Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Holiday Shuffle

I knew with the proliferation of holidays this month that I would miss something or somebody. So to all my homies out there: Happy Festivus! The worst part of forgetting this holiday is that it falls on Sweet William's birthday, December 23rd. So sorry!

Oh, and I did mean to post on the Kwanzaa controversy, but as you may recall, I had lost the links. Here's one take on it, which points to founder Maulana Ron Karenga's violent past. And another, which takes issue with Kwanzaa's proximity to Christmas.

Full disclosure: we don't celebrate Kwanzaa here in the Blah Blah household. Viva does own My First Kwanzaa, so she knows what it's about, and as I have said, her teacher talked with the class about all the holidays at this time of year. I feel the need to explain why we don't celebrate Kwanzaa, but you know what? That's completely ridiculous.

Some Assembly Required!

Viva got this for Christmas:

I put it together backwards (with the door on the wrong side) and had it 89% assembled before I realized I had to take it apart and start over. Frickin' frickety frack!

Viva also got this lovely train set,

necessitating a last-minute Christmas Eve run to the supermarket for batteries. Sad to say, the train died the day after Christmas after it apparently fell off the track, got carpet wound around its innards, and began emitting smoke, which was not one of its stated features. Sweet Wills had to go out and purchase a replacement (of the train only, not the entire track)the next day -- also known as Boxing Day, Chanukah, the first day of Kwanzaa (Umoja), and the day I left my husband and child and drove 95 miles to get my grandmother out of the hospital and help her and my mom pack up the house they are moving out of in two days.

All I can say about my trip to my mom and grandma's house is this: after finishing packing up my grandma's room and then starting on my mom's, I was quite exhausted. Imagine my shock and awe when I found, among the detritus in my mom's room, a Ladies' Home Journal from January 1992.

Do you see what I was up against?

Do you have a junk drawer in your home? The one where, when you open it up, you say, "Oh, Jesus, I don't know what to do with this stuff," so you close it and walk away? It probably contains stuff like random paper clips, rubber bands, a few coins, a couple stray keys, maybe some takeout menus, wrinkled bits of paper with cryptic notes on them, books of matches, pens that don't write, screws and brackets and crap like that, right? My mom's entire bedroom is like that. It's kind of terrifying.

The really scary part is that when I found the Ladies' Home Journal* from 1992, I just kind of chuckled in weary amazement and then moved on to put all 917 of my mom's decorative pillows into one box.

* Originator of "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" Whew, yeah.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

This, That, and the Other

First and foremost: hey, Chanukah starts the day after Christmas (thanks, Splooey). So I haven't actually missed out on wishing any of my Jewish friends and/or readers a happy holiday. For some reason, my brain had fixated on Dec. 6 as the start of Chanukah this year. There is clearly something wrong with me.
Happy Chanukah!

Random Fits

Bumper sticker seen 12/17/05:

I'm not passing judgment.
I just think you're stupid.

More of Christmas. More, more!

Letter to Santa, dictated by Viva:

Dear Santa,


Bring a ladder and a pink pole for the lights.

Bring ornaments so we can put them on the tree.

Bring the mail into our house, because we like Christmas cards.

Be up.

Bring pictures of Mickey Mouse.

Merry Christmas!

Love, Viva

And last but not least, I need to share with you this photo from Losanjealous, which pretty much speaks for itself:

The Grove* Parking Structure, 12/20/05

Note that I was at the Grove this morning at about 9:30; L2 and L3 were already full, as was L7, allegedly. I am skeptical as to the fullness of L7 due to the non-hi-techness of the display mechanism peculiar only to that parking level -- i.e., a piece of paper and some tape. But maybe I'm just being a bitch. At any rate, thanks, Victor at Losanjealous, ya made me laugh.

*The Grove is a mall here in L.A. -- but not just any mall. It's a mall whose tagline is, "Unique. Like you." No, seriously.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Glow Will Last the Whole Way Home

It’s a dark, dark day in Boston. Beloved Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon has signed a deal with, of all possible teams, the New York Yankees. What a slap in the face. As a native of Boston who no longer follows baseball here in Los Angeles (nothing personal, Dodgers), my sympathies are with my hometown. I feel your pain, Boston. Have a Sammy, on me.

Now, while I am still loyal to the Red Sox (although I don’t follow them religiously), I did convert to Laker fandom after my move here. To top it off, I married into a Laker family – not in the sense that anyone in the family either plays or works for the Lakers in even the remotest capacity, but in the sense that they are fans in the true sense of the word; that is to say, almost fanatical in their devotion. While I still harbor some fondness for Shaq despite his move to Miami -- and for Robert Horry, the best clutch player in the league, despite his move to San Antonio -- my mother-in-law (formerly a huge fan) loves to hate him. And she will argue with me about why I should hate him. But let’s not get into that.

My point, and I do have one, is: hey, Kobe! Career-high 62 points last night! You are the bizzomb!


Here’s a twist on the War on Christmas: some Christian churches refuse to observe it. Suddenly, I feel all paganly and shit.

Peace out.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Bubble Gum Car

Warning: this post is all about Viva and Christmas. And Kwanzaa. If you wanted incisive political commentary or something -- what? You need to check yourself! Have you never been here before?


Viva has watched A Charlie Brown Christmas approximately 29 times so far this holiday season. This morning, on the way to school, she said to me, "Did you ever see a bubble gum car?"

"A bubble gum CAR?" I said. "No, baby, I think you mean a bubble gum CARD."

"No, I mean a bubble gum car. Like Lucy."

"Yeah, I know what you're talking about, but in A Charlie Brown Christmas, she's saying bubble gum card. Because back when that show was made, when you would buy bubble gum, sometimes you would get a card enclosed with the bubble gum, and it would have a famous person on it, or sometimes a cartoon that said something funny. So when Lucy says Beethoven wasn't so great because he never had his picture on a bubble gum card, that's what she's saying. Do you get what I mean?"

"I like a bubble gum CAR."

"Yeah, I know. That is much cooler."

Swimming in December

Early this morning, when it was still dark outside, I heard Viva cry out on the baby monitor. I rolled over and realized Sweet William was not in the bed with me. A few seconds later, I heard him over the monitor, talking to her, and I heard the distinctive rip of the diaper coming off. He was talking to her soothingly, “Just let me get this dry diapey on and you can go right back to sleep.” I myself was soothed, and I rolled over and went back to sleep.

A few hours later, when I went in to Viva’s room to say good morning, I pulled back the covers to zrrbtt! her on her stomach (also known as “giving a raspberry”), and something looked odd. I pulled back the covers further to discover that my baby was wearing a Finding Nemo swim diaper.

This is what happens when you fumble in the closet in the dark.

I Want, I Need, Gimme Gimme Gimme

The Christmas spirit has taken over my little elf. Sort of.

Viva: You have boots. I need boots. You gonna get me some boots?

Mama B: Maybe. What color do you want?

Viva: Green and yellow.

But she’s also enjoying the other holidays, to wit:

Viva [surveying her books before bedtime]: I don’t want any of these.

Mama B: How about one of your Christmas books? Or what about the dinosaur books I got out of the library?

Viva: I need a Kwanzaa* book. How come we don’t have a Kwanzaa book?

Damn multicultural, ethnically sensitive preschool. Now that’s one more damn thing I have to worry about.

*Oh, remember I promised to let you in on the Kwanzaa controversy? Well, here ya go I can’t seem to find the damn link. Damn me! Maybe sometime I’ll expound here on my own Kwanzaa feelings, but not today.

The Hokey Pokey: Is that what it’s all about?

Recap of last week’s holiday show at Viva’s school: I ran around like a crazy person to find all the pieces of her outfit (which I found, variously, at Mervyn’s, Old Navy, and Pumpkin Patch*), did her hair in a most adorable style (forgetting that she would be wearing a Santa hat), and bought tickets for us and the grandparents. Viva was on stage for all of five minutes, and for the first half of that period, she only remembered the part about “you turn yourself around.” She kicked it up a notch after a while, swinging her hips when she wasn’t supposed to, holding her hands to her head and then windmilling her arms about. According to her teacher, Viva performed perfectly during rehearsal, so I think she was just overwhelmed by (a) the lights, and (b) so many people watching her in a theatre that has the capacity to seat 1,270 people. So much for her father’s concerns that she is such a little ham that this experience would switch the light on in her head, causing her to gasp rapturously and exclaim, “I want to be a star!”

* My new favorite store for Viva clothes. They fit for height and then they have these ingenious adjustable waists on everything. Since Viva is tall for her age, but very small-boned, I always have to buy for her height and then take the waists in. Since I suck as a seamstress, this is most annoying. The downside to Pumpkin Patch is, of course, the pricing. Comparable to Gymboree, so you have to catch things on sale.

If I don't post again for a while because I am caught up in the rapture of the holdays: Have a rockin' Christmas, kick-ass Kwanzaa, and a hellerific New Year! And a Belated Happy Hanukkah for those I missed a couple of weeks ago due to my sickness.

Peace and love, people. Peace and love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Reason for the Season

I swear I don't go looking for this stuff. But it's interesting that after I posted about Christmas yesterday, I stumbled across this guy, who calls himself Blackface Jesus:

Oh. No. No, he di'int.

Now, the man claims he is trying to spread the love of Jesus, and that he is "representing" Jesus, who was a black man. But he gets dressed up like this to go clubbin'...I guess the connection between Jesus, the American flag and the need to shake one's booty to pulsing electronica is a little clearer to him than it is to me, because that seems like quite a stretch from where I'm sittin'.


Man, there are a lot of jackasses in the world. Mixed Media Watch has coverage of the controversy.

What Would Jesus Do?

Continuing our coverage of Christmas, let's stop for a minute to contemplate the alleged "War on Christmas" movement. Bill O'Reilly, who must get his info through the fillings in his teeth, is insistent that there is a secular movement to get Christ out of Christmas, and he is urging people to boycott stores that use "Happy Holidays" in their marketing instead of "Merry Christmas." He includes The Daily Show, which pretty much makes fun of everything and everyone, as an example of this movement. Oooh, golly. Well, here's Jon Stewart's response.

Whew. Having spent a good part of the day at Toys'R'Us (the grammatical issues inherent there make me cringe as I type it, but it's trademarked) and at the mall, I am drained. Seems like Christmas is alive and well to me.

Tune in next time, when we examine the controversy about Kwanzaa. (No, really. There's a controversy about that, too.) Peace and love, people...

Edited to fix typos. Whatever!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jingle jingle!

Viva is back to school and things are getting somewhat back to normal around here. Oh, except, by the way, it's the crazy Christmas season, in case you have been living under a rock. I tried to do what I could while imprisoned, er, I mean, cooped up with my two-year-old for a week. I shopped online, but balked at paying $30 in tax and shipping to Toys'R'Us, so have to make the brave trip out there sometime this week. I drew up my Christmas card list, deleted a few, added a few. Made notes on people who have moved and not given me their addresses. I am sure this is just an oversight. It doesn't have any deeper meaning, like they no longer want to have anything to do with me. Right? Right?

Anyhoo, this weekend, the Blah Blahs took our family holiday photos, put up our lights, decorated our front door, and ventured out to get our Christmas tree. All this, despite the lingering sickness. We are the bomb!

Random Bits of Viva

"You're a monkey. Kiss me, monkey!"

Bah, Humbug

You know, I do love Christmas sometimes. I just wish it didn't blow so out of control so easily.

I love the spirit of Christmas. I have been trying to explain to Viva that Christmas is a big old party for Jesus*, and why we celebrate Him, and all that. Well, as much as I, not a heavily religious person, can explain such a thing to a two-year-old. What I find interesting about Christmas is the huge emphasis on Santa. I am not big into Santa -- we don't push Santa at all -- and this is the first year that Viva is old enough to absorb all the Santa marketing. This weekend, she actually asked me if Santa was going to bring her presents.

Sweet Wills and I hadn't talked this out ahead of time.

"You think Santa brings you presents?" I said.

"Maybe he will, in your stocking," Will said at the same time.

We exchanged looks, Viva started jumping around the room singing "Jingle Bells," and that was the end of that.

* I am not a Jesus freak. I am not a big believer in organized religion. I do, however, celebrate Christmas because I think Jesus preached common sense. Treat people the way you'd want to be treated. Love each other. Be compassionate and understanding. Not a bad thing to celebrate.

Christmas can be a fun time of year. It's just that when we get caught up in the craziness of the holiday season, it can make me go a little bananas.

This morning, when I dropped Viva off at school, she had been out sick for a week, and her teacher, Miss Svetlana, had been out of the country for the two weeks prior to that. Communications about crucial bits of information had broken down (although I hasten to add that Miss Svetlana called us at home on Thursday to check up on us, which I must say was so sweet and thoughtful). To wit: the school holiday show, to which we must purchase tickets (at 13 bucks a pop!) if we want to see our kid sing "The Hokey Pokey" for five minutes, is this coming Thursday. Miss Svetlana would like the girls to wear white turtlenecks, red skirts, white tights and white shoes (white?!). Viva lacks three out of four of said items. Crap.

Also: the holiday potluck is the next day, this coming Friday. I need to bring yet another food item for that (dessert this time). And finally, at the potluck, the kids will have a gift exchange. Evidently, I need to bring a small gift for each of the ten kids who will be there, preferably the same gift for each kid, so nobody complains about so-and-so getting a better gift and all the kids end up with the same thing. Holy Kris Kringle! I'm a little cheesed off, since I am already behind on a lot of Christmas stuff as it is. And since Sweet Wills was thoughtless enough to have been born on December 23rd, I am also behind the gun on his birthday planning as well.

I also need to get teacher gifts this week (one for her regular teacher and one for her ballet teacher). Damn, having a kid is expensive.

Here is what I must do: breathe deeply, eat a gingerbread man, and adjust. I got all this shit under control. Right? Right?

Random Bits of Viva, Encore

Viva: Can you answer for me the balloon question? In a song?

Mama Blah: What, baby? The BALLOON question? I don't know any songs about balloons. Can you sing it for me?

Viva: I don't know that song. You need to sing about the balloon question.

Mama Blah [realizing what Dean Martin is crooning in the background]: Do you mean "Blue Christmas"? The song that's on right now?

Viva: Yes. Balloon Christmas?

Ah, yes. For those who don't know the words:

I’ll have a balloon Christmas without you
I’ll be so balloon just thinking about you
Decorations of red on a green christmas tree
Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

And when those balloon snowflakes start falling
That’s when those balloon memories start calling
You’ll be doin’ all right, with your Christmas of white
But I’ll have a balloon, balloon christmas
I love the holidays.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Hello? Is it me you're looking for?

Apologies for the Lionel Ritchie reference...

Okay, so we are on Day Five of no school for Viva (Day Seven if you count last weekend), and she is really out of control. I brought her socks and shoes and jacket out so we could run to the bank and the store and she threw a fit. "I don't want to leave the house!" she screamed.

Oh. But if we don't leave the house, I am going to have to kill you, so which will it be?

Honestly, she has gotten to the point that she was having a tantrum every twenty minutes if she wasn't either (a) watching TV, (b) playing computer games on pbskids.org, or (c) drawing with her brand-new Crayola Twistables (which, I am sad to report, do not appear to be fully washable when someone accidentally colors out of the lines and on to the carpet. A pox on Crayola, I say!)

We are clearly on each other's last damn nerve. About 45 minutes ago, I took her to her room, sat her down with a sippy cup dosed with Children's Tylenol Cold & Flu, and told her if she wasn't going to take a nap, she'd have to at least conform to Blah Blah house rules and stay in her room for an hour or so of quiet time. She beamed. I'm serious.

She must have been thrilled to get away from me. What can I say?

And now I am watching a spider way way up at the crease of the seam where the wall and ceiling join, and it has been running in my direction for a few minutes now, and it got directly above me and apparently saw me looking at it, and it stopped.

All you Charlotte's Web fans out there can stop reading now.

I am sitting here with a Time magazine with Dr. Andrew Weil on the cover, rolled and ready for action. I think you know what I'm saying.

And as we draw close to the one-hour mark, Viva has started wailing from her room like she has just witnessed all her Teletubbies meeting with a very grim end. Just to be clear, she does have all four talking Teletubby dolls -- a gift from her grandmother. During this week of enforced captivity, I have given all four of them makeovers with those sticky foam cutouts you get at craft stores. Tinky-Winky and Dipsy look scary bad-ass with their new crazy foam eyebrows, is all.

I used to be (or so they say) an interesting person, capable of holding up my end of an intelligent conversation. Now I am sticking colored pieces of foam onto my kid's dolls and watching a spider make a circuit of my bedroom (it is now directly behind me, still up near the ceiling) to entertain myself.

So sad. But you know, since I am on antibiotics, I can't drink liquor.* So I gotta take my kicks where I can find them.

* For those who don't know me very well: I am not a serious drinker. Family history of alcoholism scared me away from that. But what I would not give for a nice cold Modelo right now. Oh, yes.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Kickin' Ass and Takin' Names

Greetings, chitlins.

Update on sick bay: Viva has compounded my agony by becoming sick herself. We battled her fever for two days. I think we are on the other side of it.

In the meantime, I conscientiously searched online through my insurance company for an ear/nose/throat doctor (tip for those who might need to do same: look under "otolaryngology"), called the doctor's office, convinced them to see me during lunch hour yesterday because I was so miserably sick, went to the office, and, after the receptionist called my insurance company to confirm my eligibility and spent 20 minutes on the phone with them, was told that I would have to pay out of pocket for something I had spent 30 minutes online to ensure was in-network. WHAT THE FUCK?

"How much will that be?" I said to the receptionist.

"Well, the office visit will be one hundred and twenty dollars, and then depending on what he has to do to determine what's wrong, well, that would be more than that."

"This is nuts," I said. "I have already been to one doctor twice for this and paid three hundred dollars already and I am still not well, rant rant rant yah yah yah I have had enough of all of you people and the health care system in this country sucks, rant rant what is the point of having insurance when I have to pay out all the time rave babble foam at the mouth --"

At which point the receptionist began trying to explain something about how I had already met my in-network deductible but not my out-of-network deductible and I think she threw in something in there about the theory of relativity and some obscure point of law regarding torts and trespass to chattels. I have no fucking idea, because the point was, I did everything I was supposed to do to make sure I was going to someone in the damn network and they are still trying to collect some cheese from my broke (and sick) ass.

I was so incensed and frustrated that I actually left the office without seeing the doctor, got back in my car and went home, sobbing the whole way. I pulled it together right before I walked in the door, and Sweet William, who sweetly took the day off so he could take care of "his girls," sweetly asked me, "So how did it go? Did you get some medicine?"

And right there I lost my shit all over again. "I didn't even get to see the doctor," I bawled, and ran into the bedroom for a tissue.

"What happened? Did you crash the car?" Sweet Wills asked, completely bewildered.

"NO, I did NOT CRASH THE CAR," I said nastily, snot flying madly about. "I was there for forty minutes and they said I would have to pay a hundred and twenty dollars just to see the doctor, because they claim he is OUT OF NETWORK, and it was just so ridiculous, I'm not paying for that, what the hell do we pay insurance for, and then I had to pay for parking on top of it, and I am so sick and I am so tired and I am so mad at the stupid insurance company--"

"It's okay, Mom," Viva said, eyes wide and hair sticking straight up on top of her head like the Heat Meiser. "It's okay."

"Jesus, honey, why didn't you just pay the money? I mean, you're sick, you need medicine."

Repeat after me: it was the principle of the thing.

After I got calmed down and helped Viva get down for her nap, I called the insurance company, who had no excuse for wasting my time and guided me through their online "doctor find" system in exactly the same way I had already done. I located another ENT at Cedars-Sinai, which is where I prefer to do my medical care, called, and was told to come in immediately.

I paid a $25 co-pay. The doctor asked me all kinds of questions, examined the disgusting phlegm coming out of my previously fairly reliable body, exclaimed over what bad shape I was in, and informed me that I have not just bronchitis, not just a sinus infection, but both. Because apparently I am not half-assed when it comes to illness. In this, I have to over-achieve.

So he gave me a shot to reduce my mucous membrane swelling, wrote me prescriptions for antibiotics and Zyrtec, and told me to drink plenty of Gatorade and irrigate my nose twice per day. Netipot, here I come!

I still feel like shit, but I'm optimistic.

This morning, Sweet Wills has gone back to the widget factory, and Viva and I have been home alone. Since she watched an ungodly amount of TV yesterday -- mainly because Will was trying to keep her still to keep her fever from spiking -- today I decided we would try to do without. And so far, for the most part, it has worked, although she specifically requested A Charlie Brown Christmas and Harold and the Purple Crayon and I was loath to say no, so I gave in. We watched Charlie Brown with breakfast and Harold while I did her hair. And we washed dishes together and made the beds, and then we went to Target quickly to get construction paper and Pull-Ups, and then we came back and put on Christmas music and made Christmas cookies (Okay, we cheated. Hey, I'm still sick, what do you want from me?)and then we began making a Christmas paper chain to decorate our door with, and then she lost interest and wanted to play on the computer, and then Sweet Wills came home on his lunch hour to check on us and we all had lunch together, and now it's nap time and I'm suddenly crushingly tired.

[Flailing around wildly for a way to draw this post neatly to a close.] Ah, screw it. I'm out.

Friday, December 02, 2005

May Cause Drowsiness

I am SICK. Can you stand it?? I have been sick, off and on, since at least early September. I know this because my insurance company is insisting I went out-of-network for two separate office visits (one in Sept, one in Oct) for this same illness to my previous doctor, and thus is applying those visits to my annual deductible, which means the Blah Blahs are being billed $300 for two ten-minute visits, one of which did not even result in antibiotics.

So I am once again sick, after a week or so of "Oh, my post-nasal drip has slowed to a trickle," and it is pretty bad. My throat is on fire, the post-nasal drip is like glue, my sinuses are congested, and the doctors I have called who are "in-network" are booked solid and can't see me for three weeks. What the frick is that? This is why I went to see my old doctor last time, because she works at a health center where they schedule in blocks of time for urgent care. What am I supposed to do, go to the ER for this? It's beyond ridic.

FYI, we have a PPO, which I thought was supposed to be less hassle than an HMO. I hate health insurance and I loathe the health care system in this country.

In other world matters, Viva's teacher, Miss Svetlana, had to return to Russia because her mother passed away. She has been gone almost two weeks. In the meantime, her classroom is being overseen by teacher's aides, who are very sweet but apparently lack Miss Svetlana's authoritas, because it is total chaos. Viva now clings to me every morning when I drop her off and doesn't want me to leave. On Monday and Tuesday she did not nap at school, so I made the executive decision to go pick her up after lunch every day until Miss Svetlana is back, since I know she will nap at home --in theory. Yesterday afternoon, I actually had to do a drive-around, i.e., pack Viva into the car with a sippy cup of milk and drive around with classical music playing for ten minutes to lull her to sleep.

This has cut into both my blogging time and my energy. Have I mentioned that I'm sick?

So you may not hear more from me until next week. Big bad apologies! Leave me a comment and let me know what you're up to. Smoochos!