New holiday traditions

We spent Christmas at my mom's new house, and it's SO awesome having her live close by. We haven't lived this close since I left for college, and I love being able to see her every day. I feel really lucky that she decided to move to San Francisco. Her holiday menu featured an assortment of yummy tamales. The night before, we had Maine lobster, which Nick steamed in our new immense lobster pot. We're making it our new holiday tradition on Christmas Eve (our other tradition is having fondue on New Year's Eve). Next year, though I'm going to find myself a crab, because I think I actually like it better than lobster, which, by the way, is just a little bit scary looking:

Wait, make that really scary looking.


Being a working mom

Also known as, burning the candle at both ends.

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.


My turn to meme

This one is making its way around my circle so here I go:

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.


Puffy White Jacket

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.


Good stuff that happened today

Continuing in the tradition of deliberate happiness, I have decided to ruminate on a couple of good things that happened today:

  • 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...)
  • 12.06.2006

    My turn to pray

    A couple days ago, I asked others to pray for me. Now it's my turn to pray for the Kim family. What a tragedy, one that hits very, very close to home. They're not just from San Francisco; they're from Noe Valley, my favorite neighborhood in the city, my first choice for errands, shopping, and hanging out in general. James Kim was not just an editor; he was, like me, a technology editor, and for CNET, which is right down the street from my work and where a bunch of people I know work. They weren't just a family with two kids; they're a family with two half-Asian kids and a mom who's breastfeeding an infant. There are just lots of little coincidental similarities that makes it feel like I know them, even though I don't. I feel strangely able to imagine the debates or arguments or discussions they had right before James decided to head out into the freezing wilderness, and the worries and desperation Kati must have felt waiting and waiting and waiting for his return that never came. I rarely identify with tragedies I hear about in the news, but this one just feels way too close. So I'm praying for them, and I hope they get through this tragedy OK.


    One day at a time

    Well, I survived. It was really tough leaving Alex in the car (my mom was kind enough to drive me to work) and walking in to the office, and it was really weird trying to pick back up and do work after missing three months. I was lucky, though, because a bunch of people are out sick, so it was really slow and calm--probably a better way to ease back in. Also, I was able to leave early. So, it wasn't exactly a representative work day, but I did survive. I guess we'll see how tomorrow goes.


    Biological clock

    I return to work tomorrow, and I've discovered a whole new biological clock, one that calls out to me much more powerfully than the traditional one ever did. It's shouting at me, screaming at me, trying to reason with me that there must be a way, there has to be a way, why isn't there any way to stop time, at least for a little while, so I can stay here at home with my precious little baby...for ever and all eternity. I should have been blogging these last few days, because they've gone by way too fast. And I like my job! I can't quite imagine what hell I'd be going through if I had a job I hated or even didn't really enjoy that much. Pray for me.


    Adieu, NaBloPoMo!

    30 days, 30 blog posts, 30 moments (minimum) savored. It's a little weird how November seems to have been declared the writing month on teh internets, but I like it. I'm all for writing, in any form, as frequently as possible. Which I'll continue to do no matter what the month. It's been fun. For me. I hope it was fun for you too.


    Full-fledged happiness in three easy steps!

    Elizabeth wrote about an article about happiness, and I like the idea of thinking about three good things that happened today and why they happened. So, without further adieu (sic...homage to Michael Donahoe at work):

    1. 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.
    2. 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!
    3. 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.


    A quiet night in San Francisco

    As I was putting the little one to sleep tonight (might I mention parenthetically that he slept from 9pm to 5am twice this week?), I couldn't believe how quiet the city was. Usually I hear trucks and sirens, motorcycles and revellers. Tonight I heard only the low hum of the laundromat next door and a cat yawning at the foot of the bed. I wondered, is it Christmas Eve? Have they shut down the street for an early morning parade?

    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.


    Copying a meme from Mary

    1. Flip to page 18, paragraph 4 - in the book closest to you right now, what does it say?
    "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?
    Medela Pump-in-style

    3. What’s the last program you watched on TV?
    Desperate Housewives

    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?


    One more week

    Tomorrow is the beginning of my last week of maternity leave.


    How to slow down time

    Give yourself a task to do (say, blogging) every day in one particular time period. You'll find yourself noticing every day in that time period, remarking how the time period seems to drag inexplicably on. You may even discover, for the first time in your adult life, that you're wishing time would hurry up and pass. Then you'll slap yourself for having such a thought. You'll realize you're actually savoring every day of your life, taking a moment to pay attention to the here and now. You'll find that when you do this, it starts to feel like you have all the time in the world. Instead of asking where the time went, you realize you know quite well where it went, because you paid attention, close attention. It's pretty cool.


    What's worse...

    having a sick baby or being sick yourself? I might be on my way to both unless I get to sleep soon.



    I had a really nice Thanksgiving, visiting my brother and sister-in-law. And when we had to eat and run because we were trying to beat a baby (and mommy) meltdown, I think all the parents present understood and weren't insulted. The food was scrumptious. In case Mary doesn't document it herself, we had:

    Smoked Turkey
    Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
    50's-Style Baked Sweet Potatoes (w/marshmallow on top!)
    Creamy Brussels Sprouts
    Chunky Cranberry Sauce
    Bread + Butter
    Pumpkin Pie
    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!


    No comment, part two

    I've finally decide not to allow anonymous comments anymore. I had left that option open for a couple of my friends who read this blog regularly but don't have Blogger accounts, in the hopes that they would be encouraged to leave comments so I know they care...

    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!


    Mommy Brain continued

    Ugh. I've definitely run out of blog posts for the month, and yet I continue. Luckily, my friend Carrie (who just started her own blog!) sent me a link to an article about Mommy Brain so there you go.


    Waiting for Footballers Wives

    Apparently Joan Collins is going to be on the upcoming season of the show. So exciting!


    Request line

    The engineer has again been notified! [Blogger was down when I tried posting this yesterday.]

    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?"


    Saturday night snapshot

    Baby's in bed, champagne's being drunk, and songs are being downloaded from iTunes.

    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 technorati tags:


    A day in the life

    3:30 am
    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.

    4:45 am
    Awaken to grunting sounds in bassinet. [See 3 am]

    6 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.

    7:45 am
    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.

    8 am
    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.

    9 am
    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.

    9:30 am
    Play with baby while baby sits in swing, being utterly charming and smiling incessantly, carrying on a surprisingly meaningful conversation with me.

    10:15 am
    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.

    10:30 am
    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.

    3:15 pm
    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.

    4 pm
    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.

    5 pm
    Chat with friend on cell phone while sitting in parked car with best baby in the world.

    5:30 pm
    Pick up other friend from work. Head off to dinner, destination unknown.

    5:40 pm
    En route to nowhere in particular decide to eat at Patxi's in Hayes Valley.

    6 pm
    Marvel at how long it took to get from Marina to Hayes Valley. Hope to find parking space. Find parking space immediately.

    6:05 pm
    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.

    7 pm
    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.

    7:15 pm
    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.

    7:30 pm
    Shop with awake but charming baby in pouch.

    8:30 pm
    Return home just in time to beat baby meltdown. Unload groceries. Prepare bath.

    9 pm
    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.

    10:30 pm
    Post first blog entry of the day.

    11 pm
    Begin writing second blog entry of the day.

    11:10 pm
    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.

    11:24 pm
    Decide to stop obsessively self-editing. Post.

    "Mommy brain"

    "Mommy brain." Another phrase I've always thought sounded pretty stupid. I still think that, but I have to say I'm understanding its meaning a little too well lately. First of all, yesterday at 11:33 pm as I was drifting off to sleep, I experienced a weird Groundhog Day moment when I realized that I'd forgotten, again, to blog for the day, even though I'd managed to blog once that day about how I'd forgotten to blog the day before as a way of making up for forgetting to blog the day before. (I wanted to write twice yesterday to bring myself up to quota for the month--silly, I know, but I'm a bean counter at heart!) Do the math on that; it actually adds up, mommy brain or not. It's also very meta, again. I just love things that are meta.

    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 technorati tags:


    Forgotten day

    Yeah, so, I forgot to blog yesterday. Maybe it was because my blog from the day before was so fortuitously related to the big news about the woman who got kicked off a Delta plane for breastfeeding. I suppose I wanted to leave it up as long as possible in solidarity.

    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.)


    Breastfeeding welcome here!

    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).

    Technorati technorati tags: , ,


    No comment

    Tutujewel packed up her computer for her upcoming interstate move, which means my poor blog will suffer for lack of comments. In case you were wondering where she was.


    Glamour girl

    My dear, dear friend Ramlah Frediani is an actor, and she has a fabulous new web site, www.ramlah.net. Check out the clip of her appearance on The OC!


    Boys night in

    It's Saturday night, and I had another night out on the town without my baby. Now, it's not that I enjoy being away from him. In fact, when I'm not within ten feet of the little creature, I miss him rather a lot. But, before I had the baby, I worried so much that I'd lose all sense of myself as a discrete individual--and that's been something of particular importance to me throughout my life. So I'm especially proud of myself when I can get out and do something that feels similar to my pre-baby life. (I guess it's a good thing that we live somewhere within a couple blocks of a bunch of really great restaurants, because I've been able to hit some local hot spots without being too far from home, in case I need to sprint home to, y'know, cuddle and soothe and whatnot.)

    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!


    Maternity leave clock

    It's ticking! Soon, I'll be returning to work. I'm gearing myself up mentally for that, and I know I'll be able to handle the transition back, whatever challenges it will present. But however strong I may find myself, and however well I may be able to achieve some semblance of balance between work and new motherhood, I can still take this moment to lament the brutality that is this country's family leave policy, which roughly boils down to:

  • Twelve weeks maximum, federally, that your job is protected, meaning they have to hold your job open for you until you return. Remember, this hardly ever means your child is 12 weeks old when you return to work. Let's say you have any sort of pregnancy complication where you have to leave work before you deliver; your 12 weeks starts ticking as soon as you stop working. We do get another 12 weeks' leave in California, but that's unusual, and there's always the paid leave issue, as in...
  • ...There's no guarantee of paid leave. If your company is generous enough to provide any sort of paid leave, consider yourself very, very, very fortunate. There's no law requiring them to do this, as far as I know.
  • Six weeks disability (for a normal delivery), during which you qualify for whatever government disability you're eligible for. Any non-superwoman who's gone through childbirth knows this is the absolute bare minimum. You get two more weeks for a c-section, but from what I've heard about c-sections, man, two more weeks seems likely to be, again, the bare minimum.

    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!"

    Technorati technorati tags: ,

  • 11.09.2006


    You know how some words or names you just don't like? Something about the sound, or maybe it's the underlying concept that doesn't sit right with you. Well, I've discovered I can't stand the word "babywearing." It's one of the "attachment parenting" tenets that describes carrying your baby close to your body in a sling or wrap. "Babywearing" or "wearing your baby" just sounds stupid.

    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 technorati tags:


    Random observations

    Here's what I want to know: In Lost, is the guy playing the "Other" who was going to shoot Sawyer the same guy who played Tommy, the jerky beefcake boyfriend in the 1983 movie Valley Girl? He kinda looks like a much older, heftier version. Let's look it up on IMDB, shall we?


    (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 vote NO on unrealistic celebrity role models!

    I saw footage today of Britney Spears on David Letterman. She had her baby right before I had mine, and I inevitably compared myself with her throughout our pregnancies, because we were always at roughly the same stage.

    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!)


    Election Dread

    Here we are again, another Election Day almost upon us. I am dreading it. I wish I could just skip it. Too many propositions! Thirteen statewide ones, 11 local, none of which I really know about. Sure, I've seen the ads, read the odd blog post, heard a few radio shows, etc. and I know how I'm probably going to vote on the major ones. But that leaves a bunch I haven't heard about: 84? 88? how about SF measure K...or A through K, for that matter... anyone? ANYONE? And just because I may have decided how I'm going to vote doesn't mean I actually understand the consequences of these massive pieces of legislation I'm voting on. (I've complained about this problem before on this blog...) Then there's all the judicial and board of education seats...I have NO idea who any of these people are or what impact electing or not electing them will have on my life or on society as a whole. What am I supposed to do? I've got no time to educate myself, and honestly, is there any practical way to educate oneself? I'm calling it Election Dread, and I've got a bad case of it.


    Rant: Calling out Emo

    When I saw the winners of MTV's "Video of the Year" Video Music Award, Panic! At the Disco, perform on the show, I could only laugh. The Gothic Lolita-meets-Alice In Wonderland costumes and the I've-got-a-headache-this-big-inducing song spoke volumes about our current mainstream's terrible taste in music. (I'd show an image of this mess of a performance, but the only VMA shots I can find online are of the very attractive Beyonce and Shakira performances. Coincidence? I DON'T THINK SO!)

    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!


    Age-inappropriate entertainment

    Here's my question: even if I could find a theater where I felt comfortable doing so, would it be OK to bring my infant son to see Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan? Because I really really want to!


    November words

    I can't believe there are so many writing activities in November, and that a couple people I know are choosing to partake in multiple of them. I had a hard time coming up with this post! I mean, I had all sorts of subjects that might make interesting blog posts (the rain, the upcoming elections, child psychology, Halloween costumes for babies, and on and on...) but it's one thing to have the idea and quite another to write the interesting blog post. Instead, I'm writing about not writing the blog post, which requires hardly any writing at all. With that, I'm done for today. Hurray!


    Brazilian Girls

    Tonight I actually went out to see a concert! Brazilian Girls at the Warfield. I gotta admit I'm a bit proud of myself because it took some coordination. I only have about 1 1/2 to 2 hours of free time away from the little creature, and I definitely didn't want to waste those precious child-free minutes on an opening act and that aimless milling about while you wait for the show to begin.

    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.


    Neverwinter Nights 2

    Well, NaBloPoMo or whatever it's called isn't off to a fantastic start for me. I'm barely getting this post up, and it's only November 1! But a day-to-day ritual so appeals to me, and I figure this will be an excuse to write crappy posts without much editing or forethought. So, today I'm writing that I'm excited about Neverwinter Nights 2, a PC game that comes out today. I really loved the first NWN and have been waiting several years for a sequel. I'm not sure when I'll actually get to play it but it's top on my list right now!


    Adieu, Reel Moms!

    I went to my first Reel Moms movie today, Marie Antoinette at the Metreon, only to find out as I was purchasing my ticket that it would be my last. Appparently, AMC is discontinuing the parent-friendly movie series because of "low turnout." This surprised and disappointed me, especially since the movie theater was pretty crowded for an 11 am Tuesday matinee (remember, I learned on my maternity leave just how popular Tuesday matinees are). There were probably about 25-30 adults, at least.

    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!)


    Motherhood mythbusting

    I harbored certain notions about how having kids would change my life. These notions mostly centered around how much my free time would be affected and how little time I'd have to myself. Well, it's Saturday morning, and I've awoken feeling well rested (for me, that means I got about 8 hours of sleep, though not all in one stretch--but then, that was hard to accomplish even when I was child-free). All the guys in my house (kitties included) are sound asleep, and it's very quiet. I've checked my email and read the latest headlines and blog posts (sounds like Mary had a great day in SF yesterday...hey Mary, call me next time you're doing all that fun stuff with your kids. I'm home all day and I appreciate stuff like family lounges too now!). I could take a long shower or watch some trash TV or maybe even beat the rush at Tartine, a local bakery that's excellent but a complete waste of time if you get there after 9:30 or so because of the massive and poorly managed line. I could even write that blog post deconstructing the problems with Tartine's service that lead to its massive line, if I cared to (which I don't at this particular moment--perhaps because now that I have kids I have more important things to overanalyze ;). But anyway, I just wanted to note for the record that, while having a child has certainly reduced the amount of time I have to myself, it hasn't totally eliminated it. I never would have imagined my mom self having another morning so similar to the one where I wrote that old post about being child-free, but here I am, writing on my blog, about to head into the kitchen to make myself a decaf chai soy latte, which I will sip while I generally enjoy the silence. I consider this particular myth busted! Makes me wonder what other motherhood myths are out there waiting to be debunked.

    Any suggestions?


    Am I not a mommyblogger?

    Having a child has changed more than I could have predicted. What I'm most surprised about is how it's changed my desire to blog. There's so much to say, but since so much of it is about a little innocent person I chose to bring into the world (as I'm sure he'll remind me when he's a teenager--he didn't ask to be born), I've discovered early on that I feel very conflicted about discussing him in this public setting. Even though the audience here is mostly friends and family, I feel a little weird about sharing intimate details about someone else. It's especially strange because my sister-in-law is, like, the mommyblogger extraordinaire, and I (along with countless others) love reading her chronicles of their family's adventures. I also admire her ability to share so publicly. Somehow, though, I'm not ready to share in that same way, and I'm a bit disappointed about that, because if one thing gives you awesome fodder for a blog, it's motherhood. I figured that out in the first few hours of the experience! My feelings may change... we'll see. Because my new favorite little guy is pretty cool, that's for sure!


    I did it!

    I had the baby! Most of you already know this, but if anyone's hanging on my blog for the updates, I had the baby! The birth went really well, and parenthood has been going reasonably well, too, at least for these first few weeks. Little Septimus SpaceBaby rocks, verily. But I have hardly any time for blogging, so this is going to be a short one. I plan to be back to regular writing soon, though except for that particular forward-looking promise, I'm really trying to take things day by day. From my limited exposure to parenthood, that seems like a good plan. A damned good plan.


    Field trips for grown-ups: Google

    Alternate title: Pregnant woman waddling

    (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...


    Forever pregnant

    I know my life's about to change dramatically any minute now (literally), but right now it does seem like it's possible to be pregnant forever. It's so weird how my body can just remain in stasis even though clearly there's this gigantic baby inside kicking and contorting. Nick and I are joking that the baby might just be as nervous as we are...he's not looking forward to jettisoning himself into the world of sleepless nights, unfamiliar routines, and ridiculous politics either. I mean, we are actually ready for him now; it's amazing what one week of being at home without having to work did for my mental and physical preparation. But it's still a daunting transition, and I get the feeling Nick and I aren't the only ones with a mild amount of ambivalence about getting on with things. I had this major hunch that today was the day when I would have the baby, but so far, he's continuing to seem quite comfortable where he is.

    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!


    Still waiting!

    I've been on leave officially for only a few days now, because I ended up going in to the office a fair bit last week out of sheer psychological attachment (and to give the guy who's subbing for me a few pointers). A couple people kept telling me to leave, but I don't think they understand what it's like to have your "purpose" taken away from you suddenly. The first few days of full-on leave have been really hard, but I don't think I'd have been able to go into the office in my current condition. I'm just way too huge and uncomfortable.

    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?


    Ode to EGM, or initial thoughts on my maternity leave

    Today was my last full day at work, and it's safe to say I am freaking out. I'm not worried about things going smoothly while I'm gone--I really have no control over that, and I spent my last week or so putting as many systems into place as I could to enable my team to do their thing without my assistance. I'm freaking out because of how weird it is to be suddenly released from my work responsibilities. The only other time that happened was when my last magazine folded, and that was just totally different--most notably in that getting laid off happens for terrible reasons, while going on temporary maternity leave happens for (what I hear are) fabulous reasons.

    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.


    Woe is Me, or Third Trimester Extreme Crankiness

    It's not fair: being enormously pregnant, uncomfortable in any position, stressed out and nervous about impending parenthood, AND having a head cold. It's just so totally not fair. It's been a while--years perhaps--since I've whined to my mom, had her tell me, "Well, honey, life's not fair," and felt utterly outraged at her complete lack of sympathy/unhelpful statement of truth. You know that feeling, don't you? It sucks, especially when you're hearing it amid stuffed-up sniffles, watery eyes, and a huge, distended belly!

    It's not fair!


    2001: A Space Odyssey

    I learned something very strange about my husband tonight. I'm not sure whether to be impressed or concerned. Flipping around the channels, he saw that 2001: A Space Odyssey was on and commented that his dad took him to see it when he was around 8 years old, and that it "blew his mind." I noted that I'd never been able to sit through the movie without falling asleep, but that I'd enjoyed the book. So here we are, watching the movie, which is just as slow, silent, and, yes, weird as I remember it being any of those many times I have tried to watch it. I mean, it has an intermission built into it, where the bloody screen goes black. ("But there's cool space music," my husband protests.) Then there's the weird psychedelic screensaver-style interlude near the end. ("I didn't like this part so much," he admits, "but it gets cool again pretty soon.") And then the weird baby in the closing scene?! ("It's a space baby!" says Nick, as if that just explains everything.)

    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 haven't had that much to write about lately, and this is weird considering the massive changes that are about to take place in my life. I haven't felt inspired to write, so in honor of...was it...Benjamin Franklin? ("Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Note to self: Fact check later--worrying about the proper source and exact verbiage of your quote is just a form of procrastination!)...I'm writing anyway.

    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.


    San Francisco politics can make you giggle...

    (...if written about by the right person.)

    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!


    Cool dry cleaners

    Nick's work has this dry cleaning service that picks up and delivers from the office, which is great for when he needs stuff laundered. Unfortunately, this means we have an excess of wire hangers that just pile up. Luckily, I found a dry cleaners in the Mission, Biltmore Laundry on Valencia Street, that reuses old hangers. I dropped a bunch off today. Pretty cool! I know dry cleaners have their own negative impact on the environment, but since so many people use them, it's nice that one of them is at least trying to reduce and reuse...

    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...


    BlogHer Highlights

    I attended ground zero for women bloggers this weekend, where I met a ton of interesting ladies (and few guys) and learned a bunch of things about blogging and connecting with people online. The best part was probably the closing keynote in which Arianna Huffington spoke about "fearlessness," the theme from her upcoming book. I've only really heard her talk about politics before, so it was really cool and refreshing to learn more about her personal development. I also enjoyed meeting lots of people...unfortunately I've had hardly any time to read all the blogs on my list. (I think I have a list of about 30 URLs I want to check out!) But I'm really looking forward to updating my blogroll with all these sites written by very interesting and friendly people I met. I also enjoyed the panels, where I learned that many other bloggers have encountered similar challenges in their online writing. Plus, the Flickr meetup was cool! I'm inspired to write more, redesign my site, take more photos, leave more comments, link a lot more, and generally be more fearless, especially when it comes to my life online.


    The bus lane

    Twice as I was writing that title, I mistyped it as "The bug lane." This may be a Freudian typo (is there such a thing?) because I am about to write a bitter rant about another of San Francisco's public transportation abominations, the diamond lanes devoted exclusively to buses. Now, I've heard the Muni representatives complain about how there are always cars in these lanes, and how if they're going to be expected to run their buses on time, then SFPD needs to step up its enforcement of people driving and double-parking in the bus lane. With which I'm wholly in agreement, in a strictly technical sense.

    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!


    On Zizou and being good

    OK, first I want to say the random: Zinédine Zidane is a COOL name. I love it. Knowing little to nothing about the sports figure to whom it is attached, I can only say to his parents, Bravo! (I hope I can channel a touch of that élan in naming my own child....)

    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!


    Organization can happen

    I'm a believer! When my mom was visiting, she helped me get motivated to clean out the closet in our home office (and soon-to-be guest room). This was what I call a Poltergeist closet—the vortex that sucks in all earthly possessions, the black hole into which everything and anything can be jettisoned, the tornado that bleeds disorder into the areas immediately surrounding it:

    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!


    I'm feeling lucky

    This weekend, my sister-in-law hosted the most fabulous baby shower for me. It was such a well-organized affair (as those who read Mary's blog would expect from someone so on top of everything), with beautiful decorations, great food, scrumptious cakes (yes, cakes, plural—a chocolate one and a tres leches, and yes, I had a piece of both), so many loved ones, and mountains of presents for me and the future member of our family. Quite fittingly, the party reminded me of my bridal shower a couple years ago, when I felt overwhelmed with all the love that surrounds me. There's just no other reason to throw or attend a shower than love—it's not like you go for the food or because you had nothing better to do on a Saturday afternoon than hang out with a bunch of your friend's friends you might not know all that well. You go purely as an expression of your love and support for someone who's experiencing a profound life change, and I have to say I've been really deeply moved at both of my showers. It's really precious, the feeling that you don't want a moment to end. I felt that a lot yesterday, and for that, I consider myself very lucky.


    I knew it!

    A week ago, I was down in Palo Alto with my mom, and we drove by the campus of my alma mater, Stanford. I noticed there were preparations for the commencement ceremonies going on, and I joked to my mom that all I knew about this year's commencement was that the speaker would be someone way better than they had back in my day (though I actually had no idea who the scheduled speaker was). I knew this with confidence, because in my day, our commencement speaker was someone whose name and place in history I barely remember. The only part that sticks out in my mind was that he was against affirmative action. How inspirational! In the many years since then, the speakers have included Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Apple/Pixar CEO Steve Jobs, Nightline host Ted Koppel, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan—hell, even HP CEO Carly Fiorina was more inspiring than some law professor who's against affirmative action.

    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!


    Muni Tales

    Last week, a few really weird things happened on the SF Muni.

    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.


    Wait, what?

    I've been seeing ads about election issues on TV. "Schwarzenegger for Governor" ads. What is up with that? I thought we just finished an election. Something is terribly, terribly wrong with this scenario. You shouldn't have to start buying TV ads 10 days after an election when we're not voting again until November. (We're not voting again until November, right? Please tell me we're not voting again until November.)


    RANT: How to make voting fun again

    Yesterday was the primary in California, and as I attempted to determine how I wanted to vote on the two statewide propositions and four local measures, I freaked out. I realized that voting sucks. Democracy as we know it sucks. I've never known politics to be any other way, but ballot-box legislating and budgeting...sucks. We have to vote too often, and ballot propositions are way too complicated to be understood by any ordinary, working person with a limited amount of time for "extras" like current affairs.

    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!



    I went to see Madonna on Tuesday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose. We got free $350 tickets—which is the only reason we went. I haven't been a fan of her music for years, decades even. But I was very excited to check out this icon of pop culture, this woman who has dominated the pop music scene for most of my life, for free. I had so many thoughts during the show that I find myself drawn to the inevitable, the beloved, the bullet point list!

  • This was the kind of show you expected to see in Las Vegas, not on the arena tour circuit. I've seen plenty of big concerts, but the sets, costumes, and pure theatricality of this show fit in somewhere totally different.
  • Madonna made her mark in the musical arena, and I've always known that musical talent wasn't her forté. But after watching that show, I am more convinced than ever that Madonna is really not a musician at all. It's sort of a cliché to say that Madonna's a "performer" or an "entertainer" and doesn't even pretend to be a musician. But I feel like for someone who is ranked up there with the Beatles and Bob Dylan as one of the most important musical artists of all time, her lack of musical talent is astonishing, and it's never come through quite as clearly as when she was on stage in the same room. There's just nothing musical about it. Her singing is particularly weak, and her songs are just not that enjoyable to listen to. Perhaps this is because she played mostly new songs, but even the old hits she played were butchered and no fun to listen to.
  • Madonna mostly looks rehearsed and controlled on stage. Everything she does fits into a certain archetype: the impressive, elaborately staged grand opening, the upbeat dance numbers with her perfectly ethnically diverse, plucked-from-the-cast-of-the-musical-Rent dancers, the sit and have a one-on-one chat with the audience, the "rock" numbers, the triumphant finale... It's all very well done, yet it's calculated and soulless.
  • EXCEPT when she is in her zone, dancing in front of a pyramid of backup dancers who follow her every move. I've seen this in every concert movie or video I've ever seen—Madonna totally comes alive when she's dancing coordinated moves with a couple of people behind her. This was one of the two high points of the show, during her discofied rendition of "Music," when she was wearing a white suit à la John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and surrounded by roller skating whizzes, dancing her little heart out.
  • The other high point was the much-discussed crucifixion number, where Madonna's wearing a crown of thorns and is hanging from a mirrored cross. She was singing "Live to Tell," which is a beautiful song to begin with, but was especially poignant because it was accompanied by a number on a screen in the background on which a counting rose steadily upward until it reached 12 million—the number of children who will be ophaned in Africa this year as a result of the AIDS epidemic. It was powerful and didn't reek at all of the usual opportunism in so much of her other work.
  • Madonna's massive ego-power-trip is strangely evident even during her otherwise utterly controlled, planned performance. At one point (during the aforementioned "intimate chat with the audience" segment of the show), she joked that she was "freezing her ass off" and that "someone" in the audience needed to "get the building manager to turn the air conditioning down." It was weird and awkward...as if she was trying to remind us that SHE's in charge. At another point, when she wanted one side of the arena to dance more, she said they were pissing her off, "and you don't want to piss me off!" she warned. All I could think was that no amount of adulation, money, cheering, sweating, or perfectly stepped dance routines was going to fill the abyss of a hole in Madonna's ego.
  • But despite what I might have to say about it all, the crowd absolutely loved her. These people all willingly paid anywhere from $100 to $350 each for the privilege to see this spectacle. And for those people, it seemed to be worth every penny. They didn't seem to mind how crappy most of the music was, or how stilted and rehearsed it all was. They didn't seem to mind when the last song ended and the lights went instantly up, indicating that there would clearly be NO encore. They just didn't seem to mind any of the things I minded, and it made me a little bit sad for the state of American entertainment today...
  • 5.30.2006

    What makes you cringe

    On this week's This American Life, the theme was "Stories that make us cringe." In it, "[host] Ira [Glass] reports on a week he spent on the set of the TV show M*A*S*H in 1979, supposedly to do a story about the program for National Public Radio. He was 20 years old. He didn't know what he was doing. He listened to the tapes for the first time in over two decades, and found much to cringe at." (That description is from the show web site.)

    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.


    Resolutions, pt. 2

    I can't believe this year is almost halfway over already! Tonight I got home from work and decided it was time to post the next installment in my "365 Easy Resolutions Anyone Can Do!" even though the list wasn't as long as I thought it should be. So here it is!

    101. Pet a pet.

    102. Meditate.
    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!