Wednesday, May 30, 2007

June is Merc Rage Month!

Is it against the Mommy Rules to get a babysitter in secret, that arrives after your kid has already gone to bed? I just feel like it would be too much to go out on Friday to the Mercurial Rage CD listening party, even though I really want to. Tonight my entire family met for Chinese buffet and Kirk got all hopped up on sugar and cousins. Tomorrow we're getting a sitter so Mr. b and I can go out for steak dinner and a movie to celebrate my birthday. Then Saturday the girls are sleeping over. The poor boy needs a break! But still, I want to go out on Friday night, too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

You Could be a Beau Brummell, Baby

Last week I found myself dressed rather like my college self. Mod plaid hat, head band, Farscape sweatshirt (OK, that would have been an anachronism), punk rawk belt, plaid pants, red sneakers. Me of 10+ years ago would have loved to have that outfit! But it's mildly out of character for the me of today. Now I tend to wear things like wide-legged, cuffed, grey linen trousers/black, satin, capped-sleeve, ruffle-front shirt/grey silk headband or black tulip shirt/three-quarters sleeve light blue button-down shirt/pearl necklace. But since I was at a programming class, I dressed down instead of how I normally look at work. Not that I couldn't wear that to work. Hell, most of the people there dress extremely casually. However, I've been consciously wearing more career appropriate (What Would Jan Wear) and age appropriate clothing since I came back from maternity leave.

But that phrase "age appropriate" sure is loaded! I don't know when it became an insult. Hipsters love to snark on the old guy in the club but they still all wear the current uniform of skinny jeans, wrinkled T, and artfully touseled hair. Khakis are for The Man, man! Don't interfere with my creativity! But just how creative is it to find a funny t-shirt online, buy it, and add it to your collection?

I think my problem is that I am just finally getting to the age I wanted to dress as all along. Even as a kid wearing hand-me-downs from my older cousins I wanted to be sophisticated. I can remember specific purchases from The Limited and Express that I bought in junior high and wore despite their being completely wrong for me. I wanted to wear luxe fabrics with intricate detailing - basically the ideal presented in my brain from too many viewings of The Gay Divorcee. Once I realized that was quite simply unattainable (and yes, my innate laziness was/is most definitely a factor), I kind of over corrected and, as Mr. b so lovingly put it, started dressing like a clown. I wore the most garish colors and prints I could find. I layered anything together with anything else. Pucci prints and Lady Miss Kier catsuits and 60s mod mini-dresses and enormous flower earrings and plastic children's barrettes and tiered peasant skirts and patchwork hats and garlands of plastic beads. I was every fad from every time period, chewed up and puked out. My love of fashion and history combined to overtake my common sense. Sudden weight gain after college did nothing to break me of years of bad dressing habits. I could no longer pull off the 20s Flapper drop-waisted dresses, 90s Raver tiny tops and big pants, or the 60s minis that my old curveless body fit so well. So instead I just hid under piles of boy clothes. Styles and trends don't matter when you're doing fieldwork anyway. I had always sewn for myself (probably another reason for my chaotic satorial choices) but I suddenly stopped because I was no longer my own perfectly sized model.

Since joining the ranks of corporate American, I've come to remember my inital, tailored desires. Part of me wonders if it's because I now have the curves required to fill out the skirt suits of the 30s and 40s. I love the look of what Katherine Gerdes termed the "Target Girls" and totally hope to attain that level of chicness myself. The catch is that if I begin wearing slacks and jackets, the assumption is that I am giving up my "creativity", either due to corporate zombie-ism or because I'm a mom and moms always stop dressing cool. Or else they shop in the Junior's department with their daughter and that's just sad.

But I don't think that being a mom has anything to do with my love of being on trend. I don't think that following the adage of "dressing for the job that you want" proves you can't think for yourself. And I don't think that being stylish means giving up your individuality. I think dressing my age is empowering. As much as Stacy and Clinton have hammered into the heads of legions of women that you need to dress for your size, regardless of what that size is, I find their secondary message of mature style much more gratifying. I was browsing through a thrift shop a few weeks ago and realized that I'm just not interested in those over-the-top vintage items anymore. Give me classic clean lines anyday. Betsey Johnson is fun in theory but I'd rather wear Chanel.

The problem with voicing this opinion is that you come off as bitter. Bitter that you're old and used up. That you're tied down domestically and can't run amok. Bitter that you can't fit into slutty hootchie clothes. And I think that's extremely unfair. I remember an episode of Sex in the City where some woman at a bar was saying that she doesn't need to go out and canoodle with any random guys that cross her path and that she's happy to be settled down into a predictable pattern. The words were nice but her bitchface and her harsh voice implied that it was all a lie.

I had a lovely conversation with a friend several months ago, reminiscing about all the fun times, fun shows, fun parties. We agreed that while it was nice to remember, it's so much better to be in the now.

So the trick is to not get distracted by naysayers and doubters and try to put all this sartorial philosophy into action. Shopping is hard. Off the rack never really fits well and while I hate doing my own tailoring, I'm also too lazy to bring pieces to a proper tailor shop. And I'm cheap. And I've got the cliche mom mindset that I should spend money on everything and everyone but myself. So the first step is to purge my wardrobe of those plaid pants. The legs are too short, the waist is too wide, they're totally 90s (check out early season Rachel on Friends, no butt pockets look good on no one), and completely unflattering.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The Most Important Meal of the Day

Kirk doesn’t eat breakfast. He’s just not hungry when he gets up. This is totally foreign to me as I need to eat something within 30 minutes of getting out of bed. On weekdays I have to make myself get dressed and mostly ready for work before having a bowl of cereal. And I still need second breakfast a couple hours later! Mr. b, in contrast, is sickened by the very idea of eating sooner than several hours after getting up. I guess I know where Kirk gets it from. He’ll have a glass of milk but that’s it. I’m not going to even try to force it anymore. Yesterday I made "candy" muffins (apple-oatmeal with mini-chocolate chips) and Kirk wolfed down one in no time. I presented a muffin to him this morning and he had maybe four or five teensy weensy little bites off the top before he was done. So I’m not going to fight this battle; it’s not worth it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Martian and Floridian True Love

The first John Carter of Mars book that I read was actually the 11th one in the series. Mr. b had bought me a used copy and I greatly enjoyed it. I could tell that despite the self-contained nature of the story, I was definitely missing background info. So I started looking for the rest of the series whenever I was in a used bookstore myself. Gods of Mars is the second book in the series. It totally ended on a major cliffhanger! I don't remember the first one, Princess of Mars, doing that. Carter saved his love, Dejah Thoris, by sacrificing himself. End. Did it come out before Tarzan? Maybe Edgar Rice Burroughs wasn't famous enough yet to leave a new series hanging like that? Regardless, it was perfectly in keeping with the feel of the book. Each chapter really was a Saturday afternoon serial installment. I can totally understand why this type of storytelling had such a following. Even the obvious things that are telegraphed to the reader only serve to ramp up the tension while you're waiting for John Carter to figure it out already! And there were plenty of taboos mentioned (overtly: cannibalism, covertly: sex, rape) though never, ever shown. But the action! It was plentiful and bloody. Hand-to-hand combat! Sword fighting! Aerial battles! Prison breaks! Slave revolts! Awesome. Very exciting and completely compelling. And it makes me want to find out where Harry Knowles' pet production of Princess has gotten. I hope that movie gets it right.

In contrast to that pulp fun was last month's book club book, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It was slower and much more deliberate but no less amazing. I love well written dialect and she nailed it. The speech patterns really brought the characters and the time and the place and the economic condition alive for me. I had been slightly concerned by one of the blurbs on the back that declared the book the first honest tale of "Black Love." Huh? Isn't love color blind? Hasn't that been a major point in literature since at least Shakespeare? But after reading it I have to wonder if the reviewer simply meant that here, finally, was an honest portrayal of true love between two black protagonists. Whatever the intention, it didn't affect my enjoyment of the moving tale of Janie's life and love and loss. I was in tears by the end. Eve though I think she's too young for the part, I'm really curious to see the recent Halle Berry made-for-TV adaptation of this book. It truly was marvelous and I'm glad that it's getting the post-humous recognition that Hurston didn't receive in her own time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Cow Says, "Mooo!"


On Sunday we went to the historic Kelly Farm. Moms with their kids got in free and they had baby animals out for interaction. Kirk had been looking forward to it for days. He would excitedly ask, "An'mals?" I explained exactly how many nigh-nighs, mornings, and naps he had left before baby animal farm. When he got up from his nap on Sunday he was spazzed out with anticipation. He ran about the house grabbing our shoes for us and getting annoyed when we weren't moving fast enough for him!

We picked up my mom at my brother's house on our way there and had a lovely time petting horses, cows, chicks, oxen, and pigs. But there was a pall cast upon the proceedings because Kirk's cousins weren't there! He kept asking after A1 and A2 and we kept explaining that they weren't going to come to the baby animal farm. I find it interesting just how attached he is to his cousins. Is it just because of spending nearly his first year with my sister every day? We do all see each other frequently but I don't know if it's that simple. Then again, he talks about Nana and Papa quite regularly, even if we haven't seen them in a few weeks.

Regardless, it's clear that Kirk's memory forming abilities are quickly solidifying. Even today we could ask him, "Where did we go?" "An'mals." "What did you see there?" "Pigs. Horses." "Who came with us?" "Nana." That's real, live sentience. Both Mr. b and I have extensive and extremely early childhood memories. Will this be one for Kirk? Even if it's not this event specifically, we're getting close to his brain making lifelong memory connections. I think it's also evident in his story telling. Sure, he may not know very many verbs, and even fewer adjectives, but he still tells you about his day. He totally recaps his events using noun repetition, but it's very deliberate. Language is cool.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Thank You

I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to every one of my kindhearted friends that donated to the MS Walk. I appreciate your generosity more than words can express. My mom was also touched that you were willing to give for someone that many of you have never even met in person! The walk was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it again next year.

Yay me!

I had my official 6-week measurements today. I’ve lost 3 pounds, 1 ½ inches, and 3.4% body fat. And I’m only halfway through the program! I’ll have the rest of this baby weight licked by the time I’m lounging on a beach in the Riviera. And it’s about time, too. Sheesh. I had always heard that the average time it takes a woman to loose the pregnancy weight is 18 months. I had thought that was ridiculous. And now here I am, well above that average, and still trying. Though now I’m actually working at it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Morbid Thoughts

Mr. b recently booked our tickets to France for our 10th Anniversary in September. And then I said that we needed a will. I wasn't trying to bring doom upon our trip, because honestly I can't wait and it's going to be loads of fun. But it just strikes me as the responsible thing to do now that we're parents. I remember that when my parents and I went to the USSR in '87 but my sister and brother stayed behind, they set up a will. And with one of the Merc Rage members about to graduate law school, it was pretty easy to find out what we need. Apparently there's a simple form that we can fill out and get notarized; we figure Kirk will go to my sister and my dad will take care of the "estate".

But I've been extra aware of my own mortality these last few weeks anyways. My dad found out that a classmate of mine from my dance studio passed away. And it's not like we were particularly close, but we were in the same competitive troupe for years and traveled together and had sleep overs and practiced together and so I certainly knew her well. And 31 is just too young.

What I found interesting is that my dad thought that the fact that she didn't have kids was a blessing. There were no youngsters left without a mother. Whereas I thought it was tragic that she died before she had a chance to experience the utter joy that is being a mother.

For me it's less about the "immortality" of having a part of you continue after you're gone. Though I definitely grieve for her parents loss and for the grandchildren they'll never have. And as much as I'm fascinated by my own and Mr. b's genealogies, continuing the line is not of the utmost priority. (Thought I confess to loving the "heir and a spare" expectations for the royal family.) Yet if something were to, goddess forbid, happen to Mr. b, I would be comforted by the idea that I have a part of him still with me in Kirk.