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the latest waddle:

good morning, wordpress - 10:36 a.m. , 2009-07-03

elaborate murder attempt - 2:56 p.m. , 2009-07-01

building a tractor in the basement - 10:42 a.m. , 2009-06-19

ask no questions tell just a few lies - 3:17 p.m. , 2009-06-09

my long lasting flavor really lasts long - 1:10 p.m. , 2009-06-04

2003-11-04 ... 2:20 a.m.


1. When you check into your hotel and find the baby crib already set up in your room, and you realize that you will be handed your daughter the very next day, I certainly hope it's normal to have to go into the bathroom* and sit very quietly on the floor for a while. That crib made the whole trip seem real.

*(Bathroom: quintessential site of the private freak-out. How many break-up tears/bad drug trip moments/pre-public-speaking shakes have been dealt with in bathrooms? There should be a monograph on the bathroom as emotional space. Find me a publisher.)

2. It is a two-hour bus ride from Chongqing to the site of the orphanage. When we got there and went inside the courtyard, it was Exercise Time. We were greeted by the surreal sight of thirty babies in walkers, slowly moving toward us with their little plastic-wheels-on-concrete sound. It was like being surrounded by a group of knee-high aliens, or curious penguins.

3. Our group was herded into a conference room, given some basic "welcome"-type talk, and then, just to further the surrealism, a group of women in identical pink lab coats, all holding babies dressed in identical pink pajamas, suddenly appeared and they started calling out the babies' Chinese names and handing them over to parents and all was chaos. I recognized Nora right away, although she was one of the last to be named. She looked scared, snotty-nosed, and skeptical, but did not cry and in fact fell asleep in LT's arms as we toured the orphanage. I didn't cry either. Until I saw her all adorably asleep and then I got a little sniffly about what had just happened.

4. Nora has a great crooked little smile and two lower teeth. She talks in her sleep, like me, and conks out after finishing a bottle, like her dad. Her head sweats when she eats. She likes noise, crowds, going places, banging things on the table (she is quite the drummer---I swear she nearly had a polyrhythm going at one point),* being naked, carrots, and holding a washcloth while she goes to sleep. When we received her she could barely sit up unsupported and within a week she was crawling, pulling herself up on furniture, clapping her hands, and eating from a spoon. (Although, oddly, she has not grasped the finger-food concept yet. She will hold a Cheerio, admire a Cheerio, talk to a Cheerio, but not put it in her mouth.)

*Oh dear. Picture the two indie-rock stereotype crushes---hot Asian girls and girl drummers---combined into one person. If the drum thing and the cuteness continue, Nora will have to fend off boys (and probably girls, to not be heterosexist about this) with a stick.

5. From what we can observe and from what the Chinese clinic told us, Nora is healthy. Her runny nose has cleared up and her mosquito bites (Chongqing is hot, humid, and buggy) are fading. She has a scar on her chest that looks like a human bite---I am assuming some other orphanage kid took a chomp out of her but I guess I will never know for sure, which makes me sad but which also makes her kind of groovy and mysterious. It is all healed and doesn’t bother her one bit.

6. The first smile we got was back at the hotel, the first day, while I danced her around and sang "I Wanna Be Sedated." Babies. They can't control their fingers, can't control their brains.

7. Since we have been home, I have continued to experiment with music: Nora became fussy during Beethoven but seemed to enjoy Philip Glass, the Bach B-minor Mass, Buzzcocks, PJ Harvey, and ska. I find myself formulating mom-style opinions on acceptable media already, pulling Joy Division out of the CD changer because babies should not listen to Joy Division. I sing to her in the rocking chair at night and it can be a challenge to come up with a continuous flow of soothing songs, so she hears a lot of 1980s New Wave and early-1990s punk and college rock, because those are the lyrics I can easily recall.

8. Oh yeah, we also hung out in Chongqing for five days doing paperwork, went to Guangzhou for more paperwork (relating to her becoming an American citizen), and to Hong Kong to transit out. The details are dull. However, I will tell you that Nora cried for only a total of eight or nine hours on the flight from Hong Kong to Chicago. Nora was feeling authentic.


1. I spilled beer on her, while she was asleep in the baby carrier thing and LT and I were having a few in the hotel lobby. The positive spin on this would be that she then smelled like us, or maybe that it was our own weird form of baptism.

2. I also dropped some hot-and-sour potato on her head, because I am not 100% with the chopsticks at the best of times, much less when I have a squirming baby on my lap.

3. One night in the hotel when she absolutely would not go to sleep, I took her out for a ride in the stroller, which worked, and when we got back I was so exhausted I just parked her next to the bed and left her there while I slept.

4. Similarly, recently she finally fell asleep in my arms and I soon caught the faint scent of urine, but I stuffed that thought way down deep into my brain, where the Syrup Of Denial runs thick and sticky, because I just could not deal with the possibility of waking her up during the diaper change. So my daughter slept in her own urine all night, or at least she slept through the bit that was not sucked up by the scarily absorbent diapers they make nowdays. (Seriously, what the hell is in there? I keep having nightmares that the superabsorbent gel will actually start to absorb moisture out of the baby itself and there will just be a dried-up husk in the crib in the morning.)

5. Speaking of diapers, I also feel vaguely guilty about the disposables. I talk the talk but I guess I cannot walk the walk when it comes to the planet, all that laundry, all that dealing with cloth and poop and such. I comfort myself with the bullshit excuse that I make up for it by not driving and by adopting (less than zero population growth). Yeah, I know, that's weak. Go ahead and beat me with an organic rope.

6. I took Nora out to a Halloween party in my neighborhood the day after we got home, on the theory that she needed to stay up later anyway to try and get over the jet-lag time-zone thing. She was perfectly happy, strapped to LT in the Snugli thing and interacting with all the guests, and no one seemed to be looking askance, but I felt like I had to defensively explain myself for most of the evening---hi, technically I have a brand-new baby and here I am dragging her to social events and drinking beer.

7. Although I am quite adamant that there be few recognizable photos of me online, here I go splashing Nora's visage all over the goddamn Internet (see the next entry). Nora, please feel free to point out my hypocrisy when you are around fifteen years old, and then make sure you scream "no one UNDERSTANDS me" and slam the door to your room really hard.


Nora laughs, often, and smiles and holds out her arms to me when she wakes up. She got scared of the cat and sat in my lap for security until she felt brave enough to crawl over and put her mouth right on the cat’s side (I cleared fur out of her mouth for a solid minute. She won't be making that mistake again). Somehow I think my not having given birth to her has made LT and I more equal in our parenting duties, compared to many of the other new parents I know (Hi, my name is Mimi and I like to make sweeping generalizations), so she is benefiting from our tradeoffs and exchanges of power (parenting being somewhat akin to the interpersonal dynamics of an acid trip or grueling third-world travel---one person is okay while the other is freaking out, one person has the map and is deciding on restaurants while the other is a crabby blood-sugar-crash wreck). Most of all, we just love her and think she is neat.

If you have read this far, thanks. I have lots more to talk about and much of it is not even baby-related. But first, we can get those photos out of the way…see the next entry.

---mimi smartypants just can't help herself.


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