Spelling Bee a la Mr. B's class

Have I been out of the loop, or something? Since when was a spelling bee championship, finale, whatever aired on national television? Well, it was (and has been for the past 4 years, apparently). And Tom Bergeron, mc'd it. What the hell?

Ok, whatever I guess, but isn't that even more pressure for those poor, sweet, bookworm-y kids? Can you imagine?? Not only are you studying word origins for hours a day and practicing your stiff-armed, mouth on the mic, spelling bee stance, but now you also have to contend with camera lighting and TV cameras?

Those kids deserve more than just cash and some reference books. They deserve medals of bravery and $1000 gift card to Gap Kids (they have enough social hurdles to endure, I'm sure, so might as well look spiffy, right?).

I remember the only spelling bee I was ever in. It was in Mr. Bernhardt's 5th/6th combination class, it was 1985, and I was a 5th grader, an underdog. I was a good speller, too, by anyone's standards and I was hot. I mean h a w t. I was spelling things like "encyclopedia," and "majesty" and "passed" (not to be confused with "past," mind you). I was the last 5th grader standing.

It was me and some snooty 6th grader, head to head, when Mr. B looks me in the eye as if to say, "Come on, girl! You can do it!!" and sounds out "kuh-lahzh".

I remember thinking, "Did he just make up that word?? What the fuck?"

"Kuh-lahzh" he says again. Ok, ok, dude, I heard you...

I stalled for time and must have looked pained because he began trying to help me out, "It's not "college."

"Well, YEAH, obviously!" I screamed in my brain, "I KNOW how to spell that! C-O-L-L-E-G-E. Ugh! How does that help me?" His little tip only served to confuse me more.

The tension was thick as a knife in our paste-colored classroom. The other students perched, I'm sure, on the edge of their seats, their hopes for Spelling Bee Champion dashed when they misspelled words such as, "justice," and "steak."

I began, "C-O-L-L-" and Mr. B's face was lit up with hope and expectation, but when I finished with , "E-G-E," because nothing else had come to mind his face fell, shoulders slumped. "No, I'm sorry Jessica. It's spelled, C-O-L-L-A-G-E. You may return to your seat."

I was devastated and I hadn't even studied!! And so ended my Spelling Bee career. I can't imagine what it's like for these kids who do the spelling bee "circuit" and get words like "laodicean" (which I can't even pronounce as an adult!).

What's the point, anyway? After a certain level of proficiency, isn't it good enough? I mean, anyone who would use "laodicean" in a sentence invariably will know how to spell it. Understanding its meaning and how to spell it would sort of have to go hand in hand, right?

Anyway, congrats to ol' Kavya Shivashankar. Good for her and her bad 13 year old self. May her life be a collage of memorable events.


By the way, here's "laodicean" in a sentence (the winning word for Kavya). See if you can figure out its meaning:
She's never really been all that into Catholicism, instead adopting a laodicean attitude towards its tenets.


Presenting: Darn good blogs

I have a few blogs that I've been visiting regularly lately, and I wanted to share the love. Being relatively new to the whole blogging thing I'm just now getting my sea legs by leaving comments and interacting with other bloggers, and developing a blog-reading routine. I'm finally "getting it."

When Hollis goes down for nap #1 I check in to my email and blog and make the rounds. These are the ones I always hit. They make me cry, laugh, get crafty, get pissed, whatever, and the folks behind it all are intelligent, warm, and receptive.

I'll have to do a "my favorite non-parenting blogs" post another time.

Where do I find the time? Thank goodness for naps, is all I can say.

PS: Thanks, again, NS, for the nod on your list.

I will conquer the gnats

Gnats make me want to claw my skin off my bones. Lucky for me that isn't really possible because we have an infestation in my kitchen and a Raving, Skinless Jessie wouldn't be all too great, me thinks.

I don't know if they came when I was saving compost materials for my neighbor or just because you can't have produce on your counter tops here in Texas, but whatever the reason for their existence in my nice, clean house, they're here. And they make me want to vomit. VOMIT, I say.

I've discovered over the past couple of weeks that they are magnetically pulled to my wine glass - nice, huh? They have good taste; they couldn't be bothered with juice. And it doesn't seem to matter if it's white or red, so I've started leaving out little wine glasses just for them around the house to lure them in. Then I creep up and slam my hand down on the top and drown the little bastards.

Today, it was a nice Pinot Grigio. It was working wonders until I saw about 20 of them lurking by. The bile rising in my throat told me then it was time to call in the reinforcements. Plus, I don't want to waste all my wine on this shit.

Here's my current set up:

We'll see if the fly tape or the wine will get the most in the end. Wish me luck, people.

And sorry, you nasty, disgusting, hovering gnats, but I'm gonna win this round.

Update: I ended up going with a mixture of wine AND vinegar and within a few days they were dead, dead, DEAD. Incidentally, the fly tape caught some big house flies (another problem I have), but the gnats steered clear of it.

Grown up decisions

I'm sure a lot of you have had to make big girl and boy decisions in your life and none are more important than those that affect your family. The big decision Anthony and I made was to have him take a job that required more travel. Yes, the dreaded word, TRAVEL, is now a firm part of our vernacular.

At first, it was no biggie. Anthony's start date was literally right after Hollis was born. He went out of town a week in December. It was hard on both of us, mostly born out of fear (mine about being totally alone with an infant) and loneliness (his about missing out on his baby's baby-ness).

As the months have passed his travel has increased incrementally with my parenting savvy and his resilience to being away. We talk late at night in the dark about how we'll manage the times apart, deliberate in our choice to make our times together quality moments, and uncertain about how to balance his career advancement with our focus and devotion to family (two things which are never cohorts, but instead fierce competitors).

We need him to make more money, but we always ask, "At what cost??" Neither one of us are willing to have him gone all the time just so we can make more money. We're both certain that we'd rather pinch and save and have a fuller, richer home life. It begins to get tricky when Anthony has outgrown his current job responsibilities and yearns for more. And as everyone knows more responsibilities equals more demands equals more work equals more time away. Rarely does moving up mean more time at home. Fucking sucks.

So now we're gearing up for a major blast of travel. Anthony has tentative plans to be away for five of the next seven weeks, with possibly more. We look at it as something we decided to do for our family at this particular time, but I'm very careful to not think of it as ideal. Again, Anthony struggles because he loves what he's doing, and has found a new passion in travel, but misses me and Hollis desperately when he's gone. It's a crap situation in some ways. It's too bad that he can't pack us along. Wouldn't that be great? haha It's what celebrities do: they just cart their peeps around with them, schedules allowing. I can see why.

The next thing we'll have to do is navigate the corporate ladder and its demands. I'm hesitant to agree to more travel. As it stands, Anthony's gone at least once a month from a day to a week's time.

This whole situation reminds me of an Ethics professor I had at St. Ed's. He was a lawyer and judge, in his 70's, at least, and brilliant. He wore button down shirts with animals on them (the giraffes were my favorite) and reddish brown cowboy boots. He had a shock of white hair, but had he not had this age identifier, from behind you'd think he was a 30-something year old man; his joints were loose, he had a spring in his step, he seemed strong and confident. I liked to make ribald innuendos just see him smile sheepishly and turn bright red at the front of class.

And I'll never forget the day he turned to us, twenty prospective counselors from all walks of life, and drew this graph on the chalkboard, circling the end:

This was the amount of stress we might be under today, he explained. No biggie, right?

Then, he drew a couple of big jumps up. He said we'd all know notice it right away and think, "Crap. This sucks!" because it happened abruptly, such as a death in the family, and we'd most likely take time off, reflect, and rest - which was a good thing, but not really his point:

Then he started adding little steps, explaining that each one was just "a little more" stress. Finally, at the far end of the chalk board he stopped and drew an arc from the end to the beginning:

"What do you think happens at this point?" We all blinked. "You have a breakdown. Anybody know why??" More blinking. "Because, look at where you started. This isn't 'just a little more stress,' it's a huge amount more than what is healthy and manageable and you never lowered your stress. You never really noticed it was increasing because you kept handling it, kept on 'stepping up.' But this is dangerous. If it's a little over a longer period of time you ignore it, tell yourself you can handle it, to suck it up... Until one day, you can't anymore. And your life, family, and clients will suffer for it. You must always be aware of the little steps up and take care to get your stress levels back down. Always."

Suffice it to say. He made his point and I will never, ever forget the lesson. This is what I'm worried about with the travel thing. I'm willing to be the wet blanket and the constant travel-warden if I have to because the last thing I want to have happen is my marriage and family to fall apart because I no longer know my husband or have a relationship to call my own.

How do people do it? I know so many couples who travel and are separated and I'm not so sure, really, how many are happy with it. But for those who do it and succeed and love it, what's the secret? Are they even aware of the Steps to No Where?? Do they think they're immune? Because God knows I don't think I am. It's a good thing I bought some Lotto tickets yesterday...


9:16 am

Hollis chilled in his rocker while I sipped tea on the floor.

Mornings rock.


And the deed is done

My baby sister got married this weekend. It was a sweet, 3 minute ceremony in the San Francisco Courthouse atop a curving marble staircase under a domed awning. The din of other ceremonies below us was the orchestra; the lights coming in from the skylights the candle glow; the smiles of the six witnesses the heartfelt happiness of a thousand supporters.

After the ceremony, and before dinner, some of us went to Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins hotel. The views were incredible and a few of Gabby and Maurice's friends joined us. A little later there was an intimate dinner with the rest of their close family and friends. We all drank wine, ate incredible food, and took photos with nerdy Holga cameras. We chatted, hugged, made toasts...

When dinner was over some of us went to a bar for the "Official GM Afterparty." It was the first time I'd seen the inside of a bar in 2 years. It was dark and swanky and I felt totally "behind the velvet rope"; like a woman about town, not a mommy. Gabby and Mo left the bar early and the rest of us stayed behind to revel in it all.

The following day we bar-b-qued at my sister's. Maurice made piles of food and we drank mimosas. Hollis ran around the house yelling, "Lala!! Lala!!" (his version of "Larry") all afternoon and my mom and Terry rocked the grandparenting while Anthony and I visited with my sister and Maury's friends. They were relaxed and happy. My sister padded around the apartment in socks chatting with her peeps, while her husband grilled for hours outside in the crisp air, fully entertained by no less than a small band of men at all times.

Sunday, we bar-b-qued again at one of my sister's good friend's house in Russian Hill. The rooftop deck afforded us a view of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz and Hollis could see sailboats in the bay. We lounged around, ate more incredible food, and a few even sang the lyrics to "Dead or Alive" (I have to mention the sobriety of all during this spontaneous karaoke session). Yeah, that's how we roll.

There was a small crouching gargoyle perched on the roof below us looking out over the city's dust colored building tops.

Monday, Gabby came to our hotel and had breakfast with us then we headed out.

All last night I was beyond exhausted, but I also had this other feeling, a feeling of peace. I feel at peace that my sister is safe, loved, and protected. She has an other. A partner. A husband. She will always have a soft place in her life and this affords me a sense of relief that I didn't know was missing until now. They are building a family and a wonderful life together. For so long I have been strong for my baby sister, protecting her retroactively because I did a shitty job of it when we were little. I have ridden along side her during the highs and lows of life and now she has a new Shotgun at her side. Maurice has officially stepped in.

I'm so happy and proud and overwhelmed and relieved and grateful and thrilled and about a thousand other emotions. Gabby, especially (because she's my little heart), deserves love and support and safety and Maury gives it to her in spades.

Of course I will always be her Big Sister and boss her around, but it's no longer my job to make sure she's safe anymore. I'm teary as I write this, but I'm not even a tiny bit sad. I'm eternally grateful that my little sister has the intelligence and fortitude to find and sustain such a beautiful and unique relationship; one that nurtures her and allows room for growth.

My sister and her husband are a truly inspiring couple. They go out of their way to be supremely kind to one another. They are always considerate and protective and allow each to be quirky and wonderfully weird, to have their nervous ticks: a gift so few partners give. They have a long, interesting history riddled with teenage hijinx and college lovin' - so much more exciting than meeting on MySpace. They are calm when others get feisty, practical when others get irrational, and thoughtful when others get shitty.

This weekend was incredible in every way and I'm glad that my sister is safely tucked under the wing of such a good man.

And I can't wait to meet my little niece or nephew this fall. Gabby is going to be a spectacular mother and I can't freakin' wait to slather this little baby with love, love, LOVE. Just like what Larry and Mo give to my little baby... and each other.



What's in a diaper bag?

Their product blurb says it all:
…smart, that sums it up. You’re smart so your bag should be too…friendly pockets make it easy to tote along the stuff…and anti-microbial linings let you worry about having fun, not fighting germs…colorful linings make it even more like you…a surprise on the inside

My sister actually shelled out the $130 for this bag at Nordy's (thanks, Sissy Poo!). I'm not sure if I would have ponied up like that, but boy am I glad my sister did. This bag rocks. After a year and a half it still looks good as new (no dirt, no fraying, no slouching, the straps are firmly attached).

I highly recommend it!


More of Grandma's handy work

Mind you, we're in a VERY fancy hotel restaurant.

God bless my mother and her love of cosmopolitans.


Why am I doing this again??

Every 5 or 6 weeks I wonder, "Why the fuck am I blogging??"

I mean, it's a ridiculously self-serving thing. I'm writing all about me, my life, my thoughts, my anxieties, my whatever.

And who am I?? Some chick in Austin, TX who doesn't get out enough.

Whose real-life friends are all but ghosts, visiting her on occasional late nights when schedules allow, and, she thinks, maybe it's because she sucks?

Whose husband would probably rather she NOT write as much and as honestly as she does, but who recognizes it as a good, solid hobby for her to have anyway.

Whose neuroses are, surely, pretty damn boring to read day in and day out and probably also have the unwanted effect of causing readers to think, "Oh my GAWD, there she goes complaining AGAIN!"

A woman who is embarrassingly insecure, but steadfast in her belief she'll not be some day.

A woman who pours her heart out and then somehow manages to limp along in the following days, hoping someone responds, and cringes all the while at her neediness.

A woman who delights in her baby and who is becoming desperate for another one, but she'll never tell you that for fear of jinxing the whole damned thing.

A woman whose heart is in San Francisco and only wants the rest of her there.

Whose self-depreciation knows know bounds and, she believes, this makes her a little uncouth in good company.

And then I ask, "What do I want this blog to be??" Ideally, it'd be a place where other moms, and friends, could see the wizard behind my curtain. Maybe I seem put together and confident. Maybe I seem to know it all and have it under control. I'd like for this to be a place for honesty and support, for me and for others.

I also want it to be a source of information for new moms. I scoured the internet for information when Hollis was born and I got a lot of crap, but I also found a lot of great stuff, and I've tried to showcase it here in an organized and readable way. I'm not a money-making site, so I'm not trying to be super slick, but I do want it to have rhythm and rhyme, so to speak.

I'd like to become more vocal about my beliefs, but often find myself intimidated by the fierce debates I read elsewhere. I absolutely believe that women need about a thousand times more support breastfeeding. I don't believe formula is "just as good as breastmilk." I don't believe in hitting children. I don't believe in the "cry it out" method. I believe whole-heartedly in attachment parenting, and child-led weaning. I believe the feminists forgot to say that "women's work" is equal to "men's work."

I want to be like Annie of PhD in Parenting. Or a little more like Noble Savage, or Mom-101. Women and parents who write with grace, intelligence and who seem to be fearless in their momentum; their research is flawless. I feel my writings are so little sometimes, so not worthwhile.

And then... (because of course a post like this has an "and then" moment) something miraculous happens because of this blog.

Even though I complain and am confused and often write ridiculous things like about how my son ate his umbilical stump or how my husband gave me tulips once, or I'll be a real downer and write about my dad or losing Levi, people I've never met still read and they comment and they reach out and touch me.

Like Loukia of Loulou's Views who comments on all my posts and emails me when I've been incommunicado. Or Noelle of Baby in Broad who was the very first person to add me to her blogroll, and that little thing somehow made my freakin' day that a total stranger, someone trying to do virtually the same thing as me, thought my site was worth a nod. Or when Noble Savage, a blogger I really admire, tagged me in a meme - again, something so little and insignificant, but still made me think that maybe my blogging attempts really aren't going into a blackhole after all.

And, lastly, of course my real life friends, the ones who are ghosts by virtue of their locale, not their schedules, email me and call me and chat excitedly about my writings. They are so grateful to be able to see into my life and they think I'm so funny and insightful and Thank You for posting about the vaccination thing because I wasn't sure what I was going to do, but now I'm thinking about it in a whole new way!

They see likeness in my stories and theirs and they see solace in our shared experiences. As my friend just told me, "I feel like even though our situations aren't identical, we are still all going through the same things," and it makes her feel less alone in her own experience.

It's exhilarating and wonderful to hear and I feel pride in what I'm doing. Maybe I'll keep blogging after all... reaching even one friend, real or ethereal, is well worth the effort to continue stretching myself publicly. I'm an extrovert, I know this. I won't keep apologizing for this particular decadence. I'll just need to let it feed my soul. Because you can't overfeed your soul. Not even a little bit.


Coo, coo...

This past weekend I took Hollis to the park. And like parks everywhere it has a healthy pigeon population. Big ones, little ones, wonky one-eyed, one-legged ones, white ones, steel gray ones, and ones that almost look like peacocks they're so iridescently beautiful.

This particular flock is 200 birds strong, at least, and they're not of the faint of heart. They're used to throngs of people, children, and plucky dogs bum-rushing them. There's something so... I don't know... inspiring about watching them move like a school of fish among the strewn paper wrappers and moving legs, deftly picking up bugs, finding some pigeon love, and bits of popcorn.

On more than one occasion all I had to do was sit still and I had them swarm all around us; Hollis pointing and yelling, "Buh!! Buh!! Buh!!" I expected as much on this particular visit, but Hollis brought his A game. As we toddled around, he started clucking!

I've been teaching him names of animals from a farmyard set of flashcards (you know, the kind with fuzzy dogs, scaly chicken legs, and woolly sheep) and the most recent addition was "chicken." And like other animal names, Hollis doesn't even attempt the word, "chicken," but instead gloms onto the sound they make. So, when he sees a chicken, he says, "blahh-BLA! blahh-BLA!" His version of a cluck.

And when he saw the pigeons, he was clucking up a storm.

I was so impressed! I mean, wow! He knows they're birds, he knows they're round and fat, he remembers "chicken" and the sound they make and he's applying it to birds that aren't that dissimilar in appearance (come on, give it to me, I'm a proud mama). I then figured I'd tell him what pigeons say. I made a throaty cooing sound in my throat and the pigeons veered toward us to check it out. Next thing I know, Hollis is doing a perfect imitation of my coos!

We spent the next 30 minutes chasing pigeons and Hollis entertaining all the folks eating their flavored ice. I mean, it's not every day you see an impossibly cute and chubby 20 month old running around cooing like a pigeon, right?

Later that night I was telling Anthony all about it and asked Hollis, "What do pigeons say, Hollis?" and he started cooing again. And cooed for the next hour all over the house as he played with his red rocket, chased the cat, and played with pots and pans. It was a pigeon soundtrack.

A little baby boy pigeon soundtrack...


Saturday afternoon

Saturday I had hair and doctors appointments and as I ran around town the skies loomed over me dark and heavy, clouds gathering, earth steaming. I breathed in the muggy richness that is Austin and big, fat rain drops fell.

I called home to ask if it was raining there (it's a habit most Austinites do - the rain patterns here are so strange that it can be an utter downpour in north Austin and dry as a bone in south). Anthony said it was beginning to spit. I hung up and went about my errands.

Thirty minutes later, my email account reads that I have several new messages.

This is what met me when I opened my email.

Anthony got that little panda slicker for Hollis while in Japan. Apparently, my little guy was thrilled to wear it out in the rain.

If ever I had to take bets on good vs. evil, I have to say that things like this, moments like these, prove without a doubt that goodness will always prevail in the universe...


Housewife soldier

Lots of things have been on my mind. Lots.

Wednesday night Hawk was in his play zone happily banging on pots and pans. I was split into about a dozen people, simultaneously making dinner, picking up toys he tossed over the edge, cleaning, thinking about my next 400 things I had to do. At this moment I happened to be wielding a knife. A big, fat dull knife. And a stubborn, slippery onion. You can figure out the rest.

Lots of blood, a good amount of pain, but nothing too horrendous. I didn't need stitches or a trip to the ER. As I ran my finger under water in the kitchen sink I spied the mess of rice under Hawk's highchair that I hadn't swept up yet. So, I quickly wrapped my bloody finger in paper towels and tape and swept up the rice one-handed.

I felt delirious. I had one hand held above my heart with a throbbing, pulsing fingertip and a broom in the other. Pans on the stove top, a vocal toddler talking to me, a hundred things going through my mind: what time will anthony be home? my feet hurt. the floor's a mess. is it bath time, yet? oh god, i'm still so sore. why am i sweeping when 30 seconds ago i spurted blood?? damn, my finger hurts! shit, i didn't finish chopping that onion.

Inside, I was laughing and crying like a crazy person. On the outside I was resolute and all business. I couldn't afford not to be all business. If I wasn't a housewife soldier I'd break down sobbing. For a moment I thought, "Is this really my life? Constant cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping, cleaning, cooking, laundry, shopping?" Then, the requisite wave of guilt washed over me.  Hawk is here, sweet and pure. Cherub like in every way. I don't resent his existence even a little, but I'm beginning to resent mine.

I want a vacation from my life.

A place I can go where I don't have to clean up after my toddler tornado every hour of every day. A place where all I have to do is give him his food, not research it, shop for it, and prepare it. A place where the bed gets magically made, along with the floors cleaned, the fridge stocked up, and the dishes cleaned. A place where all the bills are paid for, the budget balanced for me. Just for a few days. That's all I want.

I want to be with my son and play with him and teach him and run around, but I don't want to have to worry about a goddamned other thing in my life.

I'm run down and disenchanted with what I've built for myself here. And I'm confused. How can I at once be content and unhappy? Because I am. I am wholly content with Rooster and our little family. We have money in the bank, a wonderful relationship, a great house, all the trimmings. We're just missing the picket fence. But yet, I'm unhappy with the repetition, the isolation, the burden of complete responsibility. I need a fucking break.

How does a stay-at-home mom get a break, anyway?? At what point did I learn that I had to do it all? And do it all perfectly? I'm running out of steam.

Rooster's always begging me to relax, to not multi-task, to just CHILL. I can't NOT multi-task. I can't NOT do, do, do. There are things to be done, damnit! At any given moment in the day I can think of a dozen things that need my attention. It drives him batty.

When Rooster's home, and he's not moving, he's napping. I call it Manertia (as in, Man Inertia). My step-dad has a similar propensity for napping, as does my sister's fiancé. I'm not throwing them under the bus, by any means, but it's certainly a difference between the women and men in my family. I have friends whose men do similar things. When Rooster isn't working or doing something around the house like mowing the lawn, he is napping. If he isn't moving his body to do some thing, whatever it may be, he's napping. I have hundreds of pictures of him asleep around the house: on our bed, the love seat, the floor, the couch, the chair, wherever he's overcome with the need to close his eyes he does.

And if he naps and awakens surprised that he dozed off he doesn't feel bad about it. He figures he needed it and goes about his day. When he's so tired he can't keep his eyes open he doesn't question his ability as a man, a father, or a husband. He thinks, "Hmm. Guess I was pretty tired," scratches his butt, sniffs, and goes on his merry way. - Well, not really. I added the butt scratching part.

It is such a gift, this idea we bestow upon little boys and young men, that they don't have to do it all and that it's ok; that their needs are legitimate and worth nurturing. Little girls are conditioned to take care of everyone first, themselves last. What they need and feel can always take a backseat to other things, like the dishes. To do so means you love purely, fiercely, and wholeheartedly, right? Well, yeah, ok, I guess, but what about me??

Why do I still let this be my m.o.? After years of feminist, anthropological, and sociological research and talking to every girlfriend I have who struggles with the exact. same. thing. You'd think I would have figured out how to slow the fuck down for myself by now. But you'd be wrong.

I wonder if it's as simple as taking a nap when I felt like it. If that could be my break. If I listened more closely to my body's cues for rest I might not feel so overwhelmed and run down. But then I think back to cutting my finger and sweeping up the rice. I had to sweep up the rice. I'm not willing to let that kind of crap just lay around on my floor. - See? The m.o. is still there.


Having said all this, I'm feeling better.Rooster  hasn't snored in three nights and so I've gotten large chunks of sleep as opposed to an hour here, an hour there. He didn't always snore. It's a new development in the last 6 months. I don't know how all those women out there can say, "I can't fall asleep without the sound of my husband snoring!" Bless their little hearts, 'cuz I want to push Rooster right out of the bed when he snores. I've been known to kick him out to the couch some nights. It's like having a newborn all over again. But like I said, it's been better the last three nights, so I feel a bit more rejuvenated.

And talking about this weight I've been feeling has helped immensely.Rooster  is a wonderful partner who always knows when to just hold me and say, "It's tough right now, but we'll get through it." He adds immeasurable contentedness to my life and I'm lucky to know him. Sharing my feelings means I don't feel quite as overwhelmed by a nebulous and secret dark cloud. I'm beginning to identify it. Now, I just gotta keep working towards sweeping it away.

Teeth hurt!

I've found these two products to be crucial to helping manage Hollis' teething pain.

I used Camilia when he was an infant, and "graduated" to the Hylands teething tablets when he was eating solid foods (even though the bottle says it's fine to give to an infant).

I've only been able to find the Camilia at Wholefoods. The Hylands tablets are almost everywhere.

The thing I like most about Camilia is that you can buy a box of 20 doses and stash 5 all over the place (your purse, pocket, at grandma's, in the car, etc.).

Hollis loved the Camilia liquid doses and would instantly start to feel better whenever he saw me grab one. He eventually felt the same way about the tablets.

Good luck!


I feel so f-ing b l a h

I don't know what's wrong with me. I feel so blah, icky, exhausted, sore, run down. I wonder intermittently if I might have cancer or some systemic issue with my glands and nodes.

I am normally upbeat, energetic, excited about my days. Lately it's all I can do to get through non-nap times. I can barely pick Hollis up since I'm still recovering from my Saturday ride, so I'm spending a lot of time on the floor with him where I find it increasingly difficult to not just put my head down on the carpet and doze.

And, NO, I'm not pregnant (Anthony was roaming the globe when some special sexy time would have been needed to get me with child).

I watched Oprah say farewell to Dr. Oz yesterday and it got me thinking about going and getting some tests done. Maybe it's my hormones (God knows I have enough facial hair to make a 13 year old boy jealous), maybe it's my thyroid (I seem to be immune to weight loss activities), or maybe it really is something horrendous like cancer.

The problem is that I don't dig my G.P. She's super Western. She's all about pills and trying out the newest samples in her office, and she once told me that psychological issues were just obstacles we made for ourselves and if we exercised enough will power to feel better, we would (and this was when I was sitting in her office in tears asking for anti-depressants after my dad's death). She's also always skeptical whenever I ask for bloodwork as if I'm strange for wanting it in the first place.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I don't know where to go for help with whatever's going on with me (and I'm pretty certain there is). I can go to my G.P. and try to convince her that I really do have something wrong with me, but I have no idea what, or I can go out on a limb and try to find a more holistic M.D.

Or maybe I need to see a shrink, the pill-giving kind. Maybe I'm depressed again? The only reason I stopped taking my meds in the first place was because I found out I was pregnant, not because I was feeling better. Depression certainly isn't linear and I never really went to the end of that mourning process in the first place - I just put it on hold and instead focused on the excitement of the life inside of me and the family I was creating. But this doesn't feel quite like full blown depression. My soul doesn't feel cracked and black and oozing. I feel strong and smart and worthwhile. I have happiness incarnate on two chubby legs with a round, pale belly that likes to peek out from under shirts. The blackness that was the depth of my feelings about the loss of my father and my relationship with him was essentially wiped out with the news of a baby The light of that hope pushed the darkness right out of my heart.

Ok, so, being the keenly observant arm-chair psychologist that I am I've just ruled out depression. That leaves the physical and that leaves me back where I started. Do I go to my G.P. whom I've seen for a decade and just insist on the tests I think I need? Or do I try to find a new G.P. who has a more holistic approach and who will view my questions and concerns as a journey we need to take together?

I'm just tired of feeling like this. Longing for nap times is not a way to mother on a daily basis. Hell, I don't know, maybe this is sadness all over again...

PS: To the people that know me in real life: DON'T. FREAK. OUT. You know who you are... Mom. If I can't write honestly, then there's no point in writing at all. You see me all the time and know that I'm ok and I'm not faking it, but I DO have things on my mind and this is one of them.

Update: I did some research in Austin for integrative, functional medical doctors and came up with big fat NOTHING. They're all either NDs or chiropractors, and while I totally believe in what they can do, I want an MD that can run bloodwork on me and has access to both conventional and alternative remedies. So, I called up my gyno (the first doctor here in Austin who works with midwives in the hospital - yeah, we're fucking backwards like that - and someone whom I've only seen once, but really liked) and had an awkward, on-the-verge-of-tears conversation with the nurse trying to convince her I needed to come in to get checked out for what, I don't know. Then I called up my GP. I figure I'll give her a chance. I can at least rely on her to run bloodwork on me. I'll just have to read up on what I want done.

I have appointments with each on Tuesday of next week and this Saturday, respectively. Wish me luck.


Seven little things

Loukia of Loulou's Views tagged me to do this little questionnaire and, because I love these kinds of things here you go!

7 yet unknown, yet awesome facts about myself
(disclaimer: I'm not guaranteeing the "awesomeness" of these facts):

1. I drink my coffee black. Super black. The only white stuff I add to my coffee is soy milk for a latte.

2. I am emotionally fearless, but will NEVER jump out of a plane or off a bridge.

3. I use fake flowers around my house. Even though every so-and-so designer says to buy fresh flowers each week, that's at LEAST a $40/month habit! I could get diapers and wipes for that!

4. I am rethinking feminism and what it means for me and other women today.

5. I can cook anything from almost nothing and make it pretty damn edible. But ask me to do some crazy, fancy shit you see on Top Chef and I would come up with nothing.

6. I'm planning on redesigning my wedding rings so I can wear them without causing an outbreak of eczema (know of any good ring designers??).

7. I am so content with my life it should be outlawed.

PS: This was a LOT harder than I thought. Unknown AND awesome facts? Eesh.



Menu Plan: Week of May 11th

This week I have $100 left for groceries, which works out well since I accidentally spent last week's budget on some of this week's food. Yeah, I do that kind of thing sometimes.

If I haven't said it before, I gotta say the $200 a week for food and necessities is working out pretty well. Makes me feel a whole lot more in control, anyway. And that's what we're always striving for: control, control, control!

Mon: Boxed deener - Anthony's seeing Star Trek again with Terry
Tues: Chipotle pork tacos
Weds: Pork and mango lettuce wraps for a late Mother's Day/early birthday dinner with GF carrot cake
Thurs: Baked sea scallops
Fri: E/O
Sat: Artichokes with two sauces, cocktail shrimp, and pasta with lemon sauce
Sun: Lemon-rosemary crusted roasted chicken


"It's upstairs in the back corner"

I've been having a hell of a time finding a dress for my sister's wedding in a couple of weeks. I thought I'd had it all figured out with this ensemble:

But, alas, as much as I wish I can piece an outfit together based solely on how it looks online, I cannot. The J.Crew dress arrived, but was cut a little funny, then I found out that everyone is wearing purple to my sister's wedding. I reordered a purple version and it was cut even more poorly, if that's possible. The back zipper rippled like a roller coaster and the sides didn't hang right off my hips. I looked like I had a petticoat on. Back it went.

The pretty white jacket made me look like a linebacker when worn with the dress, so back it went, too.

The pretty coral necklace completely overpowered the dress, so I had to take it back, too.

I already had a pair of shoes very similar to the neutral ones in the ensemble. I'm keeping those for a rainy day.

I ended up opting for a simple cream cardigan from J. Crew to wear over my dress (whatever it may be) since it'll be chilly in the city (San Francisco) no matter how hot it really is everywhere else in CA. So far, I'm loving it and will wear it down to its threads after the Big Day.

Today, while Anthony was cleaning the house from top to bottom for me for Mother's Day, I took Hollis to the mall for a little retail therapy. Little did I know that I was going to fight tears in front of a total stranger.

After returning the J. Crew dress I headed to Macy's. I got lost and couldn't find the Women's Dresses section, you know, the one with the cocktail attire and formal wear. I asked a woman working behind the high-end accessories counter. She was shorter than me, dark, tanned skin, a black bun worn low at her neck with silver streaks at the temples. She looked swarthy and high-society.

"Excuse me," I say, pushing Hollis' stroller closer to the counter, "Could you tell me where I can find the Women's Dresses section, please?"

She turns around from what she was doing and walks towards me, sizing me up, "Formal dresses? Long?" she purrs with a thick, rolling-R accent.

"Well, yeah, cocktail stuff, things like that."

"For you??" she queries, dipping her chin at me, her eyes looking me up and down.

"Uh huh" I answer uncertainly, my heart beating harder immediately.

"Upstairs, in the back corner."

I head towards the escalator, my stomach dropping with each foot I rise. She's sending me to the plus sized section, I think. But of course, I'm in a labirynth of pathways and buried deep in the middle of the store and have no way of knowing right off. I walk through Martha Stewart Living, little boys and girls, and underwear and then, hanging from the ceiling I see this:

I was crushed.

I'm a size 12. I fight the good battle every day to stay this size and have been since after college when I got a desk job. Do I really look like I'm a size 16? Two whole sizes bigger than I really am??

And that's the crux of it. It's not that I have anything against being considered a size 16, it's just that this woman thought I was a two sizes bigger than I really am and that's what bothered me.

I felt hot-faced and about *this* big. Waves of different emotions washed over me as I abruptly turned the stroller around and sought out the elevator. I was heartbroken that someone thought I was chubbier than I really am. I was embarrassed. I was twisted up about even caring in the first place. I was angry at that impertinent woman and at myself for putting any value in her evaluation of me. I was discouraged about my attempts to firm up and lose weight for the past 6 weeks. I felt 7 years old again when someone called me "buffalo butt" when I thought I looked pretty damned good. And I felt ridiculous about all of it.

Can one woman really feel all those things simultaneously?

Yep, she sure can.

I caught the elevator down and sought out a manager. She, of course, was perky and brunette.

"Can I speak with you in private, please?" I ask her over the heads of other customers.

"Of course," she replies as she follows me around a corner.

I relayed to her what happened, my voice shaky, but calm; my demeanor reflecting hurt, not outrage. My main point being, "I asked her where Women's Dresses were, not to size me up. I know my dress is loose and billowy, but..." my voice dropped off.

When I was done she looked relieved. She laughed abruptly and gestured assuredly that, "All the dresses are up in that area. I'm sure she wasn't implying anything at all. Of course I'll talk to her."

I felt at once relieved, but still very suspicious. I told her I hoped that it was really all just a "misunderstanding," but the woman's, "For you??" question and pointed glance at my form implied something much different.

The manager insisted that I had gone "the back way," and if I had "come in from the other way [I] would have seen the regular sized dresses first." (Even though I went the natural way from the escalator.)

Ok, whatever, lady.

The moral to this story is that this is something I will never, ever forget. It's like that moment a lot of really overweight people have when they suddenly really see themselves for the first time and think, "Holy shit. Do I REALLY look like that??" Then, months of healthy eating and new exercise regimes ensue and voila! A new healthier person emerges.

I have no idea what I'm going to do with this. It's still too fresh.

I feel utterly silly to even give it a moment's thought, but I can't help it. I've had a truly splendid day today (Mother's Day) and I don't want to take away from it in any way. This almost feels like a parallel experience. I can't complain about a single thing from today. This happened in another time all together.

This really didn't happen to me, right??

In the end, I found a dress at Nordstom's. A dress off the sale rack that I can't find online to show my sister, but it's cut superbly and is yellow with purple flowers. I ordered some pretty snazzy purple shoes to go with it, too. I'm going to try my best to feel good about myself and know that no one will ever say at my funeral, "If only she had lost that extra 20lbs. I would have loved her more."

My "Forget it ever happened" shoes.

Update: Got my shoes from Zappos! They're PERFECT with my new yellow dress! Yay! I tried it all on together last night and it actually looks pretty good!!

Happy Mother's Day!!!

From the ladies at Slow Family Living:

Today and everyday (even when you may not feel like it's true) remember...

You are enough.

You have enough.

You do enough.

Enjoy the day!


Horses h u r t

To say that I am sore is an understatement.

I had my first horseback riding lesson in 10 years this afternoon.

Bliss, bliss, sweat, sweat, burn, burn. Repeat.

I can barely move my legs to walk or push on the brake pedal.

It will be sheer force of will that will get me locomotive tomorrow. Really.

Here I am happy, exhausted, and on Cloud Nine with Hollis.

Here I am with cramped leg muscles whose names I don't even know.

They're not my calf muscles, nor my shins, but the ones connected to my ankle bones that go up on the sides.

And, ohhhhh, how they ache and burn. Like someone grabbed my tendons with a big, beefy fist and ripped them out through my pale skin. Yeah, that kinda sore.

I loved every frickin' second on top of that big, sweaty beast, though. Yessir, I did. Can't wait to do it again. I'm a glutton for punishment, always have been. But I'm sure you already knew that.

I <3 horses.

I <3 Anthony.

I <3 the Anthony who rubs me after I ride horses.

Update: It's day 2 after the ride and I can barely walk. I've never felt the tendons in my groin so acutely before. I feel like a rag doll with only thread keeping my legs attached! hahahaha I still love it, though. My wrists now hurt and some weird inner muscle around my center. My body is a mysterious puzzle it seems!


I love other peoples' birthdays

Today is Anthony's birthday and I have had so much fun plotting and planning for it. A few weeks ago he chatted me and said,

"Ok, are you sitting down? I want riding boots for my birthday."

It was a total shock and completely thrilled me. Considering our long standing stall in shared interests this was a sign of even more progress!! Within minutes I was on Craigslist.com and I scored a pair of men's English riding boots in a size 10.5. I should have bought a Lotto ticket that day because, seriously, the odds of this happening were 1 in about a kajillion. I must have had a big chunk of Karma waiting for me, or something.

Next, I tried to find him some breeches, but alas, Craigslist was not to be my savior in all things riding, just boots. I hunted around the internet for a good deal, but a "good deal" in the equestrian world is $100. Most breeches were in the $200 range! - It really has been a long time since I was in the Horse World. I remember buying breeches as a teenager for $40 a pop.

I figured we'd just have to wait on that piece of his wardrobe. Besides, Anthony was in no rush. He kept asking me if men really wore breeches to ride or if it was just women (he had the same squirmy reaction to wearing a Speedo when I was teaching him how to swim the competitive strokes - I refused to teach if he was wearing 10 lb "trunks" - they're not named after a tree for nothing). But just this week I scored $200 from selling my glider and ottoman and *poof* I had the cash for some more riding gear.

I told Anthony we had a mystery field trip today and drove him up to the tack shop. He was thrilled and I have to say, quite a trooper. I don't know if I'd be as brave to switch from the normal baggy fare that is a man's wardrobe to skin-tight and clingy cotton, breathable or not. After a few attempts he found a great pair for $130 (gulp), but whatever. This pair will last him years (I still have my breeches from when I was a 20-freakin-8 inch waist and can paint them on in a pinch - no pun intended).

Here he is gamely modeling them. Isn't he dashing?

There's something about a man in breeches...

During his second lesson the working students watching him with me at the rail (all of 12 and 8 years old) had compared his form and dark, good looks to that of Rodrigo Passoa, a Brazilian show jumper. I wasn't sure who he was, but upon a quick Google search, lo and behold there IS a resemblance!

(You'll have to trust me on there being a resemblance.)

We both have lessons tomorrow. I'm so excited! We won't ride together since we don't have anyone to watch Hollis, but I don't care. I'd rather be able to watch him anyway. And I feel a little better about my old self since I also got a pair of breeches today. After trying on my old ones from college I felt like a sad, irritable sausage and felt it was my civic duty to all involved to remedy the situation with some nice fitting britches.


The birthday is ongoing, too, since a couple of his gifts are in transit. This is turning into more of a birthweekend than a birthday; my favorite kind! We saw Star Trek at the matinee and we'll go out to dinner for Pho. (By the way, go see that movie - it fucking rocks.)

You can read more about our brand new horseback riding venture as a family here and here.

PS: I forgot to mention that while in the tack shop Hollis was zipping around whinnying at everything and everyone. He can't say "horse," doesn't even attempt it, but he
does whinny like a champ. I could hear him from across the store when he was hidden by racks of clothing, "whiiiiiiiiney! whiiiiiiiney! ppbbbbbt!"

Where, oh where did my pacifier go?

If you decide to let your kids have a paci (a.k.a. plug, soother, boopy, doopy, lolli, and what have you) you will soon learn that they are a mysterious, wily lot. They don't like to be constrained to a certain area, preferring to roam free in search of dust bunnies and dirt in the most remote corners of your car, purse, house, and - really - universe.

Enter a pacifier attacher! It comes in a plethora of sizes, colors, and styles and with all the accompanying prices.

I have used just your basic Target option, but have always coveted more stylish versions, like these.

I have a paci-on-a-leash in the car and one in my purse. They have been life savers when I've been out and about with Hollis since he LOVES to toss things over the edge of his car seat and stroller (as all toddlers do). It's also great on a plane because I don't have to dig around for a paci in that tight-ass constrained space.

PS: While you're here, please sign this petition for toxic-free baby bottles.



Just had to share this post by fellow Austinite, Foxy, of The Fox Den.


Reminds me of my episode at Ross... (you'll just have to wonder because I'll NEVER put what happened on the internet EVER).

You've just been FLASHED

Noble Savage tagged me to do this meme and I am happily obliging.

There's something decadent about thinking about yourself for minutes on end and then sharing it. It's like flashing someone; you feel great about exposing your nakedness, wild, and free. Of course it's a toss up if anyone else appreciates it for anything more than the permission to ogle your body and then flash someone else their boobies and bits.

Personally, I'm a big exhibitionist, so I'm happy to share, but the little voyeur in me also relishes the peep into others' big heads, too. (There will be some tagging at the end of this, so beware!)

1. What are your current obsessions?
Blogging, not beating myself up constantly, and all things horseback riding.

2. Which item from your wardrobe do you wear most often?
My Gap, three-quarter sleeve cardigan. Who knew that a flimsy bit of fabric could transform my wardrobe into something akin to Mother Chic? It makes my workout outfit look put together.

3. Last dream you had?
Oy. It sucked: Hollis running down a hill in front of me towards a highway at impossible speed and me struggling to keep up, screaming and crying for him to stop. I threw my purse at him, hoping to trip him, happier to have a baby with a broken nose than a dead one if he managed to reach the cars. My aim was off and he kept heading towards the cars. Then I woke up.

4. Last thing you bought?
Groceries - boring.

Birthday gifts and Mo's Day gifts - exciting! (I wish I could divulge what I got because I am SO excited, but alas, neither day has come and I can't spoil the surprises.)

5. What are you listening to?
My loud as hell AC unit blowing and rattling.

6. If you were a god/goddess who would you be?
I would have to look up any names of goddesses other than Athena and Venus, and those two I am definitely NOT.

7. Favorite holiday spots?
You know? I have no idea. I don't really "vacation." That's sad... I'm going to have to try to fix this. I dug Paris, London and the Yucatan Peninsula when I went there... does that count?

8. Reading right now?
I'm giving half-assed attempts to read two books I really love: Man's Search for Meaning and Atlas Shrugged (got stalled half-way through, but still can't stop thinking about it); the cookbook Petit Appetit; magazines Living Without, Mothering, and Life & Style.

9. Four words to describe yourself.
Loving, ribald, exuberant, & shy.

10. Guilty pleasure?
The internet and wine. Together or separately.

11. Who or what makes you laugh until you’re weak?
I crack myself up pretty much a dozen times a week. Usually to tears.

12. Favorite spring thing to do?
Hike on the greenbelt.

13. When you die, what would you like people to say about you at your funeral?

Obvious: "She was a good person and I'll really miss her."

Not so obvious: "She made me think about myself."

14. Best thing you ate or drank lately?
Anthony made us salmon cakes on Monday night - ooooh, boy! He knocked it outta the park.

15. When did you last go for a night out?
It was during SXSW. Friends were in for the music festival and others just for the company. We all got together, had an exorbitantly expensive dinner, then headed to a pub where our Canadian friends proceeded to give us the best show of "unplugged" karaoke I've ever seen.

16. Favorite ever film?
I've never wavered on this since I saw it in the theaters when I was 9: Splash

17. Care to share some wisdom?
Just fucking RELAX.

18. Song you can’t get out of your head?
Whatever air-hump music Chalene Johnson has going on in her Cardio Party DVD - go, Turbo Jam.

19. Thing you are looking forward to?
Anthony's birthday tomorrow. I bought tickets to see a Star Trek matinee and I also have a little surprise field trip planned for him. Of course, I'm also looking forward to present unwrapping.

He'll be almost 40.

20. Which disease or condition would you most like to see eradicated?

21. Last thing you said to someone?

"It's quiet time now, baby. I love you..."

22. Have you ever confronted a litterer?

No, but I wish I had. I always want to say to smokers who flick their butts wherever they feel like it, "Hey, asshole, the planet is not your fucking ash tray," but figure it's a little much. Maybe I'll just start off with, "Hey, what makes you think it's cool to litter?" and see how that goes.


Rules of the game. Respond and rework. Answer questions on your own blog. Replace one question. Add one question. Tag 6 people.

I tag:

A Leaf Less Ordinary

Loulou's views

Baby in Broad

Scary Mommy

Cave Mother

so far, so good.


A simple bouquet of flowers

I bought Mom some flowers for an early Mother's Day treat tonight and had Hollis holding them on her doorstep when she opened the door.

He stood there frozen in sheer wonderment at the crinkly paper in his arms, the bright, soft petals inches from his face and the delicate smell of lilies in his nose. There was a sweet pause, then he gently dipped his head towards the open faces of the flowers and inhaled.

I think my Mom about died on the spot. She raved for the next hour about how no other gift was necessary, that she had taken the snapshot in her mind and she would treasure it forever.

I'd have to agree. It was by far one of the most precious things I've ever seen with my own eyes. Even though raising a little human is challenging, excruciating, and often utterly exhausting, it's these moments that swing it all back into line. It's why we work so hard, strive for perfection, and do it all for nothing but the love of a babe.

So, here's to flowers and all those other moments that remind us that on the other side of all the decision making and worry of parenthood is the the simple pleasures of watching an innocent move through our world.

Pitter patter

Last night Anthony was getting Hollis ready for a bath. From my spot in the living room I could hear his loving ministrations: the shower curtain pulled back, the bath tub filled with water, Anthony talking to Hollis about bath time, the water being shut off, more talking in Hollis' room, a pause in the husky-voiced murmurs, and then a little "slap, slap, slap" of bare fee on ceramic tile.

I jumped up and stood in the open knowing with a quickening of my heart that my little baby was tearing around the corner to come and see me before his bath, and most preciously, that he would be stark, raving naked.

There's nothing quite like the sight of a little bare body, so perfect, so pure, so blissfully free of any care, concern, or hang up.

His little feet quickened their pace as he saw me, slap, slap, slap, and I closed the distance between us and picked him up high in my arms. He squealed and wriggled, his soft skin molding to mine. I kissed him and squeezed him for good measure and passed him back to his dad who was standing in the doorway smiling, pleased with himself that his plan had panned out.

If I could bottle these moments I would. They are an elixir for the heart, especially mine. I drink deeply, fill up with the primal lusciousness of mothering, the deeply innate ability to appreciate bare feet on tile and sweet skin against mine. Such a gift...



Menu Plan: Week of May 4th

Anthony's back and so I'm off my boxed meals and ice cream dinners. I'm at once happy and sad about that: happy I get to flex my creative muscles again, sad that I have more dishes to do. C'est la vie.

I've already spent $115 this week, so I have another $85 to go. That includes a giant box of Huggies until I get my research done on which diaper covers are the best as I transition back to cloth diapers (more on that in a later post).

Since I've been eating so lightly for the past two weeks, the idea of anything super heavy is a real turn off. This week's menu plan reflects that:

Mon: Salmon cakes with spring mix salad
Tues: Herbed goat-cheese and portobello mushroom panini with arugula
Weds: Boxed goodies (Anthony's out of town for a night)
Thurs: Spaghetti with roasted tomato and basil
Fri: E/O - It's Anthony's birthday!!
Sat: Mom's - She doesn't know it, yet
Sun: Roast pork loin with a chipotle-maple glaze and vegetables - I think I'm going to start doing a big dinner on Sundays to build L/O momentum for the rest of the week.

Yay! Food!!!

It's freakin' HUGE

About a month ago my laptop was officially laid to rest. It had zero space left in its memory, it took forever to download things, forget about even trying to watch a video on it, the enamel was worn off where wrists had rubbed it over the years, Hollis had broken its little neck, so to speak, and therefore the screen flopped around and had to be propped up in order to work, the chord was frayed and you had to jiggle it *just so* in order to get the juices flowing...

Basically, it was fucked.

It had honestly not occurred to me that we might get a new computer. I'm not a gear head; I don't buy gadgets of any kind. My iPhone was inherited, I use the radio in my car, I was gifted an iPod and iPod Shuffle that I never use pretty much just because they're thingamabobs and I can't be bothered. Anthony had a whole different idea, however. He saw our limping and battered house computer as an avenue to a bright and shiny video game world. Thus, our Gigantic Beauty was born.

I'm mostly over the embarrassment of having such an ostentatious piece of equipment standing naked in the middle of my house. But I'm far from feeling casual about it when people come over and see it jutting its shiny black screen out for all to see. I almost want to say to it, "Hey, could you tone it down a little?? Just for tonight?"

Sometimes it feels like it's watching me throughout the day, no matter where I am in the front of the house. How could it not?? It's so damned big! It can probably see into my neighbor's house across the street.

You can't NOT see it. It's like the freaking sun: bright, glaring, and omnipresent.

And yet, it is utterly wondrous. I can download pictures from email in 2 seconds flat, not 25; my letters appear as fast as I can type them; I can have multiple tabs open in multiple windows; I can edit photos - lo! I can have PhotoShop open even!; the speakers work; the video is AMAZING; I can zip from place to place, back and forth, up and down and without a delay or a crash!; and I know I have yet to even scratch the surface (I'm getting worked up just thinking about its marvelousness!)!

It also gave me the fabulous (and warranted) excuse to buy a new lamp. Previously on my grandmother's buffet were two small, silver lamps, but they were dwarfed by the back of the monitor and you could see the chords and what not. I actually had to buy a lamp with the biggest shade I could find just to provide some cover, cuz who wants to stare at the back of someone's head and see their tags sticking out while eating dinner? - Well, probably a lot of people wouldn't care, but that's not how I roll. I want shit tucked away.

Lamp shade camouflage. Can you see it now? (View from dining room table)

I love, love, love my little office space in the heart of our house and this mammoth monitor and fancy-dancy computer kinda make me feel more like a grownup. Like, we have real, nice shit now. Not crap duct taped together because we're too disorganized to replace it.

It's weird how I get embarrassed over having nice things. I hid my iPhone from the general public for weeks because I felt like they'd judge me, "Oh she's one of those people," meaning I'd stood in line for a week to get the damn thing. Like I really care what anyone thinks about me? Eventually, I come to my senses and just relax and live my life.

I think it deserves a name, my new, precious computer, he/she who helps make my life easier and more vast (I don't blame it in the least for my compunctions). So go on with your big, bad self, Computer. Shine on and be brilliant and righteous. You have a friend in me.