Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ah, the DNC

Okay, so my last blog entry got cut short. To expand upon my tirade about the black memorabilia, I wanted to get into the whole Golliwog controversy, but if I do that I probably won’t get to discuss other important matters which I promised to address, i.e. the Democratic National Convention. So if Lovey stays asleep, which admittedly is highly unlikely, I swear to you I will get back to that at the end of this entry. No, seriously.

Now, the most important things for you to know about the Democratic National Convention as it relates to my life (and yes, it is all about me, because, well, this is my blog) are that (1) my sister-in-law, the Diva, (holla atcha girl!) is a California delegate and is currently in Boston at the convention; and (b) Barack Obama is my new virtual boyfriend.

Let me explain a few things for those of you that are new. To be my serious virtual boyfriend, you must be (a) intelligent, (b) attractive, (c) funny and (d) completely inaccessible to me in real life. Mr. Obama meets at least three of these criteria; however, I don’t know if he is funny. And that is crucial. Because the thing is, other people might find him funny, but in my little corner of the universe, you need to have a quirky, unusual sense of humor to make me laugh. This is why my Darling Husband and I are so suited to each other, because we both find the same random things inexplicably and uproariously funny.

I have the usual not-so-serious virtual boyfriends like Taye Diggs and Blair Underwood. My affection for them is based pretty much on their physical attributes and their charm. But then there are the more serious contenders, like Owen Wilson (ironically, the “dark horse” in this race due to his lack of melanin), and Chris Rock. I am a sucker for a man who is both smart and funny. Well, no one can compete with my husband, because he is the funniest and smartest and sweetest guy around. But I do now have a thing for Sen. Obama, although I am quite sure that any actual conversation I might have with him would go something like this:

SEN. OBAMA: So what’s your take on the 9/11 report? Do you agree with the commission’s recommendations on governmental reorganization?

ME: Duh-uhhhh…I drank a lot of beer in college. Can you pass the chips?

Anyhoo, as for the actual convention: from all reports, my sister-in-law is having the time of her life. She even got to have lunch with President Clinton (not one-on-one. DUH). I have to admit, we were all a bit worried about security issues at the convention, but so far, so good. I am really looking forward to hearing all her stories when she gets back.

Once again, I have to end. Lovey is waking up. Sahr!

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Black Memorabilia. It Ain't Kitschy.

I haven’t blogged in a while because I have been sick, and when I am sick I prefer to do silly things like lie down when I have free time (generally when Lovey is asleep).

I want to address two issues today: (1) historical ethnic dolls; and (2) the Democratic National Convention (yes, I am still a Democrat).

On the first issue, I don’t even know that I’m describing it correctly, but here we go. I have a grandmother who makes dolls, many of which are “ethnic.” When Lovey was born, my grandmother sent us a pick-a-ninny [sic] doll, with its own stand and a little tag stating that it was #46 in a series. The attached tag states:

“The dictionary defines the word pick-a-ninny as a ‘small Negro child.’ West Indian slaves used the word ‘pequeno’ referring to small children. In America, before Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, the small slave children’s task was to sort through the cotton bolls and pick out any bits of bark, [sic] or trash. A ‘clean’ bale would bring a higher price when sold by the plantation owner. In America, the slaves referred to these children as Pick-a-ninny [sic].”

The doll itself is about six inches high, wears a gingham red dress and several plaits sticking straight up off her head. She carries a basket and has a cheerful little grin. Ah, slavery. Them was good times, suh!

Anyway, Lovey has just discovered this doll and is quite happy with it. She doesn’t know the significance of it yet, of course. My problem with it is that the word pickaninny has such a derogatory connotation. Ignorant people use it as a racist slur. My larger problem has to do with “black memorabilia” in general. You know, the weird racist shit that people pay money now to collect? What black person in his/her right mind would want something like this? It just seems so sick and self-loathingful to me (yes, I just made that word up). I really don’t understand that mentality.

An ex-boyfriend of mine, who was biracial (half-black, half-Italian-American), had the diagram of the inside of a slave ship tattooed on his arm. It showed these tiny little figures all crammed closely together, like so. I asked him why he would want something like that permanently etched into his skin. He said because we should never forget the horrors of slavery, and he wanted it there as a reminder. (In hindsight, I think he was really into the shock value.) I likened it to a Jewish person having the diagram of a concentration camp on their arm. It made no sense to me then, and, with the benefit of years of accumulated wisdom since, it makes no sense to me now.

The argument I always hear is about re-appropriating these words and images, that “owning” them takes back their power. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to validate something I see as racist. So my concern with the pick-a-ninny doll is that the doll itself is not offensive, but what it represents is.

Am I making sense? I know that I often don’t. And I’m going to have to leave you with that because my sweet cherub just woke up from her nap. More on this next time…

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Sick Day, L.A.-Style

My Dear Sweet Husband came home Friday complaining that he was getting a cold. All weekend, he basically moved from the couch to the bed and back again, sniffling and looking sad. On Monday he wasn’t feeling well enough to go to work, and I was suffering from a burning sore throat too. What to do? Well, naturally, you pack up the whole family and go to the beach.

It was really a beautiful day. We stopped and had breakfast at Broadway Deli, and then traipsed down to the beach. We spent a lot of time knee-deep in the water with Lovey (her knees, not ours). She was unsure about this, crying at first from Daddy’s arms and twisting around and screaming for me. Daddy wants her to face her fears and learn that he will never put her in harm’s way, so they remained in the water. I admit that I was too tired at first to get up and try to rescue her, so I just waved half-heartedly from the blanket and drank up our water supply to soothe my throat. When I did get down to the water’s edge, she was happily screaming at the waves as they came rushing at her and even trying to get to deeper water. Score one for Daddy.

Here is the coolest part of the day: we were not far from a couple of surfers trying to catch some waves, and some dolphins came in close to shore to play with them. This is not the first time I’ve seen this, but this is the closest I’ve gotten to them. I could see them flipping around and slapping their tails in the water. How cool is that?!

Later on, after we came home, I lost whatever energy I might have been able to muster and could not even begin to think about making dinner. From my semi-conscious state on the couch, I couldn’t even think of what to order from the takeout menus. This led to us holding hands in the middle of the living room, chanting: “We are the Blah Blahs. We are hungry. Please send us some food.”

I ended up with a cup of tortilla soup and My Darling Husband had a burger with fries. It was truly a Monday Night Miracle!

Saturday, July 17, 2004

A "WTF?" Moment

So I was in my local Trader Joe’s the other day, minding my business in the cheese aisle with my lovely Lovey in the shopping cart. An elderly gentleman came by and starting talking to Lovey in a heavy Russian accent. She was flirting with him in the way she does sometimes unexpectedly with totally random people, and she even smiled at him. The man said, “Oh, she looks like you, same smile, same face.” I said, “Oh, you think so? Thanks!” Then he leaned closer to her, smiling, and said, “You’re a blackie!” and then walked off. I was taken aback for a second, and then I shrugged and said to myself, “Well, yes, she is.” I guess the question is, as she gets older, what would she say in response?

Will says, “She is her father’s child. She’ll say, ‘And you’re a honky!’”

In all honesty, I do not think the guy meant anything bad by it. It is just one of those random encounters that take one by surprise. I guess I am generally not thinking about how people perceive us as I go about the mundane rituals of my day-to-day life.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Living with Lovey

Lately, I have been blogging offline – that is, typing my blog into Word when I can and then posting it later. Sometimes days later. So there will be times when you visit this page and there will suddenly be two or three blog entries where an hour ago there were none. What can I say – this is what works for me right now.

Lovey resents any time I spend on the computer because she can’t understand why I will not (a) let her push all the keyboard buttons to her heart’s content and (2) failing that, at least set the computer to “slide show,” so she can watch all the pictures of herself that I have stored here. Oh, yes, she is incredibly vain. Whenever she sees photos of herself, she crows, “I am the most gorgeous and entertaining creature in the land!” squealing and clapping her hands. At least I think that’s what she’s saying. So my moments alone at the computer are few and far between, which is why it is 5:48 a.m. and instead of lounging around in bed, I am blogging to warm up before getting back to writing my book. Lovey is in the living room doing “goga” with her daddy. She can do downward facing dog pose better than anyone you have ever seen!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Feel the Burn

I am having major body image issues lately. Am seriously considering investing in a corset. Would that be bad? Do they still make those? My Darling Husband, who exercises every single day, today came home and told me that he is fat. This is of course completely ridiculous, so I just said, “Uh huh,” to validate his fatness. Somehow he took this as insincere.

Until a few months ago, I could put Lovey in the stroller and go for a brisk walk for 45 minutes to an hour every day or so. Well, now that she can walk on her own, she will no longer tolerate that, so I am sad to report that my waist is starting to pudge. No one believes this (except of course, for My Darling Husband who has seen me en deshabille but says he likes me anyway). This is because I am still reasonably slim except in that one traitorous area. So I have resorted to putting on music and dancing around the apartment to work up a sweat. Lovey and I like to pretend we are in a music video. In fact, I think we should make a music video because I think she could teach those video hoochies a thing or three.