Monday, July 28, 2008

The Hurt

A couple of weeks ago Hannah again asked me how many brothers I have. She thinks it incredible how large my family is, since she has only Charlotte.

"Still five!"

"What are their names?"

"Bill, John, Michael, Steven and Tim."

"Who have I met?"

Uh oh.

"Uncle John, Uncle Michael and Uncle Tim."

"But . . . that's only three. What about the other two?"

It was the first time she had ever asked me that and I wasn't prepared. But she took my overly long pause as evidence that I had not heard.

"Mom? What about Uncle Bill and Uncle Steven? When can I meet them?"

I hate being lied to, so I try really hard not to lie, especially to Hannah. Evade? Yes. Ignore and/or change the subject when necessary? Yes. But outright lying? Not so much.

So I told her.

"You won't, baby. You can't."

There was a long pause. I think she heard the tears in my voice. Then she asked softly,

"Why Mommy? Why can't I meet them?"

"Because they died, sweetie. A long time ago."

For a few moments there was silence in the car, and then from the backseat, the sound of gentle weeping.

Hannah's not inconsiderable flair for the dramatic stems, at least in part, from her kind heart and very tender sensibilities. But while I was sorry that it upset her, I was only a little sorry that I had told her. She's old enough to hear it and, at whatever age it had come up, it would still have affected her more deeply than it would most others. But still . . .

"It's OK, peanut. Don't cry, please? It was a long time ago. Before you were born."

"It's just that I'm so sad for you. Because you lost your brothers. And because I'll never meet my uncles."

"Mommy? Do you miss them?"

"Yes, peanut. Every day."

Every day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

What Matters

Some days the battles with Hannah seem endless and oh, so maddening, and some days I feel I can no longer contain my frustration. But today I am reminded just how petty it is, these quarrels over things that truly don't matter.

Just last Saturday at the BlogHer panel, Blogging About Our Children With Special Needs, Vicki Foreman spoke so movingly and eloquently about her son, Evan. Two days ago Evan died. I only knew Vicki and Evan through her words, on the panel and from her blog, and yet I can't stop crying. And I can't wait for Hannah to come home from camp. I need to hold her tighter than I have in a long time.

Beyond that, I have no words.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Other Things I Learned at BlogHer '08

  1. Always feel free to hop from session to session if you're not getting what you want from your first choice.
  2. Make sure that the panelist's mic is off when asking a question you don't want broadcast to the entire room. (See #1)
  3. You are not supposed to say anything negative--or anything that could be (mis)construed as being negative or snarky--about blogger "royalty," no matter how long ago you fell out of love with them. Or even if you still like them.
  4. The luminous woman sitting next to you might actually be having the same doubts about her level of attractiveness that you have harbored all of your life.
  5. Never write a book proposal on a pizza box or slip a proposal under an agent's hotel door. That is the "duh" part of this. What I actually learned was that a couple of idiots did both of these things.
  6. Women you've never met before can rip your heart fiercely from its mooring and then gently return it, intact but altered, perhaps forever.*
  7. The people who seem the toughest on the outside are usually, underneath that layer, the squishiest. But I guess I already knew that.
  8. The sticker for the book "Can I Sit With You?" is a great ice-breaker. Especially when it's on your coat. (Yes, coat. BlogHer '08 was in San Francisco.)

* I'll post the Community Keynote when its available.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How Do You Respond to Utter Stupidity?

I spent a good bit of the day trying to write a post about the Michael-Savage-on-autism idiocy, otherwise known as "Look! Someone need to boost his ratings again!"* I didn't get very far because I couldn't come up with a clever way to bitch-slap him into next Wednesday. Not that I would ever do that. Ahem. So I checked with a much wiser friend who reminded me that I shouldn't add to his link pile and that he didn't deserve the effort anyway.

Fortunately, Gene Weingarten*, the Washington Post's resident funnyman, had already come up with the perfect response:

"Do you remember Michael Savage, the poisonous right-wing radio talk show host whom I reported about in my piece on 24-hour punditry? Michael is back in the news for expressing the opinion, on the air, that "99 percent" of all children diagnosed with autism are "brats" who haven't been told to "cut the act out." He said: "They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life.'"

Savage is not retracting this, even though he admits it might be a little wrong. And I don't blame him. Getting things a little wrong is okay.
I remain a supporter of Michael Savage, because I am a fan of his column "Savage Love," in which he deals forthrightly with the fact that he is gay and proud of it, and joyfully gives out highly knowledgeable advice on techniques for active, hedonistic, sexually adventuresome gay males like himself. I LOVE that column." **

The only thing I have to add is this: It's a shame that Michael Savage appears to no longer have a father around to tell him to stop acting like a moron.

* I linked to Media Matters on this because 1) they were the first ones to push it mainstream, thus pissing off MS; and 2) because linking to the Savage site made me queasy. You can Google it.
** Yes, yes. I know--and so does Gene--that Michael and Dan Savage are not the same people. And therein lies the joke.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hannah's Nanny

Last week while we were at Costco, Hannah started sulking when I told her that, no, we weren't there to get her something. After I repeated it for the fifth time, she started in on a tantrum worthy of a three year old. Well maybe not the screaming, but there was definitely crying and flinging herself around like a rag doll.

On our way back to the car, she looked up at me through tear soaked eyelashes and said "I think we should just get a nanny."

Me: But . . . . why?

Hannah: Because I think you need to go back to work. Maybe we need to take a little break from each other.

Me: Hmm.

You know the nanny wouldn't buy you everything you wanted either, don't you?

Hannah (flabbergasted): But, of course she would!

Once I had assured her that a nanny wouldn't be given extra money to spend on her, and would almost certainly not want to spend her own money on cr . . . er, stuff, for Hannah and Charlotte, Hannah sniffed a few times and said "Ok, I guess we'll just keep you, then."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Yes, BlogHers, You CAN Be Too Nice

I’m at the BlogHer conference in San Francisco and have met many intelligent, interesting and incredibly nice women. So nice, apparently, they didn’t want to tell me that the seat of my now least-favorite pants had split.*

* Thanks, Banana Republic! And before you ask, Yes they were new and No, I have not put on weight over the past couple of days.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Better than a Fortune Cookie

This quote was on my teabag tag:

Anything too stupid to be said is sung.

I can think of quite a few pop songs that prove his point.

Going Green

I know that green is the new black, but I like to think that we jumped on the wagon way before there was a band on it. At our house in Campbell, the garden provided more vegetables than we could ever possibly eat--meaning that our neighbors also shared in the tomatoes (usually at least three types), zucchini, yellow squash, peas and beans. This year we've planted tomatoes, beans, eggplant, peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, pumpkins and blueberries. We also have lemons, limes, strawberries, plums and fresh eggs. And tons of herbs. Let's not forget the herbs!

But while all of this is wonderful, the crowning glory is probably the solar panels that came with the house. We have a transfer box so that we can sell to PG&E whatever electricity we don't use (net metering). Every month our statement shows either how much we bought from PG&E or how much we sold to them. The latter amount is posted as a credit against our true-up, which happens every July.

I'll admit now, as I did last year, that I've become more conscious about making sure the lights are turned off and that I answer the "It's cold in here!" with "Go put on a sweater!" at least twice before relenting and turning up the heat. It's easier to do when your monthly statement comes with a bar chart showing just how much you used, sold or bought each month as compared to the last.

We got our true-up statement this week and me like-ey: Our bill for the month was 58 cents, for the year it was about 275$. Or about what we paid for one summer month in our last house. Granted, we had to leave the AC running because we were trying to sell that house, but still. I'll take it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Notes

I heard someone in Peet’s say “It was like being in a 3rd world country” because she couldn’t get tech support to come and fix her Internet fast enough. Seriously. So just in case you ever wanted to know just how truly spoiled we are . . .

Now I remember why I fell in love with Coldplay in the first place. Especially since it’s like listening to an entirely different band. Viva la Vida (the song) just makes me happy to my core. I think it’s the sublime combo of his voice and the violins; I’m a sucker for violins.

I read somewhere that there is a push on to make yoga an Olympic sport. Because curling has no summer equivalent? Or is the International Curling Society pushing it so that they're no longer the butt of every Olympic joke. I love yoga but I always thought it was supposed to be relaxing--not competitive. What's next? "Watching paint dry" just doesn't have a ring to it--no pun intended. Any suggestions?

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Dammit, #28

Dammit #1:
These aren’t all of the Dammits that were supposed to appear here this week, but I cannot find the paper on which I wrote the original. Yes, I still compose longhand some of the time. Especially when Hannah takes over my computer to watch (oh dear god no) music videos from Disney Radio stars.

Dammit #2:
We were again denied coverage for Charlotte’s speech therapy. I kind of expected it but was still a little disconcerted to read the closing: “If you are not pleased with the resolution of this matter . . .” Really? If I’m not pleased? I’d offer to rewrite their communications for them but then they might “accidentally” cancel my prescription coverage again.

Dammit #3:
George Bush called the late and little-lamented (by me, at least) Jesse Helms (R-NC) a "good friend and a great American . . . a kind, decent, and humble man and a passionate defender of what he called 'the Miracle of America." Really? Whose “miracle” was he defending? He never met a civil rights bill he didn’t try to kill; fought the creation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; attacked the National Endowment for the Arts for promoting immorality and anti-Christianity; and worked to prevent health aid in third world countries if any organization even breathed the words “family planning” or “contraception.” He firmly believed that HIV/AIDS existed only in the gay community and that it was their own fault if they got sick—it took Bono to get him to change his tune on AIDS in Africa. I could go on but your eyes are already glazing over and, even dead, JH still turns my stomach.

Dammit #4:
There was something else political but I can’t remember what it was. You’re welcome!

Dammit #5:
Charlotte has stayed up until 10-11:00 every night for the past two weeks so I usually have to (literally) drag her out of bed in the morning to go to school and speech therapy. Friday mornings and the weekend she has off, so when does she get up? 7:30-ish. Except today: I wanted to go to a spin class so she slept in until 10:00. The anti-Dammit here is that she really needed the sleep. Plus I got to have two cups of coffee while they were still hot and read most of the newspaper.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

Hannah at three and a half:

Hannah at five and a half, minus one tooth:

The second tooth is on its way out already, but she's not as excited about it. Because I told her that the 50 cents included a one-time, first-tooth bonus. But Hannah is still telling people that 1) she doesn't believe in the Tooth Fairy, and 2) that the Tooth Fairy (the one that she doesn't believe in) left her $50.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Happy Birthday, Argus!

Argus turned eight on July 5. Isn't he handsome?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Heart the Newseum

One of my favorite parts of our trip to Virginia was going to the Newseum--I could have spent another couple of days there. I know--I'm a dork. But fortunately Thomas doesn't usually seem to mind, so I dragged him along. The gallery of Pulitzer Prize winning photographs alone was worth the price of admission (20$), but I thought this was fun too:

Guess what they were all doing (besides escaping the torrential downpour)?

Why, watching the U.S. Open, of course!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Dammit, #27

I know, I know. It's late. Again. But there are more than a few things bugging me right now, so here's a small selection:

Dammit #1:
Some on the right are still saying that Barack Obama is insufficiently patriotic because he refused to wear a flag lapel pin. I'm actually a little pissed that he felt it necessary to start wearing one. Why? Because he caved. While admitting that calling Obama unpatriotic was "foolish," conservative columnist Michael Gerson wrote in the Washington Post that, by forgoing the flag pin, Obama " . . . has declared himself superior to an almost universal form of popular patriotism." WTF? So why did the flag pin only come into vogue after 9/11? And why do we only see them on scared politicians and pundits nervous about upsetting their critics? (And Jay Leno, but that's different.) Because a certain segment of the population deemed it necessary to prove your patriotism by donning a Chinese-made flag pin and agreeing not to question anything The Decider decided to do.

I'd rather have them actually read the Constitution and sing a bit of the Star Spangled Banner.

Dammit #1A:
About those flag pins: Most of them are made in China—unless you special order and specifically request American-made. Order minimums start at 100, depending on the distributor. I know—I checked.

Dammit #2:
The California hands-free law went into effect on July 1. In part because I rarely talk on the phone while driving, it's been nice if a bit odd to see so many people with two hands on the wheel. Well, except for those who are texting or dialing, because the law doesn’t cover that.

Dammit #3:
Why do people spend 20 minutes writing up a long question to post to message boards about whether anyone has ever heard of the disease du jour? Here’s my admittedly crabby-old-person advice: GOOGLE it. LIVE SEARCH it. ASK it. You'll save yourself 16 minutes (or in this case, 19 minutes, 30 seconds), and save me and a few others the two minutes spent wondering why you would spend 20 minutes writing up a post to ask . . . .

Dammit #4:
I saw this bumper sticker today: "When George W. Bush took office gas was $1.46 per gallon."

The car right next to it had a "W'04” bumper sticker. Yeah, so how’s that working out for you?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A Sign of the Apocalypse?

Starbucks announced today that they will close 600 stores in the U.S., plus scale back the number that had been slated to open. That's 600 fewer chances for Hannah to tell random baristas that Mommy doesn't like Starbucks.

In somewhat related news, I have yet to receive my shipment of coffee from Joffrey's Coffee and Tea. Neither has Thomas. And yes, I'm outing them now--I think I've been very patient and waited long enough. But if you like--they're more than happy to give you 25% off your first purchase! Email me and I'll send you the promo code. But don't hold me responsible if your order never arrives.

Congratulations! It's a Book (Sort Of)

Well somehow it's happened. Somehow I've managed to write enough to have an actual book manuscript and I'm not done yet.

Me being me, I'll go one of two ways: 1) have a panic attack and hope my hard drive crashes again, or 2) spend the next month up all night making it even prettier and writing a proposal. Oh wait--there's a third option: If I increase my medication, maybe I can do both!