Thursday, March 30, 2006

8 Days

I don't think this will be too difficult in a few years. Sure, a lot of it will stay the same. Ellie is already sure of what she wants and when, so that part is not likely to change much. We already have a busy schedule and drive hither and yon all day. There are other things to worry about with older children, of course, but I'll be worrying about them regardless of whether or not Paul's home.

And let's be honest. Dealing with issues like Transition to the School District and IEP and Service Coordination isn't exactly relaxing.

But in a few years, my child will be able to dress herself, to get herself a drink and a snack, to not need me to get up with her every time she needs to potty . . . and sit with her reading books and singing songs for however long that takes.

I love the alone time together. I love doing stuff and talking and sharing experiences. But the increasing self-sufficiency is awesome.

On a related note, in response to everyone who said, "Be careful what you wish for" with the walking, well, Ellie's been walking all over the place for months now. And it's better than I dared hope. I have never, ever, not even once wished to have her weak-legged again.

Not when she's walking off the mark at the photographer's over and over again, not when she plops down in goose poop in the school parking lot, and certainly not when she runs down the driveway, stopping right at the edge of the street, then leans out a little further and shouts, "No!"

Other amusing Ellie anecdotes.

On our way to this morning's playdate, Ellie's one toy to take with us in the car was Backpack. On our way to tonight's dinner out with friends, her one toy was a paper grocery bag from Whole Foods.

Ellie is so empathetic. She doesn't like to be left alone at the table to eat (which occasionally happens, like when I'm still cooking the side dishes or pouring drinks). She assumes that Lizzi must feel the same way, so she likes to sit on the floor right beside Lizzi while Lizzi's eating her dinner. Sometimes she reaches out to touch her gently. Fortunately, Lizzi doesn't mind this from Ellie. Priceless.

I wish I'd taken a picture of that, and one of Ellie looking melancholily and contemplatively out the car window while listening to Simon & Garfunkel this evening. I would have given anything to know what she was thinking.

Hey! Paul will be home soon!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Glass Pane

When I was young, we lived in a gorgeous old manse(2). One of its many charming details was a glass door in place of a screen one, complete with individual panes.

We loved running around that old place. One summer day when I was about 6-1/2 and my sister Jessica was about 4, she was chasing me around. I wanted to run outside, so I headed for the front door. The heavy, wooden inner door was standing wide open and I ran for the glass door with one hand extended, straight out in front of me. I hit the handle perfectly and continued on across the porch and down the front steps.

Jessica mimicked me exactly, but several inches shorter.

Her extended right hand went straight through the glass pane.

My mother assessed everything quickly from the kitchen, where she was washing dishes. Quicker than humanly possible, she grabbed a retired cloth diaper from the plastic bin under the sink. Still holding her dish towel, she ran to Jessica almost before the glass finished falling. She grabbed Jessica's arm and wrapped her hand in the towel and diaper, then herded all three of us - Grace would have been 1 at the time - into the old green van parked at the curb.

Oh, that van. Three tones of green on the outside, with shag carpeting and wood paneling on the inside. Gorgeous.

Before you could say, "Bob's Your Uncle" we were off for our pediatrician's office up at the hospital. We were all jammed into an exam room with the old doc and his wife, the nurse, before I fully registered what was going on.

They removed the wound's dressing. There was no blood.

We have some dispute on the details here. My mother insists that the skin must have been broken because they gave Jessica a tetanus shot. I believe that they did so to humor my mother; my sister was only gently scratched.

Regardless, it is hilarious in retrospect and at family gatherings into perpetuity. And if it happened today, we never would have made it to the doctor. At the end of the business day, my poor mom would have been still out at the curb trying to secure 3 lively young children into safety seats in that van.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Pause. Slam.

It was one of those moments where time stood still. I felt like I had all the time in the world to see what was happening and prepare for it. I had run through the sequence of events dozens of times and knew exactly what movements to make to resolve the situation quickly, but it was only a fraction of a second.

Ellie and I were headed out to run a couple of errands and have her bangs trimmed. I was putting the little potty chair into the trunk, chatting with her all the while. I reached up and pushed the trunk lid down. Then she shot out her little hand and rested it on the back of the car, right in harm's way.

I saw it coming and I just had to wait. There was a moment of silence after the big bang, while she looked up at me, right into my eyes. Then she started screaming. I didn't waste a movement. My hand was in my pocket pressing the trunk release button on the key fob almost before she started screaming. I was swearing and clutching her to my chest while running for the house as the tears started to come. I was cuddling her on the couch with the phone in one hand and a bag of frozen peas over her fingers in the other hand just seconds after it happened.

My mother was away from her cell phone. Paul was unreachable, en route to Mississippi. I had to wait an unusually long time to get through to a nurse at Ellie's doctor's office.

But within 2 or three minutes, she had stopped crying. She allowed me to pull on each of her three smashed fingers (middle, ring, and pinkie on the left hand). She opened and closed her fist for me. She gripped my finger firmly, and held the peas to her own hand, very seriously (missing the injured spot, but solemn all the same).

The nurse said that at this age, little finger bones are harder to break than they will be in just a few short years' time. My mom pointed out that Ellie's natural joint flexibility (looser tendons and ligaments) meant that her hand bent back further, minimizing damage to the bones.

Within minutes, the only sign of any drama was a slight redness from the cold peas, and a tiny bruise at the base of the middle and ring fingers.

We made the hair appointment, ran our errand, and played at the park on the way home. A few days later, she still seems perfectly fine. Whew.

While we were out, I bought her a pair of crocs - pics to come shortly. As you see, I've laid the groundwork for a reward system that's sure to cause both of us much grief in the short, medium, and long term. But I slammed her tiny hand in the trunk.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Blue Decorator

Blogger Housekeeping
I'm sorry that the viewing and commenting functionality here has been so . . . temperamental. Hopefully Blogger will fix itself soon. Also, Paul is going away for 8 long days. That means that my guestroom will be getting a work out - hear that, you violent creepy Internet lunatics? I won't be here alone! - and since the computer is currently in the guest room, blogging might be a little spotty for a while. But now on to the chatty stuff.

One of Earnest's suitemates was a very good friend of mine. This guy - let's call him Randy - never did anything wrong. He was a squeaky clean future politician, but he still somehow managed to be fun. I spent most of one school year on the foot of his bed, playing Super Nintendo. Maybe my standards were low.

One unusual thing about Randy is that he had a long distance girlfriend. This girl was his date to the junior prom, and stuck with him through four years away at college while she went to the Big U in their home state.

Every year, she'd come to visit during her spring break and clean Randy's entire room, including washing and ironing all of his laundry.

I kid you not. I liked the girlfriend just fine (well, eventually) but I thought this was a little weird. I also happened to know that their relationship was . . . er, uh . . . they weren't doing the nasty.

I liked to help my buddy Randy prepare for his girlfriend's visits. Like one year, when he went to the airport to pick her up, I decorated his bedroom.

I draped lingerie around his suite, especially in his room. And I'm not talking about plain cotton panties. I put condoms under his pillow and porn peeking out from under his mattress. Bras shoved under furniture where she'd find them when she dusted and strip poker cards (illustrated!) placed hither and yon - I had a blast.

I thought I was really really funny. I can't believe she asked me to be a bridesmaid at their wedding; she's definitely a better woman than I.

I never got those poker cards back, either.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Black and White

Now that my mind is rehashing the blank old days, I've got a couple more college stories in my head. But first I have another post about racism. I know, I know, it's not Blog Against Racism Day, but blogging against racism only on its designated day is like studying Malcolm X only in February. The only thing worse would be to never do it at all.

I tend to hang out with mostly progressive folk, and sometimes I forget how it's still OK to be unapologetically racist in some circles. And I'm not talking about Klan circles.

I am part of a network of parents of kids with Down syndrome who offer support to new parents of babies with Down syndrome. The volunteers get together at least quarterly for training and to talk about the issues our families are dealing with.

In our group, there's one white man and one black woman; the rest of us are white women. Two of the new mamas we're supporting are African American teen mothers living with their own parents. Both were assigned to the African American support parent. What does she have in common with these two new moms? Not so much more than the rest of us; she too is an educated, middle class, happily married suburbanite. She was an adult, already established in her career before she had children.

Another volunteer was assigned to a new mom who lives in a bad neighborhood. She was quite open about just not feeling safe visiting this new mom. No biggie; pick a nearby park or McDonald's, right? But maybe she brought it up because she was hoping to be excused from working with this new mom? Surely not.

A third volunteer reneged on one of her families - an inner-city black family - because they "didn't have anything in common" and wouldn't be able to relate to each other. We all have children with Down syndrome. That's what we have in common. Who else did she think might relate better to this new mom in need of support?

I'm not shocked that people feel this way. I'm shocked that people just say stuff like that, right out loud, without cringing. Man. I'm used to a generous dose of liberal guilt with situations like this.

But before I get too high on my horse, I have a confession about my own racism.

When I was a kid, I went to a school that was extremely racially diverse for central Kansas - or anywhere. In 5th grade, the girls were into playing hand clapping games on the playground. The dirtier the lyrics the better.

There was one song, Rockin' Robin, to be played by 4 participants, that was a group favorite. I always liked it because it was so dirty, with lots of cussing. Forbidden. It was years and years and years later that I realized that it is also incredibly racist. Among other verses:

Went downtown, to buy a stick of butter
Saw James Brown, sh*tting in the gutter
[Note that I had no idea who James Brown was at this point. And even when I did know, it took a long, long time to put it together.]
Saw a piece of glass
Stuck it up his *ss
Never seen a MotherF*cker run so fast

Mama's in the kitchen, stirring that rice
Daddy's in the attic, shooting them dice
Brother's in jail, raising hell
And Sister's on the corner selling Fruit-Cock-Tail.

Nice, yes? What does it mean that it's apparently a traditionally African American rhyme (and this is the context in which I learned it)? I'm thinking that's a bit different than if a group of suburban white girls were singing it. Also, it seems that we added bad words to our version to make it worse.

But the context is no excuse for my continued ignorance.

Tomorrow, more pranks and pics.

Stream of XXciousness

After 6 days with laryngitis, I finally have my voice back today. I'm a little hoarse and I can't sing, but I can talk and not elicit "poor baby"s from everyone I speak to. What is the correct way to punctuate that "baby?" It's not technically correct to say "babies" in quotation marks because no one refers to me in the plural. Especially now that I'm losing weight and I'm not pregnant.

Which reminds me. A woman I know announced today that she is pregnant. In her defense, she's waited a long time for this news (her son is 3-1/2) so this isn't one of those irritating situations where someone is ambivalent about being pregnant and gets there on the first try.

And my last friend who did get pregnant on her first try lost the baby, horribly.

Another woman I know is scared about going in for a hysterectomy next week.

A woman she knows is about to have either chemotherapy or a hysterectomy for her second molar pregnancy.

I have another friend whose daughter is about to turn two. They nearly died two years ago, from a placental abruption.

And this isn't even going into the most common cause of death for pregnant women.

So much can go wrong. So much. Being a woman is no cakewalk. Especially since we're still expected to bake most of the cakes. (The above referenced group discussion about hysterectomies turned into a commiseration session about how few of the husbands could do more than scramble eggs for dinner, putting pressure on the women to recover quickly for surgery.)

On a happier note, I really enjoyed a couple of hours of having two babies today, when I picked up Oliver from daycare and kept him for a bit. He and Ellie did a great job playing together and both seemed to have a blast:

Monday, March 20, 2006


We were having dinner at Applebee's tonight, when the music reminded me that I could be a real asshole in college. I'm sure I'm all better now, though.

The summer between high school and college, some high school buddies and I went to see Stone Temple Pilots, playing with Butthole Surfers and The Flaming Lips, at The Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.

One of these high school buddies was my high-school-graduation-night to fall-of-senior-year-of-college boyfriend, and he's the one who really taught me how to be an asshole. He was a champ at that, and he was also funny as hell.

My sophomore year of college, I became friends with a really good guy who was most decidedly not an asshole. Of course, he wasn't really all that funny, either. You win some, you lose some. Let's call him Earnest. Things were great, until Earnest started "dating" one of my roommates senior year.

They didn't date in the usual way. They didn't even date in the abnormal, college way. They had a unique style of dating. They didn't talk much. When they did, it was in high, squeaky voices through stuffed animals. After they had been "dating" for about 6 months, around Valentine's Day, he asked her if it would be OK if he kissed her on the cheek. Seriously.

The unusual nature of this relationship, I believe, came mostly from her. And she did not approve of me. I kept irregular hours. I didn't iron my jeans. I had - gasp! - been seen drinking modest quantities of alcohol. It was suspected that perhaps I kept company with my boyfriend at indecent hours.

By senior year, we were all living in a really nice dorm consisting of "suites" for upper-classfolk. We had a living room, bathroom, and four large (single) bedrooms. A cleaning person came in regularly to refill the toilet paper and clean all the common areas. It was amazing. Like most of the living spaces at Wash U, our dorm was co-ed, though each suite was single sex.

Since my roommates all went to bed early, I spent a lot of time downstairs in the suite where my (ex)boyfriend lived with our buddies, including Earnest.

This was all a little awkward once my suitemate convinced Earnest to dump me and his own suitemates. We played Nintendo late into the wee hours and ordered pizza nearly every night. Clearly, we were a menace. Earnest began staying shut in his own room and ignored us as much as possible.

Well, Earnest was regular as clockwork. Every evening at about 10:00, he'd disappear into the bathroom for an extended period of time.

My (ex)boyfriend took to BLASTING the Butthole Surfers as loudly as possible during while he was in there. How rude. I though it was hilarious.

One night we shoved a car air freshener under Earnest's door after he went to sleep. The smell was nauseating even outside of his room, and he did not look well all the next day. I'm still laughing.

Ah, good times, good times.

I still miss Earnest, but I'm still mad at him too.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Social Secretary

I did not meekly role over and accept a traditional gender role.


For years I was the one who paid all the bills, just like my mom does.

I have 3 semesters of college Calculus, some of which I took in high school, deciding only when faced with Diff Eq that I didn't want to be a math major after all.

But paying the bills was hell for me. I put it off to once a month, always at the last possible moment before the phones or power or whatever might be shut off, before pulling out the calculator and starting to work. It took me a swearing and sweating 4 hours to get all the bills paid, including calls to the bank to transfer funds or calculate late fees. It was hard hard hard for me.

Paul, on the other hand, went several years without going to the doctor or dentist because he couldn't bring himself to make the appointments. He chose a roommate based solely on the fact that the guy had lots of friends who were always coming over so that Paul didn't have to do any work in order to have people around frequently - who cares that they weren't necessarily his friends?

Eventually, of course, we decided to merge and purge responsibilities. I took over the social calendar and Paul took over the bills.

Over time, we've relaxed things a bit. It's just not practical for me to schedule Paul's medical appointments because I don't know the schedule of his incessant meetings at work. And as bad as I am about revolving debt, he's even worse. He can blink and there's suddenly an insurmountable balance on a credit card I'd forgotten we even have. So I'm going to be more involved in that stuff.

But I'm still responsible for maintaining the family calendar, and I try not to cringe at the utter predictability of it when he asks me, for the 3rd time, "Honey are we doing anything next weekend?"

Occasionally, Paul offers to take on the responsibility of making plans. And that has - at best - mixed results. He might buy tickets for a show months in advance, but not ask around for a sitter until 2 days before the curtain. He might cancel plans at the last minute and not realize that it really isn't considerate to the people who rearranged their schedule to watch Ellie.

And, as with tomorrow, he might start to set something up, then never follow through with the friends we wanted to have over for dinner and games. Alas, alack. Sometimes I still get frustrated. But today I'm all equanimity. Today I'm content with how bad I am at some things, and how it's only fair that Paul gets to be bad at some things too.

For the people we inconvenience, though, I am truly apologetic. If you are still free Saturday night, I am planning to make enchiladas and peanut butter and jelly cookies, all South Beach style, of course. Or, if you'd prefer, I'll have a large pot of chili going in preparation for my entry into a contest on Sunday and I'd be happy to try out my experimental recipe on you. I'm tentatively calling it CornFire, not for the timid. But I warn you that I'm still relatively new to cooking chili from scratch, without the cheater starter seasoning packet.


We still make sure that we take turns driving, though, so our kid(s) won't grow up thinking that daddy always drives when we're all in the car together. I've gotta draw the line somewhere.

Crawling Out from Under

. . . or Counting Chickens

Late Monday night I had my last episode, though I was still queasy and worthless all day on Tuesday. Ellie woke up for an emergency toddle shortly after 5:00 am on Tuesday, then kept us busy for a couple of days. Fortunately for all, Ellie didn't get as sick as I did, possibly not even as sick as Paul, who worked on through his bout with this junk. Also fortunately, she developed a strong preference for using the potty rather than a diaper. And, at the first opportunity, she brought me a pull-up rather than a diaper as if to signal that she's about done with this baby stuff.

Ellie was right as rain on Thursday, when I decided to get something else. I've had a lump in my throat for several months that I "affectionately" refer to as my snot clot. It abruptly decided to start causing problems, including progressive sore throat and rapid loss of voice. Today was even worse. But surely tomorrow will be better. And things are much less painful when I am very quiet and constantly sipping ice water.

So, the Blogger server that hosts this blog deciding to crash and be down all week was actually good timing. I wasn't here anyway. I hope that you all were out enjoying the wonderful weather!

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Parenting Olympics

I intended to write this one weeks ago, when it was more timely, but here it is now. I'm often late. Except with my period. I am starting to feel better, by the way. Wahoo! But on to the Parenting Olympics.

Unfortunately, it's hard to get an accurate look at the big picture in the Parenting Olympics. Our access to individual events is filtered through a single blog network, NBC-style, featuring biased and emotionally manipulative coverage, with one party unilaterally deciding which events and contestants to focus on sympathetically.

In this case, we're focused on Paul and Sarahlynn, with a few notable exceptions.

And now, a summary of the medal count to date.

Event: Going to Sleep
Despite Sarahlynn's early superiority in this area given her breasts body type, Paul has emerged as the stronger competitor in this event.

Event: Potty Training
Despite Ellie's the fans' strong support of Paul, Sarahlynn pulls ahead with consistency and enthusiasm. Neither competitor is performing at Olympic levels here, I'm afraid. Hopefully we'll soon see a big improvement.

Event: Coping while Tired
This competition has been fierce in places (cough cough) but Sarahlynn emerges the clear victor. Judging is closed and no disputes are currently being heard.

Event: Balancing Career and Motherhood (some categories are single-sex)
There is a strong showing in this category by the women Sarahlynn works with, and it has been decided via consensus that no single gold medal will be awarded. Instead, all the women will pool their resources for group lunches and the occasional happy hour.

Event: Enriching Activities
Sarahlynn took an impressive early lead in this category, but lately both contestants have been floundering. Neither seems motivated and both seem exhausted. I don't think they're in the proper shape for such a long-haul event. Frankly, they're competing for the bronze.

Northern Sun Olympic Moment:
[insert 2-part, emotionally manipulative editorial shot in warm lighting and soft focus profiling the amazing job Paul's and Sarahlynn's parents did in their day. Conclude with tearful modern-day contestants revealing their fears that they are doing but a pale comparison of what their parents did before them.]

Event: Reading and Singing
After the short program, all contestants forfeited rather than compete in the extremely repetitive long program.

Event: Extreme Sports, including child balancing and very short range tossing
Paul is the clear leader in this area, but a protest has been lodged by the opposition that these events are unsafe and should not be included in the competition.

Event: Toddler-Assisted Walk (an endurance sport)
All contestants in this category have complained of back pain

As for the rest of the coverage, while it may have already occurred in real time, your viewing of the competitions and results will have to await my the network's leisure.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Roll a Day

Well, I have a stomach bug again. I've been running at the wrong end for more than 48 hours now and I feel like hell.

But on the bright side, I'm only 1-1/2 Newsweeks behind now, and my diet has been effective this weekend.

Paul and Ellie had a great trip to the park yesterday, and a nice outing to the movies this afternoon. To my great surprise, Ellie watched Curious George in its entirety, while sharing a bag of popcorn with her daddy. This is my daughter who is uninterested in the TV unless Dora the Explorer is on, and even then she might only be good for 15 minutes of concentration.

It's spring here now. I know this because of the warm temperatures, the beautiful thunder storms, the obnoxious news coverage of the storms, the fuzzy buds on the magnolia trees, and the first shoots of the crocuses poking up from the earth, it's true. But also I can tell that it's spring because the bugs are back. Surely bugs themselves are tangible evidence of evolution - set in motion, if you will, by the Creator.

Why would God design a world in which I have to contend with both insects and diarrhea when things are otherwise so lovely?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seventh Heaven

After A Million Little Pieces, my next review is the obvious choice: The WB's family drama 7th Heaven. No, really. Stop laughing.

I didn't watch this show at first, then I got into it. It was a good show for a number of reasons. First, most television shows hinge on the whole misunderstanding plot device. So often I just want to take all the characters, sit them down in a room together, and force them to talk it out. No shorthand, no awkward conversations in which all the characters say "him" but never the guy's name so they each think they're talking about someone different, etc.

7th Heaven never did that. Early on in each show, the principle characters always had open and good communication about whatever the issues were, and the plot developed from there. How refreshing. And the parents were always so unfailingly mature and responsible. Also refreshing.

And the issues the show raised were fantastic. Years ago, the did an episode on The Lost Boys of Sudan. Well before 9-11 they did a wonderful show on the plight of women in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

Also, although the show is very Christian, with a minister father and at-home mother, it was also quietly progressive. The parents talked a lot about their partnership. They talked everything out, respected each other, made decisions together, backed each other up when dealing with the children, etc.

Then the show jumped the shark. The parents were suddenly as flighty and gossipy and irresponsible as characters on any other show. Miscommunications abounded. New characters were introduced, and a series of strangely good looking teenagers came to live with the Camdens. The writers were clearly bowing to ratings pressure from conservative Christians. The show became almost unwatchable.

Unfortunately for me, I find it almost impossible to give up a show once I've started watching it. (This is why I'm very careful about starting new shows.) And so I learned something lovely this year. 7th Heaven has been cancelled (only 6 more new episodes!) and the writers are returning to the show's roots.

The obnoxiously patriarchal Kevin has left the police force to be an at-home dad, while his wife Lucy (yes, the formerly obnoxious and air-headed teen) is a minister. Yes, a female pastor. Stop the presses! And she's been openly ambivalent about having another baby. Yes, a professional woman who's willing to discuss putting her career ahead of her family, or at least not being whole-heartedly excited about kids kids and more kids.

The 7th Heaven website links to a teen pregnancy prevention site that advocates education on contraception as well as abstinence. Yes, folks, there's far less kowtowing to the religious right this season.

It's not perfect, but it's better. I'm glad it's going out on a note far less sour than those played in the previous couple of seasons.

Weird Night

I had so little energy last night that I could barely stay awake long enough to get Ellie to sleep. In fact, I didn't quite make it. I decided to take a quick doze on the couch while Paul took his (second) shift with Ellie, so that I could be awake for a little workout, a little TV togetherness, a little email checking and blogging, then a little picking up of toys later on.

But Paul came out from Ellie's room and wanted to watch TV Right Away, so I was banished to the bedroom. And night-time naps in bed never work. So I spent the whole night in a weird sort of twilight half-sleep. I was still in my nice slacks and shirt for work, not to mention the underwire bra. I didn't brush my teeth or wash my face. This is all very unusual for me. I have very specific nighttime Routines that I must follow or surely the world will spin off its axis.

Then Lizzi decided that she wanted to go outside at 4:30 am. That turned out to be good timing on her part, because it started storming shortly after 5:00 am. And then Ellie woke up because she needed the potty. This was all me, of course, because I'd gone to bed so early.

So now it's 7:30 am and I've already been up for 3 hours (sort of all night, in fact). I've worked out; I've taken my vitamins; I'm on my way to the shower. I feel very odd. I'm hoping for a nice long nap later on today.

But on an unrelated note, Ellie has started doing a new adorable thing lately. She'll roar like a lion, then put her index finger against her lips and say, "Shhhhhhh," then laugh like it's the funniest joke in the world. And it kinda is.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Blog Against Sexism Day

I was reading Ms. Magazine in the airport on a business trip with a coworker a few years ago.

"What's that?" he asked. He'd heard of Ms. but thought that it was another "lipstick and fashion" rag.

This started us talking about feminism, and, of course, sexism. He doesn't believe that it exists.

See, our office and indeed our whole industry is predominantly female, at least down in the trenches. Sure a significantly skewed percentage of management is male, but his boss and his boss's boss are both women, so that's where it stops for him.

He doesn't feel powerful. In fact, he feels pretty powerless. And he's been sexually harassed at work. So women are as successful as men in corporate America now, and sexual harassment is an equal opportunity experience. Didn't you see that Demi Moore movie?

His experience is a microcosm for all experience. He doesn't see sexism, so it doesn't exist. Hell, even those strippers he likes to visit over on the east side make more money than he does. That's empowerment. And women like looking at strippers too, dontcha know.

This went on forever and was going nowhere. I wasn't going to change this guy's whole worldview in one afternoon. I ended the conversation politely but firmly and excused my pregnant self to get a bite to eat. He came along and talked at me while I ordered and waited for my food. I excused myself to go to the ladies' room, then sat on a bench and talked to my husband on the phone, waiting for the guy to give up and go back to our gate.

Pretty soon, he called into the bathroom after me, "worried" that our heated discussion might have caused me some harm in my "delicate condition." He's a critically acclaimed "really nice guy."

Oh yes. Sexism is so dead.

Having it Together

When I was in college, someone told me that I always looked neatly put together, even when I was in jeans and an untucked t-shirt. Looking back at old pictures, I think that she was right.

Somewhere along the way, I've lost that. As I sit in a group of women who look undeniably crisp, I try to think of ways that I could get that undefinable togetherness back.

I could lay out my clothes the night before. I could do more laundry, instead of waiting for Paul to do it. I could listen for the dryer to finish so that I could pull things out and fold or hang them right away. I could iron occasionally. I could wipe my shoes down each night with a wet wipe, and polish them regularly. I could go for actual haircuts regularly instead of getting discount trims semi-annually. I could wear make-up more frequently.

I'm sure that all this would help, along with improving my posture and continuing to lose weight. But really, I think the schlumpy factor is a big one. I think a lot of it is attitude.

Monday, March 06, 2006

A Million Little Truths

I knew about the controversy surrounding James Frey's book, A Million Little Pieces, before I read the book. When I first heard the allegations that he fabricated parts of his memoir, all I knew about the book was that it had a good title, great cover design, and was shelved prominently at Borders.

So I didn't have the opportunity to feel as betrayed as those who read the book believing that it was 100% true. But there are two other reasons why I don't feel terribly angry by what Frey apparently did.

First, I sympathize. I want to be a writer very much. I can hardly imagine working so hard, pouring so much of myself into a novel, and having it rejected by publisher after publisher. When Frey's agent told him that his book might be more successful packaged as a memoir, rather than as a novel, of course he jumped at the opportunity to sell it.

He should have taken out the bits he added for drama and interest in the novelization. He absolutely should have. But maybe he thought those parts were what made the story as compelling as it is. Of course he was afraid of having it rejected yet again. He was wrong to leave in the fictionalized parts. But I sympathize with how he must have felt.

Second, I think that the lies he chose to tell say as much - or more - about Frey than a strictly truthful version of his story would tell.

Sure, addiction is horrible and messy and ugly and far from glamorous, as Frey tells us in gritty detail. But Frey can't resist the temptation to make himself, his life, his experiences larger than life, less pathetic than they really are.

Frey may have been a skinny white kid from an upper middle class suburban family, but he is such a badass that the biggest, scariest, meanest criminals are all scared of him. He didn't meet an Italian or even a mobster in rehab; he met a mob boss. He didn't meet a lawyer or even a judge; he met a federal judge.

Addicts lie. Addicts can't be trusted. Addicts lie. Frey tells us this repeatedly in his book, and he underlines this fact with the way he chooses to tell his story. He is not cured. He is still an addict; he's just not currently smoking crack.

And The Smoking Gun's coverage of Frey's lies struck me as much more petty and spiteful than a simple recounting of fact and fiction - which would have been more helpful, by the way.

I did find quite a bit of humor in Frey's self-aggrandizing style, including his FTBSITTTD tattoo (F**k The BS It's Time To Throw Down), so I borrowed the tat for a bookmark I created for my bookclub, listing our hosting order in addition to a lovely picture of our suburban mom selves from our Christmas wine bar gathering last December. I called us a Book and Fight Club, which sounds about right.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Arrivederci, Olympics

Nearly a week after the rest of the world said goodbye to the Torino games, I just finished watching the closing ceremony. And, sadly, it occasions another edition of the Biased Media Watch.

The ceremony was lovely and appropriate.

Until the end.

I don't understand what Ricky Martin was doing there. Avril Lavigne is Canadian, Andrea Bocelli is Italian, but Ricky Martin . . . ? Whatever. Odd but not offensive.

His backup dancers dressed like very cheap biker babe whores? Unacceptable.

Here's a lovely, formal-but-fun ceremony celebrating, oh, world peace, collaboration, and athletic achievement. Sport. And then . . . it gets all nasty and women are back to being eye candy sex symbols again. Back to reality, folks.

And . . . I couldn't find a single news article that mentioned it.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I'm back from San Antonio, where it was lovely and warm. Or so it looked from the cabs. Sadly, I only ate in my hotel and only walked around hotels, conventional halls, and airports. But it was a good trip nonetheless! And it felt amazing to hug Ellie so tightly tonight. Paul made black bean flautas for dinner last night, and I had the leftovers when I got home. That's the closest I got to authentic Tex-Mex cooking this week.

At the same hotel as the convention I attended, on the same floor as our exhibit hall, was a convention for the United States Potato Board. The first thing I could see as I came up the escalator was a long table covered with dozens of bowls of potatoes. There was a poster of the Mr. Potato Head balloon from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on a brass stand outside the meeting room. And, best of all, they were there for the 2006 Chip Seminar! Clearly, I'm in the wrong field.

Finally, a note from my new series on the The Biased Media Watch (The BMW).
Former Congressman Gets Eight-Plus Years
By SETH HETTENA, Associated Press Writer
Note how the convict's party is never directly identified, only implied, and that late in the article? Guess what party "Duke" Cunningham belongs to. Now note how two other congressmen-turned-convicted criminals (news stories 4 and 18 years ago, respectively) are identified by their parties in the article. Guess which parties they belong to. Uh huh.
Seth, honey, your bias-cut slip is showing, dear.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


OK, I have a queue of draft post ideas as long as my arm, but they're going to have to continue to wait. I'm off for sunny San Antonio for a couple of days (business trip) leaving Paul and Ellie to hold down the fort here. Barring a free internet cafe in my hotel, I'll be blogging again when I return.

I still need to shower. I leave for the airport in 3 hours. I haven't slept. I am an idiot. Good night!