I sat down, logged in, and smelled something awful wafting through the air.
It had an odor like stinky old man breath. I couldn't tell from where it was coming. I checked myself, breathed into my hand, sniffed my clothing. Everything seemed okay. But then I smelled it again. Could it be the person in the cubicle across from mine?

It wasn't just morning breath, it was morning-after breath. I breathed into my hand again. I smelled my clothes. I drank some water and started chewing minty gum.

At first I thought I could associate the smell with one coworker, but then I smelled it when he walked away. Then it's me, right? It's got to be me.

I ran over to another coworker. "Do I smell? I need you to tell me if I smell like stinky old man breath."

I leaned in. I sheepishly breathed on my coworker. She looked troubled. "You smell fine. You do not smell like a stinky old man."

I went back to my desk. But there it was again. Really awful. Hints of memories of visiting Great Grandma Sophie in the home, cakey saliva in the corners of her mouth, ripped pantyhose, yellowed hoary hair pulled back in an ancient bun. She'd squint and breath on us and our eyelashes would get singed. Flowers would wilt. Me? Is this me now?

Periodically, throughout the day, I would catch the smell as it tumbled through the air. Me? Is it me? But I just flossed last night. And I always rinse with that horrible, antiseptic, old fashioned Listerine!

After I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed, I brushed and flossed, but an odor rose in my mouth. Rotting food. But I didn't know that at the time. It was almost unbearable. A trip back to the doctor, and he revealed that I had developed dry sockets and was harboring a week's worth of decomposing food particles inside holes in my gums.

Something was rotting. Something was definitely decomposing. If it wasn't in my mouth, then where in god's name was it?!?

I checked the trash can. I sniffed the inside of my desk drawers, my keyboard, my mouse. My eyes fell on a coffee mug. Which I hadn't used for about a week. I had made some tea that was supposed to promote lactation. I picked up the mug. There was Great Grandma Sophie! There was rotting dry sockets! Good lord! What a stench!

I was unbelievably relieved it wasn't me that was rotting. Phew! But I couldn't stop sniffing myself the whole rest of the day. Do I smell? Then I would remember: No! It wasn't me. It was the extremely neglected mug of herbal tea on my desk. What wonderful news!

Flying, Food, Fathers

We're headed to South Florida for Thanksgiving.
Baby's first plane ride. I'm pretty nervous. But I'm excited that Max will get to play with his cousin Jake.

Here's a quick solid food recap. Max liked rice cereal. He liked oatmeal even more. He hated the mushy peas and avocado I made from scratch him. He was okay with the peas from the jar. He really seemed to like sweet potato. Now he has had squash and apple, too. It looks like if the food is in a baby food jar, Max likes it.

This is a picture of Max hating my peas

This is a picture of Max liking the sweet potato

I especially like this picture because it reminds me of that Chuck Close self-portrait from 1967:

Brian says he doesn't see the similarity. Oh well.

Speaking of Brian, he and Max really enjoy hanging out together. Here are a couple shots of them engaged in some their favorite activities:

Reading the paper


We're flying out Thursday morning. Wish us luck.

The Kitchen Front

I saw that cockroach again.
Or maybe it was a different one. I have no idea how long cockroaches live, and, in all likeliness, if there is one cockroach hanging out behind our oven, there are probably dozens. I have never known of a hermit cockroach who preferred to dwell alone.

However, I suspect this was the same roach I had previously tried to crush, because, well, there was something off about him. It was about 8 pm and I was washing the dishes, and I looked over and there he was, just sitting there, wiggling his antennae and hanging out. The back of him looked funny. And I immediately wondered if this was because I had stepped on it. It looked kind of flat and pointed downward towards the back. Like the back of your body might look if you were a cockroach and someone had stepped on you.

But then I thought Maybe he's pooping. Do cockroaches squat to poop? Do cockroaches poop? Then I thought Maybe he is a lady, and is squatting to lay eggs. Something about the roach appeared to me to be strangely vulnerable.

"Hey," I said. "Hey, you. What the hell do you think you're doing here?"

He didn't move, except to wiggle his antennae. I thought, Maybe I'm seeing things. I turned away to do more dishes, and then turned back again. He was still there.

I didn't hate him as much as I usually hate roaches. Usually, I feel a ball of fiery hate for them well up in my being, and then I'm driven to crush their little bodies. But I didn't feel that way. I just felt sad.

I knew, though, that we were enemies. His presence meant filth. I knew in my heart that the kind of person who is okay hanging out with roaches is a person whose home you would never want to visit.

I tried to be stealthy as I slinked away to get a pair of shoes. He didn't seem to notice. My heart was heavy. I chose my weapon — Brian's docksiders. More surface area for stomping, and Brian probably wouldn't mind as much about having crushed roach on the bottom of his shoe.

I slinked back, and the fellow was still there. *wiggle,wiggle* I took a step closer. And another step. He didn't budge. "I have to kill you now," I said. I have a baby, and I can't be having a kitchen full of roaches." I stepped closer. "Why did you come back? Why didn't you go away?"

I was standing right over him, and he was completely still, save for the wiggling antennae. I kept thinking that maybe he was a figment of my sleep-deprived mind. Or was he trapped in a squat performing larger roachy functions? Or was he giving birth? Or dying? Why wasn't he moving? I lifted my be-docksidered foot and my heart sank. I felt unbearably sad. I let out a battle cry. To try to stir up my killer instinct. To warn this stupid bug that I was about to crush him into oblivion.

As I brought the big shoe down, he waddled just out of it path. I let out another scream and clomp-clomp-clomped after him. But I was haltingly slow. It was like moving from within inside a jello mold. And the roach was slow too. He toddled slowly out of the way and back underneath our oven.

I missed him entirely. I felt shaky. I imagined all those boys in foxholes. It's you or them. I thought about All Quiet on the Western Front, when the protagonist examines the personal effects of a solider he has killed. The immense guilt.

But this was a roach. A filthy roach who lives behind my oven and makes my home unclean and is probably working on making hoards of new roaches even as I type. I am going soft.

In other news, the baby moved on from rice cereal to oatmeal to baby food peas. I have a whole bunch of pictures I need to upload. Sunday was my birthday, and I really didn't want to think about it, but the one present I gave myself was a new photo shoot with Max.

Baby Gaga

At least three people had suggested this one. It wouldn't have been my first choice, but this kid has quite a range.

Peaceful Sleep

No one ever tells me I'm glowing anymore.
That's probably because I'm not. What's the opposite of glowing? Maybe I've been sputtering out.

Every Sunday night I've had to put myself back together with tape and rubber cement to get ready for the coming week. I used to be able to catch up on sleep on the weekend. But not anymore. I've tried napping, but sleep eludes me. I just lay in bed and feel like I have an electric current coursing through my veins.

After Max started solid food, he began sleeping longer and more regularly, but this didn't seem to help me. I was always feeling awful and I know I wasn't very pleasant to be around.

On Friday I went back to my OB to ask her what was wrong with me. She was very nice and sensitive and prescribed me a sleep-aid, which has been helpful. I have also been sleeping with earplugs. I have also been trying to get into bed by ten pm.

I sometimes think that, if a year and a half ago, you had told me my life would look like this, I think I would have decided not to get pregnant. But then again, it is now hard for me to imagine my life without my little Max and all his boogers and squeals and goofy, toothless grins.

People keep reminding me that this is just a blip in the timeline. Just a rough patch to ride out. I think things are finally getting better.

Max did sleep eight hours in a row for three consecutive nights. Though last night he woke up every couple hours. He woke up at 12:30, at 2:30, at 4:30. When he woke up at six, he was shrieking. Teething? Gas? We gave him teething drops, changed his diaper, tried farting him, brought him into the bathroom where we ran the hot water in case it was his cough. I blew raspberries on his stomach to distract him and make him laugh. We fed him and played with him and put him in his swing. Eventually, he gnawed the blanket we had given him, slumped over, and fell asleep like a drooling angel.

For all the unhappiness I've experienced lately, I would do it all again just to see that little fat face taking a peaceful nap. Though if that little fat face would take enough peaceful naps, I suppose I wouldn't have to do it all over again, right?

Max visited Nonna this weekend. Here are more pictures.

Is it just me, or do they look like they are almost the same size?

Second Look

The subway platform was just like it always was during morning rush hour.
People packed in tightly and scurrying onto trains or up the stairs. Ahead of me, through a break in the crowd, I could make out a pair of feet shuffling with trousers around the ankles. I thought, "Oh no. Not another pervert."

When the man came into view, I could see that his pants were indeed down. And that he was not wearing anything to cover his special private places. He was extremely bedraggled and zoned out enough that he looked like he was slow-motion escaping after being shot with a tranquilizer gun. I was so relieved he was not covered in blood or engaged in self-love that I began to feel bad for him. I looked around. No one even seemed to notice.

I was still walking, and now he was behind me. Nobody was giving him a second look. I glanced around, trying to get affirmation from my fellow travelers. The way you do when you live in New York City and you see something really crazy. Like someone brandishing a knife. Or eating a live pigeon. You turn to your fellow traveler and roll your eyes as if to say, "What's with him?" And that's your positive human contact for the day.

A man was shuffling zombie-like around the Broadway-Nassau station with his genitals rolled out and sickly-looking, and no stranger would even make eye contact long enough with me to help me confirm what I had just seen.

If a deranged person exposes himself in public, but no one makes eye contact with you, did you really see it?

We started feeding Max solids. It's very mess, and Max seems much more interested in gnawing on the spoon than he does eating the rice cereal. But I think it's helping him to sleep a little longer. We got one more 7-plus-hour night, but mostly he sleeps around 4-5 hours continuously, which is really all I had asked for.

Only, I am still waking up every hour or so. Even when the boy is sound asleep. On Saturday, I slept on the couch with earplugs in my ears, but I still wound up waking every hour. I have to un-learn my wake-conditioning. Until then, I will probably remain a mess.

Here is a picture of Max eating rice cereal. Click on the picture to view the album.

Max's first Halloween was this weekend. We watched the parade here in Park Slope (I couldn't see anything as usual, because I am too short), and we posed Max with other babies and took pictures. His costume was mostly pre-fab, but I really didn't want to get him all dolled up just to have him poop all over it.

The Legend Lives ... Max was the mythical alligator in the sewer

Miles and Max: Cowboys and Alligators

Ginny and Max: Little Beasties

Why is dressing babies up and posing them together so darn funny? I never get enough. If, two years ago, you told me this would be my new favorite past time, I would have run screaming. More pictures available on Miles' mom's blog: The Kid Has Arrived.