Chapter XVII

because you never know someone from the very beginning


July 2008

Tweet TXT Facebook Gmail

For those who find it hard to keep up with all of the ways to update the world on your life, I have a few questions:

Why text when you can Twitter?

Why Tweet when you can text?

Why email instead of text?

Why use Facebook messaging when you can email, or vice versa?

Why Facebook Wall versus Facebook Inbox?

And above all, why any of it when you can call?

Or perhaps write?  Yes, with pen and paper.   Write?

I am not trying to be a smart ass here, these are real questions I just realized I have.  As a user of all of these services (and more), I have never taken the time to map out how I use them, why I choose one over another, but it would be an interesting subject.  We all know that we do these things, but at least I, have not asked why one versus another.  And I cannot answer now, I have to go off and check my feedreader and then answer a work email and then maybe do something old fashioned like read…a book.

VC Slowdown?

A little more on the economy…people keep asking me if we are seeing a slow down and the answer now is no.  Lots of deals and valuations still seem inflated…the calm before the storm.

Buckle up, everyone.

Consumer Debt

I am perplexed.  I read this article in the NYTimes, Given a Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt and am not sure if the author wants me to feel sorry for the woman or what.  Here are a couple of quotes:

“But with so many borrowers in trouble, some bankruptcy experts and regulators are beginning to focus on the responsibilities of lenders, like requiring them to make loans only if they are suitable to the borrowers applying for them.”

You can practically here the chorus of cheers from victimized debt-holders in the background “I did not know!” “I was robbed!” “They told me I could afford it!”

Are you kidding me?  And this:

“Henry E. Hildebrand III, a Bankruptcy Court trustee in Nashville since 1982 and one of the nation’s busiest, has seen at first hand what happens when lenders do not take some responsibility for loans that go bad. “I look across the table at people who are right out of school and have more debt than they can handle, and they are starting out life in a bankruptcy,” he said.”

So, they can earn a college degree but they cannot do the math to understand that what they are spending is more than they are earning? 

This is what irks me about our country.  This way of thinking is VERY dangerous.  We are always looking to someone else to blame.  Thankfully, the article ends with a recognition on the part of the protagonist, that she made a lot of mistakes, but it goes on to discuss how the lenders keep sending her offers.  OK, so I agree that the lenders might be somewhat at fault here, but who makes her or anyone open the offers and say yes?  Nobody.  Not a soul.  She did it on her own, but on some level, we are supposed to feel that she was victimized.  I said this before in reference to a 60 Minutes story and I will say it again, if we, as consumers, cannot be trusted to say no to offers that don’t makes sense, we are missing the underlying problem.  What we need is to instill a sense of responsibility through education about personal financial management.  At one point, the article practically blames McCann Erikson for coming up with Mastercard’s “Priceless” campaign.  This is the source of our current economic problems?  If that is true, we are a nation of fools. 

Baby Stuff

If you don't have any interest in babies and baby stuff, stop reading right here as this is sure to be one of those incredibly irritating, who the hell cares, kind of posts.  Others, let's proceed.

As a new parent, you get tons of advice.  Interestingly, in the last few days I have been asked twice by pregnant people for a few words of wisdom about what you really need, etc pre and post child arrival.  As if I have words of wisdom…but far be it from me to ruin someone's image of another's intelligence and insight :-).  So here goes, a few words of wisdom…


  • On Maternity Clothes: The key is to embrace your new self. Don’t try to hide under a tent. has great stuff. The t-shirts are especially good – spandex etc. and I loved their kimono style jackets. Target also has good clothes, as does and I found I needed two pair of jeans (one bootleg, one skinny leg), a couple pair of black pants and then I went for fitted, monochrome shirts. Patterns can be scary on a pregnant woman. Black, as always, continues to make you feel slim if that is the goal.  Don't be afraid of wearing heels if you can tolerate them (I continued to wear my tall black boots as long as possible). Fitted is better than blousy.
  • The Giggle registry guide is a pretty good list of what you need at various levels of low to high maintenance (parents, that is, not high maintenance babies).
  • Get a haircut before the baby is born. A good haircut goes a long way, and after the kid comes around wash and go is what you want (or close to it).
  • Pay to have the crib assembled.  The Big H is handy but it took the crib guys 10 minutes and it would have taken my husband a couple of hours.
  • This site is cool and it is where we found her name:

After the baby is born:

  • Wipes: Mustella are too expensive and don’t come out of the package easily. We love the Pampers wipes. They are affordable, offer a sensitive version, and the container is refillable. Brilliant! Ease of use when dealing with poo is key.
  • That said, the Mustella bath products are awesome.
  • Receiving blankets that stretch to really wrap baby up when you swaddle: organic swaddle blankets from Giggle). A little more expensive but I use these all the time and the plain cotton cheaper ones, sadly, I never use.
  • When you go to bed, place a change of sleepware out next to you. I found that I got night sweats and it was good to change in the middle of the night – made the rest of the sleeping much more comfortable.
  • Open-front shirts: if breastfeeding (which, by the way, is the BEST way to lose weight) you are opening and closing your shirt all day long. Have a lot of these around. Button-downs, zip up hoodies. Whatever you need.
  • Get slippers with no skid bottoms: I made sure I got dressed every day after bringing the Bean home (it’s surprisingly easy to stay in PJs all day, and I felt like a shlump doing that), but shoes, no thanks. No skid slippers were the answer – comfy feet with no worries of slipping = happy mom.
  • During the day, sleep when the baby sleeps. It makes a difference.
  • I did find that I had stretches of time when she was sleeping when I did not know what to do with myself. So, I watched TV/movies and read books and felt guilty about it (TYPE A). I would keep doing all of that but looking back, would drop the guilt.
  • Food: you need lots of things you can eat with one hand. At least I did as I found myself holding said baby all the time. Load up on string cheese, apples, drinkable yogurt, make a bunch of hard boiled eggs (yes you need two hands to peel but peel a couple when the kid is asleep and then you have them ready to go that day), hot dogs, turkey/ham for quick sandwiches, lots of water bottles (I found I was drinking a ton and having bottles around filled with cold water was a god-send), carrots, cut celery, radishes, hummus…things you can easily snack on. I also stocked up on soup (you can drink this one handed from a mug), frozen pizzas, popsickles, etc. I tried to find healthy options. Containers of cottage cheese also served me right – calcium and protein, ready to eat quickly. Berries were great – especially if they did not require cutting. Grapes. Loved having grapes around. Also, Perdue Oven Stuffer Roasters. Roasting a chicken is really easy, takes no effort, and yields great results, some of which can be enjoyed one handed!  And it makes your house smell homey when its cooking, so you feel all kinds of domesticated.  And this is the time to relish the good parts of being domesticated (as opposed to the bad parts like loneliness and isolation).
  • A notebook: I kept a log of the baby's eating, pooping and peeing. This may seem a tad neurotic but it gave me peace of mind.  And of course I can use it against her when she is a teenager.  You will also get a ton of gifts, so you need a place to note what you got from whom. And of course there are a ton of questions that came up…all of the above went into the Master Bean Notebook. I suggest one from Moleskine – the best notebooks on the planet.
  • Mylicon: she was gassy. This seemed to help a little, but not a lot. Different things work for different kids.
  • I would skip buying a humidifier right away. I have one, we have not used it. I would see if I needed it before getting it again.
  • Changing table disposable pads: we went through a ton of these. Tons.
  • Diapers: obviously you will need these. We liked Pampers Swaddlers. Get one package for when you get home – Newborns. These may not fit but probably will. As soon as you know if they fit, buy at least four more packages. And on that note, snag as many as you can from the hospital.
  • Embrace
  • A&D ointment: we used a ton of this. Good stuff.
  • Burp cloths: you will go through a lot of these. Get many.
  • Long sleeve kimono style t-shirts for the baby, front open – not over the head, 0-3 months size. These were great. The stump can remain somewhat exposed since this is not in a onsie, and her arms stay warm since it’s long-sleeved, and changing in and out of it causes less of a ruckus (we gave birth to a ruckus maker) since it’s not an over the head t-shirt.
  • Arrange for a cleaning person. I don’t know if baby nurses clean, but we did not get a baby nurse and therefore, it was great to have a cleaning person come in and straighten everything up, change the bed, dust, etc.
  • On swings and bouncy seats…we broke down and got the rainforest swing. The verdict is out as to whether or not this is really helpful. She seems to like it for a few minutes, but if she wants to be held, ain’t nothing stopping that.  On the bouncy seat, we bought the “all form no function” Oeuf bouncy seat. She did not like it when she was little. Now she loves it, moves her legs to make it bounce (unlike the others that bounce for her with a battery) and it looks nice in our house.
  • We love the Ergo carrier. It’s really comfortable, she seems to like it and it’s really comfortable for me since the weight is distributed around the hips and not the shoulders. Big fan of this product.
  • I hated these baby sleeping gowns with the elastic opening at the bottom.  The gown hooches up and that sucks. Instead, I loved footed onsies.  Buy lots of these.  
  • I would ignore all advice from health practitioners and would introduce a bottle almost day one. We did not, and that little girl REFUSED a bottle for weeks. It caused me piles of stress. I bet even just one a day, filled with formula or breastmilk, would have been fine and then you have an option of having someone else feed the baby – not always you.
  • We love Boudreaux’s Butt Paste for night diapering. So far, no rashes!
  • We did not get a baby nurse.  Before the baby arrived, people told us we would die if we did not get a baby nurse.  We did not die.  It was doable.  Getting a night nurse, a baby nurse, or having family/friends around to help you, in my opinion, should be driven solely by your personality.  I did not want someone else in my house and I tend to need to learn things myself before utilizing help.  Others learn well from others.  Just know thyself and proceed accordingly. 
  • I did not get a bottle dryer.  The drying bottles and other accessories are in a colander on my counter and that works just fine.  And for sanitizing, I toss them in the dishwasher.
  • I did not get a wipe warmer. I love my child, but I don’t want her thinking someone has to wipe her tush with warmed wipes. I mean, come on.
  • I got crib bedding from here. It’s very cool looking and I love it.

So that is what worked for me.  And of course, I offer up all of the usual politically correct, non-judgmental caveats such as "it's all personal choice", "different things work for different people" etc. etc.  That is all true, but do as I say 🙂

How to Turn $1 into $50 With No Effort!

Just kidding.  But wouldn’t that be nice? 

A random smattering of what is happening in my head:

  • I am looking forward to doing crafts with my daughter. It’s been years since I played with finger paint. That said, I like her just the way she is and am not eager for her to get big too fast.
  • My idea of a perfect day starts with coffee and a warm almond croissant from Le Gamin a couple of blocks from my house.  I have an evil friend who subscribed me to a Croissant of the Month Club…I suppose I could start every day with coffee and a warm croissant thanks to her….if I wanted to be the size of a house (a small house, but a house nevertheless).
  • I find that since I have been a parent, a whopping 5 months now, I am way more attuned to images of children in the news and have a really hard time watching anything violent.
  • If I had to choose between Paris and Rome, I would choose Paris.  This sucks because my husband would choose Rome.  Well, thank god we don’t have THAT problem.  Phew!  
  • While thinking about making pasta for dinner, I spent a few moments in awe of pasta water.  Yes, that ever useful, starchy substance that has the surprising ability to pull a sauce together.
  • We are doing chimney work in our apartment.  Therefore, our living room looks like a crime scene…plastic and tape over everything.  Wait, I think I am missing a cat…
  • I truly believe that multi-tasking is a major problem in society. We are less efficient, we are worse listeners, we do many things half well, and we tell ourselves it’s a good thing.  Case in point, in my house we know we have a problem as it takes us 45 minutes to watch the 22 minutes of a 30 minute show.  The 45 minutes is not due to use of a Pause button, but rather Rewind.  We are either slow, or doing way too many things at once and missing just about all of it.  
  • I have an obsession with barns.  Red barns, old barns, abandoned barns, in-use barns, Blue Hill at Stone Barns (DYING to go here).  All things barns.
  • Did you hear that the salmonella tomato scare may actually be from jalapeno peppers?
  • On my bedside table: a bottle of bad-for-the-environment Fiji water, Alan Greenspan’s autobiography which seems completely outdated and irrelevant now; copies of The Black Swan and The History of Love, both as yet untouched; a Lucky magazine and the Nobu cookbook. 
  • My daughter is now almost 6 months old.  As I was reflecting on that the other night, it occurred to me that we only have 39 more periods of this same amount of time before she turns 20.  That does not seem that far away when I think of it in those terms.
  • Only 196 more days of George W. Bush!  But years to deal with and unwind his “legacy.”  Priceless.

Well, that’s it.  What is on your mind?

A Favorite Poem

I especially love the last line.  Keep that in mind…your one wild and precious life.


The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

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