Monday, January 24, 2011

Where does lost sleep go?

I jolted myself into a new level of linguistic awareness today when I heard myself say to my good friend, who like me had a cranky baby in tow, "Okay, well, I'm gonna get my 'soygurt' and then you can wait at the thing and I'll meet you at the thing." I meant you can go pay at the register and I'll meet you at the table. The problem was not that she didn't understand me--she speaks mommy-ese too I guess.

The problem was that, despite my ability to get a fluffy technicolor dreamcoat of a baby seat cover on that Whole Foods shopping cart and put a mental block on the fact that my son is saturating every box of overpriced veggie-burgers in my cart with his adorable saliva, I can't remember the words for the most basic everyday items--like table!

Six months ago I easily attributed my newly acquired lack of linguistic variety and precise word choice to my inability to read as much as I was reading when I was teaching high school, before I went from Mrs. Vitale to Joshy's Mommy. That worked fine in quelling the sting of my damaged ego in this dramatic loss of communication skills. I re-read Bronte, I re-read Austin. Surely some Victorian literature could resuscitate my linguistic prowess.

Well, I nearly blinded myself reading a couple thousand pages on my IPhone screen and I refreshed my nineteenth-century husband-hunting skills (not so useful for a twenty-first century married chick) but I still found myself at a loss in day-to-day conversations.

I faced embarrassing situations at playgroup--"So which one of those-things-that-babies-sit-on-while-they-eat should l get?" Even moms that don't give their kids organic home-made baby food know what those are called--even moms that feed their babies whipped cream squirted from a can to the kid's mouth know it. (Actually my husband did do this a couple weeks ago, laughing hysterically as I looked on horrified.)

Did I hit my vocabulary rock-bottom there though? No, a few weeks later I was hanging laundry on the line in the backyard (with my Joshy strapped to me in the Bjorn) and dropped a clothespin off the back deck. It took me nearly five minutes to explain to my stepson Jesse what it was that I was hoping he could fetch for me off the grass.

Maybe the answer itself is the reason it took the answer so long to reveal itself to me--I probably can't remember the name of anything because (aside from a few glorious evenings,) I have spent the better part of the past nine and a half months sleeping in two hour segments between night nursing sessions.

I haven't fully researched this, but having my REM sleep interrupted every single time it arrives is probably like putting my synapses in a brain stir-fry. You throw in some words here, stir them around, and pour some sticky high-calorie sauce on top and voila! No wonder I can't find the single word I'm looking for in this mess. It's like I'm looking for the pea at the bottom of the pan.

What happened to those lost words though? I imagine one in dark corner of the basement of my brain, collecting debris like a forgotten sock. Another is more like the last bead on a broken necklace that I'm trying to string together--a sentence I can never quite finish.

The words hang like martyrs lined up for hanging in some parallel universe--executioner giving them the chance for one last word that they themselves can't remember. They will perish confused and alone if I can't find a way to get this kid to sleep in longer bits.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Feefin' around

People say that having a baby makes you resent your pets. In my case, it's really just one of my pets--Feefee, a.k.a. Feef, Feefers, Feeflet, Feefems and last name Feefenstein (corresponding with my maiden name Silverstein.).

Feef looked about a year old the day he followed us home to a house we rented the top two floors of. Although my husband begrudgingly agreed to allow the stray tabby to stay, we both knew this cat, unlike Snowball and Henry but similarly to Lingling, would grow up to be a big pain the ass.

We could have never imagined the extent of his pain-in-the-assness back then though. From running outside to "feef around town" returning with chunks of fur mysteriously gone to acquiring bizarre and expensive injuries from picking fights with a gargantuan neighborhood bully known only as Orange Kitty, he was quickly becoming a thorn (or claw in our side.)
Feef's ridiculous and seemingly feral habits were tempered only by his obscene cuddliness. He was a lapcat and a social butterfly. He would sit on the chest of any sitting individual in the house, visitor or denizen, and purr louder than you could beatbox. He knew everyone in the neighborhood, had more friends than all humans and animals in our house combined, yet still got his jollies killing baby rabbits in the yard and chasing a cat who injured him on multiple occasions.

When we decided that Feef was truly a danger to himself by going outside and must be stopped, we armed the doorways with spray bottles and put a belled collar on him to warn us he was about to escape. Feef at first just was sad, melancholy, meowing longingly at the window, to what seemed the tune of "Somewhere out There"--you know the one Feivel sings about his lost sister in that mouse movie. Eventually though his personality shifted--two days or more in the house and this guy would start harassing the other cats--smacking them as they walked by, hissing at the children, and just overall being a nasty little Feef.

Just the other day I tried keeping him in because of an eight-inch snowstorm and I saw him staring out the window till he caught sight of Snowball and Latke on a cushy chair together, sprawled out, fluffy bellies exposed, licking each other and snuggling. He glared at them with such disdain it was quite frightening. The look seemed to say "you pitiful losers, blissfully ignorant of the outside world, you aren't even trying to break out of your prison!"

The last straw for Feef that made me truly resent him though was his clawing at my Joshy. It was only a little tap on his head, drawing a few drops of blood, but it was enough. I was a lioness ready to pounce on this asshole.

Coexisting with a pet you dislike though is not as difficult as one would imagine. In fact, I'd been doing it for years. Lingling hates pretty much all people and all other cats except Snowball--she literally runs in fear if you try to pet her (except once a month when she will pester you until you pet her and she purrs loudly for a good ten minutes then runs away like she were a guy who would sleep with you and then never acknowledge you in public.). Feef, with his oddly friendly and obnoxious ways, is not easy to hate, but I'm ready to try.

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