Previous month:
July 2007
Next month:
September 2007

Weighted in the Season of Light

It has been a heavy summer. I have several friends who have gone or are going through some really rough times this summer. I’ve been hesitant to talk about them here because it isn’t my place to tell their stories, to share their personal business with the world. Although those stories are worth telling, if only to be heard and embraced.

Even though for the most part I want to write the fun stuff for this site, there are moments when I can’t quite get to it. Too tired at the end of the day, too troubled by other troubles, too weighted down. And I think the older you get the more you feel the heartsick of others’ as your own, because at a certain point we all have been heartsick. It is these shared experiences that make us connect, help us grow, inspire us… and make us sorrow even when it is not our own.

A few days ago I was awarded the Nice Matters award by Katie, who I had the privilege to meet at Blogher and is a very nice person, not to mention funny. And then she shared on her blog that she’s also going through a rough time. It makes you feel like those little fun things, though sweet and heartfelt, are also a little too inconsequential. However, I do want to pass this on and I want to expand my list just a little (sort of like Prayers of the People, if any of you are familiar with the term) because sometimes, in the day to day slogging of life, keeping each other in our hearts and thoughts is the most important thing we can do.

For Chag, Jason, Liz, Kristen, Betsy, KC, Fuzz, Riley, Sarah and Tony, (and so many others I could name). You are all great people and I wish I could meet you all in person. Lisa, Summer, Smarmy Mama, and of course, Katie, I have been thinking of you.

For Monica, April, Darcy and Harold, Gary, and Winnie.  Jeanne, Val, and Christy. Really, I don’t know what I would do without you guys. Please know you are in my thoughts (and on my speed dial and IM and the million other ways we talk).

For my family (both Keen’s and mine) you’re all a little insane and sometimes you even cause your own misery but I still love you.

I think there were rules to this award but this is just a good one for anyone to use. If you know people who you consider truly nice, reward them. And if you have people you just want to send a prayer out to, a happy shout out, or just let them know you’re thinking of them please join me.

This summer could use a little more light.        - wg

Niceaward_2


Time-Sucks for a Monday

Lots of folks have been doing the Simpson avatars lately. Well, I confess, I did one too… a few weeks ago and it was HIDEOUS! Ridiculously unflattering, so I didn’t post it. (Yes, I am that vain.) It sounds like a great, fun idea but the truth is no one looks good as a Simpson. They’re all bug-eyed, after all, with some serious cirrhosis going on.  Even the “attractive” Simpsons aren’t all that.  (I feel it’s our duty as responsible adults to spread the truth.)

Fantasying how great it would be to have a superhero avatar instead… great boobs, tiny waist, (this might be a post-Pregnancy sag-induced fantasy but I can’t think I’m the only one)… I found this: Hero Machine

And wait it gets better… there’s a rock star edition! (I know you all don’t really want to be working on a Monday anyway and I am happy to provide some lovely time-sucking entertainment for your pleasure. You can thank me later.)

Actually I already have a superhero avatar (not that that stopped me from messing around on the site)… simply because I am privileged to have fantastically talented graphic artist friends.  My buddy who made my fabulous blog logo also drew me as a superhero.  I swear, I didn’t ask him to make me one… but I am kind of a nerd so it worked out. And I have to say it makes feel good on those days where my clothes decide to not fit. (Damn those temperamental clothes!)

 

Wg_atr_sm_400pixels

Because I can’t resist procrastinating my workload any better than the next person, here’s my rock star avatar.  (I'm SO gonna learn to play drums!  I'm all badass like that.)

 

Wg_rock_star_2

Last but not least, I know there are certain pop culture myths that haunt our generation. Subjects such as how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop, and can you really bake cookies in your car? Go read this and this to answer those burning questions.

Happy Monday!

          - the weirdgirl


I’m Such a Sucker for Over-the-Top

I’m officially in love with Californication! That new show with David Duchovny? Even though I got all snarky about the name on another blog’s comments, I’ve got to take it all back. Well, I still don’t like the name. I just don’t like made up, cutesy words… you know, like ginormous and chillax and crap like that. (Except for the name “Hygena”, that one just makes me laugh.) Plus, the Chili Peppers have really played out their whole California theme ad nauseum. And I live here. I don’t know about the rest of you but every time I hear “Dani California”, I start singing “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”.

Anyway, Californication makes me laugh in the same way Psych does (but, you know, with the naughty instead of the eighties jokes). It’s also nice that the show is dialed in; they assume their audience knows what a mashup is or a blog and they just make their oblique references and don’t explain anything. After having to explain certain terms to family members who seriously should know better (and more than once, I might add), I kind of appreciate that.

Don’t mind my blathering… Keen still hasn’t watched our Tivo’d shows and I have no one to gush with. (I’m nagging him something fierce.)

It’s all good.            - wg


Crispy

Back home! Our trip was nice.  Not fabulous, not horrible (though there were those moments)... just nice, in the way that traveling with small kids evens out to be.  It was a lot of driving in the car, and sitting around being lazy, or trying to get the kiddo to sleep in unfamiliar places, and a lot of sun.  Like… a little more sun than we expected. Which, surprisingly (or not so), lends itself to the lazy by way of lots of naps. I’m sure our normal skin color will return soon.

Some notable moments:

Reaching our hotel for the first night and finding out there was a Goth convention staying there as well. Of course, I had to talk to all the Goths. Practically the entire convention was planning on overrunning Disneyland the next day. SO AWESOME! I just wish I could have been there to see it.

What appeared to be a Mexican Mafia middle-manager (if the mafia has middle-management) with his two extremely well-groomed, teenage runners… in DENNY’S. Yep, having breakfast for dinner. At Denny’s. I guess everyone likes a good Grand Slam.

At the beach a couple of little girls took off without their parents. A very large portion of the beach crowd immediately started to help the parents with the search, not least of which spreading the news up and down so everyone could keep an eye out, which people sat up and did. The girls were found very soon after (they, like a lot of kids, had got caught up playing and just wandered too far). But it was really touching to see how quickly everyone jumped to help.  Makes you feel a tiny bit better about the world. *sniff*

Lessons learned:

Two-years-old is just too young for amusement parks. Even ones supposedly geared for younger children (i.e. Legoland). Can you say, “overwhelming”?  And of course there is that extra-special moment at every amusement park… the one where you’re exhausted, you’re hot (why does it always seem to be record-breaking heat the one day you go to the park?), your feet hurt, all you can think about is getting to the car… and it is at that moment you realize you’re only halfway through the park.  And as you crumple slowly to the ground, watching the vultures circling slowly up above, the children laughing joyfully as they sprint by at Olympic marathon speeds, it dawns on you… you are fucking old, chica.  (Next time I think we’ll just hang out at the beach.)

Being technology-free is good once in a while.  Except for Tivo. I think Tivo (or it’s equivalent) should be required for life. In fact, I often wish I had the ten-second back button in the every day world.  Watching TV without Tivo? Just painful.

            - the “yes, I’m spoiled” weirdgirl


Breather

We're off for a little vacation of sun and play without any technology whatsoever, so the posts will be non-existent for a few days.  In our absence I'd like to leave you with a few vintage WG posts... 

Why Grover is so cool.

Don't mess with mommies.

All about placentas.

And, of course, The Things They Don't Tell You in Lamaze.

Hope you enjoy and we'll be back soon!  Take care!         
            - the weirdgirl


Lady Bits Surgery

I've been doing a bit of tshirt surgery on some old clothes.  I have a whole slew of tshirts that, after I had the baby, the proportion of them was just wrong.  Everything feels a couple inches too short or hits at the wrong places... you know, even when it doesn't "look" like it, babies always move some of your bits around to new locations (I'm just glad my boobs stayed on the front of my body)... so I've been chopping them up (the shirts, not my lady bits), adding details, embroidery, etc. etc.  The great thing about some types of tshirt surgery is you don't always have to haul out a sewing machine.  I've been doing a lot of it by hand because, frankly, I suck at sewing. Yeah, I've had all the home-ec classes and what not and I used to sew all the time, but I'm honest enough to admit I'm just not very good at it.  Textiles are not my forte.  My mom on the other hand can sew, quilt, knit, and spin her own goddamn yarn (I am not kidding) like a demon. 

Just give me some metal and pretty rocks to play with and I'm happy.  (By the way, if any of my IRL girlfriends out there would like to make any requests now is the time to do them.  I'm stocking up on jewelry supplies for Christmas.)

ANYway!  (I'm totally getting off my point.)  I wanted to share one of my tshirt projects.  I got this lovely shirt at Blogher from BMC and GGC.  Of course, it was an extra-large so I was swimming in it, and it broke my heart not to be able to do something with it so I made a few adjustments...

Newvaginashirt

SO cute with skinny black jeans and stacked heels!  Think I can wear it into work?

           - the weirdgirl


Foggy Bloggy Mind

So, over the weekend this blog celebrated it’s two year anniversary! I’m a little stunned. I also feel a bit dorky (again… why does this happen so much?) because at Blogher a few people asked me how long I had been blogging and my response was along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know… like, um, a year and a half? No wait, it’s been longer than that… maybe a year and three quarters? I think I’m coming up on two years sometime in the next few months.” (Tell me being vague is endearing.) I always think that I started blogging when Chance was eight months old. Which is absolutely wrong. I started blogging in the eighth month of the year, when Chance was five months old. I went back to work when he was eight months old.

Riveting, this life of mine, isn’t it? 

Anyway, to celebrate I’d like to repost one of my favorite pictures. One I put up pretty early in my blogging career and one that reminds me of how much has changed in the last two years…

Dsc00408

 
It’s so much harder getting him to stand still now!

Dsc02343_rotated

 
I bet a lot of you have “then and now” blog photos, too. Want to share?

 - the weirdgirl 


Why Parents of Toddlers are Healthier than the Average American

The daily workout:

Bend at waist 20 times sequentially, intermingled with squats, at least five times a day because toddler has decided that the phrase “pick up your toys” no longer applies. (Abs, core strength training)

Five to eight reps of lunges every time child tries to escape diaper and/or clothes changing. Can also be used in conjunction with face scrubbings.  (Glutes)

Intersperse Giant’s Farmer’s Walk, Africa Stone, or Carry and Drag, all otherwise known as carrying your protesting toddler. (Biceps and core strength)

(Women only) Run up the stairs. Run up the stairs again. Ten minutes later, run up the stairs. Curse pregnancy-induced memory loss for zapping the needed up errand from your brain. Stomp feet if needed. (Aerobic, cardio-vascular)

Manage at least one full-blown tantrum. Alternative – speak and listen to the word “no” while engaging in combative bantering with toddler 500 times daily. (Emotional exhaustion burns calories. Frustration adds to cardio-vascular health.)

(Men and Women) Run after child.  Run after child again. Remove illicit items, stop activities, rescue cat, etc. (See “combative bantering,” results of.)

Weight training – drag clinging child through daily chores while she/he is wrapped around leg. Occasionally pry off child and alternate legs for maximum efficiency. (Sudden resurfacing of separation anxiety adds to benefits of frustration and exhaustion.)

More weight training – pack bags for outings, also called Fridge Carry.

You too can be this healthy… start the proven “Terrible Twos Regimen” today! (Results of emotional stability may vary. Shipping child off to grandma’s may slow down or decrease benefits of workout and provide overall time for undisturbed eating, rest, or novel-reading, which could adversely affect the state of living with a toddler. If, while living with a toddler, you experience extended periods of tranquility (not including the state of grace induced by “big hugs”), cooperation, or uninterrupted chore completion please alert the proper medical professional because this might be an indication that you are one lucky son of a bitch or have another serious underlying condition.)  

  - wg


We’re so wonderful, we fart kittens!

Jennifer at No Place Like It has tagged me with a meme. And thanks to her (and Schmutzie) I now also have the above title/line etched into my brain. (Thanks Jen. I keep giggling to myself in public, people are starting to stare.) So this is one of those eight things memes. I meant to do this on Monday but I got caught up in the kingdom of lame (i.e. it’s taking me three times as long to get anything done lately).
 

1. I think (the last time I counted) I’m up to about 15 places of employment. I’d count them again but… nah. I know it totally makes me sound like a flake but a good number of those businesses simply closed (the downside to working for startups… or retail!). The other ones I’d either get bored at or there were limited growth opportunities so I moved on. Basically, in the early days when I worked a lot of “college” jobs if I didn’t feel challenged or like I was learning something I got bored really quickly. Once I moved to marketing I figured out that it suits me much better because there are so many different types of projects going on. And I’m good at it. Contracting rocks even more!

2. If I don’t wear lipstick I chew my lips all the time! They always seem to be chapped and I gnaw on them. I know this is totally disgusting and I really wish I could stop. Chapstick is only a partial deterrent. The color component of lipstick seems to help, sort of like how I won’t touch my face if I’m wearing makeup. Plus, lipstick is often more moisturizing than chapstick.

3. I have three brothers.  My older brother has brain-damage.  I was, effectively, the oldest child (let the psychoanalysis begin!).  Even though I haven’t talked about it here issues regarding kids with special needs are close to my heart.

4. I painted a school building in high school for the senior prank. The cops showed up. We ran and hid behind another building. My accomplice (wait… actually I was the accomplice because she was the senior and I was only a junior)… anyway, she thought we should turn ourselves in because “the cops won’t arrest us for senior prank, right?” Um… yeah right. I convinced her to just wait until they left since they hadn’t seen the building yet.  (Did I already tell this story?)

5. I have hiked Half-dome in Yosemite.  Me and Keen did the entire hike in one day, from the valley floor, up and back down. Except I didn’t go up that cable part. That’s just crazy. A “few feet of cable” my ass (I’m quoting Keen). And for the record, that picture on Wikipedia makes the cables look less steep than they actually are. I was a little appalled at the parents taking kids up that stretch. There is totally a reason why people have died hiking in Yosemite. (Yes, the gorgeous view is still worth it.)

6. In terms of creative writing (or any of my creative endeavors), deep down I’m really a poet. I’m just masquerading as a (hopefully) more lucrative “writer”. Because, let’s face it, it’s hard to make a living as poet.

7. My dad grew up in Panama, but I can’t speak Spanish. I can understand a little bit, though, like if it’s my family speaking. And I can conjugate a verb like nobody’s business! I just can’t always remember what the words mean (I had to take Spanish class … ahem… over a few times). Both my parents and one of my brothers are fluent in Spanish. My other brother speaks Japanese. I suck.

8. I would really like to build my own (and the kiddo’s) go-cart. I have been planning this since WAY before I ever had kids.  I often enjoy being a kid more than I enjoy being an adult. Except for the additional cash flow that comes with age. That rocks.

 

Now time to tag people! I’m supposed to tag eight of you (sorry), but it is summer so I figure we need things to write about, yes? CroutonBoy, Katie, Charlie, Summer, Domestic Chicky, Riley (who finds the best pics to post!), Sarah of Goon Squad fame, and Steve you are tagged.

- the weirdgirl


The Things that Age Well

Friday was Keen’s birthday. He turned a whopping 37 years old! (SO old!) For a quick trip (sans kid), we went overnight to San Francisco, on to Half Moon Bay in the morning, and then home. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was. It was essentially the Weekend Vacation of Food! Woo hoo!

First we met with friends for lunch and they had this great spread of farmer market and dock-fresh goodies (Black Cod, Albacore, cheese and fruit, yum!). Then we hit the city, did a little shopping, and checked out this wonderful French Bistro where the plates were huge. (We accidentally over-ordered… the bloating wasn’t pretty.) The next morning we went to this legendary brunch at the Ritz-Carlton… a brunch we had always heard about but never gone to, and oh my god did it live up to the hype!  That one is going to be a yearly treat, at least.  Remember that three pounds I lost at Blogher? Yeah, those are back on, plus a few more.

It may sound strange but this was actually a perfect way to celebrate Keen’s birthday weekend (though he insists the trip wasn’t for his birthday). Keen is a classic foodie… he does all the cooking at home (and is damn good at it), he knows more about food than I thought possible from someone who isn’t trained, and I swear he’s learned enough French from cooking shows that he’s one audio cassette lesson from being fluent. (Me? I just really, really, really like to eat.) He is also fantastic at remembering what wines I like (because I don’t know) and answering my questions even if I’ve asked them a million times before. (I know that sounds really lame but I need that brain power for other things.)

We both had a ball. I enjoyed it for the food… but I also really enjoy seeing Keen in his element. Knowing how much he loves it, and knowing he appreciates it on a deeper level than I do, just makes it more of a special occasion.

Wine, cheese, and my guy… what’s better than that?

Here's to you, babe, Happy Birthday!

 


Advocacy for Caregivers – All of Them

I’ve been feeling kind of blocked; I took a lot of ideas and impressions home from Blogher and I’ve been going back and forth about posting about those here. There were several serious (and sometimes muddled) discussions going on at Blogher, along with all the usual technical conference stuff. However, the one thing I personally brought back from the conference was a re-clarification of what I want my blog to be; essentially, a fun place, fairly light-hearted with leanings towards the absurd; something that helps me deal with the day to day, something that hopefully lets other people smile, or vent, or just take a break. Really, my blog hasn’t been all that serious in tone (could you tell?). That doesn’t mean that I’m never serious or don’t have particular causes very close to my heart, or don’t support other issues, because I do. But this blog, in general, is not really the place where I want to talk about those things (though I do reserve the right to talk of those things in the future, if I so chose). Yet, I have found that there is one particular impression from Bogher that I keep thinking about, circling back to, and it’s getting in the way of my writing regular posts. So here it goes, a moment of seriousness.

One of the discussions I heard often at the conference was that moms are discriminated against and what forms of activism we could do to change this. I don’t disagree with this, or the movements for change, at all. But there was something about these conversations that troubled me... and it was the fact that it was always, “moms, moms, moms”. I have an issue with this because it reminds me of the first wave of feminism where all the concerns about women’s rights centered on white, middle-class women. For the record, there are a lot of other caregivers out there besides just moms. 

I sincerely believe that we need to start a conversation in this country about how we feel about caregivers. That’s caregivers in the broad sense – moms and dads, stepparents, grandparents, foster care and social workers, educators, nurses, hospice workers, those who care for the elderly – all the people who take care of others, all the ones we expect to selflessly give and whom we dismiss. Because the fact of the matter is we have entitlement issues in the US.  We expect our moms to be of a certain idea - the selfless giver – and yet we don’t value the job they do, their opinions, their needs. We expect our dads to be “good dads” but not to ask for extra time to spend with their families. When teachers or nurses go on strike for cost-of-living increases they face numerous criticisms of “what about the children” as if they are being shamelessly selfish. And what about those who care for the elderly? (Well, it seems like any conversations about the elderly make us put our collective heads in the sand.) We all expect, and feel entitled to have these services available, but we don’t value those workers, we don’t value the jobs the same way other countries that have developed forms of socialized, universal care, value those roles. We feel entitled to these services, not because they are important jobs, but because that’s how these people should naturally be – parents should be selfless, teachers should be selfless, nurses should be selfless – it should be a part of their intrinsic nature and how dare they ever want for anything other than that?

It’s easy for us to say “moms against the world”. We grew up with the feminist fight, it’s familiar, almost built-in, the indignities and dismissals we face as moms are just one more way women are repressed in the world. Right? But it is an exclusive fight. Sometimes it’s harder to step outside of our situation, to take a look and acknowledge the similarities of positions that other roles in our society might be facing – whether those roles are manned by men or women, moms, parents or otherwise – than to simply cry “foul” about ourselves.

We are so good at shoving issues, shoving people away – stay-at-home parents shoved into their houses, the teachers shoved into their classrooms, the elderly and sick shoved in their homes. Shoved away so don’t have to think about them, because we don’t want to talk about them. Or if we talk about them, which the blog world really is trying to do, it’s often still one small manageable segment. Or worse, maybe two of those segments pitted against each other, like moms vs. dads, working mothers vs. stay-at-homes. We don’t discuss the interconnectivity of these caregiver roles, we don’t let them out from where we’ve shoved them. Why do we seem afraid to have them all out in the world, in the sun, with us?

I would love to see a true conversation develop about how we feel and what we expect from caregivers because I think that conversation could expose ourselves – our preconceptions, our prejudices, our reactions – to ourselves. I don’t think many of us really look deeply about what it means to be a caregiver until we are thrust into the role, and even then we are often trapped within the societal norms we were raised with. I think a movement towards change could be furthered by a close look inside ourselves and our society; a really close look at what “caregiver” in all its forms means. And if we don’t like what we see then we can begin a change in national consciousness about how we value our caregivers.

These are my concerns about continuing advocacy discussions that only include mothers… 1) In all honesty, I’m not sure that it’s a fight we can win as “just moms”; I’m afraid, for all the universality of being a mother, that it’s still too exclusive, too narrow (and yes, still too dismissed) to affect the change in national consciousness that I think we need (besides that, as we all know, anything with “mommy” in the title stirs up in-fighting – which is one of the reasons, ladies, that we are dismissed).  And 2) even if we were to win that fight, is it fair that whole segments of other caregivers are not included, or left behind to struggle on their own? Do we want a repeat akin to the second and third waves of feminism where suddenly we acknowledge that there were whole communities that still felt invisible and unheard?

We (us chicks) have a lot of power in this world, more than any other period in history. But outside of the political clout and opportunities in business, we also have the enormous power as parents, as caregivers, of raising our kids to view the world the way we want it to be. Like the children of hippies who expect environmental alternatives today, we have the same opportunity to change the way our children think about caregivers. For our children to value those roles more than maybe we do now. For our children to expect those services that we talk about - universal healthcare, quality child care, flexible work options for parents, better education – not because they feel entitled to them… but because they value and honor those who work those jobs, because they feel those roles are important.

Sincerely,
the weirdgirl


I Hate the News

It’s been one of those days where I just can’t seem to get things to pull together, especially organizing my thoughts. Watching the news was just the camel-breaking straw.

The Minneapolis bridge collapse recalls the horror of similar accidents that we have had close to home. My prayers go out to all those affected by this terrible accident. I can only hope they find everyone soon.

Who the fuck even makes lead-based paint anymore? Worse, I knew immediately some of the toys they were talking about because I almost bought Chance some at Target. There are a few others he owns that are on the list but they were all made way before the recall dates specified.

I constantly seesaw between wishing there was more overall trust in the world and the temptation of not trusting anything.

Give your family a hug and keep them close.       - wg