Thursday, January 29, 2009

Gone fishin'

Between busyness and upcoming travel, I have been and will continue to be AWOL.  I know all 2 of you are devastated, but try to console yourselves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Losing contest entry :)

Kevin, whose love for me makes him delusional occasionally, keeps egging me into entering writing contests.  He seems to think I am some kind of undiscovered talent.  But that is because he doesn't read blogs.  When you do that, you realize that writing talent is about as common as the common cold.  Which brings me to this losing essay.  Enjoy!

As I sit here struggling to locate my brain in a sea of head cold-produced mucous, I am reminded how those little nuisances in life can rob a person of their joy.  You know what I am talking about.  People who honk in a traffic jam, as if the root of the problem is that someone decided to stop for a picnic in the middle of the interstate. Those automated phone systems that ask you to enter an endless sequence of numbers only to eventually connect you with a human being anyway.  Computers crashing.  Phones ringing in movie theaters. Children screaming in movie theaters. Children screaming on airplanes.  Children screaming in grocery stores.  Paris Hilton. I will add daylight savings time, although I realize this will be controversial.  I have never understood why we must go through a government-mandated jet lag-like experience twice a year under the pretext of creating an extra hour of daylight.  It may come as a shock, but even America--the greatest country on the earth, land of the free, home of the brave, God bless the USA--cannot produce daylight (although it’s possible that, with Barack Obama, yes, we can.).  But now I am starting to sound like Andy Rooney, and I am far too young for that.  Oh, and put Andy Rooney on my list as well. What a crank.


Marriage seems to breed more pet peeves than children these days (which are often one and the same, see above).  If you live with someone long enough, they will start to bug you, even if they are the most spectacular person on the planet.  My otherwise nonplussed (and spectacular) husband has an aneurysm every time he discovers yet another food container I have improperly closed.  I seem to be biologically incapable of tightly screwing on a lid.  It must be some kind of mutation that survived evolution.  I likewise burst blood vessels every time I find yet another utensil my husband has left out on the counter intending to reuse (but never does).  When I go into the kitchen and see that expectant fork lying turned over by the sink, it sends me on an imagined prowl through the phone book under “divorce attorneys.” And don’t even get me started on the trail of post-it notes he leaves around the house, as if we are Hansel and Gretel needing a way out of the magical forest.  He, in turn, hates it when I throw them away because they contain his brilliant thoughts and ideas.  My response is, if they are that impressive, they deserve to live in a notebook.


And then there is the head cold, which prompted this voyage of complaint in the first place and generally saps me of the will to live.  Can’t someone just cure this disease already?  Honestly, in this election year, I would not only elect the candidate who could produce a head cold cure President of the United States , I would probably elect him Dictator of the World, give him all my money, and throw in my soul for free.  I’m actually surprised no politician has yet promised this, as they certainly have promised us everything else (Pet Peeve #537: Pandering politicians).  Although I have no personal experience with water boarding, I feel a head cold must be similar—I definitely have a sensation of drowning without any real chance of death (hopefully).  Maybe they should just pipe some cold viruses into Guantanamo .  Or let my daughter’s daycare class loose in there, either way.   


Now that my joy is well on its way out the window, maybe I should search for some deeper meaning here.  So here goes: There is definitely something about modern life that produces frustration and annoyance.  I can’t imagine the pioneer women having hernias over their husbands leaving shoes in the middle of the floor.  Certainly they would have never complained of men leaving toilet seats up because they didn’t have toilets, which probably is the only solution to that problem.  They had bigger things to worry about, like whether or not the locust plague or typhoid epidemic was going to head down from Minnesota ; basically, whether they would live or die. 


Modern life obscures the life-or-death struggle and gives us the illusion of control.  American culture is particularly adept at feeding our human egos in this way by bombarding us with choices.  Not only can you freely choose your president, spouse, career, doctor, house, and car (and we are close to being able to choose our children through genetic engineering; no such luck choosing our parents, however), you can choose from among 77 varieties of breakfast cereal, a decision I have always found to be among the toughest in life.  But the truth is none of us are really in control.  We still face a life-or-death struggle, however hidden it may be most of the time, and we certainly cannot control other people.  And when we get glimpses of reality, it drives us crazy.  We nag our spouses.  We honk our horns.  We rearrange our living rooms.  We clean out our closets.  We write whiney essays.  We would all be much happier if we discovered the freedom that comes from acknowledging powerlessness when there is nothing else to do but listen to the mucous drain from our heads.   


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Trying to grow some character here

I'm really really annoyed right now, so instead of venting about it, I'm going to do my gratitude thing that The Oprah taught me.

1. I am grateful for my great boss and my great team.  I've learned so much in the last year and a half.  And I have fun at work.
2. I am thankful for friends who know I am a single mother for a few weeks and offer to babysit.
3. I am thankful I did not send the email I initially wrote but convinced myself to take the high road instead.
4. I am grateful for the lady who is coming tomorrow to give me an estimate for housecleaning.  I am grateful I can afford to hire someone to do this, especially if I quit buying sweaters when I already have a million, and have finally decided to stop talking myself out of it.
5. I am thankful that I have the kind of husband I want to be around and I miss when he is away. 

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The old presto-change-o-thingy

Babies really know how to keep mom on her toes.  Just when you think you have yours figures out--wham bam they pull a fast one.  Like when you think she has stopped with the "my diaper runneth over" poop in favor of more "mature-style" poop.  So you leave the extra outfit at home and abra kadabra you are in deep doo-doo.  Or last night I didn't change her diaper before I headed home from my cousin's house because she goes 11 hours at night without a leaking diaper so I'm sure she can go 4 in the daytime right? But lo and behold, I got her in the house, and she's soaking wet.   The there is the solid food issue.  I've decided this is just one massive baby power play.  The rules go something like this:

1. I will eat peas, but only on every second Thursday of the month and/or days that start out cloudy and end up sunny.  Don't ask me how I know how the day will end up, I just do. And then  and only then will I eat peas.
2. I will down sweet potatoes like they are mint chocolate chip ice cream, which i hear is one of the better things in life, unless you offer them to me with the purple spoon and it's a Tuesday and I've already pooped twice that day.  Then you should remove them from my sight post haste or risk the consequences.
3. I hate meat of all kinds so don't even try.  It's a matter of conscience.  On second thought keep trying I may eat an entire jar just to spite that squirrel who made a strange face at me in the park.
4.  I love love love yogurt.  I will always eat yogurt.  Except when I won't.  

The sleeping/nap thing is really the bear though.  As I did not realize before I became a parent, babies go from taking multiple naps a day to taking a few naps a day to taking two naps to one nap.  Who knew?  We've been comfortably in the two-nap mode since September, very predictable. She wakes up at 7 am, she goes down for a nap at 9 am, she wakes up at 11 am, she goes down at 2-3 pm, she wakes up at 4 pm, she goes to bed at 7 pm.  Perfect routine, perfect child!   But she is apparently "transitioning" again. It started with her waking up at 6 am instead of 7 am, not a popular choice with mom.  But mom can handle it, I'll just keep her up later, no sweat.  But now she has started in on the sacred nap schedule.  Today I put her down at 9 am and she cried and fussed until I finally caved and went and got her at 9:30.  At 10:00 I tried again, thinking the child must be exhausted.  Try again!  How about at 11, Charlotte?  Nope, not interested.  Noon? Please?  OK, I will sleep now.  You may go about your business.

I am assuming/hoping/praying that the one nap is a long one, otherwise I am probably screwed.  And by a 10 month old no less.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Are you sure we're not on candid camera?

The esteemed governor of Illinois held another press conference yesterday in which he answered pretty irrefutable evidence--nay, taped evidence--of corruption worthy of a Kenyan politician not with humility, apologies, or any of the things a normal person might do in that situation, but with self-promotion.  He quoted scripture.  He quoted poetry. He paid homage to his poor, immigrant parents (who are now spinning so fast in their graves it's likely to cause an earthquake in China).  He listed all his accomplishments as governor.  He blamed the Illinois legislature for his predicament (yeah, why didn't any of them offer to buy the Senate seat? Cheapskates).  He ascended to a level of shamelessness unseen since Bill Clinton.  He may have out-Clintoned Clinton, a herculean feat if there ever was one.  

The whole thing looked like something concocted for the Daily Show.   Maybe his thought is, if I'm going down, I'm at least going to have some fun with it.  Get this guy an agent, he really needs to take this show on the road.   Or to Kenya.  Actually, scratch that, they see this kind of stuff everyday and would probably not even notice.  On the other hand, he probably could sell that Senate seat for a good price.  

Friday, January 9, 2009

Holly Triumphs Over Technology

I am trying to move on from OU's devastating loss last night by focusing on a contest with a more positive outcome.  In Holly vs. The Machine, chalk one up for Holly!  I got the cable and software for my camera (which you may recall cost me $80.43) and got my video uploaded on to my Mac! Of course most of that $80.43 is the software that it turns out I didn't need after all and for which I cannot get a refund, so chalk one up for Sony as well.  Nevertheless, I am having a blast editing and making little movies!  Yet another new time suck that will prevent me from cleaning my house!  Only this one I consider to be worthwhile, unlike checking every 10 minutes to see if they have put more things on sale (I am highly disappointed at the after Christmas sale this year, they do not seem to realize there is a recession. Wake up you preppie fools!)  Here is proof of my technological genius:


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm in love

This is my new love.  Despite outward appearances, it is not a healthy relationship.  Though these delicious chips are baked and have a Mediterranean Diet-vibe, they are in fact 140 calories per tiny serving, and I could easily eat the whole bag, which is 6 servings, or even two or three bags.  You do the math, that's a lot of calories.  And calories--not cholesterol, not transfats, not fats period--calories are what make you fat.   Just a little nutrition lesson for you this evening.  

Today I am grateful for:
1. Stacy's Pita Chips, in moderation.
2. The 35 pounds I have lost since Charlotte was born.  
3. No one brought goodies to work today.
4. I finally found the time to take down the Christmas tree.
5. The nice grocery delivery man who got out in the pouring rain to bring me my groceries so I did not have to.  God Bless him and the Giant Peapod!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I've had a revelation

I've been kind of down the last few months.  I won't go into the details, and there have been a few legitimate reasons, but I've decided it basically comes down to the fact that I am a spoiled brat.  

Don't try to argue with me, even though I know you are dying to and finding out I am spoiled shakes your entire belief system, but it's true.  The evidence: Even though I have pretty much everything a person could want in life--topped off with the most beautiful, delightful, sleep-loving baby girl ever conceived--I have squandered countless precious moments mourning the loss of my pre-baby life.  What pray tell must this fabulous life have entailed that its passing requires months of grieving? Yachting with celebrities on the French Riviera? The body of a rare non-anorexic supermodel? A rewarding career with Doctors Without Borders helping refugees in Darfur?  

Um, not quite.  Basically, when I really think about it and am honest with myself, I am in mourning over boring, meaningless, aimless sloth.  That's right, I seem to think lying on the couch all day watching all the Indiana Jones movies back-to-back (well, maybe not the 4th one) is a better way to spend one's life than preparing a new human being for the world.   Now, I think it may be true that lying around watching movies is a totally awesome way to spend a day, I don't think it's really an ideal way to spend one's life.  Lives are built for purpose, to reference The Obama's good buddy Rick Warren.  Sloth is not purpose. Self-indulgence is not purpose. Even an overgrown adolescent like myself has to wake up to that eventually.  

But it's tough, especially for we youngest children, to give that up and accept the kind of responsibility parenthood requires.  If you are a youngest child, you feel like people should be taking care of YOU, not the other way around. Responsibility can really wear on a youngest child.  I have never wanted any of it.  In fact I was totally fine staying a child myself.  Yeah, people tell you what to do, but you basically have no worries.  So now I HAVE a child, and she's dependent on ME.  A more frightening prospect I cannot imagine.  Oh wait, I can,  it's called First Man Bill Clinton let loose in the White House without much to do.  We should all give thanks to The Obama for helping us avert that disaster.  

In effort to stop being depressed and spoiled, I am going to follow the decade-old advice of that other font of wisdom and over-inflated expectations, The Oprah, and list things I am thankful for every day.  I'll do it right here on my blog, right after I rant and rave about something that pissed me off that day.  The Oprah would be so proud of me. And that's really what I live for. 

Today I'm thankful for:
1. Charlotte made it to a reasonable bed time without melting down even though she had no afternoon nap.
2. Kevin made it to Turkey safely and sent me an email.
3.  It didn't ice like they said it would.
4. Central heat, a warm blanket and a glass of red wine.  

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Whining cometh before chagrin

I am feeling bad about the Gloria Steinem post--no sooner did I complain about Kevin not doing much housework did he go on a household-chore frenzy, without even reading this blog.  He cooked! He did the dishes! He got up with the baby! He got my car fixed!  Tonight he is taking me to a musical, which he will almost certainly hate, at the Kennedy Center!  

I like the new and improved Kevin, very very much.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hopefully predictive of future behavior...

I do hope that when Charlotte is a teenager, she still thinks wallowing around on the floor with books is the most fun a person can have.  I want her to be a nerd, no doubt about it. A nerd with plenty of friends--nerd friends--but a nerd nonetheless.  Nerds do not get into much trouble and end up making good money.  

Friday, January 2, 2009

When Hoarding is a Good Thing

I'm sure we've all seen the hoarders on TV--these poor people who can't throw anything away and Dr. Phil can't even get through their door for the piles and piles of Teen Beat magazines from circa 1988.  It's very sad.  

I myself am the opposite of a hoarder, I am a compulsive disposer.  I go through my clothes, books, papers, dishes, etc. regularly and just throw stuff away or give it to Goodwill.  I still own a lot of stuff, but only because I have a deep emotional attachment to what I affectionately refer to as "African crap."  And I have a raging sweater addiction, although I also go through my huge pile and cull, so as to make room and justify future purchases.  Unfortunately, I often throw away things I end up needing, or rather things that Kevin ends up needing (oops, sorry, honey, I had no idea that scrap of paper with "fiscal," "x+y/z" and "dividend" written on it was a Nobel Prize in economics just waiting to happen. My bad.)   

Today my aggressive disposal tendencies cost me exactly $80.43.  This was the cost of a replacement CD and cable from Sony that will allow me to upload video from my 6 year old camcorder to my new MacBook.   Of course I had presumably thrown out the old ones.  Or as I often prefer to say, I "lost" them.  "Lost" sounds more accidental and forgivable, kind of what manslaughter is to murder.  Either way, it's $80.43 and a dead person.  I probably should have just gotten rid of the camcorder.  It's a wonder it has survived this long anyway.  

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Silencing My Inner Gloria Steinem

Sometimes I think the feminists really screwed us over.  Don't get me wrong, I would not have the degree or the job that I have were it not for the feminists (and I guess that is a good thing, although sometimes I do wonder). And I do like to vote and own property, it's lots of fun.  And I LOVE birth control, I can't imagine life without it.  Well, actually I can, and it would be entail lots of celibacy, because as much as I love sex, there is nothing, NOTHING worth having a million children for.  Not chocolate, not sex (now if only chocolate caused pregnancy, I would weigh like 2 pounds). Honestly, I can barely stand the thought of having a second child now that I know what I am up against.  

Where the feminists went wrong, however, is raising our expectations into the stratosphere of complete justice, not just under the law but in our private lives.  Sorry, Gloria Steinem, but women are never going to get a fair deal there.  A large part of it is of course biology, which the feminists typically ignore, and at their peril.  There is NOTHING fair about having a baby.  I really don't think I have to list the pains and agonies of pregnancy and childbirth.  While I went through 9 months of pregnancy hell, then another 24 hours of labor and delivery hell, plus another month or so of C-section-recovery-breastfeeding hell (which in my opinion is like pure, distilled, unadulterated hell) Kevin had to pack a bag to take to the hospital.  Oh, and then he had to drive to the hospital, very taxing. Beyond the birthing, women just seem to get stuck with the kids most of the time, I'm not sure why--could be cultural expectation, could be biological instinct.  It could be men are just really smart and know if a baby is crying, the nearest woman will cave before the nearest man and go and deal with it.   I know that is what happens with housework.  Men seem to have an incredible ability to tolerate dirt and disorder.  They know that if they just hold out, some woman will have a nervous breakdown and go into a cleaning frenzy.  

But the feminists have modern women convinced that if we don't split the housework and the childcare completely down the middle, we are being cheated and mistreated and disrespected.  And that is probably true.  But I am a pragmatist, and I know it is a heck of a lot more work to badger a man into doing more housework and childcare than it is to just do it yourself.  For instance, Kevin, in theory, does the dishes, that's one of his like two chores.  Now I can watch the dishes pile up in the kitchen day after day until they resemble the Leaning Tower of Piza, I can try to work around them while I cook even though our kitchen is tiny, meanwhile I get more and more angry until we have a massive fight and he eventually stomps in there and does them and things are tense for another 2 days, at which point the dishes start piling again and we start the whole process again.  Or I can just take 15 minutes every day and just do them myself.  And that's probably what I would always do and I would probably be happy with that if it weren't for those damn feminists in my head telling me I am perpetuating a system of patriarchal injustice in addition to degrading myself blah blah blah

So shut up Gloria and leave me alone!  And those of you who have husbands who do a bunch of housework on their own initiative, well, I don't want to hear from you either.  You wreck my theory, and as an academic I am trained to ignore such evidence.