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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Street Crud-ier

It's nice to have little ones. They care. Even if they are not exactly sure what that means, or the reason they care is because they need you to take care of them... still, it's nice.

I was up all night sick. S.O. got it, then S.O.v.1 got it, then S.O.v.2 got it... Sometimes I dodge the bullet but in this case, nope. But S.O.v.2 woke up with me several times as I rushed to the bathroom. When I said, "Mama is feeling sick". She just said "Oh" in her sweet little way and held my hand back to bed. When you're sick, you always want your mama... but when you're the mama sometimes it's good to have your baby.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Too Scary Ah Me

...as S.O.v.2 says when something scares her. Well, we watched "An Inconvenient Truth" last night and that's what I say!

Save our planet... I don't care if you take the pledge just that you do these things...
http://www.treasureourplanet.org/pledge_now.htm

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Street Crud

I have been mildly sick for the past couple of weeks. What S.O. calls 'the crud'. It is very annoying and is only aggravated by things such as lame and slow computer repairmen that are holding up my edit; the utter lack of a suitable holiday party wardrobe and the necessity of *gulp* having to SHOP!; and mucky weather that will neither sunshine nor rain.

After hearing that my play is a go I had a head full of steam to edit. However, I have been slowed to an almost complete halt, except my brain which keeps editing and rehearsing all by itself. It's nice to know that my brain still works the same way. When I was regularly involved in plays (i.e. BC - before children) my brain would absorb the play and whether I be in math class, on the freeway, at work serving a shrimp cocktail to a wanna be pimp (I'm thinking of working in restaurants in Oakland... now there are wanna be pimps everywhere... and we used to be special), my brain was thinking how to deliver a line or trying to make connections between what other characters said about mine and what my motivation was, and what the meaning of the whole play was, etc. etc. Even in my dreams. I would often dream of rehearsing or performing, seeing myself performing the way I believed I could or discovering new ways to approach a scene. It was all very helpful... in the midst of rehearsals! Now that I am stimied it doesn't feel so much helpful as it does aggravating.

So, needless to say, despite the fact that I probably will not have my computer back yet and Christmas (i.e. shopping, wrapping, hiding presents from curious toddlers and baking) will be crunching upon me, I will start to rehearse anyway. I will just take what I have and mess around with it on my makeshift stage in my boss' back office and see what comes up.

And hopefully by then my 'crud' will be finished... blasted nose and sore throat!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Let Us Play

I had my presentation to the art gallery on Thursday of last week and have been basking in the potential for the past 24 hours. I got a message on my machine at work saying they want to pursue. I won't mention that they said they were "blown away" by my presentation, because I don't want to seem conceited... but that was my favorite part of the message.

I don't care what anyone says, a little validation is always good. And even though during my rehearsals for the presentation I knew I was doing good work I can't say as I felt totally 'on' during the performance. I was mostly relaxed but there is a portion of you that is just pretending to be relaxed when you perform. If you are too relaxed you run the risk of being boring, and/or missing what is going on. I felt like I could have done so much better, which makes the gallery's comments that much more validating. Oh just wait till they see me actually on!

But I am not resting on my laurels. By no means! I am ready now to get down and work on the play, parring it down to a manageable size. My self-imposed moratorium on working on the play has now been extended as our computer just went into Geek Squad for repair... and that'll take about a week! (They're so slow!) Then in January I start the work of rehearsal and producing. Yep, it's a one-woman show in more ways than one! Although they are providing the space, which is great, and a posting on their website and no doubt will help me in other ways as well, it is all up to me to bring in the audience! Marketing. Yikes! It doesn't feel so daunting though as I had always assumed. Or maybe I am just more confident now... that age thing helps sometimes!

But probably the best part about this whole experience so far is chosing material that I am just as thrilled about now as when I first had that 'aha' moment a few months ago. It makes the work a joy rather than a chore. Who knows where that sort of inspiration comes from. All I hope, at the moment, is that I continue to do good work and enjoy the process and that the audience that finds me/I find enjoys the play as much as I do!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Addendum to 8/29/06

S.O. has very graciously pointed out that I failed to mention this in my "Now it's time to stop" entry of 8/29/06 this one:

The OhMiBod personal vibrator that you hook up to your iPod... because you didn't know you needed it, did you?

http://www.ohmibod.com/overview.html

I would say "only in America" but can I just point out the iGallup? Only in America, or Japan...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Guug

It is one of those melancholy days... who knows why, although the Monday after a holiday, wherein fun was had, is always a bit of a let down.

Or maybe it's just my negative voices getting the better of me. I am trying to ignore them. I've made committments (only to myself, but those are the ones you beat yourself up for the most) to write/perform a play and to write a novel. Here is where my years in Hollywood-baby (S.O. taught S.O.v.1 to say "LA baby" while on our way there the other weekend) failures kick in... It is the same conversation that comes up in my head over and over. If you already failed at something what makes you think it will be any different this time? It is hard to get around all the 'no's. Nos for acting, nos for improv, nos for scripts - even to read them!, nos for gainful employment in the Industry, nos for 'gainful' employment in any industry (although I've always been wildly successful at getting those barely-scrapin'-by jobs) - someone at a temp agency once told me, "Ms. Ryan, you're really ONLY qualified to work in the entertainment industry so we can't really send you out on anything else" - because my BRAIN stops FUNCTIONING when I step into a doctor's office or real estate office of course!

So the negative voices in my head challange me with all this imperical evidence that has been logged for the past 20 years and all I have to combat it with when they say, "Why should you succeed in anything when you haven't so far?" is "'Cause I wanna. So there. Nana-na-nana". This is where some religion might come in handy, I suppose. But since I don't really want to take sides in the spiritual wars, nor do the research to find the one best suited to my disposition, or to just leap into the path of least resistance (i.e. the ones my family members practice/have practiced), I'm pretty much on my own. S.O. looks at me like a deer caught in headlights when I complain about this sort of thing (the inner voices thing, not the religion thing) and doesn't know what to say. I, frankly, wouldn't know what to say to myself either if I was complaining to me about my uncertainties - OK wait I am talking to me about... but I'm not... never mind.

The tacit impulse is to just crawl under a rock, or a corner and rock, or listen to loud rock... and weep, "I can't do it". But I have also made a committment to myself to not let my negative voices get the better of me.

On days like this it is dangerous to get back to work. As anyone who has tried to create something when you are having a bad day knows it can be a disaster. If I went to my writing today the negative voices would just start picking on specifics and that's never good. And then you make bad choices and screw things up that you just have to fix later... hell, it's not even a good idea to make dinner when you're in a bad mood.

Perhaps the only thing to do is to try and deflect. Work on something else, start a pretend project my negative voices can tell me I'll never succeed at, practice my guitar - 'cause I already KNOW I suck at that, go to the gym, get them to criticize my appearance! and then when they are on a roll I can work again... yeah, that's right negative voices, my thighs ARE abominably large!

Monday, November 20, 2006

I Love LA

I love LA like you love an ex-boyfriend, maybe even like a bad ex-boyfriend. You broke up for a damn good reason, but everytime you see each other again, you just can't remember why. Face it, you know that even entertaining the idea of getting back together is probably not good for you, good for your loved ones... You've changed but really, has he? You know that jumping back into that old relationship will screw up everything you have now... but still... you just can't stop yourself from wondering.

And LA feels like home still. Not that here doesn't. It's just that LA is more like the 'life' you see on TV (is it any wonder) - full of interesting things to do, interesting people, interesting possibilities. In LA you know that life could change at any moment - for better or worse. It is like perpetually holding a lottery ticket that only 100 other people bought into. If you met the right people, got the right job, the planets aligned just so.

Life in a suburb is essentially the antithisis of this. It is predictable, secure, safe(r). And our suburb in particular, because it is a vacation destination and retirement town - read: the company business is waiting to relax and waiting to die, which for some people may be the same thing - so it is not just teaming with possibilities. Face it, nothing spectacular or unexpected is likely to happen here. The population just doesn't want it to. But the payoff is time. Time to relax, time to contemplate, time to create. Less time in the car certainly.

But still... he does look really good in those jeans....

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Really Modified Mat

Some days you just want to knock around the house, do some laundry, hang with the kids... you know, NOT drive a car... and especially wrangle children, scratch that, toddlers around public spaces. There were plenty of things we could have done and in fact I had sort of suggested a visit to the park's playground last night. So instead we played outside, freesbie and took some indoor toys outside for fun. But after naptime I was feeling a little bit guilty for not going to the gym.

So Mama says "Who wants to go inside and do pilates with me?" Of course, all takers so off we go, lay the mats in the living room in front of the TV and turn on the DVD.

Except S.O.v.2 who is now 2 1/2 and probably close to 30lbs decides that I am not allowed to be on HER mat. There are only two so, S.O.v.1 and his sister each get one and I end up on the carpet. Not three moves in S.O.v.2 decides that she wants to do pilates with me. Not on her mat - ON ME. So now my "powa-haus" is much heavier and bulkier... I bet there's not a DVD for that. But what's worse we are not allowed to do the ex-a-ciz-ess (in my DVD the chicky's giving the class are Australian) ON her mat! So I remain on the carpet, toddler on me... Where is the photographer when you need them?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Must Be Genetic

I have observed in my own little significant others that some behaviors seem to be just... well, genetic. We know that boys are different from girls, of course, in the obvious physical ways. They have an entirely different way of concentrating and thinking and working things out as we know from our own relationships. But I have noticed a disturbing trend...

S.O.v.1 was heard the other day in his room with his sister to say "You go ask Mama for moie wader". That being bad enough, she did it! She is a love and a sweet little girl, but she is no pushover, ooooohoohoo no! She has her own mind and she will exercise it by whatever means possible. But when it comes to doing things for her brother she just... does it! What gets me, more than her compliance, is his lack of chagrin in asking.

Many a time when I have been picking up toys I have tried to bribe, cajoll, entice, force him to pick up toys. Most of the time he won't do much, if anything at all. But when he says, "No tanks, Mama. You do it" my blood nearly boils! Those are the moments when you want to run out of the house screaming "There's no hope!"

We women have been accused for years of remaining willfully ignorant to tasks we wished to avoid; lawn mowing, tire changing, checkbook balancing. But I propose men do this too. My S.O. is befuddled by toilet cleaning, cooking and organizing and putting away child clothing. And why is that, when he is a champion diaper changer, dishwasher and laundry doer (without the actual putting away of the clean clothes), because he does not want to do these things. He perceives these things as tasks he would not like to accomplish, that he would find no scrap of pleasure in, that he would not be allowed to become so absorbed in (like dishwashing) that we would all leave him alone for a time.

So, is S.O.v.1 just following Daddy's example? Not that S.O. actually has ever said to me "No thanks, hon. You can do it" for obvious reasons. And is S.O.v.2 just following Mama's lead in picking up because if she doesn't it will be there tomorrow, and next week, and next month? Except she doesn't roll her eyes and sigh in exasperation.

The other day - we've been on the go for the past several weeks with a visit from S.O.'s mom, a vacation to Big Bear, a conference weekend for me and a camping weekend - first for the kids actually - and so, routines being disrupted many tasks fall by the wayside. I was scrubbing the tub needless to say why, the other day, and I found it strangely satisfying. It was a relief to be back in our routine but it was not just that. Dare I say, lest this come back to haunt me someday which is probably will, it was enjoyable a task in and of itself. I understand why some women find pleasure in housekeeping, over and above the pleasure one finds in a task accomplished. There was something simple and fundamental, maybe even nurturing, in making it nice for myself and my family. That was Thursday. By Sunday I was ready to get back to work and out of the house. I am a liberal and a feminist you know, just 'cause I like a clean bathroom doesn't make me Phyllis Schlafly! (Why didn't anyone every make fun of her name anyway?)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

American Marketing: Finding Exciting New Ways to Give You Less For More!

Now I know you have all heard about and probably so far experienced Starbucks price hike. The company said it would be no big deal "just a nickle" what harm could that do, right? And Stephen Colbert belittled the discontented murmur on The Colbert Report, teasing that the increase will cost him all of a nominal $8.00 over the course of the year.

Price increase, smice increase I say. Why? My standard order, Mocha Frappacino Tall no whip, went up to $3.15. OK, fine, I say. I want it anyway. But when I got the cup holding that delicious cooling wakeup juice what did I behold but the cup is smaller! Ever so slightly so you might not notice. Which is most likely the objective. And if you were a w/ whip person rather than a sans whip like myself you really would not notice.

But I did! I have slugged a good many into my car's cup holder and continued on my driving around town errands for work. Normally the cup, condensation and all, fit nice and snug. Now I know my car is deteriorating, ever so slowly, and who isn't frankly. But not so that a cup would now have room to spare! I picked up the cup to take that first sip at the next stoplight and it felt different even. I took a good long look at the cup, looked back to my sense memory of the last Mocha Frappacino no whip I'd had and the cup is shorter and slightly skinnier.

Not that anyone in America really needs the few extra calories you'll now miss in your smaller more expensive Starbucks. I certainly don't. It's just a little underhanded and unseemly. Remember the Andy Rooney segment on 60 Minutes where he complains that the volumn in a can of coffee is ever shrinking? Well, they do it to us at every turn and at the same time announce "New and Improved!".

Despite the enthusiastic protestations of the Founder and CEO of Starbucks claiming love of the product and committment to quality, and health insurance to his employees, it seems he also has a healthy dose of committment his bottom line as well. More fleecing... oi.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Long

I wish I had read the memo (the one I wish someone had written me about 20 years ago) that said "Happiness does not mean the absence of longing".

I long for somethings that are, probably, completely out of reach, and for some that are possible with hard work, maybe.

I long for a career as an actor. A pursuit tried and not won. Not everyone can be the king...

I long to perform and I long to be on stage. Oddly, I feel most myself when I am performing. I feel all the vital parts of me come to the surface and my doubts subside. There is nothing I do better, in my own estimation. But, like space travel, it's a skill I rarely use... I'm sure Buzz Aldridge can relate.

I long for more laughing and fun in my relationship. It is the thing that brings you close together. Now that the 'season' of work has started for S.O. we are like ships that pass, "See ya round the other side of the world".

I long for my writing to find a home, an audience, readers, viewers, to be acknowledged.

I long to direct, to create an experience like the ones I so love. I directed three films in grad school, each one challanging and exhilarating, each taxed me in every way. But I loved it.

I long for the community of my friends, in the flesh. I have this community only electronically now, except for short visits here and there, one way or the other. The upside of an electronic community is that you can create new friends in places you might never physically get to. I have now new friends in Iraq and Romania. It's amazing when you think about it. And I continue to bridge the gap via emails with old friends in England, Pennsylvania, Washington, New York... My community is now a spiderweb across the globe.

I long for all these things and yet I am happy. I will remember in about 16 years to write a memo to my kids, to make sure they know not to put off being happy just because your heart wants more.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Pockets of Peace

There are really far too many things to worry about these days. And like most worriesome things they are largely out of our control. Modern life is clearly full of too much information, too many goods and services, too much technology and time-saving products to be completely comfortable anymore. Ironically most of these 'modern' conveniences are supposed to make us more comfortable.

We travelled to the mountains this past weekend for a four day family vacation. Just the four of us, no visiting friends, no visiting family, just relaxing in the woods, feeding the ducks on the lake. On the drive I got a lot of time to think, as you do... I noticed I did a lot more thinking on the way there than on the way back. Funny that. But it means the 'vacation' part worked. For a few days I got to not feel guilty or take sides, donate money or worry about what was going wrong in the country, and in the world.

In my think on the way to I thought a lot about my father. Not my real father (i.e. my dad, stepfather who chose to be our dad) but my biological father. He has been absent from my and my Genetic Twin's (sister) lives since I was about S.O.v.1's age and she was five. I thought mostly about what his absence means. Not that I particularly miss him - I never knew him really - but I used to feel that there was a hole of sorts, a chunk of something gone. I thought about what it means to me now, to not have his presence in my life or even know anything significant about him. The Female Parental Unit (mom) doesn't talk about him so we have very little information. When I see some of S.O. in our kids and even get little glimpses of myself in them it sometimes makes me wonder what I have of him.

My GT and I used to occasionally muse about finding him, but haven't for years. At this point, I have sealed up that hole. I don't really want to go in the hatch. I don't necessarily consider it part of my destiny (come on people, "Lost" anyone?) and believe that it would bring possibly only grievance or at best indifference if we were to 'find him', or find out anything about him even. So, I let it go. I moved on and deal with the present. The past may have created the who I am now but it won't control me.

But the past does control many people. Worse it controls whole populations of people. Part of the struggles of the Middle East, no doubt, are past-ridden. To look back and find something about who you are, as a human being, or as a culture, as a country is to be respectful and have reverence for those who have gone before. But to look to the past for how to manage the present is insanity. To do that is to not recognize that you can't change the past or even make up for what has been lost. What is gone is gone is gone is gone and there ain't no getting it back, no how. But yet the past is invoked time and again to justify present actions. We were supposed to have moved beyond that behavior when we advanced to the 7th grade, weren't we? "Well he stole my cookie from my lunch tray so I took his milk"... "and vengence is MINE!" Come on! We know psychologically speaking that if, say, I continued to try and 'make up' for the loss of a father year after year after year I would be spinning my wheels, being self destructive and miserable. Because you cannot get back what is no longer there. So any substitute, be it a fatherly boyfriend, or reunification with your ancesteral home will not put your psyche together again. It might be nifty for a time, but you will go right back to vengeful behavior if you keep looking backwards. Notice how it's not called "Look Now in Anger"?

So, after four days of unscheduled time, a couple of hikes and time with The Adorables I had very little brain action on the drive home. I had, for a time, a little pocket of peace. I had it because for those four days I was not trying to finish anything or start anything or create anything or destroy anything. I was only experiencing the present. And I discovered that in the here and now the past doesn't feel so uncomfortable. And the future doesn't seem so daunting. The people before you are just as wonderful, if not more, when you are peaceful inside yourself enough to see and hear them clearly.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Random Thoughts

The problem with random thoughts is that you never know where to start...

I had had cause to think about something I'd believed for a long time recently; that every woman marries below her. That is not to say men are bad, just that women are smarter, more able to multi-task, more compassionate, more expressive, more patient and the whole package makes it just easier for us to run a life which we all must do on one level or another. Even if you are single with no kids you are still running your own life and keeping your toilet fairly clean (except for the odd woman who revels in being laise fair about housecleaning, fine if only she has to live in it). But any woman who has children and/or is married is running more than one and that becomes difficult.

Men have an uncanny ability to focus on one thing for long periods of time, which is why we have disciplines like engineering and science and space travel. When they are using their powers for good instead of evil they are in that regard better than women. But doing one thing alone well does not exactly make one able to run a life successfully. And hey, if you are a single guy, who cares if your toilet is clean. When men are 'envolved' with other human beings they must strive to use their powers not for evil to, say, focus on figuring out how to do the least amount of work possible or how to use their powers of concentration to effectively ignore their people, but for good, as in focusing on how to contribute or be more compassionate.

S.O. and I have had many a skirmish over the subject of 'running the life' of our family. Our finally conclusion of the matter of running the life was to conclude that he is not, or we should not say, he's 'helping me' get the various chores done. That is condescending and I think implies that the whole kit and kaboodle is MY responsibility and mine alone and somehow he is doing me a favor by doing dishes or putting his shoes away instead of leaving them in the middle of the living room for me to pick up. So, women's lib did what again? Made it possible for women to have two jobs and men to continue to sit on the sofa and watch their shows while we take care of the kids?

I saw a young woman bopping along, coming out of the local college, this morning, talking on her cell phone. She had a lovely look on her face, one vaguely familiar and melancholy to me. It's that expression you see only on very young women and very old - but well balanced and grateful - women. It is the look of running only your own life and doing as you please. It is the look of being carefree. My perspective now makes all my worries as a young woman, even as a young married woman without children seem petty. Not that that young woman has no worries or troubles. It just strikes me how much easier troubles are when they are only your very own. As psychologists and wanna be therapists like to say to us over and over again from their TV pulpits, you can only change yourself. Great concept in theory, except it ignores the reality of most women who are managing someone else's life including their own. Sure, you can't theoretically control someone else but if you are running their life it is decidely more difficult to do if you aren't also controlling what they do... and thus why marriage is so difficult!

It is so easy to be empassioned with something new; new love, new school, new baby, new job. And doesn't society and talk show hosts tell us all the time that we should recapture our 'inner child' - that enthusiasm, that discovery, that passion for life. But doing something for the first time or having something new is always easy and exciting. I'm a little sick of this whole idea of 'finding your passion' because, frankly, it is not the way the world or a life works. It is great when someone is enthusiastic about something new, you love to hear about it. And we run to our loved one's side when they are feeling down or in need. But all the mediocre stuff in between is where life really lies. Why is it not ok to just be ok with how things are going? Why does every morning have to have the sparkle of potential? Isn't not expecting something to happen, i.e. expecting a regular day, and it turning out spectacular just the best? But if you are every day living your passion, grabbing, eating life, consumming with passion... when the hell do you rest? Besides unrealistic it sounds just tiring to me. I am happy with making methodical progress forward and not knowing when the spectacular may happen. Besides, isn't all this 'passion stuff' just starting to smack plasticy?

We are heading up to the mountains for a few days tomorrow. Our first family vacation that is not also a visit friends and family vacation. As much as I love my friends and family it's just not the same. I realize that we are lucky. Many do not ever get a family vacation and as much as I am compelled to complain that this is essentially the first since having our children, that thought keeps popping into my head. Many get outrageous vacations where they don't life a finger, except maybe to purchase expensive gifts for themselves or to haul themselves on to the massage table, and get to have an exceptional relaxing time. We fall somewhere on the lower end of that scale just into the priveledged enough to get a vacation at all section. For that I am grateful. But it will not be totally relaxing because there are still responsibilities that will follow me up the mountain - diapering, bathing, clothing, feeding, cooking, organizing... but maybe if I am really nice to him (wink wink) S.O. will allow me to sleep a couple times.

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Moment

There are moments when the exiquisite beauty and pain of being a parent appears before you. It flies away before you can grasp it completely. Maybe if you really knew what it meant to have the honor of being the mother of these little perfect people it would just be too much... too much to handle... too much to comprehend... to much to be able to move forward with... Maybe that is what love is....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Now it's time to stop

First there was iTunes. Then there was iPod... or maybe it was the other way round, I don't know, chicken and egg situation.

Now, iMesh!? Yet a new music downloading software.

So, here I am reading the Hollywood Reporter thinking, "What's next? iChildren? iHusband?" I thought I'd do a little survey... this is very limited to my imagination but you try too and see what you come up with.

There is now:

iHouse - a real estate marketing firm
iComputer - a computer consultant
iKid - something to 'help protect our children' - no doubt something run by Republicans
iDesign - Solutions, Inc. no less - a little throw back to the 'solutions' we were all promised in the 90s! This promises to solve all our education problems
iFood - which offers, of course, a 'unique blend' of something or rather having to do with food and hopefully not also computer chips, although I hear they are great along side a nice grilled Ahi on a chibatta - baked with olive oil, not fried of course!
iCatalogue - where you can find all your company gifts!
iSnake - a net software site
iFax - Solutions - there we go again...
iRabbit - which is of all things a vibrator, but it promises to be descreet and secure... so, that makes me feel better
iRobot - which is a consummer robot - for all your robotic needs of course, or solutions as needed I assume, and of course a mediocre Will Smith movie
iBlogger - website something, name change, solutions...
iCondom - which is a cover for an iPod, logically
iDoctor for iSeries, an IBM company... huh?
iVillage - they have actually been around forever so they can't really be blamed for perpetuating the problem, just helping to create it
A Canadian paper, the National Post, writes and article about the rise of iPolitician - the Prime Minister apparently did a podcast... which I sort of think is a little bit cool... at least she's up to date!
iDog - an electronic pet dog... cuts down on the grooming but hell on battery costs I i-imagine (which, if you need a wedding video shot, is in the business)
Sadly, no iCat... isn't there a market for an electronic pet cat!

iMouse - which is, of course, a computer mouse... but if your house got infected with those THEN I bet there'd be a market for the iCat
iHuman - a performance group I found on craigslist in all places, San Francisco naturally
No iHusband just yet (though the website is for sale for you to jump on!) though there are several hits for iWife, not least of which is some failed product that Apple introduced, a singles dating site - not very appealing to men who want to remain such I would think and software, that's funny
iGallop - I can't even write anything as funny as this is all on its own
http://www.brookstone.com/store/product.asp?pid=531707&wid=1&cid=18&sid=113&prodtemp=t2&cm_re=B_BKST*MN*531707

Have a go! You should try it! It's iFun! (website still available) Let me know how you do...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I've been doing some fake news gathering

Housing Bubble Not Over

Washington D.C. – As the booming housing market of the last few years takes a downswing, National Association of Realtors, VP of Marketing Strategies, Mike Couven, says their new tact will be aiming at the third home market.
With affordable homes out of reach to nearly 90% of the population in some areas the NAR had to find new ways to keep the housing industry strong.
“Let’s face it,” Couven said, “Most of those that didn’t have one already bought their second homes in this last boom. We think going after the top 1% of earning households is the next logical step.” Not swayed by predictions of a market decline Couven is convinced the ‘third home’ is the new black.
The one two punch of keeping the price of houses artificially high – preventing the Have Nots from entering the current market – and adding more granite countertops, will make the acquisition of the third home more appealing to the Haves.
“The middle class is shrinking, there’s nothing we can do about that and there’s no money in affordable housing,” grins Couven, “So we are positioning housing as something unique, out of reach to most, something that makes them feel special like having a third Rolex or a third Mercedes Benz they never drive in their six car garage.”
Couven insists this is not a rental market he is trying to create but a totally unnecessary luxury market that will have a huge impact on the price of homes, particularly in desirable locations, such as locales where there remains a job market.
“We’re gonna keep gains in the double digits with this strategy. This could be huge, bigger than the last bubble.”

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Bee-stung lips and other ailments

I was just telling a friend of mine that I don't usually do the "let me tell you about the lousy day I had" blog posts too often. Because I don't want to seem like too much of a navel gazer because that is really boring for other people (besides me) and because it seems like when you read blogs randomly that is what they are all about. "I'm so pissed at my mom because she wouldn't like let me go to the mall because of some stupid thing about me coming in at 3am, like shah, like she didn't come in totally late the other night!" Just kidding. I don't even know if teenagers say 'totally' anymore. Probably not...

In any case, I feel compelled to complain because I am just so irritated with my various injuries primarily because they are all self-inflicted. You know when you bite yourself for no obvious reason? Then you have to be super careful not to do it again, but it never matters how careful you are because inevitably you do!? What a bummer. And what is the biting all about anyway? Is it your subconscious trying to tell you something? And if so, why the passive-aggressive thing, why not just come out and say it Subconscious? Come on, don't be shy, I can take it. Be honest with me... but it never does and before long the bite turns into or activates that virus that most of us have called the canker sore. Ugh! Throbbing all night. Not much sleep. Got up twice to do the masochistic baking soda pack on it. Eyes watering at 2 in the morning, then again at 3:30... ouch. Still upon awaking, it's still there. Why is it that no matter how much lysine, vitamin C, laying off sugar and baking soda packs you inclict on them the things stay around to torture you 3-5 days...

On top of that I have runners rash. This is my own fault for trying to get in shape and lose the two babies worth of fat which of course is layered primarily on the inner thigh, where runners rash appears naturally. The other night I resorted to applying the babies' diaper rash cream because I just could not take the burning and the everytime you put your legs together sting in the middle of the night. Seems unfair doesn't it? I mean, I am doing what Bob Greene, Oprah, Dr. Phil, Dr. Atkins, Runners World and Triathlete Magazine have TOLD me to do! Why am I being punished?

Then the other week I bumped into something at the gym which gave me a nasty and large bruise. Didn't hurt though unless I poked it, so my plan, don't poke it. But in the last 24 hours it has swollen - probably because of all that running and biking working the muscle the bruise is on. Now it just hurts hurts, poke, no poke.

Last night if I could get comfortable on my stomach then my canker started to throb. If I laid on my right side the runners rash pressed together and stung. If I laid on my left side my weight fell on my swollen bruise. Ugh!

You know, in a case like this, it would probably be easy to ask "Why me?" and in the middle of the night laying on my back on the sofa (did I mention the allergies are high at the moment so I can't breathe through my nose unless propped up? - sheez) I could have asked, but frankly, I was too tired. Blast. Hell. Damnation. Cripes.

Now, in the light of day and just as uncomfortable I am just mad, and ready to show my subconscious (or body, whomever it is that is trying to send me a message) and go workout after work today anyway! Ha! There! I'll just inflict more pain on you nasty buggers.

That'll show you, Subconscious!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Friends

I don't normally post twice a week let alone twice a day... but I got to thinking about my friends yesterday. Probably because we watched the documentary film "Be Here To Love Me" about Townes Van Zandt recently and watched the additional interviews last night. It is rife with interviews of friends of his and they clearly loved him dearly.

Got to wondering, if I were docu-worthy, what would my friends say about me? And then the mind, as it does, wandered to the question I'd been asked of late "What do all your friends have in common?"

I had a little bit of a revelation about myself as I answered this question in my mind. You see, my friends are brave women and some men all of them. They jumped in with both feet to friendship with me while I was more reserved. I think everyone holds a part of themselves back. But there is a difference between holding back sustinence for yourself and holding in reserve so that you might not be hurt - that is cowardice and I am guilty of it.

I think diving in to any sort of relationship, lover, friend, co-worker, child, with both feet and all your self is very courageous. I attribute the fact that I have many friends to their own bravery. I am still afraid, a little bit of the ugly goose feeling. I feel on some level that at any turn I might be pushed down and mocked. It is a remnant of some elementary school experience no doubt because that is about the maturity level. But there it is, right inside me.

It was a bit of a shocking revelation because I had always thought of myself as brave. But what I am is a good mediator. I am good at midgating pain. I'm not afraid of that and I'm not afraid to feel my emotions once they arrive. It's just the throwing oneself into the ring that frightens me.

I liked to chalk up my lack of bonds out here in exile to the area, the fact that we didn't know how long we'd be here, to 'those' people being so pedestrian and not creative and intellectual like the lovelies I left behind in LA. But really it is because I have not been brave enough, not willing to take the risk.

Wow. What a thing to find out about yourself... what a wonderful thing to find out about your friends though!

Derailed

You ever have one of those days where no matter how clear your goal is in your mind you just get... derailed?

Yesterday, I was determined to get my workout in (I have been going to the gym 6 days a week, I'm doing a program, you know the whole weight, cholesterol thing). I planned to leave work a little early because S.O. needed to get to a dinner work meeting. But then the phone rang and so I left just a few minutes late. Well, enough time, only need to get a short cardio in, I thought, I'll have time. I speed down the road to go pick up S.O.v.1 from preschool and I hit, of all things, traffic! Whawhawha-what? You have to understand, I live in the desert, in the OFF-season. There is barely 6 cars in a row during the season. There is never ever traffic in the off-season, that is just absurd.

I get S.O.v.1 and there is not enough time to get to the gym and then get home on time so that S.O. can get to his meeting. Nevermind, I think, I'll just go for a swim later. Our complex sports a pool that is almost long enough for a real lap swim workout. I have a new swimsuit (rather LARGER in size than my old triathlon swimsuit, :(...) and a new pair of goggles to try out.

I get little S.O.s to bed and await S.O.'s return home... I make a little visit to the restroom and who should appear!? My little friend. You remember ladies, before we couldn't say the words 'menstral cycle' or even 'period' without being moooooooortified! Damn, I say to myself. Then minutes later, the headache, the cramping, the ooogy in skin feeling, the runs... totally derailed.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More Mama Files

Sometimes I forget my own rules.

Last night I had a minor blow up at the little S.O.s. Poor kiddos. It was just all around a bad day and, you know the deal... anyway, S.O.v.1, the little charmer that he is, when I went in to tuck him in, asked me to explain to him why mama was so irritated. What a smarty, I mean, he's only 4! So, I explained the concept of mama's being cranky and what it means to be taken advantage of. He got it.

So, this evening as bathtime was coming to a close little mister S.O.v.1 decided that it was time to poo poo poo. He's a conservationist. He likes to limit his water usage, so he visits the toilet in this regard only every few days (no matter the pleading, prodding, insisting or introduction of fiber to his diet). Consequently, they are plunger-worthy (I know, it's gross, I hope you haven't just eaten). As I was weilding said instrument, S.O.v.2, who loves to flush the toilet, kept trying to flush, threatening to overflow the bowl. Patience held out only until she tried to grab the plunger. Ick! So I got mad, picked her up and removed her from the situation. This made her, understandably, upset.

Even after I managed the bathroom situation S.O.v.2 was still crying for mama. When I went in to her, looked into her little face, she seemed so confused. That's when I recalled the previous evening's conversation with S.O.v.1. See, even though I always made a point to explain things to him, I realized that I have been lax with her. Even though she is only 2 now it's still important. So, I gave her a brief explanation on how toilets are dirty and mama doesn't insist she doesn't touch things unless there is a good reason. I mean, who knows if she understood - but she does do very cute "unh huh"s, her version of nod and smile, no doubt. The point really is not the explanation. It is taking the time and effort to do it. That above all else, I discovered long ago with S.O.v.1, is what makes the impact. It is the face time, particularly if you have gotten mad and they have gotten scared.

I decided when he was born that I would give him the respect and dignity that he deserved. I must admit I am harder on S.O.v.2. Maybe it is because she is the second and I am busier, more harried. Maybe it is because she is a girl - we are always harder on the same sex child, I believe. But maybe it is just that I forgot my own rules.

And whala! the behavior that had driven me crazy and set me off the night before disappeared tonight. Sometimes yelling or insisting "Because I'm the mama and I say so" seems like the easy way or short cut to compliance in the moment. And it can be a stop gap. There are times when a short cut is necessary. But for overall peace and harmony the long way is the best way. There is something to showing your child that you not only believe that they are smart enough to understand why but have a right to know. Compliance may seem welcome but understanding is better. Don't get me wrong, I will take blind compliance when I can get it but I just think instilling a sense of self worth in a child is an opportunity not to be missed. It is a great way to show them they matter, to say, "You're worthy of an explanation".

Rule duly noted.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Illusion of Love

I watched "Must Love Dogs" last night, a film essentially about finding 'the one' and then tonight as I was washing dishes I watched "One Tree Hill". I usually stop on it for at least a little while when surfing because of Chad Michael Murray. No! Not because I think he's dreeeeeamy but because I worked with him on "The Lone Ranger" when I still lived in L.A. - BE (Before Exile). It's that loyalty for no reason thing, and because he is genuinely a nice guy. OK, he's a little dreamy.

Annnnnyway, as I'm washing dishes I'm thinking this show is all about who's doing who, except it's more than that, it's about who's falling in love with whom. Clearly, it's aimed at teenage girls... But so many shows and movies come down to that one magical thing; love. Who doesn't want to be loved! I mean, come on, it's fundamental. But I realized that it is also an illusion. Love, more than anything else really can give you a sense of well being that goes beyond temporary. It's good to feel loved. It's good to love. But the message, when love is portrayed in movies and television (and I am generalizing here), seems to be the only work you need to do is to FIND it. Then you're done. Satisfaction for the rest of your life. (OK, I know one shouldn't really be philosphizing over a sink full of dishes and normally I don't do them at all, but my dishwasher is in Santa Barbara at the moment. S.O.'s working making money for the family, work that is non-existent here in the desert during the summertime, so I am playing single mom for three weeks. Washing dishes just takes way too long, too much time to think!)

But that is the illusion isn't it? That is the destructive force, that idea, that it's couldn't be that you stopped appreciating your loved one, or started acting disrespectful or taking them for granted (because when you treat someone poorly you subconsciously feel bad, and when you feel bad about the way you have behaved your psyche tends to try to find the path of least resistence which is find the person you have mistreated deplorable for some reason and therefore justify your mistreatment). No, it's that they are not 'the one'. You have 'stopped loving them' you don't know why you just did and can't anyone tell that is not your own fault! You know, I get that love fades and sometimes doesn't stand up to life. I mean, hell I've been divorced twice! I do get that.

It's just that I think there are destructive and distracting ideas about love that float around the world. It is great to be in love but it is not the only thing that can give one a sense of well being. And frankly, I think there is so much focus on 'love' and finding it, and the right 'one' that there is less energy left for all the other parts of life. There are lots of things that can give you that sense of well being; music, eating, laughing... There are also many things in this world that need our attention.

I guess, I just get annoyed that the real struggles don't seem to be portrayed. And maybe it's because we can't figure out how. Many of life's other struggles are internal and have more to do with fighting your own demons than embracing someone else. It has always been the same of course. Finding love is the most titilating part of the story and has been memorialized in every kind of human expression there is... the rest is... work.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Global Warming Training

We spent a lovely three days in Santa Barbara and arrived home to the desert to... 120 degrees... plus hot wind...

Hell. It actually is very hell like. Just as we were driving up some neighbors of ours were escaping to cooler climes for the night. And a no wonder. Our airconditioner is struggling to reach 90 on the thermostat temperture monitor (that's as high as it goes) and not quite there yet after three hours at home. Who knows what temp it really is in here. Sweaty. That is a few degrees beyond sticky right? I mean, I am sitting here, inside my home, with all the windows and door closed and I am sweating.

As we left Santa Barbara we stopped at Vons for water and cookies for the ride home. The checker said it was "awful" outside... oh if he only knew. What a wimpy!

The only upside that I can think of is that this just might come in handy if we can't manage to get out collective head out of our collective rear and insist that something be done about global warming. It's like astronauts. They train in a weightless enviornment to simulate what they will be dealing with while in space. We are getting our global warming simulator right here in the (sometimes beautiful) Coachella Valley! All the wealthy people move here to golf and relax but leave when the going gets hot. But us full time residents who have no extended relocation choice must suffer through the painful heat and the excrutiating electric bill. The wealthy are so dumb. If they were smart they'd actually STAY here for the summer. Come on, suck it up! But no, they won't. What they don't realize is, us po' fok is creating an uber-race that will be able to withstand temps like no one else.... maybe the meek shall inherit the earth... when it's ALL 120 degrees!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Summer sick

There is nothing worse than being sick in the summer time. But in the desert it's actually not so bad. When temps are pushing north of 110 and the wind is blowing hot and dry, like someone please close the oven door!, then it is a little bit of a blessing in disguise.

I dread the countdown to the end of summer - not as some of you who are NOT in exile in the desert might - but dread the length of it. So any few days that can eliviate some of the boredom and cabin fever are welcome. See, when you're sick of course you don't lament not being able to go outside so much.

But this summer we have had 2 weeks plus of illness. The little Significant Others have been cold and flu on and off and throw in a couple goopy eyes and allergic reactions and you have sick soup. Finally, this week S.O. and I caught it. For as many germs were flying around our house I think we did pretty well fending off the sick!

Finally it seems we are all on the mend and I am so grateful. There is nothing worse than watching your little ones suffer. Maybe now I might get some regular sleep.

And the countdown to coolness - only 2 1/2 months to go! Ummm... rah?... or maybe ugh...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Summer - Ugh!

This is what I thought as I ran around the desert this morning, taking S.O.v.1 to the doctor to have them check his TB shot and fill out the paperwork for his preschool, "ugh! Summer is here". At least it's the end of June I thought, meaning that there are really only 3 or maybe 3 1/2 ungodly months left of this heat. Only a few more months till I can feel normal again, go back to waking up only a couple times a night (aircon, smaircon! your body still registers the atmosphere even if you are in your cool little coop) and only a few more months till my head stops hurting.

It will get up to 110 today. But with the cloud cover it is downright muggy. It is true what they say about dry heat. But after 110 all bets are off. I don't care if it's muggy, not muggy, raining, raining locusts (which we do get here)... anything after that is just irritating. You walk to the car - you sweat. You start the car - sweat. Wait for aircon to kick in - swear. And the more in-out errand running you do the more you think to yourself "Now, I live here why again?" The locals used to say "Nine months of paradise" in the summer to me... yes, true, give or take, depending on the state of global warming.

I remember my first summer when I met a very lovely older lady who'd moved here in the 60's. Imagine the state of airconditioning then! S.O.v.1 and I were getting some ice cream at the Rite Aid (what was wrong with the name Thrifty, by the way? Not that it is that cheap anymore, maybe they felt bad because their prices really weren't 'thrifty' anymore. It was much easier to say anyway) and I asked her how long it would take to get used to the summer heat. "Three years," she says "but if (she) is really being honest (she) ought to say six". Grand. She was about right though and now that I am at the start of Summer Number Four my threshold for pain has risen. It used to top out at 104 - anything after that and I was miserable. Now, at least I am at a hummin' 110. After that, I am downright cranky till the temperature comes down...

And don't ask me to nip out to the Rite Aid for a pint of ice cream either!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Facade

I did not sleep well last night. Probably because I slept intermittantly throughout the day, that sleep of fending off a sore throat that makes the nighttime a toil. So, as I was wandering around the empty bed, S.O. is working in Santa Barbara this week, I thought it silly to toss and turn so I checked my email... of course. Hasn't the computer replaced the TV as the insomniacs drug of choice? So, there was a link to a speech given by Barack Obama at the recent Take Back America conference. I was struck by his sincerity and 'realness' for lack of a better word. He strikes me as someone who is entirely comfortable in his skin, comfortable with who he is and confident in his ability to do his own life.

And so, tonight, I am watching Oprah as I am washing the dishes and it is all about women who have lived secret lives. And it struck me that there are a lot less Barack Obama's in this world than there are people living secret lives. Even if the secret is something small and not devastating, it is still a secret and it still prevents you from being completely who you are.

But then that is the way our society is set up. We are particularly allergic to peculiarities in human beings and by and large prefer neat little packages, even if they are false. And isn't credit card use chasing that dream? Of being a neat little package? Don't we all think we are SUPPOSED to be neat little packages - logical, attractive, sensibly put together personalities - and I don't necessarily mean just the 'preppy/conservative' types, but also the 'artistic' types and the 'deep' and the 'wild' and the 'bad boy' and the 'quirky'... isn't any type really at its core a facade? Isn't hypocracy really a facade in denial?

We seem to have a problem with sincere truth in this country at the same time that 'reality' is a commodity - on television certainly. If we all felt that we were truly being seen, for who we are, if we all felt that we were acceptable just the way were are in the world; if we all felt that it was OK to be incongruent as a person and have pieces that just didn't seem to fit; would we really be so susceptible to marketing? Would we have elected a man whom, as the media kept telling us we liked, we wanted to have a beer with?

I propose we, America, as a society, are in the middle of an identity crisis. We are, afterall, about, oh... in our 20s as a country. As cultures go we are youthful. And didn't you all hit 25 and look about you and think, "What the hell am I doing with my life!? What have I accomplished yet?"

The problem now is that any accomplishment short of multimillionaire-hood or creativegenius-hood at 25 anymore is considered 'not worthy'. Gone are the days when a woman at 25 with 2 children could think, "I'm contributing to society". Gone are the days when a college graduate at 25 can look back and think, "I did what only, some 30% of Americans accomplish. I've learned so much". Gone are the days when a body can look back at 6 or 7 years of hard work and say, "I've gotten three raises and two promotions".

And forget asking the question at 30! We dare not! At 35, 40... "OH MY GOD! I'M A LOSER!" jumps immediately to mind if you aren't overseeing a vast, wealthy foundation ala Bill Gates or some such. I blame the 'champagne wishes and caviar dreams' dude. Remember him? "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", Robin Leach. In the 80's? The ME generation, led by, who else, a Republican. It all looked so romantic. Add to that MTV, a randy and budding generation of teens - not that I mean to dis my own generation but... really guys, we did buy it - and you have recipe for overeating, overspending, overdrinking/drugging/smoking. We have tremendous debt in this country. We have a huge meth problem. We have a huge prescription drug problem - and I don't just mean Rush Limbaugh, there are others too. We have a HUGE greed problem. If this is not a "grab all I can get for me" time in our history, I don't know what is!

Its symptoms are all over the place. The national debt. The personal debt in this country and severe lack of savings. The HOUSING BOOM, can I just say... The war! What about this country right now is NOT a facade? Honesty is at a premium in this administration and competance and sincerity are at a premium in the world at large in our country. When was the last time someone did something, they were being paid to do, right and DIDN'T give you attitude doing it? We are so 20-something floundering for direction and meaning right now.

Living anything less than honest with oneself is less than living. It is time we wake up and stop just smelling the coffee! Damnit, drink some and get with it! We have a country to save. We have our own lives to save... otherwise, let's just try to imagine the mental health crises that will arises in this country when people finally are so maxed out on credit cards they need to declare bankruptcy but can't. All the Iraq and Afganistan vets return home from wars unwon and perhaps unwinable. The houses we live in crush us under the weight of thier cost. The latest scandal is pushed under the Rove, I mean rug. The health crisis when our weight crushes us and we have no insurance to cover it. The underemployment crisis.

It's coming. It is inevitable. It's frightening.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

From The Mama File

I have discovered, in my four years of parenting, that it saves a Mama a lot of time and hassle if you tell your kids what is going on. For instance, when you awake in the morning if you say "Junior, this morning Mama is going to go to work and Daddy will take care of you all day and then when Mama gets home after your sleepy nap we can make dinner together" then you have just alleviated potential melt downs. Sure, you may be stuck with the whining, there may be no parenting skill to get around that. But isn't it better than throw-self-on-floor-scream?

I had been very good about doing this with S.O.v.1 but have been more lax with S.O.v.2 and am feeling the effects. I am not talking enough about what is going on in the day. I used to do this all the time, make a running commentary on the day, i.e. "As soon as Mama gets done cleaning the toilet I think we should go have a snack. What do you think?" It worked wonders and we went through terrible 2s with little fuss... not just terrible 2s but terrible 2s with new baby in the house. Now that new baby is 2 we are seeing real fuss I have been wondering what the hell is going on. It occured to me that I have let down my commentary guard. It is so easy to let the complication of a second child divert one onto the short road. But the short road often has road blocks to progress. Like, trying to get out the door and child is clinging leach-like so that you can't actually get out the door. It made me realize that had I just taken the time to talk to the leach I'd be there by now!

So, the moral is, always tell the kids what is going on in their world. "We're gonna have some breakfast and then Mama is going to leave for work" It's the same working principle for leaving the park. I think all Mamas know about the 10 minute warning. If you think about it, too, it is only fair. Imagine you had not kind of control on your day and how it played out - I mean, really no control - you'd be fussy too. It is somewhat akin to being in prison, but the guards love you... wait, that may not be the best analogy... but you see what I mean. And frankly, the more I talk the easier and more enjoyable my Mama life is. It's worth a few extra breaths to avoid the naughty corner!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Brought on by the new work life of the 21st Century

torpid \TOR-pid\, adjective:

1. Having lost motion or the power of exertion and feeling; numb; benumbed.
2. Dormant; hibernating or estivating.
3. Dull; sluggish; apathetic.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Problem With Being An Assistant

The problem with being an assistant, I suspect, lies in the title and it's rung on the ladder, not the job description. Your employer, if all you are is their 'assistant', understands you to be vaguely necessary but an entirely replaceable commodity. You are not a real human being. You are not a person. You are only the work. If your work gets done, you are worthy. If your work does not get done, you are annoying. But worse, if you create your own work, then you are a thorn in some uncomfortable, inconvenient location.

To assist someone is to assume that they are the creator and you yourself merely a helper and, as such, do not have any inherent value in and of yourself. This goes, having been an assistant now for many years to several employers, along for both your personal self and your work self. To expect that an employer care about you personally is to expect too much. To expect that they care about what you create at work is to be dillusional. No, only what you create on their behalf to their glory is of value.

I have always had, in these positions, the sneaking suspicion that I was not really 'there'. Not me personally. I mean, certainly the presence of 'someone', some body has always been acknowledged as being there, and to my credit and to my employers' (whom I don't mean to dis here, by the way) acknowledgment of work well done was always forthcoming. However, as a very wise woman once told me, you can't have someone that close and that important to the daily workings of your life and your family and not eventually get on each others' nerves.

It is true I now find. And I know this because it has been replicated in my work experience a number of times. The first year is always bliss. You are learning, they are feeling confident in your work and in their smart choice of you. The second year is hunker down and get some work done. But as the third and fourth years wear on, something else happens. Just as they are relying on you more, to do more and varied tasks they begin to resent you. It's not conscious or by any means intentional. It just happens. So just as they are giving you more responsiblilities and more freedom to control your own work they are resenting you more and more.

I have heard it likened to parent child relationship. But it is not so much so as it is teacher student, where the student is being held back for yet another year and neither he nor the teacher quite know why. Maybe there are some that can stomach it, fake it, but no soul can thrive as an assistant forever. At some point you need to move on and accomplish your own work, of your own accord without having to attribute it to someone else.

How exactly to accomplish this leap out into the open world is yet another story. I think we miss something very fundamental to human existence without the paradigm of apprenticeship. Within it is the understanding that, in the end, the daily relationship will be severed and the apprentice will be sent out on his own. Whether there is material aid given to help the apprentice in this process is not of much consequence in the long run. But the idea that there is a necessary end to a working relationship where the apprentice will have made a step forward into his own work, I think, is primary to what work stands for to the human being. We love the learning process, we love the helping process, but one cannot remain in it forever. To be an assistant is to constantly be in a position to help someone else with their work. At some point one's own knowledge must be put into practice.

For the employer, this is a necessary renewal, that can invigorate his business and himself. Who wants to be in the position of 'teaching' the same items over and over to the same class? That must be the teacher's idea of purgatory. And to be in a position of suspicion, of resentment towards your employee is not good. "Do they know too much about my family life?", "Could this come back to haunt me one day?", "Are they taking advantage of me?", "Will they leave me in the middle of all these projects that I don't know much about because they have taken the lead?" That can't be a fun dialogue to have in one's head.

I suppose the equivilant in the corporate world is promotion. But of course when that does not happen for some people, as surely statistically, it must not, then resentments can run both ways. Relying on someone else is always a precarious situation to put oneself in. But the ways and areas in life where this is necessary are numerous. This may be a large part of anxiety for us all. We all depend on the government for myriad tasks to be accomplished. We all rely on them to protect and serve us. We all want to work well and be compensated well. When this is not in balance, as I propose it currently is not in our country, then unrest in inevitable. And as we know, unrest leads to miscreant behaviour.

Logical progressions are a must to human societies and relationships. There seem to be several areas in our society anymore where these are lost. Labor is underpaid at this moment in time in numerous areas - this had led to (albeit an Administration orchestration of one) unrest and unease with immigrant labor, though it has always easily surrounded us since the beginning of time! There is an unease in the way we live caused by the methed-out youth and celebrity culture and the way it is exhibited at the moment. Who would be using credit if they didn't "just have to have" that Kate Spade bag or that bitchin' Harley? There is unease in the way our Administration is conducting our country but we have been cast as the "assistant" to it. We can only praise and encourage, if we question we are fired as insubordinate.

Gone are the logical progressions of entry level for low pay, moving on to more responsibility and more pay. Promotion and supervision in middle age with enough pay to acquire those things one might have hankered for in their youth. Experience leading to position. These things are skewed as we send the message to youth that they should be living a million dollar lifestyle on a $20,000 a year job - or less. The requirements of life are more yet the resources available are less. Open dialogue leading to considered decision making. Leaps are being made all over the place. We are expecting to go from A to P in a short time. Kids are sexual younger. Kids are in debt younger. Kids are unhappy about the future younger. And workers are stuck in roles where they are now and will remain forever assistants to someone else's life's work. Service industries are just that and that is what this country is becoming. In the service industry you are not allowed to partner alongside the company to create, you are to do what is expected and no more.

It is an uncomfortable, disheartening, anxiety producing position to be in, being an assistant over staying their apprenticeship. I suspect many more Americans than me are in this same fix.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

This Is New

So, I just turned down a job that I would really have loved to have done... because the pay was so little. Now, for me, under normal past circumstances I would have taken the job, suffered and made excuses for THEM! But in talking to my family about the offer last evening my mom said something that struck home "That offer is insulting! You have more self worth than that, and if you take the position you are saying to yourself that you don't". Good point mom.

After I had mulled all night about what to say and how to say it I sent out my decline email (everything is done by email these days!) and when I hit send a little voice inside me said "Bravo, Daniela" I haven't heard that voice in a long time. It was really good to hear from it again.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Cleaning!

I realize why cleaning seems like such a chore. I mean, of course it is, literally a chore that one must do. But it feels like a chhhhhooooore. I just cannot embrace the domestic goddess within. Why? I blame women's lib. See, the gals who picketed, burned their bras and entered the workforce in force were brought up to believe that they would, with certainty, be housewives. Certainly then there was a certain level of acceptance about the tasks that would have to be undertaken and so they might have even been able to find a level of peace about it.

But blast it if I cannot even find a way to get good with this damned endless job. And I think I have it figured out. See, we were brought up to believe (us Gen Xers and after) that we would be career women! We have a sense of entitlement that we would not be lowered to 'that'. Kind of the same way that, oh MEN feel about housecleaning. Now I happen to be super lucky because my S.O. loves to wash dishes. In fact, I think he finds it soothing, he's almost offended sometimes if I have washed them first. But that's a whole 'nother story.

We look down on cleaning. We looked down on it when our mother's did it. Isn't "women's work" a disparaging remark? How can one feel good about doing something that almost everyone looks down on and thinks of as menial, unskilled and uneducated labor? And because everyone looks down on it, no one appreciates it. Because we don't look at it as a valuable task it never lasts! I can clean the floor and two hours later it's a mess again. I mean, that alone makes me want to throw up hands and give up. But housecleaning is the battle that is never won. Who is it that said "Housecleaning will expand to the time alloted to it"?

So, what is the solution? Martha Stewart hasn't helped much. Gone, mostly, are the commercials with women cleaning. Now we have cartoon characters and slender actresses in chinos and well pressed blouses in complexion accenting colors cleaning without sweating. There are too many products but not enough validation. The only collective goal is to get it done with the least amount of work possible. Time was when the woman jumped for joy because her floor cleaner worked exceptionally well, now we have the woman jumping for joy because the MAID did it for her! This does nothing to help those of us come to grips with it that have to do it every day.

UGH.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Wish That They Knew

It's hard to keep the waves of grief at bay. I wondered why I seemed more sad when my uncle died in October last year than when my grandfather died just last month. But it's not really true. It just comes in different ways.

The last time I lost someone I loved to death I was in college. He was my best friend and he was murdered. Grief then was orderly and by the book. A wale of tears, an hilarious wake full of friends and love and gratefulness just to have known him, a funeral that honored what he was in his life; and then the sadness faded like red fades to pink in the sunshine over time. I still have, amongst my own, a t-shirt he loved and wore so often that by the time I got it it was already threadbare. His mother gave it to me and it was as if she had given me his most valuable thing in the world. I wear it sometimes when I think of him.

But somehow with my own family members it has been a more sporatic and surprising process. I never know what thought will make me laugh or make me cry. I think of my grandparents as people in a place as much as people I love. Somehow I mourn to them not being in 'thier place' any longer, though there was no particular love for the place itself. It only holds power because they inhabit it.

And I have more regrets. My love for my friend was whole hearted and in the moment. It felt GOOD. We could hug and kiss and fight and laugh at and with each other. There were no complications. And so there were no regrets.

There are 'things' that I regret with my grandfather and my uncle. I regret I never sent my uncle dates from Shields as he asked and I promised I would. Even after he sent me an email telling me he was ready to eat again, I still did not send them. That is the ugly part of me. The part that is scared and stingy and only looking out for myself.

I regret I never wrote my grandfather a letter. Just to him. I wrote many letters, addressed to them both or to my grandma and I sent many emails to my grandpa. But to send a letter, handwritten, is to say in a way "you are worthy of my time" that no other modern gesture can duplicate.

I spent a moment feeling it unfair that death should have come to them and so close together. But it is not the unfairness of their death that stings, but the unfairness of what I did not get from their lives. It is what I did not take from them, did not impose on them comfortable for them or not that I regret. It is the unbridled enthusiasm that I felt for my love for my friend that I wish I would have imposed on them both. I wish I were the little girl and could hurl myself at them each, bodily hugging and holding them and telling them with every inch of myself how glad I am they are in the world. I will have to do it now only in spirit... as long as they know.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Transition

Ever get that odd oogooey feeling, like you don't belong in your skin, your town, your house, your job? I got that.

Well, I dunno what it is, grief, change in the family. Easter maybe. But things seem to be swirling around in the universe and I seem unable to embrace them. Means always, these weird uncomfortable in your skin times, that you are changing, growing.

I'm always able to enjoy when say, things are rough or difficult... and of course when things are going smoothly. I have never been able however to enjoy and being in the moment, go with the flow, in these awkward times. And I realize that is perfectly normal - for me. I am not good with awkward. When I feel awkward I become the worst of myself. Cranky, disgruntled, onery and worse, whiny. Ah, whiny. I hate doing it, I hate hearing it... but sometimes, I know, one just has to whine.

I whine. Waaaaaaaaaaa! See ya when I am feeling more my 'good' self.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

They May Rue The Day

I keep thinking about generational forces. My Grandmother was just this past weekend moved to an Assisted Living facility (they need to find a better name for it, this one doesn't exactly trip off the tongue) and as my Mom or sister would explain some particularity of my Grandma's the staff would just nod and say "We've seen that before".

And then I read an article recently in the latest issue of Details Magazine about Generation X, the forgotten, passed over, overlooked, underappreciated generation. The author laments our fate as if lamenting is going to do anything to change our situation. I can't say as I disagree with anything he says, I just don't feel like lamenting it.

But I do look forward to the day, perhaps when my own mother is old enough to need some help living out her days, when the Baby Boom generation has to be taken care of by their own (mostly, and some of my generation's as well actually) spawn, the thirteeners, or Generation Y, who are generally self-centered, money and thing-oriented. You can call it technology or fashion or information technology or entertainment or whatever you want but it is all still stuff! The Baby Boom generation may rue the day they screamed to the Greatest Generation (Tom Brokaw's nomiker, not mine) that no one over 30 should be trusted. Well, funnily enough, guess they never thought they would experience it, but they are now all weeeeellllll over 30 and getting ready to retire.

Now the Baby Boomers are busily criticizing the children they raised as materialistic and impatient. I wonder why that is? The Baby Boomers changed the world, there is no doubt about that - they changed it for the better when they protested the Vietnam War and segregation and for women's rights - but then they changed it for the worse as they bought in to corporate culture to make a living and became 'the man' of the corporate world. The Boomers innovations in the corporate world include mass marketing - of stuff - and mass layoffs. What happened to their idealism once they themselves hit the workforce? Maybe they were right, you can't trust anyone over 30 to have a vision for the country. Isn't the current Administration largely made up of Boomers? And look how they have changed the world!

All that self-righteous, self-satisfied assurance that they were right from their protest days filed neatly into their work lives. But what world have they created? It is a consummer culture now. What good does a consummer culture do for a person who can no longer consume? How much fun is it to be sitting in the nursing home alone while your spawn are off shopping? If Generation Y were, in effect, taught to love only youth and beauty then how will they feel about their wrinkly old parents? And by that time their rapidly wrinkling selves will require quite a lot of plastic surgery and treatments to keep that youthful, pouty look. Where will they find time for that quaint old-timey pastime, human interaction? And will they look good doing it? Will any of the nursing staff notice their new Prada handbag, cause if they don't, really, what's the point.

I guess fighting the man makes one forget that eventually you will yourself become the man and then the old man who needs the new man to take care of you. Creating a fighting, 'I'm right, I deserve' kind of culture is not really very self-serving in the long run, is it? I wonder if Boomers are wondering where the time went and what cause they will fight now. Perhaps a little more understanding and respect from the get-go might have served them in the long term. We are now in a place where we don't see or hear 'old folks', just the way when Boomers were children they were not meant to be seen or heard. Funny how you end up more like your parents than you ever thought you would.

Wonder if the Boomer will have the energy to now fight the youth culture they created so that as oldsters they can be seen and heard.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Another Loss

On March 31st my grandfather passed away. It is a very sad loss but at 90 no real shock. Less than 6 months back my uncle, his youngest son, died. Ironically, March 31 was my uncle's birthday. What no doubt was already going to be a heartwrenching day for my grandmother, mother and other uncle was made all the worse by the loss of my grandfather.

He was a towering man, my grandpa, at a little over 6 feet tall I remember always having to crane my neck to look up to him... but look up I did. He was often stern and was elusive; at work most of the time during our visits to my grandparents as a child. But he could be spectacularly funny. One of his favorite games was attempting to make my sister and I laugh so hard at the dinner table milk would spit out our little noses. He succeeded several times. I have very vivid memories of he, my uncles and my mom, getting together and cracking jokes over the old slides at Christmas time. We'd laugh until we had to hold our sides.

But what was also a part of my grandfather's life was his enormous disappointment. He was constantly trying to find a way not to do it. Not that he turned to God or prayer or positive thinking or anything like that. It was almost as if his disappointment in his life was involuntary, an inherited family trait there was no shaking off. And it may have been. His own mother was stern and no fan of critical thinking. My grandpa spent his life as a professor of international relations, at San Francisco State, U.C. Berkeley and retiring finally from U.S.C. Many were, but his mother was not amoung them, impressed by his accomplishments.

My grandmother recalls too a time when he was being considered as Secretary of State for Robert Kennedy. His specialty was the Middle East and it was nothing but a huge regret that I was unable to pick his brain in the past few years about what he knew. He made several trips to Saudi Arabia to meet with shieks in his research at U.S.C. His work was mysterious and I believe he liked it that way. But my sister and I would attempt to put the pieces together to what he was working on during our summer visits when we were old enough to help. Helping consisted of cutting out articles he had circled in various newspapers from around the world and pasting them with rubber cement on 3x5 cards that my grandma would then organize. British papers, I remember, were like crepe paper and you darn't put too much rubber cement on them or you'd smear the print on the other side.

In these past 4 or 5 years he struggled with dementia. For a man who spent his life making his living with his mind it was a critical, nasty blow to lose it. It was to him almost like the world was saying "you're work is nothing". I know he already felt that way having not garnered the kind of respect and notariety for his work at U.S.C. that he thought, and very likely did, deserve. He was a first user of the Internet when computers were still gigantic noisy machines spinning away in cool rooms in basements. I remember a trip to see them as a kid, years before field trips to Berkeley's computer lab and 'pictures' of bunny images programmed into giant computers and spit out by dot matrix printers. He was probably 20 years before his time.

I'd like to think that I learned alot from my grandpa. But that would be sentimentalizing and not true. I did learn something about the enormous, destructive power of disappointment. His alone stunted the growth of our entire family in so many ways and it was not until becoming a mother myself did I finally sorted it all out. But it was a heavy armor to wear for him and I think he felt, until very, very late, unable to shake it and appreciate people just for who they were.

He was disappointed in his career. And he was disappointed in his children. I see in each of them how they dealt with it. My Uncle Tom just checked out. My Uncle Ty alternated between checking out and fighting. My mother, herself, decided to not be disappointed in anything and for the most part she has been successful. I too as a teen and a young woman adopted a stance of 'no regrets' which is very satisfying in a way but eventually you find that if there is not a shred of regret then learning is sacrificed too. I have now begun to come to term with regrets and disappointments of my own career. It is not easy certainly but my goal is primarily not to inflict it upon my children.

It can't have been easy to bear children after a catastrophic World War, nor to raise them in an inevitably changing world, nor for that matter to have grown up in the midst of the Depression. My grandfather's life spanned almost all the major changes of the 20th century. I can't imagine how you go from being an adolescent living on a farm to being a university professor and being one of the first on the Internet. It is almost too much to fathom, the changes that he and my grandmother have experienced. Considering how little the world changed for so long before he hit the earth and how much it changed whilst he was here, he did pretty darned well.

I will always remember rolling on his belly and him laughing me off. He strived so hard to make something of himself and at times it seemed as if the right people didn't notice. His life though is proof to me that I was loved, that learning is important and that disappointment is not. I hope that now he can remember the joy of laughing a little adoring girl off his belly too.