Monday, December 31, 2007

Sometimes I doubt my commitment to Sparkle Motion.

Yeah, I know, 2 Donny Darko references in one week, but so it goes.

A few weeks ago, I decided I needed something trashy and fun to read, so I signed up for a subscription to Self. It seems like the least detrimental women's mag. Then a screen popped up offering a $6 subscription to any other magazine. I clicked on one called "Cookie" that I had not heard of before, just to find out more, and was informed that I had just subscribed. Wuh?

It arrived in the mail last week, and I hate it. I kinda hate it more than Baby Talk and all those super-uber-duper mainstream free mags that exist only to sell formula and sugary yoghurt. Because Cookie is just as mainstream, but with the added bonus of this haughtier-than-thou, ritchie-rich attitude. $300 silver teething rings, gift guides advising fox fur collars for mommy, websites for $10 gourmet marshmallows, trips to Vancouver. And it acts like these things are totally normal for all moms, that $20 for a toy is "nothing". I've never been the kind of person that wanted to live a lavish lifestyle, but if I did live a lavish lifestyle, it STILL would be nothing like the lifestyle Cookie advocates.

For example, the cover star is Kristy Turlington, and the topic is her many worthy causes. And when you get to the article, there are lots of pictures of her children in $500 dresses with the cast of The Nutcracker, and it mentions that she supports ballet. Then it lists 3 other causes, with no info about them, and goes on to give pithy quotes about how Kristy loves the opera and is just so down-to-earth that her daughter is impressed when she puts on a dress. And i'm totally rolling my eyes, because the article says NOTHING-- about Kristy as a mom, about her dedication to causes. Just pleasant pablum about how earthy she is juxtaposed against what a luscious life she leads, and it makes me hate her.

Contrast that with Self's story on Keri Russell about how she breastfeeds and babycarries and sometimes doesn't wash her hair, and there's a reason I sent my check to Self but not to Cookie. I even pulled out Cookie's customer survey to tell them how little their magazine appeals to me. Blech. Cookie makes me feel the same way Vanity Fair makes me feel-- disgusted with rich people and people who want to be or pretend to be rich. There's so much more to life, and there's so much more to say, and these articles are written to either make people say, "Hmm, Buffy, that Kristy Turlington is both rich and generous to be appealing without making me feel guilty," or "Hmm, Chase, i'm glad we're rich. Tell the nanny to bring the kids by, after they've been bathed, so we can give them that Babar pull-toy."

Anyway, Cookie can shove it. That's all i'm saying.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mommy Darko

I had dream while we were on vacation in which my dear friend and mentor, who recently passed, visited me as a ghost and made me write the following words over and over on a rock wall until I had memorized them:

Every natural thing that is or was can be exclusively defined through movement.

Now, what on earth does that mean?

I am working on a series of 10 paintings inspired by her, so i'm sure that'll factor in. The mind is an amazing thing, neh?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


My intelligent, hard-working, handsome, amazing husband won a promotion, which we learned while on vacation. He is now the Manager of Content Architecture and Enhancement. He is very cool.

Congratulations, sweetheart! I'm so proud of you!

Snooky and the Beach

So we just flew in from Grand Cayman, and boy, are our arms tired! Ha ha! Is joke!

Seriously, though. What a long, strange trip it was, if i'm allowed to say that outside of yearbook signatures. Some of the high
est and lowest points of the year, all smashed together into one crazy week. Like to hear about it? Here it goes!

The plane: Cleo is riled up in the airport and protests being oppressed on the plane. We hand her everything in our bags, trying desperately to calm her before she starts caterwauling. She grabs a Kashi granola bar and rips her teeth into it, immediately starting a horrible choking spree as the tiny flutter of wrapper dances from her windpipe to her gag reflex. Everyone freaks out, stewardesses included, as she alternately, turns blue, is given the heimlich by mommy, turns red, drools, screams, cries, coughs, and barfs. A doctor and 2 EMTs on the plane help us out, and eventually the item in question is swallowed, to be found the next day in a terribly nasty diaper. She's so hopped up that she can't nap, so the plane ride is possibly the worst 2.5 hours of our lives.

The island: Grand Cayman is amazing. The airport is pretty ridiculous (seriously, 4 exit gates in one room full of sunburnt tourists?), but then we got to the hotel, and it was awesome. Beautiful blue water, pristine white beach, huge room, enormous bathtub, you name it. We stayed at the Hyatt on Seven Mile Beach, and every particular was fantastic. Even the robes were great. We had lots of fun in the taxis and even the TV was good, for Luddites like us. Our friend Adrienne and her boyfriend, Evan, have great taste!

The food:
HOLY CRADOODLE. Best food i've ever had. I will think of the Ritz's champagne brunch for the rest of my life, especially the rack of lamb with coffee-vanilla saffron risotto, crispy calamari, and pumpkin and ginger mousse. I admit to lifting the sugar ban for a week, because, honestly, when am I going to get to try the champagne brunch
at the Ritz again? Not likely ever. The pistachio crusted chilean sea bass at Bed. The shrimp with black fettucine at Decker's. The duck at The Wharf. The dragon roll at Bamboo. The chiarroscurria at Hemingway's. Even the drinks were good!

The activities: We had so much fun, and many of my childhood fantasies became reality. That's right-- I finally galloped on horseback on the beach. AND IT WAS AWESOME! We even managed to find a riding establishment that practiced natural horsemanship and had happy, healthy horses, instead of the usual beaten-down, hard-mouthed nags that have humped one-too-many fat guys over the dunes. We went to a turtle farm and got to hold and pet tiny green sea turtles, or Chelonia midas, from my sea-turtle-obsession days. We also swam with stingrays at Stingray City, where our friend Evan rubbed chum on me when I wasn't paying attention, so I was totally swarmed by 5-foot stingrays hungry for squid. The sail there and back was also lovely, as i've never sailed before. My other favorite activity was just snorkeling outside our hotel-- a few hundred feet out, and we found amazing fish, a 60-pound lobster, brain corals, fans, you name it. Nothing fancy-- just a snorkel, some fins and a kayak. And it was tremendous, and it made me want to snorkel every day. What could be more fun to me than discovering animals and being in water? Maybe if liquified pumpkin and ginger mousse were poured down the snorkel. That's the only way it could be better.

The hard part: After the choking incident, we were very anxious, irritable, and skittish, as one might imagine. The experience really brought home to us how tender and fragile a baby can be, and we were taking that baby away from not only our favorite pediatrician, Dr. Kute, but our entire country and its phenomenal healthcare system. When I found the wrapper in a diaper, we breathed a sigh of relief. And then the cough started.

Cleo developed a wet, juicy, hacking cough, and her breathing rattled, and she could barely sleep at all for coughing, rattling, and crying. We grew concerned she had aspirated something while choking. Internet research only scared us more. We grew irritable and had trouble enjoying ourselves, not only because we worried about Cleo, but because we were emotionally and physically exhausted by caring for her in such a dangerous place while she was in such a bad mood and getting sicker. We contacted our insurance and saw the doctor they recommended, but he did little to inspire our confidence. No tongue depressor, no ear flashlight, no thermometer... he just listened to her chest and said she was fine, probably had an upper respiratory tract infection, even though she had no fever and no runny nose. Boy, was I glad to have brought my own thermometer from home! Sometimes it's good to be a conscientious mom.

Anyway, those last few days were tense, as she didn't get better but didn't get worse, and she was torture to be around. Grand Cayman is not at all like Disney-- it's a dangerous place for babies. Run in that direction, and you're right in the middle of 5 lanes of traffic. Run that direction, there's the ocean. Run the other way, and there's a 7-foot-deep pool, concrete corners, wild birds and lizards. No fences, no gates, no barriers. And all she wanted was to go "out, peas", and naps and nighttime sleeping were a joke. I got so tired that I started hallucinating, but I didn't let on, because I still wanted to ride horses that afternoon. We had to tag-team a lot just to keep up with her, as her energy level defied all illness.

The happy ending: We had a great time, in all. Grand Cayman is amazing, although I surely wish we had gone there in our pre-baby days for maximum enjoyment. It's really hard to enjoy an expensive, elegant meal and wine when one parent is constantly on the sidewalk jiggling a pissed-off snooky in the Beco. We are so thankful our friends Adrienne and Evan invited us! It takes a lot of guts to invite folks with a 16-monther, and I can only pray they had as much fun as we did. The plane ride home was uneventful, with a normal and calm Cleo falling asleep and napping most of the way. I was a bit annoyed that they ran out of Biscoffs, but that's a minor complaint. After 2 ridiculous hours in the dumbest international arrivals system ever conceived, we arrived exhausted at our beautiful new RAV-4, which was safe and happy after a week of parking. A trip by the grandparents' and then we were home for an amazing night of sleep in our own bed. Ahhhh.

Oh, and then it was Christmas....


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

embracing the inner caveman

I was watching one of my favorite movies, Fight Club, while Cleo was napping today, and I couldn't help but think about the parallels between our lives and those of our ancestors-- what makes us like them, and what makes us different. In many ways, my marriage can be seen as 21st century incarnation of the hunting/gathering society.

He goes away in the morning, vanquishes things, makes capital, and comes home at night. I wake up, take care of the child, clean the home, gather sustenance materials, and return home to feed everyone. He may be wearing business casual and meeting clients instead of clubbing mastodons, but he still brings home the proverbial bacon and can be considered "hunting". I may be going to SuperTarget instead of gathering herbs and root vegetables, but i'm still "gathering". The only thing he really needs is the element of fighting, and since there are no wars or the everyday need to kill things, he found jiujitsu. The only thing I really need is the element of creation, so I paint, instead of weaving baskets or cloth or making soap. We both go to the gym to work off our excess energy and make up for the fact that we can't walk 10 miles a day. And Cleo grunts and points and runs around naked, so she's a little caveperson, anyway.

So, in conclusion, after all these years, it's the same old life, and we just have to find the missing pieces and replace them, hopefully not with drugs, gambling, overeating, or shopping addictions. I think a lot of the people I see wondering around have lost their meta and can no longer relate to themselves or others in meaningful ways. I see a lot of zombies. A lot of unhappy people. Men that couldn't fight a poodle; women who don't know where their hips are. I don't think ignorance is bliss, in this case, so much as ignorance is anesthetic. Numbing.

And I think this numbness, this lack of purpose, this missing piece, this disconnection with our own bodies, our society and our past, is the biggest problem in America. We do too little real work, have too much time to think, refuse to think. We fill our time with TV, internet, video games, shopping, things that mean nothing and have no real conclusion. Nothing of value is produced by our time, and we are piddling our ways to the grave.

But i'm blathering. And according to my own posturing, my time would be better spent taking my child to the park, so i'm going to do that.

As Tom Robbins says, there are only two philosophies in the world: YUCK and YUM. So i'm going with yum.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

From the mouths of babes...

Things you wish your 6-year old son hadn't hollered in the busy Wal-Mart today:

"Daddy, my butthole hurts again!"

Man, I felt really sorry for that guy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

My baby does the hanky panky

I get to wake up to this EVERY DAY.
I'm the luckiest girl in the world.

badger badger badger badger badger...

It's stuck in my head. Haven't heard it in years, but I can see those little mustelids doing their calisthenics behind my eyelids. It's a badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom...

Let's see... where are we? The weekend was a sweet and sour mix, as Craig was out of town and I had a tear-filled visitation, funeral, and reception, followed by an incredibly delicious and indulgent fondue dinner and a day of playing around with good friends and baby. Who would think that cooking your own food in a metal pot could be such fun?

I've also got an ongoing craving for whole grain bagels from Einstein Bros., which goes against my Southern grain. Seriously, I was that lady pushing a baby in a shopping cart, eating her bagel out of a bag. When I was a kid, I found it so distasteful to see moms in sweatpants and slippers feeding Cocoa Pebbles to their filthy kids in Kroger, but for some reason the fact that I only feed Cleo healthy snacks and always pay for them makes it okay for me. Plus, no sweat pants; just jeans. And without stains! I should totally get points for that, even though the dairy guy glares at me like i'm smuggling his precious cheesesticks out by the boatload.

Life is good. I was struck by a golden moment today as I let Cleo totally self-lead around the park. I live a good life. I am living my dream. Nothing but sweet husband, precocious child, nice house, all the art I want, lots of good books, plenty of Fuji apples, rockin' vehicle, cool shoes.

I totally have it made. Except that it's a
badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger badger mushroom mushroom...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tee! Baws! TEE!! BAWS!!!!

That's what Cleo says every time she comes downstairs and sees the Christmas tree lit up. She thinks the ornaments are balls, obviously, just like oranges. It's so nice to have a real Christmas tree, with the real smell, and lots of shiny ornaments. I had no idea how much it would captivate her! We hope to find a way to relate the magic and joy of the holiday season without too much consumerism or proselytizing or sugar. Is that even possible?

Another new notch on Cleo's vocabulary is "oooh, caw!", which she says every time she sees our kicka$ new car, a 2008 Toyota RAV4. We are both overjoyed by our shiny Big Bertha, who is mucho safe and gets 21 - 27 mpg and is big enough to keep me from feeling like a tubercular zebra at the watering hole. I love her expansive windshield, which is at least twice the size of my old Civic's. And the cargo space is awesome for all of my baby junk and groceries, and i'll finally be able to tote canvases over 2 feet, which is rad. I loaded 6 CD's into the changer today and totally rocked out. It's hilarious-- my favorite CD at the end of my pregnancy was Red Hot Chili Pepper's Stadium Arcadium, and now it's certain to put her to sleep whenever she hears it, even when it's loud and thumping. Very handy, that.

In spite of hardship and sadness, the tree still sparkles and the car still smells new, and i'm left thinking of an old quote from The Tick:
And so, may evil beware, and may good dress warmly and eat plenty of fresh vegetables.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

There's an emptiness...

I found out today that my friend, mentor, and boss of 16 years died last night. She's been dying for a long time, and we just visited with her yesterday, and I can't believe that she's gone. I can't imagine the world without her in it. She's been a constant inspiration and role model to me for so long, and it has always been so easy to call her and laugh with her.

To think she won't be at any receptions, telling me which appetizers are tastiest and holding court. That I won't get to work with her again. She won't breeze in at 10:30 with an extra dry cappuccino, and I won't sit across her desk, and we won't laugh at the ridiculous artists we know and talk about old ladies chasing flashers, grown men in Power Rangers costumes, or how much my pregnant belly is heaving around that day. To know that something will leave the smiles of her daughters, whom i've known since they were born. My dream was to one day run an art center under her, to have her as a boss but to have my own facility, and that dream will never happen.

I am so thankful that she was coherent yesterday, that she knew me and hugged me and wanted Cleo to play with her voodoo doll. I should have refused when her sister asked me to leave, because we were having such a golden moment, with my head in her lap, and her telling me about dying, asking me to come back today when she would be on fewer drugs and we could talk. I am so sad that my daughter will never get to call her Aunt Jan.

So there's an emptiness today. It's been over a year since i've cried, and I may have forgotten how, but I think i'll remember soon.

I love you, Jan. Thank you for being in my life.