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.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday’s Random Five

(1) An old friend of mine that I’ve reconnected with on Facebook just emailed me to invite me to join Tubely. As you know, I can barely keep up with this blog and Facebook, never mind yet another networking site. I took a look to see what the hell Tubely was. It’s an online dating service. Bwuh? Since we are both married, albeit to different people, I find this a bit bizarre. I just sent her a message saying, well, basically, “What?” People should quit smoking crack. Or meth. Or whatever the hot and happening’ drug is these days. I can’t keep up.

(2) How funny is the whole right-wing hullabaloo over teabagging? You can’t make this stuff up! I love it. Now I hear that the hard-core right-wing National Organization for Marriage has adopted the slogan "2M4M", which is supposed to be indicate they’re hip to the young folks with all the newfangled texting and tweeting and whatever it is they do. It allegedly stands for "2 Million for Marriage." Of course, once again, they failed to do their homework and oh, I don’t know, see if this is already in common usage. Others more hip than I have indicated that this code is very familiar on social networking sites and stands for "2 Men for a Man," i.e. two men looking for a third for a ménage-a-trois. I almost feel sorry for NOM – they can’t win for losing. It is highly entertaining.

(3) Two days ago it was 95 degrees here in Los Angeles. Today, we are looking at a high of 68. It’s overcast and a little drizzly in places. I’m wearing a sweater. Happy global warming!

(4) I fell off the 100-Pushup Challenge wagon this week. Boo. I was up to 89 pushups!

(5) In related news, there’s also a 200-Sit-up Challenge and a 200-Squat Challenge. I did the 200-Sit-up Challenge initial test and was able to do 69 consecutive sit-ups. I plan to start doing both challenges next week. In preparation, my thighs have been blubbering in the corner. That’s right, you better be scared!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Be a Light Unto the Nations

On Friday, Viva came home with a notice in her backpack that International Day will be held on April 24th. Oh, how nice – what a great opportunity for the kids to learn about different cultures, etc. In the past, students at her school have been given the option of wearing traditional dress or bringing traditional food if they choose.

But not this year. This year, the school is having an International Talent Show and requiring kids to participate in it. The school is also requiring a monetary donation of $10 per kid. The school is also requiring each kid to bring a dish from their "home country." The school also wants parents to donate cultural items to a “mini-museum,” and wants parents to participate both in the talent show and the all-day events. What the fizzle?

[Commence rant.] If you are African-American, this whole thing is just annoying. First of all, what country are we to choose? Sweet Dub says, “America. She is American. Send some damn apple pie.”

I say, to be even more obnoxious, “She allegedly has Cherokee on both sides. Maybe I should send some cornbread. Or maybe I’ll send some maize.”

I’m not up on the AIM doings, but I do know that the Cherokee are a separate nation. Why not claim that as our country?

I have no idea which country or countries in Africa we hail from. I also have no idea which country or countries in Europe we hail from. I’ve heard rumors of Spanish descent on my side, and the Blah Blahs’ family surnames are all English or Irish in origin, but as we all know, that doesn’t mean we are necessarily related to the people who gave us those surnames. I’m Cherokee on my dad’s side and Gingaskin on my mom’s (the Gingaskin are actually a tri-racial tribe from the eastern shore of Virginia). Since the Gingaskins were terminated as a tribe by being absorbed as free “mulatto” or “colored” folk on the census rolls back in the day, I really have no idea what food they ate. Nor were they ever recognized as a separate nation, never mind one of the Five Civilized Tribes who are way more well-documented.

Don’t even get me started on the talent show.

Nonetheless, I think this is a good opportunity to talk with Viva about her heritage and appreciation for all the different peoples that make up the world. And I’m sure she’ll learn something. The question is, what can we teach her classmates about her nation?

Weigh in. I’m interested to hear what you think.

P.S. Can I also just say that I find it annoying that the school is having International Day during the same week as Earth Day? And yet they have no Earth Day events planned. Why choose a random day to celebrate when you have an internationally-recognized eco-conscious day already on the calendar? Save the earth or there will be no nations. For heaven’s sake!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Now With Ginkgo Biloba

Two posts ago, I think I promised you two “You know you’re getting old when…” moments.

Here they are.

Moment #1. 99 Cents Store on Sunset in Hollywood. I am standing in line between (a) members of a large family who have all used the same cart but are all paying for their items separately in several complicated transactions and (b) a young woman with bleached platinum spiky hair, black fingernail polish and a large ring through her nose*. The latter is, of course, on her cell phone.

Over the PA system, Annie Lennox's "Walkin' On Broken Glass" comes on. Young woman behind me shrieks into phone, "Oh my God, this is one of my favorite songs of all time! [singing into phone] Walkin' on walkin' on broken glass... Yeah, my mom totally raised me on this shit!"

Um, yeah. That’s what I was listening to when I was working my first job out of college. That made me want to curl up into a fetal position with a pint of Haagen-Dazs.

Moment #2. Sweet Dub is at work. He and a female coworker who is about his age are discussing a movie which is on the production schedule. It is a remake of Fame. Another coworker says, “What’s Fame?”

Sweet Dub and the female coworker look at each other. She says, “You know, Fame? Irene Cara? I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna learn how to fly? You know, it was a TV show?”

Second coworker has no idea what they’re talking about. “How old are you?” Sweet Dub says.

“Twenty-seven,” the guy says.

Yeah. Haagen-Dazs, please.

*Sweet Dub tells me later that I am describing what is known as a suicide girl. Oh, you crazy kids!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whee Fit

I realize I have not yet done a recap of Viva’s birthday (April 1st), and I think that is because I am still recovering. I haven’t written anything yet about how great it is that she is six and how I love this age, nor have I written about any kind “cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon” moment where I suddenly realize that she will be grown up and gone before I know it and I’ll be sitting at home morosely tuning my guitar and making up songs about her. (Please note that I do not play the guitar. This is one of my life goals, however.)

That said, let me tell you that Sweet Dub had the brilliant idea of piggybacking onto Viva’s Christmas gift and purchasing the Wii Fit for her birthday. Viva is a natural athlete, which is constantly amazing to me as I am quite possibly the most uncoordinated and klutziest person going. No, seriously. She participates in Sports Clinic after school and has won all kinds of trophies and ribbons, including the MVP for flag football. I do not say this to brag, but as background for this purchase. Her favorite games on the Wii are mostly sports, so the Wii Fit actually made sense.

As soon as Viva opened the Wii Fit, Sweet Dub set about syncing it with our existing system and within a few seconds had completely fried both systems so neither would work. This led to a lot of stomping around and some muttered expletives.

However, several days later he sat down and worked out the bugs, and he and Viva started using it. Last night, they both prevailed upon me to use it for the first time.

I am pleased to report that (a) I weigh less than I thought and (b) my body mass index is 20.5. I am not surprised to report that the Wii balance board says my posture is wiggity wack and I’m unbalanced. I am mortified to report that my Wii age is 55. FIFTY-FIVE.

Okay, some days I may feel 55. But I am not actually anywhere close to 55. And I never drive 55. (Huh?)

Update on the 100 pushup challenge: 77. I fell off the wagon and missed a day so it’s screwed up my log. But I’m still working out and I feel pretty good.

So, how about you? How’s the family? How’s life treating you? I’m out of touch.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

This, That and the Other

Well, hello! How’ve you been?

I’m on call for Jury Duty this week, so every day I’ve been at work I’ve been frantically trying to finish things just in case I get called. I have been working through my lunch hour, rather than blogging during lunch as I sometimes do. And then, at home I have actually been (a) working out (b) spending time with my family and (c) getting caught up on all the stuff that’s backed up on our DVR. Last night I watched multiple episodes of The Office and 30 Rock. Somehow I had missed three weeks in a row. What on earth?

All this to say, not blogging much although there’s lots to blog about. Highlights:

Sweet Dub is getting some kind of promotion at his job. We don’t yet know what exactly this means. Will he get more money? More time off? Or should he just be happy he has a job in this economy and not expect any compensation for these extra responsibilities (which are substantial)? He’s meeting with the mucky-mucks today. We’ll see. Maybe they will offer him a kajillion dollars and I can stay home and eat bonbons. I mean, do volunteer work. Oh, I mean, take my kid out of day care and go to Mommy and Me classes and roll my eyes at the moms in their yoga wear texting on their Blackberries. Because I would never do that!

Viva seems to have turned six, although I don’t even comprehend how it is possible that she is that old. She had two parties. Photos forthcoming (I brought the camera with me to work but have the wrong size USB cable, and my work computer has no memory card slot. I can not even tell you how irritated I am at technology at this point).

Viva has been sick for the past week with some sort of stomach thing. She is hardly eating anything. Monday I sent her to school with rice, crackers, a banana and some yogurt. Instead, she weaseled school lunch out of her teacher…and ended up paying for it with four separate rushed trips to the bathroom between lunch and 4 pm. Needless to say, she contritely went back on the boring diet.

Cily has developed separation anxiety, but not the normal kind, because why be normal? No, she doesn’t get upset if I leave her at daycare. She gets upset when we are getting ready in the morning and I have to put her down so I can get dressed. I can’t go to work in my underwear. I really don’t think that would go over too well, even on Casual Fridays.

I am still doing the 100-pushup challenge – 67 pushups on Monday. My arms feel like they were carved out of granite.

I am also doing Pilates, which is obviously (obviously!) the invention of some psychologically twisted person. I am convinced that I have no abdominal muscles at all. Maybe elves took them while I was asleep. Anyway, I was working out to an ab sculpting DVD last night and I swear to you the people on the DVD were doing things that are physiologically impossible. I also must tell you that I was more than a little grossed out by Mari Winsor telling me to tweeze my buttocks as we moved into various positions. (FYI, it’s not what you’d think. However, I am far too literal and visual a person for her to use that terminology.)

Speaking of technology – which I did, about 4 paragraphs ago – I am doing research on various forms of electronics for this foster teen program we are developing for work, and all I can conclude is this: I need a new laptop, a pocket video camera, and an MP3 player in order for my life to be complete. And I need them all now.

Beyond these petty concerns, I am enjoying the cooler, overcast weather today, and I am delighted that yet again the Blah Blah family seems to have been adopted by a cat. And, power to the people: this is another black cat. You may recall that at our old house, we were adopted by Jean-Jean*, who was inexplicably moody, at times extremely friendly and at times not. This mystery was cleared up when we discovered that there were actually two long-haired black cats with green eyes visiting our yard. One was tame, the other, not.

This new black cat is extremely tame, to the point where when I sit down on the back steps, he jumps into my lap. Tame to the point where he stands and scratches at the back door to let us know he’s there. Tame to the point where he jumps up onto the (covered) barbecue grill and peers into the kitchen window, as if to will us to come out and play. Tame to the point where, when Viva leaves the laundry room door ajar, he just saunters on in like he owns the place.

It has been fun to watch Viva getting used to him. She has never been around a cat that is this used to people. When I casually pick him up and remove him from somewhere he is not supposed to be, she gazes at me in rapture like I am a lion tamer. It is quite funny. I am considering investing in a top hat. Maybe I’ll sell tickets in the front yard.

Next time: two “you know you’re old when…” moments. Oh, dear.

* I went back through my old blog posts to find the one where I posted a picture of him, and alas! I can't seem to find it. Sorry. But know that he was a most beautiful cat.