108/365: Goomba

IMG_9844 copyEven if you intend to be truthful—a slippery concept in its own right—one’s blog life is necessarily different from one’s real life. It just is. In the first place, there are huge gaps in the narrative stream. Besides the many omissions there are the other usual suspects: condensing, approximation, emotional films, protection of privacy, and the lurking desire to come across as slightly more intelligent, sane, correct, and charming than the real life version (unless you specialize in being neurotic, in which case charm is the only real issue).

This isn’t news to anybody, of course. But it’s still something I think about, and something I definitely thought about when Carl and I were talking about Iris’s verbal development with a friend a few weeks back.

Do you think she knows what you’re talking about?

Not really, we say. She cheerfully babbles at us and is quite pleased when we babble back. But that’s about it.

Does she know her name?

We glance at each other uncomfortably. I don’t think so, we say, neglecting to add that even if she did, she probably still wouldn’t recognize her actual name. We don’t really call her Iris that much. I mean, we do. When other people are around. And I’m sure we will again at some point. After all, we put a lot of hard work into finding that name. We love that name. It’s so strong and beautiful and fabulous.

But mostly we just call her Goomba.

If you’re part of whatever we’re calling the 25-35 year old generation now, you know what a goomba is: Those little two-toothed mushrooms that chase Mario and Luigi around in the old Nintendo video games. They are the bread-and-butter everyman of Super Mario, the keep-you-on-your-toes character, the busy little knee-chompers that show up on every screen. If this sounds negative, they also make awfully cute plush toys. I have fond childhood memories of goombas. And anyway, it’s not like you pick out nicknames at Macy’s. You just look at your child one day and in the fondly psychotic babble of baby talk something just pops out and sticks.


Variously: The Goomba, Gooms, Goomie Goomerson, Zoomie, Zoomer, and Zoom.

My phone still adds the red line of judgment, but it has begrudgingly added Goomba to its list of autocorrect options. So it’s autocorrect official, and I’m not sure it gets more legit than that these days.

Worrying about how the revelation of such a name may impact her psychological development at a later stage, however, we did go so far as to check online to find out what else a goomba might be. Apparently it’s an Italian-American slur of sorts, but we were heartened by the site that translated it from the Neopolitan dialect as an affectionate term; thug; “you crazy goomba.”

Good enough for us.

The fabulous thing about words is that the more you use them, the more of a life they develop of their own. You can’t create family argot on purpose. It’s a woolly and wild creature. Either you allow it in your house or you don’t. But if you don’t it will probably just break through a window anyway, so you might as well save time and just keep the doors open.

The possible path of individual bits of argot are truly limitless, but after the initial birth as name in our family, goomba also began to work its way through nursery songs (“How much is that goomba in the window?” and the counting song “One and a Two and a Three little Goombas” (to the tune of the Macarena, naturally) and the entirely made up “Goomie Goomerson (She’s a teeny, tiny, teeny tiny GOOMERSON)”). And somewhere along the line we realized that Goomba isn’t just a proper noun. It’s a regular one too. This became evident when we found ourselves having perfectly serious conversations like “I don’t know; when do you see yourself being ready for a second goomba?” and “aw, look at those cute little goombas playing together” and “well, that would have to be later—say when Goomba #2 is potty trained.”

These are the things you can’t make up, create, control, or put on your list of New Year’s resolutions. But they are some of the happiest things. I have very fond memories of the secret language I shared with my siblings in childhood, a crazy pastiche of misheard words and movie quotes and vowel shifts and potty humor. It’s comforting, a way of belonging, a touchstone of humor that covers a multitude of arguments.

I’m sure the names will have morphed out of recognition by the time Iris is old enough to talk and take a more controlling interest in the family speech patterns. That’s part of the fun of it, the creative play and ephemeral nature. Writing it down is a lot like collecting butterfly cocoons. When nothing stays the same for ten days let alone ten years, there’s a special happiness just in cementing the memories.

104/365: Boxing Day

IMG_9813 copyMy parents’ 10 acre property is still a pretty magical place to me. I spent hundreds of hours out there, and it’s nice to visit again. Woodland has always been peaceful to me, a place to breathe more freely and just be present. I like the sunbaked mud smell of summer and I like the chest-pain cold of winter.

I took these snaps on a ten minute jaunt just as the sunlight was draining away, a quick walk down to the swamp and a skidder across a sheet of newly-frozen ice.

I love our house, I love our neighborhood, I love our yard.

But I’ll probably always miss the woods.

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103/365: Christmas Day

IMG_9776 copyChristmas was a blur this year—more so than usual and for a lot of reasons. Not an unpleasant blur, but not exactly an artistic one either. We had Christmas morning at our place, then packed up Iris and the car and headed to Kalamazoo to have a Christmas lunch with Carl’s mom (which was about when the serious cold/chills/fever hit me), and then up to Grand Rapids for a Christmas tea time and dinner with my family.

Lovely to see everyone. Lovely to share holiday cheer and presents. Lovely to love and be loved. But soooooooo hard to keep from crawling into a blanketed hole and allowing death to claim body and soul.

Nevertheless: a good Christmas.

Poor Iris was so stuffy that night she needed to be snuggled back to sleep three times before 9pm… at which point we gave up and plopped her down into the middle of our bed, where she slept like an angel. (A minor Christmas miracle. Emboldened by our Christmas success, we tried putting her in bed with us in the latter stretches of last night and the only result was, as Colonel Brandon says, ruination and despair).

Put we’ll take whatever miracles we can have, Christmas or otherwise.

We had a great first {family} Christmas.

Hope yours was great too!



100/365: A Hundred Days



Sun and stone and snow

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I’d make it even this far. The learning curve continues to be a gentle slope, but I’ve been picking up a few things on the way. I know how to straighten crooked photos. I know what aperture is. I know what ten of the ten thousand options in Photoshop do. I still do almost all of my photo snapping, editing, and blog posting with Iris in various states of wakefulness in the carrier, so it can be… interesting.

I had to stoop down to take this one, so low that Iris’s head flopped out of the carrier almost upside down. She didn’t care. Her pacifier continued to bob, the corners of her mouth turning up. Upside down is a fun game too.

And I am, in fact, writing this with Iris standing next to my left knee, and I’m stopping every fifteen words to give her another tiny piece of this morning’s leftover doughnut.

That’s life this December 22, 2012, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Although, as Carl and I occasionally admit to each other: if I could trade places with the me of 2010 for like a weekend, I totally would. Can you imagine? Oh, gosh. I would read in bed all day and then we would go out for dinner and see a real movie in a theater and then sit at Barnes and Noble drinking coffee and looking at even more books and then we would sleep all night and probably the next day too.

In the mean time the house smells like cinnamon, and this baby needs some play time.