Where's the village?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Isn't it amazing how the dajamou having an accident on the living room armchair can suck the joy out of an otherwise lovely day? My mood was ruined for a good hour after that.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


I used to pride myself on my eloquence and writing style. I used to think, "Anyone can write well. People think it's so great that I write well. It's just because I read a lot, and I absorb the styles of the people I read. And I just write the way I think." I was humbly smug, and smugly humble.

I used to write poetry, keep a journal. I wrote a freaking 90-page thesis for my senior project in college. (To be fair, so did just about everyone else there.) My boyfriend (the future dajadaddy) kept telling me I should write novels. I even entertained the notion.

What happened? Now when I read something provoking -- whether online, like I Blame the Patriarchy or Body Impolitic, or offline, like The Ghost in the House or Perfect Madness -- all I have is this roiling mess of emotions and random snippets of phrases floating around in my head. I can't seem to grok it, to really express what I'm thinking or feeling. It took me three months to write a book review for a local newsletter.

Have I dumbed down? Am I not reading enough? Am I too exhausted from being a 24/7, total-immersion mother? Do I not have enough intellectual outlets? Am I so actively repressing frustration or anxiety or disappointment that I can't even put a coherent paragraph together without losing it? Am I too used to talking to a toddler? Am I just out of practice? Is this a symptom of my depression?

No answers are forthcoming. And the questions are drowning out the thought-provoking thoughts I'm trying to be thinking.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Just because today was too beautiful not to share, and because any picture I take wouldn't do justice.

black trees, red sunset;
crescent moon, deepening blue --
it feels like winter

Clean sweep

For the holiday we had a lovely visit with Babaloo and Nanabarb, as well as the dajadaddy's cousin (hereafter known as The Cuz) who's going to grad school at Virginia Tech and is therefore closer to us than to his family in Portland. So we get him for all those short holiday weekends that make a gazillion-dollar plane ticket so not worth it.

For me it was almost like being on real vacation, because I had three extra people around who thought it was the coolest thing in the world when the dajamou popped up with "Can you play with me?" As opposed to my reaction which is to close my eyes in silent despair and feel the tension creeping up my spine. I've gotta work on that, neh?

Anyhoo, I had a wonderful relaxing Turkey Day where we all pitched in and tag-teamed on everything (including the butterflied roasted turkey a la America's Test Kitchen, which worked wonderfully and only took 6 hours for a 16 pounder, which is some kind of world record let me tell you), and went for a walk, and it was a beautiful sunny day and I couldn't ask for a nicer. Then yesterday, dajadaddy and his cousin started their very first batch of mead which I am SOOOOOO excited to try but it won't be ready for like a year and I'm not feeling very patient about it. But that might be the 2 cups of coffee I've had right before writing this, which would also explain the preponderance of run-on sentences.

But none of that is the point of this post! While all the mead-making and whatnot was going on yesterday, I went outside to rake leaves because it was so beautiful and dry and our lawn was covered and dying. (More running on, must stop!) So there I was, raking and raking and already getting exhausted, and swearing in my mind at the dajadaddy for not mowing it all up, and swearing at myself for not being able to use the lawn mower, and wishing for all the world that I could forget that we have no extra money right now so I could hire someone to just come and take care of it for me. Then the dajadaddy came out and said:

"Why aren't you using the lawn mower?"

"Because it's too heavy for me."

"Even when you use the drive wheels?"

"What are the drive wheels?"

"You know, that red handle you hold down and the lawn mower pulls itself along for you."

A long and not very clear discussion went on while we discovered that we were not talking about the red handle that keeps the cutting blades engaged, no! There's another red handle that he'd NEVER TOLD ME ABOUT which makes it about a million percent easier to, say, deal with hills. Which is about all our yard is made of.

It was an odd reaction I had to that news. Part relief that it would be easier for me; part exasperation that he didn't tell me about it before; part disappointment that I wouldn't be able to permanently pass the buck on the lawn mowing; part shame, even, that I hadn't been able to either figure that out or be strong enough to master that machine on my own. I was oddly close to tears.

But then after dajadaddy brought out the lawn mower, Babaloo came out and offered to do it for me. Hmm. Let me see now. Um, OK. Far be it for me to refuse help with the manual labor! Then when he ran out of energy for it, I was about to take over (using my newfound knowledge of the drive wheels) when The Cuz came out and offered to finish it up for me. So while my lawns got trimmed and cleaned and my compost pile increased by about 300 percent, I got to sweep the driveway and the walkways, and clean up the wood pile, and prune my shrubs, and do all kinds of fall clean-up stuff. It was truly delightful. Almost as good as a Chick Day. (Which I will someday describe if I remember, but don't count on it as I am a flake.)

And this morning, as I look out the window on the great green expanse of nice clean lawn all ready for the first blanket of snow, I am feeling pretty thankful for my family. All of them.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Twisting, twisting, in the wind

Right now, I can't remember if that was from the Violent Femmes or They Might Be Giants.

But no! That's not the point. The point is that I am hopelessly embroiled in my new fave blog, I Blame the Patriarchy. Oh, I knew it was out there. My sister reads it; she loves to tell me about it. But I resisted for a while, partly because I have too many blogs to read already, and partly because I was leery of reading yet another blanket-statement, angry-with-the-world kind of writer. But Twisty! Ah, Twisty. You make my heart sing even as you break it. You are a mistress of the art of commentary.

I mean, who wouldn't love someone who can wax erudite on all kinds of patriarchy-blaming, bullshit-disdaining, crazy-making topics of interest in the world today...and then end a post with "but you know, language means stuff."

That is my kinda writing, boys and girls.

Monday, November 20, 2006

More words to resurrect

Bobita wrote a wonderfully thoughtful post on the responsibility of mothers to "live the change" in attitudes towards body image, both for themselves and for their daughters. I wholeheartedly support this kind of disussion and dialogue among women everywhere. But what tickled me most was in her invitation for comments at the end of the post, where she said "DO NOT VEX ME."

Vex. What a lovely, succinct, almost onomatopoeic word. I am going to try and use it at least once a day from now on. Considering I have a four-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old dog, I imagine it won't be hard to find appropriate applications for it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

To Reach The Unreachable Star

The dajadaddy and I watched Serenity again tonight. God I love that movie. It's just so much fun. My beloved husband particularly appreciates the brand of sarcasm that the captain, Mal, uses. After one particularly cutting and hilarious line, he paused the DVD just to take extra time to admire it.

Him: I mean, how can you ever hope to compete with that kind of sarcasm?

Me: All you can do is hope to one day aspire to such greatness.

Him: Yeah, with a whole team of writers behind me and months to prepare.

Me: That's how you become clever!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Comic Relief: It's No Joke. No, Really.

I've been ripping all my CD's into iTunes (again!! Damn those hard drive crashes) and I was all set to write this post about how old and dated my collection is. But I remembered about an hour ago that Laid Off Dad already did it. I guess that aspiring to emulate such fabulous writing ain't so bad, but something else has taken the place of my lameness in my attentions.

I'm sitting here, right now, watching Comic Relief, and it's painful in so many ways for me.

1) I've had 2 glasses of wine, so every one of the "human interest" clips makes me want to cry, join a Habitat project in New Orleans, sell my house and send the proceeds to the 1-800 number they've been flashing on the screen.

2) The improv by Billy, Whoopi and Robin is so far rather stilted and contrived. I was so excited when I saw all the ads on TBS about the show. The hype, the expectations, the precedents set...I'm reminded of the lead-up to(and the total let-down of) Episode I.

3) The first half dozen acts or so have been so freaking politicized. I mean, I am seriously. Really Truly. Honestly. NOT a Bush administration fan. But there's more in the world that's funny or relevant than the government. I want to go back and watch all the old Comic Relief shows and see what they did before that was so wonderful and wonder why they don't do that anymore?

4) What is up with all the people saying "shit" on network television? Yes, it's TBS and not CBS, but still!

5) Vonage donates $50,000 and gets to be onstage and announce it and give out one of those big Publishers Clearing House sized checks? Jesus H. Christ on a popsicle stick. They probably have some kind of gazillion dollar profit margin and all they can pull out of their asses is fifty grand?!?

I should so not blog live. Or drunk.

Friday, November 17, 2006

My van is possessed.

The gauges and dials on the van's dashboard just randomly stop working, then randomly start working again. Natch, every time we take it to the mechanic, they start working.

They've been going strong for a couple days now, but when dajadaddy and I switched vehicles this evening, he called me to say they'd cut out again. Then 2 minutes later he called to say they had come back on when he honked the horn at someone.

Gimme a W!*
Gimme a T!
Gimme an F!

*No, not him, yuck! I want the letter, please.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

More phrases that should be resurrected.

Someone, a month or so ago, posted on their blog about old-fashioned expressions that should be brought back into vogue. My current candidate: "By Jove!"

We've been reading "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" to the dajamou at bedtime. Peter the future High King says it a lot. And I get a little secret smile every time.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Yet more evidence that I don't live in TV Land.

About 6 months ago, I discovered/decided/self-diagnosed that I am suffering from mild to moderate depression. However, instead of immediately getting help, I did what I usually do: I read about it a lot. And I waited for that moment you always see in TV shows and movies about people in various kinds of mental/emotional trouble: that epiphany, that rock-bottom moment when the character sets her jaw, squares her shoulders, and sets out on a new and (at least it's implied) healthier path in life.

It hasn't come for me. Or maybe it has, and I've just set my jaw, squared my shoulders, and looked for more books and articles to read.

The past week has been kind of a bad one. The holidays are coming, and I'm really feeling the lack of my close friends and family back in Portland. My back has been bothering me, and I'm not sleeping well. I've also been staying up too late, trying to put off that period of time after I lie down and before I fall asleep when my own personal mental Chinese Water Torture starts up.

Didn't run the dishwasher.
Didn't send the package to my sister. Again.
Really need to get some exercise.
Carpets need to be shampooed.
Decorations from dajamou's birthday party 2 weeks ago are still up.
Half the food in the fridge is spoiling and going to waste.
I haven't had a libido in months.
Why am I always the one to suggest getting play dates? Why doesn't anyone email me?
I miss Portland.
Still need to find an eye doctor.

To be fair, I haven't completely sunk into a hole of self-pitying helplessness. I'm seeing a chiropractor about my back, I have an appointment with a doctor who (I'm told) will take a more naturopathic approach to my health, including my depression. I'm trying, honestly I am, to avoid chocolate, which appears to be a crankiness trigger for me. I'm seeking out more social situations, because they alleviate (or at least suppress) the bleakness for a while.

But (it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to) why do these improvements happen so freaking slowly? I realize that taking a non-drug approach is just asking for glacial progress. But, holy shit. I am so ready to be happy again, for more than a couple of days at a time.

I should wrap all this up with some message of hope or at least something pithy. But I haven't got a great supply of either hope or pith tonight.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I was going to post something deep and heartfelt and probably a bit whiney about friendship and yearning for community and all that. And I probably will sometime. But this NaBloPoMo thing is kicking my ass. Not so much the posting thing, because I've already screwed that. (Unless I win the consolation prize, which I highly doubt.) No, my problem is that so freaking many of the people on my blogroll are participating.

Ye Gods, people! Have mercy! It takes me hours and hours to get through them all, and then by the time I finish, I have to start over again.

It's a hard life I lead. Also, I found that I can watch Craig Ferguson's monologues on YouTube.

It's the end of my life as I know it.

Monday, November 13, 2006

If Only.

I had taken a shower this evening and let my hair fall where it would without interference. I also took out my contacts in anticipation of going to bed. But then we remembered it was Monday and that meant Heroes was on, and duh, of course we're going to watch it! So I went and got my glasses.

Later I was in the bathroom and I stood up and saw Harry Potter staring at me from the mirror. A little mussing of the hair, some fake scar makeup...I totally have my Halloween costume for next year.

Dajadaddy doesn't see it, but he thinks it would be cool if I could levitate things with the proper swish and flick of the wand. I'd settle for knowing people who could. Or even the English accent.

At least I'm not the only one.

The Founding Mother of NaBloPoMo, M(rs) Kennedy herself, has had problems with Blogger choking on her posts. So I know I'm not alone.

Not that I haven't also just plain old forgotten to post a couple times already. But whatever. I'm feeling vindicated.

I just have to wonder: is Blogger choking because so many many people are participating in this, and there's an unanticipated level of traffic on those servers?

Probably not. There are a lot of people who spew forth -- er, write on their blogs on a daily basis, even when it's not NBPM.

And here it is, after midnight, so I've missed Sunday too.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Oh, come ON.

Ever since Wednesday morning's election results, I've had this kind of Bossanova chant in my head: "Democrats beat Republi-CANS! Casey beat Santo-RUM! We got the house and the Se-NATE!" Work with me, sing it sotto voce and you'll get the rhythm, maybe do a little step-step-step-kick around the house for good measure.

This morning, however, my mental soundtrack kind of did that little bwroooaaawrrrhm thing like when your favorite cassette finally dies. I read (third or fourth hand, admittedly) that Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic Speaker of the House, said "Maybe it takes a woman to clean house."

Great sound byte. Shitty sentiment.

There are all kinds of things she could have said about how this is a giant step for womankind, blah blah de blah. I'm not a spin doctor but I bet she has several who at least play one on TV. Could they maybe, possibly, conceivably pick some other kind of metaphor that was a little less fraught with entrenched patriarchal crap?


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh well.

The month isn't even 10 days old and I've cocked up the whole NaBloPoMo thing. But I'm going to keep trying because at least it will get me to write.

Yesterday my van died. Well, not irrevocably, but I couldn't get it to run well enough to do more than strand me in the middle of the parking lot of the Center for Creative Play. I had to have 2 of my friends help me push it back into the parking space so we could call a tow.

Yucky day in general.

So now we're stuck at home. Which isn't a bad thing, actually. It's been a busy week of going places, and while the dajamou and I really like that, I think we're both ready for a break. I'm just bummed that she's going to miss another day of school. (She missed yesterday due to the van dying.) The dajamou, however, is most decidedly not bummed. Which is another bummer. I thought she'd love school. But that's another long story, perhaps to be saved for tomorrow's post.

So now today is an at-home day in which we will do laundry and play in the leaves outside and maybe even cook that ham that's been in the fridge for bordering on too long.

Boring stuff, but oh so very nice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ramping up to Election Day.

How can I vote responsibly and intelligently, when reading almost any kind of news story just brings on another bout of depression? I have totally stopped listening to news on the radio, watching any kind of local or national news TV, reading news sites on the Internets. Occasionally a newspaper headline will turn up somewhere I can't avoid it. And even that just makes me shudder and try even harder to avoid.

I know that's exactly what I'm not supposed to do as a conscientious citizen of a supposed democracy. But I have got to take care of myself, or I'll be a semi-conscious citizen of an asylum. Which won't do anyone any good.

So. Taking all that into account, I'm wondering just what I'm going to do when I go to vote tomorrow. I guess voting right down the party lines will have to do.

At least that's what I hope I'll be doing. God knows what kinds of machines they're using this year and what it'll do with my vote.

Maybe I'll see a typo and my head will explode.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Time to Stop.

Time to stop watching TV. At least, I should stop watching it when I've had 2 glasses of wine. I saw that Hennessey commercial where they talk about character? And they say something like "If you have to ask, you don't have it."

And I turned to the dajadaddy and said, "I guess I don't have any character."

I have begun judging myself based on a commercial for an alcoholic drink. I need to stop.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Birthday Party Blues.

Dajamou's birthday party was today. It went well but now I'm exhausted. Once again I tried to do too much (or, at least, put off the if-I'm-honest-not-very-involved to do list until too late).

But it's over. My mother-in-law, Nana B, was a true godsend, helping out wherever I seemed to be dropping the ball. And we got high off hypoxia together while blowing up balloons last night. Plus, the is the Superhero of Post-Party Cleanup. I was stumbling around trying to figure out where to put all the dajamou's new toys. I know, duh, in the play room, but for some reason my mind was creating this huge drama about whether the head-band decorating kit should go in the play room or the craft area and things went downhill from there. And meanwhile, Nana B had gathered all the dishes, loaded the dishwasher, wiped down the counters, put away all the leftover food, bagged the wrapping paper garbage, and probably composed a haiku on the sorry state of my housekeeping.

That last is mere snarkiness on my part. Nana B is a paragon of helpfulness and has never criticized me in any way. I'm just tired and feeling sensitive about the constant chaos here.

I am truly beginning to ramble and I need to be done.

I'm still pissed that my Blogger problems prevented me from posting on Thursday. Hrmph.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sneaky Girl

Here's the post I tried to do yesterday:

The dajamou, in her Quest for World Domination, otherwise known as the development of her psyche, has been playing around with the concept of truth and reality. And by playing around I mean grabbing it in her grubby paws and shaking it up, turning it upside down, spinning it around and folding it to suit her needs.

One of her favorite games to play with me is "Surprise." For instance, she likes to "surprise" me by getting herself dressed in the morning while I pretend to not know what she's doing. Or she'll tell me to not look at her while she's eating her yogurt, and then she'll say "Surprise!" and I'll turn around and say "Hey! Where did all that yogurt go?" And she'll say, '"It's in my belly, silly!" She's so proud of being able to surprise me. And I can often play it to my advantage and get her to do things quickly and cheerfully if we pretend it's a surprise for me, dajadaddy, or someone else.

There is, however, a darker side to the game of "Surprise." This morning she wanted to get out some plastic cups and plates to use as drums. At first she asked for 5 cups as drums and 2 plates as cymbals. I was cool with that, so I gave them to her, no problem. We had some good times making music, and then we played "restaurant" with them, and I got a mango smoothie and a chicken sandwich. Good clean fun, great imagination-building stuff.

But, inevitably, it seemed to the dajamou that since 5 cups and 2 plates were fun, 40 cups and 16 plates would be even better! So she asked me to go down to the basement and get some more plates and cups for her. But I said no, she had enough. Cue whining:

"But Mama, I want to have more drums!"

"Honey, you can make drums out of all kinds of things here in the playroom. Your empty doctor kit, this upside down box, the side of the dollhouse...see how they all make different noises when you tap them? It's fun to have lots of different noises to make, isn't it?"

(Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you... The Whining No! New and improved with a hoarse voice from a week of coughing, and a clogged nose from overproductive mucus membranes!)


So then I pulled out the I'm-in-charge-of-the-house card and said I didn't want any more clutter, and she had enough toys. When that went over like a lead balloon, I trumped myself by pulling out the imminent-birthday-party card, saying I still had a lot of cleaning to do for her birthday party on Saturday and I didn't want more mess to clean up. Blah blah blah. She appeared to let it go, but then 5 minutes later I was heading up the stairs and I got this from the dajamou:

"Mama, you don't look in the basement at what I'm going to do because it's going to be a surprise what I do and I don't want you to see until I do it, so it will be a surprise. But I need you to take my step stool down to the basement for me."

Hmm. Let's see. What, class, do we think our little protagonist is going to be doing in the basement? Replacing the faulty light bulb over the laundry table? Possible, but doubtful. (Actually, not possible, but whatever.) Anyone else? Anyone?

Score yourself five bonus points if you guessed that she wanted to get more cups and plates out for herself.

And herein lies my ongoing internal conflict with this particular phase of her development. I don't know whether to be:
a) amused, because she's only four (OK, 2 days short, close enough) and thus so amazingly bad at lying and being sneaky most of the time;
b) frustrated and hurt, because she's trying to lie and be sneaky and Mama don't raise no sneaky liars; or
c) proud of her burgeoning (albeit misguided) problem-solving and planning skills.

Dajadaddy and I have talked about this a few times, and we mostly agree that she's just exploring her world and figuring out what works for getting what she wants, and what doesn't. Most of the reading material I've seen on child development says that kids don't really develop a sense of true/false and right/wrong until they're like, six or something. So I don't think she's going to turn into Ken Lay or anything. But still. It bugs me. Cuz Mama don't raise no sneaky liars.


I've already screwed up NaBloPoMo because when I tried to post yesterday, I couldn't get through to Blogger. And then I forgot about trying again later.


In other news, the dajadaddy was describing writing software to his dad this evening and was using the metaphor of writing a book. And then he said "So imagine that you're going along, reading this novel, and there's one tiny little typo in one single word. And when you read it, your head explodes. That's the problem with software. One typo and it explodes."

I love that man.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Creation Myth by Dajamou.

So lately the dajamou has been asking me how God made the world. Now, we don't go to church much, and we don't really talk about it around the house. I think she's seen maybe a reference or two on PBS, but they're usually pretty light on the proselytizing. So I'm not sure where she got this, but in the spirit of unschooling or homeschooling or afterschooling or just plain old encouraging curiosity, I went out and got her a book from the library with all different kinds of creation myths. I figured I'd teach her that different people believe different things, and some people don't even believe in God, while some people think there are lots of Gods and Goddesses, etc. etc.

We read a few of the stories today and she seemed vaguely interested but not captivated or anything. But tonight before bedtime, she asked me a new Creation question:

"Mama, how do you make God?"

"Well honey, I don't think you can make God. You just either believe in him or you don't."

"I believe in God, Mommy."

"That's your choice, baby. But people don't get to make God. You just have to believe or not believe."

"Well, I believe that God can be made."

"OK, I guess it's true that you can believe that too."

"I'll tell you how to make God. First you take eggs."

(My eyes bug out of my head and I choke down a laugh.)
"Hang on, sweetie, I need to get a piece of paper to write this down."

"OK, Mama. First you take eggs. Add a little bit of salt to make God a little bit of sweet and sugary. So God tastes a little good. It's God, not a giant. (Ed. note: I think this is in reference to one of the Chinese creation myths we read today.) Now, you put in some wood. Now some sugar, and then some... sooooooooome... fabric! And then... a little bit more color and stuff. Now you have to put white paint on, and some red and some yellow and some green for his color. Green for his eyes and face, and then yellow for his body and nipples, (Ed. note: nearly lost it again here) green for his legs and feet and toes. Now, you need to put in some glass. Now some clay. And then some....a little more sugar to keep him sweet. And that's how sugar is made!"

"I thought we were making God."

"Oh. That's how we make God! That's how I believe we make God. God in his world is much bigger than our world. God lives in SPACE! God lives in space, and this is the end of my story."

I swear to all the Gods I've ever read about, believed in, or crafted from sugar and glass, that I did NOT spike her apple juice with LSD tonight. This is all pure dajamou.

Oh, and by the way, welcome to NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo! Or, as I was thinking I should call it, NaNaNoBloWriPoMoMo. Say that ten times fast without messing up, and I'll give you a lollipop.