So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.

World's Most Beautiful Child


World's Most Handsome Child


Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend

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so the fish said...
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So much fun I could just vomit

Our third trip to the pediatrician in five days has landed us the the diagnosis of a viral rash, to add to the cold and the ear infection.

Mia only screamed for six hours last night, which was a definite improvement from the twelve hours the night before.

I did finally manage to change my pants and even put on makeup as I looked like I hadn't slept in three days. Now I look like I haven't slept in three days and am wearing makeup. Am fairly sure I have brushed my teeth in the last 24 hours, but I wouldn't swear to it in court.

My kitchen is full of half-empty yogurt containers and hard, dried chunks of cheddar cheese. There are cheerios and goldfish crushed into the carpet in every room in the house. Mia keeps telling me that she is hungry and then refusing to eat. Good thing that is not at all frustrating and that I am so well-rested that I have deep wells of patience upon which to draw.

I just paid our bills. It will be fun to see next month whether I sent the mortgage payment to the phone company or simply neglected to mail it at all and instead balled it up and bounced it off the ceiling in an effort to entertain Mia and stop the screaming for a few seconds.

I swear to god, if this whore of a virus and those goddamnedfucking molars don't stop torturing my kid but pronto I'm gonna, I'm gonna, well, cry probably, and I'm trying so so hard not to cry in front of the baby.


New record, obviously. Also a new visit to the hotty pediatrician, who did not smell nearly as yummy today, which was a great disappointment. After Mia sat in all of the chairs in the waiting room several times and all of the chairs in the exam room and wandered the halls waving at nurses and such, we found that she also has a new ear infection. Ta-da!

She slept - more or less - for 14 hours last night, got up and screamed for an hour, slept another hour, screamed another hour, and now is fast asleep again. I've been wearing the same pants for four days because they are always the ones crumpled next to the bed and therefore the easiest to pull on without putting Mia down, which causes her to howl and cry. The pants wouldn't be so bad except that yesterday I dumped an entire carton of yogurt down my leg (while trying to feed it to a screaming baby who is also on a hunger strike). Hey, maybe the hotty pediatrician saw me coming in my yogurt-encrusted pants and ran to the bathroom to scrub off his cologne?

And since I'm whining, sleeping under a cranky baby for the last two nights has caused me to pull something in my back such that it hurts to breathe, much less move, much less carry a squirmy baby everywhere I go. And I can't remember the last time I brushed my teeth.

Motherhood is so glamorous.


The title of this post is the current high-temp record-holder for Mia's fever. Yup - sick baby. Yesterday was ok because she mainly slept all day and when she was awake mostly just wanted to lie on my chest like overcooked pasta and whimper gently. Today was not so good. Today was more about refusing to eat or sleep or be put down for a second for any reason.

Right now she's asleep in my bed after slightly less than an hour of cooing and patting and singing and sticking her fingers up my nose. I managed to escape, although for a while there I thought I might have to chew my own arm off at the shoulder to manage it and am compulsively running down the hall every five seconds to make sure she hasn't rolled out of bed or smothered herself with my pillow or started a small fire in the bedroom from the heat waves rolling off her forehead.

The silver lining is that yesterday we journeyed to see the hotty pediatrician and he was all good-smelly and concerned and Mia was so miserable that he let her just sit on my lap while he listened to her lungs and stuff which meant I got to spend several minutes in very close proximity to his good-smelly geeked-out hotness, and that was nice. Not as nice as it would be to have a kid who was not sick or screamy or hot enough to melt steel and getting two new molars to boot, but still nice.

Anyway - anybody have any advice on how a 5'6" woman can sleep comfortably in a crib? Mia is taking up my entire side of the bed and there is no way I'm going to risk walking her and besides, it is totally Chris's turn to deal with her.

Mia Monday #37: Who Needs Pants when you have a Camera Edition

Now, last night, someone, someone who I had just spent three days caring for and cleaning up after and babying and whose favorite dinner I had announced my intention to prepare, that someone told me I was a pain in the ass. Which is true, but you have to admit it was impeccably bad timing. I am currently accepting nominations for the appropriate punishment/penance, to be exacted once someone is feeling better, of course.

Month Fourteen

Mia Bean,

You were fourteen months old a few days ago, but your father has been sick so blame him for this being late. We reached a major milestone this month - you learned to nod. I cannot begin to describe what a positive impact this skill has had on our everyday lives. You have been shaking your head in a vehement no since you were six months old, but now, now you can also say yes. I can ask you questions and you can answer them. Yes, you do want a drink, no, you are not tired, yes, you do want to go outside, no, you do not want me to change your diaper. It is so exciting that I am even willing to overlook your continued refusal to speak.

This month you also started practicing your own version of Zen Buddhism. You want me to pick you up and to not pick you up, you want to be on the chair and not on the chair, you want to eat the yogurt and not eat the yogurt. I admit it can get a little frustrating, but I just tell myself that you are imbedded in a deep, spiritual study of the dual nature of the universe and pick you up and put you down twenty times in a row until you decide to go with one or the other.

You are a marvel on two legs. You walk, you dance, you teeter around on your tippy tip tiptoes, you squat way down to get a better view, you climb, you climb, you climb. You can stand up by pushing off only the floor, and I am always shocked on those rare occasions when I see you crawl.

You sleep. You sleep, you sleep, you sleep, you sleep. You sleep.

Mia Bean, it started to seem to me this month that I might like to do something else once in a while, that I might like a day or two a week to be something else in addition to your mommy, that it might be time for me to get a job. It keeps popping into my head and I have been giving it a lot of thought, but then I will be out running errands longer than usual or you will nap a little longer than usual and I will start to miss you like crazy. I will realize that I want nothing more than to rush home or sneak into your room and give you hugs and kisses and watch you discover your pockets and pull your little finger out of your cute little nose and yell and talk into your cups to see how funny it sounds and make the sign for "refrigerator" and cover your whole face with your palm and start spitting in an effort to blow kisses. A job, just a little one, sounds pretty good to me right now, but I adore every minute I spend with you, and I don't know how I could stand to give any of them up.

I love you, little girl, so much I sometimes think I will explode with it.



Sick husband, teething baby, etc.

For those of you who care about such things, I'll get to the letter. Just not tonight, because instead I'm going to get to a bottle of wine. You understand, yes?

Best. Naptime. Ever.

During Mia's morning nap today, I started watching this. It is not a very good movie. Oh, except for the parts where my pretend celebrity boyfriend is wandering around without benefit of pants - those parts are very high quality. I plan to try to finish it this afternoon, although am seriously considering just going back and watching the good parts.

Anyway, those of you who have expressed an interest in taking over my pretend celebrity boyfriend when I am done with him may want to check this out, strictly for artistic reasons, of course.

Don't worry, I don't know what I'm talking about either

I think I've mentioned this before, so please excuse the repeat. On Jeff Buckley's album Grace there is a recording of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" that is one of my favorite songs ever. I have on multiple occasions just sat with that song on repeat for hours at a time. At the very beginning of the track there is a single breath, and at times it has seemed very important to me to determine whether that breath was the sound of someone inhaling or the sound of someone exhaling. I have never reached a definitive conclusion, and my leaning at any given time likely has more to do with my state of mind than with any clues in the recording.

My rather obscure point is that yesterday a lot of you shared with me a bit about the shapes of your own grief and walked me around the edges of your losses to show me something about their size and nature, and it gave me the same feeling as I get from that single breath at the beginning of "Hallelujah." I wanted to know whether you were inhaling or exhaling so that I could do it with you.

I didn't respond to most of those comments, because I didn't know what to say, and often I think there's just flat nothing in the universe that is possible to say on the topic of grief, of death, of love, of loss. But I wanted to thank you, for that, for coming here, for sharing the funny and ridiculous and painful and debilitating bits of your lives with me. And I wanted to say that I am trying to take that breath with you.

Yeah, um, death, and stuff

I posted an entry at my other joint today about how we chose Mia's name, and then got an email from my mom saying that the name Amelia had been "quite a shockeroo" because she and my dad had assumed we would name her Anne Elizabeth. I wrote back asking where on earth she got that idea. I mean Elizabeth I get, but Anne? It seemed an odd name to just pull out of the ether and then be positive about. Her response was simply the full name of my childhood friend Anne who was brutally murdered while we were in college. (I hate to put it that way, but it is the only accurate description of what happened to her.)

Oh yes, I thought, clearly. That would have been a really obvious choice. It was never on the radar. In fact, I had sort of forgotten about it. I mean, not forgotten, but it is just a sort of sad and mild memory at this point, something I think about rarely, almost never, in fact, actually never unless something else leads me to it. And god, it was so bad, for years it was bad, and I am a little shocked that it is so... nothing... now.

Mia's middle name did come, at least in part, from a friend who died a couple of years ago (of natural causes, if heart failure at 25 can be called "natural"). Apart from my family, he was the one person in my life I could not bear to lose. He was a close friend, the closest I had had in a long time. There were times in the days and weeks after he died when I would be sitting at my desk or lying in bed and believe that I would never find the strength to stand up again. I felt that something critical had gone from the world, something integral to the continued rotation on the planet, and that sure, I would probably go on to have a perfectly lovely life, but that I would never be truly, fully happy ever again.

And I still miss him, sometimes terribly, but mostly just once in a while and then only casually. A couple of days ago, I made a joke about him to Chris. Not even a joke about him, a joke about him being dead. (It was more appropriate than it sounds, but would take more than I am willing to tell to explain.) It shocked me for a minute, to realize I had made that joke, to realize that this crushing thing, this death, really had lost it's sting.

It made me worry, so I wanted to ask you. Anne died (holy shit) ten years ago, Mia's namesake almost five - is this normal? Normal that it doesn't hurt me anymore, normal that I'm not sad about it anymore? It seems like this sort of thing, these tragic, senseless, far too young deaths should feel like nails in my spine forever. But... they don't, not anymore. Is that just how it goes?


In the past week or so, Mia has learned how to:

- make the sign for "refrigerator." Actually, half the sign for "refrigerator," but we know what she means.

- arch her back the second I put her into her carseat such that it is impossible to fasten the straps.

- feed herself yogurt. With an actual spoon. Mostly.

- raise one fist in a Baby Power salute.

I'll give you one guess which of these I do not find charming.

Um, I promise I'll come back with something interesting sooner or later. Vacation seems to have rotted the portion of my brain used for blogging.

Mia Monday #36: Fabulous Personal Style Edition

Many, many (seriously, many) more available here.

Huge Loser. Huge.


Did. Not. TiVo. Survivor.

Am despondent.

One of you has it, yes? And will send it to me?


Hi, sorry.

You are dead now.

I just administered a fatal dose of cuteness. For those of you who have developed a tolerance for cuteness and may be desperately clinging to life, here.

Too bad, really. It was nice knowing you all. Mia mourns your passing.

(Now, who wants to use their final burst of strength and make their last action on this planet nagging my husband to finish fixing the damn wall already? Mention how embarassing it is that I have been forced to publish pictures of our bespackled wall on the internet. Tell him Sparky sent you.)

Do you miss me?

All is well here in stayhomevacationland, except that it is supposed to rain buckets for the next two days. Actually, that might be good so that we can get a break from our activities. Yesterday we went to the zoo and then I realized that my front garden was bringing down property values for the entire neighborhood, so I went out and pulled weeds. By the time I was done I had yanked out the entire front yard by hand, so this morning I am off to get grass seed and a massage.

While you are waiting patiently for me to return to my regularly-scheduled blogging, you can lend your brilliance and expertise to a major problem I will be facing in the next few weeks. In fact, anyone who can solve this one should immediately get to work on world peace, as I believe the issues are equally intractable. (For those of you who like to accuse me of being too bookish - as if that were a bad thing - that means "difficult to manage or govern.")

Here's the deal: Wedding. 4:30 wedding. 4:30 garden wedding. On October 7th, in Washington DC, so it could be 80 degrees or 40 degrees or anywhere in between. Keeping in mind that I have no boobs and a formidable (albeit smokin') ass, what the almighty hell do I wear? Discuss.

Mia Monday #35: Busy Sunday Edition

Happy Monday, everybody. We are on vacation this week, so expect things to be a little quiet around here. If you are desperate for Cactus-Fish related material, head over to my other place for a week's worth of posts written by members of my family.

Check out the crib, yo

Hey there, sportsfans. I have a case of the creeping blahs today, so, like, check out my kid.


First, wow, you people have a lot of porn. I don't have any porn and I am starting to feel a little left out.

Second, fine, ok, let's just talk about my boobs and get it over with, and then I think I am going to make it my mission in life to not mention my boobs on the internet for three entire months. I think I can do it, I mean, I used to never write about my boobs. It may be a hard habit to break though, so you will have to keep me honest.

Mia self-weaned a few weeks ago, sadness and woe, hurty leaky boobs making sleeping unpleasant, etc. etc. blah blah blah. Since she stopped nursing, I have noticed some changes. For instance, I no longer eat as much as an entire football team at every meal and my hips/butt combo seems to have shrunk. I don't know what that one has to do with breastfeeding, but I do know that suddenly, I can fit my smokin' ass into Mia's little play chairs.

The other thing is that my boobs are gone. Not that they were ever much to write home about anyway. I had heard all these stories about women who kept their big breastfeeding boobs and other women whose boobs got a lot smaller, so I was curious to see what would happen. At first, I thought I had ended up about where I started, but then I started to think I was maybe a little smaller, and I suppose the truth is that I just don't remember. I mean, it's been nearly two years since I've seen my regular boobs - some of the details have gone a bit blurry.

I asked Chris if he thought my boobs were smaller than they were before I got pregnant, and his mouth said "no" but his eyes said "DANGER! DANGER! MUST NOT BELITTLE THE BOOBS OF THE WOMAN WITH HER KNEE MERE INCHES FROM MY UNPROTECTED GROINAL AREA," so I suspect he may have been lying to me. I'm really curious to know though, just for posterity or something, and it got me to thinking about how I could find out for sure.

This is the part where we talk about the most embarassing thing hidden in the deepest darkest recesses of my closet. Actually, it is the third most embarassing thing. The first two things we have already talked about - my high school yearbook pictures, which I posted, and my huge black binder filled with bad, adolescent poetry and cricket carcasses (and how cool would it be of the plural of 'carcass' was 'carci'). The fact is that I have an excellent resource to determine whether my boobs used to be bigger. In fact, I have photographic (actually, polaroidic) evidence.

Oh come on, like you never. (Well, ok, some of you never, but not all of you.)

I'm not embarassed that the pictures exist (although I have on several occasions tried to determine the best way to destroy them... fire? shredder? warm acid bath?). The thing is that I always blink in pictures, and these are no exception, so not only are they not the type of picture I want to appear on the dust jacket of my first novel, they are just bad pictures to boot. Humiliating. I can't even get naughty polaroids right.

Anyway, I started thinking that I would dig them out and see once and for all if my boobs used to be bigger. And then I realized, I was probably 20 or 21 at the time, and if there is anything I don't need to see at 31, it is myself at 21.

Here endeth the boobage. You should all go index your porn collections, or something. Perverts.


I had this whole post written about my boobs (what else?), but then I started counting up all the people I know in "real life" who are reading this blog now, and I got a little self-conscious. I don't know why I am more comfortable telling the internet about my boobs than I am telling other people, possibly because the internet is not likely to bring it up the next time we meet for lunch.

Anyway, I will get over myself sooner rather than later, I am sure, and tell you everything you never wanted to know about the current state of my boobs. In the meantime, um, gosh. In the meantime, I have nothing. Apparently we either talk about my boobs or we just don't talk.

I know! And this is even marginally relevant to the (boob) topic at hand. If I came to your house and searched all your closets and drawers and even the closet under the stairs in the basement, what's the most embarassing thing I would find? Oh come, you can tell me. It's just us here, you, me, and the internet at large. Tell me, and then tomorrow I will tell you.

I hate firemen

Saturday afternoon, we started smelling gas in the house. We checked to make sure I hadn't left the gas running on the stove (we will not discuss how often I do that), but everything was turned off. We did locate the worst of the smell behind the stove, so Chris turned off the gas and we opened all the windows and doors to air it out.

Chris and I react to things a little differently. Chris was of the "abandon the house and all of our belongings immediately and move to another state to avoid the gas leak" school of thought, and I was of the "let's wait until we feel tired or sick" school of thought. In hindsight, I probably should have been closer to Chris's school than to my own, but in my defense the smell was not terribly strong, opening the windows helped a great deal, and we were having guests for dinner.

We finally called the gas company and they agreed to send someone out... eventually. When the second fire truck in 10 minutes pulled onto our street, we put that together with the fact that we had been hearing sirens every couple of minutes for hours and I went over to ask the neighbors if they were possibly having a gas problem. They were, and they weren't. Turned out that the gas company had added too much of whatever they add to make the gas stink and it was making people all over the county abandon their homes and call the fire department.

While I was chatting with the neighbors, one of the firemen (yum, firemen) came out and asked if I was smelling gas too. I said yes, so, ahem, four lovely, yummy, lickable firemen came over to check it out. Yup, you heard me, I had four firemen in full fireman regalia in my living room. Sadly, my husband, daughter, and in-laws were also in my living room, so my make-out opportunities were severely limited.

Anyway, they checked the stove, no gas, and then I headed downstairs with Hot Baldy Fireman so he could check the furnace. Hot Baldy Fireman told me to relax, his big wand thing (which he referred to as "the tool," ahem) wasn't detecting any gas. I said, "That's great news, thanks. And I just won a bet with my husband." Hot Baldy Fireman said, "Oh, you had a bet with your husband?" And then he set off the alarms on his tool (ahem). He claimed that as a man, he has to side with the men.

I was very annoyed and officially do not like firemen anymore.

Except, there is still a faint smell of gas in the kitchen, and I am thinking I would be more comfortable if the firemen came back, just to double check...

Mia Monday #34: Swingers Edition

What I Learned from the Internet: Episode 8

Hi, I love you. Also, I am finally. finally done, and dude - that was a lot of blogs. If I missed you I'm sorry and please let me know because I had trouble with a couple of sites but will be happy to try again.

Anywho - you know what really chaps my ass? You. You chap my ass. Was it good for you? The thing is, a lot of you said "oh, my blog is so boring" or "oh, my blog sucks" and that really pisses me off. It pisses me off because, if you think your site is awful, why do you do it? I mean sure, blah blah, I write for me, blah blah, but since you are publishing to everyone with an internet connection, you are therefore writing for an audience and if you think you suck you ought to stop.

Who are you trying to impress, anyway? Me? I'm just some chick with a kid and a website and you don't even know where I live or my last name or frankly, that much about me. Trying to impress someone else? Why? Who are they? Nobody you should care about I am almost positive. Does your site bore me? Maybe. But, why do you care? Does it bore you? If it does, then stop. If it doesn't, then stop calling it boring.

And look, I am all for the "say something bad about yourself before somebody beats you to it" thing, in fact, I am a charter member of that club. But if you don't like my website, you can suck it and not read it. And if I don't like yours, the same goes. But please, please, stop knocking yourself down. Because I love you guys, because you keep me sane, because you are my real life friends, because anybody who knocks you down has to answer to me, and because being able to say what you think is a beautiful thing, and none of us should ever apologize for that.

And it takes courage to publish yourself, to put yourself out there, to be open and vulnerable. I admire that in all of you. I want you to admire that in yourselves. I want you to stop apologizing for yourselves. I want you to stop apologizing for yourselves, to stop making excuses, to stop hiding. I have learned over the last week that you are all, every one of you, fabulous and unique and trying, just trying. I'm just trying too.

I've really enjoyed this week. You are all so different, so varied. You are all facing different things, living different lives. I've liked getting to know you a little bit. I like that we are all here together. I like that we are all such different people and still friends. And I want you, yes you, to stop disparaging yourself. And I? Will go first. I rawk.

And so do you. Now own it.

What I Learned from the Internet: Episode 7

Today the internet taught me that I'm not gaining weight, I'm just wearing the wrong pants.

What I Learned from the Internet: Episode 6

Today the internet broke my heart. Alex did it, but she didn't meant to, she thought it would be a good thing.

I hate to even link this, it is that bad.

Oh, fine. Here.

I hate the beard. I'm just not a fan of facial hair on anyone other than young men, and while Clive is a great many exceptional things, he is not a young man. He looks like, I don't know, he should be bringing me an umbrella drink beside some pool somewhere. Which, wait a minute, that would work for me. I mean, as long as he shaved.

I dunno, you guys, I think this might have ruined it for me.

What I Learned from the Internet: Episode 5

Today I learned from the internet that reading everything through an RSS reader (which I do basically all the time) can really suck, because I love this banner so much that I am totally going to steal it and make it mine. Shhhh... don't tell Kris, ok?

World's best pick-up line.