Nancy Lemann

Nancy Lemann

A weeklong electronic journal.
Feb. 21 1998 3:30 AM

Nancy Lemann

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       The answer is yes. To the original question I posed: Once I stop being pregnant, will I stop getting knickknacks, coat racks, footstools, slipcovers, cable TVs, curtains, curtain rods, etc.? Will I stop putting things in geometric storage bags all day? The answer is yes.
       Now that I've had the baby, I have to admit, I am glad that I stocked up on knickknacks, etc., because my interest in knickknacks is now officially nil. But they may come in handy someday.
       I moved into my new house in order to prepare for the new baby. I was interviewing nannies, previewing the situation of having two daughters. The nanny I decided to choose had taken care of an 80-year-old Southern Belle hypochondriac for the past three years. I thought that was the perfect qualification for someone who was to work for me. Unfortunately, she declined the job. Backed out at the last minute, you might say. I was sorry, because she had played so well with my daughter during the interview and because I thought I would get good material, with her downtrodden, embittered presence in my house at all hours emanating her vast experience with hypochondriac Southern Belles.
       The new nanny I hired is someone I am adjusting to, someone who comes to work in the morning saying things like "I threw up all night from stress"--not your ideal for an employee's opening remarks. But that's the theme in Southern California: stress, and phobia of. When I stop at the cafe, the proprietor says, "Come by any time to vent out." If I make a sarcastic remark to Southern Californians and then apologize, they say: "It's OK. You're venting. It's OK to vent." The other day I met the prototypical Southern California person--he was getting a Ph.D. in stress management.
       And yet, it's not that stressful here. Another thing, it is not a bad place for small children. You stroll the perambulator among the palms, 70 degrees in February. In the weekly paper that lists events, the events are all things like: Ornamental pear trees are bursting into bloom; lupines are popping up; Clark's and Western grebes, cactus wrens, osprey, and golden eagles are all possible sightings; the annual migration of winter shorebirds and waterfowl can be viewed from the San Diego Flood Control Channel--etc.--you get the drift. Last week they had an exciting cover story on dust motes. I have madcap meetings with my botanist. We have the only botanist in San Diego (or anywhere?) who works on Saturday night in the rain, ever armed with the National Rose Society Rule Book. He's a little crazed. But I like him that way.

Nancy Lemann is the author of Lives of the Saints, The Ritz of the Bayou, and Sportsman's Paradise. Her new novel, The Fiery Pantheon, was recently released. She lives in San Diego and is a new mother for the second time.