Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Zeke and Josh bond

I'm in New Hampshire now. It's fucking freezing. Or rather, it's in the mid-50s, but to me it feels like the North Pole. Zeke and I are sitting around my brother's house bundled up in sweatshirts and blankets. Meanwhile, my niece, Emma, is running around in shorts and a t-shirt and flip-flops, telling me it's not cold. Apparently, living in Hawaii for a year has turned me into a temperature wuss.

Other than that, all is well. Zeke has a little viral cold, so he's got a nice phlegmy cough, but I'm just keeping him bundled up and making sure he gets plenty of naps, so he's managing OK. He's having a big time getting acquainted with his cousins and his uncle and auntie.

It's so cute to see my brother Josh with him. Josh is an adorable combination of big strong tough guy and total softie. He's a rock of muscle, a beer-drinking, sports-watching rugby player, but he's got 3 daughters who have him wrapped around their fingers and he's got this incredible touch with babies. The first night we were here, Zeke was having a hard time setting down -- and between the jet lag, the plane rides, the new and unfamiliar people and places, and the teeth that are popping through his gums as I type this, I can't say that I blame him. I was holding him trying to give him a bottle, and Josh said, "I've got this." He picked up Zeke, grabbed the bottle, and said, "come on, buddy, let's go." Later that night I went upstairs to find them both lying on a bed, chatting and listening to the sound of the ocean on the white noise machine.

According to Josh, they were telling penis jokes and getting to know each other.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fleeting blessing

We went to the hospital the second day we were in Detroit. We were going to go the first day, but my grandmother was so out of it that my grandpa told us not to bother.

At this point, Zeke had pretty much solidified his lock for Baby of the Year. He had been absolutely amazing in the face of long plane rides, shleps back and forth to this relative and that relative, people getting in his face constantly. I had been apprehensive about traveling with him, not because I thought he would be difficult, but just because it was a long way and a long time stuck in a confined space with unfamiliar noises and people, and I wasn't sure how he would react to it. It turns out my fears were unfounded, because he was unbelievable. He played in my lap, he charmed the pants off of everyone around us, he slept, he ate, and he didn't cry once. Seriously, not once.

I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

But it didn't drop at the hospital.

My grandmother looked terrible. According to my grandfather, she had been awake but not really alert. She was lying on her side in her hospital bed with oxygen tubes flowing into her nose, and she was just staring into space, breathing raggedly because of all the congestion in her chest. She wasn't saying much, just drifting in and out of sleep.

When I walked in with Zeke, her entire demeanor changed. Her eyes opened wider and she smiled at him and recognized both of us right away.

"Hi, Grandma," I said. "It's good to see you. This is Zeke, your great-grandson. Isn't he beautiful?"

"Hi, sweetheart. He's adorable."

She put her hand up on the railing of her bed, right next to the chair I was sitting in with Zeke in my lap. When he saw her hand, he raised himself up and put both hands on the railing, one of them patting her hand. He looked at her and gave her his best smile with dimple fully engaged. She smiled back at him.

"Hello!" she said.

"Ba ba ba," he replied.

And we sat like that for about 10 minutes. I held my grandmother's hand and stroked her forehead and smiled at her, and Zeke patted both of our hands and smiled at her and chattered, and she smiled back at both of us. Of course, I was crying, but I was trying to keep it together and keep smiling.

Then we had to leave, because Zeke wasn't even supposed to be up on the floor she was on. But it was gratifying to know that she saw us when she was lucid and that it brought her a little bit of happiness. I didn't get to see her again because our flight left so early the next morning that we pretty much had to go to the airport straight from the hotel. But still, I was glad I made the trip to Michigan.

The next day, my mom talked to my grandpa to check on my grandmother's progress.

She had no recollection of seeing us.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Max and Zeke: from brotherhood to strife in 2 short minutes -- a photo essay

"I'm sitting here, minding my own business, enjoying the late afternoon on the front lawn. And did I mention I'm sitting? On my own. I'm not great at it, but I'm working on it."

"The little guy always smells interesting. I'll go lie by him and see what happens."

"Ha ha! Funny doggy!"

"Oh, you're going to pay attention to me? Great, I'll get closer"

"You should have no trouble petting me from here."

Zeke: "I love doggy! Whee!"
Max: "Hmm. You're new at this, aren't you?"

"You're not doing it right. Here, let me help. I'll just nudge your arm a little..."

"No really, let me help.  If I just put my face here, you'll understand what I'm looking for, petting-wise..."

Zeke: "Ooof."
Max: "Wha...? Shit. Um, I didn't do anything. Nope, he fell over all on his own. Nothing to see here, folks."

"Fucking dog."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Reason 473 that I love my husband...

I'm sitting in my office, moping. Jason walks in.

"Come on, let's go for a surf."

"Meeaaaah. I'm tired."

"Come oooooon. You said you'd come with me this morning. And you finished those briefs that were due, so I know you can spare an hour."

"Eeeehhhh. I don't feel like it."

"Come on, baby. You know it'll make you feel better to get out into the water."

"Hmmph. Oooooh, aaalll riiiiiight." *heavy sigh*

I put on my rash guard and board shorts. Jason has already loaded up the van and made me a cup of coffee in my travel mug.

"I'm tiiiiiired."

"Come on, sweetie, get in the van. I've already got towels and everything."

We get to the beach 10 minutes later. The waves are perfect. No wind, no rip current, just clean sets of 2-3 foot waves that are breaking beautifully. We start paddling out. The water is a little chilly but incredibly refreshing.

We spend the next hour catching perfect waves. We would even paddle onto the same wave and ride it holding hands, facing each other (he rides "regular," with his left foot forward, and I ride "goofy," with my right foot forward, so we face in opposite directions when we surf). I'm sure the people on the beach were vomiting with the sicky sweetness of it. I even saw a huge sea turtle poke it's head up about 10 feet from my board while I was sitting waiting for a set to come in. It was a glorious morning of surfing.

And I feel a million times better than I did 2 hours ago. Thanks, honey.

(February 2004 - Costa Rica - early in our "courtship")


I haven't been blogging much this week, beyond posting photos and videos in what is looking to be an "all Zeke, all the time" theme. Anxiety, writer's block, knots in my stomach.

I'm nervous about my upcoming trip, and its sort of consuming my brain and my emotional well-being:

  • I'm worried about my grandmother. Not only worried about her, but also not looking forward to seeing her in the state she's in, or seeing my grandfather be all depressed about it. Plus I hate hospitals, and I'm not thrilled with the prospect of having Zeke hang out in one, particularly given that his track record of one ear/sinus infection after another doesn't say much for the strength of his developing immune system.
  • I'm dreading the exceedingly long plane trip with Zeke. I have no reason to believe he'll be difficult, except that I'd sure as hell fuss if I had to spend 11+ hours on a plane in someone's lap, even if that lap belonged to my mother.
  • I love my family, but whenever we all get together I get anxiety attacks -- oldest child fears of disappointing people psychobabble bullshit blah blah.
  • Work is slow and my billable hours are for shit, so taking a week off isn't going to help. But they're still paying me and not complaining about it, so whatever.
  • I feel fat and gross. I've never had a gut in my life, but I can't seem to lose the baby mush around my middle and it's making me feel repulsive. After the next baby (*knocks wood, throws salt over shoulder*) I'm totally getting a tummy tuck.
So there it is. And reading over the list, I'm boring the crap out of myself, so I can't begin to imagine how tedious all of you must find me these days.

On an up note, today is Zeke's 6 month birthday, so here's another Animoto video:

Monday, April 21, 2008

If you have to be unemployed, you may as well be unemployed here

Even though he is temporarily laid off, Jason still has school twice a week at the union hall. Today he showed up in his board shorts, sunburned and with sand on his feet, because we spent the day surfing with some friends that are visiting the island.

"Unemployed" is such a scary word. I feel like it's obscene to be enjoying it so much. But given that he's getting paid while he's out of work, and that I woke up extra early to finish the brief I was writing, it's hard not to get out of bed, look at the surf report, and think "score!"

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Getting to the end

Said the little boy, “Sometimes I drop my spoon.”
Said the old man, “I do that too.”
The little boy whispered, “I wet my pants.”
“I do that too,” laughed the old man.
Said the little boy, “I often cry.”
The old man nodded, “So do I.”
“But worst of all,” said the boy, “it seems
Grown-ups don’t pay attention to me.”
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
“I know what you mean,” said the old man.

- - - - Shel Silverstein

I'm not really one to perseverate on death and dying. I know that it will happen eventually, but the feeling of life and health is so overwhelming that it's difficult to conceive of a time when my body will deteriorate beyond a point that I can counteract with exercise or diet or acupuncture or whatever. And people in my family live to be really old, and there isn't much of a history of cancer or Alzheimer's or other debilitating diseases. So I haven't been much exposed to people who were really sick or out of it for prolonged periods.

Which makes it hard to see my grandmother go through what she's going through right now. As I wrote about a year and a half ago, her health has been pretty crappy for a long time -- one thing after another has sapped her immune system and her physical strength, and then a few years ago her mind started to deteriorate quickly as well. She'll have conversations with my mother indicating that she doesn't understand who my grandfather is (she'll refer to him as "that man") or why she can't just go home. Meaning, presumably, her childhood home. It's heartbreaking for my mother to have to explain to her that she is home. I mean, think about it. How utterly depressing would it be to never feel like you're home, to never understand why you are where you are? It makes me want to cry just thinking about it. She has periods of lucidity, but they've been getting fewer and farther between her periods of confusion.

Then last week, she had to go to the hospital for surgery to clear up a problem with her intestines. It turned out to not be as serious physically as the doctors initially thought, but she's disoriented and not cooperating much with the doctors, pulling out her tubes and such, and is really, really out of it. Like, sitting up in bed but with her head hanging down to her chest and not really responding to the world around her -- that kind of "out of it."

My mother told me she doesn't think my grandmother will be able to go home. Rather, she'll probably end up in a home. One of those old people in a depressing nursing facility, restrained to avoid hurting themselves, that gets a little bit of attention from time to time. When I heard that, I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.

Since my grandmother doesn't really know what's going on, it's probably not so bad for her. But it must be a nightmare for my grandfather. Because even though he is 92, his mind is perfectly fine and he's tired but in great shape. So he's been taking care of my grandmother, which I know must wear him out, and now he's helpless, watching her deteriorate further. It has to be scary and lonely and overwhelming.

And as I type this, I'm crying thinking about getting to a point in life when all of a sudden, you realize that the end is near, and you're never going to feel strong again, or truly happy again, or hopeful for the future. Or, even worse, that you have to watch your wife of over 60 years fall apart, to the point that she barely resembles the person you know and love. It must be so devastating, and so exhausting. Particularly for my grandpa, who has been unfailingly devoted in caring for her, virtually single-handedly. To say that he's good people doesn't begin to describe the benevolence of this man. If there is a heaven, he's got a space reserved, that's for sure.

For a few months now, I've had a trip planned to take Zeke to the mainland to meet his great-grandparents as well as his aunts, uncles and cousins. We're leaving at the end of the week, and obviously, my timing couldn't have been better. While I'm relieved that my two grandmothers and my grandfather will be able to see him and meet him, and undoubtedly be thrilled with him, I don't have much faith that they will live long enough for Zeke to truly know them or remember them (at least, the grandmothers probably won't -- I bet my grandpa lives another 10 years).

And now I know how my mother feels when she tells me she wishes I knew her Grandma Fanny, who died either shortly before or shortly after I was born, so I never knew her. According to my mother, she was a wonderful, sweet woman who put up with a bastard for a husband and always managed to be loving and warm. But as much as I can get a sense of her from hearing stories and seeing pictures, it's not the same.

I'm not really afraid of dying. But the more I think about it, the more I'm terrified of growing old.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

To sleep, perchance to dream...

O sleep, O gentle sleep,
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frightened thee,
That thou no more will weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?

-- William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

Zeke has now slept through the night 4 nights in a row. So I think it's safe to say he's trained. Yay, success!!

But having uninterrupted nights has made it apparent to me that my sleep is more fucked up than ever. Remember when I said that the cure to insomnia was to have a baby, because you don't really have time during the night to lie awake for hours on end? Well, I was sort of kidding when I wrote it, but apparently I wasn't. Because I'm now so conditioned to wake up every few hours that I am incapable of sleeping for more than short spans at a time.

Ever since Zeke stopped waking up during the night, I have woken up at 2 or 2:30 every night and only been able to doze off and on until morning. So I read, or I get up and read the news online, or I go downstairs and fold our bottomless pile of laundry.

So I'm learning all about John Adams (and if you're looking for something to read, the book is outstanding), and I'm definitely up on current events, and I've got lots of folded clothes in my closet. But I'm fucking exhausted.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good news and bad news

The bad news is that Jason is getting laid off at the end of the week. The good news is that his company is making it a temporary layoff, meaning they will still be employing him and will call him back to work as soon as another part of the job he's working on gets going, probably in about two weeks. And in the meantime, he'll continue to be paid, so it's not so bad.

I guess this is the down-side of falling in love with a blue collar guy. I'll never be a kept woman, that's for sure.

But on the other hand... ladies, remember that Diet Coke commercial in which the women in the office took their daily break to watch the hunky construction worker take his shirt off while he drank a Diet Coke? I'm married to that guy.* And he's awesome.

*I'm not literally married to Lucky Vanous, the actor from that commercial, but you get my point.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oy vey

My husband isn't Jewish, but he likes to think that he is, on account of being married to one. I keep explaining to him that we're not a proselytising people, and that we don't make it easy for people to join up.

But he certainly earned some stripes today, by pulling a move right out of the classic joke about the Jewish telegram ("start worrying, details to follow").

He called me, said, "I heard a rumor they're laying off travelers [guys affiliated with unions in other states] at the end of the day, so I might be out of a job. It's just a rumor, though. I guess I'll find out later. Anyway, I gotta go. Love ya!" Click.

Thanks, honey. The rest of my day is sure to be delightful, now.

Elizabeth Bennet would know how to handle this...

My mother-in-law is coming for a visit. For a month. Yes, you read that right. A month. She'll be here from May 2-31. Which is about a month. Oh, and her father (Jason's grandfather, we call him "Pa") is coming too. Also for a month.

Not being a part of the English nobility during the time of Jane Austen novels, I have no experience with people coming to visit for a month. I also don't have a big manor house for people to stay in, just a teeny little guest bedroom and bathroom. No servants to wait on them (God, I miss living in India...) No extra carriages to take them to their various social engagements. Just my little 3 bedroom house, Jason's shitty van (that only has one front passenger seat), and my 10-year-old Mercedes that is currently filled with a baby carseat, about 40 teething toys, multiple daycare daily progress reports, a musical octopus that Zeke likes to play with, and probably a couple or three dirty, used bottles that have made their way under the seats.

I don't have a problem with Jason's mom or grandpa. His mom is a very nice woman who has always been lovely to me, and Pa is a sweet guy who has always been a dear. But I have about as much in common with my mother-in-law as I do with a man from Mars. We have completely different life experiences and world views, and I just don't think we understand each other at all. As a result, our conversations tend to revolve around the weather and the dog.

Plus, my house is not big, and I'm getting anxiety attacks thinking about all of us living on top of each other for a month. And I have a job, and I have to do that job if I hope to keep it so that I can continue to pay my mortgage. But I work out of the house. So I'm home, but not really available to take people out to see the sights during the day. Which can be awkward. For a month.

And there's nothing I can say. I gently tried to impress upon Jason my family's maxim that, like fish, relatives start to stink after 3 days. But he didn't want to hurt his mom's feelings, and I sure as hell am not going to create a fuss, so I guess we'll suck it up. For a month.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Indulge me, once again

This time I'm the proud older sister. My brother, Sam, who writes and performs under the name Lipstik, has a new EP coming out called There Is Only One Thing. It includes a cover of Tom Petty's "Yer So Bad" with the lyrics changed in tribute to me ("my sister got lucky, married an Aussie..."). It's been very well-reviewed by respected music bloggers (click here for a review in Allan's World Music and here for a review in Cover Lay Down, downloads available on both sites). As I've said before, my baby brother is kewl.

Sleep training, redux

I've been putting it off for months. Any excuse would do. Oh, I miss holding him. Oh, he's got an ear infection -- I don't want to force him to cry when he's sick. Oh, he's got a cold and he's teething and I don't want to increase his discomfort. Oh, I'm traveling soon, and I don't want to disrupt him further when Mommy's away. Anything to avoid resuming the sleep training process.

But the truth is, I'm a pussy. I hate hearing my baby cry. All I want to do is pick him up and console him.

It's time, though. He'll be 6 months old in a week or so, and he weighs almost 17 pounds, so he doesn't need to eat every 3 hours during the night -- he just uses the bottle as a sleep aid because he doesn't know any different. Because I haven't taught him anything different. And he's been generally fussier at bedtime, particularly when he's overtired. My feeling is, if he's going to fuss anyway, he may as well do it in his bed rather than in my arms.

Last night when we put him down, he cried for almost an hour. I started crying about a half hour in, as well. It totally sucked. We would go in to check on him and pat him on the back ever 10 minutes or so, and he would be rolling from side to side, completely pissed off. It was so hard to listen to and watch, especially knowing that all it would take to calm him down would be to pick him up. But we stayed strong, and he fell asleep eventually.

I gave him a bottle at about 11:45 because he hadn't eaten much for dinner, and then he slept until about 2:45 in the morning. Once again, it took him about 45 minutes to fall asleep, with me checking on him every 10 minutes. He cried and cried, and it was brutal to listen to, but I didn't cave, and then he slept until 7 in the morning and was his normal smiling self.

I'm not looking forward to tonight, but plenty of people have assured me that it will get better. Soon, I hope.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Maybe it's because I've been watching alot of Top Chef. Maybe it's the cooking blogs I've been reading -- particularly Annie's A Good American Wife, which has inspired me to branch out and expand my repertoire. Maybe I'm trying to improve Jason's palate so he develops a taste for good food that isn't covered in chili sauce. Most likely, it's because work is slow, and I've got all of this energy I'd normally use being productive at work and I need to direct it somewhere.

But whatever the reason, I've been completely obsessed with cooking lately.

In the past week or so, I've made:

- chicken & rice cooked with wine wine, tomatoes, saffron and peas (insanely delicious -- Jason and I couldn't even hold a conversation while we were eating because the taste of the food was zapping all of our brainpower);

- Indian chicken biryani

- red Thai curry chicken

- Greek potatoes, Greek green beans (sauteed with tomatoes and onions -- I'm not a big green bean fan, and I couldn't get enough) and spanakopita (spinach pie)

- about 3 or 4 different variations of homemade pasta sauce

Every day I wake up and think, "what new thing can I make today?" And the more complicated it is, the better.

Did you ever see the movie Big Night? It's about these two Italian brothers who are trying to maintain a successful Italian restaurant, and as a last ditch effort to keep the place open, they host a huge dinner party, making all of their best dishes, in the hopes that the singer Louis Prima will show up and make them famous and popular and successful. One of the dishes they make is called a timpano -- a giant pastry filled with layers of pasta and sausage and eggs and about a million other things, all baked together. When I saw it in the movie, I was so mesmerized that I was determined to make it. So I did. I found a recipe, and my friend Karen and I hosted a dinner party in which we made the timpano (it took us about 10 hours altogether) and served it with three different kinds of risotto in the colors of the Italian flag (also featured in the movie).

I get this way from time to time. I learn how to do something, or in the case of cooking, revisit it after a long hiatus, and I get crazy. I go on a knitting frenzy and I make fishermen's sweaters with 5 different kinds of cables and popcorn stitches and whatever else I can think of. I watch a couple of episodes of Trading Spaces and I go out and buy a sewing machine and start making curtains and pillow covers.

It could be that I have an overwhelming need to be productive and creative.

Or just further confirmation that I'm more than a little nuts.

Anyway, here's the wonderful scene from Big Night that inspired me. May it inspire you as well.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Stream of semi-consciousness

I'm in a big council hall. I think I'm supposed to be getting ready to speak right now. The room looks like the inside of the U.S. Senate chambers, very grand and formal and parlaimentary. I'm giving a speech soon, but I'm not sure what I'm supposed to say. I'm trying to listen to what the other people in the room are talking about, but all I can hear is a cat crying. The cat sounds like it's in pain. I try to focus on what's going on around me, but all I can hear is the cat ....

Zeke's awake. And crying, hard. I look at the clock, and it's 1:40 in the morning. Not bad, he's been asleep for almost 5 hours, which is good after waking up at 8, an hour after going to sleep, and being practically inconsolable. Probably the teething. He's drooling all over everything these days, constantly rubbing his gums, and then all of a sudden last night he has a runny nose. Which means his ears probably aren't far behind. Fuck.

Oooof. Jesus, dog, do you have to sleep stretched out across the doorway? Are you trying to break my neck? God, I'm tired. My eyes feel like they've been glued shut. I bump into the wall as I walk into Zeke's room. Ow.

Oh, muffin. Mommy's here, mommy's here. Don't cry. Shhhhh. Here, have a bottle. Did I remember to dose it with some Advil? I think so. OK, there you go. Close your eyes. Shhhh. It's OK. You're OK. Let's just sit in the chair and rock for a bit.

Rock, rock, rock. I need to finish that memo for the boss's meeting tomorrow. I wonder if the client is going to appeal. I bet they do. I should start researching and writing portions of the brief so it will be done when we need it.

There, there, baby, go to sleep. Good boy. Close your eyes. Shhhhhhh.

Whoa, what's wrong? Why are you crying again? Are you in pain? Poor pooper. Here, I'll put some orajel on your gums. Do you want me to rub your gums for you? No? Oh, my poor baby. Let's walk around a little bit. Do you want me to sing you a song?

OK, he's breathing deeply now. His arm just kind of collapsed down by his side. That's a good sign. I think he's asleep. OK, sweetie, let me switch arms so I can put you back in your bed. There you go, roll over and go to sleep.

Watch out for the dog. Where are the covers? I need to turn the fan down. It's blowing little strands of hair in my face and it's itchy. I think Jason took my other pillow. I hope I can fall back to sleep. Is it raining? Weird. I miss the thunderstorms in Atlanta. It never storms like that here.

Deep breath.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Haole Way

I fear that when we eventually leave Hawaii, it will be because of racism. Which is unfortunate. I find it ironic and not just a little sad that a place as truly multicultural as this, a place where there truly is such a mix of peoples and cultures, where interracial couples are pretty much the norm, is seriously the most racist place I've ever encountered. And I lived in the South half my life.

I guess if I were being honest with myself, I would have to acknowledge that there's tons of racism in the South, but I just never really had to deal with it because it wasn't directed at me. Whereas in Hawaii, I'm a haole, a soulless, no-breath-having, culture-stealing invader who plunders the land, steals the natural resources, and then gets the fuck out, leaving the place totally trashed. So I feel the racism because I'm the one they hate.

And if it were just me dealing with it, I wouldn't really care. But I refuse to have Zeke grow up in a place where he can't go to public school because the public schools suck so bad that they make the public schools in most inner cities looks like Exeter or Eton, where even in private schools he'll have to deal with people wanting to beat him up because he's white or because he's smart (God willing) or because he's not a punk (and he won't be). And if you think I'm exaggerating, I'm not. Our neighbors across the street are white, but they were born and raised in Hawaii, and they still dealt with it their whole lives. Their kids and neices and nephews are constantly getting threatened or attacked because of the color of their skin.

It's not OK with me. I will not subject my son, or any future children, to it. So I figure we'll be here for 5 years or so, build some equity in our house, get alot of surfing in, and then get the fuck out. Like true haoles.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Keep the dream alive

Every year on this day, I listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. It never fails to bring me to tears. It has been 40 years -- a biblical time period -- since his assassination. Much progress has been made. But there is still work to do.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Indulge me

We got Zeke's first school picture yesterday. Forgive me for playing the proud parent, but I can't even deal with how cute this kid is...

I just crack up at the notion of a 5-month-old baby lounging in a wicker chair like he's getting ready to drink a mint julep (virgin, of course) on some porch in Nantucket, with boats going by in the background. Such a little man of leisure.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I'm sexy. I'm cute, I'm popular to boot. I'm bitchin', great hair, the guys all love to stare. I'm wanted, I'm hot, I'm everything your not, I'm pretty, I'm cool, I dominate this school. Who am I, just guess, guys wanna touch my chest, I'm rockin', I smile and many think I'm vile. I'm flyin', I jump, you can look but don't you hump. Woa! I'm major, I roar, I swear I'm not a whore. We cheer and we lead and we act like we're on speed. Hate us 'coz we're beautiful, but we don't like you either. We're cheerleaders, we are cheerleaders!

-----Rancho Carne Toros cheerleaders, Bring It On

Yesterday while I was working I had the NCAA womens' basketball tournament playing on the TV. It was a tight game between Tennessee and Texas A&M, with the winner taking a spot in the Final Four. Candace Parker, Tennessee's superstar player, had to leave the game twice when her shoulder popped out of its socket, but she gritted her teeth and played with her shoulder in a brace and led her team to victory. All of the women on the court were tough and strong. Some were pretty, some weren't, some were skinny, some were stocky, some were tall, some were short, but all were bad-ass ath-a-leets.

At one point, the camera panned away from the women on the basketball to a group of cheerleaders on the sidelines. They were garishly made up and wearing big poufy bows in their hair and waving frilly pom-poms around. And to me, they looked ridiculous, particularly juxtaposed with the women athletes they were cheering on. They just didn't seem to fit in, particularly in an age in which a woman is running for president and a woman is secretary of state and women are increasingly receiving more and more acclaim and recognition for their accomplishments in the field of battle, be it an athletic field, a military field, a diplomatic field, a business field, whatever.

I don't really have anything against cheerleading. I've never actually given it much thought one way or the other. Plenty of my friends were cheerleaders in high school, and I know high school kids now that are cheerleaders, and this is in no way a knock on them. Hell, I know cheerleaders these days tend to be really good gymnasts, and they do crazy scary tricks in which they fly in the air doing loop-de-loops. In fact, there was just an article in Sports Illustrated about how dangerous cheerleading is and how cheerleading accidents account for a disproportionate number of overall athletic accidents in emergency rooms these days. So obviously, what they do is really difficult.

But also, it seems to me, increasingly irrelevant.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


I don't know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They're more important than sex.

--- Michael (Jeff Goldblum's character), The Big Chill

Yesterday we had a big block party on our street. It was a fun, casual affair, with barbecuing and cole slaw and pie and kids playing on their skateboards and guys playing catch with the football. Some of the adults were drinking beer or wine, but it wasn't the type of party where people were throwing down and getting crazy drunk. Just harmless family fun.

Except for one neighbor I'll call Arnold.

At around 1:30 in the afternoon, Arnold goes back to his house and returns to the party with a bottle of brandy. He's polite, so he offers it around, but not surprisingly, no one takes him up on it, seeing as how it was the middle of the afternoon and all. And it was brandy.

I was curious about the choice of beverage, so I said, "that's an interesting selection for the middle of the day. Why brandy?"

"Oh, I just really like brandy. And it's a different kind of drinking. You don't pound huge quantities of it and get really shit-faced like with beer or something. You just sip it."

"Ah," I said. "Makes sense."

"And anyway, this is a small bottle. I usually buy the big bottle."

"Hmmm," I replied. I couldn't help noticing that this "small" bottle was easily a quart or so of liquor.

As the afternoon progressed, the brandy in this "small" bottle was getting lower and lower in the bottle until it was almost entirely gone. I wanted to explain to Arnold that while sipping may be all well and good, if you keep sipping and sipping until you've drunk a fifth of brandy, you're still going to be shit-faced. But by the time I got around to it, he was passed out on the street, surrounded by a bunch of small children who couldn't figure out why one of the grownups was taking a nap outside.