Friday, April 28, 2006


why it takes me 17 minutes to get to pre-school when I'm running late, yet only 7 minutes when I'm early.

why I keep hearing country music on the pop radio stations I listen to in the car.

what kind of person can drive around in a Hummer and not feel like a complete asshole.

why I am blogging when I should be packing.

why some friends of ours are bringing their 4 year old and 1 year old with them to San Diego this weekend, just so they can dress them up and bring them down to the wedding reception for dancing and, similarly,

if it makes me a bad mother that the LAST thing I would ever consider is bringing my kids along when we have a weekend away.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

So long.

I've been trying to write a post all week, about what a great weekend I had last weekend. How we had dinner with Heidi and her new man, and turns out he's pretty fucking good. How Lance took the kids Saturday which allowed me to go to the mall by myself and actually purchase some garments that look half-way decent on me. How Sunday night we had a impromptu dinner party with some friends, friends who are getting married this weekend. How we are going to San Diego this weekend, for the aforementioned wedding, and how we are leaving the kids with grandma.

But it's been busy, and now it's Thursday night, tomorrow's going to be crazy, and the kids are clamoring for dinner, so. So that's it, that's what's going on.

I'll leave you with this little tidbit from the pieceofwork household:

Scene: 4:30pm. Lance has come home early from work so I can get my nails done before we leave for the wedding tomorrow.

Vivian: Daddy! Daddy! I want to paink*!

Isaac: HI DADDY!!

Me: Hey, babe.

Lance (on the phone): looks up, big smile, holds up a finger in the universal "just a second" sign.

Isaac: I want to paink!

Vivian: No! NO! I want to paink! Mommy! I want to paink!

Isaac: Only Isaac can paint, Vivi. You will get your fingers messy.

Me: Hold on. Everyone's going to paint. You guys sit down at the table, I'll get the paints.

Lance: on the phone.

Isaac: Where's my paink brush? Oh, there it is. Thank you, Mommy! I love to paink with the painks we got at the store called Sav on.

Vivian: Paink! Paink! Paink!

Me: where is the other paintbrush? (Rummaging around the craft/dinner table) Isaac, where is the paintbrush? Is it in here? Did you put it in your room?

Vivian: Paink! Paink!

Lance: Hey sweetie.

Vivian: Paink! Paink! Daddy paink!

Lance: What did you do today?

Isaac: I want to paink! You can't paink, Vivi, Mommy can't find the brush.

Me (calling from the bedroom where I am searching for the paintbrush)**: Everyone's painting, Isaac. Be nice to your sister!

Vivian: MOMMY! Mommy! I want to paink!

Lance (entering our bedroom, where I am now rummaging for the paintbrush): what are you doing?

Me: Looking for the paint brush!

Lance: Paint brush? What do you need that for?

Me: Do you even LIVE here?

*This is the way both my children say paint. I don't know why.

** How is it possible that I have only two paintbrushes in the entire house? How?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tattoo Meme

I know I said I hate memes, and actually part of the reason I'm posting this is to get that last one way down out of sight, but this one is kind of fun. I read about it over at Mommy needs a Martini. If you've got a tattoo, let's see it, and hear all about it.

My one and only tattoo I had done in the summer of 1996. I was newly in love with Lance then, and tattoos were all the rage. I wanted one desperately but I couldn't figure out what to get. I considered the UNC symbol, but was (fortunately) talked out of it. Finally I decided on a compass, and Lance drew it for me to take into the tattoo parlor. It's on the inside of my right hip, just above the groin, 95% below the bikini line. At first, the artist didn't want to put it there--she said that area was too sensitive for a first tattoo, and it would be better to put in on my shoulder. But I wanted it above the groin--I like the trashiness of a compass directing people to that area of my body--and eventually she agreed to it. And it did hurt, but I will admit there was a bit of pleasure too. Hard to explain, but I liked the sensation.

I know some people regret their tattoos, but I love mine. It reminds me of being young and in love. It reminds me of Lance. It reminds me of San Francisco and the wonderful time I had there when I was just a youngster. Also, because of its location, nobody knows about it, so I don't have to give a lot of explanations. You can see the top of it when I wear a bikini, but that's the only time it's visible. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 24, 2006

The dreaded meme post

Melissa over at Issa's World tagged me for the 6 weird things meme, and she won't let up until I do it. I hate memes with the heat of a thousand white suns, but for her, I'll do it. Plus, Kat from It only takes once just tagged me again, so I really have no excuse now.

1. I can't go to sleep if the closet door is open. Actually I don't like to leave any room if a cupboard or closet door is open. I don't like clutter at all--I'm a out of sight, out of mind type person, and I like to keep my mind clear. So I don't notice if the floors haven't been cleaned in weeks, but if the house is littered with stuff, it drives me crazy. Fortunately, I don't care if the cupboards or closets are a mess, so I just throw everything in and once the door is closed, it's all good.

2. I love the beach. But I hate to swim. I never get in any water except to cool off-then I'll just jump in and get right back out. I'll get in the water to waterski, but other than that, I don't play in the water. This stems from being caught in a rip-tide in North Carolina and almost drowning when I was a child. Also, I am not a "strong swimmer". Never was, never will be. I think I'm too lazy for that.

3. I hate to drive. I'd much rather be the passenger--which, sadly, is also my preference in life.

4. I like to sleep. A lot. As in, 10 hours per night. I love going to bed early. I get tired by 10pm, even if I'm at some kind of social event. This caused lots of problems in my teens and early twenties, since the more alcohol I drank the more tired I would get, and the more likely to pass out wherever I happened to be. (Mommygoth can tell the story of my 20th birthday when I past out cold by 8pm. My parents called to say happy birthday, and inexplicably she told them I was asleep, instead of coming up with a better story. For weeks afterward, my parents were convinced I had no friends in college, and that something was terribly wrong.) By my mid twenties I had learned how to stay up late and party (controlled substances, anyone?) but was secretly thrilled when in my late twenties the staying up till all hours thing stopped being so necessary to social life.

5. I am terrified of dogs. I never witnessed or experienced any kind of dog mauling or dog fight, and close relatives and friends always had dogs when I was little, so I cannot explain where this fear comes from. I cannot stand to be around dogs that aren't on a leash, and this fear is even stronger when I am with my children. And I know, dogs sense fear, so my reaction to them is likely to cause them to attack me, which scares me even more, and so on and so on and so on. Once I get to know a dog, I can contain the fear enough to get along with them, but I still don't like them much.

6. I hate the phone. I don't think this is such a weird thing, though, as I've seen other bloggers confess it. There are only a few people I can talk to on the phone without extreme anxiety. It is even difficult for me to call very close friends and family members. This makes keeping in touch really difficult, and I'm sure has pissed off more than one of them. I generally procrastinate making calls until too much time has gone by and then use that as an excuse not to make the call. The thing about it is, if i can just manage to pick up the phone, once I get past the hellos I relax a little and the conversation usually goes fine. Interestingly (or NOT--but you guys forced me into this meme, so pretend, k?), I don't really mind calling strangers--you know doctors, the pizza place, whatever. I don't love doing that, but I don't have near the anxiety with that as I do calling people I know. I have NO IDEA where this comes from--perhaps it's just a manifestation of my social anxiety--but it's a complete pain in the ass.

So that's it. Boring, bored, boorish. In keeping with that theme, here's a (yawn) video from a few weeks ago of the kids playing a game of their own invention.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Tip #3

If you are going to cook dinner during nap time, do not burn the vegetables to the extent that the fire alarm in the children's room sounds 15 minutes after they've both finally conked out.

Or, at least provide earplugs (for all parties) before-hand.

Oh, and I almost forgot:


Happy Spring!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


I've been talking a lot about the summery weather we've been having lately in L.A. In fact, I talk about the weather whenever it's particularly nice, don't I? It's not that I'm being smug, or trying to rub your faces in it, honest. It's just that I enjoy the weather so much, I drink it up and need to release some of that goodness somewhere.

There are plenty of people who don't like warm weather, who prefer the coolness of fall or the snowy slopes of winter, but I am not one of them. One of the main reasons I moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco was the lure of the sun. One of the main reasons I moved to San Francisco after college was the lure of the sun. (I didn't realize, at the time, that San Francisco rarely gets above 70 degrees).

Honestly, I might even consider moving back to the East Coast, and certainly back to San Francisco, if not for the plethora of sunny 80 degree days without a hint of humidity that Los Angeles enjoys. The warmth makes me smile, makes me lean back my head and feel the rays wash over me, makes me glad to be alive. Of course there are all sorts of other reasons that I'm glad to be alive, but it's the warm sunny days that remind me of them. When it's cold and dreary, I feel cold and dreary too. If Hawaii weren't so far away from my family on the East Coast, and if the Caribbean had an economy where my husband could transfer his job to, we'd move in a millisecond. I'd like nothing more than to throw away all my sweaters and long pants.

There is one thing that I miss about the weather back home, though, and it's exactly what you'd expect: the seasons. Now, people who grew up in California like to say that here, too, there are seasons-- but they only say that because they have no idea what a real season is. In case you are not aware, let me outline for you the typical seasons on the Westside of Los Angeles (within a few miles of ocean.)

Spring: Early March to July 1. Temperatures that range from 60 to 80, averaging around 75. Mostly sunny, with the chance of rain before June. June is generally slightly grey due to fog (which they call "marine layer" here, or, alternatively, "June gloom"). Often it burns off by early afternoon.

Summer: July 1 to end October. Temperatures from 65 to 85, getting hotter as you get into September and October (this is called Indian Summer, and sometimes it gets up to 90.) Mostly sunny, no rain.

Fall. End October to End November. Still sunny, but cooler, temperatures ranging from 55 to 75. It may start raining a bit in November.

Winter. December to February. Mostly sunny with some rain. Temperatures from low 50s to low 70s, averaging around 60 or 65.

Now, to me, 60 degrees is cold. In fact, 70 degrees is cold to me. And I should mention that even in the middle of summer or Indian summer, no matter how hot it is during the day, by 7pm it has cooled off completely, to 60 at the warmest. No hot sticky nights, although it is true that when the Santa Ana winds blow, sometimes we'll get a balmy 70 degree evening. Rare, though.

Since there is no frost, many yards sport plants that flower all year long, or at the very least, have no deciduous season. Many (most?) of the trees that you see do not lose their leaves in the winter, and only a few sprout flowers in the spring. You are more likely to see the mostly all year blooming bouganvilla than a dogwood or cherry blossom. I'm not sure if this is true, being a black thumb myself*, but it seems to me that the trees are smaller in California--shorter anyway, and the leaves are not nearly as dense. Perhaps this is because non-deciduous trees grow this way? I don't know.

The point is--you don't get the sudden burst of flowers and green leaves here that you get on the East Coast in the spring. You don't get the huge canopies of dark green leaves in July and August, you don't get the beautiful yellow leaves of a stately elm (Elm? Oak?) tree in October. You certainly don't get bulb flowers: crocuses, daffodils, tulips. None of the signs of spring from my childhood exist in California. (Well, okay, I'm sure they exist--somebody here has planted them, as I'm sure they'd grow here, but you just don't see them very often.) No yellow walls of forsythia, no pink and white honeysuckle.

Along with that, you don't get the smells of the season, and this is what I miss the most. You don't get the first crisp August evening that suddenly smells like Halloween. You don't get the first whiff of grass from a lawn mower to make you think of baseball. No freesia to remind you of Easter. Certainly no smell of wood burning in a fireplace to remind you that it's Christmas.

Now, all you local readers are rolling your eyes at me, but stop. I'm sure if you moved coasts, there would be flowers you would miss too: for example, there is no eucalyptus back there, no Redwood, no California poppy. I will grant you that. Still, it's not quite the same, because you don't use plants the same way out here, you don't use them to mark the seasons, to note your life passing by. We have basically the same plants blooming in our yard all year long--yes, in the spring more of them flower, but I have something flowering out there all the time. In fact, most of our garden looks the same whether it is May or November.

So when I talk to my mom and she tells me that the dogwoods are blooming, that the birds are chirping and that it is glorious outside, and I can hear the "spring" in her tone, I miss it. I miss looking out the window after a long cold winter, realizing that spring has arrived, and feeling the way it lifts your spirits--just the witnessing of it, this birth of a season.


*I may have all the names of flowers wrong in this post--truly I know nothing of flowers and I am only using the words my mother used in my childhood; I could easily have mixed them up.

I don't know why I hate Mondays

Actually, I do. Monday is not a school day*. Monday the laundry has been piling up for at least 3 days. Monday the house is littered with matchbox toys, crayons, dirty socks, old beer bottles, half-empty beach bags, sand, opened mail, and everything else that has accumulated over the weekend. Monday we are out of soy milk, or bread, or eggs, or something else that requires at least a short trip to the store.

Monday is also the day that Lance too depressed to be much help, too short of temper to have a worthwhile conversation with, too tired to pay much attention to the rugrats.

I'm not at my best on Mondays, either, especially after I've spent the whole goddamned day cleaning up, shopping, doing laundry and mothering in between. Sometimes I think gratefully about how much harder Monday would be if I had to go to work, but then I think: wouldn't it be nice to go to work today and get a break from the kids, talk to some adults, not worry about all this never-ending household minutiae? 'Course, then you have to come home and deal with it, so . . .I suppose that's why Mondays suck all around.

Yesterday was made even more annoying by the required trip to the doctor due to a strange rash that showed up all over Vivian's arms and legs, and also manifested itself as a cold sore on her tongue and a blister on her foot. (Not hand foot and mouth disease, just some random bacterial infection, thanks.) By the time evening rolled around and the kids were fed and in bed and Lance and I ate dinner (an eggplant and lamb recipe that turned out well, surprisingly), I was done. Toast. As was Lance. A ridiculous argument about a potential trip back East followed, and both of us sniffed off to bed without more than a cursory peck on the check.


Today is Tuesday, and the livin's easy, as they say. Well, at least, the weather's nice. I took the kids and my mother-in-law back to the kid's museum where they ran themselves ragged in the streams and climbing structures. We're home, the kids are snoring and I've got some time to finish the laundry and possibly relax in the yard for a bit. If the weather holds, we're heading to the beach for dinner, which does wonders to slay the Monday beast.

Hoping your Monday was better than mine . . .

*This week is spring break at Isaac's school, which makes Monday that much worse: I have no relief in site. Spring break shall be known as the Worst Week of the Year from here on out.

Monday, April 17, 2006

News of the day

It is officially flip-flop weather here in Southern California, and I couldn't be happier.


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Sunday

I am not a religious person, but I'm not anti-religion at all. My mother is a very faithful Episcopalian and brought my siblings and I up in that tradition: we were baptized and confirmed, and attended church and Sunday school for most of the Sunday mornings of my childhood*. After we were confirmed (8th grade, if I remember correctly), Mom gave us the choice of attending church or not. We chose not to.

My sister has since gone back, though this is not surprising. My sister is a wonderful, caring, traditional woman, and one of her parenting goals is to give her children the same childhood that she and I and my brother shared. Exactly. The same school, the same neighborhood, the same dancing class, the same church. I think it is quite a compliment to my parents that she strives so much to replicate our experience. (Fabulous fantastic brother, do you disagree with this assessment?)

Anyway. I never went back to church, except on the few holidays when I was home. As I got older, I started attending the Christmas Eve children's service with my mom, which I love. You've never seen such a bunch of happy excited kids, squirming around in the pews, shouting out the lines of Silent Night as loud as they can, craning their necks to get a glimpse of baby Jesus up on the manger, or perhaps Santa Claus through the stained glass windows. Heartbreakingly cute, even to my jaded 25 year old self.

I have no ill feelings towards Episcopalianism--my time in church as a kid was completely innocuous; I only hated it because it was boring. Now that I have kids of my own I often think about finding a church nearby to expose them to--but that's as far as I get: the thinking of it. My husband is a lapsed Catholic, having been to church exactly once in the 10 years I've known him.

If I ever go back, I assume I would go back to an Episcopalian church, since that's what I know, and since I don't have any bad associations with it. As far as I know, they allow women to be ministers and bishops, and they allow gay and lesbian leaders. Not to many rules, not too much guilt, plus the churches are pretty and so is the music.

But maybe not. Maybe I should branch out and try the Lutheran church. Or Pentecostal. Or Baptist. Jewish. Congregational. Truthfully I don't even know what half of those mean, and the chances of me going back to anything aren't that good, no matter how much guilt my mother-in-law tries to throw my way.

Years ago, when I was living in San Francisco, Billy Graham came to speak. (I remember, it was at the Cow Palace.) I really wanted to go. Not because I wanted to believe what he had to say, or find religion through him or anything, but just because I thought it would be worthwhile to hear what made the earth move for so many people. Surely, he must be a phenomenal speaker, and I was interested to experience it first-hand. I couldn't get any of my friends to come with me; in fact, they were mostly appalled that I suggested it, and worried that I'd suddenly found God or become some sort of extremist. (Really, they should have known better: of course I'm not going to be an extremist, me of the ever-placating point of view!) I think about that all the time, and wish I'd gone by myself anyway. Sigh, a missed opportunity.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this; I seem to have gotten off track.

Tomorrow is Easter. Many people, the very religious, the slightly religious, the okay-I'll-go-so-you'll-get-off-my-back will be attending their local church. They will be learning about the resurrection, they will be singing Easter hymns, they will be dressing up in their Easter finest and kneeling before a God they have faith in.

Maybe I'm a little bit jealous of this. Maybe I feel a little twinge of guilt that my kids don't even know what church is. (This is the time for guilt, though, right? The crucifixion should definitely make you feel guilty, I would guess.)

On the other hand, I'd much rather be at the beach tomorrow morning, watching the ocean, feeling the warm sun heat up my winter-cold bones, raking my toes in the sand. Religion can be found at the beach, after all--I just need to remember to soak in some spiritualism tomorrow, along with the vitamin A in those rays.

I hope everyone had a fabulous holiday weekend and week, and I can't wait to hear more about your celebrations, whatever they were.

*My dad, a non-believer, never attended with us, except for the occasional Christmas or Easter service, or the day every year when the flowers on the altar were given in honor of his late dad.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


At the beach:

In mama's bed:


Posing on the front stoop:

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Remember me?

Well, this has been a really long break from blogging for me, especially considering the last post wasn't really a post but just a plea for help. (I am still pleading, too; if you haven't read Mieke's posts about Adelaide yet, do it now. That sweet beautiful girl and her parents need our help.)

Isaac has been sick--as sick as he's ever been, if you don't count the surgery last year--since Sunday. The doctor doesn't think it's the flu, but he's had a high fever (around 102) since Sunday and it's only a little better today. He's on antibiotics now so hopefully by the weekend he'll be back to his old self. In the meantime, though, there has been much crying and whining and mama-worry combined with no sleep, which has kept me quite busy.

Also--and truth be told, this is the REAL reason I haven't been around--my computer has been fucking with me all week. First the mouse stopped working, then the keyboard, then both, then they worked again briefly and now they seem to be finally dead. I am currently using some old gadgets we found in the garage until I can get a new set. ( I know, it is not difficult to go to Staples and buy new ones, but. Isaac's sick, and I'm tired and Vivian is terribly two and it just hasn't happened yet.) These old computer bits don't work very well either, so this post is going to be pretty lame. I can already feel the carpal tunnel syndrome starting, and I'm not even pregnant!

I have been reading your blogs, for the most part: that I can do without the use of the keyboard, although I am unable to leave comments, which really sucks. It feels so strange to read something, and want to jump into the discussion but be unable to, and have to slink away with my head down. Perhaps this afternoon I'll be able to catch up, but truly, this keyboard sucks ass and I don't know if I have it in me. I know you are all dying to hear what I have to say--I'm surprised you've been able to continue on without my input, really.

Okay, so that's all I've got for you, except to say that Isaac is possibly the cutest three year old in all of the land, even when he's pouring snot and burning up. Such a cuddly, sweet, sedate little boy when he feels like crap, and I'm eating it up.

Be back soon.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sweet Adelaide

Do you read Mieke's blog? If you do, by now you've already heard the Adelaide story and donated (right? right?), so you can move on to the next blog in your bloglines queue. If you don't, let me explain.

A friend of Mieke's had a baby girl, named Adelaide, about 6 months ago. A few months later, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis.

Now Mieke is walking the Great Strides walk in an effort to find a cure for the disease. She needs all of our help. Please donate what you can; every bit helps!

Here's the link.

(I'm probably going to leave this up for a while, to make sure everyone has a chance to read it, and fork over some cash.)

------- -------------- ------------------- ----------------- -------------- -------------- -

But, since a couple of you asked, let me just update the story from my last post.

Aunt Sheila remarried a wonderful man about a year ago. I have only met George once, so I'll just tell you what I've heard via my mother. Sheila does not kow-tow to George the way she did with Michael, not at all. They seem to have a very different, but so far equally as happy, relationship.

The older daughter, Zane, who is 35 now, divorced her first husband not long after her father died. She recently remarried and had a baby boy, whom she named Michael. The younger daughter, Anderson, is probably 33. She married about 10 years ago, and has two small school-age children.

I don't know anything first-hand about either of their marriages, but based on what I know of their personalities, and gossip from my mother, my guess is that Zane has a marriage that would be very recognizable to you and me, whereas Anderson's mimics much more closely the one her parents had.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Blog Against Sexism Day

I started writing this a month or so ago, when Blog Against Sexism Day actually occurred. But since I never could really get to the part where I condemned the whole sexist part of the story, I never finished it. I just found it in my drafts and thought it was worth finishing and posting, even if all it does is reveal me as a less than perfect feminist. (Are you shocked? Don't answer that.)

Both my parents went to college in the south, in the 60's. My mother attended Salem College, a small women's college in Winston-Salem, NC. My dad went to Carolina. Dad graduated in 1967; Mom didn't graduate, she got married and had a baby instead.

I wish I could post some photos of their time in North Carolina, in the late 60's. I saw several of them when I was home over the holidays: small, square, black and white and faded photos of clean-cut, extremely young-looking, white, happy people, posing in front of impossibly old Chevrolets, with huge headbands and flipped blonde hair, khaki high-waters, your perfectly typical Happy Days-ish kids. Alas, the photos are in boxes, in Delaware, 3000 miles and a scanner away. You will have to imagine them yourself.

In these photos, always there are four of them: my mother, my father, Uncle Mike and Aunt Sheila. My mother and Sheila met at Salem; Uncle Mike was already in law school while my dad finished his undergraduate degree, both at Carolina.

After college, my parents and my sister moved to Nashville, where my dad attended Vanderbuilt law school. I was born there. Sheila and Mike, after Mike graduated from law school, moved back to Roxboro, North Carolina, not far from their family. They started their own family in the correct manner, marrying first, finishing school, then having a girl, Zane, about a year after my mother mistakenly had me. (I don't mean anything by that, except to inform you that both my sister and I were accidents. Fertile myrtle, my grandmother used to call my mom.) By the time Sheila and Mike had their second daughter, Anderson (Don't ask me about those names, I have no idea), Mom and Dad had moved their growing family back to Delaware.

You'd think the friendship would fade away then. 7 hours away by car, no email, no voicemail, no call-waiting: how could this endure? But endure it did, happily, forcefully. The Cardens came to visit us at least twice that I can remember before I was 7. They would rent a huge Winnebago, and drive all the way up I-95, through Richmond and DC and Baltimore, finally arriving in Wilmington, a town that seemed like a city to them, coming from small-town Roxboro.

I remember being awed by the way Zane and Anderson called their parents "Ma'am" and "Sir". My own parents were strict, especially my father, but even he didn't insist on those mannerisms. Zane was younger than I was by about 18 months, but she could swim much better than I could. (They lived on a lake, and I, well, I was never a "strong swimmer". Still can't really swim. But I digress.) This stays with me to this day: how Zane got to swim in the big pool at my grandparents' house while I was relegated to the baby pool, and she was younger than me! Oh, the injustice!

Aside: Zane looks exactly like Michael: jet black hair, dark olive skin, a beautiful girl. Anderson looks exactly like Sheila: blonde, fair, all big eyes and friendly smile with none of the complexity of Zane or Uncle Mike. You would never, in a million years, imagine them to be sisters.

We visited the Cardens in those years too, though we would just drive down in our paneled station wagon--or was it the Datsun, then? No Winnebago for us, much to the dismay of my siblings and I. We loved visiting them. They lived on a lake, and had a few speedboats, and waterskis, and rafts, and a dog, and--my god, the fun we had there. I learned to slalom waterski there, one summer when I was about 10. My parents had flown me down there for a few weeks, to keep Zane company, and to get me out of their hair. Uncle Mike, with unimaginable patience, drove the Boston Whaler round and round the lake, giving me pointers, watching me come almost up and then fall, over and over and over again. Until, hours later, I finally made it up, and I've been a slalom skier ever since. Whenever I waterski, I think of him, and that long long afternoon. How he refused to let me give up, how he didn't get bored, how he even seemed to enjoy it, no matter how many times he had to whirl the boat around, dragging the ski rope back to me, across the still water.

Aunt Sheila is fabulous, too. In typical Southern fashion, she is the most friendly, welcoming person you will ever know. Pretty, bubbly, interested--no, fascinated--in you and your life, just because you are a person she loves. When I was a college freshman at Carolina, she drove up to Chapel Hill one weekend to pick me up, and in the car on the way back to Roxboro, she started quizzing me about my current boyfriend, a leftover from high school, with whom I was very much in love. The relationship was on its last legs, which I knew on a level that I was refusing to see. "Tell me what is so great about him, Amy. Tell me why you love him so!" I will never forget that conversation: no one had ever asked me such personal questions about Anton, not even my mother, and yet I couldn't be offended. Her intention was entirely pure, born of love and curiosity, and I remember thinking how strange it was that it felt so comfortable talking to Aunt Sheila, when I would never be able to do the same with my own mother.

But back to Blog Against Sexism Day. I must have been 8 or 9--so late 70s--when we all were visiting the Cardens once again. One evening before dinner I noticed a button on the refrigerator. It was a round white button with red letters-- ERA-- contained in a circle with a line through it.

"What's this?" I asked.

"Oh, nothing, honey" said Aunt Sheila. "Here, have some crackers."

"What does E.R.A. stand for?" I asked.

My mom turned to me and said quietly, "It stands for equal rights amendment, Amy."

"Oh. . . . . Why is there a line through it then, if it's for equal rights?"

"Oh, well, darlin', sometimes things are called what they shouldn't be. Now why don't you run out and see what Anderson's doing? Here, take some more crackers with you."

In typical Amy fashion, I obeyed, never one to rock the boat. I could tell something was up with that button, though, and I asked about it on our ride back to Delaware.

My parents explained what it was, and tried to explain how Aunt Sheila and Uncle Mike, people I loved like family, could be against something that seemed like it should be a given, to me. I don't think they did a very good job of it, and how could they? How do you explain that because of your gender, some people think you deserve less? It doesn't compute. It didn't to me, it didn't to my parents, and it still doesn't.

Yet, my parents have remained dear friends with the Cardens throughout the years. I have not loved them any less, even knowing this strange little fact about them. I have never mentioned the ERA to them, never questioned them for this belief, never stood up to them or tried to enlighten them.

Truth is, it is not such a "strange little fact". They were Southerners first. Staunch Republicans, faithful Christians, believers in the way it was is the way it should be. That they are also dear, funny, wonderful people doesn't really fit with that side of them, but then again, isn't that what it means to be human?

Years later my mother and I talked about it, and she asked me if I'd ever noticed how subservient Sheila was to Michael, always. (I hadn't.) His word was law, and she and her girls never questioned him. He was the king of the house, and she was his handmaid. She waited on him hand and foot, which is what he expected. Here's the thing, though--she expected it, also. She did all this willingly and knowingly, and they were both very happy in their positions. It should be no surprise that the passage of the ERA would have been difficult for them to accept.

I can't really explain why I never noticed this, except to say that I was a kid for most of the time we spent together. Then in college--I don't know, in college I suppose I was too involved in my own life to pay much attention to anyone else. Plus, they were Sheila and Mike, and that's the way they were. If I had ever seen Sheila stand up to Mike, that I would have noticed. Maybe I just didn't want to see it.

Two months after my wedding, Uncle Michael suffered a sudden, massive stroke. He died around Christmas, 1998. He was maybe 55 years old. Hanging on a wall in my house is the Thomas Kinkade painting of California Street, complete with tacky gold frame, that they gave me as wedding gift. My husband hates it, and I'm sure I would, too, if it wasn't from Sheila and Mike. If it didn't remind me of sitting in their hotel room in San Francisco, catching up, listening to Sheila tell me how beautiful I was, laughing with Uncle Mike about how many homeless people there were in town, and how I was going to go broke if I kept giving them all my money.

But I don't hate it. I love it.

Maybe part of the reason I love it so much is that it is ugly. Ugly, like the part of them that was sexist, and also racist, and homophobic, all to some degree. Then again, the painting itself--California Street, in the city that holds my heart--is also beautiful in a way, despite the cheesy paint-by-numbers thing. The fog, the trolley cars, the bridge in the background: there is enough of the good stuff to counteract the bad.

Just like Aunt Sheila and Uncle Mike, and possibly me: beautiful, and flawed.

It's the simple things

Today we went to the mall again, only because I needed a step stool for Isaac to use in the bathroom. On the way home we stopped at Sav On for a few things, and I wound up buying the kids those battery operated tooth-brushes.

Can you say SCORE?

For the past 15 minutes, the two monkeys have been in the bathroom brushing their teeth. Who knew an electric toothbrush could be so entertaining? Of course, Vivian won't turn hers on, she's way too skeered for that, but she's still in there, sucking the last drops of toothpaste off that brush, and climbing on and off the new stool.

Best $10 I've spent in a long time.

(Oh, and I'm sure you all know that as soon as I finished typing yesterday's post, both kids were wide awake. And, yeah, they were up late last night, but it wasn't even as bad as you might imagine--they were both snoring by 9. Praise Daylight Savings Time.)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Breaking News

We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you the following:

Right now it is 4:38pm in California. Vivian has been asleep since 1pm (3 and a half hours!) and Isaac has been asleep since 1:30pm (over 3 hours!).

I know I should wake them up, but oh, it's so nice, to wile away these afternoon hours all by myself.

I'm guessing Daylight Savings Time has them a little mixed up and overtired. Or possibly they are sick. Should I go make sure they're breathing??

Monday, April 03, 2006

Dinah Shore 2006

Early Friday afternoon, I left Lance with the kids and drove to Palm Springs with two new friends for a bachelorette party. Prior to this weekend I have been to two bachelorette parties, including my own. Most of my close friends who are married live on the East Coast, and if there is such an event, I usually can't fork over the cash to fly across the country for it. So I'm a bit of a bachelorette party virgin.

Anyway. There were 7 girls in all, two of whom I would consider "close acquaintances", two of whom are "new friends" and two that I had only met once or twice before. No one that I felt completely comfortable with. In case you haven't been reading my blog for very long, I should tell you this kind of situation is my absolute worst social nightmare. (Well, okay, no. The worst nightmare would be to go away for the weekend with 6 acquaintances, but there's no way in HELL I would ever agree to that, so. So.) I admit to being fairly nervous about the whole thing.

On the other hand, it was an opportunity to go away--for a whole weekend!--without the kids, and an opportunity to leave my husband in charge for 2.5 days, something he's never done before. Not to mention, Palm Springs is in the desert, and thus warmer than L.A., and have I mentioned? I live for warm weather. Sitting by the pool in 80 degree weather is my idea of heaven, and worth whatever social anxiety I might have.

(Also, the bride-to-be, one of the women I'm terming a "new friend", is marrying a very good friend of ours, and once they marry, she, along with her husband, will be my kids' guardians. Lance is the best man. I couldn't really get out of it, even if I was desperate to.)

The traffic was hell getting to Palm Springs, as one might expect on a California highway on a Friday afternoon, and we got a later start than we intended, so we didn't end up arriving at the hotel until 5:30 or so. The other women were already there, on the patio, having cocktails.

One of the things which worked in my favor was that this bunch of women came from all different parts of the bride's life. In other words, it wasn't 5 college friends and me, or 5 work friends and me. Two college friends, two post-college friends, the sister of the groom and the sister's best friend, who had come to know the bride that way. This meant there was no telling of old stories that only I wouldn't remember, no reminiscing about other friends who only I never knew. In fact, although at least 3 of the women there knew the bride and each other much better than I did, I was the only one, besides the bride, who had actually met everyone.

We quickly got settled in our rooms and headed out to the patio, where we guzzled our first cocktails of the evening and I tried to get the lay of the land. I ended up sitting between the two women I barely knew, and one of them was smoking, which made me a little uncomfortable. But one glass of champagne later things seemed to settle down a bit. Also, one woman, A., who I drove there with, has one of those loud, accepting, all-inclusive personalities, and having her there definitely eased everybody's transition from nervous attendee to happy-go-lucky partier. (Wouldn't it be great to be that person? Who can make anyone feel at home, and make everybody laugh? Sometimes funny people intimidate me, because I feel like they are judging me for not being funny, but A. just wanted to make sure we all had a great time, and so we did.)

A little while into our patio-fest, A. and I got up to try the ladies' room. As we walked inside, she turned to me and whispered, "Is it me, or are there a lot of lesbians here?"

Maybe you don't know this about me, but I am pretty oblivious. Just ask her. I tend to not notice anything that isn't right in my line of sight, or otherwise important for me to take note of. So I hadn't, in fact, noticed any lesbians. Or, at least, if I saw a bunch of women, I didn't take notice of the fact that they might be lesbians.

"Oh, A., I am the wrong person to ask. I never notice things like that."

"Okay, well look around now, and tell me what you think when we go back."

We continued on to the ladies room, and I began to look around the lobby and inside bar of the hotel. She was right: almost ALL the patrons were women, some of them obviously lesbians (either because they were sitting on each other's lap, or they were dressed in very typically "butch" attire), some of them who might or might not be.

Here is where I say: I hope you all know that I have absolutely nothing against lesbians. It just is worth mentioning when you find yourself in a very large hotel and that's all you see. Not the norm, know what I'm saying?

In any event, by the time we got in the cab to go to dinner, everyone else had noticed, too, so we asked the cabbie about it. We were right. This past weekend was Dinah Shore weekend in Palm Springs, which claims to be the biggest lesbian event in the world. According to the cabbie, at least 150,000 lesbians had descended on the town for the weekend. Also according to the cabbie, Palm Springs is 40% gay, which is maybe why they held the event there. Apparently there is also a gay party every year, equally as large.

The rest of the weekend, wherever we went (except the very straight cheesy dance club we went to Saturday night) there were lesbians everywhere. This was hilarious. (Again, not making fun of lesbians here.) The thing is, it's very funny to see so many lesbians, so openly out, everywhere you go. Especially when you are celebrating a bachelorette party. I felt very square, and very straight. Especially since the bride was often wearing t-shirts that said "I love D" or "the future Mrs. D"--oh, and also, a cheesy veil. Sometimes I wished we could tag along with one of the lesbian groups, because you could tell that they were having an incredibly good time.

Instead, we went out for dinner the first night, then came back and hung out in the bride's room, where my several (but not too many) cocktails allowed me to crack some jokes that had the room doubled over. By the end of Friday night, I think everyone's nerves were settled, as it was obvious that we would all get along fine.

Saturday was spent by the pool--I laid there basically all day, as various members of our party came and went, leaving for spa treatments or to go hiking, etc. Around 11am, I heard one of the kids in the pool tell her friend that her name was Rowan, and a few hours later Brooke Shields showed up to claim her. They actually stayed at the pool all afternoon, and I was by terms impressed and frightened by how well Rowan behaved. Not one meltdown in the 6 hours that she was at the pool. By my calculations, Rowan is maybe 2.5, and she was not wearing diapers, did not take a nap, and had a vocabulary that rivals Isaac's. Really the most astonishing thing was how well behaved she was. I admit to feeling a bit insecure in my own parenting skills just watching her. Fortunately, 3 of the other women in our party are mothers of 2 to 3 year olds, and all of them agreed that Rowan's behavior was unusual. We decided that she MUST be at least 3, if not 3.5, not matter what the celebrity mags tell us. Oh, Brooke is very pregnant, too, which I did not know. (It's nice here, under this rock, where I live. You should try it.)

Late afternoon, the sister of the groom (who was the only other woman to forego the spa in favor of the pool) convinced me to drink a double shot of tequila, and the night was on.

We had cocktails, including a lingerie shower and "newlywed" type game where we asked the bride embarrassing questions, headed off to dinner at a local steak club, and then to possibly the cheesiest nightclub in all of America. (I am astounded to discover they have no website). Had I been there for real, and by that I mean if I had been there in any other capacity than a bachelorette party, it would have been horrifying. As it was, it couldn't have been more perfect. At one point the bride got up on stage with the band to sing "Like a Virgin" (yes, it was an 80's cover band. I know, perfect!)

Sometime around 3am, we stumbled home and into bed. What remained of Sunday after we slept in, packed up and checked out consisted of more laying by the pool in the 80 degree weather, trying to detox, and catching up on all the gossip in the tabloids. No celebrity sightings Sunday, and we headed home around 2:30.

I am tired, and sunburned, and happy. My family was thrilled to see me upon my return, my husband has new appreciation for all that I do, and I feel proud of myself for not allowing the social anxiety to affect my weekend.