As loud as I wanted
Ah. Okay. Where were we?
Everything is happening at lightning speed. I have to get back to writing it down, or I’ll forget. One morning, you wake up and you’re 33 years old, with two dogs and a spouse and a refrigerator full of esoteric vermouths and amari, and the next morning, you wake up and you’re 34 years old, with two dogs, a spouse, and a 12-week-old child in a bouncy chair on the floor in front of the refrigerator. The other day at a doctor’s checkup, I actually told the nurse that I was 33, because I forgot that I’d had a birthday. 33, 34, same thing. In any case, I’m still a baby when I get a shot.
We are beginning to find moments of normalcy. On Monday, we put June in the car and drove to Vancouver to see Bruce Springsteen in concert. He played “Cover Me,” and it was sufficiently deafening that I could sing along as loud as I wanted without worrying that anyone would hear. I also ate a hot dog with yellow mustard. It was outstanding. June stayed back at the hotel with our friends Katie and Kyle and slept through the entire show. Someday, when she’s moaning about how ancient and uncool and deaf we are, I’ll tell her about the days when we were seeing Springsteen and sacrificing our hearing and she was drooling shamelessly all over a borrowed hotel playpen.
Twice now, Brandon and I have gone on dates. Real dates, without a small person around. Of course, these dates are on Sundays, at lunchtime, and Brandon goes to work afterward. The first time, we went out to lunch at The Whale Wins. (The sardine toast with curried tomato mayonnaise and shaved fennel! The whole roasted trout with brown butter and walnut sauce! The brownie! Eric Bordelet’s pear cider!) Then we went to see the new James Bond movie, which was exciting, except that we failed to note that the movie would end after the babysitter was expecting us home, and that meant that we were those people, the ones who trip on your purse while climbing over you and tiptoe sheepishly out of the theater with twenty minutes left. The second time, we went out to lunch again, and after having three-quarters of a glass of Champagne, I fell asleep in the car on the way back to our neighborhood. When I woke up, we were parked in the lot outside the grocery store, where we were supposed to be doing our Thanksgiving shopping, and over in the driver’s seat, Brandon was now sleeping. We are pros at sleeping in parked cars. Who knew? This past Tuesday, I had a fabulous nap in a parking lot on Granville Island, with cars roaring across the bridge over my head, while Brandon and June explored the market.
June looks exactly like Brandon when she smiles, and the rest of the time, or most of it, she looks like me. Early the other morning, in our hotel room in Vancouver, I heard her start to fuss in her playpen-slash-crib, and when I bent down to pick her up, she let out a tiny gleeful scream and I could see, even in the dark, that she was grinning at me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the fact that she exists – except when she’s having a flamboyant meltdown like she did yesterday afternoon while we attempted to take a walk, and then I am pretty sure that I will definitely, without a doubt, never ever get over it.
When we were first thinking about having a baby, I read Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions – there’s an Anne Lamott book for every phase of my life! Such a consolation! – and a couple of days ago, I decided to reread it. There’s so much that she gets right. “Before I got pregnant with Sam,” she writes on page 60, “I felt there wasn’t anything that could happen that would utterly destroy me. . . . Now there is something that could happen that I could not survive: I could lose Sam. I look down into his staggeringly lovely little face, and I can hardly breathe sometimes. He is all I have ever wanted, and my heart is so huge with love that I feel like it is about to go off. At the same time, I feel that he has completely ruined my life, because I didn’t used to care all that much.”
Sometimes when I’m driving, because I do all of my thinking (and now, sleeping) in the car, I think about Tina and my dad, all the people June will never meet. You’d think I’d be used to it, now that Burg has been gone for ten years next week, but grief always catches me off guard. I can’t believe that June will never know my dad; that she’ll never get one of his scratchy, bracing, beard-forward kisses; that he will never have the opportunity to forget her birthday, something he was always so good at. And then I think about the fact that June will never really think of my mother as a twin. I just can’t believe she’ll never know The Twins. Brandon tells me almost every day that he sees them in her, and that makes it a little better.
It feels good to come back to this space. It never fails me. Thank you, always, always, for reading.
P.S. This song. (With thanks to my friend Brian for pointing it out.) Stevie wins again.
I stand by my assessment
I know. The universe does not need another recipe for a banana baked something. And yet. It’s a rainy Friday afternoon, and I have a couple of hours(!) home alone(!) to do whatever(!) I want(!), which is mostly to eat Häagen-Dazs coffee ice cream and stare at the wall. Brandon and June are out on the town, having a lunch date at a friend’s new restaurant. I hope June is polite and doesn’t spit up at the table or get totally milk-drunk and harass the server – or that, if she does, she at least tips well. Baby jokes! It’s come to this! God, I am so, so sorry. I’ve been wanting to tell you about this recipe for several…Read more
Well, well, well! I’m typing this with a baby strapped to my chest! Still trying to figure out how that happened. I hope you’re well. Things are all right here, I’m relieved to report, especially given the fact that I had exactly zero experience with babies prior to birthing one three short weeks ago. I have never felt so simultaneously capable and incompetent. It depends on the day. Sometimes the hour. But we’re figuring it out, with help and handholding and deliveries of soup and Szechuan pork and plum cake from our parents and friends and our adoptive family at Delancey and Essex. It helps that June has the world’s best cowlick, and that she makes pirate faces when she’s…Read more
We did it
I am very happy to announce that June is here. I had my first contraction while sitting at the bar at Delancey last Friday evening, eating dinner with my mother, and went into early labor in the middle of the night. Twenty-nine hours later – after deafening my companions on the drive to the hospital; discovering that I wasn’t far enough along to be admitted; a few hours spent laboring on a bench on the nearby campus of Seattle University, scaring incoming freshmen into a lifetime of abstinence; and much care and encouragement from my saintly longtime doctor, the world’s finest doula, and a nurse named Wendy – our daughter June Elizabeth Alexander Pettit was born at 6:29 am on Sunday,…Read more
I MADE IT! By which I mean, I managed to not go into labor before, in the middle of, or in the days immediately following the opening of Essex. VICTORY. I imagine that I will very soon start cursing the fact that I am still pregnant, but for now, I feel like I should be given a medal, or a cocktail. Since neither is a viable option, I made myself a pan of flapjacks and ate a quarter of it in one sitting. I haven’t written a lot about Essex here, not because it has felt like any less of a big deal than Delancey, but because the first half of this year, which was when the project began to move forward,…Read more
All of it
Hi, all. I’ve received a number of concerned e-mails and comments in the past few days, wondering if the quiet around here meant that the baby has arrived, so let me say first: NO BABY YET. I am, however, in my 36th week of pregnancy. And as of about ten days ago, I finished writing the manuscript for my next book – or this draft of it, anyway. There’s still plenty of revising and hand-wringing to do, but at least I now have something to improve upon. And Essex, the bar we’re putting in next door to Delancey, is opening in less than a week. (!) Lots of Big Life Stuff. Huge Life Stuff. Giant Life Stuff. Oddly enough, or…Read more
Last night I went to the grocery store for milk and yogurt and the usuals, and the cashier smiled and commented on how much my belly has grown since she last rang me up. For the past couple of months, each time I’ve gone grocery shopping, no matter who my cashier is, he or she has asked about my progress and said a few nice words. I don’t know any of these people. No idea what their names are. A few of them might have been to Delancey, since it’s in the same neighborhood, but I don’t think that’s it. I think they know me by the round appendage on the front of my body. I hadn’t expected to like being…Read more
Let’s wing it
Before I say anything else, I want to thank you for your kindness about my aunt. I was very nervous when I put up that post, but I felt much better for having written it, and I hoped that meant something. Thank you for reading, and for saying what you did, and mostly, for understanding. There is no smooth transition to be made from talking about death to discussing Thai food. Let’s wing it. I don’t know why that fried egg looks like it has no yolk. It definitely had one, because before I took this picture, I punctured it with that spoon. I think this is my punishment for not taking a proper photograph: my iPhone ate the yolk. Anyway,…Read more
She felt like cheering
I have three half-siblings. I know I’ve told you that before, probably lots of times. My half-siblings are a decent bit older than me, so growing up, they often seemed more like uncles and an aunt. I was an only child, mostly. But my mother came from a big family, and she had an identical twin sister named Tina. Though Tina lived in California and we lived in Oklahoma, she and my mother did their best to make sure that their children, my cousins Sarah and Katie and I, would feel close as we grew up. I fell in love with the West Coast – and, I’m sure, wound up living here – because of trips we took to visit…Read more
You know me well
My manuscript is due on June 1. Hello from the Cave – or, as I first typed, “Hell from the Cave,” which has a nice slasher-movie ring to it. Hi. For those keeping track, no, you are not crazy: the book was supposed to be due in March. I had to ask for an extension, unfortunately, because of the small human under my shirt who makes me very tired, and because there’s been a difficult health situation in my family. 2012 came in roaring, and though I wish it would settle down and start acting its age, I doubt it’s going to. I am, however, going to FINISH THIS BOOK. If I can stay awake long enough. Each night, when…Read more
No such thing
Earlier this week, I think it was, one of you kindly wrote to me, asking if I might do a post about what I’ve been eating for lunch lately. The reader who wrote to me is pregnant, and there are a number of foods that us pregnant ladies are told to avoid, making quick, easy lunches hard to come by: no deli meats, no (uncooked) cured meats, no high-mercury fish (tuna, for example), no cheeses of certain types, and so on. I am going to spare you, however, a post on what I’ve been eating at my desk lately, because my lunches are about as riveting as C-SPAN. The post would go something like this: nut butter sandwich, carrots, tangerine,…Read more
The first night
Hi from here. I should clarify: not here exactly. These photos were taken at our dinner table, but I’m currently sitting at my desk. I would much rather be there than here. Oh well. These shots are from the first night of 2012, with our friends Ben, Bonnie, and Sam. We had wanted to go crabbing and catch our New Year’s dinner ourselves, but Ben and Brandon wound up with food poisoning on New Year’s Eve, so we decided to scale back the plan. We bought the crabs instead. We cooked them and cleaned them and heaped them in a bowl, and then we covered the table with garbage bags and set out cutting boards, crab picks, and ice cream…Read more
The best part of the job
I am supposed to be writing a manuscript, not baking rye crumble bars. No more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars no more rye crumble bars. When I found out that I was pregnant, I asked my publisher to extend my deadline, which was supposed to be March 1. I wasn’t sure how ill I would feel, but I’d heard plenty of pregnant lady horror stories, and I thought it was best to plan for the worst. Happily, I wasn’t very ill, but I was very unproductive. I was very, very tired. One morning, when the alarm was going off and I showed no signs of movement, Brandon…Read more
This is important
You people. YOU PEOPLE. I’m still blinking in disbelief at the kindness you’ve shared with me and Brandon and Tiny Person Under My Shirt. I hate secrets, and this secret, no matter how well intentioned, surprised me with how heavy it felt, how unwieldy it was to carry around. It’s been a relief to to share it with you, and an unexpected thrill to have it met with such encouragement and excitement. I should have gotten pregnant a long time ago, just for the morale boost! Thank you for that. In return, I give you a waffle. Initially, I planned to give you some orange buns, and then I planned to give you these seeded breadsticks that my mom used…Read more
Hi. I’ve never made an announcement like this before, and it feels very awkward and shouty to do it through a computer screen, so please be nice and pretend that we’re sitting in your living room. I’ll give you a minute to get settled. The thing is, I’ve been working on my manuscript, yes, yes, but I’ve also been working on something else. That something else has made it difficult, actually, to work on my manuscript, because it’s made me want to lie on the couch instead, eating peanut butter sandwiches and fantasizing about donuts. I know it doesn’t look like much, but it’s there, under my shirt. I’ll give you a hint. It’s a baby. I’m 13 weeks along,…Read more
I am writing to you, once again, from my friend Ben’s dining room. When I was here last August, writing my brains out, I had a hunch that a return visit might be helpful before my manuscript deadline. Turns out, that was correct. In Ohio, there are no Brandons to distract me, no Delanceys to worry about, no Jacks or Alices to bark suddenly at absolutely nothing and, boom, scare the organs out of my body. In Ohio, there is just a Ben and his nearly empty house, and a twin bed under the eaves with my name on it, next to a window onto which the previous tenant’s child stuck two butterfly decals. My first day in town turned out…Read more
I am here to tell you
First things first: thank you for the well wishes! That cold was a real heavyweight champion, the type that takes you down so hard that, for five or six days, your eyelids never make it above half-mast. I’m so glad that’s behind me. Though I did sneeze twice as I was typing that last sentence. A couple of years ago, not long after we opened Delancey, back in the days when I was still cooking there every night and trying to write on the side and living on pizza and cookie dough and adrenaline and contemplating a third career as a mass murderer, my friend Brian came to Seattle. I guess I should specify that we weren’t really friends yet;…Read more
You can count on me
I am writing to you today with a wool scarf wound around my entire upper body and a wool blanket tied at my waist. I have a cold, and Brandon has a cold, and before that, he had food poisoning. We are a house under siege. That, however, has not prevented me from getting that salted chocolate cookie recipe that you wanted. Nor has it stopped me from eating said salted chocolate cookies. You can count on me. I’m going to cut right to the chase, because I don’t want to get to get between you and your cookies, and also because I have an appointment with a down comforter. Here’s what you need to know. My friend Renee, she…Read more