Wednesday, October 31, 2007

While in the Stirrups...

Kimberly had a thought this morning: they should combine going to the gynocologist with a visit to the aesthetician. That way, since you're already humiliated and naked from the waist down, that might be a good time to go ahead, put your feet in the air, and get that nicely finished product you've been considering.

I feel quite certain gynocologists and bikini waxers will both have a problem with this plan, but I think it's a great idea. And, as Kimberly has said, now that gynocologists are performing plastic surgery, even in the nether regions, that line is blurring a little.

Personally, I like to scream in agony in the privacy of my own home, but that's me. Also, were I to get plastic surgery, I would not waste it on an area of such visual inaccessability.

Happy Halloween, designers. Carry on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


So. Here's how it all went down.

Last Tuesday afternoon: Inspection. All is well. There are two short lists of minor repairs that need to be made on the house, our list, which is cosmetic, and the inspector's list. The seller signed off, agreeing that all repairs would be done to satisfaction at the final walk-through, which was to take place this morning.

Wednesday evening: our loan officer receives an email informing her that the mortgage lender would not approve the loan, because the co-op in which we were buying does not insure the full structure of the house, since it's been improved upon. We were aware of this and were prepared to buy additional insurance; however, the lender feels that the co-op is underinsured and therefore not eligible. In addition, there is a lien on the property for water improvements that the seller is liable for. Our loan officer calls our agent and our loan processor at home.

Thursday morning: I get up and discover that my apartment has gained an additional grandparent overnight--my father-in-law, who has driven from Michigan to help us move.

Later Thursday morning: I get a call from the agent, who informs me of the development with the lender.

Friday morning: I go to work trying to find another lender who will accept us. No one will close this loan, and Friday afternoon, Dan and I make the decision to walk away from the table.

Monday morning: Since we will not be moving, we will not be needing daycare in Indian Head. I call our previous daycare provider, and she informs me that she has, regrettably, filled our slot, and cannot take Max back.

Monday afternoon: Dan goes to the apartment complex office to inform them that we will not be moving out. We had been on a month-to-month lease at the bargain price of $1210 a month. The office informs him that we had told them a month ago that we would be closing on our house and moving out at the end of the month, and so they had rented the apartment. They are holding us to our end-of-the-month committment.

Monday evening: We meet with a new daycare provider. She is lovely, professional, charmed by Max, affordable, and very close to the school where Dan teaches. This is the first thing that has gone right in days.

Later Monday evening: I talk to the daughter of a consultant we use at work, who has moved out of her small condo and is willing to lease it to us. It is 30 miles from the school where Dan teaches, but we are out of options and out of time.

The house thing has been expensive, stressful, exhausting, and ultimately incredibly disappointing. The rest of it has been small potatoes indeed. As much as my in-laws drive me slightly crazy, they are making sure that we are okay and moved into a new apartment before they go back to Michigan, something for which I am very grateful.

I am grateful. I keep repeating that to myself. I have so much to be thankful for. We could be in Southern California, where the Santa Ana's are expected to pick up again this weekend. We could be in the Dominican Republic, under three feet of water yet again this year. Millions of families become homeless every year, for a million different reasons, and as lousy and difficult a situation as this all is, I am grateful. I am.

But this has all been excruciating. Words sort of fail me, and while I'm not generally a crier, this is all getting to me just a little bit. I am really quite at the end of my rope, and while I am tying a knot and holding on for dear life, this is really all I am capable of doing until I can go ahead, get my feet under me, and begin to move forward again.

Friday, October 26, 2007

So, this is funny.

My boss went to Capital Hill yesterday to testify before a House of Representatives committee. I spent many many hours getting him ready to answer questions succinctly and in as few words as possible and without whipping out a seventeen page flip chart every time he needed to make a point.

He was cogent, he was salient, he was tenable. He was ready. He was at the top of his game.

He left everything that he needed sitting on his desk in a folder.

He did get his notes and all of his stuff before he was scheduled to go on, but not without some considerable manuvering.

In the future, when he goes to testify before Congress, he will do so with his notes pinned to his sweater, like a kindergartener.

This story is the only fun or funny thing I have to say right now. The rest of my life really is just pretty bad right now, and I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the awfulness, but I will probably at some point write about our underinsured house. It's actually not ours, and it won't be. But that's a story for another time, and that's because I am not currently done slamming my head in my car door looking for relief from the agony that has been the last two days.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Things No One Knows By Looking At Me

1. I am afraid of fish.

2. I can only sleep on my right side, because my left hip is the one that suffered a sciatic nerve injury during childbirth. I sleep on the right side of the bed too, and as a result of this, I frequently have a small bruise on my forehead from hitting it on my bedside table.

3. I no longer do any of the following things: bite my nails, smoke, or eat ice cream on a regular basis. I do still miss them all, though.

4. I love to knit, but I'm not sure how good at it I actually am.

5. I only floss for about a week right before I see the dentist, thinking that'll fool him into thinking that I floss all the time. I doubt he is impressed by my lame attempt at dental hygene.

6. I wear a bra all the time, even when I sleep.

7. The smell of Doritos is probably one of the worst smells I've ever experienced.

8. If I could only eat one kind of food for the rest of my life, it would be Mexican.

9. I don't really understand how the designated hitter rule works when the American League plays the National League.

10. I played soccer in 10th grade because I had a crush on the coach.

11. I don't think Anne Rice's books are that great.

12. I am a picky eater, but a relatively unsophisticated one.

13. I'm not pregnant, but Kimberly is!!! I am so excited I can barely stand it.

Yay for Trina joining Thursday Thirteen. This list was her suggestion.

And, oh yeah. I am going to try and do NaBloPoMo this year, so be prepared for a lot of inane stuff from me. Haiku about my laundry, that kind of thing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

What's Got Two Thumbs And Doesn't Give A Crap? Molly.

So, Dumbledore is gay.

So is Barney Frank, Oscar Wilde, and Melissa Ethridge, and they all do things that I think are really good, so the only thing I'm losing any sleep over is the fact that the National Organization of Ignorant Tightasses will probably use this as an excuse to burn (figuratively if not literally) books while simultaneously fighting to overturn Roe v. Wade, despite a study being released last week which says that legalizing abortion doesn't make it any more prevalent, just safer, and modernizing the death penalty, although we're one of four countries in the world that practices capital punishment on citizens convicted as minors. The other countries: Iran, Syria, North Korea. Definitely a list we want to be on.

Gee whiz, I'm thrilled with the state of American politics this week.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Jobs I Would Have Had

I know a secret. So there.

I don't have any news on how the inspection went yesterday, because there wasn't an inspection. This is a long and stupid story that I don't have the time or the interest to tell at the moment, but after the inspection (that didn't happen) I went to Sam's Club, and as I was leaving Sam's Club, I got a phone call from a person. That phone call was about a phone call that that person got, and it was good news. Great news, even. This is all a big secret right now, and it's not my secret to tell, but I am happy beyond all comprehension for this person and virtually bubbling over with the news. So, whoever-you-are, let me extend my deepest, most heartfelt public WHOO-HOOOO!!!! on your behalf.

When I was in fourth grade, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up, even though I am not particularly talented in any marketable way. At various other times, I considered other careers, but the only thing I was ever really good at was writing, and so I became a writer. If I hadn't been a writer, here are 13 other things I might have done.

1. Photographer. I started college as a photojournalism student. I would never have made a good photojournalist, because I am fundamentally sort of lazy and lack the technical skills that would make me a good photographer. But I did like the sloshing around in the photo lab and the high of having photos published.

2. Professional athlete. I skied competitively in high school, and considered it as a career option. Unfortunately, I am not all that athletic and I had a tendency to hurt myself a lot.

3. Lawyer. I have a lot of righteous indignation, and one would think that would make people a good lawyer, and probably it does, in part, but that was about as interested as I could force myself to be in a law career.

4. Ski instructor. See number two. It's a great way to spend a winter, but it doesn't pay that well and it's most often coupled with some other occupation, like bartender or phone sex operator, so as to be able to afford to live in a ski resort town.

5. Pastry chef. They have the cushiest job in a restaurant. They come in in the morning, bake a lot of profiteroles and pipe them full of creme anglaise, and leave before the kitchen becomes a teeming hellhole by 4 p.m.

6. Personal chef. This is a really swell gig. A client calls you up, fills out a survey of likes, dislikes, needs, etc., then you come up with a menu, go to their house with groceries and other implements of kitchen destruction, cook their meals, and store in the individual portions. You work when you want to and people with no time to cook get healthy, home-prepared food. Awesome.

7. Bartender. Like Kimberly, I like the idea of someone telling me all their problems while we drink tequila. If therapy were like that, I'd totally be on board.

8. Diabetic educator. I considered this career after I was diagnosed with diabetes at 25. Then I found out that diabetic educators are nurses, and...I'm not so much with the science.

9. Mobility instructor. In college, people used to ask me how Kimberly got around, and in my annoyance at not actually being paid as her official spokesperson, I liked to tell them, "She walks, mostly." The actual answer to this question is that there are people called mobility instructors who help people learn how to get from one place to another. I firmly believe that if my mother had a mobility instructor, she would not give such sucky directions. Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, where I'm from, has one of the only graduate programs for mobility instruction in the country.

10. Technical writer. They are extremely well-paid.

11. Architect. I don't think that I realized how much math was involved.

12. Domestic violence counselor. This was how my righteous indignation translated once I realized that I couldn't be a lawyer without going to law school. I quickly became quite discouraged with the fact that many people who go looking for help from a domestic violence counselor are not looking for the kind of help that a domestic violence counselor can provide.

13. Writer. I am blown away by the fact that I can do what I do for a living. I feel like I'm getting away with something every day that I get to do this. I feel like I'm getting better at what I do all the time, and helping people sort of at the same time. That's quite an endorsement for my line of work, isn't it? "Helping people sort of."

Kimberly and Trina have Thursday Thirteen's up too. Read.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen Will Return After These Messages

We have home inspection today, so I am not really here. I will try my very hardest to post Thursday Thirteen this week, but make sure you check out Kimberly's. I am quite certain that her Thursday Thirteen will surprise me, as she always seems to be surprising me.

Dan and I met five years ago this week. I have been thinking about what it's like to fall for someone you work with, like Dan and I did. When love is no good, then work is no good, and when it's good, no matter how crappy the job is, it's still pretty great, so meeting the person you want to spend the rest of your life with at the place where you spend the rest of your life is not like just dating.

I am currently a little obsessed with reruns of "The West Wing" and the storyline of Josh and Donna. In honor of having met Dan five years ago, here's a video from "The West Wing" that reminds me that my happily ever after started at work, and so much of who I am and what I have is because we took a chance on each other. Happy Qdobannaversary, babe.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mother Nature's Son...Um, I Mean Daughter

I'm sitting in my office, watching a spider crawl up the wall, listening to an all-Beatles internet radio station because I left my Ipod at home for my nephew to listen to, and thinking about instant karma. The zen concept, not the John Lennon song.

If I kill this spider, will I be run over by a semi on the way home? According to my understanding of karma, it's a little more complicated than that, a gradiose version of paying it forward only to be rewarded in some other lifetime. However, in the week before closing on my house, is it really a risk I am comfortable taking?

And...can I balance out killing a spider by the other nice things I've done today: resetting the timer on the coffeemaker so that my mother-in-law would have fresh coffee when she got up, leaving my laptop and Ipod for my technology-deprived 18-year-old nephew who is working his tail off for us in getting us moved, and letting a Hispanic guy in a Mazda merge into the space in front of me on Kenilworth Ave. this morning?

While I wrote this, the spider wandered off, and it's all fifteen minutes of wondering wasted, except that it's got me thinking about karma this week, when the goodwill of the cosmos seems to be a topic of great importance indeed for me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Just Wondering...

...If conservatives blog. I don't know any conservative bloggers. I don't really know very many conservatives. My husband works with one very conservative teacher, but he's too busy doing whatever it is that conservatives do to blog. Which is...what? Attending Right To Life meetings? Home-schooling their children? Listening to Amy Grant CD's? I am woefully uninformed when it comes to the daily habits of the far right.

Kimberly and I have had this conversation before: how is the balance of power possibly so evenly distributed in this country? I barely know any conservatives at all. Conservatives in the D.C. area are sort of like albino squirrels: they're so rare that I stop walking and gape whenever I see one. I mean, clearly they're around here somewhere, because this is, y'know, our nation's capitol, but they must have their own places they go, because everybody I ever see is wearing a "Hillary '08" t-shirt and Crocs and feeding their kid organic fruit. I would guess that there are more conservatives in the Midwest and the Bible Belt. Come to think of it, southwest Michigan really is distressingly Dutch Reformed. Let me just say, those guys are definitely not wearing those Hillary t-shirts.

Of course, I live in Prince George's County. Everyone here is black or hispanic, except, evidently, for me. In Hyattsville, there are quite a few lesbians too, but I'm pretty sure they're not voting the GOP ticket. P.G. County actually votes pretty heavily democrat. This is the wrong place for me to be looking for conservatives.

That being said, if I checked the party affiliations of my blogroll, I would guess I'd be hard-pressed to find a single person who voted for The Decider in 2004. I could be wrong, I guess, but it's possible I could be ignoring all the thoughts and feelings of conservatives.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Is it a Sign? Probably not, but it feels like one.

Playing on internet radio as the loan officer calls to tell me that Bank of America has issued final approval on our home loan and scheduled us to close on October 20th: "Here Comes The Sun," performed by Nina Simone.

It has indeed been a long, cold, lonely winter, and I wouldn't have gotten through this week without you, internet. I heart you.

Thursday Thirteen: My Favorite Reads

It was Kimberly's week to pick, but I am so down with this Thursday Thirteen. When I was little, my parents lived in South Haven and worked in Kalamazoo, which meant that we had about an hour commute each way every day. My mother hated the commute (she's always hated driving) and I was little and wanted to be entertained in the car. For obvious reasons, she couldn't read to me while she drove, so I learned to read young. Like, three. I'm still a reader.

In no particular order...

13. Beach Music, by Pat Conroy. This is an unbelievable book by an unbelivable author. It spans 80 years and two continents. Jordan Elliot is maybe one of the most conflicted, audacious, realistic characters I've ever read. I love Pat Conroy and all of his books with a sort of religious ecstacy, and the two times that I've met him, it's been all I could do to not throw my arms around him and kiss him on the mouth. I love everything he's ever written, I love to hear him talk, I love even his memoirs related to food and basketball. I think history will find that he is one of the most talented writers who's ever lived.

12. From Potter's Field, by Patricia Cornwell. Poor Patricia Cornwell. Her Kay Scarpetta novels started out so incredibly promising and with such rich characters. The last few have been such a shadow of their former selves that I didn't even finish the last one, because it seemed so...flat. Like she had a contractual obligation to write it, and couldn't have been more bored with herself. But From Potter's Field, which is about fourth or fifth in the series, was absolutely amazing, scary and gory and full of feeling and emotion.

11. The Tess Monaghan series, by Laura Lippman. Nothing says great writing to me like an author who can truly create a sense of place and time, and nowhere on earth has an inherant sense of place like the city of Baltimore. Washington D.C. is, in so many ways, just another anonymous big city, except for the government stuff and the monuments, but Baltimore, which is less than an hour away, seems to avoid that effortlessly by being dirty and working-class and colorfully eccentric. Laura Lippman's character Tess Monaghan is a former journalist turned private investigator, and Lippman's writing and sense of place in all of these books capture this strange, totally un-city-like city so beautifully.

10. Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. I loved this whole series growing up. I just look at the cover, and I'm 11 years old and it's July and I'm lying on the swim float at my grandparents' cottage and reading all day without interruption, until I'm totally sunburned. I would almost want to have a daughter, just so that she could discover these books for herself.

9. Bag of Bones, by Stephen King. I am not a huge fan of a lot of his stuff, I think a lot of it is gratuitously violent and gory, but I will be the first to sing the praises of Stephen King's talent. He does what he does better than really almost anybody except for maybe Edgar Allen Poe. There are elements of his work very well represented here, especially The Telltale Heart. Bag of Bones is probably the best ghost story I've ever read.

8. Anything by Beverly Cleary. I absolutely CANNOT WAIT until Max is old enough to meet Ramona, Beezus, Henry Huggins, Ribsy, Ralph S. Mouse, Mitch and Amy, and everyone else. These were my best friends in childhood. I was much less puzzled by these kids than other kids around me every day, whose behavior was totally unpredictable and therefore kind of terrifying to me.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I went a small, fairly progressive non-parochial private school for elementary and junior high school, but in the public schools in our community at that point, there was a real move to get rid of a lot of "questionable" literature. My wonderful genius of an English teacher, the late Rosalie Blanks, was extremely disturbed by this movement, and since she realized most, if not all of us, would be entering public schools and what we would be exposed to would be limited by the short-sighted nature of who was designing the public school curricula at the time, she exposed us to a lot of this questionable literature. I was in the seventh grade when I read To Kill A Mockingbird, and thanks to Mrs. Blanks, I fell in love with these rich, amazing characters, this almost gothic deep-south, and the theme of dignity and self-respect in dark and unexpected places.

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. I think that the Harry Potter series will eventually be regarded as more than just fantasy, but as important in the coming-of-age genre of literature as Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies, and Empire of the Sun. This is by far my favorite in the series. I've read it twice since it came out in July, and it's moving and sweet and suspenseful and just takes you away like not many books can do. I am so sad that the series is over. What an achievement this series is.

5. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I am no fan of Oprah or her book club (Oh Oprah, thank you so much for introducing the ignorant, nose-picking morons of the world to literature. I actually read BEFORE you made it cool, but whatever. You're the coolest.) but I loved Barbara Kingsolver as soon as Taylor Greer assumed responsibility for an abused, molested toddler who was abandoned like an unwanted kitten, and then fought to keep her, in The Bean Trees. The Poisonwood Bible is just lovely--it takes place in the Congo, and beautifully symbolizes the imbalance of power in relationships between people and the marks that it leaves.

4. Waltzing The Cat by Pam Houston. I am a little bit in awe of how incredibly cool Pam Houston and her characters are. We're talking about whitewater river guides, professional photographers, and hunting guides. She writes mostly short stories, with a book of essays and a novel thrown in. I love Waltzing the Cat, because there's a fantasy at the end of the book where the main character, a photographer, meets herself as a child, and the child-her shows the grownup-her a bunch of photos of herself at formative moments throughout her childhood, and tells her what the "real" story behind the photos is. This is only one brilliant moment in this overwhelmingly brilliant book.

3. White Oleander by Janet Fitch. More Oprah and her book club. Gorgeous writing in a heartbreaking story. I just ached through this entire book--for poor, unloved Astrid, for insecure Claire wearing all her feelings on the outside of her skin, for Paul, who is so normal and unscraped-away-at despite everything, and in the end, when Ingrid finally shows some real love for Astrid and allows her to break away, it's like the sun finally breaking through the clouds.

2. Running With Sicssors by Augusten Burrows. I never thought that I could laugh so hard at anything as awful and sad as this book is. It's a memoir of how a kid is abandoned by his thoroughly batshit mother to live with her psychiatrist and his family, and the incredibly high level of dysfunction that passes for normal in their house, including his sexual relationship with a gay pedophile, and how he finally breaks away. The family of the psychiatrist evidently recently settled a lawsuit with Burrows in regards to his portrayal of his experiences with them, according to his blog. I also highly recommend Burrows' followup, Dry, in which he is nearly fired from his six-figure job at an advertising agency due to raging alcoholism and drug abuse, goes to rehab, falls in love with a crack addict, relapses, loses his best friend to AIDS, and recovers again. Again, how could this POSSIBLY be funny? I don't know, but it is.

1. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I am so late to the party with this, but I don't care. This was a fabulous story, told brilliantly, with such sympathetic and richly-drawn and complicated characters. I also saw the HBO miniseries, and it only really helped cement Phillip Seymour Hoffman's spot on my Celebrity Hump Island.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Was Kidding, Sort Of.

I naturally have sort of a high anxiety level about, well, everything. It just happens to be the frequency I run on, and mostly, I've learned to cope the constant sort of high-pitched whine of worry that sort of plays in my head all the time. I've always been like this: just a little high-strung.

It's like this: I feel like, by worrying about everything, I'll be able to cope with anything, because I'll have thought of it. I'm simply covering my bases. The problem is, life has a bad habit of throwing things I hadn't bothered to imagine at me. What hits me is seldom the thing that I've worried about.

Dan has a meeting in Bladensburg after school, and he gets anxious about going places alone that he doesn't know well. That worry, at least, makes sense. What am I anxious about in this particular scenario? I'm embarassed to admit it, but I am anxious about car accidents, carjackings, and my totally high-strung husband lost in a really bad neighborhood.

It's ridiculous, I know. We don't have a vacation planned, let alone one to the Grand Canyon. Nevertheless, I see a story like this, and I start imagining having to make a phone call to my parents to tell them that something horrible has happened, and before I know it, Max is standing in front of me, asking "Mama cry?"

I just can't seem to stop. Anxiety has been kicking my ass lately, and I can't seem to get the image of speeding cars and steep drops and my unattended son in a full bathtub out of my head. At its best, it's that high-pitched whine in my head that I described. At its worst, it's paralyzing, and crippling. I feel like I've had a headache for three weeks. I have a lab slip to have Max screened for lead, and I could tell that his pediatrician thought I might be a little nuts when she checked him over, pronounced him healthy, and I asked for the screen anyway.

Chances are that nothing awful will happen to my family today. Chances are everybody will have a fine day, my husband will go to his meeting and come home and we'll have some leftover chicken and rice and watch some stupid reality TV and go to bed. But in my head, I'm not envisioning that scenario. I'm envisioning car wrecks and ambulances and doctors delivering bad news.

I have a lot of perepheral stress right now, what with closing on the house and having guests for pretty much two months straight. That is what's causing this gigantic explosion of anxiety. I have got to get a handle on it, though. This is no way to live.

Two days ago, when I spouted off about my incredibly high level of stress, I wasn't serious about needing to be medicated. I didn't think I was, at least, but as it goes, it may not be the worst idea ever. Just something to get me over the hump? Something so that I can turn off my brain for a few minutes at a time. I manage, mostly, but for some reason, this time, I'm not managing that well at all.

Monday, October 8, 2007

I Wanna Be Sedated

Here we are, two weeks out from closing on our house, and the word of the day, boys and girls, is STRESS.

Closing on a house is expensive. And to be honest, if we had any money, we'd already own a house. What's worse is that I'm paying the final month's rent on our apartment: $1210. This is not money I really have to spend right now. It's money that needs to go towards a few final costs--like the $900 that Michigan Tech claims that Dan owes from over a decade ago, and we just don't have time to fight with them over. It's gotta come off the credit report before the loan goes through. Not to mention that we have to--absolutely HAVE TO--come up with $7200 for closing. There's that small matter.

Couple that with a month very heavy with guests--my mother, two of my best friends (in a row, not at the same time) and now, Dan's mother and nephew are coming. And staying. Evidently forever. Through closing at least.

I am beginning to feel like my mental health is being compromised. Compromised, people. Like hard to sleep at night, hard to eat, so fucking anxious I can barely string two coherant thoughts together. It's really a great trademark for a writer. I'm sure you can imagine how good I am at my job right now. I'm alternately clingy and snappish with Dan and Max, I am finding it increasingly difficult to be civil to my mother or my mother-in-law.

I have got to find a way to get through the rest of this month without doing any of the following: seriously alienating people who love me with what I'm sure appears to them to be one long-lasting and overwhelmingly bad mood; getting fired from my job for failure to achieve any of the objectives for which I was hired; make myself physically sick; or just simply suffer a meltdown.

Recently we found several toys on the recall list of Chinese-made toys that Max owns, including a set of Baby Einstein soft blocks. One of them has a frog on them, and if you pull the frog's leg, the block vibrates. Max used to pull this frog's leg by placing its leg between his teeth and pulling. My child has been regularly chewing on lead toys for over a year. There's some more good news for me; somewhere in the middle of all of this chaos, I have to find time to get my kid to the doctor to find out if he'll have to take the short bus to college. Does the short bus even go to college? And is my kid already suffering from lead poisoning? From what I understand, the symptoms are decreased attention span, acting out, poor judgement, temper tantrums--so am I to understand that my toddler may not be acting like a toddler because he's a toddler, but because there's something wrong with him? I don't even know what to say about that.

This much anxiety is not good for me. I may need some kind of medication here at some point, people, so if it's true that 1 in 6 professional adults uses drugs recreationally, let me just say to the 1.5 crackheads that are currently reading this post: it's time to share.

Friday, October 5, 2007

I'm the Firmest of the Firm, and In Case You Hadn't Known, They Call Me "The Jackal."

Here I am on the evening news, looking rumpled and chubby. Boy, am I inarticulate on camera. I'm not used to being on this side of it. They used my soundbite comparing subprime lenders to jackals, which apparently got a big cheer at the Mortgage Bankers' of America's Diversity Conference last night, according to my boss. Jackals. Oh boy.

Wow, do I feel silly.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Thirteen: Songs I Can't Get Out Of My Head

I realized that I've been listening to the same playlist on my IPod for about three weeks. Interestingly, all of these are women, which is not to say that all I listen to are women. Although I guess in this case, they are all women. In honor of that, here's my Thursday Thirteen.

1. "Strange Thing" by Sophie B. Hawkins. There's something haunting about her voice, which can be either hauntingly sweet or brutal. I think she's a perfectly lovely and often overlooked artist.

2. "Get Out The Map" by The Indigo Girls. I am almost always listening to at least one song by the Indigo Girls. My friend Ryan was in town this last weekend--I think I may have mentioned that--and this song always makes me think of him.

3. "Get Ur Freak On" by Missy Elliot. I walk to my office from the Metro with this song playing. It's bouncy.

4. "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" by Kylie Minogue. Ibid from number 3. It's good walking-fast music.

5. "True Believer" by Mary Beth Maziarz. Two friends of mine got engaged last weekend, and so I've been thinking about weddings, and marriage, and that actually probably explains the sappy, soppy nature of my last few posts.

6. "Fidelity" by Regina Spektor. I'm liking her more than I did when I bought the CD, which took me a little time to warm up to.

7. "Unwritten" by Natasha Bedingfield. A good way to start a day as a writer / editor.

8. "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse. I listen to the remix with Ghostface Killa in the bridge. I don't know whether to cry in my sambuca or shoot whitey.

9. "Uncle John's Band" by the Indigo Girls, again. This is an old Grateful Dead song that never fails to remind me of good weather, beers, and seeing a concert in a condition that will almost certainly lead to mindless consumption of a large quantity of guacamole at some point.

10. "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell. It reminds me of that otherwise completely lame movie "You've Got Mail," where Tom Hanks asks Meg Ryan, "'It's clouds' illusions I recall, I really don't know clouds at all.' What does that mean? Is she taking flying lessons?"

11. "Army of Me" by Bjork. I love Bjork. She's such a weirdo.

12. "Roads" by Portishead. This whole album was great, but for some reason, I only have this song on my Ipod.

13. "Sleep to Dream" by Fiona Apple. Same thing as Portishead--great album, most of it mysteriously absent.

Hey, Washington D.C.! I'm gonna be on the news! Talking about foreclosure like I just walked in here off the street, when really I talk about foreclosure for a living! I think I used the word disadventagious twice in my interview, whereas I only referred to subprime lenders as "jackals" once. BOY am I awesome at my job!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why I Need This

When I got pregnant with Max, I hadn't ever been around babies that much. I'm an only child and by far the youngest of my generation of family. Some of my friends had them, and I liked those--they were cute and cuddly, they made funny little toothless faces at me and threw what appeared to be tiny gang signs around with their hands, they were cross-eyed and would turn purple and grimace when they pooped, and all my friends got to have those big hard pregnant bellies, and there were all those tiny little clothes, and all the waiting, and I would get these breathless phone calls at night where they would tell me that they were in labor. All of that seemed great.

The trouble was that until my late twenties, I hadn't met anybody that I liked well enough to reproduce with them. Not that that was stopping some of my friends, but call me old-fashioned. My mother went it alone for most of my childhood, and it wasn't always pretty.

When I met Dan, I was dating somebody who had a daughter who he seldom got to see, and he didn't want any more kids--despite the giant lie he told me on our first date about how he "wants another baby." That turned out to be one in a series of giant lies that, as they revealed themselves, also revealed how thoroughly incompatible we were.

Everything was different with Dan. I mean, everything. I never suspected that he was screwing around, like I did with the pre-Dan worthless boyfriend. He didn't have a lame job that I was embarassed by and felt like I had to lie about all the time, like the porn salesman I dated for almost three years. He wanted babies. He wanted them with me.

I barely had time to anticipate pregnancy with Dan--I was pregnant ten weeks after we were married. I didn't really have time to wonder what it would be like--I had to just go ahead and do it, worry about this other little person who I hadn't met yet.

I don't know the exact moment that I fell ass-over-teakettle in love with Max. It wasn't when they held him up for me to see in the delivery room: that was when I looked at him and thought, "Hmmm...we both sort of have the same look on our face right now, the look that says what the fuck?" It wasn't during the three days after his birth, when I was more concerned with why I couldn't feel my left foot or the fact that not only are babies not really born knowing how to nurse, but you're not born knowing how to nurse them either. It wasn't when we came home from the hospital together and Max immediately projectile-pooped across my bed, all of the clean clothes hanging in my closet, and my bedroom carpet. He also hit Dan, which I am just immature enough to think is hilarious.

I don't know when it happened, but all of a sudden, looking at Max was like looking at a piece of yourself that broke off and started to grow on its own. It was better than good. It was magic. It was heaven. It's so much better than any of the good things I have.

Anyone who knows me knows that I did not enjoy pregnancy. I was alternately nauseated, exhausted, in varied amounts of discomfort, and pretty much terrified by what was happening to my body. I liked it when I started to be able to feel him kicking, and for brief moments, I felt round and ripe and all of my body image issues went flying out the window. But I felt invaded, and at one point, at the worst of it, I remember saying to Dan, "I hope that you'll be able to live with the fact that I don't think I'll ever want to do this again."

Dan said he could live with it, but it turned out that I was the one who couldn't. Max was maybe a year old before I started wanting another baby, but I did. Desperately. And it's been a year, over a year, of wanting, and then not not trying, and then trying, and a false positive, and nothing. Nothing. I'm still not pregnant.

The worst thing about not being pregnant is now I know what it's like. It's a fight uphill every day. It's being afraid of, well, pretty much everything, when you've spent your life being fearless until now. It's when your baby wakes up in the morning calling for you, actually calling you Mama, when for six months he referred to you as "Diggy." It's when you get him out of bed in the morning, and he's not totally awake yet, and he puts his arms around your neck and his head on your shoulder and for the ten seconds that it takes to walk him from his bed to the changing table, you're the whole world to him, and he's the whole world to you.

It's not the tiny clothes or the pregnant belly or the funny faces. It's watching that broken-off piece of yourself growing up right in your face, right in front of your eyes. That's why I need this.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dear Britney:

Stop it. No, seriously. Cut it out.

You know, we all have bad days, but not all of us have to do it in the public eye. Let me just say that you would be really smart to not be in the public eye for awhile. Pack a bag, go find a beach to recline on somewhere, hire some kind of mental health professional, and get your head together. Think shit over.

Your career: probably not salvagable, but not that big a loss anyway.

You children: Ahhhh, there's the rub. As of the day after tomorrow, they're moving in with their father, and if you can't get your shit together for your sake, it would behoove you to get it together for theirs, or you'll watch them grow up in paparazzi photos.

Look, you've become a national spectacle. It's really sad, and I feel pretty bad for you, because I really question how much of it is actually your fault and how much of it is the fault of people who couldn't bring themselves to tell you no. You're clearly the recipient of some fairly shoddy parenting. That much is pretty obvious. But you're not a child. Make an effort to rise above it.

You might consider going away, Britney. Give us a chance to miss you, and give you a chance to acquire some of the skills that you need in life. Consider carefully-monitored medication for what I can only assume is some kind of post-partum psychosis combined with being woefully spoiled. I'm not blaming you--most people aren't blaming you. The combined hormones resulting from two babies in just over a year are not inconsiderable. Surround yourself with people who are not afraid to tell you the truth, because you seem to have a problem telling yourself the truth.

And stop flashing your bajingo all over the news. Really, put on some undies, lady. It's part of being the growup. Your kids will eventually catch wind of all of the press that your va-goo-goo gets, and they will be embarassed to know you. Your kids will be embarassed by you anyway, every kid is, but you'll be more likely to be paying their therapy bills than their college tuition.

I don't know how much of what we read about you is true, and I don't really care. Mostly I don't pay attention, but what I do know is, they don't just take kids away from their parents for no reason--my experience is that it's pretty damn hard to get kids taken away from lousy, neglectful, abusive, drunken and ignorant parents, let alone superstar parents.

Get your shit together, Britney. I'm embarassed for you at this point, and I feel sorry for you. But mostly, I'm scared to death for your boys. If you had any sense, you would be too, and you'd realize that you're all they've got, and maybe you could try to be more than what you've shown us so far.