Friday, December 17, 2010

This Is What a Relationship Looks Like:Guest Edition

Courtesy of my friend, BB, who passed this along to me yesterday detailing a scene from her marriage.


P: give me bread. now. do it.
B: no
P: i bought that bread so you shouldn't actually be eating any of it.
B:
p: well fine, then you can eat the cheese but no bread.

(5 min later, as he goes upstairs):
P: don't eat any bread
B: how do you know i didn't put this bread up my butt?
p: how do you know i didn't rub my nuts all over the bread?
/end.

I like that we are not only in our undying love for butt jokes.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Speak To Me About Networking

Do you do it? How do you do it? Has it paid off? I am shy and curmudgeonly, but I desperately, and I mean desperately, need to be doing something new. That means putting myself out there, and um, I do not want to be out there.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

This Is What A Relationship Looks Like: Did I Really Write Nice Things About You Just Yesterday Edition

YG: Where have you been hiding?
JM: I was in the kitchen, on the computer. Facebook.
YG: Did you make me anything?
JM: Like what?
YG: Tea? Hot chocolate?
JM: You want me to make you something?
YG: It would nice if you made me something once in a while. I make you tea or cocoa every night.
JM: I made you that thing. Sometimes. That time.
YG: What things?
JM: I make you money.
YG: You don't make ME money.
JM: I totally make money.
YG: You're not out there hustlin' in the streets to bring ME back some cash.
JM: I pay the rent. And I made you coffee like TWICE this year. And I cleaned ALL THE THINGS that time.
YG: *smirk, smirk, smirk*

I made the tea. Check that box, bitches.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Committed, Marriage, Etc

I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage. Yes, she is that Eat, Pray, Love lady. Yes, fine, judge me, because I liked the book. Part-memoir, part travelogue, part marriage history, it basically tells the story of how she, a divorced feminist, makes peace with deciding to get married again.

There weren't a lot of stories in there that I hadn't heard before, but I obviously loved the memoir parts because I almost always love memoir, and I liked the legal parallels she drew between interracial and gay marriage. She discusses the Lovings, and how at the time the Supreme Court ruled that race-based legal restrictions on marriage were unconstitutional in 1967, "70 percent of Americans vehemently opposed this ruling. Let me repeat that: In recent American history, seven out of ten Americans still believed that it should be a criminal offense for people of different races to marry each other." The mind boggles. I think of how many interracial couples I know now, and I cannot imagine this. This gives me hope for the future of gay marriage and the tide of public opinion.

Perhaps the best part of the book, though, was all the discussion it prompted between YG and I about how we see our own marriage and where we want to go. We are thick in the middle of the child years right now, and sometimes its a struggle just getting through day and all the chores and all the SHIT -- never mind being the kind of person that anyone else would want to be around. But here's the thing: I like YG. A lot. Yes, of course, I lurve him and all that -- husband, father of my child, all around nice guy, blah blah. But I LIKE him. I like being around him and talking with him and scheming with him. He's usually my favorite person in the room (expression courtesy of a friend who said this exact phrase about her husband, and I fell in love with it).

Really, if I could sum up in one sentence what I want out of this marriage, it is that I hope we always like each other.

"It's been famously said that second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience, but I'm not entirely sure that's true. It seems to me that first marriages are the more hope-drenched affairs, awash in vast expectations and easy optimism. Second marriages are cloaked, I think, in something else: a respect for forces that are bigger than us, maybe. . . . Maybe the only difference between first marriage and second marriage is that the second time at least you know you are gambling."


So read the book. Or not.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Testimony Testimony

I am deep in the plumbing of feeling sorry for myself right now because my work/life balance seems to be a lot more about work than life right now. Hence, no updating. But then I remembered the high of my last class and getting congratulated on a fabulous essay, and the high of my weird, strange testimony at church. I was surprised that they asked me to participate because I'm not exactly "church-y," but the positive feedback about being honest and having said what other people were thinking but couldn't say was overwhelming. And just...NICE. I figured I'd post it here.

tes·ti·mo·ny   
[tes-tuh-moh-nee, or, especially Brit., -muh-nee]
–noun, plural -nies.
1. Law . the statement or declaration of a witness under oath or affirmation, usually in court.
2. evidence in support of a fact or statement; proof.
3. open declaration or profession, as of faith.
4. Usually, testimonies. the precepts of god.
5. the Decalogue as inscribed on the two tables of the law, or the ark in which the tables were kept. Ex. 16:34; 25:16.
6. Archaic . a declaration of disapproval; protest.


After being approached to give my testimony, my initial thought, or the one AFTER revivals and speaking in tongues and fire and brimstone, was, “wouldn’t you want someone a little more spiritually evolved than me to do this?” But I have a tendency to ignore or be completely oblivious to Gifts from God – even when they are so close I can trip over them. So I decided to look at this “giving testimony” thing as an opportunity or gift.

YG and I have been members of First Church for a few years now, after doing a bit of church shopping. We were both raised with religion, and we both realized, gratefully at the same time, that we were missing spirituality and that sense of church community, in our adult lives. I don’t remember when our first visit here was, but I do remember the sign of peace and all the hugging, looking at YG and saying, “no. just no.” I am an awkward hugger and complete social weirdo, especially with strangers, and I couldn’t imagine hugging. In church. YG gave me one of his YG-Let’s-Just-Chill-Out-A-Minute looks, and we stayed. And it was great. Welcoming. It was the first church I felt like I BELONGED in, that was speaking to me. We stayed after for coffee hour (me, begrudgingly), and I think I may have even socially interacted with people without dying.

And then we kept coming back. My stepdaughter, MG, joined the Sunday school classes, Dan married YG and I, and later, when Zygote came along, she was baptized here.
It’s hard to describe and put into words, especially in 3 to 5 minutes, what being here means to us. When people find out that we come here and that we volunteer our time, their initial reaction is usually, “YOU go the church?” followed by “Why?”
Mainly because I can be quiet here. I can listen here. Most of the time, I have a constant monologue running through my head of things I have to do, ways I’m supposed to be, things I’m doing wrong, tasks that need to be accomplished – a laundry list of ways I am somehow not good enough. Sometimes being here is the one hour during the week that I can remember and have some clarity about what I’m doing all those other things FOR. And really, what’s important.

I have been incredibly blessed with a beautiful family and good health and enough money, but I don’t always remember that. Sometimes it feels like we are living from chore to chore, but when I’m here, it’s like there’s a mute button on everything else and I can be still and listen to what God wants me to hear, that still-speaking God that I can drown out in my day-to-day life.

There’s also the community. We’re all a little Cambridge crunchy in our own ways, but this community has come through for us in ways that were completely unexpected and totally amazing. When I was 37 weeks pregnant, YG got sick and suddenly lost his hearing completely in one ear, needing to learn how to use his balance again. Then I had Zygote and began a pretty hideous bout of post-partum depression, while our older daughter was also battling different illnesses and ended up needing an emergency appendectomy. Let’s just say it was not the best Spring.

Through all of this, you gave us food and letters and helped run errands and sometimes just came and sat with me when I felt like I might go crazy. And we never asked for it! Neither YG or I are particularly adept at asking for help, and I much prefer to soldier on alone. Give me more – I can take it. That which does not kill you only makes you stronger. That kind of stuff. But helping is what First Church does. It’s who we are. And I am so grateful.

I’m glad we ended up here. I can listen and learn and contribute where I can. I have never had to prove myself here. People just accept that everyone has gifts to offer, and they welcome them. I hope that being here will give me clarity on how God wants me to use those gifts in the rest of my life.

Sometimes I still have a very Sunday school view of the world, and I want there to be rumbling and thunder and a parting of the clouds and God saying, “JM, this is exactly what you should do with your life and how should do it. Step One: work part time. Step Two: Run far, far away from Corporate America” and so on. This would be VERY convenient for me. Especially, if it was bulleted or in PowerPoint.
But I suspect that this is not how God rolls, and that the real learning will come in figuring it out for myself, with your support on the way. I am grateful for this space to be quiet, to hear and feel what matters, and to be near people who are modeling the ways that I would like to be. Thank you.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Patience: The Virtue I Don't Have

I seriously considered biting my child today. She has been whiny and irritated and frustrated. According to the baby books, this is "a normal phase of development" -- the kids want to be doing more and are frustrated that they can't. According to me, it sucks.
I did not bite her. I took the high road and got right in her face and shouted, "Oh my god, what the HELL do you keep whining about?"

File under: Proud Mother.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Was A Young James Dean

Or not. But this is what I was talking about in referring to Girlyman's awesomeness. Girlyman video directed by the even-more-awesome Margaret Cho.
And yes, Ty really is that cute up close, but SKB called her first.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

What I've Been Writing About

Next week is my last week of class, and I'm sad. It's been a royal pain in the ass to make the schedule work, but so great, and makes me sad that nobody will pay me to do this all the time. Because really, you should pay me to write all the time. About things I want to write it. It would really make the world a better place.

Stories that I've written this semester have been about:
1. The time I swallowed a nickel in church
2. My roommates in London
3. Why I like running
4. How fabulous it is when your grandfather dies on Christmas Eve
5. Why I hate "the obesity crisis"
6. My change of perspective moment, also known as how I survived postpartum depression

My teacher is a real stickler for 600 words or less, so it's been a challenge to tell "important" stories in that short a space, but workable. I have gotten lots of good feedback, and I want to take another class.

Other things I've been doing:
1. Reading Jonathan Franzen's new book. Undecided.
2. Going to see Girlyman with SKB and gang, listening obsessively ever since.
3. Listening to a lot of Devotchka.
4. Working on my "testimony." I got asked by my church to do this, and once I got past the initial "do I need to speak in tongues and start converting people?" freaked out ness, I began to enjoy it. I have to stand up and deliver it to the congregation next Sunday, so we'll see how it's received. I already edited out all the swears.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

We Interrupt This Blogging

To sleep.

Seriously, y'all, I'm tired. Many times I have had itchy blog fingers, but I've taken a nap instead. And by nap, I mean that after-dark time that is supposed to be 8 hours but never is. There's so much going on in the World: the elections, the awesome World Series, Marie Claire's fat hate, Jon Stewart, etc. that I would love to talk about, but the exhaustion at this point is a little overwhelming. I am loving school and am moderately enjoying some volunteer projects I am doing, but that added with a regular job and Zygote = want. vacation.

I'm hoping to be back to some sort of regular schedule soon.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Obama: It Gets Better

I'm going to put aside my current issues with Obama and DADT, and give him enormous props for doing this.




Hillary's was also good, if a little corporate.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fat Talk Free Week: October 18-22

I am doing marginally better than usual at this. I adore the Body Image Program.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Too.Much.Food

This is what happens when you decide you are going to "split" a large order of egg rolls with a small child that a. does not like egg roll, b. should not be eating fried food and c. would prefer to munch on the garnish.



Food coma. Too full to write.

Image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half: God of Cake, who always makes me laugh and laugh and laugh.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Running: Tufts 10K for Women

Fastest 10k yet: 1:17:58 at the Tufts 10K for Women today. I ran behind a woman who has been running this race every year for the past 34 years, and then when I crossed the finish line, I got a high five from Joan Benoit Samuelson. Not bad for a race I didn't have much time to train for.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

A Little Bit Thornton Melon

I'm embarrassed to admit how much I love Back to School. I believe I may have actually seen this movie at the theater, and I know that I've watched it pretty much whenever it comes one of the bad local tv stations at night. I was convinced that school was going to be exactly like that. Um, well, not exactly.

It's been a while since I've taken a writing class. I took one the semester before Z was born, and I meant to go back, but Z's a handful and I wasn't sure how to balance her, work, me, training for the half, volunteer work, etc.

I'm now enrolled in a class about writing personal essays. I've taken a class with this teacher before, and I was vaguely intimidated by him. He won't bullshit you or tell you your stuff is good when it isn't. Two years ago, when I took his Humorous Writing class, he told me that one of my stories about getting drunk in college and throwing up on my roommate's crush's bed was neither funny or interesting. But then he told me that my 'Letter to An Ex-Husband" was brilliant and amazing. I like him.

The class is an interesting mix of people, and I am one of the youngest. Our first assignment was to write about a childhood memory and the stories were amazing. Some light (read: me swallowing a nickel in church) and some very deep like this beautiful story about a girl making her alcoholic father happy for the first time. Everyone seems to have a very poetic writing style, which is also a bit intimidating since that is not how I write AT ALL. There is nothing worse that having to follow the reading of a guy who described seeing his childhood friends killed at a pool party during fighting in Lebanon with your story about your own personal tragedy of that time you farted at work. (And yes that really happened.) I'm a little scared, but also relieved and excited to be back in school.

Next week's assignment is to write about a photograph that represents a certain time in your life. I spent some time leafing through albums and discovered a photo of all my London roommates dressed in our Halloween costumes. I have no idea if I'll use this one or not, but oh, the memories. London was about as close to Thornton Melon as I'll ever be.

Friday, October 01, 2010

It Gets Better

I meant to write about Dan Savage's It Gets Better project earlier this week. I had watched some of the videos, sniffling my way through them. But after this week, and the tragedies at Rutgers and the other schools, I want to give this guy the Nobel Prize. From his column:

"Nine out of 10 gay teenagers experience bullying and harassment at school, and gay teens are four times likelier to attempt suicide. Many LGBT kids who do kill themselves live in rural areas, exurbs, and suburban areas, places with no gay organizations or services for queer kids.

"My heart breaks for the pain and torment you went through, Billy Lucas," a reader wrote after I posted about Billy Lucas to my blog. "I wish I could have told you that things get better."

I had the same reaction: I wish I could have talked to this kid for five minutes. I wish I could have told Billy that it gets better. I wish I could have told him that, however bad things were, however isolated and alone he was, it gets better.

But gay adults aren't allowed to talk to these kids. Schools and churches don't bring us in to talk to teenagers who are being bullied. Many of these kids have homophobic parents who believe that they can prevent their gay children from growing up to be gay—or from ever coming out—by depriving them of information, resources, and positive role models."


I love that there are already so many videos up on this site. I love that Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris are speaking out.

I really hate that they have to.

Does Privacy Even Exist Anymore?

I would say that's a big fat No. Examples:

1. The Duke graduate who decided to publish a "fuck list" with photos and lurid details of guys she slept with. In Powerpoint.

2. The two classless and homophobic students that webcasted a roommate having sex. In case you live under a rock, that kid, Tyler Clementi, later threw himself off the George Washington Bridge.

More on this later.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Why Do You HATE AMERICA, Anderson Cooper?

I have loved my silver fox, Anderson Cooper, ever since he was on Channel One. I love him even more when he calls people on their bullshit.

My friend, Kacey, shared this first one, where he interviews Renee Ellmers, a Republican House candidate from North Carolina, who uses terrorist interchangeably with Muslim. The milisecond that Cooper catches her off guard, she immediately says,
"Are you anti-religion? Are you anti-Christian in your thinking?" No debate -- just you hate Jesus.



Then last night, he interviewed Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Michigan, about Shirvell's campaign against University of Michigan student assembly president Chris Armstrong, who is openly gay. This fucker actually has stalked this guy, blogs about him, and posts pictures of him with Nazi symbols embedded in the rainbow flag. This is a scary, scary PUBLIC OFFICIAL. Cooper takes him down.



He is awesome, and I'm sure that all the ridiculous people that support Ellmers and Shirvell will immediately say that he hates America.

Monday, September 27, 2010

When You Get a Call From Costco About Beetle Crap In Your Kid’s Formula

Last Friday night, I ignored a phone call from an 800 number. I hate talking on the phone. I hate telemarketers even more. If you call me and I don’t recognize your number, it’s most likely you’re going straight to voice mail. This time, the 800 caller left a message, though, so I was intrigued. The retrieved message was from Costco notifying me that Similac formula I had bought months ago was part of the recent recall and that I should throw it out to be safe. I shrugged and hung up. I stopped feeding Zygote formula months ago, and the formula she did drink was very minimal compared to her breastmilk intake – nothing to worry about here.

I didn’t think about the recall again until I was consulting Dr. Google about why my normally voracious eater had pretty much stopped eating anything except oatmeal and mashed fruit. This led me to the recall site where I read, “Abbott…detected the remote possibility of the presence of a small common beetle in the product produced in one production area in a single manufacturing facility. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that while the formula containing these beetles poses no immediate health risk, there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing the beetles or their larvae, could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat as a result of small insect parts irritating the GI tract. If these symptoms persist for more than a few days, a physician should be consulted.” Hmmm…interesting. While I was pondering the possibility of a small insect colony setting up shop in Zygote’s lower intestine, I looked over and noticed her devouring a cheese stick, followed by an inhalation of edamame. Then a lot of pointing and whining in the general direction of a box of Cheerios. She had not been invaded by beetles, just “exerting her toddler independence at mealtime” which seems to be the polite way of saying “acting like a possessed demon.”

I don’t know what I would have done if she actually was infested with beetles. Took her to the doctor? Got her some medicine to make her feel better? Sat her on my lap and read her favorite books and played with her hair to comfort her? Probably. You know what I would not have done? I would not have felt guilty about giving her formula, because my guilt won’t really do jack for her.

Apparently, this would not have been the right approach. I should definitely feel very, very, very guilty. If you read the mommy boards (which I do because I like to know that there is always someone out there more batshit crazy than me), you have probably seen all the “tsk, tsk” and “well, if you didn’t feed your baby POISON, you wouldn’t have to worry about beetles” or “This is what happens with formula. DID YOU KNOW..that breast is best?” Did I know? Seriously? Yes, I did know. I live in Cambridge, one of the most liberal cities in the country, home to ‘the Kremlin on the Charles,’ home to gazillions of doulas, lactation consultants, nursing mothers groups, babywearers associations, cloth diaper services, how to make your own organic baby food classes, and so on. You really think I NEVER HEARD that breastfeeding is best for my kid? That I have been sitting here, ignorant and uneducated, waiting for you to help me see the light about breastfeeding? Really?

I read this wonderful post, The Similac Formula Recall Is Not a Punchline and loved this:

“Life happens. Formula happens. You know who formula happens to, in particular? Women who can’t breastfeed. Fathers caring for babies on their own. Adoptive parents caring for babies. You know what those parents don’t want to read? Shitty, spiteful comments about how “well if you were breastfeeding, you wouldn’t have to worry about feeding your kid beetle parts.”


I hate that I even have to defend why I ever used formula, but I realize that if I’m frothing at the mouth about something, people probably would like some kind of back story. Here you go. It was always my intention to breastfeed Zygote, and I would say that I am firmly in the pro-breastfeeding camp. I don’t like the big business of formula, and I think that the marketing of formula in areas where people have no access to money and/or clean water is pretty gross. You know the benefits of breastfeeding, so I won’t repeat them here.

And then I got postpartum depression. FUN! The sheer neverendingness of breastfeeding was just one more thing that was making me feel INSANE. I felt like all I did was move from chair to chair, feeding and feeding and feeding, with nothing but time to think some really, really dark stuff about how, if I just got slightly injured (nothing fatal), someone else would have to take care of the baby and what a relief that would be. That thought was enough to scare the shit out of me, and I got on some meds pronto and made the decision to supplement with one bottle a day to give myself some breathing room and just the feeling that I could separate from Z if I needed to. It made the transition make to work much easier, helped with pumping, and made me a much calmer and happier mother. I started that at six weeks and continued the one bottle until Z abruptly decided to stop nursing at 11months, moving on to bigger and better things, like steak. I never felt guilty about it and I don’t now. The only guilt I felt was about not being emotionally present for my kid those first few weeks, but I realize I need to cut myself a break on that one.

I expect that much of parenting is going to be like this – having lots of intentions and dreams and goals, but needing to modify to make things work best for my kid, my family and me. I don’t really see the point in ‘shoulding’ all over people or making them feel guilty if what’s right for me doesn’t work for them.

Erin Shea (one of my favorite bloggers and someone I’ve been following since I first discovered blogs all those eons ago) posted on this same topic, and I especially loved this:

“Even more baffling to me is why, to my friend Jackie’s point, people feel “duty-bound” to “educate” others to the point where it’s intrusive and rude.

Or, you know, they’re advocating by being an asshole.

Here’s the thing about advocating by asshole: the people who you have no hope of converting think you’re an asshole. And the people who you do have a chance of converting think you’re an asshole, too. And everyone who agrees with your position wishes you’d just shut up or at least learn a modicum of manners.”


Amen. I just don’t see the point in being a dick in situations where being a dick is not called for. And if I’m going to be a dick to you, I will at least be a polite dick, and hope we can have a reasonable conversation.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Bonk! (But Still 10:33)

Yesterday, I raced my fastest 5K yet, finishing in 32:49, or a 10:33 pace. This is fairly amazing considering that I totally bonked. My goal was to finish in less than 33:30, and I thought that was fairly aggressive, considering I usually run about a 11:19 mile, and anything less than 11 minutes has been indoors on the treadmill, with the benefit of some shitty tv like Keeping Up With The Kardashians to watch.

I have run this race, the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure, three times before, though, so I figured it was good to aim high. Also, I'm never quite sure if I'm pushing myself hard enough. When I worked out with a trainer before, I would sometimes get so exhausted that I would actually throw up. I'm not a hardcore athlete and I certainly am not one of these 'go big or go home' freaks who think you need to puke to work out, but still, how do you know if you're pushing far enough?

Even though it's late September and supposedly to brisk, beautiful boot and corderoy weather, yesterday was hot as balls and muggy. I rode the T to the race site, grabbed some free vendor schwag and stretched. I've been battling a head cold, so I took an extra Claritin and drank some water. The place was an absolute mob scene, but I tried to make my way as close as I could to the starting line. [Insert standard runner rant here about walkers who line up in front of all the runners even though it is SUPER CLEAR that that's dangerous and you should line up in the back.] Lots of bad dance music, "inspirational" speeches, and then Mumbles Menino sounding the horn.

I took off like a bat out of hell. I could feel that I was running faster than I normally run, but I wanted to break free of the crowds and the walkers and the strollers. I usually have a hard time with the first mile, but I figured if I could make it through that, I'd be fine. The crowd was so thick that I ended up missing the first water station, but I still felt okay. My arm and shoulders were a little crampy and it was HOT, but powered by 'Paradise City,' I soldiered on.

I passed the Mile 2 marker and managed to get some water, but it was only halfway filled and the crowd was too thick to make my way back. I kept going, but I knew that my breathing was labored. I focused on some breathing exercises, figuring that the combo of the heat and the head cold was not helping. I felt very, very, very hot. As I passed the 2.5 mile mark, I began to feel more and more lightheaded and a girl pulled up beside me and asked if I was okay and if I could breathe. I waved her on, and just stopped.

I hate walking in races. Hate it. Even in the half marathon, I never stopped to walk. I know that I'm a super slow runner, but I've always taken pride in the fact that I never walk. I knew the answer to that question I posed above, though -- I knew I pushed it far enough on Saturday, and I imagined how mortified I would be if I fainted. So I stopped. Got my shit together. Took some deep breaths. Walked a bit. And then jogged for that last half mile.

When I neared the finish line, I saw that the clock was at 33 so I pushed myself to run as fast as I could. I crossed at 33:28, so factoring in gun and net time, I knew I beat my goal. I was happy for that, but also happy that I knew when to stop.

And here ends my inspirational sports entry. And on to another 5K next weekend.

Historical Factoids That May Be Of No Interest To Anyone But Me
I just spent a ridiculous amount of time on Cool Running looking up my old race times. The 2007 Komen Race was the first 5K I ever ran, and my pace was 12:31, a full two minutes higher than now. I ran the 2008 Komen at a 10:35 pace. This was the summer I was training a LOT, and I had also dropped a lot of weight. My pace for the 2009 race was 11:26 -- awesome considering I had just had a C-section a few months earlier. My worst 5K pace in recent years was 13:18 in 2008, but I was pregnant, so I will give myself a break on that one.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My Impassioned Plea To Save Huge (Or Things I Watched)



I watch a lot of tv. Or a lot of tv for someone with a job and a kid and a host of other things to do. I rarely watch GOOD tv, though, or something that I get really thrilled about seeing (Rescue Me, being the exception). I began watching Huge this season, mainly because everyone in the Fatosphere was blogging about it. And, oh my god, it was amazing.

The show is an ABC Family network series that focuses on eight kids sent to a summer weight-loss camp, and Winnie Holzman, the creator of My So-Called Life, and her daughter Savannah Dooley wrote the pilot. My So-Called Life was one of those life changer shows, and years later, I sometimes still feel like I am Angela Chase. That show got the horrible awkwardness of the teen years exactly right, and even though there were some other decent shows like Freaks & Geeks about high school, I haven't seen anything else that came close.

Until now. Huge manages to capture the painful and horrendous awkwardness of being a teenager, and because it takes place at a fat camp, there's no token fat person to deal with "fat issues" while the black person deals with "minority issues" and the gay person deals with "gay issues." The cast is incredibly diverse, and because they are all fat, the show allows you to focus on the character development rather than their size.

There are so many things to love about Huge. First, I love that the cast is actually big. Not Hollywood big, but actual large people. This sounds ridiculous to point out (it's a show about a fat camp, after all), but how many times do we see the loveable "fat" friend played by someone who is way smaller than...well, me? Second, the writing is really, really, really good. The characters are multi-dimensional and there is no single "fat issue" to solve. The show covers binge eating, emotional eating, disorders, fat acceptance, and it's all done respectfully. I never got the impression that the writers were making fun of these kids. (For the opposite, see this review of the other "fat" show, Mike & Molly). Third, I love the way the show deals with "the gay character" in that it's never explicitly stated that Alistair is gay, much like it was never stated in My So-Called Life until the end that Ricky was gay. Alistair wants to be Athena and he loves girly things, but the writers never made us sit through a cringe-worthy Very Special Episode: I'm Gay. This seemed much truer to my high school experience where you had gay friends and you were pretty sure they were gay but you weren't sure if they thought they were gay, so you just sort of rolled with it. Fourth*, the adults are real characters too with real problems, and the writers never try to convince you that adulthood is going to be this magical solution for all your fat issues. I won't give away the season ender, but let's just say that it was brilliantly acted.

* I feel like I'm writing a third grade essay with all these "and first," and "second" blah blah.

The future of the show is still uncertain, but I've sent my emails to ABC and joined the Save Huge Facebook page. You should too.

Also, check out this amazing interview with Savannah Dooley. If you don't believe my arguments, this will convince you to watch.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mama Things

Big surprise -- this made me cry.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't Ask How Bad Your Senators Suck, Tell Them

So the move to repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' stalled in the Senate today. Given the partisanship of late, this is not a big surprise, but still sad and a setback. The blame game has started, but in the opinion of those that matter (read: me), we can blame the Republicans for the filibuster, but let's also leave some flaming bags of poop on the doorstep of Harry Reid, the guy that thought it would be good to play political football with the lives of people that WANT to serve our country in the military. The whole process disgusts me.

I will leave all my 'gays are people too' comments out of this. If you read this blog, you know I support gay rights and you know that you can't convince me that anything less than equal rights for all is fair. Let's just leave that aside. Look at it LOGICALLY. We're fighting two bars. Badly. Our military is overstressed. Our military families are overstressed. Wouldn't it make sense for us to allow people that WANT to join the military to serve their country? Wouldn't it alleviate some of the burden on our existing workforce? Explain it to me.

I am seriously considering writing a letter to my congresspeople for the first time in my life. AFTER I can think of something more coherent to say than, "Fuck you."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

LOVED BODIES, BIG IDEAS (Or: I really want to participate)

I really would like to spend some of my limited brainpower on this contest.

From the website:

Tired of talktalktalking about how toxic our culture is for girls and women, particularly in relation to their bodies? Craving to take action? Brimming with good ideas but suffering from a lack of support? Then this is your moment.

The Women’s Therapy Centre Institute is thrilled to announce the LOVED BODIES, BIG IDEAS Contest.

We need your BIG IDEA in response to the following question:

What is one bold action that could make the world truly value

the diversity of women and girls’ bodies?


All of the BIG IDEAS will be considered by a team of expert judges and the three most thrilling and original ones will be chosen as winners. These winners will be invited to present their ideas in 10-minute presentations at the Endangered Species Summit in March of 2011 in New York City in front of a power-packed audience of media representatives, philanthropists, public intellectuals, activists, therapists, and more. It is our hope that the energy in the room will propel these ideas into real, bonafide action!


Right up my alley, no? Wish me luck!

Other People Saying It Better

My inner monologue has been on high speed this week, and many times I've thought that I would write about something, but then scrapped in order to do...something. I don't know.

1. Meg Cabot on 9/11

I know of Meg Cabot, but I haven't read any of her books. I came to this post by way of The New York Times Motherlode blog. I read it today at lunch and cried.

I have wanted and not wanted to write about September 11, what it was like to go back to the apartment in Brooklyn past the silent Newark airport and talking to my brother, so far away in France, alone in my parents' kitchen trying to piece together what happened, and waiting for someone, anyone to find me. I tried to write an essay for one of my classes about a year or so ago (I was pregnant with Z), and the teacher and classmates said that it sounded hollow, that it didn't sound like me. Sounding "like me" seems to be synonymous with being snarky or trivial, and how do you do that with 9/11? They asked me why I even wanted to write the story, and I explained that I was inspired by an argument I got in at work with some helicopter mom with a thing for matching shoes and bags who had gasped in horror when I said I took my stepdaughter on the T, frequently. She would never do such a thing..."because of 9/11." Much eye rolling and tongue biting on my part, and loads and loads of venom. My teacher told me that that sounded more like me. Maybe someday I'll write about it.

2. The Shed Project: An Eight-Week Adventure in Letting Go

So, yes, this used to be the kind of thing that made me barf. It's like Simple Abundance, but with Buddha! And then I get my daily serving of humble pie.

"What’s weighing you down?

Stuff.

The stuff we accumulate in an attempt to feel safe, secure, happy, successful, and generally OK.
The stuff we use to fill every bit of space in our lives, so we don’t have to think or feel too much.
The stuff we consume to feed the vague yearning for more, so we can feel a little less empty for a while.

How’s that working for you?

Stuff is a tricky beast. You get more of it and then you need more space to store it, and then you need more money to maintain it. It’s an endless cycle that rarely satisfies your underlying need for love, safety and fulfillment.

Is the stuff helping you feel better, or you still feeling hungry, fearful and empty?"



I love the idea of simplifying and paring down. Moving here a few years ago necessitated that, but since I've been here, the STUFF has been creeping back in. I'm not sure if I could commit to such a huge lifestyle change, but I will reading along with interest.

3. Thomas Friedman: We're No. 1(1)!

"...it is a microcosm of a larger problem we have not faced honestly as we have dug out of this recession: We had a values breakdown — a national epidemic of get-rich-quickism and something-for-nothingism. Wall Street may have been dealing the dope, but our lawmakers encouraged it. And far too many of us were happy to buy the dot-com and subprime crack for quick prosperity highs.

Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”

Contrast that with the Baby Boomer Generation. Our big problems are unfolding incrementally — the decline in U.S. education, competitiveness and infrastructure, as well as oil addiction and climate change. Our generation’s leaders never dare utter the word “sacrifice.” All solutions must be painless. Which drug would you like? A stimulus from Democrats or a tax cut from Republicans? A national energy policy? Too hard. For a decade we sent our best minds not to make computer chips in Silicon Valley but to make poker chips on Wall Street, while telling ourselves we could have the American dream — a home — without saving and investing, for nothing down and nothing to pay for two years. Our leadership message to the world (except for our brave soldiers): “After you.”"


What he said.

4: Fatshionista: Thoughts on Appearance-Based Privilege
This one really made me think, and I encourage you to go check it out.

5. I think it's time for a Syracuse visit.

Watching this made me very nostalgic for a time when BB and I could drink a box of wine and snarf down a 'family size' Ortega taco kit. And go to shows at Chucks and hang out on porches all night. My birthday made me think of my 21st birthday and how awesome it was, and also, how lucky my friends are that I don't have a scanner.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Non Political Anti-Gay Army

I know there are many "normal" people out there trying to convince you that Glen Beck is just a normal guy trying to return America to its "core values" or whatever it is that he supposedly stands for. I have to admit that I've done the worst possible thing in completely tuning this guy out because he's such a tool, so I don't pretend to be an expert on what the tea baggers want.

However, his non political agenda includes hanging with a bunch of anti-gay activists. Check it.

I can almost respect a nutcase religious zealot more than a tool that does the "but I'm just a regular guy" thing.

File under: old news.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Secret Thrills, Secret Worries

Zygote already seems to have a wicked sense of humor, and this thrills me to no end.



Secret Worry #1: She will be really boring or not like books or not understand the humor in a delicately-timed fart joke.

Secret Worry #2: She will be exactly like me, with all my neuroses and penchant for fart jokes.

Cute, though, no?

Thursday, September 09, 2010

And For My 400th Post....

Let's go with a reprint. 400 posts over 4 years seems minuscule, but I'm giving myself permission to let that go.

From the very-cool Danielle Laporte of White Hot Truth who I found via Medicinal Marzipan who I found via Already Pretty who I found via....OMG I LOVE THE INTERNETS.

your permission slip from the universe

"I've got the Goddess of Permission on speed dial and she was thrilled to oblige with this sweeping list of acts of self expression and liberation. We can draw on it whenever we need. Come back often. Build on it. The Permission Goddess sends kisses and high-fives.

you have permission to

: not finish reading books that you're not really enjoying. Don't force it, close it.
: walk out of movies that suck (and hey, if you leave in the first twenty minutes, you can get your money back.)
: let it go to voicemail (especially during dinner, or snuggling, or watching So You Think You Can Dance?)
: give birthday gifts anytime of the year (which means you can be late or early and you can give yourself time to find just the right gift.)
: talk shit about WalMart (even if they do have the economic power of a small country.)
: cut the obligations cords that are driven by guilt.***
: pursue your own agenda.
: own next to nothing, live on a mattress, read and write and make love all day with no other responsibilities***
: return crappy products to their crappy manufacturers (because you can vote with your dollars.)
: leave your current business model so you can go do something bigger than you***
: tell your kids when you think that something an authority figure told them is bullshit (you need to be in solidarity with your child, not the so-called grown ups.)
: quit your job, even if you just started two weeks ago, or just got a raise, or are seemingly indispensable.
: get yourself off even, if you have a partner.
: have some secrets.
: cut out the elements of your business that you don't totally LOVE. The parts that 90% of the time make you say, "WHY am I doing this? I don't WANT to do this." ***
: give away/recycle/get rid of stuff, stuff, stuff sentimental stuff that special people gave you (your home is for you, not them); stuff that doesn't make you feel good even, if you spent a lot of money on it; stuff that has intense memories attached to it; stuff!
: say no to "free" stuff, like swag bags at fancy events and novelty erasers and pom-pom pens from the bank. (Because the only thing in life that's free is love.)

you have permission to

: fail, and fail again.
: to succeed, wildly, more than your neighbours, more than your folks, more than you thought was possible.
: be rich and "spiritual"
: be broke AND generous
: leave work early, get some ice cream, and sit in the hot tub at the gym***
: charge what you're worth***
: focus more on creating your soul job and less on finding a ho' job.***
: sleep! sleep in, nap, sleep.
: earn a living knitting for charity.***
: relax. To let go of the growing to-do list in your head. To release the need to get it "just right."***
: to dance.
: go bra-less or underwear free.
: give it all to charity.
: check your email whenever the hell you want.
: start now, without the degree, without the funding, without knowing exactly where you're going.
: sell your house to afford a big trip to India (a friend of mine did just that, no regrets.)
: walk away.
: fall in love.
: eat dessert first.

you have permission to
: not ever feel the need for permission.***

PS...The Goddess of Compassion, Quan Yin, also emailed me. She and The G' of Permish are a rad' team when they ride together. Quan Yin just wanted me to make sure she gets repp'ed in the mix: quit responsibly, say Fuck off with compassion in your heart, liberate with love, and cut clean when you need to use your sword. And when you can, do what you say you're going to do, or announce when you can't with deftness and care.

And then Ms. Permissive emailed me to say she gives you permission to whatever, however, because ultimately, it's all progress. I asked the Deities to take their debate off-line. Your liberation isn't their business anyway."

The Four Hour Work week? Yes, please.

I recently finished Timothy Ferriss' book, The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich. You can go ahead and judge me, because I sure as hell would if you told me that you read something with that title.

I was really prepared to hate it because hearing about Hero's Journeys from people my own age always rubs me the wrong way. Call it the Eat Pray Love phenomenon. And the dude was a white collar worker, so really, how hard was your life? Given that this whole blog is pretty much a white collar worker whining about the trivialities of life, essentially, I was prepared to hate this dude for being like me, but being much more vocal (read: writing the book) about how awesome he kind of is for getting out of the corporate trap.

Because I love memoir, I found the autobiographical parts really fun to read, and because the 80/20 rule is pretty much my #1 rule at work, the background on Pareto's Principle fairly interesting. Other parts of the book were pretty 'meh' (I'm not going to outsource my birthday party planning and grocery shopping to India) and other parts contained things I knew already.

What was most useful were the questions that he asks around what you would be or could be doing with your time if you weren't spending 9-5 at work. Basically what is exciting to you? The two questions that hit me like a lightning bolt, though, were hidden away on page 37:

1. How has being 'realistic' or 'responsible' kept you from the life you want?
2. How has doing what you 'should' resulted in subpar experiences or regret for not having done something else?


Right. So how much time do you have? See also: my entire career.

Matt Madden covered something similar recently in his post, What you should do versus what you need to do, and my comment was

Too often, we fall into the “well, I was going to do XXXXX, but I don’t have time to do that with work, kids, life, etc” line of thinking. Or in our professional lives, the “well, I would do XXXX, but the corporate bureaucrats/manager/SEC/whatever won’t let me” speech. Well, sure. But the problem is that many people (self included sometimes) don’t really define what that XXXX is — what it is that motivates and excites them, what they really would like to do — because that’s the hard question. It’s easier to assume that you would have your dream life if it wasn’t for these other annoyances. Without defining your motivation, though, you’re more likely to compromise and stay in a tolerable, yet unfulfilling career, lulled into believing you’re stable.


This is where I am right now. My job is okay and tolerable, but mostly unfulfilling. And we're not stable. I am still living paycheck to paycheck, and constantly in fear of the big expenses we could have in our future: more childcare, schools, maybe a house, a move, etc. Never mind the bad shit you never really want to think about like illness or disability. We're constantly in fear of the future, especially given the economic situation these last few years.

One thing that Ferriss convinced me loud and clear, though, was not to view retirement as the end goal. He gives three good reasons:
1. You hate what you are doing when you are most physically capable of doing something else. Dumb, no?
2.Your purchasing power decreases after you retire, and you can't maintain your standard of living. He says, "The golden years become lower-middle-class life revisited. That's a bittersweet ending."
3. If you're ambitious, retirement is going to be boring, so you'll want a new job or career. Why wait? I saw this exact scenario happen to my mother. I spent so much time listening to her tell stories about finally relaxing when she retired. Then she retired, was bored out of her mind, drove everyone nuts, and found a new job and career (one that really likes this time) a few months later. I really don't want to wait another 20 years to get a chance to have a job I like.

I also admire how well Ferriss was able to market himself. I think he was a relative nobody before the first edition of his book came out, but he used some serious social media marketing to spread the word and then began showing up in Wired, Fast Company, and all over the place. Even if you think the guy's a dick, that's pretty impressive.

I don't think I could ever classify this book as a "life changer" without needing my head examined, but it's another example of reading the right book at the right time. I need to answer the questions he poses. I need to figure out what is exciting to me. I need to move from tolerable to great. And I know I want to make a change soon.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Welcome To The Time of Your Life

Or, your mid-thirties.

I know that I am old because when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday the other day (a particularly hellish day with hot sweaty weather and car repairs and another fucking tooth coming in for Z), I spat out, "I just a want a few hours where NOBODY ELSE IS TOUCHING ME!" Goodbye roofies, crack and hookers. Hello, mommyhood.

Fortunately, I got my wish. AND IT WAS AWESOME. Chronological details of my day:

* Slept late. 8:15 a.m.!

* YG took the girls to church, and I played hooky, catching up on Project Runway and the "special edition" of Glamour Dos and Don'ts. Starting the year off on an intellectual high note.

* Rode my bike for the first time in over two years. Mem Drive is closed on Sundays, so I just circled back and forth along the Charles and remembered why I love living in Cambridge.

* Spent an hour at Diesel writing and drinking Rasberry Lime Rickeys.

* Ended my NO TOUCHING hours and met up with YG and the girls.

* Hiked Walden Pond. Ate prosciutto.

* Came back home and watched The Sound of Music with Z. Sang Climb Every Mountain with feeling.

* Gave Z a bath. I could leave out the part where she shit in the tub, as 'hold a turd' was not high on my to-do list for my birthday, but I will not.

* Risotto and red wine on the porch.

* Cupcakes and presents.

* Internets.

A pretty awesome day, made even more so by all the phone calls and texts and Facebook posts. And another day off tomorrow.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Year In Review: How Did I Stack Up?

Tomorrow is my birthday. Last year, I was feeling so depressed and miserable in my postpartum haze that I hated the thought of celebrating. So I did what I do when I'm depressed: I made a list. Of things that I should accomplish before my next birthday, so that I could wow myself with all my progress.

Sigh. I have been dreading looking at that list because I was/am certain that I didn't get everything. In no order of importance, my goals for last year were:

1. Finish 3 more essays to accompany Diets and Carolina Pottery. Well, I finished one more essay, but I did send the two existing ones out to everybody and their brother. I will call this one moderately successful.

2. Update resume on LinkedIn and send to recruiter contacts. Done. More than once.

3. Network More! Especially with people with interesting jobs. I went to a few networking events. I didn't die. I still suck at this.

4. Save Money For More Options. Um, yeah.

5. Go Back To Classes In The Winter. This didn't happen last year, but I am signed up for this semester's essay class. Not too late to call that a success. And I did register before my birthday so....

6. Take Zygote to swim classes. Done. I wish I could afford more. She loved it. I loved it.

7. Teach Zygote sign language. We tried?

8. Make a list of all the things that interest me and a list of skills I have. Working on it. I am almost too self-deprecating to do this with any real seriousness.

9. Take a vacation with just YG. We went to NYC in August, and then business brought us to San Francisco last weekend. In my opinion, that's way too long to go without having some adult time away. Will work harder this year.

10. Develop cover letter for jobs that aren't in my current field. Done, but half assedly. Needs work.

11. Apply for new job. Done. I have stopped applying for tech jobs because I don't see the point. So applications have been few and far between, but were for jobs that I actually *really* wanted.

12. Use Fridays for WRITING. Meh. Fridays are more for housewifing. It's been a good experiment, but I really would like to be much more rigorous about this.

13. Run/keep working out after I get back to work. Done. Half marathon, bitches!

14. Read the books on my bookshelves before buying more. EPIC FAIL.

15. As always, lose some weight. And as always, fail.

Not all bad. Progress was made. From my journal last year, "I am a successful failure. Successful because I can take care of myself, my kid, make money, appear normal. But a failure because I'm in my 30s and still uncomfortable in my own skin and have no discernible life path that I can figure out. And really, I like doing nothing. And then I like doing more nothing with YG and Zygote."

I know that I was depressed when I wrote that, but now I read it and I don't think that too much has changed. And I'm okay with that. I know that by most definitions of success, I am doing okay. And that by most definitions of obnoxious navel-gazing, I am a SUPERSTAR. I guess I'm just more comfortable with that now and am okay (this minute, under the influence of mixed drinks, just sayin') with this whole comfortable, super secure awesome badassness taking a little more time than I thought.

Monday, August 30, 2010

This Is What A Relationship Looks Like: West Coast Edition

By some awesome twist of fate, YG and I both have business trips in the same city at the same time. And while I am in the throes of tech trade show Hell (polyester golf shirts and lanyards and all), free airfare to San Francisco does not suck.

After reviewing every possible disaster scenario that could happen to Zygote while we were both away (Ebola! Plague! Hurricane! Sharp Edges! Abandonment Issues!), we finally concluded that my parents managed to raise three relatively normal children with all of their limbs intact so surely they could handle one relatively calm toddler. We sent Z packing to New Jersey and came out to the West Coast early.

The first few hours without Z were an epic Fail and I went through all the typical Mommy Lit-documented stages of grief. Then I had a beer. At the airport. And watched Jersey Shore. And finished a book. With nobody touching me. Nice.

Yesterday, YG and I slept late and then walked down to the Ferry Building to putz around a bit. We took the ferry to Tiburon for lunch, and ended up spending most of the afternoon at this place , drinking wine and eating insane amounts of fresh mozzarella. We came back to the city, went to the Gap (because there are no Gaps ANYWHERE in Boston), bought pants, and after this trying ordeal of a day, decided to take advantage of the half price martinis at the hotel bar. The bar is on the 39th floor where you can feel the hotel swaying in the wind. Extremely strange. Add in the effects of the "passionate martini" and it's all kinds of vertigo fun. Then we headed out to Russian Hill and had dinner at Hyde Street Bistro. Any place that offers a twice baked potato souffle gets my strong recommendation.

And then it was back to the hotel for lots of wild and passionate........BASEBALL TONIGHT ON ESPN HD!

Today was an early morning run on the Embarcadero, room service breakfast (an extremely glam bowl of Rice Crispies and banana for 16 freaking dollars), and back to all work, all the time. Still, I managed to get out and have lunch at my favorite place near the Moscone, Samovar Tea Lounge, enjoying the sun and just knowing that we are going to end up out here for real someday.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Want To Get Ahead at Work? Keep Your Vagina Clean!



Um. Um. Hmmmm....Sometimes there really are no words.

Summer’s Eve, everyone's favorite brand of vaginal douche with the flowy white curtains and rainfalls and ponies, has an advertisement in the latest issue of Women’s Day, advising women on how they can get a raise. Along with eating a healthy breakfast and focusing on what I bring to the bottom line, I need to make sure that my vag is all shiny and clean and fresh.

But then:



Oh, of course. I would NEVER want to get too personal. I'll keep my vagina sparkling, and my boss can keep his balls clean, but we won't discuss it. With that stuff in order, really, the revenue and growth potential is endless.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Body Positivity and Fat and Disordered Eating, Oh My!

I've been having some post-vacation crazy head around my weight, so it's always good to check in with the blogosphere to put things in perspective, or at least find some commiseration.

I loved this post over at Saturday Jane, especially this:

The weird thing is that I don’t actually think I have an awful body. I can look at it objectively and go, “Oh, hey, I have a waist! That is a nice thing to have.” I can try to rate myself on the 10 scale (I don’t recommend this) and come up with a number that isn’t in the negatives. I am pretty dang standard, but as soon as I try to dress above my ‘attractiveness rating’ I get nervous.

I think this is because a woman’s confidence can be seen as an inherently dangerous thing. If a woman proudly posits that her ears were, in fact, carved by artisan Gods, people will give her The Look. You know The Look. The ‘Mm, do you really think you can afford to say things like that? Are your ears really that fantastic? In fact, I think one is bigger than the other. Hey, Barbara, look at this girl’s ears, don’t you think one is too big?” Rather than deal with the heartbreak of somebody tearing down her assumptions, the woman with the fabulous ears will keep her confidences to herself, becoming ashamed of her own pride in a weird cycle of non-esteemy esteem.

What it boils down to is this: I am okay with my body, but I don’t want other people to know that I am okay with my body, because then they will notice it, and what if they discover something that is not okay? And then if they think I am okay with something that really isn’t okay, they’ll think I’m a snob, or a bitch. They’ll think I’m one of those blindly self-praising girls who thinks she’s all that. They’ll tell everybody else that that’s what I am. A girl who thinks she is all that, when I am not all that at all, I’m not even a little bit that! And then everyone will talk about me behind my back and I’ll never get asked to prom and nobody will ever approve my housing loans.

I am not afraid of people thinking I am ugly.

I am afraid of people thinking that I am presumptuous.

This is why I am eager to beat The Universe to the punch, to explain that oh, no, don’t worry. I know my nose is weird and blobby and crooked. I get that my fingers are the size and shape of chewed-on cigars. It’s cool. I’m cool. I don’t think I’m ‘above my station’ or anything. I’m being realistic here.


I could have written that. I wish I wrote that. I am that.

In other news, please check out this article on Jezebel about the new reality show, What's Eating You -- an Intervention-like show about people with eating disorders. Or as I like to think of it, A How To Guide For Young ED Sufferers.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Reading And More Reading

Oh, how I used to love those essays in elementary school -- the perfect exercise for a dutiful, Type A student who wanted to show off all the academic exercises (reading) she performed during the summer.

We are back from Long Island. It was a lovely break, and we made it to the beach or my father's cousin's pool every single day of the 15 days we were there. YG and I even had a few nights away from the kids, including an overnight in NYC with Korean BBQ, yummy cupcakes and free sangria on the rooftop deck of our hotel.

YG biked almost every day, and I managed to squeeze together a few longer runs. The best part of vacation though, was all of that glorious uninterrupted reading time. I steamed through 6 books including:

* Judith Warner's Perfect Madness:Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety -- I know this is a few years old, but I couldn't put it down. Warner looks at current society's obsession with parenting, and how things came to be out of balance. She makes the argument that the value systems that have traditionally driven the market (a focus on extreme competition and winning at all costs, blah) have filtered into our private value systems. [Tangent: For interesting reading on the values-based marketplace, check out our friend Matt's blog.] There is no difference now between the values that drive enormous corporations and those that drive families, and because people feel out of control and unable to keep up with the Joneses, they focus on the things that they CAN control -- their kids. This leads to extreme helicopter parenting, anxiety, etc. It was a great read and I could certainly relate to that out-of-body experience most of the women interviewed had when they see
how quickly the constraints of traditional gender roles re-emerge once there are kids involved. I wish there had been more on how to work toward political and social reform other than her standard "call your congressman" line, but I can overlook that.

* Megan McCafferty's Sloppy Firsts -- I blame SKB and her Megan McCafferty obsession for this one. I thought this was going to be a YA book and wasn't really interested, but hello, sarcastic braniac teenager from NJ who keeps a diary of her horrendous high school experience? Loved it, and finished it in a day. It reminded me of a John Hughes movie with a little My So Called Life mixed in.

* John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime -- I wondered if this book would live up to the hype, and it totally did. It reads like a novel, and has bits of suspence even though you know the outcome. Most of the candidates appear very human, and I ended up appreciating Hillary a bit more and loving Michelle more (as if that were possible). The chapters on Palin are scary hilarious, in that you still don't understand what the hell is wrong with her, and John Edwards looks like King Douche. Loved it.

* Jennifer Eagan's A Visit From The Goon Squad. I heard this review on NPR a few weeks ago, and immediately went out and bought the book. It's a novel that reads like a short story collection, and the cast of characters is something out of Great Expectations. Loved the powerpoint chapter.

* Monica Ferrel's The Answer is Always Yes -- I don't know when I bought this, but it's been collecting dust for months. It's about an insecure kid from NJ trying to be cool at NYU in the early 90s and the NYC club scene of the same era. Let's just say it was relatable. And the prose is very breezy and whimsical.

* Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I can't believe I never read this before. Lovely. And I enjoyed all the references to my neighborhood.

I'm currently in the middle of Joyce Carol Oates' Black Girl White Girl. It's dragging a bit and definitely not her best work, but I'll refrain from offering an opinion until I finish it.

We also read stacks of crappy magazines. Real ones, not ones like those of the Famous 'YG and The Crappy Magazines' Incident 2009, when we sent YG on the errand to pick up crappy beach mags and he came back with Popular Mechanics and Car&Driver. I now know way too much about the Kardashians, Lady Gaga's bad boyfriend, and Jennifer Aniston's baby plans. Sigh. I guess the reading cancels this out, right?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Linkeroo

We're just back from vacation, so I'm working on a few updates. In the meantime, check these out:

Medicinal Marzipan on The Hierarchy of Fatness

Newsweek's Special Feature on The Beauty Advantage

Red Vinyl Shoes on day jobs, particularly apt as I went back to work today.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Nothing We Women Can't Be

Cooler part of having a kid? Getting to watch Sesame again. LOVE this.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shirley, You Jest?

I am now officially off the clock until August 19. Destination: Shirley.

When I come back and write my What I Did on My Summer Vacation essay, I hope to have:
* Read
* Beach
* Slept past 6:30
* Wine
* Carvel Ice Cream
* Run
* Wine
* Beach
* Hung out with YG at the new Kimpton in NYC while parents watched the spawn
* Hung out with my brother and sister
* Been appreciative of my mom (read: not be a dick)
* Not gained 30 lbs
* Wine

Monday, July 26, 2010

So.Many.Chores

I mentioned last week that I had much to say about another one of New York Magazine's bougie 'parenting makes me sad because I have to spend so much money on hand-crafted wooden toys and organic foods' articles. I was all prepared to offer a scathing critique (or let's be honest: link to someone else's scathing critique and say I agreed with it), but there were pieces of All Joy and No Fun -- Why Parents Hate Parenting that definitely resonated.

Insert standard parenting disclaimer here about how I absolutely adore my child and my stepchild, and I've never been so sure about any other decision in my life blah, blah.

But oh my god, the to-do list! My daughter is only a year old, so right now, I can't talk about how being a parent is going to impact my long-term career or my relationship. I know that these are topics that people stress over, but right now, work is well, working for me (in the balance sense, not the right fit way), and I have faith that YG and I will be able to remember each other in the midst of all the chaos. It is the day-to-day activities, though, that make me a little insane, and make me question the idea of adding more people to the mix. In six pages of the article, the one quote that jumped out at me like a big bold exclamation point was:

“I have two really great kids”—ages 9 and 11—“and I enjoy doing a lot of things with them,” she told me. “It’s the drudgery that’s so hard: Crap, you don’t have any pants that fit? There are just So. Many. Chores.”


YG is traveling right now, and that tends to make me feel like I am deeply mired in the drudgery and all bitchy and moody, but here's what the last 48 hours have looked like here:

Sunday
* Up at 6:30
* Coffee/breakfast for me, breakfast for Z
* Play on floor with Z because she screams bloody murder when I stand up, never mind leave the room
* Dress Z. Avoid showering because it means baby meltdown and I don't smell that bad, and even if I do, church is filled with hippies.
* Church
* Z naps for 2 hours. During this time, I make both of our lunches for Monday, clean the breakfast dishes, fold some laundry, pay bills, clean the litter box
* Take Z to pool
* Target stop -- cat litter, bread, milk
* Give Z bath. Let her run around naked because she has raging diaper rash.
* Z shits on the floor.
* Clean shit floor.
* Make bottle. Read story. Z in bed by 7:45.
* Take out garbage and recycling, balance checkbook, eat dinner.
* Take shower because I know tomorrow morning is not going to be easy.
* At 10:30, decide I want to read my book (Judith Warner's Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety), but am too exhausted. Watch Real Housewives of New Jersey instead.

Monday
* Get up at 6:15 to beat Z and get myself cup of coffee
* Z morning bottle. Bottle leaks all over our bed.
* Get dressed, get Z dressed. Nearly break leg trying to put on underwear, due to squirmy crying thing attempting to scale my leg
* Get stuck behind recycling truck on our one-way street on the way to bring Z to daycare
* Daycare drop off. Z is smiley and blowing kisses and ma-ma-mama-ing, so I play on the floor for too long.
* Of course, there is traffic on 95.
* Work day.
* Leave by 5 to beat traffic to daycare.
* Take Z home, put her in the Ergo, and do errands (mail, depositing checks, blah blah)
* Introduce Z to the wonder of the Chipotle burrito bowl, and have brief worry over whether or not this is baby-appropriate food. Say 'fuck it.' She enjoys.
* Z home. Z pre-bedtime meltdown.
* Read Z her story. Doorbell rings -- it's our neighbors wanting to know if they can use our grill. I really like them so I chitchat for a bit, while Z whines.
* Cat gets out.
* Cat chase. Crying baby.
* Bedtime routine part 2.
* Make lunches, clean living room, think about changing the milk-stained sheet from this morning.
* Think it's time for a High Life instead.
* Blog.
* TBD: shower, maybe some reading, more likely another episode of Real Housewives

And folks, I had a GREAT weekend and a pretty good day today. Despite her meltdowns, Zygote is pretty fun to be around. It wasn't bad. It just is what it is, but when you think that every day is going to be this race of activities and chores, it can feel a bit overwhelming.

Sarah Wildman wrote in her essay on Politics Daily,
Parenting and Happiness Pair Well, Despite What You Read:

"Parenting all joy and no happiness? Not at all. It's all happiness and joy, but also all frustration and anxiety and, yes, anger. It's schizophrenia, it's mania."


and

"Having a kid is a little like being an expat in the world -- the highs are that much higher, the lows that much lower, the intensity like nothing else. Joy and pain; tears and laughter; everything that much sharper than it was before."


This is how I prefer to see it. The drudgery is much more intense than before, but the happiness factor is way higher too. I look at this kid, and she's pretty cool, and I think, "hey, I helped make that. Neat."

And I'll leave you with this quote from the New York article about parents in other countries being, on average, happier than American parents:

If you are no longer fretting about spending too little time with your children after they’re born (because you have a year of paid maternity leave), if you’re no longer anxious about finding affordable child care once you go back to work (because the state subsidizes it), if you’re no longer wondering how to pay for your children’s education and health care (because they’re free)—well, it stands to reason that your own mental health would improve. . . .“We’ve put all this energy into being perfect parents,” says Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, “instead of political change that would make family life better.”


And maybe, because that is Something I Do Give A Shit About, it's time to get involved in forcing that political change. What that means, I don't really know.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

There is a Balm in Gilead (Or: Reading)

I finished reading Marilynne Robinson's book, Gilead, and I suspect that this is another book that people will love or hate. I suspect that "well, it's the musings of a Congregationalist minister in 1950s Iowa" would not be a huge sell for most of my friends. But I loved it. It's the story of an old (76) minister who writes a letter to his young, seven-year-old son, hoping to impart some wisdom on the boy because he won't be around as he grows up. It would be easy to simplify and say that this is a book about "life lessons," but I don't want to do that. It's about life, death, forgiveness, love, grief, etc. It's about how even a simple, small town life can be a beautiful life.

Robinson's writing is amazing. I remember reading her book, Housekeeping, while we were away on vacation in Cancun. I kept thinking that it was the worst beach read ever. Not because it was a bad book, but because the prose was so packed and beautiful, it took me forever to even get through a page. She waited more than 20 years to publish her next book, and the words read like she was working them over for a long time, choosing them to be perfect.

I also love that this book keeps to the form of the letter from cover to cover. I've always been a writer/journaler/whatever, but post-Zygote, I've been even more enthralled with? committed to? this idea that she should have a written record of what kind of person I was. We really only know our parents as our parents, and not really as people. As Robinson writes,
"You can know a thing to death and be for all purposes completely ignorant of it. A man can know his father, or his son, and there might still be nothing between them but loyalty and love and mutal incomprehension."

I am Zygote's mother, and this is how she will always see me. My parents have always been my parents, and even with glimpses here and there into their lives pre-children, I have no other real frame of reference for them. Everything they do -- every triumph and every horrible mistake -- is seen through the lens of me, me, me. This is the way of the world, and I don't mind being Just Mommy, but I do like the idea of leaving behind some record of what else was swirling around in my crazy head, and some context.

I write Zygote a letter in a journal we made for her every month. I had hoped to do more, but that never came to fruition. Neither did the Baby Book that you're "supposed to" keep, recording first teeth and laughs and smiles. File under: numerous parenting failures. YG is much more visual and fills the journal sometimes with cards and ticket stubs of places we've visited and pictures. He does the same for MG.

I've often wondered if my parents have done anything similar for me. When my grandfather died, we discovered that he and my grandmother had kept all the love letters they exchanged during World War II. Even though my grandmother was still alive, she had Alzheimer's and my father and aunt said they felt uncomfortable reading them, that it would be an invasion of her privacy. I wonder if they ever did get to reading them. I wonder whatever happened to all the letters and postcards I sent my family when I was traveling. I can't imagine that they threw them away (my tendency to hoard all my old letters and cards has to come from somewhere), but where are they? In some cardboard box in a closet, waiting to be rediscovered? My mother surprised me, the first time I got married, by giving me a scrapbook that she made, pasting old photos of me, awards and terribly bad, dark poems I had written into it. My aunt also wrote me a letter that was stuffed in there. My mom and my aunt are not, by any stretch of the imagination, crafters or scrap bookers, and knowing that she had saved that stuff was a better present than any of the other crap I got.

I'm a bit rambly, and there were many other plot points that I enjoyed, but this paragraph, stuffed right in the middle of the book where you almost could miss it, sums up why I loved it so much:

"I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you."


That made me think of this quote, that both my father and grandfather, carry/carried around:

"A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank...but the world may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child." -- Forest Witchcraft


Read this book.

There is a balm in Gilead
To make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead
To heal the sin-sick soul.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Six Items or Less: Yes. No. Maybe?

The New York Times ran an article today, Shoppers on a ‘Diet’ Tame the Urge to Buy, that spoke right to me.

I've been thinking a lot about 'Fast Fashion' and I've also been thinking a lot about money. Or more specifically, how I don't have much. And what I have doesn't seem to get prioritized for the things I want (travel, stability, wine), but ends up being frittered away on more t-shirts and stacks of books I will never have the time to read or on keeping 6pm.com in business. As much as I'd like to go cold turkey and declare A Year Without Shopping (good book, BTW), that's just not going to work for me. I need to think of things as a fun project with goals and objectives (see also: Type A) for it to work.

I toyed with the idea of joining Kendi's 30 for 30 Challenge, but the Six Items Or Less folks are hardcore! I'm intrigued, awed, and possibly interested. I'm still mulling it over, and in case it wasn't obvious, will be blogging about whatever project I decide on. I don't make decisions without first examining exactly how I can document them. :-)

In the meantime, check out the video:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Close To My Own Heart

Check out The Globe's article, Years and Marriages Later, They Still Pay.
Biting tongue. Biting tongue.

Cory Doctorow and Me and Sometimes Stephen King

Have you discovered I Write Like? It's a statistical analysis tool that analyzes word choice and writing style and compares it with those of the famous writers. I input a bunch of blog entries, and Stephen King came up once, but Cory Doctorow came up multiple times. I'm embarrassed to say that I needed to look him up. Well, add to the list of "things to read."


I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Fast Fashion (Or Other Unsustainable Things I Wish I Didn't Enjoy)

It's come to this. I'm going to have to give up my shopping habit. When you compare it to eating fast food, it seems inevitable.

What the hell am I talking about, you ask?

Naomi Wolf wrote an article, The High Cost of Cheap Fashion, about a month ago, about why exactly those clothes at Zara, Forever 21, H&M and the like are so cheap. Later, Aminatou Sow, posted two items over at Feministe, Retail: It's Complicated and More on Fast Fashion. Both are making their way around the blogosphere, and are worthwhile reads.

These bits were what jumped out at me:

"Fast Fashion — much like Fast Food — is cheap, addictive, and built on an unsustainable, low-wage system. These throwaway clothes are purposefully designed to be worn a few times and discarded, which contributes the growing problem of textile waste. According to the EPA Office of Solid Waste, the average American household throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year so it’s not hard to imagine how the constant production of new clothing poses a number of environmental challenges, especially in developing countries. "


And,

"Truly committing to Slow Fashion would require us to learn more about the clothes we buy and who produced them, and using that knowledge to make socially and environmentally responsible choices. "


Sigh.

We all know I have a problem. The No Shopping Project demonstrated this to me in a way that I knew deep down, but never fully realized. I'm having the same feelings that I did when I knew I had to give up eating so much processed, crap food. I know what the "right" thing to do is, but I don't want to give up what I like, and I am definitely the product of a culture that embraces stuff, and a culture that wants that stuff cheap and fast.

I suspect I'll be spending some time with Elizabeth Kubler Ross in the near future.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Vagina On Your Way Out

We are off for Maine Weekend Part Deux, so posting will be light. I have things to say (New York Mag runs another unhappy parenting article! Must Comment!) but need to pack.

The title is apropos of nothing. Just on my mind after reading my brother's post about how he often quotes from Dumb and Dumber and Knocked Up, which I do too. All that money they spent on those college educations...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back Down The Rabit Hole: Or Finding The Right Thing To Read Exactly When You Need It

I have a couple of free minutes to write this evening, and I was searching through my Yahoo account, looking for articles I sent myself that I eventually was going to write about. Key word is eventually. I wanted to link to Medicinal Marzipan because it's one of my new favorites, and on there, I found this link to Imagine Today's post, Falling Back Down The Rabbit Hole.

"See, for all of my talk about body-acceptance and loving yourself there’s still this whisper of self doubt, a voice that is always waiting to let me know just how much better I would look and feel if I just dropped say, ten pounds? Fifteen? maybe even twenty?! It’s a voice that I work incredibly hard to silence with projects, outings, new dresses, and accomplishments. Most of the time I’m stronger than it but if I do something like, say, get on the scale and discover that I now weigh five pounds more than I thought I did… that’s when the voice in my head takes over."


And,

"If that wasn’t bad enough it was all to easy to find computer programs (like Daily Plate) that were ready to recommend a calorie intake of about 1,100 and forms where I could talk incessantly about this diet with other people because our society is structured to encourage diet talk more than nutrition talk. I mean, yeah, we cue in to eating disorders most of the time but you can’t even get diagnosed with an eating disorder until your body weight drops to a dangerous level. This is creepy because it means, essentially, that I can have all of the behaviors of anorexia (I don’t, but hypothetically) without the medical institution even acknowledging something is wrong with me until I drop enough weight to concern people… this makes sense considering American culture focuses on weight as the bottom line, rather than behavior/nutrition/health/etc.

Essentially, our culture tends to encourage people to develop disordered eating behaviors (which I certainly have and I’m not the only one) by focusing so firmly on diet pills, instant-gratification plans, before & afters etc. instead of focusing on NUTRITION.

I won’t let this beat me down."


I needed to read that. This body of mine and I are not in a good place right now. I don't know who declared an end to the cease fire first, but there has been a huge disconnect between how I see myself and what others see, and more importantly, between how I see my body and what my body can actually do. I ran a half marathon, I am regularly putting together 7-8 mile runs, I had a baby, I nursed a baby for a year, and I lost all the baby weight. Still, there's a voice in my head that says "not enough" and the mirror and the pictures just show fat, fat, fat. We went outlet shopping over the weekend, and I cried in the dressing room for the first time in a really LONG time over some ill-fitting pants (always with the fucking tiny pants!) And then I cried more because I am in my mid-thirties, a mom, and relatively smart, and still, this is such an issue for me.

I'm trying to figure out a way to match seeing what my body can do to how I see my body, but it's a work in progress. Just typing it is extremely difficult for me, but probably the only one to get this recovery and acceptance ball o' fun kicking around again.