Tuesday, July 28

Adhesives, Fasteners, and Other Tools of the Evil Empire

Lest you be concerned that I have, in my ventures into the deep world of contemplation, cogitation, and M&Ms, forgotten the true spirit and original intention of this blog, here is my offering for today:


Here's what I don't get. I don't get why they put adhesives that would stick a wing onto a 747 well enough to last a polar route flight from the west coast to Europe on the back of labels on food containers. It's not like other adhesives don't exist. We've all gotten those products where you reach for the label, grab a corner, and peel and that nice little "riiiiip" sound accompanies the easy and complete removal of the label. Niiice. And then we've probably all bought nice little salad containers (or something kind of like them) like the above where the label is just tucked inside the container--not adhered AT ALL. What a concept. You just take it out, throw it in the recycling (you do put all your paper in the recycling, right?), wash the container, and then you're all set. And then you have this. Yeah, the this in the picture. The label that will never come off. Not with that goo-gone kinda stuff (not that I love using that nastiness anyway). Not with soaking in hot water. Not with the dishwasher. The print just fades and fades and years later you've still got a thin paper coating around the outside of the container. What the hell is that adhesive they're using? And for the love of god, WHY do they use it??

Which brings me to bread ties. What's up with the bread ties? Yeah, I own those clippy things, probably a hundred of 'em. I even know how to use them. So there. But you know, you get that nice loaf of bread home, and you want to open it up and make yourself a yummy piece of toast, and you look at it, and dammit, it's got this thing on there:


I don't get that at all. Common denominator, anyone? Adhesive!!

What is with putting this kind of tie on a loaf of bread (or in this case, Portugese raisin English Muffins, ohmygodyum)? It's not even a tie. It's a little adhesive tag thing that is not possible to separate and nearly impossible to cut off, so you inevitably end up ripping the bag open just to get the tag off, so now the bag is not only not recloseable but also the contents has to be put into an entirely new bag that can be resealed for freshness. Like I've got money for ziploc bags growing on trees. Whatever happened to those little impale yourself so you need a tetanus shot paper over a little wire twist ties? Or even those stupid little plastic things that are on bread from the grocery store (I don't really get those either, but all things are relative, and they do reclose bags, if poorly, so they've earned their omission from this rant)? You'd think the person or company who made the baked goods would actually like us to get into the bag so that we could enjoy the fruits of their labor, rather than simply admiring the baked goods from the other side of a semi-impermeable barrier, no? Or maybe their only real interest is in our buying it--once we get it home, it's none of their concern ("let it rot, see if I care"). Capitalism. Sheesh.

Glad I'm back? :)

Me too.

Well.....Hi. Here, have some M's.

I've been away. Maybe you've noticed.

I've got a lot to say about why I've been away, why I stopped writing, what stopped me, and what I learned from it. For the moment, let's just say: A lot. Okay?

The good news (at least on my end, can't speak for you) is that this is one of those things. You know. It's like jumper cables. Once I've started again, I'm back (at least I think so, that's the way it usually works, we'll see). I hope so.

At the moment, I just have to sit and shake my head and wonder at the utter irony of what is actually bringing me back to this space, right here, right now. The thing, the huge thing, that got me to write again. Because you know, there have been a lot of close calls. It isn't like I haven't had things to write. I have. Every day. I've had a "ooh, that's a great post for today" feeling every day. But I haven't been able to get myself to get here and write. Until today. And so this day, this motivating event, carries with it some sort of heft. What is it that could move me so?

M & M's.

Yeah. Really.

Well, and a little irony, too. I love irony. Can't claim to know it had jumpstarting powers, but hey, there are plenty of mysteries remaining in the universe that elude our understanding. Can't know everything.

So. M&M's. I have always known that M&M's had some sort of deeper role to play than simply being a snacky delicious good thing that melts in your mouth not in your hand, which is not really quite true, but it was a catchy slogan. I always knew, since my childhood days in which, whenever I got my grubby hands on some M&M's, I would arrange them in little pyramids by color, which I know will prompt you to wonder if I am that anal about everything, which will prompt me to tell you that I am the least anal, like the-other-side-of-the-world-from-anal, person you have ever met, it's just that I really like to line up M&M's in little pyramids especially on the little glass table in the TV room in my parents house, and now I'm going to stop using the word anal because it's starting to really gross me out when I'm trying to focus on the deliciousness of M&Ms. I will say, though, that the brown ones are always the base of the pyramid because there's the most of those in a package, which really isn't right, but there are some things in life you can't control, and that's one of them. I will also say that when you make pyramids, you sometimes have to go back to the bag to get a few more M&Ms so that you can complete the pyramid neatly and symmetrically, which I think is kinda self-reinforcing for making M&M pyramids. I'm not sure, but I think so.

Now, mind you, this was in the days before blue M&M's. And there was even a time when there were no red M&Ms (I'm wondering if I'm making a serious faux pas capitalizing the M, when they are more lower case kinda things, but I'm in over my head now, so I'm sticking to it). And there certainly were no buy one color that you like or print your goofy little wedding logo on an M&M kind of things. There were just the regular old colors. And when they brought in blue, well, I just didn't think that was right. But, trusting in the gods as I do, I knew they must have a reason. So I didn't send them a letter or anything, even though I would have preferred purple.

And now, here we are today. July 28. And the mystery has been revealed. If you wait long enough, it always happens. I think it's called faith, although I think for most people faith and M&M's are really two different conversations. Their loss.

This morning, I was bopping around on facebook like I sometimes do, and I took a look at an article that a friend posted about the false goodness of Vitamin Water. I like Vitamin Water, especially the new 10 calorie kind, which is really 25 calories if you drink the whole bottle, which you obviously do, but still. So I read it, and basically, I thought they were going a little overboard comparing it to Coke (which I also love but very rarely drink and which, coincidentally, I used last week to get rust off my daughter's old bike). I cogitated a while on the extreme reactions of people these days to additives and artificial stuff and the return to locally grown goodness, all of which I think is important and a good thing, but is kind of a turnoff when people are hysterical about it rather than informative. And you know, one of the things people are most hysterical about are food colorings. That's why the red M&M's disappeared. Red Dye #2. And they've got a good point. There's plenty of evidence that food colorings seem to be associated with behavior issues in kids, which is really interesting and is a REALLY good reason to monitor them more carefully and, when possible, avoid them.

Which brings us to the headline I witnessed as I continued to bop around the web.

Warning: If you are an ardent animal rights advocate who cannot tolerate the idea or any images of animals used for medical research, you should probably not go on, because there's a picture and a description you really won't like. And if that scares you because you think there's gonna be terrible pictures of disfigured animals so you don't want to go on even if you aren't an AARA, don't worry. It's not that bad.

Today, my friends, we are talking about Brilliant Blue G (aka BBG), which is very similar to the food coloring compound used to color those newfangled blue M&Ms.

Come on. You knew it too. You knew that M&Ms were gonna save the world. Admit it.

So (drum roll please)...it turns out that BBG, administered promptly (it has to be given right away, it's just given by IV) after spinal cord injuries, produces a powerful and significant benefit. In rats, it restored mobility. It allowed them recover and walk again.

The only side effect is that the rats temporarily turned blue, which, if you can get past the animal research thing, is actually kinda cute and it's temporary anyway. (Would I trade turning temporarily blue for being able to walk? You betcha.)


There is currently no, I repeat NO, standard treatment available for people who arrive in an emergency room for a spinal cord injury. This one is hopefully going into clinical trials shortly. And the reason that they thought of trying it out in the first place is that BBG is similar to the coloring in blue M&M's (Ii already said that, but I thought it bore repeating) and so has been approved as safe.

How does it work? Well, of course you should read one of the articles, either the summary on CNN or, for the nerds among us, the abstract of the actual study, (and actually, if you visit the site of the journal, you'll also get to read a really cool article in the latest edition about why dinosaurs were big). It's really interesting, but just in case you don't wanna do it, here's the deal.
Because you should be informed. Yeah. You should.

So when there is a spinal cord injury, ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is like the molecular currency of energy between cells, rushes to the site of the injury. ATP kills healthy motor cells, which makes the injury even worse. Our spinal cords have a lot of molecules called P2X7, which allows the ATP to latch on to motor cells and send messages to kill those cells (including the healthy ones). BBG (the colorant) blocks the function of P2X7, so the ATP can't find a home where it can destroy cells.

Aren't scientists cool?

(which prompts me to give a special shout out to my friend and chorus sister Emily, who is both a scientist--see above--and who also sorts M&Ms by color, thereby offering indisputable proof of said coolness)

Damn. Now I gotta go out and get some M&Ms and a Vitamin Water. See? That's why I haven't been writing. Blogging makes you fat.

Wednesday, July 15

The Wormhole Called Starbucks

Ya know, it's not every day that you discover a portal to a parallel universe.

In Starbucks, no less. I had to fight off four guys in black suits and military IDs just to let you know, but that's how devoted I am to you, the readers of this blog. You're welcome.

Here it is.


I know, it looks harmless. Just a simple chair. But here's a tip. Don't sit there. Unless you're really up for some kind of adventure. I mean, I can't testify, I didn't try it. I'm not sittin' there. But I am a witness, so I wouldn't advise it. Just sayin'.

So here's what happened. There I was, all set up to work for a couple of hours at one of my many local Starbucks. No, I don't drink Starbucks coffee. But I have largely succumbed to the fact that they are everywhere, and they have free wifi and comfortable chairs, so I found something I like there (though I still haven't found a single food, including desserts--to which I am generally favorably inclined--that I find appealing) and sometimes I camp out there to work. They don't throw you out, and I can carry a card so if I can't, er, find any money, I'm all set for awhile and that's enough for me.

Today I went to the Starbucks with the notoriously stupid parking lot. It's the only one like it. I don't get it, but it was nearby. It was a beautiful day today--it's about time, so I thought about sitting outside, but the only seating outside was taken, and I had a lot of loose papers to deal with, so inside it was.

I was lucky to snag one of the Comfy Chairs (despite being unwilling to confess to heresy by three counts: thought, word, deed or action), and I settled in for a bit of work. And here's where it gets interesting.

In the two hours that I spent in the aforementioned Comfy Chair, a series of six people (including two Starbucks employees) came and sat in the other, adjacent, Comfy Chair. Apparently, this other chair (not mine, thank god) is a portal to the netherworld. Because three of the six people who sat in it (in a row, mind you) proceeded to talk extensively to themselves. Or more likely, to some invisible beings, because they were not mumbling, they were taking turns, laughing, definitely carrying on a conversation.

Now, as you and I know, our assessment of people talking to themselves has been altered significantly by the proliferation of those tiny little phone headsets that people can wear almost invisibly. Don't' tell me you know don't know what I mean. You remember how it used to be. You'd be walking down the sidewalk, and you'd see someone approaching, talking away, and you would think okay, that person is hearing voices, and you'd have whatever response you had to encountering people who hear voices--hopefully, compassion, and frankly, sometimes evasion or discomfort. Well, that's out the window now, because now everyone and their brother talks out loud to themselves. It seems like a good thing, actually--puts people with associated disabilities in a more normative position. But there's no doubt about it, we're getting used to it. I'm willing to wager that once or twice, you have looked to see if they have a little wire running down their shoulder. Come on, admit it. I sure have.

So when this happened once, then twice, then three times in a row, especially with the degree of animation and turn-taking present in the conversations, I presumed that they were simply on the phone. And then it turned out that none of them were.

I've been trying to figure this out (not that there's anything wrong with it, it just defies statistics, and I'm interested in those kinda things). Maybe there is a group home or a treatment program that is located very nearby that Starbucks, and maybe their clientele prefer the comfy chairs. I know I do. Maybe that's it. Maybe there was some kinda energy over in my part of the store. It's been known to happen before. For now, in the absence of information, I'm just going with the most likely explanation: a wormhole.

And besides, they were playing Hawaiian music. It was coming out of a speaker right above my head. I ask you, who does that in Boston? When I went to ask the ever-helpful manager what it was, he said "Oh, the playlist is in the back somewhere, but I can't find it" (was he looking?). I asked "Well, is this the playlist playing in all Starbucks stores (thinking I could just look it up online)?" His reply? "If they have the same player as we do, then yeah, but I don't know.". Very helpful. Now, is that the aloha spirit?

I tell ya, there's something weird going on here.

Tuesday, July 14

Glimmers

The littlest things make me cry.

I used to think that was a weakness, a negative trait. I would look it up on the web (hint: don't do that) and see the dire reports of people who were experience severe depressions or blossoming menopause (pick me! pick me!) or best of all, discussion threads in which someone expresses concern that they cry at the littlest things, and a reasonable share of respondents see fit to give their sage advice, which is something along the lines of "you need to toughen up". Bullshit.

I don't do that anymore.

See? There is evidence that I do, in fact, learn from experience.

Now, when I say I don't do that anymore, it doesn't mean I don't surf around the web, searching for the malady du jour that I might possibly have. I'm human, after all. I mean that I don't take it quite as seriously as I might once have, which, as Martha Stewart says, is a Good Thing.

I've been thinking the last couple of days about Boston, about the fact that I have lived here for a staggering fifteen years (bet those people to whom I said "I'll be right back!" are wondering where I am), about the fact that it is a very difficult place, at least for someone from California--or at least for this person from California--to make a new "home", about the deep and nearly constant offense taken by friends who are from New England when I try to talk about that difficulty (because I like to talk things through, dontcha know), about which parts I can identify as home and which parts, sadly, will never bear that title. And I've come to a realization. I think that Boston (and by Boston I mean the whole area around Boston, maybe the whole northeast, maybe New England, you get the idea) is like a bad relationship. And like any bad relationship, sometimes it takes a while to figure out that you're in one.

Here's what I'm thinking.

This morning, I dropped my daughter at drama camp (channel it....channel it...), walked to Harvard Square, and walked in the front doors of Gutman Library, at Harvard Graduate School of Education. I came here to work for the day, as I do many days when I have time. It's my alma mater, it's a very quiet and sparsely populated library (especially in the summer) and the resources are plentiful. It also has exactly what I need to complete the project that is launching my independent business. Another Good Thing.

To get into Gutman, you have to show some sort of ID. I show my alumni card. Except at the moment, I don't know where it is (this is a recurring problem), so I was asked to step over to the desk and sign in. No prob. The guy at the desk misunderstood what I wanted, thought I was wanting to check out a book (maybe later), and tried to look me up in the computer. After I spelled my last name four times (it's okay, I'm used to it), I was able to clarify that I just wanted to sign in. We both laughed. He said well, if you do want to check out books later, just come by, I can look up your card number. I smiled and said "thanks so much", because you know, people aren't always this helpful these days. And then he said, "Oh, no problem. This is your home."

That's when I cried.

No, not in front of him, and not a blubbering dab-your-nose kind of cry, just a vigorous tearing up on my way to the bathroom.

It made me think about so many things, and in such a short time. When I moved to Boston from Honolulu, it was to attend this very graduate school, study in this very library, live among this community. This is my first home here. He's right, in a way, although he didn't know.

It made me think about how none of us really know, on a daily basis, the little things that we do that touch another's heart. This man has no idea that I have not felt at home in fifteen years, and that on this day, his comment made me feel grounded and welcomed and calm and happy. He didn't say much. But, of course, he did. It's great support for that whole practicing random kindness thing.

It made me think about my decision to leave this particular school to pursue a more advanced degree elsewhere, which I did not end up finishing. While I do not have regrets, this is a subject that is unsettled in my core, and it forced me to recognize once again the extent to which, despite its downsides (and there are definitely downsides), I felt real community here, which in turn makes me wonder whether there is or should be a way to fit this place back into my life.

And it made me think about that whole "bad relationship" thing that has been swirling in my head for a few days now (you know, the time that I haven't been writing). It goes like this:

Note: To my New England friends who are tired of my "complaining" about this stuff, I have two bits of advice. First, you could stop here. Just click on that little button up there in the corner. Easy. The second alternative is to breathe deep, and seriously consider the notion of reading about a relative newcomer's experience and see it as just that, their experience. How 'bout it?

In a healthy, good, loving, relationship, when one person feels as if they are not getting what they need, when they feel as if their partner's priorities consistently lie elsewhere, when they feel excluded or overlooked or simply would like to be included more often, when they feel a need for connection, they say so. And in a healthy, good, loving, relationship, the partner listens. They take it in, with any luck they express either sympathy or empathy, and they move toward solution. They might ask a question like "What do you think would help you to feel more included?", listen to the response, and then gauge whether any of those actions might be something they could integrate and use. They might ask what they could do differently. They might assure the other that it was not their intention to offend, and try to pay more attention to these dynamics to see if the other person might in fact have a point. They might take direct action, and make some plans so that they will have some uninterrupted time together now and again. They might do almost anything. But hopefully, they do something that acknowledges and validates and addresses the concerns that have been expressed. Yes, of course, it might also indicate that the person who is feeling badly is more sensitive that most, or has difficulty in some situations--that can be lovingly acknowledged as well. That's what a good relationship looks like to me, anyway.

What I'm saying is that community is the same thing. A big relationship. Similar dynamics. Similar needs for communication. Similar processes.

And what I'm saying is that my experience is, about 90 percent of the time, when I talk about these things with people here in Boston--yes, for fifteen years now--the responses I get back fall into one of a few categories. The first, we can call "Maybe you should move back where you came from"--pretty self-explanatory. The second is something along the lines of "Clearly you aren't able or willing to try to fit in here--maybe you should change." (which of course, is true--all relationships require mutual effort--though it does imply that effort and/or change has not been made). The third is "Yeah, I've heard other people say that/Yeah, I've spent time in California and you're right it's really different/Yeah, I know it can be a difficult place to break in", which is lovely and thoughtful and is also the beginning, middle, and end of their interest. And the fourth, my personal favorite, is basically (not in these exact words, at least most of the time) "Shut up, stop complaining, it's great here, this is the best place I've ever lived, if you can't see that you're a loser". Yeah. I'm not kidding.

For fifteen years, I have tried to make sense of that quartet of responses, and particularly why they bother me so much.

And just this week, I have realized that I have been operating for all this time like we had a good relationship here, like the other half of this relationship wants to be in this relationship. This is a valuable piece of information. I get it now.

And yes, I'm "going back where I come from" one of these days. At the present time, it's not in the plans. Life is complicated.

I am reading this and realizing that it sounds as if I am saying that, for fifteen years, I have been miserable. It sounds like I am saying that I don't have friends, I don't like my neighborhood, I don't have people and activities and places that I really enjoy, I don't go out. None of that is true. Life is good. Really. This is not about unhappiness. I don't talk (and write) about this repeatedly to complain. It's about trying to make sense of the water in which I live and breathe--I talk about it and write about it because, well, I often don't get it. I talk and write because I struggle. I talk and write to figure things out. I'm like that.

It's really not as black and white as it might appear. It's not about mutual exclusivity. It is possible, in my world view, to have all of these good things, and to also wish that you lived in a place where when you had a singing performance, all of your friends would attend because well, they're your friends, rather than deciding if they have time or like that kind of music. It is possible, from over here, to be basically content and happy with your life, and to also wish that people just dropped by or wanted to just hang out. It is possible to have a full and rich life, and to also wish to have more friends who are not so heavily scheduled and obligated. It is possible to feel happy walking on a sunny day, and also wish that people would smile back.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'm beginning to get it. It's about time.

Although, I will admit, there is one thing that I will never get. And no, I'm not the only one to notice it--far from it. I will never get the concept of "I have enough friends". Not having time for more. Rationing. The adult version of "cliques" where attendance must be limited to that particular subgroup. I don't get that--I thought that was over in high school.

Oh, and I don't get the family thing at all either (I know. I said one thing. It happens.). But I'm from California, so that explains that. That was easy.

So you can see how the glimmers make me cry.

"This is your home".

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

It was enough for today. More than enough.

Saturday, July 11

More on Words

Yesterday, I wrote about words being too restrictive. About their inadequacy to communicate what we mean in the deepest sense.

Today, I want to talk about the flipside.

It seems to me that the whole mess is made ever more complicated by the power that words hold. The power that we give them. The right words in the right moment are priceless. The wrong words in the wrong moment can be devastating. Which brings me to something I don't get.

For one thing, I don't get the primacy of the physical body. As if it isn't commanded, engineered, and operated by the same organ (which I have to say we don't seem to know anything about, even as we know more about it than ever before) as everything else. Losing control of motor function in one's hand, for example, is really not all that different from losing word retrieval; yet, the former evokes sympathy and the latter, ribbing. Does that make sense to you?

Stick with me. This does have something to do with words. I promise.

Some years ago...well, a whole lot of years ago...at a time when I was struggling, someone said to me "Isn't it amazing? If you are physically sick, people send you cards, they bring food, they mow your lawn, they send flowers and cards. And if you are emotionally sick, people stay away from you.". So maybe there's an evolutionary purpose for somaticism after all, huh? I really don't get it.

Which brings me, albeit in a roundabout way, to my point (as Ellen Degeneres says, I do have one). I've been waging a bit of a campaign for years now, but I have to admit, it's been a little lonely.

It began with a professional (and yeah,okay, a bit personal) passion of mine, and the subject of much of my graduate work. Invisible children. No, not the Virginia Bruce or Claude Rains or even Ralph Ellison kind of invisible. Children who are not noticed, not mentioned, passed over. They're everywhere. Any teacher could tell you about them, as much as we don't like to admit it--when you get to the end of your day, there is always at least one child that you just can't say what they were doing, and sometimes whether they were even there. I know, it sounds sad. But it's true. Maybe it's a malady, maybe it's a strategy, maybe it's something else altogether. Whatever it is, it's not the only kind of invisibility.

There's invisibility in being different. In being gay. Or lesbian. Or gender nonconformist. Or being a child of divorcing parents. There's invisiblity in being shy. Or out of touch with the current media or electronic culture. And yes, there's that kind too. And by "that kind", I mean whatever kind you're thinking of. Yup.

But none of those are what I mean. (see what I mean about words?)

My interest is, and has always been, in children whose experience is overshadowed by the experience of others around them, most markedly those who are bystanders to violence and trauma. I am painfully aware of their absence, not only because of the lack of humanity in their invisibility, but also because of the way in which their omission translates into a nearly complete inattentiveness to their unique needs.

But the first step is in words. In changing words. In respecting the validity of other types of pain or violence other than physical. And the first step in making that happen is in changing our language. Words. Words. Words.

Like I said, sometimes it gets lonely. And sometimes I get tired. And sometimes I think I am the only person in the world who notices this stuff--or objects to it. And then I forget about it for a while. Because I have the privilege of doing that. I am both grateful and sorry that that happens. Fortunately (and yes, I mean fortunately), I can never stay out of touch with it for that long, because just when i get lackadaisical, it happens again. Like yesterday.

Perhaps you read the story of Byrd and Melanie Billings in the news yesterday. This is them, with their twelve children:


In case you didn't read about it, I'll give you the Reader's Digest version. Byrd and Melanie lived in Pensacola, Florida. They had 16 children, 12 of them adopted, six with Downs Syndrome, others with drug exposure and sexual abuse histories. On Thursday, both parents were shot and killed in their home, apparently as a result of a home invasion that occurred in the evening. News reports vary, but there were at least eight [possibly sleeping) children in the home at the time of the murders. Now, I'm not making any assumption about the murders--there is a lot of speculation swirling. It doesn't really matter. What I am objecting to are the following news reports:

"The children, who ranged in age from infant to about 11 years old, were unharmed"
Sgt. Ted Roy, Escambia County Police spokesman, CNN

"Eight children were in the home at the time of the shooting, but none were harmed"
Pensacola News Journal

"eight of the Billing's children were home at the time fortunately none of them were hurt"
WEAR-TV, Pensacola

(and just to put the requisite icing on the cake, the spokesperson from the chronically scandal-laden Department of Children and Families says that that DCF "will, in a little bit of time, after the shock is over, reach out to the caregivers of these children and offer them what we call post-adoptive services". Ah. After the shock is over. I see. Florida. Ain't it grand?

So, here's my question. Would it kill us--all of us, including the media--to put the word "physically" in front of the word "harmed" or "hurt"? Of course they were harmed. Of course they were hurt. Probably irreparably, especially for some of them. They just didn't sustain physical injuries.

Sure, you can say "Oh, we know that they mean that they weren't physically hurt". Well, sure we do. Just like the archetypal dismissal of feminist objections, "Oh, when we say men, we mean women too!". Yeah. Sure you do.

You can say "that's just nitpicking." But words are powerful. And knowing what they mean doesn't make it okay. We demand that people are careful with other words that hurt. Why not these?

It's one word, folks. Just one lousy word. "Physically". That's it. How much would it take for us to relearn how we say and write about events like this? We have taught ourselves to say "firefighters" instead of firemen. We have taught ourselves (well, a lot of us anyway) to use the word "disability" rather than handicap. We have taught ourselves to say "African American" rather than any one of the myriad of labels that have been used to describe the people of color whose ancestors are from Africa (which is kinda all of us, but that's a whole 'nother discussion). We do learn. We do change. Can't we train ourselves to put that word in there?

The primacy of physical well-being over emotional, spiritual, mental well-being has reached the end of its useful life. Let's put it to bed. With one small word. Could anything be easier?

Friday, July 10

Words Fail

I am not sure how to explain what has happened the last couple of days. I have been struggling to write here. It's not about time. I've had time. I haven't even been willing to begin.

I would love to say, I have thought of saying, that I haven't had words, I haven't been able to coalesce my meandering into collections of letters and spaces. But that isn't really true. I've had a hundred phrases, and nearly as many opening sentences. Still, they have not found their way to this space, this screen.

I am only just beginning to figure this out. So I am being patient with myself as I write, and I hope you will be similarly patient as you read. We'll figure it out somehow.

I think what I want to say--because if there's anything I know for sure, it's that I'm not sure--is that I am beginning to understand my attraction to visual art over writing (at least in a historical sense). Because it is odd to have as your primary tool something that limits your expression by its very use. In this case, of course, I'm talking about words.

The reason I have not written down even one of those openings is that the minute that I write it down, it's wrong. Not wrong, like judgment, but wrong like not what i mean. Words, words themselves, really the sole medium of this craft, feel as if they are intrinsically limiting. Worse yet, in many cases, words are braggarts, showing off their solidity as if they know what they mean, and so should we. But I don't. Do you?

So I've been thinking about what is behind this phase, this place. And, ironically, I think it came from a comment that I got, or maybe even a couple of comments. If you are one of the people who left them, I fear that you are going to think that I took them wrong. Please trust that I didn't, I don't take them wrong. It is that I am discovering that I am uncomfortable being named, and that revelation has led me into wondering if I am uncomfortable with all naming, which, in the end, means discomfort with words themselves.

I am a writer. It was in the comments. I wrote a response asking why it is so hard to identify as such. And that was the end of words.

It came in being led, once again, to the words and writing of Mary Daly, and her insistence that words be altered to more accurately reflect a unique frame of mind. I remember listening to her read at Mama Bear's bookstore in Oakland, hearing for the first time a new language, a refusal to use words as if we all know what they mean.

It came in identifying my blog as a "women's" blog or a "feminist" blog, neither of which I doubt, but somehow once I named it as such, I felt limited and restrained, as if I can no longer write about cupcakes, which I fully intend to do. And in that restraint--you guessed it--nothing. No words.

You know the old routine. You go to a party, or you meet someone new, and they ask "What do you do?". Some of us hate that, some of us don't mind, some of us don't really care--but they ask and they will continue to ask, so there it is. I have never had an answer to that question. I notice that other people do. I am a lawyer. I am a teacher. I am a doctor. I am in retail. I am a social worker. I am a mom. I build houses. I am an accountant. People have answers. I have never had an answer. I stumble around, I try to describe what I do for my work, for my life. And in the end, after making myself and the other uncomfortable trying to fish around for words and descriptions that fit, I usually give up, and change the subject. Because, really, what do I say?

Do I say I'm an artist? When I do, people ask me what medium, and then I'm stuck again.

Do I say I'm a writer? No. I don't. I am a writer. But that's not what I "do".

Do I say I'm a consultant? Now there's a word that doesn't mean anything at all. A few weeks ago, I met a woman and we exchanged small talk. We discovered that we both work from home, we are both "consultants". She introduced herself as a computer consultant. I nodded. I introduced myself as a child development consultant. She looked confused and laughed a little and asked what that could be. See?

Do I say I don't do anything, that I prefer being to doing? Yeah, I could. But it's not exactly well suited for small talk at the PTA dinner.

And then there's the thing about what sort of blog this is. What I write about. People ask me that too (not to mention the nearly constant requirement to "label" blogs when they are submitted for inclusion in blogrolls or other sites.) People want to know what kind of blog, they ask "what kind of things do you write about?" I don't have an answer for that either. Not because I don't know--I do. But because the minute I answer, there is something lost. There is a piece of me, of my writing, of my experience, that is made invisible by that descriptor. I am reluctant to offer up a word that introduces limitations, in any form.

I suppose it is true as well for visual art, too. One is bound by the limitations and properties of oil paint, for example, or by wood, or clay. I think the difference is that, at least in my experience, there is rarely an assumption by the viewer that they know precisely the artist's ideas, their intentions, what they are "saying". In writing, people think they know. When I write the word "feminism", people think they know what I mean--or they use their own definitions as they read. If I sculpt feminism, people will gaze, they will wonder, they will circle, they will be confused, they will walk right past, they will ask me about it, ask me about my intentions, about the piece, often in an open-ended way. While the medium may limit the sculpture, the product stands on its own, subject to a potentially less arrogant interpretation. Few would tell me I used the wrong brush stroke, that that brush stroke didn't communicate clearly what I was trying to say. Not so in writing. We think we know. We all know what I mean when I write "women". No. We don't.

Let's just say I don't care for that.

And yet words are what we have.

Collections of words and spaces. Such a poor approximation of sensation.

And that, my friends, is where I've been.

Still here....

sit tight, I'm catchin' up!

Wednesday, July 8

Help Me, I Can't Shut Up

Sometimes, kids are more important than blogs. Today was (is) one of those days. Sorry, folks. Oh. Wait. No, I'm not.

In the spirit of the sentiment, I direct you to today's post by the wonderful wordsmith and plucky provocateur, Heather, aka The Queen of Shake-Shake. I read it. I cried. I saved it. I printed it. I read it again. I might just frame it.

I was tempted to make this the day that I joined Wordless Wednesdays, a pretty cool idea, but one which somehow makes me feel like I'm cheating, which is completely insane, but there it is. It's a nice place to visit, but I don't think I'm ready to live there. On top of that, Wordless Wednesdays is every day now, which seems wonderful for photographers, but outside of that, I don't get it, which I suppose makes it excellent fodder for this blog, which is purportedly about the things I don't get, except sometimes it isn't, and anyhow, even though I don't have much time to write today, there are bigger things I don't get than how Wordless Wednesday can happen on a Thursday. Like for instance, I don't get what I find so appealing about run-on sentences. I don't get why I'm writing right now, when I just told you that I don't have any time and I am really not writing today because I filled it with other important things. I don't get why 71% of Republicans say they would be inclined to vote for Sarah Palin for President, and why that number went up after her resignation. I don't get why, on a science show on TV tonight, when parents were sending their three year old into surgery, they told her that some people were going to come take her away. Lovely. I don't get so many things about people's views and responses to Michael Jackson and his death. So, you can see that wondering why Saturday is Wednesday and why people want to post photographs every day is pretty low on my list.

But if I had joined Wordless Wednesday today, which I didn't, I would have posted this video. Which I suppose wouldn't have qualified because it isn't wordless. See how bad I am at following directions? I broke the rules before I even joined. I would post the video because this is the song that I "got" today. I haven't heard it or thought of it or sung it in at least ten years. I've had it all day. It's one of the more oblique ones, by a long shot, so I still don't have a clue where it came from, why I got it, or what the message is. But it's there, and there's a debt to the muse that requires me to come clean about the songs as they arrive. So here you go. If you have any idea what it means, feel free to clue me in. Oh, and for the young'uns among us: That's a 45.



Oh. I wrote anyway. Oh, well.

Tuesday, July 7

Sylvia Knows Best


Funny how things happen. This morning, I was reading an article on Time magazine's website about women processing (well, they call it "eating", but clearly that's just to get people to tune in, since we don't say that we "eat" our vitamins, and we're talking about capsules here) their babies' placentas for consumption (for the health benefits they apparently confer--duh, don't click if you don't want to read about it). Now before you run to the bathroom to throw up, let me just say that that's not what this post is about*. Breathe easy, my friend. The hard part is over.

And the rant is just beginning.

First, the backstory.

A few weeks back, around Father's Day, I happened upon an article on msnbc about how fathers who are stepping up to share or take primary responsibility for parenting feel invisible, about how they are ignored, especially when their wives are present, or made to feel like "babysitters" and not taken seriously. Fair enough. More power to 'em.

I began to read. I read the blog (great blog, btw) that the article referenced. I read the comments and the discussion on the topic on msnbc. And I left a comment, highlighting the one variable that seemed to be missing in the list of "why this happens"--namely, the numbers of fathers who perpetuate the division of responsibility, who find child care demeaning, who use the words "babysittting" in regard to their own participation, and even the significant, if minority, population that is blatantly advocating a return to so-called "traditional" values in which the father is the breadwinner and the mother is, well, the mother. What I was trying to say was that, as often happens, these men are barking up the wrong tree. If they want things to change in society and in how people regard them, their wives and the sympathetic supportive community of other stay-at-home dads are not where that sort of change is to be found. If they are looking to change the expectations of a patriarchal system, they need to go straight to the source: the men (the majority of men) who perpetuate this view, and they need to call the mainstream media on their gaffes whenever, wherever, every ever.

I know. Who am I to tell them what they "need" to do?

I'm me. This is my blog.

Backstory firmly in hand, we now return to the fount of knowledge and insight that is known as Time magazine.

Now, like any website worth its salt, there were links on the placenta article page to other things that might just be of interest to new moms or new dads, because after all, who else would read this article other than crunchy holistic kind of folks who can potentially really appreciate the inclusion of an article of this type in the mainstream media. Like me.

In this case...being that it's 2009 and all...two of the more prominent links were to iPhone apps for new moms and for dads. Ooh! I have (and love) an iPhone! I have (and love) a child! I have (and love) a career that involves gathering resources for parents as they navigate their way through the early days of parenthood! Ooh! I'm checking this out!

This is where it gets nasty. Grab the Tums. I'll wait.


You back? Great. Let's go.

First, let's talk the iPhone apps for Moms. The 10 of them. Or 7. Or 13. Or something. Girls aren't good at math anyway, right? Oh, I suppose I should explain, because I notice these things, and that's why I get paid the big bucks--to share them with you. Here we go. The link says: "See the top 10 iPhone applications for new moms". Yes. In red. When you get there, the title of the article is "Seven Iphone Apps for New Moms" (I mean, who's gonna notice the sudden disappearance of three apps when you can't even find your car keys?). And then, you read them. And each one of the seven pages highlighting apps (well, except for one of them, just to mix things up a little) discusses TWO apps. So actually, the article highlights 13 apps for new moms. I guess.

Now, you can look for yourself, but I don't want to take any chances, so here are the 13 apps that they highlight as best for new moms:

Babycam – makes cutesy noises so that your baby will smile for pictures (since s/he sure isn't going to smile for YOU.
Quad Camera – takes 4 pictures of your kid at once (make the most of every moment with your child, and you know how we moms love a bargain)
Scribble – drawing progam to “keep toddlers busy on long car rides” (I think giving your toddler your iphone is a dandy idea...it's important to keep technology well greased)
Bug Squash – where you tap the touch screen to smash bugs to get points (and get them started on violence against small helpless creatures as early as possible)
Nursing Tracker – anal retentive recordkeeping of nursing (because, as we all know, the more tense you are, the better it is for your milk supply)
Diaper Tracker – stats on when your baby’s diaper was changed (because if there's anything more fun than changing diapers, it's recording the qualities of every poop)
Lose it – to lose weight after birth –keeps track of food and exercise (obviously the first order of business)
I Fitness – exercise instructions (more of the same, blah, blah)
Big Oven – recipes (because, while you may not be pregnant anymore, you are still, with any luck, barefoot and in the kitchen)
4 Ingredients – recipes (in case the thousands of recipes in the aforementioned app aren't sufficient, and to give you another thing to browse through, now that you are a new parent and have scads of free time on your hands)
Asleep kids – lullabies for naptime (because research has shown that babies always prefer electronic music rather than a parent's voice, and besides, when your baby is napping, you don't need your iphone anyway, so just leave it in their crib! But don't forget to put it on airplane mode, because if a call comes in, there goes the lullaby!)
Whitenoise – whitenoise macine for naptime (because, again, you don't need your phone)
Toddler Cards – flash cards (because it's never too early to start poor parenting practices--and with this one, hey, you don't even need to hold the cards!)

That's thirteen. No. I don't have judgments at all. At All. Got that?

Ding! Ding! Ding-a-ling! (that's your cue to start salivating). This is where it gets good.

Not to be outdone, and recognizing that hey, this is the new millenium, and being a dad is a whole new thing, Time was kind enough to also review the "Ten Best iPhone Apps For Dad". No, no need to rush over there and read the article. I've taken the time to summarize them here for you. You're welcome. Here they are. The 10 best iPhone apps for dads. Yes, there are ten of them. On the link, on the article, and in actuality. 10. Because boys are good at math, remember?

Oobgolf – tracks golf scores and analyzes trends in scores
iHandyCarpenter – level, protractor, 3 other tools (set against a manly wood grain background)
Gas Cubby – to track gas mileage and vehicle upkeep
Grill Guide – digital ruler to measure the thickness of a steak (!) and check cooking times
Family Guy – clips from Family Guy show, which the description refers to as “TV’s most dysfunctional animated dad around”
Trapster – to avoid police speed traps
Hundred Pushups – exercise program
5800+ drink and cocktail recipes – speaks for itself
FanFinder – to find the closest sports bar
Things – a to do list organizer

No, there's no snide commentary next to these. They don't need it.

Many years back, there was a Sylvia cartoon (it was also the title of one of her books) that I really loved (I love most of them, but this one was choice). In the cartoon, Sylvia is, as ever, sitting and watching TV. The commentator on TV is saying "Over the past ten years, men have increased their participation in household tasks...by six minutes". And Sylvia, sage that she is, is saying "Mercy, it's the Revolution and I'm in my bathrobe.". I couldn't possibly say it any better.

Come to think of it, maybe the photo apps for new moms are a good idea. That way, when dad arrives at the sports bar from the golf course, right after he high-fives his buddies for so cleverly speeding and yet avoiding a ticket and just before he coaches the bartender on how to mix this cool new drink he found on his iPhone, he can view four pictures of his kids all at once. Given how busy he is grilling, doing carpentry, changing his oil, and exercising, it may be the only time he sees them (and before you lambast or correct me for implying that this is how dads spend their time, best you direct your comments direct to the source: letters@time.com).

Yeah. Things have changed.

*with the exception of sharing one choice quote. In the article, the "placenta lady" tells the new dad that these pills might even be good to save to help ease menopause (discomforts about which I can speak with some authority). His quote: "[she] did not understand that when Cassandra's looks fade in her 50s, there's no way I'm putting up with this crap". I'm cutting him a break and not raising holy hell as I know he's a humorous writer, and most of what he writes is said in jest (or in sarcasm or a similar handy tool). But somehow, this one line just didn't seem quite as funny as the rest (except to men, I would guess). Yeah, I know. Angry feminist. Deal with it.

Monday, July 6

On Being A Bundle

http://michaelhyatt.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/worry-and-imagination-two-sides-of-the-same-coin1.jpg

Just call me Fanny Dooley. I'm not providing a link because I just found out that when you google "Fanny Dooley", the hits give you the secret. Right there. In public. Now what kind of fun is that? I am going to trust your integrity (and your familiarity with one PBS show that shall remain nameless). I mean, I'm not exactly Fanny Dooley, but it's pretty damn close. I'm like a walking contradiction, albeit occasionally humorous. Nice t' meet you.

I use that reference mostly because I'm trying to avoid that whole "there's two sides to every coin" thing, because you know...duh. Of course there are two sides to every coin. What's yer point? Same goes for that double edged sword thing, although that one might not quite hold up as well, 'cause I think there are single edged swords, so that would indeed make a double edged sword a unique item, but I don't have any swords, and I don't ever plan on having any swords so what does it have to do with me anyway?

See, here's the thing. I am an anarchist who is a stickler about following rules. I don't believe in authority but want to be in charge. I am a teacher who doesn't really believe in education. I have been known to model the opposite of what I'm demanding. I could go on. I won't. You get the idea.

Some years ago, I was on a camping trip in Yellowstone. At that time--and maybe now too, I didn't notice when I was there two years ago, I must be slacking off--when you came into the park through one of the entrance gates, they handed you a whole packet of stuff along with your park map and activities brochure. In this packet there is a flyer about the behavior of animals (I know, because I looked through the whole packet, and read it all). You know, don't chase them, don't taunt them, don't feed them, and no matter what you do, DO NOT WALK NEAR BISON BECAUSE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN GORED. Have you ever been to Yellowstone? Well, then you know that there are people all over the park doing every damn one of those things all the time. Not me. I read every darn slip of paper they give me, and I follow the rules. All of 'em. Even when they're inconvenient (i.e. not washing pans where the debris could draw bears...even more duh, but still rampant).

And then, on the other hand, I do not succeed well in typical work environments because, dammit, there is someone there called a Supervisor, and, irony of all ironies, they tell you what to do. I'll have none of that. I'm not keen on doing what I'm told. Pretty much ever. Though I am kinda big on my daughter doing what she is told. You're getting the picture here, I can see that.

You might wonder how this came up on this lovely day. Well, I'll tell you. Bike helmets.

First of all, in Massachusetts, it is a law that anyone under 16 is required to wear a helmet when riding a bike or scooter, or while rollberblading. That seems like a good thing, especially given the data on accidents. Having been hit once by a car as a child, right down at the corner of my block, I have an additional visceral reaction to that whole deal.

The kicker is that in my neighborhood, in a relatively affluent suburb of Boston, NONE of the kids wear helmets. And they're all outside riding every day, up and down, up and down. And while I remain strict about it, I will freely admit that I am thoroughly pissed off that my daughter is in the position of being the "odd man out" (once again), and seen as as the one with the "strict" or overprotective mom, which, if you knew the kids in my neighborhood--and their parents---and me---you would find pretty funny. So why don't parents demand that their kids wear helmets? It seems like such a no-brainer (accidental pun but I'm keepin' it). Huh?

I'm thinking on all these words...maybe I'm a bundle instead..as in a bundle of contradictions. That sounds pretty good, kinda reminiscent of a soft blanket. And yeah, it has two sides. Just like pretty much everything else. I'll take it.


Sunday, July 5

Art Can't Hurt You

First off, I wanna say that there are definitely up sides--big up sides--to having a child who is, deep in her heart (as well as in the tips of her fingers) an artist. I'm pretty clear about that.

There is the vision, the "different" way of looking at things. There are the philosophical conversations about the world that appear out of nowhere, out of noticing that a bird flies at an angle that she may not have seen before. There is the way in which any afternoon, any ride in the car, any wait in a restaurant, can become an engaging and productive activity. There are the hour long conversations that can take place between a red pencil and a blue pencil about the difference in their life experiences, or about one of their sisters, a green pencil, and her recent antics. There is the amazing privilege of displaying wonderful works of art in our home. There is the absolute wonder at hearing detailed and unprompted descriptions of the color and texture of that man's socks, you know, the man we met for fifteen minutes six years ago.

And then, on the flipside, there's boobs. Yeah, breast kinda boobs, the ones of age--not stupid people kinda boobs. And weight. And proportion. And flaws. And truth. And beauty.

I have a wonderful t-shirt that I wear to art fairs and the like. It says all kinds of good stuff, like "good art doesn't match your sofa" and "Art: Break the Rules." The other thing it says is "Art Won't Hurt You". I've always loved that one. Today, I'm repeating it, like a mantra.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter had to do a self-portrait for an end of the year picture collage for her teacher. As these things will do, the activity expanded. She drew a self-portrait. I drew a self-portrait. We photographed ourselves and printed them out and did self-portraits from the photos. And we did portraits of one another.

Some of the readers of this blog know me "in real life". But some of you don't, and maybe you've been wondering what I look like.

This is me.

The hair is dead on. The decolletage, maybe not so much.

I am honored.

Saturday, July 4

Independence Day

For so many of us, it is so much more than we readily claim. There is much I could say, but none rings true...it would be, at best, an echo. Some days...many days...oh, just listen.

video

thanks, ferron.

Friday, July 3

Priorities

Okay. Enough of justice, equal rights, unruly children, politicians, violence, and other fluff. Time to talk about what's really important.

That's right. Cupcakes.

We're gonna talk about this because a person can only sit on something so long. They say it's not good to keep it all in. And this has needed to be said for a good long while now.

And besides, This is Important Stuff. No matter which way you look at it.

So I've got a few things to say here on this topic. Yo, listen up.

First, the abbreviated version, for those who like lists rather than blathering, which is clearly not me:

Number One. There is a difference between Good and Weird. (when it comes to cupcakes, I mean, not when it comes to me....when it comes to me, there is, in fact, no difference).

Number Two: They should stick to ice cream in Boston. 'Nuff said. (or if they're not going to stick to ice cream, they should refrain from comparing themselves to Magnolia Bakery. I mean, really.)

Number Three: People have no sense and don't know when to leave a good enough thing alone.

Number Four: Chocolate frosting that looks like that fake dog poop that they sell at joke shops is not, I repeat, NOT, appetizing. I don't care if it's delicious frosting, made from the finest chocolate from a combination of the rarest cocoa beans in the world, European butter, and milk that came from that pampered free-grazing and ethically treated cow down the road. Geez, spread it around a little. Make it look good. And just for the record...no, throwing some sprinkles on the poop shaped frosting does NOT help. I mean, come on people, what is that?


(and what's the deal with all the frosting plopped in the middle with all that bare cupcake showing? That's just Wrong.)

I'm starting to feel better already.

You see, yesterday, a group of reviewers (or so it seems) published their findings on the best places to get cupcakes in Boston. I don't generally hang out at such places (the website, I mean), but they liked me there yesterday, so I was returning the favor. I saw the article, and I mean, ooh, cupcakes! Sadly, it was all downhill from there.

There were a number of problems. The first is that they don't know what they're talking about (and I do, get the difference?). The second is that they have apparently never been to New York and here they are all talking Carrie Bradshaw and cupcakes and Magnolia Bakery and cupcake fads like there is any basis for comparison. And the third is that they didn't call me up and ask me to make a batch of cupcakes (can't claim credit, I use Magnolia's recipes) which left me with the pitiful sole option of "Other" when it came time to vote.

This is serious shit. Pay attention.

Let's take these issues one at a time. I want to make this perfectly clear.

The Weird-Good Continuum. Margarita cupcakes with tequila, triple sec icing, and salt. Chocolate beer ganache and cream stout frosting? Sure, fine. I'm not gonna argue. If you like that stuff, more power to you. As for me, that's not a cupcake. It's a quasi-drink in a paper liner. It's a way of showing off to your friends that you eat cool weird stuff. Really different things.

Ice Cream: There is, indeed, kickass ice cream in Boston. All year round. Delicious, creamy, effin' fantastic ice cream. Herrells. Toscaninis. Emack and Bolios. Christinas. Richardsons. And more.
Can't we just stick to ice cream, and let them have the cupcakes?

The deadly combination of arrogance and competition. Here's a hot tip: the fad is not cupcakes, the fad is GREAT cupcakes. Get the difference? Don't believe me? Go find out for yourself. Go to New York City, and stop in your random bakery and ask them if they regularly sell out of cupcakes and while you're there, ask them if they have benefitted from the "cupcake fad" started by Sex and the City. They'll look at you like you're out of your mind. Then take a little ride down to the village, and hang out by Magnolia Bakery (or wait in line for cupcakes if you've got an hour or so) or go to Midtown to Buttercup Bakeshop (same original owner/chef, newer venture) and ask the same questions. I repeat: This is not about cupcakes. It's about great cupcakes.

And the dog poop thing? Well, I think I've said enough.

It could just be taste, you're saying--different people like different things. Yeah, yeah, everyone has their own tastebuds, their own food preferences, and I shouldn't impose mine and act like I know everything. Yeah, I know that. Yeah, I've heard it before. But then why do we have food critics, if it doesn't make any difference what someone says, we all just like what we like? And before you say it, no, I'm not a food critic. I am, however, a cupcake critic. So there. And yes, I know how it goes, I've been party to the Airing of the Issues:

"I prefer the ones from [insert random bakery name]. These ones are good, but they're too sweet [or rich]". Um....they're cupcakes! They're not bran muffins. They're supposed to be sweet.

"The ones at [insert bakery] are all natural [or organic]". Listen, honey. I understand the appeal of that. I eat organic too. But get real. If it's cupcakes you're after, you've already kind of taken a little detour from the health kick, don't you think? Kickass Cupcakes, one of the places reviewed in the article, touts their policy of "no hydrogenated oils, no trans fats" on their website. They make cupcakes without butter (which has natural trans fats, which are not as bad for you, but still)? It reminds me of that sign at the fair--same deal.

Please to remember, these are the people who chased Krispy Kreme out of the entire Greater Boston area because they--get this, this is really what they said--like the coffee at Dunkin' Donuts. Okay, and this makes sense how? (for the record, I agree that DD has way better coffee than KK, but so what? What's that got to do with donuts?)

And then there's that other complicating detail: are you emulating Carrie Bradshaw or not? Just fyi....I'm not. I never even knew they went to Magnolia Bakery on that show, and of course, it wouldn't matter if I did know, because I can't imagine emulating the women on Sex and the City. It's just that I'm just a veteran of the 9 p.m. cupcake line. I'm the woman who took a $20 cab ride--every night for a week--from midtown down to the west village in order to bring back one slice of chocolate buttermilk cake for my then on-the-verge-of-delivering-a-baby partner because well, she wanted it, and because well, there was no substitution.

Get it? No substitution.

And let us say: Amen.



At the Stroke of Midnight

I waited all day. I didn't want to post about this in the middle of it all. And I don't want to write about it tomorrow. I've already got something crucially important to say tomorrow. It involves cupcakes. You don't want to miss that.

But just now, I looked at the clock and it said 12:00 On The Dot. So I figured that was my chance. I could post it in neither yesterday nor today (or it is neither today nor tomorrow? I'm so confused). As you know if you're a regular reader (and if you're not, please explain yourself and haul yourself over to that little button that says "subscribe" right now, y'hear?), I'm a big fan of liminal space. The in-between.

It was an invitation I could not resist. As my mother would say, it's an omen. So here I am. The omen slave. Nice to see ya.

So here's what I'm here to say, and then I really am going to go to bed, I mean it: Today was a wild ride.

You see, some time ago, I submitted my blog for inclusion in the New England Blogs section of Boston.com, a site that encompasses, but is not limited to, the Boston Globe (our local dying newspaper). It's a pretty extensive blogroll, but I figured what the heck. Maybe I'll pick up a reader here and there, and it's good for my imaginary sense of legitimacy.

So this morning, I opens my computer and I looks at my stats. I do that now and then, even though they change about as much as the weather reports in Honolulu. If nothing else, it's a little self-check, as good a measure as any of my level of compulsivity on any given day (let's see: Coffee or ginseng tea? Compare. Contrast.) I don't take the stats too seriously, but sometimes it's interesting to try to imagine how that person in Abu Dhabi happened to wind up at Here's What I Don't Get.

I hover somewhere around 50 visitors a day, about 1/3 of them loyal folks who always stop by (read: family and friends) and the rest new people who stop in and rarely linger. I do not lose sleep over how to get them to stick around. You like what you like. No big deal.

So this morning, when I checked my stats at 9 a.m. and saw that there were 119 new visitors, I was a little startled. Now, I'm no dummy, so I'm thinking "Wha?" (brilliant, eh?). I did have enough sense to try to figure out where they were all coming from--like moths to a porch light. And it turned out--get this--that Boston.com had featured my blog on their home page. There it was. All day. It was like my 15 minutes, except it was damn near 24 hours. It's still up there now. I just checked. Because it makes me feel famous, that's why!

Now, the day is over. I had 700 visitors. It's amazing what a little exposure will do (besides give you a big head, albeit temporarily). Tomorrow--or today--whatever--we return to our regularly scheduled programming. I'm here to say it was a heck of a fun diversion.  But most of all....most dear to my heart....it made me feel like a Writer.

And so, in the spirit of my mother, who always said it (I never knew the reference, I thought she made it up), in the spirit of the funny feeling of fame for a few fleeting minutes (I love alliteration, especially when it's accidental), in the spirit of the transition back to being a regular old non-featured blogger probably sometime in the middle of the night, and (apparently, again accidentally) in the spirit of the July 4th holiday, I want to express my gratitude to the powers that be (such as they are) at boston.com, who saw fit to pick li'l ole me. And so....

"My mother thanks you, my father thanks you, my sister thanks you...and I thank you."
(Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1942)


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Thursday, July 2

Wednesday, July 1

Kindly Disregard This Entry

No, not really. Please to continue.

It's a variation on a quote. You'll get it in a few minutes (with any luck).

Tonight, I saw on facebook a quiz (one of the singularly stupidest things about facebook) to measure one's "Jewishness". You wind up with a score--like 81% Jewish, or 93% Jewish--based on five questions, which just doesn't even make mathematical sense. And that's not even mentioning the fact that one of the questions, regarding how many candles are on a menorah, didn't even have the right answer as one of the choices.

So I've been sitting here thinking, because you know, this is not the first time my Jewishness has been called into question. And I'm thinking that it doesn't matter one whisker if you had a bar or bat mitzvah. It doesn't make any difference if you eat chopped liver or matzoh ball soup. It's irrelevant whether you light candles on Hanukkah or fast on Yom Kippur. What matters is what makes you laugh. Oh. And songs, too.

You see, it is a little known fact that, among my extensive arsenal of lyrics and songs which by the way have little if any known usefulness is a special slot for one Allan Sherman. A whole lot of Allan Sherman (just stickin' with the sour old lady theme here). And, as you know if you know me at all, that library-of-sorts just isn't going anywhere. I'm stuck with it, ready with a mere cue.

If you don't know Allan Sherman or his songs, well, let me just say you have missed out on a valuable piece of Americana. No, knowing "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh" doesn't count. That song has passed into the common parlance, into the knowledge of the masses. Everyone knows it. It doesn't count as knowing Allan Sherman. On the other hand, if you know the date on which the liverwurst was put in the case at the delicatessen store or if you know how tall the martian gal was, you're well on your way. And if you don't, there's still hope for you. You can always hire me for private tutoring. I am also available for parties.

And although I just said it didn't count, Hell0 Muddah, Hello Fadduh (yes, it's Muddah and Fadduh, not Mother and Father. Puleeze.) is really the driving force for this post tonight. Because I'm thinking about camp this summer. I'm thinking about one of Phoebe's friends who is at sleepaway camp this week, about all the kids who are at sleepaway or daycamp this week. And the song is ringing in my head--that's how it always works. They come unbidden, when an association autodials them up in my Neuro-Rolodex (oh god, I'm realizing that people might not know what a Rolodex is anymore either. No, it's not a watch.) and there I am, walking around singing, embarassing my daughter (as I have been recently informed. Yes, it has started already). I am thinking about how I had thought of trying to arrange a riding camp for Phoebe this week. I had thought about whether she should re-enroll at the day camp she attended last summer, the one with the lake and swimming lessons. I am thinking of the swim tags we have for swimming in the unheated town pools and the local reservoirs. I am thinking of summer. And I am sitting here, listening to the thunder, watching the pouring rain. We had 26 days of rain in June. And today, July 1, it was raining harder than ever. How could anyone not think of Allan Sherman?

So, with no further ado, here you go. It might not count, but it's called for.



(psssst. It's October 1st. And 5'2". Just so's you know.)