Wednesday, April 20, 2005

all words start with “B” (except “woof”)

Or so it seems. Iz can say “bird,” "book," and “ball.” But he thinks birds are pictures that hang on walls. We have a tapestry with many birds woven into it hanging in our dining room, which is where he learned the word. At some point, he started gesturing toward the tapestry (not quite pointing), so I started pointing to all the birds, saying “bird” and counting them (13). Why not? Soon after, we were in the living room, and Iz pointed at the painting of a field and farm house and said, “Bir”(no “d”).

Abraham does not believe Iz can say “book” or “ball” because Iz’s first and favorite sound is “ba.” All B words are subtle variations on “ba.” But he deliberately says “ba” when rolling a ball on the floor or holding a book. But we could also claim that he knows how to say “boat,” “balloon,” “broccoli,” “bottle” (which he never took to), "block," "baby," or "b*oob(ie)" (or "b*reast" for the more sophisticated) and someone might believe us.

Iz’s first word, however, was no B word. It was “woof.” (It is in the dictionary; I checked.)

Our dog, Zi, probably does not remember life Before Iz (B.I.). He still has an over-excited reaction if visitors oh and ah over Iz when they arrive: He jumps, he licks, he whimpers and stomps his front paws. Jealousy? But certainly he can’t remember those days when he was the first baby. Perhaps protective?

Iz loves the dog. Zi can do no wrong. He can bark, jump, chase his tail, whatever. Iz laughs. He laughs even is he is in the middle of crying because it is bedtime or because I have taken the cordless phone from him.

But Zi can make Iz cry – if he leaves when Iz is pulling on his ears or holding on to his tail. A few times, Zi has run Iz down or nicked his head with a paw (once leaving a little welt on Iz’s forehead). There was crying. But even then, Iz was quickly off again, doing his commando crawl to grab a hold of Zi’s tail again, laugh, and say “woof” over and over.

Zi often just stands there, staring at the wall, tolerating the sub-20-pound human latched on to his tail. Sometimes he turns tail (literally) and licks Iz’s face (more laughter). Other times he walks away, pulling Iz along the floor, who is again laughing and saying “woof.”

Sunday, April 17, 2005

sad on Iz's first birthday

I am kind of sad on Iz’s first birthday.

One year is both a long time and a short time (Not very original. I’m sure many parents have made this observation). Humans, born so helpless in comparison to other animals, change so much in one year. I can only barely remember when Iz couldn’t hold his own head up, when Iz was only a little over five pounds in weight (he is still a pee wee, maybe eighteen pounds). Now he is traveling around on two feet while holding onto furniture and crawling wherever he feels like going (or wherever the dog is). He is such fun to watch.

I do remember the craziness and pain of giving birth, but it is as if I am watching it on TV or in a dream. I am seeing through my own eyes and I know it hurts, but I can’t actually feel it. I never wrote down my labor story – I probably should. (I have been saying that for a year.)

We had a birthday party for Iz. I was tired the whole time. Would I do it all over again? Maybe. Not sure. Iz wanted me the whole time – he wouldn’t let anyone else hold him for long without fussing: he swivels his body away from whomever is holding him, reaches his arms out, and grunts for me. It is not the most elegant sound, but he is clear about his needs and irresistible to his mother. He is not always so mama-needy (though he certainly needs me), but there were more people around than usual (twelve or so?). Good thing Abraham does all the cooking or none of those twelve would have eaten.

It was a perfect day – an April day with 70+ degree weather and no mosquitoes (yet). We set up all sorts of furniture on the back deck and yard (me, a born-and-bred New York City girl, with a back yard – go figure). We even had an outdoor “room” on the grass with an old jute carpet and a wicker couch and chairs. That was the best part.

Iz is (Is Iz?) asleep now. Though we meant to, we didn’t take any pictures. (I think a grandparent did – but this particular grandparent always takes lousy pictures and they rarely include me – does that sound bitter?) There is a video of his first encounter with cake. The encounter was unspectacular. He was more interested in the candle and stabbed the mini-cake a few times with it. Some parents describe head-first dives into the cake. Not Iz.

So why am I sad? I don’t know. Or, rather, I can’t explain.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

in the moment (a definition of terms)

The yoga instructor says, “With each breath, bring your focus to the present moment.”

My husband, Abraham, says, “Embrace the moment.” He is not the first to recommend this.

My son, Iz, and my dog, Zi, live in the present moment quite competently.

I don’t know how to do this even a little bit. Even during yoga. Even while running. Even while playing with Iz or Zi.

Maybe this “moment” everyone talks about is the secular equivalent, or my equivalent, of those medieval Christian thinkers’ eternity – beyond comprehension or explanation.

I should attempt to define my terms for “When Time Meets Eternity” (WTME):

Time, to me, means either a linear sequence (birth to death) or a cyclical repetition (the seasons). Are there other types of time?

Eternity is a tougher one to define in my personal, secular context. It is, perhaps, just another type of time, not necessarily time’s opposite. It is the present moment? Is it the entire past and future contained in some immediate experience? (The latter is closer to that medieval conception of god’s eternal time.)

Maybe the “eternity” I am adopting (and adapting) from those medievalists, who worried at the question of how human time could possibly understand or intersect with god’s eternity, is more of a concept of identity, present, or memory. I don’t think I accept or believe in a type of eternity related to a god or deity. It is too implausible and not useful to me. But that may prove the existence of eternity and god(s).

In the late eleventh century, Saint Anselm of Canterbury made the ontological argument the in his Proslogion that “proved” god’s existence by asserting that there must exist something “than which nothing greater can be conceived” and that it is impossible to think of this something if it doesn’t exist – since you can conceive of it, it must exist beyond your imagination because you can conceive of it beyond your imagination. Therefore, God and his eternal time must exist. Our inability to conceive somehow proved god’s, and eternity’s, existence. This makes my head hurt.

Moving on.

Is my eternity simply my memories and experiences, from my beginning to the present (though not yet through my end, since I don’t know my future), experienced all at once?

Or is it my identity, which, to some extent, is my memories and experiences in the present moment?

Monday, April 04, 2005

cherry blossoms (not yet)

The 2005 Cherry Blossom Festival has begun in Washington, DC. But the blossoms are not out yet. Too cold? I am no expert. The cherry trees are budding, but not even the first haze of pink blooms emerging is visible around the Tidal Basin. Maybe in a few days.

The only festival event I have ever taken part in is the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run – in 2001, 2003, and this year. Last year, I was about to give birth, but I did go for a walk among the blossoms two weeks before the little guy arrived ("arrived" is so not the right word). And in 2002, I had run the Washington DC Marathon only two weeks before, so I assumed I would be incapable of a 10-miler. I would run it every year if I could.

Runners have to sign up by the end of December to get in to this famous race. Ten thousand people ran this year. As a result, it is a pain in the ass to get to the starting line. (Heck, it is a pain to go to "packet pickup" to get your number and T-shirt the day before the race.) The closest parking is a mile away. The logistics for a big race like this one require much planning.

But I am crazy, so I thought that mile walk would be a good warm-up. And I needed it on that April 3rd spring day of 40 degree temperatures and gusting winds. Nasty. But not as nasty as it could have been. At least the skies had stopped pouring down rain on the DC area. Damn unpredictable spring! It was supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny.

Let me start off by saying that I didn't get to sleep until 11 pm the night before and had to wake up at 5am. But 5am was really 4am because the clocks had "sprung" forward. So to get to the race, which started at 8am (ahem, 7am), I had to leave my house at 6:30am (5:30am). I must have at least an hour to have coffee, breakfast, some water, read a bit, whatever, before I lace up the running shoes and go to a race. So, five hours of sleep. But those hours were interrupted at least three times by my son needing comfort, milk (he is still breastfeeding), snuggles. He has an uncanny sense of when I need sleep, and then he makes sure it doesn't happen.

I am always early. I wanted to be walking from my car to the race at 7am. I worry about port-o-john availability and about checking my bag of warm dry clothing before the starting gun goes off. (I have never missed the start of a race.)

I was there at 6:30. (I know, I said I was leaving at 6:30. I left a bit earlier.) I sat in my old Jeep Cherokee on Maine Avenue near the Waterfront Fish Market in SW DC. The fishmongers were arriving and just beginning to set up.

On my way to the start, I jogged/walked along the flooded Tidal Basin. The water was muddy and practically white capping (yes, in the Tidal Basin!) in front of the Jefferson Monument. Much of the sidewalk was covered with water. Such a different view from two years before, when the sun was out and the pink blossoms ringed the basin.

The beauty about running races in downtown DC is that all the monuments have bathrooms. So I didn't have to worry about lining up for the row of port-o-johns. Instead, I lined up for the warm, cozy, clean FDR monument toilets.

And I checked my bag of clothes a good twenty minutes before the start.

The race ended well. I felt like crap for the first 5 miles. I was tired and hungry. Never a good way to feel when attempting to cruise along under eight-minute miles. I don't think I warmed-up enough, or I didn't sleep enough or eat enough. My goal was to finish in under one hour and twenty minutes, which would mean a mile pace under eight minutes (or "sub-eights" as those – we – runner-types might say).

But I did it. Only once did my watch tell me I’d run a mile in over 7:45. I felt great after I had my GU – a carbohydrate gel infusion that comes in a little silver packet. It worked – psychologically I think, since I felt energized immediately. The last mile was tough, but I was flying and ran it in 7:25.

My finishing time: one hour, seventeen minutes, and thirty-eight seconds. I was 240-something out of 4300-something women. This was the first Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in which the women outnumbered the men. We kicked ass!

I used to really care about my race times – then I slowed down a bit and cared (a little) less. Now I care again. And for some reason I am as fast as I ever was. In fact, this was my best 10-mile time ever. Only once before have I run a 10-miler in under one hour and twenty minutes. (Though I have run a half-marathon, 13.1 miles, in under eight-minute miles.)

I have gone on too long. Time to get back to editing.