Wait, make that really scary looking.
Lately my life feels utterly chaotic. Getting all the logistics set up for going to work and having my mom take care of my baby is way harder than I anticipated. I knew the work part was going to be complicated, and I warned my boss that it was going to take some time for me to get all my systems set up. Lucky for me, my boss and coworkers are all being super understanding and cooperative. I also knew that it would take some time to work out a schedule with Tutu, and, again, lucky for us, she's being really flexible and supportive. On top of that, Nick has been lending a hand wherever it's needed, whether that's preparing bottles the night before, getting gas for the scooter, or even just emptying the dishwasher...stuff like that. AND I have what some might call an "easy" baby. If, even with these "best" of circumstances, I'm still stressed out and kinda a mess, all I can figure is that being a working mother requires superhuman strength and efficiency.
1. Egg nog or hot chocolate?
Egg nog. Which reminds me, I have some in the fridge!
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Both, I guess, but I'd never thought about it before.
3. Colored lights or white lights on tree/house?
I used to go strictly with white, but I got some flashing colored lights recently because Tutu suggested that Alex would like to look at them. She was, as usual, right.
4. Do you hang mistletoe?
Never have, probably never will. Where do you get mistletoe anyway?
5. When do you put up your decorations?
It totally depends on the year. Some years, Dec. 23. This year, Dec. 10.
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)?
Probably mashed sweet potatoes with lots of butter, salt, and pepper, which was one of my grandmother's signature dishes.
7. Favorite childhood holiday memory?
My mom and I dressed up in glam make-up and clothes, drank champagne (just a little for me, I think, as I was in jr. high), and took pictures to celebrate New Year's.
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa?
You know, Santa always had my mom's handwriting, so I think I always suspected the truth.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve?
Gifts play less and less of a role in my Christmases as the years pass, but this will probably change now that we have Alex. But right now, no.
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree?
I start with the lights, wrapping them around starting from the bottom. Then I put ornaments on wherever. I'm not very orderly about it.
11. Snow: love it or dread it?
I'm honestly not familiar enough with snow to dread it, so I think I must love it.
12. Can you ice skate?
Not very well.
13. Do you remember your favorite gift?
I think my most memorable gift would have to be these robots my brother and I got one Christmas. They were about 2 feet tall and they shot out ammunition from their chests. That can't have been childproof.
14. What's the most important thing to you about the holidays?
I love looking back at the year and thinking about what's to come.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert?
Oh, now we get to talk about dessert. Probably pumpkin pie. Or Mary's cookies!
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Fondue and predictions on New Year's Eve.
17. What tops your tree?
I have a red and green ribbon to put up there, but it's not up there yet because I can't reach. I would love to have a beautiful angel, but I haven't found one yet.
18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving gifts?
I'll be honest: receiving! I don't like feeling like I have to buy something just because someone may be expecting a present. But when I find the perfect gift for someone, it is really a joy to give it, whether or not it's Christmas.
19. What is your favorite Christmas song?
Anything from Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas.
I have this jacket I got four or five years ago at Old Navy. It was cheap. It's made out of polyester. It's a couple sizes too big. It's gotten really dingy over the years. And it's the best damned winter jacket I have ever owned.
The jacket is white, and it's waterproof. It's got zippered pockets on the inside and outside. It has a hood. It's fleecy on the inside and filled with some fake downy material, so it's very warm. Because it's white, I feel like it's safer to wear when I'm riding my scooter in the winter. (I have anecdotal evidence that this is true; coworkers have mentioned that they saw me on my scooter, and they recognized me because of my Puffy White Jacket.)
I got it one winter when I was visiting my friend in snowy Seattle. (For the record, she thought it was hideous and advised against my purchase. I defied her and have never regretted it.) I've worn it on winter trips to New York, Edmonton, Sedona, Paris, and Shanghai. At the end of every winter, I get incredibly sick of it and feel like it's expired, tired, and ready to be retired. I spend the next year looking for a replacement. Every jacket I find either isn't warm enough, doesn't have the zippered pockets, lacks a hood, isn't waterproof, etc. I've looked far and wide--on all those aforementioned trips, I search. But none of those pretenders I find has quite the combination of useful attributes as Puffy White Jacket.
The rainy season has hit San Francisco. Puffy White Jacket, literally, rides again. Check back in at the end of the winter to see how I'm feeling.
I got my scooter tuned up and rode it to the dentist. It is so wonderful to be back on an efficient mode of transportation in this city with so few transportation options. I love passing Muni buses. It feels so, so good. I ordered a new helmet. (I had to special order the color I wanted--a very very bright orange, to be as visible as possible!) The dentist told me I had unusually healthy gums and that my son has a dental prognosis of "at least excellent." I managed to write a birthday poem for my nephew, despite having waited until the last possible moment to start working on it. I got to eat honey-baked ham, beef stroganoff, and potatoes au gratin. I successfully encouraged my dad to start using his new digital camera. I wrote my first post on beta.blogger.com! (Wait, didn't Blogger start out in Beta? Oh, Google...)
- Alex squealed in delight for the first time. This happened because he is a baby, and his developmental milestones include laughing and squealing, and witnessing these milestones just makes me massively happy.
- My mom and I bought matching Puma tracksuits. This happened because we were both sucked in by the irresistibly cute ensemble. I'm sure we will look incredibly darling, or incredibly dorky, or both, together, and thinking about that makes me happy!
- Nick brought home an awesome dinner. This happened because my mom and I were waffling on what to make/have for dinner, and Nick offered to pick up anything we wanted on his way home. Nothing begets happiness like a delicious dinner that required no effort.
Hey, it worked! I feel much happier now having reflected on those moments of happiness from today.
Nope, we just got new windows installed. Marvelous Marvin...stunning Simonton...luxurious "Low-E" double-paned slices of paradise, insulating us from the bustling world outside.
We only got three windows, mind you, and we still have roughly 14 to go. These three cost as much as a nice vacation would, though, so if you don't see a travelogue blog post for some time, that's why. But in my newfound cocoon of a bedroom, I'll travel transcendentally to places that exceed any real-life budget or days of paid time off. So I figure my windows are well worth it.
"Oh..." She leapt into the back seat of the car. "Everything," she said. The toothy smile was sudden and very winning. "Life." From Gore Vidal's Hollywood, which I haven't read but which my mom pulled off the shelf the other night.
2. If you stretch out your left arm as far as possible, what are you touching?
3. What’s the last program you watched on TV?
4. Without looking, guess what time it is.
9:59 pm. It is actually 9:57 pm. Damn I'm good.
5. Aside from the computer, what can you hear right now?
Nick laughing while watching the show Dexter, a comedy about a serial killer. You read that right.
6. When was the last time you were outside and what did you do?
I went out at 2 pm to get grip tape for the front steps, rice, and a permit to park in the lot near our house.
7. What are you wearing?
A Depeche Mode t-shirt from their Playing the Angel tour, black leather belt, black jeans.
8. Did you dream last night? If you did, what about?
I remember dreaming last night, but I'd forgotten it by about 10 am.
9. When was the last time you laughed?
During dinner, with my mom, Nick, and the baby. I can't remember what we laughed about but I know it was a fun mealtime.
10. What’s on the walls, in the room you’re in right now?
Nothing! We need to hang something, badly.
11. Have you seen anything strange lately?
Today on two separate occasions, men crossed the street in front of me, with their backs toward the oncoming traffic.
12. What do you think about this meme?
I like its randomness.
13. What’s the last film you saw?
Y Tu Mama Tambien. I didn't think it was all that great.
14. If you became a multimillionaire, what would you do with the money?
Hire someone to make me my own clothes.
15. Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
Lately, whenever I get sad about leaving my baby and going back to work, I've been eating ice cream.
16. If you could change ONE THING in this world, without regarding politics or bad guilt, what would it be?
Make bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles the default mode of transportation.
17. Do you like to dance?
18. George Bush?
I hope history acknowledges his presidency for the travesty it has been.
19. What do you want your children’s names to be, girl/boy?
Future ones? Dashiell, Asa, Parker, and Pearl. (Wow, I'm going to have 5 kids?!)
20. Would you ever consider living abroad?
This has long been a dream of mine.
21. What do you want God to tell you, when you come to heaven?
That my grandmother really was watching over me my whole life, and I'm going to get to talk it all over with her there.
22. Who should do this meme?
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
50's-Style Baked Sweet Potatoes (w/marshmallow on top!)
Creamy Brussels Sprouts
Chunky Cranberry Sauce
Bread + Butter
French Silk Pie
My favorite dish was, surprisingly, the sweet potatoes. I'd never eaten the marshmallow kind, but these were absolutely To. Die. For. Everything was great, but that dish was quite stupendous. Mary kept hinting about how much butter was in them. I didn't push her to reveal the cold, hard facts. It's the holidays!
But since they almost never leave comments, even when I give them the opportunity to have their own customized MP3 ringtones on my cell phone (I mean, come ON people, WHAT DOES IT TAKE?!), then it's obviously not that important to have the option to leave comments anonymously. Meanwhile, leaving that option open for my supposedly-caring-but-stubbornly-taciturn loved ones also means that trolls and the like can spam and desecrate my blog on a regular basis.
So, from now on, you'll have to declare yourselves. It's not like I'll lose out on all those meaningful, caring, and thoughtful comments from the multitude of friends and family members who pore over this blog's every word. (Because I just know y'all pore over every word.)
And for the record, to know how much YOU* all are loved, I want to note that:
Anna (SC): your ringtone is Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun"
Anna (NYC): your ringtone is Jeff Buckley's "Last Goodbye"
Amy: your ringtone is Abba's "Dancing Queen," though this ring has been requested by someone else in my circle, so you may actually have to pick another song, but obviously not via blog comment, since I know you don't have a Blogger account.
Sarah: your ringtone is Camper Van Beethoven's "Sad Lover's Waltz." Not that you ever call.
Carrie: you have a blog now so you'll be able to comment, and I fully expect you to request your own ringtone.
JP: your ringtone is that medieval-sounding song by Dead Can Dance.
Sari: your ringtone is The Rolling Stones' "Ride On Baby," though I will be changing it as soon as I rip my Big Audio Dynamite CD.
*Family members have already been notified of their ringtones and/or have had the opportunity to request them in person. Not being on this list does not mean you don't have your own ringtone. It just means I don't know whether you actually read my blog or not. Care to comment? No? I thought so!
Well it was going to be a short blog anyway, about how I finally figured out how to make my phone play MP3s for rings. I'm terribly excited about this. Let me know what song you want for your ring. I'm taking requests! And to all the lurkers, if I don't hear from you, you automatically get "Is there anybody out there?"
Downloaded so far:
Jimmy Eat World "A Praise Chorus"
Foo Fighters "Best of You"
Snow Patrol "Chasing Cars"
And...well, I was gonna say the night was young, but it's really not. I have to get to bed! Luckily so far I've only blown three bucks!
technorati tags: drunk downloading
Awaken to grunting sounds in bassinet. Pull baby out, place on boob, wait, checking occasionally to note that baby's eyes stay closed (hallelujah! this means he'll go back to sleep easily). Return baby to bassinet. Lie down, waiting apprehensively to see if grunting noises continue. Enjoy the silence. Fall back to sleep.
Awaken to grunting sounds in bassinet. [See 3 am]
Awaken to grunting sounds in bassinet. Ask husband to change baby's diaper. Feel incredibly grateful when husband offers to bounce baby back to sleep. Fall back to sleep.
Awaken to grunting sounds in bassinet. Suspect I'm done sleeping for the night. Peer over into bassinet. Glimpse, unsurprised, two wide-open eyes beaming out at me. Pull baby out, place on boob, wait, noting how bright and awake baby looks. Tell husband I'm getting up.
Sit for a while in living room with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed baby climbing all over me. Realize I am still exhausted. Figure baby can climb all over me in bed. Return to bed. Pretend to sleep while baby climbs all over me.
Give up pretending to sleep. Place now-fussy baby on boob. Get up, change baby's diaper, carry baby into kitchen, set baby down, make strong coffee and toast half a croissant with cheese melted on it.
Play with baby while baby sits in swing, being utterly charming and smiling incessantly, carrying on a surprisingly meaningful conversation with me.
Realize baby is exhibiting signs of being sleepy (fussiness and heavy-looking eyes). Hear him howl "owh" just like that woman on Oprah said babies howl when they are sleepy. Swaddle baby, place in crib. Enjoy the silence again as baby falls to sleep.
Feel effects of strong coffee (sudden motivation to write several thank-you notes for baby presents). Write thank yous and feel extremely proud of self.
11:30 am to 3 pm
Nurse baby. Change baby's diaper. Play with baby. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Make plans to meet friend for dinner downtown.
Give Nick ride downtown. Get extremely frustrated in downtown traffic. Change plans with friend to meet elsewhere in the city. Drop Nick off and flee downtown.
Park at Marina Green. Nurse baby in public! Walk along the water with baby in Kangaroo pouch. Admire baby. Kiss baby. Feel like baby is best baby in the world.
Chat with friend on cell phone while sitting in parked car with best baby in the world.
Pick up other friend from work. Head off to dinner, destination unknown.
En route to nowhere in particular decide to eat at Patxi's in Hayes Valley.
Marvel at how long it took to get from Marina to Hayes Valley. Hope to find parking space. Find parking space immediately.
Sit down with crashed-out baby in pouch. Realize I forgot the pacifier in the car. Hope it'll all be OK. Proceed with dinner and pleasant grown-up conversation. Baby sleeps through.
Baby wakes up and bleats momentarily. Admire baby's darling "scrunch face." Wonder if anyone minds hearing crying baby. Start to fret. Stop fretting when baby stops bleating and again becomes most charming baby in the world. Feel proud as friend, waitress and others in restaurant admire baby.
Drop friend off at Bart. Get extremely frustrated again in downtown traffic. Pick up Nick, who has a strange craving for crab cakes. Head to Trader Joes, where they just might have them.
Shop with awake but charming baby in pouch.
Return home just in time to beat baby meltdown. Unload groceries. Prepare bath.
Bathe, change, swaddle, bottle. Best baby in the world goes to sleep with little fuss. Pump. Fold laundry. Pour a glass of wine. Enjoy a little me time.
Post first blog entry of the day.
Begin writing second blog entry of the day.
Consider not finishing second blog entry of the day because it's too difficult to get it just right. Decide I don't like the phrase "me time." Try unsuccessfully to think up replacement phrase.
Decide to stop obsessively self-editing. Post.
So here I am, still "behind." And because, again, I meant to do a "day in the life" post for today, Friday, and, again, probably because of Mommy Brain (am I becoming too self-referential? can you all tell I've been drinking wine? yes, drinking wine while breastfeeding...deal with it!), I forgot to take notes about what I did, I'm going to just wing it. I will, however, count it as a separate post. Gotta get up to quota!
technorati tags: mommy brain
I've also been thinking about doing one of those "day in the life" blogs (Mary suggested it and I like the idea). Only problem is I keep waiting for an "impressive" day to document, and I guess my days aren't as "impressive" as I'd like. (I put "impressive" in quotes because I'm well aware that nobody's got these high expectations but myself!) Yesterday was probably as good a day to document as any, but I didn't really keep notes, so I'll just summarize.
The day was quietly eventful--it was a gorgeous autumn day, and I went on a morning walk for moms and babies in Golden Gate Park. Then I drove through the park and home via the Great Highway. In the afternoon, our housecleaner came, and because of her hard work, I was able to agree to have our friend over later for dinner (we ordered in from Mehfil...sooooo yummy!). At some point, I started an online email list for my moms group, too (very proud of myself). And I mothered the heck out of my baby all day long. It probably doesn't sound like a tiring day, but somehow I was tired enough that I didn't think about blogging until 11:55 pm as I was drifting off to sleep, at which point it was too late.
So here's a blog today about yesterday. How meta! (It would be truly meta if I counted it as two posts. I don't think I'm that meta.)
Mothering magazine held a contest to design an international symbol for breastfeeding, explaining it as follows:
The purpose of an international symbol for breastfeeding is to increase public awareness of breastfeeding, to provide an alternative to the use of a baby bottle image to designate baby friendly areas in public, and to mark breastfeeding friendly facilities.
Blogs are virtual, but that doesn't mean they can't be breastfeeding-friendly! Put the icon on your blog too--it's available for use here. Also, the mag's web site has a nice interview with the designer of the winning logo (along with a few entries that didn't win but were definitely worth a look).
Tonight I went to Senses (decent food, horrible service) with my old college roommate and her parents who are in town. The food was passable, but the restaurant was so hideously loud that I wouldn't have heard my cell phone even if Nick had called me frantically. Luckily, I knew the boys were home watching a Star Wars marathon on TV, and I had a feeling everything was going to be OK. Sure enough, I arrived home (90 minutes after leaving, natch) and found The Empire Strikes Back playing in the living room as Nick and the two kitties were putting the baby to sleep. A happy, healthy boys night in!
It's so stingy, brutal, lamentable. And my clock is ticking. But like Tutu always says (slightly paraphrased, of course), "[Working mom] happiness takes [superhuman] strength!"
The underlying concept, though? LOOOOOOVE it! That's thanks to the Kangaroo Korner Adjustable Fleece Pouch, which arrived in the mail today and enabled me to...um..."wear my baby" out to a restaurant and have dinner at a cramped corner table with complete mobility and comfort.
As I was sitting at that table, sipping wine and sampling spicy South Indian cuisine among a bunch of Mission hipster adults as my infant child snoozed through it all and took up no more space than a few extra dress sizes, I decided the underlying concept behind "babywearing" is pretty darned cool.
But I still think the word is stupid.
technorati tags: babywearing
(Oh, and the episodes they showed so far this "season"? Weak!)
P.S. OMG, I couldn't post this on November 8 because Blogger was down, with this funny error message:
"This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate."
For some reason that message conjures up in my mind the image of a lonely geek sitting in a quiet cubicle in the deserted Googleplex with his pager going off, walking over to a server, rebooting it, and quietly returning to his cubicle for more late-night workaholism. If the message didn't mention "an engineer," I'd probably think there were greater Googlesque forces at work to fix this problem. But that solitary engineer must be hard at work. (He'd better do something besides rebooting, though, because the damn server has been down now for god knows how long.)
(This post was in fact written on November 8, though. As I was watching Lost, in case you hadn't figured that out already.)
I'll admit, I identified most with Britney when I saw her interview with Matt Lauer on Dateline--when she was dressed in sloppy, ill-fitting clothes, hair all disheveled and mascara all clumpy; when she was defending her seemingly bad mothering; when she got skewered in the press for looking and acting so...imperfect. I had never liked Britney so much! She seemed so real and normal.
Since then, she's gradually strayed back to the celebrity archetype...appearing naked and sveltely pregnant on the cover of a glossy magazine, going on a relaxing "babymoon" to some exotic and expensive paradise resort, having her baby in a fancy birthing center..and now, showing up on national television all taut, toned, and unrealistically glamorous just weeks after giving birth.
I find myself a little disappointed to have bought in, even for a second, to the myth that a celebrity could possibly be "just like me." I'm embarrassed that I even spent a moment wondering why my post-partum figure isn't all svelte and sleek. I can't believe I even have to remind myself that she has trainers and chefs and maids and nannies and wardrobe consultants and make-up artists and...other luxuries I probably don't even know exist. I'm mad at myself for feeling even that hint of self-recrimination back when I really wanted to go on a pre-baby vacation but couldn't afford it. And I'm especially embarrassed that I actually believed that her marriage could possibly be a happy one!
That's why I'm voting no on comparing oneself with celebrities. (If only I could explain my real ballot choices with such authority!)
Anyway, much as we (that's my own personal royal "we," btw) look back at other erstwhile MTV favorites with the derision and embarrassment that often accompany musical hindsight (Color Me Badd, I'm lookin' at you), I can already predict that this emo trend won't stand the test of time. (It's only been a year or two and in my book, emo's already failed, but it might take the masses a while to catch up. Ah, those masses...And yes I do realize how condescending this sounds, but isn't that what Internet rants are for?)
But Panic! At the [Stupidly Punctuated] Disco aren't even emo's worst offenders. Sure, they look the most moronic, but, musically, the Emo Band We'll Be Most Embarrassed to Have Thought We Liked at the Time Award goes to none other than Fallout Boy. You may not think you know their music, but you probably do. (I'd play or link to it for you if I didn't view that as a completely unnecessary audio assault.) And to prove to you that I'm not just an oldster talking trash about all that newfangled noise on the radio, I'll present the following fact, which inspired this rant:
It appears that an EXCELLENT contemporary band, Bloc Party, seems to be the OPENING act for Panic! at the Disco on their current tour. This is truly and obviously wrong and reminds me why I left the music industry. How glad I am that I ended up in the glorious gaming industry, where great taste rules. (That line's supposed to be dripping with sarcasm, in case it wasn't quite clear.) WHY are these two bands even associating with each other? It's wrong I tell you, just wrong.
Wow, in case it wasn't obvious that I'm back on caffeine, I'll come clean in the interests of full disclosure: THIS BLOG POST BROUGHT TO YOU BY A DOUBLE SOY LATTE FROM SOME CAFE IN BERNAL HEIGHTS THAT TOTALLY RULES!
Luckily I had an "in" with the band and was able to find out approximately when they'd be taking the stage, so I could plan my evening around the 90-minute set. I got lucky, too, that other forces (Nick, baby) conspired to allow me to get out of the house during that precise window. It's weird; I always used to intend to go to shows when my friends' bands came to town to play, but, especially on rainy evenings like tonight, I often found myself too lazy to schlep out to see them when the time came. Yet somehow tonight, having to do more work to make it to the show in fact made it easier to actually make it to the show.
I'm glad I did; even though the lead singer refused to show her face (she was wearing an odd lacy outfit and mask that sorta made her look like a sequined robot, all impersonal and vague and obscured), I enjoyed the jazzy-rock-dance-groove. It made for a very fitting soundtrack for my first post-partum night on the town.
I guess I have to wonder what AMC accomplishes by killing the program. As far as I could tell, the only added overhead was an usher checking strollers, while I, for one, was definitely paying money I wouldn't normally be paying AMC just to have a family-friendly experience seeing a first-run film in the theater. Meanwhile, the rest of the 14-screen movie house seemed damn near deserted. [cue cricket sounds] Guess I'll have to keep that money, AMC! Your loss!
What surprised me most about my first movie-going experience with a baby was just how little the infants detracted from my enjoyment of the film. Sure, there were a few moments here and there where a line or two of dialogue was slightly obscured by a crying baby. But what about a normal movie audience? You know, the annoying lady who carries on a running commentary alongside the on-screen dialogue, the inconsiderate guy who slowly unwraps crinkly candy wrappers at the height of a tense and quiet scene, or the teenager who kicks the back of your chair throughout the whole film... At least a little baby doesn't know any better, and these infants were way better behaved than your average grownup moviegoer. (By and large, they mostly slept through the flick...without snoring!)
I say BOO to AMC, and that's not a Halloween Boo!
As for Marie Antoinette, I enjoyed it--great soundtrack, luscious costumes, and beautiful scenery of Versailles. Not an outstanding movie--in fact it was kinda slow in lots of parts--but since I could bring along my baby guilt-free, it was worth my $8. (Which is not something I can say for most movies I see in the theater these days!)
(The second in a currently two-part series.)
My brother works at Google, and he invited me and my mom for lunch today. What we first noticed was that Google has basically taken over the entire Mountain View area by Shoreline Amphitheatre. Even in the couple of years my brother has worked there, it's grown by blocks and blocks (and we're talking office park blocks, which are huge). Today I noticed something my mom says they have everywhere in Texas: expectant mother parking. Now that I know how damned hard it is to walk when you're late into your pregnancy, I appreciated this little amenity greatly.
When you walk into a Google office, the first thing you may notice is that above the reception desks they have a monitor displaying a list of (what seem like) live searches in all different languages. It's really cool, though occasionally I think about this display when I'm doing searches I'd rather not have displayed for any random Google visitor or employeee. I know it's displayed anonymously, but it's still on my mind that maybe, just maybe someone will see that someone out there is searching for, I don't know, "pregnancy waddle" or something like that.
Google also has a very interesting bathroom setup. All the toilets are equipped with Toto Washlets. The seats are heated and there are no flushes--you just have to exit the stall and...trust. I think it would be extremely cool to have one of these at home, but I still think it's kinda weird that they have them all over the place at this huge company. I'd say it's definitely in the "not evil" category, though.
But what I love most about Google, and this is my third visit to the main campus, are the cafeterias. When I worked at MTV, I used to think their corporate commissary, the Lodge, was cool--they had occasional concerts there, and everything was discounted to a very reasonable price. But Google's cafes seriously blow away the Lodge. Everything is free, for one thing. The drink selection is incredible--today I had a choice of Yoohoo, Penafiel soda, Tazo tea drinks, Naked juices, and a bunch of other bottled beverages that were so exotic I can't even remember the brands. (This, naturally, is in addition to your average soda fountain.) And the food itself, besides being freshly prepared seemingly from scratch every day--I saw guys rolling pizza dough behind the counter--is available in bountiful quantities, with a menu that changes daily. (I mean, MTV kinda has to get on the stick here; recently I visited a friend there, and I think the Lodge still had several of the same basic items on the menu...TEN YEARS LATER. Though at MTV you get to see Iggy Pop in the elevator and stuff like that, so maybe the cafeteria is not their main focus.)
Being a pregnant woman at a Google cafeteria is a truly decadent experience. You have almost no reason to restrict yourself to anything. Want the mac-n-cheese and the pepperoni pizza? Go for it. Craving the homemade pecan vanilla frozen yogurt and a special Google It's It? Hey, you're eating for 1.25! The decorum I might usually exhibit when presented with a dizzying array of flagrantly free stuff just goes out the window. Plus, the chefs are so nice and refreshingly unsurly, relative to the usual food service employees. They seem genuinely excited to share their latest gourmet creations (my favorite menu item today: lettuce cups with a cilantro-shrimp filling... yummmmmmm!) I know the thrill probably wears off after a few months on the job, but these cafeterias make the usual "let's have lunch" promise much more compelling. I even woke up extra early once so I could meet my brother at Google for breakfast, just to see the massive spread on offer. (It was completely worth it.)
On previous visits to Google, I've seen the actual offices where people do their real work, but these don't exactly stand out in my memory. In fact, today my mom and I didn't even ask to see my brother's new desk. We were way more interested in hitting the new grandmother-themed comfort food cafe. But I think that's fair. I am a pregnant woman, after all, and I can't just be waddling around to every cubicle in Google-land.
Unrelated note: I may not be pregnant for that much longer. I have a funny feeling this baby may be here pretty soon! Sure, I've been wrong every other time I felt that. But at a certain point, come on, something's gotta give here...
By the way, I feel a little guilty admitting that I still harbor that shred of ambivalence about parenthood even at this incredibly late stage. I asked my brother if he felt any of that at the similar moment in his life, and he sounded darned honest in saying that he was completely ready and excited. Also, it seems like all other pregnant women I've met recently reach this point of being "done" and simply wanting it to end no matter what quality-of-life discomforts lie ahead. I certainly understand that feeling. It's quite miserable being so big and swollen with no end in sight except one that involves the long process of pain and suffering known as labor and delivery. And I am excited to meet this little creature I've been nurturing for nine months and dreaming about, on some level, all my life.
At the same time, I've gotta be honest: I'll always cherish the memories of these last few weeks that I got to spend with my husband, my mom, my cats, my friends, and myself, when I didn't really have to worry about anyone's needs but my own, when I could sleep on my own schedule, when I could sneak away to shop for tree mulch, or grab a chai latte, or do the NY Times crossword puzzle, or write an introspective blog post, or take a silly cat photo, or read a Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novel, or watch The Amazing Race, or play Rocket Slime on DS, or bake Irish Soda Bread from Julia Child's recipe, or count the baby lemons on my potted Meyer Lemon tree, or...you get the idea...without having to share my attention with anyone. I'm sure what's around the corner will be worth it, but I have to give one last shout-out to my child-free years. I'll miss them.
And no, in the course of writing this long post, I didn't feel anything remotely resembling the onset of labor. But here's a silly cat photo for good measure:
Oh ok fine, here's ONE more!
Some of the stuff that's been on my mind:
The Price Is Right: It only took one day for me to get right to the heart of daytime TV. That Bob Barker is still so smooth...don't believe what people say about him being senile! Also, the set is a historical relic. It looks so old! But I love it. I really think they need to stick with those retro trappings until things can no longer be replaced because the technology is obsolete. They could even have forensic technicians who only fix outdated Price is Right technology.
Cleaning: I've kind of oddly been fighting my natural urge to clean because I've been worried that it might be my nesting instinct kicking in, which everyone says signals imminent labor. (My mom, for example, keeps talking about how she wallpapered the nursery mere hours before she gave birth to my brother.) But this morning I must have crossed some threshold, because I gleefully scrubbed down the bathroom and didn't care what it signified.
The Imperfect Birthday: I was especially worried about having the baby on 9/11, though I'm not sure why this is, as it seems highly likely that with our society's short collective attention span, this kid's generation won't really have much of an awareness of that date. My mom, again, likens this to Pearl Harbor. She says that growing up none of her friends had anything more than a mild awareness of December 7 as a "dark" day in history.
My Cats: I think I'm going to need to get them their own little enclosed beds, because they so love the crib and bassinet!
Invincible: Even though I almost never go to the movie theater, today when my mom suggested going to a movie as a way to escape the heat (which makes me incredibly irritable), I figured, hey why not? Because once I have a baby I won't even have the option of going to the movie theater for some time. The movie was good--a perfect feel-good matinee to keep my mind off things. But wow, the Tuesday matinee crowd in Daly City is a bit of a weird one, that's all I'll say.
By the way...have I mentioned how huge I am?
It's an understatement to say that I'll miss seeing my co-workers every day. I work with a really fun crew in a lighthearted environment--no surprise, given that we make a magazine about videogames. Everybody there loves what they do, so even when things get stressful, the product keeps us from getting too terribly dour. I'd say my favorite moments are when a bunch of editors gather round one person's desk trying to come up with a funny caption for a screenshot, or when we finally see a laid-out page that took forever coming together but in the end looks really, really awesome. Magazines are true team efforts, and I'm lucky to be part of a great team. I think it's safe to say I'll feel left out of the next few issues that come together while I'm not there.
Of course, I'll also miss the job itself. I do get true satisfaction from writing a clever review or particularly creative article. I'll miss actually seeing game demos months before they come out. I'll miss doing my podcast and writing my work blog (though I hope to keep up the blog part at least a little bit during the next few months). I'll even miss some of the more mundane aspects of my job: running the staff meetings, keeping the team on schedule, doing budget stuff (seriously, deep down inside, I'm a bean counter at heart; I love a good spreadsheet), and simply making sure all the right things end up on the right pages.
Then there's the workaholic stuff that I'm actually scared of letting go of: checking my email on a Saturday afternoon, deadline dinners, sharing office in-jokes and silly forwarded email videos, eagerly opening and reading every last reader letter (even the hate mail, sometimes directed, personally, at me!), redesigning my latest spreadsheet creation, fretting over how many pages are left to be laid out, obsessively copy editing pages I know have already been copy edited... I can freely admit that some of these things do not merit the time I put into them, and many will say I'll be better off once I have that fabulous thing we call a baby because I won't be able to waste time and energy on certain trivial things at work. But right now I'm not ready to say goodbye, and I'm definitely freaking out.
It's not fair!
All this time, what's going through my head is...
Your dad took you, a (from all accounts) intensely hyperactive child, to see this movie in a theater?
And you enjoyed it?
I mean, I always knew my husband was special. But I didn't know he was that kind of special.
P.S. I made it to the credits, which leads me to one conclusion. If you're having trouble sitting through this incredibly weird and dull movie, I've discovered the secret: liveblog it!
I'm feeling totally attached to work lately, and I think this is because I'm going to be forced to take a couple months off soon. Whenever I used to imagine myself getting ready for maternity leave, I always thought I'd relish the societally- and governmentally-approved excuse for time off work. Now here I am a couple weeks away--technically, I could leave now but obviously I'm not quite psychologically prepared for that--and I'm feeling like the pregnant dr. on Grey's Anatomy who, as they're wheeling her out of work in a chair because of her pre-term labor, is giving orders and telling people she'll be back before they know it so they'd better behave.
It's a nice thing, to love one's job and have it feed a personal passion. Lately, especially, my job has completely felt right, and I've been getting all kinds of opportunities to express my creativity and do the things I'm really good at. I don't think it's just because I know it's short-term; rather, I think it's part of the ups and downs of life. Everything changes, and over the past year or 18 months, my job changed into something I really, really enjoy and feel passionate about (as opposed to before, when my job was something I could rationally understand as "great" but didn't always necessarily feel it). Lately, I've truly understood the meaning of doing something where your salary sorta just feels like a bonus.
And now, another change is on the horizon. When I stop to think about it, well, it just makes me sweat. But I'm going to take it from Ben Franklin that that's actually a good thing.
I love SFist, and not just because they occasionally link to me... No, I love them because of stuff like this, which happens to be the funniest and most scarily-accurate-despite-its-apparent-tongue-in-cheek-tone assessment of this city's politics I've ever seen!
While I'm at it, though, I'll mention a few facts I found on the Environmental Protection Agency's web site about dry cleaners:
Dry cleaners are the single largest users of Perchloroethylene (PCE or perc). Perc is an organic solvent of known human toxicity and is a precursor to ground level ozone (smog). Exposure to perchloroethylene can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to air, water, land, or groundwater. PERC enters the body when breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated food or water. PERC is less likely to be absorbed through skin contact. Once in the body PERC can remain, stored in fat tissue.
Perchloroethylene evaporates when exposed to air. It dissolves only slightly when mixed with water. Most direct releases of PERC to the environment are to air. It also evaporates from water and soil exposed to air. Once in air, PERC breaks down to other chemicals over several weeks. Because it is a liquid that does not bind well to soil, PERC that makes its way into the ground can move through the ground and enter groundwater. Plants and animals living in environments contaminated with PERC can store small amounts of the chemical. Although most dry cleaners use less than 140 gallons of perc a year, there are an estimated 25,000 to 35,000 dry cleaning facilities nationwide. Therefore, the cumulative environmental impact from these numerous facilities is significant.
Anyway, I'm not sure I can stop the world (or even my husband) from using dry cleaners, but at least I can bring my old wire hangers to a place where they'll be reused rather than ending up in some landfill somewhere...
Unfortunately, as any SF denizen knows, nothing in this city works in the strictly technical sense! And in my opinion as both a driver and experienced public transport passenger (in cities across the world), here in San Francisco, the problem begins with the buses, with their dangerous and unpredictable swerving out into traffic (and I'm talking about the driving lane) after picking up passengers; their slow driving so they block not just the bus lane but the driving lane too; their slowing down at green lights about to turn yellow (because hey, we all know they're not in a rush); and their erratic schedules, which mean the dedicated bus lanes are often completely underutilized for spans of 45 minutes at a time.
I'll be honest, in my four years of commuting down Mission Street (the SOMA portion of which has a dedicated bus lane), there really aren't all that many citizen automobiles double-parked there during rush hour. I'm not sure why this is, but, while I'm perfectly ready to complain about inconsiderate jerks double parking on Valencia or Haight (and I'd be more than happy to share my compassion with the bus drivers who have to contend with that nuisance on a daily basis), I can't give them that on Mission, and yet the buses still run erratically and obstruct traffic horribly. This leads me to believe that the erratic, traffic-obstructing Muni driving is due to something other than bus-lane violations, and the Muni guy should STFU when he's using this as an excuse. It's feeble!
In reading here and there about the big ol' controversy from this weekend's World Cup finale, I didn't find what I really wanted to know (what on Earth did Materazzi say to Zidane to elicit that response?), but I did find an interesting commentary from the San Francisco Chronicle's C.W. Nevius, who said this:
It is much tougher to live as a shining example, than to be known as a temperamental superstar. Bad actors get a free pass when they do something classless and bone-headed. We don't expect any more from a known jerk.
This is what I've come to love about sports—their ability to (Cliché alert! Warning: cliché ahead!) illuminate the human condition. Even if you don't care about the sport itself, watching sports, and the passions they elicit in their players and fans, teaches you so much about how people tick.
Now, I don't know much about Zidane—he was no hero or inspirational idol to me. I wasn't terribly attached to the outcome of the World Cup finals. I think professional soccer seems to be a systematically flawed game. But watching other people's reactions to his "inappropriate," "shameful," "disappointing," "[call-it-what-you-like]" behavior on the pitch has made Nevius's words resonate all the more. People so desperately want "shining examples," heros and idols, leaders who seem much holier than ourselves, and our modern media culture gives us easy access to a vast batch of candidates. We find the good ones, and we're quick to elevate them, sparing no energy in their exaltation. But when they falter, oh do we punish and judge! I remember Meg Ryan saying something to that effect when she was getting all that bad press about her marriage breaking up and her affair with Russell Crowe—something along the lines of, "I had no idea how ready people were to hate me."
It makes me realize how terribly double-edged the sword of being adored—even being perceived as "good"—is. You have to make extra effort to behave, you worry all the time about pleasing people, and yet you get harsher judgment when you fall from grace. You're almost better off being a jerk or a diva. When they misbehave, everybody basically excuses it. "What do you expect from someone like that?" they ask.
The whole thing is simply a further reminder that you have to do things because they make you feel better, and what other people think is pretty much a lot of rot, whether you're in the spotlight or not. So to M. Zinédine Zidane, I say simply this: your name is COOL!
Poltergeist closets are scary, and this one was causing the rest of the room to idle in chaos. See, I couldn't organize other parts until I knew what that closet was really capable of holding in a logical, reasonable manner.
We'd long known what had to be done but had had such a tough time getting started on our own. This is where Tutu came to the rescue, as she's known to do. She helped measure the closet, accompanied me to the Container Store, helped make the nitty-gritty shelving decisions, and encouraged me to pull the trigger and spend the money (which is always my biggest stumbling block). She then cleared out the existing crap while I was at work one day, and she even found our hacksaw to remove the bar that had been there. She probably would have finished the job herself except for these pesky wood panels that had to be removed first. She wisely recognized that, as the job involved pulling plaster off walls, it was one that only the man of the house should do...
...and though Nick makes it look easy, it was actually a lot of work, as it involved consulting our contractor neighbor for tips, ripping out chunks of wall, re-plastering them, drying/sanding, etc. But once that wood came off and the walls were smooth, the installation of the Elfa shelves was truly as simple as it was touted to be. And, seemingly "like that!", the Poltergeist closet has been quieted, replaced by this lovely safe harbor of labelled, organized office-supply tranquility.
Before and After pictures are so satisfying!
Mom and I shared a wry laugh, and we went on about our business.
Then today, I got this newsletter from Stanford.
"Former NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw delivered the 115th Commencement address Sunday to more than 1,700 graduating seniors. Before an estimated audience of 20,000 family members and friends, he encouraged graduates to be mindful of their duty to contribute to society and to avoid turning exclusively to the Internet and their handheld gadgets to engage with the world."
Now, as longer-term readers may remember, Tom sure knows how to make a good commencement speech, at least in my book. All I can say is, I predicted it!
First, and perhaps weirdest, I caught the 14 bus after waiting just a few short minutes—on the way to work AND home. Catching the bus immediately one way is an atypical but lucky fluke; catching the bus both ways without having to wait 20 minutes or more is an unheard-of blessing, a luxury that sweeps away the imagination, an inspiration to dream of what it must be like to live in a city with decent public transport. This bus was neither overly crowded nor noxious with the fumes of the homeless. It took me a few minutes to orient myself, but what I saw next snapped me to immediate attention. As a group of people boarded the bus, I heard the driver stop one of them.
"I didn't see a pass in your wallet, sir," he said.
"It's...uh..." muttered the passenger.
"Please put some money in the bus, sir," the driver said.
The passenger sullenly deposited a token and muttered a semi-unintelligible but discernibly rude remark. The driver just shut the door and drove on. I sat and stared, mouth agape.
It was a bizarre experience, the likes of which I have never seen on SF Muni, where people brazenly board without paying as a rule. This same driver seemed even to be keeping the back door shut (remember, this bus wasn't that crowded, so exiting through the front door was no problem). It seemed he was trying to prevent farejumpers from hopping on that way. But maybe that was just my imagination, delirious at the joy of seeing someone enforce the rules even once.
I wondered if maybe things had changed, maybe the new SF Muni Commissioner had heard all the complaints about the 14 and told his drivers to shape up, maybe there was hope for SF public transport after all.
But this week, as I walked into work half an hour late after the bus ride from hell, I realized that everything was back to normal.
I have a solution, and the only problem is that this blog post feels about as insignifcant as my pathetic one vote. But I'll go on anyway. My solution is two-pronged: hold elections once a year at the same time every year, when people expecct to be voting. That keeps it exciting. No primaries, no special elections, nothing, just one Tuesday in November when people understand it's their one chance to vote. This would help the turnout problem. The second prong helps the other issue: NO MORE PROPOSITIONS--period.
We ordinary individuals didn't go into politics because...news flash!...we're not genuinely interested in the ins and outs of government. I'm secure enough in my intelligence and worthiness as a human being to be able to admit that if I truly understood that vast policy implications of raising taxes on this or that segment of the population, or if I really knew so much about how best to run the California public schools, I'd be out there doing that instead of writing about videogames for a living. I mean, I care about the issues and how they affect my life, but I honestly have no idea how to make any of it better. So why am I being asked to vote on complex public policy issues I have no chance in hell of understanding?
I thought this was a representative democracy, anyway! I thought the whole tradeoff for not actually getting to make decisions ourselves was that we didn't have to make decisions ourselves. I mean, if you're going to expect me to learn all this stuff about the best way to improve public education, libraries, attendance at city council meetings, and real estate transactions, then dammit let's get rid of the thousands and thousands of suits in Sacramento whose salaries are paid by our tax dollars, and let me and my friends figure out how we want to run our own damn backyards.
My protest solution? Vote no on ALL ballot propositions, just to make a point that nobody wants them, nobody understands them, and they must be abolished. Of course, this won't happen, and nothing will change, and the voting public will just become more and more apathetic, and soon enough, the empire will crumble or some group will rise up and take charge, and something will change, and I'll look back on this time when I had the luxury of writing and ranting all I wanted about the ills of early 21st century American democracy. But until then I say, Vote No on ALL Propositions! Do it to prove a point!
As is too often the case with this show, I only heard it from halfway through, so I didn't actually know what the theme was when I started listening. But I didn't have to—I figured out quickly that Ira Glass was listening to old tapes for the first time in a long time, tapes of interviews he'd one when he was really young and stupid, with the benefit of professional maturity, inevitable hindsight, and the not-negligible safety of not holding a microphone in front of Hawkeye's face expecting oneself to ask a bunch of "smart, probing" questions. It only took a few seconds for me to realize that he was looking back on something he'd done, and that was making him cringe.
I think I understood this all so immediately and profoundly, because I myself have a backlog of interview tapes—hours, way too many hours, of interviews done when I was working at MTV in my early 20s. On those tapes, I interview countless famous musicians and actors. I saved those tapes because I figured I might want to listen to them someday. Little did I know that I would probably never be able to stomach the experience of listening to them; I know how god-awfully cringeworthy it would be. Off the top of my head, and without revisiting my younger, less experienced self on the tapes, I cringe simply at the memory of my interviews with Bjork, Henry Rollins, and the Cocteau Twins. If I actually listened to the tapes, I think I'd discover many more "difficult" moments that, at the time, I thought went really well. Luckily, just as Ira Glass remembers how "nice" everyone on M*A*S*H was, how they treated him with respect even as he was asking them questions that were condescending, insensitive, meandering, even rude (case in point: asking Harry Morgan/Colonel Potter, "In all your roles, you're always there, but you're never the lead, never the center... why is that?"), I remember most of my subjects being polite and making the best out of my stupid questions. (Well, everyone except Henry Rollins, who was a complete jerk...) But I still don't have any desire to listen to those tapes.
And let's not even get into the diaries from junior high (though This American Life covered that one too, in a hilarious segment at the end of the show about a guy who wrote his diaries through high school as if they were important historical documents, because someday he just knew he was going to become the future Prime Minister of Israel). Let's just say I have volumes and volumes of diaries too, and we'll leave it at that as I silently cringe.
101. Pet a pet.
103. Say something nice to yourself.
104. Decide to turn a bad day around.
105. Watch a classic movie you've heard a lot about but never seen.
106. Watch an action movie you've heard a lot about but never seen.
107. Watch a foreign movie you've heard a lot about but never seen.
108. Watch a samurai movie.
109. Make popcorn and dim the lights while you watch a movie to replicate the "theater experience."
110. Make enchiladas (dedicated to Sandblower)
111. Sleep in as long as you can.
112. Read a new comic strip.
113. Read a graphic novel.
114. Watch a children's show.
115. Spend an afternoon with a toddler.
116. Give up your seat on the bus.
117. Have a drink in a bar with a stunning view.
118. Give an outrageously big tip to someone who deserves it.
119. Give your compliments to the chef.
120. Order the expensive bottle of wine.
121. Order dessert.
122. Play a videogame.
123. Take a wine-tasting class.
124. Make/update your will.
125. Take the easy parking spot that's farther away.
126. Stick in the line you picked and ignore the one that might go faster.
127. Post again on your blog.
128. Go for a jog.
129. Get a new plant.
130. Hip someone to music they might love.
131. Go see a matinee.
132. RSVP "No" without giving any explanation.
133. Create a separate email account for all your junk mail.
134. Find out the current number of U.S. casualties in the war in Iraq.
135. Find out the current number of Iraqi casualties.
136. Compromise just to get the job done.
137. Call a long-lost friend on his/her birthday.
138. Leave a comment on a stranger's blog.
139. Listen to This American Life.
140. Watch a silly Internet video you don't think you have time for.
141. Browse a bunch of random photos on a web photo site.
142. Make your own iced tea.
143. Write a poem.
144. Click on your friend's blogs ads.
145. Look at the clouds and figure out what they look like.
146. Read a newspaper article you don't think you're interested in.
147. Guiltlessly skip a newspaper or magazine article you know you're not interested in.
148. Give someone a book you liked.
149. Trade some books in at a used book store.
150. Post something even though it wasn't quite as done as you wanted it to be.
really, I plan to post 365 easy resolutions--in several installments!