Thursday, September 17, 2009

To Do List Fail

My day started orderly enough. A handful of meetings, a list of items to do. And then the day imploded. Consider the To Do list:

  • Review [redacted] e-mails (from MB)
  • Set up mtg with [redacted]
  • Reserve conf. rm for Thurs mtg
  • Finish bug for export
  • Check with R. for Logo cert updates
  • Review POR
  • DTL
  • Roadmap
  • CSS bug
  • Loc drop

(Do you like how I'm all [superspy] with my redactions?)

And 16 hours later, it looks like this:

  • Review [redacted] e-mails (from MB)
  • Set up mtg with [redacted]
  • Reserve conf. rm for Thurs mtg
  • Finish bug for export
  • Check with R. for Logo cert updates
  • Review POR
  • DTL
  • Roadmap
  • CSS bug
  • Loc drop

Good God, what did I do all day? I know I did a lot; I'm beginning to think I need to write my To Do lists at the end of the day, so I can just cross off all the shit I did do.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Our house, in the middle of the street

Alexa, over at Flotsam, wrote a post today about the places she's lived. It's part of her journey to figure out the right place to move her family. Reading her stories inspired me to reminisce a bit about the places I have lived. Here are the stories of my houses.

The first house I lived in was a small house in "the suburbs" - I call it that because while it was technically still part of Ogden, UT, it was pretty far out there. The house that my parents owned when I was born (and continued to own for many years, story to follow) was a tiny, little thing. It had the craziest stone floors - like a pebble pathway through the middle of the house, which was an incredibly effective wake-up tool, and a large supporting pole. We spent many hours trying to shimmy our way up that pole. And just as long, probably, rubbing our heads after we walked into it. None of the walls in that house went all the way to the roof - they stopped about 2 feet from the ceiling. The bedrooms had glass from the tops of the closets to the ceiling, but the den was open. This made it an incredibly good vantage point for, say, dogfood fights. I imagine, I mean.

We lived there until right before I turned 8. (Um, Mom, is that right?)

Our next house looked like a dentist office. It's really the only way to explain it. It was brick, had a flat roof, and was huge. It was more centrally located, city-wise. Within walking distance of elementary (although I didn't go there), middle (again, didn't go there), and high school. It was a block above the high school, actually, not that that kept me from driving to school every day. Green I was not. There was an alley running behind the house - it was the destination of many a lazy day and is, to this day, the site of a long-buried time capsule that my friend Miranda and I buried. God knows what's in it. There was an apple tree in the backyard that had a knot that looked like a woman's finger. And a back patio where I spent many long nights, reading Stephen King and freaking myself out.

I lived there until I left for college. My parents moved back to house #1 when I was a sophomore. At which point that gap between the ceiling made it easy for my father to lie in bed on a Saturday morning and yell at me, sleeping in the den, to make him coffee.

During college, in Logan, UT, I lived in dorms (2 years) and then moved into my own basement apartment. When you walked in the front door, the first thing you saw was the shower. There in the foyer. The bathroom was in the kitchen. And I loved it. It was mine. It was where I lived when I met my husband, where he first sent me flowers, and freaked me right the shit out.

After a year in my tiny cupboard, I shared a house with a good friend (hi, Amy!) - her dad was in the process of remodeling it to flip, so we had the advantage of cheap rent and a slowly improving home. We also spent an entire night fleeing from the living room to the bedroom to the front lawn trying to avoid hobo spiders.

From there, my now husband and I moved directly to Austin, TX, to a tiny 1 bedroom apartment whose only selling points were that we could move in immediately (the day after we signed the lease) and that it accepted large dogs. I don't actually have a lot of memories of that apartment, except that at 7 AM, the morning I was to start at IBM, a large fucking cockroach crawled across the wall and I almost smacked it with the iron. We didn't have cockroaches in Utah.

After 6 months in the apartment, we were hungry for more room, less neighbors, and the ability to get another dog. We rented a 2 story, 2 bedroom house, hardwood floors in the bedrooms, huge eat-in kitchen, back deck, and no central air or heat. In Austin, TX. It was heated with a wood-burning stove, and we got very good at building fires. There was a wide front deck and a porch swing. And I'm pretty sure that there was no insulation at all. Dust crept in, heat poured out or in, depending on the season. It was on the very far edge of Austin, across the street from the closest suburb. Whenever anyone would come visit, we used a porn store and gun store (conveniently located in the same parking lot) as landmarks: "Just past the porn store and gun store, turn right at the church."

From there, we moved to that closest suburb, in a house we had built in a subdivision. It was as cookie cutter as you could imagine, and partly, we moved because we were desperate to have HVAC. The kindest thing you can say about Pflugerville, TX, or at least the part we lived in, was that it was close to the freeway, and hence other places to eat or shop. Within the first 3 months that we lived there, our immediate neighbors were raided by the ATF, DEA, and police. The suburbs didn't feel so safe.

7 long years we lived there.

During that time, my parents' house (house #1) burned to the ground due to an electrical fire. My children have been spared walking across that damn floor on Christmas morning.

Now, here we are, in Kirkland, WA, across Lake Washington from Seattle. 2 blocks from the beach, we can see Seattle across the lake. But it is very much not like Seattle. Kirkland is, by and large, very rich and very white. And while I may be one of the pastiest people you know, I am by no means rich. Which means we are renting a small house in an okay neighborhood (one block west = housing project, one block east = $500K houses), with a very good elementary school. We're currently in the process of trying to figure out where we want to live next. Do we stay in this house (with its imaginary-sized "master" bath but a magnificent back deck), move to another rental house in the same school area, or move somewhere where we'd be able to afford more house? Do we want to stay here on the Eastside, with its award-winning school districts, or move into Seattle, for its Seattle-ness?

Some days, I think it'd be easiest to flip a coin to decide that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Life in a petri dish, a sociological experiment

When one of us gets sick, we all get sick. It's the nature of family, I suppose, combined with this terribly small house where everyone is in everyone else's space, face, and bed. We are a breeding ground for disease. In this case, the dread herpangina, also known as the reason that Brigit threw up at Trader Joe's, the reason that Rory subsequently threw up on me, in my bed, at 4:30 in the morning.

And while this is primarily a disease of the young, I believe the fact that Tyler has also thrown up and I've been gobbling Phenergan like it was candy goes a long way to show the psychosomatic elements of housebound illness. That or it's just the smell of vomit that I cannot clear from my nose.

The problem of the family illness is, of course, that we are all driving each other ape shit. Brigit feels well enough to torment Rory, who is bound by the laws of brotherhood to retaliate but is in no shape to do so. So, many, many times in the last few days, one or both of the parents have been called in. And while it starts somewhere around, "Brigit kicked me in the head and I'm madder than 10 alligators" (which is, admittedly, pretty mad), it almost always degenerates into, "If one more person hits, slaps, bites, spits, kicks, or throws a crab at the other, you are both going to your rooms. For the love of all thing holy, including my sanity, leave each other alone."

Lather, rinse, repeat. Ad nauseum.

In a way, it was easier when they were smaller, immobile, unable to communicate. As much as I value the interactions we have, the discussions of how Poggemeyer ears give you superhearing (Rory) or how stomping is a perfectly good addition to a polite request (Brigit), I miss the baby stage for all the wrong reasons. When Rory endured the neverending ear infection and was able to sleep for mere minutes at a time, and only while laying mostly upright on a parent, he was, at least, willing to do what it takes to recover from being sick. Take his medicine, take naps. When Brigit had ear infections, she was willing to sleep, nurse, medicate.

Now, a 6 year old Rory thinks nothing of wrestling with his sister when he should be lying down and thinks naps are for wimps. Now, a very nearly 3 year old Brigit thinks nothing of projectile spitting any and all medicine on me.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I believe I need to go rescue Tyler from being used as a trampoline.

Send St. Bernard's - I think we'll need the brandy soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

In which we discuss the nature of breasts

(previous title Let's talk about boobs)

Recently there has been a lot of to do about breastfeeding in public. I heard a piece on talk radio (agh, don't ask, it was a long, trafficy commute day) about a proposed law requiring women to cover when they nurse in public. And yesterday, Tyler asked me if I'd seen the poll on Facebook about the same issue.

So let's talk about boobs. Because that's what this is about. It has nothing to do with a child getting sustenance. It has everything to do with boobs. Breasts. Melons. Jugs.

It's about people seeing a breast and thinking about sex.

So let's talk about boobs.

These are mine:

They are large, not as big as when I was still nursing, but larger than before I had children.
They have stretch marks from pregnancy. Because it's not just your stomach and ass that grow at alarming speeds.
Without the appropriate, 3 hook bra, they sag. The girls just aren't what they used to be.
They cannot be unrestrained. It's terrifying to small children and dogs alike.
Two weeks out of the month, they hurt like a son of a bitch. They ache and pull.
They are often in the way. I cannot sleep on my stomach.
They catch stains, thus showing their only true usefulness - preventing me from spilling quite so much shit on my lap.
They are too large for most shirts. Meaning I am left to a) wear clothes that are just too big or b) look like a Porny Princess.
When it is hot, they sweat.
Despite the fact that I have not done nursed for almost 2 years, they still contain milk.
When I was nursing, I suffered painful vasospasms and plugged ducts.

Tell me, does any of this sound sexy to you?

And all of this is completely normal. Well, maybe not the size things, most women end up smaller and flatter post-pregnancy. I was looking forward to that and got hit by the bigger boob stick instead.

For some reason that I cannot comprehend, related to the way that we have been conditioned to view breasts, the sight of a nursing mother offends people.

And so we are asked to cover ourselves. To drape a blanket or other wrap over our nursing child when we are in public.

Have you ever tried to eat with a bag on your head? Have you ever been asked to? What about on a sweltering day, when all you wanted was to have a drink - would you wrap a fleece blanket about yourself?

If I asked a mother giving her child a bottle to cover up, because it offended me, I would, in all fairness, be accused of being a judgemental bitch who should mind her own business.

Nursing a child is no different than that. To me, these breasts are not sexual objects. And the fact that so many in the general public view them that way is offensive.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

We are mothers

Brigit threw up at Trader Joe's yesterday. Ok, to be accurate, first she coughed the evil 5-week lingering cough (am horrible mother), then she choked on phlegm (which subsequently shot onto me), and then she threw up at Trader Joe's. By the bananas. You know, in front of everyone. And I was paralyzed. Because she's at that stage where I no longer need to carry a diaper bag complete with wipes, change of clothes, and empty plastic bag (and I'm totally kidding, because I never carried that - wipes and one diaper crammed into my purse, if I'm lucky). I had two stuffed animals, a box of granola, and a bunch of bananas. I was 50 feet from the cooking kiosk, where there might be napkins, and 200 feet from the bathroom.

And I was catching vomit in my hand.

A friend of mine recently said, "you know you're a mother when you reach out to catch throw up."

Yesterday, I was surrounded by mothers. Within minutes, one mother was handing me paper towels and reaching out her own hand to catch vomit, another brought me wipes and helped me towel Brigit down in between retching spasms. Others helped me to the bathroom.

There is something about the sight of a sick child and a mother in distress that brings out the best of the mother in us. I did not know these women, might not have been friends with them had we known each other, but they were were there, they did not hesitate.

I have been part of the community of mothers for more than 6 years now. There are days when my mothering instinct is overruled by my snark (I may have maybe called a number of mothers in Ror's new class "Alpha moms" this morning), but at the heart of it, we are all mothers, ass-high in the alligators of vomit together. Whether we are calling one of our number a bully or calling another disgusting because she dares post pictures of her real home, uncleaned, we are all mothers. And I hope we would all be there, our hand outstretched, if one of own needs it.