Friday, June 27, 2008

Fun with Art - click to change colors - Enjoy!

Just because I thought this was fun. Make a pretty picture!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's a disease

I changed my blog again. (in case you can't tell)
It's an illness.

I rearrange the furniture in my house at least one room a month. I am trying to find the best fit, the best flow.

My husband gave up and accepted this long ago.

And recently he listened to an NP article that he feels helped him understand it a bit more.

He claims that it is one way for me to be artistic. It is my artistic expression coming out and that is one way I allow myself artistic freedom.

I like that so much better than it's because I am a little neurotic and I grew up in a home that was ever changing. Literally changing.

We moved a lot.

My kids have known one home. They were both born there and in living in this home for six years I can claim with a degree of confidence that this is the longest I have ever lived in a home.

And I want to move.

So I move the furniture. And the room becomes new and different. And, I hope, more functional.

I would love to hear that I am not the only freak out there.

What are your odd behaviors and how do you explain them to yourself?

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Sibling Difference

So I am adding my comments to Mommy wants Vodka's post here because it made me think. She was talking about her two (and a quarter) kids and how different they are.

My brother and I are very different.

Always have been.

My brother was homecoming king. He ran with the "rich and the famous" of our groups in our little town. He was a model. Cuter than a teenage boy should be and an even handsomer man.

He was in to heavy metal (still is). Played football. Liked to go out drinking. Messed around a lot with a lot of girls.

Basically my polar opposite.

I was into poetry. I was on the school literary magazine. I tried beer in 6th grade, didn't like it and didn't drink again until my senior year.

I had one boyfriend during high school and two best friends and a few ancillary friends but nothing close to the huge entourage that followed my brother.

And he has a temper. A quick and fast temper. He and my father had huge amazing storms of temper that collided and were awesome in the their power.

I was the peace keeper. I was the responsible one. I was the one that my parent's trusted to do as they asked.

I was grounded once during high school and it was because of my brother. (feel free to comment here Mike) He wouldn't return a rental movie and I was afraid my parents would be mad if it was late so he told me to take the car myself if I was so worried. He was laying on the couch with his girlfriend and wanted me gone. So my older cousin went with me and my permit and we returned the movie and came straight home.

Straight home into a shit storm. A shit storm so epic it traveled to Georgia from New Jersey and involved my aunts, uncles and my grandmother.

All over a rental movie.

Anyway my point is that we are as different as day and night but we still have the same experiences (different perspectives on them maybe, but the same) and we still have the same foundation. We have the same parents.

We are both a lot like both of our parents. Some of the good, some of the bad and some that is just ours.

And I hope that the same is true of my kids. I do think that birth order matters but I also think that children are born with personalities. They have a lot of what they will ultimately be right from the beginning.

And I love that my brother and I are who we are. And while I wish we were closer - and not just in physical distance - I am proud of who we both turned out to be.

Well I obviously turned out better but who's comparing?

And I see the differences in my children. And I hope that they take only my strengths and that they turn into these wonderful terrific amazing people. But then I remember that they are born with it. They are already amazing and terrific people. And I am pretty sure that there isn't much they can do to make me change my opinion.

Except maybe, become teenagers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nothing is free

I just got some very cute dresses and clothes for my daughter from my dad.

Nothing is free.

I just had to call him to tell him how cute I think they are.

And they are not my style.


But you do what you have to.

The price of gifts from my father has always been the same.

Obscene amounts of gratitude.

No effusive noises of appreciation?

No gifts.

And don't get me wrong. I am like this too. But I like to think I am not so much about the crazy ass kissing part of this as I am the basic manners of the thing.

You don't have to tell me you liked what I did for you - you just have to say thank you.

And tonight I will have my daughter call pop pop to thank him for the clothes. Because that will make him happy.

But I will not make her lie.

And I will not make her tell him anything but thank you.

And this weekend I will most likely take a picture of her in my favorite piece and email it to him.

Because nothing free is free and this is a lesson I learned at a very early age.

From my father.

My father also taught me to meet someone in the eye when you are speaking to them, to cross my legs when sitting in a skirt, to always wear lipstick (this one I still don't do) and that you always ALWAYS send a thank you note.

He also taught me a great deal about humor, and business and stopping to enjoy the music of life.

What did your father teach you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

white privilege

First let me say that I uploaded the wrong image and in so doing changed the title of my post.

My blog about Obama received some responses that I did not post here. Not because I edited or screened them but because some people chose to email me and I figure if they didn't want the comment here - they didn't want the comment here.

But let me tell you that I removed some of the quotes from my post. They are the quotation marks I usually put around the word "black" when I refer to Obama. And I removed them because many people take them the wrong way. As though I am trying to imply that he is posing as something he isn't. I am not doing that. And I refuse to call him mulatto. Look it up and if you have ever used it to describe someone before - stop!

I am actually commenting on the fact that the "one drop rule" is still in effect here in the U.S. and Obama and those like him are still black - no matter what their true ethnic make up.

The girls in the picture are my niece and my daughter. They are both born of people of color. My niece is of a darker hue - but blonde. My daughter is olive skinned but brunette. My daughter has "good" hair. My niece has GREAT hair.

No one will ever guess that my daughter (and forget about my son, my genes didn't even graze him) has black grandparents (no quotes there). She may go through life as I have - alternating between enjoying or suffering from white privilege. This is a relatively new phrase for me. Basically it means that I am a "black" person who can "pass" as a white person and as such can take advantage of the awesome set of amazing stuff that comes from that racial status.

It's possible that my daughter will simply be "white".

But she's not.


What a tangle of race relations.

I have no interest in letting my daughter forget who and what she is. But I also won't force her to integrate other people's form of racism into her world. She has not asked me why her uncle and her grandfather are "brown" (that's a quote from her) she just knows that they are.

No questions asked.

And color is amazing. Check out those little girls. They are cousins.

Color is amazing but has far less power than we tend to give it.

They are just two little girls.

Who love each other.

You can see that in the picture.

They don't notice that one is darker in any way but fact. Someday I hope that is the case with everyone.

I am including a poem I wrote about my personal struggle with this - because I can.

Black Denial - 2004

I am not black.

I say it with a deep sigh that comes up from my soul and escapes on the wind of my breath.

I am not black.

I carry this secret with me
Even though it rings false on the bells of my heart.

I am not black.

To latinos I am them.

Angry and insistent voices tell me

I do indeed speak Spanish.

“Look” they say, “you are like me.”


I am not Latina.

Many try to see themselves in me.

Others try harder to find the differences.

I am not black.

Made clear in the exclusions of my youth
that mocked my cries of racism.

I am not black.

Made clearer when refused admittance
based on my skin tone. High yellow what?

The only reverse of racism is acceptance.

I am not white.

Once I wished for the sun kiss that would make that statement unnecessary.

I am not white.

My grandmother’s grandfather bought his freedom in the fields of North Carolina.

My mother sat in the colored section despite her light skin of confusion.

I am not white.

I am so many things that no one but me will understand.

“What are you?” Is the frequent question.

I am what we all are.

I am a human being, spouse, worker, lover, singer, writer, child, sibling, friend.

I am wonderful, beautiful, magical.

I am so much more than a color.

I apologize for my own personal little civil rights movement but for some reason this has been in my mind lately. If you are interested, I would love to hear about how you are handling color and ethnic differences with your children.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Highs and Lows

I may have mentioned this before.

My sister-in-law was bi-polar. Manic Depressive.

In other words she was pretty messed up.

She was sexually abused in her early years and when she confided in her parents, they did nothing. They even continued to talk to the "uncle" that did it.

Did I mention she was pretty messed up?

I shouldn't cast judgments on my in-laws. I wasn't there.

But I do it anyway because I know how I would have reacted and it is nothing like that.

I'm not sure if maybe they didn't believe her - or what - but they didn't even talk about it or get her counseling. My husband found out about it years later and by accident.

She was bi-polar and she was bi-sexual. She had relationships with women and men that looked like women. Or at least were so wimpy there was no way she was a threatened.

And she was brilliant. This amazing personality that floated up high and drug you along on a trail of power and fancy. She played with our dogs on the ground - throwing her whole person - all that she was - into that play.

And she was moody. She once decided that she didn't like the way my husband was treating her (he was being too helpful and considerate) while on vacation with us at my parent's house so she packed up her bags and checked in to a hotel. They didn't speak again for several months.

But more than any of these other things she was my love's big sister. She was his first playmate. She was the one that shared each Christmas memory and giggled with him under the covers.

And she is gone. I am sure you knew that by my use of the past tense but she is dead. Has been for almost seven years.

She took her life away from us a few months after my love and I were married. My wedding was the last time we ever saw her.

And I am so sad for her father - as he celebrated father's day yesterday. And I am so sad for my children - who celebrate her birthday every year but will never get to meet her.

And I am so sad for my husband.

so sad.

A part of him died that day. A large part of his childhood and his innocence.


And I am so pissed at her for doing that to him.

And I smile as I type that because truly he was (and still is) the only one that seemed to understand why she ended her life.

And he misses her but doesn't ever seem to be angry or have regrets - so what right do I have, really?

This week a friend of mine confided that she had tried to commit suicide five years ago. And I find that this knowledge does not in any way affect the way I feel about her or for her.

I am also so glad she failed.

And that made me think.

That I am not so sure that I am not glad that my Sister-in-law succeeded. I know that sounds weirdly phrased but that's the best I can do, given the emotion.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like if she had survived her attempt. What her life would be like.

So it is not that I wish she had not taken her own life. It is that I wish she had never felt that need, that desire.

And she had tried and failed once before and was humiliated. SO in a way I am glad that her final attempt worked. That she succeeded.

Now her ashes sit in a closed in my in-laws house and her spirit is free.

Maybe she made the best choice she could. Given the circumstances.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Civil Rights

So. Long before the Obama Clinton race became so heated I was asked by a very intelligent man what I thought the effect of a "black" democratic nominee would have on our country.

He may have actually worded it in terms of if he becomes president but I think that his nomination by the party and his endorsement by so many people and states and super delegates is significant enough that I am now giving it some thought.

He prodded me when he originally asked the question but I hadn't considered the answer and discovered that I refused to until I had reason. Maybe I am more hopeless than I thought but I didn't even want to consider the changes until there was in fact a possibility for change. And part of my wondered what the hell he was talking about.

So here is what I think:
Racist white people probably won't change because their national leader is half black. They will either comfort themselves with his half whiteness, wait patiently until the negro leaves office or the more extremists may conspire against him. Any direction they choose, will not matter. There will be no amazing uplifting of the identity of racist white America because of a black president.

That's not where the change will happen.

I work with a 60 year old black woman. She reminds me a great deal of my grandmother at that age. She has a sharp sense of humor but she is a quiet unassuming woman.

I came in several times this spring asking her what she thought about "our boy". Her initial reaction amazed me. She was 100% sure that there was no way a black man would get the nomination. She was not bitter or angry in her assertion - just confident. She was certain that there was no way a black man could win.

And she is not alone. Such is the way of much of black society.

I live in a town that is not particularly racist. I also live in a town that does not have much of a racial mix. That makes it easier I think. And I understand what Biden meant when he said that Barak Obama was well spoken and appealing to white culture. He is a very "white acting" black man. And please do not rail against me for the statement. I could have spent a great deal of time making it a prettier statement, a much less charged statement. I chose not to. Barak Obama fits in. To white culture. And it seems, to black culture. He knows the secret hand shakes and can gain entry.

And that is I think what will change the face of race relations in America. For centuries now the black mentality has been that of oppression. The civil rights movement stopped moving but the race divide widens in most cities everyday.

The bad section of almost every major metropolitan city is also a dark section. And yes we have black attorneys and doctors and teachers and anything else they choose to be. But true equality is still elusive.

I see hope for this when I see Barak Obama. I hope he will win the presidency. I would love for the face of America to not require sunscreen for a while. And I would love for our president to know what soul food is.

This is a man of our future. This is the face that young black men and women will look to to see where their bar has been set. A black president will mean that a black man can in fact do anything. Achieve any goal.

And I worry now that he has the nomination that his defeat by an old old white man might mean that folks will assume that that is what happens to the black man.

But this is huge! And I hope we can hold on to the import of just this moment. This accomplishment.

And retain the hope.

Monday, June 09, 2008

What I learned today...

1. I don't know how to read a pregnancy test
2. I am not pregnant
3. I wouldn't be upset if I was pregnant
4. I would definitely like to have a third child (today anyway)

5. My husband is not ready


6. He may never be

Hmmmm. That's a lot for one day.

I'm going to bed.

With my husband. After kissing my little ones good night.

It was a good day.

And next time, I will read the package - BEFORE I pee on the stick...

My love asked my why I am so sure that I want a third child now, after the miscarriage, when I was not so sure before we got pregnant.

I had to think about it and I think that miscarrying before you have an infant is very different than when you have other children. I am not saying one is harder than the other - I have no idea and I don't think in my heart that is true - just different.

I know what I lost. I know the love I feel for my children and for one day my heart stretched to accomodate that next little princess or practically perfect little boy. And now I have stretch marks and a little empty space that wasn't there before.

My life feels a little empty. Just a tiny spot of empty.

But infants are tiny.

And they are the entire world.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Making the Cut

My daughter was looking at my son as I changed his diaper last night and said. "His penis looks just like daddy's"

I find it amusing because I am sure her father would not take the comparison well. tee hee. But also because my son is uncircumcised. And many people tell me that they chose to circumcise their son so that he would look like his dad.

penis. testicles.

Apparently for the moment that is the only measure of sameness that my daughter needs.

We'll see if this becomes an issue later. For him I mean. She can stop looking at penises. Forever. Or at least until she is um, thirty.

I am kind of a brat about this as a topic. If someone asks me why I didn't circumcise my son I usually say "for the same reason I didn't circumcise my daughter"

Another good question I get is if I thought about how he will feel about it when he gets older. "If he would like to get circumcised when he gets older - he can make that decision." There is inevitably a wince in reaction to this statement. And sometimes it is followed up with - "but it will hurt when he is older" to which I respond - "it will hurt now too."

And then there is my all time favorite one:

"Aren't you worried about the cleanliness?"
To which I become the most smart assish (word?).

"hmm, closed warm folds of skin, does that sound like anything else you know of? I didn't circumcise my daughter for it, I won't circumcise my son because of it either."

And then I usually step off my soap box and get friendly again. I am not sure why but this is one of those things that ticks me off. And don't get me wrong because I don't ever question someone else's decision to do what they do (to their faces) and I certainly don't feel like the penis of any other child is truly my business. So I am always so interested when people question me about my decision.

And I was shocked by how "standard" the practice still is. We had to take several steps while at the hospital to make sure that everyone knew not to do this. We also had to answer more than two calls from the insurance company while they tried to figure out why the procedure wasn't on the bill. And this is with a doctor who, it turned out I found out at the delivery, agreed with us about our decision. I can't imagine having to deal with someone who didn't.

On this same topic - I am legitimately having problems with keeping the little girl healthy down there. She often suffers from that "not so fresh feeling" and it usually stings her to use soap which greatly compounds the problem. Does anyone have any suggestions? Do you think a four year old is too young for a twice daily "whore's bath"?*

(* this is washing crotch and arm pits at the sink for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about.)

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The power of two

First let me say sorry. Such language I used in my last post.

Such language! My mother raised me better than that.

But I was a little pissed off.

So sorry. For the language. Not the sentiment.

And I also want to take a moment to offer up huge amounts of hoorays and go girls to Aunt Becky who recently announced her pregnancy after two recent miscarriages.

As I said on her blog recently I wish her Gorilla glue strength stickiness in this pregnancy.

So back to me.

I am home with my boy who has strept throat. I am not sure I spelled that correctly - oh well. We were home together yesterday too. Yesterday he was wet noodlish and ever so endearing.

Today he woke up well rested and back to his old self. So today I kept his sister home too. Because she will keep him busy (that's the theory), and because yesterday she was down right devastated to be left at school "alone", and because he is no longer contagious.

But mostly to try and keep him busy. Because I am swamped at work. And in my delusional world of happy dreaming having her here will mean I can work on my presentation due tomorrow.

But I can't blog in peace so my hopes are fading.

I have been sheilding my keyboard from four sets of fingers for the past few minutes.


We'll see how the day progresses.

Wish me luck.