Friday, August 29, 2008

Hey Mama What's Rockin'?

After 12 straight hours alone with the kids, there are days when I find myself babbling. I start to say something to one of the kids like you know maybe you should stop screaming and you - you - you stop holding your sister by the ankles and making her scream I don't care if she asked you to do it that screaming is stripping my last nerve. Except it doesn't come out like that: it comes out like you you oughta not to do that cause you shouldn't oughta do that cause cause cause hey look at that wall. Bang bang bang. My head hurts. Ow.

It's like an out of body experience. I hear the words. I know I'm speaking but I can no longer make meaning or form coherent thoughts. This is one of those moments when you sound ridiculous and the kids know it and you know you've heard this kind of talk before - yeah, your parents used to talk like that. Their mouths would open and words would come out but they made absolutely no sense whatsoever. Those parents: ideally, they'd be around now and in your house (most likely laughing at you), but finally serving some sort of utilitarian function - like helping out with the kids. Like taking them out for ice cream or teaching them to throw lawn darts. Circumstances being what they are (parent's not dead but crazy- remember I said ideally) that is not an option for me.

So I'm learning to navigate this moment by taking a mommy time out. Oh sometimes a cocktail sure would be nice - and I've been known to load the kids in the car and drive to some kid- friendly place like Chevy's so they can have balloons and ice cream and some form of cheese or chicken and I can have a margarita with dinner. And after a reasonable time and a pitcher of water I take them home. I've been known to do that - though not too often because now that would be a problem wouldn't it? Or else I whip out the chocolate, sugar, eggs, flour, butter and vanilla and mix up a batch of brownies. Afterwards I hold the chocolate-covered spoon in my mouth like the serotonin just can't get to my brain fast enough which is absolutely true. Other times it's best to get the kiddies in the tub and playing so I can sit on the floor and regain my composure or at least my ability to turn thoughts into speech. There's also the trick of urging them into their pajamas with the promise of "hey you'll have lot's of time to read to yourselves in bed!" This never works never ever but I still throw it out there 'coz I've heard that if you repeat something long enough the information eventually takes hold. Like you have to repeat it a lot. Like zillions - no bazillions of times. Like you have to say it until the words lose all meaning and even the syllables - what are those? right? - even the syllables and speech itself, speech itself seems like about as useful as having a tail or an extra toe, and then maybe, maybe someday soon like after all those bazillion times, the kids will suddenly, inexplicably find themselves wanting to put on their jammies and get in bed with a really really good book without even pausing to demand cookies and milk. I wish they were like the dog.

You toss the ball throw the frisbee shine the flashlight and you and he can be amused for hours and he may even not eat a diaper or scarf your dinner when you aren't looking or puke on your shoes. The kids are not like the dog. But then again, they don't eat diapers - score! Here we are at the end of the day and they aren't tired oh no they maybe running on fumes but it only energizes them. It only adds to their determination to eek out the juice from this day. Sometimes all I can do is shut up and let them run it out. And this is fun, as long as no one is being bodily harmed, the house isn't being set on fire, and if - A Big If - I can take a step back and just enjoy them without being conscious of how freaking overwhelmed I feel. No lie. It's hard to manage this. But I've been working on it with varying degrees of success. Maybe it's about finding the strength or maybe it's the giving up of getting your way or just being so freaking tired that your head feels numb and you can't fight back anymore. But you take a step back and you see how alive they are and how this moment when the sun is just so and Marshall is sitting in the pasta pot and hugging Carter and Olivia is flitting across the room like a flower fairy is so very fleeting and what a gift it is, and there is a trail of toys and clothes and shoes and paper clips and books and tissue that leads from one end of the house to the other and spaghetti sauce is smeared on the table, this one moment is singular and will never, no not ever, not even in a bazillion years, this moment will not come round again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Confirm Your Unsubscription

That's the message I received when I tried to unsubscribe from The Democratic Party email list. Get this: you have to wait to get a security code to unsubscribe (that's where the confirm your unsubscription message occurs). So let me get this straight, no paper trails for electronic voting machines, but security codes to unsubscribe from a party mailing list. 'Coz there's some vast right wing conspiracy of hackers who make it their mission to unsubscribe the devoted so they can't get their Biden/Obama magnets?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why Do the Democrats Make It So Hard to Vote For Them?: Joe Biden Edition

So this is what the politics of change look like?

Money quote:
A senior Obama adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his boss has expressed impatience with what he calls a "reverence" inside his campaign for his message of change and new politics. In other words, Obama is willing — even eager — to risk what got him this far if it gets him to the White House.

Wow. The kids'll come out in droves to vote now.


I won't vote for Biden. No way. It's almost as unsavory as voting for McCain.

Joe Biden
  • Voted for the War in Iraq
  • Only Democratic candidate to vote for the 2007 Iraq war supplemental funding bill that did not contain a withdrawal timeline.
  • Said it would be unconstitutional for Congress to cut off funding for an escalation of the war in Iraq, as opposed to a full-scale denial of war funding.
A few Biden quotes that have been floating around the Republican blogosphere:

The only guy on the other side who's qualified is John McCain. MSNBC, October 30, 2007

John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off, be well off no matter who [won] - The Daily Show, August 2, 2005

Well, the point is, it turned out they didn't, but everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. They catalogued them. This was not some, some Cheney, you know, pipe dream. This was, in fact, catalogued.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: 1968 really screwed up this country.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bookworm, grind, egghead, highbrow, intellectual, brain, genius, scholar, slacker

I wish this book had been around when I was in high school. I realize looking back that I shied away from fully embracing my nerdiness, the way most of my friends did, either because there was no other choice or it never even occurred to them to be otherwise. Sure I flaunted my individualism by quoting the likes of Emerson - "whoso would be a man (or woman in my case) must be a non-conformist" or "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." I confess: I was a dilettante or is that nerdilettante? (Right there proof of my nerdiness.) Apparently I wasn't alone in my unwillingness or inability to identify with the group. Benjamin Nugent recounts his own experiences denying his best friend and disengaging himself from the nerd pack in American Nerd: The Story of My People.

The first part of the book traces the origin of the word nerd and its evolution. It was a bit slow going for me even though I loved reading about how Anne Beatts and Rosie Shuster developed Lisa Loopner and Todd DiLaMuca* as well as the creation of that great late '90's show, Freaks and Geeks. Part 2 provides examples of the many ways the concept of nerd finds expression in our culture starting with two guys who are debate partners (yeah, I was a debater too). In my favorite chapter Nugent deconstructs nerd chic and explains some of the advantages to pretending to be a nerd - primarily as a way of downplaying class and gender differences. He also discusses the advantages of being a nerd in the workplace - a tangent I found particularly illuminating considering I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area and identify with the frustrations of hanging out with creative types either of the engineer or artistic persuasion (hey, I'm an artist myself). This is the killer quote:
The fake a way of dealing with constant threat. The threat, in this case, is a lot milder than that of nuclear war, but it's the single largest threat that hangs over the lives of creative professionals in major cities: losing momentum in your career, losing the aura of an up-and-comer, acquiring the odor of failure. The nature of work in the media, broadly defined, is that it's insecure and transient. Survival depends on maintaining a register of acquaintances who think you're good at what you do, think you're cool, want to hire you, have the power to do so, and haven't been rejected by you sexually. There's often a careerist hustle in the depths of friendships, even when the surface is calm...there is a new version of Richard Yate's immortal couple in Revolutionary Road, the Wheelers. They live in Park Slope, or Silver Lake, or Wicker Park. "God," they sometimes think, "in a way, wouldn't it be kind of nice to be an engineer in the fifties? Not really with all that sexism and conformity and general attitude of fascism, you know? And the discomfort about sexuality? But just not trying to be someone you're not?"
Originally Todd DiLabounta until the real DiLabounta threatened a lawsuit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mmmmm. Pecan Pie Bars.

Can I tell you how good these are? Silky, chocolatey, sweet bourbon jesus good.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Writer Stretches His Imagination 'til It Snaps

L. Ron explains Xemu in 8 minutes. 8 very long incoherent minutes. Or maybe my negativity is just a manifestation of my psychic trauma and upset and so on and so on.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Memories of Fruit #1: The Persistence of Peaches

More peaches. Juicy and cold. No peach pie yet because we eat them too fast. But soon.

Growing up we had peaches in our backyard. My grandmother and I would sit out on the stone step at the back door on a summer's night and eat a peach we had just picked. The first bite was my favorite - puncturing that fuzzy flesh and then sucking up the juice right down to the pit. I remember the hard stone of the stoop under my bony butt. The hard stone where my great grandmother had fallen during her stroke. She lay inside in a hospital bed unable to speak and unable to walk. Sitting and eating the peach was our little thing - my gramma and me- a quiet close to a day spent bent over doing factory work or in my case talking to tulip trees barely held together by light and riding my wagon around the neighborhood.

A few years later, they started spraying the neighborhood for mosquitoes. The trees didn't die instantly. They deteriorated over time until finally they stopped bearing fruit. I have an enduring memory of them - their branches cut off, gnarled and grotesque against the darkening sky. I would sit out on the stoop and throw pebbles at their trunks. Or sometimes I'd hurl myself at their trunks hoping to wake up their roots. But no life was left in them. No matter how hard I shook. Finally, I sat down against the biggest's blackening base and waited. Just waited and cried. After my grandmother had them cut down I would stand on top of the stump and pretend I was the tree spreading my branches against the sky. Or I'd jump up and down on the stumps mindlessly aching for peaches.

From Blossoms
From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

The Weight of Sweetness
No easy thing to bear, the weight of sweetness.

Song, wisdom, sadness, joy: sweetness
equals three of any of these gravities.

See a peach bend
the branch and strain the stem until
it snaps.
Hold the peach, try the weight, sweetness
and death so round and snug
in your palm.
And, so, there is
the weight of memory:

Windblown, a rain-soaked
bough shakes, showering
the man and the boy.
They shiver in delight,
and the father lifts from his son's cheek
one green leaf
fallen like a kiss.

The good boy hugs a bag of peaches
his father has entrusted
to him.
Now he follows
his father, who carries a bagful in each arm.
See the look on the boy's face
as his father moves
faster and farther ahead, while his own steps
flag, and his arms grow weak, as he labors
under the weight of peaches.

Both Poems by Li-Young Lee