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.