Thursday, September 25, 2008

When Will I Learn?

Pregnant women are not supposed to make rash decisions, and I just did. In fact, I made the classic fat pregnant woman mistake: I just went in for a haircut at lunch, and instead of getting a nice little trim of my lovely long hair, I chopped it off. It’s a perfectly nice haircut, but all of a sudden I feel like my entire, pregnant self is exposed in a way it wasn’t with long hair. Maybe I was able to hide behind my curtain of long hair, but now everything seems on display. I HATE when I do shit like that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


If I weren’t pregnant, I firmly believe I would be putting the full court press on my husband to pick up sticks and move elsewhere right now. For me, “elsewhere” always means London or Paris, and I think he’d be alright with that if it didn’t cost so stinking much money to live there. Of course, it costs a lot less to live there than it does to visit, and soon our currency might be worth so little that we would be doing better if we were paid in euros than we are now. But… it’s not an option.

I did suggest the other day, however, that “wouldn’t it be fun!?” if we rented a house in London for the last month of my maternity leave. It would be a nightmare getting an 18 month old and a 2-month old over there, but once we were there I think it would be great! I could serve up pre-fab dinners from Marks and Spencer every night, and push the kids all around town in their stroller as I “researched” my first novel. I have no idea what this first novel would be about, but it would be set in London and I’d need to know on what corner my protagonist’s favorite Prêt-à-Manger was located.

Of course, this fantasy overlooks some basic facts, such as:

1. It would cost $6 or $7000 to rent a decent, furnished house for a month.
2. Getting around London with a stroller would be horrible. I’d end up spending hundreds of dollars on taxis.
3. The first three months after pregnancy were a little bit of a nightmare for me. Not only did I remain a beached whale/sharpei for rather a long time, I was depressed, confused, and overall not very functional.

Add a toddler to that and I might be spending the last month of my leave in a psych ward. But it’s a wonderful fantasy, and I’ve been trotting it out in my head a lot lately; especially at this time of year where the leaves are starting to change and the evenings are crisp. I love London in the fall.

Maybe we will give it more serious consideration if McCain is elected. Then again, at that point maybe we will really need to start looking for jobs abroad. I know that’s the cry of the over-educated liberal, but fuck it. If it’s an option, why not? It’s not like I’ll be able to tolerate being around the Colorado “moral compass” for another second.

Which reminds me (and really, this is my final non-sequitur of the day): one thing that pisses me off most about the whole Republican vs. Democrat thing is the way that the Republican party paints Democrats as a seething mass of amorality, and themselves as these pillars of righteousness, guided at every turn by the strength of their “morality.” First of all, it’s absolutely absurd to argue that they are “moral” as a group and we are not. Second, just what does “morality” mean, anyway? To the Republicans, it seems to mean a rigid set of rules about what is “right” in a religious sense, and which should in all cases be imposed on everyone else. To me, it means knowing what is “right” in a more fundamental sense, and knowing that the pool of what is right is a lot more broad than what a certain church says. An example might be that the love of another person, given freely and with compassion and understanding, is “right,” regardless of the gender of the lover and the one who is loved.

Er, how did I get there? I guess that’s all I have on my mind these days.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Days Ahead.

This morning I made the mistake at looking at pictures of myself during my last pregnancy. As I was getting ready for work, I thought that for 17 weeks pregnant I’m looking much better than I did last time. I figured I could give myself a nice boost by looking at my old pictures for confirmation, and so I did. And… it turns out that at 17 weeks I was looking reasonably intact last time, too. But by 24 weeks… not so much. Then, I looked like someone had blown up a body-shaped balloon under all of my skin, but solidly; I looked a bit whalish, if truth be told. So as I shove a chocolate-glazed doughnut into my maw, I realize what’s in store for me. Why does eating everything in sight have to be a part of my personal pregnancy process?

In other news, I bought a ticket yesterday to visit my father, who had heart surgery last week. Apparently everything went very well, and it was surprising to hear him sounding just like himself the next day. I must have caught him at the end of a cycle of painkillers, however, because each time I’ve spoken with him since he sounds rather loopy. Still, it keeps him from feeling the pain of a 67-year old sternum that’s working to knit itself back together, so there you go.

My weekend in Florida will be the first time either R. or I have had an extended period alone with the baby. I know how tired I am at the end of a weekend day chasing him around, so I feel a little guilty saddling R. with 3 nights and 2 full days of it. Still, we’ve got to do it sometime, and I need to see my dad. Too bad the circumstances aren’t better, with me heading off for a weekend in London or Paris (I can’t believe there was a time in my life when that was not uncommon for me.) But despite how bad my last flying experience was, which left me very relieved I had no trips at all in my known future, I’m trying to look at the positive: several hours ALL ALONE, just me and my books and magazines. As long as I can read the words through my tears of panic, which I’m not allowed to smooth away with blessed vodka, it could be rather nice. It’s been an awfully long time since I’ve thought a flight might be nice.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Other Things on My Mind.

I’m having a hard time lately with the whole “working” thing. My brain is everywhere else, and yet it’s needed at my desk, where it’s paid to think about stuff. And by stuff, I don’t mean:

Presidential politics;
Dreaming of winning the lottery;
How my dad’s chest is now wired together;
Why my fingers still smell like garlic from cooking dinner last night;
Why my pregnant tummy just looks like a sloppy beer belly;
How I will starve myself to a size 4 after this baby is born, and
What to name the new kid.

Not one penny of my salary is allocated toward analyzing these things, not even the clearly important issue of the garlic smell. Which, I’ll have you know, comes from a rather nice dinner I prepared last night: chicken breasts with roasted figs, gorgonzola and prosciutto, as well as a lovely, basic risotto – all drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I didn’t take a picture, which is just as well, because it was basically all just kind of reddish, but it tasted great. Who knew a balsamic reduction was so easy to make?

On another topic, let’s talk about the whole Baby Number Two thing for a moment. As you may recall, before I found out that Eeyore was a boy, I had my heart set on having a little girl. A girl was just always what I had assumed I would have, probably because I had never known anything different. I’ve always had a close relationship with my mother, and I wanted the same thing with a daughter of my own. So when it became clear we were having a boy, I cried for a little bit, and then I got over it. Once I actually met Eeyore, I couldn’t imagine him being anyone different; he’s a perfect little person.

When I got pregnant again, I proclaimed that I would be fine with another boy; in fact, I’d probably prefer it because now I know how wonderful it is. But for some reason, since the beginning I have just felt that this one is a girl. And last week, I found out just how excited I had actually been by that prospect. Unfortunately, I found that out when my doctor told me we are having another boy. “Oh, honey,” she said, “That’s a penis.” “Oh, okay,” I said, and then I burst into tears.

And I’ve had a hard time getting my mind around it ever since. I look at my beautiful son’s open, adorable face, and know that as soon as the new baby gets here everything will fall into place, but for now I’m still mourning the loss of a relationship I’ll never have; just a little bit.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy Anniversary to Me.

I realized this morning that it has been three years this month since I started this blog, or at least its predecessor. In honor of that, I thought I'd post one of my favorite old posts today, which is not likely to be one of yours. It's ridiculously juvenile, but I remember laughing when I wrote it and I could use a laugh today, so here you go:

I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all!

Huh. “Yankee Swap.” I had never been to one before. It was a very nice party, as parties go, and it was reasonably amusing to have the fake competition over the crappiest shit you have ever seen in one room. Except that there was one woman there who was subconsciously asking me to pull her hair out by the roots and make her eat it. She kept picking this revolting, plug in leprechaun that everyone kept pretending was a “gnome,” and when people would choose it on their round and come to take it away from her, she would cling to it for too long and generally be a bad sport about handing it over. Then she would pick it again whenever she had a chance.

I happened to have chosen a high number, Number 28, and for those of you unfamiliar with the Yankee Swap, that means that my turn came late in the game such that I was permitted to choose from all gifts that had previously been opened. When Number 28 was called, I pretended to look around like I had all this wondrous bounty to choose from. Then I announced that I was going to choose my own gift under the tree, which had yet to be opened. The hostess said, “You are?” I said, “No,” and smiled at the bitch clinging to the fucking gnome; just enough so my incisors pointed out daintily over my bottom lip like the sweetest little fangs. She looked at me balefully.

“I’ll take that,” said I. She clung to it like a life raft. “Pass it over, honey,” I said. She held it tightly, perhaps thinking she looked really cute as she clung to the rotten fucking leprechaun. Everyone was watching us. I reached out and pried the hideous, plastic figure from her grasp. She still held a sweaty piece of paper in her hand. “It’s no good without the instructions,” she said. “Then give me the fucking instructions,” I replied. The party broke up soon after.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

My Wheels are Grinding.

Apparently people aren’t so interested in my other blog. I have only the merest trickle of traffic there, which perhaps ought to tell me that not everyone is as up in arms over the state of the nation as I am. I think I’m so focused on politics right now because it gives me something to think and write about that is outside my everyday routine. Because let’s face it; my everyday routine is not only dull, but I’ve pretty much run it into the ground as a topic for discussion. What, am I going to tell you yet again about how I watched CNN from my couch last night? How we wanted to take Eeyore on a walk before dinner but got home too late? How R. and I have barreled into adulthood and sometimes want to cry from the perceived limitedness of it all?

Going to work and raising a child and worrying about one’s parents and finances and future are perfectly normal components of a life, but I’m having a hard time right now thinking of ways to spin them into daily reading material. I can tell you once that my child’s laugh has some strange connection straight to an actual, physical place in my heart I had no idea existed, or that after I give him his bottle before bed he likes to turn over on my chest, hug me and lie there until he falls asleep, so that I never, ever want to get up, but then I’ve told you those things and they don’t really need to be repeated.

All this is why writing about politics is working for me right now, even if it does lead to a very Washingtonian, unhealthy obsession with politics, the media, the whole kit and caboodle. I’ve needed something to write about to try to pull myself out of the torpor I’ve let myself sink into – a catalyst to feeling more involved with the rest of the world outside the protective four walls of our little family home.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Weekend in Hell.

Have you ever had a weekend where you could have just died and that really would have been OK? This was one of those weekends. I woke up Saturday morning to find Eeyore had had an awful blowout; the kind where you pretty much have to scrub everything within the vicinity of the crib. Thankfully, he seemed none the worse for wear, but I, on the other hand, had some sort of flu. I laid in bed all day long, unable to really move, while R. took care of Eeyore. I couldn’t even watch TV, which is when you know things are really bad. Then, during the night, R. came down with whatever I had, times 2. He spent today in bed while I took care of the baby in a decidedly half-assed manner. When I had a second to think, all I could think about was how I’m behind at work and how I really need to hunker down this week and just work and not piss around thinking about politics or anything else.

But hey – on the upside, my mom is having surgery on her shoulder next week and my father is having open heart surgery – should be a banner week for all. I haven’t been focusing on my dad’s surgery the way I should; I think I am in some sort of denial. It’s a valve replacement and single bypass, which are very common and have a great recovery rate. Still, that’s all well and good when it’s somebody else’s dad. I’m in a very large vortex of Catholic guilt around both of these operations. I know I should be there for both of them, lending moral support – especially for my dad’s. And I’m not, and my guilt tells me my excuses are feeble. I don’t have any more vacation days, we are careening towards the end of our savings, how can I be both places at once so why not neither. I’m just sort of paralyzed – I don’t even check fares because I know they’re high and I think if I don’t look the whole issue will disappear.

I know; it’s screwed up. Believe me. Even if you’ve turned your back on Catholicism, there’s no turning your back on the accompanying guilt.

I feel like I am in the most bizarre state of limbo I cold ever have imagined, and it just keeps going on, and on, and on. It takes me forever to take any action, and I keep waiting for the day when I wake up and know how to behave like a functioning member of adult society again. One who writes thank you notes, returns phone calls, buys plane tickets and deals with family responsibilities outside these four walls. Instead, I have turned completely inward, unable to take care of the simplest things. How is going to get better with another tiny baby on the way?

Well, enough pissing and moaning for one evening. I did start another blog, although I haven’t added anything new to it yet – it’s in my links list.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We All Need a Break Sometimes.

I’ll just tell you: I didn’t even watch McCain speak last night. For once, R. and I were actually in the land of the living, and had people over for dinner. Plus, what did I need to watch it for? I knew how it would go. There would be some smirking, some shoulder shrugs reminiscent of George W., and then some statements about bipartisanship that would stand in glaring contrast to the slash-and-burn, liberals-are-lazy-and-hate-America tone delivered by his “pit bull in lipstick” the night before. And who cares what he has to say? That nightmare with a beehive and tacky glasses will be president within two years, and she already rendered him completely obsolete with her “New Star of the GOP” speech the night before that the pundits are slavering over, so why not just spare myself the boredom?

Not that I’m over it. Au contraire – instead, I’ve decided that I need another blog; one devoted to politics (or what politicians wear, of course). I doubt everyone who comes to this blog wants to read about my liberal-leaning musings, and I’d like a place where I can write solely about politics and another where I can keep writing about anything else I feel like. That still might include describing my desire to beat Sarah Palin around the head with her own peep-toe pump, or it might involve a pie that I bake, but I don’t want to be limited on either front.

So now I just have to find a good name for this other blog, which is never really a fun task. Maybe I’ll call it “Maureen Dowd” just to see if I can bring traffic my way.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sarah Palin Cows the Media, but Not Me.

I don’t even know where to begin. Sarah Palin’s speech was divisive, belligerent, smug, and at the same time totally lightweight. So why is the goddamned media fawning all over it like it was the best thing since sliced bread? I can see how it was effective for all the people who are already inclined to vote Republican, but I found her completely repellent. After everything I had read about how engaging she is, how personable, how charming, I was expecting to be greeted by someone that I might have a tough time resisting on a personal level, disagreeable though I might find her views. Instead, she seemed dead set on whipping up a nasty partisan frenzy; punctuated repeatedly by her pursed schoolmarm smirk. By the end of her tirade, I loathed her and her “I represent the little people” B.S. with every last boiling blood cell in my veins.

Let’s review:

1. She came out and spent a good 10 minutes introducing her hillbilly family, as if we haven’t read enough about their sluttish and/or unethical escapades (oh, sorry, that’s the escapades of “real families, just like yours”) in the news the last few days. I thought it was particularly charming that the pregnant teenaged daughter’s boyfriend was trotted out on the stage in his Sunday best after the speech, chewing gum like the child that he is. What a nice touch to validate the pre-marital sex that she deplores in order to show what a loving mother she is.

2. Her first “political” statement was to tell America she would be there as a voice for special needs parents in government. While that is certainly a laudable sentiment, positioning it at the top of her speech seemed designed to show what an understanding, sensitive mother she is. Again – fabulous – but perhaps not the most important issue on the country’s agenda this year. And arguably not on hers, either, as the entire Republican Party seemed to take a pass at babysitting poor little Trig during her speech. He was trotted out on the stage at the end, too – couldn’t one of her precious family members have stayed in the hotel room and made sure he was safely tucked into bed, where he should have been at that hour, instead of surrounded by the bright lights and screaming crowd in the arena?

3. Finally, Sarah started the mud-slinging. She compared her own experience to Obama’s, belittling his work as a community organizer and championing her own extensive qualifications as the mayor of a small town as the sine qua non of executive experience. She followed that up with a contemptuous dose of “I don’t trust the liberal elite,” and there you have the substance of her speech.

4. Oh, wait, she did talk a lot about drilling in Alaska as her way to address our energy crisis, so that was pretty useful.

5. Oh, yeah, and then told some lies: namely, that she didn’t support taking federal money to build the “Bridge to Nowhere,” and that Barack Obama never authored a law in Congress.

Ugh, that’s enough. She was nasty, and her speech (along with everything else I’ve heard coming out of the Republican Convention) sought to perpetuate the partisan divide in this country. Contrast that with Obama’s convention speech, in which he enumerated several issues on which the parties traditionally disagree, but on which he believes we can surely find common ground. He spoke about rebuilding a nation that is sorely divided; Sarah Palin sought to drive that stake even further into the ground. The Republican Party seeks to wrap that up even tighter in a soft blanket of sexism – simultaneously sporting their buttons that say “Hottest VP from the Coolest State” while accusing the Demorcats of sexism at every turn for daring to challenge Palin’s qualifications.

And speaking once again of qualifications, if I ever thought there wasn’t a danger she would actually find herself in the highest office in the land, seeing the tiny, waxen figure of John McCain come shuffling out at the end of the speech disabused me of that notion. I think he might already be dead. So watch out, lucky world.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Fun 'n Games in Minneapolis.

For the most part I can leave the charming Sarah Palin alone for the day, since there will surely be plenty to say tomorrow after she makes what amounts to her debut to the American public tonight. It’s only a debut because even though her candidacy was announced several days ago, the McCain campaign thinks it is appropriate to keep her from having to actually sit for an interview where she would have to answer a few questions about herself. Why? Because the “hostile media” clearly has it in for her, so they will bring her out “when the time is right.” I’m sorry, WTF? John McCain thinks this woman is capable of running our country, yet she can’t handle a few pointed questions from journalists? Of all the paternalistic crap I can imagine from the Barefoot-and-Pregnant Party, this takes the cake. Not to mention, for all the disagreements I have with Sarah Palin on the issues, she strikes me as a woman who could more than handle herself in an interview. So cut the nonsense and require her to give one. Jesus.

While I’m throwing a bone to the ladies here, rather than at their heads, I’ll toss another one to Cindy McCain. I feel kind of bad for her. She is clearly a perfectly lovely woman, as long as I don’t get into any kind of political discussion with her, and she never looks like she wants to be anywhere near this mess of national politics. She hangs in the background, looking reasonably chic in her throwback sort of way, and smiles when she needs to. I don’t know if it’s shyness or sadness, though, but there is something about her that seems pretty self-protective and closed in on herself. So, I might say some not-so-nice things here that I extrapolate from her Republicanism, but the truth is I don’t have much of a bone to pick with her other than I don’t want her anywhere near the White House.

Speaking of which, guess who will never be anywhere near the White House, or even Capitol Hill ever again, unless McCain picks him for a Cabinet post? That’s right; Joe “Stick a Fork in Me” Lieberman. Wow – that man is going to be the biggest pariah in town when he gets back to D.C. I can’t believe he had the nerve to stand up there and exhort Democrats to “think” about the choice they have to make here. Sorry, buddy, some of us have already thought about this in pretty great depth, and we decided that this wasn’t much of a decision at all. We aspire for a little bit more than the world your candidate promises to leave us with. And Lieberman’s poor wife, Hadassah, sitting out there in the audience next to Cindy McCain: you can’t tell me she wasn’t sitting there wondering what planet she was on. Did she really sign up for this, too? Maybe she could have taken a page from the Todd Palin book of political spouse behavior and kept her membership in her previous party. Of course, in his case that would be the Alaskan Independence Party, of which he was apparently a member until 2002.

This should be quite an administration.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sarah Palin: Not the Pick of a Maverick.

I read over and over that John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate highlights once again his “maverick” status, but I can’t see how that is so. How is it “maverick” to choose a running mate straight out of the conservative base of his party? How is it “maverick” to choose a woman as your running mate then sit back and watch as the world is distracted by the soap-opera of her family drama and the continuously evolving list of her potential drawbacks?

Maybe it’s maverick to choose someone who would be singularly unprepared to take the reins when you die in office, but other than that this is all just classic, old-school Republican tactics to me. John McCain didn’t have the strength of his own convictions to pick one of the two pro-choice people he supposedly wanted most as his running mate until it became glaringly clear that the fire-and-brimstone crowd would hang him out to dry if he did so. Instead, without properly vetting his last-minute decision, he offered the iron-fisted evangelicals Sarah Palin on a silver platter, hoping he’d be killing two birds with one stone by choosing a woman for whom lots of independent-minded women surely would leap on board the Straight to Oblivion Express.

Nothing about all this is maverick other than to show just how badly a hastily made decision, one that shows a distinct lack of good judgment, can turn out. Shouldn’t we already know that from 8 years of watching George Bush shoot from the hip, using his own “maverick” style to take us into a needless conflict in Iraq? Don’t we need someone to make decisions for our country that result from genuine, thoughtful reflection, maybe a little consultation with someone other than the Dark Lord of Observatory Circle, rather than someone who keeps us on our inexorable march down this dangerous path?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oh, the Delicious and Fortifying Juice!

I am deeply offended by the McCain campaign’s assertion that “liberal” blogs were mud-slinging by perpetuating the rumor that Sarah Palin is actually her son Trig’s grandmother and that her daughter, Bristol, is actually his mother. You will note I refrained from mentioning it here, even though you know I was salivating over it here in my living room. I could hardly wait for the national media to get on board. But of course, it was too delightfully salacious and they weren’t going to go there. Apparently fearing, however, that their baser instincts would get to them, much like Bristol’s got to her, the Palins announced today that there’s NO WAY Bristol could be Trig’s mother, because she is 5 months on her way to becoming the mom of some other lucky little devil! See? There’s no way she could have given birth to Trig because he’s only 4 months old, and Bristol’s been knocked up longer, get it? So we’ll take that story for now, but I can’t say that I am fully convinced there isn’t something even fishier going on here.

Either way, it’s hilarious, even if it is “private pain” and all that for the family. A McCain aide says McCain knew about this before he chose Palin as his running mate, and didn’t think it had any bearing on whether she was right for the job. While I agree that the fact that her daughter is a randy idiot teenager has little to do with her qualifications to step into the job of the most powerful person in the world if called upon to do so, which, of course, are nil, I’m still going to go out on a limb and say that there’s no way McCain knew about this in advance. There is no way in your God’s sweet heaven that had McCain known about this total embarrassment that he would have shoved this whole mess into the limelight. The Republicans can sling all the bullshit they want about how wonderful it is that Bristol “chose” to have the baby, and she’s so lucky to have a supportive family, but the bottom line is that this is nothing but an embarrassment and having to pretend it’s lemonade doesn’t change the reality.

As for Bristol’s “choice,” who knows if she actually had one? With Mommy being a pro-life zealot and in the public eye, I can’t imagine she did actually have a choice. Let’s hope she’s happy with having the child and marrying its father, because she’s going to have to live with it for at least 2 years until she can get divorced and take her baby with her to college in New York City, where she can become a liberal feminist author or something to seriously embarrass her parents. Ah, I jest: you can kind of tell from her vacant teenaged expression that she drinks the evangelical kool-aid. You know, except for not having sex before marriage. But at least she made sure that if she was going to do it, she wouldn’t do it without that forbidden contraception!!

One last comment: am I wrong, or does the Republican Convention so far seem like a complete and total mess? It’s like the waiting room of a funeral parlor. At least they got Laura Bush and Cindy McCain out for their joint speech on charity hurricane relief: awful. Sure, it’s a good message and all, but with the shy Cindy belted tightly into her welcome-home-honey frock coat and the frighteningly Joker-like Laura up there delivering the type of speech acceptable for a good 1960’s political wife, all I could see was “this is how the Republican Party truly likes its women.” Of course, the maverick McCain wants to prove us wrong by showing us strong women can run the White House with a rifle in one hand and an unborn child or two in the other, but … I’m not buying it. Maybe he wants her to totally screw up so she will have to pull out, he can take credit for having chosen a woman an an evangelical, then move forward with some other, more mainstream pick?