Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Except, Of Course, You Can Find Me In Thrift Store

You’re a Herm├Ęs Birkin bag.
Confident, graceful, and discerning, you are none other than the legendary Birkin bag. Like the pantheon of purses, you portray a portrait of supreme elegance and status. Not one to be on the wrong side of the red rope, your aura of exclusivity and privilege makes people crave having you by their side.

Take the quiz here.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Monkey Boy

Every day I ask Julian to be a good little monkey, and every day, he tries to comply, though I must admit, this isn't exactly what I meant.

First, he climbs to the very top of the bars in the third floor window (bars we had installed because he was overfond of climbing into the window and banging hard on the glass)

Then he lets go.

Yes, he is hanging by only one arm. Yes he is wearing a bathrobe I just knit for him. No, he did not fall.

As you can see, I have stopped having heart attacks when I find him doing things like this. And I am grateful he has at least a year before he will be tall enough to practice his balance beam routine on the banisters.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Accident Waiting To Happen

Our kitchen windowsill. We have some blue bottles lined up along the back. Those are two goldfish and bamboo which I acquired at a bridal shower this past weekend.

Simon, our cat.

Broken blue glass bottle in our trash.

The fish are still alive (for now).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Going Postal

The automated postal machine was being cleaned today, which meant I had to wait in line at the post office. This is a terrifying prospect even on an ordinary day, when the line snakes out the door and only two clerks are working behind the desk. Today, however, was not ordinary. There was only one guy in line, but there were only two clerks behind the desk, one of whom was helping a customer and the other was being berated by a very angry woman. From what I could gather, her mail had not been delivered properly. The unlucky recipient of her tirade remained calm the entire time, patiently explaining that the postal workers were doing their best to deliver mail, but it was hard given the cold and the snow. The complaining woman would not be deterred. At one point, it looked like she was about to leave, but then another postal employee said something about the streets not being cleared of snow which set her off again (the first employee reached her arm out, as if to say, "no, stop, don't set her off again," but it was too late, the lady screamed that the streets had been clear since Monday, which is all well and good except the big snowstorm didn't start until Tuesday, but luckily no one pointed this out.) The complaining woman than began to address those of us waiting in line, telling us that if we hadn't received our mail we were out of luck. We all tried to maintain as blank an expression as possible, sympathetic to her circumstances, but hopefully, not encouraging her to continue screaming. When she left, I turned to the woman behind me in line who said to me, "I've gotten all my mail." We talked about how sometimes you get other people's mail, but mail carriers are human and the snow has taken its toll on all of us. Then I said to her, "Maybe she is just really angry because she didn't get any Valentines this year." We chuckled. I don't mean to make light of someone else's troubles. It is possible she is waiting for checks and bills and not getting your mail can be annoying. But wouldn't a phone call have sufficed? Think about it. She trekked through snow and bitter cold to go to a post office in order to bitch out an overworked government employee. She didn't get her mail or do anything which would get her mail delivered. Frankly, something like not getting the love letters she was sure she was meant to receive seems like a far more reasonable explanation for her behavior. Of course, if I believed the Valentines had been sent and that it was only a matter of time before they were delivered, I would not be sent over the edge. I can be patient when I have to be. I can, however, understand being driven crazy from a lack of love. And the snow and bitter cold is taking its toll on all of us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

I am not a romantic.

However, I love music and words and nothing can make my heart skip a beat like a love song. I wrote a bit about love songs awhile ago (and yes, I am trying to get all of you to read my old stuff), but that list was not comprehensive. Also, while many unexpected videos lurk on YouTube, it is not the repository of all things I find myself wanting to post and reference.

However, I have spent the last few hours watching videos and remembering. There are some great love songs out there, but I can't help but be fascinated by all the songs which struck me when I was younger, the songs which I only now realize I couldn't have understood when I heard them, and yet, I grokked something. They shaped my idea of love, made me over in their image, and I am grateful for that.

I could spend the rest of the day posting more songs, but it is getting late and it is Valentine's Day.

A vision of love wearing boxing gloves and singing hearts and flowers
When I see you take the same sweet steps you used to take I know I'll keep on holding you my arms so tight I'll never let you go.
There'll never be another quite like you
Love is only Heaven away
Is this the taste of victory?

psychedelic furs - the ghost in you

I first heard this song when I was 12, before I even liked boys, and yet I knew that this was a perfect love song.

The Church-Metropolis

I saw The Church in concert for the first time in 1988 at with Jenny Stewart. Tom Verlaine was the opening act and, at one point, he came onstage and played with them. Jenny was in guitar heaven. Jenny was always partial to Marty Willson-Piper, because he was a guitarist and had such a cool name. Me, well, I was always partial to Steve Kilbey (yeah, I tend to have a thing for the guy who writes the words--are you surprised?) Oh, this makes me sad because I have lost touch with jenny Stewart and miss her friendship.

Maybe I'm weird, but jangly guitars says "love song" to me.

Right now, the line "the weather is ridiculous" seems incredibly apt. Yesterday's snowstorm has robbed me of any romance my unromantic heart may have felt.

But while I am unromantic and practical, I remember what it was like to be a teenage girl and what it was like to hear these songs for the first time. I remember how I just knew that someday, I would find someone who I would want to sing all these songs to. And then I did.

The Church - Almost With You

Remember when every New Wave boy wore eyeshadow and blush?

Maria and I saw the Church a few years ago (i.e. sometime in the last decade) and while theys till rock hard, it made us miss The Church of our teen years.

Aztec Camera - Somewhere In My Heart

Not necessarily my favorite Aztec Camera song, but so appropriate for the day. And look how young and cute Roddy was?

The Cure - High

When Julian was still very small, I would hold him tight and dance around to the this song. It is by far my favorite love song by The Cure (and a happy one at that!)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Girl Drink Drunk

I think of this sketch every time I ask a bartender if he has Midori.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Remembering Someone I Didn't Know

I find the degree to which I am moved by the death of Anna Nicole Smith to be surprising. I hadn't really thought much about her when she was alive. I knew about her, even before her reality TV show, in the way that we know about celebrities, and I could voice an opinion about her if asked to do so, but that was it.

I remember her Guess ads, but more because Guess' advertising campaign was criticised for being too risque.

I remember reading a blurb in Newsweek about how she claimed she had never had her breasts enlarged, that they grew to the out of proportion to the rest of her body size they were during pregnancy. I remember how the tone of the Newsweek blurb suggested she was lying. I had no experience with pregnancy at the time, so I believed Newsweek.

I remember the lawsuit over her dead husband's billions. I remember thinking that the suggestion she was a gold digger who only married him for his money was predicated on the belief that no beautiful girl in her twenties would ever be attracted to an old man for anything but money. It seemed equally unlikely, to me, that a person who lived a full and rich life would be attracted to a young girl for anything but her beauty. So either an unlikely thing happened and they both found love or they were both using one another. Either way, I thought she deserved the money.

I remember when my sister-in-law Karen gave birth to her first child, she mentioned names she liked and the name "Anna Nicole" was one of them. I remember looking at her lying in the hospital bed and saying, "That probably isn't a good idea." Karen smiled and I knew she was thinking that she didn't want her daughter posing in Playboy someday, so yeah, not a great idea.

I remember her reality television show, though I barely watched an episode. She seemed so vacant and seemd to lack many cognitive abilities most of us take for granted. It seemed like a bit of a side show, and while I thought it was grotesque of the circus to make money off of her, I thought it was great that she was making money off of herself. Especially since she had gained all that weight and the prospect of a modelling career seemed remote.

I remember the TrimSpa ads. Her weight loss was shocking. Inspiring in ways, enviable in others.

I remember that her son died within days of the birth of her daughter. I couldn't imagine the confusion and pain she must have felt. She wasn't a celebrity, she wasn't a model, she was another mother in pain. (By this time, I had gone through pregnancy and come out the other end. My breasts had swelled over three cup sizes during pregnancy. Though they had reduced in size from the ginormousity they achieved in the first month of breastfeeding, they still had not gone back to their pre-pregnancy size, they were out of proportion to the rest of my body, destroying the line of most clothes. I'm sure anyone who saw before and after photos of me might suspect I had work done.)

And now she is dead.

There are people who are saying that she actively sought her celebrity so it is alright to pass judgment on her life. They bring up how she grew up poor, how she once was a stripper, how she posed for Playboy, the reality television show and her behavior on it, and all this is their way of saying she doesn't deserve the sympathy or respect you would expect someone to show for the recently deceased. As if her life was somehow less worthy because she made choices which, perhaps, we would not have made. She was a beautiful model, but since she posed in Playboy, Anna Nicole Smith was called a tramp, whereas Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum posed for Victoria's Secret, so they are called moguls. And she wasn't smart enough, or didn't have the talent, to make her selfploitation seem like a smart career choice (like Jenny McCarthy, for example). The thing is, Jenny and Tyra and Heidi all have things which Anna Nicole didn't appear to have: among other things, families that cared about them and saw that they received an education. I didn't know her, but it seems like the former Vickie Lynn Hogan didn't have anything but her face and her body to fall back on. But instead of feeling sympathy for her and wondering how we can help other girls, people just sneer and feel superior. And those are just mainstream media outlets.

Yes, Anna Nicole courted fame, she behaved outrageously in public, and, at times, seemed to lead a bizarre lifestyle. But she wasn't alone in this (hey, look at all the people who try to get on reality TV shows, and all the young people willing to do ANYTHING to catch a break in Hollywood). She was blessed with incredible physical beauty and there were all sorts of people willing to exploit it (the strip club operators, Hugh Hefner, the soft core directors, E!, all the tabloids, TrimSpa), but she is chastised for being a fame monger. It's as if she is less of a victim of circumstance because she tried to make some money and achieve some fame, instead of just letting the professional exploiters suck her dry and leave her with nothing. She seemed to have a really sad life. It is easy to discount someone as a train wreck, it is harder to understand how and why they got there. Because she was so beautiful, and because she courted fame, and because she was not so bright, I think quite a few people felt she was fair game for ridicule and scorn--maybe some people feel she deserved to be the object of derision, or that she was so lovely that she deserved to be taken down a few pegs, or that she was the sign of the breakdown of Western Civilization. It just seems so petty and shallow.

A lot of what I have said about her being beautiful and not so bright and courting fame and having an unhappy life could be said about her idol, Marilyn Monroe (a woman she wanted to be like her entire life), but it could also be said about Princess Diana. However, because Anna Nicole Smith was a stripper and posed in Playboy and lacked "class" or "talent" (which I am putting in quotes because those are difficult qualities to identify and isn't it smug of us all to try?), she is somehow not as worthy of respect as Marilyn or Diana or anyone else who lived fast and died young. In death, as in life, there are so many people who refuse to see her as a human being (a flawed, troubled, perhaps not terribly admirable human being, but a human being) and just want to make a buck off her body.

For some people, extreme beauty is a curse. Marilyn Monroe was abused sexually as a child and was bounced from foster home to foster home because she was too pretty and made women feel threatened. We will never know what happened to Anna Nicole Smith to make her life turn out the way it did. However, I will always see her as a victim of the people who damaged her when she was young and our culture which fed off her carcass when she grew up.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fly Paper Brain+No Life In High School=118

I got this from Judy. Go read her blog.

My score was 118.

To be fair, this was the second time I have taken this quiz. The first time was about a year ago and I scored 115 (I think) then. I am not sure what I got right this time, but I obviously didn't improve so much. I only mention it in the interest of full disclosure.

I think this is one of the more clever online quizes of this sort I have seen. It is definitely one of the most comprehensive. The designer of this quiz has a pretty interesting blog as well.

Update on Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi

Awhile back, I posted about Nazanin Mahabad Fatehi, the Iranian girl who was sentenced to death for killing one of three men who tried to rape her and her cousin (she was 17 at the time of the attack). The verdict of the first trial was overturned last May and Nazanin was re-tried this past fall. She was exonerated on the charge of murder and recognizes the killing as self-defense, but she has been sentenced to pay blood money to the attempted rapist's family. Nazanin is out on bail and is home with her family while her lawyers appeal the current sentence. So justice was done (up to a point) in this one case, but as Nazanin said in a radio interview
There are so many innocent inmates in prison but there is nothing that they can do. Many innocent people have been in prison for few years and still unsure of their cases outcome.

You Can All Go Back To Enjoying Bacon

I posted about the letter the National Pork Board sent to The Lactivist regarding one of the t-shirts sold to raise money for the Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. For those of you who can't live without ribs, I am happy to report that th National Pork Board has apologized to Jennifer and is taking up a collection among staff members for a donation to Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. Read all about it here.

Jennifer wrote, "I want to make it clear to my readers that based off of our contact with the staff at the National Pork Board it is quite clear to me that they were extremely upset that anyone would feel they were not supportive of nursing mothers. The fact that the staff has dug into their own pockets in order to make a contribution strikes me as extremely generous and I think that they should be applauded for their response to this issue."

Does This Sound Familiar?

Intellectually, Ridcully maintained his position for two reasons. One was that he never, ever, changed his mind about anything. The other was that it took him several minutes to understand any new idea put to him, and this is a very valuable trait in a leader, because anything anyone is still trying to explain to you after two minutes is probably important and anything they give up after a mere minute or so is almost certainly something they shouldn't have been bothering you with in the first place.
Terry Pratchett published Reaper Man in 1991, so it is a fair bet that he may have been speaking about leaders in general, as opposed to anyone in particular. Still, it gave me pause.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Really Cold

The WeatherPixie

Sorry, I have nothing profound to say today. My brain has frozen and, as it is not made of silicon, (unlike the brains of trolls), I do not become a nuclear physicist when the mercury drops below zero Fahrenheit. I just become a very foul mouthed, unhappy block of ice.

Last night, I asked Fred if he wanted me to drive him to the train station this morning. He said that he was looking forward to the half mile walk and added, by way of explanation, "I'm from Minnesota." While I agree that Minnesota is usually 10 degrees colder than it is here on any given day and that, contrary to logic, you can actually feel the difference between -10 F and -20 F, I disagree with his conclusion that this is why he can withstand the cold. I am more likely to believe that it is his Scandinavian/North German heritage that makes him more able to deal with this unspeakably cold weather. His ancestors thrived in the coldest areas of Europe. My ancestors, on the other hand, stayed in warmer areas of the world and, for some reason, their descendants chose the cold--most notably, my mom is from a tropical island to which other people fantasize about moving, and yet, she came here. I may love Chicago, but my body has been designed (through centuries of evolution) for areas of the world where it is rare for ponds to freeze over in the winter.

Julian refuses to wear pants and long sleeves even in this cold, which goes to show that one doesn't need a lot of Viking blood to survive the winter. I, on the other hand, need to go put on another sweater.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside

I am developing a crush on The Man With The Yellow Hat.

I realized this the other morning as I watched Curious George with Julian. I found myself feeling an all too familiar excitement when The Man With The Yellow Hat appeared and almost giggled when he reminded George to be a good little monkey.

You know things are bad when you have a thing for a cartoon. Especially when the cartoon is so aggressively geeky and not hot (although as everyone who knows me will attest, The Man With The Yellow Hat does have the two main qualities I look for in a man: height and skinniness. Add the fact that he is really nice to children and animals and you can see how this affection I have developed.)

Joking aside, I am aware that this phenomenon is not limited to me. I mean, not The Man With The Yellow Hat bit, but the developing a liking for the adult in a children's show to which your child subjects you. Steve Burns (of Blue's Clues) apparently got lots of dirty mail from nannies and stay-at-home moms while he was a children's television personality--probably more than he has received in his current career as a rock star (go check out his website. His music is really good.) He said in a interview that he thought it was because people wanted to corrupt something which was innocent. I must respectfully disagree. I don't think the mothers who sent him naughty pictures were interested in corrupting the innocent, they were just sleep deprived and started wondering what that guy they saw for hours a day might look like out of the green striped rugby shirt and khakis.

It is amazing what lack of sleep and boredom will do to an otherwise intelligent person.

Now that I look at him, Steve is pretty cute (she says so casually, not letting on that she has actually seen Steve in concert--but he shaves his head now, he looks better with hair).

I read this to Fred and he tells me that I am not alone in this, that he is starting to find the new girl on Sprout's Good Night Show really easy on the eyes, but he was quick to add that it is only because she looks "so much" like me. "And Julian agrees," says Fred. (For the record, she doesn't look like me, Fred and Julian are clearly delusional, but hey, I have a crush on The Man With the Yellow Hat, so I am not in a position to criticize).

And to think, we actually hoped to limit Julian's exposure to television.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


UPDATE: the National Pork Council has apologized to Jennifer and is taking up a collection among staff members for a donation to Mother's Milk Bank of Ohio. Read all about it here.

Jennifer asks, "It's quite clear that bad news travels fast. The question is, will good news travel as well?"

Overzealous Big Pork Stomps on Breastfeeding Blogger

The Lactivist is a website that is meant to "promote breastfeeding through humor" run by Jennifer, a work-at-home mom. Jennifer created a CafePress store which sells t-shirts with funny, pro-breastfeeding statements. (My personal favorite is the t-shirt which says "That's my baby's lunch you're staring at.") The proceeds from the sale of these t-shirts go to a not-for-profit milkbank.

One of these t-shirts (which is no longer available) said "the other white milk." It is this t-shirt which has caused Jennifer to receive a threatening letter from the attorneys representing the National Pork Council. Apparently, they feel that not only does the phrase infringe upon their trademarked slogan, but any association with breastfeeding tarnishes their reputation. What the hell is wrong with these people? I would think that the people whose job it is to try to convince us that eating pork is healthy would jump at the opportunity to have their product associated with breast milk.

I guess the National Pork Council doesn't feel the films Charlotte's Web and Babe turned enough people off of their product. Or maybe they just wanted to create a scandal (subscribing to the "no publicity is bad publicity" mindset). Apparently, eating pork makes you really stupid.

Baby Docs

I suspect that when he is older, Julian may consider the toddler sized Doc Martens to be one of my better thrift store finds (yes, they cost me all of $2). At least I hope he does. I personally adore these little boots. Yep, Julian will grow up thinking "Your mama wears combat boots" is some sort of compliment. Sadly, the punk rock clothing seems to be giving him the punk rock attitude when it comes to cleaning up his toys (of course, that also could be called normal behavior for a toddler).

Here's Where The Story Ends

I have been rereading Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince this past week. I had thought the next book would not be published until 2008, so imagine my surprise when I saw that J.K. Rowling has announced the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, will be released on July 21, 2007.

I am excited. I feel like bursting into tears.

Once the book is out, it will be out. And for all the rereading of it I know I will do, you only get one first time.

I have held off reading Shalimar the Clown so that there will remain a Salman Rushdie novel I have not yet read (I know I will eventually break down and read it, but or now, it sits on my bookshelf still brimming with unknown possibilities). But I know I will be unable to keep from devouring this book just as I have swallowed all things Harry Potter for the past seven years.

I didn't start reading the Harry Potter books until Thanksgiving, 1999. I remember I had avoided them up to that point because I thought I was above any publishing phenomenon and because I erroneously believed they would be mere copies of the Ursula Le Guin Earthsea books which I had loved as an adolescent. But I bought a paperback copy of the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and began reading it Thanksgiving night and didn't go to sleep until I had finished it. And then, after I had the books in hardcover, I began pressing that paperback book on everyone I knew, many of whom also fashioned themselves too cool for anything mainstream. I have read all the books, seen all the films, and even written some Harry Potter fan fiction. If I were still in school, I would probably be writing papers discussing all the veiled references to English Literature which abound throughout the novels and/or discussing the sociological and political statements Rowling is making through these books.

I cannot wait for the next book and I never want the series to end.

And yes, I am getting my name on the list and we I will be taking Julian to the party on July 21st.