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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dirty talk

Picture this: It's dark out, past my bedtime, and I'm out of the house without kids, without my hubby. I'm sitting in a bar, drinking a strawberry margarita, waiting for it to be time to go see the Barenaked Ladies at the Bill Graham Civic Center in San Francisco. I'm with a girlfriend and two people I've never met before--her unmarried guy friend and her sister.

Then it happened. I can't believe I did it. I swore I would never be one of those women. But I just couldn't help myself. I opened my mouth and I couldn't stop myself. I was talking about my kid's dirty diapers. In public. Hello? With people who don't even have kids. What is wrong with me?

I don't even remember how it came up. We were talking about something and my friend mentioned that I use cloth diapers. (So is it her fault for bringing up diapers in public?). Well, something happened, and I'm talking about how easy it is to wash them and how they're not gross or smelly and all the personal gratification that comes along with being a little kinder and gentler on the environment. But no one cares. No one wants to talk about your kid's shit. No one wants to think about it swirling around your washing machine. Especially not single, hip, childless people who live in San Francisco. I don't even want to talk about it. I should have been talking about the election, going out dancing, cool new bands, what I'm doing for the holidays. How about that book I'm working on? Anything but shitty diapers.

Anyway, it was disgusting. I'm disgusted with myself. And how many of you were hoping I was writing about that other kind of dirty talk?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A burden lifted

An inevitable part of having relationships with people--friends, family, acquaintances--is that there will be arguments and fights and disagreements and misunderstandings. That is part of life, part of relationships. And it's too easy to be angry. To be negative. To hang on to bad stuff.

I've been talking with my brother a lot in the past two weeks. I'm trying to get him to patch things up with my mom. They've been estranged for years. He took sides in my parents' divorce. And 10 years have gone by. It breaks my mom's heart. It breaks my heart. I think about my two boys and wonder what it would feel like if they didn't want me in their lives anymore, wouldn't speak to me. I would be crushed under the weight of that sadness. She is my mom. My dad is my dad. He is my brother. It's time to move on. To unwind all the damage that has been done. To begin the healing. I hope he will have the courage to take a step towards forgiveness and reconciliation.

I've been exchanging email with a college friend, a college roommate that I had lost touch with. She was hit by a car while riding her bike several years ago and had numerous broken bones. She wrote, "I've realized its poisonous to hold on to bad feelings. I even have forgiven the kid that ran me over...I don't have bad feelings towards him- I hope he's straightened out his life and become a better person...I want to celebrate being alive and be grateful."

These two scenarios have reminded me of something incredibly important. It was as if I'd forgotten so many lessons I learned during Toddler in Chief's hospitalizations. To be thankful, to be grateful for all the things I have in my life. Because I do have so many things to be grateful for and have come too close to losing the things that mean the most to me. Life is so short and precious.

I realized I too had some growing and forgiving to do. I have spent the better part of the past year being angry at my sister-in-law over an argument that nobody won. We were both hurt, both angry, both sad. How did I waste so much energy being angry? It's exhausting and all-consuming. It's stressful and negative and steals sleep. And I'm stitching up the torn relationship.

I want to teach my children to love and to forgive. This means I too need to love and forgive. It is one of the hardest things, but it is so important. And it is so freeing and refreshing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

When an apology doesn't cut it

When you're caught being yourself, you can't apologize. Or at least no one will take you seriously.

That's the problem with Michael Richards. The ex-Seinfeld star's racist outburst at a comedy club likely (and sadly) showed his true colors. That's why his pathetic apology via satellite on The Late Show with David Letterman Monday isn't going to fix anything. He fell short of saying that he'd like to meet with African-American leaders. (In an effort to save face after shouting anti-Semetic remarks during his drunk driving arrest on July 28, actor Mel Gibson said during his subsequent apology that he would seek out Jewish leaders to confront his problem.)

When Jerry Seinfeld spoke on his behalf on The Late Show, he said that he has known Richards for years, loves him, is good friends with him, and that Richards is really upset about what happened. However, he failed to say that Richards isn't actually a racist. I think that's pretty telling. But honestly, is Richards upset because he was caught being a racist or because he is a racist?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Lost interest

How long can the creators of Lost expect us to wait to find out what the heck is going on with Jack and Sawyer and Kate and the Others and the polar bears and the black smoke and the hatch? Indefinitely, they presume. But they're wrong. Lost is on a 12-week hiatus--the next new episode doesn't air until February. And frankly, I'm not sure I can wait that long.

I think Adam Sternbergh of NY Magazine was onto something in his article "Never-Ending Stories: How to fix shows like Lost." His November 13 article suggested that these kind of shows--these drama, suspense, mystery shows--need an ending when they first begin. Instead of being an open-ended show, "we need the TV equivalent of a novella: the limited-run show." These Lost-type series "driven by a central mystery (Twin Peaks, The X-Files) peter out precisely because they have indefinite life spans. The writers are forced to serve up red herrings until the shows choke on their own plot twists," wrote Sternbergh. Perhaps if there was an end from the beginning, we wouldn't have 12-week breaks. And fans wouldn't be abandoning the show in droves.

This 12-week break is the Lost equivalent to the summer break, another thing I still don't understand about television. Last time I checked, people like to watch television year-round, and we don't like watching reruns. Come on TV executives. Can't you come up with any new material to keep our interest all year long?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I don't have time

A few days ago, NPR was airing an hour's worth of Perspecitives. The topic was choices and how our choices affect our lives, for better or for worse.

At one point the host of the show was ad-libbing about choices. His example was about a writer. He said that the writer who never got around to writing that novel shouldn't complain that they never could find the time. It's not that the writer couldn't find the time--the writer didn't make the time. Everything we do, every choice we make is a trade-off for something else.

That really hit home. Many times I've commented on Bethany's blog that I don't know how she does it. How she manages to work and raise her family and blog and write and re-write and edit her novels and shop them around to book agents. In a recent email exchange about her writing projects I wrote:

I read about your rewrite after rewrite and the little-to-no sleep. I cannot live on four hours of sleep a night. I really don't know if I could live on seven hours a night ;-) I need lots of sleep. I used to joke when I was in college that I'd sleep when I was dead. But really, if I don't sleep enough, my family would be dead. There is no way I could keep everyone alive if I wasn't well enough rested, or at least sort of rested.

And that is my choice, for better or for worse. I have chosen sleep over my writing projects. I have chosen to sit with Father in Chief and watch a little mind-numbing television before bed. I have chosen to have my kids with me everyday--although I'm in the process of getting Toddler in Chief into some kind of preschool. My choices have kept me in denial. I say to myself that I haven't been able to find the time to really hunker down and get to work. When really, I haven't made the time. To be clear, it's not that I'm never writing. It's just that I'm not into a writing routine that would actually produce meaningful results. I do a little here and a little there, but I haven't carved out chunks of time just for working.

The same is true of so many things in my life. Not just my writing. There's all those emails to friends I've never replied to. There's all my photographs locked away on my hard drive. There's all those calls I've been meaning to make. My excuse is often the same--there was this and that, and, well, life got in the way. But did it really? I doubt that I couldn't find the time. Really I just chose to use my time in other ways, for better or for worse.

But when it comes down to it, I'm the only one to blame for my choices.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Blog Book Tour: Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook

For as long as I can remember, Toddler in Chief has been an active participant in the workings of our kitchen. When he was too wee to put forks and napkins on the table, he was right there observing. Perched in his bouncy chair on top of the counter, he'd get to touch the smooth skin of red and green peppers, smell vanilla for baking or basil for pesto, and watch me as I chopped, measured, and mixed. As he grew, he would sit on the floor behind me with measuring cups and wooden spoons. Eventually he was put in charge of getting cans from the pantry and picking which pasta shape to cook.

Books have also been a big part of our lives. We started reading together not long after he came home from the hospital. Now that he's bigger, we combine our love of food and the joy of books. We often browse through cookbooks, look at the pictures, talk about what we'd like to eat and what ingredients must be added to our shopping list in order to make them.

Now there is a cookbook that is much more fun for him to look at than our regulars, like Vegan with a Vengeance, the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, or Lean, Luscious, and Meatless. The Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook is 42 recipes inspired by the illustrations and words in Dr. Seuss stories. The spiral-bound book is big, colorful and packed with pictures and excepts from the Seuss classics. If you ever wondered what "Blueberry Bumplings" or "Glunker Stew" would taste like, here's your chance. Other recipes are "Schlopp with a Cherry on Top," "Pink Yink Ink Drink," "Zans' Cans Chili," "Schlottz's Knots," "Cindy-Lou Who-Wreaths," and of course "Green Eggs and Ham."

As the executive chef of a vegetarian household, I'm a bit disappointed. Not sure what I was expecting from a cookbook with Ham in the title. Fortunately, some of the breakfast, lunch, and snack recipes can be modified to be suitable for vegetarians by omitting the meat. But the dinner section--which includes shrimp, ham hocks, fillets of fish, chicken, and Italian sausages--is off-limits.

Regardless, TIC loves that he now has his very own cookbook. He has enjoyed turning the pages and telling me what each recipe is about and how we're going to make it. Every recipe includes elements for kids--from mixing, to pouring and assembling. And some recipes require no cooking or chopping so that kids can create these snacks and drinks with little guidance. So far, TIC has mastered "Brown Bar-ba-loots' Truffula Fruits," which is an easy to make snack of fruit and yogurt and "Silly Sammy Slick's Sodas," which is a foamy combination of juice and sparkling water.

And if you're wondering what makes the eggs green in the recipe for "Green Eggs and Ham"--it's avocados! Yum. Perhaps we'll just make the eggs. Or maybe we'll modify it to be "Green Eggs and Tofu."

Sunday, November 05, 2006

We're only so safe

Apparently I've given birth to another super-sized baby. He's just three months old and he's already wearing 6-12 month clothing. It's not that he's fat (although he is getting those super juicy thighs), he's just really long. So sadly, we'll be saying good-bye to the super convenient infant car seat and snap-n-go stroller in the next few weeks. That means we need another car seat.

The easiest thing to do would be to bump Toddler in Chief into a booster seat and put Baby in Chief into TIC's five-point harness car seat. We were bummed to find out that those booster bases (for which you can buy a two-pack for $35), your kiddo must weigh 40 pounds. TIC is still seven or eight pounds away. So we can either buy one of those booster seats that accommodates 30-poundish kids or we could buy another five-point harness seat for Baby in Chief. It would have to be one of those Marathon seats that is usable until 60 pounds and switch TIC into that and put BIC into TIC's seat.

The latter is the more expensive option, but this convinced me. Sometimes I'm amazed that any of made it to adulthood without the car seats and helmets and flame-resistant pajamas and safety gates that kids have today.