Thursday, July 31, 2008

Aussie word of the day: rhyming slang edition

This latest edition of the Aussie Word of the Day is inspired by the faux pas I wrote about yesterday, in which I insulted my husband's efforts to be sweet to me.

In terms of the etymology, my understanding is that rhyming slang derives from Australia's English roots, specifically Cockney rhyming slang, in which two or more words rhyme with the intended word. Apparently, it was a way for people to speak in code so that authorities would not understand what they were saying.

So if Jason had been really pissed off at me, an exchange with a buddy of his might have sounded something like this:
"G'day, Steve-o! I'm headin' down the frog-and-toad to the rub-a-dub-dub. Care to join me for a bevvy or two? I'm having a bit of a domestic with the trouble-and-strife and I think it would be good to get out of the house for a bit."
Translation: "Hi, Steve. I'm going down the road to the pub. Would you like to join me for a drink or two? I'm in a fight with the wife and I think it would be good to get out of the house for a bit."

On the other hand, once we made up, he might say something like this:
"When I was traveling, I was lonely for the old cheese-and-kisses. It's so boring to be all on me Pat Malone."
Translation: "When I was traveling, I was lonely for my missus. It's so boring to be all alone."

And yes, my husband really does talk like this.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Open mouth, insert foot

I have a very, very sweet husband who loves doing nice things for me. He's affectionate and loving and fun and understands my craziness. I couldn't ask for a better partner in life.

I never questions his motivations and would never deliberately hurt his feelings (which are far more tender than mine).

So perhaps someone can explain to me how the following exchange occurred:

The other day when Jason came home from work, I went out into the driveway to greet him. He picks up Zeke on his way home, so as I smothered Zeke with hugs and kisses, Jason pulled a large something out of the car. When I looked up, he had kind of a shy grin on his face, and he was holding a large box with a flower arrangement on it.

The flowers were really pretty, but they were sitting on a black disc-like plate that looked kind of odd to me.

The job he's working on right now is a big hotel renovation.

So without even thinking about it, I asked, "oh, were there left over centerpieces at a dinner at the hotel or something?"

His face fell. "No, I just wanted to do something nice for you, so I stopped at a florist on the way home from work."


I just lost a bunch of Spouse of the Year points, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Proof that the human brain forgets pain

Proof that the human brain forgets pain, Exhibit A:

I've decided to train for another half-marathon. The last half-marathon I ran, in March 2006, totally sucked for me. I was dehydrated, I didn't sleep well, I don't think I trained properly. About 10 minutes into the race, I had a sinking feeling that I was going to have a shitty, shitty day, and sure enough, I did. I had such a miserable time that day that I vowed never to do another distance run again.

But here I am, salivating over new running shoes, mapping out training routes, and thinking about how fun it will be to do another race. Plus, I'm having a hard time getting motivated to get in shape, and training for a race should provide that motivation. It's in November. So the timing should coincide perfectly with my plan to get down to my pre-baby weight before getting knocked up again.

Which brings me to...

Proof that the human brain forgets pain, Exhibit B:

I've been thinking about getting pregnant again.


Jason and I always planned to go for Baby #2 after Zeke's first birthday, which is in 3 months. We have no intention to deviate from that plan, but I'm finding myself with Baby-On-The-Brain these days.

And the weird thing is, I'm actually looking forward to being pregnant again. Which is totally fucked up, because if you've been paying attention, you know that I was decidedly not a fan of pregnancy the first time around. I didn't feel terrible or anything, but I was impatient (hard to believe, I know) and I just didn't see what was so great about it.

But Zeke is at such a great age right now, and it's giving me baby lust. I know an extra kid will be an enormous amount of work, and I don't even want to think about which organ I'm going to have to sell to be able to afford 2 daycare slots, but I seriously can't wait.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Aussie word of the day: houso

I speak Australian. And for real, not like those Foster's ads. After being with an Aussie for 4 1/2 years, I know rhyming slang, regular slang, alternate usages, etc. So I've decided to spread the wealth.

houso \HOW-zo\ (for true Aussie effect, hold your nose while you say it), noun: someone who lives in public housing; the Aussie equivalent of calling someone "white trash" or "redneck."
"I'm not so sure about that little wifebeater ["singlet" or "singy" in Australian]. Zeke looks like a baby houso."

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's either the hair or the boobs, because no way am I just that charming

We have DirecTV for our television service. For the most part, I don't have many problems with it. The only annoying thing is that the satellite dishes on our roof are basically like giant sails sitting up there, and from time to time, the dishes get out of alignment by a stiff wind and need to be retuned. Meanwhile, many of our channels appear pixilated, if we can pick them up at all.

We started having a problem last week. I called and couldn't get an appointment until yesterday, which was 6 days out from my call. Annoying, but what are you gonna do, right?

Yesterday, I waited at home from 12 until 4, my alloted appointment time. As I needed to leave to pick up Zeke at around 4, it wasn't acceptable for the guy to show up at 3:59, so I called at 3 to see what the status was. The guy I talked to was a national customer service rep, so he gave me the number of the dispatching part of the company to call. I called. They were closed for the evening.


At 4, nobody had shown up, and I was wicked pissed, to quote my New Hampshire relatives. On my way up to the daycare, I called DirecTV again. Pity the poor slob who took the call.

He apologized for the inconvenience, offered me a $5 credit on my account, and told me that the next scheduled appointment available was next Thursday.

"I want more than $5. First of all, I'm a lawyer, and my billable rate is $200 an hour. So you just wasted $800 worth of my time. Second, I already had to wait a week with crappy service for this appointment, and now you're telling me I'm going to be out another week? That is absolutely unacceptable. I want credit for two weeks' worth of lost service."

So he upped the ante to $100. Which is about right, but still, I was going to be without decent service for another week. The season premiere of Mad Men is Sunday night. I am newly obsessed with that show (and for reals, y'all, it is, in my humble opinion, the best show I have seen in a long, long time and unquestionably the best thing on right now). Missing the premiere would not be cool. I bitched some more, but got nowhere, so said good-bye and ended the call.

Later that night, I was checking my messages, and realized I had missed a call at around 4:45. It was David, the service technician, apologizing for missing my appointment and offering to stop on his way home to take care of it. I got the message to late to call him back, so I called him this morning and he agreed to stop by this afternoon when his shift was over and fix the problem.


So David showed up at about 1:30, all ready to work. Except that it turned out that his ladder wasn't tall enough to get up on the roof safely. My roof is very high. I told him that I certainly didn't want anyone dying simply so I could get better tv reception, so he said he was going home, but promised to call the dispatcher about getting someone with a taller ladder out to see me, hopefully within the next couple of days.


Then at around 3:15, David called again. He informed me he had spoken to his supervisor, got authorization to go to Home Depot and spend $350 on a new super tall ladder, and was on his way back to my house to fix my satellite dishes.

Seriously? Who gets this kind of star treatment from the cable company??

But sure enough, he is up on the roof as I type this.

I keep looking out the window to make sure he's safely up there, and also to check for flying pigs and cats chasing dogs.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

"You're my second best friend"

This afternoon I was on my regular afternoon walk with dog and baby, prancing through the neighborhood with my glossy hair a-swingin'.

Oh, did I forget to mention? To quote Missy Elliott, I got my hair did. And as much as a horrendous experience at the salon would make for a more interesting blog entry, I gotta admit that my girl Nancy at Regis rocked my color today. The experience was a bit of a whirlwind, notwithstanding that I was there for just over 3 hours, what with the talk of highlights and lowlights and lift and glazing and toning and "combining a degree 5 and degree 6 color."

And I'm all, the who with the what now? Seriously, that shit is confusing.

But I explained as clearly as I could what I wanted: keep the drama of the dark color as much as possible, but work in highlights and root touch-ups to a) camouflage the considerable areas of gray (Nancy was diplomatic in her efforts to refer to it as "silver," bless her heart, but I was like, I appreciate you trying to be nice, but don't bullshit a bullshitter, mmkay?); and b) give the color some dimension so that it doesn't appear to be a monolith of flat black-brown, but rather has some natural looking variation. And Nancy paid close attention, asked lots of questions, and gave me a head of hair that I luuuuurve. It's exactly what I wanted -- the color is like a gorgeous, rich bar of dark chocolate with flecks of gold and reddish brown.

So, yay!!


I was walking with Max and Zeke, as I do every afternoon. And everywhere I go, I see young kids. They're everywhere in the neighborhood, and it's really fun to see them playing and running around, because it makes me look forward to Zeke at that age, and how much fun it's going to be to teach him to ride a bike and look for worms after it rains and play on the jungle gym and all that.

There's this one group of boys that Jason and I see regularly. They're about 8 or so, and they're always outside playing with transformers or tooling around on their RipStiks and just generally being boys. They're adorable. And they absolutely love my dog Max. So when they see us rounding the corner, we hear a chorus of "YOU GUUUUUYS!!! It's MAAAAX!" And like Batman responding to his signal, children start pouring out of the surrounding houses and they converge on the dog, who is more than happy to sit his old, blind ass down and get petted by 10 different sets of small hands. When they're done, one kid says, all excited, "OK, guys, let's go play!"

I love it. I can't wait for Zeke to be one of those kids.

Today I took a different route on the walk, towards the park. Around the block from the house, there's a big park with a large grassy area where older kids play football and soccer or other games they make up (today they had taken pieces of what looked like a curved plastic fence and were trying to "surf" down a little grassy hill). Zeke is fascinated by other kids, so we walked by there so he could watch them play.

At one point, two boys who looked to be about 9 passed near us as they went to cross the street. They were deep in conversation. As they passed, one was saying to the other, "you're my second best friend." And the other kid nodded like a puppy and said, "oh, cool."

I felt like I'd been punched in the gut.

Because if I'm honest with myself, if I'm looking forward to Zeke growing and learning and having fun, I also have to be prepared for him dealing with navigating his way through social situations and worrying about birthday party invitations and fitting in. Possibly having someone say to him, "well, I like you and all, but you're only my second best friend," and having him so eager to be accepted that he just eats that shit right up.

We've all been through it. It's just life. But all the same, my heart breaks for him knowing how some of it is going to be.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


There is only one cure for gray hair. It was invented by a Frenchman. It is called the guillotine.
~P.G. Wodehouse

I've really been trying to be frugal and not spent money on crap lately. (In light of those efforts, some may question my decision to buy my husband a car for his birthday, but the car was so inexpensive and so much more fuel-efficient than what he was driving that we're already seeing the savings.)

Perhaps, then, someone can explain to me why I just made an appointment to get my hair professionally colored. Because this is not something I do.

My natural hair color is a very dark brown, almost black. In college, I colored it red because I always wanted to be auburn, but finally went back to my natural color when I was about 25. Around the same time, I started to get gray hairs creeping in around my temples and the crown of my head. Not alot, but enough to bother me, particularly because I was only in my mid-20s. Premature gray runs in my family, though, so it was to be expected. And hell, my youngest brother started getting gray hair in his teens, so I shouldn't complain.

Anyway, over the years, I maintained my black-brown color (Nice n' Easy # 121A, same as Julia Louis Dreyfus in those ads she used to do).

But lately, I'm noticing the grays showing up faster and faster between colors, and it's becoming hard to maintain. Plus, as I get older (ugh!), I'm starting to think that a softer color might be in order.

This is making me sad for two reasons.

First, I always loved my dark color. I get lots of compliments on how dramatic and striking it is. It's kind of become my trademark.

Second, I fucking hate hair salons. The one time I got my hair professionally colored (a stylist had talked me into it while cutting my hair), I went to Aveda and was there for almost 4 1/2 hours. When I expressed my frustration to the stylist, she lectured me about the time being necessary because I had been using "box color" on my hair. She said "box color" like I had been dousing my head in nuclear waste on a regular basis, and was so supercilious and obnoxious about it that I had a temper tantrum and yelled that after this experience, I was never going to use anything but box color again because it looked fine and only took a half an hour. "Who has time for this??" I yelled. I waved my arm around at the plethora of women seeming to have nothing else to do but sit around all day with foil on their heads, and said loudly, "don't any of these people have jobs?"

Not one of my finer moments.

Against my better judgment, I'm trying again. The lady that cuts my hair said she wouldn't recommend a full recoloring (which is what I got last time), because it could damage my hair and take too long. (Tell me about it.) She suggested a gradual application of highlights that could blend with the gray and lighten my hair without destroying it. So, that's what I'm going to try.

Fingers crossed that my hair comes out looking OK, and that I don't end up arrested or with a restraining order against me in the process.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So perfectly ordinary, but miraculous to me

Before I got pregnant with Zeke, I had a miscarriage. It wasn't devastating or soul crushing or anything like that. But it was incredibly disappointing, particularly because it happened right around Thanksgiving and we had been so excited about announcing it at the dinner table as the thing we were thankful for. It happened very early on -- about 6 weeks -- and caused by a common chromosomal abnormality resulting from the embryo splitting improperly or something like that. Meaning it was just one of those things, not the result of anything I did or any inherent problem I might have carrying a child to term or any problem I might have conceiving again. In fact, I had become pregnant with no trouble -- I went off the pill and two weeks later I was pregnant.

Michele told us to wait a month and then we could start trying again.

So we did, and once again, I got pregnant immediately, and this time everything was fine. Normal ultrasounds, solid fetal heartbeat, everything developed on schedule, I felt pretty good. All was well.

But I couldn't relax. The miscarriage was always in the back of my mind, and I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have a couple of friends who loove being pregnant, but I think it's because they never had miscarriages. Because even though I had a relatively comfortable pregnancy, I just wanted to get it over with because I kept waiting for something bad to happen.

But of course, it didn't. Right on schedule, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy. He had all ten fingers and toes, his eyes and ears worked, he ate, he pooped, he slept, he cried, just as he was supposed to.

But still, I worried.

Some of it is that I'm naturally an anxious person. Some of it is that I practice special education law, so all I deal with are cases involving kids who are autistic or cognitively impaired or learning disabled or blind or deaf or both.

So I was constantly keeping an eye on Zeke's developmental milestones. Is he smiling yet? Is he teething yet? When did he start rolling over? Does he appear to react to facial expressions? Are his gross and fine motor skills where they should be?

But of course, everything has been fine. With the exception of some ear infections and a couple of colds (which is totally normal), he's been healthy and happy and growing like a weed and doing everything he's supposed to.

In the past two weeks, Zeke has figured out how to crawl and how to pull himself up to a standing position. He now has 6 teeth, weighs almost 20 pounds, and is busting out of his 9-month-sized clothes because he's taller than average. He's developing this outrageous head of curly hair. He eats like a champ. He's always smiling and laughing. He chatters constantly, saying "mamamama" and "dadada" and "babababa" and "deedle-deedle" and a million other cute sounds.

And these are all normal, unremarkable achievements. Babies are born and they grow, just as they've been doing for thousands of years. But it's remarkable to me. I never cease to be amazed at this perfectly formed, perfectly functioning human being that I created.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The real keeper of all your secrets

I've been feeling a bit poorly the past couple of days. Zeke had a little virus about a week and a half ago involving intestinal problems, sinus issues and coughing, and he somehow managed to give Jason and me half of his disorders each -- meaning Jason got the intestinal stuff, and I've been coughing and sneezing and stuffed up.

Saturday evening all I wanted to eat was soup. I had a sandwich earlier in the day on the way back from Shark's Cove, and my throat was so sore that it was really painful to swallow even something as mild as egg salad.

So I went to the market and ended up going a little nuts.

I showed up at the checkout line with no less than 12 different kinds of soup. Matzo ball, lentil, split pea, tuscan bean, tomato basil, you name it. I loaded it all onto the belt and waited for the checkout lady to ring me up. She looked at my soup menagerie, gave me a puzzled look, shrugged, and told me my total.

It made me chuckle, and reminded me of all the times I showed up at a checkout line thinking to myself, "I'm basically broadcasting everything going on in my life with these purchases."

I mean, think about it. Buying condoms or KY or something? Checkout lady knows you're getting laid, or at least hoping to. Tampons? Laxatives? Diarrhea medicine? 'Nuff said. Your most intimate interactions aren't necessarily with your best friend or sibling or spouse. It's with the clerk at your local drugstore.

I once went to Safeway at 3 in the morning when I was 6 months pregnant with Zeke. Hemorrhoid cream and Pepcid AC. The checkout lady looked at me sympathetically and said, "Honey, I feel your pain."

When I was first pregnant, I was an obsessive pee-er on sticks. Meaning I was so incredulous that I was actually pregnant that I kept taking pregnancy test after pregnancy test just to assure myself that it was real. My friend Michele, who was my OB in Atlanta, told me that the record was held by one of her patients, who took 9 or 10 pregnancy tests.

"Pshaw," I said. "Child's play. I've got that beat by at least 5 or 6."

Because a couple of days before, I showed up at the checkout at my local CVS with over $50 worth of pregnancy test sticks. The guy looked at my purchases and said, "Whatever result you get, I hope it's what you want."

But the best story belongs to my friend Kathleen. Early in one of her pregnancies, before she was really sure, she went to the store and loaded up the conveyor belt with bags of frozen tater tots, frozen french fries, baking potatoes, and a pregnancy test.

The checkout lady ran potatoes, potatoes and more potatoes over the scanner. When she got to the pregnancy test, she looked at Kathleen and said, "I don't think you need this."

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Residency has its privileges

This may seem obvious, but one of the nice things about living in Hawaii is not just that you've got beautiful beaches close by, but that going to the beach becomes an easy outing that doesn't require so much effort. Back on the mainland, when we went on family outings to the beach it was a huge ordeal requiring piles and piles of gear and hours and hours of commitment. Hours to get ready, hours to get there, hours to drag your shit from the car to your "spot" and get stuff set up, and then an obligation to stay for hours because the effort to get situated was so enormous.

But here, we can look outside at the breezy, sunny, 83 degree day, have no particularly pressing errands to run, and say, "hey, let's take Zeke up to Shark's Cove to swim in the tidal pools. But let's not stay too long, because I want to be home in time to go to a matinee." So Jason plays with Zeke for 5 minutes while I make an extra bottle or two, round up a couple of towels, and toss the chairs, umbrella and sunscreen in the trunk of the car. Zeke takes a nice nap in the car for half an hour, and when he wakes up bright and chirpy, we're here:

We walk about 50 feet from where the car is parked to set up under a palm tree. Zeke plays with some toys, and Jason enjoys the view:

We go for a swim:

After swimming, we relax in the shade while Zeke enjoys some naked baby time.
In a move guaranteed to result in years of therapy for him, we crack ourselves up staging a picture called "Zeke has crabs!!":

We chill out for about 45 minutes, and then go home with plenty of time to make a movie or go to the grocery store or nap or fix Jason's bike or watch crappy movies on HBO.

I know I bitch about Hawaii from time to time, but I'm not an idiot. Days like this obviously don't suck.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now I know how Noriega felt

Since The Great Plant Massacre of 2008, a truce has taken effect between Next Door Neighbor and everyone else on the street. The form of this truce is that we don't talk to her and she doesn't talk to us. We also make an effort to stay off of the part of our lawn that's adjacent to hers, even though we don't have to.

But two things happened recently. First, she put her house up for sale. There was much rejoicing when the sign went up in her yard, though in this housing market, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for the place to sell.

Second, she has fired a shot across the bow, so to speak, by playing loud music. Lots of Michael Jackson, Bobby McFerrin, Herbie Hancock, Donna Summer. Motown and disco. Not stuff that I mind much, but when it's blaring through my kid's walls as I'm trying to put him to sleep, it's kind of annoying.

But it usually didn't last too long, so we didn't make an issue of it, and the truce continued.

Then last night, a bunch of us were sitting out in front of our house, on The Part of the Lawn We Usually Avoid, Even Though We Don't Have To (see above). And truth be told, some of the lawn chairs might have been sitting on parts of the street in front of NDN's house, with even a stray leg actually touching her grass (gasp!).

It wasn't anything nefarious, just hanging out, having a few beers before dinnertime, getting caught up after a long week at work. I had my banjo out, but I wasn't really playing loudly, just quietly practicing some picking rolls and goofing around. I didn't even have my fingerpicks on, which are what makes the banjo loud. Anne asked if I could be persuaded to sing a song, so I sang a couple of verses from Will The Circle Be Unbroken, one of my all-time favorites. Zeke even joined in, pulling himself up on my chair and banging on the head of the banjo (the front of a banjo has a cover similar to a drum skin). He was actually keeping really good time. It was a lovely moment.

As I was playing, NDN came home. She pulled her car into her garage, closed the door, and went in the house.

We were then blasted with the dulcet tones of Peabo Bryson. It was kind of hilarious, and so absurd that we couldn't get mad. We just laughed. I picked up Zeke and we started to slow dance. Then Etta James's "At Last" came on, which Jason and I danced to at the Australia wedding, so we started singing along. I think NDN was annoyed that we were enjoying it, so she turned off Etta James and started playing Morris Day and the Time's "Jungle Love."

Big mistake. I love that song. So I started dancing with Zeke to that as well.

But dinnertime was upon us, Zeke was tired and ready for a bath, and we all had our evenings to attend to. So we said goodnight and went inside. Score 1 for NDN in the music wars.

I have to give her credit on her taste in music, though. I defy anyone to listen to "Jungle Love" and not have the urge to shake their booty just a little bit.

Monday, July 14, 2008


It's always fun getting presents or doing something nice for Jason. He is so appreciative and excited, it's infectious.

Friday afternoon before Jason came home from work, I went to the drug store and bought a roll of red wrapping paper. I cut it into about 6 inch wide strips and used the strips to fashion a giant bow to put on top of his new car. I put the bow in the car along with a roll of scotch tape, and parked the car in our guest parking down the street.

Zeke woke up at about 1:30 in the morning coughing and crying, so I got up and gave him a bottle with his medicine in it. Once I got him back to sleep, I went and got the car and put it in our driveway, and taped the giant bow to the top. I wrapped up the keys and put them in a gift bag.

I then went back to bed and proceeded to have anxiety dreams that Jason hated the car and was mad at me for buying it. I'm such a freak.

Jason got up at about 5 and looked like he was getting ready to go for a surf. He went outside and was standing by the driver's door of the van, but hadn't seen the car because it was on the other side of the van, so his view of it was blocked.

I ran after him like a dork saying, "hey, hey, what are you doing, where are you going??"

He looked at my like I was insane and said, "I'm going surfing."

"But you can't leave yet!! I need to give you your birthday present."

More "you're kookoo" looks. "It's 5 in the morning. Can't it wait?"

"No no no no!! You'll see it! Come inside."

He looked confused but shrugged his shoulders and followed me back into the house.

I handed him the gift bag, and when he unwrapped the little bundle with the car keys inside, his eyes got wide and his mouth dropped open. "Whaaat??? Are you serious?"

I smiled. "Come on out and see your present."

My greatest regret about this whole incident is that I didn't think to grab my camera before running downstairs, because the look on his face was priceless. We walked around the van and there was his new car, all wrapped up in a bow. I think he was in a bit of shock. He kept saying, "no way!" and "I can't believe it!"

"Do you like it?" I asked.

"Are you kidding? Baby, I love it. This is the best birthday present anyone's ever given me."

The euphoria continued all weekend. We drove the new car to run errands and to go up to the North Shore for a barbecue with some friends, and he gushed the whole time. He gushed about the money he would save on gas, how comfortable he would be not commuting in the van, how he didn't have to drive home from work in his underwear to stay cool because he now has air conditioning. (And yes, he really does that. He wears boxer briefs, so it's not like he's parading around in tighty-whities, but it was always a bit jarring when he walked into the house every afternoon in his skivvies.)

Yesterday when we were driving home after a lovely day in the sun, he turned to me and said, "this is the best birthday I've ever had. I'm so happy. Thank you, sweetie."

I love it when a plan comes together.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Say it ain't so, Rajiv

A couple of weeks ago I had a phone consultation with a computer techie who identified himself as "Mark Smith." Based on his accent, I found this utterly preposterous. Mahesh Sattarjee, maybe, but not Mark Smith. Then last night, my Vonage system suddenly and inexplicably stopped working, so I called customer service to get someone to help me fix it. My consultant was incredibly helpful, patient, and thorough, and also spoke with a fairly heavy Indian accent (e.g., his "v"s were "w"s, so he kept telling me to unplug my Wonage dewice). He identified himself as "John."

I guess this is part of the backlash against Indian call centers -- I can't tell you how many people I've heard bitching about how they called to get help with their [fill in the blank] and got some goddamned fer'ner on the line who could barely speak English. Sometimes I'm able to resist the urge to point out that the goddamned fer'ner who barely speaks English likely has an advanced degree from some technical institute that would put most academic institutions in the Western world to shame, and notwithstanding the accent, speaks English at least as well as most Americans do.

I know I have an unfair advantage. I lived in India for a long time, and have no problem understanding Indian accents. I love India, continue to be fascinated by Indian literature and Indian mythology and culture, I follow Indian politics, and I'm psyched for the Indians who are able to take advantage of the country's economic and technological boom to get a good-paying job that allows them to live well and prosper. When I reach one of those call centers, my reaction isn't, "shit, I'm talking to someone in India," but rather, "cool! I'm talking to someone in India!!" I start chatting them up and asking them where they are and if the shopping is still good at Jan Path or if they've ever been to the Ghunghroo, the dance club in the basement of the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi that my friends and I used to haunt in high school.

So it makes me sad that they feel the need to try to hide their ethnicity with anglicized names. I would so much rather talk to a Rahul or a Vikram than a Ralph or Vincent.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

If he doesn't enjoy this present, I may just go to bed and not get up for a long, long time

This past day (and night) has been consumed with my efforts to get Jason a birthday present (his bday is Saturday) that will knock his socks off the way his birthday present to me was a doozie.

I'm getting him a car.

He currently drives an old, beat-up Ford E150 van that gets about 12 miles to the gallon. The job he's working on is in Waikiki, about 25 miles away, so with the price of gas as high as it is, the cost of his commute is kicking us in the ass. We've been talking about getting a more fuel efficient car, like a hybrid or something, but even though we wouldn't be spending as much on gas, hybrids aren't cheap, so the net difference would be an increased financial outlay rather than actual savings.

But then the other day I was thinking about it and decided to look at used cars that aren't hybrids but that get really great mileage, like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Corolla. I figured if I could find a really cheap one, we might be able to save some money. I went on and found an 8 year old Civic hatchback with only about 50,000 miles on it (practically brand new for a Civic -- I drove a Civic hatchback for nine years, and would have driven it another nine if I hadn't totalled it) for an insanely low price -- like, $2000 below Blue Book value. I did the math and realized that even with a car payment plus the price of gas, we'd still be saving money over what Jason is currently having to spend on gas for the van, so I thought it would be a crazy cool birthday surprise for him.

I checked Carfax to see if there were any accidents or recalls in its history that accounted for the price, but the thing was clean. So I called the dealer and asked what the story was, and he said that the owner was moving back to the mainland and had to get rid of it, plus the dealer's lot had absolutely no room for extra inventory so they were pricing it to sell. I made an appointment to meet the dealer (who is over on the other side of the island) at 10 in the morning.

Thus setting up my day from hell.

10:15 a.m.: I get to the dealership, and my sales guy (Greg) is waiting for me. He's your typical cheesy, overenthusiastic car salesman, but whatever. He wasn't as bad as GoLes!, so I guess I should count my blessings. The car is as promised: clean, well-maintained, and inexpensive. We took it for a test drive and it drove perfectly. Deal. So we went inside to do the paperwork.

11:15 a.m.: At some point, someone will have to explain to me why it takes at least 3 hours to buy a car. And I don't mean the "figuring out which car you want and then test driving a bunch of them" part of buying a car. I mean the part where you're just signing forms after you've picked a car, agreed on a price, and been pre-approved for financing. Even after I had signed the papers, called my bank to the get financing set up and added the car to my insurance policy, I sat there waiting for an hour for the financial guy to get me checked out. I was so freaking hungry that I finally told the guys they had 5 minutes to work me in or I was leaving. Miraculously, I was in in 4 minutes.

1:10: We get everything settled, and then comes the question of how I'm going to get the car home. I had told Greg from the beginning that I didn't need the car immediately, but he kept insisting that he could get someone from the dealership to follow us to my house (I would drive my car, he would drive the new car, and someone else would follow) and then give him a ride back. Fine. But once we were ready to go, this "friend" somehow failed to materialize, so he asked if I could give him a ride back. I begrudgingly agreed, so we set off.

2:20: We've dropped my car at my house and are almost back at the dealership when my phone rings. It's Zeke's school, informing me that he had a fever and needs to be picked up. Great. I'm only 15 or 20 minutes from the school, except for the fact that I'm in the new car, which doesn't have a carseat in it. The daycare doesn't have any extras I could borrow, so I have to go all the way back to my house, switch cars, and go get Zeke. I park Jason's new car in our neighborhood's guest parking lot so he wouldn't see it, and made a mental note to remember to put the guest pass in the dashboard before going to bed. I still haven't eaten.

(For all of you drama enthusiasts out there, I just planted the gun in Act I that will go off in Act III.)

3:40: I get to the daycare. I put Zeke in the car and we go straight to the doctor's office. He has a virus -- coughing, fever, stuffy nose, upset stomach. The doctor prescribes cough medicine and recommends Tylenol and infant Benadryll. I buy a packet of almonds at the pharmacy. The almonds, plus a fruit smoothie in the morning, are the only things I've eaten all day. I'm totally exhausted.

5:30: Zeke and I finally get home. Jason is home.

6:00: We bathe Zeke and put him in his jammies. He's exhausted, rubbing his eyes, but having a really hard time settling down. We get him dosed up with his medicine, and I spend the next 2 hours walking the floors with him as he cries. Finally, he goes to sleep.

8:00: I sit down to finish a brief for work.

9:30: I finally collapse in my bed.

At 3:30 in the morning, I sat straight up in bed, my heart pounding.

I had forgotten to put the guest pass in the dash of Jason's new car. And without a guest pass after 2 a.m., they call the tow trucks. But I couldn't run out the door and check. Jason was stirring awake (he gets up to go to work at 4), so what the hell was I going to say when he asked where I was going? "Oh, the dog might need a walk in the middle of the night"?

So I wait until Jason leaves at about 4:20 in the morning, and then I sprint down the street to check on the new car.

It's been towed.

Imagine that scene in Ferris Bueller when Cameron realizes the mileage on his dad's Ferrari is way higher than it should be, and he screams and goes catatonic. That's what was happening in my head.

I had another crazy day today, getting hold of my neighbor to give me a ride to the towing place, schlepping Zeke around in the process because he's still sick and feverish. He barely napped and had a number of periods of discomfort in which he was incredibly fussy, so my nerves are shot, I'm still hungry because I was so busy with the baby that I didn't have time to eat much, and I've been up and working since Jason left at 4:20 because I needed to do some final revisions on the brief, but knew I wouldn't have time once Zeke was up. And I'm out $167 to the fucking towing place.

But on the bright side, in addition to losing a bunch of leftover baby weight over the past few days, Jason's car is now sitting in its little spot in the guest lot, patiently waiting for Saturday so that it can meet its new owner. And there's a pretty blue guest pass hanging from the rear view mirror.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Family resemblance

Though Zeke definitely has some of Jason's physical traits -- they have the same hair color, identical hands, and Zeke definitely has Jason's muscle-y legs -- people often tell me that they think he looks like me. I think it's the eyes, plus he gets certain facial expressions that are very similar to mine, particularly when he's concentrating on something.

Exhibit A:

(Top: my mom reading to me at about 12 months or so; below: me reading to Zeke last weekend)

Exhibit B:

(Top: me at 10 months, hanging out on my dad's motorcycle; bottom: Zeke at 6 months)

There's something very gratifying, but also very strange, about seeing yourself in your child. I often think, sure, he's got some of my physical traits, but is he going to have my personality traits? Will he inherit the clinical depression I inherited from my dad's side of the family? Will he be smart? Will he have my irrational fear of birds, or my aversion to bell peppers? Will he eat vegemite like his father?

On one hand, I know I should just stop worrying about it. He'll turn out how he turns out, and if his current personality is any indication, he'll be a charming, happy guy. But on the other hand, I can't stop thinking about it. I'm just so curious to find out what he'll be like.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Big foot, little foot

This is apropos of nothing, but I think this picture is funny so I thought I'd share. I was working all day Saturday, and during the late morning, Jason and Zeke took a long nap on our bed. My office is just off of our bedroom, so when I'm sitting at my desk, I look directly at the side of my bed. So as I spent hours writing deposition questions, this is what I was looking at.

I'm forced to become the mean mommy

As much as I love my husband, I've often said that being married to him is like being married to a puppy. I love puppies. They're fun and cute and playful and full of energy.

But sometimes they need a good swat on the nose with a rolled up newspaper.

And I say this as a woman who has never subscribed to the "men are idiots who need to be told what to do for their own good" school of thought. I've never been a male-basher and I'm not interested in being in a relationship in which the dynamic is me telling him what to do.

Jason has all of these friends who are amazed that I "let" him go surfing with his buddies on the weekend, because they were never "allowed" by their wives to go out and have fun when their children were young babies. I've never understood this. Beyond consulting each other to make sure that there isn't a scheduling conflict or that the other won't be inconvenienced by baby care or dog care or the like, we don't ask each other's permission to do things. We share responsibility for keeping the house running and the baby fed and safe, and as a result, we each get to do our own thing every once in a while. He goes surfing with his buddies. I go play tennis or get a pedicure. It all works out.

But this past weekend, I had to hitch up my big-girl pants and lay down the hammer.

A few weeks ago, before he left for Australia, Jason went mountain biking. There's a trail up in the hills a few miles from where we live that's set up with jumps and ladder rides and other insane devices for people who have too little regard for their personal safety.

Jason is unquestionably one of those people. He plays hard. And as a result, he occasionally falls hard, and he's constantly coming home with injuries. When we lived in Atlanta, he regularly went mountain biking with a group of guys, and he routinely came home scraped or banged up because he had skidded off a big rock and cracked a bone in his arm or was doing wheelies in the parking lot and tipped backwards onto his ass. When he goes surfing, he frequently comes home with his feet and ankles cut up from smashing them on the reef. He's broken his pelvis landing badly on a jump while snowboarding.

So a few weeks ago, Jason goes up to this trail he's heard about and starts riding around and doing jumps and whatever.

(A ladder ride with a teeter totter. Meaning you start riding up with the rails on one level, and then when your weight passes the fulcrum, the entire structure tips down to join with another part of the ladder. You couldn't pay me enough money to ride my bike on this thing.)

One of the jumps had a landing that veered sharply to the right. Jason took it at high speed, apparently not realizing how hard the turn on the landing was. His bike managed to make the right turn. Unfortunately, he didn't. He went flying into the bushes and trees, hit his head so hard that it broke his helmet, and smashed up his left ankle.

(The offending jump)

When he came home, he was covered with mud and his ankle was swollen, but he didn't think it was broken because although it hurt, he could walk on it. The bruising and pain continued and didn't really subside much over the ensuing week or so.

In Australia, he was at the hospital with his dad and decided to get his ankle checked out. Turns out, it's broken. But did Jason get a cast or even wrap it? No, of course not!

When I asked him why he wasn't getting it cared for, his pat response was "aw, she'll be alright." (You have to imagine this with an Aussie accent to get the full effect. Translation: "No big deal. And casts are for pussies.")

After another week, he finally decided that his manhood wouldn't be too compro
mised by an ace bandage, so he wrapped his ankle. I considered it a small victory, but was careful not to gloat.

Then this past Friday, we were invited to a backyard barbecue for the 4th of July. There was grilling and watermelon and music and hanging out in camp chairs shooting the breeze and dogs chasing each other around.

And a trampoline.
Jason, being Jason, couldn't resist getting up and jumping with the kids. He then had the temerity to be surprised when about 10 minutes after he stopped, his ankle started swelling up like a water balloon attached to a firehose.

We got him some ice packs and some Advil and sat him down with his leg elevated.

And then I had to say the words that I've never uttered in the course of my marriage, and that I hope I never have to utter again:

"Honey, you're grounded."