Jul 31 2008

So… BlogHer

It’s only 2 weeks later. Whatever.

Originally, I was going to post a whole blow-by-blow of my BlogHer experience, until I got over myself (HA!) and realized that you don’t give a shit. And that’s okay. Really healthy even. Go You!

BlogHer in overview is hard, though. I have to, like, think! And summarize! My brain hurts.

Bullet Points to Save the Day!

Why BlogHer was awesome:

  • My ROOMMATE!
  • Talented, amazing women
  • Really quite well organized, I thought
  • Some cool swag (like my free, $130 Bluetooth Headset from Joby)
  • Seeing that the “A-List” bloggers are really people, and just as insecure as the rest of us

Why BlogHer Sucked:

  • I felt like I was in high school again, with no friends (despite my awesome roommate) and nobody to sit with at lunch

Seriously- If I hadn’t had my roommate, I probably would have curled up on my bed and watched endless hours of Bravo for the whole weekend. And cried. A lot.

It turns out that a lot of people felt the same way that I did. Somehow, though, that doesn’t really make it any better.

As the conference wore on, I began to introduce myself like so: “Hi. I’m Danielle, and I write at heels. You don’t know me.” It was probably a stupid way to go, but I got so tired of the blank stares and fake recognition. They didn’t know me. I am nearly invisible in the community I’m trying to call my own. It made me sad.

The parties were fun, but they were so loud that I had trouble taking to anyone. I tend to zone out in chaotic, high-volume situations because I just can’t hear that well. I stared at my drink a lot, which I’m sure made me look like TONS of fun.

I ended up leaving the Macy’s party really early to have dinner with my sister. It didn’t really bother me at the time (though now I wonder what went on after I left) because I was feeling rather ill due to the rampant Macy’s marketing. I felt so… used.

To wrap up: Overall, I enjoyed myself. I’m REALLY glad I didn’t pay to go. Next year, if it’s in driving distance, I will purchase the cocktail party tickets and spend my days hanging out with those awesome ladies instead of trying to fit in all of the panels. Maybe I’ll get to actually go shopping with Susan, something I apparently missed this time.

I also didn’t get to dance OR to sing any karaoke. Those right there could have been the whole reason for my unhappiness.

uta:
See- I knew there would be SOME details that somebody would be interested in! The Muppets! Yes- I got to meet Grover and the Muppeteer who operates him (and one other, but she’s a new character). I mostly just watched him from across the room. I had expected something more complicated, but really- the Muppeteers are just really fucking talented. It was pretty awesome to see, actually.

Jul 30 2008

A Note About Batman, and Then Food

Firstly: Heath Ledger’s performance in The Dark Knight really was as awesome as everyone has been saying. He was by far my favorite part of the movie. My only complaint about him was that I, at times, felt really distracted by his make-up, but I think that has a lot to do with my experience as a make-up artist. I couldn’t stop thinking about how it had been done (pretty simply, I think). But really- he was amazing. His performance was inspired (by Sid Vicious and a Clockwork Orange, in fact- or so I read). What an idiot.

Of course, Cole will NOT be seeing that movie for a long, LONG time. Like, maybe 15.5 years. Y’know- when I have no legal say over what he does.

Secondly, and on to a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT subject: Cooking!

I love to cook. Except when I don’t. Like recently when it’s been hot (we don’t use our air conditioning) all of the time and I’ve been tired more often than that.

We’ve been relying on burritos, super-nachos, and Boboli pizza A LOT, to my shame.

However, the other night I wanted to try something new. I knew we had fresh veggies, and I wanted something light and healthy. Without consulting any cookbooks (difficult for me with my “Type A,” rule-following personality), I whipped this out:

Veggie Stir-Fry with Polenta and Quinoa

Not only is it pretty low-fat, easy, and fast (most of which you could say about me), but it can be vegan (something you can NOT say about my cheese-loving ass).

Ingredients:
3 c cooked Quinoa (according to directions, though I recommend either cooking in vegetable broth or throwing in a vegetable bullion cube as the water comes to a boil.)

Veggies to stir-fry (I did 1 zucchini, 1/2 red onion, and 1/2 red bell pepper)

Tube of Polenta (Looks like a tube of sausage meat, but is actually dense polenta. Found in regular grocery stores in the “health/vegetarian food” section with the fake meat and soy cheese, at least around here. In the store I go to, it’s in the produce department.)

Feta Cheese

Butter/Olive Oil

Basil

Steps:
Stir-fry your sliced veggies. For mine, I put in the onion first, followed pretty shortly by the zucchini. I let them cook until they were really nice and caramely-brown, and then I threw in the cubed pepper for just a short time.

While they’re going, slice as many disks of polenta off of the tube as you’d like. Heat a little olive oil or butter (or a combination) in a pan, and lightly brown the polenta on both sides. When finished, sprinkle the crumbled feta over the disks while they’re still in the warm pan.

To plate, spoon a pile of the quinoa onto the plate, veggies on top of that, and cheese-covered polenta after that. Top off with a sprinkle of thinly-sliced basil. Serve with a fresh, green salad on the side. YUM.

I even forgot the salt and pepper and this was great. It went together quickly, didn’t take any tricky ingredients, didn’t heat up the kitchen much to make, and made me feel very good eating it. Cole wouldn’t eat it but… whatever. The kid doesn’t eat anything I serve him anymore. It’s not like he’s starving…

Jul 29 2008

Smooches.

Just popping in to say that I’m taking a half-day today, and won’t be able to post again until tomorrow. However, I didn’t want to let this one little thing go unnoticed, and that is how completely spectacular you all are. Big sloppy kisses all around (you can wipe off the spit, but not the kiss!).

Jul 28 2008

Water Safety

Cole fell into the pool on Saturday.

On Saturday, John, Cole, and I went to my father’s house for a swim. We had a great time in the pool. Cole’s been learning to swim and hold his breath. He is very proud of himself, as he should be.

We sat around for a while after we had dried off and changed, just visiting. Cole found a pool “noodle” and, despite our warnings that he needed to come away from the edge of the pool (he’d edge away just enough to shut us up and then go back when he thought we weren’t looking), was dipping one end of the noodle into the water. It was getting dark, and I was just about to tell him that he had to come away or he’d be in time out when I heard the splash.

John was the closest, as he had been walking over to tell Cole to move away from the pool already As I was jumping up from my chair ad yelling “oh my god,” John had already knelt at the edge to try to grab Cole. By the time I finished the last word, John was already jumping in. He grabbed Cole, lifted him up, and I lifted him out onto the side as he gave a little cough and wiped water from his face.

The first thing I said when he looked at me was “That’s why you don’t play around the pool!” Cole started crying, and as I explained how dangerous the pool can be, I stripped his soaking clothes off and wrapped him in a towel. Only then did I hug him so tightly that any water left in his lungs would have been squeezed out.

He cried for a little while, then he curled up in my dad’s lap and went to sleep.

Sunday he started talking about it. He said that he went into the water, that he held his breath, and that his daddy, the Superhero, saved him.

Besides playing around the pool in the first place, Cole did all of the right things. He took a breath as he fell, didn’t panic, kicked his legs and used his arms, and was already coming back to the surface when John grabbed him. He took in one small mouth-full of water, and he didn’t really breathe any in. I honestly believe that the work we’ve done with him in the pool paid off.

It’s never too early to teach your kids about the fun and the danger of water. It’s never too early to start teaching them how to swim. Check your local YMCAs, public pools, recreation departments, gyms, or American Red Cross chapters for classes. See if you’re lucky enough to have an Infant Swimming Resource instructor nearby. And/or just get into the water with them early and often.

Jul 28 2008

Semantics

Words. They’re tricky little fuckers, aren’t they? And connotations- some words are just loaded. Navigating the sea of words these days is fraught with peril, especially on the internet.

Because on the internet, it is much harder to sense intent. Particularly when you stumble on someone’s blog and, without really knowing them, read a small sample of what they’ve written. This has led to countless misinterpretations, petty arguments, and hurt feelings.

And, apparently, has just happened here.

This is my first personal experience with someone feeling hurt by what I’ve said on my blog (or, at least, telling me about it), so I’m going to address it head-on.

I would NEVER, EVER call someone with special needs a “retard.” I used to work with people- children- with special needs, and they were just that- people. Some were fantastic and inspirational, and some were rude and bratty, and, in that way, just like any other kid. None of them was deserving of insult.

When I used the word “retard” to describe my conversational skills, I simply meant retarded. As in SLOW. I am slow when it comes to conversation and, therefore, not very good at it. I did not mean that I was “as a person with special needs when it comes to conversation.”

Here’s what I think really happened here: As parents, we are naturally protective of our kids. Often, that protectiveness becomes defensiveness, especially if we feel our children might be in any way vulnerable. And children usually are vulnerable in some way. So we react to the world as if everyone is poised to do our babies harm.

And the world can be really fucking mean.

Let’s turn this back to me for a moment (Why not? I mean- this is my blog). For a good portion of my life, I’ve had problems with my weight. I was anorexic for nearly 10 years, and the “healing process” (actually eating food again) swung me over to the other extreme. My mother (who is great in some ways, but clearly missed the memo on parental over-protectiveness) praised my appearance when I was skinny and called me fat when I was heavier. Let’s just say that I have “issues.”

Cole is big for his age; big but very healthy. I know he’s “normal, ” but my own personal issues with weight have occasionally led me to be extra defensive about how I fear other people might see him. No one has called him fat, but I’ve been upset when people have called him “big,” even though it’s true. And he’s happy to be big- it’ me that has the problem.

What I’m coming to understand is this: It is not fair to color other people’s intentions with my fear. It’s not fair to them, not fair to me, and certainly not fair to Cole.

It sounds kind of strange, but I feel like I have to let Cole have his own issues. He doesn’t need to inherit mine. Isn’t that part of life- the development of our own issues?

Those of us who have been teased know that sometimes words really can hurt more than sticks or stones, and sometimes the damage takes longer to heal than broken bones. But, as I get older, I also have come to realize that it’s our own interpretations of the words people sling at us that do the most damage. When somebody calls me fat, is it the word or how I feel about the word that actually stings? Maybe the person calling me fat was actually saying “Damn! I sure like that fine, fat ass. All the better for grabbing!” It’s my interpretation and feelings about the word fat that turn it into a bad thing. Further, my interpretation says more about me and my prejudices than the person who said the word in the first place.

Could I have titled my post better? Undoubtedly. It was a throw-away. As anyone out there with a blog knows, it’s all too easy to blast out a post and push publish without thinking too much about it. And that’s pretty much what I did. Mea culpa- totally.

What I didn’t do was intend to hurt anyone. I tend to have a very literal interpretation of words like retard, and I truly, honestly only meant slow, not differently-abled or special-needs-having, just as I would never use retard to mean stupid.

All this to say that there are enough legitimate battles out there to fight; that are worth fighting. There’s no need to fabricate any more.

Jul 25 2008

Conversational Retard


This picture just captures conversations with me perfectly: I’m talking with my hands, saying blahblahsomethingIthinkisimportantblah, putting my trapped audience of one to sleep, and, unbeknownst to me, Cole is trying to undo my sweater buttons.

Aren’t you glad you didn’t meet me at BlogHer?

Jul 25 2008

My Fucked-Up Body, My Fucked-Up Self

Here’s the scoop folks.

No- not about BlogHer. I’m not sure when I’ll write about that. The way I’m feeling, quite possibly never.

I swore I wasn’t going to talk about this. I swore that this time I would just keep quiet; not make a fuss, not make a big deal. It turns out that I am incapable. And why be quiet? This is my life, and writing about it helps.

This may make a lot of things from the past 7 months make a lot more sense to you all.

John and I have been trying to conceive since January.

It started when I realized that the birth control pill was really not a good thing for me or my family. The Pill made me an awful person to be around. I was snippy and mean and unpredictable- even to myself. I found myself saying and doing things that I would never normally do, and doing them even as I stood in my head silently screaming to myself “WHAT THE FUCK?!”

It was hurting me, my marriage, and the people I love. So I stopped.

But, instead of looking for something else (which- have you seen the options? NOT a pretty picture), John and I decided to just see what would happen.

If you remember, we tried for Cole for 8 months. The month before I conceived him, I had a miscarriage. It was never confirmed by a doctor, and it was a really early one, but I’m still sure of it. Sometimes you just know. You don’t want to believe me? Fine. I don’t need for you to.

So this time, we figured that it would probably take a while again. And it has.

But it’s harder than ever now.

“They” tell you that, after you have a child, your body chemistry may never go back to how it was before. This has been so horribly true for me. My cycles used to be easy, relatively free of pain and PMS, light, and short. Now, I bloat painfully every month, my tits hurt like crazy, and, worst of all, I drop into a very unhealthy head-space for over a week.

The monthly depression is not helped any by the fact that each time I get my period I am also reminded that my body has failed once again to conceive.

And yes- I feel like a failure. I feel a huge disconnect from my body. I feel like I am fighting myself.

I tried to have a little hope this month, which was stupid. I started thinking that maybe this month would be THE month. And maybe- just maybe- my stupid body had it’s own fucked-up kind of predictability. Because last month I had another miscarriage.

Again- it was early and undiagnosed, but I still know what it was. Like I said- you just know. And again, I really don’t care if you believe me.

But, clearly, the hope was misplaced, and my monthly depression has found me again.

And honestly, I’m trying to “relax.” I’m trying to “not care.” I’m trying to just “let it happen.” But as anyone who has suffered through any manner of “infertility” can tell you, it doesn’t work that way. And we may punch you in the face if you mention it or anything like it.

And, though you may think I’m an asshole, now I don’t want to talk about it anymore, either. I don’t want to give “Conception Updates” and I don’t want to be asked every month if I’ve managed to finally “do it.” It’s hard enough knowing that I haven’t without being reminded by everyone else. Be sure- you will know. I won’t be able to keep that quiet. I may scream my triumph from the fucking rooftops.

If it happens.

(Cringing and hitting Publish)

Jul 24 2008

That Crazy Shit Called Life

We left on Tuesday to drive to Fresno to see John’s Father’s family. I assumed that we were going for a service for his grandmother who passed last weekend. Of course, I based my assumption on the even grander assumption that I was dealing with “normal” people.

When we arrived, the kids went nuts in their bedroom, ripping every princess dress and tiara and sparkly thing out of the drawers and collecting every truck in the entire house into the middle of the living room floor. The adults sat around and sifted through decades of photos, papers, and grandma’s treasures. At five minutes to 2, they decided it was time to book it over to the funeral home.

Like I said, I assumed there would be some kind of service. When we arrived, however, it quickly became clear that there would be no service, no verbal celebration or re-visiting of life, no words to soothe our hearts at her passing. Instead, there was a viewing. I stayed outside with the kids and felt it was one of the best decisions I’d made all week.

After that 10 minutes was up, it was decided that the best way to honor grandma’s memory was to… drive out to the Chukchansi Casino for the buffet. Because “she loved that place.”

I don’t know about you, but I sure hope my life is summed up by all you can eat cheese enchiladas and egg rolls.

We drove back, after stuffing ourselves, and the kids resumed kid behavior as if nothing had happened. They screamed and played, got into fights with the neighborhood kids, tattled, laughed and cried. It seemed so natural that I guess we all followed suit. We ended the evening by watching as John’s uncle pushed each kid up and down the street in their quarter-mini race car, which only ended when my 8 year old niece pushed on the gas, freaked out, and slammed into the neighbor’s garage door after jumping the curb.

And as anti-climactic as it seemed, and as snarky as I was about it, maybe that was the whole point. Why should we dwell on the ending of her life, when we are the continuation of it. Our celebration of life was just to go on living. And John and I are very different than the rest of his family, and there aren’t really that many times when we all have a reason to get together. So maybe the buffet was appropriate after all, as a metaphor for this family- we are enchiladas and egg rolls (and fried chicken and butterscotch pudding). You may not think we go together, but we fit side by side on a plate just fine.

Perhaps this is awkward, but I’m going with it.

eta:
(Check out John’s take.)

Jul 21 2008

So, I want to write about my BlogHer trip. I want to write about how horrible it was in so many ways. I want to write about how totally, unexpectedly fabulous it was in so many ways. I want to write about my “unique” hotel and my incredible cappuccino and the unbelievable talent and the kindnesses and the funny stuff and the sad stuff and the really yummy cupcakes. I want to write about how my roommate might have literally saved my life.

But I can’t.

Because now my five-day work week has turned into a three day work-week. Because now I have to go to the Armpit of California (aka Fresno) tomorrow and won’t be back until Thursday. Because John’s Grandmother passed away while I was at BlogHer, and now we have to go to her service.

So I hope your weekends were less eventful than mine, and I will have Things To Say when I return.

Be good to each other.

~D

Jul 16 2008

“Look Mom!”

“I’m building a path!”


Gosh. Thanks, Dora!