nonBlog: February 2006

Click here for a possibly gratuitous explanation of why my blog is called "nonBlog" and my site is titled "Ceci n'est pas un blog."


Party of Five—Sunday, February 26, 2006

When the four of us used to walk down the street before there was Ava—before I had even imagined having Ava—I would feel like something was a little off. It didn’t make any sense. We were a nice little family with two parents and two beautiful daughters—what could be wrong with that picture? But it was almost too perfect for me, too neat, two and two. My family literally had angles.

Now we are good and messy. We walk down the street in a mob. Everyone talks at once. There are too many of us for a table of four; we have to wait for the big booth. On vacation we need to rent a minivan or the grandparents can’t come sightseeing in our car. We are a gang, a band. You can’t mess with us. No angles anywhere. We’re round—solid and sweet, like a cantaloupe.


Trouble in Paradise—Thursday, February 23, 2006

If you live in San Francisco and have never been to Hawaii, you are considered strange. But now that we are in Hawaii I think the people who thought I was strange because I had never been to Hawaii are strange. It has rained cats and dogs every day we’ve been here but one. The kids are so tired of being told they can’t go to the beach that I’m afraid they might be on the verge of staging a violent insurrection. This is concerning because there are more of them than there are of us.

The thing I didn’t expect about Hawaii, other than the high water factor, is how urban and American the whole place is. There are strip malls and nondescript highrises everywhere you look, chain stores and white people and choking traffic. Of course I knew Hawaii was a state, but I was thinking it was more like Tahiti without passport control. I didn’t expect it to be Florida without all the consonants.


All Wet —Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Today I got a definitive diagnosis of the problem inside my hip joint, which has prevented me from marathoning for the last 4 ½ years: a repetitive strain injury caused by the odd configuration of my hip joints. The answer was satisfying in a ghastly sort of way, like finding out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa. Also not helpful at all in that he is still dead, and I will never run another marathon. Like certain canines, I have hip dysplasia. This explains why, since babyhood, I’ve been able to do all these stupid pet tricks with my legs—putting them behind my ears and sleeping folded up like a Swiss Army knife. My friend Pamela said, “Are there German shepherds on both sides of your family?”

Dr. Good News told me I don’t have any signs of arthritis and so long as I never run another endurance race I should expect full pain relief. People with hips like mine aren't built to be distance runners, he said. Contortionists, yes, distance runners, no. But I can swim all I want. I put my head down on the exam table and wept, much like Jimmy’s daughter will when they pull her dad out of a landfill in Staten Island. It was the end of something that gave me nothing but joy for over a decade. Until I ran marathons I was never an athlete, I was the kid who was chosen last for every single team in P.E. I don’t want to swim all I want. I want to run, and run, and run.


Excessive Quietude — Wednesday, February 8, 2006

It’s a good thing that Ava has the talking gene, because I appear to have misplaced mine. Whenever I am around her I am inspired to be silent. Especially at night, when I’m trying to get her down to sleep. I’m supposed to be singing to her and feeding her hunger for language and all of that baby-book yada yada, but instead I go to this deeply spiritual place where making sounds with my mouth seems like an enormous effort.

This is a worrying thing because of a study I read around the time I had Greta and experienced a similar speechlessness (not so with Olivia—I was such a stressy, chatty mommy that I’m surprised she didn’t just bitch-slap me to get some peace). Somebody correlated the number of words a child hears in babyhood to later success in school. Greta is now happily kindergartening—singing, learning three-letter words, connecting the dots—but she's not setting the classroom on fire like Olivia did. Did my bliss make Greta excessively contented? Am I doing the same to Ava? I find myself forcing out the yackety-yack, unnatural as it feels, but I have to think that a mother who is this happy with her baby has to be better than the anxious Aggie I was the first time.


Calamity Janes - Monday, February 6, 2006

Today is the kind of workday that was shaping up to be so intense that I started watching the clock when our usually-punctual nanny was just seven minutes late. I was trying to imagine how I could possibly manage to complete the research for my SF Chronicle Magazine piece while line-editing the new version of the book proposal an agent is expecting to see on Wednesday while dealing with a problem at the Opera and helping Tom strategize about how to restructure his company after a sleepless weekend, all of which was supposed to happen after physical therapy for my persistent case of breastfeeding neck but before driving carpool.

By the time I finished causing my brain all of the above damage the nanny walked in, now 15 unprecedented minutes late, with swollen eyelids to tell me that her favorite uncle had died during the night and she hadn’t gone to sleep yet. And it occurred to me that having a nanny in the house introduces a new set of female pheromones just like when you share a triple with two roommates in college, and after a few months you’re all getting your period on the same day. Except that with nannies and mothers you synchronize your crises, not your menses.


Crun, Don’t Walk -Thursday, February 2, 2006

Our one-year-old Ava, like all Losee-Unger babies, is in no hurry to walk. She doesn’t need to. She cruns.

Crunning is Ava’s favored method of travel—a cross between crawling and running which amounts to crawling as quickly as is babily possible. It’s no wonder she doesn’t yearn to stand on her own two fat feet with a technique as effective as this. It’s the pre-toddler equivalent of teleporting. One second she’s there, and the next second she’s gone.

I came up with this word on Monday and already it is solidly in the family lexicon. Yesterday I turned to Olivia and said, “Where’d Ava go?” Blandly, she replied, “She cran that way.


  • Story in the San Francisco Chronicle Magazine about English Channel swimmers who train in the Bay area.
  • KQED Radio Perspective about how Florida has gone into the bumper-sticker business with "Choose Life" license plates.
  • Eat the Press piece in The Huffington Post about Jon Krakauer's curious absence from Outside Magazine's 10th anniversary issue on the 1996 Everest disaster.
  • Double-top-secret book due out fall 2007
    from Adams Media.
  • Fame and fortune; date TBA

2006 Archives






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