Friday, June 29, 2007

Our Very Own Little Landlady

First of all, why didn't anyone tell me Music and Lyrics was the worst movie ever made, before I spent $3.99 and an hour and half of my time watching it On Demand tonight?  Huh?  Why?  Christ.  Also, why didn't anyone tell me Dreamgirls was a musical?  Eric and I watched an hour and a half of it last week, with me asking the whole time, "Why do they keep breaking into song?  And when is Diana Ross coming on?"  Clue me in, people.  I only teach film studies for a living.

I'm sure you've all seen this, but if you haven't:


Will Ferrell vs. Pearl the Landlord

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This video is a little scary, given that Addie is running around again saying "goddammit, goddammit, goddammit," like some little Dustin Hoffman Rainman.  It's not the first time, as you all know, but it still shocks me to hear our words repeated back to us like this.  Which reminds me of a precious moment from our trip:  we were trying to check out of the hotel in Glenwood Springs, and we had all sixteen bags finally packed and loaded on to the luggage cart, when Addie starts to freak out.  "I want Pilly!  I want Pilly!" she says.  Pilly is her stuffed elephant, and had been safely zipped into the suitcase that was on the very bottom of the luggage cart.

"You'll have to wait until we get down to the car, Addie.  Pilly is in the suitcase," I said.

"Mommy, no!  I want Pilly NOW!"

I could tell she was winding up for a doozy and there was nothing to do but let it happen, so Eric started to wheel the cart to the elevator. 

Remember this moment from history?

You know, where the young Chinese student stands in front of the tanks entering Tiananmen Square, using his own body to block them from moving forward?  Well, that's kind of what Addie did with the luggage cart.  She ran around in front of it, arms waving, bangs flapping, tears pouring.  Once she had successfully impeded our progress, she pointed her finger at her father and I, sobbing hysterically, and screamed, "I'm giving you ONE last chance!  You give me my Pilly!  Now!"

Eric and I stopped in our tracks and both looked at each other, jaws dropped.  Neither one of us says, "I'm giving you ONE last chance!" to Addie, so God knows where she got that from.  But also?  It was just a perfect use of the phrase, and in the right setting, with just the right dramatic emphasis.  It was impressive, really.

But we still made her wait to get down to the car before getting out that damned elephant.  Which, I suppose, makes us tyrants.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Green Republic

Image courtesy of 

So, the whole "green" thing is everywhere now.  Have you noticed?  There's information on green companies, green products, how to green your life, how to poop green, you name it.  Believe me, I'm relieved (and not just about the poop).  One of my own personal zeniths was when I had a letter published in O Magazine congratulating them for doing more environmental reporting (I can die happy now that I've been in such close proximity to the Goddess.  Or at least to her minions).  And I'm glad there is a movement toward less consumption, less waste, more consciousness.

Of course, as No Impact Man pointed out today, a whole lot of people and business are claiming to be "green" when they're not.  There was a similar story in our Door to Door Organics newsletter showing that big businesses are pushing the definition of "organic" beyond meaningful, and the government isn't doing much to stop it.  Doesn't this news make you feel weary?  I mean, I'm not suprised, I guess, but it's tough when you try to do the right thing and everywhere your attempts are being thwarted.  It's tough not to get cynical.

But these things are on my mind more and more all the time.  I've been teaching the environmental stuff long enough now that I'm interested more and more in my own actions, and what they say about me and my values.  I've written before about my struggles with consumerism, and those still persist.  But more and more going in to the big boxes makes me skittish and panicky:  thinking about where all those things came from and how many resources were consumed to make them and all that.  I'm not into total deprivation, or anything.  I'm not No Impact Man, and I would have a wicked hard time doing what the Compact folks have done.

Still, I'm moving slowly in that direction, you know?  The changes are slow, but they are becoming good habits.  Remembering to take the canvas bags to the market instead of getting plastic ones.  Remembering to fill the Nalgene bottles instead of buying the insidious bottled waters.  Buying organic food locally.  Planning to buy a hybrid vehicle.  Turning the lights off. 

Here are my principle struggles (other than the war I wage daily with the Banana Republic outlet store down the street--yum): 

1.  I want to make these choices not from a place of fear or deprivation, but because they make sense, are in line with my beliefs about waste and using things only as needed.  I want to address my need to own everything because it makes good spiritual and financial sense, not because of worry or guilt.  The emotional part of it seems key.

2.  It's tough to make good choices sometimes, because certain habits are convenient.  I have this nagging sense that we should probably be taking the bus more, but when you have two little kids and a minimum of three heavy bags to take to work, the difficulty seems to outweigh the gain.  When both girls are at the same school (which is on the way to work!) this might become easier.

3.  Picking the battles is also hard.  Canvas bags:  easy.  Nalgene bottles:  easy.  Spending tons more on transpo:  difficult.  Giving up Banana Republic addiction:  difficult.  Trying to support businesses and products that are truly "green":  difficult.

4.  I read a good essay recently in which an environmentalist dad realized he had passed on a lot of anger and fears of scarcity on to his teenage son.  His kid read him the riot act for making him feel hopeless, as if nothing good would last, as if the world was destined to become one large Las Vegas.  I don't want to pass on this sort of legacy to my kids:  I want to teach them not to waste and to value the right things, but it will be a challenge to do this from the right place when I struggle myself.

The good news is that, even with all the b.s. on "green" out there, some good stuff is getting through.  Some of these changes are making sense, and I'm excited about the future.  I'm hopeful that some major cultural revisions are on their way.  I'm clinging fiercely to that optimism.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Best (Kind of) Vacation We've Ever Had [ANNOTATED VERSION]

[Much of that last post was full of half-truths, though the spirit of it is mostly correct.  Here's what the vacation was really like.  Kind of.] 

We're back.  [This is true.  We are back.]  I feel relaxed and rested, and even better, I've been bitten by the travel bug again:  life breathes with excitement anew!  [Also pretty much true.  I'm excited about traveling again, and did feel more relaxed than when we left, for about three hours.  Then I checked my three hundred emails and my to-do list.  Christ.

We have children, and can travel with them! [But this also sucks.  Part of me would sure miss them if we went somewhere without them, and the reality is that we have no other options--our families live too far away to take them, and it's too much to ask friends to take on two kids for any length of time.  But, honestly, I'm dreaming of a time when they are, say, five and seven (old enough to stay with friends), and Eric and I can go away for a few days by ourselves.  Because traveling with kids is a royal pain in the ass.  Also, it's not really a vacation.  I thought it would be before we left, but by the third day it occurred to me I was doing just as much work (if not more) on the road as I do at home.  Kids' needs do not, unfortunately, go on vacation.  They still crap in their diapers and need to be fed and whine and demand enormous amounts of attention.  You also lack all your kidfrastructure when you're traveling and have to do a fair amount of half-assed improvising.  These girls are lovey and wonderful and cute, too, but the whole "needs" thing is not conducive to serious mellowing out.  This led me to a fairly deep depression on Friday:  I had to mourn the loss of my autonomy.  I thought I had done this already, but having to revise my definition of "vacation" forced a revisitation.  There will be no such thing as "vacation" as I have known it, again.  Not for many years.]

You all were right:  Telluride is beautiful.  [But also?  It's like at 10,000 feet.  Our first day there I did okay, but the next day I had some serious altitude sickness, which meant I almost pooped my pants trying to get back to the hotel from the festival (thanks, Eric, for taking the "scenic" route home, and stopping to buy Addie lemonade, and for learning to play the pipe organ, on our way) and then necessitated a three-hour nap in the middle of the day.  The sun was also incredibly strong, so I had to be hyper-vigilant about putting a gajillion ounces of suncreen on everyone at all times.  And drinking one beer was like drinking three, which would normally be good except if you have to be a decent caretaker of small children.  Ugh.]

It is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with a gigantic cascading waterfall descending one of them, glorious trees all around, a lovely river.  [All true.  But it is also home to some evil species of grass or tree to which I am apparently horribly allergic.  I can only now breathe out of my left nostril and spent much of the trip shooting Zicam up my nose and downing Claritin-D.  Goddammit.]

Our hotel--which cost us an arm and a leg--was super-duper-fancy-we'll-never-be-able-to-afford-that-again.  [This place was nicer than our house.  Beautiful kitchen, bedding, luxurious bathrobes, jacuzzi tub, fireplace, fancy french toiletries, full concierge--the works.  Very romantic.  But here is where having kids was again a buzzkill.  We could only afford two rooms, which meant that Nolie had to sleep in our room so that she and Addie wouldn't wake each other up all night.  But by the second night or so, she figured out we were in there with her, and every time we turned over, breathed, sneezed, or farted, she woke up.  So we had to be still as death in order to get any sleep at all.  Not exactly the atmosphere for making sweet, sweet music together.]

The bluegrass was fantastic.  [It was awesome.  Once I came out of the altitude-induced haze, I had a great time listening and dancing and chilling.]  The kids did great [Also mostly true.  But it was unbelievably hot when it wasn't totally freezing and rainy.  So we had to schlep an inordinate amount of clothing, change the kids' garments constantly, and buy a tent to keep them from dying of hypothermia and/or heatstroke.  By the last day of the festival, we had the routine down, though, and could relax.  At which point the festival ended.]

We got a babysitter our last night there [from Bulgaria, and who had only been in the U.S. for two weeks and charged $20 an hour] and got to have fancy French food [until the babysitter called and said that Nolie wouldn't stop crying, so I had to inhale my $30 salmon and hightail it back to the hotel to beg and plead with Nolie to please, please go to sleep so that mommy and daddy could have just one freaking night out together] including a chocolate molten cake that shall never be repeated, all by ourselves [at midnight, because Eric had to order it to-go since I was at the hotel doing the outrageously expensive babysitter's job].  We had a grown-up conversation [about needing to plan a vacation without the kids someday].

And there were all the things that didn't happen:  no major illnesses [well, Nolie did continue to projectile vomit until we got to Telluride, and now everyone except me--knock on wood--has a sinus infection and/or wicked cold], no flat tires, no botched reservations or lost tickets, and our house was still standing when we returned, full of the stuff it had in it when we left [ah, sweet, sweet vacuum.  How I've missed you.  You, too, Windex and toilet bowl cleaner.  And don't worry, kitty litter, I haven't forgotten you!

Best of all, we got to have time together as a family, in the absence of computers and deadlines and places-to-be [All true.  All things to be grateful for.  But also a reminder that family can be irritating after a while].  We all thrived on the spontaneity of it, the loosening of rules and routines [It took me until our last day or two to get to this stage.  We really needed to be gone for a few more days so that I could really enjoy this eventual mellowing].  We can't wait to do it again [when the kids are old enough to ship off to someone else].

The Best Vacation We've Ever Had

We're back.  I feel relaxed and rested, and even better, I've been bitten by the travel bug again:  life breathes with excitement anew!  We have children, and can travel with them!

You all were right:  Telluride is beautiful.  It is surrounded on three sides by mountains, with a gigantic cascading waterfall descending one of them, glorious trees all around, a lovely river.  Our hotel--which cost us an arm and a leg--was super-duper-fancy-we'll-never-be-able-to-afford-that-again.  The bluegrass was fantastic.  The kids did great.  We got a babysitter our last night there and got to have fancy French food, including a chocolate molten cake that shall never be repeated, all by ourselves.  We had a grown-up conversation.

And there were all the things that didn't happen:  no major illnesses, no flat tires, no botched reservations or lost tickets, and our house was still standing when we returned, full of the stuff it had in it when we left.

Best of all, we got to have time together as a family, in the absence of computers and deadlines and places-to-be.  We all thrived on the spontaneity of it, the loosening of rules and routines.  We can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


We're headed for Telluride in the morning, so toddlerspit will be on hiatus for the week.  But I'll take lots of notes and hopefully have some gruesome and wonderful travel tales to share with you when we get back.  For now, I'll leave you with this:


alt :

Monday, June 18, 2007


"I don't WANT to go to school today, Mommy!" said Addie, climbing into her carseat.


"Because I HATE fun."

"Well," I said, sighing.  "It's good to know you have fun at school, at least."

This conversation took place after I found Addie scratching the side of the car with a stick, saying she was taking the "pleasure" out of the car.  "The pleasure?" I asked.  "Yes," she said.  "The pleasure out of the gas tank, so it doesn't explode."

This is a pretty good example of the kind of conversations we're having with Addie right now, who is completely driving us nuts at one moment, endearing us to her forever the next.  Here's a picture of her at yesterday's Father's Day picnic; our friend (possibly the funnies man I've ever met) hilariously captioned it "Addie Party Girl":

Addie's certainly an introvert, no doubt about it, and she gets it from no strangers:  her dad and I are definitely introverted in that we tend to refuel through quiet time at home.  Still, usually Addie is social, likes parties, likes to be outside and talking and playing.  The last two parties we've been to, though, she's wanted to stay inside, watching t.v., avoiding everyone. 

I'll chalk this up to the transition of moving again, for a little while longer.  Addie's normally a sweet, happy, talkative kid.  She's affectionate, and she has my heart in her two hot little hands, probably forever.  It's hard when you're going through phases like this, though--phases where your three-year-old looks like she constantly wants to wring someone's neck, or is crying all the time, or answers every question with "no," before you've even finished speaking.  The worst thoughts flicker through your mind at these times, wondering if your kid has some wicked form of antisocial disorder, and you'll be finding her one day pan searing your housecat over a hot stove.

The most frustrating thing at the moment, though, is not being able to properly giver her the attention that would probably most help her through this:  there are just too many demands on my attention.  Nolie seems to have some sort of puking flu, so this morning she was holding on to my leg, screaming, while I was trying to talk Addie through getting her underwear and pants and socks on (a Herculean task at the moment).  All of us were crying or on the verge of crying, and honestly I felt like just getting up and walking out of the house, never to return.  But then Addie looked at me and Nolie, sitting there crying, and started blowing raspberries and laughing.  Which made Nolie laugh, which made me laugh.  Saved by the raspberry, from flight risks and abandonments and despair.

Which is a good reminder that Addie is tougher than I sometimes give her credit for, and that just as she has to learn to put on her own undies, she has to learn to cope with my attention being divided.  What an icky, hard lesson for us first-borns.  But unavoidable and important, too. 

Friday, June 15, 2007

Outgrowing Your Buttcrack


First, I'm still stunned every month by the fact of having my period.  Being pregnant and having babies for the better part of the past four years sort of made me forget the unpleasantness of it all:  the utter exhaustion, the bloating, the mild depression, the desire to eat every last thing containing sugar within a mile's radius.

Second, taking a Midol (which in itself is like some weird cliche) does seem to help a little, but lately it's also been making me feel completely drugged, as if I've also chugged half a bottle of Nyquil.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Is this what supposedly makes you feel "better," you're just so knocked on your ass that the cramps and everything else just don't seem so bad? 

So I took a Midol today and then immediately had to take to my bed for a nap.  Forty minutes later, I woke up, all googly-eyed and shaky-kneed, and trotted myself down to the kitchen.  I half-consciously stuffed a handful of chocolate chips into my mouth (I've been pretty good about conscious eating lately, so this was weird) and threw myself on the couch, and watched an hour of What Not to Wear.

Have you seen this show?  It's terrible.  These two fashion "mavens" pick up unsuspecting fashion "victims" who have been meanly nominated by their friends for being hideously dressed.  They are usually thirty- or forty-ish, are often carrying a few extra pounds, and are typically mothers of small children (not that I'm being defensive or anything).  Then these two "stylists" force the woman of the day to throw away everything in her wardrobe, mocking her style choices mercilessly at every turn.  Next, they give her $5000 bucks and some style advice, and send her out shopping.  She gets her hair and make-up done, too, and then there's a big reveal at the end where she tearfully admits that her outsides really do matter, and now they thankfully match her beautiful insides, and thank you, style mavens, for making me a better person!  Gross.

The thing is, I kind of love the show.  The women typically are making some pretty hideous fashion choices, and the stylists are sort of hilariously snarky, and the women at the end do look better and seem genuinely grateful.  But I also hate this show.  It makes me want to throw out half of what's in my closet, and then the stylists' voices reverberate through my head throughout the day:  "You're going to wear that?  It makes you look like an angry walrus!" Or, "My God!  Where did you get that shirt?  The dog pound's rag pile?  Ew!"  It reinforces everything that's hideous about our culture's emphasis on a woman's appearance.

And still I watch, drooling, giggling, relaxing.

As I said, I was watching the show today, and this woman who wants to be a life coach was the victim.  Her major fashion crimes, according to the mavens, was that she wasn't "dressing her age."  She loved flip-flops, peasant skirts, and boy's shirts.  "You need to dress like a woman, not a college student," said the one fascist-onista.  "Real women wear shoes, not flip-flops."

The woman was thirty-four.

Oh, dear lord, I thought.  I wear flip-flops all the time.  I own a peasant skirt or two.  And my favorite things in the world, my go-to comfort items?  My two ripped pairs of Lucky jeans.  And I am thirty-two.

Don't worry about me.  I'm not going to have a total freak out.  I know quite well that this show (as is true with most shows on t.v.) is intended to make you buy things, to make you unhappy with who you are and what you have, which is why I shouldn't watch t.v. to begin with.  I also know that women all across America in their thirties are wearing flip-flops and ripped jeans, and that is quite okay, and says nothing about what they can do or how they think. 

But you know, I will say it was actually a useful realization for me, this "dressing your age," idea.  Because, in my head, I am still a college student.  I never really left college, after all--I'm still there, albeit on the other side of the grade book.  I'm on campus most of the time, and am surrounded by young people.  Which is great--it's the life, no doubt about it.  But it's also made some things about aging difficult, things I've really been struggling with lately:  the growing mass of gray hair on my head, my sagging boobs and butt, this tenacious weight gain.  I wonder, quite honestly, if I need to recalibrate who I really think I am.  Perhaps acknowledging this me, this thirty-two (which I know is really quite young and wonderful and all that, but which is certainly not nineteen or twenty-three), is an awesome opportunity to get comfortable in the body and hair and skin I'm actually having.

I don't know what all this means yet.  My beautiful friend Nancy just cut off all her hair as a means of getting in touch with her grays; the irony is that she looks years younger, I think, her face infused with an incredible vitality.  I probably am not going to do that.  But this has obviously been on my mind.  I happened to go jeans and shoe shopping yesterday, and bought these beautiful, wide-legged jeans without holes, and that don't show butt-crack when I bend over.  I also bought pumps.  So I think I already knew something had changed.  What Not to Wear maybe just named it for me, in the douche-bag way they have of doing things.

[Weird aside:  I think women born after 1985 were genetically modified to have absurdly low butt-cracks.  These girls in my classes wear low-rise jeans, and they bend over, way, way over, like practically touching their toes, and I keep expecting to totally get mooned by the crack and never do.  One must assume they either have no cracks or the cracks are set monstrously low.  Which made buying jeans for a while really difficult, for us older girls.  Discuss.]

Mostly, I'm just going to enjoy what it might mean to be okay with myself as I am now, and not always be trying to recreate something I used to be. 

So thank you, What Not to Wear, for this useful lesson, this sheep in wolf's clothing.  Now kiss my ass, you dickheads.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Take My Kid...


You know that old joke that goes something like this:  "Life is rough.  For instance, take my wife..."

"No, really, TAKE MY WIFE!   Somebody, please!  TAKE MY WIFE!"

Well, that joke was never really that funny, but I think I sort of understand it now, except I would apply it not to my wife (oh that I had one!) but to my toddler, who is driving me out of my gourd at the moment. 

I thought we had moved past the whining, the tantrums, the contrariness.  I thought all of that was so pre-third-birthday.  But it's not.  It's back, and it's bad.  Every single minute shift in activity over the course if the day is opportunity for a major altercation.  Addie needs to go potty?  Well, we have a fight about which potty to use.  Then we have a fight about whether or not, after thirty minutes of sitting there, she's finally done.  Then we have a fight about needing to wipe, needing to wash hands, needing to pull our underwear up.  All of which ends in me pulling my hair out and sticking her in a time out, where she dissolves into heaves and sobs on the floor.  I'm really the one who needs the time out, but I haven't told her that yet.  I should.

You know that movie Sophie's Choice?  These last few days would have made that choice just a little easier.

What a terrible joke.  I take it back.  But, really?  Somebody, please!  TAKE MY TODDLER!  If only for a few hours.  Because I might throttle her myself if you don't.

The spells are worst on school days, of course.  This is still a major adjustment.  And although she's not having night terrors at the moment, Addie is taking a good two hours to go to sleep at night and refuses to nap, so she's also overtired.  Overstimulation + exhaustion = child succubus. 

We're reading the book Harriet, You're Driving Me Wild! about a mom who doesn't like to yell at her "pesky" daughter Harriet Harris, but finally loses her cool once Harriet creates one crazy mess too many.  Addie really likes this story.  I imagine it's a way for her to work through our own horn-locking.  At the end of the book, after the mom finally yells, she and Harriet dissolve into laughter at the silliness of it all.  This would be a good thing to try, if I can muster it.  But pulling one's hair out is painful, and it will be hard to laugh through that.  Send me good thoughts.

On an adorable note, at her new school, a truck pulls up every Tuesday, loaded with a gymnasium in the back of it, and the kids go out in small groups to do what Addie calls "nymastics."  You should see her trying to do a somersault.  It's really special.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Show Stopper


My mom likes to tell this story of me as a little kid, where I'm in a grocery cart and point at a black man and say, "Look, Mom, a monkey!"  "I wanted to melt into the floor," my mom would say.  "There just weren't any negroes in Idaho back then, and you didn't know any better."

This is disturbing on many levels, of course, though I didn't realize it until I was in my twenties and went to grad school and learned about the history of such metaphors (black man as brutal ape) and metonymies (black man, brutal ape) and the horrible racist acts they made possible.  By the time we were teenagers, my brother and I were trying to get my mom not to say "negro" anymore (she doesn't) and found the story embarassing more than anything, because older people laughed too hard at it, and because there was no compassion for how that african-american man might have felt in that moment. 

So it's karmically perfect that last night, at one of the most fun dinner parties we've ever hosted, Addie points to one of our beloved guests and says "She is fat."  It was loud enough that I, across the table, heard it.  Eric was sitting next to her and leaned in and said something while I, fakey-fake smile frozen on my face, picked at my pasta and thought about how to keep the other, less mortifying, conversation going. 

Then Addie continued.  "I'm fat sometimes, too.  And you're fat, too, Daddy.  And mommy is, too, fat sometimes."  Then she blew out her belly and patted it, and went back to cramming pasta into her face.

Ah, crap.  I give the guests enough credit to see where this was coming from, that it was a statement of her particular observation, totally devoid of judgment and context.  Like when Addie was showing our friends around the house and, on the way up the stairs, turned to them and said about their beloved, deceased dog, "Gatsby is dead."  This wasn't about sympathy or sadness or anger; it was merely a statement of the thought moving through her head at the time.  An observation that passed through no editor. 

We were in Target last week and Addie reached up and patted at my boobs.  "You have FAT boobs, Mom," she said.  "Why yes I do, Addie," I said.  Normally, and especially now given my current freak-out about the stunning amount of belly fat I seem to suddenly have (or at least finally noticed), this sort of comment would really bum me out.  Can you imagine Eric saying something like this to me?  "Gee, honey!  You have super-duper lumpy thighs!"  That wouldn't go over well.  But from Addie it doesn't rankle.  Why is that?  Is it because she means nothing by it?  It's almost as if the honesty is refreshing, quite frankly--it usually makes me laugh.  There's no meanness to it, I suppose.

That said, I wonder what effect the comment had on our guest, or guests, since nobody was sure exactly who she pointed to in that moment.  The mouths of babes perhaps have a special sting, I think, when it's not our babe making the observation.  If it did sting, I hope it fades quickly.  And we talked to Addie today about hurt feelings, and the power of certain names to wound.  Who knows what she will take from that?  It will be the first of many such discussions, I'm sure.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fishy Thoughts

The most random thoughts are racing through the addled cloud of mystery that is my brain at the moment.  I remember feeling like a complete idiot pretty much throughout both pregnancies, and the postpartum months weren't much better.  But Nolie's almost a year old now (?!?) and I still feel like I barely can track what's going on around me.

Like the other night, at a friend's party, Nancy was trying to tell me about this class she was going to take at unchurch, and she had to explain it to me six times before I understood.  Part of this is that I'm often a shitty, shitty listener.  But part is also that things people say are going in my ears, swimming like little fish into the swampy recesses of my brain, where they get stuck in the oxygen-depleted environment and drown. 

But here is what I can muster.  First, when Addie and I were playing "chase me" tonight, she kept saying, "On your market, get set, go."  Which I like.  I think I could make that a t-shirt and sell it to Safeway.  Or to stock traders.  It's very hip and now.  On your market.

Also, this morning while I was getting Addie ready for school, Nolie was making beelines around the living room, trying out her new crawling skills (I wish I had video of this peg-leg, whirling dervish maneuvering.  It's fascinating to watch.  I'll try to get Eric to upload to Youtube).  She made it all the way from the play room over the sliding doors by the patio, and then she stopped and just stared.  She stayed for whole minutes, motionless, in front of that window, just looking at the world outside.  What sort of processing was going on in that head, I wonder?  I wish I could know.

Under the heading "Universe, Hear My Cry!" I wrote this in my journal, back in early April:  "I see myself in a tenure-track job.  I see this process happening painlessly and joyfully."

I wrote this, because at that point the process felt anything but painless and joyful.  It felt agonizing and stressful, and full of the potential for failure.  I was unsure I'd be able to find a position that worked for me and the family, and didn't like the idea that avenues were potentially closed to me because of circumstances out of my control.  I worried and worried over this until I couldn't do it anymore, and decided I needed to release it.  So I wrote my little affirmation here, blew it a kiss, and then left it alone.

And now, I shall brag, and gloat some, and also offer up my gratitude to said universe.  I had a phone interview with Stanford Tuesday, which went really well, and now it looks as if Mines is ready to offer me a tenure-track line.  I am so grateful for both opportunities, and look forward to facing the decision about where to head next both painlessly and joyfully.

I have had a headache for the past three days because I'm not letting myself drink more than two cups of coffee a day.  I knew I had been drinking a lot of coffee last semester to survive, but I had no idea how dependent I had become.  Geez.

Finally, I think reality t.v. is sucking my soul out through my eyeballs.  Can it do that?

Anyway.  That's what's happening in my world. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In the Arms

You know that Sarah McLachlan song "Angel"?  The one they play on the radio every other second?  Don't you hate that?  It's a perfectly good song, and then one of Denver's hideous radio stations plays it every other minute, and you're sick of it.  Or it's a song that is the worst thing ever to happen to music, like Joe Walsh's "Rocky Mountain Way," which sucks rocks but gets played ALL the time because we live in Denver?  Ugh.

But I heard "Angel" in the car today, for the billionth time, and I started to cry a little, which I do every time I hear it, and I wanted to write about the memory associated with it, because it seems important to remember.

A few years back, pre-Eric, a boyfriend Pete and I were driving from L.A. up to Idaho to see my folks.  On the way, somewhere in Northern California--maybe outside Bishop?--we passed a car accident.  It was a bad one, and it had happened seconds before we passed it, on a two-lane highway.  We pulled over to see if we could help.  Pete had just become an EMT and was training to become a firefighter, so we were hoping that he might be able to do some good if anybody was hurt.

There was a van, I think, that had a family in it.  I didn't go over there.  I have a memory that some of the family members were thrown from the car, but I don't remember if some died or not.  I vaguely remember looking in the papers for a report on the accident and learning that a little girl was thrown into a field and died, but I can't be sure.  The second car, the car in front, had been some young kids, maybe in their 20s, Australians who had been on vacation in the U.S.  They had pulled out in front of the van and had borne the brunt of the impact, I think.  The rear of their car was pulverized.  The van in back had flipped on its side.

Two of the people in that front car were brothers.  The first brother, the driver, was sitting by the side of the road, in shock.  I remember sitting with him while Pete talked to another motorist who had pulled over to help.  He just kept asking about his brother, who had been sitting in the passenger's side, and who was there still, very erect, belted into the car.

Pete finished talking to the other motorist and then spent a long time bent over the brother still in the car.  He was taking his pulse, first in his neck, then his wrist, then his neck again.  The brother sitting with me kept asking me if his brother was alright, and all I could do was hold his hand and tell him everything would be okay.

Which it was not.  Pete, who had only been an EMT for a matter of days, called the brother's time of death that day, to the paramedics who arrived several minutes later in the screeching ambulance.  There was nothing that could be done for him--he was killed on impact.  The ambulance loaded up both brothers, and we took off, unable to do anything else, and feeling helpless that we were just leaving the scene, that there was nothing else to be done.

The next few hours of the drive were quiet for us; I can imagine it was probably terrifying for Pete, who had to make the decision to call the death rather than try some sort of heroic measures, when he was so newly trained.  And I couldn't stop thinking about the immediacy of it.  One moment you are on vacation with your brother, chewing sunflower seeds, your barefeet tapping on the dashboard, the Grateful Dead whining on the stereo.  The next you are separated forever, left alone in a strange place and not understanding what had happened.

McLachlan's "Angel" came on at least twice on the remainder of that drive to Idaho, and each time I thought about that boy, wondering what it meant to be "in the arms of the angels," if indeed such a thought would provide any solace to his brother, his parents.

And then again, once we had reached McCall, a little mountain town, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, a magical, touched place, we were walking in the woods, secluded and quiet, shrouded in the silence of the King's Pines, and the song came wafting through the woods, eery and calm.  We reached a small lake, and a cabin across the lake was projecting the music out across it, out through the woods, and into us.  It was clearly that boy's song, I decided.  That song was meant to remind us how life is precious.

Lord, aren't I new-agey?  Do you just want to barf?  But that's how I feel when I hear that silly, over-played song.  I think of that boy, and his memory is in me, and I don't think that's silly or nauseating at all, I suppose.  Just human, and frail.  And some small, uncynical part of me hopes that, indeed, he has found some comfort, and that his family has, too.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Do the White Roll!

Double Bird 

Last night, I found myself, surrounded with friends and good music, dancing with...a white roll.

Yes, a white roll.  Homemade delicious carbohydrate goodness.  Let me see if I can unpack the significance here.

I never really thought of myself as a bread person.  I can remember my stepmom, when I was growing up, always bemoaning her weight (I never thought she was never that heavy) and talking about how much she loved bread.  "Give me pies, cakes, chocolate, candies--I can pass all those things up," she'd say.  "But put a loaf of bread in front of me, and I'm done for."

This never made any sense to me as a kid.  In my opinion, if a meal was a movie cast, bread was always an extra--not really necessary, but nice filler for the stars of the show:  meat, vegetables, and, my favorite, dessert.  I have always had a sweet tooth, for ice cream mostly, but also for chocolate.  Pies and cake were not bad, either.  But bread?  No big deal.  I could take it or leave it.

A few years ago, something changed.  Maybe it was the year spent in France, with its delightful baguettes and crepes and toute-choses starch.  I did come home from there a good thirty pounds heavier when I left (the Nutella and gelato didn't help).  Every since then, bread became comfort.  I have memories of sitting in my Cold-War-era student flat my first year in grad school, lonely and depressed, and finishing off an entire loaf of french bread, with butter.  I am NOT kidding.  The whole thing.  Then I'd have dinner.

And you know, I've gotten away with that sort of thing for a while now.  My weight has certainly fluctuated--no doubt about it--and I've had heavier times and slimmer ones.  But for the most part, when I put my mind to slimming down, I'm able to make a few small adjustments and then the weight just comes off.

Not anymore.  I don't know if it's having the second kid or just being at the age where the metabolism traditionally slows down for women or what.  But the scale is certainly not creeping downward.  My pants are tight and my belly bulges.  I have cellulite on most parts of my body.  I'm not obese, or anything, but I have this feeling that I'm on a dangerously slippery slope, now.  My get out of jail free cards are just about gone.

I was talking to Nancy about this last night, and we came up with some things to try.  First, I need to find a way to get more protein.  This is sometimes tough because I'm a vegetarian, and I don't always make good food choices when I'm starving.  It's easier to eat a handful of Hershey's miniatures then to cook up some salmon, you know?  I also need to find a way to get more iron; I've been craving red meat a lot lately, and think my levels got good and screwed up after having Nolie, so I need to pay more attention to that.  Then, I need to eat more vegetables and cut down on the alcohol intake.  I've been doing a good job of working out every day, so I need to keep up with that, too.  Really?  I know the rules of nutrition and good health.  I've just been breaking them for so long they started feeling less like rules and more like, I don't know, friendly suggestions. 

Honestly, there is a part of me that wants to get all agro and make some drastic decisions so that I can lose the weight RIGHT NOW, goddammit.  I hate being so uncomfortable in my own skin.  I don't like feeling unattractive.  But there is other work to be done here.  This is not just about looks.  It's about not comparing myself to others, and taking the time to take care of myself.  "Taking care of myself" usually means shopping or a bubble bath, in my twisted little world, so I need to redefine what that means, to include taking the time to make good food and exercise.  This summer is all about making these decisions, having these realizations.  But they don't come easy.

Anyway, back to the slow dance with the roll.  It was the third one I had that night.  The hostess of the party had made the most amazing spread of food--had prepared salads and barbecued meat, and these homemade rolls.  I was bummed that I couldn't eat the meat, I think, so I went ahead and ate two rolls right away, figuring I had deprived myself by not eating meat and needed to fill up on something (why not the delicious bean salad?  CAUSE BEANS AIN'T COMFORT!  I choke down beans cause I have to.  They sort of taste vaguely like poop to me, to be honest.  Not that I eat a lot of poop.  But if I did, I imagine it would be sort of like eating beans). 

The night wore on, and I decided I'd have one last roll.  And there I found myself, on that beautiful, starry night, slow dancing with the roll, holding it in my hand like a long-lost lover.  I wanted to french-kiss that roll.  To tuck it in my bra and carry it around with me (I may have actually done this at one point).  But then, a few bites in, a put that roll down on the table, and bid it a sweet adieu.  That roll served me well.  It was a delicious roll.  But I was ready to let it go, and dance on my own.  Or with a mint julep, at least. 

We'll see if future dances go so well.