Thanks for all of your comments on my last post about letting friends go. I loved your stories, and I feel significantly less guilty, which is, I think, a good thing. Honestly, it wasn’t until I wrote out the situation to a local friend who doesn’t know the party in question that I saw it all in writing and realized, errrm, yes ma’am, all done!
Unfortunately, it bred a bit of paranoia among myself and a few friends when we started discussing what we found morally repugnant and there were a few e-mails exchanged and one friend, God bless her, submitted a LIST of what she found morally repugnant in the friendship-ending sense and PHEW, aren’t we glad we got that out of the way? Our friendship can resume! (I’m not really kidding about that, because ding dong, paranoia, HII-LLOO!)
I’m so grateful the Olympics are over — not because I didn’t enjoy them, because really, I did — but I have only so much tolerance for watching people hurtle down things at a dangerous speed. I spent the majority of the games feeling vaguely nauseated, with a blanket over my head — particularly the bobsledding, because when that shit flips, those dudes go hurtling down on their effing HEADS. Over! OVER!
While I’m at it, let me also add that I am irrationally irritated by Lindsey Vonn — or rather, the media’s obsession with her. It REALLY bugs me that even in something as seemingly egalitarian as skiing, the pretty one always gets the attention. Frankly, I don’t blame Julia Mancuso if she did snark about Lindsey, because as unfair as that is (it’s not Vonn’s fault), I’ll bet that’s annoying and distracting as hell. It happens everywhere. Looks matter. Everywhere, particularly with women. Hell, even in the blogosphere, where writing is supposed to reign supreme, pretty, photogenic bloggers generally perform better than their ordinary counterparts. Heather Armstrong is an extraordinarily talented writer and blogger, but it’s impossible to pretend that her success is not assisted, at least in part, by her model looks — and I do not mean that to denigrate her talent, for it is very real, just as mere fact.
And now! Bullets:
— Book Lushes! Look under the PollDaddy tab on the site, for we’re starting something new: Genres! Themes! THEN picking books! It’s an effort to branch out and keep the selection fresh, as well as pick books with plenty of notice for library-going folks. As soon as I’ve finished the poll, that is. Give me five, yo.
— Sam is saying “HIIIII!” all the time, to everything. To Daddy, the dog, me, the couch, her books, the babies on television. Everything must be greeted with wild enthusiasm, and man, is it ever awesome. She’s also learned how to open her OWN flaps in her peekaboo books, thankyouverymuchMama, and she blows on her food before she eats it, just like I do before I give it to her. The other day, she ate an entire zucchini, sliced up and sauteed with garlic and parmesan and I swear, she would have eaten more of it if she hadn’t already sucked down the whole thing.
While these are simple, mundane details, this is the kind of shit that BLOWS YOUR MIND as a parent. How a small person goes from a little farting blob to a prescient being with food preferences and the ability to verbalize things, however rudimentary, is effing NUTSO. Like an ACID TRIP, I swear to GOD. Not that I would, um, know!
— So the other day, I was watching Regis & Kelly (don’t judge!) (Also, someone please give Kelly Ripa a goddamn CHEESEBURGER already) and Kelly, who annoys the piss out of me, was talking about sheet hygiene, and by that I mean, how often you change your bedsheets. I’m … well, I’m not sure I’m willing to make any admissions just yet, but I WILL say I was comPAHletely aghast when she shared that she (or, you know, her maid, Esmeralda), changes the sheets EVERY OTHER DAY. Am I … is this not excessive? Like, EXTREMELY excessive? Like, EXTREEEEEEMMMMELY excessive? I mean, if you think that’s normal, then, hey! I do, too! I was just kidding!
So, erm, how often do you change your sheets, if you don’t mind me asking? And worse, if you have them, your KIDS’ sheets? (OMFG)
This is how it goes, sleep with kids: It’s bad. It gets better! It’s bad again. It’s bearable. It’s unbearable! It’s perfect. It’s the worst thing ever. I’m well rested! I may never sleep again.
It’s all surprisingly bearable in the scheme of things, but when it isn’t, it kind of sucks. Sam has three (3) teeth coming in at once, and I can see them — all three of them — lurking just beneath the surface, and … urkkkk. This is in addition to the one she cut last week, which was … urrrkkk. Plus, there’s um, a yeast diaper rash (urrrkkkk), which I left to quite literally fester for a few weeks, thinking that if I applied enough Desitin, it would just! go! away!, which led to a super-itchy crotch, I AM SURE and … well, what you have here is the reason I went back to bed during her morning nap just about every day this week, waking from a facedown position on a drool-soaked pillow and wanting just! eight! more! hours!
Friday bullets, with a question!
– One of my favorite things about the Internet is that finally — finally! — there are other people who have seen the most random, ridiculous movies and television shows I did as a kid. It’s so … VALIDATING, in a way I can’t properly explain. Grease 2 is no longer the embarrassing secret it once was, and I now believe there are many OTHER people who can sing the words to “Let’s Bowl!” (“Hey Paulette, take a look over here! I’m your kingpin, honey, and I’m gettin’ in gear!” — Johnny Nogerelli, sung whilst doing some sort of weird split-type dance on his knees) Other discoveries: The Electric Grandmother (thanks, TJ!), The Worst Witch and others who were ALSO obsessed with The Dark Crystal. Oh, Internet. You are my people.
(Related: I could not — still cannot — figure out the fake love triangle of Stephanie, Paulette and Johnny. Was Stephanie still considered his chick? Why was Paulette so bitter? Yes, they just broke up, but there seemed to be something more, because she couldn’t be a Pink Lady without being a T-Bird chick and …? Oh, the politics of T-Birds and Pink Ladies! So complex!)
— American Idol. They’re all terrible. Ellen is awkward and terrible, and I LOVE Ellen, but not like this. There’s a shark in the water and American Idol just leaped right over it.
— Have you ever walked away from a friendship because of something not done to you personally, but was still morally repugnant? I’m wrestling with this right now, and I’ve done it once before, though I don’t think I knew it at the time. The historical example is this: A longtime friend of mine was always a little, um, mercenary, I guess, and a bit on the morally ambiguous side when it came to financial gain. And cheap! She was always so cheap, and in that awkward, Is She Trying to Rip Me Off? kind of way. You know this way, yes? Like, they’re always trying to screw you on the bill in group dinners by throwing in a few bucks without ever looking at the bill? That kind of thing, but … well, sometimes a lot worse and more insidious, and CONSTANT.
Anyway! So! Fast forward several years of this known behavior and she’s hit by a car. I know! A car! And it was deemed a total (TOTAL) accident due to freak solar glare and really, she was fine, save for a few minor injuries. Yes, it was traumatizing but it was an ACCIDENT and … oh man, you guys, the dude who hit her was all broken up about it. He paid her medical bills, visited her in the hospital and cried his face off every time he saw her, apologizing all the time. He was such a mess over it, and made so many offers for reparations. He was a FATHER and oh he … well, he was HEARTBROKEN. I felt so bad for him, because it could have been anyone, honestly.
And she was fine and happy and everything was fine and then she heard through a friend of hers that someone she knew sued someone after a motorcycle accident and got enough money for a down payment on a house! And she could always use more money and … well.
She sued him for pain and suffering and it was just! so! awful! I’m all for suing when you’ve actually SUFFERED or suing, say, an unrepentant asshole who was negligent, but when you’re essentially ruining someone else’s life for nothing more than money, I … well, as it turned out, I was done with her. I never looked at her the same and we’re not friends anymore. It just slowly fell apart, and we slowly grew apart, but when I look back on it, that was the turning point. I couldn’t tolerate her anymore. I couldn’t be friends with someone who would do something so selfish and awful.
So! I’m faced with a similar situation. Something not done to me, but something I find just as repulsive, and I’m not sure I can go on. Has this ever happened to you?
(Unrelated: Every time I hear the statement, “Has this ever happened to you?” I automatically fill it with, “You lost a friend because you got a boring doorbell?”)
*Mos Def. Oh, you guys. I LOVE Mos Def. I have such a CRUSH on Mos Def, and I want to put him in my pocket and carry him around.
I’m pretty sure that you, Internets, will never find this as amusing as I do, because you aren’t her mother. And I know! Indulgent videos of child, I KNOW. But goddamn, if this doesn’t make me laugh — hard — every time I watch it. I’ll be back with the regular drivel tomorrow.
I wonder, um, who she’s modeling after here? Talk about realizing you need to, uhh, watch yourself.
Reading about World War II — every time I read about it — makes me realize how we, as Americans, have lost our stomach for what war really is. I say this as a person who lost a friend in the current mess that is Iraq — he left a wife and four-month-old baby behind, for chrissake — so it’s not as though it’s something that should be easy to tolerate, or that the loss of any life is something we should be able to stomach.
Not that anyone is waiting with bated breath or anything, but I’m still reading Suite Francaise (along with books in-between), and it’s no longer a slog-fest — in fact, I quite love it, and recommend that everyone read it, if only because it makes you (well, me, anyway) think about war differently. As background, it was written by a Jew (who converted to Catholicism, by way of futile self-preservation, for she later died in Auschwitz) in France during World War II, and is perhaps the first fictional account of the events taking place, for it was written as it was happening.
(Morrigan, are you out there? I LIKE IT. WIN.)
There’s no denying that the greatest tragedy of WWII was the Holocaust. I’ve been to Dachau and it was … well, it was what you’d expect, times a thousand. There really aren’t words, so I won’t even try. Suite Francaise, ironically, illustrates the plight of the non-Jews, which is eye-opening in a different way, because, uh, Jesus, everyone paid a price in that war — some more than others, but it seems like everyone paid something, which isn’t necessarily true of our current conflicts. Many people pay — please, just ask the military spouses, who should be thanked as much as their husbands and wives who serve — but not necessarily EVERYONE.
This is the longest way ever of telling the story of the single most shocking conversation I’ve ever had, that is kind of related, but not, um, really at all. Welcome to my mind. But really! Most! Shocking! Ever! A few years ago, I met with a bunch of WWII veterans for a series I was doing around, uh, Veterans Day (there’s an original concept). It was, by and large, so fucking cool, and they were very obviously the Greatest Generation, just as Tom Brokaw promised. I’d never seen such an attitude of self-sacrifice and understanding that this world is so much bigger than we are — they may not have been the most sophisticated people I’ve ever met, but in many ways, they were much more worldly. It was an immense privilege I will truly never forget, and I am so thankful to have been able to experience some of the last members of that generation.
One of the men I met with was … well, honestly, he was incredible. A relatively high-ranking black Army officer in the 1940s — when there was little tolerance for African Americans at all, much less in a position of power — that was the least of his accomplishments, if you can believe it. The guy was a highly successful newspaper publisher, a hit songwriter (!), eventual presidential appointee and … oh MAN, it just went on and on and on. He did so many things, and did them so well, that I half expected my fact checking to come out that he’d made it all up, except of course, he hadn’t. I have, to this day, never met anyone else who has done so much with their life.
He was brilliant and kind and had lived this insane life full of loss (his first wife died in a fire while he was trying to rescue her, oh my LANDS) and love and … whoa, man, he was the coolest guy I’d ever met. I developed such an affection for him that I was deeply sorry when the piece was finished, because I just wanted more time with him. In total, I’d spent many days — weeks, even — talking to him, and he and his wife invited Adam and me to dinner on multiple occasions, and we just never got it together to do so.
And, in retrospect, THANK GOD WE DIDN’T.
During our very last conversation, when everything had been filed and finished, and I was merely tying up loose ends, he was talking about his ties to the music industry, and offhandedly mentioned the prevalence of Jews in entertainment. Which, you know, I guess is somewhat true, but I’d never really given it much thought beyond the occasional Ari Gold-led joke on Entourage. It is at this point that he — a man whose life, for a little while at least, had been DEFINED by discrimination, and was, um, a WORLD WAR II VETERAN — announced, “You know, I hate them .. the Jews.”
(It is at this point that I would like to remind/inform those who don’t know that I am, a) an aspiring Jew, as Adam always teases me, for I am always UPSET that I wasn’t born Jewish and jealous that he was; b) married to a Jew; and c) have a very obviously Jewish last name, which apparently ESCAPED this man. For all of his purported hatred, I have to wonder if he could pick a Jewish name or person out of a line up)
I think I just stared, openmouthed.
“They are a hateful, awful, greedy people. I’ve never met a Jew — or a person who LIKES Jews, even — that I’ve liked. Ever.”
I mean, what the fuck, right? Oddly, he sure seemed to like me. And because I was WORKING and was supposed to be impartial, I just … I don’t know, you guys, I just SAT THERE, totally stunned and silent and stupid, and said nothing. On the one hand, I hate myself for staying silent. On the OTHER hand, my God, the guy was 88, and I highly doubt he was going to change his mind and plus, again, I was working and was a journalist and free speech and all that and … oh man. Besides, even if he did know, he’d decide that Adam and I were exceptions, not the rule.
Shocking, right? Or is it just me? I mean, what the EFF, right? WHO SAYS THAT, least of all someone who has VIVID, VAST PREJUDICIAL EXPERIENCE that he’d just spent the last several weeks DETAILING TO ME?
(Edited to add: This part was what surprised me so much. It wasn’t that people feel that way — I mean, I know they exist, and it wasn’t the first time that happened, sadly — it’s that someone who spent all this TIME saying how AWFUL prejudice was and how it had impacted his life so NEGATIVELY went forward and … well, DID THE SAME THING. I was FLOORED.)
Most! Shocking! Ever! I still can’t get over it. I can’t! I can’t! I was so disappointed — AM so disappointed, rather. I really, really liked him, and still think about him all the time. I often wonder if he’s still alive — he was, you know, 88, and while he was healthy as a horse, he smoked about two packs of Pall Malls a day. His wife was much younger — much younger than my parents, even, and maybe ten years older than my sister — and sometimes, I think about calling her to check, but I can’t bring myself to do it.
(Housekeeping note: The next Book Lushes book has been decided, and we’re now going on a regular monthly schedule from March 1 – April 1, so this book is MARCH’s book, if that makes sense. And it’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Win!)
(PS, I haven’t deleted the poll because I can’t figure out how to close it without deleting it. Am computer genius!)
(PPS, the book is on Amazon for pre-order! I mean, my anthology! Am total geek about seeing my name on Amazon, when all of these other regular authors are all, OH MY GOD GET OVER YOURSELF IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. I bring this up ALSO because though I don’t mention it here for Google reasons, I don’t hide my last name, and since I mentioned it being obviously Jewish, I’d be curious if I were you, so now you know, if you didn’t already. If you don’t know which one I am, I’m Phillippa Ballantine. I KID.)
I’m alive! I’m ALIVE! Look at me, all TYPING SOMETHING I’M NOT CONTRACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO DO! Or, you know, something that’s not making me miserable. Not that work makes me miserable! Au contraire! I love what I do, really, I do, but there was a bit too many things going on there at once, all DUE at once, and … well, no one needs to hear about any of this, really, except that I have three obvious pro tips for you:
1) There is such a thing as seeing too much True Blood. I had to re-watch the whole show from start to finish. Many times. You want to know what happened in any episode? What Bill was wearing? What Eric was wearing? Oh, just ask me! I’ll tell you in excessive detail! My favorite Eric outfit, if you were wondering, was the zip-up track suit he wore in the department store with some kind of, um, horn around his neck. Oh, it was the first episode where he debuted his new haircut and, wait, where are you going?
2) No matter how much work you have to do, writing in a moving vehicle is ill advised. As is taking no breaks whatsoever (except to Shred) and not leaving the house or seeing your friends or getting your BABY out of the house. If you do what I did, which was to NEVER LEAVE OR STOP WORKING, you find yourself coming completely undone, your baby coming undone and having your husband gently take you aside and suggest that you walk the dog to “see the trees” and get perspective. SEE THE TREES.
3) Again, folks, LEAVE THE HOUSE. TAKE A BREAK. DO NOT BE ME. LEEEEAAAAVVEEE THE HOOUUUUSSSEEE. Twitter is great, but it is NOT meant to be your only form of social interaction. Repeat, Twitter does not substitute for actual human friends and conversation. Like, AT ALL.
So that’s what you missed. My slow descent into madness. I’m slowly clawing my way back to normalcy. I’ll write more normal stuff when I start acting … normal again.
But! I have Book Lushes news! Voting is now open on the next book! Here’s the poll!
Still busy out the hoo-ha, and Jillian Michaels has taken my knees hostage, which has resulted in me on a foam roller every night and HOBBLING by 9 p.m. HOBBLING. Thanks, Jillian! You’re a bitch!
Thank you, Wii yoga, for at least giving me something to DO.
Anyway, to get rid of that trainwreck of a post (MOLESTERS, BLACK PEOPLE AND MICHAEL JACKSON OH MY), allow me a moment of annoying mommyblogginess with my kid and her hummus-smeared table during dinner tonight. Excuse the shaking of the camera, because I’m laughing too hard and also, uh, my poor husband’s hat head.
P.S., Jennie and I did Valentine’s Day shopping guides on Style Lush. One for chicks and one for dudes.