Saturday, March 13, 2010

I Went To See A Baby

Me with Carter


Baby Carter

Babies, who doesn't love 'em? Here is one right now, and this one is fresh and new. He is baby Carter, who is fast becoming one of the most blogged-about babies on the interwebs. (Take that, Marlo! I kid.) Seriously, his mom told me that she was determined to put up a post about him every day for the first week, so she wouldn't forget how he was changing. I am amazed that she's actually getting that done, but other people seem to handle the whole newborn thing better than I did. My hat is off to you, Kelly!

I truly think some people just handle the disruption of a first baby better than others. I would never have predicted that I would be less than good at it, but I must say, it really threw me for a loop, especially the first time. I just remember thinking that everything was different and I was different, and the baby wasn't feeding that well and I was so, so tired. It did not help that, when Laura was born, we were living in a one bedroom apartment in a crap part of downtown San Jose, next door to a meth lab run by a guy we called the Junk Man. The Junk Man got all kinds of late-night shipments, dudes unloading things from pick-up trucks, and sometimes he would stand out in his backyard, which was about six feet away from us, and glare at our windows. I don't know if he was crazy, or if he was the savviest meth lab proprietor in the biz, or both. He was a little bit scary.

And! And the apartment was one of several that had been carved out of an old house. The landlord and lady were named Bernie and Betty, and they were greedy assholes. I say that with utter objectivity. They didn't live there, but they would send around their man-of-all-work to handle things on the property. This guy's name was Alan, and he was a mysterious character. I think he had been in jail. One day he was in our apartment to figure out why all this black junk was coming out of our faucets. Or, more accurately, to try to convince me that black junk wasn't coming out of all the faucets. He had to leave, abruptly, because he had to make it to class. I, trying to make nice with this person who was our only hope of ever getting anything done around the place, said, "You're taking a class? What kind of class?" And he said, "I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong."

Oh.

Since the campus of San Jose State was just down the road, and our bedroom faced the street, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning, we would be entertained by troupes of stumbling, drunken students, living out their loves, cares, and more usually, their disagreements right on our sidewalk. We called them the Fuck You Players, because those words were the concluding lines of most of their performances.

The kitchen had been the back porch of the house until they converted it. And the bathroom was in the kitchen. Ancient nasty plumbing. And a mouse lived there.

Betty and Bernie charged us $1200 a month for this place, after I'd talked them down from $1600. We moved out to Silicon Valley at the height of the real estate boom, and they thought this was a conscionable price. While we were negotiating this rate, Betty told me a long, sad story about how her adult son had gotten lost in the woods around Boulder Creek and frozen to death. That turned out to be a lie, but I think she kind of believed it.

What got me writing about this place? Oh, because this was the home that we brought Laura to from the hospital, and we lived there until she was seven months old. I am grateful that I did not go crazy in that little place. I had a hard time. After Matt had to go back to work, some mornings he would make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and leave it on the kitchen counter, because otherwise I might not eat until he came home. I was not yet good at doing things with one hand, and I didn't know that I could and should put the baby down sometimes.

Somehow it is doing me good to write about that apartment. There is some part of me that still feels tender and sore from how hard those early weeks and months of parenting were. Of course, we were happy too, at the same time.

With Hank, things were much better and I was only weepy and crazy for about three days. I just see people doing the newborn thing serenely and well, and I think, "Wow! Go you!"

Anyway, three things about the two pics at the top of this post:

1. Look how adorable that baby is. Exhibit A, his little nose. Exhibit B, his luxuriant hair.

2. I am wearing the same American Apparel shirt that Woody Harrelson wore for the entire movie Zombieland. It's true.

3. I needs to get my hair did.

I hope you guys are having a happy Saturday.

14 comments:

Andrew said...

Ha! The Fuck You Players. That is priceless, I've never heard that story before.

I vaguely remember that apartment. I seem to remember it being very linear, like room - room - room.

Michele said...

Right off; the nose. the sweetest thing.

#2, the mouth, the cutest thing. Did you kiss it? If not, go back and do so. Right Now!

#3,we brought the oldest boy home to a tiny apartment, a working dad, and a mom would who was totally not up to the challenge. Believe it or not he survived. Don't know how or why but I'm not questioning it.

Sjn said...

Yes, I have to agree that baby is the cutest thing! I'd think that even if he wasn't my grandbaby. I'm so glad too that he's here nearby. I love being able to visit and give Kel and Linc some help and support, and of course snuggle-time with Baby C!

Amy said...

He is such a cutie! And that hair! It looks combed already. :)

Lord, that was a terrible, terrible apartment. I seriously don't know how you guys did it, especially with a newborn! Those days are blessedly gone, though.

Rick Dakan said...

I had it from good authority at the time that your baby, Laura, was abnormally fussy and cried more than any baby ever. Because who would know better than that particular fellow living in the basement below you? An expert in all things.

Amy said...

Before I had babies of my own, I never was a LET ME HOLD THAT BABY kind of person. Never. Now, however, even seeing pictures of someone else holding a baby makes me tear up.

Perfection in a blanket.

The Fuck You Players -- that's purely classic. And you know, you really do the reminisce/purge thing with style.

gretchen said...

But is it actually "the" shirt that Woody wore? Or just a look-alike. I once bought my mil a shirt actually worn on General Hospital by Carly. I thought she's go crazy for it, but instead she kind of "skiived" that it was "used". Sigh.

Veronica said...

Adorable baby! My baby still does not have that much hair, and he is almost 3 months old! (Um, 3 months? Crazy.) And, speaking of parenting a newborn, I *meant* to keep a daily journal, but, um, I think I've written in it two or three times so far? And I *think* that maybe I've taken a shower once or twice, since he's been born? But I'm not really sure, the whole 3 months seem sort of vague. Wonderful, but vague. :) Loved your story; can't believe you had to live in such a place with a newborn.

Keely said...

Wow. I don't think I'd want to put the baby down in such an apartment, either. I think you did the right thing, there, even if it did make you go a little bit crazy.

(Also? I'm totally in love with the thoughtful PB&J.)

I didn't feel like I handled the new baby transition particularly gracefully, but people kept commenting on how serene and confident I was. So I think it's a matter of perspective, a lot of the times.

The Messy Mom said...

As you know baby #2 is exactly where I am at right now. It has been way easier this time, but my mom leaves town on Tuesday and real life begins. To be honest I am scared to death, but it's not like people don't do this all the time. I like hearing your stories, we've been (and are) in some similar situations, minus meth lab.

The Dental Maven said...

Girl, you do have some amazing and colorful stories! Glad you made it out of the Crack neighborhood unscathed.

Jenni said...

I love this story. It makes me want to tell the story of my and Nelson's first real apartment together.

That baby is so nomable.

Sara said...

I gobbled up the apartment story! So many wonderful/horrible details!

I remember the second, more disgusting converted upstairs of a house apartment with our oldest. Just when he was learning to crawl and put everything in his mouth. Shudder!

That is a perfect baby. (Makes me excited *and* scared!)

And you are looking ever so dewy and young.
How do you even know such a fact about that zombie shirt!? Funny!

Life on The Rowland Ranch said...

Wow. I'm in awe of how much you and Amy look alike in these pix! Beautiful.