November 6, 2010

  • Hello from the new girl

    Yesterday’s 12-hour day marked the end of my first week at my new job. I am the new press and marketing coordinator for a major university music, theater, and dance presenter. It has been a while since I’ve been engulfed in the performing arts (a while as in high school), and I know next to nothing about classical music, but I keep reminding myself that I’ve done this in unframiliar territory before. I knew next to nothing about contemporary art before I worked at the MCA, aside from the fact that I liked it and frequented the museum every chance I got. I definately didn’t know anything about design or Scotland for that matter when the Scottish government somehow allowed me to market their inagural, nation-wide design festival. But I am interested, curious, and enthsiastic. I am a good writer, have solid common sense, work hard, and I know how to sell. I am good at forging relationships in the community and I’m a friendly, helpful insitutional ambassador. I’m not afraid of doing well or of failing; I just do my best every day and see where that takes me. Nine times out of ten, it takes me and the organization I work for somewhere good.

    I like marketing cultural events because I get to learn a lot about many cultural happenings and audiences that my daily life would otherwise never bring me in contact with. Last night, I attended my first mariachi performance. I may have stumbled upon the arts marketing sector by chance, but I really like it most days. Getting free tickets to things dosn’t hurt, either.

    Shaun is working from home; he was a contractor for a creative content company in Chicago and has been able to keep that position in our new life here in Ann Arbor. He’s also still freelancing a ton as an entertainment journalist; this week he was flown to Austin to play a new video game all week long and review it. Recently, he had to write a piece invovling Star Trek, a show he never really followed. He was terrified because “Treky” is a way of life for some very special people and getting Star Trek factioids wrong on any level could mean piles of hate for Shaun. I have the same fear while I compile press releases and write copy in my new job for classical and chamber music performances. Those people know their music and don’t suffer fools gladly. Luckily, I am fasidious about fact checking and have the internet at hand. Luckily, I do get relief as we also present lots of theater, dance and other types of music that I feel more at home in.I’m also tasked with acting as insitutional leiason to a few student groups, which will be fun.

    Lila is hard at work being a 14-month old, learning to walk, talk, and be her awesome self. Right now she is sitting on my lap, her fuzzy head under my chin. Her hands are busied playing with clipped coupons, sorting through each while saying, “yes, yes, yes. No no. Yeah!” Better go before that becomes boring.

    xo, dear readers!


November 3, 2010

  • Home is wherever I’m with you

    I mentioned in the last post that we’ve recently relocated to Ann Arbor. Many factors lead to the decision, most of them financial. While Ann Arbor doesn’t even come close to Chicago in scope or scale (size-wise, culturally, and in terms of diversity), it has it’s own unique identity. It is a very livable place and there are a few factors that make this especially so for me.

    1.) Trees. Ann Arbor has lots of them. More than 50,000, to be exact. Lush trees arch over every street, branches reaching to touch each other from opposite sides of the road. Autumn has taken a hold of each leaf by now, yielding reds and yellows, browns and tans.  

    2.) We’ve lived in a lot of places where the smell is bad. Really bad. Like the time in NYC that the Manhattan sewer line overflowed into the Hudson River. Or when I slipped on dewy, congealed vomit on a Saturday morning run in Glasgow. Or that reeking Chicago factory near North & Elston that smells like sulfur, dog food, and boiled carrots. None of these things smelled very good. It smells so fresh here. Like trees and cider and split wood and wind. I like inhaling all of a sudden; it feels so damn clean.

    3.) The commute. You know your city is tiny when you’ve lived in it a total of 2.5 weeks and already have so many aquaintences that you’ve never had a bus ride without running into one and having a chat. The commute is a miniscule ten minute bus ride into town. Unlike any public transit experince I’ve ever had, the bus comes on time, when it is supposed to, reliably, according to schedule. I also love it because I ride for free, one of the many perks of my job.

    Those are my top three at the moment. I also like how this is a pedestrian-friendly town. People walk & bike to get around. There is stuff to do. The farmers’ market is the most incredible thing, comparable to the Union Square green market in NYC but with prices I can actually afford. The prices in general here are a huge relief from big city life. I actually see a chunk of my paycheck for the first time in ages. My new colleagues are nice; my job is so new that I feel odd to assess it in any official capacity yet (this is only my first week), but the benefits are incredible and I was very engaged in my first actual tasks today.

    In total: I like it here. As Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros sing:

    “Moats and boats and waterfalls,
    Alley-ways and pay phone calls,
    I’ve been everywhere with you.

    We laugh until we think we’ll die,
    Barefoot on a summer night
    Nothin’ new is sweeter than with you

    And in the streets you run afree,
    Like it’s only you and me,
    Geeze, you’re something to see.

    Ahh Home. Let me go home.
    Home is wherever I’m with you.
    Ahh Home. Let me go ho-oh-ome.
    Home is wherever I’m with you.”


October 31, 2010

  • Sleepless Saturday

    When I started this blog, I was 23. I lived in Chicago. And at the time, I apparently liked to be thought of as an “art girl,” although now I’m not really sure what that means. I blogged everything.

    Today, I’m 28. Shaun and I just moved to Ann Arbor to enjoy a lower cost of living and raise Lila closer to her family in a city with good public schools. I work hard. I love deeply. I give a shit. I am definitely not a girl; there’s something about giving birth and feeding someone from your boobs for over a year that makes anything less than “woman” laughable. I love art and I will always have an active creative life.

    I miss blogging at times, but not the persona that somehow invariably builds up around a person known only through writing. It’s freeing to just let life happen and not to be filtering it through “blog goggles.” Although, I’m not even sure I could if I wanted to: I haven’t thought in essay format for a while. There is no beginning, middle, and end to my experiences. These days, it just feels like I’m beginning, beginning, and beginning again. It is only in retrospect that I notice anything has ended. I suspect this is what happens when you live with a one-year old, although I’m sure there are other forces at work too. Current modes of social media (Facebook, Twitter) force us to think in the “now.” We become a series of action verbs. What is the big picture? What is the context? I worry about how these modes of communicating will shape our thinking as a society, but participate nonetheless and am shaped by it more than I probably realize.

    Recently, a few bloggers from Xanga yesteryear reached out to me via Facebook and I couldn’t have been happier. I don’t think any of us blog much anymore and I wonder why not for them. For me, I’m full. My days are busier than they’ve ever been and if I have the luxury of free time, I’m probably over the moon with the possibility that I could finally get laid. Sorry to be crass, but those of you who work your ass off career and parenting-wise know that finding time to unwind with the person you find sexy enough to conceive with in the first place is really not as simple as it should be. So if I’ve managed to get through a day feeling great with even an ounce of energy left, sitting down at the computer is pretty low on the list. But tonight, I can’t sleep. So here I am, a moment to myself, wondering whatever happened to this blog and what kind of blogname I’d come up with to define myself if I started one now. AnnArborArtWoman28 just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

April 26, 2010

  • writing makes it all better

    Just a quick update because last week’s Debbie Downer post really can’t be the thing I see when I pop over here to take a peek. This weekend was so excellent. Aside from having pals over for pizza and a so-bad-it’s-good movie Saturday night, I did nothing but write and play with the Squirrel.

    This was the first time I’ve actually done any real writing since the Squirrel was born in late August. It was amazing. Lila was very cooperative with two long (2.5 hours!) naps on Sunday, giving me ample time to revisit a funny essay and do some serious editing/re-working. I’m going to make people laugh at this reading. More importantly: I’m making myself laugh and realizing that I’m a writer if only because writing makes everything better.

    Squirrel is launching into separation anxiety full force all of a sudden. Which sucks, but is getting easier now that I’m starting to see a pattern and know where it is coming from. It hits some kids harder than others and I thought she’d get out unscathed, as she’s had to deal with me being away from her for most of the day since she was 6 weeks old. But mama is what she wants—she’s even started to be weird with Shaun. If I put her down for a nap and he comes in to get her upon waking, she FREAKS out. Apparently this might continue to happen until Lila reaches her 2nd birthday.
    What makes you a writer?

April 23, 2010

  • Debbie Downer. Rar to this day! Vent, vent, vent!

    I hate Debbie Downer blogs, but since nobody reads this I feel free to write one.Buckle up kiddies…

    I usually nurse the baby when she wakes in the morning and at daycare before I leave her for the day, but today she wasn’t having any of it at daycare. She’d woken early and her schedule–and mine–was just a bit off. So perhaps I’m just feeling blue today because I don’t have my usual double boost of oxytocin, but whatever the cause I’ve got a clingy, seeping sadness following me around today.

    For starters, I’m pretty sure I’m going to get a ticket from one of those stupid intersection cameras. I’m usually such a cautious driver, but today I was following a giant truck too closely in an attempt to scoot through an intersection, only to find out too late that truck was basically running a red.

    Also, this week Shaun and I were asked to read at a literary series at our favorite bar. I was totally shocked that I was asked: I don’t consider myself a writer—that’s a profession and I simply don’t have thick enough skin or good enough discipline for it. I’m just a person who writes things sometimes. I’m also secretly intimidated to be sharing a stage with my husband. He’s an actual writer. Someone who makes money from and gets interviewed about his work. I’m just a random person with a blog. I accepted the invitation to read because I was flattered and in the moment and I have a general tendency to say “yes!” to most things. But now that I’m sorting through my essays and stories and stuff, I’m realizing that 90% of the things I’ve ever written are pretty craptastic. And as for my bio? What to say? “Chicagoartgirl23 is an egotist with a blog who used to write a lot but nowadays she’s too busy extracting milk from her boobs and working to pay the daycare people to do much of anything else.”

    And then there’s work.Can’t really say much more because, well, because.


    I used to sit behind a woman at a past job who sighed all the time and it made me want to punch her in the face.


    There was a new caregiver at daycare today. Lila usually gets a bit panicked when I leave, but is easily calmed/distracted with toys. This new caregiver, though, made her incredibly uneasy and she was sobbing when I left. That is hard, people. I don’t even know this woman’s name. This whole situation is so unnatural and sick. I just want to leave work and be with my baby. Possible write something worth sharing at this stupid upcoming reading during her nap. But I’m here. So it’s time to put on a happy face and just freaking work.

April 16, 2010

  • My Friday’s too Friday-licious for you, babe.

    Some people slack at work on a regular basis and that’s fine. Who am I to say that stopping every half hour for a gossip, a Starbucks, or a lipstick retouch isn’t fueling some underlying mental process? As long as a project gets done, jimmy crack corn and I don’t care how you do it. I just happen to be the type of person who likes to be a hop and a skip ahead of the game; procrastination and waste make me panic. Plus, I’m already squeezing every last drop out of a day when I abscond thrice daily to my pumping room to eek out Lila’s food for the following day, so I really don’t have two minutes and thirty four seconds to sit around and watch your hilarious YouTube video of a cat playing with an iPad; I’ve got a budget to reforecast.

    Today, though, is different.

    I took an actual lunch break today instead of eating salad at my desk for the millionth day in a row. I strolled in the sunny sunshine. I bought a sassy $10 pencil skirt from H&M. I ate a cup of chicken chili. I flirted with the idea of indulging in a chocolate milkshake but decided that fitting into my new skirt was more important. For the first time in a long, long time: I enjoyed a complete hour to myself, doing frivolous things. Miraculous things. And I loved it.

     The bad thing about breaking my workflow is that my workflow is broken: it don’t flow no more. I’m technically waiting on info for one thing before I can finish my current project, but I could be prepping future projects, organizing my desk, cleaning out my emails, researching the newest/hippest thing to wow and amaze my boss with.

    But it’s Friday. And I’m feeling Friday-licious. Sure, I’m overworked, underpaid, and exhausted from the relentless responsibility of being a good girl. And yes I did simultaneously sprout  my first gray hair and varicose vein this month. But I’ve got a sunny day, a fresh weekend, and a brand new skirt. And I’ll be damned if I don’t look pretty hot in it.


    How are you feeling today?

April 5, 2010

  • waaaaaa! waaaa! WAAAAA!

    I had a dream last night that I was fired from my job for texting a friend that Martha Stewart was on-site. When management asked me if I’d “leaked” the information, I honestly didn’t think that texting my pal qualified as “leaking,” so I said no. Then they showed me a print out of my text and I was escorted out of the building straight away. And I remember feeling nothing but emense relief.

    Snugglebot woke Satruday night feeling feverish and sad. Today, her fever has held steady at 103 (100 with regular doses of Motrin). Any fever above 100 means baby is barred from daycare. We don’t have any family in the state to help us out in situations like these, so I’m at home today with my girl. Again.

    In the past four weeks, Lila has been sick with three separate illnesses—one of which put me out of commission for about four days. We’ve been told this is par for the course for daycare babies. Since I’m salary and Shaun is hourly, I’m always the one who has to stay home with the snugglebot. I’m happy to care for her, but I’m really starting to worry about my standing at work. I’m sometimes able to work from home, but often the demands of baby really prevent this.

    After health insurance, daycare payments, and parking, I only take home $100 per month, which about pays for the gas I need to make the daycare/work commute. I work for our healthcare. Shaun is contact labor, so his job can’t offer insurance. I wish it were 2014 already so that we could just buy into the government option and spare me the waste of time and energy of working at a job that barely allows me to break even. Even still, Shaun’s contract only gives us 8 more weeks of his great pay and then it’s back to where we were, with my measly $30,000 being our primary source of bread. Lila however, will be out of daycare when Shaun is back home, freelancing part-time. We’re hoping that Shaun gets brought on full time and I would then just quit, stay home with Snugs and find part-time work when Shaun can be home with her. But nobody wants to hire anybody on full time these days. The recession taught everyone how to survive with skeleton crews and freelancers without benefits.

    I can’t get too bogged down in it, primarily because my poor overheated baby just woke up from her sorry excuse for a nap.
    Working mamas: how did you do it?

March 21, 2010

  • day in the life

    Shaun is on contract in an office now on a three-month contract writing traning manuals, in addition to freelancing. I’m at work, back in the marketing department with a flex-schedule. Here’s what a day-in-the-life of our two-income, one baby (she’ll be 7 months old on the 29th) household looks like at the moment:

    4-ish-5am: Babykins calls out for her dad from the nursery: “waaa!” She wants him to pluck her from her crib and snuggle her next to me in the big bed. There, she falls back to sleep and has a “dream feed” while I half-sleep. She must drink a gallon, for when I wake up my boobs are so grotesquely lopsided that I’ve got to pump the other side to fit into my bra for the day.

    5-5:30: Dad slips sleeping Lila back into her crib and goes back to bed. I pump and eat breakfast, usually oatmeal and tea.

    5:30-6:35: Get myself ready for the work: shower, hair, makeup, outfit.

    6:35: Slip into the nursery and put on Beethoven for Babies and turn on the light. I pick out an outfit for her and lay it out for Shaun. Lila likes to wake up this way, gradually. I leave her to wake and set about packing up her daycare bag and my work bag and pump supplies for the day.

    6:40: Lila is playing happily in her crib. Shaun goes in to say, “Do I hear a wake-d up baby in here?” In response, Lila gives us a super nova smile.

    6:40-6:50: Shaun gets Lila ready for the day—morning diaper, outfit, nose suctioning, washcloth to the crusty face—while I unload the dishwasher. Well, I’m supposed to be unloading the dishwasher, but sometimes I’m running late due to over-snoozing and am still brushing my teeth at this point.

    6:50: Lila goes in the front carrier and I walk her and all our bags out to the car. We load up and we’re on our way with NPR to keep us informed.

    Sometime between 7:20 and 7:30, depending on traffic: Arrive at daycare. If it’s nice and we arrive closer to 7:20, Lila and I have a quick walk around the park across the street from daycare. We look at the doggies and the birds and the high school baseball players having morning practice. The sun rises over the city, making everything shine.

    7:30: Sign in to daycare and feed Lila her breakfast; we nurse in a big comfy chair in the corner.

    7:50: “Mama’s going to work now so you can play with Lauren, Misty, and all of your friends! See you at dinner time. Then we’ll go home to snuggle with Daddy! Have a good day! Love you! Bye-bye!”

    8 am: Clock in to work.

    8-10: work, work, work.

    10: Obscond to lacatation room to pump. Pump. Back upstairs to stash milk in fridge.

    10:30 -12:30: work, work, work. Eat lunch at desk.

    12:30-1am: pump again.

    1-3: work, work, work.

    3-3:30: pump.

    3:30-4: finish up projects for the day, make “to-do” list for tomorrow.

    4pm: Clock out.

    4:20: “Lila, look whose here!” She sees me and smiles a huge smile before lunging at my chest with her mouth wide open, trying to latch on to me through my shirt. We nestle into our chair and nurse a before we leave for home.

    4:30–5:10: Try to get home before traffic gets heinous. Lila likes to listen to the radio and “sings along” (aka: squeals and babbles) to Jay Sean, Black Eyed Peas, Miley Cyrus’ Party in the U.S.A. While I can’t say that I enjoy this music, I can see why babies like it: these songs are simple, repetitive, with a strong beat. Lila also likes Sigur Ros, Camera Obscura, and Kate Nash, so there are some music tastes we share. For the car, though, it’s XRT.

    5:10-5:50: We chill in the nursery chair where Lila cluster-feeds (nursing) and naps in my snuggle.

    5:50: Daddy’s home! Lila wakes at the sound of Shaun’s keys in the door and gets super awake and smiley all of a sudden.

    5:50-6:15 Shaun and Lila play and do diapering while I whip up a super quick meal/re-heat leftovers/retrieve crock-pot something or other.

    6:15-6:30: We scarf dinner while feeding Lila a bit of some baby-type mushy food.

    6:30-7:30: Abandon diner dishes and play. If it’s nice out, we go for a walk to the lake and back; Shaun wears babykins in the front carrier. If it’s crappy out, we play inside on the baby blanket, read stories, sing songs.
    7:30-8pm: I give baby her bath, night diaper, vitamins, nose suctioning while Shaun picks up the dinner dishes. Shaun sets up the nursery humidifier and puts Sigur Ros on (for some reason, she LOVES to sleep to this music, eventhough I’d think it’s a bit too rockin’ for night-night time).

    8pm: Nurse babykins to sleep. Shaun starts his other shift as freelance writer at this time, sometimes he goes to the cafe next door, sometimes the couch is more appealing.

    8:30: I’m usually so pooped and relaxed at this point that I’ve fallen asleep in the chair with the baby and wake up at this point with a stiff neck. I slip baby into her crib where she slumbers like a little angel.

    8:30-9:30: I pick up the house, pay bills, prep dinner for the following night, make lunches for the next day, and try to keep general chaos at bay.

    9:30: No more work. I stop everything, get my ass ready for bed and read a bit.

    10pm: Lights out.

    11-midnight-ish: Shaun usually is finishing up his freelance projects for the night and rolls into bed.

    2am: Lila wants to eat. Nurse and back to sleepy time.

    Do it all again.


    EDIT: Oops. Didn’t mean to hit “publish” so soon. Here’s what I meant to add:

    Our schedule–the night-time routine, especially—took a long time to get good at. We used to have to rock/soothe babykins to sleep FOREVER until we fell into a weird routing where she crashed for an hour at 7pm, only to wake and want to be “plugged in” (aka: attached to my boobs) from 8-11pm. We let it happen and gradully she got the idea that bedtime was a peaceful, nice thing (we didn’t have the spine to Ferberize; plus we live in an apartment with very thin walls and a wailing baby just isn’t neighborly). She’s been going down to bed easy as pie (knock on wood) for the past two months or so now.

    Also, the driving-to-work, daycare, Shaun-in-an-office thing is very new. We’ve only been doing this for about six weeks or so. It took all of us a while to get used to the whole daycare thing (the first week was HORRIFIC emotionally, financially, and logistically—baby’s schedule was turned completely upside down which made her sad/crazy and subsequently made Shaun and I sad/crazy). Things are good now, though (or as good as they can be given that daycare is never exactly an ideal solution).

    The daycare next door to us (an in-home place that our neighbor runs for up to six neighborhood babies at a time) has an opening in early April, so we’ll be switching there shortly. Although I dread going through another rough transition of Lila getting used to a new caregiver/schedule, we’re going to save a TON (nearly $250/month) just by me being able to walk Lila next door to daycare and simply take the subway to work again. Right now, where our current daycare is located, public transit isn’t really a feasibly option.

    Am I happy? Yes. Am I tired? Sometimes. But it feels like we’re working hard and creating something better for ourselves day by day. I wish we had more time together, but the time we do have is fun. Lila’s got a great sense of humor—her default is cuddly and laughing. I love our family walks in the evening; it’s so nice to chat and laugh with Shaun and get some fresh air and just take a little break from the grind. Plus, there’s always the weekends. Weekends are where it’s at. ;)
    What’s your schedule like?

November 4, 2009

  • Three Year Goals

    By 2013, here’s a few things [aside from being a good mother, happy spouse, good friend, family, and community member] that I want to have happening in my life:
    * Back to School
    Ever since discovering my [sorry to be cheesy here] true calling to teach, I’ve known that I need to get my butt back to school for my teaching certificate. I want to be enrolled somewhere and taking classes by Lila’s third birthday.

    Why the three year timeline?
    –>I love my job, but it has a lifespan. I don’t ever want to feel it’s tedium more than it’s joy. This will happen if I wait too long.
    –>Without a fine arts/art history degree, I have little growth potential in my current position. And as much as I love art, my passion for it is as a living, breathing, PUBLIC entity. I don’t get a thrill from it in books or theory, making me a poor candidate for pursuing my education in that arena.
    –>It was Shaun and I’s plan that we would take turns continuing our education—that’s why we were in Scotland, after all. And while there is no expiration date on my capacity and desire to learn, I’ve been    itching for “my turn” for a few years now.
    –> By the time Lila starts first grade, it would be great if my work schedule matched her school schedule.
    –> I don’t want to stop at being a teacher. I want to grow into a good policy maker and eventually open       my own educational not-for-profit center for writing and the arts. I need to take the first step to let the           rest unfold.
    –> Money. The recession has had not a small impact on our family. With a bail out from our families         and Shaun working ’round the clock to make his end of ends meet on a freelance writer’s earnings,               we’ve been able to keep our heads above water. But adding the expense of tuition at the moment seems laughable. Student loans are an option. We’ve always used them before and never regretted it.
     –> Flexibility. My current job is not flexible. I am on duty when the museum is open—in fact I am the one who opens and closes it. The job requires me to work nights and weekends. A job with more             flexibility to accommodate my new family life and my schooling would be a HUGE help in striking a    critical balance.

    Why am I thinking of this now?
    Yesterday, my old boss in the marketing department spoke to me about coming back to her department. The position would be a step back for me, but the pay and benefits would be the same and she said she could offer huge amounts of flexibility. No more nights. No more weekends. I wouldn’t hate the actual work, but I wouldn’t love it. Taking a step back in one area seems strange, but is it if I am doing so to grow in other areas? I don’t know if this is the best or the worst time for me to be making decisions like this—arguments could be made for both. But conversations are flowing. This is making me revisit myself in a way I’ve not done in a while and in a way that, frankly, scares me. I wish I had a more linear life, one driven less by “vision.” But I’m not like that. And I’ve had a lot of fun along the way.
    What do you think about taking a step back to clear some room for growth? Ever had to do it?

October 30, 2009

  • Update

    Lila Eleni Manning. She exists. In this big, beautiful world, there she is. Growing. Learning all about it. A glowy pink little mammal with trust as big as the ocean. She belongs with us. Her whimpers, her night squeaks, her sighs and her swallows. She is our daughter.

    That was the first thing I wrote post-Lila, mere hours after giving birth. Since then, it’s been difficult to write or to do much else besides get used to baby life. And it’s been busy.

    During her first month, Lila had many visitors. My mom and her husband Rick came in our very first post-partem days and took very good care of us. Shaun’s parents followed, then my step-dad Tony and his girlfriend. Friends came over to cook us dinner, chat, and take our first family photos. Aunts brought bagels. Small trips around the neighborhood—the drugstore, the farmers market—felt like great feats. We went to a few parties and Lila chilled out in her snuggly front-pack while we gradually re-incorporated ourselves into society.

    Just after her first month birthday, we drove to Michigan to introduce our daughter to all her friends and family there. Instead of a baby shower, we had a Welcome to the World Party. It was wonderful to see all of our family. My grandparents even came from Colorado to join in the fun, which was a real treat. Instead of traditional baby-shower gifts, we asked everyone interested in being gifty to contribute to Lila’s education fund. She’s now got a very nice start to her piggy bank.

    After Michigan, we bought a car. Reality set in and trial and error taught us that it is very difficult to run errands with a baby on public transit. Especially with me working and breast-feeding; things have to be timed in a very specific way. So we are the proud owners of a 2007 Chevy Aveo. Did you know you can buy used cars from Enterprise rental? Totally competitive prices and extraordinarily well-maintained cars.
    Lila had her two-month check up on Wednesday. She is a healthy 10 lbs, 3 oz now. She’s 23 inches long with a happy little head. She’s a social little animal now; she returns any smile beamed her way and smiles spontaneously when she thinks something is funny. Her sense of humor is developing nicely. Horray!

    I had to be back at work on October 12. I had six weeks off and would have loved to take the FMLA-protected 12 weeks, but my I would have to go without pay (and thusly insurance) for 6 of those weeks and that was just not possible for us at this point.

    I love my job, but six weeks is too early for mothers to go back to work. Physiologically too early. Lila is an exclusively breast-fed baby and had a really hard time learning how to eat from bottles. A completely different kind of coordination is needed to chow on a pumped bottle of boobie snacks than to slurp fresh from the tap and at a mere six weeks, Lila was just struggling with it. She’s mastered it now, but it was an extraordinarily difficult week and 1/2 for all. A giant pat on the back to Shaun—her daytime caregiver—for teaching her how to rock the bottle.

    Otherwise, back-to-work has been interesting. Shaun has been brining Lila to the museum when I work Tuesday evenings. She cluster-feeds in the evening, so I do desk-work with a baby attached to my boob. We also walk the galleries together. Currently, we have a really colorful Sol LeWitt piece called Wall Drawing #311 that she loves. She also really likes a red and yellow Dan Flavin piece. You know she likes something when she breathes like an excited puppy, smiles, and flails her hands and feet around in happy-dance fashion. Then she pauses, makes a cute “o” mouth, and coos before starting her flailing again.

    My staff has been hired by performance artist Tino Sehgal to implement his piece, This is New (2003). During the admissions transaction, my associates recite headlines from a major daily newspaper, apropos of nothing. Done right, the headline comes off as a complete non-sequitur. Do people think we’re nuts? Yes. They are meant to. And it’s hilarious. I’m on call to be interviewed by a local television reporter about the piece next week, and barring breaking news, will be on TV talking it up. Crazy!

    Last weekend, we took Lila to her first gallery show. Heaven Gallery was hosting their annual show, The Yield, and I had a few colleagues exhibiting work. We met another baby there and enjoyed some interesting work together. Lila loves going out in the world—she just chills in her front-wrap carrier, checks out the world sometimes, sleeps—and the gallery opening was no exception.

    Today, we’re headed off to Michigan to attend our neices baptism. Shaun’s been named her Godfather, which seems totally crazy. It’s one thing to have your own kid, but another to be cited as a “responsible person” by another, enough so to tend to the spiritual well-being of their children. To be clear: we are secular humanists, but a spirit is a spirit is a spirit. It needs nurturing and I’m proud of Shaun for being up the the challenge.

    Here’s some cute pictures I took yesterday, after realizing that time is passing at light-speed and I’ve just been letting my camera get dusty.

    Shaun reading Lila some bedtime comics. Note her flailing arms: she loves the contrast of black print on white page.

    Goodnight kiss from mama.

    I hope everyone is staying healthy during this nasty flu season. And I hope not all my blog posts will be so update-y moving forward. But it’s been a while and I just felt a weird need to document all the massive changes that have happened and the small acheivements that make all the night-feedings and diaper duties seem like no trouble at all.