Friday, September 29, 2006
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
…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
I hope it's not the flu.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
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
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
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.”
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
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 naïve.) 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?
Monday, September 11, 2006
So I was watching the TV when the second plane crashed, and I could not do anything else all day. I tried to work – I was freelancing from home then – but I could not look away from the TV. It was so unspeakably horrifying. I felt sick, and weepy, and furious, and sad. And I remember: we did not know what else was coming. These were simultaneous attacks. So mixed in with the sorrow and anger for the victims in New York, DC, and Pennsylvania were fear and dread of which U.S. city would be attacked next. The world, as I knew it, was irrevocably changed.
At that point, Sweet W and I were only a few weeks away from our wedding. We had friends who had just gotten married on September 8 in the Midwest, and their honeymoon flight was supposed to take off on the 11th. Since all flights were grounded, they spent their honeymoon trying to get a rental car to drive back home to the Bay Area. We talked briefly about postponing our wedding, but then decided that whatever the hell happened, we wanted to be married. We did end up putting off our honeymoon to Hawaii, and we still haven’t gotten there. But that is neither here nor there.
What a day. I am still so sad.
Friday, September 08, 2006
Viva: Tell me a joke, Mom.
Mama: Uh, okay, let's see, um -- why did the man throw the clock out the window?
Mama: Because he wanted to see time fly.
Viva: [smiling politely because she doesn't get it] Now I'll tell you a joke -- why did the man throw the book out the window? [before I can answer] Because the closet wouldn’t open! Ah ha ha ha!
Mama: Ha ha, good one.
Viva: Mom! Mom! What do you call a bear with no shoes and socks on?
Mama: What, sweetie?
Mama: Ah, yes [realizing that she has heard this joke on Little Bill].
Viva: Here's another one. What do you call a flower with no shoes and socks on?
Mama: I don't know, what --
Viva: Stinky plant! [cracks up, falling over herself laughing]
Well, she's no Richard Pryor, but me loves her anyhoo.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
The city of Los Angeles had been overrun by giant prehistoric marauding bears. I looked at my watch* and realized I was late leaving work to pick up Viva. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law had come to pick me up at work (due to the marauding bears?) and we drove through the city toward Viva’s school, but we kept getting diverted through various detours, because there were large mobs running through the streets with lengths of pipe, sticks, and baseball bats (presumably to beat down the marauding bears). Finally, my mother-in-law pulled into the parking lot of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in her dark-green convertible**, which we were driving in with the top down***, and parked the car.
“What are you doing?” I shrieked. “We are miles from where we need to be!”
“No, no, no,” my mother-in-law insisted. “Isn’t Viva’s school right around the corner?”
“NO,” I said. “We passed it already. Shit! Now I am more than an hour late to get her.”
“That’s it, I’m gone,” said Diva, my sister-in-law. “I’m going home.”**** She started walking away. We both yelled after her that she was being crazy.
I turned back to my mother-in-law to tell her we needed to get back in the car and try and head back toward Hollywood, and I woke up.
Right next to my bed, floating crazily into my face, was Viva’s huge happy face balloon, which she’s had for two weeks and has lost much of its air and now floats around the house ghoulishly looking too much like Jack Skellington for comfort. I almost had a heart attack.
* Oddment #1, since I never wear a watch. Who wears a watch? If you carry a cell phone, a watch is completely irrelevant.
** Oddment #2, since in reality she drives a cream-colored hard top Lincoln Continental.
*** Oddment #3, since hello? Marauding prehistoric bears! Why was the top down?
**** Oddment #4, since she lives 30-some miles away, had no means of getting there, and hello? Marauding prehistoric bears!
I just overheard one of our clients coming out of a meeting with her case manager, saying “…even though my social worker says I’m going to get my baby back. I mean, I don’t think I’m a mean mother…”
That just breaks my heart.
I’m seeing a lot of ankle boots paired with dresses these days among those who
I am officially going on record as saying no to this fad and hoping it goes away. Thus have I said it, let it be so.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Okay, so a few days ago I was reading around the blogosphere, and somehow (I don’t remember how) I came across some blogs whose authors claimed to be in the throes of some kind of malaise related to blog posting. “Bloglaise,” they termed it. I admit, I often find myself thinking about blogging and then not having enough time to devote to what I want to write about, so rather than do it half-assed, I don’t do it at all. But then I get so backed up by wanting to express myself that I do it half-assed anyway, so what the hell. I don’t think I have blog malaise; I think I am strangled by own perfectionism.
By the way, I realize it is not very nice blog etiquette to mention this phenomenon and not actually cite the blogs I was reading, but right now I am on my work computer, and when I was reading the blogs, I was on my home computer, so I can’t go back and check the history. So what, you don’t have enough blogs to read as it is?
I do have bloglaise when it comes to actually updating my template, which I fully realize is screwed up right now, and for which I humbly apologize because it is no doubt making any Web designer who might come across it scream for mercy, backing away and muttering something about
But you know, here is the thing about blogging. When I first started blogging, I thought it would just be a cool way to keep a sort of online journal and get in some writing practice. I wasn’t all that concerned about people reading it. I didn’t care about how many hits I got or how people found me or whether they added me to their RSS feeds. And honestly, that is still not what drives me to write it. (Because clearly, if I were in it for the fortune and fame, I would have given up long ago.)
What I have noticed is that ever since I started keeping stats and occasionally getting comments, I have become more conscious about what I’m writing. I feel a pressure to be funny, despite the fact that this is not the stated purpose of the blog. I mean, I’m no comedienne. And I’m no comedian, either. (I just typed comedienne and it struck me as a bogus distinction between male and female comics since the words sound pretty much the same. What is that all about?) I also read some very funny people here and there on the Web, and rather than inspiring me to write more funniness, it makes me not. It’s less that I think, “I can’t be that funny,” than it is that I realize that on some level I start to emulate the writing I like. And who wants to be unoriginal?
I don’t want to feel pressure to be funny, although it is all self-imposed. There is a part of me that says, “Write whatever the hell you want. It is, after all, your blog.” And there’s another part of me that says, “Don’t you want to build an audience? Nobody will come back to read this if you aren’t occasionally entertaining.” And then there is another part of me that says, “Why do you need another thing to feel obligated about? Don’t be a fucking sell-out.” And then there is another part of me that says, “Shut the hell up, all of you! Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?”
And then there’s the working. If I blog at work, I find I am considerably less funny and/or well-thought-out than if I blog at home. However, if I blog at work, I’m generally coming at it fresh, with more energy. If I blog at home, you’re getting whatever I have left at the end of the day. Either way, my best is not coming through. And you know, I’m a giver. I’m all about the giving.
I have toyed with the idea of quitting the blog. I am sad to say that one of my old favorites (the blog, not the person. I am not implying that she is old. Or that we go way, way back. Oh, fuck it), Fluid Pudding, has decided to call it quits. This bums me out because Angela (the mischievous mastermind behind the Pudding) is consistently entertaining and I enjoy reading her blog. I rarely comment because I am a horrible person that way, but nonetheless, I am a fan. I am fairly certain that she doesn’t blog for the comments anyway, but because, like many of us, she needs a way to express herself and her blog is a creative outlet.
I don’t know what the answer is for me. But for now, I’m going to keep going with this and see what happens. Maybe I’ll come up with something truly amazing. And maybe monkeys will fly out of my ass. You just never know.
When I e-mail you a very specific question requiring that your answer be couched in very specific terms, do not e-mail me back with an estimate of “100-125.” Is that per month? Per year? Per event? Give me one solid number and some fucking context to put it in. Is that so difficult?
When I ask for access to a database that I need to do my job, and when I continually ask for nearly three months, and then when I finally get someone to install the database application on my computer, only to find that the one person who is the administrator of the database and can give me access has gone on vacation for two weeks, and then when that person comes back from vacation and mocks me for not remembering a password he made up on the spot two months ago for the database that wasn’t even on my computer until two weeks ago, and when I then finally log on with the new password five minutes later only to discover that I can get into the database but I can’t access any data fields (!!!!) – after all this, I say, do not expect me to be all sweetness and light. Expect me to spit in your coffee, my friend.
Long overdue: when they called it Casual Friday, they meant “business casual.” They did not mean dressing as if (a) you are going out to the club; (b) you’ll be sitting around drinking beer and watching the game; or (c) you’re on your way to the mall. Tank tops? NO. Dingy T-shirts? NO. Anything that bares your midriff? NO.
As a side note, let us discuss appropriate work undergarments. I do not need to see anyone’s n!pples at work. If you are wearing a tight shirt, for the love of all that is holy, wear a lined bra. They are no more expensive than any other bra and keep all your shit covered. And for those of you that might imagine that this remark is directed at slim, nubile young women, think again. Not that I think they should be given a pass, but where I work, they are not (so far) guilty of this. Think 50-ish large-boned woman resting her bosoms on her desk while you are having a meeting. It needs to stop.
Whew! Glad I got that off my chest (so to speak).