Monday, October 23, 2006

Vacation Carnage

We had many fun and touching moments with Nutmeg on our visit to her birthplace of San Francisco, but probably the most touching was seeing how happy she was to get back home. The week brought back all kinds of ambivalence for me about our move -- I remembered how much more freedom I had in SF due to a healthy network of friends, geographical compactness, and of course, holding a job with a 2-day-a-week nanny. I was reminded how funky and amusing the people can be in SF. And driving all the way through Chicago in a cab back from Midway airport last night, I was reminded how vanilla it can look here -- the flatness, the appearance of one Dominick's after another along the freeway, the monotony of one brick building after another. It didn't help that it was freakin 35 degrees when we landed, after a gorgeous, sunny week in the Bay Area.

But Nutmeg just grinned at everything, especially when we passed the El on our way home. Although she had a great time playing with her old buddy Eliot and grown-up friends like Auntie Bert and Kaymommy and Keithdaddy, she told us several times during the week, "I want to go back to my Chicago home." She was a dream on the flight. She said she missed the El train and her classes, and when we got back to our apartment at 2 a.m. it was hard to tear her away from reconnecting with all her toys. I asked her if she wanted to go back to San Francisco again sometime, and she said, "Nope." Wouldn't she like to play with Eliot? She reminded me that Eliot was planning to visit us here in Chicago. Well, there you have it.


Eliot does NASA performance art at a Bay Area play center


Gettin' some Kmommy love at our favorite SF playground

Our fun adventures this week were mixed in with some not-so-fun surprises. On the plus side, we saw just about everyone who still lives in the Bay Area, were able to get to know "Uncle Brian," Auntie Bert's boyfriend, since we were staying at their house. We took Nutmeg to the beach in Carmel and to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which she loved. We ate some of our favorite food -- Thai at Cha'am Express, brunch at Park Chow, tacos and enchiladas in the Mission, sandwiches and a to-die-for tart at Tartine, and a new (to us) dim sum place and a family Italian restaurant on Valencia that were both delicious.

At first I thought the great tragedy of our trip was not making it to a sushi or seafood restaurant. Then people started getting hurt. First, on a brilliantly sunny Friday afternoon when some of my best buds had taken off work to hang out with us, our friend Kari hurt her back. We had just had lunch in Dolores Park and toured Mission Dolores (one of those things that most people who live in SF don't get around to), and it was only 2:30 p.m. Kari suggested we check out a tiny park in the Castro with an "adult slide" -- actually two toboggan-run-steep concrete slides with a tiny bit of sand at the bottom. We trekked up some medium-steep streets to get there, and then I watched my buds do the slide, sitting on cardboard boxes. One friend who happens to be a speed addicted (not the drug kind but the motion kind of speed) figured out some ways to optimize the slide run and go faster. Kari tried it, landed hard on her back, and couldn't bring herself to stand up.


Moments before adult slide tragedy struck


She was crying and moaning in pain. Epu and another friend walked back to where our car was parked, and it was probably 45 minutes before he had it there so we could get her out of there. It was so difficult for Kari to get into a sitting position, much less stand up, that we considered just calling an ambulance. But finally she hobbled into the car, lay across the backseat, and off we went to the emergency room. She figured she had gotten a bad bruise that set off back spasms. The emergency room doctor was surprised to see on the X-Ray that she had actually fractured a vertebra.
"You have good reason to be in pain," he told her. Poor Kari. By this time I had to get to the dinner we'd planned with a lot of friends, so I hailed a cab to the Mission while Epu took her to Walgreens to fill her perscriptions and then helped her get into her house. I also took a few minutes to stop by Eliot's house and say hi to La Nanny, who was watching the kids for the afternoon and evening. Epu and I had been planning to come over and hang out with her for an hour or so, but instead we barely got to see her. What's worse, another friend got his car towed while helping Kari at the park. Not that any of that compares to breaking your back, of course. As dramatic as it sounds, the ER staff said Kari would probably heal up within 6 weeks without intervention, but that it would continue to hurt like hell during that time.
Saturday we managed to get ourselves to our friends' wedding -- the nominal purpose of the trip -- and back intact. It was a really nice wedding with a tiny guest list, very intimate and sweet.

But Sunday Nutmeg sustained her first dog bite. We had stopped by our old house to visit our downstairs neighbor, who turned out to not be home. His boyfriend came to the door, though, and let their two old dogs out so Nutmeg could pet them. Nutmeg was hugging them both when she lost her balance and fell against the older one. He freaked out and bit her ear. Of course she cried like crazy -- I would too! -- but at first we thought she had gotten off with just a scratch and some red pressure marks on the lobe. Then the blood started coming. turns out one tooth had broken the skin on the back of her ear. Poor baby. We washed it with peroxide, and then after a call to her Chicago pediatrician, put on Neosporin and a band-aid. That's all, no ER or even a follow-up required, unless it starts looking "yuck-o," in the pediatrician's terms.

Miraculously, Nutmeg says the incident hasn't turned her off dogs. She still wants one, although she did take seriously my suggestion that we should be "very careful" when petting dogs. What a trouper, huh?

Oh, then I called my mom on the way to the airport to report the carnage. My mom had just broken or sprained her ankle falling down some stairs. What am I, a curse? I don't even have to be in the same state as you to make some accident befall you. Watch out!


Nut and Mommy revisit the Pacific in Carmel


Nut and Mommy revisit the Pacific in Carmel

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