Monday, December 24, 2007

happy holidays!!!!

i'm sorry it's been so long... :( i hosted our big family christmas party and it really knocked me for a loop - physically, emotionally, etc...

suffice to say, the blog silence and the distance from my blog reading has taken its toll... in a way, i'll be thankful when things quiet down (a little) here.

so, i send you our best and brightest wishes (see below) for a joyful and peaceful holiday!

Friday, December 07, 2007

happy birthday porkchop!!!

ten things about yourself:

1. Name: porkchop, the

2. Birthday: december 7, 2005 aka pearl harbor day

3. Where do you live: upstairs.

4. Right or Left handed: yes

5. Favorite color: blue (even though mommy and daddy keep telling me it's not blue, that it's yellow or green or red or purple.... i don't think they know their colors very well.)

6. Favorite sport: riding people piggyback while pummeling them with hard plastic toys

7. Biggest Fear: the christmas tree

8. Status: "single" (on facebook) and "in a relationship" (on myspace)

9. Do you like someone? nina on sprout and sophie on go baby!

Nine Lasts:

1. Cigarette: this morning after mommy sprayed my nose with saline. i ate it. tasted nummy crunchy.

2. Beverage: milk. chocolate preferably.

3. Kiss: 2 seconds ago.

4. Hug: 1 second ago.

5. Movie seen: meet the robinsons. if only i could loop the dino skipping train scene... "choo choo on this!"

6. CD played: cars soundtrack

7. Song listened to: "life is a highway" rascal flatts

8. Bubble bath: i prefer to shower. a night or so ago....

9. Time you cried: 3 seconds ago when daddy tried to remove me from mommy's lap.

Eight Have-You-Ever's:

1. Dated one of your best friends or wanted to? all my best friends are either related, metallic, plastic, wooden or furry.... i couldn't date one of them if i wanted to... now, if i was in san francisco...

2. Skinny dipped: ALL. THE. TIME.

3. Kissed somebody and regretted it: two words. cat. breath.

4. Liked someone you knew you couldn't have: i respond the same way everytime - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
5. Been overseas: no

6. Dressed in costume: yes. i rocked the purple dinosaur.

7. Been drunk: on boob juice. often.

8. Run away: i prefer to call it asserting my independence.

Three Favorite Things (In No Order):

1. cars, trains, airplanes.

2. food - especially candy

3. my family - the paloma, mamazilla, the thin man and the cats.

Three things you can't live without:

1. my family

2. food - especially candy

3. cars, trains, airplanes

Two Things That You Want To Be When You Grow Up:

1. owner of all things transportation

2. happy

Monday, November 26, 2007

MZ's PSA - the shopping FAQ...

the funny thing is around this time of year, i frequently get asked questions about shopping... i don't know if it's because i tend to be a very picky shopper or because i know a lot about garment manufacturing (that being my degree and having worked in manufacturing for 10+ years) or both. anyway, since i get asked these same questions every year, i thought i'd post them here with my stock answer. and if you have any other questions about shopping, garments or manufacturing - please post them in comments and if i can answer them i will. :)

1) what stores aren't connected to sweatshops?

this is by far the most popular question. which i guess is good since it means more people want to shop with a clear conscience. the bad news is that no one (except the manufacturers) can tell you if they're connected with a sweatshop. sweatshops exist here in the US as well as overseas. and it's extremely difficult to police the activities of any manufacturer.

in a nutshell, here's how it worked when i was still in the biz... i would only place orders with manufacturers who were approved after a long drawn out, detailed audit process - including factory visits, numerous samples of work, etc... to ensure that they did not allow sweatshop environments or child labor, etc... after placing the order, either one of our employees or an agent overseas would be expected to monitor the work in progress. they do not and are not expected to monitor all the time. so, every once in a while, i would get a call from an employee/agent overseas letting me know that at his/her last inspection, a child was found working and that all production had ceased. after we felt that the situation had been resolved, production would begin again. if this directive was violated too often however, we would stop working with that specific factory altogether.

personally, i try not to shop at places where the pricing is too good to be true. because if the price is too good to be true, my knee jerk reaction is that some kind of cheap, possibly sweatshop, labor was involved.

if i do have to buy something at one of those places, i try to buy on sale because by the time the goods reach the store, the manufacturer has already been paid. so, theoretically, if i buy on sale, the manufacturer doesn't get "hurt", the store/ designer does. consequently however, the buyers/sellers for the store/designer may think that the price point of the item was too high and the following season will ask production people (like me) to find manufacturers who can produce the same item for an even lower price. because of that, i'll buy stuff at TJ Maxx or Marshalls and save all of those buyers and sellers the trouble. that stuff is usually overstock or stuff that was ticketed with the wrong ink or some random stupidness like that.... no, really. it happened to one of my orders that went to a store with black inked tickets and not blue inked tickets. (admittedly, my random stupidness, but you should have seen that store's quality assurance binder, it was bigger than a phone book.)

2) is this * insert shirt, pant, shoe, hat* really worth the $$$$$?

it depends. first of all, (in my experience) the more "processes" put into an item the more expensive the item was to produce - every button, buttonhole, zippers, zipper pulls, snaps, plackets, belt loops, extra finishing seams, embellishments like embroidery, patches, iron on transfers, etc... costs $.5, $.10, $.25 more... so, the more bells and whistles an item has, the more it will cost you. and if it's made in the US, it will cost more.

second of all, manufacturers will produce similar items for different labels. i used to work for a large lycra manufacturer who made garments for high end labels and discounters. we bought the same fabric for the same customers from the same vendor and except for maybe a slight adjustment in fit, the left side of the manufacturing floor would sew in a discount label and tag it with a discount price ticket and the right side would sew in a high end label and tag it with a high end price ticket. so, if it's something "basic", i don't buy it at a high end retailer.

lastly, i always find sweaters are good bet. i'm a beginner knitter and yarn is kinda pricey (for me) so when i find a sweater (at one of my "approved" shopping venues) that i like, i'll buy it because i can't make it for less.

3) what about organic cotton and recycled fiber clothing?

when i buy organic cotton clothing i always make sure that the cotton was grown here and the garment was made here. in my experience with imported clothing, it is sprayed with pesticides when it enters the country at customs. maybe there's an exception for organic overseas cotton but i don't know about that. re: recycled fiber. a common misconception is that all fleece is recycled fiber. it's not. you have to check the label/tags to make sure it is. other than that, i'm over the moon about recycled anything... i love to shop resale shops and thrift stores. often, i'll purchase stuff and update them with new buttons or patches. i've always thought that when the paloma gets a stain on something that i should just buy a bunch of patches, put one on the offensive stain and just scatter the rest on the garment...

4) can i hand wash this even though it says "dry clean only" on the tag?

no. labels are very tricky. often, to get by with cheap labels, manufacturers/designers will sew in "dry clean" tags. this means that you CAN hand wash. but dry clean ONLY means dry clean ONLY.

however, if you do intend to hand wash something - use your shampoo to clean it. many of the chemicals in hand wash soaps are really not good for delicates in the long run.

and if you're handwashing something made of wool. don't wring it or move it or agitate it around too much - that's what makes the wool shrink (unless already preshrunk).

ok, i think that's it... hope it was helpful! happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

i'm a thinkin' and a rockin' and a random...

i should preface this post with sincere apologies and heartfelt gratitude first of all to puglet who nominated me back in april (yikes!) for a thinking bloggers award :

Tag you're it! The participation rules are simple: 1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think. 2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote."

...and to lien who nominated me back in july (yikes squared!) for a rockin' blogger award:

Rockin' Bloggers and Five Random Thoughts About Feminism

i have a very hard time accepting compliments of any kind - an infuriating quirk of mine - so, i apologize. not excusing my behavior, just explaining it. mea culpa! here, i will attempt to make amends:

the 5 blogs who make me think and who i consider rockin' (and who haven't already received these awards to my knowledge):

bloggo chicago - who makes me think about what could have happened if i'd continued playing hockey and that i should keep better tabs on my friends (especially the furry four legged kind) and ensure that they're doing better than ok, physically and emotionally.

Chicago Chick - who makes me think about the trials and tribulations of a chicago working mom. and pretty much scares me off of full-time, out of the home employment... kidding!!!

imPerceptibility - who makes me think about what life is like after kids turn 5. it looks as if it's easier to find the silver lining and time to spend with your mate - flirting unapologetically.

kitchen fire - who makes me think more about raising a mixed race child and that maybe if we'd found ourselves in california that we'd be neighbors. her passionate posts leave me pensive... good thing she's a teacher.

my funny funny family aka the nutmeg news - who makes me think about basically everything... which speaks to/of her journalist leanings.

and my five random thoughts on feminism:

1) i don't consider myself a feminist. i just don't see where i fit in. i'd like to fit in, but i just don't think i fit in.

2) a friend of mine in high school who considered herself a feminist gave me a short list of reading materials to into me into feminist writing. the only one i read was the awakening by kate chopin. that last scene in unforgettable.

3) in college, i read the beauty myth by naomi wolf and the feminine mystique by betty friedan. i don't remember feeling very empowered by either book which makes me think i should re-read them.

4) i'm currently reading the yellow wallpaper by charlotte perkins gilman and feminism is not the story of my life by elizabeth fox-genovese.

5) i worry that i'm not much of a feminist role model for my daughter.

last but not least, i've been tagged by sarah over at deliberately random thoughts for the eight random things about me meme.

Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they've been tagged.

1) i made a new dress for the paloma's BFF. it's from a late 50's pattern and modern fabric/trim. my grandmother taught me how to sew originally. she could make a dress for anyone without a pattern. then, i took sewing classes in high school and then, refined all of that when i went to art school and studied fashion design. during my first year, i won a very prestigious award at a contest judged by a very famous american designer who's spring collection the following year included a dress that looked strikingly similar to the one that won the award. i know sewing seems "too domestic" and "housewifey" but it managed to help my grandmother raise 13 children and planted the seed for what i realize now is a misunderstood and underappreciated art form.

2) i was (am?) a fan of olivia newton john. i have Xanadu on DVD and in a high school talent show, i sang "The Promise" - a song from her Physical album. originally, i auditioned for the talent show to get over my fear of doing something like that. i never expected to get the solo. i almost said "no". looking back and watching the youtube video, i really wish i'd said "no".

3) i can sing christmas carols in polish (as in Poland, not furniture). i was part of my neighborhood church choir as a kid. the choir and the congregation was mostly polish. so, alongside "silent night" and the other traditional carols, we sang "cicha noc", "lulajze, jezuniu", "dzisiaj w betlejem"and "gdy sie chrystus rodzi". i was an alto most of the time.

4) when i do get to take a shower, i blow dry and iron my hair to get it stick straight. i put a hat on or wear a headband if i can't get to it. i feel like a fraud.

5) when i was little, i couldn't really afford glasses and the optician who looked at my eyes found a pair of used glasses to give me for free. for some reason however, the glasses were tilted very far forward - we're talking at a 45 degree angle. i'm really not sure why he did that. we never went back to him despite his kindness. (i finally got new glasses btw. no more cyclops for me. yay!)

6) i share a former flame with another blogger who i've never met IRL. instead of comparing notes, we tease each other about it via facebook. i just found out that his band, an iconic chicago punk band, is coming out with a dvd in a few days. the whole situation is comical.

7) i used to breakdance as a kid with a handful of other kids and we used to carry around a couple of ratty, old, duct taped, balikbayan boxes around the 'hood. they called me "penny" - and not because i could do the move - 'cause i couldn't.

8) i've never broken a bone. sometimes i think because i was born with cystic hygroma and we had such a tough time of it all, i've been spared the whole breaking a bone thing (knock wood). once when i was bitten by a dog, my mom took me to my pediatrician right away. she was frazzled and worried. the ped did his usual wellness check up routine and finally, looked at the bite. he sighed, took off his glasses and said, "how's the dog doing?" he said that i'd been injected with pretty much everything known to man to keep me alive that he was shocked the dog wasn't dead.

i tag the thin man, puglet, flahute, ms bees knees, bertville, toronto gyopo, uncle hambone and samok daddy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the close up

just an fyi, i was recently interviewed by journalist/blogger jeremy wagstaff for his wall street journal online article, "My Friend Flickr?" , about my (bad) experience with posting public photos of our kids on flickr.

he also gives some tips on his blog on how to monitor your flickr albums here... which i will be implementing as soon as i stop my head from inflating and deflating while attempting to cough up an organ...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Boycott H&M!!!

UPDATE 11/15:

i just received the link to an online petition for Richards v. H&M Hennes & Mauritz:

the petition demands:

1. That H&M terminates Joseph H. (the individual who made the anti-Asian, xenophobic, and misogynist verbal attack) AND discipline the managers who did not quickly intervene.

2. That H&M changes and enforces its cultural diversity classes.

3. That H&M recognizes and understands that ignorant and racial remarks towards H&M customers from H&M employees should never ever be tolerated.

4. That immediate and serious intervention should take place from an H&M manager when a complaint about an H&M employee is made by an H&M customer regarding a racial remark from the H&M employee.

I will not shop at H&M until this is resolved. As a customer, I should be able to go shopping at a retail store without being verbally abused by an employee who uses racial slurs.

please sign the petition and pass the word on... Boycott H&M!!!

UPDATE 10/07:

just saw this chicago tribune article about the protest. and here's the cbs story and video that aired last night.

UPDATE 10/06:

i attended the H&M protest today. :)

all the way there, on the metra, the L, the walk, i thought about how it was my turn to pick up the torch that generations of filipinos before me carried and i felt truly empowered. then i got there to find that i was the oldest sistah there. (old fart, much?)

later, some of our "elders" showed up. but i gotta say that after two and a half hours of marching, screaming and sign holding. i am plum tuckered out. and rethinking that whole torch bearing business... maybe i should leave this to the young'uns. ;)

i don't know what the organizers of the protest thought, but i was really happy with the turn out and the energy, positivity and dedication that the protesters brought with them. the majority of the protesters were filipino/asian but there were caucasian, latino and african american protesters too. every once in a while, passersby would stop to see what the protest was about and then actually ask for a sign to help protest.

if you're curious we screamed the following:

"2, 4, 6, 8, H&M discriminates!"

"H&M racist! H&M sexist!"

"What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"

there were about five people near the front door passing out flyers about the protest and i saw how they persuaded customers from shopping there today. unfortunately, we couldn't persuade everyone not to shop at the h&m store. at one point, an older woman (and i could have sworn she was wearing a neck brace) shouted at us that she would never stop shopping at h&m. it was disappointing to see so many women of color shopping there and it was especially heartbreaking to see a handful of asian people walk in to shop.

i haven't heard anything yet about whether or not H&M has taken any action re: their racist *ss employee. our local cbs news crew was there, the local filipino news show, CPR-TV was there, and there were what looked like reporters taking notes and quotes... there were also many video cameras and digital cameras out - hopefully, there will be some youtube videos.

already, pics are posted to flickr here, some are mine even! :)

hopefully, all of our hard work will have paid off. i can't express in words how proud i was to protest alongside such great people.

UPDATE: i just received this comment via my personal blog:

Hey everyone!

We wanted to post the final arrangements and clarify information regarding the protest in front of H&M on Saturday, October 6th. It will start at 10:00am and last until 11:00am! Media will be contacted and asked to cover the protest from 10:00am - 10:30am. Please meet in front of H&M, 840 N. Michigan Avenue, Chicago no later than 9:55am. Who is leading it? Family and friends of Frannie (LosBaƱes) Richards, there is no specific person or persons. Do we need a permit? NO; just keep moving in sync in a line and do not block the entrance ways of the stores on that block or the street. Please do not disrupt traffic.

The previous tentative message & VIA Times presented a tentative time of 10:00-1:00pm. Because those were tentative times, we are informing you of when the media is informed to be there. We are hoping that you would be able to be there at that time. We apologize for such short notice. We understand that you have busy lives and truly appreciate all the support you have given to us! You are welcome to stay until 1:00pm but most of the people arriving at 10:00am are planning to leave at 11:00am. We were not expecting a huge crowd. Thank you for spreading the word! Please continue to help educate others on how discrimination towards any gender and any race is intolerable and unacceptable. We know you will act civil and that you understand this is a peaceful and informative march.

Thanks again for all your time and support!

Hope to see you there:

October 6th, Saturday
840 North Michigan Ave
Chicago , IL 60611
10:00AM CST-11:00 CST

LosBaƱes Family



h&m: the new a&f?

"A Filipino American woman is suing clothing chain H&M on allegations of anti-Asian and sexual harrassment, claiming that on a recent trip to the Magnificent Mile store, employees called her a "mail-order bride" and made fun of her ability to understand English: Woman Says She Was Harassed For Ethnicity At H&M. The Asian American Institute has filed a discrimination complaint with the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations, seeking redress for Frannie Richards, who says that in addition to the "mail order bride" comments and ridicule of her English, an H&M employee made mocking "ching chong" noises at her. That's racist! And when she complained to management, they refused to do anything about it. What the hell?

Now, this kind of mocking and harrassment is nothing new—we've all had to deal with this crap on some level. It sucks. But this ain't the schoolyard. This is a freakin' clothing store. People should be able to shop in peace without feeling insulted and humiliated like this. It's ridiculous. Here's the Asian American Institute's press release on the incident: Asian American Institute Represents Filipino American Nurse Harassed by H&M Employee.

And here's a Filipino American news report on it up on YouTube: H&M Racist.

I've heard rumors of a protest being planned for this Saturday outside the Magnificent Mile store. If anyone out there has further details about the gathering, let me know."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

let me count the ways...

i love you for...

* trying not to litter the streets with your pennies when i'm around.

* your idiosyncracies...

* dancing around the house with the porkchop to frank sinatra on halloween night.

* taking a break from playing volleyball more than once a week. this too shall pass.

* moving from california to chicago.

* being patient. 'cuz i know how hard that is for you.

* listening to me. you may not always hear me, or even understand me, but you really do listen to me.

* looking like you're stable, invincible and herculean on the outside but being somewhat damaged, insecure and fragile on the inside.

* your ability to think up song lyrics on the fly.

* telling me you love me all the fracking time....

* loving me as much as you do, even though you really don't want to or have to 'cause i give you plenty of reasons not to....

when i think about "the big picture" i see you and me growing old and crotchety and senile and incontinent together. i don't want us to screw that up - especially that incontinent part. SEXY!

i know were going thru a rough patch right now, babe. we seem to have more bad days than good lately. so, i hope today of all the days is a good day. i want to be happy and i want you to be happy but i want us to be happy together too.

happy, happy, happy birthday, thin man. i love you. i mean it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

why i could never be a teletubbie....

(teletubbies (or any preschooler show for that matter) the second time around is actually kinda painful for me. i don't know how i put up with this tripe when the paloma was into them a year or two ago... seriously, my hormones were on fire or something back then... that's the only way i can explain it.... i was chemically altered....)

1) if a drum roll preceded everything i did and/or a trumpet toot followed it - i would have to kill someone. specifically, someone playing a drum or a trumpet.

2) i do not respond well to authority figures or narrators. especially when they're disembodied and speak before invited or announced.

3) i could not eat tubby custard or tubby toast. i would rather spear one of those fluffy rabbits and wear it's pelt for a merkin.

4) i like smiling. with teeth. no wonder they eat slurp that custard... are they related to sloths or armadillos or anteaters? are they even considered part of the mammal family?

5) i like that it's obvious i'm a girl, a shy, private, Catholic girl... - i used to think that the whole teletubbie gender ambiguous thing was disturbing. and then their little antennae (?) reminded me of a shelf i'd *ahem* perused *cough* at good vibrations MANY MOONS AGO and realized that maybe the teletubbies weren't all that ambiguous at all... FORNICATORS!

6) i would not want a tv for a tummy and i would not shout "again! again!" after a video was displayed on it. i wonder if they're even digital.... *snort* modification's a b*tch.

7) i like being warm especially when sleeping in a bed. those silver lame (lah-MAY) blankets are sooooo 80s fortress of solitude for me. no christopher reeve? no contest.

ok, end senseless rant of drinky winky, tipsy, taa taas, and hoe....

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

"Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frog, Wool of Bat, and Tongue of Dog..."

first and foremost, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!! :) (btw - i have pics up at flickr of the paloma in her costume, which i made... *patting self on back* ;) )

second, i have a new post up at chicagomomsblog called "Eye of Newt, and Toe of Frog, Wool of Bat, and Tongue of Dog...". MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

third, following is a random sampling (in no particular order) of what's been happenning over here in the past two weeks or so:

* the paloma and the porkchop both came down with croup.

* i came down with a bad cold.

* the thin man came down with laryngitis.

* after years of abuse, my glasses finally gave up the ghost. a screw came loose. a lens fell out. and now, i'm walking around with one lens in my busted set of eyeglasses. i'm SO not kidding.

* the thin man got laid off (boo!) and then got hired by someone else (yay!)

* we celebrated our 7th wedding anniversary (10 years together - WOOT!) at coobah restaurant (think cuba, spain and brazil meet the philippines) which was EXCELLENT!!! except for when they turned on the baseball game on the widescreen tvs which were showing beautiful jellyfish when we first walked in .

* the paloma taught her preschool class what it means to be filipino american and how to count from 1 to 10 in tagalog.

* i made a tinkerbell costume for a doll (see flickr).

* i re-organized and de-cluttered the sewing rooms of two sewing friends.

* my brother in law and his lovely wife are new parents to a bouncing baby boy!

* my lovely in laws came for a visit.

* my poor mom came down with strep.

* i pulled the paloma out of a tumbling class when i realized that not only had her teacher insulted her by saying her shoes were the ugliest shoes he'd ever seen - that he'd also traumatized her... she couldn't stop talking or crying about it for days. i think she's finally over it.

* we picked out pumpkins at the children's farm together and carved them.

* i pimped out one of my best friends to one of the thin man's best friends. alcohol was involved. yes, they call me "yenta".

...and that's about it. :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

peckish for books

boo! i hab a code (and so does the paloma...) *sniffle, hack, wheeze*

yay! daddy in a strange land just tagged me with a bookish meme (keeb n myde, i'm udder de infooence uf daykil) :

1.Hardcover or paperback, and why?
i love the idea of hardcover books. but there's something endearing about beat up, well loved, dogeared books to me.

2.If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
big fish books. i have a thing for fish... and second chances... and epic, magical, mythological stories of romance, tragedy, triumph, and redemption...

3.My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
i just picked a book off the shelf (yasunari kawabata's palm of the hand stories) and my favorite quote from the book is from the story "the grasshopper and the bell cricket"

"Even if you have the wit to look by yourself in a bush away from the other children, there are not many bell crickets in the world. Probably you will find a girl like a grasshopper whom you think is a bell cricket. And finally, to your clouded, wounded heart, even a true bell cricket will seem like a grasshopper. Should that day come, when it seems to you that the world is only full of grasshoppers, I will think it a pity that you have no way to remember tonight's play of light when your name was written in green by your beautiful lantern on a girl's breast."

4.The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…
i've already been lucky enough to spend three weeks with jessica hagedorn. but for a lunch, i would say david sedaris 'cause i can't imagine he likes to spend more than half an hour w/ people he doesn't know and he must have some peculiar eating habits and i'd get to go to france for a day. i would LOVE to have a playdate with jk rowling, visit graceland with douglas adams' ghost, build sandcastles with anne rice or pick apples with stephen king.

5.If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be…
annie dillard's pilgrim at tinker creek. no contest.

6.I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…
would physically transport me into a story/book to observe everything as if i was there - eating, dancing, fighting, riding trains, shopping at markets with characters.

7.The smell of an old book reminds me of…
my first drafty garden apartment where i often read on a thread bare, thrift store, damask couch in the small patches of sun that came in thru the eastern windows in the morning. i realize now what a luxury it was to browse used bookstores, bring the loot home and read and read and read.

8.If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
mark carwardine in last chance to see. (does that count?)

9.The most overestimated book of all time is…
i hate to admit this because i have NEVER met anyone else who had the same issue...

i could not get through "a heartbreaking work of staggering genius" which kills me because i REALLY want to read it especially with author dave eggers being chicagoan and the story being set in suburban lake forest, blah blah blah... i will probably never get thru this book.

the only other book that i could think of that was "overestimated" and i read - the davinci code

10. I hate it when a book…
doesn't get from point a to b successfully/logically (for me)... for example, the last harry potter was really disappointing (for me)....

so, heads up, chgo chick, bloggo chicago, flahute, uncle hambone and the thin man - TAG, YOU'RE IT.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

take your show and shove it...

just an fyi - i have a new post up at filipinamomsblog titled "take your show and shove it..."

(apologies in advance for how unbelievably pissed off i was when composing it...)

[steps on soapbox]

ok so, i'm late to this "party" (filipino time jokes aside), but i lost some sleep over this whole desperate housewives thing and i just had to get my $.02 worth of nonsensical rambling out because of it. and apologies in advance, to my fellow filipina moms bloggers for hogging our blog lately.

full disclosure - i used to be a big fan of the show... i used to watch it religiously. it was and is escapist entertainment. it is quintessential voyeuristic, trainwreckish, trashy eye candy on steroids. for a while, i actually felt like the housewives were kindred spirits when they complained about the constant daily grind of sahms over margaritas. but slowly and surely, the show started a downward spiral for me and has since jumped numerous sharks for me. i think i catch some episodes now in the hopes that it's redeemed itself. and then i read that susan's character opened her big (now, apparently ignorant) mouth and inserted her klutzy foot. and then, i got angry and went looking for fellow pinoy misery/camaraderie online.

i mean no disrespect but can i just say it never ceases to amaze me that when an issue like this comes up that so many filipino bloggers either ignore it or worse - defend it and then condescend to those of us who do care about it by virtually comparing us to fantasizing conspiracy theorists. by blogging thus, they excuse bigots and their remarks and even justify sophmoric and damaging humor. do filipinos/filipinos bloggers really want to be associated with or encourage racial humour where the punch line/brunt of the joke is the difference and/or assumed inferiority of a person of color?

i'm all for freedom of speech - censorship is not an option. but, free speech is a two way street. celebrities get to offend me on primetime tv with a "harmless (racially motivtated) slip of the tongue" and i get to petition ABC to see if i can get an apology (which by the way, was a non-apology apology - F*CK YOU, ABC). i want to help foster community building and open forums for diverse opinions, yada yada yada... but ultimately, these bloggers help to undo the countless hours of dedicated work of asian american activists and feminists in the second or two it takes someone to read their post. they encourage apathy, prejudice and ignorance, anti-asian racism, sexism and frankly, as an asian american woman, they embarass me.

all night long, i thought of all the negative stereotypes that desperate housewives perpetuates (shudder to think how it redefines that whole "ugly american" sterotype abroad) and it reminded me of something i read a while ago from the Media Action Network for Asian Americans. it is a list of "restrictive asian portrayals constantly repeated in the mainstream media". this morning i googled for the list again and found it here. some of the characters/character traits in the list are exact matches to asian characters/their portrayals in desperate housewives:

yao lin (played by actress, lucille soong) - the solis' housekeeper from season one. she wasn't on very long (she was fired after insulting gabrielle) but i distinctly remember that she was constantly wanting something from gabrielle - either for her to confess to having an affair or money or guarantees of money/barter for services rendered. she was definitely portrayed as someone inherently predatory. i don't remember for sure, but i think she also played the part with an accent perpetuating the foreigner who can't be assimilated stereotype.

xiao mei (played by gwendoline yeo) - the solis' second housekeeper who spoke broken english and was another neighbors slave and then, baby surrogate and then, homegrown homewrecker. she gave birth to an african american child due to a mix up at the sperm bank and has never been seen or heard from again. first, she was the perpetual foreigner who spoke little english and was constantly in fear of getting deported, then she was the model minority and then she was the china doll - exotic, subservient, industrious, eager to please, and finally, after learning from gabrielle that men in america didn't like virgins she becomes the dragon lady. she schemes and backstabs gabrielle by having an affair with her husband.

melanie foster (played by actress, joy bisco) - former sex crazed and obsessed girlfriend of matthew appelwhite who killed her after she threatened to turn his brother in for assaulting her. she's the dragon lady who gets sacrificed for the greater good.

vern - (played by actor, alec mapa) gabrielle's gay best friend who helps her with her new model training racket. once again, the asian male not only doesn't get the hooch. he's not even interested in the hooch. that's right hollywood there are asian males out there who are sexy and straight! they are our fathers, our brothers, our nephews, our husbands and our sons and they are just as delicious as their white counterparts.... STOP THE PRESSES!

in the end, why do i give a sh*t? Aren't there more important things to get enraged over like the war in Iraq or the disappearing benefits of legal immigrants? It's just a TV show right? These are just stereotypes, no one thinks like this in REAL life...

well, in my REAL life, i have a stepsister who was verbally harassed ("hey chink, stop taking away our jobs!") by a bunch of white men in broad daylight near wrigley field and was then dragged into and beat up in an alley. no one, who passed by the very busy intersection, came to her rescue when she screamed at them for help.

and like my sisters, cousins, friends, it's been assumed that i'm my kids' nanny, i'm "The" asian woman (we all look alike right?), that i don't speak english, that i'm good at math, that i'm a submissive partner in relationships but also naturally good in bed because my vagina is shaped differently, that not only will i do the work that's required of me but i'll do it for less money and never complain, and of course, that i often butcher and then eat dogs to celebrate big events....

already, my toddler children have experienced nuanced forms of stereotyping and prejudice. my guess is that it will on>THAT'S why i give a sh*t.

[steps off soapbox]ly get worse and worse the older they get. i'll be there to help them pick up the shattered pieces of the dream that was sesame street but it's by getting pissed off and militant and vocal about ignorant crap like this, that i'll know that i did my best, that i fought the good fight for them. that i actually tried to make the world a better and safer place for them to live in.

and elsewhere in real life, marie stephanie martinez was beaten on a bus just for "looking chinese" and joseph santos ileto was murdered by a white supremacist for "looking latino or asian". marie stephanie could have been my sister, my niece or my daughter. joseph ileto could have been my father or my uncle.

Monday, October 01, 2007

fascinating rhythm

we were listening to ella fitzgerald in the car yesterday and fascinating rhythm came on and the lyrics resonated with me more than ever before....

last thursday, i got the chance to see the beastie boys (again) @ northerly island with some of my (formerly san francisco) b-girls. there aren't enough superlatives to describe the show or the performances or the boys themselves (yo quiero MCA!). suffice to say, i was rendered deaf and mute by 11 p.m. and BIG LOVE to the city of chicago itself for looking absolutely stunning and providing such a breathtaking background for the band. it made getting trampled on by the *ssholes in the mosh pit OK! (no, not really.) check out some pics here and some videos here. i also heard music from a band i'd never heard of - the jazz crusaders:

and just when i thought i could recover... some other dear friends from sf, lavay smith and her red hot skillet lickers,

came to town to play a couple of nights at the green mill. it was crowded when i walked in friday night, but i made sure to wear something sparkly so that lavay or chris would see me. and it worked - she saw me, waved, complained that i was wearing something too sparkly and dedicated "everybody's talking about miss thing" to lil ol' me... *blush*

drinking, drunkdialing and dancing ensued....

thankfully, the thin man was nice enough to let me sleep most of it off on saturday. and then, my mom rescued both of us on sunday.

today is monday, i think, and thirtysomething parenting normalcy (and my hearing and voice) has returned for the most part - the palomas tantrums, the porkchop's screaming in lieu of language, the mama melodrama, the snackage, the constantly going up and down the stairs and the continuous loop of pixars' cars movie, etc, etc, etc....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

project runway v. 1' 6"

i couldn't decide what to title this post. at first i thought of "further proof that i've gone off the deep end" and then, "bow down to your 18" overlords!" but i settled on the title that seemed the more positive of the three... 'cause we're running LOW on positivity in this house...

the porkchop caught a cold and the paloma is coming down with it... which makes both of them increasingly irritable. the porkchop finally surrendered to his nap after fighting it for an hour and a half.... and as we all know, i will also catch this cold. and i will be fit company for their misery. it's only wednesday and already the week seems a little too overscheduled. i may have to drop the kids out of one class or another for our sanity's sake....

anyhoo back to my silly post... a couple of weeks ago, the paloma was invited to her first birthday party at American Girl Place (AGP). i did a little homework and found out that girls usually bring their AG dolls to dine with them. if girls don't have an AG doll, they can BORROW one.

so (after having a nightmare about an angry paloma returning a borrowed AG doll) within a few days, i found two "knock offs" the our generation dolls and the springfield dolls. i ended up buying lindsey from the springfield dolls ( i liked the skin color better and the price) BUT unlike what she looks like on their website, she comes stark nekkid.

i bought one outfit and a pair of shoes with the doll. i figured i could make more clothes for the doll later which might encourage her to play with her new doll more and hopefully, turning the tide on the whole barbie doll fiasco.

in an effort to keep the doll and the birthday party a surprise, i kept both a secret and pretended that i was making clothes for two of my old dolls, crissy:

and tiffany taylor:

the dresses above were made just in the last day or so specifically for the thinner dolls... the paloma kept asking me why the doll clothes were so big. it was like i was back in college for a critique! finally, the party was this past weekend and i could reveal the doll and the doll clothes (there are two other outfits but they're like the first pancakes):

the paloma flipped out. she LOVES her doll (she christened her "mary") and carries her around all the time by her ponytail.

but the thing is... i think i'm kinda addicted to making doll clothes. it's like a miniaturized project runway! they're so quick to make and without trying to pat myself on the back AND break my arm, i'm pretty good at it (i better be - w/ five years of fashion design classes and ten years in the industry under my belt).

i'm in desperate need of an intervention. it's like veggie booty (before the recall)! i have other things to do/complete that are more important/higher in priority. but i think it's getting worse... i've already bought some matching kid size patterns so i can make some outfits for the paloma that match her doll (i have oodles of fabric left over...)

and here's where i'm sure i've gone insane... i actually agreed to make the paloma a costume for halloween this year. she was changing her mind so often that i didn't think she'd decide. but for a few days, at the suggestion of a friend, she had decided that she wanted to be wendy or princess tigerlilly (from peter pan), mary would be tinkerbell (yes, there is a pattern and yes, i have it) and that the porkchop would be capt. hook. i was ECSTATIC. no, really!

and then? THEN! this morning she changed her mind. :( now, she wants to be sleeping beauty and mary (her doll) will be one the fairies - flora, fauna or merryweather. she said maybe, the porkchop could be the owl. :(

i'll have to write a separate post about the party at AG Place. it was an amazing, horrifying, humbling, memorable, heart tickling, ridiculous, hilarious experience. i think i've finally recovered from it. i only spent $32.00. but i was there for five hours. i know, i can't think of anything i LIKE to do for five hours... honestly, i'm too tired to write the post now, because i was up late last night (11:30) making that maroon/gold jumper and got up early (5:45 am) this morning to shower for a ride i hitched with a mom who was going by the fabric store. i'm SO not kidding.

oh look, now it's 11:16. it's official, i'm my dolls' b*tch.

Monday, September 24, 2007

cure for blogging hiatus? a random ignorant nanny.

every once in a while i notice that i feel slightly overwhelmed/intimidated by posting, reading and commenting on blogs while simultaneously being a wife and mom and daughter and sister and friend and yada yada yada.... i realize that i have to ease up on my inner accelerator and just let my life get hurt and wounded. then, heal itself and scar up around me...

i observe a little more and overanalyze a little less... i also noticed that the blogosphere itself was feeling a little darker than usual so i thought i should take a little break. at first i thought it would just be a day or two and then three days passed... ergo blogging hiatus... i apologize if you were worried at all... especially with the tone of my last post and my dramatic leanings... i know i worry about my fellow bloggers when they inexplicably drop out of sight for a while...

anyhoo, i'm slowly playing catch up on my blog posting, reading and commenting... today, i went about my daily routine hoping to find something i might blog about next.

(incidentally, i'm still taking pics and videos of the kids that i'd love to share with you, but as i mentioned before, i'm uncomfortable doing so. but, if you'd like to see some pics/vids and you're already a member of flickr or youtube just contact me and i'll add you as a friend or subscriber.)

today, i woke up. i dressed in something clean and cool. i got the paloma ready for school. i changed the porkchop out of diapers/pjs. we had breakfast - a bagel and juice for the paloma, cheerios and milk for the porkchop, and a tea for the paloma's doll, mary. i decided to pick up a coffee and coffee cake at a local cafe. (btw - i still haven't gotten a minute to eat the coffee cake or lunch - it's 4:50 pm now)

we took one last look in the mirror - i brush my hair quickly, fix her pink hair clip, slip on her sock and shoes. in the backyard, i schpritzed 7% deet (yes, they're still biting here) on all of us and we were off.

we walked to school. on the way, we picked up some leaves. and rocks. and a neon pink feather - must be a flamingo says paloma. we said hi to and ruffled to the fur of a yellow lab and a sheepdog. after a kiss and a hug and a few words of encouragement, she walked into the school.

after a quick coffee and vanilla milk run, the porkchop and i headed to the park. the park was already busy with a group of local preschool kids and some grandparents with other toddlers. i didn't see anyone i knew... but there was a young woman - college student maybe - with a young boy, he looked about preschool age. she was very attentive and playful with him - which was refreshing since many of the moms/nannies usually let their kids run amok while talking to each other or on their cellphones. i don't necessarily helicopter/hover, but i also don't allow the paloma or porkchop to do or sometimes say anything willy nilly. i think i really do have bionic ears and eyes in the back of my head.

so, while the porkchop and i played "unnydog!" (again! again! again!) in a babyswing, the young woman came over to push the young boy on the neighboring big kid swing. she started some small talk with the pork chop, "hi there! how old are you?"

she was met with the deafening porkchop silence.

me (smiling): "he's twenty months old or so."

young woman (smiling): "he's looking at me like i'm an intruder"

me (jokingly): "he does that with everybody. he owns the park and wants to know who invited all these people he doesn't know."

young woman: "this is such a great park. we usually go to ridge (another nearby park). but, i don't like the wood chips or the sandbox."

me: "yeah, i don't like the sandbox or the wood chips either. my daughter somehow attracts splinters and she's dug up some really disgusting "treasure" in the sandbox - usually cat poop, the occasional empty 40 oz and once (whispering) a used condom."

young woman: "yikes. really? wow. the kids are always trying to run around without shoes on and i worry that they're going to get something like glass stuck in their feet. they say, 'amy, mommy lets us run around without shoes all the time.' i tell them 'then you can do that with your mom. but you can't run around shoeless with me.'"

me: "my kids are the same. they hate shoes. they get that from me. as a kid, i hated shoes and socks."

young woman/nanny: "the other reason i don't like that park is because usually i'm the only white woman there with white kids. and those black kids just play too rough. you know what i mean... (eyes rolling)"

me (furrowed brow): (silence)(look of utter disbelief and total confusion on my face) "um. uh."

young woman/ignorant nanny (smiling): "well, we gotta go. it was nice to meet you. we'll see you here again!

me (furrowed brow): "yeah. bye!"

i know. i dropped the anti-model minority stereotype ball. trust me, i'm angry at myself enough. i was off my game today. i cannot always let this happen to me. i swear i do not have "racists welcome here" tattooed to my forehead. i wanted to calmly tell this young ignorant white woman that it was not ok to say this to a complete stranger who happened to be asian. i wanted to tell her how offended i was. i wanted to ask her to examine why she thought it was "ok" to have said this to anyone. but, i dropped it. i lazily let racism happen in front of my son and another mother's son.

i desperately want to write a scathing email to the local moms group in hopes of alerting the mom of her ignorant insulting nanny and maybe even write a post to isawyournanny. but i won't because i know neither of those things will have a positive effect. but, i need to do something.

sometimes i think i'll just have to resort to being the weird lady who carries around copies of "white privilege: unpacking the invisible backpack" around with her and randomly hands them out to white people who upset her. no, really. then, i think about that book guerilla art kit and it also gives me some ideas. but, then i imagine the backlash on the kids and the thin man.

lately, i've been thinking starting some kind of group, maybe a real life anti-racist parent group in the neighborhood to raise awareness and to support other parents who encounter stuff like this in our very diverse, but not remotely integrated neighborhood. it overwhelms me and i stop thinking about it so much - hoping that i'll have an epiphany about it.

i just don't know where to start. how do i find all these parents? where would we meet? how often would we meet? how would i moderate such a meeting? what would we talk about? how could we collectively affect positive change instead of encouraging the rift that already exists? how do i keep parents constantly interested and involved?

so, i'm open to any and all the helpless, fearful, angry, anti-racist mama out - comment on, comment on...

Monday, September 10, 2007

postcard from the outlands of h*ll, IL...

sometimes when i wake up, i feel rested... or tired... or nothing... or dread... like yesterday.

it's been a tough 10 days or so... i kinda lost count after the first few days. the thin man was preparing for a trial and then, he was in the midst of it. so, our days and nights were long, trying and chaotic.

it was also the paloma's first week back at school so there were changes to our routines again and then there was the rain.... i'm also due for a visit from "aunt flo" who is remarkably different and *ahem* pronounced, emotionally and physically, since the arrival of my two children....

i needed a break yesterday and so the thin man offered to drop me off downtown... when he asked me where i wanted to be dropped off, i couldn't think where.

i mean where could i go when all i wanted to do was lose myself in grief, anger and loss and then cleanse with a celebration of spirit, friendship and joyful love? what place would be quiet and sacred enough for me to think clearly and meditate deeply and loud enough so that i could scream until i was mute and breathless?

so, i punted and said, "drop me off at the art institute."

my best friend, andra, and i would spend our free time together one of two ways.... wandering aimlessly in evanston or wandering aimlessly downtown. evanston is too much of a hike, now that we've moved so far south ergo downtown.

as soon as i walked through the art institute's monstrously heavy door, i regretted it. i wasn't even sure why i was there. so much of the art has been moved or taken off display that it was almost insulting to her memory to be here at all. but, i didn't have any better ideas... so i kept going on my bitter unfocused way...

i entered the thorne rooms first - one of our favorite exhibits. we used to say that teeny tiny people lived in the rooms because the accessories in some of the rooms looked as if someone had literally walked away to use the bathroom, to get the mail, to pick up the baby, to have clandestine sex in the broom closet, etc...

i thought about her room in her old house and what it would be like to make a diorama of it... a book open on her bed, dollops of paint still wet on a pallette on the floor and an unfinished canvas propped up against the lower part of a wall. a green jean jacket hanging slack from a chair. as i turned the final corner of the horseshoe shaped exhibit, i thought i'd feel better, but the memories made her more distant and the detailed intricacy of the thorne rooms more ridiculous and fanciful.

i made my way back up the marble stairs. looking down at my aching feet, wondering, "should i stay or should i go?" i forgot about the soft worn slopes of the stone steps and how we couldn't imagine calculating how many feet had tread them to make them so.

eventually, i always find myself in front of the chagall windows, but they've been removed to protect them from the construction of the new modern wing. defeated, i veered right and up into the rice building hoping to find something... anything familiar. aside from finding the jeff wall exhibit (which i can only describe as dramatically cinematic transparency theatre), i happily found where - the o'keefes, american gothic, and the ivan albrights - most of the american stuff had been moved.

and then, i remembered that i hadn't seen the baccarat paperweights in a while, another one of our favorite things to see in the museum. i made my way down two levels and found them again easily... they're a bit dusty but still breathtaking and stunning to me... especially, my favorite paperweight - the large one with the blood red glass gecko frozen inside a bubbly sphere surrounded by flowers.

and then, it was clear why i came to the museum.

there's a native american proverb that goes something like "we will be known forever, by the tracks we leave." and she, andra, had left tracks on everything at the museum - every painting, sculpture, drawing, every thing was a mutual friend/acquaintance of ours... i needed to be around something or someone who knew her and remembered her. and andra had left her tracks on me. finally, my mood lifted.

after spending some more time (with andra) at the museum and its store, i left at noon. i went across the street to watch puppetbike (my new favorite thing to do in chicago and something i'm sure she would have LOVED). i crossed back over to au bon pain, got a sandwich, an orange scone and a tea - another of our old traditions. my heart and my tummy were full. :)

so, i walked to the macy's protest. it was so old school, so heartwarming, to see passionate chicagoans banding together for a really worthy cause - CHICAGO! when i got there, i got interviewed by a reporter (no, she didn't quote me in her story - even though she kept saying, "that's a GREAT quote!") and after answering her questions, i actually got all choked up and almost started to cry. i'm sure this reporter thought i was crazy for getting so emotional over a store (don't get me started).

but really... all i was thinking was, "i get it. sometimes change is good. like puppetbike. but othertimes, like Macy's... not so much. and MOST times, like no... today, sept. 10... not at all."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

methinks i doth protest too little... or DIE! MACY'S DIE!

just an fyi - i have a new post up at chicago moms blog titled "methinks i doth protest too little... or DIE! MACY' S DIE!"

btw, a new sister site to svmoms, chicago moms has launched - *APPLAUSE!*

DC metro moms

"We are thrilled to announce the “official” launch of the DC Metro Moms Blog , a collaborative group of moms writing about their lives in Washington, D.C.; where moms live and work in the shadow of the Capitol, Beltway driving is the adventure sport of choice, the Mall is flanked by national monuments instead of anchor stores, and bipartisan playdates easily gain constituency approval. The DC Metro Moms Blog is building a community of mom bloggers, voices, and resources for and about families living in the DC Metro area and its suburbs."

incidentally, nyc moms are still being sought for the nyc moms blog.

Friday, August 31, 2007

random things that make me laugh...

at the risk of sounding totally schizophrenic... i had to share in my hysterical cackling merriment... 'tis friday and all...

thank GOD, tolkien isn't around to see flight of the conchords... or IS he?

SAY WHAT! (alas poor 80s! i knew you well... a decade of infinite wit and most excellent fancy...)

hot. fuzz. 'nuff said. (violence in that drunken stupor spoof humor, "guess ya had to be there" kinda way)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

the caged bird publishes a post...

before i bore you with all the tedious detritus that is my life...

i should mention that this past weekend, i published two posts on filipina moms blog - "involuntary captivity" and "PSST!!! FREE STUFF!!!"

i also neglected to mention it earlier, but a few weeks ago, i was asked to contribute to another group blog - - "a place to share and discuss the chingchong as well as other stuff about being Asian American". i was very happy and honored to accept their offer. my latest is "ching chong chinaman - the play".

ok, back to my depressing detritus... or maybe i AM depressing detritus... and i have been for a little while...

my depression may been compounded by the record amount of rain we received... or the record heat... or that the paloma is out of school, day camp, ballet classes, yoga classes... or that the porkchop is almost to his terrible twos and not really "talking" (no worries, we've had him evaluated)... and my ceramics classes also came to an end for the summer too... and i hate september... and then, there was that total lunar eclipse which i suspect wreaked havoc on my hormones which were legion o' sybils already....

which in turn, reminded me, that if i were a "normal" sahm who drove a car, my children would be enjoying themselves at one of the gazillion family friendly indoor attractions we have in chicago. but instead they were re-enacting graphic scenes from "lord of the flies" in the playroom... and yes, i saved the cats from a kebab-ish end...

last friday, everything came to a head. words were said, actions were taken. all of which i regret. i regretted them so much that i started to send out a couple of resumes while they napped... i rationalized that no matter what - i never wanted to experience another day like that again. i never wanted to talk to the children the way i'd talked to them. i never wanted to handle them as roughly as i did. the children would be much better off at an all day school/day care. at least there they would never be bored, never be yelled at, possibly rough housed but not by someone who should know better. i felt that working full time in a job i hate would just be another sacrifice i'd make for them. another example of me "taking it for the team".

to say that the house and every being in it was "fitful" would be an understatement. every time one of them cried out, i wanted desperately to cry out in response.

although i've been thinking about getting a job for a while, i haven't been able to get around that "feeling" that it wouldn't "solve" any of our problems. that it would in fact make new ones and make me feel miserable and robotic, doing something that wasn't fulfilling.

to say the least, when i confessed to the thin man he was not happy about me taking actions to pursue such a big decision without consulting him first. and of course, because the whole reason we moved back to chicago from the bay area was so that i could stay home and take care of the kids.

obviously, i wasn't happy either - but i felt that it was the only path open to taking. and after feeling physically, intellectually and emotionally confined - i took a baby step in some direction, any direction.

as i've mentioned before, we cannot move back to the south loop where i'd have most of my mobility/independence back (the rest being taken over by the actual weight of two kids in an early model, used double stroller.) the housing market is in the tank. the house is in good shape - better shape than when we purchased it - that's for sure. but, it's not in any shape to sell really. the thin man's employer just went thru a merger and so, we're all "waiting and seeing" over that issue. even if we did move, there are no guarantees that i'd be happy or that it would be a healthy move for the whole family. blah blah blah - infinity...

but, here we are on wednesday. no call backs from potential employers, the weather has been agreeable and we've notched a few more playdates on our bed rails . and i'm calm and thankful.

i also talked with a dear btdt mom friend and she was so helpful and supportive. she completely blew my job idea out of the water, and although i feel like i'm back at square one, i also feel like i see a little bit clearer now and that the weight i carry is slightly lighter...

there were a few things she said that put things into perspective for me (you probably already thought of this):

* the bad horrible regrettable days don't stop after you get a job (even if it's a job you love) and after the kids spend all day at the best care facility, getting intellectual, academic, creative, emotional, and physical stimulation, eating the best organic food for lunch and snacks and even squeezing a nap in there somewhere. we're human. that's our beastly nature.

* our generation is one of the first generations who is expected to entertain children for 10+ hours a day. in previous generations, they were considered labor or decoration. parents didn't play with them and if/when they did - they didn't do it for 10+ hours a day. our work is NOT cut out for us.

* after experiencing a friday like yours, you are not automatically inducted into the abusive parent hall of fame. you actually love your children deeply and frequently tell them and show them that you love them and you spend time with them in whatever capacity you can, you establish and build the foundation of your relationship almost every minute of almost every day. and when you screw up, you own it. you heartily apologize for your mistakes and missteps and you promise to do better and you move on.

you are however an angry parent. you have this anger because you don't allow yourself to ignore your children for x amt. of hours a day, for weeks at a time to watch tv or talk on the phone or play videogames. you don't allow yourself to needlessly pawn them off on others to care for them while you chill out with other childless people to attend an overpriced lunch everyday. and you don't allow them to run amok among the general toddler public to kick other children in the face or rip toys out of smaller weaker hands, etc... you don't allow yourself any "luxuries" that other parents do. THAT'S why you're angry. as far as i'm concerned, you're allowed a little angry.

well, if you made it this far. thank you for your patience. i didn't want to write about this and bore you, but i just had to get it out... again...

hopefully, i've managed to pull myself out of the latest funk and am just in the process of cleaning the residue off... :)

Friday, August 24, 2007

an oldie but a goodie

this weather (from hell), my (cabin) feverish children and my feeble attempts at "maybe" "possibly" finding "new employment" are stifling any and all of my creative process... so, i looked back to see what i was doing when the paloma was the same age as the porkchop (not much, which doesn't bode well for me for the next few months) and then, what i was thinking about this time last year... and found this oldie but goodie

(btw: k'zilla=paloma and b'zilla=porkchop):

metrodad just posted to ricedaddies about this nyt article called "tickled red to be elmo in a rainbow world". personally, i think this rove mcmanus interview is so much better... ("elmo LOVES wasabi! wasabi is a sometimes food!")

btw - for those of you in chicago, on friday's oprah (channel 7, 9 a.m.), they're re-airing the show where kevin is "revealed".

so, it appears that both the nyt and metrodad are really excited that elmo's muppeteer is black.

which reminded me of something that happened to me a few years ago, a friend of mine recounted a backstage visit to sesame street where a friend of hers was a "muppeteer". she giddily and gushingly (i mean like the blushing school girl, with the timebomb secret, straddling the cafeteria table bench) told me that the elmo muppeteer was "a really tall, african american man, named kevin".

the first thing i thought was "can you hook me up and get ME backstage at sesame street!?" and the second thing i thought was, "why is it a secret or a surprise or does it even matter to you that elmo's muppeteer is black?" it didn't really surprise me, just look at the cast of sesame street - it's probably the most diverse cast on tv and has been consistently so since it's debut in the 70s right?

admittedly, kevin clash seems to have breached the "caucasian muppeteer glass ceiling". but, i don't assume automatically that muppets are handled/voiced by white people. just like i don't assume that all the boy muppets are handled/voiced by males. and does the fact that they're white make the body of work of jim henson (kermit, ernie), frank oz (bert, grover) or caroll spinney (big bird, oscar) less impressive, less inspiring, less educational? do they lose their sesame street cred because of it?

as a child, i didn't care that all those characters were dreamed up and brought to life by white people (not that i knew). all i cared about was how alive the muppets were - they were funny, grouchy, loving, sympathetic, hungry, crazy, falliable, cynical, optimistic. they were just plain weird inside and out and yet wholly and unconditionally loved by millions. and who doesn't want to be loved unconditionally (by milllions) despite one's idiosyncrasies?

lately, it seems that parents are too worried about television not doing a good enough job at educating and well... parenting. i just don't think it's sesame street's job to educate children about racism, or HIV, or 9/11, death, love, pregnancy, obesity and divorce. but, they've taken these issues on to the ranting and raving of parents all over the globe. i always wonder if they take on these issues because they're told to or because they feel it's their duty. if it's the latter, do the producers of sesame street really think parents are doing such a bad job that they need to supplement?

in the 70s, sesame street did a great job teaching me the alphabet, numbers, opposites, rhyming and colors. they did a good job of making learning fun, encouraging me, as a child, to explore the world and making sure that the world always seemed big and full of things to experience with something new to teach me everyday. they still do, but for some reason, they go even further and sometimes they get schmacked for it - cookies are now a "sometime food" for cookie monster, zoe was given a zoemobile and a tutu instead of a doll, and remember when snuffy was big bird's "invisible" friend? and now, it's abby cadabby being too pink, too girly. (hello!? there are what five or six girl muppets and what a GAZILLION boy muppets. looks to me like sesame street is a tad testosterone heavy. how did that get past us feminists?)

i just feel that as a parent it's my job to pick up where sesame street should be leaving off. and depending on the subject matter, i'd rather that my child learn about these things from me anyway. i can appreciate that sesame street and other "educational" programs try to help me out. but, i worry that some issues are too complex/controversial for them to handle in 5 or 10 minute chunks - they may even be forced to sit on the fence - presenting some issues too simply/too detailed for some or not simple enough/too detailed for others. a parent knows their child better than anyone else (well, i hope they do anyway) and knows how to best educate their child - what tools/examples to use, when the child is ready to grasp a concept, when to table the discussion for another time, what language to use, etc, etc....

getting back to metrodad's post he says that he'll raise his daughter in a multi-cultural and multi-racial environment to teach her lessons about racism and racial stereotypes. i want to believe that that will help. i really do. i think the same thing about k'zilla and b'zilla with regards to our (not so diverse) chicago neighborhood (such as it is).

strangely enough, this makes me wonder about iceland's mostly blond, blue-eyed, extremely homogeneous population. i mean, how racist is iceland, if at all? i'm really curious - save for that genetic tidbit - i don't know squat about iceland. well, ok, i know i like bjork and that she isn't blonde.

sometimes i think that i'm actually self taught re: racism, stereotypes and prejudice. because despite growing up in a very diverse, multi-cultural, multi-racial neighborhood in chicago: my family was afraid of black people, the puerto rican neighbors thought the mexican neighbors were low class and dirty. everyone told me polish people couldn't drive - even the polish kids. the korean and the indian neighbors were lumped together as conceited and "foreign" and everyone thought filipinos ate dogs. even when i moved to san francisco, i thought there's no way, i'd encounter any racism there. it's practically all asians. and i was proved wrong. today, i'm still considered, less asian to some, and a race traitor/"coconut" to others. and just because they think that, i'm not saying they're racists either. and somehow, i gathered the bits and pieces for a definiton of what racism/prejudice is to me.

i won't even get started on how those of us with facial differences get treated/are viewed and how that factors into my perspective on prejudice..

but, of course, i don't have a solution or even a compromise - just personal anecdotes, i guess.

i DO know that we'll do our best to teach our children about all their different heritages, especially all the different languages since i still have family in the philippines and my husband's paternal side of the family speaks spanish at home. i know my husband will probably focus on history wheras i will focus on the arts. we want them to travel extensively as well which is an education in itself, changing one's perspective, the resulting culture shock, etc.... i definitely want to volunteer with them too - anywhere and everywhere, doing all sorts of things that challenge us physically, intellectually and emotionally. i want them to get involved with the world, to get engaged, and not just observe. i them to walk many miles in many shoes.

the bottom line is i don't want my children to grow up and become racists/race purists. my hope is that they will be satisfactory human beings - critical thinkers who make realtively sound decisions. that they'll see all "the issues" as the grey shapeless masses that they are instead of just "black" and "white", "right" and "wrong", "bad" or "good", "conservative" or "liberal". honestly, i'm not sure how i'm going to help accomplish this either - probably by example - not that i'm a very good example by any stretch of the imagination.

Friday, August 17, 2007


the second apartment i had in san francisco was on the corner of geary and polk, across the street from a drug rehab, a laundromat and a parking lot. my bedroom windows were also street level to the busiest trannie corner in san francsico, 24-7. a three year relationship had just ended and i was looking forward to a new phase in my life... and i was lonely. i think this was '97 or '98.

i thought i should get a cat and found myself wandering the rooms and cages and aisles at the sf spca.

there was a room that looked empty and before i opened the door, an spca employee mentioned in passing that he didn't think there were any animals in that room. but i went in anyway, i didn't mind checking. i walked around and got to the very last aisle, where i saw two fluffy paws stretching out of the very last cage. so, i walked all the way down and there she was. "reina" was her name. she was an adult cat and looked himalayan mixed with some main coon. she kept stretching her paws out to me through the cage and so i reached out to touch her and immediately wanted to rescue her and take her home.

i found another employee and she told me that this cat was popular that day, that a few people wanted to adopt her but that they couldn't get the cage open. she was waiting for a custodian or a locksmith to break the lock. she said she'd try to open the cage again, but not to get my hopes up. with her first attempt, the lock unlocked and the cage opened. the cat leaped into my arms and crawled around my neck and tried to sit on my head. papers were signed and i boarded a bus with a cardboard box full of fluffy catness.

on the way home, i saw an advertisement for yerba buena gardens and realized i didn't like the name "reina" all that much but "buena" was nice and sounded similar. so from then on, i called her "buena".

she was the most loving and most intuitive cat i've ever known. she was quiet and playful - a juicy, girlie, flirt with big, clear, blue eyes and brown stockings.

buena looked after me through many good days and bad nights, a handful of failed relationships, breakups, health scares, a tattoo, hangovers, fashion do's and don'ts, the laserdisc years, employment lay-offs, swing dancing, a burglary and finally dating and marriage to her arch rivals - the thin man and his young, uppity cat, bailey. she moved five more times with me. our last move together was here to chicago.

before we left the bay area, she was already sick. it turned out she was older than i or the sf spca had originally thought. the veterinarian who looked after her in san francisco was unsure of what was really ailing buena besides old age. her back legs were failing her and she was having trouble missing the litter box. it felt like buena was slowly and painfully breaking off pieces of my heart. everytime i thought, we'd have to bring her to the vet to put her down she'd make a miraculous recovery. her legs would regain their normal strength and her bathroom habits would improve. it was a similar recovery that encouraged me to move her to chicago with us. i took her on a plane with me just in case she couldn't handle the cross country truck trip that the thin man, his dad and bailey were embarking upon.

as soon as we landed, buena took a turn for the worse. i opened the door to our new apartment and tried to make the empty echoing place as comfortable for the two of us as possible. and after a sleepless vigil of two days and two nights, of dragging legs, full bowls of untouched cat food and fresh water, and pristine box of cat litter - i called my brother and asked for help. he picked us up and drove us to the local emergency vet.

we cried all the way there. we cried in the waiting room like all the other owners and their howling pets. everytime, i looked into her eyes, i expected to find fear or pain and found peace and quiet. she often tried to get up and failed. i knew she just wanted to be at home. i felt so conflicted. i wanted to leave. but, i wanted to make sure she wasn't in any pain. i wanted her to be free but i wasn't ready to let her go. finally, the vet leveled with us and assured us that it was better for her to be put down. i hugged her and nodded to the vet. he left and returned and explained the procedure. i held her close and whispered into her ear, "thank you for taking care of me so well and for so long. i'm going to be okay now. you can go. i love you and i'll never never forget you." i looked into her eyes, the vet continued, her pupils got bigger and as the vet listened for her heartbeat he quietly told me that she was gone.

my brother and the vet and the technician left us alone for a little while and i laid her body down on the metal examining bed, my shaky hand stroking her small head, trying to gently shut her eyes. then the technician came back and explained all of our options for burial. shamefully, i asked them to dispose of her remains because we just couldn't afford anything else. but i asked if i could cut some of her hair. she brought back a pair of office scissors and an empty pill vial. i cut a bit from the tips of her ears, and some from her belly and some from her tail. i still have the vial tucked away in my sock drawer.

while my brother drove me back to the new empty apartment, he turned on the radio to break the silence. i rolled the pill vial back and forth in my hands remembering that first day, seeing her paws stretching out of her cage... and this song came on the radio and it reminds me of the night she died every time i hear it:

after looking thru a photo album this afternoon, i realized that that was six years ago tonight.

buena, i miss you terribly. but don't worry about me because i really am doing ok. i really wish you could've met the paloma, the porkchop and the newish cat, stella (she drives bailey CRAY-ZEE!) and i really hope that wherever it is i end up, you'll be there waiting for me.


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