Besides picking carpet for the new library and making appointments for HVAC maintenance and tax preparation (exciting, I know), the concrete parts of last week were mostly FutureBaby stuff. First, daycare visits: three in three days last week. (Yes, it's quite a long time before January 2009, but one of the recommended places has a restricted waiting list and said we should get on it now.)
I wasn't crazy about the first place we visited, but wasn't sure how realistic my concerns were. Then that night, I looked through the packet they'd given us and found on the very last page:
We at [daycare] feel that Christian Education is an important part of your child's daily program. Therefore, we ask permission to introduce your child to God as the creator and ruler of the universe. We will also teach them to pray before meals thanking God for all things.
To which I said, "screw that!"
Two days later, we were at the local JCC, and the early childhood director had just explained that, while many or most of the children in the program weren't Jewish, they were the Jewish Community Center, and so did Jewish not Christian holidays in class, and taught the children that Judaism believes in one God as many other religions do. And I nodded and thought, sure, fine, no problem—and then remembered my reaction to the first place, and couldn't decide if I was a bad person for apparently not finding Jewish people scary!
On reflection, I don't think so; it's evangelizing I object to, which is definitely present in that consent form and was absent from the JCC director's description (and, as I understand it, also absent from Judaism itself, to the extent such a broad statement can be made about any religion). Also I didn't like that the first place didn't mention it at all when we were visiting. But, it was interesting.
Anyway, the JCC is our first choice: very strong commitment to play-based education; nice and experienced teachers; startingly good facilities (the only one of the three to have swings for fussy babies to sleep in, for instance, and the older kids use the center's gym and pool); programs that go up through middle school, with busing from the public school system; and very convenient for us to get to. We'd be perfectly comfortable with the second place too, and it's reassuring to have choices.
On Friday, we had the fetal echocardiogram. Not even a hint of anything wrong, to the point the pediatric cardiologist didn't see the need for a follow-up. I personally find it a little creepy to see the heart chambers expand and contract, but the Doppler imaging of blood flow was cool. And the doctor (who reminded me of James Cromwell in kindly rather than noir cop mode) was obviously tickled pink to be able to give unqualifiedly good news, as were we to get it, so that was a nice positive feedback loop.
Also, FutureBaby appeared to be wiggly enough for the doctor to comment; subsequent observation suggests that late afternoon may be an active time. We got to see a kick before the doctor zoomed in on the heart, which was a first.
All these ultrasounds do make me wonder how difficult it was to get medical ultrasounds started, because many of what the doctors and techs call really clear pictures are, to me, grainy blurry blobs. Obviously medical science knew a good deal about anatomy, but it would have no way of telling how any given heart was constructed and thus what, precisely, an ultrasound of said heart was showing—right? And the 2D view of a 3D thing is so odd, especially when the depth changes with a little shift of the wand . . . anyway, learning how to read ultrasounds must've been an interesting process.
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Between the workshop earlier in the month and the brief I drafted after I got back, I've been thinking more than usual about my writing process. There's generally a point when everything suddenly falls into place and the whole case crystallizes into a couple of sentences—which almost always comes later than I'd like [*], but from there, writing is easy (or, at least, no longer like pulling teeth).
Thing is, I think of this as "breaking the back of the case," which I picked up unconsciously from David Henry Hwang's afterword to M. Butterfly. Which is a pretty nasty metaphor, and not that accurate for me either, but it seems to have stuck. Do you all have different metaphors? Does this happen to you when you're writing nonfiction? Fiction?
[*] I wish I could consciously monitor this process, and could therefore determine how much of the time leading up to this moment is actually needed and how much is just plain old procrastination. I'm planning to experiment with consciously shifting my focus from one thing to another, to see if my backbrain will process things in parallel.
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Since I was in the office on Sunday, I took pictures, because I find people's work spaces interesting (also I never got around to posting the ones I took earlier and things have changed slightly since):
Click through for bigger versions.
The view from outside my door. On the door is a yellow sticky asking the cleaning people to leave the door open at night, because otherwise it gets incredibly hot (one day I came in and it was 76 F). Below my nameplate is my daily cute dog or cat picture, culled from the Workman page-a-day gallery calendars; because I alternate dogs and cats, and only put up good pictures, the dates don't match up. This one is a Lab rolling around on the ground with a tennis ball in its mouth.
And yes, my pregnancy announcement here and at work was basically the same.
Looking in through my door. The lamp in the back is off for subsequent pictures.
Inside the door on the right. The framed poster is from my 1997 term abroad in London, a view of the Houses of Parliament from the Tube.
The right wall. You can see more detail on the little folded paper screens at the website of the museum where we bought them, by clicking on the images. They are reproductions of large folding screens that are painted to look like mosaics, for reasons that frankly escape me at the moment. The elephant is particularly wonderful.
My college and law school diplomas are on top of the shelves. There's a humidifer in the corner because the dryness of the air was making me miserable during the first trimester. On the floor between the boxes are papers I hadn't gotten around to filing yet because I was working on this brief, and big yellow envelopes containing oversized exhibits; they're being filed separately with the court rather than being shrunk to 8.5x11" and reproduced in the bound record on appeal.
A wide shot of most of my desk.
A closer look at the right side of my desk. Top, L to R: office award; wood dragon; magnetic lizard from St. John; picture of Honeymoon Beach on St. John (the day I got back, I walked around the office showing it to people: "this was just down the road, this is what I left behind"); dried flower arrangement with metal butterfly; and the cardholder guy, as previously seen.
On the bottom, a high-intensity desk lamp and the five volumes of the bound record on appeal that I mentioned above. I had them spread out so I could easily grab whatever one I needed, based on the notes and references I had spread out on the left side.
The center of my desk. Top, from L to R: wooden giraffe; court rules and writing references; knickknacks including a stone apple, sillier wooden giraffes (not all visible), a polymer clay dragon on a marble, a fish, and a Japanese waving cat; a picture of me and Chad; a cigar presented to me by my co-counsel upon winning my first (and only) trial; a painting of Commonwealth Avenue in Boston; and a figure of Ganesh writing.
Bottom, L to R: the IR keyboard for my Palm, which I use to enter in work deadlines etc.; my various daily picture calendars; my computer monitor (note both the portrait orientation (best thing ever for writing) and the desktop picture of Her Majesty, Queen of Niskayuna); and various office supplies.
The left side of my desk. Phone books on top, to be within reach. Postcards on the cabinet doors to give the place some color. L to R: three of places we visited in Japan, though in different seasons (Kegon Falls, Kinkakuji, Himeji Castle); two from the Museum of Oriental Ceramics in Ôsaka (my photos); one of the gardens at the Cloisters; a duck from some other Asian ceramics exhibit; a lion frieze and a unicorn tapestry from the Cloisters; a pair of doors and a flask from the Met's exhibition "Venice and the Islamic World"; and a Tiffany window from Laurelton Hall.
On the bottom, my mail trays; a temporary pile of materials from the workshop for people to pick up; a hurricane vase of Ghirardelli chocolate; files and papers in the queue for attention; and my notes etc. for the brief in progress.
Anyone else want to post pictures of their workspaces?
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Finally, a few links:
- Nice Beaver! :: One more zoo picture from Chad.
- Why do writers pretend to be Indians? - By David Treuer - Slate Magazine :: "Sadly, until we break the habit of reading Indian lives as necessarily "Indian tragedies"—and see the shallow types and terrible prose and awkward, tragic poses for what they are—there will be more Indian fakes."
- NPR: It Isn't Rocket Science: How Best to Board a Plane
- "Hollywood's About-Face On Blackface: Is the Broken Taboo a Step Forward or Back?" By Neely Tucker
- Match It For Pratchett :: Help match Terry Pratchett's $1 million ( £500,000 ) donation to Alzheimer's Research.
- Decision of the Day » Blog Archive » Best Case Name Ever :: "U.S. v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins, 05-56294 (9th Cir., March 17, 2008) // Even better: the Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins win."
- Is it possible that a Hummer's better for the environment than a Prius is? - By Brendan I. Koerner - Slate Magazine :: Answer: no.
Oh, okay, really finally: we got forty minutes into Samurai X: Trust and Betrayal on Saturday night before turning it off. Even if we'd realized that it was an OVA edited into a movie, rather than a series, it was violent and choppy and just not what we were in the mood for after a nice dinner to celebrate the good news about FutureBaby.