Thursday, January 29, 2009

What Happened When I Got Pregnant

Mikaela says:
This picture illustrates better than I could explain: I got buried.

My cat and dog sense that something's up, and they're desperate to deepen their bond with me before having to compete with an infant, especially our cat, who's just a baby himself. And yes, he's sitting ON my face here. He's not subtle!

And then there's the figurative aspect of being buried -- under too much information and too many expectations about how to be as a parent, as a mommy consumer, as a poor but earnest environmentalist.

Take for example: paint for the baby's room. I want to do the right thing here. It took me forever to work up the energy and nerve to even shop for paint for the baby's room. I'm not really a decorative arts kinda gal. My partner, however, showed no signs that this would ever make his list of things to do, so I had to face my demons. Thank god for the internet. I really don't know what moms did before they could search for things online. I found this great paint company that does bio-degradable, zero-toxics, low-emissions paint. For $50 a gallon. Gulp.

Now, I hate paint samples. At one inch square, how can you really tell what color it is, much less how it will look in YOUR room on YOUR walls? You can't. And with infinitesimal differences among neighboring shades? Impossible to choose and feel confident. But I chose. And felt really crappy about it.

I was about to order online when I stumbled on a blog entry that mentioned someone bought the same paint at Ace Hardware. Really? A place where I could shop IN PERSON? And have it TODAY? Ok, so maybe the internet's not the best thing ever. This immediate gratification thing (or rather instant knowing of how much you screwed up in your color selection) is even better! And the best part? The paint's $6 cheaper at Ace than the online listing.

So I go to Ace during lunch today. I get really excited when I see a display for my paint that has page-size samples. Hallelujah! But on closer inspection, d'oh! Only for limited colors, none of which are my chosen options. Crap.

I bite the bullet and buy 2 gallons of one color and a gallon of the other. That's $132. With painters tape and brushes? We're talking $170. To paint a room. To paint a room in a way that's environmentally safe. And if I wasn't poor before, this pretty much nails it. Holy crap. And I gotta say based on the little dot of color on the gallon cans? I didn't do so well.

Good thing we've gotten so many donations of gently-used items from generous moms. This kid's going to be banging on pots and pans and playing at parks exclusively until it's 4.

Maybe by then I won't be so buried under all this weight, or at least my cat will want to sleep with my kid more than me!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Post-Bush Gigglefest

Thanks, Keith.

And good riddance...

Mikaela says:
Former VP Dick Cheney really got a pass yesterday. As the chief architect of the most evil designs of Bush & Co., he really deserved some ire heaped on his head yesterday. Yes, Obama's speech was a smackdown of Bush personally as a leader, but much of the substance that we've now repudiated came from Cheney & his lawyer, David Addington.

And so it was that the news of his "injury" moving boxes out of his White House office was not met with the amount of sympathy it might have been otherwise. And that he showed up to the inauguration in a wheelchair and a funny little hat? (Can't find a photo w/ the hat at the actual inauguration ceremony - if you see one, alert me!) Somehow, that made things all too perfect for righteous gloating. Sorry, Mom! Not polite, I know.

And just to twist the knife a little, I missed this bit of hilarity from the Onion, which is really too good not to repost!

Vice Presidential Handlers Lure Cheney Into Traveling Crate

WASHINGTON—A team of nine specially trained handlers have successfully lured outgoing vice president Dick Cheney into a reinforced steel traveling crate in order to transport him back to his permanent enclosure in Casper, WY, official sources reported Monday. "He's a smart one. Once he sees the crate, he gets pretty nippy, but we've learned a few tricks over the years," chief VP wrangler Ted Irving breathlessly said while applying pressure to a deep gash on his forearm. "If we break a rabbit's legs and throw it in there, he will eventually go in to finish it off. Doesn't work with dead rabbits, though. Cheney only eats what he kills." Irving said that the latest vice presidential relocation went much more smoothly than September's diplomatic trip to Georgia, which was delayed for several hours after Cheney mauled three secret service agents and escaped inside the White House walls.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome, Mr. President and the New Era You Usher In...

Mikaela says:
Well, deed's done, and we've done it! I thought I'd have to watch online from work, but my boss came over and stole me away to his friend's house to watch the whole thing with a bunch of aging, white liberal strangers. Pretty great, actually. The best line was probably after VP Joe Biden was swarn in. Boss's wife says, "Now go arrest Cheney! I believe you'll find he's an enemy combatant."

They cringed at Rev. Warren and cheered Rev. Lowery, who I believe was the best part of the whole event. I can't wait to get the transcript and re-post it here for those who missed it. Just perfect.

And our President. Who can say enough about our President? I'm so proud of him, and of us. Proud to call him my President. Proud to call him the President of the United States of America. Just proud.

Here's my favorite part of his speech, or at least the part that got me, personally, the most:

"[W]e know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

Loved the John Williams piece w/ Perlman and Ma on violin and cello, respectively, and the totally hot clarinetist Anthony McGill.

The poem I thought was a little weak, but had a few great lines. I'll have to look at it again. It wasn't a good sign that no one knew when it had ended...

And the whole thing almost exactly on time, so that some of us could sneak out and back into work w/ relatively little delay! Thanks, Senator Feinstein! You did a great job not grandstanding at all and keeping things moving.

Welcome to a new day, a new era, a new hope spreading from our capitol all the way into this little political grinch's heart.

Rev. Lowry's Benediction

Mikaela posts her transcription:

Given at Obama’s Inauguration, January 20, 2009

God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far along the way,
Thou who has by thy might led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray,
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee,
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee,
Shadow beneath our hand, may we forever stand, true to thee, oh God,
And true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day. We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant, Barack Obama, the 44th President of these United States, his family, and his administration. He has come to this high office in a low moment in the national and indeed global fiscal climate.

But because we know you’ve got the whole world in your hands, we pray not only for our own nation, but the community of nations. Our faith does not shrink, though pressed by the flood of moral ills, for we know that Lord, you are able to work through faithful leadership, to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor – or the least of these – and from favoritism toward the rich – the elite of these. We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union and while we have sewn the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness, and we come in the spirit of union and solidarity to commit our support to our President by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other, and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance, not intolerance, and as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques – or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle, look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia. We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us, then, now Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, where every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness as the mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right. Let all those who will do justice and love mercy say amen. Say amen. And Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cloud cover

Maggie says:
It's been a quiet stretch for me on m-pyre... sorry about that. Post-election, I immersed myself in the bubble of it'll-be-okay-ness, and the cloud cover has been pretty thick. There has been some not-okayness, of course - some of those Cabinet picks, a dismaying center course strategy, Middle East destruction, and far too many friends and family seeing the worst of this economic disaster. And I know - hiding in the bubble is a lazy form of citizenship. Emotionally exhausted from the election, seeking a break from the stress of contemplating the horrors our government perpetrates, I needed so much to take a couple of months and think only what could be, even though that meant forcing my brain not to get too invested when the Agriculture pick is another Corn King and the uniform critique of our trade deals is hushed away now that it might mean something. There is the hope and promise of politics, and then there is the application of politics, and those are not the same two animals. Those of us who are applicators (read: wonks) at heart have been carried over into the Promiseland the last year. Now that we've all arrived, here together - blind believers and hopeful yet tentative wonks - how will those seeds of hope be planted? How will they be nourished or fertilized or tended to?

Getting past the season of the Lame Duck means for me, getting back to the business of nurturing both the seeds of hope and the mechanics of fertilization, keeping an eye on the sky while knowing where to look underneath the soil. When the great horror ends - we're on the 24-hour-countdown now, folks - it is truly a new day. How new a day is up to all of us. The cloud cover will lift, and the fear will end, and then our wonky hopeful hearts can start digging into the ground again.

Forecast, January 20, 2009: The sun will shine again.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wringing in the New Year

Mikaela says:
I'm loving all the year-end wrap-up going on. Everyone's taking stock of the last year, and checking in with the last 8 while they're at it, in preparation for the next big change to prepare ourselves for.

I can honestly say that I'd prepared myself for Obama's defeat. Even when they called it for him on election night, a part of me was protecting itself from disappointment, and I refused to really give in to the good feelings that such a victory should have caused.

I'm still holding my breath.

Then again, I'm doing the same thing about being pregnant, despite the growing body of evidence swelling in front of me. I just can't bear to start thinking about how different, and perhaps wonderful, life will be with a baby, just in case something doesn't go as well as I might hope.

Instead, I'm happy to focus all my energy looking backward and channeling my fears as anger toward all that I know went wrong under Bush & Co. I just finished the Angler, a look at Cheney's vice presidency based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting in the Washington Post.

It's a surprisingly optimistic book, chronicling not just Cheney's attempts to accrue power to himself, the vice presidency, and the executive officer, but also his lost battles and ultimate failures. Condoleeza Rice emerges as a good guy in this narrative. She's cast as the voice of reason that holds out against Cheney & other crazies and ultimately prevails as Bush's most trusted advisor. Interesting. I always lumped her in with all the neocon forces of darkness. Not that she's all that great. In fact, saying that she's the sanest of the bunch helps throw into illuminating bas relief just how crazy this administration has been, and how far off the cliff they've driven all of us.

Want some numbers to back all that up? Look to Harper's Index! Here's a (rather long) sampling of my favorites:

  • Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42
  • Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
  • Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
  • Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
  • Number charged with an immigration violation: 762
  • Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0
  • Percentage of Americans in 2006 who believed that U.S. Muslims should have to carry special I.D.: 39
  • Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50
  • Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069
  • Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100
  • Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S. intelligence agents: 0
  • Portion of Bush’s presidency he has spent at or en route to vacation spots: 1/3
  • Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62
  • Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10
  • Number of states John Kerry would have won in 2004 if votes by poor Americans were the only ones counted: 40
  • Number if votes by rich Americans were the only ones counted: 4
  • Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4
  • Increase since 2000 in the number of Americans living at less than half the federal poverty level: 3,500,000
  • Years since a White House official as senior as I. Lewis Libby had been indicted while in office: 130
  • Minimum amount that religious groups received in congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006: $209,000,000
  • Amount such groups received during the previous fourteen years: $107,000,000
  • Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during Bush’s presidency: +31
  • Percentage change during Reagan’s and Clinton’s, respectively: +16, +0.3
  • Number of the five directors of the No Child Left Behind reading program with financial ties to a curriculum they developed: 4
  • Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1
  • Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37
  • Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37
And lastly, after my own review of a little notebook I carry around in my voluminous bag (perfect, my sister said, for a diaper bag -- only where will I put all the additional stuff???), I came across this little rant that summarizes my anger and fear about Bush.

He’s a shell,

A shadow, a dark-side projection,
National doppelganger of fear,
A jock-strappin’ cowboy,
A repeated mistake,
A stupid promise that comes back to jail you,
A self-satisfied frat boy,
Blank check-writer,
Good-will exploiter,
Epitome of ineptness --
A mass of mediocrity
That bites my nails
Empties my reserves of hope
Does everything but comfort me
In the white-fear darkness of night
When I realize again
There are more of him coming.

And with that expended, I feel much more ready to bring in a new year, a new era, a new President, a return to the Constitution and country I love.