Monday, October 31, 2005

One of My Favorite Blogs

Blogger Profile

Click on either of these two blogs--and you are off to the races. I can't remember how I ever found this, and I have no idea who the two purported blog owners are, but I LOVE these sites. Takes me back to those long-gone days (that I never sufficiently appreciated at the time) when I could actually spend time thinking and positing theories about stuff I'd read. I miss English class...

Who ARE these people?!

Just for kicks, if you go to the Oprah website you can click on "Be on a Show." Some of the categories are absolutely hilarious: "Do you have an embarrassing medical problem? Do you feel not good enough? Unhappy in the bedroom? Using sex to feel good about yourself?"

Who are the people who are writing in with, "Dear Oprah, I am Sooooo unhappy in the bedroom. My partner is craptastic in bed but I don't know how to tell him except in a studio full of people with you and some Dr. Phil wannabe by our side..."? Who ARE these people? And who DOESN'T feel good about themselves after sex? That's what sex is for (besides procreation, for the Alito supporters out there). Who has sex to feel BAD?!! If the guy is doing it right, you ought to walk away feeling like the hottest woman on the planet till you see him again. Or until you email Oprah.

Anyway, one of my favorite options is the "are you somebody's biggest fan?" You are encouraged to send in a video of how big an actor/athlete/celebrity's fan you are, showing all the kooky (and borderline insane) things you do to see them and have them in your life. I suppose by writing it here that I am disqualifying myself, but I was thinking that it would be funny to pretend to be crazy for some B-list celebrity or barely-on-the-radar new actor just for kicks. Like, "Dear Oprah, I am INSANELY in love with Dan Butler, the actor who played Robert "Bulldog" Briscoe on TV's Frasier! I own all his straight to video DVDs and I cancelled all social plans to watch every Frasier episode just in case he was featured! I named my daughter Bambina "Bulldog" because I love him so much, and I just had a totally cute bulldog tattooed on my butt..."

Again--who ARE these people?!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

WSJ is Full of BS

The WSJ's Friday editorial deplored the indictment of Scooter Libby on the grounds that the only thing he may have done wrong is lie about a crime that was not committed. The editorial board of the Journal apparently thinks that this is a gross overstep of the independent counsel's bounds, not to mention a shocking and shameful waste of taxpayer money.


Because if I had earned 5 bucks for every time the Journal beat the "it's not about the sex; it's about the lying. He committed perjury," drum, during L'Affaire Lewinsky, I'd be writing this post from my palatial home somewhere in the Tropics. Because god forbid an administration lie about a blow job, right? No--it's much more forgivable to lie about national security. After all, I'd be shocked and stunned to find out the last time anyone on the WSJ editorial board got one...

What really irritates me is the fact that they can write this pro-Libby editorial without even mentioning the Clinton investigation. Even if they said, "now, we know we were on the other side of this issue when Billy was getting raked over the coals for much the same offense, but here is why it's different" or whatever. But to write such a "perjury is no big deal" editorial and neglect to even mention the scads of editorials claiming the opposite in their editorial history, is just really poor journalism. Not to mention breathtaking arrogance.

Although, the truth is, this is why I read the Journal. After all, what would I get mad about before 7am if I didn't have the WSJ editorial page every morning?

Yes, Virginia, there is a President

My 8 year-old neice decided last month that she was going to write to the President to tell him that she felt (in her words) sad whenever she thought about all the kids whose mommies and daddies were far away from them in Iraq for such a long time, and that she misses her mommy and daddy if they go away for a weekend, so it must be so sad for those kids who don't see their mommies and daddies for months and could he please do everything he could to bring the mommies and daddies home to their children? She also added that she felt sad for the families in New Orleans who had no money and what could she do to help him help them?

It was so sweet when she said she wanted to write to him. She's a really smart almost wise-beyond-her-years kid (we are sometimes quite sure that she has the soul of a little old lady who now and again makes her say things that she most definitely did not hear in her house, like, "Lolly (her nickname for me), that is a very flattering color on you.") So when she said she wanted to write to the President, my sister sat down with her and helped her with her penmanship, with looking online for the White House zip code, looking up how to spell a few words correctly, etc. A real all-American moment.

Well, yesterday was The Big Day. As she said, "George Bush wrote back to me!!" She handled the envelope with the White House return address so carefully, so reverently. She had my mom open the envelope so as not to rip it haphazardly. She pulled out the letter, unfolded it, and squealed with delight that The President of the United States had written back to her and SIGNED THE LETTER HIMSELF. She was delighted that he had included a photo of himself coming out of a helicopter, and told her dad (who suggested putting it on a dart board) that if he did, she would write back to the President and tell him about her dad's disrespect for the Office of the Presidency (again--little old lady, anyone?).

And then it all came undone. As we all know, the letter from the President was sent from a staff of 20 year-olds who first skim her letter for key words and then send back the appropriate form letter. Unfortunately, they missed the part about Iraq and soldiers, opting instead to send her a Katrina-themed form letter. Well, this 8 year-old was not havin' it. She was furious. "He didn't even mention the mommies and the daddies!" We all knew it was a form letter cranked out by the Correspondence Office and that George Bush no more knew about the existence of my niece than he did about the existence of WMDs. But how to tell this to a child? We all felt like I'm sure Christian parents do when the question of Santa Claus arises. Is now the time to pull back the curtain of fantasy and wonder on this child's belief? Or do we wait until the reality of who Santa Claus is has already begun to sink in to the child's intellect; to the point where the child herself is wondering, "Okay, really. He can't possibly fit down our chimney. Hey--wait--we don't even have a chimney..."

So we decided to let the fantasy exist. Believe me, reality will be painful enough when it hits, for so many reasons. Why inflict it on an 8 year-old?! So if you see my niece: George Bush personally received and read her letter. He was probably very busy and forgot to mention the mommies and the daddies when writing back to her. We're sure he feels bad about that. But he was kind enough to put in a photo for her, which she can show her friends at school, and isn't that neat?

Oh--and because I am the crazy aunt who, come to think of it, sometimes uses older-lady words like "flattering" in front of her, I offered to help her write another letter to the President to thank him for his recent reply but to tell him that he didn't give her an answer to her original question, and she is still wondering about the mommies and daddies in Iraq.

Is he?

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Cubs Have No Excuse

Red Sox drought: 1918 to 2004

White Sox drought: 1917 to 2005

Chicago Cubs drought: 1908 and pending

I'm thinking 2006 is their year. Not that I know anything about baseball... Perhaps they should hire Theo Epstein?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Kind of Government Handout

This link goes to a blurb about a recent Oprah show that featured a 9/11 widow who was "stuck in her grief" to the point that she impulse-spent a good deal of the $4 million she was given after her husband was killed in the Twin Towers.

I don't want to kick someone when she is down, but doesn't anyone think she ought to pay that back?! People sent money and the government allocated money to help people whose wage earners were murdered on 9/11. Isn't it horrifying that she spent it on plastic surgery and cars and houses--and now wants sympathy because she was "grieving"? Did this woman feel NOT ONE SHRED of responsibility for that money? If not on behalf of our country, at least on behalf of her husband's memory?! And now she's on Oprah to say "poor me."

I don't mean to be a jerk, but this just seems like a uniquely post-9/11 American thing to do: to squander any and all goodwill generated by the tragedy by acting like a jackass and then pretending its not your fault.

On a different but related topic, I think it's disgusting in the first place that she got $4 million to begin with, since the families of people who died in the earlier WTC attack, people killed on the Achille Lauro cruise ship, people blown up over Lockerbie, etc didn't get such a payout. Did the conservative, fiscally-oriented Republican administration REALLY set a precedent that it would pay enormous sums of money to grieving relatives of victims of terrorism? All I can say is that if it happens to my family, I'm going to make sure I'm first in line for my $4 million dollar handout from the government. And all I'll have to do is promise to not sue the airline/cruise line/mall owner? Sounds like a deal, since there is no way in hell they'd be able to pay little old me anything close to $4 million. Thank you, George Bush! I've been mulling over building a new deck and buying a boat, so I appreciate the precedent you've allowed to be set.


Miers Withdraws!

Now, if only I had purchased a Powerball ticket too...

SSHaggis from Last Sunday

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

I Want To Become a Freemason

I had a good laugh reading Ezra's post about having dinner with a woman who was a Freemason. Yes, I know. Only men can be Freemasons. Unless you are in the sect that allows women to join:


I laughed at this, but it hit on a few things I've thought about since I was (don't laugh) a Rainbow Girl. While the term "Rainbow Girl" does indeed reflect my views on gay rights, Rainbow is actually the community service organization affiliated with masonry for the daughters of Masons. Nowadays, any girl can join. I was a member during the late 80's. I initially loved it; we got to wear pretty dresses and have sleepovers at the masonic lodge and have meetings where the top girl got to wear a crown, yadda yadda. All the stuff that girlies love at that age. I loved it because I learned to speak in public without being nervous, to memorize tons of ritual, and to have an opportunity to do some really meaningful community service work. But even then, something was bugging me which eventually led me to drop the whole organization in a big, high-school-senior-I-am-so-outta-this-one-horse-town huff. My beef was (and is) the following:

Eastern Star is the women's counterpart to Masonry, but it also has Masons who are members, and in fact its top officers are a man and a woman, usually a Mason and his wife. A Mason can be a member of the Eastern Star, but a member of the Eastern Star cannot be a Mason. Why? Because a woman cannot be a Mason. Still with me?

Okay. So, Masons and Eastern Star members also attend Rainbow meetings, and in fact, back in the day, a Rainbow meeting could not be held without at least one Mason present.

So far so good: Boys=2, Girls=0.

Now, DeMolay is the boys' counterpart to Rainbow. The guys get together, do stuff like bowling and camping, community service projects, and in essence, train to become productive men in society. Again, Masons attend DeMolay meetings. Eastern Star may not. Because, after all, it is a sacrosanct place for the boys to meet as a group without women present. Fair enough. So how come the same is not held true for Rainbow? Why were the girls not given that same sacrosanct space to be without men?

If single-gender activities were so crucial, why were just the boys getting them?

Well, it gets better.

When DeMolay boys reach the appropriate age, they can become Freemasons. And as you know if you have been following this excruciating Trip Through Masonic History, being a Mason entitles them to attend both Eastern Star and Rainbow meetings as well as DeMolay meetings. Boys=3, Girls=0.

So: Becoming a Mason entitles them to the trifecta of fraternal organization access. Unlike MY sorry Rainbow Girl ass who could grow up and aspire to be in...oh...another organization that included men too. In real terms, my brother could be just another farting, dorky, dirty-minded boy in DeMolay while I was in Rainbow. He would reach the appropriate age and become a Mason. Which would all of a sudden entitle him to come to MY Rainbow meetings and learn all about the stuff we girls did in our ritual and in our group settings. And when I joined Eastern Star, he'd be there too, learning all that ritual as well. But would I ever get to see a single word of the ritual and meaning of what he had in DeMolay? Never. My brother had access to all of my and my mom's organizations and yet she had access to NONE of his.

And that prospect, friends, is what made me quit the whole stupid nonsense and take up drinking on a Scottish university campus for a year, followed by all kinds of (perhaps on later reflection) kooky 'femynyst' stuff when I transferred back to the States. I was aghast that I had participated in such a balls-out patriarchy for so many years and had never been able to nail down what was bugging me about it until I put it this way:

My mom had been a member of Eastern Star for years. So had my dad, although unlike other husbands he begged to not have to go to the "god awful" meetings. But, regardless, my mom never got to really have a social space in the masonic context without my dad or his friends there. She had held various leadership roles, had herded us all up there on Thanksgiving Day to cook and serve dinner to residents of local homeless shelters who had been bused to the lodge for the day, had presided over multiple sleepovers, conferences, conclaves, conventions and muckity-muck poobah events...and was still "{insert my dad's name here}'s wife." Of course, being from a different generation, none of this seemed to bother her, but it really bothered ME. How could SHE do all this work, spend all this time, lose all this sleep--and still not get to have one damn night a week with other women as a separate, individual human being of her own?

I muddled through these feelings until it happened: The, to my mind, ultimate insult: on my brother's next birthday, he was going to start the process of becoming a Mason. Which would entitle him to attend every meeting of my mother's, while still giving her no rights to attend his. That was it for me, that a mother could have her own child, in effect, become a patriarchial figure over her simply because he was male.

I bailed that month and never went back. I felt justified at the time, but now I feel like my quitting reflected a shocking lack of imagination. Had I really been a proud and powerful woman I wouldn't have been boo-hooing and harrumphing over the Evil Patriarchal Locked Masonic Door; I would have beat Ezra's dinner date to the punch and started the female masonic sect back then when I gave a crap about belonging...

But it begs the question. What are the roles of single-gender groups in society? I am not actually against the notion that sometimes men want to socialize with men (and, no I'm not talking about excuses for strip clubs or hookers) and that women want to socialize with women (and, no I'm not talking about quilting bees and afternoon teas...or, well, strip clubs and hookers, either). I'm talking about men and women having places they can go to be fraternal or sororital(?), not because they don't like the other gender but because sometimes its nice to just hang with the ladies for an evening. Am I sounding like an complete throwback when I say this? And what is the happy medium between saying that all spaces and groups must be unisex and that only the men get to be alone?

I don't know. I'm asking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

World Series? What World Series?!

Remarkable how much you don't care about the World Series when your team isn't in it, huh? I had to be reminded today that regularly-scheduled programming would be interrupted for baseball.

I'll take Hugh Laurie in "House" over Roger Clemens in "The Astros Suck" any day...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Bless You

As I grossly noted in a previous post, I am finally coming out of the hell that was a stomach virus. A 24-hour virus that lasted 4 days. Nice. Maybe make that 5 days since I still can't bear the sight or smell of anything that isn't toast or broth...

As I was pondering my gratitude for feeling so much better than I did a few days ago, I thought it so unfortunate that we humans fail to value--or even notice--life's blessings until they are gone. We never notice how cool it is that we can run and walk and move freely till we throw out our back or blow a knee gasket. We never notice how awesome a 75 degree day is until the day arrives when (as grandma always said) "this cold would freeze the balls off a brass monkey." We never notice what a blessing our friends are until one of them moves, departs, or otherwise takes leave from our life.

I hesitated to use the word "blessing" in this post for fear of sounding dorky or hackneyed. It is one of those words that gets both thrown around loosely by Oprah and new agey people, and thrown down weightily by Pat Robertson and other religious people, to the point that its essence gets a bit muddied. Is it some treacly state of being where you walk around throwing fairy dust on people (Blessings to you!), or is it reserved only for those who use it in the divinely-imparted context (The only Entity doing any blessing around here is G-D himself)? Its meaning has been hijacked in so many ways that it can be easy to forget what a profound word--and concept--it is.

I'm not sure of the precise definition (and I'm not going to look it up because SSHaggis has an inviolable policy of not mimicking 8th grade term papers by including any verbiage indicating, "Websters Dictionary defines 'blessing' as...."). All I'm saying is that, here on Day Five of my 24-hour virus, I was sitting watching TV, wearing sweatpants, looking like hell, eating my soup...and feeling nothin' but blessed.

To my mind, feeling blessed involves nothing more than having gratitude for the state you're in. Sure, I could look better these days. Hell, I could look better most days! I could be eating a large pizza right now, in my palatial 12-bedroom home overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with money just streaming into my bank account through no real effort of my own, yadda yadda yadda. I could not be sitting watching The West Wing squeamishly, hoping the soup sits right with what used to be my friendly digestive system. All of this and more could be mine, but would I feel any more blessed than I do right now?

Gratitude for an immune system that (finally, when it gets up the nerve) fights off scary viruses, letting me finally eat some soup and get back to the business of living.

Gratitude for family and friends who helped out with a little person shrieking for her mommy when all I could do was lie in bed and squeal for my own mommy.

Gratitude for having a home, a bed, a mommy and a little shrieking person in the first place.

Gratitude for the makers of pedialyte. It tastes like ass, but it does the job.

Gratitude for a good night's sleep, which I am hoping I am finally about to get.

Gratitude for having an outlet like SSHaggis (and good folks like yourselves) for sharing said gratitude.

In the end, I think Buddha may have said it best, this "blessing" thing:

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die; so, let us all be thankful.

Withdrawal Watch 2005

Okay, let's pretend I'm running a pool on the Harriett Miers nomination to the US Supreme Court. And let's pretend that I'm calling it: she will withdraw by Friday COB of this week.

Who's with me?! Who thinks I'm full of it?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Barfing and Blogging Do NOT Mix

Pardon my recent absence from blogging. As the law of unintended consequences clearly states:

A) When you put your daughter into day care with other little adorable microbial carriers, you will end up with a violent three-day foray into the world of stomach viruses. She of course will be perfectly healthy, you however will be sicker than you can ever remember being.

B) When you tell people you want to "lose a few pounds" and begin a diet to do just that, said stomach virus will make you question the value of losing a few pounds--and the means by which it might happen.

C) When you tell yourself that you will blog about being sick in order to make the best out of a bad situation, you soon realize that you can't even move your arms to dial the phone, much less put a thought together and type it out, thereby being too sick to blog about being sick.

TMI (Too Much Information) section:
Today is Day Three and I am finally able to eat a popsicle and drink tea. For the past two days, anything I have put in my mouth has come right back up within 10 minutes. My mom was all over the phone beseeching me to stay hydrated, but it just was not happening sans vomit, so I gave up trying. From there, things started to "go south" and I can only say the following however indelicately: you haven't lived until you've sprinted to the bathroom (but not fast enough) and crapped your pants at the age of thirty-something. There are few things more depressing than that. Except of course, making it to the commode and having to vomit simultaneously...

So, as disgusting as this return to the blog may be, it's still a return. Here's to a vomit-free day! Woo Hoo!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

O No! Naked John Lennon

This photos was just named the top magazine photo ever. Wow. I don't know. I always found it to be kind of creepy. Like, why is she fully clothed and he is fully naked in the fetal position? When was the last time the man ate a nice big sandwich with fries? When was the last time she gave herself a VO5 hot oil hair treatment? There is just something this photo that the only way I could have described it as my younger self would be, "It gives me that 'bad touch' feeling in my tummy that Mom says I should always tell her about if a grown-up makes me feel that way."

But that's just me. Perhaps you like your hippies naked, emaciated and writhing on the floor...


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Hold The Mayo

Forgive me if I sound like Andy Rooney here, but can someone tell me what Deconstructed Food is? Or more accurately, WHY? I am reading the Washington Post Sunday magazine where one of the great meals featured is "Deconstructed Clam Chowder."

Picture if you will: A large plate on which there sit 4 smaller plates. Each plate contains one element of clam chowder: a hard boiled egg, a fried clam thingy, some corn and potatoes, and a small cup of ingredient-less chowder.

Now tell me: how in the hell am I supposed to eat this? There is no bowl and no spoon. So I guess I'm supposed to use my fork to dip my hard boiled egg yolk into the tiny cup of plain chowder? How so very not yummy is THAT? "Gee, you know what honey, I am totally craving a chowder-dipped hard boiled egg..."

When did food get this ludicrous? Is my "Scottish" showing that I think this dish is a total joke? I know my meat-and-potatoes-salt-is-the-only-spice background predisposes me to disdain "fancy food" as my dad calls it. But seriously. Wouldn't you be so bummed if you went to a restaurant and ordered fried chicken and got a plate with a drumstick, fried batter and a splash of salt and pepper for dipping--and got charged twice as much for your troubles? Seriously: on a purely economic level, isn't the $12 Deconstructed Chowder actually LESS work for the chef? So why am I not getting it cheaper than the real thing? I am doing the work for him!

In my philistinian (philistinic?) defense have tried over the past few years to expand my palate, to try things I would normally gag at; I've done pretty well considering. But there are still three things about fine dining that I can't deal with no matter how hard I try to get over them:

1) The need to argue with a waiter who tells you that "the chef does not prepare it that way" when you ask for well-done or over easy or whatever. I'm sorry, I thought *I* was the customer! If I don't want blood in my steak, why is that non-negotiable with Le Chef? I've always thought about just taking the food the way the chef has mandated and then refusing to pay on the theory that "I do not pay for food I don't like." He's got his rules, I've got mine.

2)As mentioned above, food that is half done. I once ordered cioppino (seafood stew) at a restaurant here in DC. I was so excited to eat it; it sounded nice and warm and hearty on a cold night. Imagine my gag reflex when the bowl arrived with the crawfish and shrimp still in their shells, still with their eyes on, just hung over the edge of the bowl like candy canes at Christmas. You mean I'm supposed to crack those babies open while they're looking at me and then put the meat in the stew myself?! What? Is the kitchen short-staffed tonight? How is it that *I* am doing the plating here?! Good god. I damn near became a vegetarian again that night, looking deep into the eyes of my dinner. Bleah.

3) Two words: climate control. How is it that I can be paying you $40 per entree and you still can't figure out how to stop the cold outside coming screaming in the door and through the restaurant every time the damn door opens? I can list the restaurants where I have sat at my table with the coat on, praying that people would stop arriving so I could actually enjoy my $40 dinner. It's simple, people! How about a big thick curtain at the door? Or how about you take some of the money you used on the authentic Palauan wall sconces and imported teak table legs with diamond inlay from Russia and put in a double freakin' door?!!

After all, how am I supposed to enjoy my deconstructed chef-mandated super-rare steak dinner when I'm wearing mittens?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Just Ask Richard Jewell

I was watching Oprah at 1am during my latest bout of insomnia. It was a replay of her recent show where she was rewarding the women who helped catch the first two child predators she has been featuring on her show and website.

It seemed like a great idea: help the FBI track down their most wanted, coldest cases of child kidnapping, rape, torture and murder. Who couldn't get on board with that? Until Oprah said the following (I'm paraphrasing): "Don't be afraid to call your local FBI office if you even THINK one of these men is your neighbor. If they aren't the right person, then they have nothing to worry about from the FBI..."

Um, Oprah? Are you on drugs?! Of course I wouldn't mind the FBI coming into my home, tearing up my things, opening my drawers, reading my personal materials and naming me a Person of Interest in a child predator crime! After all, once they find out I'm not the right person, they'll be sure to restore my reputation as publicly as they maligned it. Right?

IMHO, this is one more piece of evidence that the real cultural divide in our country is not racial but economic. Only a person who lives in a state of total protection from an FBI home invasion--whether white or black--would say, "Just call! If you aren't the guy, you have nothing to worry about."

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend

What the Red Sox giveth, the Angels taketh away.
Go Angels!!!

Angels Beat Yankees

Monday, October 10, 2005

Matt Damon Does DC

Today's morning post-park walk with The Bambina (to go to Firehook Bakery for one of their disgustingly fattening Halloween cupcakes for said Bambina) took us down 5th Street, which had been transformed into DC of many decades ago. Packards and Oldsmobiles and all those old cars my dad loves were parked along the streets. Young children dressed in uniforms with "moms" dressed in gloves and little hats stood on the sidewalks. An old DC streetcar came down the street ahead and stopped.

We walked as far as we could down the street until random people with backpacks and walkie-talkies held us up for a few minutes while they began filming. As we moved along after the "cut!" we saw a bunch of men outside the streetcar, dressed in those cool old suits with the cool hats you see in all those newsreels from the Civil Rights era. (I realize I am showing my youthful ignorance by not being able to even remotely identify the decade in which the scene was shot. I'm thinking early 50s. But could be the late 40s. Although, hell, it could be the early 60's. I have no idea. There were no African Americans on the streetcar, so I'm thinking pre-60's).

Anyway, turns out the movie is The Good Shepherd, starring Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie, directed by DeNiro. All about some guy in the early days of the CIA. Now, I've never been totally googly about Hollywood stars on the theory that it makes me feel like a total loser to be so into a person I don't even know. Like, the particular star could be a complete jerk, hate his mother, kick dogs, but gee he was so cute in American Pie that I just have to swoon over him. Ick. As if there aren't enough cute people in real life to swoon over, I have to get all hot and bothered for a movie star? Please. It makes me feel like I have no life of my own to be so into the life details of someone who does not--and does not care to--know me. (Jon Stewart and Ewan McGregor are the exceptions since I am certain both would indeed LOVE to know me. hee hee). The issue about Matt Damon in particular is that he is the dead ringer for my a-hole boyfriend back in high school, so I have never really been able to fully enjoy anything he does--as talented as he is--because I just keep feeling like I'm watching my ex in a movie. So, as you can imagine I reacted to this movie shoot with total boredom; bona fide ennui, in fact. Right?


I all of a sudden had to get my child's photo taken on this movie set so--don't ask me why it matters even one bit--she can look back and say, "Hey--there I am on the set of a movie that was a medium-sized hit back in the 00's. Yeah, my mom took it. It starred some guy--Johnny Damon?--and had some woman in it who was supposedly famous. Lana Turner maybe? I don't know. Whatever." But for some reason, I was pushing people out of the way so I could get a photo of my toddler in her stroller in front of Matt Damon's back. Yeah--not even a photo with Matt Damon. No. A photo with Matt Damon in the background. The Bambina was none too pleased at the delay: "Um, I was told there would be cupcakes with buttercream icing?! Have the plans changed, Mrs. Culkin?" So I had to make it quick, hence The Dorsal Damon shot.

As with all things we do on a whim for "no reason," I felt a little bit dirty as I walked away. A little like I had just publicly revealed my latent loserness (and stage mother propensity) in front of not only my neighbors but Matt "D*mn My Ex-Boyfriend" Damon. A little like I had just stolen the soul of The Talented Mr. Damon for my own nefarious ends. A little like I had just embarrassed my daughter for something I thought was cool, a la, "Hi Mr. Bon Jovi, my toddler here really wanted to meet you so I hope you don't mind the interruption..."

So I've decided to make the best of my newly-discovered loserness. It's going to be a Kramer-style coffee table book in the same vein of those Traveling Garden Gnomes photos. The book will feature hundreds of photos of famous celebrities with The Bambina. However, it will feature only their backs. With a hungry, sulking Bambina in the foreground.

I am dedicating it right now to Mr. Matt Damon: The Bambina's first brush with the back of fame.

Friday, October 07, 2005

There But for the Guilt Go I

I have always been steadfastly against guilt as an emotion, on the theory that it is either a completely wasted effort and/or it is the height of self-indulgence. Guilt is simply a way to avoid really fixing what you broke, by either paralyzing you or giving you just enough emotional cover to think that the guilt is enough.

It's such a cop-out: "Oh wow, I feel so bad about cheating on you. Sorry. I told you I feel bad, so why do you keep checking up on me?" That's guilt.

"I am sorry I betrayed you; here are the reasons I did it, here are the steps I'm taking to regain your trust, here are the steps I'm taking to make sure it never happens again." That's remorse. That's genuine. Guilt just lets you feel like you are a nice person because you "feel bad" without requiring you to do anything about it. So there I was, deplorer of guilt, at the end of Week One of The Bambina's day care experience, feeling guilt like you cannot believe.

Day One went okay. They said she cried a bit, didn't really eat, but perked up during particular activities. When I walked in the door, she screamed "Mama!!!" and came running over to me. Color me relieved.

But the second day is always worse than the first, isn't it? It's when you realize that this is actually not just a one-day, out-of-the-norm experience but rather something that is the new normal. Day Two was miserable. The crying started in the car on the way there. Through a 20-minute traffic checkpoint around the Capitol, from the car to the building, through security and into the center where she began the real show. Oh, don't get me wrong; she stopped crying. Yes indeedy. Just long enough to start SCREAMING. Like, snot out of the nose, hyperventilating, begging, indignant screaming. Legs wrapped around me so I couldn't put her down. And "Mama!" said in that toddler way to say, "Don't you love me, you byatch?! How dare you?!!"

So, I did what any loving, caring, deeply moved parent would do: I bolted. Said bye bye, mommy loves you, you're going to have so much fun!, and went swiftly out the door. I figured my presence was just making her more upset and delaying the inevitable realization that she really would be okay and would have fun and would be just fine without me. But I was fighting back tears the entire way back to the car, feeling like the worst mother on the planet since...well, me the day before.

Gratefully, Day Three went better, since after all how could it go worse? She had finally decided to make eye contact with me on the morning of Day Three after spending the entire evening of Day Two giving me the guilt-inducing combo of the silent treatment and the evil eye, and just for good measure refusing to eat anything other than salt and vinegar pringles for dinner. So at the end of Day Three, she actually looked at me when I picked her up, and actually kissed me when I said, "Kisses for mama?" Breakthrough.

I anticipate we will go through the entire spectrum of drama when we do it all again next week, but Day Three this week gave me the reassurance that I needed, that she really won't remember all of this, that she will be fine in the end, that she will get so much out of being with other kids, that I really CAN hear my child cry and know that her fear and pain signal not impending psychological damage, but growth and learning.

There is a book called The Blessings of a Skinned Knee, in which the author Wendy Mogel discusses childrearing within the concept of Judaism. Her essential point is that parents who seek to buffer, cushion and protect their children from any and all "skinned knees" are ultimately doing their children a tragic disservice. Mogel believes our children would be better off and healthier if parents, fearful both of the dangers of contemporary society and of their children experiencing pain, stopped being so protective:

``Children learn about the world by being out in it and doing things and finding their way. That's common sense, but many parents today are so afraid of what's out there _ on the streets or in the media or even at school _ that they micromanage every aspect of their children's lives."

Mogel tells parents that if they really want to protect their children, they will help them manage risks on their own. ``Not only is so much close attention bound to make children nervous and anxious, but it also produces children who are self-centered and often incompetent."

So I think I'm working through the guilt I feel about leaving my child while she cries. In doing so, I'm learning four things:

1) Sometimes the best way to teach your child that they will be okay is to assure them that they will be fine, kiss them goodbye, and then let them go, no matter how much you want to live the hard parts for them. The only way for your child to learn she will be fine in the end is to go through the experience and end up fine in the end.

2) Sometimes a little guilt is good because it means I am striving to overcome the pressure to be a perfect mother who never needs to work and who would rather eat glass than leave her child with other caregivers (all of whom are tremendously qualified and caring and truly interested in comforting and attending to my daughter, no matter how much she may be channeling The Exorcist at any given moment).

3) Sometimes these experiences are a greater lesson for the parent than the child. In this case, I am reminding myself that this is just a smaller, less-stressful practice run of what will inevitably occur when The Bambina becomes The Surly Adolescent. Repeat after me: "I am doing what is best for my child. I am not her friend; I am her mother. I will make it through the times when she does not like me."

4) Mogel said it best: "Your child is not your masterpiece. According to Jewish thought, your child is not even truly "yours." In Hebrew there is no verb for possession; the expression we translate as "to have," yesh li, actually means "it is there for me" or "there is for me." Although nothing belongs to us, God has made everything available on loan and has invited us to borrow it to further the purpose of holiness. This includes our children. They are a precious loan, and each one has a unique path toward serving God. Our job is to help them find out what it is."

Yahoo! is Chinese for "Collaborator"

Just in case you think American corporations in the "new economy" really care about American values, here is a chilling tale from Reporters Sans Frontieres ( I know this is semi-old news, but I was thinking about it today and it kind of made me wonder what they give to Homeland Security right here at home...

Information supplied by Yahoo ! helped journalist Shi Tao get 10 years in prison

The text of the verdict in the case of journalist Shi Tao - sentenced in April to 10 years in prison for “divulging state secrets abroad” - shows that Yahoo ! Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided China’s state security authorities with details that helped to identify and convict him, Reporters Without Borders said today.

“We already knew that Yahoo ! collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well,” the press freedom organisation said.

“Yahoo ! obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate,” the organisation said. “But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations ? How far will it go to please Beijing ?”

Reporters Without Borders added : “Information supplied by Yahoo ! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate.”

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Everybody Loves "Everybody Hates Chris"

Yeah yeah, it's on UPN.

But this show...har har har...Rocks.

It's a semi-autobiographical show about Chris Rock's childhood in the early 80's. It is so incredibly funny and right on. Give it a try. All of the characters are fabulous, especially the young man (did I just channel my mother and call someone "a young man"??) who plays Chris.

Good, good telly.

John McCain Says It Best

Here is a great piece by Ezra over at Popehat. Well said.


Harriet Miers: Supreme Court Straw Man

Okay. Did anyone see this coming?! The President has nominated his own counsel to the highest court in the land. Interesting.

The Wall Street Journal says that her lack of judicial experience is not a factor. After all, she has represented real people as clients and therefore may be best qualified to understand cases involving real people. Y'all: her previous clients include Microsoft and The President of the United States! Yes indeed, a real populist is our Harriet.

My personal conspiracy theory is that Karl Rove has no notion whatsoever that Harriet Miers will sit on the Supreme Court. She is being nominated so that the Dems will have to look askance at a nice older lady. After they reject her, they will then be hard pressed to reject a second nominee and therefore look like obstructionists. I'm less interested in Harriet Miers than I am in the actual nominee Rove is cooking up. Why else would this White House pick someone not beloved by conservatives, Hispanics, name another GOP interest group? Believe me, this White House is not nominating "from a position of weakness" as some commentators would have you believe. When was the last time you saw Rove, Cheney and Bush throw in the towel even when they were clearly clearly clearly wrong/caught redhanded/lying?

I rest my case.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Happy New Year

It's Rosh Hashanah, so I'm going to try to stay off my computer till sundown Tuesday night to be somewhat observant. For the benefit of our non-Jewish friends, these days are the Days of Awe, the days from Rosh Hashanah (new year) till Yom Kippur (the day of atonement), when we are required to ask for forgiveness, think about how we can be better people in the coming year, etc. The part I like the most about this time of year is the requirement that you must make amends with--and seek forgiveness directly from--the person you have wronged. There's no getting out of it the easy way by asking God to forgive you; you have to take action, make changes, genuinely acknowledge your responsibility, and mend the fence with the actual person you have hurt. It can be miserable to contemplate, but it can also be very freeing. To know that you don't have to carry your guilt around indefinitely, to know that you have no choice but to take the steps to make right what you did wrong; it sounds hard to do (and it is) but there is no better feeling than getting yourself right with the people you love...and sometimes even the ones you don't.

These are crazy days indeed. Every year (as you'll no doubt see if you read last year's post around this time) I always make a commitment that I am going to Talk Less and Listen More in the coming year. So, Friends, how did I do? What? What? Oh, I'm sorry! I can't hear you; I was too busy talking....

What can I say? I'm a work in progress. Only, unlike the US Capitol Visitor's Center or the new terminal at Dulles, I'm kind of like The Big Dig in Boston: lots of political hot air, plenty of promises, all kinds of overtime union work goin' on, but alas no completion date in sight. :)

Well, as I sign off till tomorrow night, I will leave you with the following prayer sent by a wonderful rabbi whose good name I won't impugn by associating him with my drivel, but whose prayer, I believe, speaks to everyone, Jew or Gentile:

"Heavenly Father. In the twilight of the vanishing year we give thanks for Thy mercies and implore Thy guidance for the future. Thou hast brightened our days with the happiness of home and friendship...And many burdens have been laid upon us, many tears have furrowed our cheeks, many tender ties have been broken...Give us the will to serve Thee so as we grow older in years, we may grow stronger in wisdom, broader in charity and more steadfast in our faith. Grant us life, health, contentment and peace."

Beloved Haggis Friends, may the new year (whenever it begins for you) bring you life, health, contentment and peace.

Posts in the Hopper

Since tomorrow marks the day that The Bambina begins day care (my ambivalence about which is detailed in an earlier post), I may actually have time to blog more. Upcoming topics *scheduled to appear include the following:

My almost jury duty
Customer Dis-service at my bank
The little blue pill that ain't Viagra
Why I love New York (except the Yankees, those b#$%^rds!)
My Dad (does this even need a subtitle?!). Okay, I'll give you two: My Dad: A Day in the Life of Del Boca Vista: 98 Widowed Neighbors Can't Be Wrong.
My Plan to Stalk, Meet, Act Like a Beatles Fan circa 1964--and generally embarrass myself--with Jon Stewart when he tapes The Daily Show in DC this month.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Out To Lunch

Be Back Soon!