Monday, December 17, 2007

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas

Happy Holidays! Have Some Spam

This morning, I have received 21 spam e-mails on my work computer. I wish there was some way to let it be known that I am not male and do not need Viagra or other, er, enhancement. And as far as I know, my husband and I are both quite happy with his existing equipment.

That’s all. There, I said it.

Obligatory Cute Christmas Story

Viva: Let me sing you a song.

Mama B: That would be fabulous, baby, go ahead.

Viva: [singing heartily] Feliz NabiDAH! Feliz NabiDAH! I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas at the bottom of my HEARRRRTT! [repeats ten times, dancing and swinging arms in graceful arcs]

Mama B: That was beautiful. I bet it is really beautiful at the bottom of your heart.

Viva: [scowls] No, Mama, that’s just part of the song.

Mama B: [because the Cuteness! Is! Too! Much!] I love you so.

Viva: [meltingly] Oh, I love you too.

Not So Cute

Last night, Sweet Dub and I were talking about what to do about Viva’s future education. Should we send her to the public school down the street next year, as she will be old enough to go to kindergarten and we will no longer have to pay for school? How bad is the local public school anyway? Well, I went online for a refresher on what the school’s demographics are, what its test scores look like, etc., courtesy of the LAUSD website. They’re actually pretty decent when all is said and done. But then I Googled the school to see if I could get any “nonpartisan” feedback about it and I discovered that some very involved parents at the school have created a Website. “Hey, this might not be bad,” I said to Sweet Dub. The parents noted that the school’s performance as tracked by test scores has consistently improved over the past five years and that they had been able to secure some private grants to make improvements to the school. All well and good. Then I read a post that there is evidently a registered pedophile living across the street from the school.

Yes, you read that right. This person served time for lewd and lascivious acts with a person under the age of 14, and then moved in close proximity to an elementary school. According to the parents, school staff is aware he is there and they all know what he looks like. And according to the LAPD, he isn’t doing anything illegal just by living there, because he served his time, he is through his parole, and he hasn’t been accused of further criminal activity. But just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right. It’s like a recovering alcoholic moving across the street from a bar.

This means he lives just a few blocks from us. You can say all you want that they’re everywhere. If you look on your state’s sex offender registration database, it will make you crazy. There are 20 in my ZIP code alone, and many (including the guy down the street) are in violation, which means they haven’t checked in with the state when they were supposed to. You can go here if you live in California – or Google Megan’s Law to search in a different state.

I am at work right now, and I just glanced at a photo of Viva beaming at me from her homemade Mother’s Day card and I felt simultaneously the urge to cry and throw up at the idea that someone just might not be able to help himself from hurting her. Needless to say, we’re still working out our kindergarten plans.

On A Lighter Note

Because I just can’t leave you like that (and I certainly didn’t start this post intending to take you on a journey down the Road of Creepiness), I bring you this:

Report: Nation’s Wealthy Cruelly Deprived Of True Meaning Of Christmas
The nation’s poor get to experience true Christmas spirit, while the wealthy, burdened by shopping and party obligations, are left out in the cold.

Report: Nation's Wealthy Cruelly Deprived Of True Meaning Of Christmas.

In the absence of The Daily Show (when O when will the writer’s strike end??), this is not a bad substitute for the type of features I would expect to see at this time of year. Enjoy, and keep away from the fruitcake.*

* I don't mean myself.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Where is Christ in Christmas?

"Santa died for our gifts and rose from the dead and moved to the North Pole and because of that, every year Santa comes down to forgive us our sins and give us eternal presents."

- Jazmine, explaining "the true meaning of Christmas" to Riley in "A Huey Freeman Christmas," a.k.a. The Boondocks Christmas Special.

That show is frickin' hilarious.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Feature!

So I returned to work last week and have not had even a second to pick my nose*, never mind write a coherent blog post. Since this seems to be an overarching theme which runs throughout 9 out of 10 of my blog posts, and over which I have a disproportional amount of guilt, I am going to start a new feature at Mama Blah Blah.

Are you ready?

Are you sure?

Here it is. Because I have limited time, I'm going to post one-liners. These may be things I have said or overheard or that other people have said to me or that I pick up off the bathroom wall. I will try to post them in context, which will involve more than one line, but they will be for the most part very brief posts.

Today's one-liner, which was actually said yesterday, is:

"Once again, not having won the lottery, the [Blah Blahs] head off to work."

Said by Sweet Dub, approx. 6:30 am, as we looked at each other mournfully, me in my bathrobe, he fully dressed and about to walk out the door. I hate Mondays.

* Not that I would ever do that. Isn't that what coat sleeves are for?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Buh-bye, Sweatpants!

The other day, Sweet Dub looked at me critically and with some mild concern and said:

"Those pants make your ass look flat. [pause] I didn't think that was even possible."

His comments were directed at the evil sweatpants. I'm back in regular clothes. My ass is now swathed in denim and looking pretty good (read: not flat), if I do say so myself. I think we should burn the sweatpants in our backyard.

Except we have once again been issued a high-wind advisory. I'd hate to contribute to the wildfire epidemic.

Damn Santa Anas.

Weird And/Or Random

Okay, Janie tagged me and I'm meme-ing, if somewhat belatedly. My mission is to reveal 7 weird/random things about myself and tag 7 other bloggers.

(1) In high school, I was in an advanced art class through which I was selected to help create a float for a Disney-themed parade (why on earth?!?) through downtown Boston. My team was chosen to design the Fantasia float. I spent a ridiculous amount of time helping recreate the Dance of the Hours sequence with an oversized dancing hippo in a tutu and an alligator in a cape. Chicken wire, papier mache, tissue paper, and paint, for weeks after school, with all the usual high school bitchery. When we finally got to ride on the float, waving at the crowds, I laughed hysterically through the whole thing. The absurdity of it was just overwhelming.

(2) I have seven moles on my body (three on my neck alone). When Viva was younger, she thought they were extra nipples. This was, thankfully, once she was past the age of breastfeeding.

(3) If I could eat ice cream every day, I would.

(4) When I was in elementary school in Boston back in the day (1970s!), one year near the end of the year they had each kid self-identify racially on one of the standardized forms we were filling out. This was back in the day when you could only check one box. I think there were maybe four options, which even at the time was baffling. Because we are "mixed," I checked black, and my sister checked white. The next year, my sister was assigned to 6th grade at a middle school a mile or so from our predominantly white working-class neighborhood. I was bussed (!!) to 5th grade in a more diverse school (great mix of black, white, Asian and Hispanic, to my great relief), about 5 miles away. So few of us came from that neighborhood that we were bussed in on the short bus! To this day, with all the fuss over bussing in Boston, I do not understand why, as the "black" kid, I was bussed OUT of my white neighborhood. Wasn't the idea that the schools were suppoed to be more integrated?

(5) The following year, I was bussed even further away, to a predominantly black middle school. I got in more fights that year than I can count - none provoked by me, and all involving a group of mean girls, in my grade but not in my class, who insisted that I "thought I was cute." Since at 11 I was already wearing glasses and never knew what to do with the unruly mass of frizz on my head, nothing could have been further from the truth. It was completely bewildering.

(6) The first movie I ever saw was Benji, when I was 6. I was a complete freak about dogs and yet to this day, except for a two-week stint with a puppy that my parents later gave away (!! child abuse!!), I have never owned one.

(7) Speaking of dogs, when I was 25, I was mauled by my dad's Akita. Today, if I shaved my head, you would see the scars from four bite marks on my skull. I did not have a great relationship with my dad before this happened, and strangely, this did not improve things. Perhaps this is because he kept the dog despite its penchant for biting people smaller than it (the dog outweighed me by at least 20 pounds). Whenever I would call him, even years later, I would ask, "Is your dog dead yet?"

I think he resented that.

So those are my seven things. I rarely comment on other people's blogs - I know, this is really bad blog etiquette. So I feel a bit awkward and shy about tagging anyone to do this meme! Instead, if you would like to post seven random/weird things either here, in the comments, or on your own blog, please do. No, really, please, because I do find you fascinating. I have really enjoyed other people's lists. These are the things that make you, you.

Won't you share?

Monday, November 26, 2007


I have been online for much of today and have not bought one damn thing. So much for Cyber Monday or whatever they're calling it.

A week from today I will be back at work. Gah.

Janie tagged me for a meme (Hi Janie! I'm not being anti-social, really), and I don't think I'll get to it until tomorrow because I have errands to run before picking up Viva from school and there are still dirty dishes in the sink from this morning.

In an ideal world, the idea that I only have one "free" week left would make me focus, but evidently it's having the opposite effect. Bear with me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Her Skin is Not the Same

Yesterday, Viva and I were out and about. She was in a great mood because we had spent pretty much the entire weekend together and I am about 85% back to normal health. This means I’m not running around in the backyard playing tag with her, but I am able to spend several hours at a time with her before needing a break. We have been cooking together, drawing together, reading, playing games, doing puzzles, and the like. Despite her being in a very contrary phase wherein if you say one thing, she will say the exact opposite for no apparent reason, I have really been enjoying our time together.

So we were in the Cost Plus World Market, chumming around together, picking out a few Christmas ornaments (which, really, is ridiculous since it’s mid-November, but don’t even let me commence) and getting some curtains, and then we went to pay for our purchases. As we were being rung up, the cashier looked at Viva and back at me and said, “She is your daughter?”

“Yeah, yeah she is,” I said, picking up one of the bags and putting it in the cart.

“She looks so different from you,” she said.

“Do you think so?” I said. “I think she looks a lot like me.”

“My daughter is sort of like that,” she said, staring at Viva. Viva started to wrap her arms around my leg and hide her face. “Her skin is not the same.”

“Hmm,” I said, because at that point I just wanted to get out of the store. I don’t think this woman (who had white skin and spoke with an unidentified accent) was trying to be rude, but if in fact she did have a child who looks different from her, she might be expected to understand that it’s not polite to point that out. I had no desire to bond with her over whatever she felt we had in common, it was clearly making Viva uncomfortable, and added to that, there was a line of people behind us – none of whom was (visibly, at least) a person of color. I realize to most people we look different because they are not looking closely. I look white, and Viva looks black. The fact that we are both a mixture of both is not readily apparent. It is not easy. It is not comfortable. It’s also not anybody’s business but ours.

Anyway, we paid for our things and we left the store, and we ate ginger cookies in the car on the way home, me and my little daughter whose skin is not the same. And by God, we were happy to be together.

All the same, it’s been nibbling away at the back of my brain. I’m irritated. And Viva, home today with a nasty cough, is evidently not napping, so this post ends here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Oh, no she di'n't!

Yesterday, during the minor miracle that was Viva's nap*, I sat down in my reading chair and rather than power up the laptop, I read a book. More specifically, I read this book, which is easily one of the top ten books I read this year. In fact, I would rank it among my top two for the year. Now, your tastes and mine may differ, but I really enjoyed this book. So much so that I finished it and realized I had let Viva oversleep, so I lurched out of the chair without a second thouhgt. And I didn't realize until this morning as I was waking up that I forgot to blog yesterday, so I am once again not fulfilling the pledge of NaBloPoMo. Oops.

Well, it's a damn good book, is all.

*Yes! She has begun taking naps again on the weekend! And there was much rejoicing!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Public Service Announcement

Have you, like me, ever come across a laundry care label with only symbols and you have no clue how you are supposed to interpret them? How, for example, did a triangle become the symbol for bleach??

You know me, I live to serve. Find your cheat sheet here. Back to your regularly scheduled programming...

Now and Then

It is Saturday morning. Sweet Dub has taken Viva out to breakfast and then they are going to see Bee Movie.* They left after repeated, stern instructions from him for me not to overdo it while they were gone.

There are so many things I want to do right now and I can't:

(1) Exercise.
(2) Clean the house.
(3) Take my car to the gas station, get gas and put air in the tires. (I can drive with a towel over my abdomen between me and the seatbelt, but the squatting to inflate the tires would still hurt and I might strain something.)
(4) Gardening/working in the yard.
(5) Pretty much anything active.

The good news is that my abdomen has shrunk enough that I can fit into my comfy jeans, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I am heading back to the world of normal clothes! Oh, how I've missed you!

The weather today is perfect for a nice fall hike in Griffith Park. On one of my first real dates with Sweet Dub, he took me for a hike in Griffith Park. I didn't realize it was a test! (Ooh, sneaky Dub.) We drove up and parked across from the Greek Theatre and headed up a steep trail. It was all uphill for a good 5 minutes, then leveled out, then uphill again, etc. We walked and talked for a good hour or so, and I didn't poop out. I guess he was trying to see if I was actually in shape or whether I was thin because I didn't eat much.** Because he is a very active person, this was an important compatibility issue for him.

I am not as active as he is, but I do miss yoga and hiking and dancing. Those are my three favorite "active" activities. (Well, the three that I can tell you about. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.)

I am now going to fling open the windows and let the crisp air into the house and maybe "couch dance"*** to my (and Viva's) new favorite song by Flight of the Conchords. You know I like funny. I am slightly ever so in love with them:

"You like boom, I like boom, enough small boom, let's boom de boom!" Viva likes to dance to the abbreviated version we show her via TiVo (so she doesn't actually hear the f-word or the b-word. Give us at least a little credit.). Enjoy!

* Please note that if you click on the link for Bee Movie, you will be taken to a review by Common Sense Media. My adding this link should not be interpreted as my having read the review before sending my kid to the movie. Because I didn't. Because I am just that lazy. Thank you and good night.

** Which, in itself, is kind of ridiculous, since during the blind date at which we met, I ordered French toast, swimming in butter and syrup, and bacon. What can I say - it didn't occur to me to order an egg-white omelet. That is just not how I roll.

*** By which I mean sit on the couch and dance only with my shoulders and arms. Gently.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Let It Go

Eeps! Despite having forgotten about NaBloPoMo until a few days after it started, I am trying to participate in my own charmingly forgetful, ass-backwards way. I've been posting every day since I realized that was what we were supposed to be doing. Yeah, whatever.

At any rate, I just started reading the blog Flawed But Authentic, and one of the recent posts by Jessica was about forgiveness (sorry but I can't figure out where the permalink is, or I'd link to's the Nov. 7th, 2007 post). When I was lunching with my dear friend MG yesterday, she mentioned that an old mutual friend had called her several years ago to announce that when they were roommates, she was struggling with bulimia and anorexia and that part of her program was to contact people she had wronged somehow with behavior related to that. So she rattled off a list of ten things she wanted to apologize for. Evidently MG was quite gracious and empathetic, but, as she confided to me, "I honestly didn't remember most of the things she was apologizing for! But then I didn't want to say that, because she has clearly been carrying around all this guilt about it, which I felt guilty for, and then I thought she might feel worse if she realized she'd been so worried about it -- I mean, she must have really had to buck herself up to call me in the first place if she felt this bad about it. And really? I probably was drunk for most of these incidents anyway!"

So I guess our old friend was asking for forgiveness for these actions which she perceived as wrong. And yet, MG certainly was harboring no ill will toward her at all. It made me ponder about how many things we all internalize and carry grudges and worries over -- things which may not really be all that important in the grand scheme of things.

In my own family, recently, more drama has arisen over things that took place in the past. My sister Lola and I had a conversation this week in which she referenced the way I had behaved in the past toward my mother, which is evidently impacting my relationship with her now. Since my mother never ever directly explains what is bothering her to the person she has a problem with, I have never fully understood what I have done. However, my mother has given Lola an earful. My sister won't share with me what my mother has said because she thinks it is between my mom and me.


Yes, how I am not completely mental from these passive-aggressive twists and turns is truly beyond me. I feel we are at an impasse. It always seems to me, when dealing with my mom, that there has to be a better way, yet no matter how I try, it always devolves into something completely unproductive.

I know I can only do what I can do. I accept that I am a flawed but well-meaning human being. So for the moment, I am concentrating on being good to myself, protecting myself from the bad vibes, and hoping that understanding may ultimately flow from that. And trying not to wonder what I did that I have clearly glossed over (evidently, it is not just one thing) and fervently swearing not to continue this same pattern with my own lovely and amazing child.

Happy Friday, and if you can't make amends, make brownies or something.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

You Look FABulous!

Today was "get pretty" day for no other reason than that I had a hair appointment already scheduled. I gave myself a facial and a partial manicure (didn't have time for polish) and then tootled over to the salon. They spent two hours coloring my hair, first with the base color, then the highlights. I went directly from there to a nearly three-hour lunch with an old college friend -- we had a great time getting caught up and talking about how much beer and vodka we drank and how little sleep we survived on back then. Then we laughed about our shitty GPAs. Ah, college.

It was a wonderful, very self-indulgent day. I highly recommend!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

My Only Consolation

Oh my GAH.

Recently, I received a bill for $420 from a doctor I saw back in February for a consultation on my fibroid issues. The doctor did not have a very good bedside manner and he did a really hard sell on a procedure which is still fairly new, for which not a lot of data on effectiveness is available. At the time that I made the appointment, the scheduler told me, "Yes, we accept Blue Shield [my insurance company at the time]."

Now, some ten months and change later, I get a bill from them. Apparently, they've been billing Blue Shield and Blue Shield will not pay them because they are "not a participating provider." When I spoke to a Blue Shield representative this morning, she explained to me that even though the doctor's office told me that they accept Blue Shield, all that really means is that they will try and bill Blue Shield for the office visit. Here is a transcript of our conversation:

Blue Shield Rep: They are not contracted with us. So in the future, what you need to do when contacting a doctor is find out not just if they accept Blue Shield, but if they contract with Blue Shield.

Mama Blah Blah: Wow. Okay, so but you can see why I feel a little bit like I've been scammed? I mean, they acted like all would be well and my insurance would cover it. I'm not saying that's your fault, I'm just saying --

BSR: [Nervous yet empathetic laughter] Yeah, it seems --

MBB: I mean, what recourse do I have now?

BSR: Well, you need to speak with the doctor's office and explain the situation.

MBB: I have a feeling that's going to go over well.

BSR: [Again with the laughter]

MBB: Well, this is a very expensive lesson.

BSR: I'm so sorry. Is there anything else I can help you with?

MBB: [To self: Yes, you can help me find my can opener because I am about to open up a 64-ounce can of Whup Ass on the doctor's office. To her:] Um, no thanks. Thank you for your help and have a great day.
And three phone calls later, with still no resolution of the matter, I find myself leaving a message with one of the medical billing specialists. Frustrated, I hightail it to the Internette, where I drown my sorrows by reading one of my new faves; I speak, dear friends, of Shoe Blog.

I am a big fan of shoes, in theory. I love, love, love them. In practice, my feet are extremely difficult. A shoe which looks great and fits well in the store quite often tortures my feet when truly put to the test of a full 8 to 9 hour day. This means that I tend to have to buy rather expensive (to me) shoes so I won't further ruin my feet. This also means that I don't buy a lot of shoes, much though I love them. I'm thinking however, that I may not be able to resist these:

I mean, come on. Throw these on with jeans and a bright top with a cool jacket and that is pretty dang cute. They also come in orange!

And for those days when you want a bit more sophistication:

Henceforth I think I will adopt this as my motto: New shoes beat the blues! I'm also enjoying NaBloShoeMo tremendously. It's making my heart go thumpa-thump.

Oh, shoes. I do love you so.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Six Days Late, 'Cuz That's How I Roll

Oh, right, Halloween! Didn't I threaten promise you, my faithful readership, that I would post pictures of Viva's modified costume? I know you are past all point of caring, but since it is almost but not quite a week since Halloween, I feel it is still worth a shot.

Here is an action shot:

Bat Cat takes off to save the city!

And here is a head-to-toe, so you can get the full effect:

The problem with the head-to-toe shot is that you can't really see the bad-ass hand-sewn and hand-drawn logos I came up with, across the chest and on the utility belt. From far away, she still looks like Bat Man.

Damn it. I'm going back to bed.

Edited to add: Oh, it appears that if you double-click on the pictures, a new window will open and you can see a larger version (and can thus see the logos). Ah, the wonders of technology.

Monday, November 05, 2007


I fully and finally admit to having succumbed to a bit of a funk over the past week or so. Tired of not being able to do much of anything, blah blah blah, so full of malaise that I couldn’t bring myself to write about it. It makes me tired even to type that, so moving on…

I just got caught up on my blog reading, and hey! Have you noticed that people out there are participating in NaBloPoMo? They’re blogging every day for the month of November! Hey, maybe I could do that! …Oops.

Anyway, after getting caught up on my reading and other things, I picked up the remote to watch a little TV during lunch. The remote wouldn’t work. I contemplated calling Sweet Dub at work and shrieking, “The TV’s broken!” because you know what, I don’t think he has enough to worry about. But the very idea of calling him and screaming that led me into a reverie…

When I was 6 years old and my mother was newly remarried, we moved from our low-income housing project to the home of S and R, two of my mom’s childhood friends. In hindsight, I think this was probably because once my mom and stepdad made it legal, we no longer qualified as low-income-enough to remain in the projects, although we were still pretty broke. At any rate, we moved into their large old house in the neighborhood where my mom had grown up. S and R had two little boys who were younger than my sister and I – the older one was maybe 3 or 4 and the younger one was a toddler, still in a crib. Early one Saturday morning, we were all awakened by the sound of the 4-year-old screaming, “Daddy! The TV’s broken!”

As I said, it was early. It was so early, in fact, that there was no TV on. The television was showing what we called, back in the day, “snow.” Yes, youngsters, in olden times, if you turned on the TV at, say, 4:30 AM, NOTHING WOULD BE ON. The airwaves were actually silent. And, as yet, there were no VCRs. There were no DVD players. There was no TiVo. Your TV was basically useless for a couple hours each day.

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “That sounds like hell on earth!”

Having been pretty much housebound now for nearly four weeks, I can tell you this: at some point, you do get fairly sick of television. Every person has a different tipping point. Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time on the phone talking to actual human beings rather than staring at the screen. Today, I got caught up with a very dear friend who I’ve known since we were 12. I spent a lot of time during my most awkward years hanging out amidst her very loud, very large, very loving extended family. There have been times when years have gone by and we haven’t talked person-to-person, but when we do, there is no weird small talk, no bullshit. We dive right into whatever is going on with each of us.

Too often, we make excuses for not having enough time to keep in touch with all the people who are important to us. I am grateful to have this recuperation time to reconnect with people. I want to make sure that I continue to do so after I get back on the hamster wheel of work-family balance post-recuperation. More to come…

Friday, November 02, 2007

Shortest Post Ever

It's been almost 4 weeks since my surgery, and I am thoroughly thick of sweatpants/yoga pants.

That is all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kooky, Not Spooky

Generally, around this time of year, the Blah Blah family is occupied with Halloween – in particular, with Viva’s costume. Ever since Viva became old enough to have an opinion about Halloween, she has favored the selection of a costume that not everyone else will have. Thus, last year, amidst a swarm of princesses and pirates in her class, she stood out as the very memorable elephant clown:

This year, Viva decided quite early on that she wanted to be Bat Cat.

If you are not familiar with the television program (programme? It’s British) Charlie and Lola (or if you’ve only seen one or two episodes), you may not be aware of this particular superhero. Bat Cat is a television character in Charlie and Lola’s world, and their favorite superhero. Lola has a Bat Cat lunchbox and there is an episode where Charlie and Lola make up a Bat Cat story where Bat Cat saves Squabbles the dog’s hairbrush from a burning building. Bat Cat is a cat who dresses up like a bat. He can fly (he has a cape), but other than that, I’m not aware of any other superpowers. Viva is quite taken by Bat Cat, and Sweet Dub has encouraged this fascination by creating his own stories about Bat Cat, complete with alter ego whose name I can’t possibly reveal here.

Do you see where this is going?

Of course, there is no such thing as a pre-made Bat Cat costume. Fortunately, both Bat Cat and Batman seem to have an affinity for black, grey, and yellow. Hence, we bought a Batman suit, which I split down the back, added a cat’s tail* to from the inside, and sewed back up. I also cut off the mask from the cap, and I need to shorten the cape so you can see her tail. Right now I am working on modifying the utility belt and I have created a Bat Cat logo to go across her chest and cover up the Batman symbol. Sweet Dub actually deigned to cross the threshold of the craft store and brought me back several squares of felt, so yesterday I made patterns and cut and pinned most of the logo together. I am pleased that (a) it’s actually coming together and looking good and (b) I had the time to do this because I’m on medical leave.

I will post pictures when it’s complete so you can all enjoy the cuteness. Or at least have a laugh.

Speaking of which, Sweet Dub also purchased a costume. I am not sure what compelled him to do this because I have known him for 7 years and he never has. But you know, that Sweet Dub, he is unpredictable. On Saturday, while Viva was out of the house, he tried it on:

He also ran wildly about the yard in a deranged performance that completely validated my decision to merge my life with his, 'til death do us part, etc. I have video, but it is very jumpy:

Have I mentioned that it is painful for me to laugh? You know, because of the recent abdominal surgery?

Why is he trying to kill me?
* Not from a real cat. No animals were harmed in the assemblage of Viva's costume.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Now With More Sulfites!

Viva update: Sweet Dub left work early yesterday and took her to the pediatrician. Diagnosis: no urinary tract infection. Not sure what to think. The doctor told Sweet Dub no bubble baths (which we don’t do anyway, because I’d read somewhere that can irritate the genital area), and no wearing underwear to bed. Viva seemed mildly disturbed by this, which is interesting, because she likes to frolic about in her altogether whenever possible. At any rate, she seems fine today. *

Lisa update: I feel like I have turned a corner. Basically I stopped taking my pain medication because it was clogging up my digestive tract (one of the stated side effects), and I started drinking wine instead. I know this sounds ridiculous. I am not a medical professional, and I doubt that any physician would recommend this course of action to you. But I was a bit desperate. Since I feel best in the morning, I wasn’t taking my Vicodin until the afternoon anyway. Yesterday, I had a half a glass of wine at 4 pm and another half a glass at 8 pm. Slept like a baby and my digestion is back to normal. Today, I feel great. I mean, relatively great. I still feel like I have paper cuts on the inside of my abdomen, and a general bloating and not being able to lift things, but in the overall scheme of things, SO much better.

Moving on: today, I’ve been working on photo albums. Ever since we got a digital camera, we’ve been lax about putting photos into any kind of order or even printing them out. Somehow in there, we stopped putting any photos in albums somewhere around the end of 2005. Oops. It’s kind of a big job, no? So I am organizing my photos, uploading them from various sources onto Flickr and I will then order some ungodly number of prints. Sweet Dub lost almost all of his baby/childhood photos in a fire – I mean seriously I think we have three pictures of him under the age of 10 – so he is rabid about documenting our life. This means that we have a very large number of photos. But for the moment, I have nothing but time. I’m not going anywhere, so I’m enjoying looking back over our photos. Here are a couple of cute ones from August 2006:

Will post more as I go along. Maybe.

*Better than my mother-in-law, who is old school and a bit freaked out by Viva telling her that her vag!na hurt. She couldn’t imagine where Viva had learned that word.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bear With Me

Warning: Rant, with a little bit of rave (in the original sense of the word - i.e. minus the glowsticks, techno music, and Ecstasy), to follow.

Aaaagh. I am undone. It appears that Viva has a urinary tract infection, for which her pediatrician can not prescribe antibiotics unless we bring her into the office or bring a urine sample. I can't drive yet, and Sweet Dub just went back to work yesterday after over a week off to take care of me. Added to that, his boss was called out of town unexpectedly for a week, so he needs to do both his work and hers. We are already on a rather ridiculous schedule wherein we wake Viva up at the crack of dawn, feed and clothe her and do her hair, and then Sweet Dub drops her off at my in-laws', where she dozes on the couch for an hour and a half and then her grandpa takes her to school. I am hoping I will be able to drive by next week, but we'll have to see.

Realistically, given our current limitations, we won't get a prescription called in until tomorrow, since Viva is in school and Sweet Dub is crazy busy at work so he can't leave, pick her up and drive over to the pediatrician. I hate this. Even when they call in the prescription, I can't go get it. I really hate this. Any time I try to do anything except lie down, I end up feeling crummy. It is extremely frustrating, especially when there are urgent matters like my child's health that I can't do anything about.

End of rant. I just needed to get it out.

Deep breath. This will pass.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Think Green! Blog Action Day

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Thanks to Liz's example over at Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness, I am patricipating in Blog Action Day. I'm supposed to write something about the environment.

Indeed! Quite timely, as I have set myself a number of chores to do while I am on medical leave, and two of those are to (a) change our diet and (b) research cars.

As far as Item the First: change our diet? How will that help the environment(you say with rapt attention)?

Since we began gardening this past spring and I read (slowly, slowly, while reading other books at the same time) Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I have decided to move gradually to a more local-foods diet. What this means, ideally, is eating fruits and vegetables that come from local growers via the Farmer's Market, and if we eat meat/eggs, getting such things raised by people within a 100-mile radius. Sounds vaguely insane and intriguing, no? Aside from providing us with fresher food that tastes better since it was picked at peak maturity, this also reduces transport distances. The shorter the distance my tomatoes have to travel, the less fossil fuel consumed/CO2 emissions released. It's a small thing, and I'm not saying I'm never going to eat processed food again (see recent post re: Trader Joe's). I'm just saying it makes sense to support the farmers where I live* and Stick It To The Man by not buying food from Big Agribusiness. It also makes sense to me to transition to this new diet gradually. Oh, and to help the environment and my fellow Earthlings by not polluting the air, for the love of all that is decent.

Well, what else, you say? What are you talking about with the car (a.k.a. Item the Second)?

I have been researching "green" cars for quite some time now. The lease on my current sedan (which is fuel efficient but not a hybrid) will expire next summer, and since I am no longer freelancing, I no longer get the tax advantage of leasing the car, so I will be turning it in and purchasing a different vehicle. It takes me forever to decide which car I want (last time I researched for several months). There are so many factors -- safety, crash ratings, cargo space, wagon vs. crossover, fuel economy, passenger capacity, etc. I will probably bore you with them as the months roll on. But where I had been swayed a few months ago into believing that the environmental impact of a hybrid car was negligible compared to that of a standard car, now I'm swaying back in the other direction. I read a variety of articles on Edmunds (you can take a look at their green car guide here) and now I'm just trying to figure out what I can afford and why nobody makes a hybrid car with decent crash test ratings that has some style** and can carry 4-5 people***, a dog or two, and some cargo.

But that's a big decision, and not one I'm going to make today. Here are a couple of small things you can do, if you haven't looked into them already, to make an environmental difference:

  • Bring your own bags when shopping. Once you get into the habit, it's automatic. You also end up having interesting conversations with cashiers and other shoppers when they ask, "Where'd you get those bags?" (One elderly woman was quite pissed to find that the bags I was using were not an option for her at that moment -- she thought the store had changed over to these much sturdier bags. ) For the record, I've gotten my lunch bags and shopping bags via
  • If you are in the habit of drinking Starbucks or what-have-you, bring your own mug.
  • And, as Liz/Los Angelista reminds us, one of the greatest wastes (and biggest scams, in my book) is the whole bottled water phenomenon. Switch from disposable to reusable water bottles, and refill from your tap, if you can. (Time to invest in a water filter.)
  • Also, check out Slow Food USA for more info on eating local foods.

And be careful out there.

* I don't actually think there are farmers where I live, not right in the heart of Atwater Village. But yeah, they do farm things within 100 miles of here. Fifty, even.

** I mean, really. Is the hybrid car the Birkenstock of this decade? I want a hybrid because I feel it's the right thing to do, but it's kind of like eating brussels sprouts. You know that saying, "Don't have anything in your home that you do not either know to be useful or find to be beautiful?" (I'm paraphrasing.) If I'm plunking down money on a car, I want both.

*** Viva, parents, and cousins or friends. Not another little Blah Blah. I did just have surgery. Let's be serious.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Better, Stronger -- Ouch.

Well, howdy-do!

When I imagined having surgery, I thought I might go about it journalistically. I thought maybe I could actually write an article about it. It seems to me that would involve some pretty anal note-taking along the lines of, "7:15 AM. Dr. Klein arrives and explains to me what a spinal anesthetic is, and how a dosage of x-10 ccs is the most beneficial. This is because the thingy-do delivers a more potent dose than the who-zee-what. After talking it over, Sweet Dub and I decide on X." But let's face it, that is not my way. And that, my friends, is why I would never make it as an investigative journalist. All the better for you, and for the rest of humanity, I'd say.

So I had surgery on Monday morning at 7:30. We'd dropped Viva off with her grandparents the night before, and that went well (i.e. no tears on either part). We arrived at the hospital at 5:10 AM, although we weren't supposed to get there until 5:30. It is amazing how quickly you can get around in LA when there is no traffic. As we got out of the car and began walking toward the hospital, I burst into tears.

Let me backtrack here a minute, since I haven't been able to blog about everything that's led up to this. When I told Viva I was going into the hospital (a week ahead of time), she burst into tears and cried hysterically for ten minutes. I mean, the full-on, face-screwed-up, veins-sticking-out-of-neck, can't-draw-breath-to-speak kind of crying. As her mother, there is some kind of switch that flips in me when I see her that hurt. It is physically painful to watch and it makes me gasp for breath and start crying too. I finally got her to explain to me that she thought I meant that very day I was going to the hospital, which was not the case. She was still not happy about it, but not as devastated as previously.

[One more aside, and I could write a whole post about this, but Sweet Dub and I debated when it would be best to tell Viva about the surgery and hospitalization. We didn't want to tell her weeks in advance, because her sense of time is not that concrete and we didn't want it looming over her for what would seem to her like months. We also didn't want to spring it on her just a few days ahead of time. Then she got a cold and had to stay home from school on the very day that I had to go to the surgeon for my pre-op prep visit, so I had to tell her. This actually worked out okay, because my surgeon has a five-year-old and was able to help me explain to Viva what exactly would be happening and what her job would be when I came home from the hospital. Said job involves kissing my tummy a lot.]

At any rate, Viva became obsessed with death in the week leading up to my surgery. She called me into her room at night and, cupping my face in her warm little hands, she said, "You know, Mama, I love you very much. And if you die, I will never forget you."

"Sweetie," I said, already dying a little inside just from that, "you know that I love you very much too. And I have no intention of dying anytime soon. I am just going to the hospital for a couple of days."

"But if you die, I will never forget you. I will always hold you in my heart, like this," she demonstrated, holding her hands over her heart and looking at me soulfully.

"Honey," I said, "I know. And that is nice to know. But you know that I am going to the hospital and then I am coming back home and you and Daddy are going to take care of me. I am not going to die."

"And if you die," she said, completely ignoring me, "I won't let Daddy forget you either."

"Okay, baby, that's nice," I said. "But I just want you to know that I am not dying. You have nothing to worry about. I love you and I will be back soon."

"Okay, Mommy," she said. "You are such a sweet little mommy." And then we would kiss and hug and she would go to bed and we would have the same conversation three more times the next day (again, you see why I didn't want to tell her more than a week in advance). My poor little pumpkin.

But you can see why I would be a little unnerved by my baby talking about death before I went into the hospital. And why I might cry a little bit in the parking lot.

Sweet Dub was comforting and said all the right things and I pulled myself together and we went inside and registered. And then after a while they took three of us from the waiting room up to the prep area. And while I was waiting in line for the bathroom to give a urine sample, I saw Sweet Dub's face light up in a smile, and he went over to hug someone, and I realized my sister Lola had arrived. And considering Lola lives 50 miles away and has 2 kids of her own and it was only 6:45 AM, it was a big deal. So I burst into tears again. And then she cried and it was all like some kind of frickin' Lifetime movie or something.

But I was glad she was there to distract Sweet Dub and keep him company, because then I had to go into serious pre-op mode. I undressed and got into my very fashionable hospital gown with my plastic hair cap. A nurse came in and did unspeakable things to me while trying to find a vein to stick my IV in (thank God I never got into heroin, I don't think it would go well). Elsewhere in pre-op, we could hear the sounds of an electric razor, and they went on and on and on. We started making whispered jokes about Sasquatch because we are all completely insensitive. Then the anesthesiologist came and explained what kind of drugs they'd be giving me. Then they wheeled me away into the OR, where they gave me the spinal, I talked to the surgeon briefly, and then I woke up in recovery.

In recovery, I discovered that I'd had 10 fibroids, and they actually showed me a Polaroid of everything they took out. It looked like a bowl of uncooked meatballs.

I now have nine staples in my bikini area. I got out of the hospital Wednesday at around lunchtime, which was none too soon if you ask me. And I feel okay. I'm not going to go out and run a marathon, but I feel way better than I expected.

Tips to anyone going through this or something similar (ahoy, Bridget!):

Bring an iPod or some other kind of music-type player with headphones. That and the Demerol will help you sleep for at least 3 hours at a stretch.

Bring a couple of pictures of your loved ones.

Bring a portable DVD player with your favorite movies (not ones that will make you laugh, because that hurts). Daytime TV is dreadful. How many episodes of Divorce Court can you watch? Honestly.

Do not, under any circumstances, be like me and forget your cell phone at the office on your last day at work. You will want to call people.

Bring your own bathrobe, your own soap and deodorant, and if you have longer hair, something to put your hair up.

There is nothing wrong with brushing your teeth in bed and spitting into a plastic cup. Desperate times and all that.

Do not expect your house to be clean when you get home.

Do not apologize to visitors for the state of your house.

Two words: stool softener. Let it be your friend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just Heat and Serve!

I am less than two weeks away from going under the knife. On Monday, October 8, I’ll be having a myomectomy to remove the 7 or so fibroids that are making my life less than stellar. I will spend two to four days in the hospital and then recuperate at home for anywhere from six to eight weeks. We have spent the past couple of weeks periodically making arrangements for this time – mapping out medical leave (Sweet Dub will take one week off), arranging for my in-laws to take Viva the night before, etc.

One of the reasons I am having the surgery is to eliminate the back pain I’ve been having, which is fairly constant at a dull roar but likes to flare up with screaming meemies every now and then. The past couple of nights I have not been able to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. So last night I was channel-surfing and came across this show, about a family with 8 kids – first a set of twins, and then sextuplets. I missed the first part of the show, but was intrigued because the mom was preparing to have surgery with a long recuperation and I was wondering if she was having something similar. Er, nope – she was having a tummy tuck. But she went shopping with her 5-year-old twins to buy enough food to prepare two weeks’ worth of meals. Sweet fanciful Moses! It took her 24 hours to cook all the food, and then she was on to packing clothes and diapers and the kitchen sink for all her kids as they were preparing to drop them all off with various friends and relatives.

Let’s stop right there for a second, because I’m still floored by the food (and let’s face it, laundry? For 8 kids? Yes, that gives me nightmares). The mom, Kate, explained that she wanted to cook all the food for her kids ahead of time because they had never yet tasted junk food and she wanted them to have organic food as much as possible, which is admirable, and I can see where she’s coming from. And her husband, like mine (love you, babe!) is not all that skillful in the kitchen. But let me tell you, the second I found out I’d be in bed for at least a week, two words came to mind: Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s, sweetie. It won’t kill you. I intend to stock up on as much frozen food as possible and try some new things I’ve never had before. It’ll be an adventure!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Don’t Get Caught with Your Pants Down

As the school year has recently kicked off, and with the 6th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks fresh in our minds, I think there is no time like the present to take stock. More specifically: it’s time to get prepared. Are you ready in case of an emergency?

(By the way: Two posts in 24 hours? WHAT?!)


Sweet Dub and I have always had earthquake bags and first aid kits in our cars and in the house. But it’s hard to keep up-to-date on the emergency bags when you have a little one. At a birthday party this summer, Viva soaked through her shirt with a melting Sno-Cone not once but twice. I always carry one change of clothes with us, but wasn’t prepared for her to have another wardrobe change during a 3-hour party. I rummaged through the emergency bag in my trunk and came up with a size 2T T-shirt. It was a stretchy material, and it actually sorta fit, which I think is why it was in there in the first place, but still. She currently wears a 5T, people.

So I think the Blah Blahs will be staging Emergency Preparedness Weekend to go through our house and cars, restock on water, pack emergency kits for at work (jerky and granola bars, anyone?), and update our family phone tree.

If you haven’t done this recently, I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Because an ounce of prevention is worth – oh, you know the rest.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

That Thing, That Thing, That -- Huh?

Aaaaand, we’re back. Yes, I realize that I am now posting about once a week. This is because my life has gotten even more hectic than previously, and let me tell you why. I informed my boss and her boss that I will need six to eight weeks off for this medical leave, starting in early October. All of a sudden, it appears, I must try to do everything that is crucial that would need to be done through mid-November within the next four weeks.

This evening, my boss’ boss tried to reassure me that I needn’t worry about all that. He may as well write his name on the wind. He doesn’t seem to get the significance of my having been raised in New England, which means that (a) I have that annoying Puritan work ethic and (b) I internalize all anxiety related to that. My stomach lining is like the ozone layer right now. Added to my existing medical issues and I don’t have a whole lot of energy left over for much more than rolling around on the rug with Viva, practicing somersaults. Wait, I only did that three times. I was sure I was going to dislocate my neck or something, and that, on top of everything else, would quite definitely make my husband leave me*. And I just can’t have that.

So anyway, I am making myself a little nuts with work, despite having potentially met half of my fundraising goal for this fiscal year in the first quarter (hey, and we’re not even finished with the first quarter yet. This freakin’ rocks!). Blah blah blah, work stuff is completely boring since I can’t tell you any of the details that make it interesting.

Example: I went to a work thing today where roughly one-third of our entire staff attended. (Maybe 100 people). I don’t understand why some people do not get what proper work attire is. I will not give the play-by-play, but flip flops? NO. NO. NO. I can’t say it enough. NO. For God’s sake, NO. If you wear them with suit pants and a blouse, it looks ridiculous. If you wear them with some cavernous burlap sack dress, it looks like you have truly given up caring and are just waiting to throw yourself in front of a train. Either way, I don’t want to see it and neither does anyone else.

Speaking of which, what the…???

(Link to story) I am speechless. And kind of sad. It seems like Lauryn Hill has been having some kind of breakdown over the past few years and no one is doing anything about it. What’s happened to her? I say this as a fan of her music – I think she is hugely talented. I mean, look at that picture again.** And then look at this. What on God’s green earth??


Someday I will write a post which will be poignant and evocative and leave my readers gazing wistfully out the window and marveling at the wonders of the world. Today is not that day, my friends.

See you next week.

* Yes, he’s been threatening to do that lately because Viva and I are both so accident-prone that he can’t stand to be around us. Last week, I mangled my toe such that I couldn’t wear a regular shoe. But in what has to be a record, within a 20-minute span, Viva fell and scraped her knee, dropped her eraser into the toilet, and then pinched the side of her hand in the bathroom door, breaking the skin. Sweet Dub went screaming off into the other room that we were driving him nuts and he just couldn’t take it anymore and if one more thing went wrong with one of us he was going to lose hi s mind. Yes, I was the calm one at that moment. We have a flair for the dramatic, we Blah Blahs. It is our way.

** I suppose I should thank my friend, Mr. X, for sending me that link. Well, thanks for nothing! Aw, whatever, I love you, you big baby. Stop crying. No, seriously, stop it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Disco Inferno

This post is brought to you today by the letter H (for HOT) and the number 90 (for super freakin' hot).

1. Hey, guess what? It's September in Southern California, which means it's the hottest time of year. My brain, she is melting. Hence and therefore, I can't promise that this post will be about much of anything besides the heat, for which I apologize in advance because I am quite sure that many of the 7 people that read here regularly are probably also quite hot. And I mean that in both senses of the word. Smooch, smooch.

2. The chorus to "Disco Inferno" is in my head. Burn, baby, burn. Hey, now it's in yours. See how sneaky I am?

3. Medical update: I am having surgery in early October to rid myself of these dratted fibroids. Did you know that compared to other races, African-American women are 3 to 9 times more likely to have fibroids, develop fibroids at a younger age, and have more numerous fibroids? Whee! I got ripped off on the melanin, but I got the fibroids. It is like some frickin' cosmic joke.

4. I am relieved to be having the surgery, which shows you that things have gotten pretty damn bad around here.

5. Speaking of melanin, the Blah Blah family went to the beach this weekend. After a couple hours sitting by the water in the sun, I was completely incapacitated for the rest of the day. We arrived at the beach at 8:40 AM and left by 11:00 AM. Once again, it is hard to believe that I am descended from people who toiled for hours in the sun.

6. Viva was reunited with her best friend on Saturday. (Her best friend, who she's known since the age of 2, recently moved to a different school. Her older brother was having issues with one of the teachers and Best Friend's parents decided to move both kids.) There was much rejoicing. I brought my camera but damned if it didn't come out of my purse the entire four hours of the playdate. Again, I blame it on the heat. Because I can.

7. When I arrived at work this morning, there were fire engines outside my building. As you might imagine, not wanting to sizzle like a blister in the sun, I asked the parking attendant about it as I was driving in. "Fire drill," he said, waving me in. Hey, you know what? WRONG. Rolling blackout, and people were trapped in the elevators, and the firefighters were trying to get them out. Since I always take the stairs, I was spared that. However, I did end up stuck at work for a couple of hours with no phone, no power, no air conditioning. By about 9:30, I was sweating and yet still taking calls on my cell phone from someone I work with, detailing all the work I needed to do once I got home. Damn. So unlike some people who can only work if they're on the network, no extra day off for me. I can always write from home.

8. Nonetheless, this doesn't mean I might not run a few errands. I just realized that I've managed to go all summer with one pair of decent shorts. I pretty much wear either them or one of two pairs of capri pants when I'm hanging around the house like this, so maybe I'll actually buy another pair. Bonus: they may actually be on sale because it is so late in the season. I'm also trying not to run the air conditioning here at home because it makes Sweet Dub have the conniptions. So the mall, the library, and the movie theater are all looking like great options.

9. And, I'm out. It's heating up in here. Time to hit the dry cleaners and grab something iced to drink. Peace!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

In Which I Channel Andy Rooney

I’ve been thinking a lot about healthcare lately. My fibroids continue to kick my ass, so I am seeing a new doctor tomorrow. As I Mapquested the doctor’s office yesterday, I was inwardly bemoaning the lack of continuity of care I’ve received over the past few years. Between changing insurance carriers through Sweet Dub’s employer, starting a new job myself, and then having my employer change insurance carriers, this will be the fifth OB-GYN for me since Viva was born. Every time, I have to fill out extensive forms with my health history, get old records from previous doctors, etc. It is not a good system.

And now the latest U.S. Census data on poverty, income and health insurance are in. According to the report:

Both the percentage and the number of people without health insurance increased in 2006. The percentage without health insurance increased from 15.3 percent in 2005 to 15.8 percent in 2006, and the number of uninsured increased from 44.8 million to 47.0 million.
"The Uninsured" (which strikes me as a good name for either a horror movie spoof or a satirical version of the great Clint Eastwood movie "The Unforgiven") are those who don't qualify for medical insurance through any government program, but who can't afford to buy private insurance. That translates into close to one-fifth of the American population pretty much just relying on hope and a prayer that they don't get hit by a bus, or develop a persistent cough, or what have you.

Meanwhile, our family received an offer from Wells Fargo Bank recently for medical emergency insurance. For only $10 and change a month, we can get coverage of up to $400 a day for 365 days in the event that one of us has an injury or illness that leaves us hospitalized that long. The cover letter mentions that even with private health insurance coverage, an extended hospital stay can bankrupt a family.

I’m sure everyone out there either has a story or knows someone who has a story about the evils of the current health care system in the U.S. I have a dear friend who made the mistake of getting cancer and then her husband got laid off. He found another job, but inevitably there was a period of time when COBRA was running out and it appeared they would have to pay $3,000 a month for the experimental medicine that was keeping her alive.

The Wells Fargo notice tripped me out because now corporations are finding yet another way to capitalize on a bad situation and making money by exploiting people’s fears.

Note to presidential candidates: It’s not just the war, it’s the health insurance, stupid. Other developed nations have figured it out. Time to get on the bandwagon.

P.S. I have not yet seen Sicko. I think my head would probably explode. And I don't think my insurance covers that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Worst. Mom. Ever.

This morning, at approximately 7:15, the fruit of my loins shot me a look dripping with venom*, stamped her foot and said:

"You are RUINING my LIFE!"

I truly was not expecting this until she was a pre-teen. I suppose I should have been taken aback, but in fact I was just amused. For those of you who are wondering:

How to Ruin Viva’s Life

1. Pour her a bowl of cereal. Add milk to said cereal straight from the carton, as opposed to pouring it into a separate cup and allowing her to add the milk herself.
2. Blow out the scented candle in the bathroom right before you take your shower. Even though you think you are doing this so as not to leave a candle lit and unattended while your 4-year-old is up and about, in actuality you are doing it in direct violation of the Universal Candle Rule, which is that any candle that is lit anywhere in the universe must be blown out by Viva, after the “Happy Birthday” song has been sung, even when it is not her birthday.

* Not literally. Visually speaking, this is a rather disturbing image, as it implies that some type of viscous fluid** was dripping from her eyes. If indeed that were the case, I want to assure you that I would not have remained where I was, on the bath mat, with water dripping from my hair, explaining to my offspring that she was being a bit unreasonable. I like to think that I would perhaps have thrown on some clothes and taken my kid to the pediatrician, with great quickness.

** Note: if you Google “is venom viscous” just as a form of copyediting yourself***, you are directed to this site, which provides detailed instruction on how to extract and smoke the venom of the Psychedelic Toad of the Sonoran Desert. I guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

*** I am greatly concerned with quality control. Quality, not quantity!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Stimulatin' the Economy

Sweet Dub, on viewing two bags of clothes/shoes/toys sitting next to our front door to be donated to charity: “Jesus! We are such consumers!” Turning to me, he continues, “I mean, doesn’t it seem to you that we are constantly getting rid of stuff? What kind of lesson are we teaching our child? It’s such a consumer culture.”

“Most of it is clothes Viva has grown out of,” I say. “And toys she doesn’t play with anymore.” (And honestly, most of those, we didn’t buy ourselves, since not only does Viva get scads of stuff on Christmas and her birthday, but at each and every other birthday party she attends. Oh, not to mention at school they have a party about once a month and she gets even more useless crap there. Since I am an anti-clutter freak, I sift through her room and donate a lot of stuff on a pretty regular basis.)

“Agh,” Dub replies disgustedly, and this seems to be his final word on the crass commercialism of the fine society in which we find ourselves.

Five minutes later: “We need a new couch.”

(To be fair, he immediately picked up on his own hypocrisy and laughed at himself.)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Full of P*ss and Vinegar

Just so you know, I’m not just snubbing you, I’m snubbing the world. I never call, I never e-mail, and I’m pretty sure everyone hates me, or at least vaguely wonders whatever happened to me when they happen to think of me. At any rate, lately I’ve been feeling better, so I’ve actually been getting back in touch with members of my own family this week, and maybe next week I’ll move on to all my friends I haven’t called or e-mailed or lunched with in eons. I realized this weekend that I am so antisocial that Viva does not even know how to comport herself whilst I am on the telephonical machine. While I was talking to my stepfather, who lives thousands of miles away and who we last saw over three years ago, Viva began flinging herself onto the floor and moaning because I was talking to someone else besides her for 15 minutes. She just could not bear it.

So last night I was on the phone with my sister, and she was actually offering to have my kid sleep over on Saturday night, and that very selfsame kid was screeching at me to play with her, PLAY with her, oh my GOD how could I be on the PHONE when she needs me to PLAY with her, so I was playing tag in the back yard and then hide and seek while still talking on the phone, and my sister said, “You are such a fun mom!”

Which is so not true, apparently, because this weekend Viva told me that I am boring because all I like to do is read books. Never mind that she has begun reading herself (“I see the cat. I see the milk. No! No! No!”), which I have to partly attribute to the fact that she has been read to so much by her parents. Never mind that I play with her for hours at a time in various imaginary scenarios in which we morph from schoolteachers to space explorers to magicians to firefighters to professional athletes. Or that we play board games and card games and make little families out of Play-Doh and do all kinds of art projects. Have I mentioned that I have a full-time job?

Aside from that, this morning, one of my co-workers praised my writing and said she wants to start a writer’s group and wants me to be part of it. As in, she’s actually going to encourage me to write stuff not for work. And she thinks it would be good and stuff. That’s really heartening, because she’s a creative and thoughtful person and I respect her.

And then! My friend Cee nominated me as a Rockin’ Girl blogger today:

(Okay, I'm blushing a little bit. Aw, Cee, see?)
I tend to be a bit self-deprecating, which no doubt is a defense mechanism with roots in my adolescence. (Let’s not get into it.) But for whatever reason, compliments are coming my way, and I need to gracefully accept them. With grace! So thanks to one and all and the universe, for realizing I needed a little validation. Good for the soul.

I’m back, and I rock. More to come.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I Don't

So a week or so ago I was dropping Viva off at school/camp, and because I drop her off at 8:15, and school/camp doesn’t actually start until 9 AM, she hangs out with a mixed-age group of kids for a half-hour or so. Imagine my shock when I saw one of the little girls in the group wearing this:

In case you can’t read it, or if your mind can’t put the two incongruities together, the shirt proudly proclaims: “Everyone loves a drunk girl.” Well, I don’t. Particularly not when she is 7 years old. I mentioned it to the teacher on duty. She said, “Oh, Katie? Yes, she’s worn that a few times.”

“Don’t you think it’s odd?” I said. I mean, it strains all limits of common sense.

“Oh, well, yeah – I think her parents are from Korea. They probably don’t know what it means,” she said.

“Well, don’t you think someone should tell them?” I asked.

“Oh ho ho, ho,” she responded gaily, and then pretended to be distracted by another kid.

Well, you know I can’t just let that kind of thing go. I was running late that day, and so I left, determined to call the school later from work. Well, I forgot. And then it was the weekend. And then on Monday, we went to school/camp and there she was, swinging with wild abandon on the swings. I don’t think she was drunk, but she was wearing the T-shirt. I just don’t get it. This is a school that has rules against wearing open-toed shoes, a school that mandates that if you are in pre-K or above, you have to wear a uniform. They seem to have a little bit of a concern with how one comports oneself on their property, and yet no one has evidently any concern about a kid running around with this shirt on. I feel like sending Viva to school in a hand-blocked shirt that screams in all caps, “Fuckity fuck fuck fuck!”

Just to see what would happen. You know.

At any rate, so, I talked to the assistant principal about it, and his jaw dropped on the floor. “I get the impression that her parents may not speak English,” I said. “If it was me, I’d want to know.”

I haven’t seen her wear the shirt again. Yet. But I’ll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A Dollop of Blog

Holy crap!  A new blog post! Let's hope it's mind-blowing, earth-shattering and dare I say death-defying!
Are you wondering what's happened to me? I'm kind of wondering that myself. 
The truth is that I am working a lot (like everyone else), I'm tired, I'm preoccupied, my health problems are kicking up their heels again, and all that is not very interesting. 
However: I'm doing a lot of cool reading for work these days. I'm working on a reading program for what are these days termed "juvenile offenders," so part of what I get to do is talk with two writing instructors/published authors about literature that would be appropriate for this population. Despite my thoroughly liberal arts background, I'm getting introduced to a lot of great fiction I haven't read before. Since I LOVE to read, and I am a huge lit geek, this is fine by me.
Speaking of that, I need to get back to it. But rest assured that I am still alive, just posting sporadically. I leave you with this snippet:
Viva: Do kangaroos have bellybuttons?
Sweet Dub: You know, that's a good question. I bet they don't have a cute little bellybutton like you. 
Viva:  Why not?
Sweet Dub: Because you are a placental mammal, and a kangaroo is not.
I'm serious. Do you see? Do you see what I am dealing with?

Got a little couch potato?
Check out fun summer activities for kids.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Hello, 1954

While I was listening to NPR on the way to work this morning, I heard the news that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that race can not be a factor in assigning where children go to public school.


I need a minute to get my head together.


Race is something that I think about A LOT when it comes to school.  When I was looking for a preschool for Viva, I was looking for one that had a lot of ethnic and racial diversity.  I didn't want her to feel "different," to be the only brown face in a sea of sameness.  But I didn't look for a predominantly black preschool, because I wouldn't be comfortable with that either.  I think there is inherent value in spending your days with people of a variety of backgrounds, to get different perspectives and yet to see how very similar you are.  As she gets older, I want Viva to be able to operate effectively in any situation she might find herself in, and part of that is learning how to interact with different types of people.


I have been looking at public schools now for, oh, at least a year. I am troubled by my local public elementary school's mediocre test scores, and by the miniscule black population in the school, which echoes the small black population of our neighborhood (our neighborhood skews pretty much white urban hipster/Latino middle-class/second-generation Asian-American/smattering of Armenian and the occasional black person-I won't even say black family because I have yet to see one).  I have looked into charter schools, which there is no guarantee I can get her into.  I have looked into other private schools, and there's no economic diversity there. (That, I think, is fodder for a whole different post about growing up privileged and not having a realistic view of the world.)


When I look at the "best" public schools in mid-city Los Angeles – the schools with great reputations, great test scores, high rates of parent involvement, great extracurricular programs – I can't help but feel defeated. We don't live within the boundaries we'd need to in order for Viva to go there.  Here's the ethnic/racial breakdown on each:


HC School is 58% Asian, 23% white, 9% Latino, 7% black, 2% Filipino, and 1% unspecified. 

SL School is 47% white, 28% Latino, 10% Filipino, 9% Asian, 5% black, and 1% unspecified.

LC School is 56% white, 21% Asian, 14% Latino, and 10% black.


I would say each of these has to some degree a fairly good mix.  The public school where we live, and where Viva would go to kindergarten if she went through the LA Unified School District, rates a "C" academically.  Its ethnic breakdown is 75% Latino, 11% Filipino, 7% white, 4% Asian, 2% black.  Also diverse, but you see? Hardly any black children. 


In contrast, Viva's current school, which costs us upwards of $15,000 per year – note well, she is now in Pre-K, not even elementary school – breaks down as follows:  28% black, 28% white, 28% Asian, 11% Latino, 3% American Indian, and 2 % unspecified.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good.


Yes, I know, I live in a dream world.  But apparently I'm not the only one (hello, Justice Roberts!). The Supreme Court decision pisses me off, and let me tell you why:  it completely ignores the reality of race and education in America.  Does anyone honestly believe that schools in minority neighborhoods are as well-funded and well-run and well-staffed as those in predominantly white areas?  Seriously?  It's not a level playing field.  If it were, we wouldn't have needed Brown vs. the Board of Education in the first place. Separate but equal, my ass.


I don't think it's a coincidence that my local school has a population that is predominantly minority, one-third bilingual (one-third of kids in the school do not speak English as their first language) and low-income (85% of kids are getting free or reduced price lunch) and has such shitty test scores. Is this because I think minority kids are inherently deficient? No. I think it's because they have parents who can't help with homework and can't be involved with the school and advocate on the kids' behalf. And I think they can't do this because they're concentrating on basic survival -- getting food on the table and paying the rent and doing all this in another language, in a strange place. It's not that they care any less about their kids than Jane in Bel Air does about hers.


I am fortunate to be in the position where I feel I have some choice about where my child goes to school. Sweet Dub and I have been discussing whether or not we should move, and if so, where, in order to get Viva into a "good" public school.  The fact that we have to do this in the first place, before even considering race as a factor, shows you how horrendous the Los Angeles public school system is.  It's extremely hit or miss; some schools happen to have good principals and parents who have the time and energy and money to assist with leadership and building a strong school for their neighborhood.  And some just don't.  If the public schools were uniformly good, I wouldn't be pissed off. 


If we had to, we could continue to send Viva to private school. But a lot of folks don't have that option. And the Supreme Court decision, in my mind, paves the way for a lot of children of color to miss out on getting a quality education.


Whew. I'm worn out. 


And still pissed.

Yahoo! oneSearch: Finally, mobile search that gives answers, not web links.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Brevity is the Soul of Wit

About this whole Working Full-Time Dealio: I don't remember if you asked me how I feel about it, but quite frankly, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

I just wrote a whole long post about it and I was boring even myself, so bleep that.

I just wish I had more time.

Farmer in the Dell

Have I mentioned that we at Casa de Blah have become gardeners? The cold winter (cold by Los Angeles standards, that is) killed a whole strip of pretty purple rushes we had going on in our backyard, so we pulled them out and planted food. Okay, maybe that's not quite right. I think what I meant to say was that my next-door neighbor, who is retired and has some time on her hands, volunteered to come over one day while we were at work/school and she not only singlehandedly ripped out all the reeds or rushes or whatever the hell they were, but also planted three tomato plants, a zucchini plant, and some string beans. Inspired, I also planted some strawberries. Through this process, I've learned that I really like gardening. (I know, hardly earth-shattering, but for someone who grew up around a lot of concrete, a pleasant realization.)

Here's the patch:

And now we are inundated with zucchinis. The strawberries are coming in slowly (we eat one at a time), the tomatoes are taking over the yard (though not ripe yet), and the beans? Well, the beans have not been looking so good. We keep debating what to do about them, but not doing anything, because that is our way.

This afternoon, while I was working from home, Sweet Dub came home for lunch. "We might have to pull out these beans," he said, walking around them. And then: "Oh my God, a bean! Hey, another one!"

Hey howdy hey, we have beanage. It's all very timely because I have been reading that Barbara Kingsolver book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about how she and her family spent a year trying to eat only food that was produced locally. Now, it does help that they were able to move to a farm that they conveniently already owned, so they were able to grow a lot of food themselves. We don't own a farm. We merely rent a little house with a yard. But it's an interesting concept nonetheless, and if I ever finish the book and have the time or inclination to do so, maybe I'll review it fully here! in this very space!

The Cheese Stands Alone

Ever since we got back from Hawaii, Viva has had trouble sleeping by herself. We made the mistake of letting her sleep with us in the king-sized bed in our hotel room. This was perfectly okay because (a) there was plenty of room; and (2) we were in a suite, so if we wanted to get up to any shenanigans while she was asleep, we had a separate room (with a door!) we could go to. Now, at home, Sweet Dub and I sleep in a queen-sized bed. We sleep in a queen-sized bed because we like each other and like to be close to each other. It works for us unless there is a skinny four-year-old draped in between us, kicking her father in the back and poking me in the face with her elbow while sleeping.

The first week we were back, Viva made it known repeatedly and loudly, with much whinage, that everyone else had a brother or sister to sleep in their room with them and why didn’t she and we were horrible parents who were scarring her for life with our insistence that she sleep on what amounts to a splintery plank raised up off the floor with only the rats for company in her drafty attic room where the snow drifts in and her filthy handkerchief-sized blanket doesn’t quite cover her enough, ALONE, ALONE, ah the agony. And so on and so forth.

We finally got her off of this tack by numerous explanations that even if she had a brother or sister, they might not share a room, or even want to, and that if she had a brother or sister, she would definitely have to share us with him or her, and that would mean less time and attention for her, which, as the ultimate drama queen, you know she is not going for. And so we were saved.

And then there was Pee-Wee.

While channel-surfing recently, Sweet Dub came across Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, and knowing of Viva’s love of the dance, he recorded the portion of the movie where Pee-Wee dances in the biker bar in the high-heeled patent white loafers. If you haven’t watched the movie 500 times, you might not remember that after that scene, Pee-Wee takes off on a motorcycle (or should I say hog?) loaned to him by one of the bikers. He immediately crashes through a billboard and gets rushed to the hospital, whereupon he sleeps fitfully, and you see that he is having nightmares of what has happened to his own bike. These are nightmares featuring scary clowns doing unspeakable things to the bike and leering horribly at the camera. I didn’t remember this part of the movie, unfortunately.

Thanks, Pee-Wee! This scene is now seared into Viva’s hefty braincase, where it has marinated in the splendiferous goop of her imagination and now takes over almost every brain function after the sun goes down. What I am saying to you is that Viva is now terrified not just to sleep in her own bed, but to pass by an open closet or even take a bath for fear that scary clowns will come up out of the drain.

Once again, my “Good Parent” badge is hanging a bit askew. And she doesn't want to go to bed.

(I honestly didn’t remember that scene. Why would I deliberately torture my sweet bobblehead so?)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pinkberry, Shminkberry

As middle age advances upon us, Sweet Dub and I find ourselves a bit behind the trends. I have been hearing the hype about Pinkberry for nearly a year now. There's a Pinkberry mere blocks (walking distance!) away from my office building. There's one in Los Feliz, a stone's throw from where I live, and there's one in Larchmont Village, a stone's throw from Viva's school. All the "cool" neighborhoods have one. I've watched the growth of their evil empire with great interest. I've been to the website and imbibed their evilly catchy jingle. But I haven't yet darkened the door of a Pinkberry.

Sunday, after hiking in Griffith Park, we decided to check out the new Pinkberry that just opened in Silverlake. Before we went inside, Sweet Dub said, "This is exactly what we don't need to be doing. We don't need something that becomes a new addiction."

We ordered: I had the original flavor frozen yogurt topped with fresh mangoes, raspberries, and blueberries. Sweet Dub had green tea frozen yogurt topped with strawberries, bananas, and granola. Viva had original flavor with blueberries.

The cost: Fourteen bucks! Are you kidding me?

The verdict: Meh. Not so much. I expected to be all, "There's a party in my mouth! Ooh la la!" Instead I was all, "For fourteen bucks, I could've bought some Haagen-Dazs and a pint of raspberries and called it a day."

Sorry, Pinkberry. Your evil charms did not work their magic with the Blah Blahs.

Nice jingle, though.