Citified

city

Outside my new front door…
hustle & bustle
bucket drums
polish dog & sauerkraut cart
foot commuters
cycles & scooters
sky scrapers
buses & cable cars
lost tourists
hotels & flagships
union square
buskers & beggars
food trucks on Minna
and, unavoidably, at least four Starbucks within a two-block radius

…I’m so happy to be back in the bubble of city living–morning, noon and night.

The Peninsula is an unforgiving land of traffic jams and megamarts, and after two years of commuting south to the hinterlands, I’m so happy to be citified once again.

Oh, San Francisco, how I have missed you! Working my 40 hours for the man is no hardship at all when I get to work it out within city limits.

*muuah!*

-Lo, bubble-bound

Seven by Seven

bridge2

I’ve been thinking alot lately about why I work.

My maternity leave from August to December last year was the first time since I was 15 that I’ve had so much consecutive time to myself.

Granted, that time to myself was largely spent changing diapers and pushing a pram through the park. But still, it was week after week of 40 hours NOT spent locked down at a desk.

And the thing that amazed me the most about it was that I never once got bored.

Ok, yes, there was the whole new mother thing happening. But putting the baby metaphorically aside for the moment, the point is that I had no trouble filling my days. Each morning was a gift of “What are we going to do today?”

The aforementioned walks in the park became a big deal, something I always looked forward to. And there were poems to write and cin├ępoems to edit and a yard to putter around in and if there had been a dog on the premises, there would have been even more to do.

But then my time was up and here I am again, surrendering 40 precious hours to the machine.

I can’t tell you how many times since December 8th I’ve sat in meetings listening to marketing muckety-mucks arguing about what headline I should write to get people to buy a bunch of crap they don’t really need. And all I’m thinking is, “I could be pushing a pram through a park right now.”

So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I work.

And the answer lies on the tip of a western peninsula, within the seven by seven miles that I call home… San Francisco, where the majority of residents are renters because buying a home is too expensive.

When Bruce and I pulled up stakes in Illinois ten years ago, we knew the move was permanent. There has never been any looking back, not even in 2001 when I got laid off six times in a row. (In any recession, it seems the copywriter is always the first to go.)

More than any other place on earth I’ve been, San Francisco is home.

Before Lucette arrived, I didn’t mind working. I have always tried to find the most creative word-wrangling job I can to finance the life I love to live.

But now that our family is one person larger, I have begun to begrudge those workaday hours. And so I have to remind myself why I do it.

Because I don’t have to work.

We could always move somewhere cheaper. Perhaps a nice cul-de-sac in a beige suburb where everyone drives the .05 miles to the neighborhood Wal-Mart.

But the dream was never to hie westward and settle in San Mateo. Or Oakland, Alameda, Fresno or Dinuba.

The dream is San Francisco. And it’s a dream I want to give to my daughter.

I want her to grow up here, in this beautiful city, surrounded by people of all races, creeds, languages and sexual orientations. I want her to wake up to the salt air of the ocean, to sleep to the sound of the foghorns.

I want her to have the Golden Gate in her backyard and the mountains within reach. I want her to own the wealth of used bookstores and know the wonder of world-class ballet.

I want her to eat more food from Farmer’s Markets than McDonald’s. I want her to wear out her walking shoes. I want sand on her toes and sun in her hair.

I want her to disagree without being disagreeable. I want her to know that it’s ok to be different.

I want what all parents want — to give their child the world. The difference is that in San Francisco, I can actually give it to her. Because the world lies just outside our front door.

And that is why I work. For Lucette. For San Francisco. For the dream.

-Lo, whose paychecks fuel freedom

Separation Anxiety

superbaby

You are smiling when I leave you
and smiling still when I return
but how many smiles do I miss in between?

Locked down in endless afternoon meetings
I doodle your face in the margins of creative briefs.
The countdown to five is slower than ever.

On the way home I gamble on freedom, SuperLotto style.

-Lo, dreaming of being jobless and solvent.

Bye Bye Baby

bye-bye

About 12 hours from now, I’ll be driving south with my mug of tea, and I’m pretty close to certain I will be bawling my eyes out.

I go back to work tomorrow.

And although I like my job and I fully realize I am lucky to have a job, I don’t know how I’m going to walk out on that sweet baby face in the morning.

These last three months have been some of the best days of my life, hanging around the house with Bruce & Lulu, strolling to the beach, running the washing machine at least once a day to keep up with all those essential wee baby articles that inevitably get covered in spit-up and poo.

Back when I was pregnant, back in my other life, I thought that after nearly four months of wearing sweat pants and rubber-band hair, I’d welcome the chance to jump back into the workaday routine.

I didn’t know what I was talking about.

Every day is a small new miracle. Every day I fall in love a little bit more. Every day is filled with a thousand tiny things that speed the hours along faster than ever before.

I don’t want to miss out on anything. A toothless smile. A new, drooly consonant. A gravity-defying poop. I want to see it all.

In the more rational moments, I talk sense into myself. I remind myself that we want Lucette to grow up here, in this amazing city of San Francisco. In this amazing, expensive city of San Francisco. And in order for her to build a life here, off to work I must go.

I remind myself that we’re lucky in so many ways… Bruce can stay home with Lucette most days, so she’ll have quality daddy-daughter time. And when he can’t be home, we have two lovely friends who have volunteered for nanny duty. She won’t be shuffled off to strangers.

But tonight, on the eve of my return to my other life, all of this common sense is cold comfort.

Because when I went on leave back in August, I didn’t really take into account the development of Mommy Brain. I knew life would change, sure, but I didn’t fathom, I couldn’t really understand, how very much I would change.

And I didn’t realize how delusional it was to think that three months would be enough.

So tomorrow I will set off to earn a living, to pay for this wonderful life that we have. And all I will be thinking about is, “When will it be time to go home?!”

-Lo, who has plans to start buying a regular lotto ticket.