Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Rescue Me?

Sooooo, a couple of weeks ago I show up and there are (is?) a shit-ton of emergency vehicles out front of my office building. As well as a fair number of the denizens of the tower.

This is exactly how far away from their desks New Yorkers are willing to evacuate during an emergency. Notice, also, that they are all resolutely facing the entrance. The very second the fumes are fanned away these guys are gonna have their asses back in their seats!

I have about 6 pictures like this. I find it very hard to work up a fear sweat when I'm drooling. They're not models, they aren't even the cast of Rescue Me but they do something for me. Who knew rubber pants and a funny hat could be a turn on? Well possibly Paul Rubens but that is really not company I want to be keeping.

They told us it was a CO2 leak. From what I could tell people were evacuated but then let back in but then really seriously evacuated then a bunch of firefighters stood around then a select bunch of them hit on my co-worker who was not interested then someone, it's not clear who, decided the threat was diminished and we had to freakin' go back to work. It was good for almost 3 hours worth of sitting around outside drinking hot chocolate and shooting the breeze. My boss got all efficient, though, and bought some shoes.

When the truck above appeared I realized we might be moving into a new realm. I mean, I know that Manhattan is an island but I work on Third Avenue so if we need the raft and the life ring we have a much bigger problem than a CO2 leak.

Thank god this guy was here, though. I have no idea what he was supposed to be doing but he was doing a lot of it. As far as I know he spoke to no one and never left the truck. He was a very busy little dial twisting beaver, though.

In the end we all know there's a silver lining to every single cloud. This coffee guy will be funding his summer vacation off of our CO2 leak.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Biology of choice

As most of you know, the government of South Dakota has chosen to outlaw abortion. Their law is special also in that it does not make provision or exception for danger to the health of the mother.

As for me, I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-life in that I think it's important to be able to feed, clothe, educate and care for those we've already got here on earth. Given my upbringing, my career and my group of friends I'd probably be knee-jerk pro-choie no matter what. Let me tell you a little story, though, about how I was taught to really think about the question of abortion, its complexity and the absolute impossibility of there being one universal right answer about it.

Small town high school in northern New England. College tracked sophomores take biology. I am one of those. The teacher is Frau Geller. She's old school German, from Germany, none of this German-American crap. There is a rumor that she disliked one particular senior in her AP bio class because he looked like an SS agent who had nearly prevented her family from escaping from Germany in WWII. I suspect she actually disliked him because he was smart, knew he was smart and did almost no work but still expected to pass on his test scores.

She told us stories about teaching high school in the Detroit area and keeping her pockets filled with lollipops, especially on test days, for the children of her students to keep them quiet and happy during class. She figured that questionable dental health was a lesser evil than a drop out mom. I can't say I disagree. A mom with a better education is going to be in a better place to pay a dentist, too. She also required book reports as part of our grade. When she first announced this I was crushed. Not a big fan of the non-fiction overall, especially not in high school. I had some, er, concentration issues as a teenager. Then she passed out a list of possible books. There was fiction on there! I learned right there that it's legitimate to learn from a secondary source. Also that, as a teacher, it's not only legitimate but intelleigent to play to the different ways in which kids might gain access to your subject material. I went on to read a number of surgically explicit Henry Denker novels and got credit for most of it, too.

While we studied gestation she would toss in the following commentary every so often:
"At x weeks one can hear a heartbeat/see an eye/lungs are fully developed/fingers and toes are distinguishable/the fetus could survive outside the womb. Some people say that this is when life begins."

At 15, thinking about sex pretty much ever other half second, this was interesting to calculate. Over the next few years I mulled the question over a lot. Where do I consider life to begin? Still don't know. Each person can decide, must decide, will decide for themselves where they think it begins. Can an argument be made for the moment of heartbeat, the full development of lungs, the second of conception? Sure. Fuck! That's a tough fucking question.

I totally would have taken AP bio, despite the probably ass kicking it would have given me, if Frau Geller had still been around. She asked the tough questions but she wasn't baiting you for one right answer most of the time.

That's how I continue to think about the question. I don't know if I'd ever have an abortion. I suspect not but I can't know because I've never been confronted with the question. But to have that avenue completely cut off for me or anyone else is something I find reprehensible.

South Dakota better build a big fucking lollipop factory.

Among other things.

Anyway, there's a woman, president of the Oglala Sioux tribe, Cecilia Fire Thunder who has said that she will build a Planned Parenthood clinic on her tribe's reservation. I first read about this declaration over at BitchPhD. Bitch talks about this issue and a some others facing the Oglala Sioux of South Dakota in this post, which also gives information about how to support the tribe in general and this Planned Parenthood initiative in particular.

Scalzi spoke of it a day or so later in a post that is a little less gung ho and brings up just the right blend of support and skepticism to make me feel like I'm doing something resembling balanced reporting.

It's my understanding that South Dakota will be unable to enforce this law until it goes to the Supreme Court level (which I guess says that it's like a gun purchase restriction period, they'll get the ban, they just have to talk to the big kids first) so I don't know how long it might be until a reservation-based Planned Parenthood would be an absolute necessity. Given all the ridiculous restricitons put on abortion in most states I'd call it a smart frigging idea right now. And lest you think I'm picking solely on the lower Dakota, it's just because they're first. Louisiana is next in line, I believe, and I'm certain that other states will follow.

Insert rant on feeling like a second class citizen untrusted to have full jurisdiction over her own body and full rights under the laws of the founding fathers etc.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Squeak, squeak, squeak!

While a mouse did run across my foot last week, this is not about that.

Steph has been thinking, talking and writing about disparity in site specific cancer research. As well she should, since her mom has lung cancer. For the record, 16 years ago my mom had breast cancer. Mama Kizz is, as far as we can tell, fully recovered as she remains cancer free. ChemE's mom died of Ovarian cancer almost 30 years ago.

Mrs. X and Steph have both expressed anger and frustration with the amount of money that's being funneled into breast cancer research and the disparate amount into that for lung cancer. So, I've been thinking about that a lot, wondering what steps might be taken.

I'm pretty damned happy about the breast cancer research. I mean, my mom is alive, so are numerous friends and relatives, and the diagnoses, like the hits, just keep on coming. If we didn't have the information and treatment we have I'd likely be looking at a frighteningly shortened Christmas card list.

This doesn't mean I'm happy about the lack of attention being paid to other cancers like those of the lung and of the non-breast girly bits. So I kept batting around the ideas that breast cancer research advocates used to win success and my eyes and ears were attuned. Of a sudden, a relatively unrelated note over at Verb-Ops resonated with me and I realized that Vanx is a good person to bring into this discussion. He writes stuff about pharmaceuticals. Yes, that is the technical description of his job.

I left this comment:

"Dude, you're the person I should be talking to about this, I just somehow realized this. I'm working (in my head) on a post about cancer research and funding. The enormous strides made for Breast and Colon Cancer and the big fat lot of nothing made for Lung and Ovarian cancer. So, look for that will you? I'll be interested to hear your thoughts."

Check that out, I have no idea how to indent when quoting on the blog. Phooey.

Prompt as ever, I got a return comment to a thread below from Vanx:

"You ask an interesting question about cancer research funding. I’m writing a big story [i.e. long and covering a lot of ground] that kind of gets into it. I even stood up and asked your question of a lunch speaker this afternoon, a drug discovery researcher with a small pharma company called Vertex. He told me what occurs to me right off the top of my head—well organized patient advocacy has a lot (the most) to do with it. I would hate to think of where we’d be on HIV if it weren’t for ACT UP, which is the great pioneer group in modern patient advocacy. Loud, but very smart and able to be diplomatic. The second most influential patients’ advocacy community is breast cancer. Colon is not in the same league, but you get the picture. The pharmaceutical industry is a business and a regulated one, very tuned into politics. This speaker says the industry needs to be pushed by patients—he admitted this sounded dangerously close to blaming lung cancer patients for not taking control. There is your landscape.
On the other hand, the scene is changing. I know of a lot of drugs in the pipeline targeting multi-cancer tumors. I think we’ve discussed personalized medicine before. That will help. Perception is reality, however, and the reality is that the well organized squeaky wheel gets the grease.
It’s very Machiavellian
I am talking to all the research honchos in big pharma this month month. You have given me a good question to ask. I hope to have better information very soon, and I’ll file a custom report."

Patient advocacy. Which is something ChemE and I discussed last night. And, when he brings in ACT UP he's talking about patients with a lot of money. The gay community was able to make the enormous strides they did with AIDS research because they started with male-male couples who were, obviously, making the higher dollar amounts that men do in the US at this time and because for the most part each household had 2 of those. There was money to put in the pipeline. Also they had a community and for all that is biblically horrific about the AIDS epidemic the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community found a cohesiveness against this opponent that has benefitted everyone both within and without that community.

This idea of patient advocacy and cash flow would explain the problem getting research for lung and ovarian cancer since most of those people are dead and those illnesses do not target a section of society, or a community if you will, the way that AIDS did. (Obviously I'm not a moron and I know that AIDS didn't target anyone and that it can kill anyone, but it took a bite out of a certain group that was able to stand up for their right to be helped and to be cured.) ChemE was quick to point out that by the time you have symptoms of ovarian cancer you're a short timer, very short. So she gets her CA125 test regularly but in this age of poor, non-existent and difficult to traverse health care she's one of the few. Which brings us right back to money. Money for testing, money for diagnosis, money for treatment, money for research...

Also, it's pretty easy to brand breast cancer as something you want to fund. I'll give you just a few words that will bring dollars rolling in: Mom, daughter, sister, friend, wife, lover. Go ahead, donate now.

Lung cancer patients are, by and large, assumed to have smoked and therefore to have "given themselves" or "deserve" cancer. And yeah, sure, Andy Garcia's character in Dead Again deserved it but Mrs. X not so much. She didn't smoke. So we're to believe it's her fault for growing up in an era where smoking was prevalent and second hand smoke was inescapable. I'm sure most of you know that it's the second hand crap that is linked to higher rates of cancer. If you're sucking it in yourself then you're safer. Hey, that's the angle, she should have smoked so it is her fault.

Um, no.

But how do you brand lung cancer as researchable? Given that colon cancer has a postage stamp I suppose that nothing is unmarketable but we've got very little to work with here. The American Lung Association's last high profile campaign was the Great American Smokeout. (OK, when I looked that up to link it turns out that the Great American Smokeout was sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Whoops. I have no idea what the last big thing was that the Lung Association did for you, maybe nothing.) While that's admirable as a preventative measure for all of us, it does no good to people who already have the disease.

The ovarian cancer issue is just as thorny. Breasts are out there in the world. People like to look at them, it's obvious when they're gone, they're missed even by those who don't own them. Just ask Tommy Lee about the three day bender he went on after Pamela's reduction surgery. Ovaries are far away and inside, no one wants to look at them and we spend half our lives trying to outwit them in one direction or another. They don't make a good stamp. Again, the colon isn't a fabulous stamp either but ever since Katie Couric stuck a camera up her butt on national television the colon cancer people have been, you'll pardon the expression, sitting pretty.

So, no answers yet but I have added Vanx's arsenal to the battle. What can you offer? I'm in the market for all ideas.

Put on your advocacy shoes, people, it's women's history month and so far the news has skewed to the very bad. Gird your loins for tomorrow we discuss abortion, South Dakota and an admirable woman who also happens to be the chief of a Native American tribe.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Using my study hall time wisely

Not study hall but the adult equivalent. I bailed on the community meeting early.

Given all the bitching and moaning I've done over the past couple of years about how people should be involved in politics at every level I really should feel more guilty about that. I don't. If you'd been there you'd understand. Thanks to the magic of the interweb you can have the next best thing, I'll tell you all about it.

Put on your diapers now, this is the sort of thing that's so fabutantastic you might just wet the sofa.

Or perhaps not.

There's a little Lutheran church around the corner. It's got a pre-school in it, too, and I keep mentally tagging it for a visit if/when I ever teach kids again but I've never been in. Turns out it's falling down around its parishioners. Some pews are blocked off, big portions of the painted ceiling are covered in primer or spackle or something. In short, fabulous. I loved it and briefly I was sorry that I didn't have my camera. Then I realized that my camera couldn't actually take any half decent pictures of anything that's not in direct sunlight. So then I wished (AGAIN!) for the super cool camera. And then I thought about how even I am bored of hearing myself whine about wanting the damn camera and if I would just get my stupid taxes together and send them to the nice lady in Long Island I could use my tax return to get the camera and quit my bitchin'.

So, yeah, meeting off to a slow start.

There was apparently a substitute captain giving the report. The report could easily have doubled as quarterback's calls from the 50 yard line (24, 63, 52, 87 HIKE!). Crime is up 20 some odd percent from this 28 day period last year. But that's deceptive (really? that is the part that's deceptive?) because if you break it out by week we're down a couple of percentage points per week. If someone with the math smarts can explain to me how that's true I'd be interested. But explain it in small words and tiny concepts, please. I suspect that it's because he's comparing apples and oranges. He's not comparing each week of last month with its corresponding week last year but comparing the numbers for each week of last month with the average numbers in the precinct for a week. I don't know if the average weekly numbers are a lifetime average, average for this year, average for the last 12 months or what. In case you haven't guessed I did not find this portion of the presentation to be very impressive.

The captain talked about a double homicide in another part of the precinct and about the rise in burglaries and asked us to peruse the 10 most wanted pictures he'd brought - he even pointed out it was actually only 9 since they'd caught number 10 today. All in all he spoke maybe 5 minutes before turning over the floor to questions.

Did you hear me mention his information on the shooting outside my building?

There's a reason for that. He didn't.

He then calls very formally on our councilperson.

Background: I only went to this meeting because I hate it when people laugh at me. I ran into my excitable neighbor on the street a few days ago and she hustled me half a block to see a sign saying that our councilperson would be speaking about the shooting at the precinct meeting. I misread the notice and thought I couldn't go and I said so. She laughed at me in that scoffing way that we all have as if she thought it totally absurd that anyone of any caliber would be unable to get to this extremely important event. There are few things I handle less well than being in a room with people who are panicking. If this really was an all hands on deck meeting then I was going to crumble pretty swiftly. I really shouldn't have worried.

My neighbor was at the meeting with a group of her cronies from the complex. There was a smattering of other folk from the buildings. From what the councilperson said there were a lot more people than there usually are at these meetings. Total I'd guess there were about 60 people. I'm guessing that's 2 to 4 times more people than they get at most meetings.

I stood in the back so I could leave whenever I wanted without disturbing anyone. But I made sure my neighbor saw me. And now I know what the deal is on these things so I can better gauge when it's in my interest to go to them and when it's silly.

When I read the flyer I interpreted it to mean that as part of the meeting the councilperson would be speaking about the shootings. Um, no. She was just going to stand and ask her questions of the presenting officer like any other citizen in attendance might do.

Now, here is where we hit another one of my weaknesses. I'm prejudiced. I don't like dumb people. I have no patience for them whatsoever. In my opinion this police captain made a dumb move.

I have found that when one is faced with an angry mob one has a short grace period while they sharpen the tines of their pitchforks and that time is best spent being forthcoming with the damned truth. You can spit shine the truth, you can turn its best side to the camera, you can prop it up like you're Andrew McCarthy in Weekend At Bernie's but you better tell the truth first and well. ("Yes, I had my dick in her but I didn't know she was your wife." "I forgot the birthday cake but I did remember the ice cream." "Yes I ate the ice cream but the Ambien made me do it.")

Not so in the captain's world, apparently. He just waited for her to ask about the shootings and then acted surprised. Dude, the posted notices from your own department said that this woman was going to be talking about this shooting, your complete ignorance of the situation does not show you off in your best light. You know, just for your information, in the event that someone is ever, you know, shot in your precinct again and perhaps the community is, you know, interested in what happened you might check out some other knowledge dispensation options.

Here are the facts as they were pulled kicking and screaming from the captain's mouth. (If you'd like the short version it's this: Criminals are dumb, dumb as dirt, dumb as posts, dumb as captains.) At the bank in my building there was some sort of altercation. Over 30 rounds were fired. One suspect was shot in the bicep, the other in the forearm. One round lodged in the window of the coffee store but no one was hurt. Both suspects were apprehended at local hospitals. (LOCAL HOSPITALS! If you've got enough money to buy a gun you've got enough money to buy a TV. Check out an episode of Law & Order. Hospitals have to report gunshot wounds. Police stake out hospitals after a crime. God I hate dumb. I don't care what your fucking job is, try to do it well.) Later on, on the roof of another building up the street 2 individuals were arrested with some other guns. Gossip circle says a bag full, captain says "some". The 2 idiot suspects at the hospitals both claim that they were walking along the street, minding their own business and Whoa! all of a sudden felt pain so they went to the hospital. So, the shooting? Kind of a dead end. Without witnesses or confessions there's no way to connect these incidents or to get to the bottom of them.

Then, at the councilwoman's request he did a rocking rendition of Officer Shot by Ricocheting Friendly Fire, to explain the incident on Friday night. Did I tell you about that? I would recount it for you but I've already been typing for 45 minutes and I nodded off briefly when he got the intro wrong twice.

And then everyone else got to ask questions. I handled about 10 minutes of My Pocket Was Picked, Why Don't You Close That Park and I'm Going to Ramble About All My Grievances Because The Councilwoman is Standing Next to Me before I bailed.

No one cared to find out more about this shooting. Not one of the people chatting in my neighbor's group in the back stood up and asked for more clarification.

At some point over the weekend I felt bad that I wasn't more worried by all this hoopla. I was all Morales in Chorus Line about it. I actually didn't think I could feel more blase (I don't know how to do the accent over the e) or less afraid because of this. Today, though, I topped my previous record. This was a fluke. This was one of the things you get when you put a big bunch of people in a smallish place and it's what I signed on for so to get all bent when it actually happens seems stupid and small and hypocritcal. I don't like any of those things and I'm trying my best not to be them.

Nest time I'll do something with pictures, I promise.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Craggy snaggle-toothed guy number 164

It's been a relatively sucky week what with the poison gas and the bullets (automatic weapon from a gun running deal gone bad, apparently) and the illness. But it's also had a bunch of bright spots. Felix's brunch and a great night out with Spectrum Girl seeing Heaterly's dance concert and a number of e-mails from Mrs. X telling me about this seal that has taken up residence in my hometown's river.

The combination has made me fairly giddy.

Tonight Mike and I went to see a Rangers' game. As usual we had a great time, laughed and joked and screamed at the top of our lungs. We really "took the bull by the ears". Best moment of the evening, though, moment that still has me laughing was very early on.

The craggy gentleman pictured above is my Rangers boyfriend, Darius Kaspairitis. He's an accomplished defenseman, captain of his team, born and raised in Lithuania while it was part of the USSR so holds Russian citizenship and played for that team in last months' Olympics. He's been in the US for many years now, he's fairly well-spoken on camera and even displays a sense of humor. When asked how he can be such a great hockey player and still shoot the puck so poorly he said, "I grew up in Lithuania, we played out on a river and we only had one puck. I didn't get to shoot it until I was 14. If I missed we'd lose the puck." He is also, incidentally, known for his questionable and violent tactics on the ice. His trademark is due to his being somewhat shorter than your average hockey player, so he'll wait for his moment, bend over at the waist and throw a hip, effectively upending his chosen victim. This has been known to result in unpleasant injuries and, while not strictly legal, is fairly easy to conceal as an accident of play. Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that this contributes to my attraction, but I promise that feel bad about it.

Anyway, tonight Kaspar was unusally not in the starting line, which means that he was not on the ice during the singing of the anthems. It was an anthem double-shot since we had a Canadian team visiting, too. I love the double shot. Much lusty singing of weird songs. Little did I know how much lusty singing.

Our seats are 2 rows up from the ice directly across from the Rangers bench. I looked across to check out the team and I noticed my boy. He's singing. Both anthems. Every. Single. Word. Out loud and proud, too. You know how a lot of athletes will sort of half heartedly mumble along out of some misguided sense of duty? No, not this guy. My high school chorus teacher could have put him up in front of the group as an example - jaw veritably unhinged as he belted out the dramatic key change to close O Canada and segued seamlessly into the Star Spangled Banner.

How can you not love a guy or a moment like that?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Lollipop Lickable

Am I the only one that just wants to lick every salty inch of his craggy Irish face?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Lovin' the life

I tried to write a quick post about how lickable I find Denis Leary. It wouldn't take because I was trying to take pictures of Leary off the internet and the most delicious ones were protected or something.

So eventually I shut down the laptop and put on some pants and went out to walk the dog. You know what's out there on the street where you walk the dog? Reality.

Frankly, I've had a lot of reality this week. The consequences of living in close proximity to a lot of different kinds of people. CO2 leak in my office on Monday, a cold that I no doubt got off the subway or bus, and tonight there incident on my street.

I hesitate to talk about incidents because, even though most of the people who know me know to keep their mouths shut, there are a fair number of people that don't like that I live in New York. Inside of New York there are probably a fair number of people who question my neighborhood.

I don't.

And it pisses me off when people tell me they wish I would move.

Since I've lived in New York I've sighted celebs, I've taught a class of children while a woman jumped to her death outside our window, I've sung at a legendary cabaret club, I've walked home from work twice - 9/11 and blackout, I've eaten some of the best food in some of the coolest restaurants on earth. I can't remember seeing a mugging or a purse snatching but I probably have. As of tonight I've lived on a block where there was a shooting.

There's been some weird shit going on in the vicinity over the last month or so. Nothing that I've seen but news reports that talk about crimes that inch ever closer.

This morning there was no hot water...again. So I got into the shower around 7:45 tonight. When I got out and was drying off I heard a sound that was like someone rapping a big stick inside a big plastic garbage can. Except that the rhythm was suspicious. I'm not very good with directionality of sound but it sounded like it was in the courtyard so I looked out a couple of minutes later and no one was doing anything, nothing was happening so I thought no more of it.

My neighbor called. She's a bit of an alarmist and she gets a charge out of knowing everything that's going on in the 'hood. She wanted to know if I'd heard the shots. She kept hearing sirens. She wanted to go see what was going on. I hadn't heard any sirens really, not any to think of so I wished her luck. I didn't hear back from her so I assumed that I was right and it was all in her head.

So a few minutes ago when I walked out there was a policeman in the entry path. Someone was coming in and asked what happened. The young officer stuttered a little. He admitted there was a shooting and when she asked, "Is the person all right?" He reluctantly said they were alive. He was hedging. He was just answering the questions. There might have been more than one person, they might not all be alive, it's unclear at best.

Out on the sidewalk both of the streets that border my building are blocked off. Thankfully I've watched a lot of CSI so I recognized things. Lots of those little yellow tent markers along the sidewalk. Everything was blocked off far enough away that I couldn't tell if it was blood drops or bullet casings. There was one lonely gentleman taking pictures. In case you'd like to fact check the CSI:NY costume department his jacket said NYPD in large letters and then there were smaller letters underneath. Again, I wasn't close enough to see.

I was not at any time unsafe. I'd been inside for a couple of hours (ironically watching many episodes of Denis Leary's NYC cop show, The Job) and my apartment is situated in such a way that it'd be pretty hard to accidentally shoot into it from the street. I don't feel scared really or upset or even very freaked out. I'm fucking curious, though. I want to know who shot and at who and why.

I live in a complex of many buildings. They used to be projects. We have our share of thugs. Yet, inside the complex most of those thugs have lived here for their whole lives along with their mothers and sometimes grandmothers. These guys open doors for me, they know my dog by name, they help me carry stuff. They also chat endlessly right under my window late into the night until I want to spit on them, but for the most part they treat me very well.

There's an urban legend about a guy who was the most muggable guy in the city. He got mugged left, right and center. One night he's coming home late on the subway and as he's headed out of the station a group of guys approaches him for a fresh mugging and he's just had it so he tells them that he's only got a dollar and they're welcome to it but he only lives a few blocks away and he just wants to go home. They are shocked. He lives around here? Dude, he needs to be more careful, he should never ride the train this late and they walk him home.

Without the frequent muggings I feel like that's what my neighborhood is like. If I was in trouble, I'm pretty sure that I'd be helped. Trust me when I say that the women in my neighborhood are not to be trifled with and they may have raised the occasional thug but they've raised chivalrous thugs.

I mean, people get shot all the time all over the country, all over the world. (Three years in Iraq as of Sunday. What the fuck?) Which is not to excuse the behavior of the shooter but it's not because of where I live specifically I don't think. It's fricking weird, though.

I'll let you know if I hear anything about what the hell went on out there.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Trailer for the Movie that is my Blog

I'm sick. Not deathly ill or anything but I feel crappy and the only thing for it is go home after work and nap. I should be back up and running soon. I keep wanting to blog, though, and stopping myself since I really need to just nap and chill and be quiet and drink fizzy vitamin concoctions all evening long. So instead of a proper entry I give you a teaser to keep you checking back. In the next few days look for:

- Gas Leak in my office building (with pictures!)
- Brand new member of the Brunch crew showing us how brunch is really done
- Branding myself as an "Aunty Blog", it's a new category but I think it's about to take off
- I poached my mother's 1 gig Flashcard (with more pictures!)
- Shakespeare and DVD
- Chekhov and me (and everyone who came to see my play about him and what they said and what I thought and why it made me happy and crushed all at the same time)
- My mother is a trip, and her latest trip to NYC (with fewer pictures than you might think, given the Flashcard I talked her out of)

I hope that none of you have this creeping crud that I have. The nice thing about the internet is that you don't have to worry about getting my germs if you get to close to this post. The sad thing is that, as my voice descends into Kathleen Turnerdom, you won't get to hear it.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Mrs. X. sent me this on Monday and I just managed to read it today. I am very behind. I think it's....well, I think it....I....

I think it speaks for itself.

“Overture “
by Zuhur Dixon
Translated by Patricia Alanah Byrne and Salma Khadra Jayyusi


Who can open the door
Of the green river,
Of the golden clouds,
Of my heart?

Yeah, I don't know either

A couple of days later I saw what looked like the same pile of mattresses with a few more perched on top and a man panting and rubbing his arms next to it. Though he seemed homeless he didn't seem to have anything but the clothes on his back and all these mattresses.

Some people collect frog figurines.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Continuity Fairy

Spectrum Girl has this thing called The Continuity Fairy. She's the light, the presence, the freakshow that puts up signposts in your life to show you how the moment you're in now, the one where you're slipping on the ice or listening to the fish monger guys talk about the Speaker of the House is related to the moment 10 years ago where you ordered pork ribs in a chain restaurant in Saginaw or the one car ride to the airport on your way to the UK when the guy tried to screw you on the fare. For Spectrum Girl the relevations tend toward the Neil Gaiman. Mine lean a little more to the Oh By The Way. Yesterday she kicked me square in the 'nads.

In the morning, a few hours before I got the announcement about MusicBaby's landing, I got an e-mail from Mrs. X. Just a joke she forwarded. I haven't heard from her in a while so I wrote back and asked if she was still in Florida. Sometime after the baby news I got her reply. She had to cut the trip short, the chemo stopped working and she's getting new meds this week.

Part of why I look so forward to knowing MusicBaby and Alita and PaperBaby in the future is because I've had great experiences with kids who are far older than they. I have memories like the one where Alita announced unprompted that I'm her aunt. I've got the one where Moonpie started spontaneously replying to my e-mails from her mother's account. I've got this conversation from the Athlete. He's 16 and he's all the cliches of how tough and unapproachable teens can be. I try to stick to our traditions, to the deals we've made with each other over the years, even when he's appalling me I try to respect him and keep talking to him in the possibly vain hope that he'll talk too. One night around Christmas, in accordance with one of our deals, I led with this:

"OK, I'll see you later. I might be asleep when you get back and I'll probably be gone when you get up."
"Gone, like back to New York?"
"Yeah, I'm going to try to leave before 10."
"Well, wake me up before you go."
Dude, that's like a fucking emotional academy award from a teenager. I know that, I appreciate it, and I'm so grateful for it. So I look forward to all the other moments like that with all the other kids maybe even a little more than I always have with him and QuewlKat and Steph because they led the way and thanks to them I have some concept of the cool shit that may be in store.

There's other stuff that I don't look forward to. It's part of the package and I'm grateful to be a part of it insofar as it is, but I'm not looking forward to it.

I don't look forward to The Athlete joining the service. Not these days. He's big and strong and tough and he won't be behind what bunkers are available, he'll be in a convoy, he'll have only a 50-50 shot of having kevlar. Despite the fact that his age makes this impossible to express, he's good with kids, he loves them and he gets them and he'll be the guy who throws his body over a kid to save his life, if he even has that much say in the way he dies.

But that's just conjecture. That is easier to think about and plan for because it's only a possibility in a whole world of possibilities and there's no reason yet to think he'll do that. I don't look forward to it any more than I look forward to signing his cast after a car accident but I think about it and try to figure out where I fit, what I can do to help him walk that path.

For Steph and Bud it's too real because Mrs. X is going to die.

I could write a whole entry of just that, "Mrs. X is going to die." because I need a place to put that information, to remind myself that it's true, it's real, it is inescapable. It's too easy to be carried away by the excitement of how well that last chemo was working and of her hair growing back and how much fun we had together this Christmas. It's too easy to pretend that even though the reality is that there's an end and the rest of it is what we're supposed to do on the way to that end. But, in order to do the middle bits right, acknowledging the end is vital.

I am not looking forward to helping Steph and Bud say goodbye to their mother. I'm not looking forward to saying goodbye to her myself. Before any politician went to another continent and learned that "it takes a village" Mrs. X was in New England practicing that. She is one of the women who taught me what an enormous role one can play in the lives of kids who don't share your blood.

I have no idea how to navigate this particular journey. I've got a bunch of ideas and some really super good intentions and that's helped me out for over 20 years with Steph & Bud but wow, this is a whole lot more complicated than Bud's toddler separation anxiety and Steph's tongue piercing and everything else that we've shared up to now. And, while I'm going to do my very best, I don't know what to expect and I can't say any more than that I'm just not looking forward to it.

So from the Continuity Fairy I get "Yay! Baby!" and "Fuck! Cancer." in one day. Don't give me that circle of life bull, Elton John can get bent.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Old Wives Tale?

He's here! MusicBaby is here! He weighed in at 6lbs 13 ozs and the whole family is well and happy and tired.

He arrived yesterday in the afternoon and I'm pretty sure that was his due date. Which makes makes 2 babies in as many weeks chiming in within a few hours of the actual predicted day of arrival. I had always heard that first babies are notoriously late. Perhaps this is an Old Wives' tale perpetuated by sitcom writers who need some conflict for a sweeps month episode.

I don't know that I'll be able to tell you how excited I am to meet this kid. If you know me at all I'm not a real public crier if I can help it. I try to confine the episodes to darkened movie theatres and funerals...of family members. (And with my family even at those you can get the fish eye for the public boo hoo.) I got the announcement from the MusicFamily hours ago and I haven't been able to write this until now because just thinking about him and them and the whole cool thing keeps making me cry. I'm at work. I work in an open plan office. My desk faces everybody else.

I'm under control for now. I don't know how I'll be when I actually see the kid, though. I've been waiting for him for so long. I'm only telling you people this because I'm counting on his parents to be too enamored of him and too tired to go surfing about the internet for a while. I know they love me and respect me and trust me but I'm still afraid that my current level of fervor may totally squick them out. I've been waiting for him for years. I'm nobody's grandma, I'm not all, "So when will we hear the pitter patter of little feet?" I don't think it's a requirement for every person or even every couple to have kids. But for about five years I've wondered what this kid, what this family, would be like if/when he were ever to show up. I can't wait to meet him. I can't wait to read stories to him. I can't wait to rock out at his parents' concerts with him. I just can't wait to hang out and watch him grow up into a super cool member of one of the coolest families I know.

And now I'm crying again.


Welcome to the world little guy, I'll be the one over here in the corner taking pictures. Love you! Kizz

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Grown up?

Baby Watch 2006 is in full swing. Paperbaby is here and we're waiting for MusicBaby to make his appearance at any moment. I felt this was a good time to throw in a post about growing up.

My mom was not uber health conscious while I was growing up. She never had any big rules that you had to follow upon pain of death or deprivation. So I got to eat chocolate and ice cream and juice. I didn't have to drink milk at meal times or finish everything on my plate. She was also not a complete slacker. You couldn't say you hated something if you hadn't tried it and if you were at someone else's house the No Thank You Helping rule* was firmly in effect.

She was also really good at making stuff sound good. "You sure you don't want any? OK, great, more for the rest of us!" But her true genius came out in the way she could put limits on the stuff that you craved so much you would have promised to clean the bathtub with your tongue if you could just have a bite.

This is where she came up with the 10 chip rule. If we were making chocolate chip cookies (and, after we caught on, even when we weren't) we were allowed to have a spoonful of dough or we could have 10 chocolate chips. There were special tiny fluted tin dishes she would extract from a special drawer and we were allowed to count out 10 chips from the bag into our own little dish. It was so ingenious that we'd ask for 10 chips. "May we each have 10 chocolate chips?" Not "some", not 50, not a bag full, just 10, please. OK, if we were really, really bold we'd ask for 20. And sometimes we'd get them.

This may seem silly. And looking back on it now I am sort of surprised that it worked but man, it was like getting an Oscar to be allowed the supreme indulgence of one's own serving of 10 chocolate chips specially chosen with one's own pudgy little fingers. (God's honest truth my fingers were skinny by the time this ritual ended. I remember sitting on my bed during a snow day in Junior High with Queen Bee feasting on chocolate chips out of a fluted tin cup.)The whole thing taught you to appreciate an indulgence, though. You wouldn't just toss back your whole cup full of chips in one swallow. You wouldn't chew each chip in quick succession, either. You might chew one to see how that felt. Then let one slowly melt in your mouth. See how long you could make a third last. Nibble the swirly tops off of all the rest while deciding how to finish them. The process could take half an hour, particularly if you got into a heated debate over your technique. Not an uncommon occurence.

I am a grown up now, at least according to my bank and the IRS and a couple of people who think it's a good idea to stop me for directions. My friends may not agree, and I'm more inclined to trust my friends. Here's why.

Apparently a few months ago I was in a cookie baking phase, or at least a cookie baking preparational phase, because it seems that I went to Costco and bought a 4 pound bag of chocolate chips. They have sat in my crisper (Shut it!) for months now. They were sealed and all was good.

About a week ago I needed a treat really badly and when I looked around chocolate chips were the only thing I truly wanted. I actually had the end of another 4 pound bag, it was about 20 chips. I don't have a pretty little fluted tin cup to serve them in but I'm a grown up, I don't need a tin cup, hell I'd only have to WASH a tin cup if I used it so I ate them out of the bag.

I fed the beast!**

Two days later I opened the new bag. I have no checks and balances people! No one recounts my chips. No one puts them in a bowl. No one closes the crisper and says, "Maybe you can have another 10 tomorrow." My first indication of trouble is that sort of fuzzy chocolatey feeling on my teeth and my eyeballs twitching from all that sugar. I don't do caffeine anymore so you put enough sugar in me and I'm Baby's First Tweaker. Not good. I think I've eaten a pound of chocolate chips in a week. I'm so glad I don't have a scale.

I want my mommy. ***


*Doesn't matter if you don't like it, as long as you aren't going into anaphylactic shock you can and will eat a small helping.

**10 chips to the person who can tell me where I got that phrase this week.

***Fortunately she arrives on Friday.