Okay, so Baby Giovanni has been with us for less than a week, and although my days and nights are now consumed with breastfeeding (generally the sweetest thing ever, but I kid you not, this hulking baby of mine nursed for three hours straight this afternoon!) I am never too preoccupied to start worrying about some writing-related thing, and today the perfect worry material just fell into my lap. I've been invited by the amazingly talented Megan Stielstra, co-editor of Sleepwalk magazine and one of the organizers of Chicago's popular 2nd Story reading series, to take part in a 2nd Story event on May 3rd, the topic of which is "Love." No, it's not the topic that worries me. It's the fact that going to a 2nd Story event is kind of like going to a comedy/rock/theater performance all at once, with a sprinkling of literature tossed on top--the "readers" pretty much just TALK to the audience in this casual, around-the-kitchen-table kind of way, tossing out amusing anecdotes like they're pros at the art of Improv rather than freaky, introverted writer-types who would far prefer to just keep their heads down and never look up from the page. For the record, I am not a particularly freaky introverted writer type (well, I guess the "freaky" part depends on who you ask, but as writers go I'm pretty extroverted.) That said, I AM the type of chick who gets embarrassed even watching comedy on television, much less going to, say, the Improv Olympics and having to watch people potentially bomb just feet away from me, much less (MUCH, MUCH LESS) the type of girl to volunteer to go up on stage and, say, improvise with the cast a routine in which an alien meets Margaret Thatcher at the Jeffrey Dahmer execution. I am EXACTLY the kind of writer who, when I have to read my own material, tends to read so fast that I could be mistaken for speaking in a foreign language and who never ever looks up at the audience.
Instead, come May 3, I will be entrusted by Megan and Company to get up in front of nearly 100 people (if previous 2nd Story events are any indication) and pontificate amusingly on Love. God help me. Plus, I am not even going to be allowed the option of just going all maudlin and sentimental and gushing about my delicious new baby, since one of the other readers will have just given birth, like, a week before or some crazy thing like that, and my baby will thus be seriously old news. And so I am going to have to go with my usual take on Love: something kind of twisted and dark and ironic, which I am not at all sure I can do while actually, um . . . looking at people.
Be sure that you'll be hearing more about my mounting anxiety as May approaches.
For now, can I just say that my baby IS sweet and delicious, whether the 2nd Story audience gets to hear about him or not?
Can I also say, though, that my C-section was every bit as creepy as I feared it would be. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. People kept asking me incredulously what I was worried about and assuring me that C-sections are the only civilized way to go. Yeah . . . if your idea of civilized is being paralyzed from the breasts downward, strapped onto a T-shaped table like Dead Man Walking and having a curtain put up in front of your face so you feel kind of like you've been bitten by a poisonous snake and buried alive before the job was fully done. Then the spinal makes your teeth chatter so badly you can't even talk, which combined with the paralyzed can't-feel-yourself-breathing thing contributes to the death-like grossness of the experience. Geez. People actually OPT to have these things voluntarily? Yeah, the baby is more than worth it, but while I have friends who have described normal labor as basically crawling around the floor busting vessels in your eyes while howling like an animal, the truth is that sounds pretty damn good to me after the creepy buried alive C-section thing.
If you ever needed anything beyond the wild plastic surgery rates to convince you that women in Brazil are kind of Stepford Senoritas, take as an example the fact that almost all middle and upper class women in Brazil now opt for C-sections by choice. Okay, let's state the obvious: they're doing it to keep their vaginas intact, right? So okay, I'm open to stories about women who had to sit on ice packs for six months, and then still ended up like that nurse on the Larry David Show who stole Richard Lewis' cell phone by hiding it up her . . . birth canal, so to speak. Right now, those are the ONLY kinds of stories that can console me from my C-section trauma.
Did I mention that Giovanni Fenton Frangello-Walthour rules the world?