Tuesday, April 24, 2007

needless to say...

the virginia tech thing f*cked my sh*t up and i've been avoiding all contact with the world - online or offline.... luckily, the weather has been cooperating and so, we've been in the backyard, kicking beach balls, drawing with chalk, riding tricycles and swinging our toes up to the sun.

but - this seemed like a pretty fun bunch of questions (via my galpal, maggs) to answer and will help me ease back into posting again. and btw - i've been thinkin' about and missin' all y'all!!!

1) Who did you talk to the most today? the paloma. and only because she speaks. i would have preferred to talk to the porkchop - i don't think he would have been nearly as b*tchy. what. a. diva.

2) What is the best name for a butler? first name - johnny, ewan, russell, jude, heath. last name - depp, mcgregor, crowe, law, ledger. respectively. seriously, what self respecting stay at home mom doesn't want a celebrity dad for a butler?

3) What was your last weird encounter? last weekend, a man was screaming up and down state street. he was either screaming "SELFISH!" or "SHELLFISH!" over and over and over. i couldn't quite make it out.

4) What's the weirdest story of one of your scars? (puglet's copying and pasting these questions to answer on her blog right now....) the weirdest story affiliated with my CH scar has got to be that when my mom wanted to take baby pictures of me for posterity, the doctors took the camera away and told her it was better that i never knew what i looked like as a baby. she somehow got the camera back and scored some pics but when she opened the camera to develop the film, it was gone.

5) Do you remember the part from Bambi when Bambi learns to say "bear"? nicely played. trick question. bambi doesn't learn how to say bear. he learns how to say "bird", "butterfly" and "flower". never try to school a stay at home mom with disney trivia.

6) What color is your toothbrush? i just realized i have three... upstairs master bath - a sonicare (white/teal) one and a pink one (for when i'm rushing). downstairs powder room - a navy blue one (for when the paloma is having a fall down, all appendages flailing, tantrum on the floor and the porkchop is climbing over the safety gate to get to the cats).

7) What is your middle name spelled backwards? eman elddim ruoy

8) Can you eat well with chopsticks? not really. but i can play them on the piano. i can barely get food into my mouth with a fork. i'm WAY better with my hands.

9) What odd things creep you out? non-sealife stuff that washes up on beaches and i'm not talking seaglass. and the random urban (prophylactic) detritus that ends up in the cobwebby corners of playground equipment. i know you just threw up a little in yer mouth.

10) Have you ever felt an earthquake? yes. thankfully, they were never anything newsworthy.
11) What do you do with the hot grease when you're done cooking bacon? i discard all but a tbsp or two and start making carbonara.

12) What's the weirdest thing you have ever eaten? haggis. at the edinburgh castle in san francisco.

13) What color are your socks today? i am sockless.

14) What is your favorite word that starts with the letter G? today it is - gelato.

15) Who do you blame for your mood today? me, myself and i.

16) If Ricky Martin had a trademark what would it be? can you trademark clones?

17) What is something scientists need to invent? true eco-friendly, reliable, cheap, public transit. as in cars that run on garbage and drive themselves...

18) What is the closest object to your left foot? a large plastic dump truck filled with matchbox cars, little people, fisher price airplanes and john deere tractors.

19) Who is your favorite Golden Girl? jill masterson. (and you get some serious netflix geek points if you get that...)

20) Do you have an inside joke that has to do with numbers? no. i have lame kid jokes that have to do with numbers. AND YOU WILL LAUGH. OH YES. YOU WILL.

21) What is the longest amount of hours you have slept in a row? 8. shocking, i know.

22) Where was your mother's hometown? somewhere in iligan, the philippines.

23) Where was your father's hometown? north of manila. the philippines.

24) What are the posters on your walls? in this room, we have a huge painting that the paloma did. she dipped her feet in different colors of paint and walked all over the paper. on the other wall, there's a hooked rug of kermit the frog that my best friend made.

25) Birthday? yes. once a year.

26) Say two words that rhyme. two words that rhyme.

27) Do you use online terms in real life? no. i do however use real life terms online.

28) What do you think people think of you? most people don't think about me at all. i can name a handful however who hate me. and with good reason.

29) Do you think this year will be better than the last? i always hope. but don't tell anybody.

30) Who is the 1st person on your incoming call list and how do you feel about them? my stepsister. i love her lots. i'm so glad our parents met and married.

40) Do you know who Salad Fingers Is? yes. him and his finger puppets scare me.

41) What is the stupidest thing you have ever done? i've burned many a bridge because i was too young (and probably too inebriated) to know any better.

42) What is your favorite commercial of the moment? the TMobile who's in your 5? commercials - especially the one with the dad and the prospective boyfriend. that's so the thin man in 13 years.

43) What does it take to make you cry? not much. observing/witnessing the simplicities, wonders and truths of this world and this life - i'm your friend that runs the waterworks 24/7...

44) What are you looking forward to? the end of these questions.

45) Have you ever cried because you thought you were ugly? no. i always cry because i'm SO BEAUTIFUL!!! i wish all of you were as beautiful as me!

46) Who did you kiss today? the paloma, the porkchop, the thin man. and the random cold viruses that they are all harboring...

47) What do you like to do when you are alone? write. read. nap. knit. draw. kegels.

48) Who are your 2 favorite characters on Full House? the characters in the commercials.

49) What is missing from your life? time, patience and independence

50) Would you be ashamed if you wore hippie clothes? i am wearing hippie clothes. what's your point?

51) Grab the closest book, what does the 7th sentence on the 27th page say? i'm in the playroom - NONE of these books have a 27th page or a 7th sentence. admit it. you want my life!

52) When was the last time you slept with a stuffed animal? a cat sleeps very definitively between my feet every night. and it's because of this, that sometimes, i want to get her stuffed.

53) If it was your last day on earth what shoes would you wear? on my last day on earth, i wouldn't be wearing shoes.... shoes are the last thing i'd be thinking about... on the second to last day on earth, i'd be wearing the most expensive pair of imported shoes i could steal.

54) Do you own a Super Nintendo? no

55) What do you think of Law and Order? i wish i could get paid to write. then i think, i wish i could just write.

56) Can you name all 7 dwarfs? dopey, grumpy, doc, bashful, sleepy, sneezy, happy. see #5.

57) Have you ever pretended to be Jewish? yes. but only at the last beastie boys concert. to get back stage. as a relative. CHALLAH!

58) What was the last thing you thought you lost, but ended up finding it? my california state ID. which expired on my birthday.... frackity frack frack!!

59) What were you doing at midnight last night? listening to the porkchop wake up and then cry. yes, i went over there and picked him up.

60) If you had a ball of clay what would you mold it into? an exact replica of me. then, i might actually be able to go to the loo by myself.

61) What does your Milkshake bring to the yard? nothing... now, if i had a top notch milkshake - i'd have the entire chicago police department in my yard.

62) Do you have any famous relatives? no. but i have met many famous folk (thank you FAO Schwarz) and they're like everybody else... just shorter.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

do not buy this book for your child.

here at chez 'zilla, we read a bevy of books as part of our nighttime routines. lately, it's been really fun (in the paloma's room anyway... back in the porkchop's crib, it's all..."good night moon, good night cow jumping over the moon, good night light and the red balloon" blah blah blah ad nauseum... ad nausea...). we stack up the pillows and hunker down in the blankets, read new stories, look at some pretty pictures and yawn and discuss and yawn and point and yawn again....

the thin man has enrolled the paloma in eb white 101 and roald dahl 101. and i've been slowly plugging thru the children's books that we (my sisters and me) all bought while in manila. finally, i came across this one, "ang pambihirang buhok ni raquel" or "raquel's fantastic hair".

i think my sister (whose name is pronounced "raquel" but is spelled "rachel" - i don't know why.) thought this was funny and oddly coincidental. but, i don't think she actually cracked open the book. or at least i hope she didn't... i'm hoping it was an honest mistake.

now, i don't know if it's because i think the market for childrens books is bigger here than in the philippines and/or because i've seen/read so many. or because i'm so familiar with the sick child book genre. when i see a childrens book about hair, i almost automatically assume it has something to do with illness. or race. this book? it throws in BOTH - for good measure.

anyhoo - four sentences into the story you read:

"Raquel doesn't know that I envy her. For she is truly pretty, with flawless fair skin."

*insert sound of car - schreeching to a halt*

WTF?! TRULY PRETTY = FAIR SKIN??!! here i was (a dark skinned filipina) reading this story to my (fair skinned, mixed race) daughter.

i paused for a little bit... and against my better judgment continued to read, i thought, "ok, it can't be as bad as i think. maybe there's an epiphany at the end...TWO sentences later... it got worse:

"When i compare myself with her, I feel inferior."

in the story, ana, the dark skinned "country cousin" (who btw - smells and sweats and doesn't speak good english), begins to visit raquel, the "city cousin", in manila. during one of their playdates, raquel faints and her fantastic hair falls off. apparently, raquel has leukemia and wears many different wigs. she's rushed to the hospital. and while waiting for her, ana has a revelation:

"Yes, I may not be rich, I may not be as beautiful, and I have a dark skin. But I am healthy."

i was so unsatisfied with the climax of this story that at this point, i stopped to discuss all of this with the paloma. we've had similar conversations already about my being different from other mommies. when she was very young, too young to speak, she questioned it - she would gently caress my CH and then trace her own face. finally, when she could talk, she asked about it, what it was, if it hurt... lately, it doesn't come up in conversation much at all anymore though i'm sure it will come up again later.

i really wasn't sure how or if she was processing this story. so i said, "paloma, this story makes me kind of sad." she responded, "why mommy?" and i said, "because the girl in the story is sad because her skin is darker than her cousins. is it bad that i have dark skin?" and she replied,"mommy,your skin is darker than mine. but that just means we're different. it's ok to be different. don't be sad because you're different. i love you." she smiled up at me and patted my dark skinned hand with her fair skinned hand.

i should have prefaced this whole post letting all of you non-filipinos know that it's actually very common for filipinos to say things like "oh, she's so beautiful! her skin is so light" or "stay out of the sun, you don't want to get too dark!" i remember when we were still children, my sisters and cousins would apply eskinol (a common face cleanser in the philippines, like clearasil here, that doubles as a skin whitener) before leaving for grade school. in college, my mother, a light skinned filipina, greeted me at the airport upon my return from a long weary trip from spain with an obvious frown, furiously rubbing my dark sunkissed face with spit on her thumb saying, "are you... DIRTY!?". and just recently on our trip to the philippines, the paloma was FAWNED over - all over manila - everyone commenting on her beautiful fair skin. it hurt especially when my own sister said to the paloma about my new, dark and beautiful niece, "i hope she doesn't get too jealous of you and your fair skin."

i am my father's daughter and like him, i am dark. as a child, it was made abundantly clear that i wasn't like other "superior" filipinas. to my critics, it was tragic enough that i was born "disabled" (their terminology, not mine), but to top it all off - how sad it was that i was dark. thankfully, it was easy for me to get over being dark - especially because all of my caucasian friends kept going to the lake, summer day, after summer day, after summer day, in an effort to achieve an all over bronze like me. i was a walking paint chip for bain de soleil. i really wish i could write more on the domination and history of western beauty ideals in asia but i'm just not that educated. suffice to say, it's an archaic standard and it's not something i will perpetuate or tolerate in my house.

the author of the book, luis p gatmaitan m.d., wrote another book that we have - a BETTER book - called "sandosenang sapatos" or "A Dozen Pairs of Shoes". i can recommend this book to you. it's another story that follows the lives of a shoemaker and his two daughters - one is born without feet. it's a charming story and it's especially poignant because it was sent to me by my youngest sister and reminds me of our relationship and my relationship with my father.

i can also tell you that the publisher of the book, adarna house, has other great storybooks told in both tagalog and english with wonderful whimsical illustrations by filipino artists. we bought many of their books during our trip and so far all of them have been great. but i will definitely be sending an email to them to complain about this book.

Friday, April 13, 2007

i am the mother

of ed grimley's love child.

i love this little guy so much! i couldn't be more excited!

it makes me mental! maybe he loves me back - maybe not!

it's difficult to say!

but, he's a pretty decent guy, i must say!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

gimme five minutes... my kingdom for FIVE minutes!

i SWEAR! i PROMISE i am going to post to this blog regularly again...

honestly, i have draft posts up the wazoo right now. but the paloma is on spring break and has giddily woken up every morning to put on her cowhide chaps and ride me like a rodeo clown on mechanical bull. i sh*t you not.

last week and last weekend were pretty busy too.... we've had some exterior and interior work done on the house. we had the yew bushes in the front and side yards extracted. the yards look pretty bare, but better bare than claustrophobic.

then, we finally had an electrician friend/neighbor come by and install our dining room chandelier and sconces. *sigh* it's really quite pretty.

lastly, the painters came by and painted our dining and living rooms. hey kids, can you say "contact high"? photos to come...

saturday, i stepped into a chuck e. cheese for the first time in decades. why can't ADULTS have birthday parties there? i would SERIOUSLY kick your *SS at skee-ball. oh yes, i would. you will kowtow to my skee-ball greatness.

and sunday, after easter lunch? dinner? lunner? dinch? i don't know what we ate really.... i saved the paloma from a harrowing experience with her cousin. they were playing QUIETLY downstairs in my sister's basement. so i knew something was wrong. when i got down there i found that he had tied her up with headphone wire to a table leg. and proceeded to draw on her with sidewalk chalk. don't ask. i'm still trying to process it myself. thankfully, no nightmares so i don't think she's scarred for life.

and yesterday, like a good responsible mamazilla, i checked out. and did nothing. oh, except for writing another post that is still in draft form....

anyhoo - today, the paloma and i have an aquarium playdate set up. the porkchop will be with a sitter today. (already i know my mind will not be at peace. not because i don't trust the sitter. i don't trust the porkchop. that poor, poor defenseless woman....)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

happy easter!

just found this interesting mini documentary about easter... (warning - the final text in the end is a little bible thumpery...)

wishing you all a relaxing sunday!

UPDATE 04/09/07: on the spur of the moment i got a chance to see author, david sedaris , read at the chicago theatre last night. he read a HILARIOUS essay about easter icons and language barriers from his book of essays "me talk pretty one day". i found a copy of the essay here or here or listen to him reading it here at the very end of the broadcast.

laughter, clapping and crying WILL ensue. have kleenex at the ready.

he's on tour - go see him now!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

happy feet

i should preface this post by revealing that i, mamazilla, am a lapsed cradle catholic.

i'm lapsed in the sense that if i didn't dislike our parish church so much and if the kids didn't ride the thin man and myself like busted playground equipment during mass, we'd still be attending church for the next three nights (holy thursday, good friday, easter vigil) with easter sunday as a bonus. i'm not lapsed because i'm disillusioned about being catholic - i should be. there's plenty to be disillusioned about -but i'm not.

and tonight, i might've considered having my feet washed. that's right. this evening, catholics all around the world will be allowing others to wash their feet and will in turn wash someone elses. it's a symbolic gesture/ritual that we do to commemorate what jesus did at the last supper, teaching by example, a lesson about serving others and to allow others to serve you. and yes, i’ll spare you the sermon. 'cause god forbid, i mention easter and kids and being catholic or *shudder* christian in the same post. we're all raving homophobes and pro life vigilantes.

this made me reflect and think about humility and worth and teaching and service and how they are linked together. it reminds me of how much the paloma likes to be "of service" and how much like me she is in that way.

a week or so ago, i got the chance to volunteer to read to her classmates at her preschool for the day and "in appreciation", the paloma set up a tray for me with a vase of teeny silk flowers, a small porcelain teacup of water and a matching saucer of animal cookies with a napkin w/ napkin ring on the side. i know that the students are asked to do this by their teachers but she was REALLY happy to do it and she did went about her duty dilligently and with a true spirit of service. she walked over to me very slowly and carefully - something she NEVER does - and placed the tray in front of me very purposefully and said, "here mommy, i made this for you." i could've cried. instead, i stamped that memory in my head and made sure to thank her for all her hard work and for sharing me with her classmates. i can't wait to volunteer again.

i often joke to my childless friends about how thankless this parenting job is – much like other service jobs in restaurants, retail, waste management, construction, etc… that my employers (the paloma and the porkchop) pay me in desiccated cheerios and used diapers. unlike other jobs, i can’t apply for disability for back injury or deafness due to circumstances while on the job. i don't get vacation days or sick days and i can't quit. i just serve and serve everyday (which is why i didn't give anything up for lent. i'll admit it. i'm a little bitter).

i wish i could say that i love being a mother. i don't. i don't hate it. but i don't love it. i do however love my children. and there really isn't one single thing that keeps me going. throughout a day, i can think of little things, here or there, that get me through the next minute or hour. watching the paloma and the porkchop become more independent is one of those things.

this past weekend, we locked ourselves out of our garage. we had to break a window (a 3 x 2 pane) the ONLY other way into the garage. of course, neither the thin man nor myself could squeeze ourselves thru such a small hole. the paloma however would fit perfectly. i was against it from the start. i had visions of sleepless night after sleepless night, of nightmare fits about spiders, broken glass and dark holes. but, the thin man talked to her about it. showed her the window. showed her the car thru the window. explained to her what she needed to do, how she was helping us, etc.... i was so sure she wouldn't do it. i turned around to save the porkchop from another possible head injury and when i looked back, the paloma was gone. whoosh. lowered into the garage she went and thin man's head followed her. i ran to the big garage door just as she opened it with the remote. she was standing next to the car with a big goofy grin. and that night, no nightmares, no nothing.

today, the porkchop got away from me (again) and climbed up the first few steps to our second floor. i was sure he'd take a tumble coming down (again) but he actually got down on his belly and negotiated them with that handy reverse crawl. he got pretty confident and while i supervised nearby, tried it again and again, succeeding everytime with the same handful of steps.

there's something about them discovering their independence makes me proud of the work we've done and the time we've spent together to get where we are. but there is something about being needed by them that will always reverberate deep within me. i guess that's what keeps me going, being needed. being an essential.

so the rest of today (like all other days), is dedicated to serving them but, i think i'll try to encourage them to "serve" me too. i need them to know that they are essential to me. that i need them right back. maybe, we'll serve each other snacks at snack time. i know i'll get especially squeamish when the porkchop takes a goldfish out of his mouth and puts it in mine. but hey, it's just for today. then, she can pour some milk into his sippy cup. at bedtime, the paloma can help me with the porkchop's diaper and pajamas and maybe the porkchop can help the paloma with the toothpaste and the soap dispenser. i may even let them brush my teeth and "read" to me for a change.

it'll make for a long (and arduous) day for sure. but, their service and sacrifice is worth it.


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