Sunday, October 23, 2005

run, don't walk

My child runs away -- toward, away from, for whatever reason -- whenever I put him down. It is near impossible to have him free, out of his stroller, in a public place. Especially one that includes roads and cars. Say, a park in the middle of a city -- like Hyde Park in downtown Sydney.

I continue my temporary single parent role. (Is it inappropriate to refer to myself in this way? Am I slighting true single parents and my husband with one phrase?) Iz and I are still with my mother in Sydney. We are managing to do some fun, interesting things even under the stressful circumstances.

We had to get out last night -- I could not be in the apartment for another moment. I have not been trapped there; we have been out and about for a bit every day. But I had an overwhelming urge to get out (and run?). It was 5pm and, even on a Saturday, all the shops downtown close at 6pm. We went anyway.

After a bit of shopping, we stopped at Starbucks for a sandwich to share and a coffee for me. (It is usually unnecessary to go to Starbucks here, in a land of great coffee. But we were desperate and everything else was closed by 6:15.)

Then we tried to have an imporomptu picnic on the grass in Hyde Park. It was lovely at dusk -- the darkeing sky, the city lights. Iz stayed in his storller and actually ate something -- pesto chicken bits from the sandwich. But the moment I let him out, he took off toward Park Street. A little wall, one foot high or so. separated him from the sidewalk and road. He could scale that with no problem. If the drop of several feet on the other side didn't hurt him, the road he looked intent on running into would.

When I caught him and turned him around, he took off toward the center of the park -- certainly safer than the road -- and he was 50 feet away from me in mere seconds.

After the running, we checked out a fun photography exhibit, "Sydney Life," which was installed on huge pieces of canvas in the central walkway of the park. I let Iz out again, and he ran down the paved walkway, under the huge, bright white lanterns, away from me.

Between this outing and a bunch of others, I now have a ton of pictures of Iz's back.

I put him down, and he goes.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

believe in ghosts?

Maybe “believe” isn’t the right word…

I had an odd experience this morning. I put on the Animal Planet channel for Iz. (Iz loves Animal Planet, and animals in general). A show that focuses on a different dog breed each episode was on. Excellent, I thought, Iz loves dogs. I was only half watching as I made breakfast. And Iz wasn’t watching at all, as he roamed the living room with a shopping bag in hand, collecting his toys and dragging them around.

I can’t remember the name of the show, nor can I remember the specific breed of dog – some kind of spaniel. The show started with a story about ghosts in an English castle. I don’t remember the castle name, but it is open to the public. I also don’t remember the names of the gentry who originally lived there way back when.

But the story goes that a spaniel ghost haunts this castle. It appears as a normal, flesh and bones dog and runs up and down stairs, through halls, into rooms, and then disappears. Sightings are well documented: Visitors mention or complain about dogs being allowed to run loose in the castle, and the custodians and historians know all about this spaniel, which was owned by some lady (who also haunts the castle) hundreds of years ago.

While I watched this segment of the show (in a rather half-assed way, I remind you), I suddenly got serious goose bumps all over my arms and legs. I wasn’t cold. Nothing had changed in the climate of the room. I am not usually spooked by random ghost stories, especially on bright, sunny mornings. The goose bumps disappeared when the story was over and the show moved on to focus on actual flesh and blood spaniels.

When I retold the odd experience to my mother, I immediately got the extreme goose bumps again, which I found even stranger, compounding the earlier experience. While I type this, they are returning. Spooky.

I am not saying I believe in ghosts. Maybe I do think something might exist or linger (as vague as that sounds). I do think it is interesting that I reacted so strongly to a completely indirect experience – to something on television, a report of another’s report of the experiences of yet another layer of people. If I did “believe”, would my reaction validate the story itself, no matter how far removed? Or would it point to another “real” ghost in my own environment? Or simply point to something about me, inside me, that caused such a strong reaction?

Friday, October 14, 2005

hair loss

My mother has started to lose her hair. I guess that is the least of her worries. But it must be hard to face.

If I were in her place, I think this phase – following the first chemotherapy treatment, before complete hair loss – would be like limbo, just waiting. I think I would feel better after all the hair was gone. Then at least I’d be in it, over a hump.

(If I do go through this, which I very well could, at least I have the role models of three very strong, brave women, my mother and her two best friends, who have faced and survived treatment – I am assuming my mother will make it because it is hard to imagine anything else. She has always been here. If they can do it, I can if need be down the line. Actually, I know too many older women – more than the three I mention – who have gone through this. The numbers seem out of proportion with probability.)

I suggested shaving her hair off, but she doesn’t feel “brave” enough. She is plenty brave. She washed her hair and much of it came out. I was out running when this happened. She called one of her close friends in tears. She was seemed more peaceful about it when I saw her an hour or so later and she had pulled out all her gorgeous scarves.

I have yet to see her, reportedly dramatic, thinning hair. Neither of us wanted her to take off the emerald green scarf, at least for now. She carried Iz off to look at her scarves and I heard her say, “No, don’t pull the scarf off!” as I was walking in the opposite direction. I didn’t turn around.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

different in Sydney, Australia

Three things that are different in Sydney:

1. The morning paper arrives wrapped in plastic wrap, not in a bag that provides a second service as diaper or doggie poop holder/disposal.

2. Talk radio is called "talkback," which makes some sense.

3. Almost everything is smaller: paper towel rolls are a good two inches or more shorter than their American counterparts and look squat; you cannot find huge cups of coffee, like the Starbucks venti, except in the Starbucks at Hyde Park and Park Street, and that venti is smaller than the U.S. venti. (So paper towels and coffee are "everything"?)

Those are just three things I noticed this morning.

Monday, October 10, 2005

jet lag

Iz and I have arrived in Sydney – as of four days ago. My mother is definitely not well (i.e., very ill), but she looks (mostly) like herself and is up and about. For now. After her chemotherapy treatment next week she’ll feel terrible again.

So we are here to cheer her up. I wish Abraham could be here. Hell, I wish Zi the dog could be here (if he ever did make the trek, I think he would have to be quarantined for six months – which would be really bad for his psyche). There is even an unofficial dog park right in front of my mother’s apartment building (though it is not fenced in and Zi would be sure to run into a nearby road).

Iz and I have checked out the dog park a couple of times. He gets so excited – though I don’t know how he recognizes a miniature poodle or boston terrier as dogs, when his looks more like a coonhound (not actually sure what he is -- he is from the rescue league). But Iz knows dog. At the park, he runs around screaming, "Dog, dog, dog, dog, dog!" You almost cannot understand that he is saying the word over and over because he says it so quickly.

Iz is a little more needy – I assume from missing Dad (and dog) and experiencing jet lag – though doing very well. He is breastfeeding more than normal (how am I ever going to get him to give it up?), and jet lag is making him think that waking up at 4:30-5:00 a.m. is the thing to do.

But the mornings are beautiful in my mother’s twelfth-floor apartment. Iz and I climb the steps to the second floor (thirteenth floor?) where the living room and kitchen are, and emerge into the early morning light coming through the two walls of windows and look out over the Sydney skyline.

We have not gone far afield yet. This morning we did go to Café Zoe on Bourke Street and to a little playground on Chelsea Street. We have plans to get into the city and even to the famous Toronga Park Zoo.

Later this morning, we plan to go with Mom/Grandma to pick up her wig, and perhaps pick out a second funky one (pink?). Then we will go for a walk around the city.