel a bit like an sheepish idiot for announcing to people that we are being matched.

And why else am I crabby? Let me count the ways. :) Oh, David has a work event in Burbank this weekend...on Saturday night. Saturday night! Is that even legal? We were supposed to go to a fancy holiday party and now we can't.

Okay, I'm done with the crabby portion of our broadcast. I do want to say that I had the most wonderful time at the San Diego Zoo on Tuesday with Caroline and her beautiful boys who were both willing to hold my hand. :) We strolled around the blissfully empty "weekday afternoon in winter" zoo and even got an audience with the pandas, totally uninterrupted by haranguings to keep the line moving. Those pandas are awfully cute even just sitting there eating bamboo. I am so looking forward to more afternoons like this with Caroline and perhaps my own little one in a stroller!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


CCAI just posted that CCAA has gone to the matching room! We're up, folks! Gulp! I can't help but picture a group of people armed with coffee and donuts going through a door and reaching around to hang a sign: "Matching: Do Not Disturb." I wonder what really happens in there. Do they squint at our "Family Life" photos and then at little overexposed close-ups of baby girls, going back and forth until they get an "Ah-ha! Now THAT'S a family!" I guess we'll never know.

So, all of the sudden every song on the radio seems to have something to do with my head. Right after I read the news, I was driving to yoga and heard "Time Of Your Life" by Green Day. This song already makes me cry (okay, there's a moron alert ahead) because it played over the final "Seinfeld" montage, but now it had fresh resonance. On the way home, I heard "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," (so true!) and right after, Howard Jones's "What Is Love?"

Can anybody love anyone so much that they will never fear
Never worry never be sad
The answer is they cannot love this much nobody can
This is why I don't mind you doubting

I haven't heard this song in years, but child of the '80s that I am, it has a lot of associations. In the interest of full disclosure, I should also admit that I had a lot of life experience in the '80s: all of high school, all of college, first kiss, first apartment, first grown-up job, and various other things I don't care to mention and which you'd no doubt thank me for keeping to myself. But this explains why I'm sometimes a little moony over '80s songs, in a way that doesn't seem quite sane considering people now make a sport of laughing at '80s music videos.

Anyway, I did something else in the '80s that's a little embarrassing. I filled 49 cent composition journals with seething accounts of my love affairs and unrequited crushes (let's be honest: unrequited infatuations) so wonderfully solipsistic that when I read them now I have no clue what I was on about. I mean that literally: I included no names or other proper nouns that could be used for identification purposes. I suppose I assumed I would never forget a single detail of my fascinating, fun-filled and jam-packed life. But I did. Whoops.

The one constant that offers some clue to who I was in that decade (summation: pretentious and maudlin, but passionate and well-meaning) is the pop song epigraph that began almost every entry. Songs you wouldn't imagine anyone noticing HAD lyrics, let alone believing they offered an uncanny parallel to their own life. Did someone say melodrama is wasted on the young? I hope not.

At any rate, this song thing seems to have some sort of primal roots, as I find myself reaching for meaning in this venue whenever something momentous happens in my life. This is a confession. Be gentle. ;)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Time's Wing-ed Chariot

It was such a lovely weekend, so golden and crisp like a perfectly toasted egg bagel, that I wanted to capture that loveliness for posterity. Even though we have had no news about CCAA or "the matching room" I've been having complex feelings, a mix of anticipation, excitement and dread. I understand that no one truly knows what life changes will feel like before they've happened, but that doesn't mean I can stop myself from obsessing over what they will feel like and who I will be "when." And this obsessing seems to be taking its toll in various ways. For one thing, I've been short of breath a lot, like I can't quite fill my lungs. For another, I can't prevent myself from thinking of everything I do as potentially the last time I might do it, at least as the person I know myself to be right now. It doesn't help that people keep telling us that everything will change, EVERYTHING. This is curious to me, because how can I process that idea? I mean, will I stop craving cheeseburgers? Will I no longer enjoy US Weekly? Will NIA start seeming "interesting?" How can I ponder these existential dilemmas when they are so abstract?

So, back to the egg bagel-like weekend. Saturday night I announced we were going to La Jolla. La Jolla? said David, in a tone like I was cracked. That's right, said I. I wanted margaritas at Alfonso's and some holiday strolling in the village. When I first moved to San Diego, I lived in La Jolla (well, in the cheap seats) and was enchanted by the village, its lovely shops and perch above the thundering cliffs. I have fond memories of many a night with people I no longer know, drinking pitchers of margaritas on the rocks and having the sensation, not so much of being drunk, but of being transported to a world that was not as painfully distinct as the other one. It was truly gorgeous. But David and I also had our first date there, a week after Avery's wedding. We have a framed photo to commemorate that evening, when we were young and fresh and...oh, who am I kidding. We probably weren't either of those things, but it was awfully fun.

The margaritas were as delish as I remembered (though disturbingly small, now that age and prudence forbids the ordering of pitchers) and sitting in the heat-lamped patio next to Prospect St. and dispatching the perfectly greasy chips retained all its charm. We shared some middling Mexican goodies and, dear reader, to cap off the experience: I was carded! I wanted to leap up and plant a juicy one on the haggard waitress, but she was probably just as alarmed by my radiant smile and gushing "Thank you! It would be my pleasure to show you my I.D.!"

There was a classic moment later when I was admiring the holiday finery in Express (with David uncharacteristically feigning interest) and I pulled out a hip-length pink silk top, caftan-style with a fitted bodice. "This is pretty!" I crowed. "It is pretty!" David agreed (insert Australian accent) "But that dress is VERY short!" I almost fell over laughing.

Sunday my nostalgia raged unabated, so I announced we would be hiking in Torrey Pines after a terrace lunch at Pacifica Breeze in Del Mar. Scrumptious! The sun was winking through the eponymous trees and the horizon was sharp as a paper cut, so clear was the day. For some reason the beach trail access was closed (erosion, perhaps?) and the vehicle entrance fee has soared to six dollars (!) but such details could not dampen our enthusiasm once we began our stroll through the scrub and sand, the blue sea spread out before us, smooth as glass.

As if we were foot-loose and fancy-free (and for the moment we are), we dashed home and changed into evening wear in five minutes, dashing out again to meet Renee, et al in the East Village (across from Petco Park) at a new restaurant called Soleil @ K for drinks and tapas, and then on to Dizzy's to see her band Erroneous Funk live for the first time. They rock! One of my favorite aspects of the performance was watching the obvious delight in the band members' faces as they discovered new riffs in their jazz improv, and pursued them with gusto. They were delightful (though that place is too loud for the size!)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holiday Cinema

We just got home from seeing "Good Night, And Good Luck." The title is a little like the movie: plodding and muzzy. It's the story of how Edward R. Murrow stood up to Senator Joe McCarthy on CBS News. It's filmed in luxe black and white and may take the record for the most cigarettes smoked in a 90 minute movie. Murrow (David Straithairn) even smokes during his broadcasts. It seems problematic that I want to say the amount of smoking in the movie was the thing that interested me most. I didn't learn anything about the McCarthy hearings (they are shown as original footage, not re-enactments) and not much seemed to happen outside of a few (admittedly brave) character attacks on McCarthy by Murrow on the air. A bunch of people of no given designation played by famous actors (Patricia Clarkson, Robert Downey, Jr., George Clooney, etc.) mull around, smoking and concentrating intently on various monitors. A couple tries to hide their marriage from the CBS company, which prohibits employee marriage for some undisclosed reason. Occasionally we zoom in on a big-bosomed gal in a sound booth singing standards like "How High The Moon." Sometimes Murrow stares at her, but I don't know why, or where she is relative to where he is (down the hall from the newsroom?) And that's pretty much all that happens. Murrow is often shot in close-up, with half his face illuminated, like a Rembrandt. Though he is clearly smart and knows his way around a turn of phrase, his face is like a block of wood. He didn't seem like a person, just a "newsman." His personality remains impenetrable throughout.

Speaking of which, reviewers have been whining that they didn't get to know the "real" Johnny Cash in the new biopic "Walk The Line." I had no such complaint. I was so riveted by his love for June Carter that I totally forgot about the legend of "the man in black." I first heard about their 35 year marriage and torrid 10 year courtship in an NPR piece by Sarah Vowell, in which she talked about the song "Ring of Fire" and how passionately Carter wanted to resist Cash, who was married and addicted to pills. She herself was divorced with two small children, a fact that her core audience frowned upon. Although the early scenes of the movie are a bit hackneyed, once Cash and Carter meet the electricity is continuous. That Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon sing their own songs is a major perk. They do an amazing job, and when they duet, it's passionate. I could watch them sing for hours, even though I wasn't previously familiar with any of their music. I kind of didn't care about any cliched bits because the performances are so good, and because I was so busy rooting for them to get together. I'm sensing nominations for both of them, and well-deserved.

On the Giving of Thanks

Well, land sakes alive if my fantasy version of Thanksgiving didn't end up coming true! Lots of cooing over little Marlon (who is given to a steady stream of contented grunting, like a piglet) and I did NOT eat too much pie. And I had the opportunity, believe you me, because there was a lot of pie. That was on account of the Marines not showing at the last minute. Some sort of black ops mission, apparently. Top secret. Ssssshh. But Lindsey's new beau Thomas was there, and he was a jovial sort, much accustomed to chaos as he hails from a family of 10 (yes, that's right) children. He was game for all Goldstein mishegoss, even the heated discussion on why teenage boys sometimes like to jerk off into tube socks. (Don't ask, it would take too long to explain.) And Judy and Harry were cheerful, though Harry seemed to mistake me for Avery at one point when I was carrying Marlon, and offered some advice about getting him to sleep through the night that involved slamming his head in a door. Eduardo had just had surgery on his posterior bits so he was moving a bit gingerly, and my Dad (we Goldsteins are prone to speechifying) made a Thanksgiving address with notes and everything on the subject of thankfulness for family.

For once, the turkey wasn't dry, and a last minute heating of the stuffing saved us all from salmonella. My mom made her famous pearl onions with cream sauce and buttered bread crumbs (frighteningly good, and the one truly fattening thing on the table) and we all took turns holding Marlon, who rocks the house already at 15 pounds on his three-month birthday! That boy has quite a grip, too. Really he was very agreeable and unquestionably cute, and what can I tell you? It's true what they say about babies healing filial wounds and smoothing over family conflict with plump, adorable distraction. Avery even offered me some motherly wisdom about diapers and wipe warmers and whatnot, and if I won't have any use for the breast pump she recommended, I was not feeling contrary enough to point it out. (Imagine that!) In general, I was impermeable to slights and disappointment, and just enjoyed all the commotion and camaraderie and good food and the yummy smell of the baby's head. My first nephew!

After dinner we went a-callin' to the Coopers, where they were just sitting down to dessert, and oh, I don't mind if I do! I got to catch up a bit with Beth, Bryan and Lawrence (he and I had a serious talk that was equal parts fertility treatments and facial products) and it was very convivial. David and I decided to brave the drive home to San Diego at midnight, and we didn't get to bed until almost 2:00. It was good to be home.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Home Fires Burning

It's very quiet. And still. And gray. The quiet is beginning to freak me out. I'm trying not to worry about tomorrow because as I'm fond of telling people, "50 percent of the stuff you worry about never happens." That's right. Never happens at ALL. So if I spend the rest of tonight envisioning hell and brimstone at my parent's house tomorrow, it won't make it any more or less likely to unfold that way. Maybe we'll all sit around cooing over little Marlon? And listening with shining eyes to the Marines tell heart-warming stories of patriotism?

Yeah, right. And maybe I won't eat too much pie.

My NIA class today had about half its usual members. Still, I was surprised it had that many. I told them that the theme for the day was thankfulness. And that one of the things they could be thankful for was the ability to ignore my theme completely. :) I made them laugh a little bit with that. Which I was thankful for (get it?) because normally there's no laughing in NIA. Well, there is, but not before the music starts and that, too, freaks me out.

Last night David and I went to yoga for the second Tuesday in a row. Once upon a time this would not have been unusual but since we've moved far away from our studio in Bay Park, we haven't made it as often. I think also that we're gearing up for not being able to go at all, if that makes any sense. I told David, "On weekday evenings we're going to be busy helping Jarrah with her homework," and he said, "She won't be doing any homework for quite a while, I imagine." That was very funny, and very David. :)

I first started yoga many years ago after a hideous breakup (I was having difficulty breathing) and during a particularly sweltering summer. Three times a week I rolled out a towel in the lobby of an apartment complex in PB, where a delightful, diminutive woman named Sissy led a class in blessed air conditioning that was equal parts standing on our heads and laying in the dark, listening to her soothing voice. She was like my angel. Later when Sissy fell out of favor with the management and we were ousted (following a series of awkward face-offs in which apartment-dwellers watched "Friends" and drank beer mere inches from our prone bodies) my friend Mike told me about Ken and our current studio. Man, we loved Ken. Around this time David came on the scene and he loved Ken, too. Ken used to share fabulous stories about his yoga studies in India; for instance, one of his teachers told him that "Westerners have too much darkness between their pumpkins" by which she meant our bum cheeks. He had a way of explaining difficult poses that encouraged enlightenment along the lines of "You know, I think I CAN turn my thighs 90 degrees without moving my feet!" Years went by and Ken moved to Kauai (lucky Ken!) and we've had a series of other teachers since then, all proficient but somehow not the same.

Yesterday I had to take an on-line tutorial about sexual harassment for one of my jobs. No joke, it took almost two and a half hours, because you couldn't press the "next" button until a stentorious gentleman read every single freakin' word on the screen, even instructions for pressing the "next" button. Every few pages, there would be a quiz, with questions like this:

"Mike is Tim's boss at the warehouse. Mike told Tim he would fire him if Tim didn't have sex with him. Tim was offended. What should Tim do?
A) Tim should report Mike to Human Resources, or B) Tim should have sex with Mike and keep his mouth shut. It's not a good idea to make waves with the boss."

Even better, each question was accompanied by a tiny photo of people wearing glasses and bad suits and shaking their finger at someone, or putting their hands over their mouths in mock-shock as a nearby co-worker gleefully downloads some porn.

After about an hour, I started going through bills and doing my filing while this was going on. Without ever looking at the screen during the "lecture" portion, I could answer the quiz questions correctly. Which really concerned me, because who, exactly, was this tutorial designed for? Are there actually people out there who would be sweating over this quiz, scratching their heads in confusion over whether Tim ought to sleep with Mike? And if these people are out there, how do they find their way to work each day?

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Le Weekend

It's been a nice weekend. Two baby showers with a fun movie night sandwiched in between. Mmmm, sandwich. :)

David has registered "" (with this mention, consider it trademarked and copyrighted, November 20, 2005) after the hit our home-made version made at Mary and Paul's shower yesterday. I had a great time calling out the words, or better yet, making people guess them based on clues. The game was specific to China adoption, but we figure it could be adapted to any country or domestic. Most of the words referred to official parts of the process, but I threw in "moonbear" and "veggie puffs" and "glider" and "Robeez" and a few others as a shout-out to Mary and Paul.

Last night we saw "Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang" with said shower-ees at the Mira Mesa Stadium. The theater was a victim of a "Harry Potter" blitzkrieg but the movie was great. I love that Roberty Downey, Jr.--how can a man who's been so close to death so many times seem so madly alive in his roles? I also liked the self-referential aspects of the film--the voice-over, the self-conscious narrator, the deliberate "do-overs" that even showed the film itself rewinding several frames. It was a thriller in the "noir" tradition--twists and turns, fast patter--but very "meta." I love that stuff. :) And the three leads (including Val Kilmer and Michelle Moynahan) make a wickedly compatible ensemble. Anyway, if you've ever wished that Hollywood movies with murders and car chases were funnier, this is the movie for you.

This morning I was driving to Del Mar for Alicia's tres chic brunch at Il Fornaio and I had a surge of gratitude to be exactly who I am, right at this moment, infertility and wait and all. The sun was twinkling over the Pacific as I crested the hill on Del Mar Heights Road, and I was anticipating a yummy breakfast, diverting companionship, and a great reason to celebrate. Moreover, my outfit was cute, my car was running smoothly, my skin had been buffed to a high sheen and I had a sweet, sleepy husband at home with a list of honey-do projects in his possession. Yes, my friends, life was good. It is good. I want to take this opportunity to proclaim that today, since no doubt my bitter, cynical self is simply snoozing somewhere and we might return to our regularly scheduled programming as soon as tomorrow. Hopefully not sooner.

Speaking of which, I'm pretty nervous about Thanksgiving. I won't go into too much detail yet, as I'm sure I'll have plenty to say in the aftermath, but for now I have two words for you: random Marines. As in, my mother has invited some to our house for dinner. And as I've been telling everyone, nothing in their rigorous, perhaps humiliating, basic training has prepared them for a single evening in the Goldstein household. If they even make it to the pie, the experience may haunt them for years.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Blow, Gabriel, Blow

Recognize the title? It's a Cole Porter song. It was the splashy finale in the recent "De-Lovely" biopic. Anyway, I digress.

Today another hauler came to do the job that Daniel had left undone. His name was Gabriel. I found him, too, in the Yellow Pages. And like Daniel, he called twice to reschedule before actually showing up. The second time he called he offered to come tomorrow, and I said, "Not to be rude, but I've already rearranged my day for you twice and I don't really relish doing it again." He sounded a bit cowed at that and said he'd be right over. And he was!

He and an unidentified friend who reminded me of Randy from "My Name is Earl" (great show!) filled some wheelbarrows with bricks and concrete and then told me they were going to the dump and would be back. I was sort of doubtful about this but then realized I still had their check. When they came back, it was getting dark but they gathered the giant pile of dirt, which amazingly seemed to fill the entire bed of their truck. There was THAT much dirt in our yard??

In the last shadows of the afternoon, I wandered out back to check their handiwork and was pretty pleased. Gabriel followed me so I announced "Well, it looks great out here! Thank you!" I was about to wander back inside when Gabriel asked "Do you have kids?"

"Not yet." Pause. "Why do you want to know if I have kids?"

"It's just a question. Sorry."

"No, it's okay. But why?"

"It's look like a mom."

I laughed. It was my first response. I guess it was a little bit like the response of Sarah in Genesis when the Lord appeared to her and said she would bear a son at the age of 90. "And Sarah laughed." But I think, really, that I laughed because it was weird. And maybe a tiny bit because I was pleased. You mean I don't have a big "I" for "Infertile" on my forehead? Also...what does a mom look like? Did I look like one before I got my LID date? Before I filed my application? Then I said:

"We're actually adopting a baby in a couple of months."

"Really!" He asked me a bunch of questions about where and when and how old. Actually he was quite nice about it. Then:

"Do you think you'd ever want to have your own kids?"

"I will have my own kids...I'm going to adopt them." I said, with my grim, patient, pedagogical smile, the special one I whip out on these occasions, as if pulling out the good silver for a holiday.

"Right, right," said Gabriel, and then unexpectedly, "I have a daughter. She's 2 and a half. But I don't live with her. I never got married. I get to see her every weekend, though."

"How wonderful!" I trilled. "You must love her very much." I found out her name is Ashley and a few other things and then I started to feel like the conversation might profitably be drawn to a close.

"I have a check for you! I'll go and get it." When I emerged with the check he and Not-Randy were waiting. "Thanks for everything--you two have a nice evening!"

"You, too. And good luck with your baby."

I laughed again. "Thanks! I'm sure I'll need it."

"Yes, but...a house is empty without a baby," Gabriel said.

"That's what I've heard."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Where Babies Come From, Version 2.0

It's been a few days so I figured I should post. Not much is new.

This past Friday, we received an official e-mail (the only kind I'm paying attention to anymore) from CCAI, saying they had received only expedited May and June referrals in their latest batch. Expedited referrals are for families who are expecting Waiting Children or who are of Chinese descent. In any case, there were no April referrals, and no indication of when they might arrive. Some people have been posting on the April DTC board (which has defected from the March/April board now that the March people are all "got my plane tickets!" and "more photos of my precious angel!" and other stuff April folks don't want to hear about right now) all kinds of rumors from far-flung agencies around the world about terrorist threats, disease quarantines and general CCAA slow-downs from this point forward, but the fact is nobody knows bubkes. That's "nothing" for you non-Yiddish speakers. (Which I admit is questionable grammar.)

I just returned from BRU, where I was buying some more shower gifts and a few little things we needed while I was at it. It's interesting how my purchases have grown increasingly practical over the past few months. I used to be dazzled by velour separates and anything with darling appliques. Now I stride briskly past the frou-frou areas ("Amateurs!") and head straight to the safety and infant care, with an occasional dabble in bath and bedding. Today I picked up some more disposable items for our trip--bibs and changing pads. I hate to do all that littering but just this once!

Strangely, today was one of those days when I was downright sanguine about all the pregnant women. I sailed past them with only the barest of acknowledgement, vaguely thinking, "My, how they stick out in front! What a poor user interface! How do they get around?" Their condition seemed totally unrelated to me, as if we were different species. I am part of the species who produce offspring only in China, with a 13-14 month total gestation period. When the baby is ready, parents board an airplane to facilitate delivery. For two weeks postpartum, we live in hotel rooms. Our babies are large and interactive and arrive in eight or nine layers of clothing. Their first nourishment is rice cereal and pureed pears. See a special on our fascinating breeding habits on "National Geographic," narrated by Lisa Ling.

But it's okay to be different. Don't they tell kids that all the time? We're okay this way. And today I feel especially okay for some reason.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bebe Le Strange

There is no real reason for this entry's title except that it popped into my head today. I believe it's the name of an album from the '80s from a band I can't currently remember. If people ever commented on my blog, I'm sure someone could think of it. ;)

Now that we have some information--such as it is--and CCAI "believes" that the group of matches mailed yesterday will include only remaining March families, I am of two minds. In one, I feel myself relaxing, in the manner of "Oh, we won't be going to China until March! Might as well learn to play the guitar." Two, "Well, Jumpin' Jehosephat (how the hell do you spell Jehosephat?)! We have a baby coming! Not a moment to waste!"

It's the second mind that guided me at Ralph's today, where I made the conscious decision to troll the aisles for baby-related "stuff." Most of it comes from the China adoption "travel tips" lists I've been gathering from the internet. Because I'm a researcher, I feel the need to collect about 200 of these and look for trends. Then I can present my analytical findings at a conference. ;) But there are also the disturbing anomalies, the people who feel certain I will need Wellington boots or five sizes of Tupperware containers and I can't imagine why. But then, what do I know? I've never been to China, and I've never been anywhere with a baby. My favorite comment so far was the fellow who noted that we shouldn't worry if we forget detergent--"I found it in the supermarket in Kathmandu." It's not every day you can make this statement accurately. :)

So, I'm slowly rolling up the aisles in Ralph's, and discovering all sorts of things. For instance, Earth's Best organic baby food (recommended by Baby Bargains over the Gerber crapcake) is actually *cheaper* than non-organic brands. And, Baby Bargains wasn't fooling around when they said to check the expiration dates: all of the applesauce and a good measure of the carrots expired this past summer. As I searched, I grew bold: why, if she yums up pears and bananas, dare I venture some butternut squash? I dare, and I do. I found disposable washcloths (something I've been told I'll need) and a set of plastic keys (keys and plastic cellphones are mentioned repeatedly as the portable toys of choice.) My hand fluttered over some organic vanilla baby biscuits, but honestly? I was afraid I'd eat them all. ;)

At the checkout, I displayed my haul on the conveyor belt with trepidation: would the checker want to know why I, who have no baby to speak of, was buying a dozen jars of baby food and some plastic keys? My heart pounded as she scooped them up and tossed them unceremoniously into bags. She never said a word. Because here's a newsflash: people buy baby food every day. They buy it because babies eat it. And babies are tiny people. And tiny people are necessary for big people. Who then shop in supermarkets, often accompanied by other tiny people. It's a pretty routine cause and effect, if you stop to ponder it. Which probably only infertile people do.

"Thank you, and have a nice day," she said grimly, ripping off a length of store coupons and handing them to me with my receipt. I looked and they were for $1.00 off the organic babyfood. And you know how they know which coupons to give to people? They track your purchases. And you know who purchases baby food?

I think you see where I'm going here.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Daniel Disappoints Me

So I called this guy Daniel from an ad in the Yellow Pages because he's a hauler. He hauls stuff away. Apparently in a truck but I don't know for sure. That's because he came out as soon as I called for a free estimate, and said he'd be back the next day at 2:30. The next day at 2:30 he called and said he was busy and that he'd come the NEXT day at 2:30. At 4:00 the next day (!) he called while I was watering the roses and said something that sounded like "I'll be there in 45 minutes." I wondered, in the dark? But it was a moot point because he never showed. Never called again, either. And his business card says "RELIABLE." I want to call him and say "Your card says 'RELIABLE!'" But I don't really want to call him.

I was trying to hire Daniel to take away the bricks, concrete slabs and giant pile of dirt that adorn our side yard. I didn't want Jarrah to have to look at them. I was pretty excited about planting some flowers back there, maybe setting up a ficus tree. But also I want Daniel to bring his truck and haul away a few other things. Like my "the time just changed and it seems to be dark all the time" malaise. Like my distraction. My China blues. My constant need to check the DTC boards, which keep saying, "I logged on to Family News and there is no news." They just keep saying that, over and over, in slightly different words.

And now it's the weekend again with no hope of news until Monday and probably not even then. I also wish Daniel would haul away this disturbing need to wish away my time, like my life isn't already full and enjoyable without knowing who our baby is. It's just that today was supposed to be the day. And it wasn't.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

An Update Blows In

Snatched the following from the March/April DTC board this morning:

Thanks for the message. We know that the CCAA has not mailed matches to us, and it sounds like they won't mail later this week. So, early next week is when matches are likely to arrive in our hands and we will then know FOR SURE who was included in this match group. We are not anticipating the CCAA to match beyond the March 31st LID, but hopefully we are wrong with this assumption. We will continue to e-mail our April families as soon as we have additional news. We understand that this is a very difficult situation, so please continue to check in with us each time you have questions and/or concerns.

Best Regards,

I can't say that this clarifies anything but at least it's not "CCAA has decided to suspend all international adoptions at this time." That's something, right?!? It's so weird that they're still not saying for sure that April has been excluded this month. It's also weird that CCAI can't pick up the phone and ask them, "Dudes, what's the 411? Hook me up with some facts and figures, baby." After all, I don't speak Chinese, but the people at CCAI do. Clearly life is full of little mysteries that are not for me to question.

Right now two very polite men are making a great deal of noise outside the office door with a giant, springy, red hose thingo that is pumping insulation into our attic. It's no mystery why they're doing this, however; we hired them to bring us from an R8 to an R30, for which SDG&E will give us a rebate! That's not the real reason, though: we're hoping that the temperature in here will not fluctuate 20 degrees during the course of a single day once there's something forming a barrier between the roof and us. That is our hope. And that's all we've got. ;)

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Yesterday was my birthday. I wasn't feeling exactly celebratory after the news from the day before, but it ended up being really nice. I'm trying to think positive here--it's not a normal state of affairs for me. :) Last year I had to have shots on my birthday, and the year before the entire county of San Diego was engulfed in flames and choking black smoke that made it look and smell like the apocalypse had passed through, so I suppose this year, even with bad (and even worse: nebulously bad) news, already started out as an improvement. :)

It was a gorgeous day, and Synthia had rescheduled some work commitments so she could take me to lunch, bless her heart. We ate outside at the Napa Valley Grille in Horton Plaza, which was lovely. She gave me an awesome-looking biography of Jane Austen and a card that included an article her mother had sent from "The Jewish Week" in which I am quoted! (The reporter interviewed me at the Catskills Conference this summer, but I'd never seen the resulting piece.) We had time for a smidge of shopping afterwards, and I bought the fleecy bed jacket, in baby blue, that I'd been wanting for TV and reading snuggling purposes.

I dashed over to the YMCA, where I taught my NIA class to the usual small Friday crowd. I kind of embarrassed myself by responding to a new member saying she was from Lithuania with "Lithuania....(long pause) that?" N0w she no doubt thinks I'm a total moron whose thought process doesn't extend beyond commanding people to shake their tushies around, but so it must be. :) After the class left, I had the delightful surprise of Grace, Julianna, and J's friend Julia running into the room with a bouquet of flowers and an energy-replenishing granola bar for thoughtful! Next I headed to Beth's for my annual birthday massage, and it was wonderful, as always. When I got home, Lindsey had surprised me with some stunning tulips, and my diaper bag had arrived from Land's End (little twinge of a hangover from yesterday when I saw that, but it is really nice) and David followed quickly with yet more flowers--the house smells like a florist this morning! :) We went to dinner at a new restaurant I've been craving, and it was delicious, though by the time I'd noshed my way through tempura green beans with wasabi sauce, French Onion soup and a good portion of David's Caeser salad, I literally took one bite of my chicken and had to push it away. The apricot Bellini was delish, though--you better believe I finished that. ;)

When 2005 began, I fully expected to have met Jarrah by my birthday, and later I felt certain I would have her picture and know I was on the way to meeting her. But that's not what happened. Hopefully someday this will all just be part of a satisfying saga with various twists and turns for added drama. :)

"F" is for "Flexibility"

An emotional couple of days, kicked off by the following e-mail from CCAI on October 27:

Dear April 2005 LID families,

CCAI would like to direct your attention to our website as we have updated the information this morning. Again, we have learned that the CCAA is only working on the remainder of the March LID families. As you may know, all of our CCAI families with a March LID were matched on October 4, 2005. At this time, we are unsure if any April LID families will be matched in this group. We know that everyone is eagerly awaiting news on their babies and we promise to keep you informed as we know more. We understand that this is a very difficult time and our hearts go out to our families as we wait together for news about your children! Please don’t hesitate to contact us anytime!

At first we didn't really know what to make of it. But with the resulting lamentation issuing from the "DTC" boards for April LIDs, more feedback was posted from CCAI (our agency in Denver.) Apparently CCAI is anticipating (they are "75 percent sure"--why must the stats that affect us be so high when they *don't* involve IVF success rates?) they will--FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER--not receive any referrals this month. That's right, all of April will be skipped, amidst vague rumors that CCAA (in Beijing) needs to finish with some March people (all of CCAI's March folks are already matched.) What this means, in all likelihood, is that we will not get any news about Jarrah until late November or even early December, and that we won't travel (gasp) until late January or even early February! Someone said, "it's as if you were pregnant with a due date in late October, and suddenly your OB announced, "Whoops, that was a miscalculation. We're pushing you back a month. Try to relax and enjoy this time." (!!!)

Of course, my sense of victimization is running rampant at the moment. I keep saying that this "unprecedented" development is the "rhino ass" of China adoption. (For those not initiated into the wonders of progesterone injections, "rhino ass" is a "rare" condition in which one's rump reacts to daily shots of progesterone in sesame oil by becoming mottled with raised, hard lumps--of course, not only did I have a massive case of rhino ass, I also had hives on top of that, and the whole mess took *six months* to go away.) Basically, I'm in a place where it seems that whatever could possibly go wrong on the path to starting a family will, even if it's "unprecedented."

And I shed some tears, too, that morning, after several hours of a numb, fragile, wide-eyed feeling that I couldn't quite interpret. After a few conversations with my stalwart pals, however, everything erupted to the surface: once again I was having "unexplained" infertility--"We're sorry. It looked so good, you were right on track, but something happened. We don't know what. You're welcome to try again."

It didn't help that that Thursday morning was ghastly in other ways. I arrived at Costco to purchase new tires before the doors opened, and was first in line. As the gal behind me was being quoted a 30 minute wait time, I was informed that my card had expired and I needed to visit guest services. Five minutes later, new card in hand (inexplicably sporting a photo in which I appear to have no teeth) I returned, and the wait was now 1 hour and 30 minutes. I walked over to IKEA and wanly purchased some colorful plastic baby bowls, cups and plates, with a tiny voice in my head repeating "What's the point? Where's the fire?" On my way out, I stopped at the restroom, and was attempting to pee when the door was flung open and the flinger screamed at the top of her lungs, like an opera singer seeing a mouse in her kitchen. "You almost gave me a heart attack!" she bellowed, as I desperately tried to finish without wetting myself. Umm, who walked in on WHOM here??? Smarting with the indignation of mortality, I returned to Costco, where I bought a gross of Kirkland baby wipes (again, "What's the point? What the hell am I going to do with these?") until it was time to go get my car. Five minutes later, I was cruising up a high-speed stretch of Friars Road when the steering wheel started jumping under my hands. The front driver's side of the car seemed to be rattling up and down. Then the mysterious clunking sounds started. I called David. "Pull over!" he commanded, but I turned around and made it back to the tire place without dying. And did I receive any conciliation for my pains? Any soothing apologies for my fright? Not in the slightest. I spent nearly an hour trying to convince three different men that my car was frightening me, while they all looked at me with expressions that read "Paranoid much?" Someone was finally persuaded to actually drive the car and then another session of wheedling led to re-balancing the tires. Finally a guy came through the door with my keys. "Here you go. By the way, the tires were totally wrong." "Wrong?" I chirped. "Yeah, I think they installed them with the wrong size cone. They were barely hanging on. Good thing you came back." HELLLO! And the car, in fact, was driving like a completely different car when I left, traumatized, starving, and shvitzing like crazy in my head-to-toe velour ensemble on a day that turned out to be like 80 degrees. David said, "Well, the day has to get better now, right?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Glider Expo

Samantha was going to comment on these great shots for a glider purchasing experience, but she has been busy with the rest of the blog. So it was about time I added some text. These pictures were at the end of a 3 hour marathon where all of us selected the mandatory glider rocker (see earlier post on this.) We got a little punchy by the end of it -- at least we had comfortable seating.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


The shower, of course, was amazing. I was smiling so hard my face hurt. Beth's place (and Daniel's, too) were lit up with candles, Chinese lanterns in the trees, and decorative kites and parasols. I love that it was a baby shower but the first thing people saw when they came in the gate was a big sign that said "BAR" with an arrow pointing down the steps. And what a bar it was! On a deck overlooking a tranquil pond full of koi, Daniel made the most amazing pomegranate martinis with sugared rims, and the koi swam up to look at us in the hope we had something we might throw to them. It seemed like everyone I knew was there, and it reminded me of our wedding! Mary brought incredible cupcakes but I took my eyes off of mine for a minute and someone ate it. :) The food was wonderful, lots of noodles and gyozas and spring rolls and Grace's amazing berry cobbler. It felt like so much love coming our way. All four Coopers helping out--Bryan was so cute the way he gathered people for each event. I called Lindsey "Vanna" when she held the basket of Chinatown goodies (fans, Buddhas, etc) for the raffle prizes. We held off on opening gifts for a long time because I didn't want it to end! And then the gifts were incredible, so sweet and generous. Some of the cards made me cry. Outfits for Jarrah so cute that I want to wear them. Afterwards Mary and Paul loaded all the loot into their van and drove it to our house--so thoughtful. Now I love looking in there and seeing all the colorful bags and tufts of pastel tissue, and then once more running my hands over the chamois blankies and the delicious velour and fleece jackets and onesies and the tiny soft shoes with fruit and ladybugs on them! Jarrah is going to be one fashionable little girl.

So much gratitude and love to everyone who helped make this possible for us. Jarrah has so many honorary uncles and aunties.

This week feels like we are revving up to something. No official referral news yet, but I've made the e-mail list to send out those first photos as soon as we get them. I went to the dentist and that was a relief (it's scary to change dentists, but it was time.) I also had my Hepatitus A & B shots. It's amazing how they hurt less than a mosquito bite after the dozens I've had in my belly and ass. Later today we'll go to BRU and get some practical stuff like a stroller and a baby carrier. It's so weird to think that we'll need to install the car seat soon, and set up her booster chair, and kit out the crib, and baby-proof everything. So many things will have to be in place before we leave. And then we'll be in China, and the house will have a quiet expectancy, ready for a baby who will change everything.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Days of Awe

Tomorrow is our shower. I'm so nervous! I know that doesn't make much sense but it feels like I'm playing Ophelia without knowing the lines; you know, the whole analogy of doing something I haven't rehearsed for. It just doesn't feel real. Maybe if I were pregnant it would feel real.

David's parents are visiting right now. We went to see "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" tonight. That Wallace and Gromit. They slay me.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur. David and I joined a new synagogue this year: Dor Hadash. It's Reconstructionist, which is what I've decided I am. When we were driving there on Rosh Hashanah, David asked if I was going to know anyone and I gave him a look like "Do you think I know every Jew in San Diego?" Then the joke was on me because we'd been there about 30 seconds when I heard "Samantha!" and it was Evan from Muir Writing, whom I haven't seen in eight years. Then he started to introduce me to Felicia, who recognized me from Synthia's latke party four or five years ago. The congregation is shockingly small after the cavernous hotel ballroom atmosphere of University Synagogue. It's cozy, but it will take a bit of adjusting. It seemed like a good sign when we saw a couple with their Chinese daughter. I watched her playing in the aisle yesterday when the fast was almost over; I was bleary with low blood sugar but I smiled at her and tried to play peek-a-boo. She had a great smile.

Reason No. 853 why my life is weirder than other people's:

Today I had a facial at Indigo to get myself pretty for the big day. Afterwards, I absently pulled out my Carmex while the receptionist girly-girl was finding my bill. My lips were dry after all that steam. (Actually, all my facial mucous membranes were feeling dry, but I resisted the impulse to shove some up my nose, too.) The girly-girl, who'd been perfectly nice up to now, suddenly spotted the tell-tale yellow pot and narrowed her eyes, looking for all the world like she owned stock in Blistex and said, "You DO realize that Carmex is filled with fiberglass, don't you?" "Fiberglass?" I repeated thickly. "Yes." Her eyes were still narrow. My Carmex-covered finger hovered in mid-air. "Have you ever wondered why you feel the need to put it on again and again?" "Yes," I said, still thick with facial-head. "But I figured it was a lip balm issue." "No, it's not." Now she actually sounded mad. "It's completely addictive. Terrible stuff. I would never use it." Something was flickering in my foggy head and I held up the pot and peered at it. "Lanolin." I read to her. "Petrolatum. Cocoa Butter. Menthol. Camphor." "Well, those are the ingredients that MAKE fiberglass," she said dismissively. "But," I pleaded weakly, "it doesn't say fiberglass." I doggedly repeated it two or three more times, since she continued to slander my beloved yellow pot for another couple of minutes while we waited for my credit card. What I should have said was, "Missy, you're talking to someone with a 20 year habit here. You're going to have to do better than that." As I was leaving, she seemed to regret her vehemence and tried to mollify me: "Maybe I should check my facts a bit more." "You've got me pretty concerned now!" I said, almost convincing myself, "we're considering blowing some fiberglass into our attic; I don't want it on my lips!"

Later, when I told my MIL this story, she said, "And who's to say fiberglass is addictive anyway?" Who indeed? ;)

Reason No. 854 why my life is weirder than other people's:

Today I was performing cheese-removal surgery on my veggie sandwich in a cafe when I felt a presence at my elbow. I looked up. "Here." A woman I had noticed only out of the corner of my eye as I came in, who had been seated across the room from me, was dangling a paper napkin from her finger tips. I stared at it, darted my eyes to the stack of napkins on my table without meaning to, and chirped "Oh!" in a sort of ineffectual way, followed by "Thank you!"

"Sorry," she said with a rueful laugh, "I thought you needed one."

Of course, this would only have been a really good story if she had dangled the napkin in front of me and asked menacingly, "You do know these things are filled with fiberglass?"