Nov 19, 2008

Hiatus

I haven't posted lately because my home computer is in intensive care, and I don't feel comfortable blogging at work. The culprit is the hard drive, which will undergo a transplant. All of my files, however, are permanenty lost to amnesia. Photos. Videos. My address book. My novel. And even though I'm a computer geek, I do not back up regularly, and it's been a while. I've got a rental so I can still access the internet, but it's just not the same, you know? First my camera and now my computer; I think it's a sign I should take a break for a while.

Nov 10, 2008

Enough with politics, let's get back to MY world.














My mom sent these pictures when they returned home from the coast. (They don't have an internet connection there — can you imagine the hardship I endure not being able to check email?) This particular pair struck me as a great metaphor for the last six months. There we are in the first one, chilling and enjoying the moment, dimly aware that the ocean (life) can be a capricious bitch, not particularly feeling in the crosshairs, but flirting with danger (big change) with no plan to handle potential crises. Then we're scrambling to outrun the predicament I put us in, still unaware of how much worse things would get before they got better. A picture of my mother hugging me while I cried would be too literal. And I don't know what image might represent Grace and me now. I know we would look less complacent than in the first picture and less terrified than in the second. I hope I'm not naive, assuming the worst is over, and that our work now is to be thankful, optimistic and, of course, more regular, gastro-intestinally speaking. A friend told me I need to "get used to a new normal," which is apparently a longer process than I would like. I still sometimes wake up and think John is next to me, or I look at my watch and think he'll be home from work any minute. But those moments are fading, being replace by experiences that comprise our new normal. And it's not so bad.

Splish splash

My friend Justine used to frequently encourage me to take baths with Grace. Every time, I told her I was a shower girl, not a bath person, and she insisted I was missing out on a wonderful bonding opportunity. Grace has such thick hair I have to dunk her back into the water to get it wet, then repeat the same maneuver to rinse out the shampoo. After our involuntary swim at the coast, however, Grace was becoming increasingly freaked out at bath time, and The Dunk will probably never again be possible. Last night I thought she might relax a little if I climbed in with her, and I will say this, Justine: I was wrong. We had a grand bubble bath together, and I even managed to shave my legs for a change. Gigi still went completely rigid when I tried to tip her head back into the water, so I used her princess cup to pour water over her hair instead. She didn't care for that either, so I let her do the same to me, then I made an enormous display of sputtering and coughing, which she found hilarious and wanted to do over and over. (She's an easy audience.) When we were done soaking in our own filth (I still don't get baths, other than as an excuse to get naked with someone, you know, closer to my own age and preferably male), I turned on the shower while the water drained, and Grace squealed like she was running through a sprinkler on a hot day. We had fun, we bonded and while we were toweling off, Grace made the astute observation, "Mommy, I don't have boobies." Not yet, noodle, but you've got good genes.

Here's one from the archives, when every bath was an adventure. Watching it made me cry.

Nov 6, 2008

Where did I leave off?

Right, the opportunity to witness and be part of a huge milestone in American history, yada yada yada. Whenever I travel to other countries, I'm always acutely aware and self-conscious of the "ugly American" stereotype. When I was on sabbatical in Guatemala and Costa Rica, like, a hundred years ago, I remember having a brutally frank conversation with a group of European (German, Danish, British) friends we hung out with about the world's perception of Americans, and it was humbling. They were right on several fronts: we were, for the most part, monolingual, geographically ignorant, somewhat politically uninformed, blissfully carefree consumers. No, we're not all loud, rude, overfed, materialistic boors who wear dark socks with shorts and tennis shoes, but there is a certain sense of entitlement that comes with being born American, not pride but something darker, an inherent arrogance that is difficult to shed or to hide (and was certainly a turnoff to that cute British dude). I was in Italy several weeks after 9/11, and was completely caught off guard by the sympathy and graciousness offered by almost everyone we met, because it was so out of the ordinary. So the idea that the world is watching and celebrating how we've opened ourselves up to change gives me hope that someday we won't be the bully on the global playground, or even the most popular (too exclusive), but that we'll be the smart, friendly country that happens to have more than its fair share, but does its best to get along with and to help others, and maybe every now and then helps break up a fight when it gets out of hand. Yes, a HUGE oversimplification, but try for just a moment to channel John Lennon and Imagine. Goose bumps.

On the home front, however, it turns out getting along is easier said than done. The Perfect Roommate and I had an argument, and despite our six-month rental agreement, she immediately decided she couldn't live in a home where "the energy is so negative." Initially I was bummed, but I realized her presence, while a novel distraction, brought a level of chaos that made it hard for me to relax or get anything done. Also, Boo bit Grace in the face — twice — which was totally uncool. Nothing serious, but picture Gigi bending over to pet Boo and tell him she loves him only to have him nip her. It was heartbreaking. (I wanted to beat the shit out of that stupid fucking dog — is that wrong?) So they have moved on to what will be their fourth rental in two months, and the last three days have been so peaceful with just Grace and me here, I suspect I was avoiding being alone when what I really need is to be alone, for a while anyway. Grace and I get into a groove when it's just the two of us (and Brady), and I need to give her as much of me as I can now that she's at school five days a week.

Which brings me to Grace's super cool new school and my ridiculously awesome new job. (I won't use the word "perfect" for fear on jinxing either situation.) But those will have to wait, because it's late and I am a working mom, after all.

The last pictures my camera will ever take.

My poor camera coughed up enough of the Pacific that I was able to download the pictures I took before The Disaster.


We're on our way to the beach, a beautiful walk through the dunes that puts a spring in even Max's step. My dad takes him for long walks every day to help loosen up Max's joints, and to sneak a smoke.


I don't have nearly enough pictures of Grace with my father, which is too bad because aren't they sweet together? Also, she looked exactly like him when she was born, and still has his blue eyes.


Happy, and oblivious.


Take a good, long look, Gigi, because you won't be back there FOR A LONG, LONG TIME.

Where did I leave off?

Right, the opportunity to witness and be part of a huge milestone in American history, yada yada yada. Whenever I travel to other countries, I'm always acutely aware and self-conscious of the "ugly American" stereotype. When I was on sabbatical in Guatemala and Costa Rica, like, a hundred years ago, I remember having a brutally frank conversation with a group of European (German, Danish, British) friends we hung out with about the world's perception of Americans, and it was humbling. They were right on several fronts: we were, for the most part, monolingual, geographically ignorant, somewhat politically uninformed, blissfully carefree consumers. No, we're not all loud, rude, overfed, materialistic boors who wear dark socks with shorts and tennis shoes, but there is a certain sense of entitlement that comes with being born American, not pride but something darker, an inherent arrogance that is difficult to shed or to hide (and was certainly a turnoff to that cute British dude). I was in Italy several weeks after 9/11, and was completely caught off guard by the sympathy and graciousness offered by almost everyone we met, because it was so out of the ordinary. So the idea that the world is watching and celebrating how we've opened ourselves up to change gives me hope that someday we won't be the bully on the global playground, or even the most popular (too exclusive), but that we'll be the smart, friendly country that happens to have more than its fair share, but does its best to get along with and to help others, and maybe every now and then helps break up a fight when it gets out of hand. Yes, a HUGE oversimplification, but try for just a moment to channel John Lennon and Imagine. Goose bumps.

From chaos, order.

This last week has brought so many changes, personally, locally, nationally and globally. It's no big secret that the election results please me, to put it mildly. Over a year ago, I remarked to a friend that if the Democratic party had its shit together, they would find a moderate liberal, someone inoffensive with whom those crazy swing voters couldn't possibly find fault, someone who simply offered an alternative to the eight-year nightmare we'd been through. I was positive America wasn't ready for a woman or a black man as President. I'm so happy to have been wrong. And while I couldn't be more cynical about politicians, listening to Barack Obama inspires hope, respect, awe and never fails to give me goose bumps. He is a great man, and I hope his potential isn't derailed by partisan bullshit, because he could be a great President.

The vibe in Portland is palpable. Strangely, yesterday reminded me of the day after 9/11; there was a sense of unity and patriotism, yet fear was replaced by hope; grief and anger by joy and excitement. While the country remains deeply divided (my boss is a Republican, and I think he believes all Democrats are stupid), the suspicions, accusations and furor that lingered after the last two elections are conspicuous in their absence, which makes me hope that McCain supporters are disappointed but not outraged, and that there is a chance for real change in the dynamic between parties. Also, I can't help but note one possible interpretation of this campaign: ageism trumped sexism and racism. That seems fair; we all get old.

More later. Gotta go to work!