Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Topsy Turvey

The weather experts say there's a 50% chance of rain on Saturday.

Here at Party Central, we like to think the glass is half-full (but you know that in actuality, inside my brain, the glass is bone-dry).


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round

Don't you hate when
  • You've been running around all morning in the rain doing pre-birthday stuff *and
  • You come home and find you have a freelance assignment which is due tomorrow and
  • You sit down and crank out the freelance assignment without stopping to eat and
  • You realize it is 3:30 and you are starving and will have to leave soon to pick up your kid and
  • You sprint into the kitchen trying to find a fast snack and
  • You open the kitchen cabinet and
  • A half a box of Barilla cellentani falls out and explodes all over the floor?
I know, me too. That sucked.

I wish I had more time to post today. Things on my mind: immigration reform, walkouts in L.A. (I actually got partially caught up in one yesterday), South Dakota, my new obsession with Bill Maher, the odds that it will rain this weekend since we are having Viva's party at a park, and a giant zit that is threatening to erupt within my left eyebrow. (I wanted to say under my left eyebrow, but that's not accurate. It's actually underneath -- i.e. covered by -- my left eyebrow. Sigh. You call it navel-gazing, I call it morbidly fascinating.)

* Have I mentioned that we're doing two parties? Two days in a row? One at school on Friday and one at the park on Saturday? And evidently I need to prepare food and goody bags for each one. How did I get caught up in this?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Moonlight Sleeping on a Midnight Lake

I woke up this morning -- early -- and while Sweet William was out for a run and Viva was still sleeping, I did a little yoga, a little meditation, a little prayer, and then a little more yoga. I felt peaceful and refreshed, like I got a good start on my day. Happy happy joy joy, as they used to say.

Then I made my bed and opened the blinds and saw, in front of the building across the street, a human being asleep. On an abandoned couch, in the middle of a bunch of other junk that someone just left there.

Happy happy? Not so much. Joy joy? I'll get back to you.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Help Out for Mother's Day

Okay, I think you know that I would normally not do something like this. But due to my visit to the Union Rescue Mission last week, I received a thank you note with a flyer announcing the Mission's Pre-Mother's Day Children's Gift Boutique, and I want to encourage whoever is moved to do so to participate. Here's the deal (and keep in mind, any typos are solely mine, as I am retyping from the flyer):
On May 11, 2006, we will again host a pre-Mother's Day Children's Gift Boutique, where children from the community of working poor and homeless that we serve can shop, free of charge, for new gifts for their Moms. While the youngsters are shopping, their Moms will be abe to watch a movie in our chapel, which we will dress up just like a theatre. Your tax-deductible donation of any of the following items would be most gratefully received:

* Suggested New Gifts & Gift Sets *

Pajama Sets /Slippers / Facial & Hand Towel Sets / Perfume & Cologne / Lipstick / Eye Make-up / Face Make-up / Body Lotions / Powder / Soap / Shower Gels / Face Cream, Cleansers, Facial Products / Shampoo / Hair Conditioner / Styling Gel Products / Hair Brushes & Combs / New Jewelry / Wallets / Watches / Datebooks / Scarves

We would like to provide for at least 1,000 gift bags / multiple items.

We can pick up locally, or if you would like to ship or drop off products, please address them to: Debbie Smith, Gifts in Kind Department, Union Rescue Mission, 545 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013. For drop-offs, our dock is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 3:00 PM, but special arrangements can be made for this event.

Our target date for product roundup is May 1, 2006. Thank you for helping mothers and their children feel beautiful, loved, appreciated and special.

Please contact Debbie at (213) 673-4882 if you have any questions.
Here's the report on last year's sale. Women with children are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Now, of course, I think it's awful that anybody is homeless. But it really twists my heart to think of little kids with nowhere to sleep, nothing to eat, surving in one of the scariest areas of our city, and filled with despair and fear every day.

If you are not in the Los Angeles area and would like to help out somewhere closer to your home, Stand Up for Kids is a national program to help homeless children. World Vision takes it global, but also has programs to assist homeless kids in the U.S. My Friend's Place is an L.A.-based non-profit which focuses solely on assisting homeless youth, and they share some pretty scary statistics, among them this: there are an estimated 7,551 homeless families in shelters or on the streets on any one night in Los Angeles.

That is pretty incredible, and unbelievably sad. But not surprising, considering the high cost of living in Los Angeles, particularly housing costs. What's really sad is that some of these people are the working poor -- which means they actually have jobs but their jobs don't pay enough to enable them to pay rent.

Since this is the Internet and we are all (relatively) anonymous, you don't have to feel obligated to contribute. But feel free to pass this info on to anyone you think might be interested -- and thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Where the Air is Fresh and Sweet

I forgot to mention: there are roofers. On our roof. Banging and dragging things around. And they have been there since 7:30 this morning, with an extended break for lunch.

Viva is napping. God only knows how.

With a Boulder on my Shoulder, Feelin' Kinda Older

Viva has pinkeye.

Of course, because I had grand plans for today and tomorrow (all having to do with buying Presents! And ordering Cake! For her Birthday! So even when it seems it's all about me, it's still all about her) and yet this morning she woke up looking like Little Ray Charles in Ray -- you know the scene I'm talking about, where he's going blind and he always has this sludge around his eyes, and his mom puts salve in his eyes because she is too poor to take him to the doctor to treat what may have been a simple and curable infectious condition and so poverty, in essence, is what blinds him? -- well, this morning, I went in to wake Viva up and her right eye was caked shut with this crusty sludge.

After I screamed and jumped around and freaked all the hell out (INSIDE, people), I picked her up and took her to the bathroom and plopped her on the toilet, and then I went and found my husband and said: "Viva's eye is crusted shut." And it was then agreed that there would be No School today and that a Doctor's Visit was in the offing, and there was much wailing and heartbreak both by me and Viva, though for different reasons, I'm sure.

But! We had a lovely morning at the park, where Viva played with No One, and then we got in the car and went to see the pediatrician, Doctor Susie. Doctor Susie took one look* at Viva and said, "Oh, yeah, conjunctivitis."

Well, Viva played it up a little bit, because she is all about the drama, so here is a little bit of how it went:

Dr. Susie: Are any of your friends at school sick, too?
Viva: No.
Dr. S: Really? Hmm, have you been coughing a lot?
Viva: Yes.
Mama Blah: [snorts in disbelief]
Dr. S: Does it hurt when you cough?
Viva: Yes.
Mama Blah: [shoots Dr. Susie a look]
Dr. S [right back atcha]: Do you have a fever?
Viva: Yes.
Dr. S: Ahhhh. Does your nose hurt?
Viva: No.
Dr. S: Hmm, that's interesting. [Dr. S and Mama Blah grin at each other conspiratorially, and then:] Well, let's get you a lollipop.** Have you decided what color you'd like?
Viva [instantaneously]: Purple!

At any rate, conjunctivitis is HUGELY contagious, so no school tomorrow, probably, and by the way, Viva's Auntie Diva was supposed to pick her up for a sleepover on Saturday so Mama and Daddy Blah could have a Date Night, and, well, that's looking like it may be all shot to hell. It is always something, ain't it?

* "Just one look, that's all it took, yeah, just one look..." By the way, I did actually wash Viva's face this morning and removed all the crustiness with some warm water, so in case you were thinking I just took her out of the house like that -- well, I didn't.

** They're sugarless lollipops. I mean, she is a medical doctor, people.


If the title of this post is driving you a little nuts, that's because it is a partial lyric from the song "Blinded By the Light," written by Bruce Springsteen but made popular by Manfred Mann. Yes, I am a child of the '70s. Nice to meet you!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Murky Waters

I don't know where I got this crazy idea that I could be responsible for another life. It is a huge, weighty thing, the full import of which every now and then springs upon me unexpectedly like some homicidal maniac hiding in the closet with a hatchet. The absolute lunacy of it all wracks me with anxiety and guilt, and leads me to wonder what I was thinking when I decided we should add to our family.

I speak, of course, of our fish.

Since the fish came to live with us, I have gone back to the fish store more than once to purchase things to make the fishes' lives easier. More plants for the tank, so they'll be able to hide when they need to rest. A siphon for cleaning the tank. Medicine with the fish equivalent of tea tree oil in it, so their fins will heal, because they are Siamese fighting fish and can apparently nip at each other through the barrier in the tank. The barrier which, of course, has holes in it so the water on either side wil be properly filtered so they won't die.

I siphoned 25% of the water out of the tank yesterday and added medicine to the water, because Marlin, in particular, has been looking pretty raggedy. I don't know how this can be, and it pains me, mainly because I harbor a special fondness for Marlin, because it seems that he is the older and wiser of the two. I assumed he would be the dominant fish, but that honor apparently actually goes to Nemo, who is dumb as a box of rocks, but very quick and hyperaggressive.

An example of how dumb and hyperaggressive Nemo is: prior to cleaning the tank, the water level had decreased somewhat. When we would feed the fish their little fish pellets, Nemo would be so focused on trying to kick Marlin's ass that he would actually ignore the food that plopped down on his side. Instead, he would hover close to the barrier and, when Marlin's food was dropped in, he would wait for the current generated by the filter to pop it through the barrier (this only happens when the water level is lower than usual), and then he would lunge over and eat it. When he did this, Marlin would swim back to the front of the tank, eyes bulging and looking as pissed off as a fish can look, and Nemo would practically turn cartwheels in the water and tell him to run off home and cry to his mama.

Now, I just looked in at my boys, and if anything, Marlin looks worse, despite the medicine. I want to kick Nemo's ass my own damn self.

Thank God we don't have a dog.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Cosmic (and Comic) Slop

I started out writing a post about my work situation, but it wasn't very interesting -- i.e., I wanted to poke myself with a stick when I was re-reading it -- so I deleted it. Here, in no particular order, is what's sloshing about in my braincase today (besides my so-boring-not-even-I-want-to-read-about-it freelance situation).

1. Friday evening, the phone rang, and thanks be to Moses for Caller ID, because it was Sweet William's father, who no one needs to talk to, ever, unless he is sick or incapacitated or trapped down a very deep well. Here, in full, is the message:
Hello, William. This is your father. What has happened to you, boy? You went off to college and come back home a educated fool.
This message is fantastic for several reasons:
  • Sweet William's father (Sour Bill) is clearly pissed off at Sweet W, who could not care less.
  • Sour Bill seems to believe that leaving an irate and insulting message is the best way to get a response.
  • Sour Bill probably ought not to hold his breath while waiting for a response.
  • Sour Bill seems to imply that Sweet Dub has just recently graduated from college, when in fact it has been nearly 14 years since college, and 11 since law school graduation.
  • Sweet Dub decided he wanted to henceforth block Sour Bill's phone number, but only if he could record his own voice to say, "Yo monkey-ass is BLOCKED!" when his father calls.
  • Not only did this message afford several minutes of amusement for us and for Diva, Sweet Dub's sister, who we called immediately afterward, but it will no doubt provide years of entertainment down the line, as the phrase "educated fool" has been added to our family lexicon.
  • At the very end of the message, you can hear Sour Bill's equally sour harridan of a wife saying, "Don't do that!"
  • What prompted the message? Your guess is as good as mine.
What would I do without my Sour Bill messages? I love them so.

2. In the interest of fairness, so you can compare and contrast my side of the family, Saturday afternoon we received this message:
You're welcome, Lisa. This is Grandma, down in the valley. Your phone sound like you on the other side the world. It sound so far away...Well, we called to say we received the invitation [to Viva's birthday party] and we gratefully accept...[insert 2 minutes more of message here about Easter, the weather, their new house, and then:] The address is 3689 East Main Street, Caramello, CA*. So we'll see you 'round and about...Huh? [insert 30 more seconds of conversation with my mother in background here before she hangs up]
I do love my grandma, but this message is rather comical for several reasons:
  • "You're welcome, Lisa"? Since when is this a greeting? I don't recall thanking her for anything.
  • "This is Grandma, down in the valley." Since she is north of me, how can she be down? It seems like she should be up.
  • "The address is --" I already have the address, as evidenced by the fact that I sent the invitation to that address. The invitation which she is calling to RSVP for. And around we go...
  • She is giving me the address so I know where to go for Easter, which is a month away. I will be seeing her before then, presumably, at Viva's birthday party.
  • "Caramello" is not a real town, but that is how she pronounces Camarillo, her new home. Doesn't it sound great, though? If it really existed, I would move there in a nanosecond. "Caramello! Where the candy meets the sky!"
  • Similarity with Sour Bill: there is no goodbye and no real closure to the message. It just ends.
3. Since Viva never uses her strollers**anymore, I decided to get rid of them. I actually tried to sell one of them once before, but found through my interactions with a kids' resale store and e-bay that baby stuff does not have very high resale value. (I know, I used resale twice in that one sentence. Whatever.) Rather than posting them locally on craigslist and having to deal with members of The Public coming to my home, I decided to find someplace where someone could really use them, and donate them. For some reason, I chose the Union Rescue Mission downtown.

Now there's nothing wrong with the Union Rescue Mission. They do some fine work. But I certainly could have found someplace closer to donate the strollers instead of driving through Skid Row. Man alive, what a way to put all my petty shit in perspective. We have homeless people in Hollywood, no question. But if you go down to Skid Row, there are homeless/transient people all over the sidewalk, on every street. It's a congested industrial area and it's not very pretty -- there's litter everywhere and people wrapped in blankets sleeping in doorways, people pushing shopping carts full of odds and ends, people moving slowly and looking dejected and sick and not very clean.

When I pulled into the loading dock, I eased my car in among rows of single-serve applesauce containers and tidy bins of used clothes. The Gifts-in-Kind receiver came right out with me to the car and as we were taking the strollers out, he said, "Are they any good?"

I said, "Yeah, they're in good condition. One of them got pretty much daily use, but it's in good shape, and the other one is almost new."

His expression lightened visibly. "Oh, they're not broken?"

"No, no, no," I said, realizing that people must "donate" broken shit all the time. "I just don't need them anymore."

"Wow," he said, pulling them out of the trunk and then letting me show him how to fold and unfold them. "So how many kids you got?"

"Just one," I said. I then hastily explained how one of the strollers was supposed to be used by me and my sister when we were visiting my mom. Guilt! Conspicuous consumption! Capitalism has me by the throat!

After learning that my "baby" was three, he asked me if I was going to have any more kids.

"Um, I don't know," I said. "We might adopt another child later --"

"Have your own!" he said.

"I already did that," I said.

"You know, you're right," he said. "You're serving the world better if you take in a baby that's already here."

"Well," I said, not wanting to plunge into a deep discussion, "There are all kinds of kids out there that need homes."

"Well, God bless you," he said.

"Thanks, same to you," I said. But I know that I already have been blessed, and if I didn't know it before, my trip to Skid Row shone a very bright light onto the Sweet Swell Life of Mama Blah.

And yet, here comes the ranty part, because that is how my brain works. He made a lot of assumptions, and there were so many things I could have said, like:
  • If I adopt a child, he/she will also be my own, no less than Viva is.
  • It's a mighty damn personal question, though people do it all the time -- why don't you have another baby/when are you going to have another baby? Particularly because you don't know what my situation is. What if I had some health issue that made it impossible for me to have another baby? What if I've been trying and have miscarried? What if I divorced or was widowed (God forbid) after the first one? It is so not cool to ask, even if you are not a total stranger. Which, as you'll remember, he was.
  • If I adopt, who says I want a baby? Older kids need homes, too.
And on, and on. But I digress. I feel very lucky to be here at home, typing on my laptop, full after a big lunch of Italian turkey sausage with sauteed peppers on a French roll. The heat is on, I am clean and clothed and shod, and not a whole lot to complain about on balance.
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
- Mark Twain
* Not their real address.

** Yes, strollers, plural. Long story. One Peg Perego for everyday use and one Combi that I kept down at my mom's, since I used to visit -- oh, three times a year. It made no sense then and I'm not going to try to explain it now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ready for Her Close-up

Viva's school invited a photographer to take "vintage" photgraphs of the preschoolers last week. Viva told me that she got dressed up and held a flower, and she also told me that she and the photographer disagreed about whether she should smile or not. At any rate, voila!

Well, at least it turned out better than her real school photo, where she looks a bit like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


So I just posted about all the strep throat stuff and lack of sleep, and Sweet William came ambling into the room. "I'm writing about you," I said.

"Are you being nice?" he asked.

Damn. Am I that predictable?

Hail from the Fun Factory!

I was wondering where I'd got to. Oh, here I am.

Let me recap the past several days for you --

Friday: Despite feeling like shit, and knowing that he must have a fever, intrepid Sweet William goes to work. As he is pulling in to the parking lot, one of the corporate bigwigs also drives in and stops to speak to him. He says, "Oh, did So-and-So talk to you yesterday?" Sweet William states that So-and-So had not. Corporate Bigwig then says, "Well, So-and-So had to go out of town earlier than expected, and he was supposed to speak at the conference today, so we were wondering if you could speak on his behalf?" Yeah. So not cool. And while normally Sweet William would be able to come home for lunch and possibly take a nap because he feels like shit, he must instead keep his shit-like-feeling self at work all day due to this conference. It is the longest day ever. Once he returns home at the end of the day and finds that his temperature is 102.8, it is too late to go to the doctor's office.

Saturday: Sweet William's throat is on fire, his temperature keeps spiking, and he is pretty wretched. Since he won't listen to reason and go to the ER, Viva and I abandon him to visit with some friends for a good portion of the day. When we return, Sweet William has not moved from his post on the couch and expresses irritation that I have not brought home a cookie for him. Sweet Fancy Moses!

Sunday: Hey, Sweet William is still sick. This illness -- with the high fever! and the swollen glands! -- does not seem to want to go away on its own. It seems to have moved in and made itself comfy and invited all its germy friends for a sleepover. Sweet William still refuses to go to the ER. Viva and I abandon him and go to the bike store and the toy store. I am cruel and won't buy my child anything (mainly because I am waiting for my next paycheck to buy her birthday presents). This is despite the immense cuteness and joy that emanate from her as she pedals slowly around the bike store on a variety of bikes. I have a heart of stone. When we return, Sweet William is sitting in bed surrounded by piles of paper because he has decided to try and get his taxes* together. The rest of the house is already a wreck, and he has decided to add more crap to the crapdom. He insists he has to go to work tomorrow. I am ready to kill him.

Monday: Sweet William goes to work, despite having a fever of 100. I call the doctor and book a 9:30 appointment for him. The verdict: STREP THROAT. The doctor prescribes penicillin and sends Sweet William home to rest through Wednesday. Please note that at this point, I have not slept well for several days, since I have been sleeping on the couch and/or in Viva's room. Viva tends to kick a lot in her sleep and throw the covers off. Since the temperature dips into the 40s at night, I keep waking up shivering and miserable. But she is is so warm, and smells so nice! I can't bring myself to go back to the couch. But with the lack of sleep, my patience is thin. I end up getting pissed off at my computer and at Sweet William for absolutely no rational reason. I am pretty sure that this does not help Sweet William in his quest for wellness.

Tuesday: As his penance for getting sick and being married to a crazy woman, Sweet William gets up and cleans the kitchen and does two loads of laundry before I wake up. Granted, the laundry is mainly his because his infection makes him sweat so much that he wakes up every 45 minutes to change his T-shirt and the towel he's sleeping on. But still. Later, Sweet William and I end up hanging out and watching my new favorite movie, "Kung Fu Hustle," which is the coolest craziest movie ever. And then I work on Viva's birthday invitations** and actually get them printed and assembled and addressed and, in short, ready to be mailed out, so people might actually get them in time to save the date and show up.

Tuesday night: I go to bed around 10:30 pm. At around midnight, our sweet child wakes up complaining about Guantanamo Bay, the Middle East, and the sad state of the world today. I try to soothe her, but she's having none of it. And really, if something's going to keep you awake at night, it makes sense that it should be that. She finally falls asleep muttering something about Dick Cheney and the NRA. I am lying on top of her comforter with a thin blanket over me, determined to get back in my own bed. I wake up at around 1:30, shivering, and go back to bed. At around 3:00 am, the fire alarm goes off. Sweet William stomps in and out of the bedroom and in and out of the closet, pulling clothes and shoes on, and goes into the hallway to determine if we actually need to get out of the building. He returns in, if anything, an even more pissed-off state than when he left, and says, "Fucking idiots! Somebody pulled the fucking fire alarm! There's broken glass all over the floor by the elevator," and I won't repeat all of what he said except that the f-word was used at great length and with great ardor.

The firefighters come and turn the alarm off and then announce through a bullhorn that it was a false alarm and we can safely "return" to our apartments. Since I did not even get out of bed during this whole episode, I am ahead of the game. I fall back to sleep, only to be awakened at roughly 4:15 am by the fire alarm again. The same fucking idiots (presumably) who pulled it on our floor went down to the next floor, broke the glass, and pulled it again. I hate them with every tendon, sinew, and fiber of my being. I hate them, and I hate anyone who even remotely looks like them, even if I don't know what they look like. I am really tired today.

This morning, Viva and I ran into one of our neighbors on the elevator. She was carrying a huge mug of coffee. "Man, I need that," I said.

"You're not kiddin', " she said, and then we both started talking at once about the geniuses who pulled the fire alarms.

"I was SO mad!" I said.

"I was so mad!" she said.

"Why she so mad?" said Viva, as we got off the elevator and walked to the car.

"Well, because someone pulled the fire alarm last night and it woke us all up, except you," I said. "You slept right through it."

"There was a fire?!" Viva said, and her voice went up an octave. I know she was pissed, because she is crazy for firefighters.

"It wasn't a real fire," I said. "The alarm was going off by mistake."

"But I want to see the FIRE," Viva whined in the irrational whine of the nearly three-year-old.

"But there wasn't a fire, baby," I said.


"Hey, what's going on in Guantanamo Bay?" I said. "What's that all about?"

* I know, I know, we should have filed them before the rush. Our taxes are rather complicated because I have my own freelance business and Sweet William also has his own side business (film and video production) and we also bought an investment property last year. Just getting all the paperwork together is a big fucking pain, and even though I am pretty organized and enter all my expenses into a spreadsheet, I still have to sort through the receipts and file them into their little envelopes and check them against the spreadsheet to make sure I didn't miss anything. Since Sweet William is not at all organized -- when I met him, he kept all his tax info for the year in a shoe box -- it takes him much longer. He keeps saying I should take over his taxes, but that would involve me hounding him for all his receipts once a month, and that doesn't sound like much fun to me.

By the way, today we worked on our taxes again. I am finished. Sweet William has given up, for the moment. I regret that I may actually have to get involved.

** For which I used Viva's own artwork, scanned into the computer:

She is quite the artiste, no?

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Creeping Crud

St. Patrick's Day is coming, and I mention this because one of my most memorable St. Patrick's Days ever was spent in San Diego when I was 20 years old, and I got one of the worst sunburns I have ever had. But still, it was glorious. I had been in school in suburban Pennsylvania, spending my days squelching across the greens to class through ice and mud, wearing these godforsaken ugly things. I spent my Spring Break junior year in a bikini on the beach, and that was when the seeds of moving to Southern California were planted in my head.

Fast forward to today, Los Angeles, March 11. Today it is 51 degrees. Viva and I went out today in almost identical outfits: long-sleeve T-shirts, with hooded sweaters over them, with raincoats over that. Oh, and pants. We did wear pants. Did I mention that it's 51 degrees outside? Even at mid-day?

I have more to say, but Sweet William is sick and needs my attention. He is running a very high fever off and on, and combined with delightful swollen glands, this is pretty much making him miserable. I slept with Viva last night to avoid catching whatever he has, and thus I did not sleep well. Note that she is currently napping and I am not, and my co-parent-in-crime is almost completely useless at this time. This evening promises to be a blast!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

With a Rebel Yell

Bumper sticker seen today:

I think
Therefore I vote Republican

You know, whenever I see something like that, I just want to say, "Good work! You're doing a fine job of keeping America great!" and then pull my pink cardigan a little closer around me and with a clink of my pearls, dash off to my DAR meeting with Midge and Muffy. Tra la la la, la la!

I mean, really.

The Great Pretender

Very interesting article by Audra Williams here -- she says she has feminist insecurity, and fears being unmasked as a fraud by Real Feminists, despite the fact that she is, in fact, a feminist, and a perfectly valid one, to boot. I don't know why feminism is such a dirty word, since to me it seems that any woman who uses her brain at all is probably a feminist whether she embraces it or not. A male friend of mine once recoiled to discover that I was a member of NOW -- it was like he thought I was in on some horrible plot to dismember him in his sleep. (When in fact we are actually plotting to --oops, I've said too much.) And then after a minute, he decided it was cool that I was a feminist. I don't recall morphing into some horrible man-eating monster in the thirty or so seconds of his horror and then morphing back to myself afterward. I guess I am trying to make a point here about other people's perceptions and how we can't let others define us, but I am not making it very well.

Read the article. She's a bit more articulate than I am.

Laughter is an Instant Vacation

Yesterday, when I picked Viva up from school and I was buckling her into her car seat, we heard a man laughing from somewhere nearby.

Viva: Who's that? Is that Auntie Diva?

Mama Blah: Auntie Diva? No, honey, I'm pretty sure that wasn't Auntie Diva. Although come to think of it, if she's laughing, we can probably hear her wherever she is.

Viva: Auntie Diva laughs loud.

Mama B: Yes, she does. You know who else laughs loud?

Viva: Who?

Mama B: Granny. Man, is she loud!

Viva: Granny laughs LOUD.

Mama B: Yeah, Auntie Diva laughs loud and Granny laughs loud. I don't mind. I kind of like it.

Viva: It's not a good thing. It hurts my ears.

Apparently, we must never have a good time. For the sake of the child. She is some kind of Puritan or something. (Probably from that New England blood, and thus, all my fault.)

Anyway, shortly thereafter, I was getting into the front seat and had an idea for something, so I pulled out my notebook and a pen -- yes, I now keep a few of each in the car at all times -- and started jotting down some notes. From the backseat:

Viva: Are we staying here forever?

Mama B: No, baby, we're leaving in just a second, I'm just writing something down.

Viva: Are we staying here for twenty minutes?

And now for some reason, I have the opening lines to "Proud Mary" in my head. Perhaps I should close this post with a sing-a-long. Shall we do a duet? I'll be Tina and you can be Ike. What? Well, nobody ever wants to be Ike. Shee-it. You can just go on then, and I'll sing by myself. And if I have legs like Tina when I'm 60*, don't hate, appreciate.

* Hell, I wish I had legs like Tina now. She is the shit.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Viva La Scowl!

Viva this morning. Dang, she is a mean little thing. Maybe she's still pissed that Brokeback Mountain got passed over for Best Picture. Sheesh! Kids just need to move on.

Visualize Whirled Peas

I have been running around a lot this week, and I'm currently waiting for a writing assignment from my client, who said he'd have it to me by 1 pm. Note that it is now 2:02 pm. I've caught up a little on my blog reading (but not entirely) and thought I'd post quickly so my 3 regular readers know I'm not dead.

Hi! I'm still here!

I'm beginning to think that I should adopt one day as my writing day (a la Poppymom - hi, Robin!) because it doesn't seem like I am moving ahead with this book all that quickly. And you know, this book should really write itself! And that would be all easy and stuff. And money would fall from the sky, and all over the world, disharmony would disappear, and we'd all ride around on unicorns, singing "Kumbaya" and waving at one another with great peppiness and cheer.

Speaking of unlikelihoods, I have been working on a little bit of graphic design this week (aren't you proud? I knew you would be.). It's not as easy as people make it out to be, especially when you're just getting started. I think a book (though not anything with "for Dummies" in the title, because I just can't go out like that) would be helpful here, because I'm kind of just floundering around a little bit. Ah! A trip to the library seems to be in order. Too bad my local branches don't open until 12:30 and it's 2 and I am waiting for my work to come and I have to pick Viva up at 4.


I'm not following my own sentences. That can't be good.

It's Hard Out There for an Imp

Last Halloween, Viva attended a Halloween party at which she received a goody bag containing suitably creepy items. One of these was what we call The Squishy Eyeball. It is about the size of a red flame seedless grape, and it is made of this weird squishy stuff, of origins indeterminate. It feels like a gummi bear, but it's also slightly tacky, so it picks up lint. I hate The Squishy Eyeball. Viva revels in my discomfort over The Squishy Eyeball. This morning as I was getting dressed, I found The Squishy Eyeball in my shoe.

So that's how we're going to play this, is it? I don't think she knows who she's foolin' with.

More impishness:

When it's my night to put Viva to bed, I read her two books and then turn out the light and we snuggle while I tell her a Moki story. Moki is the name of a puppy I had when I was 11, and she gets into all sorts of wild (oftentimes anthropomorphized) shenanigans in these stories. Except for the original story if how we got Moki, I never tell the same story twice. The stories are made up on the spot, usually based on what Viva comes up with. Last night, I asked her which story she wanted to hear, and she said, "The one where she gets trapped in a fire!"

Thinking fast, I came up with a story where the smoke alarm in Moki's apartment goes off in the middle of the night and her parents wrap her in a blanket and carry her out of the building, and the firefighters come and put out a small fire that started when someone in the building was making toast and then they say heartily, "Nothing to worry about, folks, you can return to your homes!" And Moki and her parents go back inside and Moki goes back to bed, the end. (There were more embellishments, particularly about the firefighters, but we don't need to go into that here except to say that Viva is KEE-RAZY for firefighters. In a good way.)

"You forgot about the part where she gets TRAPPED! In a FIRE!" Viva said.

"But I don't want her to get trapped in a fire," I said. "And I don't want you having nightmares* about being trapped in a fire."

Viva was clearly disgusted. "But I want to hear about getting trapped in a fire!"

"Listen," I said. "What do you usually think about before you fall asleep?"

"I think...about...spiders. And pumpkins!**" she said.

"Well, I want you to think about something nice before you fall asleep," I said soothingly. "Think about puppies, and flowers, and fish."

"NO!" She objected. "I want to think about pictures and CDs, and, and -- CLOSETS***!"

* Viva has been having a lot of bad dreams lately.
** Bad dreams about spiders, and pumpkins.
*** Closets are kind of scary. Anything could be hiding in there. But apparently this has not occurred to Viva, because she slept straight through the night with no bad dreams.

Friday, March 03, 2006

If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

Oh, I am just so busy these days. Blah blah blah, poor me.

Actually, I've been doing some research on a new book idea that Sweet William and I have been working on. I should be washing my kitchen floor right now, but every time I look over in the direction of my kitchen, I become infused with malaise.* What's more, I am becoming used to the filth. It's not so bad. Embrace it!

I also have not yet finished an essay I was writing on spec to submit to some online magazines. I am going to blame this partly on the fact that I have a new laptop and I haven't yet switched over all my stuff -- I put all my freelance work stuff on CD and transferred that, but I haven't even remotely tried doing anything with the rest of it. But today I was reading the online magazine that I would like to submit it to (which I won't divulge here, as I am feeling suddenly shy) and I was thinking again, "Yeah, my piece could run here." Which is either arrogant or (shockingly) realistic, because what the hell, I am the bomb.

So, I have all this stuff lying about unfinished, and I started thinking about the minutiae that I allow myself to get consumed by instead of doing this other stuff. A lot of it is important, in that it helps our family life to function more smoothly -- the laundry, the tidying up, the shopping, even, God forbid, the occasional dusting (along with vacuuming, my greatest housekeeping weakness). Of course, this is all regular stuff, and then comes the more seasonal stuff -- like, now, planning Viva's birthday party and our vacation in April. It takes time, and even as I'm doing it, I realize that time is ticking away as my smoocheroo sits in preschool, learning how to spell her name (she spells her name now, how freaky is that?) and paint stuff on construction paper. I am constantly working against the clock.

Pretty much every grown up thing I have to do is easier when Viva is not with me, so I try to stuff all my errands in the hours when she is at school. At the same time, I am now working one freelance gig and looking for another one to supplement my meager income. And the magazine writing and book writing have to fit in around that. As does exercise. And teaching myself Web design. And taking a moment for some spiritual growth (one of my goals this year, in my effort to be a more balanced person). So even as I berate myself for not getting more done, I realize that I am trying to squeeze in a lot and I'm just going to have to be patient.

Also, the book idea? It's a great concept, but it's complicated, and in a different way than the other book I had put on hold to write something more "commercial." If I can do it right, it'll be immensely sellable -- but there are a few kinks I have to work out first. What's interesting about this book is that Sweet William and I are co-authoring. It was his concept, and we have been fleshing out the bare bones of the story, but I will be doing most of the writing, since I have more free time. (Which at first glance contradicts everything I said above, but is actually true. Sweet William has very little free time due to his job/family repsonsibilities -- he is very much a hands-on daddy when he is home. Fortunately, he doesn't require very much sleep.) I am simultaneously excited and overwhelmed at the thought of writing it, but knowing that we will both be working on it makes it easier.

Don't watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.
- Sam Levenson>

Happy weekends, all. Enjoy your time!

* "Infused with malaise" sounds like a cooking term, dun't it? Like, "Today, I'll be showing you how to slow roast brisket, infused with malaise. Right after this commercial break!"

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Where do I come from?

Yesterday, ParentCenter e-mailed me my 35-month newsletter*, which contained the following, very unwelcome announcement:
In the coming months your child will start showing more interest in the differences between girls and boys. If you catch him in the midst of playing doctor with that little cutie from down the street, try not to react with shock or embarrassment. Just tell the children that penises and vaginas are kept private and steer them toward another activity. They'll probably be relieved, since some experts say preschoolers already have some sense that peeking under each other's clothes is taboo.
I am pretty sure I am not ready for this. My family was always pretty frank about sex, and my sister and I both went to a hippy dippy Head Start preschool back in the '70s, where they had board books about sex lying about. These little books contained cartoonish drawings of anatomically correct animals and explained how the penis goes inside the vagina** and plants a seed, which grows into a baby animal, which then comes out of the mommy animal. No mention of the hideous pain natural beauty of labor, as I recall -- the baby just pops out into a world of smiling cartoonish animals with no blood or poop or anything.

I guess I have to start thinking about how we are going to talk about this. Crap, isn't any of this parenting stuff even slightly easy?

I need to go lie down.

* I signed up for the newsletter when I was pregnant with Viva, in those heady days when every week meant something new. They would send me stuff that said: "Your baby is now the size of a lime. Your morning sickness is probably making you puke up everything you ever ate in your entire life, but don't worry, that's perfectly normal!"

** Viva does at least know the word vagina, and uses it in the correct manner. Sometimes she even uses it affectionately, and shortens it to a nickname: "Now I have to wipe my 'ginee. Front to back, front to back."

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

She Can Bring Home the Bacon and Fry It Up in a Pan

My sister-in-law, Diva, is applying for a new job and she's asked me to help her with her resume. She is asking for my help, not because she doesn't have a resume put together, but because she has two resumes - one personal and one political - and a bio, and she's trying to use all three to find a job in a new field. This new field is one in which she has very transferable skills. Diva is a bit of a powerhouse, to be honest, and I can't imagine anything that she'd be bad at if she put her mind to it. Looking over her resumes and bio, I am feeling a bit of a slacker. She is married with two teenage boys, has a full-time job, and she goes to school at night (working on her Bachelor's degree) and on weekends. Not only does she find time to go to her son's basketball games and even take Viva overnight once a month, but she also started her own foundation to provide scholarships for young athletes, she follows real estate trends and helped us buy investment property, and she is active at her kids's school and in political and social causes. She belongs to five political groups, and recently attended a conference on the black state of the union in Houston. She is always involved in something.

I admit I have never been much of a joiner, and apathy should be my middle name when it comes to involvement in the political process, particularly after the 2000 Presidential elections. But I envy her energy and her determination. Seeing it all down on paper kind of blows my mind.

There, now I should actually stop writing here and get back to work on merging all her stuff. Still, I am in a bit of a pickle and that's probably why I stopped to write this out. Conventional wisdom tells us that you shouldn't include information on your resume that indicates race, religion or political affiliation -- despite the fact that it's illegal to discriminate based on same. Diva is a member of a church, is very obviously a Democrat due to the many Democratic campaigns she's worked on and the Democratic clubs she belongs to, and is also a member of a variety of Black/African American political groups and subgroups. The activities that she's undertaken as part of these groups - her community service, in essence - are what qualify her for consideration for this new job she wants. I'm just having trouble figuring out how to word things.

How did I get involved, you ask? Because I am the de facto editor for pretty much everything anyone in my circle writes. People are always asking me to proofread and/or edit their stuff. I don't mind it, but I am a bit of a perfectionist about it, which can be annoying (mainly to me, because it takes me forever). I guess that's why people come to me, though...

I am gud at this riting thing.

Okay, now, seriously, I'm gone.