Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Disappointing State of Affairs.

Yesterday we celebrated my child’s first birthday. R. made him a cake, and we blew out his candles for him before he plowed his little hands into the frosting just like millions of kids before him. He didn’t smile much, but he certainly didn’t seem unhappy as he smeared his face, arms and clothes with frosting, and bit into one of his candles. It was our baby’s first major milestone, and I felt very protective of him as we celebrated it.

In fact, I feel very protective generally of my child right now, maybe ferociously so. That’s because frankly, I feel very, very nervous about what could be about to happen in this country in the next few months, and I can thank John McCain for that gift. With his jaw-droppingly reckless choice of a running mate, he has ensured that if he wins this election the freedoms we citizens possess and the stature our country enjoyed in this world before the current administration will be permanently destroyed.

While I’m not McCain’s biggest fan on his own merits, at least he holds some positions that didn’t scare me into next week whenever I thought about the possibility of his being elected. He’s pro-life and doesn’t support gay rights, but it was generally understood that those were topics for which he didn’t care to wade too far into the mire. With Sarah Palin, however, he has brought into the equation a gun-toting “hockey mom” who as a devout, evangelical Christian supports teaching creationism in the schools and is strongly anti-choice. This selection was obviously geared, among other things, to bring the Christian right on board, as they had been making noises about not supporting him. Ms. Palin has brightened their day, however, as evidenced by James Dobson’s statement that he will now pull the lever for McCain. Fabulous! God forbid McCain could have instead held his finger up to notice that the winds of change were trying to blow people together instead of rip them even further apart. With this pick, it seems like as Americans we are now having some sort of monumental, epic battle for our fate. On one side, people desperate to move past the last 8 years to a model of a strong America that values all of its citizens and communicates with its neighbors. On the other, a vocal group that has co-opted the Republican Party so that it’s forced to push this message that all manner of intolerance and interference is appropriate in the name of God.

If this ticket is elected and Old Man McCain croaks on the job, which at his ripe old age is certainly possible, then we’ll find ourselves living in a shitty TV movie. How can anyone in their right mind think that this former frigging beauty queen who has ZERO world experience is an appropriate choice to run this country? It’s bad enough that she stands for all the intolerance and stubborn, backwards lack of thought that I can’t abide, and that if she’s in power she’s going to work to inflict her way of life on me and my children, but worse is the thought of how she would deal with world leaders. What’s she going to do, get pissed off and take her hunting rifle to them? She may be all spunky and whatnot, but that’s not really going to cut it when she has to deal with Putin.

I am just sick about this on so many levels. It takes the level of discourse back from the potential Obama framed in his convention speech of trying to find some common ground even on our divisive issues, to having to account for someone who has inserted a card labeled “Jesus provides an excuse for everything” where her brain should have been. An evangelical NRA member isn’t going to be the type to look for compromise. And she REALLY needs to stop making her speech where she talks about Hillary Clinton’s 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and how we as women aren’t done yet – don’t insult women who lived the struggle of sexism firsthand by smarmily acting like you earned what you just got. Is she so clueless as not to recognize she is only in her current spot because an old white man saw the opportunity to use her to secure his own power? His choice of a completely unqualified woman as some kind of pablum for women voters anxious to see a woman in high office is beyond insulting. Women supported Hillary Clinton because she was actually qualified to hold the job.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Just In: McCain panders to Americans with Vaginas.

Well. As I’m sure you can imagine, I’m not particularly impressed by McCain’s choice of running mate. My first impression upon hearing the news, since I had no idea who she even was, was that McCain is clearly pandering right now. Maybe that sounds sexist of me, but I don’t think he chose her purely on whatever credentials she brings to the table. And then I heard something about her credentials, and my opinion remained the same. Her credentials appear to include being (1) a good old boy conservative, just the kind of asshole you want to smoke a cigar with after a day of hunting innocent animals so you can hang their heads on your library wall, (2) governor of a state not exactly known for its environmental record, or more recently, for its lack of corruption, and (3) looking a good deal like a 1960’s throwback version of Mariska Hargitay. And let’s not forget her stint as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska; I’m sure that really prepared her for any future discussions she might be expected to conduct with world leaders. So it smacks to me of hoping to pick up some disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters who will respect that Ms. Palin has a vajayjay.

I would be really interested to hear the opinion of some conservatives on this choice. Am I totally off base? Does she bring something to the table that conservatives are seeking? I suppose if she is quite conservative that will help placate the farther right wing of the Republican Party, but there are plenty of people who could have filled that role. She is supposedly a “reformer,” so maybe that’s her draw. I don’t know… this just seems like something to surprise with, but not necessarily something that is going to help McCain in the long run. I suppose we shall see.

I noticed this morning that Cindy McCain and Sarah Palin have something in common, and that is the look that each is projecting. As Cindy stepped off the plane with her husband in Ohio, she looked like she had just finished baking some cupcakes for the PTA meeting at little Timmy’s school in the all-white part of town. Sunny yellow dress paired with a white cardigan; her white-blonde hair scraped back in a girlish ponytail. Sarah Palin manages to look more serious than First Robot McCain in her rimless glasses, but in almost every shot I have seen of her so far she has her hair pinned up on her head like she’s off to her mother’s prom. What’s up with that? Not a good sign.

But you know what? Mostly I’m just terribly, terribly disappointed that the Republican Party put a woman on the ticket in what I think is poor faith, and that she represents so much that I don’t believe in. She “supports oil drilling in ANWR, is pro-life and is a devout Christian.” And she pronounces “nuclear” just like George W. Bush does. What more could I ask for in a candidate? A lot. If this ticket wins, this country is done.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Denver Day Four (or, Please Let the Clinton Show be Over).

What are we going to do when the convention is over? R. and I have been fairly well glued to the television every evening, watching our party in turn inspire us and cheese us out. Somehow, I don’t see myself as rapt for the Republican convention, although I’ll surely tune in for some of the bigger names and for the CNN commentary. For me, there’s the contrast of feeling my heart swell with pride to hear our Democratic leaders invoke the party’s ideals, which I see as equality, fairness and compassion for other human beings, and an understanding of the human condition, with the indignant contempt I feel when watching some of the cold-hearted swill I hear pouring from the mouths of the Republicans. Yes, folks, I take a partisan point of view, as you know.

But it’s not as if I don’t see the Democratic Party as having any flaws. For one, our delegates are just as hokey as Republican delegates. Why do so many people feel like they have to dress up like a frigging hog pen at a Fourth of July state fair? Red, white and blue cowboy hats, beanies, and hideous pantsuits; whirring miniature fans attached to their hats, moon faces everywhere. It’s repellent. But the bigger flaw I see is our party’s need to genuflect to the Clintons. Who died and made them kings of the fucking world?

I used to LOVE Bill and Hillary Clinton, and while I can still look back with that feeling on the years when he was president, now they way they run their machine like Mafia bosses is astounding. I was relieved they finally came through for the actual nominee last night, but it wasn’t without first commandeering the whole convention as their own little dog and pony show – will they? Won’t they? They seemed to be doing anything they could to keep the spotlight on themselves, diminishing the glow that should have been focused on the real star of the show. And don’t get me started on these “PUMAs,” the “Party Unity My Ass” group. You know what I have to say about that? Sure you do, because it’s FUCK YOU. How dare you play fast and loose with our country’s future because you’re all pissed off that someone who LOST THE RACE wasn’t anointed despite that fact?

It’s amazing how people can see the same thing so differently. Apparently many Hillary Clinton supporters see the Obama camp as having somehow treated her unfairly, acted in a sexist manner, and generally resorted to the low road to cheat her out of the nomination. I, on the other hand, see the opposite. I’m amazed by how low the Clintons sunk in their bid to crown her Queen, and saw the Obamas as consistently trying to take the high road in spite of it. I’m having a hard time bouncing back from that point of view, so that now whenever I see Hillary speak it’s hard for me to focus on her message. All I can see is her naked desire for power, and her determination not to let anyone, or anything, stand in her way. Believe me, I’m not happy with this state of affairs, because I am a feminist, I used to love her and wanted to continue to do so, and I wanted her to be president. Other than her, I’m not sure I see any female politicians coming up who have what it takes to win a national election, and that is not a good thing. I assume she will get another bite at the apple, particularly if she continues to succeed at helping elect McCain, so I sincerely hope that by then I can get over my very conflicted feelings about her.

In other news, Eeyore turns one year old tomorrow. R. is making him a cake, I’ve got the presents, and we’ll be having a party of three. We just couldn’t bring ourselves to throw a real party when he doesn’t even know it’s his birthday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Denver for the regular folk.

Really, I should have known. I might have thought we’d glimpse a little piece of the action on our Tuesday night out on the town, but of course anyone interesting was at the convention waiting to hear Hillary Clinton lie about wanting Obama to win the election. R. and I drove downtown for a drink before our dinner at Fruition, a restaurant that receives more accolades than it deserves (if you go, do not order the black cod even though it looks so good... see below). After finding a parking spot well away from where I wanted to be, we looked for a place for a drink. Jax – where I used to love to quaff an apple martini at their concrete bar - private party. The lame bar of the McCormick and Schmick’s across the street – where I would never choose to go on a normal evening - private party for the National Press Club. Since we didn’t have time to walk over to Larimer Square for a drink at the bar at Rioja, which is what I really wanted to do, we made do with the bar at Sullivan’s. Eh. Crowded, but with a lot of suited and booted yahoos like ourselves hoping to see something.

I will say, however, that Denver has a very different vibe than normal right now. For starters, it’s very odd not to be able to park downtown, or have a drink or dinner wherever you’d like on a Tuesday night. It’s also different (and refreshing) to see the streets teeming with people on a summer evening; strolling along the sidewalks or spilling out of the bars and restaurants. Denver actually looks alive. The downside to that is it looks alive with the citizens of Washington, D.C., which means, of course, dressed in the manner particular to that city. Men in navy blazers and khaki trousers (yuck!) and women in sleeveless shifts with a couple of strands of thick pearls knotted up around their necks. These folks were keeping me from my champagne cocktail, along with a bunch of dirtball kids carrying signs with slogans like “Drop pants, not bombs,” which would make any parent proud.

At Fruition, the only sign that anything was going on in town was the table next to us of 3 couples; two of which were in from DC and one of which lived here. The Denver couple were the only ones keeping the normalcy of a conversation going, as all the others could talk about between fiddling with their blackberries and answering their cell phones was what it’s all about in D.C. They were dropping names left and right, discussing stories they were writing, and so on. My thought is that if they were at the restaurant during the main events of the convention, they can’t have been writing any highly sought after stories, but I’m just guessing.

To cap off the evening, I woke up at 2 this morning dreaming of throwing up. And then I did, the foul brine of littleneck clam chowder in my throat, so I can’t say I’m looking at the night as a total success.

Overall, I’d have to say that for me the whole show might as well not even be here. R. and I are home trying to work around chasing our little wombat around the room, and everything is playing itself out on CNN just as it would be if we lived anywhere else. Funny that the whole thing will breeze out of here on Friday morning and it will be like it never happened. Maybe even in the polls, unfortunately.

Friday, August 22, 2008

And so it begins.

I could feel the bilious bubbles of envy burping up in me. I walked over to the 16th Street Mall at lunch, and out and about were all sorts of people with various credentials swinging around their necks. As I passed two guys with such plastic cards flapping around their necks, one said, "He works for the Senator..."


News of the Day and an Unwitting Meltdown.

Well, obviously it’s this whole VP bullshit. I can’t help but think that whoever Obama picks, it’s going to be a colossal non-issue. The media has built up the “unveiling” to such a fever pitch, I think he’d have to pick Jesus Christ to live up to the hype. And among all the flesh and blood potential contenders, there’s only one who could even provoke any interesting discussion, and that’s Hillary. Since the media has written her off, and unless Obama pulls a rabbit out of his hat, who could possibly generate anything interesting to say? So with all that, I’m not sure why this has been built into such a big frigging deal. That said, if it isn’t the dame, I sure hope it’s Joe Biden

And now I’ll segue to the topic of climbing the corporate ladder. As you may know, I am a commercial lawyer for a company in Denver. There are five or six lawyers in my immediate little group, and until recently I was the most senior as “corporate counsel,” while everyone else had the queer title of “Senior Attorney.” A few months ago, another woman in the group was promoted to corporate counsel, which is fine and dandy (if there’s one thing this legal department is good at, it’s promoting women). However, her promotion and a bunch of over-the-top awards she has received this year seem to have gone straight to her head, and she has managed to secretly alienate others in the group with her now-apparent naked ambition. In group meetings, she often sounds as if she is attempting to run the meetings in conjunction with the head of our group. She now questions the other lawyers’ opinions and judgments in a way she never did before, and her tone is decidedly hierarchical. At first I wondered if it was just me who thought this, and if it was a case of sour grapes because I had been the golden girl in the group until she came along, but I talked about it with another person in our group and learned I wasn’t alone in noticing the transformation.

So what is it that causes some people to act like total shitbags as they claw their way toward the glass ceiling? I’m of the opinion that if my basic work personality, which has gotten me this far, doesn’t work for moving me higher, then so be it. When that’s the case, it’s time to evaluate where you are and either decide you’re OK with it or select something new. What’s to be gained by changing your personality for the worse as you gain some perceived power or position of authority? I just don’t get it. People are already set to envy you when you’re promoted above them, why give them more fodder for their backbiting?

And finally - my husband is going to Breckenridge tonight for a bachelor party. It may just be trailing from bar to bar getting hammered, or there may be naked women involved. Of course he assures me he isn’t the type to “like” that kind of thing, and that really, it just makes him uncomfortable. I believe him, as it’s not as if he ever goes to strip clubs in the regular course of life, and if some stripper gyrates her pelvis in his face and he feels awkward about it, I’ll sure feel so sorry for him for having been put in that situation. But the person I really feel sorry for is me, and all the other wives and girlfriends who have to think about the fact that their husbands are in the same room with naked women other than themselves. I can’t even let myself think about the idea that they could be doing something more than just looking at these women, like getting a lap dance. From what I’ve heard, there are always some jackass guys in a group like this who are revoltingly gung ho and who make it their mission to ensure that the guys who aren’t as into it get their chance at participation whether they like it or not. What if that happens with my husband? Especially at a time when I’m no longer confident about my own naked body, the thought that somebody else would be rubbing up on him with her bare, never-borne-a-child boobs in his face makes me want to curl up in a little ball and bury my head under a pillow.

I know R. has been getting exasperated at me when we talk about this, because there’s nothing he can do about it other than tell me it’s not his thing. But I don’t think there’s any way to truly convey to him what it feels like to have to accept something like this just because it’s often what guys do at bachelor parties. There’s no comparison to women hiring a stripper for a hen party, because for the most part I think that to women that kind of thing is just a joke. There is no real element of sexuality to it. For men, though, and feel free to correct me if I am making an incorrect assumption, there is. I don’t mean for an individual, particular man, but the concept as a whole – it’s a sexual environment. Oh…. I don’t know. I’m sure some people, possibly even my husband, think I’m overreacting, but I can't help the way I feel: ashamed of my own body when I compare myself to the idea I have in my head of some younger, sexy girl naked and near my husband, jealous, and angry for being put in this position of having to be "cool" with it or end up in a fight.

Oh my God, listen to me - I am SO pregnant.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ruminations of the day.

Have you ever had a bad dream that infected the rest of your day, even though it was only a dream? I had a dream right before I woke up that my husband told me he wanted to “break up” and that he was “fucking” this tacky blonde watching television in the next room who I think might have been Heidi Montag, of all “huh?” kind of people. The message was delivered completely without inflection, and even while I could feel my own heart start to race and my voice rise in the panic of floundering around for him to take it back and throw me some kind of life preserver, he remained impassive; a little disgusted. When I woke up, I was relieved it wasn’t true, but somehow the feeling that actually, it was, has stayed with me. I feel sort of off kilter, like suddenly I need to make sure it’s not out there, waiting to happen. As a consequence, I picked a meaningless fight with my beleaguered husband before leaving for work, so now I sit here, continuing to stew. The fight I picked was particularly lame – involving his using my camera to take to a meeting to take pictures of the client’s house. He called me selfish and asked me if I was ten years old, both of which were fair comments.

I left home sulking and feeling a lot shittier about the day than necessary. Why does that kind of thing happen? I’m sure I’m not the only one who works herself into a state after a rotten dream. Dreams like that, about rejection, or death, reflect our deepest fears, so even when we know it was only a dream, there’s still that unpleasant residue of knowing it’s always a possibility. And with death, of course, a certainty – but hopefully not in all the terrible ways I’ve dreamed of my own and other peoples’ demise.

But anyway.

Back to politics.

I’ve been complaining about the convention, but the truth is one can’t live inside the Beltway for 10 years and not be REALLY excited that the whole political machine is coming to town. Living in D.C. is like living in Hollywood for wonks – it’s just as exciting to see the presidential helicopter fly overhead as it is to spot a B-list celebrity. Seeing the president himself ranks even higher – at least seeing Clinton did. I can’t imagine that seeing Bush would be any more rewarding than seeing Kevin Federline, except that I might be able to ignore K Fed and I couldn’t promise not to rip Shrub a new one.

Working from home with Eeyore next week is the best thing I can do to make sure he’s safe, I think, but I am a little sad not to be able to wander around town for a little rubbernecking. I could sidle over to the cheesy brewpub next to the Pepsi Center that as the “CNN Grill” is the site for the dorkiest political team in show business’ nightly circle jerk, hoping to get a glimpse of American’s favorite personification of Max Headroom, the androgynous Anderson Cooper. I don’t know where NBC will be, but boy, what I wouldn’t do to see my teen idol, Tom Brokaw. I knew R. was the one for me when he spoke and I could hear TB’s dulcet tones coming from his mouth (R. has a great voice).

The Denver Post has published a list of all the parties and events taking place in Denver over the course of the convention, and I can’t believe I am so totally out of the loop that I won’t have anything to do with any of them. There’s an Emily’s List party with Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Nancy Pelosi, various cocktail parties hosted by area law firms – Brownstein Hyatt seems to have rented out the Capital Grille every night for a pre-convention martini-fest, presumably to make the DC folks feel like they never even left home – and all kinds of Young Democrats happy hours and post-convention drinking binges. God, do I feel old and irrelevant. R. reminds me that we have plenty of years to make up for the weirdness that is our lives right now, but it’s still bizarre to be thinking of child safety over participation in society. Well, hopefully all the focused attention will at least turn out a little guy who will also be interested in politics.

And not like his mama – whose interest in politics often degenerates into topics such as how D.C. Republican males = fat asses and no chins.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Countdown to the Convention.

I’m a little peeved with my kid’s school. The administration has done everything in its power to scare parents about the potential dangers of keeping their children in school next week during the Democratic convention. There will be little to no access to the parking garage, and no parking available in the street around the building. All doors will be locked so there will be no access to the school other than by elevator from the parking garage. But hey – they have extra food and water in case of a full lockdown because of rioting, tear gas or whatever kind of terrorist attack might be happening in the street outside Eeyore’s classroom. I get the message – they want us to keep our kids home, and so we will. But have they offered to refund the enormous fees we pay for one week of school? Of course not.

So I will be trying to work from home as much as possible next week while R. and I balance working and watching Eeyore. It promises to be a close runner up in the hell stakes to our 2 week trip to the east coast. I wonder how much of a cluster the convention will really cause in Denver? I think about 50,000 people are expected downtown, but that’s no more than go to a Broncos game on a given Sunday afternoon. Will it really be that bad? I guess the issue is more about what kinds of wack jobs comprise that number:

1. Politicians
2. Media
3. Delegates
4. Nutball Protesters
5. Terrorists

That’s actually a pretty unappealing crowd.

Politicians and Media: these first two groups are some of the most self-important people around, and there could be some concern that they might suck all of the already thin air out of the city of Denver. Having lived in DC for 10 years, I’m well acquainted with the intense pomposity that these people exude, and it should be quite a contrast to the guarded good nature of most Westerners. None of the politicians, their attendant lackeys or the media will even notice, however, because it’s hard to see anything in with your head up your own ass. What’s to notice when you have your own little world transplanted with you from Washington? All that’s changing is the venue for their pontificating. Although now that I think about it, I expect they will at least make time to malign the Denver scene, since it’s not nearly as chic as their own Dullsville of the East.

Delegates: eh. Democratic delegates, at least based on what I saw at the caucuses, are an earnest, smarmy bunch. The kind of people I steered clear of in college and law school; neck cords taut with fervor as they educate you vociferously about their opinions, high on their belief that they are part of a giant civics lesson. If you’re planning to frequent Denver’s downtown bars and restaurants during the convention, make sure you’re seated several tables away from these folks or you will sorely regret it.

Nutball Protesters: You know, I’m cool with people walking down the street with their banners promoting immigration rights, peace in the world, etc. But I’m not so into giant throngs of dirty college students preaching anarchy, flipping over cars or camping in their frigging tents in the park next to my house. I’m just over that kind of shit. And don’t get me started on pro-life protesters, pious heads bent in self-righteous prayer as they hold hands and make me throw up.

Terrorists: Not really anyone’s favorite group of people, and hopefully not coming to this particular party. Apparently last week a Somali man was found dead in a Denver hotel room with a pound of cyanide. That doesn’t sound promising.

Anyway, lots to look forward to from the confines of our tiny little house. We’ll be putting up the blackout curtains so none of those stinky students come begging for a shower or orange juice.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Never again.

Oh, I’m still here. Or rather, I am back after a grueling 2-week odyssey around the southeastern United States in a rented PT Cruiser (mmm, lovely) with my husband and child. This trip, ridiculously classified for purposes of time off from my employment as “vacation,” was the farthest thing from a holiday that I could possibly imagine. It was work, and harder work than any regular old day job at that. We flew into Atlanta, and over the course of the next two weeks racked up 1800 miles on that piece of crap toy car as we drove to Charlotte, over to Raleigh, down to Savannah and south into Florida, then back up to south Georgia and, gasping for air, over the finish line back into the Budget parking lot at the Atlanta airport.

All of this delightful travel was to present the royal baby to his extended family for viewing. Initially I had hoped to rent a place at the beach for a week then do a little extra family visitation, but one party’s mother was miffed that we had not visited her home while we had made time for visits to Mexico, France and England over the last couple of years, and so our plans for any selfish use of the “vacation” were scrapped in order to placate and mollify. That said, that part of the trip was probably the nicest, as the mom in question went out of her way to make our visit as easy as possible by setting up an adorably decorated separate room for Eeyore complete with loads of toys and books, cooking us lots of Southern treats, and generally being a doting mother and grandmother. In fact, I have no complaints at all about the actual visits to family; it was great to see everyone and all our hosts were very generous and tried to make what was obviously a supremely unrelaxing adventure as easy and pleasant as possible.

Anyway, there’s no point in bitching about it too much, because it’s over and I don’t want to think of it as shitty when it wasn’t, really. It’s just a fact that travel with an-almost-one-year old is tough and we were stupid to have tried to pack in so many people and destinations. But now we’re home and tasked with trying to undo some of the bad habits we got into on the road, such as bringing Eeyore into bed with us when he’d wake up at 5:00 in the morning crying at the top of his well-developed little lungs.

There is one highlight from our trip, however, and that was meeting the most delightful and talented Broady. We Lilac-Architects drove the hour from my dad’s house in Florida to the very cute home she shares with her husband and 3-month old baby. She and her husband made a fabulous dinner, which I’m not sure how they managed with a tiny baby but they did, and we all had a great time getting to know each other (she confirmed this, so I feel comfortable speaking for her, too). Actually, it was kind of a bummer, since both R. and I really liked both her and her husband a lot, and it’s not that often you meet people you’d like to actually hang out with. In fact, the older I get it hardly seems to happen at all, so this was especially nice. Eeyore was also very interested in Broady’s baby, but mostly in just climbing over him or trying to poke him in the eye. I was a bit embarrassed by Eeyore’s Russian-tank behavior, but what could I do?

Meanwhile, I haven’t even seen or read the news in 2 weeks, so I can’t even comment on what’s going on in the world today (except, of course, (1) to wonder WTF Obama was doing chit chatting with an evangelical pastor and (2) exhorting him NOT to choose Kaine or Bayh as his running mate). I’m sure after I have a chance to regroup and rest up from my vacation I’ll find something to say…