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.