Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What on Earth Would Jesus Think?!

Basset Hound Nativity Set

Wow. I mean, WOW. I don’t even know what to say.



Image brought to you courtesy of my new favorite site, Regretsy. Go now, trust me. And scroll through their archives. It's comic gold.

Oh, wait. Before you go: I thought I was struck speechless before, but now I may never talk again:

Poor Baby Jesus Meerkat. He looketh sore afraid.

Yeah. Wow. I’m…I just…wow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Birds, Bees & Ogres

The Scene: it is Sunday night. I am doing Viva’s hair, a long process of sectioning and oiling and combing through each section and twisting each section down into one long plait, secured with a barrette. Because this is a long process, we generally watch a movie while it’s going on. It doesn’t take me the whole movie to finish her hair, but it’s a nice ritual involving microwave popcorn and lemonade.

The Movie: we are watching Shrek the Third. There is a point at which (spoilers ahead! For a movie that’s at least a couple of years old!) Shrek (the ogre, in case you’ve been living under a rock) is leaving on a quest in a large ship going out of the harbor. His wife Fiona is on shore and she calls out, “I’m pregnant!” Shrek is completely freaked out, and as the boat pulls away, the following conversation takes place:

Shrek: I can't believe I'm going to be a father. How did this happen?

Puss In Boots: Allow me to explain. When a man falls in love with a woman, he is overcome with powerful urges—

Shrek [yelling]: I know how it happened! I just can't believe it. [stomps off]

Donkey [to Puss]: How *does* it happen?

Viva [to me]: How *does* it happen?

Mama: Oh, well – you know, we’ve talked about this a little before. You know the daddy kind of plants a seed in the mommy and it grows into a baby.

Viva: But HOW does he do it?

Mama [biting the bullet]: Well, the daddy puts his [clinical term] into the mommy’s [clinical term] and—

Viva: Oh my GOD.

Mama: Yeah, that’s pretty much everyone’s reaction when they first find out. It sounds unbelievable, but that’s how it happens.

Viva: That is WEIRD.

Mama: Well, when two people love each other, it’s kind of like – it’s a very special kind of hugging that they do.

Viva: You mean a very WEIRD kind of hugging.

Mama: Okay then.

And by then we were on to the scene where Shrek is having nightmares about ogre babies projectile vomiting and crying and having multiple near-accidents, and that was the end of that.

I’ve shared this story with a few people since then, and the reaction seems to be: “Wow, I can’t believe you straight out told her like that.”

I’m really not sure what else I was expected to do. She asked me a question and I answered honestly in a spur-of-the-moment way that I hope was age-appropriate. I want her to feel she can ask me anything, and I don’t want her to feel like the Big Topics are off-limits. And it seems to me that 6 is a pretty reasonable age for her to be curious about where babies come from, and that now I can go ahead and get a book like this, or this, or this, for us to read together and talk if she wants to. (I think when I was little I read this. I wonder if it’s held up over the years or if it’s dated.)

At any rate, I would love to hear from you about your experiences talking with your own kids, or your own “birds and the bees” talk with your parent(s), if you ever had The Talk. My mom was always very frank with me and my sister, and I’d like to be the same way with my kids. Curious to hear other people's experiences! PG only please!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

You should write a book, they say.

Oh my God, that’s hilarious. When are you going to write about it?

If you don’t write all this stuff down, you’ll lose it.

At the same time: work, sickness, two small kids. November started with the flu and ended with some gastrointestinal horrors, sandwiched around but not related to or caused by Thanksgiving. A small girl who is lonely and whose tummy hurts and who wants her mama. An even smaller girl who wants to be in the middle of where everyone is, who repeats over and over in the sweetest voice imaginable, “Uh-oh!” about everything.

And the holidays! They are upon us. Good grief.

Where will I find the time?

I lost a week of work this month to illness. I am so terribly behind. I worked at home during the Thanksgiving weekend. I worked this evening after putting the kids to bed. Speaking of which, the baby (soon-to-be-toddler) is waking up three times a night. It is like she has regressed back to the early days. And, exhausted, my sweet husband has passed out next to the baby. He is snoring softly. And just in thinking of him I think, his birthday is coming up. Yet another twinge of guilt and despair! How will I get it all done?

I need time for myself – time to exercise, time to write things that aren’t for work, time to get my hair cut. I am feeling a bit raggedy. I breathe. I am thankful, don’t get it twisted. My little family is such a swirling tide of love. I just feel like I am constantly pulling together a shawl that is unraveling and getting smaller all the time. It just won’t cover me.

And in taking the time to write it down, at least I can look back and remember what on earth was going on. And find the humor in it. Ha. Ha. Yes, and ha.

Thankfully, Los Angeles does not disappoint. Last week, I was driving south on Crenshaw Blvd. and just as I reached the red light at Jefferson, I saw a bright orange ice-cream-type truck turn left onto Crenshaw. That truck, my friends, was the Grilled Cheese Truck. Now, THAT is fabulousness made real. The Grilled Cheese Truck just made its debut in October of this year, so I feel I am almost somewhat on the cutting edge in reporting this to you. They tweet and publish a schedule of when the truck will be in various locations so you can go get a fresh grilled cheese sandwich when the mood strikes. Among other things, they do a Gruyere melt, which sounds divine.

Yup, Grilled Cheese Truck. You heard it here first (maybe). Now I must arise from the laptop and collapse into bed, at which point no doubt the Babe will awake and I will suppress the urge to scream. One love, all. One love.

Monday, November 09, 2009

On the Mend

The Blah Blahs are recovering from whatever horrible ailment that was. And thus and so we have all returned to “normal” life, off to work and school and day care. Cily did not seem so sure about day care this morning. She had a rough night and her cheeks are kind of swollen, indicating to me that teeth are about to break through. Cily would not eat breakfast, and neither would Viva, and I fretted a bit about it in the car as we tootled off to begin our days, but then Viva could not stop telling me the entire plot of the Captain Underpants book she read last night, and Cily chimed in loudly here and there cheerfully, at times talking over her sister (she is not quite clear on conversational concepts yet, but would feel right at home with some of my closest friends who, and they know who they are, can’t quite ever let one get a full sentence out without bursting out with an exclamation) and so I managed to get over it, letting Viva out of the car at school with a Tupperware of dry cereal to munch on and handing a bottle to Cily’s day care provider as I handed her over. And then somehow I drank two cups of coffee at work and got to lunchtime and realized I hadn’t eaten breakfast either.

Soup is the answer. I think it cures all kinds of ills.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

But Not the Flu

Today I am sick.

Darling Sweet Dub is sick.

Precious Cily is sick.

Viva: healthy as all get-out and raring to go. What adventure awaits her today?

I am at work, having come in just to make edits and print and mail out a project so I can cross it off my “to do” list. It is quiet here today – about half the staff in our department are out at a conference. I am enjoying the calm.

Soon I will make phone calls, and I will sketch out my next assignment, and I will leave here and pick up Cily from the lovely and loving women who care for her all day. Cily, sweet Cily gives kisses to all of us without pursing her lips. Sometimes they are open-mouthed kisses, and she chews a little bit on your face, kind of thoughtful-like, before moving on to smear her spit on your cheek. I am guessing this is how both Sweet Dub and I got sick, since who can resist her?

I will try and work from home for the rest of the day. Cily, I know, may not cooperate. But I will first make my phone calls and see what avenue to take next, and then maybe once we get home she will nap. And I may sneak some pictures of her because she is so scrumptious.

And that other girl, Viva, will come home victorious from whatever she has done today and declare that I am the best mom ever because when I make myself a cup of tea I automatically make her a cup of hot cocoa. And I will try not to give her my germs, but it will be hard, because who can resist her?

And maybe for Sweet Dub, I will make some chicken soup to share. He too is at work. (What a crazy life – we all have “too much to do.”) So he will come home and all of us will collapse in bed together and he will be so sweet with the children as we all loll about that I might have to kiss him and share his germs too, because how can I resist him?

So that is the plan for the day. Be well, my friends.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Terribly Out of Fashion

Transcript of recent conversation with my 6-year-old.

Viva: Why are you wearing (pause for effect) THOSE earrings?

Mama: These? (feels ears because can’t remember which ones) Oh, these. Um, I don’t know, I never wear them and Daddy gave them to me and so I thought today I would wear them. Why? Don’t you like them?

Viva: Well, Mah-OM (like she doesn’t know exactly how to tell me this): they look like boys’ earrings.

Mama: (busts out laughing) OH! MY. GOD! HONEY!

Sweet Dub (from another part of the house): WHUH?

Mama: Come and hear what your child is saying.

Viva: What? They DO.

Sweet Dub: What?

Mama: Listen to what has become of this generation. Your child thinks these look like boys’ earrings.

Sweet Dub (bursts out laughing) Oh, no. Really? Is that what we’ve come to?

Mama: Bling bling.

Note: The earrings in question are diamond studs. I have a tendency to wear dangly earrings mostly, so I hardly ever wear them. It appears that all the young men who like the hippity-hop music wear earrings like this and thus have ruined them forever for everyone else. Evidently I can’t yet wear them as a subversive, arch act of turning fashion on its head because people will just think I’m out of touch rather than cutting edge. Woe is me.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


One year ago today, I posted this:
I've been having contractions since 5:30 or so this morning. They have been intensifying but are still not at the magic "every 5 minutes, 1 minute in duration" level. Nonetheless, we've kept Viva home from school while we wait to see what happens and we've got all local family members on standby. I am cramping, hips are extra sore, back is killing me. It feels like this is it.

Happy 1st Birthday, Celia, my love. You are tremendous and I love you even more today than 365 short days ago when we first met. I am sorry that you woke up on today of all days cold and wet and with poop in your pants. Hopefully, each birthday will be better than the last!

Cily, about 10 minutes after waking up cold and wet (her diaper leaked) and with poop in her pants. Approximately 5 AM today.

Help Me Win a Trip to Disneyland!

Okay, you know I am not one to toot my own horn, BUT: would you please vote for me? Los Angelista is running a VIP Disneyland giveaway on her site and I’m a semi-finalist! If I win, I get to join Los Angelista’s family on November 21st with 3 guests (guess who? If you guessed Sweet Dub, Viva and Cily, right on) for the VIP treatment at Disneyland. How fun is that? And all made possible by the modern miracle that is the Internet. I’ve emailed back and forth for maybe years now with Liz (Los Angelista), but somehow we have never met in person. This could be our chance! (Well, we’ll probably meet anyway at some point, but how great to meet at the Happiest Place on Earth?)

You can vote for me by clicking here and leaving a comment! Thank you!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Joy Inside My Tears

I’ve been a bit down lately. Work has been stressful; dealing with my Nanna’s illness has been stressful, etc. So I’ve been trying to Turn My Frown Upside Down! by doing things that make me happy, like listening to fun music. Long story short: this morning, we were listening to Stevie Wonder in the car (Songs in the Key of Life), more specifically “Black Man.” If you haven’t heard the song, well, how to describe it? It is more than 8 minutes long, for one thing, and it was written in the mid-70s, at a time in Stevie’s life where he had become hugely commercially successful and also extremely politically conscious.

This is not the strongest song on the album, but I appreciate what Stevie is trying to do here – he is basically giving a shout-out to all the different races that make up America, and describing how individuals of different colors all made significant contributions to our culture. Sample lyrics:

Heart surgery
Was first done successfully
By a black man (Dr Daniel Hale Williams)

Friendly man who died
But helped the pilgrims to survive
Was a red man (Squanto)

Farm workers rights
Were lifted to new heights
By a brown man (Cesar Chavez)

Incandescent light
Was invented to give sight
By the white man (Thomas Edison)

We pledge allegiance
All our lives
To the magic colors
Red, blue and white
But we all must be given
The liberty that we defend
For with justice not for all men
History will repeat again
It's time we learned
This World Was Made For All Men

Okay, so putting aside for the moment the gender exclusion of the lyrics (and the un-PCness of references to the red and yellow man – yikes), I was trying to explain the core of the song to Viva. I told her why at the time it was written the song was important, and how Stevie was trying to counteract the beliefs of some people in the world who think bad things about whole groups of people simply based on the color of their skin or what country they come from. “That’s called racism,” I said. “Have you ever heard of that word?”

“No,” Viva said. For a second I hesitated. Should I even open up this can of worms? But I want her to know she can talk to me about anything, even the hard stuff, so I continued. The conversation segued into a discussion of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work and struggle.

“I bet Martin Luther King would be happy that Barack Obama is president,” Viva said. Oh, my girl – I just love her so.

I said, “Yes, I think he would be very excited, you’re right. This was one of the things he worked for, so that people who look like Barack Obama can have important jobs like being president. That is why it was such a huge deal – you remember how Daddy and I cried when he got elected? It’s because we were so happy to see this day come.”

And I swear to you, I got a lump in my throat and started crying a little as I was saying it. Sometimes I really miss my grandpa, and for whatever reason the election makes me think of him – I’m sad that he didn’t live to see a black man become president. And now, my grandma is ill, and that makes me sadder.

So, yeah, score 1 for substantive morning car conversation, but score 0 for helping my mood lift!

At any rate, I had pushed aside the morning’s conversation and then I happened to read a post at Anti-Racist Parent today, and yes. Tami pretty much said what I was feeling, way better than I could have said it. The Website name will be changing to “Love Isn’t Enough” next week, and here’s why.

Now, that lifted my mood.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greenhouse Gas-X

Hey, it’s Blog Action Day! This year’s theme is climate change, and it’s very timely. Back in the day, we used to refer to people who were passionate about the environment as “crunchy granola”* types. It seems that here in my little corner of Los Angeles, we have more than our share of granola crunchers, juxtaposed with those who drive their Hummers from their house to the grocery store three blocks away. I see plenty of Priuses in my neck of the woods, and even old diesel cars that have been converted to run on vegetable oil.

Something new to me that I’ve been seeing as I drive about Los Angeles in the day-to-day are more and more cars with a “TerraPass” bumper sticker. After I’d seen it more than a few times, I set aside my lazy and forgetful ways for just a moment and – what else? – Googled it.

Huzza! At the TerraPass website, you can purchase carbon offsets (among other things) in varying amounts. TerraPass is evidently the #1 online carbon offset retailer. I can hear you all muttering out there, “Okay, fine, but what exactly is a carbon offset and why should I care?”

Dude! You should totally care because of the environment (love your mother!). Eat some granola and go to TerraPass or one of the many sites online where you can calculate your carbon footprint. This, my friends, is your personal contribution to global warming (see, climate change) via many daily activities you don’t even think about: driving, flying, or even heating your home. Through these activities, people produce carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas (read: no good for the environment). When you purchase carbon offsets, you’re funding projects which offset the environmental destruction your heinous, heinous ways have caused. Brighter Planet does a lovely job (certainly better than I can do) of explaining what carbon offsets are and the kinds of projects they consist of.

Back to the TerraPass bumper stickers: cars and trucks are responsible for 25% of all U.S. carbon emissions. Yeah, that’s pretty bad. By purchasing carbon offsets, you can balance out your daily damage to the ozone and alleviate some of your guilt. (Note I said some of your guilt. Carbon offsets will not remedy any of the following: your unwillingness to call your mother lately, the three consecutive bags of potato chips you ate yesterday, or you tearing up and throwing out your last jury duty summons. The offset thing is not a magical cure-all. Sorry.)

And that is one way you can do your part to counteract climate change. And if you want to eat granola while doing so, I promise not to tell.

P.S. You know what else they sell at TerraPass? Climate Change Chocolate. What’s not to love?

* Hey, I LOVE granola. Not casting aspersions. It’s all good.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Few Reasons Why I've Been Scarce

1. Errands! There are many things I can’t get done on the weekends because I am just trying to clean the house/enjoy my family/have a life. Thus, errands get done during my lunch hour, which is often when I would usually take the time to compose blog posts, as a break from my work day. (Yeah, I said it.)

[1a. Aside: I have not found a dry cleaner near our new house. The one I am using now is not in the flow of my life at all. Either I need to switch out my entire work wardrobe to some kind of perma-press fabric, or I need to locate a fabbo new dry cleaner. Hmm, which will it be?]

2. Speaking of work: WORK! There is very much much of it, as in a muchness of it, as in a too muchness of it. As much as it pleases me to have a regular paycheck and healthcare benefits, and as much as I am grateful for having a job at all in this economy, it does sometimes feel overwhelming. As in, too much.*

3. Nanna! Not well, and not really understanding what’s wrong with her, and thus not really understanding what medical options she has and what they all mean. I am trying to be diplomatic with my mom, who is her primary caregiver and appears to be in a spiral of depression and denial and not wanting to ask the doctors too many questions for fear of seeming pushy. (Yes, take a moment to re-read that. Doesn’t want to be pushy. Dear God, I hope when I am 84 years old and not able to advocate for myself that other people will be pushy on my behalf.) So I am now delicately trying to be pushy with her, in the nicest way possible, couching it in terms of how I know this has been hard for her and we all love Nanna so much and just want the best possible care for her. And of course we just want to help my mom as much as we can but we can only do that if we have all the information we’d need to help make decisions about her care. Specifically, I am concerned about a surgery that the oncologist is proposing, but the cardiologist is cautioning against because he doesn’t think Nanna’s heart could take the strain. At this point, we know she has cancer in her lungs and stomach but they have not yet determined if she has it in her liver, although they suspect from her last CAT scan that she does. I would like to have the whole picture before they cut her open, and indeed even before they recommend a course of treatment for the two cancers she has. On the other hand, I am not there on the day-to-day, so it’s easier for me to put the brakes on. Much of the time, Nanna is in pain, and that is very, very hard to witness. One more thing: the lung cancer surgery involves partial removal of one of her lungs, which my mother has not shared with her “because she gets so agitated.” Of course, I understand not wanting to add to her stress, but at the same time, I strongly feel that if she is going to have surgery she deserves to know what exactly is going to be done to her. It’s her body, after all. And it makes me wonder: what kind of doctor would recommend a surgery to someone without fully explaining what it involves, and in the case of an elderly woman who is not always lucid, without ensuring that she understands what is involved? I could go on, but see #s 1 and 2, and #4.

4. Children! One is turning one in ten days! Both need Halloween costumes! One needs new shoes (size 1.5)! One needs long-sleeved T-shirts (size 12-18 months)! Both need various and different foods at different times from different places! One never wants to be separated from me, ever – but dammit, will I put her down and let her explore the house and throw everything around the room and put stuff in her mouth but don’t go too far how could I leave her AAAAAAAAAAAAA! One is pleased that we had an impromptu water balloon fight Friday evening but enraged that I asked her to bring her sweat jacket in from the car! Children are fun but exhausting! They make me write everything in exclamation points because that’s how we roll!

5. Sickness! Sweet Dub had stomach flu last week; I have a persistent sore throat and now an earache. Cily’s nose is breaking all previously known records for runniness. Viva: healthy as a horse. Knock wood.

Aaaand, I'm out.

* I just had to see how many times I could use the word “much” in that last paragraph.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cross-Cultural Fun Times

How much rudeness can you explain away as the result of someone who is not a native English speaker not being able to communicate in a tactful or nuanced fashion?

When I was pregnant with Cily, I had an encounter with someone at work who is on pretty much everyone’s Must Avoid List. I ran into her in the bathroom and she said, gesturing at my swelling belly, “Lisa, are you pregnant?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m six months along.”

“Boy or girl?” she said.

“It’s a little girl,” I said.

“ANOTHER GIRL? Well, better luck next time,” she said, and went into the stall.

Oh. Right.

So anyway, yesterday I ran into her, again in the bathroom. I mainly try to avoid her (see above re: Must Avoid List), but you know, there is that whole inconvenient “must void bladder” issue as well. So there I was, and she said: “Lisa, who watches your kid now?”

“She is in day care, just down the street,” I said. She gasped. No, really, she did, and then she said in a horrified tone:


“Yes, all day. I work full-time,” I said. And then I did something I hardly ever do, because despite what you might think I’m generally pretty polite. I gave her The Look. The “what the hell are you trying to pull here, lady?” Look. The “I can’t believe you’re asking me that” Look. The “if I were male you wouldn’t be asking me that” Look. And she shut up and put her head down and scuttled out of the bathroom.

She really chaps me. Is that not rude?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Monday, Melancholy

It’s October. Work and home life insanely busy. I barely remember September. Recent news:

Cily: top two front teeth have come through. Stomach flu this weekend. Will not stop crawling and cruising and moving and wiggling and where did the baby go?

Viva: late trip to the lake last month. Took up waterskiing. How is it that I, the klutziest, most uncoordinated and most accident-prone person alive, gave birth to this?

(Look, it's the teeniest water-skiier in the world. Why do you do this, Blogger? I'll have to try this again later.)

Sweet Dub: my love. Yesterday was our 8th wedding anniversary. Between the diarrhea-laden baby and both of us coming down with the latest ailment, we spent the day bumping into each other occasionally and saying, “Happy Anniversary,” rather mournfully.

Nanna: Cancer in her lungs and stomach. Awaiting biopsy of her liver. Doctors want to do surgery, say she will live another two years if they do it. “I’m 84,” she says. “Two more years isn’t bad at 84.” The twist: the last time I saw her, she asked me how old Viva was: “Two or three?” (Viva is 6 years old.) Moral of the story: I’m questioning whether my grandmother can genuinely make this decision about surgery for herself. She is sometimes lucid, sometimes not so much.

I’m having weird dreams about Nanna and my grandfather (deceased) going on a trip and moving to a new house, leaving behind a house filled with all kinds of baggage. Sometimes your subconscious isn’t all that subtle, is it?

Meanwhile, I am sick and my throat is on fire. I crave a big steaming bowl of homemade minestrone soup. Maybe I’ll make some…here in my office, where it is about 35 degrees. Happy Monday.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why We Are Perfect (For Each Other)

Backstory: last week Sweet Dub and I caught part of the latest George Lopez comedy special on…HBO, or one of those premium channels we pay too much for. During his routine, he called out this guy in the front row and put the camera on him. Dude had a tattoo of George Lopez’s FACE on his upper arm. Serious stan.

Later that week, for no reason at all:
Mama Blah: I am going to get a tattoo of Kanye West’s face.
Sweet Dub [as if this is perfectly reasonable]: Where?
Mama Blah: Across my forehead. Would you be okay with that?
Sweet Dub [not missing a beat]: Only if you call him K-Weezy.
You see why I can never leave him, right?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The Next Chapter?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but one thing that seems to be a constant in the Blah Blah world is Change. We seem frequently to be adjusting to some major life upheaval, and sometimes more than one at the same time. This has been a pattern pretty much since I met Sweet Dub, lo some nine years ago. (We met, I started a new job, I hated the new job, I quit the new job, I moved in with him, he proposed, we got married. And that was just the first year! In year two I had a cancer scare, surgery and then got pregnant! )

Now, we’ve just moved for the second time in a year. And you’d think I’d just want things to simmer down and be status quo for a bit. But I have to tell you: change is in the air.

I’m not enjoying what I do right now. Hm. How to explain it. Do any of you remember a children’s book called Beyond the Pawpaw Trees*? The heroine of the book, Anna Lavinia, misses her father, who is a dreamer and is missing for part of the book because he is off chasing rainbows. (I know, it sounds horrible and treacly, but truly I loved it and even as a kid I had no patience for pap, so bear with me as I am not doing it justice.) At any rate, at one point Anna Lavinia is eating oatmeal and juxtaposing in her mind how most people would say “Eat because you are hungry,” while her father would say “Eat because it is fun!” and she looks at her bowl and decides she is finished eating because once her spoon (which stood up in the oatmeal) had fallen over, the oatmeal wasn’t fun anymore.

Well, that’s how I feel. It’s not fun. And the things I want to do are so different from what I am doing, and I’m feeling kind of ecch. And blah. And blech. And all kind of how do I get there from here, and where do I find the time, and by the way I have bills to pay and kids to raise, and what about that husband of mine, maybe I should pay attention to him just a little bit so he doesn’t run off into the night, and honestly what are you thinking anyway, work is work and no one said it would be fun, and yeah.

Furthermore, and just to put it all out on the table, I hate all my clothes and I’m considering cutting my hair (this is partly because I’ve been unable to find my hair accessories since we moved, except for one lousy ponytail holder that was wrapped around the gear shift in my car).

Yeah, a little bit of existential whining here. What is it all about, what does it mean, why is my stomach so flabby? How is it possible that Ben & Jerry’s could create something that I don’t like**? And what about…Naomi?***

* Holy crap, it’s out of print and the cheapest used copy I can find is $129.99! One seller is listing it at $399.00. WHAT?! (I regret to inform you that my copy was lost when my mom donated all my childhood books after I left for college. Sigh.)

** It made my stomach hurt.

*** The tagline of the classic soap opera parody "Love of Chair" from The Electric Company. I just found out that “Naomi” turns out to be the mother of actors Jake and Maggie Gyllenhall. (According to Wikipedia – so it must be true!)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tired. And tired of being tired!

As we roll into the Labor Day weekend, I'm looking forward to spending time with my family, gradually unpacking a box here and there, and getting some rest. It will be a weekend tinged with sadness and worry – we just learned that my grandmother has a cancerous mass in her lung and will be having it removed on Tuesday. I'm driving up to see her tomorrow. There are other tests to be done; cat scans show suspicious shadows on her liver and thyroid as well.


So I will be sitting around with a big old "sadness wrapped in anxiety peppered with fear" burrito churning in my stomach this weekend, but I'm trying not to let it overshadow our first real weekend in the new house, and you can say all you want about me being in denial if you want and I won't be mad. I'm trying to focus on something happy, so sue me.


Now, the new house is not without its flaws. I don't think there is such a thing as a perfect house. But in our last house, I felt like we were almost imprisoned in the house. The street was really narrow, the neighborhood was really congested, and I felt like we heard other people's noise constantly. It felt like our neighbors were right on top of us all the time. The new house is in a quiet neighborhood. When I'm inside the house, even with two small and very loud children, nonetheless there is a stillness and a peace that is part of the house. It is a sweet relief. We also have an outside space that is usable, whereas in our old house they had paved and tiled over the backyard to be used for entertaining. New house: grass, and lots of it.


The Blah Blahs love to be outside. Not having a usable outdoor space in Southern California, where it is lovely to be outside 95% of the time, was a little crazy-making. I am looking forward to barbecuing, and challenging Viva to soccer games, and plopping my feet into kiddie pools, and slurping lemonade in a lawn chair. Simple pleasures, my friends.


I am looking forward to Labor Day, and to not working in an office on that day. I am grateful in this economy to have a job at all, and I realize I am blessed. I just need a day to rest and enjoy the simple things. A very safe and simple Labor Day to you and yours.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Completely Bone Tired. And Not in the Way I Like.

We've moved. In the midst of 100-degree heat and horrendous air quality due to the wildfires here in Los Angeles. Dear God, my head hurts.

Posting will remain light as we get settled.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Room to Breathe

What a momentous weekend!

Celia turned 10 months! I would post a recent picture but I've been distracted because:

Viva lost her top front tooth! She was excited, if a little unsure, because some spoilsport 5th grader at school told her "The Tooth Fairy is actually your mom." I was happy to honestly be able to tell her I have never snuck into her room to take her tooth and leave money under her pillow. (I leave that to Daddy since I generally fall asleep while waiting for Viva to fall asleep on such occasions.) I would post a picture of her newly revised smile, but I haven't had a minute because:

We found a house! And we've been approved to rent it! Thank you, thank you, everyone, for sending all your good wishes and good vibes our way. There are many simply wonderful things about this house:

  • It is about the same square footage as our current house, but costs substantially less. I mean, way less. I mean, like cuts our housing costs by one-quarter.
  • It sits on a 14,000 square foot lot. No, that's not a typo. It's huge, especially by LA standards. The backyard goes on forever, and it's completely gated, and it's flat! Perfect for playing soccer, tag, whatever.
  • The house itself has three bedrooms and three baths, and comes with all appliances including a restaurant-grade six-burner stove. I admit to being a little intimidated by the stove, although the owner says, "On Thanksgiving, you can cook a turkey and a ham at the same time, and cook your pies – all on the same day!" That sounds a little ambitious, wouldn't you say?
  • The neighborhood seems to be a very nice diverse mix of ages and racial/ethnic backgrounds: you got your Hispanic, African-American, South Asian and Asian all very well-represented on the same street, and young families with kids live side-by-side with elderly types.
  • There's an elementary school down the block, which makes it a safe school zone (note that the accompanying link is not for our specific neighborhood school, but it’s still a good explanation). The park right next to the school is well-patrolled as well as being locked at night. There’s also a sheriff living right around the corner.
  • It's not a cut-through to anywhere – the street curves around in a "C," taking you around the block right back to the main street from which it comes. That, combined with the speed humps peppered along, means there's no speeding through the neighborhood.
  • It's less than a mile from Target! And Trader Joe's!
  • The shower stall in the master suite is 5' by 5' and has three shower heads. And a separate Jacuzzi tub. "There is a danger that we could get spoiled by this house," I said to Sweet Dub this weekend. It is a little crazy. I like that the house is very modest from the outside. (Ah, that New England Puritan streak rears its ugly head at the most unexpected times.)
  • It's a slightly longer commute, but still no freeway driving.
  • We can get a dog. Since Viva has been asking for a puppy almost every day since she was about three, this is very welcome news. Not something that will happen right away, but fun to think about.
  • Two of Dub's closest friends (who he's known since junior high) live less than five minutes away. One has two girls, ages 7 and 3, and the other has a 9-year-old son and a 5-year-old daughter. Viva has known them all her life, so it is pretty much Insta-Playdate City.

We are officially moving next weekend, although the house is now vacant and we are cleared to move in at any time. We spent much of this weekend sorting, cleaning, and packing. I am relieved to have packed about half of my kitchen, which is usually one of the most time-consuming jobs. Any box which is labeled "kitchen - not everyday" can happily sit for a few weeks without being unpacked, and seeing as they don't get much use anyway, my giant roasting pan, blender, and slow-cooker will be none the wiser.

Posting may be lighter than usual (I know, how is that even possible?) over the next couple of weeks due to the moving mayhem.

And, exhale.

P.S. Apologies if you see multiple RSS-feed updates. Something is funky with the spacing so I had to keep going back to try and fix it after it already published.

P.P.S. I had to go back and tinker with the HTML again. Sorry. Something is just not sitting right with the Blogger temperament.

P.P.P.S. Ah. I just discovered that Blogger thinks I am typing this whole post as a table. Yeah, but I'm not, see?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sick and Tired

Like many Americans, I’m confused about the health care reform legislation currently taking form in Washington. I understand that one of the main goals with this reform is to provide insurance for people who don’t have it/can’t afford it. What I’m not seeing clearly spelled out (and admittedly, perhaps my work-life demands are getting in the way of me researching this properly) is: what about those of us who have insurance but the insurance is crappy? As in, the premiums increase every year, the deductible increases every year, the amount of coinsurance increases every year, and yet if anything you get less care?

Right now in the Blah Blah’s employer-provided coverage, we pay insurance premiums and then we also have a $500 deductible apiece, on top of which we each have to pay 20% of any medical costs beyond that, up to $3,500 per year per individual or $5,000 per family. What that means is that if we had serious medical problems we’d have to pay up to $2,000 in deductibles, plus $5,000 in coinsurance out of pocket. There is also a lifetime cap but I haven’t yet paid attention to that because our insurance carrier changes almost every year as costs go up and the company negotiates with various carriers to get the best deal.

Now, the insurance premiums are no joke either. At my job to pay for yourself and a family you can expect to pay some $1,800 for premiums per month. The company will pay your premiums, but not those of your family. Fortunately for me, Sweet Dub’s job offers a better deal on insurance and will actually pay for part of the premium, so I’m covered through his employer rather than my own. I realize we are privileged because we both have jobs that offer insurance, but it sure doesn’t feel like I’m getting what we’re paying for when even with insurance, I’ve paid over $7,000 out of pocket this year for having a baby in October and having her end up in the NICU.

Yes, at least we have insurance, but I fight with the insurance company at least once every couple months. The latest thing we’re dickering about is me having a mammogram. Isn’t it recommended that women age 40 and over have an annual mammogram? (Answer: why, yes – yes it is!) Particularly if they (like me) have a history of breast cancer in their family, or (like me) have had a suspicious lump biopsied in the past. And yet, I’m having to fight with my insurance company over whether I have coverage for this procedure, which was recommended by my primary care physician and my gynecologist. They want me to pay 300 bucks and some change for this screening.

I’ve been trying to get caught up on the health insurance reform storm, I swear I have. I have heard so many horror stories of people who are uninsured, and as we’ve seen with the recent Remote Area Medical Foundation visit in Inglewood, which wrapped up yesterday, there is a huge need for free and/or affordable medical care here in my own neck of the woods. But I want some reassurance that those of us who are “insured” are also going to get some help. Am I missing something?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Not funny, and yet it is.

My grandmother is in poor health. She will be having a lung biopsy later this week because a recent scan showed what looks like lesions on her lungs. She is on some pain medication and sleeps much of the time, and when she is awake she is pretty out of it.

Recently my 6-year-old nephew, who lives in the same house as my grandmother and mom (yes, four generations under one roof – it’s like a sitcom but not at all funny), made a little bird out of beads. My sister Lola told him it was beautiful and asked if she could have it. He replied that he had made it specially for Nanna (my grandmother has always had a thing for birds). He was a little shy about giving it to her, but he mustered up his resolve and knocked on her bedroom door.

“Here, Nanna,” he said. “I made this for you.”

“Oh, isn’t that nice,” my grandmother said. “Did you know I’m going into the hospital?”

“Yeah,” T said. “You can take this with you—“

“They’re going to stick a knife in my neck!” my grandmother said.*

Well, that shouldn’t give him nightmares at all. Thanks for sharing, Nanna!

* My understanding is that they are going to go through her throat rather than open up her chest. This is the less invasive procedure, probably due to her age. I am concerned either way about post-procedure infection but I am trying not to think about it and I am not getting a whole lot of info from my mom, which is par for the course. Mainly because she doesn’t like to talk about it in front of my grandmother because it agitates her. This is why email was invented. Why don’t people understand?

Monday, August 17, 2009

On the move. Yeah, again.

“Your life is like a bad comedy,” the real estate agent said as she was showing us a place on Saturday.

It’s not feeling very funny right now. Let’s recap: about a year ago, our then-landlord contacted us and apologetically stated that he and his wife were getting divorced, and that he knew it was horrible timing since we were expecting a new baby, but that he would like his house back. I was 7.5 months pregnant. We found another place and, one week after getting out of the hospital from my C-section, we moved to our current rental house.

Now, our current landlord has approached us with the wonderful news that he and his wife are expecting. How exciting! Oh, and guess what – they want their house back. They’re happy to let us out of our lease early if we can find something and get the heck out.

Both times, this hasn’t given us enough time to find a place to buy, even if we were in the position to do so. This has been a rough year financially. You remember that we thought we could pay more in rent because it would be offset by having Viva in public school and not having to pay private school tuition. Oh, you remember how well that worked out. And we’re also now paying for daycare for Miss Celie. Our rate of saving has slowed down dramatically.

And moving is expensive. You have to put down deposits, you have to rent a truck, you have to pay installation fees for cable/satellite, the phone, etc. Not to mention you have to pack up all your crap.

Things are dark over here in my little corner of the universe. It will pass. We will find a place. We might manage to stay in this new place until we can afford to buy something. Think good thoughts.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Let the wild rumpus start!

It's officially August and you know what that means…it's my birthday month! Huzzah! I proudly celebrate my soon-to-be 41 years on this planet.


I discovered today that it is Barack Obama's birthday today (I don't know how that escaped me before). I did not realize he was a fellow Leo, but now it all makes sense.


As we were passing the CNN building in Hollywood this morning, I noted the date on their ticker on the outside of the building and blurted out, "Hey! It's only a week from my birthday!" I got that excited feeling in my stomach – so funny that it's such an automatic reflex.  


Viva said, "It is? We're celebrating your birthday this weekend, then. What do you want to do?"


Hmm. I don't know. I'm taking Monday off and getting a facial and maybe going for a walk on the beach and then browsing around a bookstore and then sitting in a café and reading a new book and listening to the iPod until it's time to go pick up Cily from day care. On my actual birthday, I imagine we will go out to eat after work (yes, I'm going to work on my birthday, I know).


One of my favorite birthday memories is of having a birthday party at the park by the Charles River in Boston when I turned 6. My mom made me a cool cake with a swimming pool on the top and little tiny babies with swimsuits she made by winding embroidery thread around to cover them strategically. I remember the diving board was made out of a piece of gum. I would like that kind of party. A little picnic by the water, with a paper tablecloth and party hats. Maybe not a piñata this time around. Maybe just a little bit of a rumpus?


Let the games begin…

Friday, July 31, 2009



I am super stressed, so much so that I experienced my first migraine recently. I would have given anything not to reach that milestone.


The pressure is on at work, we owe some ridiculous amount of money in taxes, my laptop has just given up the ghost, and the baby is once again teething and thus not sleeping well and thus neither am I. I am exhausted and took the day off yesterday to recoup. I went to the hardware store*, to the library**, to Macy's***, to the car wash, and finally to treat myself and get a pedicure. Hmm, wonder why I'm still kind of tired?


This will pass. It's just a rough patch.



On the positive side, Viva is loving camp and really enjoying her summer. Despite liberal applications of sunscreen, she is nearly as dark brown as her daddy. Her goal is to be darker than he is by the end of the summer. (Again, the competitive streak rears its head.) Recently I was lotioning her after her bath and I noticed that while I think of her as a little lanky thing, she is really muscular. Her thighs are just solid muscle. I mentioned this to Sweet Dub and he said, "She's swimming for an hour every day. If I did that, I'd be in great shape too!" Oh, yeah. So there's that.


Cily is, aside from the teething, off and running – well, crawling. And pulling up to stand. And cruising on the couch. And patting my arm ever so gently and sweetly when I pick her up out of her crib, as if to reassure herself that I am there. She also likes to jam a few fingers into my mouth to inspect my teeth, usually at inopportune times. She is also, I am pretty sure, The Loudest Baby on Earth. She makes noise in her sleep, constantly, and practically every minute that she's awake, if she's not chewing something, she's telling the world her every thought in minute detail or blowing raspberries.


As for me, I am investigating a creative outlet, and I can't say more about it because I don't want to jinx myself. But I'm tentatively putting my toes in.



Seen just today, on my morning drive in:

An old man shuffling down Fountain Ave. wearing a Santa Claus hat with elves all over it. Just hear those sleigh bells ringin, they're jing-jing-jinglin…


A teenager wearing a Superman shirt and cape, with Superman pajama pants, walking purposefully up Cahuenga Blvd. At least he wasn't wearing superhero tights. I just don't need to see that. At the same time, I don't know that he's going to be taken seriously by anyone in his fight against crime in light blue pajama pants with superheroes printed on them, so that worries me a little.



* Had to buy some screws because our dishwasher door fell off. So yeah, part of my relaxing day was spent shoving and screwing the door back together, on the dirty floor of my filthy kitchen which really needs washing.


** Three times in one day. The first two times I drove around and around looking for a parking spot with no luck, and finally I walked over there with the baby in the stroller after picking her up from day care. I had library books on hold and it was the last day I could go get them. Of course. But the good news is, I picked up Pippi Longstocking, and Viva LOVES it. I love it when I introduce something I love to somebody I love and they get it. How could you not love Pippi and Mr. Nilsson? And Villa Villekulla? Sweet Dub was so excited-slash-nostalgic that he began searching for the DVDs online immediately.


*** For a bra fitting, which was mortifying and completely useless because the Macy's Lingerie Fitter measured me WRONG. She kept trying to get me to go with a smaller bra, and then when I tried on the sizes she was pushing on me, I was spilling out of them. What the dilly? I realized that she was hung up on band size, which is why my bras aren't fitting me correctly, but she was getting my cup size wrong. I went with her band measurement and with the cup size I have been wearing all along, and I am much more comfortable and the girls look great. End of ridiculous story.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Every now and then I think I just want to chuck it all and go live in a cabin somewhere. Recently Sweet Dub and I were both having one of those days, and I said we should sell everything we own (which isn’t much) and take the kids and travel for a year. Live on the beach or something. It all sounds very romantic unless you are homeless already, in which case you would probably want to throw something at my head or poke me with a sawed-off car antenna or something.

Sweet Dub vetoed that idea on the grounds that we are city folk and used to a certain level of comfort. And then today I read this post from Rachel, who up and moved to India some time ago and writes about her adventures there with her superstar husband and her four kids.

In case you are too lazy to click, all you need to know are two words: amoebic dysentery.

I think I’ll stay here. It’s not so bad, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Skip Gates Update

When I posted about the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. arrest yesterday, I hesitated before I began writing because I didn't have all the facts yet, and thought maybe I was responding a bit hastily. But the facts of the case that were already published hither and yon on the Internet seemed pretty damning, and not toward Skip Gates. So what the hell, I went ahead and came down pretty squarely on his side.
But now, more information has come out, and guess what? It's worse. I can't access Blogger at this moment so I can't quote my original post, but I believe the scenario I was imagining had a harried professor returning to his home, a few blocks from the university, to maybe have lunch (it was lunchtime), go to the bathroom and perhaps pick up some materials for any appointments he had later in the afternoon. I imagined he was kind of stressed and in a hurry and then made more so by finding he couldn't get into his home.
Oh, but the truth is so much more. MORE. 
He was returning from the airport in a livery car after spending a week in China working on a PBS documentary. How criminal! Finding his front door had been damaged while he was away, he went around to the back, let himself in that way, and then he and the driver worked together to open the front door. A white female neighbor called the police because she saw two black men trying to enter the house by force (a true assessment). When the police arrived, the driver was gone, and Skip was in the house calling Harvard Real Estate about the damage to his door. One plausible reason the door might be damaged is that someone tried to break in while he was away - and yet no one called about that. Hmm. Odd.
So yeah. Interesting.
Of course, the best take on this that I have yet seen comes from Angry Black Bitch. Hey, guess what? She's kind of angry about it. Angry, and simultaneously cracking my shit up. For me, that's a winning combination.
Prof. Gates says this experience had led him to consider conducting research on race and criminal justice. More power to him. Make lemons out of lemonade, I say!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I'm Playing the Race Card!

How nuts is this?
Harvard Professor Arrested

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 20 (UPI) -- A prominent black Harvard professor is facing disorderly conduct charges after his arrest while trying to get into his own home in Cambridge, Mass., police say. Continued…

Well-known black Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. locked himself out of his own house one fine afternoon a few days ago and was trying to get back in. A neighbor saw him trying to open the door and called the police. By the time they arrived, he was already inside his house and was able to provide ID corroborating who he was. The Cambridge police then arrested him, apparently because he was being “loud and tumultuous!”

Can you imagine? You lock yourself out of your house. It’s around lunchtime. You’re hungry, maybe you need to go to the bathroom, maybe you left some crucial notes inside the house and you need to get going to a class or a presentation. You are frustrated. You go around the house trying to figure out a way in. While you are in the midst of this process, you become increasingly frustrated. Perhaps you curse a little bit, bang your fist against the door, slam your body against the door.

Have you ever been locked out? I have, and that’s pretty much my reaction.

But wait, somehow you actually get inside the house. What a relief! Pour yourself a cool drink, make your way down the hall to use the toilet and – suddenly, you are confronted by the police. In your house! What the hell? You are a prominent Harvard scholar, nearly 60, and you happen to be African-American. The police tell you they had a report of a breaking and entering and they ask for your identification. You are in your own home! This reignites your frustration, which spills over into a belligerent attitude toward the cops, which is not well-received. You are thinking to yourself, all my fucking accomplishments and people still just see a n---er.

Whoo, the fury.

I don’t know if at that point he knew that a neighbor had called it in. But that could only make it worse. I mean, someone is watching your house closely enough that they think someone is breaking in, but apparently in your daily comings and goings, year in and year out, they haven’t looked at you closely enough that as a neighbor, they realize it’s your own house you’re trying to get into?

You know, I realize Los Angeles is not the bastion of racial equality, but stories like this sure make me glad I don’t live in the Boston area anymore.

Interested to hear more on this as it develops…

Monday, July 20, 2009

More Than Skin Deep

Is my baby too white?

I am not talking about the actual baby, Cily, who is in point of fact, rather fair-complexioned. I am talking about Miss Viva, my firstborn baby, she of the gorgeous brown skin which seems to glow from within.

Viva goes to a multiracial, multicultural private school during the year (it doesn’t bill itself as such, but that is one of the reasons we chose it). Most of her closest school friends are boys, and many of them are black. When we got together recently with four other families – including the boys and their younger sisters – Sweet Dub noticed that all of the kids sounded the same. They have this kind of California middle-class accent. “You can tell none of those kids are from the ‘hood,” he said.

“Well, no, they’re not,” I said.

“Poor Viva,” he said, laughing. His mom says that when she takes Viva to see relatives from out of town (Texas), they all comment on how “proper” (not-Texan?) she speaks. “I guess my mom is right, but what’s wrong with that?” he said. “At least she’s not coming home from school dancing the Stank Leg.”

As my grandma would say, “Whoo, chile – let me tell yuh.” One of our friends, K, has a daughter a year older than Viva. Started out in private preschool and then in kindergarten moved to a public school in Baldwin Hills, a predominantly black area of LA. She came home from school one day and showed her mom she had learned how to do the Stank Leg on the play yard. “Thank you, LAUSD,” K said sarcastically. Oh man, I was falling over laughing. Thank God I’m old and don’t have to keep up with this mess. If I was 16 I would have to know how to do the Stank Leg!

(By the way, apparently to do the Stank Leg all you have to do is act like you got a cramp in your leg and lean. What on earth?)

The bookend to this is that last week Viva came home from camp, which skews considerably less multiculti than (but just as solidly middle to upper-middle class as) her school, and started singing “to the left, to the left,” and pulling some Beyonce moves. I shot a questioning look at Sweet Dub and he grinned. “You know what? The white kids taught her that,” he said to me, out of earshot.

Well, of course, because she certainly isn’t learning it at home. That must be because we are not letting Viva listen to any black music*, according to his mom. She has come to this conclusion because as she says, Viva dances like a white girl (!!). You know how Viva dances? She dances like a 6-year-old who wants to be a rock star, which is what she is.

So again, is my baby too white?

Or asked another way, is she not “black enough”?

What makes me nuts about all this (oh God, where to begin?) is this implication that we are making Viva into an Oreo, a sell-out, that we are somehow (deliberately!) whitewashing her. You know what? Sorry, but I don’t buy it. At the end of the day, my child is a black girl. Regardless of what she sounds like or how she moves, that is what people see.

I think about how I was raised, in a predominantly white lower-middle-class neighborhood, with a “mulatto”/mixed-race/light-skinned or whatever-you-call-her mom and a white stepfather, and I know that baggage from my upbringing automatically makes me defensive in this regard. I was not white enough for the white kids in my neighborhood, despite being light enough to “pass.” I was not dark enough for the black kids in the junior high I was bussed to – one girl constantly picked fights with me because, as she said, “You think you’re cute.” (It was junior high! I was in my awkward phase! I totally did not think I was cute.) But as I know now, this says more about them than it does about me.

And I know that this is true, too with Viva. She is a happy kid. She is proud of being brown. She knows she’s pretty and smart and strong and fast and that she’s very creative with an incredible imagination. She is pretty tough and self-confident. Sometimes she cares what people say about her and sometimes not (especially when she knows it’s not true). My mother-in-law grew up in a different time, when she wasn’t made to feel proud of being brown, and then lived through the Civil Rights Era, when she was told to say it loud, she’s black and she’s proud. It’s complicated. I think she is still struggling with reconciling these two things.

Viva can be, if she wants, a black girl rocker. She’s leaning toward electric guitar. I think that would be cool. And if she’s a black girl rocker who happens to speak “proper,” where’s the harm in that?

* Completely untrue. We listen to a variety of music but as Sweet Dub says, “We can’t listen to hip-hop** in front of her!” The stuff we listen to (and we don’t listen to the same artists) has some pretty strong language – profanity and the like - and some of it is sexual, which even if it’s couched euphemistically I don’t want Viva singing along to. That is a post in and of itself and I’ll get back to it someday.

** And it’s not just hip-hop. Okay, I’ll stop.

Monday, July 13, 2009

All Roads Lead To…

I am in the midst of writing a progress report on a program that my non-profit has been piloting county-wide. I've been motoring along quite well but then hit a roadblock, so I go online and Google the program. After bypassing two links from the county which I’d browsed through previously and rejected for not having much information, the third link takes me to…my own company’s website, which contains a summary of the program…written by me. CRAP!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

P.S., I Also Heart This

Probably one of the best writings on marriage I have read. Amen, sister. 

Once in a Blue Moon

It's been a while since I posted, and I don't know where to start, so let's just dive in, shall we?


Off We Go


We were off for a week in the tremendous, incredibly gorgeous, pictures-don't-do-it-justice Maui at the end of June. Highlights of the trip: Cily's first two teeth made their appearance (and continue to torture her and by extension, the rest of us, but that's a different story), Viva jumped off a boat and went snorkeling in the open ocean with sea turtles and schools of fish, I caught up on my sleep and read a whole book, and Sweet Dub took 800 million pictures, none of which I have managed to upload yet. Oh, and rainbows. Scads of them, because it was periodically rainy while we were there. You know, rainbows have become kind of cliché, but when you actually see one arcing across a pale gray sky, flanked by silhouetted palm trees and a gentle drizzle as the sun struggles through, it's kind of mystical.


And We're Back


Other highlights: since our return, Cily has said her first word ("Da-da," of course) and has begun self-feeding*, and Viva has started camp, which she love love loves. Have I mentioned that she loves it? The camp director stopped me during drop-off on the second day to tell me what an amazing athlete she is and how she is really competitive. I fully concur on both points. In fact, we have frequent conversations with Viva about the importance of good sportsmanship, with mixed results. She hates to lose, at pretty much anything. The likelihood of her flying into a rage is inextricably linked to her level of fatigue. She seems to handle losing better (say, at a game of Crazy Eights) when she is well-rested and fresh, and she actually makes it sound sincere when she says, "Good game," followed by, "Let's play again," so she can try and beat you.


Bad Mama Blah


Oh, Viva. She is at a phase when things are difficult and sometimes I have to force myself to list her good qualities so I don't flip out and strangle her. She is a wonderful child – so bright and so sweet and so loving – and yet there are times when she just throws all that to hell and chooses the side of Darkness. We are the meanest parents ever: Sweet Dub because he won't just let her win every game they play, and me because – well, I have many failings, but currently the biggest one is that I won't buy her sugary cereal. It is So Unfair that her cousins get to eat it Every Day and she has to eat things like Gorilla Munch or Honey Nut Cheerios (that is the sweetest I will go) or God forbid, regular Cheerios.


I am a horrible person, and yet Viva wants to be with me all the time. It is kind of exhausting, God love her.


Inhale, exhale, be patient. I do love her so.


Grease is the Word


Something about vacation made my skin break out. Was it the "Faces" sunblock? Was it the daily free greasy bacon and eggs at the Ohana Bar and Grill? Who knows, but I am having horrible flashbacks to adolescence, and now I have all kinds of '80s music skimming through my head. At the moment, this is taking the form of Billy Idol dancing with himself. Let's sink another drink, 'cause it'll give me time to thi-hink… Does anyone remember Pernox? My grandmother swore by it back in the day and insisted I scrub my face raw.


In hindsight, the benefit of having somewhat oily/combination skin is that at 40, I am not wrinkly and I'm not obsessed with Botox. Do you care? No, probably not, and thus ends one of the most self-absorbed ruminations ever.


* The self-feeding is a post in and of itself, and lands with a solid thump in the land of Over-thinking It Mommy Blogging, so I don't know if I want to go there. Long story short: Cily can't abide anyone coming at her with a spoon. With my fantastic expertise in all Internetly things, I did an exhaustive, three-entire-minutes search and discovered Baby Led Weaning. Huzzah! And all was well in the Kingdom of Blah. Baby feeds herself table food, eats what she wants, as much as she wants, and the jars of organic baby food languish on the shelf. And they all lived happily ever after.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It is To Laugh.

I may have mentioned that my 84-year-old grandmother was hospitalized a few weeks ago. Turns out she had pneumonia, and other ailments which we won’t detail here. Of interest is the bill she just got from the hospital for her three-day stay. The bill, my friends, was for $31,000 and some change. Here now I paraphrase for you the conversation my grandmother recently had with the billing specialist:

Grandma: Hello, yes, this is Mrs. C___ and I’m calling about my bill. It says here that I owe the hospital thirty-one thousand dollars.

Smooth Operator: Let’s see here, Mrs. C___. Yes, I’m showing that you do indeed owe the hospital thirty-one thousand dollars. Is there anything else I can help you with?

Grandma: Well, I don’t have thirty-one thousand dollars. And I have insurance, so I don’t understand what this bill is all about.

Smooth Operator: Well, ma’am, we tried to bill your insurance carrier, Blue Cross, but they refused to pay.

Grandma: I don’t have Blue Cross. I have PacifiCare.

Smooth Operator: Oh. Duuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

Oh my God. Health reform now, health reform NOW. For heaven’s sake!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Economic Downturn Hits Home

We had layoffs at work yesterday. One person in my department, a really good friend, got laid off. She handled it amazingly well (far better than I would have in her place), was very gracious and professional. Stayed until 7:30 to tie up some loose ends and then wrote a very moving farewell email message.

I am really fricking depressed. I pulled into my garage after work and sat there crying for a few minutes. I wish I could say that made me feel better, but it didn’t.

There’s more, but I can’t.

UPDATED TO ADD: Trying to stay positive, have emailed all my professional contacts to get the word out and help her find a job. Still sucks.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Vague and All Over the Place

That was a very long hiatus.* For those of you who might be concerned, nothing was wrong aside from the everyday life with an infant (sickness every other week! Explosive foul-smelling poop! Curse you, gastrointestinal skullduggery!) and craziness at work. Seriously, taking work home and working until 1 AM and then the baby waking up at 5? Not my favorite thing ever. Probably one of my least faves. Yeah.

Yesterday was the culmination of weeks of work (mostly not mine, despite what the previous paragraph may lead you to believe) on a huge event at my job. There was a lot of sugar and caffeine to get us going, and then a lot of rich catered food afterward to thank all of us for working so hard. Today, I feel really “fat,” and I put fat in quotes because I know I’m not actually fat but I feel bloated and just – I don’t know, overdone. I don’t look cute today, my clothes don’t fit right, etc.

For lunch, I decided to have a salad and iced tea while working at my desk (I know, stop me, I’m crazy! What will I do next?). And I was feeling pretty good about that, typing away, until I heard a buzzing noise and turned and saw a fly in my food. I am on the third floor of a high rise with windows that don’t open. How on earth?

That ruined everything. I picked out a whole section of the salad where the fly had landed, along with a good 1-inch diameter around it. It’s my favorite salad. I went out of my way to get it. I managed to eat most of the rest of it. Nonetheless, now I’m feeling a little queasy. Damn you, Musca domestica!

Time for a little Internetly investigatin’! A brief search reveals that the common house fly is “often a carrier of diseases, such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and anthrax. The fly transmits diseases by carrying disease organisms onto food. It picks up disease organisms on its leg hairs or eats them and then regurgitates them onto food (in the process of liquefying solid food).”

Oh my precious God. I think I just threw up a little in my throat.

In other world news, Sweet Dub is out of town for a few days for business. His job has really accelerated and one of the reasons I have been so busy is that he has been so busy. At any rate, it’s weird being home without him (more on that in another post – I feel like I am a much worse parent when he is gone). But one benefit to him being away is that both kids sleep with me in a big snuggly warm pile when he is gone. There are few things on my all-time List of Wonderfulments that are better than sleeping in between my two girls, with Cily’s forehead pressed right up under my nose, and my legs entangled with Viva’s. Ah, the love.

I envisioned this time as a great opportunity for Sweet Dub to get some time to himself, which I don’t begrudge him in the least. Nonetheless, in the morning, I’m packing up the kids and driving to Palm Springs to join Sweet Dub in the hotel (with multiple pools! And room service! And miniature golf on site!). He says he misses us. He says he wants to drive home tonight and pack us up and take us back with him. He is sad and lonely. I laughed at him when he called this morning at 6 to say all this. “I wish I had time to miss you,” I teased.

But you know? I have a feeling that I would feel the same way, waking up alone. And I just realized he’s never spent a night away from Cily since we brought her home from the hospital. Maybe he’s going through withdrawal.

What do you think, Cily?

Yes, definitely.

* In retrospect, not really. It felt like I hadn't posted in a couple of weeks, and then I discovered that I had. So...I think the sleep deprivation is translating into general absent-mindedness, which in the overall scheme of things is, I think, kind of a lovable trait, yes?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Change Is Gonna Come?

So busy at work, so tired at home, so not blogging either way.


But then I read about this, the latest in a string of racist hoaxes thrown together by the likes of Susan Smith, Chuck Stuart, and most recently Ashley Todd (how quickly we forget).


Wow. I love Post-Racial America. Thank God we've gotten past all that uncomfortable racial mess.


I have so much more to say but I'm having trouble concentrating. Why do some people think it's a good idea to have a conference call on speakerphone with someone on a cell phone (which means both sides have to scream to be heard) in their office and not close the door?


Will try to update later.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cheap Entertainment

I'm moblogging today. I think.
Just a quickie. Overheard while Viva was trying to distract Cily from crying (teething, teething, OH THE PAIN):
Viva [singing energetically]: Oh Celia my Celia Lou, how much I do love you, you're smarter than a monkey, smarter than a sock, you're smarter than my mom who's an astroNAUT...
I think I'm an astroNOT. And I'm pleased that Viva thinks her sister is smarter than a piece of clothing.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gratuitous Cuteness

Hey, guess what? My “newborn” will be seven months old tomorrow. She’s awesome:

I like to squish her and kiss her and all sorts of unspeakably embarrassing things. My voice gets very very high, because that makes her laugh. Here is what she is doing now: lots of talking (even in her sleep), rolling over, sitting up on her own for increasingly longer periods of seconds, grabbing everything within reach, and screaming with frustration when she’s on her stomach – because she clearly wants to crawl, even if she doesn’t know what that is. She adores her big sister, and if I haven’t mentioned it yet, let me say how impressed I am with how much Viva loves her baby. A few weeks ago, we assembled the long-awaited crib and located it in Viva’s room, and now – minor miracle – Cily spends most of the night there. Viva is thrilled, because now it's two in one room and two in the other* (until the 4 AM feeding. I am lazy and cold and sleepy at 4 AM. Did you know that baby experts consider sleeping 5 hours straight “sleeping through the night”? Yeah. What do they know?). Viva wants Cily in her room. She wants her in her bath:

She wants to read bedtime stories with her, and sing to her, and she wants to watch the NBA playoffs with her:

At any rate, as we all know, babies grow. And they grow quickly. And we're all just enjoying having her around, so small and warm and sweet-smelling. So huggy. She bounces into little spasms when she sees me, and beams. It is like a drug. I have to be around her. As does Viva. And her daddy? Also has a pretty bad case of Wrapped Around Her Little Finger. Seven months? Pretty damn near perfect.

* You know, she likes things to be even. And fair. And prior to Cily, Viva would often protest loudly that it was unfair that Dub and I got to sleep together, while she had to sleep in her room all alone. Now all is right with the world...for five minutes.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hair Advice, Please!

[Before we begin, apologies: last week I was out of the blogosphere for family issues. Early in the week, I got a call from daycare that my little one had pinkeye, which is highly contagious, so I had to keep her out of daycare for a bit, and then on Thursday my grandma was taken to the hospital with what turned out to be pneumonia, so I was out of town/away from the computer Friday and Saturday as well. Highlight of the trip: I arrive at the hospital with my sister and all of our kids. It has taken 4 hours since I got to town to get all the kids together and get to the hospital. I am trying to remain on an even keel. Less than 60 seconds into the hospital room, my grandmother says: “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were two months pregnant.” WHAT? Who says that? What does it even mean?! How can anyone look two months pregnant?! But, I digress.]

I have several things I want to write about, but what is most urgent is this: my current hair routine with Viva is that I wash her hair on Sunday, comb it out and oil it and style it for the week. She sleeps with a sleep cap, so most mornings I just have to oil it a bit, smooth back the edges and maybe tighten a few twists here and there – put in different color clips or barrettes and she’s good to go. A few years ago I went to and at the time they had elasticized sleep caps for sale. These basically look like a cloth swim cap – machine washable and hold up well, but I would like to order more. Ay, there’s the rub. Snapaholics no longer carries them! AAAAAGH!

I emailed them just now to find out what happened. Doubly frustrated because the owner went through some monstrous move and the website was down for some time, so I was happy to log on this morning and see it was up – but no sleep caps! Of course I then went online to see if there is anywhere else that carries them and I came across this concept: using stretchy book covers for the same purpose (you put them on and then knot at the nape of the neck). I guess it would work. It seems a little strange, but I guess it would work.

Any other ideas? I’ve tried bandannas but even when they are clipped to her head, Viva is such an active sleeper that they come off.

Thanking you in advance…

Thursday, May 07, 2009


In my mind, she is about 28 years old, laughing, dark eyes flashing, with a navy bandana holding back her dark hair, slim and lovely in a sleeveless white top and jeans. She is more beautiful and wonderful than anything, and if I can make her laugh, it fills my heart to bursting, so I clown around and make goofy jokes and funny faces. When she laughs, I can’t even stand how much I love her. I hug her over and over as hard as I can. I snuggle with her and bury my head in the fold of her neck, and breathe in deep. She holds me close. We read together. My sister joins the pile. We sing. We weave our fingers together. We dance around the living room.

She teaches me to be curious, to express myself. She embraces my love of color. She buys me art supplies, takes me to museums. We sing a lot – in the car, to the radio, and at home, to LPs. She loves Motown and the Beatles. We read constantly. We draw, we play games. We do yoga. Sometimes she is sad, and she can’t explain to me why. It hurts my heart when she cries. I climb up on the bed and hug her and wipe her face with my sweaty little hands. She smiles and she cries and she hugs me back.

We are poor. She plans for things months in advance, and on Christmas Day and on birthdays it is like a miracle. There are boxes to open, and toys to play with. How much does she go without so we can have these things?

It is a golden time, when she is the star in my universe. My sister and I are her whole world.

Things change. Today I don’t recognize her. The only commonality seems to be the sadness. She is unhappy with how her life has turned out. We disagree about so many things. Now when we talk it is like we are speaking through some strange device that garbles our words as they come out. We can’t understand each other.

She gave me such a huge gift. So much of how I am raising my children comes from those early childhood experiences. Somewhere along the line, my mother lost her way. She grew clay feet. She exposed her flaws. Natural, it happens. We are all human and imperfect.

But having given unconditional love, she now looks for unconditional support. Even for decisions that are flawed, actions that are hurtful. I struggle with how to deal with her.

As Mother’s Day looms, I try to be mindful of these old memories. I want to be with my children on Mother’s Day – not to get gifts or be fed breakfast in bed, but just to hold them. And sing a little. And maybe dance around the living room. And maybe that’s the best way to honor my mom.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Decidedly Unfunky

I am in the midst of a clothes funk. Ecch, my clothes. Why are they all so hateful?

Added to that, the family has booked a trip to Maui in June. I know, I know, all I should need is two pairs of shorts, a few T-shirts, some flip-flops and the sunscreen. And a hat. Wait, I just re-read that sentence and realized I didn’t even think to include bathing suits. What does that tell you?

Summer is coming! I want to spend the entire summer looking fabulous in cute little sundresses all in bright citrus-y shades. With adorable little strappy sandals! Alas, my budget does not allow for this. I need to buy clothes for my children. They insist on growing, which is completely inconsiderate of them and certainly something which I will never let them live down.

I have a friend who always looks completely fabulous. (Maybe it’s you!) I always want to ask where she gets her clothes. She is at least 10-12 inches taller than I and always wears amazing high-heeled shoes. I mean, her shoes are like a party in and of themselves. She can rock short hair or she can rock cornrowed braids (the look she is currently rocking). She could probably shave her head and look abso-fricking-gorgeous. She is just one of those peeps who has a presence. I have a little bit of a girl crush on her.

She, like me, has two small kids. I don’t know how she does it. I love her, and while I’m all about the self-acceptance I do occasionally feel kind of short and frumpy around her. Now, I do own a mirror and I am aware that most people of the adult sort are, indeed, taller than I am. I embrace my shortness. I just don’t embrace feeling frumpy dumpy.

I realize there are more important things to worry about. So many more important things to worry about – and I do. But I feel the need to jazz myself up a bit. And maybe that will make me able to tackle some of those more important issues. Like, Viva telling me last night that she was mad at God. My 6-year-old is having existential angst! Is it any wonder that I just want to fixate on my closet?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Girl A-Swirl

I don’t know where to start.

I haven’t written about this because it’s not my story. It’s not my life. It’s not my business. But I can’t stop thinking about it.

I work with a great group of people. I’ve become good friends with some of my co-workers. One of them – let’s call her Sally – is a few years younger than me, a single mom of four. We both have 6-year-olds and share stories about them. Her other kids are older – three teenage girls.

About 5 weeks ago, we learned that the oldest, who’s 17, is pregnant. My friend, who is 37, is about to become a grandmother.

Holy frigging crap dot com.

We then learned that not only was Sally’s daughter pregnant, she estimated she was about 6 months along. She’d been hiding it from her mom, who (in her defense) works long hours to put food and cell phones on the table for her four kids.

The 17-year-old has had no prenatal care whatsoever. At her first prenatal appointment, it turned out that she was 7 months pregnant and the baby is due in the first week of June. Needless to say, Sally is crushed. She is already struggling to make ends meet. Her daughter is in denial that this even happening, and doesn’t seem to have a clue or a plan as to how she is going to care for the baby. The parents of the baby’s father say they don’t want the kids to get married just because of the baby, they don’t want their son to drop out of school, and they’ll help pay for whatever the baby needs. In theory, this is great. In reality, I feel like they’re letting him off the hook for taking care of his baby – and who knows if they’ll actually come through with any money consistently.

Pretty much every day, Sally has more bad news about this whole situation. She comes into my office and tells me the latest (which I won't share here) and asks me what she should do. Fortunately, we work in social services, so all the resources for a situation like this are readily at hand. But every time we talk, I can feel my stomach lining being eaten away. I don’t know how she is even walking upright.

Last night, after the kids were in bed, Sweet Dub and I were sitting on the couch watching the NBA playoffs. I guess I was staring off into space because Sweet Dub asked me what was on my mind.

“I can’t stop thinking about Sally,” I said, and told him a fraction of what she’d told me. Then I said, “I can’t help thinking about how I’m going to talk to my kids, about what my hopes and expectations are for them. I mean, I feel like she did the best she could and it wasn’t enough. I just feel so bad for her.”

If nothing else, this has led us to the latest of many talks about how we want to prepare our kids for life in general, and more specifically about how we want to talk with them when it comes to sexuality. My mom was always very frank with me and my sister, and I expect I will be the same with my two. And Sweet Dub is pretty much the master of being direct and open. We are not perfect, but we are pretty much both of the school of “better to have too much information than too little,” and of the credo, “what you don’t know CAN hurt you.”

In the meantime, our little group at work is pulling together a baby shower which will be as much about pampering Sally as about preparing for the baby.

It’s a girl.