Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Don't Send in the Clowns

So we went for a walk after dinner tonight, taking advantage of what had been a relatively mild day but by the time we embarked on our walk had become quite chilly and not nearly as pleasant as I had envisioned.

(Well, THAT was certainly a lot of past-perfect tense in one sentence, wasn't it?)

As we passed this one house on our street that suffers the misfortune of having a large, ugly grate plunked into the front of its yard, Sean paused. "What's that?" he asked. Note that he asks this questions every time we pass the grate. The rest of the conversation is also pretty routine: "It's a grate," I answered. "What that grate do?" "It lets water from the rain drain down into the sewer."


Then he began a stream-of-consciousness monologue, none of which I remember well enough to recount here. But he concluded it with this non-sequitor: "and the man in the grate can't do that, right, Mommy?"

Man in the grate?

My thought processes went something like this: "Man in the grate? Why would he say that? There was no man in the grate. But in Stephen King's It, there was a clown in the grate that lured a boy to his death. There couldn't have been a clown in that grate, right?"

At that point, every single scary-clown image stored in the "Do Not Open" compartment of my brain flashed through my mind. Pennywise the Clown from It, the psychotic toy clown in Poltergeist, some stupid clown-villain in a Scooby Doo cartoon, and the one that launched my clown neuroses when I was 9: an evil clown in an episode of Fantasy Island.

I don't have too many irrational fears, but clowns are definitely one of them. Between the clowns and the mistreated animals, I can't imagine wanting to take my kids to a circus.

Sean made no further mention of a man in the grate. Just to be safe, though, perhaps we'll walk on the other side of the street next time.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Questions, Questions

Have you seen these meme-type thing floating around? Julie at Bookworm has given me five questions to answer on my blog. The first five people who comment on this post get five questions from me. Although not, I must confess up front, in an especially expeditious manner. But I will do it!

[Edited to add: I hereby absolve you of any duty for reciprocity. I was thinking that this little game might seem like a chain letter, and that's just not fun. So, the questions will be yours to answer, with no obligation to come up with five questions for commenters on your blog.]

1. As an editor, what are some of your biggest pet peeves?
Oh, boy, what a great question. All you non--grammar geeks, prepare to fall asleep as I vent my copyediting spleen:

In no particular order:

-- "It's" as the possessive form of "it". Yes, I know English is a spectacularly inconsistent language. And as much as I can sympathize with folks who make this mistake merely because they are following the general rule for applying possessive case, it still sets me crazy.

-- Unparallel lists, like so: "He is studious, kind, and loves animals." No, no, no; you need to stick either an "is" in front of "kind" or an "and". "Is" doesn't apply to all three verbs in the series. And Dr. Author, don't tell me that you see this construction all the time and thus that it's okay. IT'S NOT.

--Dangling participles: "Running down the street, his heart was pounding." Well, a heart running down the street would be quite a sight indeed.

--Dehumanizing or insulting language in medical literature: Words like "subjects", "complain," "denied", and "compliance", while completely ingrained and considered acceptable among physicians, display an unspoken but equally ingrained arrogance among physicians toward their patients. So, if I see "The subjects in the study complained of chest pain, denied a history of drug abuse, and complied poorly with their drug regimen," you can bet your bippy I'll change it to "The study participants had chest pain, reported no history of drug abuse, and did not adhere to their drug regimen as prescribed."

--Think I'll stop now. I'm getting all worked up and it's too late for that kind of emotional involvement over language!

2. What are your plans for your first day as a stay-at-home mom?
I actually don't have any specific plans for the first day. I just want to play with the kids, not rush around anywhere, and MAYBE clean my bedroom. But I'm not promising anything in that department.

3. How would you describe your parenting style?
I like to think of my style as the "Golden Mean" approach. Too much of anything (discipline, permissiveness, TV, junk food) is probably bad (except love, of course), and a little bit even of some things of dubious overall value isn't the end of the world.

4. Why is your blog called Mimilou?
I had no idea what to call my blog. On a lark, I chose to combine two of the nicknames we had for Allison when she was an infant: "Screaming Mimi" and "Chickie Lou". In retrospect, I don't know if I would still choose that name, but it's too late now!

5. If you could get a babysitter for an entire weekend, what would you do?
I'm salivating at the very thought of this! My desires are simple these days: sleep in, read in bed after awakening, have a leisurely lunch while reading the newspaper, take a nap in the afternoon, read some more, go out to dinner, go see a movie, sleep in again, repeat. Now, this is just me. I wonder what Jeff's ideal weekend would consist of?

Any takers for five questions of your very own?

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What Would Miss Manners Say?

Okay, Emily Post acolytes. I have an etiquette question for y'all.

Let's say that you throw a mixed-age party for your son's birthday. Mostly adults, four or five kids. And say, hypothetically speaking, of course, that one of the under-6 guests is rather, um, rambunctious.

What is the host's obligation when confronted with an unruly party guest? Does the host 1) Intervene directly, even if the parent is standing by, mildly observing the path of destruction left in his or her child's wake but not doing anything about it? 2) Ignore the disruptive behavior completely? 3) Gently redirect the guest toward a less populated area and safer activity, even though said distraction has a half-life of approximately 35 seconds?

This obviously has NOT happened to me personally. I'm just wondering.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Another Milestone

Sean turns 3 tomorrow. The distance we’ve traveled in those 3 years seems incalculable.

Three years ago, I was a new mother. And honestly, not the happiest one in the world. I remember dreading coming home from the hospital with Sean because I couldn't imagine how on earth Jeff and I would take care of this helpless baby ourselves. I felt sad and overwhelmed, and very angry with myself for not feeling elated and consumed with happiness. I cried a lot those first few weeks.

One evening was particularly bleak. I had gotten up with Sean for what seemed like the 20th time that night, and as I was rocking him back to sleep, I burst into tears. All I could see ahead of me was night after night of sleeplessness, day after day of trying to soothe a crying, often-inconsolable baby. I read Anne Lamott's book Operating Instructions twice during that time; reading her account of her son's first year of life, especially the low, low points, truly helped me cope with mine.

Slowly, I emerged from that darkness, almost in tandem with Sean's development from newborn to older infant. I still feel sad that I couldn't find more joy in Sean's first few months.

I've since made up for that lack, though. (Cue upbeat music to signify change in mood.)

I don't think there are enough words in the English language to describe how much joy Sean has brought to our lives. He is an amazing boy -- sweet, funny, kind, imaginative, thoughtful, smart, and loving. Here's just one example: One of my favorite parts of the day occurs immediately after bathtime. Each night, after I wrap him in a towel, Sean gives me a big, enthusiastic hug, complete with back-patting, and says, "I love you so much, Mommy."

I am so proud to be his mother, and I can't wait to see the person he will become. This parenting journey has turned to be not so bad after all.

Happy Birthday, Seanarooney.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Social Obligation Trifecta

The short and sweet version: The weekend was, more or less, quite a success.

Now the long and possibly soporific version. Since chronological chronicling of events is so pedestrian, I'll skip around.

First, the shower. As anyone who has sat through stupid parlor games and 3-hour gift-opening marathons knows, showers can be among the most deadly dull experiences known to womankind. This one, though, was classy and elegant. And in typical MK fashion, the guest of honor was the epitome of graciousness and humility. A lovely afternoon.

Second (but really third in the linear sense), Sean's birthday party. We were a little concerned about how this guest of honor would behave at his party -- he has had a recalcitrant stomach ailment for about a week and had been very quiet and lethargic for much of the weekend. By the time guests arrived, though, he had perked up a bit and turned on his almost-3-year-old charm to medium wattage. I THINK he had a good time, albeit in a kind of solitary way. While the other children there played with each other, Sean stayed by himself and played with his own toys.

He loved his Thomas the Tank Engine cake, insisted (pleasantly) that we all sing "One of These Things Is Not Like the Other" instead of "Happy Birthday" (the only person who knew all the words to this song was my sister Kathie), and even shared some of his presents with the other kids. We now have a full stable of Thomas trains, tracks, playsets, books, and DVDs. All of which are strewn about the family room at the moment. (I console myself by thinking that for about 2 hours before the party, my house was immaculate.)

Third (that is, second), MK's bachelorette night on the town. Keep in mind the salient point of this story -- that MK had a fabulous time.

There were 12 of us, slightly less than the 30 that had been invited. We started with dinner at a charming Italian restaurant; good food, wine flights, low-key conversation. I have a tiny problem with alcohol: it puts me to sleep. Between the food and the wine and the glacial pace of the service (dinner was a 3-hour affair), I would have been entirely comfortable with putting my head down on the table and taking a nap. So by 11:00, when we were heading out to the next phase of the night, I was ready for bed.

A quick walk in the chilly air revived me (actually, I think several of us had been lulled into a near-comatose state). The bar we went to was packed, but we found a space on the dance floor, got us some more libations, and danced the rest of the night away. Well, some of us did. I did dance quite a bit, but I was so tired that I could barely keep my eyes open. And that's no mean feat, either, given the ear drum shattering volume of the music.

The word you are looking for is "fuddy-duddy."

I was actually very irritated with myself -- couldn't I possibly have worked up just a little bit more energy? I don’t know why, but bars suck the life right out of me. I hate the smoke, the noise, the crowds. Even when I was younger, I avoided bars. When I'm in that environment, I think I send off "Leave me the hell alone" vibes.

Fortunately, a lot of the other women with us are sociable, fun people who know how to have a good time. And in fairness, I wasn't a complete wet blanket. I was just more than a little relieved when 2 a.m. rolled around and we headed home. I got back to my house around 3:30; I can't remember the last time I was out that late. I felt so old.

The best part of the night for me was watching MK dance her heart out -- she is a great dancer and was completely uninhibited that night.

To paraphrase a line in the Thomas the Tank Engine video we've been watching ad nauseam: "And so, exhausted but triumphant, Suzanne returned from her long weekend to her regularly scheduled life."

Friday, March 18, 2005

No, I Really Shouldn't Be, But Here I Am Anyway

Did you ever have one of those to-do lists that was insufferably demanding and petulant?

"You have to do THIS and THIS and THIS. Right NOW!!! What on earth are you doing? Stop blogging this instant."

I'm just about ready to dismiss this list and substitute it with one that has a better attitude.

This is my Big Busy Weekend: Shower, bachelorette party, Sean's birthday party. So far, thing are pretty under control, but the house still needs quite a bit of fine-tuning before it's hospitable for guests. My in-laws will be here tomorrow afternoon -- no time to waste!

Happy weekend, everyone. I'll be back on Monday for the recap.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

In Sickness and in Health

You wake up thinking that it will be just an ordinary workday, but you are soon disabused of that notion.

Your daughter, normally pretty chipper in the morning, awakens in full-throttle hysterical mode and proceeds to cry pretty much constantly for the next hour.

So. What to do? The symptoms are nebulous -- the fever from the weekend is gone, but the cold symptoms are still prominent. An erupting molar is probably contributing to the misery. But how on earth can you send her to your sister's when she is obviously in such distress?

Okay, enough with the second-person narrative. I can't sustain it any longer.

Mornings like this make my stomach twist into knots. Of course I will keep my kids home when they are infectious, vomiting, or otherwise quite ill. Or hysterical for reasons unknown. But then Jeff and I must decide: who stays home? We hash out our schedules for the day to see whose is the more flexible. We even seriously talk about "working at home", like that's ever happened when one of us is tending to the sick ward. Very often, since Jeff's work schedule is even more hectic than mine, I'm the one who calls out of work.

But I HATE doing so. My job doesn't often lend itself to impromptu absences -- the journal must go on, blah, blah, blah. I'm fortunate to work with an amazing group of people who will pitch in to assist if I'm not there. Still, the imposition I pose makes me squirm inside. No one else in my group has kids, so the opportunity for quid pro quo doesn't arise frequently.

I can't wait to kiss this sick kid/work dilemma goodbye. Three more weeks to go!

(Allie's getting better, by the way, but the past few days have been exhausting for both of us. Lots of crying and clinging, not too much in the way of sleeping.)

Monday, March 14, 2005

My First Meme, Because I'm Too Tired for Original Content Tonight

1. If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?
Maui. Although the weekend commute might be a little taxing.

2. What are your favorite articles of clothing?
My new jeans; it's only taken a few years, but I've finally gotten a pair of low-rise, boot-cut jeans. I also like to pull on my comfy sweatpants after I've spent a long day at work wearing pantyhose. But, oddly enough, wearing sweatpants all day long makes me feel schlubby.

3. The last CD I bought?
I have no idea. It's been years since I purchased a CD for myself. Last one I received as a gift was REM's Around the Sun.

4. What time do you wake up in the morning?
6:30 a.m. If the kids are feeling lazy, 7:00 a.m.

5. What is your favorite kitchen appliance?
It hasn't been invented yet -- you know, the one that makes all the food and cleans up the mess afterward.

6. If you could play an instrument, what would it be?

7. What's your favorite color?
Purple, and green.

8. Which vehicle do you prefer, sports car, motorcycle, or SUV?
Plain old sedan for me.

9. Do you believe in the afterlife?
Yes. Opiate or not, it's a belief I cling to, especially during tough times.

10. Favorite children's book?
Wait, didn't we just cover this?

11. What is your favorite season?
Spring. But the end, not the beginning, because that's really just winter being sneaky.

12. If you have a tattoo, what is it?
I'm sure that this comes as no surprise, but I don't have a tattoo.

13. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
The ability to teletransport, a la Bewitched.

14. Can you juggle?
No. That requires physical coordination, and I was out that day.

15. Someone from your past that you wish you could go back and talk with?
My father.

16. What is under your bed?
Dust, dust, and, wait a minute, let me check -- right, more dust.

17. What is your favorite day?
Saturday. It's really the only true weekend day -- Friday evening is spent recuperating from the week, and Sunday is spent in denial that the weekend is over and the work week is about to begin again and can someone please explain to me how that happened?

18. Sushi or hamburger?
Hamburger. But only with much guilt.

19. Of the people who normally read your blog, who is most likely to respond first?
Can't say, really.

20. On whic blog did you find this meme?
Phantom Scribbler

21. What is your favorite flower?
Star gazer lillies. Except for the yellow pollen-type substance that spews all over the place.

22. What is your favorite meal?
My grown-up answer: Lasagna with a salad of mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette dressing. My secret-heart's-desire answer: A bowl of Apple Jacks cereal.

23. Describe your pjs.
Coral-colored floral top with matching solid bottoms. Light flannel. In summertime, big loose tee-shirts (maternity tee shirts are great!) and shorts.

24. What is your favorite breakfast?
See above for favorite meal.

25. Do you like your job?
Yeah, I really do. And now I'm leaving it!

26. What is your dream job?
My current one, with just a smidge more visibility and responsibility.

27. What age do you plan to retire?
I have no illusions that I will ever be able to retire because apparently all my Social Security funds will be funneled into the stock market and then shrivel up.

28. Where did you meet your spouse or significant other?
We met in highschool -- he went to my senior prom with a friend of mine.

29. Something you would like to do that you have never done before.
Play a musical instrument. Live an unselfish life.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Quick Follow-up

Thanks so much for all the great comments about favorite children's books. Like Isabella, I have to admit that I hadn't heard of a lot of them, but I've compiled them all into a list: Future Books for Sean and Allie, Once They Have Progressed Beyond Illustration-Based Books Such as Those by Sandra Boynton and Dr. Seuss. I'm looking forward to sharing all these great books with them.

Just had to add one set of favorites that I forgot to mention:

How on earth could the Pippi Longstocking books have slipped my mind? I loved these books, especially the first one. You couldn't ask for a better feminist heroine than Pippi -- independent, free-spirited, strong as an ox, kind, and generous. For a play-exactly-by-the-rules child like myself, it was so liberating to read about a girl who flouted convention at every step.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Kiddie Lit

You know you're a big geek (I mean, bookworm) when your punishment as a child was not "You're not allowed to watch TV" but "You're not allowed to read."

Mind you, this happened only once -- as I've mentioned, I was quite the goody two-shoes growing up. But still, it was a very revealing statement.

Books have always been important to me. As a child, I spent most of my free time reading, and, rather like a toddler, I especially liked reading my favorites over and over again. Here are some of them:

The Little House series: I'm a huge, huge fan of the Ingalls clan. I can still recite lines from these books. Well, except for Farmer Boy -- Almanzo and his family didn't hold the same appeal for me, and I think I read that book only once. Images from these books stay with me today: the house built into a hillside, mornings so cold that quilts cracked with frost, Laura's and Mary's lunch pails and slates, Laura's simple dresses and Nellie Olson's fancy frocks… I can't wait to share these books with my kids.

Chronicles of Narnia: Of course. I need to re-read these as an adult; when I was a child, the Christian allegories went right over my head.

Island of the Blue Dolphins: The resilience of the heroine still amazes me, and I'm still moved by the scene in which her wolf dies and leaves her truly alone on the island. I often wondered what her life was like after she was rescued.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: I had a happy childhood, but sometimes the thought of running away and living in the Metropolitan Museum of Art appealed to me immensely.

Harriet the Spy: I wanted to be Harriet, at least her spying persona. As a child, so focused was I on the spying escapades that I paid scant attention to the themes of loyalty and childhood alienation and loneliness. Those I picked up as an adult.

Light a Single Candle: I was fascinated by this tale of a blind girl and her guide dog. Since the protagonist lost her sight as a child, I became more than a little concerned that this would happen to me, too.

The Judy Blume canon: I read them all, culminating in the verboten Forever. No one else, it seemed to me, spoke as plainly and candidly about so many different tough childhood experiences. I wonder if any of these books (especially Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret) seem dated now.

The Diary of Anne Frank: One of my favorite books, period. Seeing the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam was very nearly a transcendent experience for me.

I Am Rosemarie: A selection from my Holocaust-obsession period, around age 11 or 12. I'd love to get my hands on this book now to see if this account of a girl's internment in, and liberation from, Westerbork is sugar-coated at all.

Runaway's Diary: Even now this book haunts me. It's the actual diary of a teenager who ran away from home in the late 1960's; she lived on her own for several months and was killed in a car accident while she was on her way home. The "author" of the book saw the accident and noticed the diary not far from the accident site. I've tried, unsuccessfully, to find out more about this book -- I still want to know more about Cat Toven, the girl; her family; and what happened after she died.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden: What was it about my adolescent self that was so drawn to accounts of insanity? This is a fascinating book about schizophrenia. During this same period (around age 12 or 13), I also discovered Sybil; Lisa, Bright and Dark; and The Three Faces of Eve.

For anyone still awake, what are some of your favorite childhood books?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Encore, Encore

Q: How did we all fare last night?

(Hint: We were watching a Thomas and His Friends video at 3:45 a.m.)

A: Tuesday night was such a roaring success that we reprised the show on Wednesday night!

I don't know what the problem is -- perhaps Sean misses Jeff and it's manifesting as insomnia? Is that too complex a reaction for someone so young?

I had a longer post in mind for tonight, but I think I am going to catch up on some sleep now in case things fall apart later.

One more night . . .

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Long Day Ahead

So, if anyone happens to notice me slumped over my keyboard at work, here's why.

I'm playing the role of single parent this week since Jeff is traveling, and so far it's gone really well. Last night was a bit of a challenge, though.

At 1:30 a.m., Sean awoke because his diaper sprang a leak. Mass changes ensued: diaper, pajamas, sheet, mattress pad, pillowcase (yes, that was one far-reaching flood). By this point Sean was wide, wide awake (as he put it) and not inclined to return to sleep. For the next 2 hours, we both tried to fall asleep. I had Sean join me in my bed, thinking that the coziness might work some magic. Nope. Instead, we had lots of tossing and turning, playing with his Thomas train, fiddling with my hair, and asking me "Can we go downstairs now?"

Finally, finally, Sean fell asleep. Just as I was dozing off, Act II began in Allie's room. She settled down after I lay on the floor in her room, but she didn't fall asleep. So I had to lie there for another hour until at last she was breathing regularly. Just to be safe, I crept out of her room on all fours -- hey, I'm not above any behavior that will allow me safe egress from the room of a just-fallen-asleep child.

I did snatch a few hours of sleep after that, just in time for Allie's wake-up call at 6:15.

On days like this, I wish I liked coffee or tea. Is 9:00 too early for Diet Dr. Pepper?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Simple Rules for Living with a Toddler

With every burgeoning relationship, it takes time to navigate the terrain of cohabitation. You have to learn, sometimes painfully, what the other person likes and dislikes, what will set him or her off, what will make him or her happy.

It's taken some time, but we're starting to figure Sean out. Although at times it feels like we are living with someone who is completely unhinged, there are certain rules that, if followed, ensure a reasonable measure of domestic peace.

First, we must respect the clarion call "I do it!" Sean MUST do the following himself:

--Open and close all doors and drawers
--Wake Daddy up in the morning
--Turn light switches on and off
--Open up the container of diaper wipes (and then put the lid up to his face and say "Look! I have a mask!")
--Get undressed
--Get "dressed" (by which I mean cram both legs into one pant leg and then exclaim "I stuck!")
--Put on his shoes (actually quite a timesaver when he gets the shoes on the right feet, about 75% of the time)
--Climb in and out of the carseat

Second, we must note the following exceptions to "I do it!" Sean apparently cannot do the following:

--Pick up his toys ("No! I can't! You do it!")
--Share with his sister ("No, that's mine! You can't have it!")
--Remember that water belongs in the bathtub and not all over the bathroom floor
--Eat anything other than ramen noodles or oatmeal for dinner
--Recall our rule against jumping on the couch
--Use the potty other than right before bathtime

Third, we must be aware that any previously established agreements are subject to dissolution at any given time without any warning.

All perfectly reasonable, right?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The Shallow End of the Pool

I've tried not to become fixated, and I know it's shallow of me. But I have to confess: my daughter's hair is driving me crazy.

It's a hair-product manufacturer's dream: poker straight, wispy, fly-away, ultra-fine. No barrette known to humankind can stay affixed; ponytail holders lose their grip within a few minutes.

Not helping matters, of course, is the fact that Allison seems determined that her hair be unadorned. After voicing her extreme displeasure over the silly beauty routine of hair-combing, within 2 minutes she pulls out any hair accouterment that I've struggled to put in place.

Then we have the bangs dilemma. Keep cutting them, perpetuating a cycle of trims that I am not steady-handed enough to perform myself? Or allow them to grow out, thus embarking upon an aesthetically awkward voyage? Right now, she has bangs. But they're getting a little scraggly again....

I'm not sure why I am obsessing over this. Part of the reason may be my own deep-seated insecurity about my own hair, which is thick and curly, and, given the right atmospheric mix, has been known to make me look like Rosanna Rosannadanna. I don't want Allie to be as self-conscious about her hair as I am about mine. Part of me thinks that by finding just the right haircut for her, just the right set of barrettes or hairbands, I'll put her on the path toward self-acceptance. This sounds an awful lot like my 14-year-old self, who truly believed that the right makeup would land me popularity and the boyfriend of my dreams.

I really do need to get a grip. Allison is, in fact, just 17 months old, and chances are good that her hair will change texture or color as she grows up. And even if they don’t, that's okay, too. The last thing I want to do is externalize my own insecurities and make her feel that she is anything less than beautiful.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Workers of the World, Unite

You can't accuse me of snarfing down every trendy book as soon as it's published. I've just finished Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (published in 2001). I'd been hesitant to read it because I tend to fear and hide from books, especially nonfiction, that I think will anger or upset me inordinately. That's why I still haven't read Susan Faludi's Backlash or Naomi Wolf's The Beauty Myth. They're still on my bookshelf, collecting copious amounts of dust.

But I'm so glad I read Nickel and Dimed. Far from the polemical screed I'd been wary of, this was a compelling, engagingly written journalistic expose. The author spent several months trying to earn a living while working at various low-wage jobs: waitress, housecleaner, Wal-Mart "associate." The biggest finding, and one that comes as no surprise, is that it is pretty much impossible to carve out a living while working full-time for minimum wage, or even slightly above it. In each city Ehrenreich lived in, she could afford only the most unsafe, cursory housing, with little money left over for food. She had to take on a second job in each city, and she usually worked 7 days a week

The last chapter of the book contained a passage that really stings (kind of long, but worth reading):

…Now that government has largely withdrawn its "handouts," now that the overwhelming majority of the poor are out there toiling in Wal-Mart or Wendy's -- well, what are we to think of them? Disapproval or condescension no longer apply, so what outlook makes sense?

Guilt, you may be thinking warily. Isn't that what we're supposed to feel? But guilt doesn't go anywhere near far enough; the appropriate emotion is shame -- shame at our own dependency, in this case, on the underpaid labor of others. When someone works for less pay than she can live on -- when, for example, she goes hungry so that you can eat more cheaply and conveniently -- then she has made a great sacrifice for you, she has made you a gift of some part of her abilities, her health, and her life. The "working poor," as they are approvingly termed, are in fact the major philanthropists of our society. They neglect their own children so that the children of others will be cared for; they live in substandard housing so that other homes will be shiny and perfect; they endure privation so that inflation will below and stock prices high.

So, ummm, those notions I entertain of having a housecleaner come in from time to time? Maybe not? But what if the pay is fair? What would Barbara say?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Miscellaneous Crabbiness

Everything at work today is making me grouchy. Each e-mail seems to bring its own intractable problem, and, attention, please, people sending me e-mails at work: I am just not in the mood for problems. I have 6 weeks of work left. I want to sail along these remaining days, unencumbered by problems. Who can I talk to about that?

On a completely unrelated note (except for the fact that this, too, is making me grouchy), I have, for reasons still rather murky, volunteered to coordinate my best friend's bachelorette party. No, not THAT kind of bachelorette party---thankfully, MK is about as serious and strait-laced as I am---it's more like a bachelorette dinner, followed by dancing. The problem, of course, is that I have no experience with this sort of thing. Why did I think that someone who has no social life would be a good candidate for arranging a night of cool and hip fun for 30 women? She deserves a fabulous evening, and I hope I'm up to the task.

So, I'm trying to find a restaurant. I've struck out at the first two places I've tried. As the tortoise in that Bugs Bunny cartoon once said, "Times a'wastin', speedy!", so restaurant #3 had better pan out.

And speaking of event planning and deadlines rapidly approaching, that will be a hopping weekend: On that Saturday we have MK's shower (don’t worry, it’s not a surprise), that night is the bachelorette shindig, and the next day is Sean's 3rd birthday party. Stress much? Not me, no siree. Cool as a cucumber! As long as no one expects any actual food at Sean's party, we'll be just fine.