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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!