March 21, 2009

Chaos Theory

My husband, the physicist, tells me that chaos is "a dynamical system whose evolution in time is in principle unpredictable." Well, I don’t know what all that means, but I do know the formula for chaos: Take a one-month old baby who never sleeps and his sleep-deprived mother, add a looming writing deadline and a dog-grooming appointment, and multiply it all by a serious winter snow storm, and you have complete and utter chaos.

Let me elaborate. My son does not sleep. Most month-old babies sleep between 15 and 17 hours per day, allowing their parents to get adequate sleep themselves and even accomplish things like showering and eating. Colin sleeps more like 9 or 10 hours a day, and this greatly concerns us, not only because it means he's not able to grow those important neural pathways, but it means that we are not getting nearly enough sleep to grow our neural pathways. I am so sleep-deprived that I’m constantly misplacing things, and not just of the-car-keys-in-the-freezer variety. Twice in the past month, I’ve left my cellphone out where the dog could chew it. And in daily conversation, I seem unable to locate simple vocabulary words. Yet somehow, through this sleep-deprived haze, I am supposed to string together 1,000 words for a freelance writing assignment that I volunteered for before I had a baby or sleepless nights or forget how to speak or write. The article is due tomorrow morning. On top of all this, Remy and I are supposed to start obedience classes tonight so that, among other things, he will stop eating my cellphones.

But before we can go to obedience school, I felt it necessary – downright essential – to get him professionally groomed. You see, on top of his other quirks, Remy refuses to allow anyone in this household to brush him. Although we have tried – almost daily – since he was a puppy he still treats brushing like torture, and so he has not been brushed in months. I figured $55 was a small price to pay for someone else to clean and torture my dog. I booked an appointment for 8:00 a.m. this morning.

I should have perhaps reconsidered this plan last night, when, after giving up on writing my introductory paragraph for the tenth time because my baby refused to stop crying and go to sleep, I noticed that it was snowing outside. Hard. And sideways. In fact the wind was so strong, I thought it might blow the house right off its foundations. At the time, I just looked on the bright side and thought that perhaps the sound of the storm would help the baby sleep, but this morning we woke to a foot of powdery snow on the ground and slick, impassable roads. And it was still snowing.

Nonetheless, I dashed out of the house at 7:30 this morning without so much as a cup of coffee (because my new theory is that the caffeine in my breast milk is keeping Colin awake) and began the two-mile trek to the groomer's on roads that would have been ideal for cross-country skiing but not for my compact Honda. I was perhaps going a little too fast for the driving conditions, but Kevin had agreed to stay home from work for the the morning and babysit so that I could finish my article, and time was ticking by.

We got to the groomer's in remarkable time, only to discover, once there, that I had had forgotten Remy’s vaccination records at home, and without them, he can't be admitted. Well, I wasn’t about to drive all the way back home in a blinding snow storm, so I convinced the groomer to just call the vet for confirmation. However, the vet didn’t open until 8:30, so for the next half hour we waited in the lobby. Tick, tick, tick. Finally, the vet answered the phone, and the groomer led Remy off to certain doom.

On the drive home I got caught in rush-hour traffic, but I by this time, I was running so late that I no longer cared. So when a bus to my right signaled to merge, I happily obliged. After all, I was sitting there in my warm car, listening to Van Morrison on the radio, and not on a crowded bus, trying to commute to work. Well, no sooner had the bus turned in front of me than he got stalled on a snow bank while straddling both lanes of traffic. And as if that weren't bad enough, the bus behind him tried to help out by giving him a “nudge” from behind, and he became stalled as well. I tried backing out, but this being rush-hour traffic, I was completely blocked in.

Only then did I realize the fix I was in. Not only was it unlikely that a tow truck with sufficient towing power could get to us anytime soon, I had a baby at home that would soon be desperate to be fed, and I hadn't left him anything to eat. Fortunately, someone heard my prayers, and a tow truck arrived within 15 minutes, and within another five minutes he had pulled out both buses. I drove the rest of the way home very carefully and didn’t let anyone merge in front of me.

Still, my troubles weren't over. In my eagerness to get home and feed my baby and write my article, I pulled into the driveway too quickly and became stranded on my own snow bank. I tried putting the car in neutral and easing out slowly, but I was hopelessly stuck and finally went off in search of a shovel. Turns out, shoveling snow is a good way to vent your frustrations. Still by the time I had shoveled myself out, it was already time to pick Remy up, and the three hours I had set aside to write my article were gone. Fortunately, I have a husband who loves me despite my bouts of idiocy, and he agreed to babysit the rest of the day and make me cup after cup of coffee so I could stay awake and write my article. At this point, who cares if the baby doesn't sleep tonight!

It's now about five o'clock and almost time for me to head out to obedience class. My nerves may be fried, but at least the article is written. I even finished it with enough time and caffeine to spare to write this rambling post, reflecting on where this day went so wrong. And our lessons from today are:

-Never agree to freelancing projects when you have a newborn in the house.

-Although paying to get the dog groomed is a good idea, a better idea is to miss your appointment and forfeit the $55 rather than venture out to the groomer's in blizzard.

-And most important of all: Never, ever yield the right-of-way.

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