California, Here We Come

We just dropped off the dog at Grandma’s house for the Lay’s Potato Chip Extravaganza X-Treme Summer 2004 where he is sure to spend the next four days lounging in the hottest spot he can find in her backyard while being hand fed entire slices of white bread and, of course, Lay’s Potato Chips, official sponsor of his fat ass. By the time we get back home on Monday night I’ll be able to pick him up and suspend him in air by his love handles.

The bags aren’t officially packed, but that’s only because we’ve spent the last few days at various government institutions renewing my driver’s license and procuring Leta’s birth certificate. I was supposed to get my driver’s license renewed the week we moved to Utah 20 months ago, but doing so would have been lawful and responsible, and I left that church a long time ago. Plus, the picture on my California license is one of the only pictures of me that I actually like, one in which you can’t really tell that my left eye droops more than my right eye, and the look on my face seems to scream YOU PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA HOW STUPID YOU ARE TO LET ME OPERATE A VEHICLE.

I just want to point out that I ACED the written driver’s test. It’s the old anal-retentive valedictorian in me clawing its way out. Forget about the fact that the test is OPEN BOOK, and that the book has a table of contents that says, “The answer to question #5 can be found on page 42.” I don’t want to point out that I failed the California written driver’s test FOUR times, and that the only way I actually got my license was to promise my first born child to the enormous Latino woman giving the test. I have no doubt that Leta will lead a good, fulfilling life once I UPS her to Torrance, CA, where she will remain under the watchful eye of enormous Latino woman and her friends at the California DMV. Sorry, kid! Mama had to drive!

The kind people at the airline informed us yesterday that we needed to have Leta’s birth certificate in order to prove that she is under 24 months old, which makes sense considering that Leta sometimes looks like a balding 64-year-old plumber from Bucksnort, Tennessee, and god knows he shouldn’t be allowed to sit in anyone’s lap. We spent the better part of the afternoon standing in line at the Department of Health in the company of the Dregs of Humanity, people who haven’t bathed since Reagan left office. More than a few women were wearing house slippers and pink curlers in their matted hair, unaware that they had gotten out of bed, left the house, and were standing IN PUBLIC.

Jon and I seemed to be the only people in the room who still had our original teeth, and just when I couldn’t feel more high and mighty about how much better of a person I was than these stinky, primal swamp monsters, my baby started throwing things ACROSS. THE. ROOM. None of the other swamp babies were throwing things, but my baby — the baby of two educated and recently showered parents — refused to keep the toy in her hand and insisted upon projecting the toy with much latitudinal oomph at innocent and polite swamp people. I may have been the only woman in the room wearing clean underwear, but I was also the only woman in the room whose kid needed to be duct taped into submission. Is there any force more equalizing and humbling than parenthood?

I have filtered through all of the suggestions you left about traveling with an infant, and for those of you who stopped at comment #2 and then fell asleep or gouged out your eyes with hot forks of displeasure, here’s what we’re going to do:

1. I’m going to breastfeed at take-off and landing, assuming she will actually eat. If that doesn’t work we’ve packed suckers and teething biscuits, something that should cause her to swallow actively during the critical pressurization moments. If that doesn’t work and she starts screaming, we’ll break out the drugs, the hardcore drugs, starting with Benedryl and then moving quickly into morphine and then straight to a full-blown epidural.

2. We’re taking the car seat and a stroller and all the toys that distract her for more than fractions of actual seconds. I’m packing loads of diapers and an extra change of clothing for her and for me. I am making the prediction right now that in the middle of our flight tomorrow she will take the most gigantic shit of her life while sitting in my lap, a shit so gigantic that it will end up in her hair and somehow make its way into the crevices between my toes even though I will be wearing socks and tennis shoes. Her poops are magical that way.

3. The rest of the trip will be conducted by the seat of our pants. We’ll just see how it goes, because I have SUCH an easy time doing that, going with the flow. That’s a common trait about us constipated types.

So here we go.

I know I’m making a huge deal out of nothing, but now I’ve got MEDS! to help me with that problem. They’ve got MEDS! for everything! If you happen to be in San Francisco over the weekend and you hear screaming that is causing the skin on your face to burn and fall off in fleshy chunks, or the faint sound of a diseased goat bleating in distress because air is touching its body — oh my god the pain of infant life! — we might be strolling around your neighborhood. Please wave hello and offer us booze.