Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Moving forward.

I have really allowed myself to wallow in the mire for some time now. Sure, a few months after Eeyore was born I dragged myself to a “butts and guts” class at the gym twice a week, and went out for the occasional drink with friends, but other than that I have permitted myself to live in a constant state of self-pity and with a whining lack of self control. “Everything is so haaaard,” I have said to myself and others, “how do people ever get it together with little children?” I have abdicated responsibility for myself, pretending I am a puppet whose strings are yanked by the universe, and I am really, really tired of it. It is an unsatisfying way to live.

Now I am about to turn 40, and it finally occurred to me that I could use that as a catalyst for positive change in my life. While the issues I would like to address are basic, I have allowed them to take on such a monumental, mythic role in my life that addressing them will take a real commitment; a commitment that an adult of 40 ought to be able to make. I’d like to have a little more strength of character than I have shown in the past in making some decisions about myself and sticking with them.

So what do I want to do with this resolve I will somehow find deep within myself? Well, like I said, it’s basic. I just want to learn to take care of myself, so that I can feel physically and emotionally healthy, and like I am in control of my life rather than the other way around. That encompasses three main goals:

1. To eat better and get enough exercise to have a healthy, fit body that feels good to live in.

2. To somehow corral the whirling mess of stress, apathy and childishness I have cultivated in my life and bend it forcibly into submission. I’m not dumb enough to think I can get rid of it completely, but I’m hoping that by accepting the need to partially live in the moment and partially set some rules as to how I can do a few things for myself first, I can reach a happy balance.

3. To be kinder to myself. No one is a bigger bully to me than I am. In addition to not criticizing myself for all my perceived physical imperfections, that also means not beating myself up if I go another year, or forever, without writing a book or doing something else I had decided would give my life worth meaning. I need to recognize the meaning in my life as it is.

Don’t I sound terribly New Age? I’m the farthest thing from it; I just want to enter my middle years with a little more purpose than I’ve shown in the last few years. My late 20’s and early 30’s were lived purposefully to the extent that I arranged an interesting international career and lifestyle for myself, but for much of my late 30’s I have been a little lost at sea. My career became somewhat less glamorous, and of course my previous blog chronicled my less than satisfying romantic adventures. Now my life is completely different with a gorgeous fireball of a husband and (almost) 2 children, and it seems like it’s time to figure out a way to embrace my new existence with a little more backbone than I’ve exhibited thus far.

Friday, January 23, 2009


It won't be so bad to have another one of these.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The worm has turned.

Here we are on a new day, with our new, inspiring president. The worm has turned; to me the country feels like a completely different place than it did even at 11:59 a.m. yesterday. It’s as if the pall we have been smothering beneath has been lifted, or like an invigorating, positive wind is blowing the stench of the decaying evil of the last administration out of our streets and homes. Goodbye, George Bush, you malevolent fool; enjoy clearing out the brush at your ranch while we clear out the destruction you and Dr. Evil have wreaked on this country (does anyone else think Cheney looks even scarier in his wheelchair?).

The Obamas started their day today with a prayer service at the National Cathedral, which is apparently what new presidents do on their first day in office. As Cindy noted in her most recent post, this follows an inauguration day saturated with prayer services and invocations and benedictions and all sorts of religious crap that seems so out of place in a country founded on the idea of separation of church and state. I personally find it offputting, but as long as nobody forces me to go to church or live my “life in Christ,” I will go with the flow. But… did you hear the pastor who gave the sermon this morning!!?? He had one of the creepiest voices I had ever heard, and if I had been Sasha or Malia, I would have been giggling uncontrollably in my pew.

Ah, Washington. I do think back on it so fondly, having lived there for a total of about 10 years. I lived and went to school near the National Cathedral for a few years in middle school and high school, and went back for law school and a few years of practice after that. My own memories of the cathedral are not quite as lofty as will be those of the politicians and their families who attend; rather, my friend M. and I used to meet there after dinner in the summer to smoke cigarettes and look out over the city from the cathedral gardens. Or, I would walk by it when I took the bus back up Wisconsin Avenue from Georgetown after an afternoon spent hanging around the clearly gay clerk at Commander Salamander (“I’m sure he’s just bi; I think he was flirting with me!”) and sitting in the window booth at Roy Rogers drinking a Coke and smoking yet more cigarettes. Yes, that was a LONG time ago.

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I moved away from D.C. to London; I know it has really changed since then. I’ve been back a few times to visit friends over the years, and each time I’ve been amazed by the number of new restaurants and new “up-and-coming” neighborhoods. Something tells me that my next trip back there, however, which will likely be to introduce two small boys to the wonder of the Air and Space Museum, won’t provide me with the opportunity to see the Washington I’d like to see – which, honestly, is one that represents the kind of engagement with a city that it’s hard to have anywhere with small children. I think – but then I’m not the most talented when it comes to integrating the concepts of children and continuing to experience an intellectually and culturally stimulating life. I need some lessons in that.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chow chow chow!

It’s a Purina Dog Chow kind of day in Denver. This is primarily because there is a Purina dog chow factory along the highway north of the city, so that when the wind blows the wrong way the distinctive smell of dog food (mmmm!) fills the air of the entire city. But it also seems like days when the smell is the worst are winter days where the skies are low and cloudy, and the city looks like a dirty, industrial wasteland no matter what part of town you’re in. Then it just seems fitting that there should be a gross smell that permeates everything. Yes, today’s that kind of day.

On a similar note, I am tired of wearing black all the time, but that’s all I have in my pregnancy wardrobe these days. I hope I can drop enough of this weight by summer to be able to wear some of my old clothes that were sewn by small children using colored fabric again. One problem I foresee: will I ever wear shorts again? This pregnancy has given me a terribly unsightly case of spider veins on my legs; the kind I used to see on women and think, “Oh…my…god. Could you not get that taken care of? They have procedures for that, you know.” And yes, in fact, they do, but the procedures are not cheap and you have to have to have several of them to really get rid of the purple nasties. That would be fine if that were the only procedure I needed as a result of carrying two Tasmanian Devils inside my body for 9 months each, but frankly, I need enough surgery to turn me into the Bionic Woman after all this. Ideally, I could use:

1. Spider vein zapping.
2. A boob job.
3. Liposuction
4. A tummy tuck.
5. A teensy-tiny face lift (Mama’s TIRED).

However, I don’t want more scars and I don’t want to have to re-up on the boob job every 10 years (or look like that woman who has face lifts to look like a man-cat), so I think I might be stuck with whatever I can get out of sporadic, half-hearted diet and exercise over the next 5 years. I hope I can evolve into one of those women who loves herself no matter how she is, reveling in her battle scars because she is a “Mother,” and not the petty, typical American woman I am who is completely obsessive about no longer having the 120-pound figure she had in college – which was 20 years ago and which she has never had since (except a couple of times when she was depressed and the year’s meals consisted of cigarettes and increasingly good bottles of chardonnay). Ah, body image – what a fucking waste of time.

Meanwhile, here is my exciting calendar of upcoming events:

1. February 23: Birth of second son

2. February 27 – May 10: post-partum depression/acclimation to larger family and re-acquaintance with soap opera families from hollowed-out spot on couch

3. March 4: 40th birthday of yours truly; holy SHIT. Previous plans for Maui trip scuppered for hopeful outing to Sushi Den for raw fish and a martini (if I can walk)

4. Eternity stretching before me

5. June 2010: Sister in law’s wedding on east coast, flight with 2 kids (example of change in type of trips; BEFORE = Paris, AFTER = Family, USA)

6. February 2012: Hopeful return to semblance of normalcy; celebratory trip with husband

A packed schedule!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Time to move to Vermont.

Boy, am I glad I don’t live in the Middle East. That part of the world is fucked up, no two ways about it. If you’re just a regular person trying to live your life in peace, you can forget it. Angry people have the upper hand. There is always someone pissed off about his chunk of land, or about you having any rights outside of what his affiliation deems fit (you know, because they are a mouthpiece of God), and they like nothing more than to launch a few rockets or cut off your head to make a point.

Of course, not every country in the Middle East has the same M.O. when it comes to maintaining 15th century mores and/or ending other peoples’ lives, since some are more “civilized” than others. In Iraq, local angry people make DIY explosives to blow up cars, Americans, Iraqis from different sects, and unlucky marketgoers. Israel, as an example of a more modern nation, uses full-scale warfare to bomb the shit out of Gaza. It’s entitled to do that, you see, because Hamas had been fucking with it for a really long time. Also, it is really entitled to do that because of the Holocaust. Atrocities committed against the Jews are license for any kind of action in the protection of Israel’s borders.

Yes, I know it’s politically incorrect to be American and not be a hard-line supporter of Israel, but I’m not. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pro-Palestine either, although I think both sides have some valid arguments, particularly after the way the Palestinian people have been treated throughout the history of the conflict, and I would never discount the horror and magnitude of the Holocaust. It is simply my opinion that two wrongs do not make a right, and in my view raining down bombs on innocent people who “happen to be in the way” is a wrong. When I read in the paper about relief workers who were not let into Gaza in a timely fashion, only to discover once allowed a house where several small children were standing, weak with hunger, around the corpses of their dead mothers – I know I am reading about something wrong.

I recognize the naiveté in wondering why we have to have violence in the world, but the rationale truly does elude me when I don’t feel the capacity for violence in myself. Nothing good comes from it, unless when employing it to defend against it, I suppose. But that begs the question of the need for the initial aggression. “Human nature” is a sad excuse for the atrocities men have committed against each other throughout history, particularly when societies have gone to great lengths to codify laws that deem such individual actions to be aberrational behavior. If rape and murder are crimes in everyday life; why are they suddenly an acceptable aspect of human nature in the context of geopolitical aggression?

Ah, power. Man’s greatest excuse for all.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I am your sponge.

How does one learn not to let another person’s moods affect her? After all, they are the other person’s moods, so why should there be a correlation between another person’s shitty mood and a nosedive of my own? When someone I interact with a lot is in a foul mood and I am not, I can feel that person’s funk cozying up to the bottom of my own mood, hooking its clammy tentacles into any crevices it senses, and giving it a good, sustained tug. It’s almost a physical feeling in my head – like my good mood fills my skull but the erosion from the bottom pulls it down to somewhere around my eyes. I feel like I am trying to hoist my full body back above the top of it again to regain control, but the other person’s mood is stronger than my will to stay cheery and next thing you know I’m fucked. My mood is in the toilet.

How do you avoid that? Shouldn’t my mood be my mood, yours be yours, and so on? Is everyone like me, or can most people maintain their individuality a little better? Tips appreciated, just like at all the counters where employees were once expected to do their work for their wages instead of for the spare change customers are now guilted into adding to the already enormous tally (e.g., change from your overpriced latte).

Monday, January 5, 2009

More pictures.

Here are a few more pictures from our trip:

The Randall Museum, a weird free children's museum in San Francisco. They had a little petting zoo area with two bunnies, a duck and a chicken.

R. and Eeyore outside the museum.

Eeyore and I outside the museum; foggy day = lovely hair. Who am I kidding? I never look good these days. How about that rat fur collar on my maternity coat?

Speaking of rat fur, here's my kid in a bin of stuffed rats at IKEA.

Hiatus over.

After a couple of weeks with no time to post (or anything else), here I am again. The last two weeks have been a steady diet of chasing Eeyore around various living rooms as he explores the world around him and even finally learns to walk just in time to make him an even bigger terror and potential danger around the house. So far our baby proofing has been from the ground up, so now it appears we’re up to counter level. Soon we’re going to have to buckle down and find a safer place for the candy-colored anti-depressants and razor blades that we have so casually ignored to date.

Did you have a lovely Christmas or religious/cultural holiday of your choice? It was Santa’s Christmas for us, since as you know we have a little problem with ye olde organized religion in our house. There was no visit from the baby Jesus at our place. Or actually, at my mom’s, where the 4-foot tall plastic lighted Santa was God-like enough to scare the shit out of my kid.

The travel itself could have been a lot worse, like if we had flown to Houston instead of San Francisco. You may have seen that there was a sort of plane crash at the Denver airport; when we flew out the next day I craned my neck every which way to try to see the wreckage but could not. That’s probably for the best since I am already such a nervous flyer, but I couldn’t help but look. As seems to be his M.O., Eeyore was wide awake, squirmy and vocal for the entire two hour flight, just until they started the initial descent. Something in the change of the engines seems to be his cue to go to sleep, just as it was my cat’s cue when flying her out to live with my mom to take a large, stinking poop. I guess I’m glad we get 15 minutes of peace, but it sure would be nice to think that I might ever be able to read a magazine or a book on a plane again and not just spend the entire time freaking out about what I can entertain him with next so he doesn’t:

Yell joyfully
Kick the seat in front of him
Yell angrily
Throw his binkies

Someday, perhaps.

Meanwhile, here is a picture of Eeyore passing time in the back seat of the rental car.

And just for grins, this morning my mom sent me this picture of us with some random family members when I was about 16. My expression is vintage teenaged me – what an asshole!!!!