Tag Archives: book clubs

Bait and Swish

I love my daughter. I adore every fiber of her being. But her newest habit’s going to make me tear my hair out.

It’s saliva swishing. Like what you do with water after brushing your teeth, but using spit. It’s loud, gross, and sort of scary. I don’t know how she summons enough liquid to make the racket she does. It’s like Niagara Falls in there. She must have over-active glands. It sounds like the final deluge. I should build an ark.

She does this constantly, but it’s most acute when she’s concentrating. When she draws, for example, or attempts to write. It’s at its worst for puzzles. Of which, right now, we are doing a lot. I say “right now” because I find the passion for puzzling waxes and wanes. It’s like a food craving, but in a three-year-old. Who isn’t pregnant. Anyway. These days MJ wakes up asking for them. They must be comforting in some way. It makes sense–the order, the fulfillment, the knowing where things go. I get it. But the swishing. Jesus Christ!

At first I tried saying nothing. The advent of this new behavior has coincided, roughly, with my going back to work; if it’s a self-soothing mechanism, I figured, far be it from me to take it away from her. Then it became incessant. Giving in, I asked her kindly to stop. Nothing doing. We finally arrived at the “you’re seriously grossing me out” phase. She thought that was hilarious. The more discomfited I became, the happier she was.

It usually ends, now, in a threat that I will leave the room (and the puzzle) if she doesn’t stop. I feel badly about this. But I have a sound thing. Or certain sounds. Wet ones. Mouthy ones. I’d rather she farted. She could fart incessantly and I’d hardly notice. I would think it was cute. I can do poop, toenail biting, even puke. I’m mildly freaked out by nose-picking, but I’d even take that over this.

And yet. The pleasure of being in her company these days is so sheer, so pure, so profound, that even aural torture can barely make a dent.  Every moment is a gift. I feel totally unable to accomplish anything else, of course–anything that takes me away from her is intolerable. Phone calls to return? Sorry. House to clean? Later. Fundraising for her preschool? Someday. Time enough for all of that, I reason, after she’s gone to bed. Except there isn’t. Life, it seems, is about to get more disorganized. The puzzles may be the only thing in this house with all of their pieces in place.

On the other hand, the whole working thing may not last. At least not this job. I learned  from my boss a couple of days ago that a mistake was made– I can’t, in fact, get benefits for my family as a part-timer. Only for me. He’s terribly sorry for the mixup. He’s aware I took the job believing otherwise. His hands, however, are tied.

Never mind. I have to stay for now. Money is money, and one less insurance premium to pay is better than nothing. So I’ll stick it out, at least until Mike finds work. It’s hard. But there are up-sides. On the three days I’m there, for example, I hear no mouth sounds. Saliva is out of the picture completely. It’s a totally spitless environment.

There is one other perk: I have time to read. So I finished my book. The one about horseshoe crabs and other ancient species. It was a slog, but I got through it on my breaks. And I’m glad I did. It was helpful, in the middle of all of this, to be reminded of the vast sweep of time on earth, the six major extinction events that have occured since its inception, the millions of species that have come and gone. And of the four billion years the planet’s been here. Four. Billion. Such numbers give me comfort.  When they’re not scaring the shit out of me.

Having said that, my next book is “Gone Girl.” Book Club again. There goes all perspective, all wisdom, and half my brain cells, too.

I’ll get them back doing puzzles. I just need a pair of earplugs.

And a little bit more time.


Parked at TJ’s

I blame Thomas Jefferson.

It’s probably the only time in my life I’ll get to say that–I’m no Aaron Burr, after all. But I do blame him. Him and his long-winded, sere, and scholarly biographer John Meacham. Because of them I will be unprepared for book club tonight. For, due to the great density, length and–let’s face it–arduousness of “The Art of Power,” Meacham’s new biography of TJ, I was unable to finish it in time to re-read the Cleopatra biography that my club will be discussing tonight. So, even though I have read the latter book before, and  vaguely remember the plot of the Egyptian Queen’s life, I will remain mostly silent as others discuss with lively intensity the minute details of each chapter. When it comes to books I read four years–or even four months–ago, my memory makes a sieve look like an ironclad safe. If I can recall any specifics beyond Cleo’s affairs, her unusual nose, and some doubts about her snake-caused-suicide, it’ll be a miracle.

It wasn’t supposed to go like this. I got the Jefferson biography for Christmas. I should’ve been done with it weeks ago. But no. I have 75 pages to go. My brain is sapping out of my skull faster than water out of a leaking sippy cup. Motherhood does this to all of us. I, however, am clearly on the accelerated plan.

Having said all of that? There’s no way I’m canceling tonight. I don’t get out much. I’ll go, enjoy the excellent food, nod vaguely, encourage digressions, and look serious at the appropriate moments. Any incisive observations I’ll save for the next book. Whose name I can’t even remember. Something about the woods. Definitely no great historical figures involved, which might be a good thing. Their stories tend to run long.

For now? Back to Monitcello. I fear I will die there. Ah, for the temperate breezes of Alexandria!