Friday, September 26, 2008

Wrapping Up Before the Weekend

Hey, guess what?

My bank just got bought out.

John McCain has changed his mind and decided he will debate Barack Obama tonight. Flip-flopper!

The economy is in ruins.

We still have not found a house to move to.

I forgot my lunch.

The baby will be here in just 33 days. While I have a variety of adorable outfits for her, I’m a bit concerned about where she might sleep. Thankfully, we do have a car seat, so if worse comes to worse, we can all sleep in the car! (The rear seats do fold down.)

In more encouraging news:

I have another baby shower this weekend where I will be warmly embraced into the collective bosom of some of my dearest friends.

I am slowly but surely crossing things off my work pre-maternity leave “to do” list.

We found another grant writer and he’s filling out paperwork in the Human Resources office as we speak. He starts in one week – my last week of work.

Viva has decided she wants to be a bee for Halloween. Not just any bee! Barry B. Benson from Bee Movie! Interesting take on the movie here, by the way. [In a related aside, does it bother anyone else when they give animated animal characters blue eyes? Like animals that never in reality have blue eyes, like penguins or horses or bees? What is THAT about?? End tangent.] I have already begun working on creating a costume for her, which thankfully should not be all that difficult this time around.

I found out that one of my work acquaintances, who I really like but don’t see all that often because she works at one of our other sites, lives in the same neighborhood that the Blah Blahs are trying to move to. She is cool – very grounded and sane, and we are already so on the same wavelength – we are both pregnant and due within two days of each other! So we will be on leave at the same time and may even be able to get together and dish during that time. She has a 4-year-old daughter and hopefully Viva would bond with her and pretty much instantly have a friend in the area. (Although actually we already have a few friends in the area – but this one would be within walking distance. Miraculous in Los Angeles!)

My former yoga/dance teacher was recently on the Ellen show. Take a look at the clip and you can see why her class was so much fun!

Funny story about my doctor’s office here.

And, that's a wrap. Have a lovely weekend, all!

Updated two seconds after posting because I forgot to add a link. My bad!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's a melting pot! No, it's a mosaic! No, it's a rainbow...

Poll: Whites, blacks in U.S. disagree about prejudice

Wow, shocking news. These folks truly have their finger on the pulse.

The highlight of the article for me is:

Kelly Edmondson, 34, of Cincinnati, is a white Democrat enthusiastic about backing Obama. …She cares for her two sets of young twins during the day and teaches college at night; most of her students are black. In the survey, Edmondson said positive words such as "hardworking" and "intelligent" describe most blacks "very well." She said a few negative traits, such as "lazy" and "irresponsible," apply "somewhat well" to most blacks.

In a telephone interview, Edmondson said those attributes apply equally to all races. [emphasis added]
Well, yes. Exactly. I wonder what percentages a different poll would come up with – a poll which asked people their opinions of what traits the general American public shares, particularly if it were one that instead focused on class. I would imagine that there would be a fair proportion of people of all races who would characterize low-income people as "lazy" and "irresponsible." (And I'm not saying that I agree with them, I'm just saying certain leading questions are going to get a pretty predictable response. And often I think that people who do not have much exposure to people of color form their opinions based on what they see in the media - wait, this is a tangent that could comprise a whole separate post, so let me get back on point.)

This ties in, somewhat, with what I've been experiencing in the past couple of months. In our most recent house search, we have pretty much given up on the areas in and around where we live, which is where we have been looking for the past several months. We’ve started looking in a middle- to upper-middle class predominantly African-American neighborhood, even though that would mean a longer commute for both of us, because (1) we’d be closer to certain family members and friends (including Viva’s friends) that we see a lot; (2) quite simply, you get more for your money over there; (3) it’s a nice neighborhood, quiet with lots of trees and close to a major park; and (4) with certain addresses, we can actually get Viva into a decent public school.

I am surprised by the number of people who have said, “Why do you want to move over THERE?” and yet seem to think it is perfectly reasonable to expect us to look into neighborhoods far east of us or deep in the San Fernando Valley, which not only are further away in terms of miles, but also have a very small percentage of African-American residents. I am not surprised, but disappointed, by people who ask me if I’ve considered areas I’ve never heard of and then when I ask, “But are there any black people there?” look crestfallen and say, “Oh, I didn’t even think about that. I guess not.”

The issue is that no one asks "Why do you want to move over THERE?”about any other neighborhood where we've been looking. Hmm...if it only happened once or twice, I wouldn't think anything of it. But most people seem to be surprised that we would consider moving to a mostly black area.

One of the things that attracts me to the neighborhoods where we have been looking up until now is that there is a diversity of people – black, white, Asian, Latino, South Asian, etc. These are mid-city neighborhoods, and since we both work in the mid-city area, it makes sense for us to look there. However, this has not been fruitful, so we had to expand our horizons. One of the things that is crucial for us is to get Viva into a fairly mixed school which will also give her a good education. Fortunately, there is one in the neighborhood we’re looking at that she would be eligible to go to that is pretty balanced between white and black, with both Latino and Asian thrown in for good measure, and it has decent test scores. Neither of us is crazy about sending her to a school that is predominantly anything – whether white, black, Latino, or Asian. That is a major issue for both of us, and one which we have discussed extensively.

On the housing search: we haven’t yet found a place. Yeah. We would like to move during the first weekend of October, since the baby will be here at the end of October and I can’t imagine moving after a C-section, with a newborn. Our landlord has already contacted us about moving some of his stuff into the storage area. He clearly needs to move ASAP, which isn’t helping matters. All I can say is that when we know, you’ll know. I can’t say anymore about it at this point because it just stresses me out. As my boss said, “You’re nesting! And you have nowhere to nest!”

Yeah, it’s like that. Major suckage.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Blog Pondering


This evening, Viva and I were talking about twin brothers in her class. I mentioned that I hadn’t seen them in a while. “They come to school later than I do,” Viva said. “But you know what I don’t understand about them? I never see their mom.”

“I don’t think they have a mom,” I said, without thinking. Viva gasped.

“Not have a mom? What happened to her?” she cried.

“I don’t know what their situation is,” I said, cursing myself. “But I believe they have two dads.”

“Two DADS?” Viva said. “Does one act like the mom, and one like the dad?”

“I don’t know, sweetie,” I said. “Maybe they just act like two dads.”

I could see her filing this away in her brain. Oh, we will talk about this again, I can feel it. But in the meantime, she got distracted by her Curious George book, and I got distracted by the unbelievable amount of rice under the table. Did any of it make it into her mouth?

…and Curiouser

Yesterday I was at Target and in sort of a hurry (when am I not in a hurry) but trying to mellow out about it because they had only two checkers open. The woman in front of me had two piles of items, which she was paying for separately – one with a gift card and one with a credit card – and I think she was also trying to apply for an adjustable rate mortgage and access all her health records through the little card swipey dealio they had there, because somehow the transaction was much more complicated than it seemed it had to be. At any rate, once the cashier got to the second pile of stuff, I realized it was all underpants, of all different colors and varieties. Briefs, boyshorts, thongs, lacy polyester, cotton, she had it all. In all honesty, it was kind of fascinating to watch. The cashier was exactly the kind of young nerdly type that you might imagine – (I swear I can’t help it) well, you might imagine that this is the only access he ever gets to ladies’ panties, if you know what I mean. He was actually sweating a little bit.

So he rang up this towering pile, and I was watching the total add up with great interest. Because, hello, it was a lot of damn panties. And the total came to $175.12. FOR PANTIES! AT TARGET!!

Completely unfathomable. I can see paying that much for panties in a department store. But at Target? Wouldn’t they have to be something along the lines of $4.99 apiece? How many panties do you need? I started to wonder. Maybe she’s going on a long trip around the globe and doesn’t want to do laundry along the way. Maybe it’s something more salacious that I can’t even imagine because I am such a naïf. Maybe she has some sort of chronic uncontrollable bowel disease and it’s easier to just throw her underpants away. Maybe she’s a hoarder or impulse shopper and some switch in her head told her that today was Panty Day. Maybe she’s a good Samaritan and she’s buying underpants to give to a shelter or something. Maybe she’s a set dresser and needed underpants for a shoot.

Everybody’s got their story. What do you think?

P.S. By the by, new post over here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Moving On…

When we last saw our hero, she was having a bad day and trying to turn it around. In that spirit, she said something along the lines of, “It could always be worse.”

That, my friends, is what we call ironic foreshadowing.

For lo, the next day, did her husband call her at work with the foulest of news. “Beloved Spouse,” he cried, “I have received the most foulest of news, news that will upon its hearing make you faynt and fall twitching into the Slew of Despond.”

Our landlord and his wife of less than a year are separating. He wants to move back into the house where we currently live. I am six weeks away from giving birth, and now we must find a place, pack our stuff, and move before the baby comes.

You know that we have been looking for a new place for months with no luck. Had I written this post yesterday, I thin k it would be filled with a lot more despair, and a lot of cussing.

However, the Blah Blah Family has no time for that. We have already been to look at one house and are setting up appointments for the weekend. I am trying not to focus on it unduly.

“This could all be for the best,” I said to Sweet Dub yesterday evening. Strangely, faced with the prospect of having to move on short notice, with a 5-year-old and an enormously pregnant wife, he was not receptive to such talk. In fact, he seemed a bit stressed.

“You keep saying that about everything,” he said. “Why do you keep saying that, and then nothing good happens?”

My default position, when faced with a crappy situation, generally tends to be immediate anxiety, followed by humor as an attempt to alleviate the situation, and then by an attempt to find something positive about the situation, followed closely by realistic action I can take to try and make the situation better. I am not a Pollyanna, but I do feel it’s a waste of time and energy to focus on the negative and besides, it generally only makes you feel worse.

And who says nothing good happens? As the old saying goes , God may not answer your prayers when you want Him to, but He’s right on time. Something good is coming.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Looks Like Someone Has a Case of the Mondays

Viva has a stye. Her pretty little sparkling eye is swollen and there’s a red lump on the inside of her eyelid.

Someone came into my office today, in a hurry, and after slamming themselves* loudly into a chair, proceeded to cough (without covering their mouth) in the general direction of, and maybe 18 inches away from, my open (half-full!) bottle of vitamin water. The bottle is still sitting there and I still really want to drink it, but I won’t.

Sweet Dub went home for lunch and called to tell me that I just received a $380 ticket in the mail for “failing to stop” in an intersection at 7:58 AM on a Sunday near the drugstore near my house. Since I was turning right on red, and there is no “can’t turn right on red” sign at that intersection, I am completely mystified by this. How can they argue that I didn’t even stop?? I don’t understand how they would judge that. I received a ticket for this many years ago, and I have since been very conscious of making a full stop before moving again. I am really skeptical that this even happened, but this goes down as “yet one more thing I have to appeal,” along with all the ridiculous crap my health insurance company refuses to pay for as part of a normal pregnancy.

Over the weekend, Sweet Dub said, “I can’t wait for this pregnancy to end!” No, he really said that. In the meantime, I have developed a varicose vein in my left leg, my hips are killing me, and the only way for me to sleep is propped up by 6.8 pillows. Please, tell me more about how much this pregnancy is bothering you. Love you, babe!

Oh, and also, my hips? Deserve a separate paragraph, because they really hurt, like on the morning when I woke up 5-plus years ago to pee and said, “Ow, my hips are really killing me” and my water broke two hours later. Yeah, it’s like that, except my water hasn’t broken and I don’t want it to because the baby isn’t ready yet.

Lunch time: I went to the break room and pulled out my frozen spanokopita and lovely green salad. Looked at the directions for the spanokopita: “Do not cook in microwave or toaster oven.” No, yeah. Since those are my only options for cooking my entrée, cursed soundly and then prevailed upon one of my co-workers for part of a Chinese mooncake. Salad and mooncake. Not quite gonna do it. Baby’s reaction seems to be, “Yeah, right.”

I always have to ask myself on days like this, “What was the bright spot in this day?” And when I can’t think of anything else, I know that at the very least, it could be worse. So much worse. I have a lot to be thankful for. Like, for instance, the fact that I can afford to buy vitamin water and spanakopita. And stye medicine. For the moment, anyway.

* Sorry, trying to be gender-neutral.

Friday, September 12, 2008

With Apologies to Dan Fogelberg

Earlier in the week, I wrote a really long post about the government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and how it is ridiculous that no one bats an eye over the government assuming control of these private financial institutions but that the minute you point out that the government should step in and do something about healthcare – like, oh, I don’t know, maybe some sort of healthcare reform? Create a national, single-payer system like many other countries in the civilized world? – people start shrieking about socialism.

I feel that we are in a healthcare crisis just as much as we are in a housing crisis, and I want somebody to do something about it. So I wrote this long post and then it just seemed to me, on reading it over, that there was a bit too much ranting in it. Yeah, I’m angry about it, and that translated into me not writing very well. I ventured over into Indignance, and I couldn’t find my way back.

So. I’m not expecting you to tune in here expecting sunshine and rainbows, but I also don’t want to raise your blood pressure. I could write a follow-up about work, but I’m trying not to raise my own blood pressure (right now, a healthy 90/62). I could write about my pregnancy, but that’s what this is for. What to do, what to do?

Ah, well, I give you this:

Viva: I had the funniest dream last night.

Mama: Oh yeah? What was it about?

Viva: We were having a marching band parade! [following me around the kitchen as I am trying to pull together both lunch and breakfast] Me? And my cousins? We were all in a marching band!

Mama: Wow, that does sound pretty funny.

Viva: Yeah! M was playing the trombone, and T was playing the drums! And – what else do you play in a marching band?

Mama: Um, there are lots of horns, like – the tuba? And cymbals, and different kinds of drums...

Viva: What about the flute?

Mama: Yeah, yeah, you’re right, they do have flutes.

Viva: Well, I was playing the flute. And Auntie Lola was there! And Grandma too! She was in the parade? And you know what she said?

Mama: What, sweetie?

Viva: She said, “I never got to be the leader of the band.” So I said, “Grandma, you can be the leader of the band!”

Mama [laughing snidely]: Oh my God, that totally sounds like something Grandma would say. It’s like a metaphor for her life.

Viva: And I made her the leader of the band! And she even had the swirly stick! What is that swirly stick called?

Mama: The baton.

Viva: Why is it called that?

Mama: I don’t know. I think it’s French. French for stick.

And, end scene. I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band.

P.S. And can I also say how much I love this? I want to eat Marge’s hair. It looks like it must be made out of something yummy.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Laughter and Tears! The Yin! The Yang!

Bright Spot of the Day

On our way to school this morning, Viva says, “Did you know we have secret signs at school?”

I immediately think of kindergarteners either throwing gang signs (East-SIIIIDE!) or dressed in softly gleaming white robes, performing by candlelight scary occult rituals for which there are secret signs. Guardedly, I say, “No, I didn’t know that. What are these secret signs? Are they so secret you can’t tell me?”

“No. What you do is you hold up your fingers to tell the teacher.”

“Okay, and what does that tell her?”

“If you hold up three fingers, it means you need a drink of water.”

“Oh,” I say, relieved. “I get it now.”

“If you hold up one finger, it means you have to go to the bathroom.”

“I see,” I say. “What does it mean if you hold up two fingers?”

“PEACE,” Viva says with a heavy sigh, and then gets pissed off because I can’t stop laughing.

Shitty Spot of the Day

A new director has joined our department and today is her first day. Since I was one of only a few people here when she arrived, somehow it falls to me to get her acclimated. Eventually we are joined by one of my other co-workers, who shows this new person that she’ll be sitting (for the moment) in a cubicle. (Note: We are notoriously short on space over here; it took me six months to get an office when I started.) So my co-worker assures this new person that the cubicle is only temporary.

The new person, L., says confidently, “Oh, I know.” And turning to me she says, “How do you feel about having to move out of your office?”

“I wasn’t aware that that was a done deal,” I say. My boss had recently floated the idea that I might have to move to an as-yet nonexistent office, which I would have to share with someone else, and I had already firmly stated my opposition to that idea. It now becomes clear that this has been presented to this new person as something that is going to happen pretty much as soon as I go out on maternity leave. She realizes she has said something she shouldn’t and starts backpedaling. “Woops, don’t get mad at me, I’m new,” she says.

I am PISSED. Really pissed. I’m not pissed at her – what sense would that make – and I say so. I also say my understanding was that this whole discussion is premature, and we don’t know where I’ll end up. I then reassure her she shouldn’t worry about it. We move on getting her oriented and after a few minutes I excuse myself.

I go down to the parking garage and sit in my car and call Sweet Dub, and as soon as he answers the phone I start crying. (Lucky, lucky him.) I just think it’s pretty shitty to plan to move someone into my office while I’m off having a baby. I mean, shit, I’m seven months pregnant and trying to keep all the aspects of my life under control and I have really tried to not let this pregnancy interfere with my work life, and I feel under the circumstances I have handled it well up to this point. This is just what people do, right? But my feelings are hurt and right now I just want to throw my hands up in the air and go home.

Since Sweet Dub’s job is imploding (they had some kind of disaster yesterday which he is in the middle of running damage control on), I let him off the phone after a few minutes. Blow my nose. Drink some water and take a few deep breaths. Send good vibes to the baby, get out of the car, and go back upstairs.

As the morning progresses, people ambush me in my office and I end up having to rehash this incident three times. First with my boss, then with the co-worker who was present when it happened, and then with my boss’ boss, who swears he was the one who told me they were going to give away my office while I’m gone. As in, yes, that IS going to happen. The alleged plan is to build out a conference room while I’m away – cut it in half and put up a wall and a second door.

I am thoroughly sick of it. At this point, I have closed my door and every time I get down to work, someone else comes by and knocks and asks about some other fucking thing. So since I’m not getting anything done, I had to vent. And here we are.

Peace (that’s two fingers).

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

On Being Fearless

A recent post of Mango Mama’s about her daughter Olivia got me thinking again about Viva and her confidence. I’d had this post floating around in my head for a few days, but it hadn’t yet gelled (my brain is not as perky as it used to be). But what it boils down to is that while Viva has increasingly become more physically confident – plunging into the water without a second thought when swimming, shaking off bumps and falls when playing soccer, clearly feeling her power during kung fu – socially, she is still a bit timid.

I blame myself, of course. One thing about Sweet Dub is he is never timid about anything, so I know she ain’t gettin’ it from him. Dub has pretty much taken charge of Viva’s physical education lately, taking her bike riding, signing her up for kung fu (which is the cutest damn thing you have ever seen), and the like. When she sits with me to read a book together, or to write a note to someone, she is cautious. If she starts reading a word and mispronounces it, and realizes she is reading it wrong, she will look at me anxiously. “I can’t do it,” she’ll say.

“Of course you can,” I say. “You’re such a good reader. Sound it out. You almost had it, just start the word over from the beginning.” Then she will start over and read it correctly, I’ll praise her for getting it right, and nonetheless she may stumble over the next couple of words. I don’t know where this is coming from, but I’m thinking that (and I don’t want to blame the baby for everything, BUT) she is regressing a bit because if she’s having trouble with something, I’ll give her extra attention. Since she craves being with me or her dad or both constantly lately, this makes sense, but it’s frustrating.

Tomorrow is School Picture Day. (Oh yes, kindergarten started THREE WEEKS AGO, did I not mention it? So much for summer vacation.) This morning she said, “I’m not sure what to do for School Picture Day.”

“Sweetie, all you have to do is smile,” I said.

“But what if you don’t like the picture?” she said.

“How could I not like a picture of you? I love every picture of you I have ever seen,” I said.

“So no matter what it looks like, you’ll like it?” she said.

“Of course,” I said. “I really don’t want you to worry about it, babes.”

I started out this post thinking in my self-absorbed fashion that I had passed my tendencies toward a lack of self-confidence* on to my child – and indeed, maybe I have on some level. I should say that, having wrestled with esteem issues through adolescence and my early 20s, for the most part I think I am The Shizznit, though like all of us I have moments of self-doubt. But as I started typing, I realized what is truly going on here. (You see, the usefulness of blogging? Gives you time for a little evaluation, reflection and awareness and all that, if you only make time for it.)

I think the impending arrival of Rosie**, as Viva calls her, is making my little crumb cake feel a bit insecure***. And this is totally normal. And her constant wrestling with her daddy, and her constant testing of limits, is all about that. And now I just want to go pick her up from school and smother her with kisses and tell her I know she is scared that we won’t love her as much when the baby comes, but nothing could be further from the truth. Poor little thing and her fragile psyche. I don’t know how she could imagine her parents don’t completely adore her and would gladly throw ourselves under a train to spare her any hurt, but I guess that hasn’t fully come across.

Here’s to being bold, and to the confidence that comes from knowing that folks have your back. Here’s to making mistakes and having the courage to try again. Here’s to believing the positive about yourself.

* I know, hard to believe. My sister once told me, “You think you’re better than everyone else,” to which I snidely replied that her statement said more about her than about me. “Don’t hang your insecure bullshit on me,” I said. I love my sister, but you know how siblings can push each other’s buttons like no one else can? Yeah, it’s like that.

** Not her real name.

*** This weekend, I had to sing Viva an old Sesame Street song because she was making a card for a friend and she mis-spelled something and started freaking out about having to start over. Do you remember this song (sung by Big Bird)?

Oh, everyone makes mistakes, oh yes they do
Your sister and your brother and your dad and mother too
Big people, small people
Matter of fact, all people
Everyone makes mistakes so why can’t you?
If everyone in the whole wide world makes mistakes