Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's morning in America


Democratic control of the House AND Senate! This is a day to remember.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Can't...stop...laughing at the Republicans

OK, just two more:

Greedy Obfuscating Predators

Gang of Perverts

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wherein I interrupt my blogging break to make fun of Republicans

OK, I know I just said I have no time for blogging at the moment, but this past weekend's looney revelations about more Republican crimes and misdemeanors are just too good to pass up. So let the snark begin:


GOP:

Guarding Our Pedophiles

Groping Our Pages

Gruesome Old Perverts


(And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head...)


More to come soon, both of anti-Republican snark (a special gift to my troll!) and an update on the Peanut's 2nd birthday festivities.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Still not in blogging mode at the moment

Not sure if anyone is still reading this anyway, but just popping in to say that I am still not feeling like I can devote much time or attention to blogging at the moment. Between dealing with my full-time job, toddler and house, there are just not enough hours in the day for this. Hopefully at some point, but not now.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Natives getting restless

I guess it was only a matter of time before a right-winger found my blog.

So tiresome. Not feeling inclined to deal with it at the moment, except to say this to said right-winger, if he or she is still out there:

How about you try to learn about what is going on in the real world from an actual news source such as Salon.com, instead of just watching Fox News?

It must be nice to live in your own reality, where chronically-underfunded local governments own platoons of helicopters and have staff and emergency plans in place to rescue thousands of people, and also have the hundreds of millions of dollars it would take to fix a levee.

(Also: you're goddamn right I'm entitled to my opinion. That's why it's MY fucking blog. You can write whatever you want on yours.)

So, because I am pissed off in general today for other reasons, comments are off until I damn well feel like turning them back on.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Random Friday thoughts

It is deserted in my office today. August has been exceedingly quiet, but even for August, it seems like more people are out today than usual. Traffic was light this morning too, which is always a delight. Particularly since I am still traumatized by having come very close, yet again, to a really bad car accident the other day. People drive on Route 2 in Cambridge like it's the Autobahn, and it is pissing me off.

Mr. Fraulein, the Peanut and I were all in the car, and a big Jeep came inches away from smashing into our Honda as we changed lanes. It seemed like we could feel the rush of air as the Jeep went flying past us on the left, veering right into our lane--going much, much faster than we were. Luckily I wasn't accelerating fast enough to hit the guy. Time seemed to stand still as the cars veered close together, but, thank God, not close enough to collide.

Something held us back. Maybe it was just luck. Or maybe it was Bevin, the Peanut's guardian angel.

Meanwhile a good friend of mine was supposed to have had her twins by scheduled C-section yesterday morning, and now, a day and a half later, no word has come yet on how they are all doing.

I don't like not knowing what's going on but am feeling reluctant to call the hospital. I don't want to bother my friend and her family. Still, it will be a relief when the e-mail comes, giving names and birth weights and other details.

But tonight--Praise the gods!--our niece, newly arrived from California to attend a Boston-area college, is providing free babysitting, so Mr. Fraulein and I are getting out on the town. Or as close as we come to it, which may just be going out to eat Thai food in peace, without toddler screaming and half-eaten food and sippy cups sailing through the air.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Gulf Coast R.I.P.

Here's hoping you rise again.

"Your president," I said, "cut funds for the levees, ignored the need to restore the wetlands which protected new Orleans for years, and then when the levees failed had to have a special picture show made for him to demonstrate how bad things were. But he didn't care because Orleanians aren't in the right party or class. He let people broil and drown in their own living rooms. Then he flew over it and said `Wow, things look pretty devastating from up here...I'll bet it's even worse down there." Then his buddies cranked up the propaganda machine. They tried to convince people that Orleanians weren't our kind of people and weren't worth saving. Look, there's a shirtless youth trying to break into a store (shown a million times). They blamed it on Blanco and Nagin. Blanco and Nagin couldn't do jackshit. This was the worst natural disaster in American history. Only the Federal Government had the power and resources to rescue these people, to plug the leaks, to attempt to drain the city and to save New Orleans. But it was more important to him to stick to his message: government is bad and will not help you. Turn to the churches. They posed him in front of church after putting stage lights on it, and he promised that he would bring back New Orleans better than ever. It's a year later. They still haven't even fixed the levees back the way they were BEFORE Katrina, and they are lying and telling people that they are. Are the Dutch going to let Amsterdam fall to rubble because it is below sea-level? Are the Italians going to kiss-off Venice? Look. This is
not just a half a city of half a million people. It is a CULTURALLY SIGNIFICANT city of half a million people. The fact that you are willing to let it go says a lot about you and how far our country has declined in the care of people like you. I believe we are our brother's keeper. That's the difference between Republicans and Democrats. You think it's every man for himself. We think we are in this together. That's the difference. What New Orleans needs right now more than anything is a levee. The money to do that is in Iraq. Please don't vote Republican again."

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tribal warfare

There are many, many divisions in American culture, not the least of which is class. We do a great job of hating each other based on how much money we make and how much stuff we have, or don't have. (With the rich leading the way, hating the rest of us with a virulence that never seems to taper out.) And of course our politics are more divisive now than at any time since the 1960s. But the thing that really threatens to tear us apart now, perhaps irrevocably, is race.

More than anything else, Hurricane Katrina proved this. As a middle class white person, I've found you tend to settle in to a certain comfort zone. You think, well, the civil rights movement and the race riots are ancient history. We've come a long way. How naive and stupid we were to think this!

Just about a year ago, we watched on TV as a heavily black region of our own country was wiped off the map, and it made barely a ripple in our collective consciousness. As mind-meltingly difficult as it is to believe, most of the country had this reaction: "What were those people thinking, staying put instead of jumping into their air conditioned SUVs and driving out of town ahead of the storm? That's what we would have done. And all that looting. So uncouth. We would have simply gone to a restaurant, if we were hungry or needed bottled water! Those people deserved what they got. I certainly don't want my taxes raised to clean up that mess. Let them take care of themselves."

And then nobody cleaned up a goddamn thing down there, and we all went on with our lives. Out of sight, out of mind.

I couldn't help but think of Katrina and its woeful aftermath when the news broke about the plan for the next season of Survivor. What could be more appropriate than to have the teams compete based on race? The whites fighting the blacks fighting the Asians fighting the Latinos. I said to a friend of mine that if The Onion had done a piece with this premise, I would have gotten the queasy feeling that I sometimes get when reading that site, that sometimes they go a little too far. But no, this is reality, in America in 2006. This is how far we've degraded ourselves since the era of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, that some sleazebag TV producer proposes this premise, and it gets greenlighted.

What's next? Prime-time snuff films?

But beyond the gruesomeness of the idea that, you know, the Latinos will band together and try to outwit the whites with their native cunning, or some such equally repugnant horseshit, there is the pervasive misperception that we all fit neatly into exact racial groups. Tribes, if you will. We are European-American and African-American and Mexican-American and whatever.

This is bullshit on its face, and we all know it. My own family is an example, but then again most families are an example. If you go back far enough, I assure you, not everyone in your family will be 'pure' Irish or Spanish or anything else. When I look into my Peanut's beautiful face, I see my Sicilian family in her scrumptious chubby cheeks and my husband's Chinese family in the gentle curve of her eyes. She is not one thing or the other. She is Italian and Chinese but most of all she is American. The combination of her genes makes her who she is. Her birthright is to be all of these things, and to be first and foremost an American citizen -- with all the rights and responsibilities that come along with that citizenship.

The evil dirtbags who want us to believe that you have to be only one thing to be an American -- only white or only black or only Asian or only Latino -- are our common enemy. It's an old cliche in some ways, but it holds more true than ever today: if we refuse to hang together, we'll surely hang separately. Given the sometimes violently racist culture we live in today, I can only hope that someday, when the Peanut goes to school and sees a roomful of kids with mixed-race characteristics, just like her, that they can all find a better way to get along than their parents did.

Conversations with a toddler

Conversation 1:

Scene: Wilson Farms, outside the pony enclosure, the other day. I am holding the Peanut in my arms as we watch the ponies.

Peanut, absentmindedly fingering my bra strap: Mommy bra.

Me: That's right, I have my bra on.

Peanut: No (Peanut's real name) bra.

Me: That's right, you're not wearing a bra.

Peanut, thinking for a minute: No pony bras, either.

Me: Um, right. The ponies are not wearing any bras.

(My 1.3 readers will, of course, recall that this was not my first bizarre conversation with the Peanut about bras.)


Conversation 2:

Scene: Our dining room, yesterday at lunchtime. The babysitter was feeding the Peanut her lunch and I was preparing to leave for a physical therapy appointment. What with picking up a kid who weighs almost 30 pounds, it's no wonder I'm having lower back issues...

Me: OK, so I'm off to the doctor.

Peanut, concerned: Mommy leaving?

Me: Well, I have to go -- remember mommy's back boo-boo? I need the doctor to help me to make it better.

Peanut: OK. Bye-bye, Mommy.

Later that evening, as we put the Peanut to bed...

Peanut: Mommy back boo-boo all gone now?

Me: Well, not exactly. Thanks for asking though!


Conversation 3:

Scene: My bedroom, the other morning as I was getting ready to leave for work and to take the Peanut to day care. The Peanut had been with me in the bathroom not long after I got out of the shower, and for some reason she took a liking to my Dove deodorant. She then carried it into the bedroom, where she had followed me to watch me getting dressed. She refused to let it go.

Me: OK, we really have to get ready to go now -- we have to leave the deodorant here.

Peanut: No! Hold dee-oh-tet-tet! Hold dee-oh-tet-tet!

Me: Well, the deodorant is, uh, getting sleepy. We need to put it down for a nap before we leave.

Peanut, giving it a hug and a kiss and laying it down on my bed: Night-night, dee-oh-tet-tet.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Republicans, unmasked

This post by "TRex" at Firedoglake is so good I'm just stealing it outright. (Which I know is kind of a blogging faux pas, but it's like this person pulled these sentiments directly out of my brain. So I'm stealing away...) Definitely stop by the original page for the accompanying photo, though.

As we were discussing last night, since Ned Lamont won the Connecticut Senate primary, the intervening six days have seen the Republican party going out of its way to show its true colors with regards to its (very) thinly veiled racist agenda and its intolerance toward people of color and white people who support them. Of course, it goes way beyond that, but that’s as good a place to start as any.

The bottom line is that the Republican party is an elite club for wealthy whites and token minorities who will join their ranks and spew racist swill alongside their white brethren. Anyone who tells you differently is a liar, and anyone (like Ann Coulter or Michelle MalKKKin) who insists that liberals are the real racists is either mentally ill or they’re simply being willfully obtuse.

But let’s look at the evidence, shall we?

Back in April, this blog featured a series of posts dedicated to exposing the writhing grub-white underbelly of modern GOP racism in the blogging world and in the world of talk radio and television news and beyond. All the posts in the series were outstanding, and the message that came blaring through loud and clear at the end of the series was that today’s Republican party is merely a JC Penney White Sale away from its cross-burning, lynching, Jim Crow roots. A mere 40 years separate us from the forced integration of the southern states, when segregationist Democrats in the south crossed party lines to become Republicans and moderate Republicans opposed to American apartheid left the GOP to become Democrats.

40 years is not a very long time. Many of the wealthy white men in positions of power within the GOP made their political fortunes in this era and today, from their perches high on their ivory towers of privilege, they continue to push policy and political initiatives which routinely disenfranchise minority Americans. Who could forget Trent Lott’s ham-fisted attempt to justify the segregationist views of Strom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential campaign?

"I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either," Lott said at last week’s party.

Reality-based English translation: "These problems" equals "uppity ni&&@rs", i.e., "If Strom Thurmond had won the presidential race and upheld racial segregation in this country, fat white chucklefucks like me would have a lot easier time maintaining our choke-hold on the reins of power."

The RNC clean-up squads were dispatched, Lott was forced to apologize, and faced a nominal punishment, as is the likely fate of Virginia Republican George Allen, who is currently under fire for calling a 20-year-old Virginia man "Monkey Boy" in Tunisian slang and "welcoming" him to America, because OBVIOUSLY a brown-skinned liberal person couldn’t actually be born and raised in lily-white Virginia! Of course, the staffer, S. R. Siddarth was born and raised in Virginia, but to a Real Republican, that’s simply not enough. You have to be born and raised in America with skin whiter than Ivory Soap to be a "Real American" like George Felix Allen, Timothy McVeigh, or Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.

Then take into account the push by a group of southern Republicans to derail the Voting Rights Act earlier this summer, which, thankfully, failed. But how about my own state’s Photo ID voting requirements, which are being pushed on the public by the same legislators opposed to the renewal of the Voting Rights Act, and which is vigorously opposed by state Democrats, the Southern Poverty Law Center and other progressive organizations. Not to mention the staggering indifference shown by FEMA and the administration toward the stranded victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mike Chertoff had to be told in a live interview by NPR’s Robert Siegel that the Convention Center was even there, let alone that a few thousand people were trapped there in desperate hunger, filth, and fear.

But if you back up and look at the even bigger picture, the Republican party’s entire 2006 electoral agenda is based around punishing people for not being white. Republicans on Immigration equals Stop the Evil Brown-Skinned Latino Hordes from Coming Here to Live. Republicans on Terrorism equals Stop the Evil Brown-Skinned Arabs and Islamic Asians from Blowing Up Our Planes and Bridges. Republicans on Ned Lamont equals PLEASE Stop the Evil Black Voters from Banding Together and Forming a Legitimate Threat to Our All-White Boys’ Club. The time has come to punch through their codified euphemisms and strike at the truth of their rhetoric. Republicans are melanin-ophobics.

Kanye West was right. Republicans are the Party of Racism. So, start pinning them to the wall on it. Ask a Republican, "Why do you hate black people?" or "Why are you so scared of Mexicans?" or "Why do you think that all Arabs are terrorists?"

REPUBLICANS ARE RACIST FUCKERS. STOP LETTING THEM GET AWAY WITH THIS SHIT.

Ask Ann Coulter what she really means about Maxine Waters and Affirmative Action, or MalKKKin and her Reconquistas. Ask George Allen why he calls brown-skinned people monkeys. Ask the Weakly Standard what the fushizzuck they meant by that stupid cover with Al Sharpton as Step N Fetchit.

The gilmpses of Old School White Fright we get when these dullards slip up and speak their minds are not aberrations. It’s when the real soul of the Party of Bigots slips its leash and evades its handlers and jumps out, however briefly, for us all to see. Then the handlers and spinners come out and tell us, "You saw nothing! You heard nothing! The views Senator Whitey McCracker espoused in his unfortunate remarks do NOT represent the views of the GOP and blah de blah diddy blah…"

And that’s the big lie. Is your skin is a half-tone darker than a tan paper bag? More? Then, my friend, you are The Enemy to the Republican Party. Unless of course, you want to act, dress, think, talk, and legislate from a position somewhere to the right of Adolph Eichmann, THEN (and only then) are you welcome in the Republican tent, but first you have to be willing to sell out and actively work against other minority people. Only then do you become the kind of useful idiot the Republicans so desperately want on their side.

So, Firedogs, let’s call them out. Coulter, MalKKKin, Glenn Beck, William Bennett, George F. Allen, Krauthammer, Kristol, and Lott (oh, my!), Limbaugh, Hannity, John Gibson, and all the rest. It’s time for them to know that we see through their thin layer of PR spin all the way to the ugly all-white heart of racist, Repugnican America. This is 2006, fer fuck’s sake! Plantation America is no longer a viable concept. Unacceptable. And it’s up to us to raise the necessary Hell to call the public’s attention to the true, viciously exclusionary nature of the Reich Wing.

ATTACK!! ATTACK!! ATTAAAAAAAAAAAAACK!!!

Who’s with me?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thoughts on vacationing with a toddler

  • If you go on vacation with a toddler and attempt to put said toddler to sleep in a pack-and-play in the same hotel room with yourself and your husband, the child will refuse to fall asleep. For the entire vacation.
  • Then, because you have no choice if you want to eat for the next week, when you take this sleep-deprived kid out to restaurants, she will whine and scream her way through every meal.
  • It's also not a good idea to do all this at the same time as the toddler for some reason develops a pronounced fear of the dark which makes her start whimpering as soon as the sun goes down.
  • The toddler's resulting entreaties to be rocked in your lap and serenaded with "You Are My Sunshine" to keep the dark-outside monsters away will shatter your heart.
  • Then, if some asshole pulls out of a gas station onto the highway and comes within inches of sideswiping your car, when you start screaming, it will scare the bejeezus out of the toddler. You'll tell her mommy was just yelling at the Bad Guy to go away, and that everyone's OK now, and at first she'll look like she buys it.
  • But then she'll spend the next two days asking for confirmation that the Bad Guy is "all gone." This anxiety will not help the anxiety about the dark.
  • In spite of all this, if your toddler gets to spend plenty of time digging in the sand, examining horseshoe crabs, and running into the waves, she will have an awesome time.

Brilliant brilliant brilliant

The consistently-amazing "NanceGreggs" over at Democratic Underground nails the buffoonery of our airline 'security' obsession:

We’ve now got people at airports being prevented from boarding a plane with a bottle of Listerine, all so they can fly in complete safety and comfort while sitting on top of a cargo hold full of luggage and boxes that no one has bothered to inspect.

Read the whole column here.

Friday, August 04, 2006

In which I try to leave a friend a voice mail

Me: Hi, Cheryl, it's me, I just wanted to touch base with you about getting together this weekend to bring over the baby stuff. How does Saturday late morning, after I get my hair cut can you stop clinging to my leg, honey? What do you want? Your sippy cup? Here you go.

Peanut: (Emits long, high-pitched whining sound.)

Me: OK, sorry about that. (Peanut's real name) is hanging on my leg like an orangutan, and what do you want, this flashlight? You want to play with the flashlight? OK, but be careful...

Peanut: (Puts down sippy cup, picks up flashlight and starts swinging it around.)

Me: So anyway, I'm thinking I'll call you after I get done with my hair appointment and then maybe I can WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Stop whacking the coffee table with that flashlight! Look what you did -- you gave the coffee table a boo-boo! We don't hit the furniture with flashlights!

Peanut: (Gives me a concerned look, bursts into tears, smacks coffee table with flashlight one last time for good measure.)

Me: OK, that's it, you're having a time out! Not you, Cheryl.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Waiting

One friend's twins are due in a few weeks, but in all likelihood she'll go into labor before her due date, because twins usually come early, or so I hear. I was a twin, and I arrived a month early, weighing 5 pounds. (There my mom sat, in the final days of 1968, not knowing until the very end of her pregnancy that she was carrying two very small babies--one of whom would be stillborn. When I had my Peanut, I finally understood what my mother must have felt on New Year's Day in 1969--the joy of having a living daughter, and the anguish over her dead son. But that is another story for another day.)

So my friend waits, joyful in the knowledge that even if her twins come now, they'll be big enough. They'll make it. The boy and the girl. She and her husband will wait, thrilled at what is to come.

Meanwhile another friend, five weeks into her pregnancy, tells me, "I had a miscarriage." The hopes for this pregnancy are at an end. She and her husband will mourn and regroup and try again. They'll wait, hopeful, for what is to come.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Rooting for the bad boss

The other night a few of my coworkers and I went out to have a few drinks and see the movie "The Devil Wears Prada," which is an adaptation of Lauren Weisberger's tell-all book about working at Vogue under Anna Wintour. As my 1.3 regular readers are no doubt aware, I have worked for numerous certifiably insane, Michael Scott-like women bosses. So I was prepared to loathe Meryl Streep's Wintour-with-a-shot-of-Martha-Stewart character, Miranda Priestly.

But my reaction to her was a bit of a shock. I actually found myself rooting for her.

Maybe it's just that Meryl Streep is such a completely amazing actress, but I thought she brought quite a bit of humanity to what could have been a one-note role. Naturally I'd be mortified if the first thing my boss did when she came in the door was throw her purse and coat on my desk. Or if she referred to me as a "fat girl." (Particularly if I was a size six!) But what I think a lot of women will find compelling about Streep's Miranda is that, lacking in interpersonal skills though she may be, no one in her company questions that she's the one in charge. And she cuts through the office bullshit and gets stuff done. Personally I admire anyone who can pull that off--particularly a woman in an ultra-high-stress job.

I guess the difference between the Miranda character and the nightmare women bosses of my old jobs is that Miranda actually knows something about her job and her industry. She knows everything about them, and she's not afraid to use that knowledge to further her agenda. Whereas the marketing director at The Management Consulting Firm that Must Not Be Named was clueless about pretty much everything, up to and including the fact that everybody in the place laughed at her behind her back. Her total inability to grasp the rules of professional etiquette never ceased to amaze. For months after I left that job, I would have a low-level PTSD reaction every time I thought about it, complete with thumping heart and sweaty palms.

But even so, when Anne Hathaway's put-upon assistant character in "Devil" abruptly chucks the job she's been killing herself to succeed at, it seemed to me like a cop-out. She doesn't want to devote her whole life to her job (who does?) so, just when she's on the cusp of real success (read: WAY more money, more trips to Paris, additional piles of designer clothing, etc.) she quits outright. To spend more time with her boyfriend, who vaguely resembles a Hobbit, and with whom she's already broken up. Does this decision ring true to anybody? If you were 22 years old with no commitments, wouldn't you stick around to bear the fruits of that success for a little while longer, before leaving to take the principled-but-lousy-paying journalism job?

Then again maybe I had this reaction because I know all too well how thankless the journalism martyr route can be. You think you're going to save the world, but what you are actually going to do is write about the local planning board for the princely sum of $24,000 a year, eat nothing but frozen Weight Watchers entrees (which you must buy on sale in bulk) and go into the office on Christmas Eve to listen to the police scanner in case there's a fire or a horrible car accident somewhere. That used to be me.

So if I was Hathaway's Andy, I would have totally taken the Valentino and the Jimmy Choos and stuck it out with Miranda, at least for a little while longer.

Growing up


Not only has the Peanut been binky-free for about five days now without major incident, but she also peed in the potty twice yesterday.

My baby's growing up!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Coming into the light

From Daily Kos, the story of a die-hard Republican reformed. With just a couple million more conversions like this--and, God willing, an actual free and fair Congressional election later this year--maybe, just maybe, we can save the world.

Visualize impeachment...

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"This guy is so dumb he has no idea how dumb he is."

This column gets it exactly right. You say you think W. is actually a smart guy, in spite of all appearances? You're lying.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Princess envy

From the moment the Peanut emerged into the world and surprised me by not being a boy, as I'd imagined for nine months, I vowed that she would be raised in a steadfastly feminist household. There was to be no foolishness with this Disney Princess crap. No Barbie unrealistic-body-image nonsense. By God, this kid would learn that there ain't going to be no knight riding in on a white horse. I was going to raise a strong woman who would love herself for who she is. Who wouldn't waste a minute putting her happiness in the hands of men, instead of deciding that, boyfriend or no boyfriend, she's going to be happy. On her own terms.

I still fervently hope to raise that strong woman. But in the meantime, to my horror, I fear there are going to be princesses afoot in my house.

This is because of what happened at our neighbor's daughter's 2nd birthday party this weekend. At the very end of the gift opening, the birthday girl received a dress-up set with a poofy, lacy, pink skirt and a tiara. She smiled with glee as she modeled her new outfit for her guests. I sat on the floor next to the Peanut and watched her reaction.

Her mouth hanging open slightly, her eyes widening in awe, the Peanut pointed toward the birthday girl. "TI-AAAA-RA," the Peanut said in a reverent tone, mimicking the word she heard the adults saying all around the room. Then she looked at me and pointed at her own head. "TI-AAAA-RA!"

I think I know what somebody wants for her own 2nd birthday later this year...

I suppose I will give in and get her the tiara and the poofy princess skirt, because I can see it's going to make her soooo happy. But that knight on the white horse -- he's history. He is never setting foot in my house.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Communication

Yesterday, during my work-at-home day, the Peanut's babysitter left once the Peanut went down for a nap so she could get some errands done. When my girl woke up, she was calling the babysitter's name.

"It's just mommy for the moment," I said, lifting her onto the changing table for a quick change. "Is it OK if it's just me for now?"

She stood up so I could pull her pants back up. "Mommy," the Peanut said, giving me a hug and resting her head on my shoulder. (She is so tall now that when she stands on the changing table, her head is a little bit higher than mine.) Then she removed her arms from around my neck, stood back and looked deep into my eyes. (Her eyes are like the darkest chocolate, melting out of the sweetest brownie sundae in the world.) "Mommy."

Outrage

This is totally outrageous:

Big Dig Possible Defect Count Quadrupled
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By GLEN JOHNSON Associated Press Writer

July 13,2006 BOSTON -- Inspectors on Thursday quadrupled to 240 the number of possible ceiling bolt problems in a Big Dig tunnel where a woman was crushed by falling concrete, a still-closed section at the center of Gov. Mitt Romney's push to oversee the safety of the troubled project.

The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority said inspectors found additional bolt assemblies that were separating from 3-ton concrete roof panels, raising the number of defects over previous inspections that found 60 defects. The earlier defects were enough for officials to order a sweeping review of every roadway, tunnel and bridge in Boston's entire highway system.

Michael Lewis, director of the Big Dig, said inspectors found 68 suspect bolt assemblies over the westbound lanes of a connector tunnel providing the main route to Logan Airport. Forty-five more were discovered in a lane carrying carpool traffic, as well as 69 in ramps connecting two interstate highways.

Because apparently every contractor involved in this project was just out to steal as much money as possible and avoid doing their jobs the right way, this woman's kids are motherless now, and her husband is a widower. Somebody needs to go to jail for this. Probably a lot of people should be in jail.

And here in Boston, how will we ever feel safe again driving through these tunnels? Completely freaking unbelievable.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

50 questions for your Republican friends

I found this in a comment on AmericaBlog and it is hilarious. So props to poster "Vegas Baby," whoever you are:


1. What are the top seven best things that the Bush administration has done?

2. Is the Iraq War is going well?

3. After three years thus far, when do you think Iraq might be able to "stand up" so that America can "stand down"?

4. For his part in the event, how would you rate the job the President did protecting New Orleans from devastation?

5. How do you think the rebuilding of New Orleans is going?

6. When Dick Cheney and the oil company and energy executives met in private to plan America's energy policy, how much of their goal was to benefit consumers?

7. Do you believe in the President's call for an Era of Personal Responsibility?

8. Since Republicans control the White House, Senate and House of Representatives, how personally responsible are they for conditions in America today?

9. Why do you think they haven't been able to find anyone who can verify that George Bush ever showed up for National Guard duty in Alabama?

10. Would you want Donald Rumsfeld to plan your daughter's wedding?

11. Are you aware that no government in the history of civilization, other than the Bush administration, has lowered taxes during a war?

12. Are you married?

13. Do you personally feel threatened by gay marriage?

14. Since getting elected, do you think the President has been more a uniter or a divider?

15. How do you explain the President's approval rating going from a high of 90% to the current mid-30%?

16. Do you like the government collecting personal data on you without a warrant?

17. How much money do you have in your bank account, stocks and investments?

18. What's your partner's favorite sex position?

19. If you have nothing to hide, why aren't you answering?

20. Should we build a wall along the Mexican border?

21. Why isn't anyone building a wall along the Canadian border?

22. Does that terrorist gang arrested in Canada count as a threat?

23. If you shot someone in the face while drinking, how fast would the police show up to arrest you?

24. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding three years ago, would the guests still be there?

25. Even if no laws are broken, do you think it's okay to reveal the name of a covert agent?

26. During your lifetime, approximately how often have you changed your mind?

27. Why shouldn't people dismiss you as a flip-flopper?

28. Where do you think the Weapons of Mass Destruction might be?

29. Where do you think Osama bin Laden might be?

30. Is it fiscally responsible to cut taxes, increase spending and create a $9 trillion federal debt?

31. Are you glad liberals passed such programs as Social Security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, women's suffrage, federal deposit insurance, unemployment compensation, rural electrification, child labor laws, minimum wages and the 40-hour work week?

32. What are the top ten best things that conservatives have given to America?

33. If you were on life support, would you want a doctor you'd never met making a diagnosis about you via remote television?

34. Do you think man-made greenhouse gases have anything at all to do with depleting the ozone layer?

35. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding three years ago, and guests were still there, how many factions would they now be split into?

36. How good is it that the terrorist Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was killed?

37. Are you aware that in 2002 the Pentagon knew where al-Zarqawi was and presented three separate plans to kill him, but the administration refused to act each time?

38. Is George W. Bush the kind of guy you'd want to sit down and have a beer with?

39. When he started talking about being a born again Christian, would you want to stay or leave?

40. Is Ray Romano the kind of guy you'd want to sit down and have a beer with?

41. Would you want him to be President?

42. Does the Administration have an environmental policy that benefits the environment?

43. Since George Bush campaigned for President strongly against nation building, in what ways are our actions in Iraq not nation building?

44. What's the maximum amount of time you'd want to spend alone with Dick Cheney?

45. After dismissing Saddam Hussein's old Iraqi army, was it a good idea to let them keep their rifles?

46. Would a policy that allows torture be something that makes you proud as an American?

47. Has the Mission been Accomplished?

48. Do you feel comforted that Dick Cheney is a heartbeat away from being President?

49. If Donald Rumsfeld had planned your daughter's wedding, and guests started fighting and were killed, would you expect to be allowed to view the caskets when they were returned home?

50. How glad do you think George Bush is that he's no longer active in the National Guard?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Holy crap

Nice to know we're so safe driving around the Big Dig. If you needed one more reason not to drive to Logan Airport, here it is.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Binky withdrawal

The Peanut had the shakes this morning--the withdrawal was bad. Mr. Fraulein had taken the binky out of her mouth before she woke up. Given that she's 21 months old now, we only let her have the pacifier while she sleeps, and even that we feel like we should start cutting back on soon...so once she was fully awake and realized that her beloved binky was gone, she was one unhappy Peanut.

She started whimpering, looking around for it. Within seconds this escalated into a full-blown tantrum, complete with tears streaming down her face, heaving sobs, and screaming. Oh, the screaming.

"BINKY! BINKY! BINKY!"

This continued all through diaper changing and dressing. Why were we such cruel parents, ripping her heart out like this? I tried to explain that she is such a big girl now that soon she won't need the binky at all anymore. I tried hugs and kisses. We attempted to distract her with sippy cups and cereal, but the sobbing continued.

Then we switched gears into ignoring the tantrum, as all the books advise. She decided to lie down on the floor in the hallway in front of her room. There she stayed while we finished getting dressed and packing her lunch. Finally, realizing she wasn't getting attention anymore, she picked herself up, stopped crying, and came into the kitchen to have breakfast. The binky was not mentioned again, even during the car ride to day care.

With any luck we won't see too many more binky-withdrawal-related tantrums like that one. Mama's heart can't take it!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

June 30, 2002

On the night before my wedding, I didn't sleep at all. Not because I was particularly nervous. I'm actually not sure why I got no sleep. Somehow I made it through the whole wedding day craziness on adrenaline alone.

There are some things that remain seared on your memory; like everything that happened on the day the Peanut was born, my wedding day was one such event. The morning was a complete whirlwind. My parents' house was Hair and Makeup Central for myself, my mom, and my three bridesmaids. My mother, in her usual fashion, decided our hair stylist had done a crappy job, so with the limo minutes from arriving at the house to take us to the church, took a curling iron to her head to start over. I took a break from the photographer to run upstairs to tell her to get a move on, and when she took a good look at me in my dress and veil, she burst into tears.

My mom's hair crisis averted, we piled into the limo. The sun looked gorgeous on the trees, as well as, during the ceremony, pouring through the stained glass windows. My girls were perfection in their light purple silk Jackie O suits -- no stupid poofy bridesmaids dresses in this wedding! They walked into the church first, along with the groomsmen (Mr. Fraulein's brother and two friends). And then my dad and I came up the stairs and around the corner, to the beginning of the aisle.

And all our guests -- our family and friends -- STOOD UP, and the church lit up with flashing cameras. My dad and I took our walk to the altar, where Mr. Fraulein stood waiting, smiling at me.

An hour later, we were Mr. and Mrs. Fraulein, on our way to a massive party that included, among other things, several conga lines, many Ella Fitzgerald tunes, and the best dessert bar in the history of mankind. (People are still talking about it.) "This was the best party I've been to in 20 years," my Uncle Carmine said that night, giving me a hug. Like all the best celebrations, it was like a door opening, ushering in the beginning of something even bigger and better.

We've had four years of vacations and house buying, working and not working, cooking (mostly done by Mr. Fraulein!) and minor home renovations (also done by Mr. Fraulein). And laughing and crying and getting the hang of being parents to our Peanut.

Here's to 30 more years of celebrations to come!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Down the rabbit hole

So MSNBC thinks it's reasonable to debate whether the New York Times -- taking a rare break from its usual non-stop promotion of Bush's interests -- is guilty of treason for reporting on some secret government plan to covertly track people's financial activities in the hunt for "terrorists."

A "news" network is home to this debate, in America in 2006. Somewhere, Edward R. Murrow is weeping, and Joseph Stalin is grinning.

Harry Potter update

From the AP: J.K. Rowling says she's going to kill off two characters in the final Harry Potter book:

June 27,2006 LONDON -- Author J.K. Rowling said two characters will die in the last installment of her boy wizard series, and she hinted Harry Potter might not survive either...

..."I have never been tempted to kill him off before the final because I've always planned seven books, and I want to finish on seven books," Rowling said Monday on TV here.

..."The final chapter is hidden away, although it's now changed very slightly. One character got a reprieve. But I have to say two die that I didn't intend to die," she said. "A price has to be paid. We are dealing with pure evil here. They don't target extras do they? They go for the main characters. Well, I do."

I just know she's going to kill off Harry. The narrative arc of the story is moving in that direction. It's the only thing that makes sense, as I realized when I read the last book. Voldemort's going to die, I'm sure, but I suspect Harry's going with him.

To see Rowling hint at this possibility in an interview makes it more real. Now I'm going to be depressed for the rest of the day!

A conundrum

The Huggies diapers generally work as advertised from the time we do the Peanut's last diaper change of the evening, around 7:30 p.m., until she wakes up at 6:30 a.m. Yet during today's 45-minute drive to the day care near our respective offices, we suffered the dreaded Diaper Containment Failure. And not just a little leak -- her pants were completely soaked.

"She's all wet," Mr. Fraulein said, lifting her out of the car seat. "Did she spill juice in here? It can't be the diaper."

But yes, it was the diaper. Time to disassemble the car seat and throw the cover in the wash, yet again! It seems like we do this at least once a week, for one reason or another. My friend who's expecting twins at the moment has no idea what she's in for...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Awesome blog titles

One of the things I love about being part of the Crazy Hip Blog Mamas webring is reading the list of blog titles each week, as new people add their blogs to the webring. It seems to be growing exponentially these days. I just wish I had more time to dive in and see what all these mamas are blogging about!

Some of the blogging mamas have obviously put a lot of thought into what to call their blogs. Here, in no particular order, are CHBM blog titles which I get a huge kick out of. One of these days I'll get around to actually reading them...

Mommy Needs a Martini

Send Chocolate

Binkytown

Crazy Ass Family

Crouching Mommy Hidden Laundry

From Hoochie to Mama

I Kick Ass for the Lord

Insert Expletive Here

Mother Scratcher (love the Raising Arizona reference!)

Step Away From the Barbies

Who Are These Kids?

Daddy's going braless today

One of the more amusing things about the Peanut's emerging language skills is the kind of questions she asks as she learns new words. Often as we're scrambling to get ready to leave the house in the morning, she will watch me getting dressed. Out of habit, I label everything for her so she learns the words.

"This is a bra," I say.

"Bra," she repeats, nodding her head. Then she points to her own chest and asks, "Bra?" Her meaning is clear as day from her inflection. Where is my bra, she wants to know. So I tell her that it will be a while yet before we go shopping for training bras.

Then we do a last-minute diaper change before we head out the door. She pulls out the collar of her daddy's shirt, peers in at his chest and asks, "Bra?" Cracks us up every time.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Peanut's Father's Day weekend

On Saturday afternoon we went to the zoo, inspired by visions of the baby gorilla who was to be on display. We knew that the Peanut, with her love of animals, would get a huge kick out of this. But we were somewhat lax in our usual no-liquids-right-before-car-rides policy. As a result, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot, our carsickness-prone Peanut vomited spectacularly all over the front of her shirt, creating a little puddle of fruit juice in her car seat. Ever prepared, we pulled out a spare T-shirt and shorts from her diaper bag. Mr. Fraulein crouched patiently in the stifling heat next to our screaming Peanut, who was standing beside the car, as he mopped up vomit, wiped off her face, and helped me dress her in clean clothes. Luckily, she fully recovered after this. Gorilla poop stink notwithstanding, she had a look of awe on her face as we watched the little baby gorilla romp around with the mommy and daddy gorillas.

Then on Sunday, we joined a crowd of our neighbors for a very loud brunch attended by kids ranging in age from 6 months to 6 years, followed by a trip outside to watch our town's annual Flag Day parade. The most anticipated feature of this parade is the candy toss. Nearly every float and public works vehicle held someone whose job it was to toss lollipops and Tootsie Rolls into the screaming crowd of kids. The Peanut didn't know from Tootsie Rolls, but she was all about the marching bands. She did her own marching in little circles on the sidewalk, accompanied by hip-shaking, dramatic arm movements, and clapping. Mr. Fraulein periodically lunged after her to keep her from running out into the street, and shielded her ears with his hands when the blank "shotgun blasts" went off.

Then, exhilarated and sticky with watermelon juice from brunch, the Peanut held her daddy's hand as we trooped in our own noisy parade back home for naptime.

'Three Guineas' quote of the day

Even when they meet privately and talk, as we have boasted, about ‘politics and people, war and peace, barbarism and civilization’, yet they evade and conceal. But it is so important to accustom ourselves to the duties of free speech, for without private there can be no public freedom, that we must try to uncover this fear and to face it. What then can be the nature of the fear that still makes concealment necessary between educated people and reduces our boasted freedom to a farce? ... Again there are three dots; again they represent a gulf—of silence this time, of silence inspired by fear. -- Virginia Woolf, Three Guineas

Mission accomplished

We slaughter their innocents at Haditha, then our soldiers sing a jaunty little tune about killing more of them. Then their militants slaughter our soldiers.

Heck of a job, Bushie.

Marines Corps investigates song about killing civilians

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A music video posted on the Internet that tells a tale about a U.S. Marine killing members of an Iraqi family is being condemned by an Islamic group and investigated by the Marine Corps.

The four-minute song, "Hadji Girl," appears to be sung by a Marine in front of a cheering audience. The lyrics talk about the Marine gunning down members of an Iraqi woman's family after they confront him with automatic weapons.

Lt. Col. Scott Fazekas, a spokesman for the Marines, said Tuesday that the Marines were aware of the video. Fazekas said officials don't know the identity of the singer or whether he is in the military.

The song was "inappropriate and contrary to the high standards expected of all Marines," Fazekas said. He said Marine officers are looking in to the matter.

Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that in light of recent allegations of atrocities committed by Marines in Haditha and other towns in Iraq, the video should be investigated by the Pentagon and Congress.

"The inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not be allowed to tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel," said Awad.

The video was posted anonymously on the www.youtube.com Web site, but was removed. It is still available on CAIR's web site, www.cair-net.org. A hadji is a pilgrim who journeys to Mecca. CAIR said the word has been used as a disparaging term by U.S. troops in Iraq.

"The video is not reflective of the tremendous sacrifices and dedication demonstrated, on a daily basis, by tens of thousands of Marines who have assisted the Iraqi people in gaining their freedom," Fazekas said. "We agree with the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations that the inappropriate actions of a few individuals should not tarnish the reputation of all American military personnel."

The singer is shown playing a guitar and singing about meeting an Iraqi woman and then being confronted by her brother and father, who have guns. The lyrics describe the Marine pulling the woman's little sister in front of him and watching blood spray from her head.

He then sings about blowing the father and brother "to eternity."

Defense officials are investigating allegations that U.S. Marines massacred as many as two dozen unarmed civilians in Haditha last November. Another probe is under way into charges that U.S. troops pulled an unarmed Iraqi man from his home in Hamandiya in late April and shot him to death without provocation.


Bodies of Missing U.S. Soldiers Recovered
- - - - - - - - - - - -
By KIM GAMEL Associated Press Writer
June 20, 2006 BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The bodies of two U.S. soldiers reported captured last week have been recovered, and an Iraqi defense ministry official said Tuesday the men were "killed in a barbaric way." The U.S. military said the remains were believed to be those of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore.

Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said U.S. forces -- part of a search involving some 8,000 American and Iraqi troops -- found the bodies late Monday near Youssifiyah, where they disappeared Friday. The bodies were recovered early Tuesday.

Caldwell said the cause of death was "undeterminable at this point," and that the bodies would be taken back to the United States for DNA tests to confirm the identities.

Al-Qaida in Iraq claimed responsibility for killing the soldiers, and said the successor to slain terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had "slaughtered" them, according to a Web statement that could not be authenticated. The language in the statement suggested the men had been beheaded.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: special Bloomsday edition

Today is June 16, the day on which James Joyce's Ulysses takes place. I wonder if anybody reads Ulysses anymore? It's a daunting read, and very time consuming to get through the whole thing, but certain parts are pure gold. It's classic modernist fun--quite different in scope and feeling and tone from Woolf's works, but still steeped in the modernist credo: describing life as it really is.

Oh, to be in Dublin downing a pint of Guiness right now...

Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed. Inshore and farther out the mirror of water whitened, spurned by lightshod hurrying feet. White breast of the dim sea. The twining stresses, two by two. A hand plucking the harpstrings, merging their twining chords. Wavewhite wedded words shimmering on the dim tide.

A cloud began to cover the sun slowly, wholly, shadowing the bay in deeper green. It lay beneath him, a bowl of bitter waters. Fergus’ song: I sang it alone in the house, holding down the long dark chords. Her door was open: she wanted to hear my music. Silent with awe and pity I went to her bedside. She was crying in her wretched bed. For those words, Stephen: love’s bitter mystery.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Starving babies; "flashy self-made millionaires"

Here's the lead story on Salon.com (subscription only) today:

Starving season

World hunger is by far the worst crisis humanity faces, and it's getting worse --especially in Africa. Until the West overcomes its apathy and works toward long-term solutions, millions of people -- many of them children -- will continue to die unnecessarily.

By Samuel Loewenberg

June 13, 2006 In a dust-blown clinic on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, scores of women crowd into a bunkerlike structure, clutching children with emaciated limbs and listless eyes. They have come to have their babies weighed. It is a tradition known to every parent. Here, the tradition has become a nightmare.

The medical staff take an infant named Bintow from the arms of his mother and place him in a black harness attached to a hand-held scale. He shrieks at the sudden discomfort, thrashing his arms and legs. His stomach bulges, all of his ribs are visible. The child is 10 months old. He weighs 9 pounds.

Bintow is lucky, as far as it goes. He is so badly underweight that he will receive an emergency ration: two weeks' worth of enriched cornmeal and oil. Only a third of the estimated 200 children at the center that day will receive care. There is simply not enough to go around.

And here's a couple of recent stories from the Boston Globe (I can't provide links because of the signup firewall) which cannot stop kissing the asses of the obscenely wealthy:

XXL

It happens all the time. A couple buys an estate-size home with multiple rooms and lavish amenities. Two-story fireplaces. Palatial entryways with formal staircases. Soaring coffered ceilings. Arched floor-to-ceiling windows.. First they're thrilled, says Sheri Edsall, a Needham interior designer. Then "they're panic-stricken. They can't deal with that much house." But many Boston-area residents are learning to deal with it.

The New Rich

Bye-bye Brahmins. Flashy self-made millionaires are taking over Boston.


Imagine if we had some journalists at the Globe, instead of a bunch of Republican National Committee functionaries who only think rich people matter?

Friday, June 09, 2006

So nice that it wasn't lice

The Drama of the Day for yesterday occurred when my babysitter brought the Peanut over to me and said, "Look at this. I think these are lice eggs in her hair."

Needless to say, this was far from welcome news. I have no idea what lice eggs look like, so to me it just looked like lint. But I thought, well, maybe she picked something up at the day care center, so I called them to ask about it. This set off a panic: "We haven't seen that in 10 years! You have to bring her to the doctor! Don't bring her back in until you confirm she doesn't have it!"

So that was the end of my normally peaceful work-at-home day. I started stripping off bedding, vacuuming, and preparing to sterilize the teddy bears by running them through the dryer. But luckily, the pediatrician confirmed it was a false alarm -- just some kind of food particles in the Peanut's hair.

As much of a pain as this was, we learned what to look for. If you see tiny white particles in the hair near the back of the neck and behind the ears, and they don't come off when you try to comb them out, that's probably lice.

We're thankful that the worst thing to emerge from this episode is that now the Peanut has learned the word "lice," and is running around yelling it at the top of her lungs. ("LICE! LICE! LICE!") Annoying, but not as annoying as having to disinfect the entire house.

Dreaming of size 10 pants

So even though the Peanut is 20 months old now, I still haven't lost the post-pregnancy weight. This is partly because I love to eat, and being pregnant was an excuse to wolf down things like macaroni and cheese, which I have now developed an excessive fondness for. It's also partly because I'm lazy. I've never been the exercising type.

Now I have 20 pounds to lose and I'm developing back problems because the extra weight is making it difficult for me to haul around a 27-pound toddler. When I got pregnant, I was 10 pounds above my fairly tolerable weight at my wedding. I've never been thin, but I was reasonably close when I got married. Now, post-baby, with an additional 10 pounds on top of the 10 pounds I gained after the wedding, my pre-pregnancy clothes are, for the most part, sitting in the closet mocking me. I have a few pairs of size 10 pants that I can squeeze into, but they're big 10s. Mostly now I need 12s, and this depresses me. It just seems too big for a short person like myself.

I have nothing to wear to work (thank God my office is pretty casual!) yet buying a new, size 12 work wardrobe seems too defeatist. So I'm trying to watch my diet and get some kind of exercise and/or stretching in every day. I have a couple of yoga DVDs by this guy, who is quite the character. He is all about the inner peace and the tranquility and the centering, and of course the flattering camera angles that show off his abs and his ponytail. I do find the routines helpful with my back and leg pain, but it's hard to get through one without laughing, particularly when he says "groins," as in, "You'll feel this stretch in your groins." I always thought I only had one groin, but who knows.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Look, over there! Gay people! AIIIGGGHHH!!

I just have one question: do you think that any of the Republican half-wits pushing this Defense of Marriage Amendment or We Hate all the Gay People Amendment or Ewww--Gays! Amendment or whatever they're calling it these days, have ever actually MET any gay people? If the lesbian couple across the way in my condo complex get married (and for all I know they already have) the Republicans tell me this endangers my heterosexual marriage.

How is that exactly? I want specifics. Will I or my husband suddenly turn gay? Can we catch The Gay from the municipal water system? Should we avoid public toilets? If we do come down with The Gay, is there an over-the-counter medicine we can take for that?

Why are people so scared of other people's loving relationships? It makes my head hurt just to think about this.

Your Republican party

"I have never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." -- Ann Coulter on the 9/11 widows

Want to know what the difference is between Ann Coulter and John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush?

There isn't any. This is the Republican party. All for one, one for all, and all nuts, all the time.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Random thoughts

It's hot and muggy and rainy here in eastern Massachusetts today, which always tends to make me cranky. I can't stand it when it's humid.

I can't believe it's been a week since I've posted anything. The time always goes too fast, and it seems there's never enough time for the things we want to do (reading, seeing friends, going out to dinner, even doing little home improvement projects) because the basic mechanics of life take so much time and energy. Once the Peanut is fed and bathed and has had her fill of storytime, we finally get her to sleep and just want to collapse in bed ourselves.

Another thing I can't believe is that in four months she will turn 2. Where did that time go? Lately I've been collecting things to give to an officemate who is expecting twins, and it makes me think back to the Peanut's newborn days. Digging out the Boppy pillow from the basement to add to the pile, I recalled my short-lived attempt at nursing and the odd limbo that followed, as I pumped milk for 10 weeks after it became clear that the Peanut was having none of this "latching on" thing. I would sit in the rocking chair in our bedroom holding a suction cup to each breast, thinking about how silly I must have looked.

Luckily the Peanut has been quite healthy so far, even though she only got a tiny amount of breast milk, so there you go.

With her birthday coming up, I'm already starting to think about party planning. Anyone have any thoughts on good birthday party themes for toddlers? The child guests will range from roughly the Peanut's age to about 6. Any ideas are welcome.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Overdue Friday lit. blogging: Franz Wright

The Only Animal

The only animal that commits suicide
went for a walk in the park,
basked on a hard bench
in the first star,
traveled to the edge of space
in an armchair
while company quietly
talked and abruptly
returned,
the room empty.

The only animal that cries
that takes off its clothes
and reports to the mirror, the one
and only animal
that brushes its own teeth—

Somewhere

the only animal that smokes a cigarette,
that lies down and flies backward in time,
that rises and walks to a book
and looks up a word
heard the telephone ringing
in the darkness downstairs and decided
to answer no more.

And I understand,
too well: how many times
have I made the decision to dwell
from now on
in the hour of my death
(the space I took up here
scarlessly closing like water)
and said I’m never coming back
and yet

this morning
I stood once again
in this world, the garden
ark and vacant
tomb of what
I can’t imagine,
between twin eternities,
some sort of wings,
more or less equidistantly
exiled from both,
hovering in the dreaming called
being awake, where
You gave me
in secret one thing
to perceive, the
tall blue starry

strangeness of being
here at all.

You gave us each in secret something to perceive.

Furless now, upright, My banished
and experimental
child

You said, though your own heart condemn you
I do not condemn you.

Kitty gone. Mama sad.

Recently we had to put our cat, Marcus, to sleep. He was not exactly a kitten at age 14, and after fighting gastrointestinal cancer for two and a half years, he was pretty much on his 9th life. But even though he was old and sick and we were expecting it, the loss of a pet brings its own unique kind of misery.

If you're not an animal person, this will probably sound strange to you. But now that he's gone, the emptiness in our house is palpable. I adopted Marcus from an animal shelter eight years ago. I knew him longer than I've known my husband.

He used to sprint from room to room in my old apartment at lightning speed (the cat, not the husband). When Marcus stalked the mysterious little flying bugs that showed up in that apartment periodically, he would sometimes leap into the air and catch one between his front paws. He'd sit on the back of the couch and look out the window and watch the birds. And when I was trapped in the claustrophobic grip of depression, he'd come silently up beside me and gaze at me with his deep green eyes, and purr. His purr sounded like an outboard motor.
When I slept on my stomach, he would curl up on my back. When he wanted to wake me up to give him breakfast, he'd gently lick my eyelids or my cheeks, or pat my arm with his paw.

Marcus put up with two house moves and the addition of a new human daddy and human little sister, all without the slightest complaint. And then he got cancer and we had to start giving him pills every day, which he hated. But his quality of life was undiminished for the most part, until shortly before he died.

He had been a fairly big cat, with long, glossy black fur that remained beautiful up until the end, but in his last couple of months he lost a lot of weight and became very bony. Then about two days before he died, he stopped eating. Twenty-four hours before he died, he was still jumping up on the couch. But the morning we decided to have him put to sleep, Marcus couldn't jump up anymore -- he couldn't even walk.

I carried him to his favorite windowsill in our living room so he could watch the blue jays in the trees that morning. I held Marcus in my arms when the vet administered the needle. He went out of our lives without a sound.

The Peanut looked from room to room for Marcus for a while, but now has stopped searching. But occasionally she will still say "Kitty?" in a questioning way, and I'll respond, "Kitty gone." And she will nod her head sagely and say "Kitty gone. Mama sad."

Journalism's finest hour

I swear to God, my head is about to explode. Just go read this, uh, "profile" of Bill Frist in the freaking Washington Post -- NOT The Onion -- but make sure you have a bucket handy, because it's going to make you want to heave.

Meanwhile, as the excellent Harry Shearer points out on Huffington Post, the whore-iffic New York Times has run a front-page story claiming the levees are pretty much fixed in New Orleans -- and buried the inconvenient news that they're actually, well, not so much fixed ("The overall New Orleans flood protection system...must be considered suspect") in the last paragraph.

I had a crotchety old journalism professor (is there any other kind?) named Seth King at Boston University who would have blown a gasket had this spectacular display of ass-kissing, ignoring of inconvenient facts, and general ineptitude been in evidence in the news business back then. (Back in the distant past of 1988, when I took his Journalism 101 class.)

I have no idea if old Seth is even still among the living, but if he's not, he is surely spinning in his grave.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Biggest public issue of the day: the Clintons' marriage

Today the New York Times returned to its late 1990s all-Clenis-all-the-time glory days with a front page dissection of Bill and Hillary Clinton's marriage.

Because it's not like there's anything else going on in Washington or in the rest of the country that you might want to devote your reporting resources to, if you were supposed to be one of the premier newspapers in the United States.

It's not like there's an unnecessary war going on or anything.

Or an entire American city lost to a hurricane and flood nine months ago, with practically none of the rubble cleaned up yet, and the next hurricane season about to begin.

Or a massive coordinated government effort to spy on the activities of ordinary citizens.

Or an unprecedented looming environmental catastrophe.

No, the most pressingly important issue in America today is how much time Bill and Hill are spending together these days. This is what they apparently think, over there at the New York Times. I would give any amount of money to hear what goes on in the editors' daily news meeting. What exactly is the thought process that leads to the conclusion that speculation over the personal lives of political figures is more important than what political figures ACTUALLY DO in their official capacities -- good, bad and indifferent? Why are the personalities deemed to be so much more important than the policies?

And WHY, for the love of all that is holy, does the press still think that Bill Clinton's mistakes have more impact on the country than George W. Bush's mistakes? Are they really that clueless? They actually think that we care more about Clinton having an affair than we do about the shredding of the Constitution and the killing and maiming of God knows how many people, in our name and funded by our tax dollars, FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Dear Peanut...

Dear Peanut:

In celebration of my second Mother's Day, I thought it would be a good time to write you a little letter and tell you how very very blessed I am to be your mama.

Of course I fell in love with you as soon as I saw you, but it's been even more amazing to get to know you and to realize that you are developing a strong personality of your own. I know you get frustrated sometimes because you are so perceptive and smart, and you want to try to do things that, at 19 months, are still beyond your reach. That's when you get mad and start howling and sometimes smack me or your daddy. But I love that as soon as we remind you about our "no hitting" rule, you get that look of concern on your face, because you know we don't like that, and you fling your arms around us to make sure we aren't really mad at you. Which we couldn't possibly be.

I love the way you seem to understand a scary amount of what is going on around you, and the way you make your requests undeniably clear. You want cheese and crackers for breakfast, every day, and you're going to keep telling us so even though we keep giving you Eggos and bananas. I guess you're thinking that, dense though we are, eventually we'll figure it out and serve up your cheese plate at 6 a.m.

I love the way you look slightly concerned and say "Mine!" when other kids climb onto the playground equipment you happen to be using at the time. But you never go and push anybody off of it.

I promise to teach you to be as strong and independent and fearless as you can possibly be, and to love yourself no matter what you look like or what you weigh. (But if present trends continue, and "beautiful" and "gorgeous" remain people's first reactions when they meet you, I'll try to teach you to deal with that reality, without becoming too full of yourself because of it.)

I hope very much that you grow up to love science and math like your daddy, so that your first job out of college pays way more than the slave wages I earned for my first journalism gig. And I pray that all through your school years you'll be able to look the bullies in the eye with pity and laugh.

I'm so grateful that you came into my life.

Love,

Mama

Friday, May 12, 2006

"...let Facts be submitted to a candid world..."

Are we ready for a new Declaration of Independence yet? How far gone will things be in this country before people start to wake up?

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 2006

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America


When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these States; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King George is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

Here's the facts, then:

  • World Trade Center: Gone
  • New Orleans: Drowned; abandoned
  • Middle class: Disappearing
  • Rich: Getting richer, thanks to tax cuts
  • Poor: Screwed
  • Environment: Raped
  • Civil liberties: Obliterated
  • Corporations: Fat and happy
  • America's armed forces: Sent to die for no reason


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Spring in New England

My head is so congested from the freakish amount of pollen in the air that my eyeballs feel like they're about to shoot out of my skull, and yet when I left the house this morning, it was so cold that I wished I had gloves on.

Welcome to spring in New England, shortly to be followed by summer in New England, which for the past several years has featured rain forest levels of humidity.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Story of the weekend

This past weekend, Mr. Fraulein and the Peanut and I took a road trip to lovely Brattleboro, VT, to visit some friends of ours and their 5- and 2-year-old daughters. Much dessert and many brunch items were consumed, innumerable baby dolls were played with, and, in spite of a few minor toddler tantrums, fun was had by all. I have to share this great story about an excellent comeback by the 5-year-old, little A., to an overbearing relative.

The way my friend S., A.'s mommy, tells it, during a recent family gathering, they were introduced to S.'s uncle's new wife, who apparently at one time was a noteworthy ballet dancer. (At least, according to New Wife herself.) Upon being introduced to A., and hearing that A. is very fond of her ballet classes, New Wife proceeded to drill the 5-year-old on her knowledge of the ballet positions, etc. She also rather condescendingly insisted that in the future, A. would look back on this meeting with no small amount of awe, since she would then know what a famous onetime-dancer she had met.

"I used to be a ballerina," New Wife smugly pronounced.

To which A. responded: "I'm STILL a ballerina."

Colbert: Genius

Edward R. Murrow, meet Stephen Colbert. It's pretty pathetic that the best muckrakers today are comedians.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: Tennyson's "Ulysses"

Awesome, awesome poem. It's all about determination--I love the part about "'Tis not too late to seek a newer world..."


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.


I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vest the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers;
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breath were life. Life piled on life
Were all to little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.


This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle-
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.


There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me-
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads- you and I are old;
Old age had yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices.
Come, my friends,'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.


Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal-temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

[1842]

Monday, April 24, 2006

'Geisha' question

So this weekend Mr. Fraulein and I rented the DVD of "Memoirs of a Geisha." Watching this movie brought up the same question I remember having when I read the book many years ago: Why is it that we are not supposed to think the geisha are prostitutes? Obviously they are being forced into it, but still...they live in a house run by a madam, where their virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder. How is this not prostitution? Maybe the more accurate term is sexual slavery? Whatever it is, it's gruesome. To think that this story is based, however loosely, on the true lives of geisha is beyond depressing.

Ugh. Anyway, depressing though it is, it's worth the rental if you haven't seen it, if only for the gorgeous costumes and nice visuals.

Heard around our house recently

Here’s what happens when you live with a toddler: you find yourself actually saying things like this:

-- Please take the cheese out of your ear.
-- Will you stop standing on the Cheerios box?
-- Can you take the remote control out of your mouth?
-- Why are you trying to wedge your baby doll into the wine rack?
-- No, really, take the cheese out of your ear.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'm it

This is exciting: I've been tagged by Magpie over at Shocked & Appalled. (OK, this was weeks and weeks ago, and I am just now getting around to it, which is pathetic.) So here goes:

Four jobs I've had

1. Obituary writer at a small local newspaper. This involves spending a lot of time talking on the phone to funeral directors, who, as you might expect, are partial to macabre jokes.

2. Corporate marketing whipping-girl at The Management Consulting Firm From Hell. My boss WAS Michael Scott from The Office, if you can imagine him as a 58-year-old woman. Same hellacious insecurities. Same cluelessness about the violent inappropriateness of everything that came out of her mouth. This is an actual conversation I had with this woman not long after I was hired:

Boss From Hell: So, how old are you?

Me: Um, I'm 33...why?

BFH: Well, you know, the mid-thirties are the best time of a woman's life! You are approaching your sexual peak now! I hope your husband appreciates that!

3. Managing editor of a teeny weeny weekly newspaper. This was the weirdest job I've ever had (and for those of you who don't know me, that is saying something). When the toilet paper ran low in the ladies room, we would approach the company facilities manager, who would supply us with a single additional roll. Once, at a staff meeting for the editors of the papers in the chain, it was reported that another managing editor left for lunch several days earlier and hadn't been seen since. The job paid so little, she didn't even bother to call anyone to say she was quitting.

4. Reporter at a tech trade magazine during the Internet boom. I look forward to regaling my grandkids with stories about this one.


Four movies I can watch over and over

1. Office Space
2. Monsters Inc.
3. His Girl Friday
4. Raising Arizona


Four places I've lived

1. Boston
2. Oxford, U.K.
3. Northern New Jersey
4. Telford, Shropshire, U.K.


Four TV shows I love to watch

I'm hard pressed to come up with four -- I just think TV sucks lately! But The Daily Show and The Office spring to mind.


Four places I've been on vacation

1. Bermuda
2. Tuscany
3. Ireland
4. Cape Cod


Four blogs I visit regularly

1. Daily Kos
2. This Modern World
3. Shocked & Appalled
4. EverythingSFNE


Four of my favorite foods

1. Bagels, muffins--the whole carb group
2. Prosciutto and melon
3. Fresh mango
4. Shu mai (Chinese dumplings)


Four places I'd rather be

1. The King's Arms pub, Oxford
2. Driving through the Tuscan countryside
3. Watching the sun set on the beach in Wellfleet
4. Walking in London


Four albums I can't live without

At this point we have pretty much given up our CDs in favor of XM Radio.


Four vehicles I've owned

1. A crappy Renault
2. A crappy Pontiac
3. A crappy Mitsubishi
4. A slowly-crapifying Honda

More Tom Cruise wackiness

Good news: Tom and Katie have downplayed reports of their plans to eat their baby's placenta.

Can you imagine what kind of loon this poor kid will turn out to be?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: Virginia Woolf

Because you also can't get enough Woolf (or at least I can't.) Here is an excerpt from a scene I love in Mrs. Dalloway -- the scene where Peter Walsh returns to England and visits Clarissa Dalloway on the afternoon before her party. What I love most about this scene is the wordless emotional interplay between the two characters:

Peter Walsh had got up and crossed to the window and stood with his back to her, flicking a bandanna handkerchief from side to side. Masterly and dry and desolate he looked, his thin shoulder-blades lifing his coat slightly; blowing his nose violently. Take me with you, Clarissa thought impulsively, as if he were starting directly upon some great voyage; and then, next moment, it was as if the five acts of a play that had been very exciting and moving were now over and she had lived a lifetime in them and had run away, had lived with Peter, and it was now over.

Now it was time to move, and, as a woman gathers her things together, her cloak, her gloves, her opera glasses, and gets up to go out of the theatre into the street, she rose from the sofa and went to Peter.

And it was awfully strange, he thought, how she still had the power, as she came tinkling, rustling, still had the power as she came across the room, to make the moon, which he detested, rise at Bourton on the terrace in the summer sky.

Good omen

OK, so I'm still fairly bummed out about the possibility that the Chimp-in-Chief is going to start a nuclear war, so I'm grasping around for anything that seems like a good omen for the future. This afternoon was gorgeous here in Massachusetts, just as it should be with Easter coming up this weekend. The trees outside our windows are just beginning to bud, and the daffodils are blooming. (Whenever we are outside, we point out the flowers to the Peanut, and tell her that they are "beautiful flowers, just like you," since her middle name means "beautiful flower" in Chinese.) I took a walk at lunchtime to pick up some cookies from Athan's, and I was amused to hear my wedding song, Ella Fitzgerald's version of "Love You Madly," playing as I made my selections.

For my money, there is no such thing as too much Ella Fitzgerald. Especially when you're browsing in a pastry shop on a lovely spring afternoon.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Living mindfully; working for change

These days, I am trying very hard not to take anything for granted. I guess that's one mother of a cliche, but it's how I feel right now. The last few months -- really the last few years, since the stolen presidential election of 2000 blasted me out of my complacency -- I've been having an incredibly strong feeling that our whole way of life is about to change, and not for the better.

Between the nuclear sabre-rattling, the global warming, the peak oil, and the economy, I look to the next few years, and I can't imagine things continuing as they've been. It's very hard to picture a peaceful, stable future for this country. So I try to live mindfully, cherishing every moment with my family and friends, every book, every movie, every sunset, every meal.

But the question now is, what do I do? I can't do nothing. I can't look into the Peanut's eyes, years from now, and tell her I didn't at least try to make things better. I know that writing letters to our "representatives" in Congress is probably hopelessly naive, as I've said before. So if we want to make our country live up to its former greatness -- if we want to create an America that values education and personal freedoms, that helps the weakest among us instead of demonizing them, that accepts its responsibilities as a steward of the planet, that cooperates with the rest of the world instead of starting pointless wars -- what do we do?

I want to ensure some kind of future here for my daughter, if I possibly can, and I want to start today. How do we create this new reality?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday lit. blogging: Andrew Marvell

To His Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down, and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shoudst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires and more slow;
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear
Time's wing├ęd chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found;
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long-preserved virginity,
And your quaint honor turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust:
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Tom Cruise: Bonkers

OK, it's not like we didn't know he was nuts, but even for him, this is completely wacky:

Tom Cruise may have found a way to keep Katie Holmes from violating the precepts of Scientology and shrieking in pain when she gives birth to their child.

It's a specially crafted adult pacifier, reports Star magazine.

Friday, March 31, 2006

18 months ago today

...I waddled into the OB's office for my 39-week checkup. My blood pressure had been fine for the whole pregnancy, but not that day.

"Look at that, your blood pressure has really shot up," the doctor said.

"Oh, really, what does that mean?"

"That means you have toxemia. And the cure for that is to get that baby out. I'm calling over to Labor and Delivery now to let them know -- we're going to induce you tonight."

"Oh my God."

A few hours later, Mr. Fraulein and I were back at the hospital, clutching my overnight bag and pillows from home. There can't be a more surreal feeling in this life than the crazy, overwhelming anticipation of taking off your clothes, getting into one of those delightful hospital nightgowns, and settling your giant self into that adjustable hospital bed, knowing that very soon, your baby is coming out. I had never been in the hospital before in my life. I will never forget how odd it felt to be in that room, dragging my IV pole with me every time I had to go to the bathroom. Sitting watching TV with the baby monitor stretched over my swollen belly. Taking phone calls from my freaked-out parents.

They started the induction later that evening by giving me a drug called Cervidil to soften up my cervix. After this, feeling just minor cramps, I went to sleep.

Then the next morning -- 18 months ago tomorrow -- Pitocin. This was the thing I'd been dreading, after so many friends' stories of Pitocin-induced labors that lasted 18, 24, 30 hours and more. A few hours later, I was surrounded by what seemed like a cast of thousands in the delivery room, cheering me on, chanting, yelling, PUSH! PUSH! And the waves of pain, ebbing and flowing like water, going away completely in between the contractions, which came as such a surprise to me. And Mr. Fraulein clutching my hand.

Somebody up in the sky, or somewhere, was smiling on me that day. In spite of the Pitocin, after just nine hours of labor (including two hours of pushing) the Peanut emerged, yelling, into the world. Mr. Fraulein heard her yelling before she even came out. And after nine months of thinking she was a boy, we discovered that we had a little girl Peanut on our hands.

The first things I saw were her feet. "It's a girl!" people yelled from all directions. I was stunned. I had truly felt like some cosmic voice was telling me I was having a boy. So much for mother's intuition.

And then they gave me an ice bag to sit on, and someone produced a hospital dinner that tasted, to me at that moment, like it came from the finest restaurant in the world. And the Peanut aced her APGAR test and settled onto my breast for her first meal.

Happy 18-months-in-the-world, little Peanut!

More on Scalia

The Boston Herald has been digging into the story of what really happened when Antonin Scalia supposedly gave a reporter the finger in a recent event at a Boston church. If this account is true, what he actually did is even worse:

Smith was working as a freelance photographer for the Boston archdiocese’s weekly newspaper at a special Mass for lawyers Sunday when a Herald reporter asked the justice how he responds to critics who might question his impartiality as a judge given his public worship.

“The judge paused for a second, then looked directly into my lens and said, ‘To my critics, I say, ‘Vaffanculo,’ ” punctuating the comment by flicking his right hand out from under his chin, Smith said.

The Italian phrase means “(expletive) you.”
As someone with literally dozens of hotheaded, easily offended Sicilian relatives, I can tell you for a fact that to say "vaffanculo," accompanied by that flicking-the-hand-out-from-under-the-chin action, does not mean "(expletive) you." It actually means "go take it up the ass."

Classy!