Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I think it should be a universal Portland rule that if you are unfortunate enough to have a rather weak chin, combined with the very unfortunate habit of leaving your mouth open all the time, you should neither get one NOR two lip piercings. Especially one on each side of your bottom lip. They really don't enhance the whole mise en scene ya got goin' on.
Friday, December 17, 2010
This week, I woke up one night at 2:35 AM and laid awake for almost an hour, mulling over two new folks I've been assisting, and their place in the maze of immigration-toward-citizenship, and what I either forgot to tell them or what I needed to do more research into. When that hour was nearly up, I did not fall asleep - I had to move to the guest room because the quiet breathing (no snoring even!) of my husband was still keeping me up. I needed absolute silence to get out of the thought circle.
Tonight, I'm drinking some wine and watching my binky show, and I've forgotten the details of which case was keeping me on edge tonight. But a psychologist or a life coach or a counselor would still have a field day... I can't remember for the life of me what was in the ever-looping thought circle just an hour ago, but I still FEEL it! Low, persistent anxiety... the sense that the right answer is just out of my vision's edge... the worry that I won't be back at my desk til Monday, and they have to go all weekend in radio silence...
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I can't even imagine what causes water to gracefully arc out of the side of the faucet (somewhere in the middle of the neck; was it hit with a pan?), but that is what we have.
Some plumbing tape, covered with duct tape, and I said: "Heck, in my house growing up, we'd have left it like that for a couple weeks." (My father's dishwasher has been broken since 1997. I am not joking. He just uses a little bucket to hold the door up, so it does not fall to the ground when loading. Old Yankee thriftiness taken to the extreme.)
But that is not how John's family operated. Nor how he operates now. Ahem.
And because I'm nothing if not honest... this literally happened in the midst of my asking John the last time he cleaned a bathroom in this new house, the last time he swept the living room in this new house (two things I was doing at the time), and so even I have to then admit that while I may do the lion's share of the day to day, were it up to me, we'd be soon living full-time either with duct tape or be out whatever ungodly amount a plumber charges to put in a new faucet.
But, Emily!, you must be saying. Your husband has a theater degree and a finance degree! What could he know about fixing and installing things!? And so to those folks -- and those parents who might worry a theater degree has no real world application -- I say to thee three words: set design class.
The man can cut, he can measure, he can saw, he can use a power drill and more... and has a layer of aesthetic appreciation, too. In the middle of the kitchen loss, that's what we call a win-win.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
The downtown Portland shopping and in-out, in-out from store to store was making me hot. My rain coat keeps me warm, which is not good on a rainy day that is also 55 degrees (this is warm to a Westerner). Up four flights of stairs to my car in the lot, and I had the windows rolled down for some air, puttering toward the freeway entrance.
When I was panhandled WHILE SITTING IN TRAFFIC.
That's a new low, even for the clean, intelligent-looking, 21 year old young man with matching clothes and a Helly Hansen backpack. Does it seem remotely likely that walking up to my open window as I'm easing off the brake, and asking for change, is going to elicit a "yes"?
Gah. Chalk it up to Sunday Blues, perhaps.
I just gave a firm "no" and kept all commentary to myself - 'tis the season, after all.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
But I will say that as adults, often our choices end up being between two things we dislike very, very much. Still, there is a choice, and it sometimes has to be made. And if you, alone, had to choose one of these options -- not a combination of the two, and not a different option altogether -- what option do you prefer?
You could end all the Bush-era tax cuts, and let most people in America pay a little more in taxes, what they paid under Clinton, say... and while you add that desperately needed revenue, you also have to let long-term unemployment end. You have to look that neighbor in the eye and let them lose their house, their car or their self-worth.
Or, you could extend all the Bush-era tax cuts, and add to the debt and likely extend the depression, but you would get in turn to continue long-term unemployment checks to the person who wants to turn on the heat but is cold, or who wants to buy a Christmas gift, but can't.
What if those end up being the only two options, both of which stink? What would you do?
Friday, December 3, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
2. I can skip reading BlackBerry messages until Monday if they are identifiable by subject line as a thing I can only work on while in the office. This saves me an evening (or a weekend) of stewing about a piece of casework, for example.
3. Toothpaste can treat and heal burns, polish old tennis shoes, fix car scratches and more!
4. If you make $34,000 a year, you pay $10 a year in taxes toward public housing, 24 cents toward funding for the arts, $1,040 to Social Security and $11 to Head Start. You pay $46 in foreign aid and $230 toward combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
5. This is the time of year for Delicata squash; go get yourself one, quick! They're incredibly delicious.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Well, some days, I say "boo" to this. It doesn't work. The stupid driver who delays me another five minutes coming home, the jerk in the grocery line who has to write a check, then use an Oregon Trail card, then run back for something else... you know how it goes.
At church on Sunday, the parable that was told might be unconventional, but it's sticking with me, and the topsy turvy way it illustrated those lovely lessons of compassion is just darn neat. I'd like to share it with you, and would love your reactions - those that are immediate, and those that come later.
God was narrating a man's death, as he wandered up to her. He had died in a car crash and said to her, "Am I dead?" She said, "Yes," and he replied, "What about my wife and children? What will happen to them?"
God answered, "See? That's great! You just died and you're thinking of other people! You're growing! They will be fine. Your children will always think of you as perfection; they weren't old enough to resent you yet. And your wife is relieved." Seeing his shocked face (and ours in the pews!), God said, "Well let's be honest. Your marriage was falling apart. But she feels guilty for feeling relieved if that makes you feel any better!"
Then he said, "Well, what happens next?" and when she told him he would be reincarnated he said, "Ha ha! The Hindus were right!"
She said, "Well, everyone is, in a way."
"Who am I going back as?"
"Let's see... you're going back as a baby peasant girl in China, in 542 AD."
"What? OK, going back is one thing, but I am going back in time, too? I can't do that! What if I run into myself? The whole thing will collapse!"
God laughed. "Well, you run into yourself all the time. You won't remember this life or any of the ones you've lived previously. And you'll keep going back, around and around, until you've matured."
"Matured? Is that what life is about?"
"A little cliche to ask me the meaning of life, isn't it? But yes, it is. All this is for you."
"And you made all this, just for humankind, so we can grow?"
"No, not humankind. Just you."
As he was struggling to catch up, God let him know that it would not only be OK if he ran into himself down there, but that he definitely would. That he was every single other life on the planet.
She said, "Every time you've been mean to someone, you were hurting yourself. And every time you've shown kindness, you were really showing kindness to yourself. And when you have lived every life there is, or has been, or ever will be, you'll have learned it all and be ready for what's next."
What do you think? This is an abridged version, but the good jokes and the basic gist are in there. It really has me thinking. Some days, it is just too hard to think of every homeless person on the street and every co-worker and every crazy neighbor as your mother or your child or a member of your human family. Frankly, in a distracted or frustrated state of mind, selfish is part and parcel, and so what a great reminder to embrace that selfishness... and just think of that person as ME!
I think this parable takes "Love thy neighbor as thyself" out to its fullest conclusion. And I, for one, am grateful for the gains from the mental stretch it requests.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
And I only had a vague answer that many of the products donate a portion of the proceeds to research, and usually only a portion of the first 1,000 or 10,000 or 100,000 sold - be it yogurt lids or shoelaces. It was decidedly not a powerful response. And it was decidedly not everything that bothers me, that prompted me to use the word "hate", but I just couldn't find the words for the feelings/thoughts.
Then I read this article today, from which the quote/title of this post is pulled, and I realized that's the answer I want to give. It's not only the marketing devilry involved in the pink-ifying of everything. It's the "Save the TaTa's" type campaigns, that reduce cancer treatment to a reason for saving a woman's defining role in the world: being sexual, particularly using her breasts -- and preferably for another's pleasure. So I tip my proverbial hat to Peggy Orenstein for that great essay.
Friday, November 12, 2010
The advice I seek: how do I change my attitude?
The background: those close to me know I am, oh, um, a bit of a clean freak. And not just a clean-countertops, swept-garage sort of clean freak. I am only satisfied when all papers are filed, closets are organized (color coordinated sometimes), cabinets are stocked, bills are paid, lists are made and no item is in the house that does not get used. Not an extra set of sheets, not a sock that lost its mate, not a painting I've grown bored of, not a birthday card two months out of date. Out, out, out!
The question: with a very high need for cleanliness... which I claim brings me mental clarity and that sought-after, ever-elusive state of "relaxation"... while living in a world that tends toward entropy... how do I adjust expectations?
What mantras do you have, what patterns do you swear by or what magical potion do you seek that lets you embrace entropy from time to time, and still find metal clarity, relaxation, and life lived joyfully (if on the messy side in your very own home!)?
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Success! Sure, I came home drained and was emotionally unable to make the *other* errand stops I intended to complete, but I had a real smile for every employee, I let everyone push their carts in front of me, I never took the last sample from the tray. Even in both the parking lot AND the gasoline line I smiled and held open the metaphorical door for others.
I don't like to let pithy proverbs win, but it's true today: it IS all in your attitude. And when going to Costco, be prepared for the worst, and when it arrives, greet it with a smile -- and plenty of time on hand.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
This is Emily.
No you idiot, I am Emily. Either you have the wrong number or I don't have you programmed in my phone.
Do you know Justin Haskins?
What school do you go to?
Don't know Justin, and no school. I am 30 years old and at work right now.
oh god!Sorry! My bad!
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Fun... here I come!
Our new 55 gallon rain barrel! I have to figure out how to paint it or cover it in decals, because as water-saving as it may be, it still needs to earn it's aesthetic keep around here.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Two things happened this week that make me think about fun... and how I might allow myself to try something else just for that feeling.
One, we got a mandolin. John strives to be multi-instrumental, and so far, is an accomplished piano player and a goofball guitar player. So he asked me if I'd prefer a banjo, a bass guitar or a mandolin... and the mandolin won. It's beautiful, and tiny, and not intimidating with its four (albeit double) strings - one for each finger on the fret. John bought a chord chart and I've hesitatingly picked it up. It takes confidence to make music; I don't have it. Yet. But for the first time, I think I could.
Two, at church this morning there was a smattering of costumes, and after the benediction, the organist started the postlude... in a black and red vampire cape... Bach's toccata and fugue in D minor. You know it, it's this one. It got a huge laugh, and he played the length piece to the end, finishing with a bow to the congregation and a flip of the cape with great vampiric flair. It was for no other reason than fun, and church illustrates a lot of things for me, but I never thought it would illustrate fun. That's a takeaway to set the tone for the week!
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I read a book once written by a father, about his daughter who died from cystic fibrosis at age 9. She was born a year after one in which the census was taken, and died before the next one was taken, ten years later. He noted the pain it caused him that she was never counted in our great once-a-decade accounting of everyone living in America - minor or adult, legal or undocumented.
Amidst all the election headaches in my life (and maybe - likely! - yours, too, right now), I like to think the following observations express the tiniest, smallest, absolute-most-miniscule possible pieces of heart the government has… and as small as they are, I like 'em.
First, when filing to go from being a greencard holder to becoming a citizen (aka, naturalizing), you must list your marriage history and your parental history. You may list a child as "missing" or "dead". And while I'd never wish a missing or dead child on anyone, there is something about such a full accounting of a life that I like.
(And yes… I AM choosing to ignore the possibility this exists for security purposes. The polling data and talking heads have got me down this week [month], and so I’m focusing on the positive today, no matter what!)
Second and third... on much lighter notes... the same naturalization form contains (and other forms, I presume) choices for hair and eye color. Hair color choices include "bald" and eye color choices include "pink".
It warms my heart that the United States Immigration policy writers have kept an eye out for all the albino emigres in the world, heading to American shores!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
That said, John is much farther along in the "it's all ours" belief than I am... but much farther along should make you laugh when he told me where his 401(k) is at. I was delighted that he has saved and matched such a wonderful start to retirement, and said, "Well, mine's not quite as much." (Given that I've had benefits for about 8 months and he has had them for over four years.)
He responded, "Oh baby, all that money is ours."
Me: "Aww, that's sweet."
Him: "Well mentally it is. But also legally!"
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
U2, of course, fronted by Bono, he of the AIDS and poverty and global health outreach.
Another song I heard today, a brand new one, on the country station by Josh Thompson... it includes the lyrics, "Our necks are burnt, our roads are dirt and our trucks ain't clean,
The dogs run lose, we smoke, we chew and fry everything ... We won't take a dime if we ain't earned it, When it comes to weight brother we pull our own, If it's our backwoods way of livin' you're concerned with, You can leave us alone ... Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun, And you might meet 'em both if you show up here not welcome son..."
Look, I don't think people who listen to country are Red State Tea Party assholes -- hell, I listen to country clearly -- but it doesn't take a genius to look at one side that wants PROGRESS and LOVE and to WORK TOGETHER, and at another side who wants to SHOOT PEOPLE WITH GUNS IN THE NAME OF GOD IF THEY SHOW UP UNANNOUNCED.
I would be OK with this if we could take all federal dollars, public education, food safety standards, children's health insurance and more away from these people who say they don't want it... and leave 'em way out in those backwoods... but it doesn't work that way. It's one life, even if we're not the same. We pitch in to help even those we don't understand, Mr. Thompson, because we are civilized people who don't shoot strangers.
Friday, September 24, 2010
But for all that, the silent, and very real, other side of this coin of conversation is masculinity. And how broad a spectrum men are given to be real men, to be considered and seen as manly. This lovely tribute to Patrick Swayze on Jezebel has comment calling his masculinity (partly born of a football playing father and ballet dancing mother, both activities he did very well) "unforced masculinity".
This is now a phrase I love.
Because it IS the "unforced" part that makes a man so delightfully masculine, whatever kind of man he may be. (And it's not about being sexually attractive, though he may be, because it's much more expansive than a dual hetero-homo view of the world.) It's a little bit of self confidence, it's a lot of devil-may-care, it's a dash of choices made well - and if not, of lessons learned with humor - and it's an effortless grace with and true interest in talking about, experiencing, viewing, reading, feeling and enjoying both ends of the gender spectrum in ways we see it - weeping and punching, nurturing and seizing, listening and talking, dancing and footballing.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
So speaking of books... how cool is this?! New goal on the life list? Same as Sophie's; get a book in that library.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I do. At this very moment.
But, there are suitcases now IN the trunk of the car, ready for the Goodwill drive-up drop-off!! I am down to three suitcases (S, M and L) a backpack and two more overnight/weekend-sized bags. What can I say? Suitcases represent travel, and travel represents financial flexibility, and financial flexibility represents happiness. It's a very snug, neat and comforting loop.
But, on to the purses. The classic women's accent piece.
I own six. Two are regular sized, every day types. Four are very small "going out dressing up" bags.
First, I am not a purse person; I don't salivate over LVs or Birkins or the like. But in the personal inventory department, this count seems poorly planned. Of the two normal ones, one was a college graduation gift (circa 2003) and one is badly shaped and can barely zip up (circa 2008).
But the four tiny (and adorable!) ones... they hardly take up any space! One is shiny! And gold and from my wedding day! Could I pare down to two from four? Taking a boulder of salt in hand with my first world problems here, it seems reasonable to have a 5-to-1 ratio of shoes to purses. Keeping that previous inventory at 20 means keeping this at 4. Two tiny and two normal.
Oh, I know what you're asking. Is it OCD-like behavior to create a 5-to-1 ratio? Certainly. But in a consumption-based society, without any limits, with endless pressure to buy! buy! buy! and replace! replace! replace! with new! new! new! items, I respond well to firm boundaries.
Besides, when I say it out loud, FOUR PURSES seems insane. Who needs three more things to back up the one thing they carry!? That hauls around even more stuff?! It's madness! And it's decided. 5-to-1. I will report back with obituaries on the two tiny purses that get the axe.
PS. I have not included my briefcase computer bag in all this. It's, like, a totally different thing, duh!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
You must try them on.
The report? Not as disappointing as one might expect. Now, neither of them fit, of course, but not by as much as you'd think! (And oddly, the junior prom dress fit better than the senior prom dress.)
Aw, c'mon. Wouldn't you have done the same thing?
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Two pieces of context:
- first, I went yesterday to an interfaith vigil at a mosque in Portland, with about 350 other people and listened to mini-sermons from 11 religious leaders from all different religions in the city. It was quite lovely, and I think was in large part due to how focused on the future is was - how we can be compassionate, understanding, embracing of other religions (and non-religious-altogether folks); how we can build a respectful community today in Portland that grows outward and onward;
- second: I am reading "The Forever War" by Dexter Filkins and it is blowing my mind. It is a long book entirely comprised (so far) of on-the-ground reporting from his years as a journalist covering the Middle East, NYC, Pakistan and everything in between. I already, a mere three chapters in, have a better understanding of Afghanistan as it really exists in modern history than I have in my whole life. (Take that, cable news!)
Yes, it's a cultural touchpoint. Like Kennedy's assassination or the Berlin Wall coming down. (The first of course I wasn't alive for; the second I remember being sternly instructed by my father to "Watch; and remember this" in front of the TV one night.) Such moments are important to the collective human narrative, to the American experience. 9/11 can bridge gaps between individuals and inform their intimate conversations. I have spoken with feeling about what that day was like for me with others, and heard what their days were like. I remember well contrasting the sunny Montana day with the collective fear; I remember the whole world changing around us, college students at the start of a new year.
There are citizens who lost people in NY, DC and PA. They have a unique story and connection, and have the right to live their grief process free from those in this country who wanted/want "in" on their personal pain. I know someone who lost a parent on a hijacked plane that day and for that very reason, never asked about it. It's not my grief; I was not in NY, DC or PA and I did not lose a friend, neighbor, family member or acquaintance.
With the memorials on TV, billboards, radio, blogs... with "we/I will never forget" plastered all over Facebook... I am taking a classic Pig of Success stance here and calling shenanigans.
Yes. It was an act of terrorism. Yes. It was frightening for generations of Americans in an absolutely new way. Yes. It's part of the cultural narrative in an epic way.
But. If you lived in Israel, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia or any of dozens of other countries on earth, terrorist attacks, suicide bombs, surface to air missiles, war rape, a level of fear, a widespread lack of safety, all could be part of your life, every single day. And this isn't a slam against patriotism, it isn't a slam against the military or guard, it's a slam against taking the feeling of violation that happened on 9/11/2001 and not letting any one else have it. As if Americans are the only ones who have ever been violated or attacked. As if physical violence on a large scale had never happened to a society before. As a good friend put it today, acting as if the intensity of victimhood on that day and the power of grief in those weeks belong only to those who deeply felt the pain of 9/11, and to no other nationality, and no other persons in history.
That's what I think on 9/12. Just me?, I wonder...
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Oft called a woman's favorite thing, I have not normally given them too much thought. However, with a professional job and princess-and-the-pea feet who steadfastly prefer fine brands, this is as good a place as any to take stock, and start a new trend of consuming consciously.
Current count: 21 pairs. This includes two pairs of flip flops, which need to be tossed and replaced with one quality pair. It includes one pair of Sorel winter boots (because you will never really be able to take the Montana out of the girl), and one pair of heels that will be given to Goodwill after they are worn in a wedding later this year. It does not include a pair of ski boots or a pair of scuba diving booties, as I think these are sportswear and not footwear, and it does not include thoroughly beat up, mangled, old, scuzzo sneakers that live in the car permanently -- in case it breaks down in the middle of nowhere and I need to walk a distance (again, see girl + Montana).
In my heart of hearts, I'd like to own no more than 10 pairs of shoes at any given time. However, even for me this is pretty ambitious, the ugly American that I am, so I'm going to start with a solid 20 as the limit. From here on out, if a new pair gets bought, an old pair gets tossed. It already gives me goal... one old Payless pair of sneakers for real athletic shoes and the other old Payless pair for cute (non-running) sneakers; one old pair o' scuffed boots for work-appropriate fancy-lady boots, etc.
So, onward! And next up: purses. (We may as well get the classic women's wear out of the way first.)
So of course... if you'd like to share... how many shoes are in your closest(s) and trunk(s) and garage(s) and hallway(s)?
Monday, September 6, 2010
Check it out here, and if it gives you a laugh, tell some friends!
At lease I can comfort myself by noting that John retired anywhere from 1-2-hours earlier on each of those nights.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
And we have an update! One check was a donation to a cause that had restrictions on when they could cash it; they cashed it as soon as they could, and all was well.
However. I am now resorting to public shaming, in the hopes that the second check will get cashed. It was a wedding gift for a couple who are now in their second trimester with the first baby! Shaming? Or blackmail, perhaps! No baby gift till the wedding check is cashed!
Now we wait. Will it work...
Sunday, August 29, 2010
This brings me to thinking about using food as a reward -- in a healthy way. I have a terrible, terrible lifelong habit of using food to reward myself. Been a long day? Get takeout. Been a failure of responsibilities at work? Get a milkshake at lunch. Achieved a great goal? Pizza! Need to celebrate a birthday or accomplishment (of mine, or a friend's)? You get it.
So the CSA cooking was a reward for a long week spent out of the house every night for work... use the summer abundance to reward myself for staying in. But I think I'm figuring out how to make that reward a little healthier. We joined a CSI this year too: Community Supported ICE cream. (I said a little!)
A tiny, local, amazing chocolatier here in town wanted to buy a fancy European ice cream making machine, but didn't have the money. So they got 30 people to pay $150 to get ice cream every other week for a year. Money up front for them, and a year of ice cream for us. You pick from chocolate, vanilla or a seasonal fruit sorbet, and pick up to 4 mix-ins from their list... Marcona almonds, brownie bits, candied ginger, etc... and pick it up the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of the month.
Now, I do not need decadent ice cream every other Saturday, clearly. So we split it with some very good friends; ice cream once a month? Perfect! And the pint is ideal: enough to last 10 days or so, enough to be excited waiting for the next month's installment, enough to keep the ice cream special. We think about it a bit, order it by the deadline, go pick it up on one day a month, and savor it. It's made by a local business and feels like a one-of-a-kind treat.
Could I never buy a pint of Ben and Jerry's again? I'm thinking about it. It falls into a food rule I love: if you want to eat it, eat it. But you have to make it. No drive-thru fried chicken. No Burgerville milkshake. No PastaWorks pasta.
I'm not committing; I'm just thinking about it.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
I don't write very often about work, but this week, there was a significant article written in The Gray Lady about my boss. It was a complex piece of op-ed journalism about the federal budget that dared to touch on the third rail: Social Security.
All seemed well in the office for the next 36 hours, until a progressive group that I've supported in the past jumped on it, sent out an email to a few million e-subscribers, and asked them to call in and tell us how they feel. Their email also contained a blatant lie, and I'm not sure yet how they get away with it; will they have to retract it? Anyhow... in the meantime...
Away we go with the phones! It was just like the days before the health reform bill passed. Call after call after call... and of course each and every constituent has a right to express their opinion... but it did mean I was unable to help an 18 year old who needs to prove his citizenship and is lost in a paperwork maze (he has to wait till Monday) and unable to help a constituent whose property outside the U.S. has been siezed by local authorities.
Instead, I spoke with 8 or 10 folks about their thoughts on the article. Except... not ONE had read it. They'd all read the incorrect, inflammatory and 100-word e-blast. But none had clicked on the link and read the source material. They vehemently asked for cuts in defense spending and ag subsidies instead... which I softly pointed out the source article showed the boss is in major favor of. "Oh. Really?" And then, "Yes," I'd say. "If you have the time and access to the internet, I recommend reading the article. There's a link at the bottom of your email, and it is quite an interesting article."
So, some days I'm impressed with the dedication of people around my community.
And some days I want to say, oh you impressive elecorate, picking up the phone with no knowledge but lots of feelings! Go, you! Asshats.
My favorite person said, "Well, yeah, I started to read it, but I just didn't have the time!" I know the feeling, dude. I was also hoping to get back to my actual work.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
So I've made a second blog friend and she lives in Costa Rica at the moment, working as an au pair, where she made a video of "her" baby, the very one that I knew when *I* lived and worked in Costa Rica (when said baby was in utero and then a blinky, sleepy little newborn). Her blog is a light, bright and friendly exploration of food (no better blog topic!) and you can check the whole thing out here... but it was a recent post with a video of the not-really-a-baby-but-now-a-toddler that got me remembering...
The video (in this post here) captures exactly how it feels to take care of someone's child many hours a week. It's not that you feel the love of a parent, because that love is unique and encompassing, and was/is out of my league to comprehend. But it is a powerful, powerful love that combines pride in your work with pride in a growing little person, bursting with personality, with pride in knowing you are making an impact, no matter how unconscious. The video captures just what it feels like to do this noble work, and reminds me how people used to ask, "Oh, are you babysitting again today?" and I would - mood depending - laugh, snicker, snort, scoff or tsk in great offense, and say, "Babysitting? No. I'm going to work, as a nanny, today. Yes, I'm doing that." This was usually followed by an attempt to explain that no, I was not raising someone's child for them, and yes, it was a job that required real skills and experience. So thanks, L, for reminding me what that -- ALL of that -- feels like. It's important.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
And there is almost nothing I hold more dear than competency. It's the thing upon which I base my self-image, it's the thing I value in a person that will make me forget their politics, their sexism, (almost) any bad trait.
So this morning's Jack Handey-like daily affirmation is an appreciation for competency wherever it is found.
And as small as it sounds, the woman at HomeGoods who helped me with the new rug on Sunday was not only cheerful and polite - she was genuinely helpful and incredibly competent at packing up, carrying and loading the rug into my car all on her own. She was efficient and professional and a true antidote to the bad customer service I may or may not have experienced elsewhere last week. And I'm sure she disposed of my rug, hung another one, and never gave our interaction another thought. But she made my day, and I will pass that on this week with all the competence I can muster for the various tasks at work on the docket... which include maybe driving a rental van, taking my boss' bicycle measurements, explaining a 214(b) visa denial (again) and writing to no less than three U.S. embassies with new requests.
Accomplishment with competency, here I come!
Sunday, August 1, 2010
- 3 curtain rods (2 for curtains, 1 for displaying an antique quilt)
- industrial strength garage shelves; 3 shelves, roughly 6 feet high by 6 feet wide and the most glorious example of organization I have ever assisted in constructing
- 1 dimmer switch
- 1 bookshelf-from-a-box
Things gotten rid of this weekend:
- all the weird mish-mash of plants in the front yard (remaining? a great lavendar, a great rosemary and a mysterious but adorable shrub)
- all the boxes from moving
- spider webs from all around the eaves and front door
Things given to us for free by neighbors this weekend:
- 2 very large bottles of beer
- the salad greens for dinner, rinsed and sitting in the colander right now
And now the real accounting... things bought this weekend:
- 1 large living room rug
- 1 large rug pad
- 1 chocolate brown cozy living room chair
- 1 delicate pink throw that the guest room NEEDED
- all the parts needed for constructing the aforementioned garage shelves
- 2 throw pillows that will be returned (probably)
- 1 bookshelf-in-a-box
- 18 other necessary items, ahem, from Home Depot
Meals bought at a restaurant (take out) this weekend:
1 lunch, 1 dinner
Meals cooked at home this weekend:
1 dinner, 2 breakfasts
Meals eaten at someone else's house this weekend:
The best part of the weekend is that we put the boxes on Craiglist for free, and shoved 'em to the end of the driveway. Two minutes later, one of our very nice and friendly neighbors asked if he could have them... and took about 90%. Then he brought us two large beers as thanks! Quoth John, "He took away the boxes AND gave us beer? Now that's a win win."
Friday, July 30, 2010
(and author of books "The Book of Virtues" and "The Children's Book of Virtues":
You've got the best health care in the country, now I think, don't you? Because of your tort law?
Answer from Texas Governor Rick Perry:
We do, yes.
BUT... the day before, the New York Times reported:
There are more uninsured residents of Texas -- 6.1 million and counting --
than there are people in 33 states. ...
[O]ne in four Texans is uninsured, the highest ratio in the country.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Today, I have folded one into a sweet cushiony square, upon which sits a peach. A perfect summer peach, juuuust starting to give off a heady, peachy aroma. I'm leaving it here on my desk at work tonight, and tomorrow morning, it will have reached peach perfection. It will be the very definition of ripeness - firm yet soft yet sweet yet with a touch of tang. (And no wonder fruit is a stand in for talking about sex, incidentally.) I know I waxed poetic about the raspberries, and Oregonians praise our petite strawberries above all others but for summer fruit, give me the peach every time.
Monday, July 19, 2010
First, we have an insane neighbor who walks around his yard of weeds and scrap wood, carefully selects a shitty, splintery piece, and uses his circular saw to cut it. ALL DAY. And evening. He also appears to maybe live in a tent in the yard. (I think he will figure greatly in future blogs... and future research into noise/nuisance laws.)
Second, a couple times a day, each day, the whole block is filled with the smell of ice cream cones. I don't how else to describe it... too light to be cookies, and too sweet to be actual waffles. Maybe there is a waffle cone factory nearby? I'm not sure, but it's sort of amazing.
Friday, July 16, 2010
I still work occasionally for the catering company, and at the end of my gig last night, I returned the paperwork to the office, which is on the far side of a whole-city-block industrial kitchen. In the bakery, racks and racks of bread were cooling, probably about ready to be bagged and sold at the retail stores upon their 6 AM opening.
There was a whole corner filled with racks of shiny challah, nutty grain burger buns, a dozen racks of sandwich loaves - not yet sliced - and perfect, round soup rolls. Beyond the wonderful smell, it made me remember what a miracle bread is - what a sustaining food it has always been, a combination of flour and yeast, and what a joy it is to break bread with those we love.
So on that note... goodbye to the old apartment which has treated us so well. We'll sleep here one last night, and tomorrow - a house! Our house! A home in which to break bread.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
And no, the movers are not why I am spoiled.
I have realized how spoiled I am because with these very few dishes, I have to wash them after two - only two! - meals cooked at home each day. And MAN is a dishwasher nice, as is a half week's supply of dishes to fill it up with. First world problems - I got 'em.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Sure, I graduated high school and college, but in both cases, there was no diploma in the fancy case that was handed to me with a handshake. I had to pay fees, return library books, wait for the finals to be graded and recorded, and only then was I magically turned into a B.A.
Sure, I got married last year. But to do this and have the state recognize it, a couple has to apply for a marriage license at least three business days in advance. Then they must file said marriage license, which does not happen on day of the wedding (unless you get married at noon on a Tuesday) and it takes a month or so to be recorded. Only then are you magically bound by law. (You could just skip out on filing the license, have a party, and go your merry separate ways, which I find odd; shouldn't "they" bind you to it at the ceremony!?)
Sure, I've been hired at cool jobs, but I've also had to wait to start working at them. Sure, I've turned 21 and waited for that first legal drink... but even then, they let me drink at 11 PM at Montana AleWorks in my hometown, even after seeing the date on the license. An sure, before that wedding I got engaged, but we're a collaborative type of couple; it wasn't insanely out of nowhere, ya know what I mean?
Much like these milestones, I'm on the precipice of owning a house today. At 5 PM, or a few minutes before, the county recording agency will change the title from someone else's name to mine and John's. But before this, we've applied for a loan, signed all the documents, signed some more, send even more to the banks... and at 5 PM tomorrow, the supposed magical moment of transformation will happen.
But alas, we won't get the keys till an hour later. Or on Wednesday, or actually as late as Thursday at 5 PM, since we're such darn nice buyers, so it is another contribution to the hum-drum-ness of real living and the lack of a true magical moment of transformation.
For what it's worth, I think having a baby biologically must be the only true moment of transformation; you may think of yourself as a mother or a father before that, but in a single moment, you become the mother or father of that baby. So THE single magical moment, at least, does exist for some folks!
Monday, July 12, 2010
And you wonder where I get the pessimism? I haven't even spent the night there yet! Boy. Welcome to this family.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
My mother says one of the things she likes about living in a small town is that she usually knows someone on the plane when she takes a flight, and that she sees someone she knows at the grocery store most times.
I, on the other hand, skulk off if I see someone I know in the grocery store and part of the whole thrill of air travel is that no one I know is aware of my precise location while I'm moving along.
All this said... I was driving across Portland the other evening, and stuck in traffic, in another car, across from me, in the lane facing the other way, was John! And to my friend N - yep, I just lit up, and forgot stress from work, the destination I was dreading, and my melted makeup. I was so happy and surprised to see him, and to exchange a grin and an air kiss across the evening maze of commuters.
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
The only exception to this striving-for-evolution is my late grandmother, who at 84, was still operating under the impression that she'd find the magic cure to lose weight. (And to erase wrinkles and revive her sight, but the weight loss was the major focus. Lord, I hope I give up thoughts of physical perfection in my 7th or 8th decade!)
But. Back to this week's newest benchmark for improvement: not throwing out leftovers. Some folks, I hear, don't save or have leftovers. What is this concept? I grew up in a house where my mother, as a gift from her mother mentioned above, saved every bite of food... and to quote my father... as a result... we had a fridge full of "a thousand little tin foil packages!!" (With or without expletive in that. Ahem.)
If food should be taken seriously, if food should be honored as our daily communion with sustenance, health, community... then I ought not be throwing it away, tiny-tin-foil package or no.
So I begin with failure. Sunday night's turkey loin and sauteed kale. The final bite of turkey loin (yes, there is one slice left) will get eaten on toast in moments for breakfast. Five, six days old? I live on the edge! But the kale? It looks sad, and limp, and lonely in streaks of cold olive oil, a too-large Tupperware dish. I think I'm going to give up the dream that it'll get eaten, and turn my attention instead to the half jar of peanut sauce for a stir fry this weekend, the small scoop of chicken salad for lunch today, and the zucchini that are getting a wee bit soft from last week's CSA pick-up.
I'll report back when I fail again, but I have high hopes for now. High, apple pie, in the skyyyy hopes...
Thursday, June 24, 2010
So right now... at 5:45 PM Pacific Time... the reverse is happening. We are selling something in advance of moving in a few weeks. And the buyer is clearly a serial killer. So I will post when we're safe because this guy... YIKES. He is chatting with John OK in the other room, but I think I was the first woman he's ever shaken hands with. We're talking Grade A Awkwardity here, my friends.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Then they started talking about some adult who came to the school, for some reason I missed due to the train announcement, and tried to make appointments with them. College counselors, I wondered? Two of them joked about how they just agreed, made the appointment, and then were called on their cell phones at the pre-determined time only to both respond, "Uhh, yeah, sorry, dude, can't make it." What a coincidence! They both bailed on these same adults!
Tsk tsk! I thought. Bad kids. No respect for elders, or others' precious time.
And then the third laughed at his pals. "Yeah, I'm not going to join no fucking Army."
Oops. Many apologies for judging you, young men. Keep on. Keepin' on.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tee shirts this 'round say, "Are you bike curious?" C'mon, you wanna join...
And as a group of old friends, new friends, and some as complete strangers to one another, we achieved perfection. We did!
The bill was $159. With a 20% tip, that should be $191. At the end of cash-counting, bill sorting and each person responsible for their own calculations... we ended up with $191 on the table.
I can die happy.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
30% of Americans have passports! (This is higher than I expected; does it seem high or low to you?)
In 1990, about 3.6 million passports were issued. This year, they're on track for over 15 milllion issuances!
Some very busy consulates (embassies) in larger cities around the world have over 1,500 visa interviews each day! That's a whole lot of tourists, students, fiancees and folks hoping to get to visit the United States.
Cool huh?? What can I say, I'm turning into quite the briefing geek.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Why on earth is a unit with a freezer on the top and a fridge on the bottom called a "top mount refrigerator"?? And while I'll agree it is consistent, the kind with a fridge on the top and a freezer on the bottom is called a "bottom mount refrigerator"?? What? Ugh.
And speaking of top versus bottom mount... NO, it's not what she said... but rather, let me sing the praises of a bottom mount fridge. You can see all the food, you don't crouch down to get veggies out, the part you use less is out of the way... genius, right?! Genius! I grew up with one, and I'ma gunna get one in my new home.
(Yes, of course, a French-door fridge is really the way to go but *eek*! The prices!)
Sunday, June 6, 2010
I know we all - myself especially - like to think we are these unique beings, who choose our culinary, fashion, music and literary consumptions carefully and will not be swayed by advertising, marketing or ginormous social influences. But really, we all have a healthy dose of being "sheeple" and in the case of our CSA, I embrace it!
It's true, it's true... seasonal, fresh, organic, local produce tastes nothing like the canned or frozen or ethylene-gas-ripened tomatoes you find in January. But I did not make this discovery on my own; I made it through the influence of friends, the food and locavore culture of Portland, and the media I consume preachin' it to me.
But all that aside, if five years ago you told me that a big bin of fresh veggies was going to the very highlight of my weekend... in the form of some steamed baby turnips with butter, some sauteed bok choy, and some new potatoes with thin delicate skins (roasted in olive oil and tossed with my very own parsley growing in the deck garden!)... I would have never believed you.
I see some of the heavy cooking of the past few months receding, to be replaced with the delicate, sweet and whole food of summer in Oregon.
Though in the interest of full disclosure... we didn't do a totally veggie meal last night. There was a big fat steak on the plate too. You can't change me into a TOTAL hippie all at once!
Friday, June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
So, a couple more comparisons betwixt the two:
Like women who buy a wedding dress and then inexplicably KEEP LOOKING at dresses, there are those who encourage me to keep looking at houses. No, thank you very much! Until/unless the inspection goes bad, this house is a lovely first one for us, and I'll be keeping my nose off the realty websites, indeedy.
And like figuring out how to book a wedding venue whilst picking out flowers and clothes that coordinate with the vibe of said unknown venue... this is much the same as paying for various inspections (sewer, oil tank, regular, radon) while choosing a lender while thinking about putting in notice at your current place while, while, while.
More news from the front as developments roll in!
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
And that's it; that's what I've been feeling, saying, talking about since I was 20, and experiencing that exploration of sexuality for myself and my young women peers. If there's a damn thing we can do to teach women and men about this, SIGN ME UP.
Monday, May 24, 2010
But seriously, one more reason not to register for your wedding on the internets... I am sorta sniffing around a house for sale, we're going to look at it again tomorrow... and I thought I might be able to find the current owners on Facebook... see if they said anything about it. (In Portland, names of home owners are public record. Hello, PortlandMaps.com for sale history, tax history, permits, noise complaints, everything!! I sought a Facebook profile for the owners' names.)
No such luck. But I did find their wedding registry! And I say: snobs.
(I also say: the house is in her name only, but they've been married 382 days. Thanks WeddingChannel.com!)
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
One: the rules apply to you. That's right... YOU! Federal rules, state rules, rules that are enforceable. Oh - and they apply to your kids, your parents, your neighbors. And don't forget yourself. Yes. You. Yes! All rules. Please note: that one you're trying to get out of IS included.
Two: you don't make a good case for immigration reform when you want to only apply said reform to your nationality, and you DEFINITELY don't want to apply reform to anyone who speaks Spanish. Your argument sucks that way and I don't like you very much. At all. AT ALL.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
You think I'm kidding - but I am not. Once children reach the age of reason, and really once they start to mature into semi-deep-thought-thinking beings, I want to run away from them.
Tonight, I watched an episode of This American Life (from the Showtime TV series) that focused on teenagers getting their photographs taken as high school sophomores. It was all there: their embarrassing ideas of what is cool, their pimples, their braces, their conviction that they'd remember the hot guy forever, their ability admit they'd make a mistake with no knowledge or ideas about how to fix it... I cringed. I kept saying, "awwww" and "ohhhhh" and my eyes actually got a little teary. My husband, on the other hand, laughed. A good-natured laugh, but he still chuckled at their growing pains. Not me. I shuddered.
So if anger masks fear... what does fear mask? Why am I so afraid of teenagers? Is it... could it... might I be totally in tune with that teenage part of myself still? Might I remember sharply, precisely how they feel? Might I avoid them like the plague... because... what I really want to do is swoop them up in my arms, erase their Facebook profiles and internet tracks, tell them to stop talking for a second and make them know they'll get out the other side of high school. Where they won't remember half the details, but they will remember every single one of the feelings.
Friday, May 7, 2010
They wrote about the blog and soon-to-be-iPhone app for Hollaback, a place where you can snap a photo of someone who harasses you on the street/subway/bar/etc and upload it with a brief description. Anyone who has ever been given a vulgar catcall (my first one was at age 14 in NYC with my dad; lovely) or been leered at on the sidewalk (why just last week, a drunk sketchy guy kept saying "uhhh...nice pants...." to me (three times) in a crosswalk outside work!) might find Hollaback a safe outlet for their discomfort, anger, shame, fill-in-the-blank emotion.
So in the age of the internet, no sooner does Jezebel say that it's pretty crazy to live in a world where this is so ubiquitous as to deserve an iPhone app, and if it helps, then yeah, go for it... no sooner... does a commenter then point out how it could be used wrongly, for some poor innocent nice guy who might want to tell a woman she is wearing a lovely dress.
So leave it to SarahMC (commenter extraordinaire and NO, not me) to say: Yes, the real victims here are the men who can't tell ladies they like their dresses.
God I love when someone reminds us to stay on topic. And when they remind us, too, that adults of both genders - it turns out! - can usually tell the difference between a lovely compliment and a flipping creepy invasion of personal space. Who knew?!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Two things I've learned so far at work this week:
If you have outstanding child support, you can't get a passport. Call me an a-hole, call me a conservative, but I am all for this one. Rights and privileges of being a gilded and certified American citizen need to come with responsibilities - and child support seems one of the most righteous to me.
You can spell it "gauntlet" but you can also spell it "gantlet"! And some grammarians even say that it should be "gauntlet" when you're throwin' it down and "gantlet" when you're runnin' it. This is 100% brand new spelling and grammar news to me… and you know how I love spelling and grammar news! So cool!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
First, the people who love me and have my best interests at heart are much, much softer on me than I am on myself. They're not telling me to buy a house now. They're not telling me to start a family now. They're gently telling me to write some more, yes, but not harshly -- instead, with joy. So rather than focus on the THINGS I "should" be doing, better to focus on the "how" that I do them.
Secondly, and much more importantly, Jordan pointed out in the comments that while the thing we may want, or the thing we may be told to do, is tangible... that's only half the point. (Or less!) We may be told to start a tea shop that also sells organic flowers, or it may be our heart's desire... but if I can go a level deeper than that, what do I find? The tea, the flowers, the being my own boss... those are about financial independence, calm environments, beautiful things. Starting a family? That's about sharing more love with the world, or rising to a new challenge. Buying a home? That's about creating a cocoon, a sanctuary, and a place to host these people I love so fiercely.
For me, I came up with:
- writing more is about telling more stories and flexing what I think is my universe-given best skill;
- being softer on others and less judgmental are also about being softer on myself and giving those I love a lot more leeway.
How 'bout your things? Who is telling you to do what... and when you go one layer deeper, what is the greater meaning of these tangible changes you wish to make?
Monday, April 26, 2010
So in church… or in Christian-influenced, Westernized church… we do only a handful of things. We pray or meditate silently together. We sing. We listen to a preacher. We stand, we sit, we might dance. We read things with dozens or hundreds of other people. We enjoy the choir and the instruments. And somewhere, one of those things, on some of the days that you attend church, is suddenly transcendent.
Something the preacher says might move you, shake you to your core. One of the melodies might suddenly prick the corners of your eyes with tears. One of the bells during meditation brings to mind someone you've not thought of in a long time. One of the moments, on the days you're lucky or maybe when you're just psychically ready for a little churchin', your heart will open to a flash of compassion, a surge of oneness, an experience of pure love.
Well, you certainly don't have to go to church to experience these moments… though I find such moments are guaranteed to occur only when there is some music, or deep silence, a resonant reading or powerful words spoken… when there is some dancing, some hand holding, some communion in any form.
So this past weekend, while I was at a Michelle Shocked concert with N, I giggled on the inside a couple times and my eyes got a little teary a couple times and I paid strong attention to the power of our group breathing, laughing, chanting, singing and swaying together. It was absolutely a night of going to church, and so to the church of Ms. Shocked and her messages of social justice, independence, feminism, individualism AND community, love and faith… I say amen. Thanks for the churchin'.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
So I had a chat recently with someone who has made almost no changes in their life in the last few years, and they recommended gargantuan changes for a mutual friend. I don't want to "out" a private conversation, but the advice was something extreme... something like "he should quit his job without a new one on the horizon" or "she should start her own business without any start up money" or "they really need to break up and one can move to Hawaii to work in a surf shop, and the other can get partying out of their system". It was a thing like that.
And while the advice was bold, exciting, take-charge action... it was also terrifying and I couldn't help but consider the source. Those folks taking big, bold action? I tend to trust their recommendations to do the same. But those folks who haven't changed "so much as a pair of socks since I've known" them? You can guess my gut reaction.
But in the grand life effort to stretch, to grow, to get more in touch with my life's purpose and live authentically... I'm taking one small baby step away from such judgment. Instead of waving off their advice (or, maybe, along with waving off their advice, ha!) to our mutual friend... I am going to spend this week thinking, "What do my friends advise me to do? What action in life would they like to see me take? Why? And what if I did it? What might happen?"
Sure, not everyone has my best interests at heart, and some people might give advice to manipulate me to their advantage, but a whole lot of friends DO have my best interests at heart. My urban tribe, my family-by-choice is filled with big hearts. So I ponder - and I welcome in the comments - what should I be doing more of, less of, adding to my daily life? What should you be doing more of, less of, adding to your daily life?
Saturday, April 17, 2010
If you met your partner for the first time today, what would you think of him or her? If you went on your first date this very Saturday night, what might be the outcome of that date?
And so on my husband's 29th birthday, one on which we plan to have a nice all-day-date together, I will be squishy and romantic and say that I am pretty sure I would find him the intelligent, charming, interesting, informed and exciting Renaissance man that I did on our actual first date, nearly six years ago. Happy Birthday, mon couer!
Friday, April 16, 2010
Anyhow, I am not inviting complaints about President Obama when I say that yes, I realize he has not done everything that progressives desire. I do know this. (Tho a side note... who on earth does NOT want to be progressive? Who wants to be regressive? How could this be a point of pride?!) Complaints about the Prez aside, he did just mandate visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners in all hospitals that receive Medicare/Medicaid funding across the country, and I gotta say... THIS is the joy of knowing where the rubber meets the road. This is where a real neighbor that you know and love has not been able to hold the hand of their lifetime soulmate because of discrimination. And now it's going to stop, and a sick person can get comfort and love.
How's that for a happy Friday? Yes, we can!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
For English, press 1. For Spanish, press 2.
Hello, and please listen carefully to the options as this is an extensive menu. If you are using a rotary phone, please hang up and dial...
For birth and death records, press 3. For marriage and divorce records, press 4. For information on legitimation and voluntary addition of a father's name to a birth certificate already filed, press 5. For gender reassignment information, including reissued birth certificates, press 6.
Yes that's right ladies and gentlemen... we live in a world where a rotary phone, legitimation concerns and gender reassignment coexist on one phone message. God bless America.
Friday, April 9, 2010
"No cheating. No dying." And she added, "So far, so good."
Thursday, April 8, 2010
And I must add that a film so raw, so voyeuristic, made me think, "Good lord. I know a number of folks who need to watch this. They need to let it break their heart right open!" And I also thought of Dreen, and how she needs to not watch it. Her heart is the epitome of "on her sleeve" and she knows the great pain of the world, she sees you and feels your sorrow, and she's better off without the underground children of 2001 in her life.
But whether you watch it or not, whether you really can stand to break your heart open right now or not (and I understand either way!), let me share with you something so poignant from the film it defies logic and defines spirit. While these children live in packs, scrounge for food, beg for money, huff drugs and sleep on sidewalks and cardboard boxes every day, there are some social services in the city. A few shelters (the only one in the capital city has ten beds, for about 20,000 children on the streets). A little food. There is a drop-in day school. There is a daytime clinic offering a warm bath, medicine, a haircut, a hot lunch, someone to listen to you for a bit.
The social worker shows up one day in the train station, for those whose turn it is to go visit the clinic. They cheer her arrival, but what do they do when she stands still? They kiss her. They hug her. They move to be in contact with her. They run dirty hands over her face, they lay lice-filled heads on her shoulder, and they move in a wolf pack just to be touched by someone who isn't there to hurt them. And she stays open to them, she holds their bruised and bloodied hands, she runs her fingers through their hair, and when they ask, "Will the lice be all gone?" she takes the razor and says, "They'll be less."
I have a very old-Yankee-type attitude toward touch, and come from a cultural and familial background that is rather sparing with physical affection. But since I can't? won't? shouldn't? go give a hug to the beggar sorting through recycling outside my door, or to the muttering homeless woman at the MAX stop, I must remember how much we all need touch. We all need a warm hand on our shoulder, a body to snuggle close to on the couch. We can do this for each other, non-sexually, and just out of simple caring. These children illustrated for me the human equivalent of Harry Harlow's heartbreaking food-or-love experiment. We must have food, of course... though some of the underground children choose drugs over food, as the high makes them fully forget their hunger... but we must, must, must have love.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Second, the Academy Award winning film Children Underground from 2001 about street kids in post-Ceausescu Romania.
(Note... if you want to give your world perspective a little shock, do like me and watch 4 months, 3 weeks, 2 days... and then Children Underground. But then take a nap before you resume thinking.)
So, the blog conversation keeps things rather theoretical, about how middle- and upper-class parents have more time to spend with their kids, so might that contribute to the childrens' success, and not just nepotism or money? And it skims the surface, it keeps it light, it allows us to take the discussion to our dinner parties, our classrooms, our water coolers.
The film, on the other hand, features paint-huffing-addicted children living in a subway station in Romania. How did they arrive there? I plan to write a couple other posts about those kids and some of the fascinating, heart-rending pieces of humanity captured in the film, but tonight I leave you with a slice of righteous anger, a white hot flame of indignation as a woman on this earth. (Anger forthcoming... I warn you.)
The children in the film, who are literally kicked in the face by adults, who are abused verbally and physically by their parents on film, who are ridiculed by their peers and plead till they are hoarse for affection, friendship, love, who are passed by all day in the station, who are ignored by their government and their neighbors... these children are the direct result of a Ceausescu regime that outlawed contraception and abortion and aggressively promoted childbearing on all "of age" men and women.
While I am shying further and further away from fundamental thought of any type in my life, seeing the direct result of a government's fundamental obsession with unborn life in the form of wholly forgotten children is still stunning... I ask those who voted for Michelle Bachmann, those who support the Dominican Republic's total ban on abortion NO MATTER WHAT, those who would insist that pregnancy and birth should be forced on women and parental love, affection, ability can be mandated by the government if you just go and have that child... would you like to take in these children? Would you open your home, your money, your future to a 16-year-old gang member and drug addict? No? Go fuck yourself then.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
However, Timothy Egan's recent op-ed called "The Purists" was a shock to the choir, and I reveled in his energetic and passionate pragmatism so much, that I have to share it with you. (Yes, passionate pragmatism... it exists!)
The best quotes are here, and a link below if you want to read it all:
Read the whole thing here and if you are in the minority with me as a progressive-liberal, perhaps you will also feel the scorn and power of Egan's words. I wonder what will happen today on the Hill...
Ah, to be among the true believers, breathing only the clean air of sanctimony. Nothing is ever done, no lives improved, no laws passed. No messy deals tarnished by the poison of compromise. The public hates you — every poll shows that voters want both sides to legislate with a mix of ideas. But, oh, how good it must feel to be right all the time.For most of his career, Kucinich has been a snow-white liberal. And it shows: after his nearly 14 years in Congress, his accomplishments could not fill the toe-end of a sock.
If Kucinich had gone ahead as promised with a “no” vote, it would not have an asterisk next to it. It would simply be another no, putting him in league with Michele Bachmann, John Boehner and other congressional defenders of the costliest, most inefficient and least accessible health care system in the Western world.
Reality is always a problem for purists.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
In the same vein, John just brought home bread from "Subway Bakery."
Which I can accurately identify as Grand Central Bakery.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Perhaps you are too steady and mature to have ever had an Annette fantasy... where you're performing in a play, or even just walking down the street, and a casting director decides you are PERFECT FOR THE ROLE, and your life changes in the blink of an eye with, ahem, precious little work on your part.
I've had my share of Annette daydreams, and I suppose they fit the usual bill - when I performed in the 6th grade play, when I went to the state Geography Bee, when Kathleen Kennedy came to the theater I worked at in college for a film premiere of hers - of being selected at random, for no reason, to fulfill a great destiny.
Walking this past weekend on a lovely spring afternoon to the grocery store, I slowed down in front of the house I always slow down in front of, which has been for sale for 18 months or more, and is the perfect Craftsman with a big yard, a fireplace, it looks small from the front but is actually quite spacious and large, and sighed. I had an Annette moment. Maybe someone would say to me, "Oh, do you love this house?" And I would be able to answer, "Oh I've loved it since I moved to this neighborhood nearly four years ago. I would make it such a happy house with BBQs and Christmas decorations, gardens and music, gatherings and neighborliness!"* And they would say, "Then you shall have this house! For the enormous down payment of zero, because you are so worthy!"
It's funny - and I know it is - but it's dangerous too. When this type of entitlement attitude, this type of "above the rules" feeling goes too far, then grandiosity and isolation from my fellow man isn't far behind.
But hey, maybe the owners of the house are reading, and I can wish, right? For it is a fine distraction from the bore of plunking away money, week after week, into the savings fund that'll get me to that house, some house, eventually.
(*This house/Annette moment is also a nod for those Anne Shirley-lovers who read the blog, and how she secured the rental at Patty's Place by so loving the home and honestly vowing to not change its name.)
Monday, March 15, 2010
My deaf neighbor was left a note by our property manager last week. My neighbor has lived here for over two years, and the manager lives here on-site, one of the 15 apartments. The note was left for "Jessica" but my neighbor's name is "Jeska".
I wish I could find a copy of that poem, and maybe it would make her smile!