Thursday, June 28, 2007

In between things

Yesterday the power went out. The quiet was instant and slightly oppressive, the way it feels when the door clicks shut behind you in a sound-proof room. Those first few moments in a sound-proof room can freak you out, with the buzz of silence in your ears and the deafening little smacks of your own saliva threatening to derail you, until suddenly, you get used to it. It's only in these instances that I realize how much NYC literally hums around me at all times.

With the sudden quiet came the familiar adrenaline rush that accompanies that kind of instant shift, the moment between 3:31pm on a Wednesday when everything's normal and 3:32pm when everything appears to have irrevocably changed. Happily, this time the feeling reminded me of the unforgettable block party that was the blackout of 2003, instead of that other day in 2001 when everything changed in an instant, when New York City became a small town, wracked with sorrow. For me, the first few hours of the blackout of 2003 were terrifying, bringing up horrible memories of 9/11, until TT finally arrived after his long walk home from work carrying not batteries, lighters, protein bars, and water (which I had run around frantically buying, heart beating a mile a minute, in between trips up and down the 11 dark flights of stairs to our apartment to fill the bathtubs with water--no elevators in a blackout, and when the tank runs out, no more water) but a 6-pack of Budweiser tall-boys. He was right, I was wrong. Shortly thereafter my dad (unable to go home to New Jersey) arrived from his long walk, suit jacket slung over his shoulder, and we met him outside our building with a cold one ready and waiting. Hours of absolute hilarity ensued--one of my favorite nights after 12 years in this city.

So yesterday the power went out during Belly's afternoon nap, shutting off the Restful Rain ipod loop to which we have made her profoundly addicted, but she didn't wake up. The apartment was still bright but the hallway was dark as pitch, and when I crept out there with my flashlight, looking for news that could only be found in the lobby 11 floors down, I listened to the nervous voices stuck in the frozen elevator, checked on our elderly, deaf neighbor, and went back inside. Heart racing, I started making calls, assessing the situation. I watched people in the building across the street standing up against their windows as I was, talking on cell phones, craning their necks to view the chaos at the busy intersections suddenly without traffic lights. The horns and sirens that I am so used to sounded much louder against the quiet.

TT was stuck in Chicago, so I began to picture how the night would unfold with Belly, in the dark, the intense heat, food and milk in the fridge spoiled, changing diapers by flashlight, inching down 11 flights of stairs in the pitch black just to get some air, and the real nightmare, trying to explain to her the utter and complete lack of music or Restful Rain. I started gathering batteries, thinking of strategies, devising contingency plans. But then the power went back on. There was the AC, the fridge, the lights, the computer, the general electric buzz...I reset a few clocks, and all was normal. It was strangely disappointing.

They're saying the power could go off again tonight. There is a big storm on its way and my stomach is in knots, but I'm not sure that's why. I signed a contract for a house in the suburbs tonight, and wrote a check so big (for me) that I wasn't actually sure of the correct way to word it. I have been dreaming about moving to a house for a long, long time. I love this house, it's small and sweet and perfect, in a great neighborhood in a wonderful town that TT and I have been thinking about for years. I know I'm ready, even though I do wish that we could bring our super and a few of our doormen with us.

The sellers are still aggressively showing this house, so we have to move at lightening speed. I had to print out the contract from email the second it arrived, eyeball it while Belly played with her puzzles, sign it (without TT) while feeding her dinner, and hightail it to Kinkos/FedEx before she melted down or the sky exploded.

I have been waiting for this storm all day. This morning my mom called: horrible thunderstorms are coming, you should finish your errands by noon. Our spooky Irish doorman warned: they say the winds will be 60 miles an hour. The radio cautioned: more power outages should be expected. Then, with the contracts splayed out in front of me, Belly pelting peas, my mom called again: you really need to hurry, honey, they're saying hail.

So tonight we ran through the streets, Belly in her stroller, the sky still blue but the air so humid it felt like the molecules within it were sweating, the atoms couldn't breath. Or maybe that was me. We mailed the contracts and the check, ran home, I put Belly to bed, and here I am. Waiting for something. I usually adore the excitement, the majesty of big thunderstorms. I love the adrenaline rush that comes with change. But not tonight. I don't want to lose power. TT is still in Chicago, and my stomach is a cauldron of swarming snakes. Did I sign in all the right places? Did I pay close enough attention when the inspector described how the water heater works? Will we be able to pay the mortgage? Will I make new friends in this town? Will I be able to see my dear friends in the city as much as I've been saying I will? This new phase of life, that I have been craving for so long, suddenly feels as oppressive as the quiet of a blackout, or a suburban street after 11pm. I know I'll get used to it. I know I'll love it. Just like I love being a grown-up, being married, having a child, no matter how scary or far away these things used to seem.

But tonight a storm is coming, the molecules in the air are full to bursting, and I want to stay safe in the hum of my apartment, and my city, and keep the power on.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Ode to Bear

Dear Bear,
Thank you for always being there for Belly, for enjoying the hugs and stroking and rhythmic face-sucking as much as you seem to.
Thank you for being her pet, her pillow, her best friend, her constant companion, every day, every night, and in every situation (except meals and baths).
Thank you for appreciating the fact that meals and baths are too messy and/or wet for you, and for your patience as we sit you in your special place, wave bye-bye, and go about our business at these times. At least you know that after every single meal and bath, you will be greeted like you've just returned from a year-long sea voyage in pirate-infested waters.

Thank you for being made by Gund, and mass-produced. The few months when we thought your position had been filled by an obscure lamb who a) was a gift from an unknown source, b) had her tag brazenly cut off before mommy knew what she was doing, and c) was declining quickly, were tough ones. We purchased lamb after lamb as back-up, and nothing was ever an exact match. A girl only needs so many lambs. But then you muscled in--plump, soft, just the right size--and claimed the position as your own. It was no contest, and she has never looked back. Your doppelganger, and his doppelganger, have now been obtained.

Thank you, dear Bear, for being machine washable. The face-sucking, you may have noticed, can often result in that not-so-fresh feeling.
Thank you also for tolerating the endless baby-wipes on your face, as you are dropped time and time again onto the canine fecal bacteria gardens that are NYC sidewalks. And thank you for never mentioning the time that you were dropped, face first, into a gooey glob of human spit--for intuiting that regardless of the fact that you went immediately into the laundry, it was something I really never wanted to think about again.
Thank you, seriously, for not mentioning the fact that I occasionally (always) give you (or your doppelganger) a loving little pat on the head during the laundry process. It's embarrassing--I mean, I know you are stuffed--but I spend so much damn time with you, and perhaps have read Corduroy one too many times for my own good.

Thank you for always being there, even when you end up in the basket of the stroller, in the trunk of the car, or on the floor outside her crib. You know that soon you'll be summoned back into her arms. You know that there is a very specific cry that her dad and I recognize instantly on the monitor, and that means only one thing: "Regretfully, Bear has been thrown out of the crib in a fit of pique and must be returned to his rightful position immediately."

Thank you for the constant companionship you give her. I hear the way she talks to you, tells you about her feelings and her day. I watch her wave hello to you right up close to your face, even as you sit in her arms. I see how tightly she snuggles you in her sleep, all night long, when all other animals have been discarded and long forgotten. And I promise, I struggle desperately to keep you out of the danger zone when I change her diapers.
Thank you for being her cozy comfort when she's tired, her smile when she's blue, and her sigh of relief when she feels like no one else really "gets" her.

Thank you, finally, for being one of our first teachers, for showing us that no matter how much we may want to be everything to her, we can't be, and that is a good thing. Love like the kind you two share could never be wrong.

Belly's mom and dad

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Letter From Autism Advocates to President of NBC News Regarding Coverage of the Autism Omnibus Proceedings

This letter has been cut and pasted from this amazing website, where I have learned so much about the dangers of childhood vaccines. It is really worth reading.

"Dear Mr. Capus:

The undersigned organizations are writing to you regarding the concerns among families of vaccine-injured children across the country over NBC's recent coverage of the Autism Omnibus proceedings. In particular, we take issue with the comments Dr. Nancy Snyderman made during yesterday's Today show. While one would hope a "First do no harm" philosophy would have some bearing on the information Dr. Snyderman provides to viewers, clearly it does not.

Dr. Snyderman's ties to Johnson & Johnson, defendants in vaccine injury litigation, are obviously dictating the agenda in her appearances on your network at the risk of the safety of our children. This conflict of interest calls into serious question your journalistic integrity and credibility. NBC's viewers were exposed to a blatant falsehood yesterday as Dr. Snyderman claimed that vaccines no longer contain mercury. This is not the case, and this misinformation has unfortunately given NBC's parents a false sense of security that vaccines are now mercury-free. This false claim puts viewer's children and the unborn at risk of great harm. The mercury-based preservative thimerosal has never been fully removed from childhood vaccines as Dr. Snyderman vehemently claimed. A simple check on the FDA's website would have confirmed this: _http://www.fda.http://wwhttp://www.fda.http://ww_ ( .

Mercury is still in most flu, tetanus, and diphtheria/tetanus vaccines--and an array of vaccines still contain "trace" amounts. (The term "trace" must be used loosely as this aspect of vaccine production is not being regulated and there is some variation on what constitutes a trace amount. As children often receive multiple "trace" amounts of mercury in one sitting, cumulative amounts and potential adverse effects are as yet unknown.) While no reputable medical practitioner in this country would allow even "trace" amounts of lead to be injected through vaccines given its known neurotoxicity, physicians continue to allow mercury, which exceeds the toxicity of lead by more than 100-fold, to be routinely injected into humans.

As a physician representing NBC, Dr. Snyderman has failed to tell the truth about mercury-containing vaccines and the known dangers associated with them. There is simply no excuse for such careless and false reporting while this country is in the throes of a childhood epidemic of neurological disorders. During Monday's NBC Nightly News Dr. Snyderman stated, "There really is no science behind the autism/mercury link. Vaccines and the mercury-based preservative thimerosal have not been ruled out as a cause of autism." To the contrary, there are literally thousands of scientific, peer-reviewed studies supporting the extreme neurotoxicity of mercury and the relationship between mercury exposure and neurological injury. The following link provides a copious amount of research which contradicts what Dr. Snyderman told the American public: _http://www.generatihttp://wwhttp://www.ghttp_ ( The CDC's own study conducted in 2000 clearly shows the agency knew that injuries were occurring to children from mercury-containing vaccines, yet the data was manipulated to obscure the link. Lead researcher Dr. Thomas Verstraeten had this to say regarding the CDC's thimerosal findings: "...we have found statistically significant relationships between the exposure and outcomes for these different exposures and outcomes. First, for two months of age, an unspecified developmental delay, which has its own specific ICD9 code. Exposure at three months of age, tics. Exposure at six months of age, an attention deficit disorder. Exposures at one, three, and six months of age, language and speech delays which are two separate ICD9 codes. Exposures at one, three, and six months of age, an entire category of neurodevelopmental delays, which includes all of these plus a number of other disorders." (Dr. Thomas Verstraeten, page 40, Simpsonwood meeting transcript). The full transcript of this secret, closed-door meeting held by the CDC at, Simpsonwood, can be read at or PutChildrenFirst.

Many European countries have banned the use of thimerosal/mercury in vaccines for many years. Seven states have passed legislation banning the use of thimerosal/mercury in vaccines and similar legislation is pending in over 30 additional states. If there was no science to back up the dangers of using mercury in vaccines, we wouldn't be seeing such legislative efforts to ban its use.

In her most recent NBC appearance, Dr. Snyderman was asked why parents were filing claims on behalf of their vaccine-injured children, to which she answered matter-of-factly, "money."

This cavalier statement alone goes far beyond contempt and displays an appalling ignorance of the emotional and financial devastation faced by families of vaccine-injured children. This must be addressed by an immediate apology from NBC to all the parents of children suffering from vaccine-induced illnesses. We urge you to speak with the growing number of scientists who have published research supporting a causal link between mercury in vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, and can provide you contact information for these researchers.

Reporting false information is a disservice to the American people. When it comes to the children and the unborn in this country, we should err on the side of safety, regardless of personal belief, conviction, or backing from the pharmaceutical industry.Based on the misinformation presented by Dr. Snyderman, and the potential for harm this has brought to bear upon children, we ask for her resignation. We will accept nothing less than a full and public retraction of her false statements, along with an apology from your network. We expect an immediate response to our request.


Advocates for Children's Health Affected by Mercury Poisoning (ACHAMP)
Autism Recovery Resources of Washington (ARROW)
Autism Society of Autism Chapter
Coalition for Mercury-Free Drugs (CoMeD)
David A. Geier, Vice-President Institute of Chronic Illnesses, Inc.
Developmental Delay Resources (DDR)
Dr. Boyd Haley, Bio-Chemist
Educate Before You Vaccinate
Foundation For Autism Information and Research
Foundation for Mercury Injured Children
Generation Rescue
K Paul Stoller, MD, President, International Hyperbaric Medical Association
Kind Tree Productions, Inc.
Mark R. Geier, MD, Ph.D., FABMG, President Genetic Centers
Autism Recovery Coalition
Mercury Free
Mercury Moms Against Mercury
Moms of Hope
National Autism Association
No Mercury
Autism Resources
Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
TN4 SaferVaccines
Treating Autism in the UK
UnInformed Consent
US Autism and Asperger Association
World Mercury Project

Think Autism. Think Cure. Click here to visit our website_ ("

Monday, June 11, 2007


Do you ever have those moments when you feel really embarrassed for yourself even though no one (who knows any better) is there to judge you? Like if, for example, alone in your home, you have an elaborate stumble that starts with a simple "oops" but doesn't end until two additional collisions and six full seconds of tottering later, at which point you force a chuckle and make some little joke about how you "meant to do that"...but there's no one there.

Or, let's say you suddenly realize that you are singing some complicated madrigal harmony along with the Peter, Paul, and Mommy CD in a voice that is far too loud and expressive for the venue, which is not an American Idol audition, a highway road trip, or even the shower, but standing at the changing table cleaning a poopy diaper. And this diaper, it should be noted, belongs to a certain poor person who has been forced, with no say in the matter, to listen to what you wish you could call a sweet serenade, but is really more like a full-blown concert. To her butt.

Just wondering. Because I'm beginning to think that perhaps I am not spending enough time with people who count their ages in years instead of months.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Comfort Zones, Part Two

This is the story of why I was feeling much less comfortable about my blog recently, and how I worked my way through it.

1. I've been getting some nasty comments from one person.
2. These comments do not penetrate me personally--it is clear to see that they are about the commenter, not about me or whatever other topics they address.
3. However, it suddenly began to feel really horrible and wrong that this angry person was looking at pictures of my daughter.
4. I considered pulling my blog, sat on the idea for a few days, and didn't like it.
5. I suddenly realized why some people use pseudonyms and rarely post photos.
6. I questioned whether it would remain worth it to keep a blog with no (or in any case, fewer) photos of Belly (pseudonym!). Posting a picture of that little strawberry blond in action really takes the pressure off the writing, you know?
7. I decided it would still be worth it.
8. I wrestled with whether or not I should even mention this change, because the last thing I want to do is engage with this commenter in any way, but decided that I want to be open and honest in my blog. Otherwise, what's the point?
9. I realized that I am in charge of how comfortable I feel writing this blog, no one else. That feels good.
10. Now, there is only one more thing I need to be truly comfortable writing this blog: a new chair! Ouch! It may take a while, but I'm in charge and I will make it happen.

To clear up any mystery, my family's new gathering place that I wrote about in my last post (the house where my parents will retire) is on an island off of Savannah, looking out over the salt marsh. It's wonderful and I feel extremely lucky--mostly for them, but also for the lovely spot! I get so tired of always being 20 minutes away from grass.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Comfort Zones, Part One

I have found my new favorite place.

This is a wonderful feeling, especially because for years my favorite place was kind of lame. I mean, I love it (it was my favorite place, after all), but it wasn't really an appropriate place to visit during savasana at the end of a great yoga class, or to picture during meditation, or to visualize to combat anxiety. That's because it wasn't a lake or the mountains or an endless verdant was my parent's kitchen table in suburban New Jersey.

It's a very nice kitchen, open and bright, yet cozy. And it always houses people I love, great conversation, and many of my favorite foods. As places go, you can't beat it, but it's so un-sexy, and not really meditation-worthy (I mom, the table, a banana with peanut butter, where's the magic?). So for years, I tried to change it. I remember lying in a green field at Kripalu, a yoga center in Massachusetts, blissed out on yoga and health food, the soft grass tickling my skin, staring at the sky and trying to imprint the moment in my mind: FOR ALL MEDITATION PURPOSES FORTHWITH, THIS SHALL NOW BE NAMED MY "FAVORITE PLACE." That didn't work.

I gazed across the sparkling water at my friend's family's lake house in Maine. The rich pinks and blues of summer dusk rose from the horizon as the water lapped rhythmically against the dock, the quiet pierced first by the cry of an early loon, and then by the perfect tiny explosions of cold beers being opened at just the right moment. I made my decision--THIS is what I will picture, this water, this sky--and backed it up with photos to take home as reminders. But the next time I needed to go to my place...thump, there I landed at that darn kitchen table.

I have spent years appreciating the beautiful green mountains of Vermont. I have gazed admiringly at the horizons of both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. I have traveled Europe. I spent two glorious weeks traveling Italy on my honeymoon. I spent 2-1/2 months driving across the country in the front seat of a van, for god's sake. I have LOTS of gorgeous, natural, visualization-worthy images in my head, with wonderful memories attached to boot. Why was I stuck at this butcher block table in the middle of New Jersey every time I meditated?

Because being surrounded by my family--new members as well as old--is my favorite place to be. Gazing out at the wonders of nature is my second favorite place. And now my family has a new place to gather in the middle of some truly glorious nature. My favorite people, my favorite foods, my favorite conversations, my favorite place. My family.

May all who read this find comfort in their families as well, either the ones they came into the world with or the ones they have made and loved along the way.

Part Two coming soon.