Monday, June 30, 2008

How I Learned to Start Living and Kick The Used To Blues

I've noticed lately that more and more, the phrase, "oh, I used to do that" seems to be popping out of my mouth.

"Wendy, is that a banjo? Do you play?"

"Yeah, kind of. I used to play alot. I actually used to be in a bluegrass band, if you can believe it. It's kind of funny, I used to hang out with this big group of musicians and they all called me Banjo Wendy. I didn't play for years, then I started playing again when I was pregnant with Zeke. But eventually then I got too big to hold the banjo comfortably, so I had to stop. I really need to start playing more often. My picking skills are so pitiful these days."

"I've been thinking about trying yoga. What do you think?"

"Oh, you'd love yoga. I used to do yoga all the time -- there was this great studio in Atlanta, near Georgia Tech, and I used to take ashtanga classes 2 or 3 times a week. I always felt spent but amazing afterwards. I should start again. We should go to a class together."

"Hey, I saw a tennis racket in your garage. Do you play?"

"Yeah, though it's been awhile. I used to play competitively in a league in Atlanta, but I haven't really played regularly since before I got knocked up. I need to start playing again."

"Wow, that's a beautiful bike!"

"Thanks! I actually haven't ridden in almost two years -- first I separated my shoulder, and then I got pregnant. But I used to ride all the time. My good friend Michelle and I used to do this great ride in southern Fulton County near the Atlanta airport on weekends. It was out in the country and we'd do 25 or 35 mile rides by these gorgeous farms with rolling hills and crowing roosters. I really miss those rides. I need to call Michelle."

Notice a pattern forming?

Apparently, I used to be a really active, interesting person who did all kinds of cool stuff. And now I'm this boring old mom who used to do all kinds of cool stuff, but let it all fall by the wayside.

But I've decided that I'm calling "bullshit" on myself. I'm only 38 years old. I'm in fantastic health. No way am I at a point where all I can do is look back on all the fun I used to have. Fuck that.

So two weeks ago, I started a weekly tennis game with my neighbor, Anne (who also used to play regularly). She's in the military and has access to great courts at one of the local bases, so we went and played a couple of sets. We were a little rusty, but after playing for a while our shots improved, and we had an amazing time.

In the middle of one game, she said, "we're not even done today and already I can't wait to play again next week."

I knew exactly how she felt. I love playing tennis. It's so much fun, and such a great way to spend time with a friend. Why had I stopped for so long? We played again this past Saturday, and again had a blast. Even after only one week, our play had definitely improved. We're going to look into getting a lesson with a pro to work on some of our rough spots, and we'll play again this Saturday. We're also going to try to catch a yoga class sometime this week.

Then yesterday, I got on my bike again.

I have this gorgeous racing bike that I bought for way too much money about 8 summers ago, when Lance was early in his string of Tour de France victories and the buzz around him and around the Tour was building to a frenzy. My buddy Michelle and I rode all the time together. The perfect Saturday: wake up early, meet at her house at 6 or 6:30, ride in the countryside for a few hours, and then chill out and read for the rest of the day on the porch.

I loved those rides. I love that bike.

That bike that's been sitting disassembled in a box in the garage since we arrived in Hawaii. And yes, I know I had an excuse, having been pregnant and all, but Zeke is 8 months old. He's been out of me almost as long as he was in me. Why did it take me so long to take the bike to the shop and have it put together? Why?

I have no idea. Because yesterday, I got on my bike, not having ridden in almost two years, and felt incredible. I went out and rode 20 miles without even realizing how far I was going. I saw parts of the island I've never seen, because even though they're practically a stone's throw from where I live, when I turn out of my neighborhood in the car, I always turned left instead of right.

But on a bike, you feel a certain freedom to go where you want, deviate from a planned route, and go exploring in a way you don't in a car -- certainly not with gas over $4 a gallon. So that road up that hill that looked like it had a pretty view? Check it out. That route that you suspected led to a gorgeous neighborhood right on the western edge of Pearl Harbor? See what's there.

So I go. I go as far as my lungs and legs will take me. And I feel incredibly alive.

Because I'm done with used to.


I've got so much shit going on right now, I can barely think about it all. I feel like there are fireworks going off in my head. I had other things I wanted to write about today, but I feel like I need to vent a little bit.

Jason got fired again, for the same reason as before: too many travelers on jobs while guys from the local union sit at home. What-fucking-ever. Not to betray my socialist roots, but I think it's bullshit. Jason's bosses love him -- he's the smartest, hardest working guy they've got -- and they've gone to bat for him to try to keep him on the job, explaining to the company that they'll lose money by getting rid of him and bringing back guys that are slower and dumber. But the union guys are putting the pressure on, so they had to can him. He's got prospects for other work, and he can collect unemployment, but it's still got my blood pressure up.

In the meantime, my boss and I are trying to work out an arrangement through which I would work for him on an hourly basis rather than being on salary. We started talking numbers, and his numbers are way low. He keeps talking about what the going rate is for contract attorneys. And I had to explain that traditional contract attorneys are people that big firms bring in to do document review or big discovery productions in monster cases. Their work is tedious and requires no real intellectual or analytical effort, and as a result, their pay is shit. I'm not that kind of lawyer, I don't do that kind of mindless work, and I won't work for shit.

He's not being a dick about it, and I know we'll be able to work something out, but it's making me anxious nonetheless.

Zeke and Jason are coming home tomorrow. Jason had an indiscretion from way before he met me on his record, and the customs guys tend to give him a hard time when he enters the country. We took care of all of the legal stuff before we even got engaged, and worked everything out so that he could get his green card after we got married. But they still detain him and search him and harass him. The last time Jason went to Australia, when he came back into the country, he was detained by border patrol guys once again, and they actually accused him of having a fake green card. As if they couldn't just look up his alien number and other information in their computer, and confirm in about 3 seconds that he is actually a legal resident of this country. But no. A little power in the hands of someone who doesn't wield much of it in other areas of his life can be very dangerous.

Anyway, now he's traveling with an infant, and I'm terrified that after flying all night, my baby is going to be detained so that a bunch of assholes can swing their dicks around and abuse my husband for no reason. My mother has made some calls and has been assured that there shouldn't be a problem, but I won't feel secure until I see them with my own eyes.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Home Alone

These past few days have shown me that I could easily become a recluse. With the exception of making idle chatter with the guy at the checkout counter at the grocery store, or explaining to the guy at the bike shop what needs to be fixed on Jason's bike, I have had no real face to face interaction with a human being since Jason and Zeke left. And while I miss my husband and my baby, I haven't really minded being so alone.

Don't get me wrong. I like people from a distance. I don't mind talking on the phone. I watch my news shows. Right now I've got Wimbledon on the TV as I type this. I read my blogs. I read my books. I'm interested in what other people do.

But I'm terrible at meaningless chit-chat. Most people I meet bore me. And, truth be told, I often feel uncomfortable in social situations, like I don't fit in or like people don't like me or think I'm weird (which I probably am). So it's easier to be by myself.

The strange thing is, I often really enjoy being out with friends. This weekend I'm playing tennis with Anne, my friend who's doing the cleanse with me, and I'm really looking forward to it. She's smart and fun to be with, and I love playing tennis, so it should be a grand outing. When it comes to my closest friends, like Kathleen or Michele or Elizabeth, I always love spending time with them, because I feel like I can be myself around them.

In the meantime, I don't mind being a hermit.

Speaking of the cleanse, I'm feeling great. I've been reading and learning about food and nutrition, and it's making me be much more thoughtful about eating. I'm off of red meat for good, I think. I'll probably eat chicken and fish sparingly. I'll eat whole grains and whole wheat pastas, but probably limit the amount of bread that I eat. I doubt I'll consume dairy the way I used to. And for sure, I'm done with sugar and caffeine.

The thing that I have noticed since I started the cleanse is that all of a sudden, I feel much calmer. The depression and anxiety that are an almost constant physical presence -- a flutter in my gut, a tightness in my chest -- are gone. And the reason I'm fairly sure it's the sugar is that yesterday, I had a piece of gluten-free rice bread toasted with some agave nectar on top. Agave nectar is touted as a great sugar substitute -- it's like honey, but sweeter and less viscous -- but unlike stevia, it has sucrose and fructose in it. And within minutes of eating it, I felt gross and kind of jittery.

It's only the first week, so I'll be really curious to see how I feel at the end of the three weeks. Based on how it's going so far, I'm optimistic. At the very least, I'm learning so much, it's really fun and interesting.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Excuse me for a moment while I get up on my soapbox. Ok, here goes...

The cleanse is going well. I'm having no trouble staying on track and I haven't really had any unmanageable cravings. Amazingly, I haven't been particularly hungry or had much appetite. I guess not having sugar or caffeine keeps me from having big hunger spikes. I've even lost a couple of pounds, much to my surprise. I haven't had a dramatic burst of energy yet, but I feel good and am actually enjoying the deliberation and care I'm putting into my food choices.

The biggest shock has been the discovery that gluten is in fucking everything. Here I was, cheerfully munching on my vegan Boca Burger and seasoning my stir-fry with soy sauce, only to have my friend Michele (a very smart doctor) inform me that both contain wheat gluten.

WTF? I thought gluten was just in bread and pasta and stuff like that. But no, it's in virtually every sauce and every type of processed food, even the ones that are good for you. For people that have actual gluten allergies, and aren't just temporarily cutting gluten out as part of a cleanse, finding stuff to eat must be a bitch.

I've been watching all of these shows lately (I think on Bravo, can't remember) about the epidemic of obesity and diabetes in this country. And I while I'm way too vain to ever allow myself to gain more than 5 pounds or so before the alarm bells start going off, I can see how people could eat what they think is a relatively normal diet, yet they pack on the pounds, little by little, until one day they look in the mirror or step on the scale and realize their health is in jeopardy and they need to lose a significant amount of weight. Everything has sugar in it. Everything has high fructose corn syrup in it. Everything has enriched flour and rice that has been stripped of all nutrients or fiber and is basically just junk. Everything has saturated fats. Portions are way too big. I look at those Pizza Hut ads for the "P'zone," which is basically a pizza folded over to make a calzone that, according to the ad, is over a pound of dough, cheese, meats and sauce, and I want to call Pizza Hut and yell at them. No human being should ever be eating that much food in one sitting.

And eating healthy is expensive. Fresh produce is pricey, especially these days. Good, unprocessed foods are much costlier, and more difficult to find, than less healthy stuff. A packet of ramen noodles is 20 cents, for God's sake. If you're short on money and looking to get full, you could do plenty worse. But you wouldn't be doing much for your body.

I'm not sure why I'm getting so worked up. I guess it just bums me out that we're bombarded with messages about how we need to eat better and exercise more, but there are many, many obstacles put in our way when it comes to actually doing it.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I feel like I'm rattling around the house like a loose marble. Jason and Zeke left for Australia this morning, so I'm by myself for a week.

It feels very strange. My days are ordinarily so structured. I get up at around 5. Zeke wakes up at around 6:30. I take him and the dog for a stroll, then get Zeke dressed and take him to school. I get home at around 7:45, have some breakfast, and then settle in at my desk to do some work (or some blogging or some Scrabulous). I have something to eat at around 11:30. I take the dog for another walk. I do a little more work. I watch Countdown on MSNBC at 2 p.m. I do some cleaning. Jason gets home at around 4 and we head up to the daycare to pick up Zeke. We take the dog and the baby for another walk. We feed Zeke and take him outside to play with him for a little while. We give him a bath. We read stories, sing songs, and put him to bed. We have dinner, read or watch some TV, and go to sleep.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

For the next week, I don't have to wake up to feed anyone in the middle of the night, clean up after anyone else, cook for anyone else, bathe anyone else or do anyone else's laundry. I can go to the movies and not have to get a babysitter.

It sounds good in theory. I kept saying, "what am I going to do with myself all week while y'all are gone?" And Jason was all, "woooo, party!!" Like the minute he's out the door I'll be on the phone ordering some strippers with bottles of tequila tucked into their g-strings.

Um, have you met me, honey?

I'll probably spend the week by myself cleaning, painting and reading. I'll probably go surfing a couple of mornings. I'll sleep. I'll load up the top of my Netflix queue with all of the artsy movies Jason won't watch with me.

Which, again, sounds good in theory. But I love my husband and my baby. I love cleaning up the baby food that Zeke has catapulted off his spoon into my hair or onto the floor. I love singing him to sleep. I like watching crappy action movies with Jason while pretending to be disdainful of them. I love walking into Zeke's room first thing in the morning to find him clapping his hands and chattering to himself. When he sees me, he gives me this huge smile that makes me melt.

Time to myself is all well and good, but too much of it and I start to get a little crazy. Too much in my own head, which can be a scary place to be.

But it's only a week. I'll survive.

Now, where did I put that number for Chippendales.....

Monday, June 23, 2008

Easy cleansing

My neighbor, Anne, and I have decided to do the three week detoxing cleanse that Oprah did a little while back. It's a three week process where you cut all potential toxins and allergens from your diet. Supposedly, people who do this feel more energized and healthy, they lose weight, and they just generally feel great. Anne and I have both been feeling like we could eat healthier and improve our energy levels, so we're doing it together.

Oh, and don't get on my case about getting all Oprah-fied. I heard about it from Dooce, so no, I haven't drunk the Oprah Kool-Aid. Now please shut up so I can get back to figuring out how to live my best, regret-free life while reading lots of Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison books.

Anyway, for three weeks, we're cutting out all caffeine, alcohol, sugar, gluten and animal products. So no triple grande lattes for me, or bread or pasta or ice cream or yogurt or cheese or eggs or steak or chicken. Or beer. Or wine. Or apple pie. Or deviled eggs. The list is obviously quite long.

Anne and I were talking to Cindy about this the other day, and Cindy said that, for a number of reasons, she could never do a diet like that. That, in addition to depriving yourself of things you might like, it's too complicated and too difficult to adhere to. She went so far as to suggest that anyone who chooses to eat like that is obviously insane and couldn't possibly be happy. So, all you vegans out there, I guess it sucks to be you.

But the truth is, it's not that hard. I only drink one cup of coffee a day, and I don't drink sodas, so the caffeine won't be a big deal. I rarely drink alcohol -- maybe one beer a week, and I usually don't finish it -- so that part will be easy. I don't really have much of a sweet tooth. So it's cutting out the diary, meat and gluten that will pose a challenge.

Yesterday was my first day, and I had no trouble finding stuff to eat that was yummy and satisfying. Breakfast was oatmeal with raspberries and vanilla soy milk (which is delicious -- they've definitely improved the formula). Lunch was a Boca Burger and a spinach salad with vegan cheese, soy bacon and Italian dressing. Snack was an apple with almond butter, and dinner was stir-fry with broccoli, asparagus, tofu and brown rice, seasoned with garlic, chili oil and soy sauce. It was really good. And amazingly, Jason -- who is about as meat and potatoes as they come -- thought it was really good, too.

As I explained to Cindy, eating a new way isn't all that complicated. Unless you eat out at restaurants frequently -- which I don't -- the way you eat is dictated by a few simple steps:

1. Make a list.
2. Go to the store.
3. Buy stuff.
4. Go home and eat the stuff you bought.

Doing this cleanse isn't any different. The only real change is in the stuff I choose at the store. The rest is the same.

It's Day 2. I'm feeling fine. I'm not craving Oreos or a western omelette. I had a little caffeine headache yesterday, but nothing today. I'll keep y'all posted.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A plea to help preserve my sanity

Dear Pfizer:

Congratulations on your success with Viagra. Really, it's great. I remember when the product first came out over ten years ago, and how much buzz there was, particularly because of the windfall that was going to rain down on the heads of people that owned your stock. Kudos to all of them.

Since Viagra was introduced, it has unquestionably become a part of our national (and probably international) zeitgeist. It shows up in TV shows and movies. Late night chat show hosts make jokes about it. Insurance companies cover it for men who feel they need it. I guess I never realized that there was such an epidemic of "ED," but I'm certainly thrilled that the afflicted masses are once again happily tumescent (though not for more than 4 hours -- apparently that's bad).

My point is, it's out there, and everybody knows about it, and anybody who might feel the need for it knows where to go to get it.

Which brings me to my current request.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy, please please please, take those horrible ads off my TV featuring groups of guys hanging out and enthusiastically jamming to a bastardized version of Elvis's "Viva Las Vegas." I often have political TV on in the background when I work, and I guess you're a big sponsor of MSNBC (and good for them, really), because multiple times a day, one of those ads comes on. And every time, I throw up in my mouth a little bit and have an overwhelming desire to stab my eyes and ears with stiff, hot pokers.

And it's not just because the adaptation of Elvis's song is a musical and lyrical abomination, or because the men are overwhelmingly creepy in their ebullience over their impending boners.

No, I'm mostly just embarrassed for the actors. Being a working actor -- a working stiff -- is tough. If you're hard up for work and looking for a steady gig, the royalties from a drug company ad are probably hard to pass up, even if it means making a monstrous ass of yourself and having that ass-iness broadcast from coast to coast for all to see. When I watch these guys, a part of me dies inside because I know that a part of them is dying inside as well.

I don't begrudge you your right to advertise, though given that your product is now to erectile dysfunction what Xerox is to photocopying, I'm not sure it's necessary. Hell, even ex-presidential candidates shill for you!! So I know there must be ways of getting the message out other than your "Viva Viagra" campaign (and seriously, I feel nauseated just typing those words). Levitra and Cialis have managed to developed advertising campaigns that don't make me want to commit hari kari (though I've never understood the point of Cialis's "admiring the pretty view from separate bathtubs" theme -- if you're going to have sex with someone, how do you do it from separate bathtubs? -- but I digress).

I don't mean to be overly rigid about this, but I must insist that you come up with a different campaign. But don't worry -- I have confidence that you can come up with something appropriate that's less vomit-inducing and less damaging to the self-esteem of all of those poor actors. You're Pfizer, after all! Of all the companies in the ED club, you're the leading member! You're solid, upstanding guys -- I know you can do it.

Thanks in advance. You'll be doing a massive service to me and everyone I know.



A woman I know (I'll call her Cindy) is between jobs and looking for something new. She's not sure what. The other day Cindy and I were chatting and I asked if she had ever considered going back to school.

She gave me the Survivorman face and sneered, "Why?"

I fumbled for an answer. "Well, what are you interested in? Maybe you could learn a new skill and pursue a new career."

"I'm not really interested in anything," she said.

Her response stunned me. If I were independently wealthy, I would, in between traveling around the world, volunteer part-time at Legal Aid and spend the rest of my life as a student. I'd take literature courses, political science courses, learn how to paint, learn how to work with wood, learn languages, go to culinary school. I can't imagine a more ideal existence. The thought of someone having no desire to learn anything new makes me sad.

I heard somewhere once that happiness is best defined as the pursuit of attainable goals. I googled it but didn't find anything that triggered any memories, so it's probably from a movie I saw. Anyway, that makes sense to me. I'm at my happiest when I'm learning something or trying something challenging or looking forward to something.

So I've decided to learn Italian.

I've been feeling kind of blah and stagnant lately, but my neighbor gave me a couple of Rosetta Stone discs with about 15 different languages on them. I love the way Italian sounds (plus I could follow Italian opera without the supertitles), so I started working my way through the lessons, about 45 minutes a day. I now know a bunch of nouns and verbs and adjectives, and can put rudimentary sentences together. I walk into Zeke's room in the morning and say, "buon giorno, bambino!" If I'm outside and I see a bird in the sky, I think to myself, "l'uccello sta volando."

I'm having a blast.

When I'm done with Italian, maybe I'll tackle French.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad

My parents met in when my dad was home in Detroit for a little while between assignments or between jobs or something like that. He asked his younger sister, who was friends with my mom, to fix him up on a date. He said he wanted someone cute and smart to hang out with, but that it wasn't going to be anything serious.

Their first date was a basketball game. One of the teams ran a pick-and-roll. My dad leaned over to my mom and said, "that's a pick and roll. That's when the team on offense--"

She cut him off. "I know what a pick and roll is."

And that was it for him. He was sunk.

They were married 41 years ago today. As far as I can tell, they are as happy together and have as much fun together as they ever did.

What I find remarkable isn't so much that their marriage has stayed strong for so long, but how young they were when they met and married. My mother was 22 and my dad was 24 when they got married.

That blows my mind.

When I was 22, I was in law school. I was mature enough to handle my life, but absolutely nowhere near ready to get married. When it came to men, I was an idiot at 22. I look at the guys that I was attracted to or dated or had crushes on back then, and there's no way any of them would have been right for me. I didn't get married until I was 35, and even though I'd like to have a little more time to have children, (by the time my mom was 35, she had 3 kids, the oldest of whom was 10), I'm glad I waited, because I simply wasn't ready before.

I think there are a couple of reasons my parents' relationship stayed so strong. My dad is a goofball, and my mom thinks he's hilarious. He tells the same jokes over and over, and she continues to laugh. They're also both really smart, and they have similar interests -- politics, books, art, travel. But they also both pursue separate interests - my mom goes to the opera with her best friend, reads mystery novels that my dad looks down his nose at, and can watch the same movies over and over. My dad likes to go on long solo bike rides, reads almost nothing but history books, and is obsessed with college sports.

When we've talked about it, my mom has pointed out that marriage is really a crap shoot. People change over time, and for every couple that weathers those changes and grows together, there's another that simply grows apart. Who they were when they met is vastly different from who they are years later.

I love Jason. But I'm a realist. I have no idea if we will still be together 40 years from now (assuming we're both alive). I'd like to think we will be, but you never know.

In any event, I feel lucky to have such a wonderful example of a strong marriage set for me. In addition to being great parents and great people, when I'm trying to figure out how to deal with a problem in my marriage, it's nice to have such a great couple as my mom and dad to look up to.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


There's a great scene in Annie Hall in which Annie (Diane Keaton) asks Alvy (Woody Allen) if he loves her. Alvy explains that the word "love" is inadequate to describe what he feels for her, so he needs to make up new words to describe it. He "luffs" her. He "lurrves" her.

That's how I feel about Zeke.

Before having a child, I didn't really understand the depth of love I would feel for my child. I knew I would love him, but like Alvy, I feel like "love" is inadequate to describe the feeling. What I feel for him is so powerful that it has physical manifestations, like a flutter in my gut and my chest.

It's kind of like depression.

That may sound like a weird analogy, but when people who have never felt depressed ask me what it's like when I'm in the midst of a depressive downward spiral, I explain that it's not so much just thinking things that are sad or depressing. It's physical. It's a big heavy iron ball in my chest, weighing me down. Like I need to take deep breaths but can't because my soul feels so leaden.

This past weekend I was putting Zeke to sleep. We were sitting in the rocker and he was very drowsy, so I put him in his crib. He lay there for a second, and then started to clap his hands and kick his legs and laugh. I sat down in the rocker again, hoping he wouldn't realize I was still there, but wanting to see what he would do. He popped his head up over the crib bumper and yelled "hah!" when he saw me, then started giggling. It was so cute and funny that I cracked up. He put his head down so that his view of me was obscured, then popped up again and yelled "hah!" again, and immediately guffawed this awesome belly laugh. We did this for another few minutes, and then finally I gave him a kiss and left the room, and he settled down and went to sleep.

And thus was our first official game of "peek-a-boo." It was so funny and wonderful that I almost started to cry from the wave of love/lurrve/luff that flowed through me.

I think about when he grows up and wonder what he'll be like and what he'll be interested in and where he'll live. It'll probably be far away from me. It breaks my heart to think of not being able to see him whenever I want.

I don't know how my parents do it. And I feel guilty for being so far away from them.

Friday, June 13, 2008


I originally started this blog as a way of keeping up with family and friends from far away (yes, I started it in Atlanta, but knowing that we would be going to Hawaii soon). It's evolved from being a newsletter of sorts to a diary of sorts. In addition to talking about the mundane details of my daily life, I've talked about depression and motherhood and gotten into emotional stuff.

The more I've written about what's going on with me personally, the more I've vowed not to self-censor. Only one time did I alter a post, and it was at the request of people that I love and for legitimate reasons. I was still able to get my point across, but without potentially enflaming an already flammable situation, so I didn't feel too compromised.

But as more and more people that know me in The Real World come to read this blog, the more I feel constrained to self-edit either to avoid unnecessary conflict or strife with people that might be the subjects of a particular post. It's a problem of my own making -- I freely talk about this site and invite people to read it. But as a result, I'm finding that if I want to talk about some of the heavy shit I'm going through, I either have to make it so vague as to render it incomprehensible to anyone but me, or simply create a new, completely anonymous account and start a different blog in which names and places might be changed to protect the guilty, but all other details can be discussed.

My life out here can be very lonely. I spend alot of time by myself, and I don't have any close girlfriends here that I can talk to. So this writing is kind of my therapy. And if I have to do it in a way that's constrained, in order to be sensitive to people's privacy -- including my own -- it kind of loses its value to me.

I haven't made a final decision as to what to do about it yet.

In the meantime, I guess I'll be vague.

An iconic movie from my teenage years is The Breakfast Club. So angsty, so Brat-Pack-y, so "oh, John Hughes feels my pain."

It's also got some really good acting, particularly by Ally Sheedy and Anthony Michael Hall.

There's a scene in which the kids are talking about how misunderstood and put upon they are by their parents, and Ally Sheedy's character -- the basket case -- is asked, "what do they do to you?"

And in one of the more perfect line deliveries I've ever seen, you can almost see her heart breaking as she responds, "they ignore me."

That line always killed me. Because as rough as it is to be overtly mistreated by people that are supposed to love you, it's even worse when they just act like you're not there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Swim, baby

Zeke is turning out to be a total water baby. Jason and I are very excited about this because we both love the water and are strong swimmers. I learned how to swim when I was about 18 months old and I think Jason was around the same age when he learned. Our plan is to have Zeke on a surfboard as soon as he can stand up.

I've been taking him to the pool to get him comfortable in the water. The first time he seemed a little apprehensive, but I think it was because the water was a little cold for him -- he was only about 4 months old at the time and his body wasn't yet good at regulating its temperature. Once he hit 6 months he dug it, grinning and splashing the whole time.

The past few times I've taken him, he's draped his body over the crook of my arm (kind of like a human version of a swimming noodle) and as I pull him along, he flaps his arms and kicks his legs like he's swimming.

Because he's so little and so cute (I'm biased, but it's true), people tend to marvel at how comfortable he appears in the water. One lady asked me today, "does he take swimming lessons?"

I laughed and explained to her that he's only 7 months old, so no, he doesn't.

But inside, in spite of myself, I was puffed up with pride.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pain management

My eye hurts.

Today is Kamehameha Day, a state holiday in Hawai'i. Jason was supposed to have the day off, but his boss decided to swap out having today off for Friday so the guys could have a 3 day weekend. But Zeke's school is closed today, so he's home.

So far we've gone for a walk with the dog, jumped in the exersaucer, had a yummy breakfast of bananas, mixed berries and rice cereal, practiced walking, gone to Lowe's to buy painting supplies, and played on the floor. While we were playing, I bent my head down towards Zeke just as he threw his hands up to touch my face, and one of his fingers, with sharp little nail fully engaged, went straight into my left eye.

When you're taking care of a baby, though, you can't react to pain they way you can when there's no baby around. If you yell or pull away sharply, the baby gets scared and cries. If you're holding the baby, you obviously can't drop him. So even though my eye felt like someone had stuck a needle in it, I gently put Zeke down and then spent the next 20 minutes with my eye tearing, trying to figure out if my cornea was scratched. I don't think it is, but it's still incredibly painful. But, there was a baby who needs my attention, so there was nothing to be done but suck it up and proceed with the day.

One time about a month ago, we were up at Shark's Cove, a reef up on the North Shore that's great for kids because it's a giant tidal pool that's calm and shallow. I was bouncing with Zeke in the water when I kneeled down and jammed my shin right on a sharp rock. It broke the skin and started to bleed. It hurt like a motherfucker, but I couldn't do anything but grit my teeth, wait for my stomach to unclench, and breathe through the pain. I wasn't going to scream in his ear. I obviously wasn't going to drop him in the water.

I've always had a high pain threshold. I ran a marathon with a herniated disc, for God's sake. I just never realized that motherhood would take that already high threshold to the next level.

On the bright side, if I'm ever captured by terrorists who try to torture me for state secrets, I'll be ready.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

I may be looking a gift horse in the mouth, but that gift horse is zapping my mojo

My current job situation is seemingly ideal. I've been working for the same special education boutique law firm in Atlanta for 9 years. I love BossMan and he loves me. He respects my skills and my adoration of legal writing and appellate oral argument, and he lets me do it without making me do to much of the stuff I hate, like trials with unpredictable witnesses who give me stomachaches. BossMan is a smart, generous, sweet guy who has always been wonderful to me and whom I adore working with.

When Jason and I decided to try to move to Hawaii, being able to keep my job was essential because it let us move here with an income stream. And BossMan generously agreed to let me continue to work for him, essentially telecommuting to Atlanta from the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Working from home has not been without its challenges -- I miss having somewhere to go (other than to drop Zeke off at daycare) when I get up in the morning, and I miss the camaraderie of the office. Being at home all day with nobody to talk to can be lonely. But the flexibility is also nice. If I need to run an errand, I can run it. If I feel like going for a surf in the middle of the day, I can do it. Basically, as long as I get the work done in time, I can do it whenever I want, at my convenience. Not a bad arrangement.

"So what's the problem?" you ask.

Well, the problem is that since January, when I came back from maternity leave, I have had a hell of a time getting back into the loop. Many of the cases I was working on before Zeke was born are finished, meaning that in order to have work to do, I'm reliant on BossMan and the other lawyers in the office to include me on the newer cases. And they haven't been great about doing that. It's not personal, and I'm not mad. They're not trying to freeze me out. But for all of his strengths as a lawyer, BossMan is a terrible administrator, and he has a hard time focusing on people that aren't right in front of his face. So the lawyers in the office get overloaded with work, while I'm sitting out here at my desk with nothing to do. At any other firm, my dismal billable hours from the last two months would have gotten me unceremoniously fired, and rightly so.

A number of people have said to me, "Why is that bad? After all, you're still getting paid, right? Milk it! Enjoy the downtime!"

I can't. I like being busy, and I feel like an asshole when I'm not pulling my weight by maintaining my portion of the workload or, more fundamentally, justifying my salary. Because right now, BossMan is paying me alot of money to do nothing, and it makes me feel terribly guilty. Plus, it's boring. I've got mad lawyering skillz, and I like to use them.

And that combination of feeling like a dead weight to the law firm, and being bored out of my mind, is just bringing me down generally. I'm losing my motivation to stay active or organized in the rest of my life. The more I have to do, the more I tend to have my shit together in all facets of my life, and the converse is true as well.

Yesterday BossMan and I had a great conversation in which we agreed that he would try to delegate more work my way, but that I would also put feelers out into the job market to see what's out there. I asked him if it was time to call "time of death" on our arrangement and go our separate ways, and he said that the thought of it made him sick to his stomach and that he wasn't prepared to cut ties just yet. But realistically, he acknowledged that it wasn't a bad idea to at least see what the job market here is like. Maybe we'll be able to work out an arrangement where I can do something local on a part-time basis but still work for him on a contract basis.

I've sent out a bunch of cover letters and resumes and done some networking through some of the contacts I've made through the law school. I'm energized by having a plan of attack -- it just feels so much better knowing that I'm doing something productive. It would have been easy to just keep going the way I was going -- BossMan would never fire me -- but I can't do it and hold my head up.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Last night I listened to Obama's speech in Minneapolis and was brought to tears. Who would have thought that in my lifetime, a mere 40 years after the Civil Rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King, that a black man would be the presidential nominee of one of the major parties? That he would draw crowds at rallies that set records for attendance? That he would make a generation best known for its self-absorption and political apathy so excited about an election? It's wonderful and inspiring and exciting and extraordinary.

I would have voted for Hillary, albeit with far less enthusiasm. I agree with her stance on the issues that I care about and was initially in her camp, but I was quickly weary of the double-speak and back-peddling and propensity to stretch the truth more than just a little bit. The Bosnia sniper nonsense. The snide assertion that Obama wasn't a Muslim, "as far as she knew." The agreement that the Michigan and Florida primaries would not count, only to about-face and equate that same decision with the electoral turmoil in Zimbabwe. The ridiculous claim that she won the popular vote (as if the popular vote were relevant to the nomination process in any event), where her numbers were only accurate if you excluded caucus states and counted Michigan, where her opponent's name wasn't even on the ballot. The more her campaign continued, the more I was turned off by the quintessentially Clintonian sliminess of it all.

Nonetheless, she inspired passion in millions of people and ran a tough campaign. It would have been great to vote for a woman for president, particularly one as smart and talented as she is.

But I'm glad it's Obama. Let's take our country back.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

I've earned it, dammit

Zeke is starting the teething process on his upper gums, and it's a doozy. He's once again drooling like a madman -- soaking through his shirt in half an hour -- and goes through periods of such intense pain that he screams inconsolably. Mostly this happens at night. He'll start to cry, clutching at the side of his face (and no, it's not an ear infection -- we checked), thrashing around and banging his head into my chest. All I can do is hold him and try to soothe him and give him as much Tylenol and Advil as I can get my hands on.

Last night Zeke had three episodes in which he screamed in pain for 45 minutes. Which means that I'm exhausted and emotionally drained.

In the meantime, I can't get the TV in my bedroom to work.

It's something of a cliche that a young child will futz with a remote control or push a couple of buttons on a cell phone and all of a sudden it's inoperable and the parent can't figure out how to fix it. I've always scoffed at the notion of something like that happening to me, because I'm actually really good with technology and appliances -- I can fix or program just about anything electronic. My mother routinely calls me to talk her through setting up a new cable system or figuring out how to get the subtitles off the DVD picture.

Yesterday while I worked on the computer, Zeke was playing on the middle of my bed and got hold of the TV remote. He pushed a couple of buttons and the picture disappeared. I have worked on it for an hour and I can't get it back.

The past few times we've been to Costco, Jason and I have drooled over the flat-screen TVs. We've got a huge one in the living room, but we could use a smaller one in our bedroom, because the one we have is enormous and unwieldy and ugly. I want a pretty one I can hang on the wall.

So I've decided that the solution to the problem with my upstairs TV is to simply buy a new one. Good work, son...