Still My Snugglebum for Now

When we were visiting Trent's cousin in December, she commented while snuggling her 20-month-old son that he is almost at the age where he won't let her do it anymore. That comment came back to me like a punch in the stomach when I was nuzzling Nugget's irresistible cheeks tonight. You mean, he won't let me do this someday??!!! But I'm his mother! He's my baby! MY baby. Does he really have the right to deny me that exquisite pleasure? I think not. But even now, he will often push me off and turn away to babble at the lamp (he loves lamps). My little snugglebum--it also occurred to me today that he probably won't let me call him that as soon as he gets old enough to understand it--is not going to be mine forever, and--ironically--that would be unbearable if I didn't love him enough to let him grow. On the bright side, maybe my husband's grizzled cheek will get a few more nuzzles then.



From Cynthia Ozick's At Fumicaro:

"No belief! No belief!"

The terrible words, in her exhausted croak, stirred him to the beginning of a fury. What had he done, what had he endured, to be able to come at last to belief! And a chambermaid, a cleaner of toilets, could cry so freely against it!

He knew her meaning: she was abashed, shame punched out her tears, she was sunk in absurdity and riddle. But still it shook him--he turned against her--because every day of his life he had to make the same pilgrimage to belief all over again, starting out each dawn with the hard crow's call of no belief.

(What is dogeared?)

Thus kan I preche agayn that same vice which that I use

Apparently the Catholic Church has brought back indulgences. I was surprised--despite my years in Catholic school--to learn from this article that when you go to confession and get absolution for your sins, you still have to pay for them in purgatory for a while before you get to go to heaven. The emphasis on forgiveness is one thing I've always liked about Catholicism. But is it really forgiveness if you still have to pay?

Apparently you can get an indulgence if you go to confession, receive holy communion, say a prayer for the pope and achieve “complete detachment from any inclination to sin.” The prayer for the pope seems pretty self-serving. But what I'm most stuck on is the complete detachment part. Is that really possible? I can't imagine. And how meaningful is it to confess something you no longer have any inclination to do? That seems pointless.

Oddly, this article did make me want to go to confession--something I haven't done since my very first confession back in about the third grade. It's not the desire for absolution; I've always said that if there is really a god who sentences people to eternity in hell for their mistakes, I want to go to hell to be part of the revolution. But I do like the idea of a ritual that creates a space for me to reflect on how I would like to live my life differently. The thing is, I suspect the stuff I feel most guilty about doesn't necessarily match up to the stuff the Catholic Church views as sin. Like smoking. Is that a sin?

And would I have to confess every sin I've committed since the last time I went to confession, more than twenty years ago? Even the stuff I've come to terms with on my own? Or what about premarital sex with my now-husband--does that really matter now that we're married (putting aside the fact that I don't feel any guilt about it whatsoever)? If I do go to confession, I'd better tell the priest ahead of time that he'll need to clear his schedule for a couple days.


Blessed Is the Fruit of Thy Womb

One of the strangest things about pregnancy was becoming unpregnant. That's true for many reasons, but the one I want to talk about now is the way the focus suddenly changed from me to my baby. When I was pregnant, I was the center of attention and the focus of much solicitude. When the baby became physically separated from me, the attention shifted to him and I realized a fairly obvious thing: all the attention I got when I was pregnant was not really for me, it was for him.

This might make sense, but it feels very wrong. It makes me feel that all those months I was being treated as a glorified incubator, a vessel that once empty loses its significance. I suddenly "get" in a meaningful way a large swath of feminist thought that was previously merely theoretical. The upshot is that pregnancy and birth have made me shift a little more toward the pro-choice side of the abortion question. That seems pretty ironic.

(I was essentially on the fence before--I find some arguments on both sides to be very compelling, and mostly I just find it outrageous that people can be so strident about something so full of deep emotional conflicts. Which actually put me more on the pro-choice side, but just barely.)

I don't know why I decided to post about this after midnight when I have to go to work in the morning, but there it is. Now I have to go to bed.



When I come across a passage I especially like in the book I'm reading, I fold the corner of the page down. I've been doing this since high school. When I first started it was so I could go back later and transcribe the passage into a notebook. It's been a long time since I took the time to do that, but I've continued to dogear pages (which drives my bibliophile husband crazy).

I marked this today in the title story of Cynthia Ozick's Dictation:

[Joseph Conrad's amanuensis, explaining to Henry James' amanuensis how she and Conrad work together, admits to secretly correcting Conrad when he misspeaks an English idiom.]
"All that is similar to my own experience with Mr. James. Mr. James, however, is beyond correction."
"Mr. James was not born in Poland."
"But he was born in America, which makes his intimacy with the English language all the more remarkable."


More about Boobs

So this is very old news (give me a break, breastfeeding news wasn't exactly on my radar in 2005) but I've only just read that Barbara Walters--Barbara Walters!--said on the air that she felt "uncomfortable" when a woman seated nearby on a plane breastfed her baby. Are you bleeping kidding me? I said a few weeks ago that I was itching for a fight over breastfeeding in public, but I really had no idea that it was so common and accepted for people to get upset about it. People, IT'S WHAT THEY'RE FOR. Get the f**k over it. Should I wear a burka too, to protect you from the temptation of my womanly flesh?

I have to go lie down. And maybe reread The Second Sex.


Dressing for Someone Else's Life

I want to live inside the Athleta catalog: yoga on the beach at sunrise, then off to the farmer's market to pick up some fresh organic greens for my dinner. Never mind that I went to the farmer's market maybe twice when I had one literally at my doorstep, or that my idea of picking up some greens for dinner is going to Costco for a bag of broccoli florets to put in my mac and cheese. And the only yoga I've done in recent years was prenatal yoga, which hardly counts. When you're abdomen is roughly the size of a baby walrus, getting from a standing position to the floor passes for yoga. I'll just say this: what other kind of yoga involves a folding chair? It's not exactly ashtanga, if you know what I mean. (OK, I don't know what that means either.) Anyway, my point is this: whoever puts that catalog together knows what they're doing. If it weren't for the dire looks my husband gives me when he sees me with a catalog (I may be the family breadwinner but I still rely on my husband to keep my spending in check ... so much for 21st-century gender roles), I'd have a closet full of Athleta gear. Yoga pants are great for lounging on the couch.