Friday, December 29, 2006

Merry and Bright, Abridged

After not writing for several days now, I just tuned in and wrote a few paragraphs that were not worthy of you. When one hasn't written in a while, one begins to fret about where one should begin, and then one starts typing about oneself as in the third person, and thus begins a downward spiral which must end, oh, I'd say now.

Because I have so much to share with you and yet I am stealing time during Viva's nap, I must abbreviate this post.

Top Three Wonderfullest things about this holiday season:

1. My sister-in-law, Diva, offered to take Viva on Friday night Dec. 22 and return her to us on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, so we could enjoy Sweet Dub's birthday on Dec. 23rd kid-less. It should be obvious to all that we adore our child. But having a break from her for two nights was as good as having a three-week family vacation. We were recharged and ready to rumble.

2. On Sweet Dub's birthday, I had planned to surprise him with a massage at a local spa. When he found out that I had scheduled a massage only for him, but not for myself, he insisted that I take the appointment instead because I'd had a rough week at work. On this he would not be budged. "It's my birthday, you have to do what I want, and this is what I want," he said. The massage was heavenly, the staff was friendly and helpful, and I got to walk home from the spa through my neighborhood on a beautiful crisp clear day, leaves crunching underfoot, free of care and tension. Sweet!

3. I know, Christmas is not only about the presents (contrary to what Viva might have us believe). But Sweet Dub gave me the coolest little digital camera. I think it just might change my life. Now I can show you stuff like:















Viva playing with some of the 5,000 containers of Play-Doh she received this Christmas; or














Viva checking out her new basketball hoop

without having to say, "Hey, honey, can you upload the still pictures off your videocamera and e-mail them to me when you get to work?"

In fact, I could even upload the photos I took from this morning's hike in Bronson Canyon...if only Sweet Dub hadn't taken off with it (and my cell phone!) to deliver a TV to his cousin out by the airport. I may even take pictures of our cat.

Oh, right. Have I mentioned that the cat who left the rat head on our welcome mat has adopted us? He or she (I can't get close enough to it to identify which it is, not that it matters) began crying outside over the past few days. Having shared my home with cats from the age of 7 until 30-ish, I surmised that he or she was hungry. I pretty much caved quickly after that, bought some organic cat food at Trader Joe's, and began referring to the cat as Jean-Jean. Jean-Jean eats like there are mad Viking ocelots chasing him/her. S/he doesn't leave a morsel in the bowl, and as soon as s/he licks it clean, s/he vanishes. I don't mean you actually see the cat run away. No, I mean the cat literally evaporates, propelling itself to another dimension.

Every bit of this is true.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Hello, I Must be Going

Why, hello! How is your day going?

My day did not start out well. I am in some kind of a rut these days. L.A. is going through a cold snap (I know, cry me a river) and the temperatures plummet overnight. It has been in the 30s here and that is very unusual. All this to say, it’s pretty damn cold in the morning, and as a result I have been having trouble getting out of bed. So has Viva. Hence and therefore, mornings have become even more of a whirlwind, and thank God many people have taken this week off, because the traffic at least has been lighter. Which doesn't explain why I had to blow my horn at a stick-figure rolling through a stop sign in her silver Range Rover this morning when I was already in the intersection, and could see her charging right for my front fender. Perhaps she missed the memo about how she should stay off the road when I am trying to get my child to school (only Monday through Friday, between 7:45 and 8:30 AM).

Well and so, I am scrambling to finish two major projects before my last day of work for the year, which is this coming Friday. One of them is due December 31st and the other is due January 1st. Six of one, half dozen of the other, I can hear you saying. So true, so true. It is amazing how we so often think the same way, or at least I think we do.

At any rate, this morning I realized that I have just been figuratively holding on until Friday, and I also realized that this means that I have in some way been wishing a part of my life away.

Well, who does that? Be in the moment and all that. Life goes by quickly enough as it is.

I have been freaking out about everything that has not gotten done. I haven’t finished Christmas shopping, for one thing, and Sweet Dub’s birthday is coming up on Saturday and I’m trying to make plans for that. I have friends I’m supposed to see (hello, friends!) and oh, there’s no food in the house, and at least three other birthdays to buy presents for and Viva’s holiday show is tonight and then she only has a half-day of school Friday and it looks like I will be at work all damn day tomorrow because everyone is in vacation mode already and I’m not getting the four pieces of data I need for one project that I’m working on – data that I requested over a week ago and which I have repeatedly requested over the subsequent days, data I said I needed at the very latest YESTERDAY MORNING and you see how that would just make you want to smack somebody.

But you can’t, you see. Because that would be wrong. And not very Christ-like. And it’s the holidays, the holy days, when we are supposed to be all Christian charity-like and thing.

Find a happy place. You know what makes me smile? Viva’s imaginary friend Soren Lorenson has somehow morphed into an imaginary little brother. She is very concerned for him and makes sure I pick him up and put him in the bath with her and tuck him in with her at night and give him a kiss and take his blood pressure and temperature when we are playing doctor. It is very sweet and gives one the warm fuzzies. I am quite certain that if Viva had a real little brother, it would be just like that all the time. They wouldn’t fight and there would be none of that “He started it!” and they wouldn’t both be trying to get my attention while I was simultaneously driving the car and filleting a fish. It gives me hope.

Happy holidays.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Deep Breath and Count to Ten

Unexpected blog break – work is too crazy and non-work is even crazier. I just stopped posting for a while there and I can’t promise I’ll be posting more this week.

Right now I am having difficulty concentrating because my next-door Pentecostal cube-mate is loudly discussing yesterday’s service with a co-worker. This discussion involves actual singing, a replay of key points in the sermon and even, yes, a brief spate of praise dancing in the cubicle. Jesus H. Christ. And I mean that.

Speaking of which, last night, I was lying in bed with Viva, reading her stories. We were all cozy snuggly under the covers with our heads noodged together. We had just finished Blueberries for Sal and she asked me to re-read Merry Christmas, Maisy. Since it was already an hour after her bedtime, I said no. She then said she wanted to read it to me. I again said no, that it was late and she needed to go to sleep because she had school tomorrow. She balled up her little fist, hauled off and punched me.

And that was when all the air got sucked out of the room and it grew deadly quiet. Viva squirmed over on her side and stared up at me with big unblinking kitty cat eyes.

“I am very disappointed in you,” I said, climbing down out of the bed. (She sleeps in a loft bed.) “Hitting me? Especially so close to Christmas? That is not nice. It is very, very naughty. I don’t know if you should get any presents after that.”

Viva dissolved into a puddle of tears, hanging one arm out of the bed. “I looooooooove you,” she sobbed, reaching out pleadingly.

I hugged her to me. “I love you too,” I said. “But we don’t hit each other, right?”

“Yuh,” she said, sniffling and wrapping herself around me. “Will I still get toys [for Christmas]?”

“Yes, baby, you’ll still get toys.”

She sat up and pulled out of the hug slightly. Face still streaked with tears, looking up into my eyes, she said, “Even a Doodlebear?”

It is amazing to me that if Sweet Dub is stern with her, Viva can keep it together. She may get a little upset, but she won’t break down. If I am angry with her, forget it. She falls to pieces, and the worse thing I can do is walk away from her. She can’t stand it if she thinks I am mad.

It is also amazing to me how patient I can be with her. I am generally low on patience. I know this. I am prone to anxiety and irritability. I know this, too. And knowing this, I try extra hard with her. She is so small still.

Have you ever heard that old fisherman’s prayer, “Dear Lord, be good to me/the sea is so wide/and my boat is so small”? I really get that. I try to remember that when I have moments that try my patience. It is such a big world, and there is so much for Viva yet to learn.

And now, I must get back to my fishing. The seas are choppy, today, my friends.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Life in the Wild - Part 2 in a Series

This morning, I was deep in my slumber, but sort of coming back up to the surface and not quite waking up -- does this ever happen to you? You don't realize until you wake up that you were kind of bobbing up and down on the surface of wakefulness? -- and then Sweet Dub definitively broke my slumber by yanking open a dresser drawer and rummaging through it. I stretched and rolled over, which Sweet Dub took as the perfect opportunity to start yakking my head off. As it turns out, he was trying to wake me up. It was all part of his evil plan.

"Honey!" he said. "You're up. Oh my God."

"Hi," I said, or something like that.

"I got up this morning and I went out onto the front porch to get some wood to build a fire and I wasn't wearing any shoes and I stepped on a RAT HEAD. On our welcome mat! Oh my God!"

"Oh my God," I said, or something like that.

"I've been in the living room freaking out about it for twenty minutes and I can no longer be alone," he said.

I got up, put on my glasses, and realized it was 4:31 AM. On a Sunday.

We have this cat, you see. It doesn't belong to us, but our yard is definitely part of its turf. The cat is evil, in the way of Jean Jean and his evil cat. The cat has fought off another cat in our driveway at 3 AM, drinks out of our koi pond, sleeps in our backyard -- oh, and when I came by the house after we had gotten the keys but before we moved in? I found a half-eaten mouse on a bench in the backyard. Courtesy of the evil cat. The evil cat is deceptively beautiful. It is black, with a long full coat, a glorious fluffy tail and green eyes. It is not tame and does not want to be bothered with you. It just wants to hunt in our yard.

As it turns out, our property is the promised land for this cat. Because we live where? All together now: In The Wild.

I submit to you the following.

A few weeks after moving in, we began to hear disturbing scratching and scrabbling sounds above our heads at night. The sounds would wake us up. More than once I'd grab a broom and start pounding on the ceiling. But wait -- we no longer live in an apartment in the heart of the urban jungle. The sounds were not, as in our old place, tweaked-out meth addicts on the roof. This appeared to be some sort of animal.

We have yet to figure out what the animal is, but Sweet William went out and spent a fortune on sonic blasters, which he plugged in around the house and even up in the crawl space (I have no idea how he managed that). Guess what? No more noise.

A couple of weeks ago, I opened the back door to go throw out the recyclables. I stepped two feet out the door and heard the most bizarre noise imaginable. It was like a combination of squeaking and hooting coming from a bush a few yards away. I stopped and looked. The bush moved, but nothing came out. I stepped back inside.

"There's something out there," I said to Sweet Dub.

"Of course there's something out there," he said. "It's probably a squirrel."

I opened the door again. Another squeaking hooting warning call. I closed the door.

"No, it's a sound I've never heard before," I said.

After more discussion, Sweet Dub admitted that he had heard the sound recently as well, but didn't want to tell me for fear of freaking me out. "It doesn't sound like any animal I've ever heard," he said. "It sounds kind of like a primate. It's definitely a warning or alarm call."

"That is just our luck," I said. "Something has escaped from the zoo and it's in our yard."

Have I mentioned that we live a stone's throw away from Griffith Park, the one of largest urban parks in the U.S.*, and that it houses, among other things, the L.A. Zoo?

Have I mentioned that while hiking one day in Griffith Park a few years ago, we ran across what at first seemed to be a large squirrel, which we then realized was some sort of exotic animal? On the spot, I dubbed it a bandicoot, just because, well, who doesn't like the sound of that? I have since revised my opinion and now believe it was some sort of lemur.** It had a stripey tail, kind of like this. Even so, we still refer to it as the bandicoot, and when a mystery animal took up residence in our backyard and began squeak-hooting at us, that automatically became its nom de rigeur.

This morning, after peeking out the door at the rodent head on the mat, I sat back down on the couch in front of the fire. "I bet that cat ate the bandicoot," I said.

Here is where it gets fun for my readers. You - yes, you! - can help to settle a debate. I am going to share with you now a photo of the head the cat left on our doorstep (along with some innards). If you are squeamish, stop now and click away if you don't want to see it. Click onto something fun -- go buy some bodywash online or something.

Okay, for the rest of you: do you think this is a mouse or a rat? The head is approximately 2 inches long.


The other item in the lower part of the picture is one of its organs. I know, nice.
Okay, so mouse or rat? What do you think?

* According to the Griffith Park website, "With over 4,210 acres of both natural chapparal-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States." It's pretty fricking big, is all.

** Sweet Dub strongly disagrees.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Great Mental Anguish. Well, Not So Great.

I have been swamped with work as we get close to the end of the year. Everyone, it seems, has realized that it’s December and that they’d better unload their charitable contributions by the 31st in order to get the tax break. So I’m getting a lot of “Can you write up a two-to-three pager for the Findiculous Fantabulous Foundation? Their Board meets December 15th, and they need to give away ten hundred kajillion dollars,” and the like – and let’s just say it: that’s my job. But I already had a spiraling-out-of-control “to do” list, and I’d arranged to jury-rig together a smorgasbord of personal days, half-holidays, and vacation time in order to get December 22 through January 2nd off. So I am a bit concerned about how it all will get done, and since I am from New England, I have that pesky Puritan work ethic thing that magnifies my everyday craziness.

Hence, this conversation:

Mama Blah: …and then I got an e-mail from [name redacted], who talked to this guy at the Boop-Boop-She-Doop Foundation, and he says they’d welcome an application from us, so I e-mailed back and said did you get the impression that this could wait until January or is it something we need to do now, and [boss of us all] e-mailed me and said we should strike while the iron is hot, so now I have to do that too, and I already had Project X, Project Y and Project Z to work on, so I’m a little kind of like, just kill me now.

Sweet Dub [outraged on my behalf and simultaneously sick of listening to me high-speed whine]: Well, that’s ridiculous. Why are you doing Project Y? It seems like someone else could do Project Y.

Mama Blah: Yeah, but I want to do Project Y.

Sweet Dub: [stabs self with safety scissors so he doesn’t have to listen to me anymore]

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Birdbrain

The scene: I'm working at home at my dining room table. I have files spread out all over the place, my laptop is humming away, and I have the back door open to let the fresh air and sun in. Suddenly I am distracted by a noise from the kitchen. I walk into the kitchen just in time to see a bird flit from the top of our mint-green refrigerator and fly like hell back out the back door.

Current status: door closed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Punctuality is the Thief of Time

Let me just say that I am usually at work on time in the mornings. I may be a couple of minutes late here or there, but I’m usually here when I’m supposed to be. My boss lives about 45 miles east of L.A. and it takes her For.Ev.Er to get here each morning – sometimes as many as two hours.

This morning, Viva and I were delayed for a variety of reasons getting out the door, and then we hit really bad traffic. Cars were crawling on Melrose Avenue at a pace reserved for, say, your garden-variety Helix Aspersa. We arrived at Viva’s school at 8:30 – which is when I am usually arriving at work.

O woe! I unloaded all her stuff and spoke with her teacher briefly, then delivered her unto the playground and ran back to my car. Traffic was just as bad getting to work. I sheepishly slimed in at about 8:55.

Two seconds later my boss popped up at my desk, all bubbly and full of energy. She has a meeting this morning, so she made an effort to leave extra early to make sure she had time to prepare. She usually doesn’t get here until close to 10 every morning, and I am pretty much on the honor system to be here on time. I felt like a gigantic ass.

Happy Monday.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sweet November

I was about to start bitching about how I've apparently been designated to host Christmas at my house since Thanksgiving went off without a hitch, but no. No, my friends. For today is Love Thursday.*

Three things that made me love today:

1. After leaving for work at 5 AM, Sweet Dub called this morning at 7 AM to make sure I didn't oversleep. Sweet.

2. When I called in my order for Thai food at lunch, the server recognized my voice and we chatted for a bit before hanging up the phone. She reminds me a little bit of my best friend from junior high -- she has the same high, very girly voice and I find it really endearing. After I picked up my food, I reminisced a bit on the way back to work about my best friend and all the fun times we had together. I realized I could call her today and it would be like I had just talked to her yesterday, even though I haven't talked to her for God knows how long. It's nice to know there's someone out there in the world like that.

3. While discussing work stuff with my boss, I realized I am well past my probationary period and haven't had my performance review. I asked her if/when we would do one. She replied that we should have done one in September, but we'll do a 6-month review in December. Then she leaned forward conspiratorially and said, "I've already talked about it with [Big Boss]. You're getting a raise." Nice!

* Love Thursday was started by Karen Walrond, who blogs over at Chookooloonks. Here's what you do: upload a picture, image or story representing love -- any kind of love -- on your site, then leave a link in her comments section letting her know you've participated. As you know, I am squeamish about posting pics of myself, but here's an old one I love of the three of us:

Happy Love Thursday!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Deepness

It generally takes between 15 and 20 minutes to get from home to Viva’s preschool. This morning, it was a very long 20 minutes, starting at the second stop light.

Viva: Mommy, why are you not brown?

Mama Blah [totally blindsided]: Whuh? Why am I not – brown?

Viva: Yeah. Why are you not brown?

Mama Blah: Um, hm. Well, I’m not brown because I came out kind of pink.

Viva: Why? I want you to be brown. Me and Daddy are brown.

Mama Blah: Um, hm. Well, honey, you can't change your skin color. [Apologies to Michael Jackson. Sorry, Jacko.]

Viva: Why?

Mama Blah: It just doesn't work that way. Some people are brown, some people are tan, some people are pink. You just are the color you are.

Viva: But I wish you were brown. Our family is brown. How come, why are, how come you can't be brown?

Mama Blah: Well, it all dates back to slavery and the one-drop rule.

Viva: The one-drop rule? Wasn’t that hogwash debunked years ago?

Mama Blah: Well, I think all reasonable people agree that the one-drop rule, aside from being specious, is an evil tool devised by The Man to keep us down. However, due to the historical societal acceptance of the rule, the family I come from is classified as black, and hence, I was raised to identify as a black person, despite being, well, pink.

Viva: You know, it occurs to me that this country is all kinds of messed up when it comes to racial issues.

Mama Blah: Oh, honey, don't even let me commence.

That was just for starters. Later in the conversation, we discussed God, saying grace, Christmas, Jesus, and Santa Claus. All before 8:30 in the morning.

Damn, this has been a long day.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Hello? Is it still a holiday? Did no one tell me? I arrived at work at 8:30 this morning to find the front door still alarmed, which was alarming, although I can bypass the alarm by simply scanning my ID card. But I have no idea how to turn off the alarm. And I was, it appeared, the only person here in a suite which holds close to 100 people. It was all very quiet and eerie until our mob of interns appeared at 9:00 AM, full of vim and vigor and loud pronouncements such as, “And I totally meant it like it sounded, you know what I mean?” It’s an odd sort of Valley-speak for college kids who evidently are planning to be social workers or something that requires them to be somewhat articulate. I have to say, since I started working here, I’ve often wondered if social workers take a special class in communication because even the very young ones speak so well (so unlike myself). This is why when I hear that specific brand of Valspeak, I’m taken aback. It’s hard to tune out, which is why I’ve stopped working for a moment and turned to my blog.

I know. Lucky, lucky you!

It’s raining here in Southern California. It is, after all, winter now, but when it rains, I feel a sense of betrayal. Thanks, Albert Hammond.

I think the rain is why everyone’s coming in late. It’s a convenient excuse, at any rate.

Thanksgiving, How I Love Thee

I don’t know if I mentioned that I was in charge of Thanksgiving (well, in my family, anyway – not In Charge of Thanksgiving Across the U.S., because I am just not that organized) this year. I don’t know if this has come across in this blog, but both Sweet Dub and I are rather highly strung at times. What this translates into is two days of us losing our minds cleaning and shopping and cooking, and then collapsing on Friday into little unmotivated puddles of goo, which our child poked at with a stick, moaning plaintively, “I want someone to play with me!”

Nonetheless, my turkey-cooking virginity has been rather painlessly taken from me. The turkey turned out beautifully, the gravy and stuffing in particular were superb, and my God, after catching that minx Rachael Ray on TV a few days earlier, I went ahead with her suggestion for cheesy mashed potatoes. I spent the next few days spouting, “MANCHEGO CHEESE, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?” randomly about the house. The day itself was really mellow – my in-laws came, we ate, we drank, we lit the outdoor fireplace in our backyard and sprawled around and generally just enjoyed ourselves.

Thanksgiving went so well, in fact, that my mother-in-law called the next day to thank us for hosting, tell us what a wonderful time she had, and praise my cooking to the highest. So, yeah, good Turkey Day.

Onward to Festivus and Christmas. Oh Lord, so very tired.

P.S. Special to an unnamed military base in Texas: Thanks for refusing my Fed Ex package of homemade cookies and candy on my 18-year-old nephew’s first Thanksgiving away from home while he is in training to defend this wacked-out country of ours. Let me turn you on to something: they have scanners now? Where you can see what’s inside a package? You might want to look into it. That’s all I’m saying. My oatmeal-walnut-chocolate chip cookies are not a terrorist threat.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cleanup in Aisle Four

The scene: late Monday afternoon, in the check-out line at the Pavilions supermarket at the corner of Melrose and Vine in Hollywood. I am in line, waiting to purchase my allegedly free-range turkey and assorted other items. The cashier is finishing up a conversation with his customer, an elderly woman sporting (among other things) a shiny blue denim visor, funky green and orange sneakers, and very pink lipstick. “I’d just like to talk to the manager,” she says. The long-suffering cashier gets on the horn and pages the manager while he bags up the rest of the woman’s groceries.

The manager, a pleasant woman who has helped me many a time, comes over. The following exchange ensues:

Visor Woman: I just want to ask you about the announcements.

Manager [pleasantly confused]: The announcements?

Visor Woman: Yes, why do they have to be so loud?

Manager: Oh, you mean like over the loudspeaker?

Visor Woman: Yes, I mean they’re so loud. I used to shop at the Ralph’s at 3rd and LaBrea, but I stopped going there because the announcements were too loud. Now I come here, and you’ve started doing the same thing!

Manager: Well, ma’am, that’s just the policy of the company to better serve our customers.

Visor Woman: But do you have to say “Such-and-such is on sale this week in Aisle Four” or “No waiting on Checkstand Ten”? I mean, we have eyes, we can see that for ourselves.

Manager: Um, but it helps some people to have us tell them things like that. The company’s policy is that –

Visor Woman: But why does it have to be so loud? Do you see what I’m saying? It’s too loud.

Manager: I guess I could turn it down.

Visor Woman: Would you?

Manager: Yes, ma’am. [turns away, centers self, finds a happy place, goes back to work]

My turkey, meanwhile, bored into reanimation by this lengthy conversation, has lunged out of the cart and is scampering madly toward the Starbucks concession. I have to fling myself upon it and, aided by staff from the Panda Express concession, pound it into submission it with a Rent-a-Rug-Doctor vacuum cleaner. All of which causes me to lose my place in line.


All because of some fling-flangin' announcements. Holy Mother of God.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Name Game

Hello, my name is Lisa. That is my real name, although, as you may have guessed, Blah Blah is not actually my legal last name. My husband’s name is really William, but while I refer to my daughter on this blog as Viva, that is not actually her real name.

“Viva” is how Viva pronounced her real name when she was first learning to talk. I thought it was cute, so I started using it on the blog, and thus even when she gradually learned how to pronounce her real name, I just left it as it is, since she is not old enough to understand the concept of a blog and people knowing her real name, so I haven’t asked whether she feels comfortable with me putting it out there.

Viva’s real name is not a complicated one; in fact, it’s a variation on a pretty common name. It’s not spelled in a funky way, like, oh let’s see, Aaleeyeah, or oh, I don’t know, Chrysteena, or something like that. It’s a simple five-letter name.

Why do people not get it?

I just got an e-mail message from my stepsister on the east coast, in which she said, “[Not Viva’s Real Name] must be really big!” I’m assuming she meant Viva, but then again, who knows? She used the wrong name, one which is not now and has never been Viva’s name. It’s like saying, “How’s your husband Raul?” when his name is Rafael. Do you know what I mean? It irks me.

Okay, rant over. Work to be done, and all that. I'm sure I'll feel better once I've finished my coffee and bitten the heads off a couple of bats.*

* Special super-secret message to Cee in SF: Bat manure! Bat manure!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bring Home the Bacon

Viva has been very opinionated about food lately. She seems mainly to want spaghetti or pizza. Also, after a period of becoming more amenable to the concept of a sandwich at lunch (but only when wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla! Or stuffed in a whole wheat pita pocket!), Viva has become more fascist about her lunch as well. Since I can only take so much of “I don’t want that” at the dinner table after working a full day, coming home and starting dinner within 10 to 15 minutes of walking in the door, I am more than a little sick of her intransigence on this issue. I sit down and plan out a healthy, varied menu every weekend before I go grocery shopping. I am a good cook. I enjoy cooking. I know she is just going through a phase.

Anyway, so now you have the context. On the way to school today, Viva asked me what day it was. Since I am one of those sickos who believes each day is full of teaching moments, I had her review the days of the week to figure out that if yesterday was Wednesday, what today was. So then she figured out that tomorrow will be Friday.

“YAY!” she shrieked. “PIZZA NIGHT! Right, Mama?”

“Yes, babe,” I said. “On Fridays, we have pizza for dinner.”

“What are we having for dinner tonight?”

“Well,” I said, taking a new tactic, “What would you like?”

“Vegetables,” Viva said.

“Really. What kind?”

“Mmmm…broccoli, and carrots…”

“Okay, and what else?”

“Bacon!”

Bacon. I swear to God.

After some negotiation, we settled on a chicken stir-fry with broccoli, carrots, baby corn, and mushrooms.

Bacon. What the hell?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's Not Easy Being Green

Several people have stopped by my cube today to tell me my ficus tree looks awful and when am I going to get rid of it.

Did anyone bring it chicken noodle soup?
Did anyone offer to drive it to the hospital?
Has anyone asked me if I've considered grief counseling?

No. They walk by and they make their callous comments and they leave me here, with my grey tree, shrunken and feeble, dropping its leaves one by one.

The world is a cold and unfeeling place, my friends.

All the more so because Buddy Lewis has not been chosen as the next Wandering Golfer. I thumb my nose at Fine Living and all who are associated therein.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I'm Out

After several hours at Knott’s Berry Farm yesterday, I came home and collapsed on the couch with a good book (Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver). Since we ate a late lunch, we merely snacked in the evening and then went to bed. While I was pulling up the covers, I said, “Aaaaanngh, I forgot to blog today.”

“Are you going to get up and blog now?” Sweet Dub said in amazement.

“No,” I said. ”That’s it, I’m done.”

“You could always say you had trouble with your computer, with Bloglines or whatever it is, that thing you use,” he said. (This actually would not be a lie. Blogger has been giving me trouble whenever I try to post from home.)

“No,” I said. “I’m not cheating. I’m out.”

So sad. I hardly ever blog on the weekends, though, so I’m not in the habit. I knew that would be the toughest part of NaBloWriMo.

File This Under: What Were We Thinking?

So we decided to go to Knott’s Berry Farm on a Saturday. What were we thinking? Since Sweet Dub and I hate crowds to a degree that makes us practically psychotic, it was not the best choice. As we were walking the 70 miles from the parking lot to the park itself, we passed a man wearing a whole slew of medals across his chest. Once he was out of earshot, Sweet Dub said, “What the hell was that?”

“Huh? Who? That guy?” I said.

“Yeah, that guy. What was up with the medals?”

“Maybe he’s very proud,” I said.

“Who goes around wearing all their medals?” Sweet Dub said, and then in a dorky voice, “Excuse me sir, I see you served in the Prussian Cavalry.”

Oh, how we laughed. Clueless fiends that we are.

By the way, Happy Belated Veteran’s Day. We felt bad about the medals after we realized that, dur, um, it’s a national holiday? Devoted to those who have served their country? But still, Prussian Cavalry. You have to admit that’s pretty funny.

Also: had we known that up to six adults could get in free with one child admission and some sort of military ID, we could have saved 70 bucks. Sadly, we did not find this out until we were already there, having already paid for our tickets online. Despite having his military ID with him, Sweet Dub was unsuccessful at convincing the good people at Knott’s to refund part of the money we had already paid online. I’m filing this info away in the overcrowded storeroom of my brain for next year, as if (a) we would ever subject ourselves to a Saturday at Knott’s again and (2) I will actually remember such a thing in time before we go.

I had never been to Knott’s Berry Farm, and I will admit openly that the main draw for me was the legendary funnel cake. However, from pretty much the minute we arrived, we were standing in line to get on rides – oh, what didn’t we ride in Camp Snoopy? But Viva was not interested in stopping for food, except for a box of popcorn with Snoopy on the side. Thus, by the time she started breaking down from sheer exhaustion in mid-afternoon, it was a fool’s errand to try and stop for funnel cake.

It goes without saying that I will never let her live this down.

Ailing

I took Viva to her doctor’s office Monday to deal with her persistent cough (which persists! Even now! On the 7th day of antibiotics!). While there, the doctor sold me a bill of goods, i.e., convinced me to get the flu shot for Viva and myself. Now this whole weekend I have felt sick and like I’m coming down with something. Fricking Western medicine.

On a more positive note: the sun is shining, the sky is blue, and the house is quiet. Viva and Sweet Dub are out at a birthday party. I am working on my proposal and it is actually coming together into something coherent that we may be able to fax tomorrow. I’m hoping this will coalesce into my having raised more than $100,000 for my non-profit before the end of the year. That would make me quite pleased.

I’m going to go make a cup of tea. Peace out.

Friday, November 10, 2006

One-Inch Margins, Double-Spaced

Oh, please. At 3:10 pm on a day when a significant proportion of staff have already left early due to the Veteran's Day holiday, I get a phone call from our president and CEO. A foundation that funded us last year is having a board meeting next week and she wants to know why we haven't submitted anything during this cycle. Could we put together a progress report on what we've been doing, along with a proposal for continued funding and fax it to them Monday or Tuesday?

Have I mentioned that we have already bought tickets for Knott's Berry Farm -- a highly anticipated trip on the part of my little sugar cube -- for Saturday? And that my sister-in-law is supposed to be visiting tonight? And that we are expected at a birthday party on Sunday?

Shit, man. And I hadn't blogged yet today. I was planning to fritter away my Friday afternoon on a nice long post. Ah, ha ha ha -- just kidding.

Who's laughing now? Not me.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Goodnight, Ed Bradley

'60 Minutes' reporter Ed Bradley dies

I’m sad. I didn’t even know he was sick.*

Ed Bradley was one of those quietly talented people that make what they do look effortless. I never had the sense when I was watching him that he was ever out of his element, that he ever struggled to find the right word, that he ever had some scripted idea of what he was supposed to do on camera. He won 19 Emmys for his reportage, which is a damn fine accomplishment.

Thanks, Ed. We’ll miss you.

* Further evidence of my narcissistic personality disorder. Like Ed Bradley was supposed to call me personally and tell me he had leukemia.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Not So Much

I’ve started and deleted two posts today, and let me tell you why: I have lost all capacity for being funny or even remotely entertaining. In fact, I think I am rather witless and slow. I am now going to sit in the corner and eat paste. Tell me about the rabbits, George.

Don’t worry, I’ll try again tomorrow.

P.S. Blogger is making me completely nuts today. I started trying to post more than 2 hours ago, and every time I would even try to get to the “create post” page, the computer would freeze. “NaBloWriMo! NaBloWriMo!” I mumbled, eyes glassy, breathing labored. And then (of course, and more than once): “Piece of shit!” Thankfully, I’m working from home today.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Maximum-Strength Relief

Last year at this time, I came down with both bronchitis and a sinus infection. I had this horrible post-nasal drip that would not be put off, no matter what I tried.

Mama Blah Blah: Uh, Post-Nasal Drip? It’s really not a good time right now, since it’s right before the holidays? So do you think you could, you know, go –

PND: Hell, no! I’ve moved in and I’ve already set up my satellite dish!

MBB: I see. But Post-Nasal Drip, I have so many other things to attend to right now. If you could just –

PND: Turn the heat up! And get me a beer!

MBB: Listen up, Post-Nasal Drip. I’m taking Mucinex.

PND: Fuck that noise. You can’t scare me! What do you think I am?

MBB: You are one sorry muthaf – okay, I’ve seen the doctor twice and you’re still here. I think I have to bring in the big guns. I’m going to the Ear Nose and Throat guy.

PND: The who-ha?

MBB: Take that, you sorry piece of shit!

PND: I'll get you! I'll...[trickles up and slides away]

MBB: [smiling contentedly] Ahhhhh.


ONE YEAR LATER…

MBB: Shit! What the hell are you doing here?

PND: Bitch! You thought it would be that easy to get rid of me?

MBB: I’m going to get some Sudafed.

PND: Like I’m scared. I see you’re at work today and forgot to bring that shit with you. You know you can’t just run out to the store and buy some more, right? They track that shit. If you go buy more, they’ll mark you as a meth addict and narc on you!

MBB: You’re making me gag. Jesus, this sucks.

Monday, November 06, 2006

That's Entertainment

Sweet Dub was watching In My Country this morning when I got up. I watched the last ten minutes of it with him, although I kept expecting Samuel L. Jackson to bust out with a line like, "I'm sick of all these muthafuckin' snakes on this muthafuckin' plane!" I don't know what the appropriate line would be as it's all about post-apartheid South Africa and reconciliation and those are some heavy issues. "I'm sick of all this muthafuckin' brutality in this muthafuckin' country!"? It doesn't have quite the same cachet.

At any rate, after the credits rolled, the station identification came up, and an announcer said, "You've just seen In My Country on Starz in Black. Coming up on Starz in Black, Terminator 2: Judgment Day."

We both looked at each other. I said, "Did he just say Terminator 2?"

"How is that a black movie?" Sweet Dub said. I watched the gears clicking in his head, and then he said, "Oh, you know what, there's a black guy at the end."

"What?!" I said.

"Yeah, no, there's a black guy at the end, remember? He's the one they have to go find because he's the one that started it all? It's a black dude."

Thus, because there is a black man in the last 15 minutes of the movie, it qualifies to be shown on Starz in Black.*

I'm sick of all this muthafuckin' ignorance in the muthafuckin' media!

* Please note: Starz in Black is touted as "the only movie channel dedicated to showcasing the work of Black actors, producers and directors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week." And more power to them, if indeed that's what it was. If I want to see work showcasing Black actors, producers, and what-have-you, I'm not looking for a movie I could see on any other cable channel. I'm looking for something I presumably can't find anywhere else. If you turned on the Independent Film Channel and they were showing Titanic, wouldn't you be perhaps both amused and annoyed? That's all I'm saying. Truth in advertising, please.**

** Yes, I live in a dream land. It's nice here. The sky is blue, the birds are always singing, and I have an endless supply of Haagen Dazs Vanilla Swiss Almond ice cream. Mmm, ice cream.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Helps Prevent Breakage and Split Ends

It’s 9:32 pm, Sunday night.

I was falling asleep as I was putting Viva to bed when I realized I hadn’t blogged yet today.

“I’m exhausted,” I said to Sweet Dub. “What the hell am I going to write about?”

“Write, ‘I’m exhausted, what the hell am I going to write about?’” he said.

I’m exhausted. What the -- oh, well, you know.

Then I had trouble getting my wireless network to connect, and now I’m having trouble getting my blog host to load. What the frizzy?

I’m writing this in Word and I’ll keep trying to connect so I can post.

Speaking of frizzy, have I mentioned that I’m growing my hair out? I don’t think it’s going very well, because one of my co-workers who I like very much very tactfully mentioned that my hair must grow very quickly, and imagine how long it would be if I had straight hair!

However, perhaps I speak too soon. On Halloween, all the members of my department had agreed to wear different variations on the same homemade costume, part of which involved each of us wearing a head made of papier mache. I wore mine for a few hours during our Halloween party. At the end of the day, when I was walking to my car, a woman who I didn’t know who was also walking to her car looked at me, looked again, and then just kept staring. I realized that yes, I was carrying a head made of papier mache, and I was just opening my mouth to say something semi-clever and mildly self-deprecating, because that’s my default mode, when she blurted out, “You look like a model.”

“WHAT? I do?!” I said, completely aghast.

“Yeah, it’s your hair.” She said. “It looks perfect, like a model.”

“Oh. Well, thanks,” I said, and got into my car and snickered cruelly to myself, because she was clearly mad as a damn hallucinatory psychotic mad hatter. Because the only reason my hair looked the way it did was because I wore a Head. Made. Of . Papier. Fricking. Mache. For three hours.

What the frizzy, indeed.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Do the Locomotion

This morning, our friends CC and Lucy came over to visit. CC is a year or so younger than I am, and Lucy is a year or so younger than Viva. Coincidentally, they are mother and daughter, just like me and Viva. At one point, the girls decided they wanted to dance. Sweet Dub put on a CD for them to dance to, and Viva flung herself about the room with abandon.

"Wow," CC said. "Has Viva always liked to dance?"

"Since she came out of the womb," I said.

I too have always liked to dance, but my love for the dance pales in comparison to the love and sheer effortlessness in the dance when it comes to Sweet William's side of the family. As soon as music starts, they are up and moving. They cannot resist it. Have you ever seen the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? There's a scene where Roger is hiding in the back room of a diner, and the bad guys are looking for him, and Judge Doom starts knocking on walls to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut." "No toon can resist it," he says, and he's right, because even though Roger is shaking with the effort of trying to keep his mouth shut, ultimately he can't stand it, and he bursts through the wall, screaming "TWO BITS!"

This is what happens when music starts anywhere around the Sweet Dub side of the family. And Viva, she is her Daddy's girl.

"She gets that from me," says my mother-in-law, who can shake it with the best of them.

I wish Viva had inherited a love of the nap, but a love of the dance is damn fine. Let's hope she hasn't inherited a love of the booze, or any of the many more complicated traits she could have gotten from either side of the family.

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Full-Bodied Blend

“I have this little sister Lola. She is small, and very funny…”

Viva has become quite enamored of the Charlie and Lola show, so much so that she has adopted Lola’s imaginary friend Soren Lorenson as her own. Last night I overheard what appeared to be a very schizophrenic type of conversation (with apologies to any real-life schizophrenics out there) during which Viva appeared to be arguing with herself. In fact, she was arguing with Soren Lorenson.


At bedtime, Viva and Soren Lorenson had a sleepover, during which they whispered and giggled until they fell asleep – but not before Soren Lorenson screamed for “Viva’s mom” to come back into the room and turn on the sleepytime CD.

This morning, Viva announced that she and Soren Lorenson both required a waffle and orange juice and vitamins. Upon receipt of said items, both said thank you, and insisted that I say “You’re welcome” to both, separately.

In the car on the way to school, Soren Lorenson sat in an invisible car seat directly behind me and kicked the seat. After I told him he could get out and walk to school, he stopped and fell into more whispered conversation with Viva.

I am not opposed to Soren Lorenson, as long as he does not require me to wipe his bum after he’s used the toilet.

ROCK THE VOTE

So I just mailed off our absentee ballots this morning. I hope they get there in time, because as we all know, every vote counts. Sweet Dub and I registered as absentee voters due to the fiasco of the last presidential election. My polling place was three blocks from our apartment, and it took me 3½ hours to vote. I only had my babysitter scheduled for 4 hours, so hello, that was pretty much my whole kid-free morning. But if I didn’t vote, I figured, the terrorists had won*, so I hung in there bitterly, bitching along with a long line of folks I didn’t know.

Well, no more. I vote by mail. Suckas!

Speaking of voting, if you haven’t done so today, please cast your vote once again for Buddy Lewis to become the next Wandering Golfer. I have watched the videos of all four candidates, and I have to say I know I’m biased, but I think Buddy is the most entertaining. I would watch him, and not just because I know him, but because I think he would bring a richer dimension to the show. He is funny, and he knows golf. He’s fun to watch.


* Sarcasm, I know, what a shock. Actually, my line of thinking went more like, “People died so I can vote, goddammit.” Have I ever told you the story of how my grandparents bought a van and drove it down to Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s so they could donate it for voter registration? It’s a pretty cool story, but perhaps I’ll save that for another day. I mean, I am supposed to blog every day this month. I have to conserve my strength.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Trashy, Yet Demure

In our old apartment building, we had a trash chute. When we wanted to empty the trash, we would simply walk out the front door, down the hall and around the corner, and dump the trash down the chute. We were mindless consumers, throwing out bags of trash hither and yon, whenever we damn well pleased. Well aware of our reckless abandon with the trash, we self-deprecatingly called ourselves the Trashy Blah Blahs.

When we moved to the house now nearly a month ago, I said to Sweet Dub, “Um, this trash thing could be a problem.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly what I was thinking,” he said. “We generate a lot of trash. A lot.”

And then we singlehandedly burned a hole in the ozone layer in the atmosphere directly above us and laughed and laughed. Oh, how we laughed!

What we have discovered, actually, is that more than half of our trash – in fact, easily two-thirds of what we used to throw away – is recyclable. In our apartment, it would be a hassle to be green, at least in terms of recycling. I did explore this option at one point, and abandoned it altogether due to our lack of space and the pain-in-the-ass (PITA) factor of trying to find somewhere to drop off recyclables (which evidently could not all be dropped off in one place). But apparently the City of Los Angeles, while pretty much giving the finger to anyone who resides in an apartment, lives to make life a bit easier for those who dwell in houses. At least in terms of trashiness.

Heartened by this discovery and eager to be more considerate to our dear planet, I boldly went where I had gone once before and ordered shopping bags, wrap-n-mats, and SIGG aluminum bottles from reusablebags.com. I have purchased stuff from them before when there was all the hullabaloo in the news about lead in lunchboxes, and got Viva a very charming lead-free lunchbag made by Mimi the Sardine. When I got home last night, the box was sitting by the back gate, looking pretty much like a plain brown box and not a box that was going to transform life as we know it and simultaneously save the earth.

Nonetheless, when I made Viva’s lunch this morning, I wrapped up her sandwich in a fetching red-and-white-checked wrap-n-mat instead of putting it in a plastic sandwich baggie. The rest of her lunch (grape tomatoes, apple slices, YoKids in a tube, sesame crackers, and Teddy Grahams from Halloween) also traveled along in little reusable containers. But here’s the kicker: after I dropped her off, I went to CVS to pick up a few things before heading back to work from home. I made my purchases, drove home, and realized when I walked in the door that I had forgotten my lovely new ChicoBags at home and was bringing another damn plastic bag into the house.

Day One of Reusable Shopping Bags was thus a bust, due to my not having a fucking brain in my head. How is your day going?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Join Us, Won't You?

So Mrs. Kennedy has thrown down the gauntlet and issued this challenge to those of us who blog:

Okay, so I'm gearing up for National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a. NaNoWriMo, and because I want to overextend myself just that much more I am proposing that everyone commit themselves to NaBloWriMo -- that's right, National Blog Writing Month. Let's all take the sometimes depressing month of November and post EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Well, it all seems so thrillingly easy on November 1st. I'm accepting the challenge. Won't you join me?

P.S. I am not even going to try to do National Novel Writing Month this year. Let's just be real.

Halloween 2006, A Retrospective

All right, I know I promised. Here, without further ado, is my little elephant clown.



If you won't join us in blogging, perhaps you will join us in dressing as either an elephant or a clown. Extra points if you dress as both. And post pictures. Because otherwise, how will we know?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Reason #9,444 Why I Love My Husband

Today is the Halloween Carnival at Viva’s school. If I have not mentioned this before: Viva came up with her own costume. She could not decide whether she should dress up as a clown or an elephant (currently her favorite animal). I off-handedly said, “Maybe you could be both,” and Viva glommed onto that idea and ran with it. I sent her off to school this morning wearing a red-and-white-polka dot clown suit with matching hat, along with a pair of blue eyeglass frames, to which are attached the elephant trunk and ears. Since Sweet William is still working on a movie that is being filmed in a different time zone, he is still on a ridiculous shift whereby he must be at work at 5 AM to screen dailies. Thus and so: he did not see Viva before he left the house this morning, since she was snugly snuggled in her bed, pre-costume.

At precisely 8:42 AM, Sweet Dub called to ask me if I had remembered to buy the “nerd cord” to attach to the back of the glasses so the whole shebang wouldn’t come off her head. I admitted I had not. He was beside himself. “What time does the carnival start? Eleven?” he said.

“The carnival starts at 11, but the costume parade is at 9:45,” I said.

“Oh my God – okay, I’m leaving right now,” he said, and hung up the phone. Less than an hour later he called back to report that he left work, found the cord, drove by Viva’s school, fixed the whole rig (the ears were already apparently getting torn), and went back to work.

I am not making this up. He is completely insane about his child, God love him.


P.S. Yes, I'll post pictures later. Sweet Dub has the camera.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Blah Blah Bitch Bitch

Don’t you hate when you finish a big project and breathe a sigh of relief and then you kind of go into clean up mode and try to figure out what you need to do next and you realize that to keep on track you need to complete five more projects by Friday?

Yeah, me too.

My “to do” list is spiraling out of control. And I can’t remember the last time I sat down to write something I wanted to write. I mean, aside from this blog. I mean, like my own personal writing that I might publish someday.

That sucks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Insert Witty Title Here

Late Friday afternoon, I was struggling gamely along trying to flesh out a proposal to a Board member when my phone rang. I answered in my most professional manner, which was a complete waste, because lo and behold, who was on the other end? The mighty jazzy Cee in SF! She was calling to let me know that Buddy Lewis was only 4 votes behind the first-place contender in the Wandering Golfer contest standings. We stayed on the line for an undisclosed period of time, each of us keeping a Wandering Golfer window open and occasionally hitting "refresh." We were, therefore, together in spirit and on the phone when he pulled ahead and took the lead. It was all very exciting in a late-Friday-afternoon, when-does-the-weekend-start kind of way. I am really hoping he gets the job so my dear friend Sharon can have what she sees as the best of both worlds: a check in the hand and a husband on the road. Go, Buddy, go!

He's currently ahead by 220 points. Please keep voting!

When Potty Training Goes Horribly Wrong

My parenting style is a strange blend of contemporary attachment parenting married to some of the old school home training I received from my grandparents, coupled with some of the very lax 1970s hippie approaches (or lack thereof) used by my mom. I am all for being very open with kids about bodily functions and being straight with them when they ask questions about their bodies and all that. I don't think you should teach your kid that peeing and pooping are dirty and bad. Well, except for the bit about hand-washing. You do need to teach them to wash their hands, for the love of all that is decent and hygienic. But you don't need to tell them that they are dirty or (God forbid) bad when they soil themselves. With Viva, I try to impress upon her the discomfort and inconvenience of having "an accident" (which, at 3.5, is rare except at night).

And then there are those who go a completely different route.

Meet Pee & Poo.

They are plush toys designed to accompany your child on the road to being diaper-free. I think. Their tagline, in case you can't read it, is "Escapees from the bathroom." Yes.

Um. Okay. I have to admit my first reaction was "Are you shittin' me?" because I'm all foul-mouthed and punny like that. And then I was sure it was a joke. It's not. Oh Lawd, it's not. For those of you keeping score at home, the fall of Western civilization just took another dip. Please mark your cards accordingly. With the blue ink. I said BLUE! Dang.

It's Not You, It's Me

On Saturday, two of our dear friends who live up in the Bay Area happened to be in town, so we had them over for dinner and play. They have two girls, one of whom is 3, and one of whom is 4 months old. Viva was pining for the 3-year-old all day, and once she arrived, they were inseparable, barely even stopping to eat. The rest of us all hung out together comfortably, talking and periodically making shmoopy faces at the baby. At one point, the dad passed the new baby over to me and I cuddled her for a while. I had thought that perhaps this would make my uterus twang like the strings of a lonely guitar that had not been played in a while, but surprisingly, no. It was a pleasant surprise. I am glad that in the event that we do decide to expand our family, we can stick with our current sort-of plan, which is to adopt a preschool-age (2-3 years old) child in the event that we can actually afford it at the time we want to do it. See, it's all very nebulous, and that's the way I like it.

Overheard

My Pentecostal cube-mate just yelled out: "JESUS! Is it almost Christmas again?!"

Making spirits bright, I tell you.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Buggin’ Out

Yes, we truly do live in the wild now. I submit to you the following:

Exhibit A. Less than a week after we moved in, Sweet William went home on his lunch hour. On his way out to the back house, he noticed a couple of bees hovering about the koi pond. Going back into the main house, he noticed there were six bees at the pond. Curious, he looked out the kitchen window a few minutes later and saw about 15 bees buzzing about. He then determined that they were coming from our neighbor’s garage, which backs up to the side wall of our yard. Since what he was seeing basically amounted to Viva’s worst nightmare, he wasted no time finding a Bee Guy, who came out to the house pretty much immediately and for 200 bucks vanquished the hive.

Note: Sweet Dub went over to our neighbor’s house to tell her there was a hive in her garage and that she should bring her dog in before the Bee Guy agitated the bees by trying to kill them. Apparently she thinks the Bee Guy works for free, because she did not even offer to pay part of the cost. The bees were on her property, but the Blah Blahs had to pay to eliminate them. This incident will no doubt turn up again as part of a different post entitled, “People Are Triflin’.”

Exhibit B. Skunks. Running rampant at night throughout our neighborhood.

Exhibit C. I picked Viva up early from school yesterday because she was sick. While rummaging about in the kitchen making lunch, I discovered a trail of ants making its trusty way into my kitchen cabinets. Upon opening said cabinets, I was witness to a feeding frenzy of ants swarming over my honey bear. I opened the back door, picked up the honey, and flung it out into the yard. I then spent the next 30 minutes vanquishing the ants. Whee!

Exhibit D. As part of our ongoing efforts to make Viva more comfortable with bugs, I bought a copy of Charlotte’s Web (the DVD, not the book. She is, after all, only 3.). She watched the whole thing yesterday after nap, and she loved it. At the end, as the credits were rolling and we were snuggling on the couch, she shrieked and flung herself off the couch, wailing in terror. A Daddy Long Legs had wandered up onto the couch and was walking across one of our throw pillows. I grabbed the pillow, ran to the back door, and flung the Daddy Long Legs into the yard. I then spent the next few minutes outside trying to get Viva to understand that the Daddy Long Legs wouldn’t hurt her, while she just as fervently tried to get me to come in and close the door.

Ah, semi-suburban life. It is truly everything I dreamed about and more.

P.S. Buddy Lewis update: You can still vote for Buddy to become the next Wandering Golfer here. He is only 34 votes behind first place -- coming on strong! You can vote once a day, every day through November 9th. If he gets this job, it is truly the opportunity of a lifetime -- he will get to travel the world playing golf and getting paid for it. What could be wrong with that?? Please vote for him, and tip your waiter, too. Thank you and good night.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sugar Honey Iced Tea Laced with Witty Repartee

Hell's bells! It's all a mishmash of randomly randomized randomness today, kids.

For those who don't know, I am a Bostonian by birth, but an Angeleno by choice. Imagine my glee when I clicked on Losanjealous this morning and saw this side-by-side comparison of my two cities. Hee hee! I particularly like this one:
They Have...Plymouth Rock, Which Means...Pilgrims
We Have...Eagle Rock,
Which Means...Target

Maybe you have to have lived in both places to get it. But I found it quite hilarious. Thanks, Ryan.

Pet Peeve #865

What is up with people who print their letterhead with their address like so?:

8525 Main Moron Street
Los Angeles, Ca 90000

The state designation is a postal abbreviation which is supposed to be in ALL CAPS. Don't people learn this in basic geography? I seem to remember Mrs. Macchi testing us on all the states and their abbreviations when I was in fifth grade (admittedly a long time ago, but if you had Mrs. Macchi, you wouldn't forget).

(Special note to my friend Max: I await the arrival of your "Jesus Christ, you are so anal" e-mail at any moment.)

Hair She Goes Again

(Special note to my friend Max: I await the arrival of your "That was the worst pun ever" e-mail at any moment.)

I am a huge fan of Carol's Daughter products. You can get them at selected Sephora stores -- i.e., at Sephora stores which actually have some black foot traffic. Thusly, Angelenos, you can find them at the Beverly Center and Hollywood & Highland stores, but not at the Sephora in the Glendale Galleria. Figure that out.

Anyhoo: I have been using the Hair Milk and Mimosa Hair Honey on Viva, and I have to say, her hair has taken on a silkier texture. And if my girl Mary J. uses it, you know I'm down. But really, I'm just posting this to say that this little cherub, right here?



has to be pretty much the cutest thing going. I just want to grab her and squish her and...but that would be wrong, because you see, I don't even know her. She is someone else's kid! And I already have one at home who thinks we are one person and snuggles with me whenever I want. So you see the dilemma I'm in.

That is one cute kid, is all I'm saying.

And Speaking of Which...

Related to my comment above about the Sephora stores: until about a week ago, we lived scant blocks away from the Hollywood & Highland shopping center. Yes, right in the heart of Hollywood! Now that we have moved east, the closest mall is actually the Glendale Galleria. They are a few miles apart geographically, but worlds apart demographically.

Sweet Dub and I were joking last week about someone we know who moved north of LA and who had e-mailed me to say, "I hope you enjoy Atwater Village." I said (snarkily, I admit), "Yeah, well, hope you enjoy Whiteyville," which was wrong and bad of me to say, I know. And it came back to bite me on the ass since the next day I went to our local supermarket. On my return, I said to Sweet Dub, "There is NO ethnic hair care section in this Vons. Looks like we're the ones who've moved to Whiteyville." And then we laughed at ourselves, wholeheartedly.

Aloha from Whiteyville. Ahoy!

One More Random Comment

Last week, I was walking down what could be characterized as the gritty, inner-city street where my office is. My agency has three properties on the same street, so generally at least once a day I have to walk down the street to one of the other ones to go to a meeting or drop off or pick up some damn thing or other.

As I was crossing the intersection, a tall thin brother passed me and said, "Hey, lady! You lookin' mighty jazzy! You married?"

Well, at least he asked.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Check Out Our Crib!

Here's my second attempt to post pics of our new digs. Hopefully, Blogger won't do anything overwhelmingly annoying when I hit "publish post."















Here's the view of the front of the house, from the driveway (behind Sweet Dub's Jeep). Note the bougainvillea bushes in the front. And the tree! That's a baby peach tree!















Here's a picture of our kitchen with the cool-ass fully-restored Chambers stove.















This is a little patio area directly outside of Viva's room. Theoretically, she could go directly from her room out onto this little patio, but we keep it locked and jammed shut with a pole. Because, hello, this is still a major urban area.















This is Sweet Dub, doing handstands in the backyard because we actually do finally have a backyard.

We are going into Week Two of House Living and I still like it. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Help a Man Get a Job

Okay, so it's not like this is a family that is destitute, out on the streets. But, well, I know Buddy Lewis. Buddy Lewis is a friend of mine. And he is damn funny.

Buddy has a chance to be the next Wandering Golfer on the Fine Living Channel. Right now he is in second place out of four finalists. Do us all a favor and vote for him here. You can vote once a day through November 9.

Thanks! You'll be helping Buddy and you'll also be helping his beautiful wife and daughter, who are fabulous and wonderful as well.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Payoff (Literally)

So, two-and-a-half cool things happened today at work:

1. I found out that the very first grant I worked on when I got here – as in, we met to hash it out the second day I started work – has been funded, to the tune of $75,000. SWEET! This led to my boss thanking me for my "tenacious work ethic."

2. The President & CEO found out I still don’t have an office and made the executive decision to kick out the people who have been squatting* in the office she wants me to have. I will allegedly be in my new office by the end of the month.

½. The quarterly organizational newsletter, which is one of our major publications, came out. This was cool, because I wrote two of the articles – very cool to see my words in print. But not so cool, because I didn’t even get a credit. I should have been listed as a contributing writer in the masthead section, but apparently it wasn’t updated from the last issue. Sour grapes, I know.

* Not my word, my boss’ word. Evidently the people who share the office are not supposed to be in there; one of them just decided to take it, and the other person (who is new) got put in there with her. It is all very puzzling. I am not thrilled with the idea of displacing people, but hell, if they aren’t supposed to be there in the first place, they need to get to steppin’.

Monday, October 09, 2006

We're In.

Dear Friends,

Since I haven’t moved in six years, I had forgotten how physically exhausting moving can be. In previous moves, I had pretty much been moving just myself and all my accumulated crap. This time, I was involved in moving myself, Sweet Dub, and a 3-and-a-half-year-old, and it was about 300 kajillion times more exhausting. I woke up this morning and swung my legs out of bed and every muscle in my legs hurt. My back hurts. My neck hurts. My eyes hurt.

But I shuffled geriatrically out into the kitchen to put the kettle on at my 1940s fully restored cool-ass stove, as the sun was coming up, and the mist was rising over my back yard, and the (koi-less) koi pond was burbling gently away, and I felt an enormous sense of peace and gratitude. And despite having to leave the house 15 minutes earlier than usual to get to school and work on time, I think it’s all going to be worth it.

Having said that…

We pretty much made this move for two reasons:

(1) To live someplace quieter. Throughout the weekend, Sweet Dub and Viva would periodically break into a stomping dance jam on the hardwood floors, screaming at the top of their lungs, “No more neighbors! No more neighbors!” Which isn’t completely accurate, but it was delightful to witness their glee.

(2) To have a yard. Of course, what we didn’t realize is that Viva is such a city kid that she won’t spend more than two minutes in the yard. “Too many bugs!” she shrieks, making a beeline for the back door. “I’m paying [undisclosed] bucks a month for this place, you better get used to some bugs,” Sweet Dub says. Sigh. I’m sure she’ll adjust.

Oh, and Sweet Dub twisted and rolled onto his ankle on Saturday while moving the heavy stuff. It’s all swollen and purple, and yet he continues to walk on it, because, well, he has to. There’s simply too much to do.

No phone service or DSL until at least Thursday of this week, so I’m posting from work for now. More soon.

Love & kisses,
Mama Blah Blah

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Top Ten Reasons I Love My Husband

10. He makes me laugh. A lot.
9. He has a beautiful smile.
8. He is ferociously protective of his family and always puts his family first.
7. He is unfailingly loyal to his friends. As in, he’s been best friends with the same guy since 7th grade.
6. He is bootylicious.
5. He listens.
4. He is wicked smart.
3. He encourages me in every positive thing and steers me away from every negative thing.
2. He is an even better father than I expected, and I fully expected him to be great at it.
1. He has been married to me for five years today and is still my best friend, my favorite dance partner, the first person I go to with any kind of news (good or bad), the hottie I want to make mad monkey love to, and the man I want to grow old with.

Happy Anniversary, Sweet Dub! I love you, sweetie pot pie!

But My Blood Type is A+!

Cee took this quiz and that compelled me to go take it. Here are my results:

You Have A Type B+ Personality
You're a pro at going with the flow. You love to kick back and take in everything life has to offer. A total joy to be around, people crave your stability.

While you're totally laid back, you can have bouts of hyperactivity. Get into a project you love, and you won't stop until it's done. You're passionate - just selective about your passions.

----------------------------------

I hate to quibble, but I don't think it's completely accurate. For one thing, I don't think I'm a total joy to be around. I mean, I have my moments just like anyone else. Maybe I'm just a partial joy to be around. It all depends. Hey, it didn't say anything about being indecisive. I think that's one of my defining traits!

Friday, September 29, 2006

Koi and Happiness

I felt so great after writing the previous, very long post – partly because it was long and I hardly get to write anything in-depth that’s not for work these days, but also because it helped me clarify some things in my admittedly muddled head.

Now it’s been days since I wrote anything, which leaves all kind of stuff churning about wanting to be expressed. But I have had no time to write, because (a) work is very busy; and (b) we’re moving!

Words can not express how thrilled I am (we are) to finally be leaving our apartment. A few weeks ago, Sweet Dub said, “This apartment is like a bad relationship. We keep giving it second chances and it keeps slapping us around and we keep coming back to it and saying, it’s not that bad even though we're walking around with a black eye. What is wrong with us?”

Well, you know, we had been looking aggressively for a while there – early in the summer – and the rental market was pretty shitty. Not as bad as the buying market, because buying a house is now evidently something you can do only if your family gives you some money or you make upwards of $400,000 per annum or you don’t have any kids. But about a month or so ago, we both got so fed up that we had stopped looking even for a rental.

Sweet Dub happened to go onto Craigslist last week when our rowdy frat boy wannabe neighbors interrupted our sleep once again. [Aside: What is it that is so appealing about regularly screaming off your balcony at 2:30 in the morning? I wish I could figure it out.] And he found the perfect little house for us, ironically less than half a mile from where my sister had been living until recently, which is neither here nor there except that she will probably soil herself when she finds out. We drove over there on Saturday and the owners fell in love with us and offered us the house for free!

Okay, so maybe not for free, but they do love us and picked us over the rest of the unwashed masses who were trying to rent the house which was clearly fated to be ours.

Our house is a cute little green two bedroom, two bath with separate office/den/what-have-you in the back yard and a driveway which accommodates four cars, and comes with all appliances including washer and dryer because until a few months ago it was an owner-occupied unit. The spacious front yard has four fruit trees (apple, peach, pear, and plum) and a porch overlooking the yard, and the back yard, which is completely enclosed, has a small koi pond and a fire pit. I know I said this already, but seriously, there are no words to describe how excited the entire Blah Blah family is about the prospect of moving. Have I mentioned we can even have a dog??

Alas, I am at work and my lunch break is drawing to a close. More next time (hopefully with pictures).

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Cheaper Than Therapy

I recently updated my Bloglines feeds and realized that ever since Dawn changed up her site that I’ve been missing out on This Woman’s Work. I really enjoy Dawn’s writing; I feel she is very thoughtful in the very literal sense of the word, and it’s been interesting following her journey. So I fixed the feed and then started reading back over her last several posts. One, called “Playing Tennis,” really struck a chord with me, particularly where she writes:
…And that reminds me of something else. My mom used to say that I looked a lot like my oldest half-sister. When I was a teen-ager this fascinated me. I thought it must mean something and I also had this fantasy about meeting her and what that would be like and how she would really like me because I looked like her. Then when I was thirteen she flew out to see us all — she must have been 20 or so? — and she didn’t like me much at all. Looking back I realize that seeing us must have been like what I have with my littlest sisters only to the nth degree, since she was harboring her own fantasies. The visit, as I remember it, was a total disappointment for everyone and I haven’t seen her since. She quit talking to my dad for about a decade after that and went through her own troubles. It was all so half-there. So not one and not the other. Everyone’s heart cracking into little pieces because what we were pretending wasn’t true.
Oh my soul, how I identify with this piece. Dawn apologizes that it is disjointed, but in my experience, that is how family is. There are so many pieces to every family, and talking about one inevitably makes you veer off toward another, and they are all interconnected, so in the end there is some sense to it, even if it may not seem so on the surface.

At any rate, when I got to this point in her entry, I started nodding my head. I am a dead ringer for my father. It is spooky how much I have always looked like him. Since my mom took me and my sister and left my dad when I was not even a year old, and since my dad never bothered with visitation until I was a teenager, this was a sore point with me for a long time. I thought it must have bothered my mom every time she looked at me. I didn’t want to look like him. I would much rather have looked like my mom, who was the Most Beautiful Woman Ever in the Entire Known World, with really thick dark curly hair, beautiful brown eyes and tan skin. It pained me that I looked so different from her and from my sister (and I did, back then, although as adults my sister and I look so alike we’ve been asked if we were twins). My sister was (is) pale, like me, but she had dark brown hair and brown eyes. I, on the other hand, had blue-green eyes and a dirty-blonde Afro (which, as I got older, graduated to light brown).

Nonetheless, I was fascinated by my father. I was sure that if he spent any time with us, we'd all get along great, and I was just as sure that had I been a boy, perhaps he would have made more of an effort. Funny, but mostly sad, the things kids blame on themselves. When I found out that he had another family – that we had a half-sister whose mother was the woman he’d been cheating on my mother with – I was stunned. She was, I thought to myself, just another girl. And yet by the time I learned she existed, she was already 8 years old (I was 10), and he had stayed with her mother that whole time. What was so special about her? I thought. Even at that age, I was well aware of how race complicates things, so when I realized that the mother of this child was white, I was stung to the core of my little racially-mixed-up self. Was this the reason for his complete rejection of us?

As an adult, I realize things are hardly ever this – well, black and white, if you’ll pardon the expression. My father was an alcoholic, and a Vietnam veteran, and underemployed, and a black man who could pass for white. He had a lot of issues.

I met my half-sister S. when she was 8, and she had only the vaguest grasp of how we were related. I was struck by how perky and innocent she seemed. I liked her and developed a bit of an affection for her, but as we grew into adolescence and I actually began to spend time with my father (and sometimes with her, though my dad had moved on to another wife and kids by then, and S. wasn’t living with them), I realized that we moved in very different worlds. And the world she was living in was a kind of a bubble where black people did not belong. Despite moving amidst my dad’s (admittedly high-yalla) extended family for most of her life, she wasn’t comfortable around black people or black culture. And as she grew into an adult, she wasn’t comfortable around even her very light and practically white half-sisters, either.

When S. was getting ready to be married, my dad called me from Cape Cod one day and was complaining about all the money he was spending on the wedding. After several minutes, I determined that the wedding was only a few weeks away, and I realized that neither my sister Lola nor I had been invited. I was not surprised that I hadn’t been invited – by this time, I had already moved to the West Coast – but Lola lived at that time only 40 minutes away from the bride-to-be. I surmised that we had been cut out, and so we were.* Years later, when Lola and I returned together to the East Coast for our father’s funeral, S. showed us pictures of her (white) husband and three sons. We exclaimed over how cute the kids were and what a nice family she had. When I showed her a picture of Viva (then only 8 months old), she looked at it with what I can only describe as a smirk and handed it back to me without a word. At that moment, I knew I would never speak to her again. I knew I could not go on pretending. We are family in name only.

By the way, on that same visit, we were welcomed with delighted, enthusiastic and open arms by my stepfather’s family. [My stepfather, in case you don’t know, is also white, lest this story has led you to think I automatically hate all white folks. For the record, I do not.] They all rearranged their schedules to see us, offered to let us stay with them, helped us dig our rental car out of the snow. These are people – step-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins – that I have known pretty much all of my conscious life, since I was four years old, and these are the people I will always consider my family. My mom and my stepfather are divorced, but I will never divorce them.

One more excerpt from Dawn’s entry:
My meandering, rambling point is that you can’t get away from this. You can’t just excise people from photo albums and pretend they don’t matter. You have to let your kids have that opportunity to make sense of it themselves.
And here is where it gets sticky, and where I need another post because I could go on for hours: my relationship with my mom, grandmother, and Lola is very strained at the moment. Ever since Easter, I have had it with them. And yet, recently, Viva has been asking about Nana and Grandma and when we are going to see them. I feel that my job as her mother is to protect her as much as possible from things which might be hurtful to her. And yet, they are her family. At the same time, she is going to realize at some point that she is being treated differently, which will be hurtful. What Dawn says about letting your kids make sense of it themselves resonates with me, but makes me want to dig my heels in and fight like hell against it.

I am still working out how I want to handle things with them. I feel I have (once again) been cut out. As you can imagine, this doesn’t sit well with me. I am angry, and sad, and sick of it all. I have prayed, and cried, and ranted about it for hours (sorry, Sweet Dub). I feel I have tried my damnedest to mend fences, and it's time somebody else made an effort.

Ah, Internet, it is late, and I’m sure you have somewhere to go. I’m sorry I rambled so long. You have been a strong shoulder to cry on. No, no, I know, really, it’s late. Go on, brush your teeth and tuck yourself in. I’ll check in with you later.

* "Cut out" in more than one way -- my dad never spent a dime on either Lola's or my wedding, not that I expected him to.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sick Day

Viva woke up before dawn complaining that her stomach hurt. Sweet Dub gave her some water and tried to get her to go back to bed, but no go. By 5 AM, he got me up to tell me he was going to work and would try to come back by 8 so I could go in turn. At 7:30 AM Puke-a-Palooza began, after which Viva climbed into my arms, clung to me and would not let go until Sweet Dub got back at 8:30. I went to work for an hour (during which time Viva threw up again, but since there was nothing in her stomach, it was just horrible retching), went to the market for crackers and popsicles, and came home. At 11:30, Viva threw up again. She is miserable, and a bit feverish, and I'm not feeling so great either.

I hope it's not the flu.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Charity and Love

I think I've mentioned before that I have a relative who sends me all manner of forwarded e-mail -- sometimes as many as ten at a time. Quite often, she'll send me prayer circle e-mails and stuff with angels in it and homilies about how life is short and you should take time to appreciate it. Oh, and the ubiquitous "I can do nothing without Jesus, through Jesus I can do anything" messages.

Today, she sent me this:

How ALL business phones SHOULD be answered!
GOOD MORNING, WELCOME TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Press "1" for English.
Press "2" to disconnect until you learn to speak English.

How ghastly and hateful. Somehow I don't think Jesus would approve.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Three Months: a Retrospective

Since I have officially been on the job three months as of last Tuesday, I went through new hire orientation last week. It was a three-and-a-half-hour meeting, the standout portion of which was a 30-minute long Powerpoint presentation without sound. Since we didn’t have sound (which was an integral part of the presentation), one of our fellow employees actually read each slide. It was just as excruciating as it sounds. Prior to this, we went around the room and everybody said who they were, where they came from, where they work now, blahbitty blah. When I explained that I had been a stay-at-home mom for three years and this was my first foray back into the work world, one of the HR people asked, “Which job is harder?”

She clearly doesn’t have any children. (Really, she doesn’t.) I sidestepped a bit and responded that the hardest part is really balancing the two jobs. And it is! It is a bee-yotch.

So, three months in. Thus far, I have not yet brought in any money, and I still don’t have an office. I’m wondering if there is a correlation. I suppose I could argue that if I had an office, I’d be able to get more done. It is really loud out here in CubeLand.

Three months in. I like my job. I love the organization – I think it is a standout organization that is doing some pretty great things for certain segments of the population that desperately need help. I like knowing that what I do really impacts kids and families in a positive way.

I like my coworkers. I like my boss, I like my boss’ boss, and I like the head of the organization (my boss’ boss’ boss). They are all outstandingly smart and knowledgeable women. I can learn from them, and I am. I am doing pretty varied work, which keeps things interesting. Everybody here pretty much works their asses off, but they keep a good sense of humor. The organization’s philosophy is to have fun while you work, be positive, be present. I like that.

Having said all this, if I won the lottery tomorrow, would I quit my job?

In a hot minute, sister. I miss having a weekend. When I was freelancing from home, I could throw in laundry, tidy up the kitchen, drop by Target on my way back from dropping off Viva, or do the grocery shopping during the week. Now, my weekends are spent cramming in all that shit, along with trying to keep in touch with friends and family, and there is always something else I need to do but can’t get to. Sweet Dub is already worn out from working the 5 AM to 2:30 PM shift, but since I am back at an office job, he tries to pick up the slack – vacuuming on his lunch hour, cooking a couple of times a week, doing laundry when he gets home from work. But we are both worn out right now, and we miss each other. Neither one of us is exercising regularly, our sleep schedules are all funked up, and I’ve found myself snapping at him recently – which I have never done. I apologized for that yesterday. He didn’t cut me any slack. “Are you gonna hug me now, or what?” he said, grabbing me.

Despite all this, in talking about this transition recently, he said this: “You seem more tired, but happier. You needed this.”

It’s all a swirling vortex of emotion and confusion. And on top of it all, the fish died. That’s a whole ‘nother, well, kettle of fish. More on that next time.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Rest in Pesce

It is with sincere regret that I must inform you that Marlin, the surviving Betta living in our bathroom, has succumbed to some pretty nasty fin rot and was flushed away to the Great Beyond.

When informed of the demise of her beloved pet, Viva turned her mouth down at the corners, blinked a couple of times and said, “I want a different pet. I want a cat.”

Shit.

Three Going on Thirteen

As we are driving to school this morning, I comment on the cloudy skies, and further:

Mama: Do you think it’s going to rain today?
Viva: The sun is out. Don’t mention it.
Mama: Don’t mention it?
Viva: You can see the sun, so don’t even mention it.

We stop at a traffic light. I grab a Washington Mutual deposit envelope and start scribbling down our conversation.

Viva: What are you writing?
Mama: I’m writing down “don’t mention it.”
Viva: Why are you writing down “don’t mention it”?
Mama: I thought it was a funny thing to say.
Viva [in a tone that implies this is blatantly obvious]: Well, it is a funny thing to say.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Up on My High Horse, Foaming at the Mouth

I am going to veer off in two directions on this post, so try and bear with me.

I Hate Disney, Part One


I think I have already detailed my hatred of the princess phenomenon on this blog on more than one occasion. I am, in general, quite cheesed off at Disney for their fucked-up Disney Princess marketing, mainly because I consider it both racist and sexist, and I don't know why, but for some reason I'm just not down with that bullshit. Call me crazy. I don’t understand why people insist on giving Viva Disney Princess crap, but I don’t make a big deal about it because what other people choose to do with their money is their business. I politely say thank you and later dispose of it.

However: one of Sweet Dub’s friends from law school has a little girl who is just a few months younger than Viva, and she recently turned 3. And her parents recently threw her a princess party, at which all the little girls (no boys invited) were to be dressed up as princesses, get their nails done, faces painted, and pick out jewelry to wear.

“Okay,” I told myself. “There is nothing wrong with wanting to play dress-up. Viva can wear a generic princess costume if she wants to. No problem.”

I bought her a princess dress at a costume shop. We went to the party. She had a great time playing with J's toys, watching a puppet show, and participating in a ballet class led by a fairy princess. She refused to get her nails done.

So! Not so bad, right? Well, now Viva has begun planning her birthday party for next year. She insists it is going to be a princess party. With no boys. Oh my God, I hate Disney with a hateful hatingness that knows no bounds. Where do I start?

Well, first: I do not want Viva to discriminate against anyone. I don’t think it’s okay to exclude other kids from a party simply based on gender. I want her to have friends who are boys. I like boys. I don’t buy into this whole gender separation deal at all; it makes me distinctly uncomfortable. As a corollary to that, I don’t want the boys of Viva’s generation to view girls as anything less than people. I find it incredible that in 2006, we are faced with a different form of sexist bullshit. (Yes, call me na├»ve.) If I were a little boy and swallowed this princess mindset, I would conclude that girls are pretty lame, focused mainly on looks and acquiring stuff, and easily distracted by shiny sparkly things.

I also don’t want Viva to think her sole value comes from being pretty. Well, let’s face it, she is gorgeous. But she is also smart, and funny, and kind. And I don’t want her to equate having nice clothes and nice things as the be-all and end-all of everything.

Perhaps you think I’m overreacting. What? Are you new?

By the way: Mommy Track’d has come up with an anti-princess reading list. Beautiful! Where’s my debit card?

I Hate Disney, Part Two

About the only show I like on the Disney Channel (i.e. that I will allow Viva to watch) is Charlie and Lola, because it is clever and endearing and shows such a lovely sibling relationship. It has become one of the shows we tape regularly on our fake TiVo. Occasionally, we’ll see ads for other Disney shows, to wit: Handy Manny, premiering this weekend.

Handy. Fucking. Manny!

Can you fucking believe it? I truly think it is impossible for Disney to greenlight anything that isn’t offensive in some way. This is a show aimed squarely at the Latino market, clearly trying to grab some of the Dora market share. The main character is Manny Garcia, a fix-it guy who can fix anything around town with his team of talking tools. Okay, so we all know a lot of little kids are fascinated by tools and fixing things (Bob the Builder, anyone?), but did they have to make the one male Latino character who has his own show a handyman? At least they don’t have him hanging around the Home Depot looking for work, but still…

Oh, so much more to say. Oh, so much work to do. You see the dilemma I’m in?