msLaura: Modern Mama Laura Hamilton + Dan Baker = Julian Hamilton Baker & Adrian Hamilton Baker "When a woman tells the truth she is creating the possibility for more truth around her."
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Wasted people are so boring when you're sober, or a Pregnant Woman's Guide to Burning Man

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September 15, 2003

Wasted people are so boring when you're sober, or a Pregnant Woman's Guide to Burning Man

We're coming out with a new software release at work, so it's crunch time there and I'm busy with code all damned day at work. No time to spend para-working and enjoying the pleasures of Estrolist, emailing friends, blogging or any of my other online favorites, and I'm so sick of computers by the time I get home I don't even log on most of the time.

I was off camping nearly every weekend on August. Went up to the Sierra Nevada mountains for hiking around in the high alpine country and Yosemite (which I wrote about here), then Big Sur the next weekend, and Burning Man for five days after that. It was great fun, but somewhat exhausting to be constantly packing and unpacking the car, and I'm in nesting mode anyways.

Burning Man was not so fun for me this year. I mean, it wasn't BAD, but it was.....well, it was mostly annoying I guess, punctuated by bursts of greatness, but mostly annoying.

I haven't been for the last three years. The first time I went was 1998, which was fantastic. I was in a wonderfully fun camp, with really great people. I did just the right amount of drugs, and had a perfect companion for the event in my friend Sean. There were stellar artworks, mindblowing fire creations and huge techno gadgets, and there were around 10-15,000 people, most of whom were involved and doing something cool there. You could get around pretty easily, too.

The next year I wasn't prepared. Sean fell in love with me and decided that we couldn't just be friends, he didn't want to see me anymore if I couldn't return his feelings (which, uh, I couldn't, being in love with Dan). Camping with him and the others from the previous year was out.

So my friend Brad and I basically threw some camping equipment in my car, bikes on back and rolled out. We were shadeless and dependent on visiting other camps for heat relief during the day. It wasn't nearly as fun. Plus, it was FREEZING cold, especially at night. After that, I bailed for three years, just didn't have much juice to go.

This year I figured that it was going to be now or never, with the baby coming. I went with Brad again. We were camping with the Kostume Kult, basically a group of New Yorkers interested in rave culture and costume creation. They were cool people, but most of them were absolutely out of their minds on drugs the whole time. I mean, REALLY gone. Whereas my old camp in 1998 was more about smoking a bowl or having a beer during the day, and maybe doing a little Ecstasy at night, this camp was about doing *multiple* hits of Ecstasy, PLUS acid, PLUS coke, PLUS mushrooms, PLUS beer, PLUS forgetting to drink water, etc. Instead of going for enlightenment, it seemed to be more about obliteration. Then they would be utterly trashed all day, wandering around like zombies or passed out cold wherever.

As a stone cold sober pregnant chick, I found them tremendously boring. They couldn't hold a conversation when sober, and they couldn't hold a conversation when fucked up. And when they did manage to speak, I felt like I was talking to myself about 10 years ago.

One guy, Josh, was talking to Brad after a night when he had done multiple hits of X, and had been doing so for many days on end. he was totally trashed, and he asked Brad if he had any Prozac!

Brad was like, "Um, that's not something I normally carry around with me. But, um, are *you* supposed to be taking that on a regular basis?" Josh replied, "Well, yeah, but I forgot to bring it with me, and I'm really feeling the lack of it right now." !!!!! Oh brother, I *wonder* why you have a serotonin problem, guy! Maybe try laying off the X? These people don't sem to understand how it works chemically at all. You can't just keep doing it day after day after day, it works once and then you have to give it a rest to let your levels build up again. Oh, and how funny that Josh remembered to bring all the *other* drugs with him (X, acid, mishrooms, a huge bag of coke, pot, cartons of cigarettes, etc.) but not his prescription medicine! Duh! Oh, and he didn't know that I was pregnant until the last day there when he was on X again and I guess decided to bond with me. We were out walking on the playa at night in a big group and he came up to me and said, "So I hear you're pregnant, is it really true?" I had to crack up over that, because he must have been fucked up not to notice. It had been a discussion topic several times already when he was around, and what would the logical alternative have been to explain my belly and my sobriety? Um, I'm a 12-stepper with a huge ovarian cyst? I'm supposedly sober, but I sneak half a keg of beer every night, and that's why I go back to my tent so early?

Thank God for Brad. We did have a good time hanging out together. He's pretty much over drugs these days, so he hung out with me most of the time and we did a lot of catching up and bonding. He would go off with the group and stay out fairly late most nights while I came home to my tent and blissfully passed out. It's funny, I sleep at Burning Man like I sleep nowhere else on earth. For some reason the combined noise of techno beats, people on passing cars announcing nonsense on loudspeakers, and all the ambient stuff going on around me just knocks me out. It's very entertaining to listen to, then I pass out like a dead person and don't wake up until morning. I think I slept about 10 hours a day at Burning Man, and my previous visits were all marked by passing out like a dead person as well. I thought it was just the drugs before, but now I know it's something about the ambient noise there.

So Brad did X one night and mushrooms one night, but he wasn't really into it. I brought a huge container of pot, and he didn't even smoke any. I think he had fun, but he was sort of just passing time, like me. he was glad to leave when we did, it was time. Oh, he did one line of coke and he was up all night one night. Then the next morning his nose would NOT stop running, and he couldn't figure out what was going on. Finally I was like, "Brad, it's the COKE! That's why your nose is all crazy this morning," and then all of a sudden it was obvious and we laughed about it.

I would get up and make breakfast and tea and coffee in the morning, we would have breakfast, chill out in the shade for a while reading magazines, then after lunch he would hop on his bicycle and say, "I'm going for a ride," which was code for his going over to Jiffy Lube camp. The motto there is "Get in, get off, get out." So he would go over there, hook up with some hot strangers, shoot his wad, and then come back to camp and tell me about it. It was hysterical.

Oh, and another of our more clueless campmates had heard that I was pregnant, but he was too fucked up to figure out the whole story, because he thought that Brad was my husband until the last day! He asked the main Camp Leader guy (named Costume Jim, who I really liked) about us and our "strange attraction" , and Jim just about fell over and busted a gut laughing. He told me about it the next morning and *I* almost died laughing too. BRAD? My HUSBAND! Oh my God, he must have thought we were the strangest couple on earth.

Like, I must have been this poor clueless wife in his mind, all knocked-up while her obviously GAY husband is flouncing around in short shorts, jetting off to Jiffy Lube camp to get serviced by other men every day. Fucking TOO HYSTERICAL. Brad was like, "Yeah wasn't the 'separate tents' thing kind of weird to you?" But I think Brad's feelings were hurt a little bit when I was laughing so hard about him being the father of my baby. I was like, "Ha! Noooooooo.....I DO have a husband, but he's at home with the dog, and he's straight!" Brad's all, "Yeah, and he's HOT!", but then he said, "You know, several of my ex-girlfriends *have* asked me to father their children...it's not soooo far-fetched that I could be a father." I was like, hmmmmm, Doggie Daddy is about the limit of your fatherly capabilities, Brad.

But it's funny, because we do get along so well when we're just hanging out together the two of us. He doesn't pull any of his high-horse diva attitudes with me, we're just very calm and peaceful and cooperative, like it brings out the best Sadge qualities in both of us. It IS almost like we fall into a husband-wife kind of relationship in a way. We just instantly start following a routine that works for both of us. It was that way when Brad came to stay with me in San Francisco for a week as well. We really had a good time just hanging out and chatting and doing kind of mundane stuff together. And it's this huge change from when other people are around, because then he can be SO terribly high-maintenance and pull all kinds of tantrums, which he never does when it's just me and him, I don't know why.

So some other points about my 2003 Burning Man experience:

1) As I mentioned, I was not only sober this year, but pregnant, which made me unable to enjoy quite a few of the BM events. I was worried about toxins in the smoke from burning objects. (see #2). I was tired at night. I was annoyed by all the obliterated, fucked-up people wandering around bumping in to things and acting like retards. (Some idiot threw a bottle in my direction and hit me in the head, cutting me on the temple...then called me a crybaby when I cried out in pain. Nice.) I was scared that I would fall off my bike and hurt myself, which I almost did about 20 times. Oh, and the most annoying factor was that I had to pee every 15-20 minutes, which involved walking about a 1/4 mile, then standing in line for a filthy portable toilet. Finally I wised up and just started peeing in a cup in my tent. Brad followed suit and peed in an iced tea bottle in *his* tent, and then we would matter-of-factly refer to it as "going to take a tent pee" to each other, then emerge from our tents and go dump the pee out around the corner. But we didn't clue any of our other campmates in, in case they thought it was weird that we were peeing in our tents. yeah, in case any of THEM thought that WE were weird. ;-)

Did I mention that all my campmates were chain-smokers too? Yuck. Oh, but they would wear their particle masks during the big dust storms we had, and then take them off to smoke a cigarette about every minute or so, then put the particle mask back on. Too much. Definitely New Yorkers and not Californians.

2) Burning Man was HUGE this year, around 35,000 people. For me, it was too damned big. You pretty much *had* to take your bike everywhere because wherever you wanted to go was too far away to walk. And it seemed like the ratio of people to really cool stuff was pretty large.

Whereas before there had been less people, but a LOT of really mind-blowing art of all types and sizes, especially on the large and dangerous and ultra-techie end (huge Tesla coils shooting arcs of electricity, giant fire-breathing robots battling one another, that kind of thing...LOTS of fire going on all over), now it seemed to be more about naked people getting fucked up. Lots of art cars with bars on them, but not very much fire. Not very much geeky innovation. I was relived in one way that there wasn't a lot of fire (less fuel fumes, smoke, toxins, and other particulate matter in the air for me to breathe), but disappointed too, since those huge geeky dangerous fiery mechanical creations are what I loved most about Burning Man.

I mean, half that stuff you couldn't see *anywhere* else but out on a huge non-flammable desert playa surface. Now it seems more like just a big rave with naked people and trippy lights and fire-jugglers. Maybe it's just that so many elements from Burning Man have been co-opted by the rave scene, it's just not so unique anymore? I don't know.

So anyways, I was sad to leave Burning Man on previous visits, but this time I couldn't wait to get home, take a long shower, eat some fresh fruit, and wash the dust out of all my things. I missed Dan and Bugs tremendously. My nesting instinct has kicked in and I'm pretty happy at home these days. There's plenty to do here. I have a zillion projects that I am itching to get done.

Pregnancy update

So, time for pregnancy update!

I think more and more that I may have to come back to work after my 3 months maternity leave is up, which I am somewhat devastated about, but you have to do what you have to do, I guess.

I have all these plans for things that I want to do raising this child, and it breaks my heart to think about not being around to do most of them. Aaargh. I hope Dan finds some decent-paying non-despicable job SOON. I mean, he has a job now, but the economy is so bad that he's not selling anything, budgets are closed all over, and if you're in sales and not selling... I guess theoretically he could always stay home while *I* work, but that pretty much sucks for me. I don't know, we're trying to figure out what to do, but so much of it is up in the air and dependent on luck, fate, timing, whatever you want to call it. So in the meantime we're just saving as much money as possible, in total budget mode.

Dan is the Budget Maniac these days. He sold his beautiful ultra-luxurious car (2002 Infiniti Q45) and bought a Honda Civic Hybrid like me. Which I was pushing him to do, because the Q45 just wasn't practical. Like you are going to have a dog/baby riding around on immaculate leather seats. And it only got 19 miles per gallon or something. Why do we need an engine with 300 horsepower when we're both driving like we're 70 years old these days? So he was able to sell the Q45, buy a new Hybrid, and pocket about $15,000 in cash for our baby fund. Plus the savings on maintenance and especially gas (now he gets 45-50 miles per gallon), it all adds up.

I'm selling stuff on eBay like it's going out of style. And doing some sporadic freelance work on the side for a decent hourly wage. So I don't know, maybe we can make this work.

We find out the sex of the baby this coming Wednesday. I am SO excited. I have been feeling "girl" lately, but it's a total coin toss. Names turned out to be shockingly easy...we settled the matter in about five minutes in the car on the way to dinner the other night. I have a zillion girl names that I like, but boy names are almost impossible. I hate most of them, or else they're way too common, or else they make awful nicknames.

Dan threw out "Victor", which I like OK, but that gives "Vic" as a probable nickname, which we agree is instant Old Fat Mafioso. Yuck.

Then he said "Julian", which I instantly liked. It translates perfectly to Spanish, French, Italian, it's a Roman Emperor name, which I have an odd attraction to (but not likely that I'll be naming any kids Titus or any of those other emperor names). Plus, Julian Sands....what an elegant hottie. So that was instantly settled, although if we have more than one boy we're sunk! I looked at about 20,000 names and the only other boy name that I could come up with was Sergio, which I don't think Dan likes, and I'm not sure of myself.

For a girl, it will be Juliette/Julietta/Juliet/Giulietta, one of those permutations. Dan loves it.

So anyways, that took about five minutes. Now the only potential battle will be over circumcision, if it's a boy. But I'm not so adamant about that. I'm opposed to it, but it's not the end of the world if it happens. Of course, having a girl makes it a moot point, so I can't WAIT for Wednesday to find out!

So I am 19.5 weeks along, feeling huge already, and Jesus Christ these boobs....I am not fitting into my C-cup bra anymore! Up to a D-CUP now! I have to take some pics, because otherwise I don't think I'll believe it myself. Of course, the boobs don't look that big compared to my burgeoning belly, but I am thoroughly sick of them. Never will I complain about small boobs again. I am paranoid that they won't shrink back nicely afterwards.

I look pretty good from the front, still have my waist and everything, but when I turn sideways, whoa! Belly sticks way out. It's funny that it's all out in front and not in my sides at all. It's not high or low either, but right smack in between my ribs and pelvis.

Apparently the baby is moving around inside like crazy, it's always very active when they put the Doppler on me to listen to the heartbeat, but I don't feel a thing. I *thought* maybe I felt a little tickle when I had my hand pressed hard up against my belly the other day, but I'm not sure. I am taking comfort in the idea that women with strong abs apparently take much longer to feel the first movements...I'm hoping that's what's going on in my case.

I am a little worried because I didn't really gain any weight in the first trimester, and now the last 3-4 weeks I have suddenly put on 15 pounds! No wonder I feel huge. The crazy thing is that I feel like I am eating much *less* than I did the first trimester. Back then if I didn't eat practically a whole meal every half hour I thought I would go nuts. Now I eat three small meals a day with a few snacks in between, and the pounds are piling on. I have a TERRIBLE sweet tooth all of a sudden, which I am trying to control.

Another huge factor may be that I have hardly exercised at all in this last 3-4 weeks. Dan has been taking on most of the dog-walking responsibilities, so I haven't even done that very much. I'm sure that has something to do with it. I sit on my ass all day at work and then come home and sit around some more.

But I am determined to get back in shape, so I did my hour-long swim workout on Friday, we hiked for two hours in the forest on Saturday, and yesterday I did 30 minutes of exercise bike, 30 minutes of elliptical trainer, and walked the dog for an hour. I feel better already, have more energy. Now I just have to keep it up.

I have to put the brakes on this weight gain, but it's not like I can *diet* or anything. So I figure if I am more careful about eating more fruit and less sweets and crappy carbs (which I am CRAVING horrendously) and doing some form of exercise each day, I'll get back on track. I definitely do not want to gain more than what I am supposed to. Fuck stretch marks, and fuck having to go on a massive diet afterwards to lose the extra weight. I'd rather just work on it now and be preventive.

I know all these women who gained 70 pounds when they were pregnant (is that a magic number or something? I know at least four women who said they gained exactly 70 pounds) and they had a terrible time losing it afterwards. They looked completely pregnant for months after they gave birth, and were utterly miserable at the end of their pregnancies because they were so huge and swollen up. I do NOT want to go there. I feel big already, not even in how I look, but just feeling uncomfortable.

I don't think this is going to be a "sexy" pregnancy. But Dan and I are bonding emotionally very strongly, so in some ways it doesn't really matter. It's only when I think about it that I'm like, "Hey, we haven't had sex in a while. Am I too fat and hideous to be attractive to Dan anymore?"

But strangely enough, all these other guys have been giving me the eye, which weirds me out, because I feel like some beer-bellied white trash mama walking around with my big ol' pooch hanging out of my pants most of the time, and my big ol' cellulitic ass... ok, must remember, I'm *working* on that now. I WILL avoid having ice cream after lunch today, I will. Well, maybe once a week I'll treat myself. ;-)


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