Saturday, June 30, 2007

My trip so far in 5-minutes or less

Because someone insisted we bring only his laptop and insists that his dissertation is soooo much more important that my little hobby and if I remember correctly we are here to get a job so that when he finishes his dissertation and I am unemployed we'll be able to keep Charlie in YoBaby and me in bad-carbs.

So. A few things that I simply must tell someone about:

1. Exit Logan Airport at Joe Schmoe bus/taxi/subway level, don't see airport-pickup guy, call airport-pickup guy, go up one level to Fancy Schmancy "limo" level, see man in a suit bearing a sign with our last name next to an extremely fancy black car. Sit in cushy leather seat drinking cool bottled water reflecting on how incongruous the assortment of duffel bags and baby crap we chose to bring was with the whole limo thing. And also wonder if limo driver was able to see up my skirt while I was installing the carseat. Or if he heard me swearing at the car seat.

2. Arrive at Hotel Dreams Are Made Of. Man in suit opens my car door. Step out gracefully holding Charlie on one hip. Toss hair and stride into the lobby through doors held open by more men in suits. Say "Get me a martini" to no one in particular as I decide I am ready to live the limo riding, four star hotel staying life.

2a. Am extremely grateful that I chose to wear a nice skirt and top instead of dressing like a Katrina refugee as I normally do.

3. Arrive in room, make valient attempt to stop gushing and swivelling my head around gape mouthed at the beautiful surroundings. Fail. Ryan hands tip to bellman, narrowly stopping me from grabbing him by the shoulders and exclaiming "Oh my hell there's a TV in the bathroom! (it was IN THE MIRROR. It's like a babysitter for your HUSBAND).

4. Walk out of hotel with Charlie in the morning, effortlessly make ten million friends, have breakfast and shopping with one, playgroup with a few, and lunch with another. I am not making this up.

5. Have lovely dinner with Ryan's interviewer and his wife who gives Charlie her coin purse to play with and suck on then takes him for an educational walk around the room.

There's much more to tell but I'm sitting upstairs in my grandparents' cottage where the wireless internet from the neighbor's house works the best. And it's time for bed because SOMEONE will be up in a few hours wanting to play (Charlie. Not Ryan. Ha ha HA).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We're off!

Here's what it might have looked like if Charlie had come with us when we first went to Boston together a few years ago:

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perspective

Funny how the thought of your baby coughing up blood puts things in perspective.

For example, last night when I was playing with him on the floor of the nursery at 2:30 AM I was not sleepy and frustrated, I was happily reflecting on what an honor it is to be entrusted with this precious child to love and raise.

And as he was screaming snotty, miserable sobs into my shoulder at 3:00, I wasn't making a mental note to Google "gypsy baby brokers" the next morning, I was peacefully grateful for his otherwise good health and my good fortune at having a normally even-tempered boy.

Ha ha HA. Who do you think I am, Mother Theresa? I mean, I am grateful and I know I am lucky, but who thinks like that in the middle of the night?

But when he finally did fall asleep contentedly in my arms at 3:30 I was grateful to have one more opportunity to let him fall asleep close to me where I could admire his sweet, peaceful face and feel his warm body snuggled tight against me. And now I am being sincere.

And when I put him in his crib and he stayed asleep? I did a little silent happy dance right there next to the crib and whispered "Thanks for going to sleep, sweet boy, but you know that thing I promised about the race car was a metaphor, right?"

I'm spending the day getting ready for our trip. I bought Charlie some disposable diapers (even though I'd love to find one of those 'Your bag was inspected by the happy, friendly TSA' cards inside a bag full of dirty prefolds, we're trying to simplify). The kid wears SIZE FOUR diapers now. The boy on the package is STANDING UP PUSHING A LAWNMOWER. Important preparations that have been completed include going to Starbucks, making a packing list, going to Target for wipes, leaving Target with wipes, a cord for my iPod, and Pack and Play sheets (pink ones because that is what they had). Better get moving.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

to the makers of baby cold medicine

Dear Baby Cold Medicine Manufacturers, you jerks:

Next time you think it would be fun to make medicine purple to match its grape flavor, don't. May you never "wake up" (after a long, long night listening to your baby cough because your product doesn't work) to find your baby covered in little drops of what looks like dried blood only to smell it and realize that it's not blood, it's the ineffectual cold medicine you gave him before bed. Because that? Is really really scary.

Angrily yours,
Needsaventi

Monday, June 25, 2007

Again!

We are going back to the House of Pain and Germs today. Where no matter what is wrong or not wrong with Charlie I am either over-reacting, under-reacting, wrong, really really wrong, a silly first timer, or negligent. Yipee!

I'm getting Charlie's ears checked. Because he has another cold. Because apparently he gets colds in the summer when it's ninety degrees outside and not in the winter. Not even when we took him on a plane to Pittsburgh in January when he was two months old. He screamed for several minutes last night when I dared try to nurse him to sleep. Charlie's never really been a screamer, so when he gets that upset you think maybe something could be wrong. But they don't follow that line of reasoning at the House of Pain and Germs. They just roll their eyes and tell you to give him Benedryl for the frillionth time ($20 please).

Of course Charlie might have been screaming because he didn't want anything else to eat. Last night for dinner he had five or six veggiepuffs (which are Cheerios that cost three times as much), a tub of Gerber applesauce, half of a YoBaby, and an entire banana before I cut him off. When he was in the bathtub I noticed that his belly was pooched out like he'd just eaten Thanksgiving dinner and had unbuttoned his pants and fallen asleep in front of the Texas-A&M game.

Alright, since the allure of the LeapFrog activity table is wearing off and I'm still in my pajamas and the diaper bag is still unpacked, I better go.

UPDATE: It's a cold. Ahahahahaha.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Dilemma

Tonight's activities:

Stupid dissertation that I hate so much? OR

"The Office" marathon


Ohhh, it's food!
Biter biscuits are a huge hit. He gnawed this one into a mushy spike.

Safe Baby
Charlie's ready to go to sea

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

You mean it won't be just like Sex and the City?

Ryan and I are going on a trip next week to Boston where Ryan has a job interview. Last summer when I was just a few months pregnant with Charlie we went to Boston and had a lovely time imagining that we lived there and were subway experts (Except for the one time when we had to get on the train without a valid ticket because our all-day pass didn't apply to above ground trains or something like that. It was extremely unclear at the station and the driver looked at our tickets and then motioned angrily at the little machine where you're supposed to put, I don't know, tokens or something. That time we acted like we didn't know what the crap we were doing. And possibly we pretended not to speak English).

I'm sure my shorts and flip flops gave us away as tourists. Or maybe it was the way we giggled with excitement every time the train came into the station with that big burst of warm air blowing all the discarded Dunkin Donuts cups around.

Resting at Harvard
That's me at Harvard. I convinced Ryan that this would be clever and artistic.

So while Ryan's at his interview, my job is to look for an apartment where we can live if he decides to take the job. I will have Charlie with me. What a great way to practice for my future of urban stay-at-home-mom/freelance scientist! Free from the constraints of driving, the city is at my doorstep offering a buffet of educational and cultural activities to enrich Charlie's mind! Except after Ryan talked to a realtor today the search area has been widened from just Cambridge and Somerville to most of the eastern half of Massachussets and also part of New Hampshire (where maybe we could afford rent AND food). Do I need to mention that I currently live in a state where you can drive for twelve hours and not cross into a neighboring state?

This is where my dream of efficient urban living begins to get a little shaky. Mostly because the thought of hauling Charlie around two of the original thirteen colonies BY MYSELF is s-c-a-r-y. I take my dog with me when I have to go to the mailbox by the meth-lab apartments less than a hundred yards from my front door for heaven's sake.

I'm hoping we can find a rental agent who will walk around with me and prevent me from taking Charlie into a crack house. Or from giving up and signing a lease on something that costs $2500 a month and is described as "ultimate bachelor pad, river views, mirrored ceilings, black marble jacuzzi in living room" strictly because I can see Whole Foods from the front door and wouldn't have to walk far at night if we needed something. Although Charlie would love it if we had a "pool" in the living room, Ryan would not be pleased.

I should go now. I have to go buy some dark "don't f*** with me" city clothes. And practice not smiling at every damn thing I see. And looking for apartments that are just ghetto enough for us to afford.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I have nothing interesting to say

Just checking in because I am still recovering from the weekend of nonstop fun and have nothing interesting to offer you. Except I deposited my paycheck and bought stamps today. And we had pancakes and scrambled eggs for dinner. Because for some reason we only have like $12 left in our grocery budget for the month. And we need to save it for more YoBaby because Charlie grabbed me by the collar tonight when we ran out during dinner and told me he would "cut me" if we ever ran out again. Last night we gave him some peach YoBaby at a restaraunt where we went to celebrate Father's Day and he cooed little satisfied sighs between bites before scowling and slamming his fists on the table when he saw the next bite wasn't hovering in front of his mouth.

Father's Day was nice. Charlie took him to Sonic for a Coke in the morning (and then again after church because we survive on caffiene around here) and I took him out for all-you-can-eat spaghetti in the evening. Unfortunately I was such a zombie Sunday after staying up so late with my wild friends Saturday night that Ryan didn't get much rest Sunday. He said he enjoyed every minute of it, though. He is so good to me.

Here is a picture for you:

Charlie says "Where is that waiter? I asked for a sippy cup fifteen minutes ago!"
IMG_2958

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why you leave me?

The house has been packed up, the moving van is gone, the sale of the house has closed, and A and her husband and another one of our friends leave tomorrow. Two more of our friends move back to Puerto Rico in the next two weeks. But tonight we partied like it was 1999 (And by that I mean when we were all nineteen and single and had nothing better to do than have a good time... and when we still enjoyed wine from a box).

The Girls

What started out as a barbeque morphed into a gender-segregated living room dance party (for the girls) and backyard cigar party (for the guys, minus Ryan who had to take Charlie home to bed) once all the food was gone (I wasn't able to contribute music from my iPod like the other girls because apparently I have a thing for laid back pot smoking music from the sixties and seventies and there are surprisingly few Simon and Garfunkel songs as conducive to ass-shaking as say, Shakira). Oh and before that we all talked about our boobs and various GYN adventures like normally happens when there is a gathering of women and a big box-o-wine. It was the perfect send-off.

It was so hard to say goodbye. The thing I really couldn't handle though was when A said goodbye to Charlie, or when she started crying after we hugged goodbye for the third time after we watched one last episode of Big Love together.

IMG_2967

I wish them well, but this really stinks.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Is that...THE SUN?

When my twenty-three pound alarm clock o'love went off this morning, I opened my eyes and was most pleasantly surprised to see that the sun was already up. And I wondered what had become of the crippling exhaustion I have been fighting daily for the last two weeks. Could it be? Did he sleep ALL NIGHT without requiring nursing, rocking, singing, or the video of Al Gore's presidential debate appearances?

I should back up a bit here, because Charlie is only one reason that I haven't been sleeping, up until last night anyway. Our neighbor's three dogs have been barking all. night. long recently. They sit literally four feet from our paper-thin track house window (once Ryan locked himself out and I was nursing Charlie down in the nursery and Ryan stood outside the window and asked me to come let him in as if he was standing right next to me talking) and bark. Two nights ago around 1:00 am it finally got to me. I opened the window and said "Be quiet stupid dogs!" in a not yelling but not so friendly tone of voice before collapsing onto my bed as they barked even louder.

I went to the family room to read my book for a few minutes, hoping it would knock me out so I could sleep there for the night. A bit of time passed and then I heard a strange noise and looked up to see Ryan dragging our queen sized mattress down the hall, a big proud grin on his face. He set it up by the fireplace and the TV and tucked in the sheet the way I like it. We turned on a movie and were both out within thirty minutes.

Until an hour later when Charlie woke up wanting to nurse.

Last night I fell asleep (ASLEEP!)watching Sex and the City reruns and eating cookies. And then Charlie slept all night save for one pacifier replacement. Oh this headache free, clear eyed, might live until noon without the aid of a Venti ANYTHING feeling is PRICELESS.

Here are some pictures of Charlie from the last couple of days.

Teeny Scrubs.  Why not?
A friend who is a nurse had these for her son and gave them to us when he outgrew them.

Teeny Scrubs.
He was way more into trying to eat the grass (baby's first hash brownie?) than playing with the more appropriate toy I brought outside.

Bargain!

Oops! I meant, "Here is Charlie in a vinyard."

Charlie in the Vinyard

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A tribute to my friend A... (who is MOVING. the nerve)

One thing that really sucks about grad school is that you make wonderful friends and then their husbands get offered really awesome jobs and they move to freaking Kansas. I remember when I met A. We were at a department barbeque to welcome the new students and after a few minutes I tentatively asked her for her phone number and said something along the lines of "Wanna be friends?" because I could not then, nor ever will be able to behave normally in social situations. We now share shoes, a hairstylist, and an OBGYN.

A few weeks after the barbeque A and her husband had a Halloween party at their house. Ryan and I went as a Catholic school girl and a priest. I was momentarily concerned I would offend A, who is Catholic, but she took one look at my costume and said "I wore the same thing a few years ago but I made it look A LOT trashier. And they made ME answer the door when the cops came!"

Halloween 04 (old picture)
That's A on the left (she and another friend were Axl and Slash) and my other A friend, now Charlie's Godmother.

The A's took on the role of social directors for our little group of friends, planning trips to the Drive-In and to concerts, and this little get-together where we used an ax and a truck to remove a dead tree from their yard.

Victory!

She and her husband and all of our friends here have truly become a family; we share eachother's joys and hurts, commiserate over the mutual frustrations that come with being in school and have shared countless shopping trips, movie nights, happy hours, cookouts, baby showers, wedding showers, and birthdays. This year, when Charlie was three weeks old, A and her husband hosted almost all of us along with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law for a Thanksgiving potluck.

When I was pregnant, she made me brownies and then we laid on her couch, her hand on my belly, waiting for Charlie to start swimming around in response to my heightened blood sugar. When Charlie was born, the A's and the other A's were among the first visitors to the hospital (the first were my advisor and his wife, not awkward at all "Great to see you! I'd get up but I still can't feel my legs. Oh, and don't mind the bag of pee hanging from the bed"). They brought Ryan dinner and crammed around my bed in the tiny room and passed Charlie around and fussed over him until the nurse came in and forced me to go on a long overdue walk around the nurses' station (IV stand in tow).

A week before Charlie was born, we all went to a party as some of Hollywood's infamous party girls. I was Brittany Spears.

The Ladies
That's Pink, Paris (A), Nicole (Charlie's Godmother), me, and Jessica Simpson. We all hoped I would go into labor at the party because what a great way to show up at L&D!

A loves Charlie like a nephew. She babysat for us once and reported that she checked frequently to make sure Charlie was breathing by sneaking into his room like a ninja and leaning over the crib and putting her ear close to his mouth. She is going to make a really awesome mother one day.

Kevin and Abby with Charlie (old picture)

The moving truck comes tomorrow and they leave on Sunday. I am going to miss them so much.

Abby and me

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ryan swears he "didn't notice" when he took the picture...

...but I'll call this one "Coin Slots"

Cracks

Oh my good heavens. The laughing, it hurts.

And I have no idea what I was doing in the picture.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

MOTHER OF GOD WILL I NEVER SLEEP AGAIN?!

I think the teeth are coming. I've said it before, but I really think they're coming this time.

Charlie wakes up crying several times between when he goes down and when we go to bed (ha ha HA you thought I was going to say go to sleep. no). And wakes up around 3:30 usually wanting to nurse before he'll go back to sleep. And since he went back to work and got lazy with his pumping schedule, Ryan is not lactating so even though he is the most helpful involved dad ever to be, he can't help Charlie go back down then (in the middle of the #$@#$# night).

And LAST night was even neater because lightning struck something really close by--probably the meth-lab apartments because that place seems to invite trouble--causing Rossby and Charlie to lift their voices to the heavens together, a chorus of barking and terrified screaming that would have been absolutely hysterical had it not been three o'clock in the morning. And that happened twice!

Did I mention how pleased I am that our church has begun providing gourmet coffee in the parlor before Sunday School? Regrettably it is not available in IV form. I must speak to someone about that. We're doing the most interesting study in our class about Genesis and how it relates to science and the most insightful comment I could come up with today was "Baby won't sleep. Mama tired. Poop. Poop poop poop."

In other news, I have finally given into the reality that I can't pump enough to keep up with Charlie's daycare needs. It's probably because I am not taking care of myself (see Sleep, utter lack of), but I am pumping three to four times for two bottles and it's exhausting. Ryan bought a can of formula today. And it made me really sad (and not just because it costs almost a dollar a bottle). Charlie loved the bottle we gave him today and ate all eight ounces (or $0.92 worth) quickly. And then the most wonderful thing happened. I pumped to make up for that lost feeding and got SEVEN OUNCES. That's a whole bottle! For about a month I had been getting four at best. And I just pumped for the last time before bed and got another FIVE (I had been getting two). It seems taking the pressure off has made a huge difference (that and learning to balance the pump bottles on my legs so I have both hands free to talk online work on my dissertation). And now I know that the formula is actually a means to continuing the breastfeeding and pumping and not the beginning of the end. And that makes me so happy.

Now I am off to bed. Perchance to sleep. But probably not.

Edited to clarify: I was pumping the last time of the day before bed, not the last time ever. It would be nice to get rid of that little vampire completely but it's going to have to wait.

Friday, June 8, 2007

You can't make this stuff up.

Tonight, while Ryan and I were watching "Maxed Out," a documentary about the evils of credit card debt, one of the legs fell off of our coffee table. The one we got at Goodwill.

Ryan's quick reaction saved our dinner (cheese quesadillas) from sliding off onto our area rug. The one we got at a yardsale.

I'm going to tell Charlie this story when he makes his first million and maybe then he'll buy us a TV you don't have to hit sometimes.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Great news!

You know the woman whose kid is in Charlie's swim class that I want to be friends with? The one I accidentally dressed like? And the one whose kid I accidentally dressed Charlie like? The one I talked to for several minutes while unwittingly standing in a cloud of floating spitup?

Her kid totally pooped in the pool today.

We're going to be great friends I know it.

And Charlie's swimming hat? Is a HIT.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Again with the overreacting

This morning Charlie felt a little warm. Probably from all the wriggling and crying and face grabbing he did between three and six this morning when I was trying to get him to go back to sleep. But since the last cold went from sniffles to full fledged can't eat can't drink can't sleep upper respiratory infection in under twelve hours, I thought I should take him to the doctor to at least get his ears checked.

Seriously there must be a way I can do this myself so I don't have to wake him up, drag him all the way to the doctor, sit in the germ infested waiting room, and pay the copay just for the doctor to spend fifteen seconds looking in his ears.

Although he wouldn't let me take his temperature (underarm) because the thermometer tickled him. He thought it was great fun and laughed hysterically while squirming all over the changing table trying to get away.

Anyway, they called us back and I picked Charlie up off the floor where he was gumming our garage door opener. When the nurse looked at him he beamed his big gummy smile back at her. "Awwww, you don't look sick!" she exclaimed in a sing songy voice. Um, yeah. I just thought this would be a fun activity.

The doctor agreed but told me to give him some Benadryl before bed so he can breathe and we can all get some sleep. As she was leaving the room she said "I hope you still get to go to your swimming lessons, Mr. Charles!!" I looked at the clock, 9:40. WE CAN MAKE IT! I don't think that's what she meant, but it was almost 80 degrees outside and the pool is heated so really it's like a big fun outside bath with other kids. Right? Right?

There is another baby in the class who is a day older (and about seven pounds lighter) than Charlie. His mom seems really nice and I want to be her friend. To accomplish that goal I inadvertantly acted really psycho by showing up wearing a bandana just like her and with Charlie in the same swimsuit as her son. And then while I was talking to her Charlie spitup and I didn't notice until I looked down and saw it running down the front of my swimsuit and floating just beneath the surface of the water.

The bathroom at the pool is like that scene in the beginning of "Much Ado About Nothing" with all the naked women and children running around, only here there are strollers and instead of lolling around eating grapes the exhausted women are speaking in their well practiced calm but firm tone to their children "What do you mean you didn't bring underpants, I told you we were going grocery shopping after swimming!" or "Come back here and put your clothes on right now!" and ultimately "How would you like to go home and take a nap right now?!". As I cram Charlie's stroller halfway into the shower stall so I can change out of my swimsuit with a tiny bit of privacy it occurs to me that five years ago we denied it would ever happen, but here we are, armed with totebags full of goldfish and juice boxes and sunscreen, we have all turned into our mothers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sick Day

Me and Snotbucket just got back from Target where we bought all the infant cold remedies that have been lost since the last cold. Saline nose drops and a new filter for the humidifier which I hope will fix the problem we are having. It is full of hard water scum. When that happens to the coffee maker I run a cup of vinegar through it, but I don't think you can do the same thing to a humidifier without creating a toxic cloud.

I also bought Kleenex which I had to open in the store to dab at the two green snot trails that were racing down Charlie's face. Poor little guy.

Next on the list was a larger swim diaper to replace the one I crammed him into yesterday. And because Target is the Devil's House of Retail Temptation I just could not resist this:

IMG_2925
"Do you like my swimming cost-yume?" (he has a British accent in my head)

Something seems to be stuck to my head.
He's practicing for his New Kids On The Block audition.

I was pretty psyched to discover that this swim diaper had shorts attached instead of the Speedo he used to wear (which was becoming more and more of a thong now that he is over the weight limit). Still doesn't contain liquids though. (Does NOT contain liquids! So don't get excited, get him dressed for swimming and then sit him in the stroller for half an hour. Babies go potty every twenty minutes, do the math.)

He's taking his third nap now as part of my "Get over this cold right now because swim class is just a sneaky way for me to make friends" virus blasting bootcamp (and he loved swimming yesterday. LOVED it. I am really looking forward to going back and again showing up an hour early to giggle with excitement every time someone looks at me. Oh and to let Charlie pee all over the stroller.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Swim Lessons

Swim Lesson #1: A swim diaper does not contain weewee as well as you might expect from something called "a diaper."

Swim Lesson #2: Bring an extra tshirt for yourself so you don't have to wear the urine-soaked one to work.

Swim Lesson #3: Being seven pounds below your prepregnancy weight does not mean your legs will ever look normal again. Some swimsuits have skirts. I should probably buy one. Tea length would be ideal.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

No it's NOT a Mom-bag. I think.

I have been saving since January for a new purse from Coach. I went to Coach.com many times and picked out the one I wanted. I noticed Coach bags that other people had. I even borrowed one from a friend and used it while I was on a trip. I loved it. I had $120 saved and then after parents gave me a generous birthday gift of cash I finally had enough. I went to the store to pick it out, but when I got there, the one I had picked out online looked like something that came out of a Boca retirement community. The friends I was with were very polite, but on the inside I'm sure they were envisioning the three of us discussing our upcoming hip/knee/teeth replacement over canasta and G&Ts. Mmm gin.

I found another nice bag at Banana Republic, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that I will never be the kind of person who can spend $300 on a purse no matter how pretty it is. Instead, I found one I loved at TJ Maxx and spent $70 (Compare at a MSRP of $158! Score!!), which is a HUGE splurge for me considering my last two purses cost $15 and $3 respectively. It's black and square and leather and has two handles.

And LOOK at all the stuff I can put in there!

IMG_2919
(Charlie's hat, assorted lip glosses, mystery allergy medication, books, pens, wallet, garage door opener, cash for groceries, iPod, keys, diaper)

Stuff, like gases, expands to fill the available space. Join me on the road to crazy, will you?

And now I have money left over to buy some other things I've had my eye on.

OK maybe not that much extra.

When Charlie wakes up I'm going to take NewBag for a test drive to the grocery store to buy cookies. Because they didn't have the right kind at the New Fancy Grocery Store (on the New Fancy Side of Town where people don't drive their SUVs into apartment buildings) where Charlie and I had lunch. They did have some adorable thumbprints decorated like ladybugs (is that what you would describe as "whimsical?"), but I need substance! I need walnuts! I need chocolate chips!

There's Charlie now!

Edited to add: Ryan planned a wonderful birthday celebration for me at a local Mexican Restaraunt. We drank beer, we ate chips, we laughed, we told inappropriate jokes at the expense of our Puerto Rican friend Hector. A good time was had by all.
Family Pic
Kirsten, Andrea, Judie
Hector and Dennis
(That's Hector on the left. Hector worked in Canada for six months and was detained at the border because, in his words, "I forgot to shave and they thought I was in Al Qaida")