Sunday, September 30, 2007

You have got to see this! An unexpected good thing someone has going...

So la la la I'm surfing the 'Net via my feed reader la la la reading along, and I get to Ali's blog (Just Talk, Just Words, Just Thoughts) where she is describing her innovative use of her ironing board. This lady has got a good idea going there, and too funny from my point of view because in my life, really, what else are you going to do with an ironing board except this?

I said, Ali, hon, you've got to submit this for the Hump Day Hmm and voila---ask and ye shall receive. She did!

So here is the latest entry to the Hump Day Hmm for Got A Good Thing Going: Now I know why I have an ironing board

Plus she provides a link to a web site with more great ideas like the one in her post! I just love this style of creative thinking.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Truth Will Out 2, the short version

So apparently my last interview meme so traumatized all but a few of the stalwart of you that despite my bared soul...you ran away screaming. Or maybe not "despite," maybe "because of." ;) LOL

So I am challenging myself to use four or less sentences to answer Emily's interview questions.

If you would like me to interview you (and if nobody asks, so help me I will...ummm, I don't know, err...write mile long posts of self-deprecation and crying) send me an email at j pippert at g maildotcom. And then be patient. For a long time. Because I will get to you. When I'm not gallivanting. ;)

1) You write about the business you are trying to build, but you don't talk much about specifics. Please tell us about the business you are trying to start and how it is going.

I recently published a children's book about autism. I announced it a while back on my blog and linked to the author's blog. It has been a real learning curve running this solo versus working out of a publishing company, where I had a team of marketers, copyeditors, proofreaders, and junior editors to help out. I'm proud of the product we've produced and the wonderful reviews and feedback we've gotten. Sales and interest are good, so I am trying to hire a marketing company now to take it to the next level.

2) If you could live inside a book for a week, which book would it be and why?

This one is tough; and each of my favorites I end up rejecting as, "oh, ick" because I tend to like a lot of adventure, dramatic, or mystery books. Because I so crave something non-stressful just now, I'll go with Anne of Avonlea by LM Montgomery. It was my favorite as a young girl, Anne is fairly settled into life, and I think time on PEI at the turn of the last century would be fascinating. Plus I'd get to just hug those characters. (And oh my brevity rule is killing me here. So much more to say. Maybe a post someday.)

3) How are the books on your selves organized?

Within an inch of their lives. First sort: by author and genre. Second sort: visual (group series in chronological order, sort by spine design, height). I organized too quickly the other day and two books that ought to be side-to-side are split, with an unmatched one (but same author and series) in between. So out of visual and group order sequence. As a psychological experiment on myself I'm seeing how long I can hold out fixing it before I shout ARGH and fix it (so far? one and a half week ut I'm irritated every time I look at it). Nobody else would think it looked weird, but I know.

4) A fairy godmother grants you one gift for each of your children. What would you choose and why?

(Ahhhhhhhh brevity, the new song by John Mayer, very angsty.)

Patience: wisdom, primarily to know it's okay to need to learn...we all do, our entire lives, which means there is always a teacher for us, so use your wisdom to know this and recognize a good teacher for you when you find one (and take their constructive commentary with grace and learn from it, rather than letting it emotionally slay her). (I'm hoping this comes with a side-effect of longer fuse, too.)

Persistence: Tough for one so young. I'm hoping hers comes with a longer fuse too.

You know, each time I was pregnant a Natalie Merchant song stuck in my head---my wishes for my babies---so let me lift portions from that:

WONDER
Natalie Merchant / Indian Love Bride ©1995

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation...

o, I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
know this child will be able

laughed as my body she lifted
know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience and with faith
she'll make her way

people see me
I'm a challenge to your balance
I'm over your heads
how I confound you and astound you
to know I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as you can see you can offer me
no explanation

In this song, I feel and see myself as a person and a mom, and my wishes for my kids who I love so much more than myself---"know this child will be gifted with love, with patience and with faith she'll make her way"---so I'll use Natalie's words. I wanted to sampler stitch them to hang on the wall for each girl but just uhh never got to it (as these things go sometimes).

5) If your health were better, what would you most like to do that you cannot do now?

Ahh so many things. My to-do list, home improvements that have been back-burnered. I'd get back to my former level of volunteering, and socializing.

But mainly, I'd do more with the kids.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Rogue Blogging

Hello!

These are my girls, they are saying, "Please, God do not let my Mommy make a doofus of herself on the world wide web, like that would be so so embarrassing, hey, cool my picture is finally on Aunt Julie's blog." Priorities, you see.

Being the overtly naughty one- I am sneak blogging- forgot to tell Julie, so hopefully she'll be forgiving.

Let's first of all set the record straight. My real name is not Flavia. My real name is Lesley, which, I guess is not as interesting. Let's just point out that my 'name' did not have ho in it, like some others (which is strange because Julie definitely ranked much higher on the puritanical scale). Maybe it could be attributed to the fact that we made up each other's names-here is my raunchy humor showing.

The other thing to set straight is that she made me seem cooler and more interesting than in reality. That's what happens when somebody else introduces you-they forget to be self-deprecating. Please, do not check in next week for insightful; you will just be disappointed.

So all of Julie's readers: Consider next week a vacation. A week where you can be the smartest one on the block. A time to let the old cells take a break and catch up on your reality tv. Put away the research books and let's have fun! If Julie is going on vacation- SO ARE WE!

And please be very very gentle on me, as I am sensitive.

xoxo, The rogue braincandy specialist,

Lesley (Flavia)

p.s. She is a great sister to have
p.p.s. Keep scrolling down-there's an actual smart post below.

Truth will out, or The One Where I Get Way Too Personal and Say Out Loud Things that Cause Nausea to Churn in my Belly

When the fabulous Slouching Mom did the interview meme and offered to write questions for any applicants, you can bet I jumped on that bandwagon and asked right away. The only thing was...I had seen Emily (Wheels on the Bus Emily) in my feed reader doing the same meme and knew I'd love questions from both. Luckily for me, both agreed to do it.

Slouching Mom sent her questions first, so she's up first. Emily will follow in a second post.

1. An essential question in the psychology of personality is whether one's personality is determined more by genetic or environmental influences. Using Patience's and Persistence's dispositions as a frame of reference, state your opinion as to the relative contributions of nature versus nurture in the development of personality.

I'm not sure I could quantify or prove it, but since having children I am more convinced that our personalities are predetermined to the majority degree. I'm not sure whether this surprises or validates what I previously thought.

It's probably my single largest stressor in parenting.

Patience is so much like me it scares me. Her hairy eyeball and downputting phrases such as, "I don't know you," to the school person? That is classic me. I don't like to call her mini-me, but...you know, that saying about a duck and quacking.

However, I don't want her to end up like me, so I try so hard---too hard?---to provide a very different experience in the hope that she'll come out better. This is very telling of the view I have of myself and much of my life.

She's such a perfectionist. She's so ambitious. She's her own worst enemy. She takes things so hard. She gets frustrated so easily. She's so creative and bright. She thinks about things you can't hardly imagine, or thinks about things in ways you can't hardly imagine. She is hyperaware of her surroundings, especially people, and has an uncanny ability to read people, almost to the point of knowing what they are thinking. She notices the God in the details. She is eloquent in her descriptions and understanding of the world around her. She is truly an amazing child.

(And yes, acknowledging that, all things considered, is also telling of a potential revision of the view I have of myself.)

I want her to gain mastery of the elements of her. I want her to know how to keep her pros good, and be able to handle and turn to the best possible outcome her cons.

Like all parents do, I want her to have the best life possible full of wonder and joy. I want her to enjoy life, overall, and be able to ride out the parts that you can't enjoy.

I expected a completely unique person, so seeing so much of myself is a shock, both gratifying and horrifying.

Here is a chance for what could have been my potential to do better.

You see why it is my worst aspect of parenting?

On the flip side, it pushes me to resolve within myself and do better as well, so as to set the right model.

And I know I have not made her so---although being so similar I am sure I passively encouraged certain traits---because I have worked so hard to NOT facilitate certain traits, such as perfectionism. Yet here we are. She came as she came.

As for Persistence, she is a total politician. She knows how to work a crowd. She came an extrovert. I think she's the extrovert version of her father, only fair and blonde. Which is weird. How recessive is that gene? I see some of myself in her too: the mischievousness, the experiments, the curiosity, the independence. In a way, she blends two sides of us. Maybe the best sides. She has a huge charisma that works much better within her than it does within me (too aggressive) or my husband (too quiet). I am almost too comfortable in my faith that Persistence will be okay and do okay. It makes me nervous,like I ought to be more careful and pay closer attention. So, for a while I do, and what I see simply shoots me back to my complacency. She's fine. Persistence is a pretty chipper, strong-minded, bright, charming, friendly, good friend, eloquent kid who is relatively sure of her importance in the universe. People like her, they respond to her in ways they never did with Patience. Everyone wants to know Persistence.

I marvel at my kids, and know they will be who they are in spite of me more than because of me.

I guess that's why I attribute a lot more to nature these days.

BUT!

And here's the crucial bit: I work so hard because while I believe so much of who we are is predetermined by nature, how we are is more attributable to nurture. With good example and guidance, we can make the most of what we came with. I just hope I do good enough parenting to help them do their best with what they came with.

2. Describe your ideal day.

Err, it depends on when you ask me, but since you asked me today?

I just want to be alone. Nobody asking anything of me, no demands on me, no deadlines, no tasks, no chores.

I want to be away, by myself.

I want to sleep in, comfortable in a bed, with a great book on the bedside table. I don't want to get up until *I'm* hungry. Then I want to be able to join a group breakfast with pleasant chatting, on a terrace, with temperate weather and a water view. Afterwards, I want to be able to take a walk alone through nice gardens. I want to find a hammock under a tree, where I can hear waves crashing. I want to stretch out, sink into the rest, and read some more.

When I feel dozy, I want to catnap for ten minutes, then go get a massage, muscle and lymph. I want to doze further while being pampered, from start to finish.

I'll enjoy a quiet meal with pleasant companions.

Go to bed, watch a good chick flick, fall asleep early, sleep deeply all night, and wake in the morning rejuvenated enough to miss my family and be ready to return home.

3. What do you look for in a friend? According to your own definition, are you a good friend?

(Advance caveat, excuse my generalizations and stereotypes here. I know there are exceptions. )


Loyalty and honesty popped into my head first.

By that I mean...I like to know where I stand, no guessing. I need to feel comfortable with my friends, not suspect a hidden agenda. I am a fairly straight arrow and expect that others are, so am often unpleasantly surprised. If I want you to know something, I tell you. If I need something, I ask you. I do not often use a lot of fluff or buttering up. I am not good at the little things, like calling every day, shooting the breeze, chit chat, remembering all your details and asking after them, thinking of little warm fuzzies, etc. So some people are sometimes unpleasantly surprised when I don't do these little things but then act friendly.

This is why historically my better friends were men, instead of women. Men don't usually weight these things highly, or expect them all the time. Walking up and getting straight to the point is usually fine with men. And I tend to be direct that way. Also, if I'm in a rush and do nothing more than breeze past with a hello, men tend to say, "Oh she must be in a rush," and dismiss it, move on, go about their day. It seems like women tend to analyze it, "Oh my, Julie didn't seem as friendly as usual, she wasn't chatty, she opted not to sit and talk with us...is she mad? mad at me? Is something wrong in her life?"

On the one hand, this level of care and concern is sweet. And women are awesome for it.

On the other hand...err, sometimes it just is what it is, and I wish it could begin and end there, with less fanfare. Like I said, if I've got an issue a friend needs to know about I'll tell.

This is why now I am sort of angsty at times about friendship, because I have more women friends.

Do I think I'm a good friend? Yes and no.

By my definition of who and what I like, yes.

By the typical female definition, no.

I think the little things weigh a ton for most women in friendships. Also, I tune into myself and my own life, a lot. Umm, again, a little more like men. I think this might be part of the introversion, but not totally. I am far more introverted than a lot of women, especially when it comes to certain life topics or situations. When I turtle, I can't tell you how many friends get personally offended. The very, very few do not take it personally and get upset or hurt.

And yet...you can always count on me. Do you need me? Ask, I'm there for you (but don't expect me to guess). Want loyalty? I'm your gal. You don't even need to ask. Need discretion? Unconditional caring? Call on me.

To me, this sounds like a good friend. But, I acknowledge that those little things matter and I think a lot of people have a hard time seeing past them.

I know it sounds like an unfair expectation---because don't we all like and love people despite certain things?---but I like to know that someone likes me because of who I am rather than in spite of who I am...make sense?

Since moving to Texas I have been reminded of this. It's not something I ran into as much in Massachusetts, where people seem more understanding of directness, and were not typically intimidated by me. Now, back here, I remember all the things I felt before about being Just Too Big a Personality for the Southern Way. My type of personality is actively advocated against in this culture.

(This happens to be a great segue to the next question.)

4. You've enumerated several reasons why you miss living in Massachusetts, as well as a few reasons why living in Texas has been challenging. Tell us something that is uniquely positive about living in Texas.

(If I were not in such a rush...I'd link to posts with photos of the beauty where we live, posts about good times here, and so forth. But...I am in a rush and can't easily---out of two and a half years of writing---easily find everything I would want. So trust me they exist?)

Here, a few photos:


Shot out the car window, one of the stilt house neighborhoods in my town. This is getting on the bridge over the bay that I drive over nearly every day, for shopping, kids' gymnastics, restaurants, entertainment, etc.



Perhaps because we live in such a fragile ecosystem, a large number of residents here are avid conservationists. We live adjacent to a large conservation park that offers lots of great family and kid activities, including pontoon boat rides through the bayou and ecocamps for kids. My town's mayor keeps getting re-elected on her no debt-preserve green space message (see below for a shot of my town and the ample green space).



The green space is predominantly public space. Current plans for parts of it are a new dog park and a community garden for organic produce. Austin isn't the only liberal granola part of Texas. FWIW, I live in the trees in the middle between the two lakes---which are actually bayous that feed into the bay, so it's a mix of fresh and salt water at the estuary.



Call it smart or stupid, but we are built on swampland, some of which is filled in. I will point out that Boston cannot say any different. When the tropical storm season is upon us, despite plans for it, flooding is still a problem. Drainage is one of the hottest political topics locally, as is storm preparation, evacuation and support. Our town is small but has high voter turnout and political participation. People actually attend town meetings, and because it's a small town---approximately 3700 people, about 88% families (unusually high concentration of families so very family-friendly), about 50/50 males and females---we know our elected officials to say hello to on the street. This means people do not hesitate to speak their minds.



We have the highest concentration per capita of boat owners in the US here. People are dedicated to (primarily) sailing. Also, Florida isn't the only destination for retirees and snowbirds. We have a lot here, too. Again, primarily sailors. People are really serious about that sailing. If the weather is fine, you just understand that sometimes plans have to change because Must. Go. Sail. And you get a lot of good sailing here, lot of warm weather. You can sail nearly year round. People dry dock for hurricanes, not winter. On any given day the bay can be filled nearly bow to stern with sailboats, zipping around oil tankers. It's quite a sight.


It's beautiful, isn't it?

And because we have a major space and military base here, we have a lot of people from all over. On the main street within five minutes of my house, I can choose from five Thai restaurants, three sushi, three Greek/Mediterranean, one Syrian, countless Italian and Mexican/Tex-Mex, and on and on. Oh, yes, seafood and American food, too. We run out for Mexican like it's fast food. A soft beef taco is the equivalent of a McBurger.

But then...why do I make this my whipping boy when clearly it is a great place and I am obviously fond of it?

You have to understand...we had the rockiest entry into this state of any moving story I've ever heard. We had so much tragedy and catastrophe our first year here that everyone (and this is not an exaggeration) sat and waited with baited breath for us to dramatically release a "Goodbye Cruel State" press release. I swear to you we both have PTSD from moving here and all that happened that first year. The last three years have been a sort of blur of simply putting one foot in front of the other and carrying on.

I am proud of how we've managed to hold ourselves together in the face of everything the last few years have wrought.

Yes, I know hello vague melodrama.

So please understand, when I trash talk and gripe and vent about here, it's really just sort of a steam valve for the personal challenges I can't (won't) blog about that I have had to deal with since moving here.

It's not really Texas' fault that things have been challenging to this level, not fully, not directly. But we've had to face things here we didn't in MA.

We've also gained---and re-gained---things we missed and lacked in MA.

I left Texas not because I didn't like it---I have a lot of respect for this state, which has many cool things about it---but because it never felt like my home. Its culture grew on me and I carry its mannerisms to a degree, but they are largely adopted and surface only, rather than innate.

The first time I arrived in Massachusetts my entire body and psyche sighed in relief and the feeling of homesick left me for the first time in my life.

Then began the heartbreak. It wasn't my place. MA is such a familial culture. We were always Outsiders. It ended up our best friends were other immigrants to the state, rather than natives. And I once again found myself in company of transients, just like I had been my entire life.

I do not know if I can describe how it feels to feel like you are home and yet never feel welcomed fully. You know, it's like marrying someone and hoping for/expecting a warm welcome into his family and getting ambivalence instead.

I identified so much with the ways of MA, but I wasn't from there, and oh how that seemed to matter.

I think people were just so fascinated by the Texas thing (in a good way) that inadvertently it became too much of a focus of "you're from THERE, not HERE" and ultimately made me feel like an outsider (or side show freak). I mean here I was, from the alleged wild west and yet...I didn't carry a gun (had never done, and didn't even know how to shoot one), I had no accent (a constant marvel), no Western wear, and although I knew how to ride a horse, I was a bigger fan of dressage competitions in Hamilton than I was of rodeos in Pasadena. I'd never even been to a ranch nor seen a cattle drive, other than in the movies, and even people in New England can watch movies.

How I must have disappointed.

So, fast-forwarding to when we decided to move to Texas...

When we lost yet another bid on yet another house that we couldn't really afford anyway, we sat and crunched numbers and values. As much as we kept trying to be creative about it, it was clear: we couldn't afford to remain in MA, at least not anywhere proximate to where we were, and achieve our life and financial goals.

Jon said, "Well if we move west of 128, it won't make that big of a difference, we'd have to move outside of 495 and in that case we might as well move to Texas." Believe it or not, that hadn't even occurred to us. When we began crunching those numbers and considering our life and financial goals, suddenly it seemed like Texas was the right answer. So we moved to live near Jon's family because, well, they were all in one spot. Amazing to me, with my family not a one in the same place.

The thing is...it is good to raise kids here.

Our neighborhood is awesome (as I have said before!) and the people are really low-key and nice here. There is a comfortable lack of pretension. People are very casual here. I appreciate the moms in tank top and gym shorts, with flip flops and no makeup. I'm proud to be one just like that. We're still by the water. The schools are good and it is easier to live more cheaply here. Plus, family is a big bonus.

I do glorify MA. It's like reminiscing about the grand times in college. And I do whip up on Houston. So let's flip that since you asked, Slouching Mom.

Here's a few salient points from MY POV (as controversial as it might be) about how where I live now beats the pants off MA:

* I heard more anti non-WHITENESS in the Boston area than I ever have in my entire life, and I lived in Atlanta briefly where there are unofficial "all white counties" still. My first good friend in Boston was AA and people actually commented---like it was okay!---how amazed they were that a white woman and black man would be friends. Our town in MA was so white, when we moved to the amazing and wonderful diversity that is Texas (which I am more used to) Patience was surprised by the variety of skin tones. That's just WRONG in my opinion. At one playdate she exclaimed, "Oh my goodness mom look at that CHOCOLATE BABY! How'd she get CHOCOLATE? Does she taste sweet?" I am so grateful to be back in diversity. It is so mixed here. We have all manner of cultures, languages, races, and socioeconomic groups just right here, close enough we all go to one elementary school together. I love that my kids need to know two languages here.

* Where we lived there was such a focus on money, and I guess there had to be, but wow, society...just not my gig. I know how it feels and how it stays with you to grow up feeling like a Have Not amongst Haves. I did not want that for my kids, and neither of us was ever going to miraculously become a high wage-earner.

* There was a lot more pressure for The Best. As in, The Best for your Kids. One lady in MA actually criticized me to my face---and I'm not making this up---when I finally said I couldn't afford to do something by saying, "Well sometimes we don't like to spend the money, Julie, but we do it because we love our kids and it's the best for them." Umm, no, this isn't a choice, I do not have the $5000 it takes to go to your nanny referral agency and I am not pre-registering at that private school because we cannot afford it.

I have talked about how lovely my neighborhood is, how good the people are here, the wonderful diversity, the overall good values that mesh well with us, how we are happy to raise our kids here, how great it is that by happy chance my sister just moved here too and the kids love having family around (they thrive in it) in this post and other times. I want this to matter most, and it all seems perfect, doesn't it?

So why do I bitch and moan?

My complaint is with how I have gotten increasingly sicker and sicker since moving here and how much I hate hate hate the incessant heat and lack of seasons. Being so personally physically miserable is a real drain on everything, and the entire family. Mom ranging somewhere between 85% (on a good day) and 10% (on a bad day) is tough for us all on many levels.

I feel like this is the right place for our family, for the kids...but to a degree, wrong for me personally.

I wish we could have our life here as we have it, people included...in MA.

In the end, I don't think we've yet found the right spot for us. I admit we keep looking.

5. Imagine that Patience (or Persistence) is in fifth grade and has been coming home from school every day teary and depressed. Her best friend has been acting cliquish and has decided that P. is no longer worthy of being her friend. She's been teasing P. in front of other kids. What do you do? How do you advise your daughter?

Oh wow, that depends on so many factors. I'd hope I knew the mom of the friend. I'd like to talk to her. Get some insight, see what she thinks, if she knows, what she's doing on her end. I'd give Patience (or Persistence) support. When it got to a fixing point, I'd do my best to help her guide her into building other and new friendships, as well as help her remember her worth, and come up with words to handle the teasing.

I don't really know that age, so it's hard. But this is more or less what I did when we dealt with this in preschool. Her esteem wasn't affected at that time. And knowing she had some power in the situation and could count on me seemed to help her find a new confidence.

Since the teasing was happening at school, I'd talk also with the teacher.

Controversial as it may be, I believe that with children, adults DO need to intervene in quite a few cases. Yes, watch and see if kids work it out, but if (when) they don't, step in and help them with guidance...provide information and feedback and help them find an okay solution. It aggravates me to NO END when adults sit on the sidelines with a "kids will be kids and everyone will bounce back fine tomorrow" blase nonchalance.

I have watched moms completely ignore taunting on the playground. Bad as it may be, it makes me want to slap them. If your kid is sitting there saying, "NO! You can't play with us!" you have a job. Get off your rear and go do it. Raise considerate people. Please.

I don't think you have to make all kids be friends all the time, but oh my word you do have to make them be polite to their immediate peers.

Thanks, Slouching Mom for such great questions that I had to write a novel to answer them!! ;)

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Meet my sister Flavia, she has Less to Say

So my sister---who some of you have met on your own blogs---has agreed to blogsit for me when I am unable to blog.

This is my nefarious underhanded plan to get her to start her own blog, or at least a joint blog with me. I'm liking "Divine Secrets of the Ha-Ha Sisters" with subtitle/caption "The All True Adventures of Lola and Flavia Honobutt." These are our real names, or are at least the ones we tormented each other with our entire lives.

I even created a blog for her: Less to Say...Your Blog Brain Candy (you can follow that link but you'll just find a blank blog...for now...)

This is her idea, this title. It's funny. It's punny. It's very her.

It's also her Antithesis of Me, which pretty well sums up her main motto in life growing up (I mean, after she realized she was not, in fact, an extension of me...a sad, hard day for me, indeed, her too, probably). (And I say that lovingly because I'm fine, FINE I SAY, with it. After all, I didn't grow up second, coming in behind First all the time. Nobody ever said to me, "Oh you're Flavia's sister!" But apparently plenty of people said, "Oh you're Julie's Little Sister!" like it was her name, rank and serial number. Don't worry, I had my own Private Hell as Oldest Sister, trust me.)

Flavia is the Pretty Sister (remember she looks like Uma Thurman), but her IQ is also higher than mine*, although I act smarter which actually counts for more, I think. And I went to a better university.

She's a better athlete but I'm a better dancer.

We're dead heat even for Funny Sister. She's a little raunchier than me and I'm a little drier and more obscure than her (like she wouldn't be caught dead doing a remake of Shakespeare, but she'll make you LYAO with hilarious synopses of TV shows, quick quips, and recaps of kid events)

Also dead heat even for Crazy Sister and Normal Sister.

She was more overtly naughty growing up, more frequently, more typically, and tended to get caught. When I was naughty, I was very naughty, but less often and far more covertly, rarely getting caught. Still waters running deep and all that.

Flavia is an extrovert, as much as I am an introvert.

But...we both read a lot, are tv-aholics, have the same attitude about our kids, and are guaranteed for a good time.

I'm really excited you'll get to know Flavia; she's a cool chick. A good sister to have.

And I deeply appreciate her blogsitting for me.

I know you guys will be gentle and supportive; she's a Blog Virgin. And she responds very well to outward expressions, like tons of comments, so chat away with her.

If she feels really encouraged her blog might fill up instead of sitting empty, and I think you'll find (as she will) that once she gets her blog legs under her, she'll be a great blogger.

*My IQ may have caught up. I feel confident in this because Flavia has twice as many children as I do. No, this isn't about I think she's crazy to have 4 kids; Flavia is an early childhood expert and manages her four better than I do my two. Flavia conducted an experiment on the (and she explains it better than me) quantitative relationship between number of children and IQ using the Inverse Square Law of Mathematics. In other words, she tested her IQ after each child and found herself to have lost an average of 2 IQ points for each child. We'll let you know if the points come back. ;)

And in other news...

The fabulous Emily agreed to guest host the Hump Day Hmms for me next Wednesday. You've got the topic (something you experienced that affected and affects you) so send the links to Emily at Wheels on the Bus. Her email is on her blog but I'll make it easy for you: emilydotrdotrosenbaum at gmaildotcom

This means next Wednesday the Hump Day Hmms won't be here (they'll be there), but remember, Flavia is guest posting so check here to read her too. :)

And if you missed it, make sure to see if you qualify to join the WOAH club.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Architect: It's not a career, it's a LIFESTYLE

I began dating my husband in college while he was still getting his first degree in architecture. The classes were geared towards preparing students not for the profession of architecture but for the lifestyle of architecture. They had things called "studios" that ran from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. and so forth, you know, to help these students understand they were selecting a career that demanded your life.

I met architecture students---including my husband who was dating my friend Lynn at the time---for the first time my freshman year. One of my good friends from high school was an architecture major, and my roommate (the second one, after the first one, recently released from the loony bin, tried to stab me) had a cousin also enrolled in the program. So between these people we were somehow sucked into the world of architecture. I should have known it would be my destiny, but I kept diligently dating engineers who had bright, well-paid futures.

I always lived very near to campus (which architecture students never seemed to be able to do for some reason, and who often lived in bizarre corners of old houses or something...maybe more preparation for the life ahead?) and more than once a bedraggled architecture student would show up at my door looking more sad and pitiful than any college student ever should for academic reasons, "Julie, I haven't been home in four days. Can I use your shower? And do you have any food?"

You know how it is, your maternal instincts kick in and you can't help yourself. So, despite every warning in the world about how if you feed a stray it will stick and word will spread, I always offered warm food and a hot shower.

I often congratulated myself on my wisdom in ultimately selecting a liberal arts degree. Not to mention, ironically, that my degree easily outearned my husband's for most of our marriage. I know, liberal arts trumps architecture. The world is on its ear.

When my husband graduated, with two degrees and more debt than I could fathom, he found that while he was well prepared for the theory and lifestyle of architecture, he lacked the practical skills firms wanted in the sagging and horrible job market we both graduated into (coming out of college into a recession sucks rocks, for the record). So, he went back to a trade school for another year of education.

It was all worth it because he found a great job with a nice firm and was very happy. He met a couple of firms here or there that weren't so great, but for the vast majority of his career, he's worked for his current company, which really has a great heart. They actually care about employees. Plus, he enjoys the work he does there, because they have a focus on green design and design schools. He likes that, a lot, and he has his LEED certification so he's officially an environmentally friendly architect. His schools are very, very cool. And safe for kids and the environment!

But, it's still architecture, which carries a specific lifestyle.

I married into the life.

Architects are in my experience really nice and cool on the whole. But, at the end of the day, they are architects which means they are married to their careers. Which makes me The Other Woman.

The one holding down the home front and raising the kids, that is.

After a number of "oh yeah dude that is SO MY LIFE" conversations back and forth between me and the awesome Lotta, and many suggestions of "we ought to have a club," Lotta finally Made It Happen.



Here's the scoop, straight from Lotta:

Julie and Lotta would like to introduce you to the new support group for women married to Architects (or "Draftsmen" or "Project Managers" or "People that should really freaking unionize"). We would organize some meetings but we're so busy single parenting, and too broke to hire sitters

To join this group and display our symbol you must meet the following qualifications;

1. You will have logged at least 100 This Old House viewing hours. Ask This Old House will also be admissible.

2. You snort and/or guffaw every time the lead character in a movie is a wealthy architect. Bonus points if he's carrying a drawing tube or leather portfolio.

3. You find yourself admiring the drivet on the new strip mall and refer to drawings as "renderings".

4. The plumbing, electrical and or any invisible means of support in your home are top notch, but your sofa and chairs are from 1997.

5. Phrases like "bid document" send chills up your spine as they are synonyms for "overtime" and "going in this Sunday".

6. You find it impossible to get a straight answer from your husband as he's so used to evasive language at work. "Well you could look at it a couple of ways", would be an example of this.

7. Most of you and your husband's mutual fantasies start with the phrase, "When I get my license".

8. You find yourself wishing for a voodoo spell that would allow you to posses your husband's body during their annual review/raise period.

9. You've mastered the art of nodding and looking interested when husband talks about the latest release of AutoCad or MicroStation.

10. You plan on strangling the next person that claims having an architect for a husband is almost like being married to a gay straight man.

11. You look wistfully at women who get to make decorating choices without checking in with the committee.

12. At company functions you find yourself unable to tear your gaze away from the 60 year old architect with hair growing out of every orifice.


*To the folks that find our members ungrateful: Trust me we all know what gems we have in our husbands. They are the hardest working guys we know. It's why we are willing to have $7.89 in our checking accounts. And watching them fix things around the house is our porn.


This all came after I cried tears of relief to Lotta that someone understood my marriage and life after reading this post: Mental Mama.

We do love, support, and appreciate our talented and creative husbands, especially on the days we actually get to see them.

If you'd like to join, just comment! And take the badge!

(If you don't qualify to join, we'll consider Supportive and Auxiliary members.)

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A good thing going? Oh yeah, I'm going to STORY LAND! (Hump Day Hmm for 9-26-07)

This is a two part post: the good news and the bad news. I know I ought to do the bad news first so we can end on a good note, but eh, I'm more interested in the good news. This way, you can read the good and skip down to the awesome Hump Day Hmm links if you prefer to opt out of a rant.

So here it is: I've got a pretty good thing going right now.

Good thing 1: We're going on a trip to MASSACHUSETTS and NEW HAMPSHIRE

Museums! Fall! Color! Leaves! Long sleeves! Story Land!

October is a big month for us every year. In fact, we are just one endless party here the entire last quarter of every year. But October is special. It's one of my favorite months (or used to be, before I moved to Hades). It's Jon's birthday. He's turning older (aren't we all?). It's also the month we got married in.

Good thing 2: That marriage? Happened 14 years ago. No joke.

Married 14 years.
In relationship 16 years.
Known one another 19 years.

Is that some kind of crazy or what?

Good thing 3: Couples time alone.

By happy chance the hubs and I are getting two weekends without children in the near future. (I know!) At hotels. One is a resort. (Could you see me shudder with unsuppressed joy?) And next spring? LAS VEGAS! Jon won a weekend at one of the hotels in Vegas during one conference he attended.

Have we passed the word good and gone on to great yet?

And my blog...whatever will it do with all these goings-on in my life?

It might not be as active. We are discussing whether we take the laptop with us as we gallivant. (Oh yes I did, I used the word gallivant, in reference to myself.)

I'm going to ask my sister if she'll help, and I've put out a feeler here and there for some other support. It'll work out. If we do take the laptop, it might just be fluffy with photos or something for a bit.

I might not be around your places much, and I'll miss you and all you have going on, but I'll jump back in when life resumes a bit of normalcy.

That's the bad news. (Err, not the normalcy, that's not the bad news, the missing you guys is the bad news.)

One more spot of good news and then the rant.

Good thing 4: Patience is rocking out loud in kindergarten. She's earned ten Good Deed stickers for a trip to the Treasure Box. She got one Yellow Dot warning (I'm almost happier about this because if she's goofing around she's made friends and feels comfortable in her class). She's confident about going through the lunch line, comes home enthused about all she's learning, loves going through her folder with me, hasn't balked once about going to school, looks forward to it, is excited about her new friends...so far, so good. I feel very fortunate, especially when I hear stories from other moms about some kids, all of whom seem to be the young 5s (turning 6 next spring). Behavior regression, meltdowns, defiance, nastiness, exhaustion, fighting morning routine to go to school and so on. I didn't notice a huge difference in ability of the 5s versus my almost 6, but wow, I think it must really, really matter. The extra six months (give or take) my girl has on some of her classmates must really provide some maturity necessary to make it through all day kindergarten. Another mom and I were talking yesterday (our girls went through pre-school together and share a birthday) and we are really glad to have older 5s in kindie. Our kids are ready for the academic challenge (and are thriving on it), the social challenge (also thriving) and so forth. I'm usually the "Oh my kid is having tough times" mom and what a switch to listen to my friends discuss the troubles they and their kids are dealing with while I say all is fine.

Here's the rant:

I'll tell you who has a good thing going: service companies. You? Sit on your rump and do not move for a period of four to six hours. Bathroom break? No sirree, not even that. If they call and you don't answer? You are off the list!

Here's how the conversation went:

Me: ...and it just runs and runs. I'm worried the pipe is leaking in the wall.

Her: We can have someone out tomorrow between 12 and 4.

Me: (shocked at the quick response time, grateful it is so fast---usually it's 3-4 days) Oh wow, that's great! Yes, thanks!

Her: Okay, and what's the best number to call?

Me: This number, the home.

Her: And your other numbers?

Me: No, this is it. Just this phone.

Her: No cell?

Me: I have a prepaid cell, but it lives in my car; it's for emergencies only.

Her: Okay...

Me: Oh, I should mention, 12 to 4 tomorrow is fine, but I have to dash out for about 10 to 15 minutes at 3 to get my daughter. I'll be right back though so it's fine.

Her: It's not fine.

Me: Ummm...uh, what...?

Her: That's not fine. You must remain at home or have a legal adult who can represent you in your home during the entire span of hours.

Me: Umm, it's just for 10 minutes, while I get my daughter from school. It's only 10 minutes from my house if I walk. Driving is even faster. I'll just nip over, get her, be right back. I promise. You can count on me.

Her: No, still not fine. If they call your house and you don't answer? You're off the list. They move on to the next service call. We're very busy, you know.

Me: Yes, believe me, I understand busy. But, I"m not saying I'll be running in and out the whole time, just 10 minutes, at 3, like I said, so if you could be understanding, just a little bit...?

Her: We can't extend favors. It's against the policy. One rule for all.

Me:

Me:

Me: (holy crap is she effing kidding me?)

Her: Ma'am? Ma'am, are you there?

Me: I'm here. I'm just stymied.

Her: Stymied?

Me: Okay, flummoxed, flabbergasted.

Her: What do you mean?

Me: I mean...it's crazy. You ask me to sit and wait for four straight hours, with a phone in my hand the whole time, until you get around to me, and you can't forgive ten minutes for me to pick up my daughter from school? I mean, do you hear the paradox there? The irony?

Her: If it's too much trouble ma'am, we can schedule another day...a lot of people need plumbing and they're willing to wait per our requirements...

Me: No, no, I'll be here. Of course you're more important. I need that toilet fixed. If I haven't heard from you by three, I'll just wait right here. My daughter can hang at school, right? It's safe, made for kids. I'm sure her teacher won't mind waiting until I've heard from you guys and can come pick her up.

Her: Ma'am...

Me: No, seriously, I'll be here. I'll find a way to both be here and get my daughter home safe and sound. No worries. So, tomorrow, 12-4 I'll be right here, phone in hand, waiting for your convenience, checkbook at my side to pay you the exorbitant fee you'll charge me to repair my toilet in my house where I've been waiting for you over a four hour period.

Her: Ma'am...

Me: Okey dokey then, see you tomorrow and thanks!

Hang up.

Next day.

12 comes and goes.

1 comes and goes.

2 comes and goes.

3 I call my friend to pick up my daughter, and alert the school she's doing so. The school is very nice, but Patience doesn't get the message so when my friend, who she knows very well arrives to get her, Patience balks.

Patience: No, my mommy is supposed to pick me up.

Friend: It's okay, honey, your mommy asked me to pick you up.

Patience: No, that's what the bad guys say too. When someone says that you don't go with them. My mommy has to tell me it's okay.

School person: Your mommy said for you to go with this friend, she said it's okay.

Patience: I don't know you.

Friend: You know me, honey, it's okay. You've ridden home with me lots of times! But you're a smart girl, a really smart girl to be careful like this. Who can we get who'll help you know it's safe to come home with me?

Patience: My mommy.

Friend: Mommy is waiting for the plumber...remember he's going to fix your potty?

Patience: Yeessss....

Friend: Somebody else you trust? If not me?

Patience: I want my teacher.

School person fetches teacher, who assures Patience she knows that Mommy wants her to go with Friend and it's okay.

Patience cautiously climbs in my friend's car, the car she's ridden in more than any other besides my own. She gives my friend the hairy eyeball, and friend tries not to laugh. As Patience buckles herself in with the three other little girls, her very best friends by the way, the adults sigh with relief, and the car rider line at school finally moves on.

Friend arrives home and tells me the story. Patience still looks wary and a little cowed.

Friend: I don't mind at all of course, she's one smart cookie, has learned the right lessons in the right way. Better safe than sorry. She was right to get another grown-up.

Me: I'm somewhere between proud and amused, relieved and worried. Maybe I overtaught.

Friend: No, no, it's fine. She was nearly in tears in the car, she said she's really tired.

Me: Yeah, maybe, I bet. Listen, thanks again.

Friend: have you heard from the plumber yet?

Me: Of course not! I'm awaiting their convenience, you understand.

Friend: (laughs) All right, see you later! (Waves and drives off.)

Patience and I talk and I tell her I am proud of her. I get her settled with snack and note it is a quarter of four, and no call from the plumber. I take the initiative and call.

Me: Hi, it's Julie...I've been waiting for a plumber since noon. He's supposed to be here by four?

Her: Let me check...hold on please...oh yes I see, he's running a little late. He should call between 4 and 5.

Me: Ohhh so he's got some other things to take care of, and I need to allow a little accommodation for him, extend some understanding...be patient, trust he'll be here?

Her: (missing sarcasm) Yes, that's very generous of you!

Me: Oh yes, I'm generous that way.

Her: Well you have a nice day, ma'am.

Me: (ripping hair out by roots)

Who else has a good thing going? Read on and see...

Emily wrote G.T.G

Snoskred wrote Goodbye to a good thing

Stephanie wrote Hump Day Hmmm: good thing going

A garden of nna mmoy wrote Going

Sarcastamom wrote A Good Thing is Hard to Find (Bonus points to her for the Flannery reference)

Sephyroth wrote I've got a good thing going

If you'd like to participate and be linked...just write a post in the theme of "got a good thing going" and link to this post, then email the link to your post at j pippert at g mail dot com. I'll add you to the list!

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Why you don't say "just live childfree" or "just adopt" to an infertile couple

A while back, someone asked me why two specific phrases tend to make most people dealing with infertility go postal.

As tough as infertility is to go through, it is also difficult to witness. When someone you care about is dealing with it, you want to do the right thing, you want to help.

But it's so easy to feel a bit tongue-tied and awkward. When we feel awkward, there is a natural bit of defensiveness, a sort of backlash against the people we feel are making us tiptoe on eggshells. Or, a backlash against them telling us we crossed the line, hurt them or were offensive. It's easy to feel even more defensive when we Just Intended to Help.

But there are two things you can advise infertile couples to do, and neither, in my experience, is ever helpful. Both are, in my personal and anecdotal experience, the antithesis of help and are near guaranteed to cause pain when you intended support, and may net you an angry friend.

What are these two phrases?

1. just live childfree
2. just adopt

In addition to not saying those, you should never, ever, ever caveat either of those ideas with, "it's God's will." Then definitely never, ever, ever tell the infertile couple to "just accept God's will."

Want to know why I think this? Read on, and I'll explain...


In the communication model, so much factors in to what one person says and how the other person receives that.

If one person is dealing with infertility, you need to consider the communication model even more closely because infertility is so deeply painful and difficult. When emotions run as high as they do in fertility, it's easy to over-react and the targets for offense are larger and deeper.

Therefore, as with any interaction, you have to think about yourself (your frame of mind, your experiences, what you think, your desire to fix things for a hurting friend, and so forth) and consider that alongside your friend's needs. Is what you think needs to be said more important than what you know the other person needs?

(I don't mean pander and yes-man it by saying that. I'm simply saying to consider whether the moment calls for telling someone what you think they ought to do versus providing an unconditional listening ear and supportive shoulder and keeping your opinions to yourself.)

See, it's not just about me and it's not just about you. It all depends on the moment, the people involved, the circumstances, and the experience of each person.

Not to mention, everyone has their own opinion about reproduction. People make their choices about reproducing, or deal with the lot they were dealt, and then have strong opinions about how others choose or deal.

I had to get really good at figuring out whether in that moment I needed to address a situation or just let it slide off my back.

The difference was intent.

For example, when one friend kept wanting to talk to me---as I underwent testing for a diagnosis of infertility after having tried to conceive for over a year, unsuccessfully---about how unhappy she was with her surprise pregnancy, initially I tried to be a Good Friend, but it ripped me up inside and I cried after every conversation. Eventually, I told her I wasn't the right friend for this. I said I understood it was hard for her and I'd be a supportive friend, but I couldn't be her confessor about her deep and complicated unhappiness about the surprise pregnancy.

She called me selfish.

In another example, plenty of people weighed in with the, "Oh just relax, you'll get pregnant," and other anecdotes about their husband's cousin's sister's best friend who took a trip to Jamaica and got pregnant "without even trying." (Really? Someone call the Pope! ;) ) Although these stories were likely true, they trivialized my experience and ignored the difficult journey I was on. The comments were thoughtless and hurtful, even though the speakers weren't intending to be cruel. But, I didn't dwell on them, and got fairly good at preventing them from hurting by letting them slide off my back.

I did address it once, formally, in writing, after a verbal conversation netted no good results. I chose to address it this time because the comment was made by my doctor's nurse (general practitioner, not reproductive endocrinologist), and it stung. She told me I was "too young" to be worrying about all this "infertility business" already and if I just learned how to relax and "quit trying so hard" it would probably happen for me quickly. When I told her that comment was hurtful, and misplaced, she didn't feel the need to apologize. She simply heaped on additional judgment. I never went back to that doctor, and wrote a letter explaining why.

Now, with children, the comments fly faster and more furious than they did when I was childless. I look like One of Us, the Fertile, on the exterior and everyone assumes I am either fertile like them, or All Over It.

I was infertile, I am infertile, I always will be infertile. I'm never going to "get over it" in the sense that it's just some distant memory of this thing I went through but I got my beautiful daughters and all is well now and I'm just Normal.

First, I continue to deal with the health conditions that caused my infertility. Second, when you walk through fire, a bit of you melts. If you're lucky---and I count myself lucky on several planes---you come out re-forged, stronger, but changed.

I have a different mindset about reproduction. I always will. I think of it differently than most people do, most of the time. I don't make the same assumptions, or carry the same level of trust that of outcome that fertile people do. I also changed my mind about reproductive choices. I think differently about that, too.

I am different as a person, and a mother, as a result of my experience. I am different from someone who didn't deal with this.

This is typical, and not exclusive to infertility.

But that's what we're talking about.

Speaking of talking...

So what about these things you can and can't, or rather should and shouldn't say to people experiencing infertility?

Why shouldn't you tell them to adopt or live childfree, why is it cruel to tell them that maybe this is God's plan and they need to simply accept it?

Because it's not your problem, and you can't fix it.

Infertility is a journey and a process. People process through it at different paces.

"Why don't you just adopt?" oversimplifies the issue. Infertility is a very gradual process. So is adoption. Both are emotional, difficult, challenging journeys that require a great deal of time and investment...and money.

"Why don't you just adopt one of those poor 'less than perfect' children waiting for homes?" also oversimplifies the issue, and reminds us of being broken...makes us feel a bit leper-ish, in need of a colony with other broken people.

Sure, you never know with biological children...they might have special needs. True. But red herring irrelevant. Deciding to adopt a special needs child is fantastic, but takes a special person. Having infertility doesn't make you that special person. It's a big choice, big decision, big responsibility. Yes, I want every one of those children to have a loving home and the best chance. However, I doubt even eHarmony would decide that "infertile" and "special needs" is an automatic match up.

Remember, we all start out each new situation with the hope of good things. When you try to conceive and fail...it's tougher than you can imagine. Having a baby is such a fundamental thing, it's almost a promise, a right by the way our culture views it. Reaching for it and failing feels like the wrath of God.

And that's why you never tell someone it is the wrath of God.

You don't know God's will. He doesn't litter life with roadsigns. You can't divine his will by looking at tea leaves in the bottom of a cup...in the same way, you can't look at someone's infertility and decide this means God has a specific plan, such as living childfree, adopting, or adopting special needs. If you do believe, you can believe God has a plan, but all you can know is that you need faith.

We decided to have a baby. Like everyone else, our minds wandered through the possibilities: boy? girl? husband's eyelashes? fair like me or dark like him?

It's an amazing thought, combining bits of ourselves, and from that, a new person, who we were trusted to raise and love. It's awesome, truly.

When each of us decides to try, this dream is in our hearts.

When some of us meet challenges and obstacles in achieving this dream, there is no obvious simple solution. We don't fail to see the choices: pursue IF treatment, live childfree, adopt. We know these choices.

But as I said, it's our own journey that we need to walk. It's a process to step towards understanding it's not just biological but also a desire to love and parent.

I don't for one minute forget the fortune visited upon me in the form of my daughters. Sometimes it is a pressure that crushes my chest, this need to be worthy of the luck, which manifests as a desire to be perfect.

But mostly, I try to focus on the benefits that we came out of this with: our beautiful girls, our new role as parents and a new depth to us.

HUMP DAY tomorrow! Here's two topics, one for tomorrow and one for next week:

Hump Day Hmm for 9-26-07 (suggested by Emily of Wheels on the Bus): A Good Thing Going

Hump Day Hmm for 10-3-07: A challenge in my life and how it affected and affects me

Just write your post, link back to my blog, send the link to me at j pippert at g mail dot com and I'll link list you!

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!
n the

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Talking with my husband: a true story

"If I get the new Gwen Stefani album," said my husband, drooling only a little, to his credit, "I get unlimited CDs for $1.99." He waved his music club catalog.

"Bueno," I said, not looking up from my muffin.

"But I have to choose..." he said, a little perplexed.

"I want the newest Diana Krall," I announced, "And maybe something else, I don't know," I said, making a grab for the catalog.

"Uh uh uh," he evaded me, "I'm not giving up custody of this yet...have you heard any of this Amy Winehouse?"

"I've heard of her, R&B, more my thing than yours," I told him.

"You can't say that; I don't dislike any genre, just sometimes a lot of the artists in it," he protested.

"Name me one R&B artist you like," I challenged.

"Give me a second...okay Sade. I bet I can get a list of more if you give me a minute."

I took advantage of his distraction to snatch the catalog.

"Robin Thicke...wasn't that an 80s actor, from that show about the family...?"

"What?" asked my husband, who apparently never watched television (excepting sports) before 1991.

"Oh, wait no that was Alan Thicke. With or without an e, I can't recall," I said, a little absently, thinking.

"That's be a first, Queen of Trivial Pursuit."

"Who is this guy, he's ringing a bell, Robin Thicke, hmmm...wait wasn't he that completely horrible skinny guy in the pencil suit who came onto some show, maybe the dance one or Idol and just made us wish we had lots of wax in our ears or something...?"

My husband shuddered and looked at the prominent photo, "Oh yeah him...yuck."

I flipped back over to Amy Winehouse, "Come on, let's go search YouTube."

We listened to several tunes, growing to like it more and more.

"She's like a David Bowie in his Absolute Beginner's phase," I said, delightedly.

"God, that was a horrible movie," my husband said.

"I know, I never got why the theater and film majors loved it so well...when was that?"

"'86?"

"I guess. You know, this one is so Diana Ross, so Supremes. I bet she says those are artists that influenced her."

"Diana Ross?" my husband said, disgust lacing his voice and decorating his face.

"Look, you know I'm a Motown and R&B fan...I want that Motown Gold album by the way, Stevie Wonder, mmmm," I said.

"Stevie Wonder, now there's another musician with a terrible voice."

"I must just like that style," I told him, "Maybe I'm a bigger fan of musicians than singers. Like Janis Joplin."

"That's what I'm talking about!" he said, "That's like Amy Winehouse, not the greatest voice ever, but digging deep, reaching some emotion or something."

We clicked on one last song, F*#k Me Pumps.

"She's got attitude, for sure," I said.

"Yeah."

We were silent for a minute listening.

"You know what? Her music. I swear she lifts pieces of old songs, their chorus or something," I said, "It's so familiar. I know this riff. It'll come to me, what it's from."

My brain struggled through cold-induced thickness and lack of coffee sluggishness.

"HA!" I cried triumphantly a minute later, "I've got it! La Boum, French, 1982."

"You totally just made that up, pulled it out of your ass."

"No, honest to god, it's a real movie, I saw it in France, it's famous!"

I clicked open a new tab, "Look, see, oh, whoops, okay one came out in 1980, two came out in 1982, my bad, but geez, not bad!"

I felt a little older suddenly. 1980. Wow. That trip to France was 1980? I thought back to my Kristy MacNichol hairdo with wings, yeah must have been 1980. I bought Anais Anais perfume in Paris, before it was hot in the US, where the name was always mispronounced. Oh wow, was I wearing hang Ten clothes then? I was. Matching Hang Ten outfits. Wait, wait, more mortified memories flooding in...yes, I had that embarrassing crush on that boy from Alaska that summer in France. I could have sworn that was 1982. Hmm, maybe it was. Who knows, it's all so long ago. Let me go get my walker.

"I watched it in French," I added, "I don't know if there is an English version. I thought it was an awesome movie at the time."

"If you can prove any of this I will be totally impressed," my husband said, somewhere between potential awe and dubiousness.

I searched YouTube, but could only find Richard Sanderson's Reality/Go On Forever, which wasn't quite the song I meant. I wanted the instrumental tune, which may have been based on this song, but I wasn't convinced.

So I had no proof. But I think he believes me in a little tiny corner of his mind.

But I do have proof of my poor musical taste 27 years ago:



While we're doing slightly obscure really old music, let me throw out a few more...

This may slightly redeem my musical taste from the 80s. In 1985 The Waterboys put out the angsty ballad The Whole of the Moon:



A decade earlier, I was doing a jazz number to King Harvest's Dancing in the Moonlight, which I still like to this day (and I think I still recall a smidgen of that routine):



This is not so obscure, but my it's old and scratchy. It's the very first song I ever loved (and still do): Astrud Gilberto and Joao Gilberto singing Antonio Carlos Jobim's song The Girl from Ipanema. My dad claims from earliest infancy I'd freeze to listen and then began swaying every time this song came on.



Love those Gilbertos...Joao, Astrud, or (more modern) Bebel Gilberto.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Ending on a high note... girlie squeal high

The kids are having a Bad Day today ergo I am having a Very Bad Day today. Yep, today has sucked rocks in more than a few ways.

No, seriously. I had to call and vent to my husband by noon. Yeahhh, now you hear me: that kind of day.

Let's just whip through the day I had because I want to quickly move on to the good stuff (plus, dudes, I have been working us all too hard at this blog all week):

1. Whiny uncooperative kids all morning.


As usual, racing to car, racing to school like usual. Persistence being ohhhhhh myyyyyy gosh the Queen of Lollygagland. She has now perfected the art of the extremely suspicious stare...due to receiving it so frequently.

I was already sort of fed up with Persistence since she sneaked downstairs and dumped a tub of yogurt on the coffee table and mixed in half a big box of baby oatmeal in it. Then dripped it on the rug and sofa. Took a freaking hour to scrape that out and clean it up. I couldn't find the missing yogurt tub until this morning...when I found it and the REST of the box of oatmeal clogging the downstairs bathroom sink. See what I mean? Also that kid has been up until 10 p.m. all freaking week. I won't even tell you what all she did upstairs that involved a sharpie marker while I cleaned up the yogurt mess.

Do I sound like I love her? Do I? Do you hear and feel the love?

I hope you stinking do because here's how you know I love her: (a) she lives and (b) she's not for sale on eBay.

2. The no school for me incident

So Persistence and I are all breathing a sigh of relief that Patience got to school on time, and thus proud of ourselves, we run off to spend the hour before her school begins doing errands. And by gum, we got them all done and done well and on time and cruised into her school mighty puffed up with pride in ourselves only to be popped like balloons.

"Julie?" the lady in the office says with an odd tone.

"Ummm, yeah?" I say.

"There's," and here's where the DUH DUH DUH DUMMMMM music began, "No. School. Today."

Holy mother mercy are you freaking kidding me? WTF do I pay for?

(And do you know how hard I must work to NOT say this in a Catholic Church with the priest walking by?)

"Mommy, she say no school?" Persistence asked, worriedly.

"Sorry honey, no school," I affirm. She and I stare sadly at one another.

"But me wan' my fwends, my teachers, my cwasswoom!" she tells me.

"I know, I want that for you too, you have no idea, but sorry, no school."

At this point, one of us collapsed in a crying heap on the floor. I will let you guess which one (odds are 50/50 here), but here's a hint, part of the sobbing included the name of the crier's true love:

"I wan' my Saaaaaaaaaabbbbbbiiiiiiiiiii," wailed the crier, desperately seeking the adorable, black tousled curls Love of her life, Sebastien.

Yes, we departed, leaving our dignity behind like some offering for the Virgin Mary.

3. The school lunch incident

Thus at utter odds with our day, both of us suffering a bad case of the Cranky McCrankypants due to thwarted expectations, Persistence and I straggled home trying hard to think of a way to salvage the day.

"Let's have lunch with Tissy!" I say, feeling a bit better.

"Otay," agrees Persistence, "Let's do now!"

"No, in an hour and a half, three Georgies."

"Toooo loooong," whines Persistence, "Hey! me wan' my Dorgie on now!"

So three Georgies later, we were showing five forms of picture identification and a notarized letter of safety and shooed on through to the cafeteria.

Where, we found---unexpectedly, although it shouldn't have been, it being today and all---that poor Patience's lunch was mysteriously infested with ants. Everyone was slightly panicked and surprisingly glad to see me. Like a gift. From the gods.

Inspired and gratified by this welcome, my mind shot into On mode and came up with a Plan: buy lunch.

So I shuffled the three of us through the lunch line. We ate. We kissed Patience goodbye. We left. All was well, until...

4. The parking lot incident

Persistence, running to evade my authority (Bad Girls, Bad Girls, whatcha gonna do? Whatcha gonna do when mom comes for you?), seriously wiped out in the parking lot. I carried my mortally wounded child (or so you'd think from the scene) to the car, and just when I got her all cleaned up and settled...

5. The smashed finger incident

Because it is still Hot as Hades here in the subtropics (aka Land of Neverending Godforsaken Hot as Hades Summer), I crack the windows to allow hot air to escape the car. This necessitates rolling up the windows after we get in the car and shift the A/C on to "high" and "as cold as freaking possible."

Unbeknownst to me, today happens to be the very day that Persistence not only figured out how to buckle her car seat buckles, but also discovered how to unbuckle them.

So, believing her to be in her car seat, I pushed the buttons to raise the windows and...

"YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!"

Yes, smashed fingers.

Once she recovered (and it was only a couple of minutes because I stopped before fully closing the window) we decided to engage in the time-honored method for feeling better: retail therapy.

6. The poo poo and lost pants incident

I think the title explains it all but suffice it to say by the third store I gave up and Persistence was clad in nothing more than a tank top and pull-up. We left nice little calling cards at every store we visited.

Those are simply the top six. We'll leave it at that.

Now...the good part of the day.

Unflattering photo aside...

Celebrity Collage says I look like Cat Deeley!

Oh my joy knows no bounds. I have a total girlie envy crush on Cat Deeley, so I am ecstatic. Sure, the rest is flattering (barring Tom Stoppard...wtf?) but CAT DEELEY!

As for Uma Thurman? No, not so much, but she looks like she could be my sister, in fact...she looks JUST LIKE MY SISTER.


http://www.myheritage.com



I do look like Leelee Sobieski.

I guess my usuals---Tilda Swinton and Cate Blanchett---aren't celebrities any longer?

I would have said "too old" but thank goodness Meryl Streep and Sharon Stone are in there. Leelee is young enough to be my daughter. So there, I don't look like her, she looks like ME!

And Kate Hepburn?

Geez, I can't even fathom. Just color me swooned.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Discreet, Discrete, Euphemisms and Breasts


Nursing Mother with Red Blanket by Zelda Fitzgerald

I want to get a few things clear...because there seems to be some confusion about discrete versus discreet, euphemisms, and breasts. It all stems from this breastfeeding debate sparked by Mill Baher (yes, that's intentional).

1. Discreet versus discrete

Discrete = separate, or, in math, no calculus.

Discreet
= judicious in conduct, prudent, modest and unobtrusive

As you see above, discreet can mean modest and unobtrustive, but the dictionary---although it defines those words---can't define the varying subjective interpretations of what qualifies as "modest" and "unobtrusive."

That's why the euphemisms are a problem. And interfering in the discussion about breasts.

2. Euphemisms

Opponents to breastfeeding in public enjoy employing words such as "obscene" and "offensive" and "private" as well as phrases such as "whip it out" and "boob hanging out" and "private moment between mother and child" and "nursing should be discreet."

Let's focus on that last one, shall we?

They don't mean discreet. They mean don't do it. They don't want to see it or know about it. They want it away from their mind, not their eyes, their mind. That's because of skeeves.

Modesty is a red herring, as are the rest of the synonyms for discreet. It really is about the act of breastfeeding. It really is about the skeeves some people get when they think about a baby nursing at a woman's breast.

But they don't want to make it about them; they want to make it about her.

You know, there is historical precedent for this, but that doesn't make it cool.

People can talk about alleged exposed breasts, discreet, and blankets all they want, but the truth is that a blanket isn't very discreet. It won't stop your mind from wandering into "milk flowing from woman's breast to baby's mouth." You will know there is a baby under that blanket. Plus, because it looks kind of odd, it is more likely to attract your attention, which will, of course, lead your mind to nursing.

Further, although some babies might not mind the blanket over them some of the time, I've never met one personally. Most babies object to the blanket, and we all know how babies object: vehemently. I don't blame them; it's dark, stuffy, gets hot, and blocks the view of the world around them, about which they are immensely curious. I wouldn't end up very modest if I depended upon a blanket.

Regardless, as I said already, blankets, modesty and the breast are red herrings here, anyway.

These things are all euphemisms for the real problem: the act of breastfeeding. The breast isn't the issue. Knowing that a baby is suckling at the breast is the issue. Because of skeeves.

I think until some people are honest enough to say, "It doesn't matter how discreet you are or what you do to try to hide it, if I see you and realize you are breastfeeding, I will skeeve out."

I think breastfeeding skeeves out a lot of people.

I understand skeeves; I get really skeevy about a lot of things.

People walking through my house in shoes. That skeeves me out. Seriously, do you know where those shoes have been and what they've walked in?

Public bathrooms skeeve me out, big time. Especially the floors. If only you knew the lengths I went to in order to ensure that no part of me or my stuff other than the soles of my shoes (see above) touched the floors of a bathroom...well, you'd laugh. It must be a real sight. (That said, do you think I want to take my baby in there to nurse? I'd be choking back gags and hurls.)

People who walk out of bathrooms without washing their hands. Skeeve skeeve skeeve skeeve!!!!

Celery skeeves me. Stringy vegetable that tastes like that. It's just wrong. Skeeve ick.

That rotten dishrag smell on restaurant tables. Skeeve.

Baby poo diapers. Skeeve!

Touching, cooking, cutting, dealing with raw meat. Skeeve! (I do not cook meat.)

Meat with bones. SKEEVE!!! (One of my most Horrible Moments was an Important Dinner where the gracious hostess proudly served each of us perfectly cooked---and whole---fancy birds. Dead fancy birds skinned, marinated, cooked and served on a plate. I about died.)

I could go on and on. We all have skeeves. Did you agree with my list? Yes? No? Yes and no?

See, skeeves are irrational and subjective, personal. They are personal problems.

Let me be clear...there is nothing wrong with serving roasted pheasant for dinner. It's generally agreed in our culture that this is a delicacy and ought to be appreciated and enjoyed. No, no, the problem is mine. The skeeves are mine, thus the problem is mine. It doesn't matter that somewhere out there people in the world or even people I know agree with these skeeves. It's still my problem.

Let me be even more clear...there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding a baby, even at a table in a restaurant (especially at a table in a restaurant). It's generally agreed in our culture that breast is best, and that breastfeeding is a great way to feed a baby. Feeding a baby is not something private, intimate, or shameful. It's not something that needs to go into another room, a public bathroom, around the corner or away from public. This applies whether it is feeding from a bottle...or a breast.

If it disturbs you (skeeves you) the skeeves are yours. Thus, the problem is yours. Therefore, the easy solution is...look away. Exercise mind control. Ponder more important issues, such as an impending recession or inflation.

That's what I did with the bird. I focused away from it, paid attention to dinner conversation, and ate the vegetables around it. Then, I discreetly swapped plates with my husband. I didn't stand up and rant that the hostess ought to have known I was vegetarian and was skeeved by dead animals on my plate. I didn't demand to have all the dead birds removed to accommodate my skeeves.

That's for the following reason that I made in a comment at Velveteen Mind in response to a man who claimed it was a private act, full of exposure of intimate body parts when women "pulled off their shirts" and therefore made him uncomfortable
James, why? What's the uncomfortable part? You have many rights, but yours don't trump the nursing mother's. I know...not fair. But fair is a place for ferris wheels and cotton candy...it's not a state of being.

That's adulthood. Sometimes we swallow our discomfort when we realize it is irrational and not defensible against another person's needs.

I also said
Okay.

The people who are uncomfortable about women breastfeeding in public and wish a woman to be more “discreet” by finding a “private location” in which to breastfeed?

No.

It’s not my obligation as a person—much less a breastfeeding mother—to make sure everyone around me is not uncomfortable or unhappy about anything I am doing.

Do I care about other people around me?

Of course. I care. I am considerate. I do my best to respect those around me.

But not to ridiculous levels, and expecting me to bend over backwards, awkwardly, uncomfortably, ridiculously is past the level of reasonable.

I will put my shopping cart in the carrel so it doesn’t hit your car.

I will not cower in a public bathroom to feed my child.

I will let a person with two items ahead of me in the shopping line.

I will not juggle a heavy baby for half an hour while leaning against a wall around the corner of a public place, while my friends, family, husband, whoever waits for me to return.

I will not play loud music or run a buzz saw at midnight.

I will sit quietly at my restaurant table, in my airplane seat, on the bench at the park and so forth and nurse my child. I guarantee you 95% of the time nobody even knew.

I’ve never seen a woman—and I’ve been around plenty—be anything other than as discreet as possible, even at a playgroup with only other moms.

It’s not about how long it takes to get around the corner. It’s not about respecting that some people find it “offensive” or feel “uncomfortable.” It’s not about whether a boob is for prurient interest or more practical purpose of feeding. It’s not about whether people ought to have children at all or even out in public.

It’s about a mother taking care of her child. The best place for a mother to nurse is where she feels most comfortable. When the mother feels comfortable, the milk flows well and lets down properly. Anxiety and discomfort inhibit that. The former case is good for the baby, the latter is not. Good for the baby is what it is about.

You want a mom to breastfeed in privacy?

Then give it to her.

Mind your own business.

The bottom line is this: just because you know about something, just because you see it, just because it is public...this doesn't per se make it your business. Just because something affects you doesn't mean you have some sort of right or say as to what goes on. You aren't entitled to not have to deal with something that makes you uncomfortable. You aren't entitled to demand someone do something bad for them to stem the tide of your skeeves.

You are entitled to act like a grown-up, acknowledge you feel uncomfortable, and geez, sometimes? That's just the way it is.

Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
Also blogging at:
Using My Words
Julie Pippert REVIEWS: Get a real opinion about BOOKS, MUSIC and MORE
Julie Pippert RECOMMENDS: A real opinion about HELPFUL and TIME-SAVING products
About-HOUSTON-TX.com: HOT scoop about H-Town!