Monday, November 30, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Not with a bang, but a whimper

So I did it! I completed all 30 days of NaBloPoMo. This post is the last one for the month, and I have to say that it's been an interesting month overall.

I have to say that I don't feel like I accomplished anything at all. I don't feel like my creative muscles got stretched or that I feel more creative. Really, I feel like I half-assed my way through this month. It could be that I am unnaturally hard on myself, but that doesn't matter. If you don't have the results you want, you're not happy. And really, I am the person I have to live with. If it's not good enough for me, well then, I'm pissed.

Reading my friend K.'s post about her finishing NaNoWriMo, I was struck by this:

So yeah, do something pointlessly creative today, if that's your thing. Draw a cool picture, strum a little song, punch a poser in the face (oh wait, er...) Anyway, do something fun and creative. You don't have to share it. Unless you want to :)
Besides the idea of punching a poser in the face (which I'm always tempted to do), I think that her post is a reminder of all the little half-projects I have sitting around. The half-baked concepts, the cool scenes, the random characters that swim around and are written about, but then left half-finished.

I will start with a whine -- I've noticed that since I had my daughter, it's harder to write. Which is weird. I had a job that I worked 10-14 hour days sometimes and I still managed to write on this blog and come up with ideas. I noticed that with NaBloPoMo, after the Empress of the Universe went down for the night, I would often sit and stare at the screen, drooling slightly like I had lost my damn mind. No words would flow. I couldn't write about all the ideas that I had in my head.

They say that when you have a kid, some of your brain cells die. I think that there's something to that. I mean, I can't focus on writing sometimes anymore. I don't feel like I have anything to say. Or what I have to say is proto-thoughts -- they're not even at the point where I can write them down.

This isn't an announcement that this blog is shutting down. Oh hell no. I just don't think that I can do a post everyday. The fermenting time for my ideas is taking longer and requires more patience. I suppose it's because most of my brain is now occupied by this:



Seriously, the pitch that this kid sings in is enough to make you do that "Dog-In-Pain-Thanks-To-High-Pitched-Whistle". This isn't a slight against the kid in the wheelchair -- I think it's a good educational tool to point out differences and how kids shouldn't fear them. I'm just saying that the pitch the kid is singing at is PAINFUL. And it's one of my kid's favorite videos. I think she's trying to torture me.

So yeah, I can't promise that I will post everyday or that everything will be a gem, but I would say please be patient with me. I think that right now I have to learn a new way of writing that meshes with my family life and other responsibilities. I know things may change years from now, but that's YEARS. I don't think I can keep my narcissism and exhibitionism bottled up for that long.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Motherhood on film

Maybe it's because I can be overly defensive at times, but lately, when I hear the word "motherhood" in the mainstream media, I get nervous. I think it's because a lot of times, I don't feel like the true image of motherhood is portrayed in media -- or that they're trying too hard to get it right and, as a result, they overshoot the mark into "BULLSHIT" land.

So when I saw this trailer for the movie "Motherhood", I was a little nervous:



However, I was pleasantly surprised. It feels more real than a lot of other movies that feature mothers. I think it helps that it was written and directed by a mother of two children and it also features Uma Thurman -- who's a mother of two. It also features Minnie Driver, who's a mom, and Anthony Edwards, who is a father of four.

It also helps that I find the trailer pretty funny -- celebrating both the foibles, sadness and insanity that we have to deal with as parents as well as the really sweet moments that happen. Maybe that's why I like some parenting blogs like Dooce and others -- it helps because you don't feel alone (especially important as a new parent) and when you rant about something there's a ton of other people nodding their heads and going, "Yep. Been there, done that."

In an interview, I think the director says it best when she said that in movies mothers are often portrayed as patient, lovely, saints or evil she-bitches. And it's not as simple as that. It's an incredibly complicated thing. The fact that a movie is trying to capture that makes me hopeful. It's a complex thing, but if done right, it'll make a lot of people get a better understanding of how this whole parenting thing works.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Four in the morning is no time for rational thoughts.

Last night was a rough one. While Jeff headed to work for a late night computer thing, Benevolent Dictator woke up at midnight crying and I had to soothe her back to sleep (it's amazing how 17 verses of Itsy-Bitsy Spider can calm a kid down) and get her an extra blanket for bed.

She then woke up at 3:30 a.m. crying, then calmed herself down. I thought I heard Jeff's voice talking and assumed he was rocking her back to sleep. Then after she quieted down, I headed to the bathroom (because apparently now, when you get me up at night, I HAVE to pee).

I took a glance at the library, no Jeff. So I assumed he wasn't home. Then I began to wonder about what I had exactly heard.

The thoughts you have at 3:30 a.m. are not rational thoughts. I thought about all the horror stories I had read as a kid. Like the urban legend about the killer who left the note, "Dogs aren't the only things that can lick," the opening to the Graveyard Book and my personal favorite: "Can't sleep. House will eat me." So obviously I can't sleep, and I'm trying to calm myself down thinking rationally. My daughter is safe. She calmed herself down. It's time to go to sleep. Then suddenly the room seems to have gone darker.

Which sounds weird. It's night time. It's supposed to be dark, but in this modern age, with all the glowing clocks, LED lights, etc, our house is never truly pitch black. So when a light dims, the house does get a little darker. My brain, full of worry, starts to get fearful.

Then I hear the toilet flush. In a house where I think I'm the only one awake. My daughter is not toilet trained and she sleeps in a crib. Now the fear is replaced by full-blown panic.

Mustering up my courage, I wander downstairs and while I rationally know it's Jeff, I haven't seen him yet or heard him. I don't know for certain that he's home. He could still be at work. So there's no proof that he's in the house. The bathroom light is on and the door is cracked. I push the door open.

And to my husband's credit, he didn't scream when he saw his sleepy, deranged wife open the door (when he thought she was sleeping). I would've screamed.

"What are you doing up?" he asked.

It's a testament to love that he listened to my insane ramblings about the house trying to eat me, serial killers and ghosts, hugged me, told me that he had come home at 2:30 a.m. and was talking on Ventrilo on the computer (which is why I heard his voice) and was waiting for another call from work. After calming down a wife with an overactive imagination, he came up to bed and with me snuggling up against him, we both fell asleep.

So yeah, today I'm not really coherent. I'm hoping to find my will to live in the pot of coffee. I'll let you know if I do.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Yet another cop out

So I know I should write something, but it's bloody late and I am already in bed. I have no excuses, but for NaBloPoMo, I feel the need to write something. So here it is. I got up late today, had scrambled eggs and ham for brunch, played with my kid for most of the day and then played D&D tonight. Not a bad day overall.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey-Eating Day!

So I have a moment to breathe before the next act of THANKSGIVING: THE TURKEYING! and I figured that I'd take a moment, sit down and write out a list of everything that I'm thankful for. A lot of these things are obvious: Health, family, friends, love, etc. Some of them not so much. But it's always a reminder that no matter what, there are things to be grateful for:

Sesame Street online for giving me enough time to cook while my kid surfs the web and plays games. Jeff for being a sweet husband, with enough push to remind me that I don't rule the roost all the time. My daughter for being the shortest and funniest partner in crime I've ever had. Afternoon naps. U2 -- always U2 for inspiring me to be a better person. Green and Black's organic dark chocolate bars. Good wine. Snarkfest and forum folks like Genevieve, Kiran, Brainchild, Bookworm, Particle Person, Laurien_Kit, MollieWollie and many others who make me laugh and give me a place to go crazy with my pop culture ideas. Craig Ferguson's dancing puppets. Keidra for encouraging my insane ideas. Sid for her thoughtful discussion on race, gender and hot men. Christina for quick medical advice and NKOTB insanity. My sister and her family for being awesome (and my sister for those late night conversations that give me perspective on life). My mother, while she may drive me crazy, the woman will help me out when I ask for it. My grandmother for always being amused by my granddaughter. Funky socks. A good backrub. The Tudors (aka Ye Olde Yellye Sexe Showe). Henry Cavill for being a hot geek. My friends -- Abby, Joe, Heather, Aaron, Sarah, Erich, Jenno, Alan, Eva and many more for welcoming my daughter and doting on her. My neighbors and their kids who offer good laughs and have taught my daughter many things about playing with others. The fact that the Verona Public Library's self checkout comes with a "Pirate" language option. Spa Pedicures. Pumpkin Lattes. Sleeping in until past 9 a.m. The fact that Netflix is streaming on our Tivo. My mother-in-law for being a friend as well as a family member. My in-laws in general for being family. My nieces, Ally, Jena and Sami, for bringing that girly touch of pink when you need it. Tea parties. Mo Willems. Reginald Von Hoobie Doobie. Kevin Henkes. Lily and her purple plastic purse. Maddie, Elliott and Mali for being generally awesome. How I Met Your Mother. Twitter. Blogger. Journalists who still go out and get the story, despite the shitty pay and insane hazards. Sunny days. Hot chocolate. Threadless t-shirts. Legos. Sonic's Cherry Limeade. Popcap games. Dinosaurs. Totoro. Tea and cookies. Ninjas and Pirates. Webcomics. A quiet moment before the child wakes up from a nap.

There are many more things I am thankful for, but right now I can't remember them all. However, I would like to wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving/four-day-weekend. May your day be filled with family and fun.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

On the eve of Thanksgiving

I know I should be getting a replacement pie (our friend Enich, master piemaker is ill, which makes me sad), but seriously, I'm not in the mood. I'm going to be making a turkey, stuffing, roasting potatoes, roasting veggies and cranberry sauce.

Instead, I'm watching The Guild on MSN. Hopefully I can find a pie either later tonight or tomorrow. Wish me luck folks.

Also, I cleaned off the counter. That alone earns me points. My mother-in-law told me that a clean counter and refrigerator to make cooking better. I told her I was going to break out the napalm and hand grenades.

We'll see how things go tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sooo.....Adam Lambert.....

WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT? And I'm not talking about the sexually-charged performance, because really, I'm over that. The only way to push the envelope now is to have Britney Spears perform her songs in a burka.

I'm talking about the singing. That was crap. Caterwauling crap. Like cat being tortured on a George Foreman Grill bad.

Also, to say that you're being edgy by pushing the sexual boundaries is a crock of shit. You don't always need to use sex to prove that you're edgy. Like I said, I'd love to see Britney perform in a burka. Hell, Lady Gaga is what I'd consider to be edgy, and it's not because of sex -- it's because of her fashion sense and dance style.

And that's pretty much my thought. If you want to see the performance, check this out:



Seriously. Cat on a George Foreman Grill.

Monday, November 23, 2009

We salute those who go out to get the stories

This morning, while I was puttering around and being productive after a week of illness, I saw a story that made me stop in my tracks:

At least 12 journalists were killed today in Maguindanao province (on the southern island of Mindanao) by armed men, including two policemen, linked to the province’s governor, a supporter of President Gloria Arroyo. More than 30 other people were murdered. Some of the victims were beheaded.

“Never in the history of journalism have the news media suffered such a heavy loss of life in one day,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We convey our condolences and sympathy to all journalists in the Philippines, who are in state of shock after this appalling massacre.”

Reading that story made me incredibly sad for the people who were killed and their families. But to hear that at least a dozen reporters were killed made me shed a little tear. It's cliche, but I have to salute those reporters for being brave (and perhaps crazy) enough to go out into a dangerous area and hunt down the truth and bring it back for everyone else.

In my old life, my job never got that hazardous -- apart from a moment when I thought two politicians were going to come to blows after a meeting. But I remember hearing stories about violence -- one receptionist at another paper was physically attacked years before I started working.

But sometimes, when you'd get an angry phone call or someone would try and intimidate you, the hairs on the back of your neck would stand on edge and you'd wonder if something would happen (especially after hearing stories from other grizzled colleagues). Because we never truly know if we're safe -- there's always the risk of violence occurring somewhere.

This is where I have to salute those reporters. They were familiar with the risks for reporting in the Philippines during the election, yet they still braved going out there to get the story and bring it back for those of us who couldn't be there. That takes guts and a certain amount of insanity to go out and get the job done.

When people talk about citizen journalism and how blogging is the new wave of journalism, I agree, up to a point. How many of us would be willing to risk our lives to cover and election for crap pay? How many of us would blog about it as opposed to Lindsay Lohan? I think we know the answers to those questions.

I hope the killers are brought to justice. And I hope people never forget when things like that occur. Sacrifices are often made to get to the truth, and it's a risk that a good reporter is willing to do.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Monthly report: 29th month -- ATTACK OF THE THREE FOOT DIVA

Dear Benevolent Dictator --

Yesterday you turned 29 months old. This past week has been a bit hellacious for all of us because you got a major cold that left you feverish, demanding snuggles, cranky and difficult to deal with. While it was sweet that you were demanding cuddles and enjoyed being snuggled up next to me, after three days of it, it got old. Fast.

Because you wouldn't let me move at all, it was difficult to have everything in the way I like it. I'm not saying I'm a neat freak (you should know that by now), but your mother does have a level of tolerance. Thankfully, your father was around to help pick up the slack left behind by me, because YOU WOULDN'T LET ME DO ANYTHING.

The funny thing is that with this week, it made me realize that while you can be tough at times with how stubborn you can get, you've got a lot of charm to you. You're chatting a lot more, demanding conversations and telling me about your day and what you say and how you feel about things. You love hanging out with both your parents and seeing new things and running and playing.

Which is why the sickness was so rough on my spirits too -- I really do enjoy hanging out with you. You are excellent at coloring and playing by yourself. It's a hoot to watch you take care of your stuffed animals and talk to them and play with them. You're my little partner in crime -- we both have fun exploring the world and seeing new things.

But having you shacked up on the couch, watching a lot of TV and sleeping was rough. It's like your vocabulary dropped to the following: "NO!" and "I.WANT.MOMMA." Even when I was sitting with you and cuddling with you, I would still hear, "I.WANT.MOMMA."

So when you started slowly recovering, I could see it instantly. The first thing was that you asked your father a question, instead of screaming, "NO! WANT! MOMMA!" at him. Next thing was your vocabulary coming back from the previous four words. Today you colored. It was amazing.

And that's what being in a family is all about -- when you're sad, we're here to pick you up and help care for you. When you're feeling better, we all rejoice. So even though you might be glad to feel better -- it's like we're all feeling better too.

The big bummer this week is that we were supposed to go on a family vacation together, but obviously, with your illness, we couldn't. I am sad about that, because it could have been a great time for all of us. But we have other times, more years and other vacations. I'm just glad to see you feeling better. Soon we'll be ready to take over the universe again.

Love,

Momma

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ever want to punch love in the face?

That was my reaction when I saw the trailer for Valentine's Day:



I suppose it doesn't help that it looks like a weird-ass knockoff of Love Actually set in Los Angeles. It doesn't help that it centers on Valentine's Day, which to me has always been more about romance than actual love.

What really chafes my hide is how everyone in that trailer is whining about wanting to be in love and how it's so damn wonderful. Maybe I'm a pragmatic loonie, but I think that they're missing out on what love means.

Love is fucking hard. When I think of love, I think of U2's One. It's bitter, angry and also optimistic in that no matter what you don't leave a relationship. It's not just the roses, the walking-on-air feeling of new romance, the discovery and the fun. It's also the sleepless nights of uneasy silence when you battle with someone. It's taking care of sickness, fighting to get your voice heard, making compromises and oodles of insanely hard things.

What I've always hated is how people will always paint love as a magical cure-all that will somehow make you feel better and make life all sunshine and lollipops. It does make things sweeter, but it also makes the hard stuff harder -- BECAUSE YOU CAN'T BE A SELFISH DICK AND DO YOUR OWN DAMN THING. You have to take into account other people and their wants and needs.

And it feels like no one really addresses that these movies. Which is why I can't deal with most romantic comedies. It just makes me want to punch love in the face.

Friday, November 20, 2009

So there's been a lot of talk about Muppets lately

And so, I found this quiz:




You Are Scooter



Brainy and knowledgeable, you are the perfect sidekick.

You're always willing to lend a helping hand.

In any big event or party, you're the one who keeps things going.

"15 seconds to showtime!"




I'm surprised I'm not Gonzo, to tell you the truth. Gonzo's the man. But this also seems pretty true to me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

In defense of No Line on the Horizon

I'll be the first to admit it -- unlike a lot of U2 fans, who squee at everything that the band does, it took me awhile to warm up to their latest album, No Line on the Horizon. But normally, I come from the "HATED IT!" school of thinking and then warm up to something. Rarely do I love something from the outset, and when I do, I LOVE IT.

But I'll admit, I was disappointed to hear that No Line On the Horizon hasn't been selling well. And really, I think that it deserves a chance. It's more challenging than their previous two albums and the anthem songs are few, but I really think that this album prevented U2 from heading into Rolling Stones territory of sound the same all the damn time.

I talked to a U2 fan once who admitted she heard the album once and didn't like it. I told her the same thing I'll tell everyone here -- you have to give it chance. You have to listen to it repeatedly to peel back the layers. This isn't the simple first-person anthems that we all know and love. In No Line on The Horizon, several of the songs are from a character perspective -- a traffic cop, a junkie and a soldier stationed in a war zone -- and it's important to understand that.

And really, that's one of the wonderful things about this album. It's unexpected and it also highlights on of U2's strengths really -- when they're on fire, they can write some interesting songs. Breathe is a marvel for combining Dylanesque lyrics with the U2 anthem chorus. Cedars of Lebanon paints the picture of a war correspondent missing home and the images he sees in a foreign area.

I really believe that this album is amazing -- even more amazing than their previous two, which appeared to me that they were getting their bearings after getting slammed by Pop. It doesn't hit you right away like most singles -- it creeps into your mind and you absorb the songs and realize how much you like them and how good they are.

Edge said it best in an interview with the Guardian:

"There's a lot of records that make great first impressions. There might be one song that gets to be big on the radio, but they're not albums that people ... play a lot. This [isn't like] that, I gather from talking to people. Four months later, they're saying, 'I'm really getting into the album now.'"
And he's absolutely right. Give the album a listen. You don't have to listen to it constantly, but just listen to it. Give it a chance. It's a gem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writer's block. So I stole a LJ quesiton.

What three items would you place in a time capsule to help future generations understand you?


1.The book U2 by U2. I think that anyone who bought that heavy motherfucker of a book AND read it in bed, is a true fan of the band. And seriously, I did do that. It's an unwieldy book to read in bed.

2. Kitchen knives. Because I like to cook and I like to wield knives and sharp things.

3. This blog. Or a laptop containing this blog. That should do the trick in getting a good picture of me.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And on the fourth day of "I WANT MOMMA" Momma cracked.

Today I think was a bad day. While I have had fun snuggling the kid as she recovers from her cough, the "IWANTMOMMA.WANTMOMMA.WANTMOMMA.WANTMOMMA." chant has gotten old. It's been her mantra lately as she coughs and hacks her way through this illness (thankfully, she's recovered from the fever).

As a result, I have spent more time on my ass watching TV and not doing stuff than I care to admit. I can't leave her alone because she follows with the pitiful cry of "IWANTMOMMA.WANTMOMMA.WANTMOMMA." in a sad, hoarse voice that tugs on your heartstrings, but after a few days of it, it gets old. Real old. Claustrophobic old.

It reminded me of the first three months with Benevolent Dictator and how I had such a hard time just holding her. I enjoyed it, but really, I also liked my freedom of movement. I like being able to cook, tidy up and do other things around the house. Holding onto a child is nice and all, but try doing it without the ability to do anything else (or the option of doing something else) and really, the shit gets old.

So today, I nearly lost my damn mind. Benevolent Dictator kept whining for me and begging for me and I just snapped. I think it's in combination with last night when she couldn't fall asleep and just lay their chanting, "IWANTMOMMA.IWANTMOMMA," which works the guilt reflex real nice too.

Here's the thing: I would love to scoop her up and have her sleep next to me, but I also know that may not be the best thing for her. Right now with everyone sick, we were all in different beds for awhile. It just feels better when you're sick to stretch out and be comfortable. And I know that while she'd like to snuggle me, you rest better when you're SLEEPING IN YOUR OWN DAMN BED AND NOT KICKING YOUR FATHER IN THE FACE.

So I wasn't the best and most patient and kind mother I could be. Being stuck in the house all day as dishes piled up, crumbs went unswept, toys got scattered and a tot chanted, "IWANTMOMMA.IWANTMOMMA," got to me. I wasn't exactly good. I snapped. I cried. And when the toilet got backed up, that's when I really flipped out.

Fortunately, there are friends who are equipped with alcohol and fun conversation to help me out sometimes. And this was one of those times. While I managed to flee the house yesterday, it wasn't quite enough. Especially after today, I needed a little bit more.

Also, I have to thank Jeff for being understanding enough to know that sometimes his wife needs to flee the house for a bit and clear her head. He may be a homebody, but I'm not good at it. But no matter what, Momma comes back. I always come back.

I guess what's the point of this? Maybe to point out that parenting isn't perfect and we all have really shitty days. The trick is to forgive yourself and be prepared to start the next day/week/month/whatever with a new face. And also to realize that tomorrow is a new day. Because really, you have no other choice in the matter. But that's life in general -- we always have to get up and do the next day, and the day after that.

As Mr. Slinger said in Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, "Today was a difficult day, tomorrow will be better." And damn, if that mouse wasn't right.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lady Gaga is the white Grace Jones

Seriously. Check out the Bad Romance video. SHE SETS HER BOOBS ON FIRE!



It's like a haute couture fashion show and some crazy art film made love to a techno soundtrack and birthed this!

Sadly, Videophone with Beyonce isn't as insanely fun:



It's like they tried to mix Bouncy and Gaga and instead of AWESOME, they got something that was kind of dampened down. Like mixing sushi and chocolate -- sometimes two great tastes do not go great together.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I have to credit my friend Heather

For saving my ass with this little gem:



Which basically describes the joy of a newborn and diapers. Actually, I suspect I can hear many mothers laughing hysterically at this commercial.

The illness continues to ravage our house and Benevolent Dictator has been demanding my attention and snuggles. She's had a fever as high as 104, which resulted in a visit to Urgent Care, where she rejected the idea of wearing a face mask. Lucky it's not H1N1, but it's a virus that needs to work its way out.

It's been rougher. She's crabbier and not willing to have me cut her nails, or take her temperature. Not to mention, I've seen more kids programming than I care to admit. Send me some good vibes folks. Or at least some healing vibes.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Being the Center of the Universe is a tough gig.

Recently, a cold has been raging through Casa Del Navel Gazer. It hit me on Tuesday night and is now raging through our house like a wildfire. It's hit Benevolent Dictator hard and, as a result, she's been demanding more of me, which doesn't help since I've been sleeping like shit and wanting nothing more than to lay down, sleep in and maybe have someone rip my throat out and replace it with something that doesn't fill up with phlegm.

Because she hasn't been sleeping well, she's been moody. Insanely moody. Like a little insane drunk meth addict who is acting like Alexis Carrington in a really bad off-Broadway play moody. The only way to ease the pain of today (which was a lot of screaming, crying, clinging and wailing) was about three hours of TV. Starting with a Wallace and Gromit marathon and ending with Mythbusters. There was some dinner in between, which made things easier. Not to mention the fact that she decided it would be fun to ride in the car with her dad to get the food. Which allowed me a few minutes to myself.

The funny thing is that I didn't mind it when she demanded the snuggles. I remember when she was an infant how I wanted my arm free to do something or just to be free to walk around and DO SOMETHING. But now that she can move and run and doesn't like a snuggle, unless it leads to being tossed around like a sack of potatoes or held upside down, this was a rare moment. Feeling her heavy weight on me as her hands kneaded my arm brought me back to those moments when I could hold her close whenever I wanted. It was a sweet feeling to hear her breathe as she dozed and just how relaxed her body was.

However, I would like my little nutball to get better. Seeing her like this isn't fun. While the snuggling is nice, I do miss my little explorer.

Friday, November 13, 2009

One hot toddy in....

And after an day with the in-laws and the adorable nieces, I'm wiped out. My head cold continues to rage and I am tired. So I'm phoning it in. Again. So sue me. At least I'm posting everyday. And it's something interesting. Kind of.

Anyways, here's a youtube video to tide you over until I have a coherent thought:



BEYONCE! She's not just for the grown-ups! The babies love her too! For real. Benevolent Dictator also digs the hell out of this song and likes to dance around to it too. But I think it's also the memory of when she was a wee baby, how I would pick her up and swing her around while the song played on my computer.

Poor Jeff. He's outnumbered. Not only in gender, but also in music taste.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Five questions!

So, the lovely domestic goddess, bookworm and overall wit Genevieve, offered to ask people five questions on her livejournal and I signed up for the deal. She gave me five questions and now I'm going to answer them! What fun!

If you want the same, comment and I'll get something to you!

1. Candyland or Chutes&Ladders. DEFEND.

Look, I know that Chutes and Ladders is all about teaching manners to a bunch of knee-high sociopaths, but seriously, the game never made sense to me. The whole point of a ladder is to get to the chute and the fun of sliding down. Candyland is a problem because it basically creates the whole thing of candy/sugar=GOOD TIMES. But it also has the advantage of teaching color recognition and matching.

But in all honesty, I gotta give it to Candyland. Because THE CHUTES/SLIDES ARE THE WHOLE POINT OF GOING UP THE LADDER. One should not be penalized by doing something fun! If it was the other way around, that would make more sense to me. But that's not how the game works.

2. What is one look within fashion you wish you had the chutzpah to carry off?

I do wish I could pull off the vintage '60s fashion like on Mad Men. I like how fitted the dresses are to flatter the figure and how polished everyone looks. I love that people CARED about how they looked and put some thought into everything -- from the little hats down to the shoes and accessories.

However, I don't do discomfort well. Jeff has said he doesn't like how I look in girdles and corsets (which give you the figure) because of how uncomfortable I look. And whenever I've tried on dresses with that look, I look utterly silly -- the prints make me look like a couch coming at you and the skirts make it look like I'm smuggling midgets under there.

3. What was the most exhilarating moment you have experienced so far as a parent?

It's hard to say. I think the one that sticks in my head is seeing my daughter jump for the first time. I think it's because she jumped later than other kids around her age and I thought that would be something she'd get right away (she LOVES to run, climb and get into trouble). So when she jumped for the first time, it took my breath away. It was totally unexpected and the look on her face and the cry of, "LOOK! MOMMA! I JUMP!" made me so happy. The girl only jumped maybe half an inch, but I swear, it was like she touched the sky.

4. What is the best book you have read in the last two years?

Damn. That is a tough call because I have to remember all the books I've read these past two years. Especially when I was breastfeeding BD, I'd be reading two books at a time -- one in the room while she was nursed to sleep and then one in the bedroom.

Right now I will have to say that I loved Julia Child's book, "My Life in Paris." She had a certain wit to her writing and her description of post-war Paris and the food made me want to move there right now. That was also an amazing book to read about the drive she had to get a cookbook done RIGHT and published. I came out of it having more respect for how driven she was and how she achieved her goal later in life.
I also loved her description of her and Paul's marriage. I think her marriage and Calvin and Alice Trillin's are the two marriages that I would like my marriage to be.

5. Who would you really want to interview? (All Proust's questionnaire style and stuff)


Living? Russ Feingold. I actually met him once for my job and I didn't have enough time to really do a long interview, but it was amazing meeting the man. He's got my undying devotion because he voted against the Patriot Act when everyone was like, "IF YOU DON'T VOTE FOR THIS, YOU SUPPORT TERRORISM!"

Dead? Teddy Roosevelt. I think he'd have a lot of fun things to talk about and be very well learned on a variety of subjects.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yes, it's not our Sesame Street anymore

Happy Birthday Sesame Street! The pioneering children's show recently turned the big 4-0. I honestly don't remember watching a lot of the show -- my babysitters growing up were more into watching the soaps on CBS than Sesame Street -- but I do remember a lot of the old episodes.

I know I've talked about Sesame Street before and that I like it, but I thought a recent article by the New York Times was interesting:

The pedagogy hasn’t changed, but the look and tone of “Sesame Street” has evolved. Forty years on, this is your mother’s “Sesame Street,” only better dressed and gentrified: Sesame Street by way of Park Slope. The opening is no longer a realistic rendition of an urban skyline but an animated, candy-colored chalk drawing of a preschool Arcadia, with flowers and butterflies and stars. The famous set, brownstones and garbage bins, has lost the messy graffiti and gritty smudges of city life over the years. Now there are green spaces, tofu and yoga.
I totally understand what they're talking about, and I think that for a lot of us who grew up with the old version of Sesame Street (not "your mother's Sesame Street" but MY Sesame Street -- cripes. Am I that old?) it is a bit like when Times Square in NYC changed to something...more wholesome.

But to me, this version of Sesame Street reflects some of the changes that we see in our society. Gentrification of what was previously considered the "bad part of town" is more and more common. When people become parents, they aren't fleeing to the suburbs -- they're staying in the city. As a result of these things, the city changes and becomes something different. It's not he home we remembered as a child.

I find it funny that the New York Times -- which to me sometimes screams of upper middle class white privilege -- is so critical of the change. I wonder if it's because a lot of us are looking at this and not finding the same things we had growing up on Sesame Street. Perhaps nostalgia is tinting our world viewpoint with a "Things aren't as cool as when we were kids," view.

I know the article's charting the change of the show, but there's something kind of sneering in the way the writer describes the characters. Like Abby Cadabby: "(A) pink and sparkly fairy with a button nose and long eyelashes was taken as yet another sign of the ascent of third wave feminism — or a concession to the commercial appeal of Disney-style princess."

I like Abby Cadabby. And I know most girls go through a very girly phase where it's all about pink and lavender, fairy wings and other such things. Looking back, when I think about how all the monsters on Sesame Street were mostly guys when I was growing up (I just remember Prairie Dawn being a regular, but not anyone else), I'm glad to see Zoe, Abby Cadabby and Rosita. There are girl monsters and Muppets too!

But you know something? I don't mind the change. As a show that's been going strong for 40 years, Sesame Street has to evolve and change to reflect our history and our times. Otherwise kids won't find it relevant to their world viewpoint. While nostalgia is nice and all, we (as adults) have to remember, we're not the target demographic anymore. Kids are. And to keep an effective show going, you have to reflect the changes in the audience.

Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if 30 years from now, my kid is complaining about how Sesame Street isn't as good as when she was a kid. "WE HAD ABBY CADABBY! SHE WAS AWESOME! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS SHIT? KIDS TODAY!"

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Sleepy

Back from our friend's Mike's father's funeral. It was a nice funeral and seeing Mike's mom dance to The Lion Sleeps Tonight during the luncheon was a great moment, since that was his father's favorite song.

It's funny. The older I get, the more crisis of faith I have. I did not grow up in a religious house. My dad was Catholic, but we never went to church. But if you know me, this doesn't mean that I don't have a spiritual side. But well, I'm rather muddled up in my thoughts about religion, faith and the whole shebang. It's been something that I've been wrestling with for awhile, and I don't see it stopping anytime soon. I don't think it's something that I can write about coherently, because it's something still stewing about in my head.

But I was amused to take the Belief-O-Matic quiz and find out that apparently, I am a Unitarian Universalist. So what are you?

Monday, November 09, 2009

TROGDORA LIVES!

Yeah. No real blog post today. Tonight was spent getting a new hard drive into Trogdora and also getting her back up to speed. It's not perfect, but it will work for now.

So instead, here's a favorite Youtube video:



I think it says something when my kid loves this video and says that I look like Felicia Day. Which is funny. Because I look like a cross between Clara and Tinkerballa in my head.

But yes, The Guild is funny. Watch it. Trust me.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Why didn't I think of this earlier?

And by this, I mean THIS:



and THIS:



I mean, it's something that both K. and I have talked about doing for awhile. Making our own movie with puppets and random stuffed animals, but we never did. AND THEN CRAIG FERGUSON GOES AND DOES IT. AND MAKES IT LOOK WAY COOLER THAN I THINK I COULD DO WITH OUR SHITTY HOUSE LIGHTS AND MY HIGH STANDARDS OF PRODUCTION ON A SHOESTRING BUDGET.

But I have to say that I love how he does it. It's made me Tivo his TV show now to watch when I have a spare moment. His interviews are hysterical and he's just funny as hell. I like his ripping into Twilight and how the vampires in Twilight aren't sexy -- they're gay men. His interviews with fellow Scotsmen Ewan McGregor and James McAvoy are a hoot. He even makes Gerard Butler appealing to me (Now I'll have the damn Tarts gunning for me). Also, his monologue, which is a dazzling, brave and insane thing by going without a script is fun to watch. It's amazing how he can riff and not flop flat on his ass.

So I guess, my point right now is more that people should watch the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Even though he took an idea that I know I had years beforehand. If you're reading this Craig: I am waiting for my royalties check. But a signed copy of your book and tickets to your show will suffice.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Everyone -- including kids -- can be a little bit racist.

I was picking up some take-out last night when I saw the cover of a Newsweek magazine from September: "IS YOUR BABY RACIST?" the headline blared. I started laughing hysterically, because I remember the article that the cover is referring to.

Written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, the article discusses how we as a society deal with racism and prejudice and our attempts to teach the children. Turns out, it's not as simple as, "Show them a lot of variety and *poof* no more racism!"

It was no surprise that in a liberal city like Austin, every parent was a welcoming multiculturalist, embracing diversity. But according to Vittrup's entry surveys, hardly any of these white parents had ever talked to their children directly about race. They might have asserted vague principles—like "Everybody's equal" or "God made all of us" or "Under the skin, we're all the same"—but they'd almost never called attention to racial differences.

They wanted their children to grow up colorblind. But Vittrup's first test of the kids revealed they weren't colorblind at all. Asked how many white people are mean, these children commonly answered, "Almost none." Asked how many blacks are mean, many answered, "Some," or "A lot." Even kids who attended diverse schools answered the questions this way.

I could've told you that one. But I'm a minority. And also, I'm a parent. I don't have the idea that children are basically open molds who can become accepting by not addressing differences or using bullshit phrases like, "Everyone's equal."

First off, people who assume that kids will be open and learning and accepting have not really spent time around kids. They can be assholes and psychotics. Remember the book Lord of the Flies? Kids are little insane sociopaths who stick with their tribe and seek any excuse to make some other kid the outsider. It doesn't matter if you've got a bunch of clones. I'm willing to bet that with the Jango Fett clones, they still picked on each other for tiny, stupid differences, like the way that they brushed their teeth or how they parted their hair.

So to assume that a kid will hear, "Everyone's equal" and follow that credo is INSANE. No adult does that. We question, we probe. Kids do that too. They may not say it to your face, but they're thinking it. And if an adult freaks out when kids question differences, odds are, kids will interpret that as, "Well that difference is scary. And it's not good. SO I MUST FEAR IT." Or something like that.

I think that what makes it hard for us as parents is not just that a lot of people are afraid to talk about race and diversity, but also how to do it in a thoughtful manner. A blunt question from a child gets a different response than that same question from an adult. Maybe it's that we should allow kids to ask these questions and treat them seriously. What sounds harsh to adult ears is a very simple question from a child's viewpoint.

I remember watching Ni Hao Kai Lan with my nieces and one of them said Chinese sounded like "baby talk." I get that she meant it sounded different and foreign to her, and I just pointed out that sometimes English sounds funny to someone who doesn't understand it. If you don't understand the language, it all sounds like gibberish, I said.

I don't know if I made an impact, but I'm just glad that no one told her to quiet down and pretend her viewpoint didn't exist. I was happy to address it and I'm willing to teach her more about my background in the future.

Keep in mind, the viewpoint I have right now only really works up to a certain age, say maybe 10. I just don't like the idea that fear of a bad reaction from a person (especially an adult, who should know how to adjust their reactions to blunt questions from adults versus children) prevent them from learning something new or different.

I think we all can agree that the idea of a melting pot in America doesn't quite work out. We all are different people, with different backgrounds and cultures. Unless we let people ask questions, show curiosity and interest in something different and learn something, we're never going to truly address racism. We're just going to be, well, whitewashing over it.

Friday, November 06, 2009

NoBloPoMo! Still breathing, but on life support.

I am about to do 30 days of YouTube. Because this month looks bad. I have a feeling I have bitten off more than I can chew. Today's subject, Christopher Walken reading Lady Gaga's Poker Face:



This teaches us three things:

1. Christopher Walken's line readings are always funny as hell. They have an odd rhythm to them that highlights the unexpected.

2. Pop songs really are silly.

3. "OH! EEE! AH! OH!" really isn't that sexy, when read aloud.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Yeah....maybe I get an E for effort. Or "S" for SUCK

Wow. I have realized that it's a pathetic thing to basically have no idea what the hell to write for NaBloPoMo. We're Day 5 in the project and let's see what I have done:

1. Youtube videos of puppets and Craig Ferguson.
2. My kid wrote a blog post.
3. One vaguely beefy post about being a concert asshole.

This is admittedly pathetic. It's lazy, half-assed and well, sad. Like someone doing NaNoWriMo but using "SUCK" 50,000 times. Which I haven't done. Yet.

I don't have any good excuses. I think the problem is that all my ideas are half-formed, barely baking and barely there. A lot of time that I would normally use to cook up ideas has vanished -- lost in a vortex of sleepless nights (DAMN YOU DAYLIGHT SAVINGS BULLSHIT), trying to get Trogdora fixed up (new hard drive will arrive soon) and just half-assed laziness.

I feel like Julie Powell in the movie Julie and Julia when she says, "I HAVE THOUGHTS! I COULD WRITE A BLOG!" I have thoughts. I have ideas. But they're not firm yet. And honestly, it's hard to write something when it's not even a rough sketch in your head.

So I suppose this is an indicator of how the month will go. If you are brave and willing to stick with me, that's great. If not, I understand. I was hoping that this would help jump start my writing portion of my brain, but so far, no luck.

Grarg. Anyone have ideas on how to deal with writer's block? Besides writing about it?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Day two of phoning it in. Sort of.

Because I am able to cut off the chain that connects me to the house and hop the compound fence, I'm going out with friends tonight for dinner. Which means that the writing time that I was planning for tonight got hijacked. So, I think that today,


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Well, apparently the child hijacked the computer. Let's call this her first official blog post. To translate:

"PEOPLE OF EARTH. MY NAME IS BENEVOLENT DICTATOR. I WISH TO SPREAD THE MESSAGE THAT YOU ALL SHOULD WORSHIP ME AND DESPAIR. I ALSO WISH TO MEET THE ONE YOU CALL ABBY CADABBY AND DISCUSS MAGIC WITH HER."

Welcome to my life.

Yes, I realize that this is a freebie blog post. The whole title is a blog post a day for 30 days. They never said anything about quality.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

So, I should do a blog post.

But I'm phoning it in right now. I think this say something about the rest of the month, when I'm already phoning it in the third day of November. I'm just warning y'all.

Anyways, I just wanted to show everyone my latest obsession: Puppets singing Britney Spears:



I'll be better tomorrow. Promise. This evening has suddenly gone terrible and I'd like to be quiet and chill out before I punch a poser in the face.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I have learned something. I am a concert asshole.

Specifically, I am the asshole at a concert who is like, "PLAY SOMETHING DIFFERENT! STOP PLAYING THE BIG HITS! I DON'T CARE!"

I learned that when I watched U2 livestream their concert on YouTube. Keep in mind, I saw the Sept. 12 U2 360 show in Chicago, which was the opening night of the American leg of their tour. During that concert, they opened with four songs from their new album, No Line of the Horizon (WHICH IS FUCKING AWESOME AND I DON'T UNDERSTAND WHY AMERICANS AREN'T LINING UP TO GET THIS ALBUM).

It is admittedly a gutsy move, but I liked it. It showed confidence in the new album and their songs. But when I watched the YouTube concert, it seemed like there were too many hits. Or at least, the iconic hits that everyone knows.

I know that they have to keep a fine balance in keeping everyone happy -- I mean, there's the die-hards who want the obscure singles, the casual fans who want to hear With Or Without You for the gazillionth time and the drunk assholes who are yelling, "FREEBIRD!" -- but seriously, U2 has a million hits. They don't need to trot out the icons for each show. Lemon is awesome. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me is the shit. NUMB IS THE BOMB.

And it got me wondering whether the band gets sick of playing the same things over and over again. I mean, at every tour, there's Where the Streets Have No Name -- an uplifting song -- but damn man, I have heard that song a billion times. On the radio and 900 different concert versions. So I guess sometimes I'd love to hear something different. And so, here is my list of different versions of Where the Streets Have No Name I'd like to hear:

  • Speed metal (K. asked me, "Do you think they have it in them?" Me: *laughing hysterically* "No. But it'd be AWESOME.").
  • Trance-techno remix (which would be a great tie-in with the remix of I'll Go Crazy, which is the SHIT!)
  • Hardcore hip-hop with a guest from Jay-Z (after all, he and Bono and pals, so why not?).
  • Bollywood musical.
I think that this is one of those complaints that I hear a lot of hardcore fans of bands. K. mentioned her Nine Inch Nails experience and Jeff even told me his perspective of Rush concerts (which is understanding, but also like other hardcore fans).

I think that my favorite moments at concerts aren't the big hits, but when the obscure hits are trotted out that you might know, but it's amazing to hear live. I loved hearing U2 do "The First Time" in Milwaukee. It is a bone-chilling moment to hear thirty-something thousand people sing the word "LOVE" in time with the song and see the band loving every minute of it. And that's not a moment you'd get with the iconic hits.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

NaBloPoMo: Let's try this again.

In the past, I've done National Blog Posting Month. I've tried doing National Write a Novel Month, but seriously, it ends with me watching Vh1 and doing stupid shit like screaming at the television ("FOR REAL! WHY DO YOU NEED SO MUCH HAIR GEL?")

So here we go!

Y'all been warned. I have no idea what I'll write about, but I figure at least I can kick some stuff out and write. I need to do more of that anyways, since lately, I've been feeling like I've been stagnating, so this should be an interesting exercise.

To inspire me, I'm going to ask my dear, devoted readers (all 10 of you) to throw me some questions. Just in case the well runs dry.