Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Shameless Mommy Blogging

I am once again buying a car seat, because Viva has grown out of the one we use in Sweet Dub’s car. I have been very happy with our Britax Regent (the one in my car), but my God, apparently so is everyone else in the universe. Finding one is like trying to score some high-grade drug [insert your drug of choice here]. This morning, I found myself calling a store in Florida to ensure that they have the Regent in stock. The store representative asked if I had a fax number. He is going to fax me an order form; I then have to fax my order back to him and then call the store back. The store has a Website, but because Regents are in such high demand, they only have one color online. I had learned through an anonymous source that if you call the store, they will check current inventory and pull one in a different color if they have it. Cheesus!

On top of that, I have to buy an additional car seat that is lighter and FAA-approved because Viva is going on a trip with her Auntie Diva in a few weeks. Altogether, this car seat dealio is costing us about 500 clams.

And they wonder why parents these days are so neurotic.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Keepin' It Real

I don’t think I mentioned here that Sweet Dub recently went to a certain film festival in a certain snowy place. So I know I did not mention that he was interviewed by what he thought was a local TV station when he came out of the first screening of a very controversial film. Whoever interviewed him sold the tape to Fox, so last week his clip ended up on a variety of Fox News Network shows. We are not generally huge fans of Fox, so we don’t generally watch shows like the O’Really Factor and Hannity & That Other Guy, but people started calling and saying they’d seen him on national TV. We searched for it on TiVo, recorded it, and have played it back over and over with greater hilarity at each viewing.

One of the things Sweet Dub says during his brief interview is that the film is disturbing and it’s hard to talk about.

Stay with me here.

This morning, when I asked Viva which of her naptime stuffed animals would be going with her to school today, and she was having a hard time deciding, she finally said: “Um, I – you know, it’s just that – well, it’s hard to talk about.”

What a clown. I almost peed my pants!

Monday, January 29, 2007

She Lives!

Man, work is so crazy I may well never blog again.

Speaking of work, someone brought in a waffle-maker today and made waffles in the break room. No, seriously.

I love you all and I hope I can blog again in a couple of days. Adieu!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Last night, when I was driving home listening to one of our local public radio stations (KPCC-FM/89.3), I heard a story about Cheryl Green. Cheryl Green was a 14-year-old black girl who was shot and killed last month by members of a Latino gang while she was hanging out a block from home in the Harbor Gateway neighborhood. She had no gang affiliation and no beef with the gang members. They shot her simply because she was black:

Flight from gang violence proved to be futile
Residents of a mostly black Harbor Gateway area say they live in fear of a Latino gang. A girl was slain Dec. 15 in an apparent hate crime.
As I listened to her mother speak, I just wanted to scream. Her mom moved the family to Harbor Gateway a few years ago to escape gang violence in West L.A.

One of the reasons I moved to Los Angeles was because of its mix of people. It’s one of the reasons I like it here. I like it that I am not swimming in a sea of sameness as I go about my daily life. Since I grew up with a mix of people both in my family and in my community, I feel more comfortable with a blend.

In recent years, however, I’ve noticed some disturbing trends. You may have heard of the tensions between black and Latino students in the public high schools in L.A. There have been racially motivated brawls in some local schools; police have had to come out to quell the violence and schools have even been placed on temporary lockdown to restore order. Sweet Dub and I have talked about it at length, and as a graduate of a Los Angeles public high school, he’s mystified by it: “We never had trouble like that,” he says. “We all hung out, blacks, Mexicans, whatever.”

I also know that there is a perception among some black folks that undocumented Latino immigrants “steal” jobs from the black working class because they’ll work for less money. And I had heard on the news that a Latino gang in northeast L.A. – in the Glassell Park and Highland Park areas -- was also targeting black people (“They Wanted All Blacks Out,” L.A. Weekly, July 26, 2006). And now they’re killing black children.

Well, shit. I’m not ashamed to say I cried a little on the way home. In Harbor Gateway, they’re applying for a gang injunction, and evidently they’ve also reached a gang cease-fire agreement. For the moment. Officials are working on “making improvements to the neighborhood,” whatever that means.

What does it mean for my city? What does it mean for my family? I’m disheartened and scared by it. What can I do in my small way, in my small corner of Los Angeles, about something so big?

As I was just typing that, and feeling heavy-hearted, one of my co-worker friends just danced goofily by my office doorway. I burst out laughing. Laughter helps.

More later, when I figure out how to solve this complex problem in my spare moments between writing marketing materials here. It'll take me a minute.

Accelerated, Expedited, Speedy or Swift

Earlier this week, I ordered a living room rug through The order is complete, and although I didn’t ask for express shipping, they shipped it by Fed Ex. What I find odd is that my delivery date is estimated to be next Tuesday. If it takes a week to get to me, that’s not very, well, express, is it? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s just me.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Unpalatable, With a Side of Fractious

Something happened last night which, in the six years I have known my husband, has only happened once before.

I prepared a meal that was inedible.

I made orange beef with broccoli over steamed rice. How, you are thinking, could that be bad? While I am buoyed by your confidence in my abilities, I must tell you that it was one of those times when Viva insisted on being in the kitchen with me. There is nothing cuter than an eager little munchkin who is bound and determined to help out. She helped make the rice – i.e. measured dry rice and water and poured them into the pot – and then helped mix the orange juice and soy sauce with ginger and garlic. When the meat and veggies went into the pan and there was nothing else she could do, she insisted on washing dishes, and this is where I think it all went wrong. I was simultaneously trying to make sure she didn’t burn herself with hot water or drop glasses/dishes and trying to keep an eye on the stir-fry. I also made the mistake of using a different recipe, which I promptly threw into the trash after dinner. Yes, that is how pissed off I was – I didn’t even try to recycle the piece of paper it was written on. I threw it away.

At any rate, the broccoli turned all mushy, and the sauce was gelatinous and way too orangey-tasting. The rice was good. We all had rice, picked the pieces of overly-orangey beef out of the mushy broccoli and then gave up and ate cereal.

Tonight I will be attempting to make turkey fajitas. Despite the fiasco of last night, I am confident that my track record (two losses! In six years!) will win out.

The More You Explain It, The More I Don't Understand It

Over the holidays, my Best Friend Forever, who I have known since we were 12, sent me a card. I know this because I came out of the shower and found Viva holding a photo of two grinning boys. “Oh,” I squealed, “Is that from Best Friend Forever?”

“Who?” said Sweet Dub. “I don’t know who it’s from.”

“It’s Best Friend Forever!” I said, crossly. “Ooh, it has a Post-It on it: Now that we are closer to you, call me and let’s get together: [telephone number redacted, but not really]! Oh my God, did she move? Where’s the envelope?”

“Um, I don’t know,” said Sweet Dub.

“You LOST IT?!” I shrieked.

“I didn’t lose it, I just don’t know what I did with it,” he said.

He lost it. But he told me the envelope had a return address in Santa Barbara. This was pretty incredible to me, since we are both from Boston and she has remained there while I have been here for lo, what is it, 12 years? We do not speak to each other or even e-mail each other very often, because we are both caught up in our lives and all that. But we are still Best Friends. I was maid of honor at her wedding, for God’s sake. I wanted to call her, but I wanted to make sure I’d have time to talk. (Yeah, right. When do I ever?)

What with one thing and another, I didn’t get around to calling her right away. It was the holidays, and then we were sick, blah blah blah bling bling blah. So the other day, I went looking for her number. The photo was there, but the Post-It was gone.

Are you kidding me?

I e-mailed her at the last known e-mail address I had. No response. So yesterday, I went with the tried and true: I called on the Internet Faeries. Not only did I find her, I found her old address, new address, and how much she and her husband got for their house when they sold it in July.

Those Internet Faeries are a little creepy.

Stay tuned for the next chapter, when I actually write to her and maybe get her to call me if she isn’t completely disgusted by how easily my husband and I lose things! I know! It’s a gripping, emotionally overwrought saga for the ages!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

What We’ve Always Suspected

Monday, January 15, 2007
Washington Post: “Children, Parents Drive Each Other to Early Graves”

As usual, I’m late to the party, but I found this news item interesting. A study published last month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that parents pay a price for having children. No, wait, it’s not what you think. We all know that children are expensive – you have to house, feed and clothe them for at least 18 years, and that’s not chump change – but what I’m talking about is the ultimate price. Parenting evidently takes years off your life.

Or so the headline would have us believe. If you continue reading the article, you’ll find that the researchers examined the reproductive history and survival rate of 21,684 couples married between 1860 and 1895.

When Penn and Smith examined their data, a clear and unmistakable trend stood out. The bigger the family, the smaller the chance that the parents would live into old age. Both mothers and fathers paid a price for having lots of children,with mothers always paying more, regardless of family size.

I think it goes without saying that mortality rates have declined since the 19th century. It seems foolhardy to extrapolate this data to the 21st century. However, it makes sense to me that the physical stress of having a child, along with the psychological stress of raising said child to adulthood*, would cause one to age more quickly – and thus die at an earlier age.

Remember this when your kid draws on the wall in permanent marker, or crashes the car into a lightpost. They are a joy, but they’re taking years off your life. My obstetrician conveniently forgot to mention that delightful little nugget when talking about the risks of childbirth.

Perhaps Viva will remain an only child after all. Her imaginary little brother is not stressing me out in the least.

* And even in a best case scenario – a healthy child being raised with familial and financial stability – there will still be stress. You still have to figure out how you are going to raise that child – what to feed him, where she should go to school, what to say when he comes home with a tongue piercing. It’s stressful being responsible for another person. Hoo boy, let me tell you. Do you have a second? Hey, wait, wait -- where ya going?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bits and Pieces

I just read my e-mail and came across this, courtesy of Cool Mom Picks. (Sorry, I don't seem to be able to upload the photo.)

How much does my babychile need this? She was conceived to Led Zeppelin in hilarious fashion which I will not recount here. Does wanting this make me wrong? Because if so, I’m not sure I want to be right.


I left a message with my doctor this morning, detailing my pain and discomfort and asking if she’s had any cancellations. Nobody has called me back. I love my doctor with an overflowing loving spoonful of love, but I am mystified as to why she did not go straight to the bat phone and call me right away. I don’t feel good.

Cruising the Internet

Viva had a playdate with three friends on Saturday. One of the moms asked if we want to have another child. (Why do people always ask this? No matter how you answer, then you have to justify your answer. It’s not an easy question.) I was tempted to crack wise and ask, “Why? Are you giving yours away?” but I didn’t, mainly because I think she could take me and I didn’t want the kids to see us rolling on the floor and pulling hair.

But you know, what with Viva creating her imaginary younger brother, and what with me feeling that anyway, she should have a sibling, and that I would love to have another kid if we could afford it (which we can’t), I have held in the back of my head the precious idea of adopting a child. Not a baby, but a child a couple of years younger than Viva. She is almost 4, and her imaginary brother is 2. I think that would be perfect. In the fantasy world in which I live, this wouldn’t happen until she is 5 or so.

The other day, I realized with a start that what this means is that this little person is already out there somewhere, living with somebody, maybe in a good situation or maybe not. I started to get upset about that little person, because I realized that in order for that little person to be available for adoption, some bad shit would have to happen in his family of origin. And what that means on some level is that I’m hoping for some bad shit to happen to somebody so I can have the privilege of raising their kid.

Today, I was reading some of the recent posts on A Birth Project, a blog which I’d come across some time ago through Dawn. I’d bookmarked the site but hadn’t blogrolled it, which is ridiculous because it is really thought-provoking and you know I’m all down with having my thoughts provoked. The author of the site, Lisa Marie, is an adult transcracial adoptee, and she was writing about the book launch for Outsiders Within, an anthology by a slew of transracially adopted writers. If you have interest in that sort of thing, by all means, go read the whole post. She quotes some of the readings in her post, and there were two items that really stood out for me.

First, she quoted Jane Jeong Trenka, who in talking about the transracial adoption of Korean and Chinese children emphasized the importance of finding ways to “understand that empowering a mother/birth family to find ways to raise their own children is one place to look to think about this diaspora that is marked by the very real fact that it is entirely a migration of children.”

Then she cited Julia Chinyere Oparah as asking why there are so many children for adoption to begin with.
What are the circumstances that create thousands of Black children in the U.S.
to be “without families”?

While I doubt that we would transracially adopt if we ever went the adoption route (because most likely we would have a black child placed with us because hello, we're black), I think the questions are valid whether one is pursuing even a same-race adoption. The problems are systemic ones – why are parents “unable” to raise their own children? Who makes that call? I think if I adopted a child, I would be concerned about the birth parents. At some point it begins to feel that building a family through adoption is benefiting from someone else’s misfortune. How do you explain that to the child? How do you help a kid understand the jacked-up mess that is the U.S. child welfare system if you adopt domestically*, and why he ended up with you?

One day at the playground, I started talking to a mom with two kids who were very close in age. They both appeared to be biracial, as did the mom, but they didn’t look anything alike. I asked her what the age difference was.

Other Mom: Five months.
Mama Blah: How’d you manage that? [Duh.]
Other Mom: They’re adopted.
Mama Blah: Oh, wow. [I had figured maybe one was adopted and one was not.] Do you mind if I ask you a little bit about the process?...

So we started talking, and she was very friendly and open, and I was clearly hanging on her every word. The one thing I found both disturbing and yet somewhat understandable was that she said she absolutely wanted an infant because that way it gave her more control over their ultimate development. “Everything you read talks about brain development in the first years of life, and how crucially important this time is. I wanted to be able to control what they eat, whether they’re being read to every day, all that stuff.” I get it, but then I’m thinking, “What about those kids who don’t have a family, and don’t have someone doing that for them? Do we just write them off?”

Well, yes, it seems so. It’s heartbreaking to me. Doesn’t every kid deserve that?

* Which is what I’m assuming we’d be dealing with, since we would not be adopting an infant. Is there such a thing as a private adoption with older children? I am just getting my feet wet with all this and have no fricking clue. At any rate, I want to read the book, just because I am fascinated by racial dynamics.

Update: My doctor’s office called. She is on a leave of absence. Auugh. The earliest they can get me in to see someone else in her practice is January 24th – yes, that’s right, more than two weeks from now. “Is it mainly just discomfort? Or pain? Call back if the pain gets worse and we’ll see what we can do.” What?!?

Down the Rabbit Hole

I’m up and I’m thinking and I’m thinking and I’m up.

I am having some health problems these days. It appears I must find an internist and see to these problems fairly soon, as they are now consistently bothering me on a daily basis. This is pesky and unwelcome. I am of course worried about what might be wrong; I am inclined to think it is one fairly benign problem that will probably necessitate surgery, and then it will be over and life will go on, tra la la, as it did with my last surgery.

But this is a different problem, and would involve a different surgery, and naturally, my thoughts inevitably go to worst case scenario. And thus, here I am, typing away on my laptop while Sweet Dub slumbers in the next room. At least I think he’s slumbering. He may be awake and worried too. But the worst thing would be for us to be lying in bed feeding on each other’s anxiety and not getting any sleep.

So here I am, typing away and wondering if I can pilfer some wireless so I can post this. Our wireless connection is in our bedroom and it’s off, so it’s entirely possible that I can’t even post my anxieties to my blog, but the one foolproof way for me to deal with my anxieties is to write about them, so here we be.

What do you dream about? Do you remember your dreams? Sweet Dub is so resolutely a Capricorn that in his dreams, he’ll tell himself, “Oh, this is a dream,” so his dreams are fairly mainstream. My dreams are very trippy and bizarre, and they go on forever. Being in one of my dreams is like being inside a kaleidoscope. I’ll be in one location/scenario and all of a sudden, blip, I’m somewhere else with some of the same elements from the first part, or not, and watching a concert in a park with rows of live turkeys as big as elephants, and then I’ll be in an open boat navigating through canals to get somewhere with a spoon and a vat of gravy, and then I’ll be given a baby pig to take care of. Last night I had a dream that Sweet Dub and my sister Lola and I were shopping in a gigantic upscale mall. The mall was so ginormous that we had secured a hotel room within the mall to rest during our shopping spree. At some point, my sister Lola morphed into Sweet Dub’s sister Diva, who was calling me on the cell phone to tell me that the X&T store was having a sale on something, 2 for $70. I was resting in the very swanky hotel room amidst piles of bags and I remember thinking, “Do I really want to go back out to the mall for that?” and I must have decided not, because the dream ended there. This is very odd, because the older I get, the less and less I like shopping, so this is not something I would actually want to do. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it was a nightmare, but you know, it wasn’t good.

Curious to know what my dreams will bring tonight. Sweet dreams, my cherubs.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

First Documentation of Jean-Jean

This photo is a bit hazy, because I took it through our front window. Nonetheless, you can sort of make out the charm and beauty that is the Mysterious and Mesmerizing Rat Killer Jean-Jean:

Stay tuned for further news of his death-defying exploits. (I'm fairly certain he's male now, as it appears he has been spraying to mark his territory. Gee whiz, cats are fun.)