Thursday, August 28, 2008

Community announcement

If anyone is going to be in the New York City area on Monday night (September 1st, Labor Day) and is looking to hear some live music, my brother Sam's band, The Flying Change, is playing at Rockwood Music Hall at 9:30 p.m.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Breakup

For those of you wondering what happened with the whole Anne and Cindy saga, I've got the deets.

Basically, it's over.

Cindy got more and more clingy. Texting Anne constantly, and then if she didn't text back right away, she'd call. And then if she still didn't get a response, she'd have her husband text: "Cindy hasn't heard from you. She's worried."


Then one night, Anne and her husband Tom invited Jason and me over to have dinner and watch the Olympics. And didn't invite Cindy or her husband Kyle.

Which should be fine. There's certainly no rule that anytime you have anyone over for dinner, you have to invite the whole group. But Cindy and Kyle don't see it that way.

They found out about it because while we were there, Zeke made a big stinky poop and I had forgotten to bring his diaper bag. When I walked out of Anne's house to take Zeke home to change him, Kyle and Cindy and their kids were outside washing their car. I smiled and said hi and tried to be nonchalant, but they looked stricken.

That's when Cindy ramped up her efforts. She would corner Anne and tell her that if she and Anne were going to be friends, Anne needed to call her or text her every day to let her know that she was thinking about her and that she cared.

And here's the kicker. Cindy also told Anne that if Anne was going to be her friend, she needed to be committed to being her friend by not being friends or spending time with me.

That was the last straw for Anne.

So the two sides hashed it out. Cindy and Kyle's position is that Anne and her husband "misrepresented" themselves when they first moved in by spending lots of time with the neighbors and hanging out and drinking. So when Anne and Tom started work and didn't have as much time to hang out and drink, they were "betraying" Cindy and Kyle. Also, when Anne and Tom had us over for dinner without inviting them, that was the worst thing a friend could ever do to another friend.

Anne and Tom tried to explain that they have jobs and that they're tired at the end of the day, and don't always have the energy or the inclination to hang out and drink. They also pointed out that they don't need to justify to anyone who they have over for dinner.

There was no meeting of the minds, so they don't hang out anymore.

Jason feels weird because he's still friends with Kyle and doesn't like feeling like he's in the middle of a dispute. When he goes over to Anne and Tom's house, he tries to sneak out when no one will see.

I, being the misanthrope of the family... well, I don't really give a shit about offending anyone. I'm friendly but not close with Kyle, I never had much to say to Cindy anyway, and I really like Anne and Tom, so I will continue to hang out with them and not worry about it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The legacy

Okay, so I generally don't go through my day getting all mopey and existential. But I've been thinking about what it's all about. You know. Life.

Last night I received a package from my mom with things of my grandmother's that we decided I would have. A gorgeous amethyst (my birthstone) cocktail ring. An exquisite hand-beaded evening bag from France. A silver compact that she used to carry. An ivory heart pendant she used to wear (I don't wear ivory or coral, but I will wear this because it was hers). A Louis Vuitton tote. A vintage Pucci silk dress. A Kate Spade purse that still had one of her lipsticks in the inside pocket. A shawl that she must have bought when she visited us in India, because it's very similar to one I own from there. A beautiful silk and cut velvet wrap.

It all still smells like her. It totally epitomizes the impeccable taste and effortless style she had. And as I went through the box, I started to sob. I was still feeling all weepy a little later as I was putting Zeke to bed, so even though I should have let him cry it out to go to sleep -- he was exhausted and had been fighting it for an hour -- I cried and held him tight and let him fall asleep on me.

My reaction surprised me. I was with my mom and my aunt when they were cleaning out her closets and deciding what would go to Goodwill and what would be handed down to members of the family. And maybe it's because there was so much to do and we had already done so much crying, but it was a very matter-of-fact process.

But last night, when Jason and I looked at the things in the box, we both remarked, almost at the same time, on how sad it was that someone's life could be reduced to a collection of things.

Of course, that's not the half of her legacy. She lives on in all of us, and in the way we were raised and in the way we will raise our children. A defining characteristic of my family is how supportive my parents always were of the things my brothers and I did. Sunshine was blown up our asses on a regular basis, about every little thing. My brother Sam once lamented that the outside world sometimes seems that much crueler as compared to the warm bosom of the family, where every minor accomplishment is lauded and people are constantly telling you how much they love you and how great they think you are.

And that unquestionably flowed from my grandparents. From the minute I was born, my grandparents doted on me. Called me "Wendy Wonderful." Praised every little thing I did. I adored my grandmother, for her intelligence, her verve, and for the love and affection she showered on me my entire life.

She was like that with alot of people. People were drawn to her. She was like a force of nature. One of the things that touched me most about her funeral was that a couple of people showed up that hadn't seen her or talked to her in 20 years, but they saw the death notice in the newspaper and wanted to come and pay their respects.

I guess that's what it's all about. Living a good life and making a positive impact on people. I'll be wearing and enjoying my grandmother's things as a reminder to do my best.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why I may be happy with another boy after all

It's no secret that Jason and I want to have another baby next year. And we'd love to have a girl this time. I really like the idea of having a daughter and of having a relationship with her like the one I have with my mom. And having one of each seems nice and symmetrical.

But I fear the odds are against us. The men in Jason's family don't seem to make girl sperm. Jason's dad has 5 brothers (after trying for so long to have a girl, Jason's grandma finally gave up and adopted one). He has a brother, and his brother has two sons. So far, his two successful fertilizations (Zeke, and the miscarriage before him) have produced boys.

So while I'm hoping for a girl, I'm not going to hold my breath.

And after some recent communications with my friend Alex, I'm thinking another boy might not be so bad.

Alex married a guy with two kids, one of them Claire, a teenage girl. And Alex and her husband have custody of the kids, so she is a full-on mom to them. She deals with the homework fights and the "I have nothing to wear" tantrums and the back-to-school shopping.

Recently she was telling me about the new popular activity in middle schools. Claire told Alex about this thing called a "rainbow party." In a rainbow party, each girl wears a different shade of lipstick. The boys line up in a row, and the girls move down the line, fellating each of them. Each boy's goal is to have a rainbow of colors on his penis.

Yes, you read that right.

I find this so shocking that I don't even know what to say about it.

Far less horrifying, but just as troubling from an aesthetic point of view, are the fashions young girls are sporting today.

Alex took Claire to shop for new school clothes the other day. And it felt like a time warp. Because it's all the same shit that was popular when we were in high school in the mid-80s. The day-glo, pointy-toed stilleto pumps (but thankfully, not worn with frilly ankle socks). The skinny pegged jeans. The side ponytails. The paisley patterned shit. The fingerless mesh gloves that would make the most ardent Madonna-wannabe proud.

(the display of "fuck me" pumps from Alex's recent shopping excursion with her 13-year-old daughter)

Quite frankly, the prospect of a girl -- who will eventually become a teenage girl -- terrifies me. And while boys certainly present their own challenges, they don't seem nearly as daunting.

Friday, August 22, 2008

True intimacy

It always makes me laugh when I think about how overly romanticized our society makes marriage out to be. Don't get me wrong, romance is certainly alive and well in my household, but it doesn't take the form you read about in romance novels or bridal magazines. We're not so big on the flowers and lingerie and shmoopy notes. What really gets us going is fart jokes. Or making fun of each other's farts.

In fact, I knew it was true love with Jason because he was the first guy I was ever with that I could fart in front of and not feel uncomfortable. Real intimacy isn't sharing your deepest darkest secrets. It's flatulence without self-consciousness.

Actual text message exchange between Jason and a friend of his, made as we were walking the dog yesterday:
Friend: How's life, bro?
Jason: I'm fine, but Wendy's is about 2 b not so great.
Friend (clearly concerned): everything OK?
Jason: it's fine, but we're having curry for dinner 2nite.
I probably should have been alarmed or annoyed by Jason's prognostications. But it's hard to be annoyed when you can't stop giggling.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


After feeding Zeke his dinner yesterday, I wanted to take him outside to let him run (or in his case, crawl) around a bit before bath- and bed-time, but didn't feel like taking him to the playground with the jungle gym. He has fun there, but the bigger kids can sort of overwhelm the equipment and make it difficult for him to make his way without getting stepped on or tripped over. Plus it's paved with that rubber-y asphalt stuff that's scratchy, so I would have had to put his shoes on him, and he likes being shoeless.*

So we went to this grassy field in the neighborhood that has thick, pretty green grass and little hills. I rolled Zeke over in his car, parked the car right in the middle of the thick grass, and put Zeke on the ground.
(Zeke in his little car. The arm casually draped over the back of the seat, with the other hand resting on the steering wheel, cracks me up every time.)

First he just sat and smiled as he rubbed his bare feet back and forth, enjoying the feeling of the soft grass on his toes. Then he started to crawl around, up the hills, down the hills, sometimes stopping to see where I was, but mostly very secure that I was there and that he was safe.

I love it when he does that. Of course it's wonderful when he crawls over to me and pulls himself up and wraps his arms around my neck. And he's going through a very mommy-centric phase right now, so that happens often. I've become adept at putting on his diaper while he's standing up, because he'll be on the changing table and decide that he needs a hug. But I know he's really feeling happy and at ease when he crawls by me and just gives me a little smile as he passes.

The little hills presented a learning opportunity (and I'm using the term "hill" generously -- they're more like "mounds," maybe 4 or 5 feet high ). I crawled up to the top of a hill with him, and then lay on my side and rolled down. Zeke was spellbound. His eyes went very wide, and then he broke out in a huge grin and started laughing. I gently placed him on his side and slowly rolled him over, and he laughed some more.

We both crawled around, giggling like fools, for another 20 minutes or so. It was a beautiful late afternoon -- maybe 80 degrees, slight breeze, just enough moisture in the air to make it feel soft and protective. We rolled around, inspected leaves and sticks, pointed at airplanes up in the sky, crawled up and down hills. Then we headed home to have a bath.

We live in a busy, hectic world. Our heads swirl with scheduling issues and money worries and "what can I make for dinner that's easy?" and "shit, that laundry pile is out of control" and "ugh, I've got so much work to do and I'm really tired."

But for half an hour last night, all of that melted away as I rolled around on the grass with my son, playing and giggling without a care in the world.

* Just like his Aussie father, who I didn't see wear shoes until we had known each other for three months. Ask me about our first date, when we went to a rodeo and Jason walked around with a barbecue skewer in his foot for 10 minutes before he noticed it was there (and even then, he only noticed it because it kept hitting his other leg as he walked).

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The home office dilemma

This is why I need a job where I have to actually get up and get dressed and go to an office everyday.

Because right now, I have some work that I could be doing. But it's easy. It's just a minor revision to a document that I prepared yesterday, and if I started it, I could be done in about half an hour.

So there's no urgency to it.

And I have other big projects that I could be working on, but one of them isn't due until October and another isn't due until November.

So again, I could do them today, but there's no rush.

In the meantime, I desperately need to give myself a manicure and pedicure, because my polish is all patchy and gross looking.

And the laundry could use some folding.

And my office is a disaster, so it could stand some straightening up.

And I still haven't finished unpacking from the Detroit trip.

And the U.S. men's volleyball team is playing Serbia in an elimination round right now on NBC.

Gee, I wonder which I'll choose...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Parenting 104, or "How to Make Old People Crazy"

There's a great scene at the end of Moonstruck when the family is sitting around, waiting for Cher's fiance to come back from Sicily so she can tell him she's marrying his brother instead. It's awkward, and the elderly grandfather looks around at everyone silently eating their breakfast and says, "someone tell a joke." (I looked for the scene on Youtube but could only find it dubbed in German. If you speak German, enjoy.)

Anyway, looking over my recent posts, I'm feeling like a little levity is in order.

The truth is, the week in Detroit wasn't all gloom and doom. In fact, it wasn't even mostly gloom and doom. As cheesy as it sounds, we really did try to make the occasion a celebration of my grandma's life.

After the funeral, we didn't do a formal shiva at my grandpa's house, but we did have an open house for people to come and have some deli and pay their respects. At one point, Zeke and I were hanging out outside on the back stoop with my cousin Emily and her baby, my brother Josh and his daughter Hazel, and Emily's mom and grandma, Bonnie and Elaine (Emily's dad is my mom's brother, so I'm not related by blood to her mom or maternal grandma).

On the back porch was a cooler full of beer, plus some empty bottles that people had left lying around. The porch itself is an old wooden deck that probably hasn't been waterproofed or otherwise treated in the entire 27 years my grandparents have lived there.

Now, if pressed, I guess I would describe my parenting style as "relaxed." I protect Zeke from true dangers, but I don't freak out at every opportunity he might have for bumping his head on the edge of a table, nor do I worry about every little thing he puts in his mouth, as long as it isn't broken glass or sharp metal or poisonous. A bit of dirt isn't going to kill him. Exposure to germs will enhance his immune system. If he bumps something, it might teach him to avoid it next time.

Elaine, Emily's grandmother, is decidedly not relaxed, about parenting or anything else. She's probably one of the most frenetic people I've ever met, and when it comes to babies, her philosophy is that they must be protected from everything from splinters (so no crawling on wooden porches) to germs (no chewing on Mommy's unsterilized keys, no matter how enticing) to falling (if they get within 5 feet from the edge of anything, snatch them up at once).

So of course, she was going apoplectic at the fact that Zeke was crawling around barefoot (the prospect of splinters and catching pneumonia). Her level of apoplexy went up when he started mouthing a beer bottle. I assured her that I had emptied it and that it wouldn't do him any harm, but she didn't seem assuaged.

(Zeke enjoys a bottle of Bass. The kid's got good taste.)

Then she went really nuts.

"SHE'S GOT SOMETHING IN HER MOUTH!!!" she yelled, pointing at Hazel.

Hazel was sitting on the step with Josh. Josh is on his third kid, and is even more laid back than I am.

"Her father's right there," I said. "She's fine."


"I know there is something in her mouth," Josh said.


He rolled his eyes and exhaled loudly, clearly exasperated by all the hysteria.

"It's a beer bottle cap. Don't worry, I'm watching her."

I think Elaine may still be in orbit.

And I have an increased respect for my brother's sense of comic timing, as well as an uncontrollable case of the giggles from thinking about it.

(Josh holding Hazel, who expresses her opinion about people freaking out about eating beer bottle caps)

Monday, August 18, 2008


When we heard that the rabbi wanted to talk to all of us about my grandma the day before the funeral, many of us thought, "ugh, do we have to? is this really necessary?"

But it ended up being so, so worth it. Like, the best thing about the last 5 days kind of worth it.

Zeke and I had flown in that morning and were met at the airport by both my brothers, my sister-in-law Erica (Sam's wife), and my 15 month old niece, Hazel (Josh's daughter). The trip was long, and Zeke's getting too big to be a lap child -- he can't really sleep comfortably on me when he's used to stretching out on his stomach in his bed -- but he did sleep some, and I never sleep anyway, so I didn't feel much differently than I normally do.

We all schlepped over to the synagogue Wednesday afternoon. It was me, my two brothers, two of my cousins, my mom, her sister and brother, and my grandfather. Plus the babies, who crawled around and played and made noise. The rabbi was a youngish woman, maybe a few years older than I am, and she had a decidedly gentle aura about her.

We sat around a big conference table and she started asking us questions about my grandmother. And over the next hour or so, we talked about her and told stories and laughed and cried.

My uncle talked about when he had eye surgery and was recuperating in his bed as a little boy with bandages on his eyes. My grandmother stayed with him and read book after book after book. And whenever he became scared or lonely, she was right there.

My grandfather talked about how fantastic he thought she was from the time they met. He used to drop his friends off at night and then pick her up at 1 or 2 in the morning and they'd drink and talk and, in his words, "tell each other lies."

My mother talked about how stylish my grandmother was, and how she helped my mom get ready for her wedding. She also told a wonderful story about how close my grandma and I were, and how, when my mom was scolding me for something when I was very young (maybe 2 or 3), I glared at her and said, "you're too mean to be Ruthie's daughter."

My aunt talked about what a wonderful actress my grandmother was, and how much she loved the theater. Some of her greatest memories were of helping my grandma run lines for the plays she was in.

My brother Sam talked about how my grandparents took him in when he was evacuated from El Salvador (my parents were stationed here during the early 90s when civil war broke out), and how they became like surrogate parents to him.

My brother Josh talked about how they were so involved in our lives, coming to every graduation, to plays and football games and cheering us on always.

I talked about how when I was 18, my grandma took me with her to New York on a buying trip for her bridal salon. She wanted my input on the prom and bridesmaid's dresses, and basically gave me carte blanche when it came to what she was going to stock. So she and I marched in and out of big important design houses and I would tell the head designer of places like Tadashi that I liked this one and that one but the other one not so much. And when they turned to my grandmother for her input, she pointed to me and said, "that's your client."

My cousin Emily talked about how my grandma never stopped learning. My grandparents participated in study groups and book clubs and took classes at the University of Michigan after they retired. For our 8th birthdays, they took each of us grandchildren on a trip to New York, to see a show on Broadway and go to the Metropolitan Museum and to start to appreciate culture from an early age.

As we all talked, she sort of came to life in that room. We felt her dynamism and the joy and purpose with which she lived her life. We reminisced about her taking us to the theater and the symphony and teaching us to appreciate books and to be passionate about politics (Democratic, natch). And as we looked at the babies crawling around on the floor, we saw her legacy, and understood that it is now our mission to take what she taught us and make sure it lives on through the next generation.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Going home

My grandmother died last night.

It was a pleasant afternoon yesterday so I took Zeke to the playground and watched him have fun climbing around and going down the slide (with my help). I checked my messages when I got home and there was one from my mother, who was crying and asked me to call her as soon as possible.

"Ruth," I thought to myself. She's been in a convalescent center since getting out of the hospital after I saw her in April. She stopped eating a few months ago and has been deteriorating fast.

I called my mom back. It was after midnight on the east coast. She picked up right away.

"Your grandmother is dying. She's not going to make it through the night."

"Aw, Mom, I'm so sorry."

Then I remembered that she was coming out here on Friday. "Are you canceling your trip? I guess you must be."

"Yes, I'll reschedule. The funeral is probably going to be on Wednesday."

"Do you need me to come to Detroit?"

"It would be wonderful if you could be here. But I hate to ask, it's such a long trip and it's so expensive."

"Don't worry about it. I'll be there. Let me get Zeke to bed and I'll get organized and get a flight out."

"OK, honey. You're the best. I love you so much."

"I love you too, Mommy. I'll call you when I've got everything set."

So Zeke and I are going to Detroit tonight. I'm not thrilled with the prospect of taking him such a long way for such a short time (I'm coming back this weekend), but with Jason's schedule (he has to leave for work at 4:15 in the morning, and Zeke's daycare doesn't open until 6), it doesn't make sense to leave him.

Plus I like the idea of having babies around when we're dealing with a death. My brother is bringing his 1-year-old daughter and my cousin is bringing her 6-month-old son, and it will be nice to have munchkins around to remind us that life goes on and the generations will continue.

Today is a whirlwind. I've got to pack, clean the house and get organized. Prepare formula bottles for the plane and figure out what I'm going to wear to the funeral. Email work and let them know.

Being busy is a welcome distraction. I'm sad for my mom and her siblings. My mom is going through this alone right now, because my dad is white-water rafting on a river somewhere in Idaho and is totally incommunicado. There's no cell service on the Salmon River, so he won't even know about it until the funeral is over.

I'm sad for my grandmother. She's finally at peace, but the last few years of her life have sucked. She's been out of it mentally for a long time, and clearly was ready to be done with her life.

Mostly I'm sad for my grandpa. He and my grandma were married for 66 years, and he adored her. Even though his last few years with her have been so hard, he's been so lonely without her since she went into the rehab facility. I don't know what he's going to do now.

I'm feeling a heightened appreciation for my health and (relative) youth. I'm feeling very much in the moment as I spend time with Zeke, cherishing how sweet and beautiful and funny he is. My heart feels full of love for my family and my friends. Even though the circumstances aren't the greatest, I'm looking forward to feeling that family connection again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Kathleen: 5 SubZero Refrigerators

Yesterday was Kathleen's birthday. In her honor, I baked a key lime pie, because it's her favorite and it always reminds me of her. I also thought she deserves a tribute of her own, because she's only shared one with others up to now.

Kathleen is my best friend. I've known her for 9 years, ever since I started working for Charlie. When I think about how we met, when she showed up hung over at my recruiting dinner, it reminds me of the first line of Joseph Heller's Catch-22: "It was love at first sight."

Sometimes the concept of a best friend seems kind of silly to me. I mean, I have many close friends that I love dearly. But Kathleen is the one I think of first when I have big news, or when I'm upset and need to vent, or when I just want to chill with a friend. She's got the foulest mouth and the biggest heart of anyone I know. She's socially brazen and outspoken, but adorably nervous about little things. She is hilarious when she tells a joke, because she gets so excited in anticipation of the punchline that she starts to crack up -- by the time the joke is over, she's crying with laughter. She'll do anything for a friend. She's one of the few people I know who never annoys me.

When I think about her, I think of the time she and I did our first triathlon together, in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2000. I helped her through the swim, and she helped me through the run, and we finished holding hands -- a tradition we carried forward to future races. Afterwards, we went to Waffle House and ate pretty much the entire left side of the menu, and then we retired to our hotel room, flopped into our respective beds, and had conversations like this the rest of the day:
"Do you have the TV remote?"

"It's on my bed but I'm too tired to reach for it. You have a problem with Teletubbies?"

"Bite me."

"I'm too tired."
We were among the founding members of our book club and our Girls' Night group. We wrote countless legal briefs together. I celebrated Christmas with her family, and she celebrated Thanksgiving and Passover with mine. I love her children as I love Zeke, and I would do anything for them. My mother views Kathleen as another one of her children. She kept me company and walked my dog when I was recuperating after my breast reduction surgery. When I came back from Costa Rica in love with my Australian surf instructor, she supported the relationship all the way -- Jason and I frequently have to fight over the phone when we're talking to her, because he's come to love her almost as much as I do.

Kathleen is, quite simply, a part of me. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows her name. I can't imagine my life without her, and a big motivation for eventually getting back to the mainland again is to be able to live out my life with her close by.
Most of all, she makes me strive to be a better person and a better friend, daughter, wife, and sister to the people in my life, because she sets such an amazing example.

And so, my friend, this post is for you. I love you and I wish you a happy birthday. For just being you, I award you (on a scale of 5) 5 SubZero Refrigerators, because you're the coolest chick I know.

I went to an Obama rally and all I got was this lousy 3rd degree sunburn

Obama is vacationing on Oahu this week. He arrived on Friday. The night before, I got an email from his campaign informing me that an impromptu rally was going to be held at a park not too far from where I live.

This was big, because since Hawaii is so overwhelmingly in the "D" column, and Obama's from here, after all, nobody campaigns here. We don't even get campaign ads on TV, except for the ones broadcast nationally (like with the Olympics). I decided to go.

But I was either so excited or so exhausted (insomnia is back, big-time -- I'm catching lots of Olympic soccer games at 3 in the morning) that my brain completely stopped functioning, because I went to an outside event, in the middle of the day, in an open park with very few trees, in the heart of summer, with no hat, no sunscreen, and only one small bottle of water.

This is not like me. I am crazy careful about the sun. Not that I avoid being out in it, but when I surf or go to the beach or whatever, I always wear a hat and at least 30 SPF, and when people come to visit I nag them constantly about making sure they're protected.

But there I was, arriving at 11:30 for a rally that didn't have Obama scheduled to speak until 2:30. And there's a massive line to go through security. And it's 87 degrees and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I finish my water by 11:45, and then stand in the sun and bake.

What I could feel as it was happening was the burning on my shoulders. I was wearing a sleeveless blouse, and I could feel the shoulder facing southwest getting redder and redder as the day went on. So I would turn around and cook the other side, just so the one side wouldn't be in so much pain.

By 2:30, everyone was inside the barricades (it was a huge crowd, and all the more impressive for the fact that the event was scheduled with only a day's notice). There was a breeze, but the closeness of the crowd made it feel hotter than it was. I was thirsty and hungry and hot and feeling weak, and my shoulders were burned and stinging.

Then came the announcement that Obama's plane was late (he was coming to the rally straight from the airport) and he wouldn't be arriving for at least 45 minutes.

I couldn't do it. I felt like a wuss for bailing, but I seriously felt like I was going to pass out. And when I got home, I realized that it wasn't my shoulders that bore the worst of the sunburn. It was my face. My nose was blistered and my forehead was stinging and my cheeks looked like I had painted them. I had to stay inside all weekend, dousing myself with aloe gel and downing ibuprofen. After two days, my nose has moved past the blister phase and is now covered in scabs. Needless to say, I'm crazy attractive.

(my disgusting sunburned nose. in addition to the scabs, you can also see the bright line where my sunglasses were. all of this adds up to Wendy=dumb)

The worst part was, I never even got to see Obama.

I don't know how, but I blame McCain.

Friday, August 08, 2008

You never know

I just had a hilarious and bizarre conversation with my financial advisor.

I know that seems weird, but she's with USAA, and everyone with USAA is awesome and I love them.

So anyway, we're chatting about portfolios and IRAs and diversification and all that, and the topic of life insurance comes up. I explain to her that Jason and I recently got life insurance policies, so we're covered. She says that USAA has very competitive rates and that she'll pull some quotes for us because we might be able to save some money going with them.

She explains that the only downside of switching over from another company's policy is that your 2 year suicide window will likely start running again from the beginning.

This confused me. "I didn't realize suicide was a covered event in a life insurance policy."

"Oh, no," she said. "Suicide is covered, but just not for the first two years of the policy."

"Huh," I responded. "Who knew. Anyway, I'm not worried about that. I certainly don't have any intention of committing suicide, so if I can get a lower rate with USAA, I'll gladly look into it."

"Well, you never know," she said.

And I guess she's right, you don't.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Forgetting the distance

I'm sitting in a Starbucks right now, waiting to meet my boss. He's in town because he's been hired as an expert witness in a special education lawsuit that the Hawaii Department of Education is involved in, and he's enlisted me to help him work out the issues he's being asked to opine on, and to write his expert report.

Last night Jason and I met him out for dinner at a local dive for some yummy Hawaiian barbecue. It was the first time I'd seen him in 14 months, since we did the oral argument last June in California, a realization that shocked me. Because I talk to him fairly often, and we communicate by email, and I work for him, after all. So my days are spent creating work product for which he pays me.

He was talking about how long the plane ride was, and how you forget how far away Hawaii is until you try to get there. It's so true, and something that I do my best to block out. I spend so much time online or on the phone, feeling connected with the world. Technology and modern communications do make the world so much smaller. I can get on Skype and have a video conference with my friend Elizabeth in Norway, and we can chat and look at each other as if we were sitting across a table having coffee. I can get on Facebook and know what friends on the West Coast and the East Coast and everywhere in between are doing, not to mention the folks in Israel and Paris and India that I also keep up with. I talk to my mother every day, and to my grandparents and brothers almost every week. And then there are the Australia relatives, who we also keep in contact with via email and telephone and Skype and what have you.

So I forget. I forget how far away I am from them, and how long it's been since I've seen them, and how long it's going to be until I can see them again.

Because when I think about that, it hurts.

Monday, August 04, 2008

How did I end up back in high school?

It's hard to witness unrequited adoration. Particularly when it leads to desperate, attention-seeking behavior that becomes the object of ridicule.

Most often, you see it in the context of romantic infatuation, maybe in high school. Girl adores Boy (or vice versa), Boy is uninterested in Girl, Girl proceeds to make a fool of herself trying to get Boy's attention, while Boy and his friends mock Girl behind her back.

This is pathetic enough.

But it's even more pathetic when it's a grown woman, and the object of her desire is another grown women with whom she is desperate to be Best Friends.

This is going on with Anne and Cindy. And it's just downright sad.

Because unbeknownst to Anne, Cindy pretty much decided, upon meeting Anne, that Anne was the BFF that she has been waiting for all her life. And while Anne was nice to Cindy and saw her in social situations, Anne didn't quite understand at first that she had been Claimed. That when Cindy looks at her cell phone and has received a text or a call from Anne, she makes a point of announcing to anyone within ear shot that she has received a message from her Best Friend. That Cindy is careful to tell people that when Anne has free time on the weekend, it will be spend with Cindy. They're making plans, you see. They're Best Friends, after all.

When Anne starts to realize that Cindy has essentially peed in a circle around her, she becomes uncomfortable. Because Anne doesn't view Cindy as her Best Friend. Hell, she barely knows the woman, and quite frankly, doesn't feel like she has much in common with her. And increasingly, the more time she spends with Cindy, the more she finds her a bit distasteful.

And none of us knows what to do. How do we tell Cindy that the more she tries to get Anne's attention, the more desperate and pathetic she becomes? How do we make her understand that not only is her behavior cringe-worthy, it's making her a laughing-stock? How do you give someone utterly lacking in self-awareness the ability to step back and see themselves as others see them?

I feel like I'm watching a train-wreck in progress. I'm standing on the sidelines, peeking through my fingers, unable to do anything, but unable to look away.

Friday, August 01, 2008

My love/hate relationship with my car

(I love her, but she's pissing me off)

I drive a 1998 Mercedes. Her name is Rosie. She's tomato red and has soft leather seats and drives like a dream and I love her.

I bought Rosie at CarMax in 2002. At the time I was driving a 1997 Jeep Wrangler with a soft-top convertible. I loved my Jeep, but it was noisy on the highway and guzzled gas and was impossible to keep clean. I couldn't keep anything in it because the windows zippered open and shut, and it kept getting broken into. I'd find my gym bag open in the back seat, and wonder why anyone would want to rifle through my sweaty, stinky clothes.

So I started doing some research and found Rosie and got an amazing deal on her. I had never owned a luxury car. My first car was an old Plymouth Horizon, my second a Honda Civic which I loved, but I totalled it, and the third was the Jeep, which was intended as a fun weekend car but ended up being my primary vehicle when I wrecked the Honda. So for the first time, I was driving a grown-up car. And after the Jeep, I was marveling at the actual glass windows and the quiet ride on the highway and the ability to actually lock things in the trunk. It felt decadent. I would drive around and giggle.

Over the years, Rosie has treated me well, but as she's gotten older, things have needed fixing. And one of the things I noticed about driving a Mercedes (and my understanding is that many luxury cars are like this) is that when anything goes wrong, be prepared to spend at least $500. Need new brakes? $1400. Air conditioner on the fritz? It won't just be that it needs a shot of freon. It will be something in the car's computer, and it will cost $2000. New water pump? $750.

Because nothing is just mechanical on this car. It's all computerized or electronic. The movement of the seats is controlled by a switch and is some kind of hydraulic hoo-ha. So when my seats stopped moving (and as I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, we needed to be able to position the seats so Jason could drive me to the hospital), it cost $350 to fix.

Now I can't start the car because my "Smart Key" is broken. The "smart key", which, if you ask me, is the stupidest fucking thing in the world, is an electronic key that you put in the ignition and there's a sensor that the car reads. The car and the key engage and sync up, and that allows the key to be turned so the car will start. But the little sensor on the end of the key snapped off (I think Zeke was chewing on it) and now the car won't read the key and I can't start the car.

And that's the only key. There's no mechanical override that allows you to start the car with an actual key-like key. The ignition doesn't even have a place to put an actual key.

So I called Mercedes and was informed that they have to order a new key, and they can only do it after I shlep my ass all the way downtown (in Jason's giant surf van) with proof of ownership and ID. And then it will take a week and cost $220.

Fucking Mercedes.

Each time one of these expenditures comes up, I remind myself that Rosie is a great car and that it's worth it to fix the problem. I can't buy a new car for $220, after all (or for $350 or $750).

But the rationale is starting to wear thin.