Monday, December 5, 2016

Meh-mahs

Dang it. I thought my new blogger app would allow me to upload a video of my adorable two-year-old calling Christmas "meh-mahs". But apparently not. So you'll just have to take my word for it.

Saturday was Christmas extravaganza with an all day decorating blitz - I was determined to go all-out with house lighting since I have the budget and man power for it - and the picture does not do it justice. The house looks unbelievably fabulous. Can't wait to invest in a giant santa sleigh and reindeer for the roof (next year).

 

Also, I do not recommend an all day Christmas decorating blitz while caring for a two year old and four year old. Theo fell and scraped his chin, then his elbow, then fell down the front steps. Bobby crapped his pants. There was tons of fighting, crushing of tree lights and ornaments, and demands to be first and pushing. It was fucking exhausting.

Luckily I got a pre-planned all day break from the kids the next day - lunch and a movie with a friend followed by dinner and a lecture featuring Gloria Steinem and Jill Holloway later that night, which was very inspiring.

I am keeping it together and forging ahead with holiday plans and ideas for a better life next year, but I'll be honest - the going is tough since the "election". I can't escape the feeling that the United States as we know it will cease to exist in our lifetime - that the eternal battle between northern and coastal liberal elites and rural right wingers which blew up once in the civil war, is going to finally come to a head again and blow us all apart for good. I don't want to think this but I just can't get around it. Maybe it's time for the great American Experiment to come to an end.

Merry Meh-mas!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fall photos

Here are some of my favorite shots from this year's shoot earlier this month:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving 5.0

This was my fifth Thanksgiving as a parent. I am tempted to say they get easier as the kids get older - maybe it's because they are now both in school so I could use free days for shopping/prepping, also since there are no longer babies that need to be breastfed and held, the physical demands are fewer. Also since I've now hosted the last three (?) years, I have a bit of a system. I made:

Two pumpkin pies
One apple pie
Gravy
Mashed potatoes
Brussels sprouts in garlic and butter
Wild rice with pecans and butternut squash
Corn muffins
Green bean casserole
Peas
Real whipped cream for pies

The BF brought a pre-cooked turkey and stuffing. 

My sister and brother-in-law came from NY and the BF's sister and two nieces came; I wished all day I had a big house with lots of outdoor space and a separate big dining room/living room that could comfortably accommodate all those people; my tiny bungalow was bursting at the seams. Still, other than Theo smashing his face on the coffee table and bleeding profusely minutes before everyone showed up, and the younger of the nieces referring to my house as "creepy", everything went fine. 

 

The rest of the weekend we fought shitty weather - very cold (for LA) and intermittently wet which made outings difficult; we went to a botanical garden and the LA Auto Show which of course the boys loved:

 

 

I was exhausted a lot but not a boiling cauldron of rage like I was last year. I think a lot of it had to do with being more settled in my relationship and his no longer being a smoker. The amount of rage that would fill me when he would be constantly inconveniencing us all to go smoke was intense - I didn't notice how much I hated it and how angry it made me until it was gone. I'm so glad I put my foot down about that!

In other news, I am trying to get organized for Christmas. I am going to invite the donor siblings to a puppet show with us sometime next month - hopefully they'll be up for it. Occasionally Bobby will wistfully talk about wishing he had a sister and in my head I'm like, "I've got news for you, kid..." Still not sure when/how is the best way to talk to him about this stuff. He hasn't asked so I haven't told. Maybe when he turns five...? 

We had parent/teacher conferences in the last couple of weeks and both teachers remarked how happy the boys were. I guess I'm doing something right!

Oh, also, in case you haven't noticed, this is still going on...

 

Monday, November 14, 2016

Grabbing back

This is one of my favorite signs from Los Angeles' 8,000-strong anti-Trump march that I participated in Saturday:

 

Here is another: 

 

And another:


This is me:

 
 
To say that joining in this march was healing is an understatement. Seven of us met at my house to walk down to the Metro (we knew trying to drive and park would be totally impossible) and marched for hours all through downtown LA until we could march no more. Chants included "say it loud and say it clear, immigrants are welcome here!", "my body, my choice!" and "this is what democracy looks like!" It felt so good to move, to sweat, to yell. It was very cathartic. The sense of support from passers by was awesome. I'm going to the march on inaugural weekend in D.C. in January. Already got my hotel room booked. 

All of that was meant to steel me for the next day, Sunday, which was spending the entire day at Disneyland with an old friend who could get us in for free, who is one of those ugly, rabid Trump supporters calling all of us protesters whiny crybabies. Yes. She invited us some weeks ago before the vitriol got really out of hand, and even up until getting in the car to drive down there I was tempted to back out. But if I backed out it would only make me look petty - like I'm letting politics ruin friendships, that I'm putting my needs ahead of my children's, etc. I know she loves me and would never dare talk politics to me to my face. Which she didn't. But I was so tempted to answer one of her stupid "whiny" memes with "you know you're talking about me, right???"

But here's the thing. I know this officially makes me a horrible person, but I could give two fucks about Disneyland. I'm not from CA so I don't share the childhood nostalgia that many of my friends have. To me it's just another stupid overpriced amusement park that you just have to survive for a day so you can go home and lie down. So we survived it. The kids and boyfriend (native Californian) enjoyed it. Everyone got along and everything went smoothly. I simmered my usual boiling cauldron of rage quietly and counted down the minutes until we could get the fuck out of there, I could get some rest, and go tend to the new feminist dancer's private FB group I created so us women in the dance community can speak freely about this election without worrying about ruining business relationships. It's now 160 people strong and everyone's loving it, especially me, since I can now swear and sound irrational and not care about anyone (read: men) taking it as a sign that I'm hysterical and should be ignored. 

I'll be honest with you - I'm totally hating the day-to-day bullshit of parenting right now. I wish I could take comfort in the "normalcy" of raising kids and every day tasks...but all of it just annoys the shit out of me. It's because I've got this bigger cause in my life now - years of heavy activism in my future - and so things like taking out the garbage, cooking and filling sippy cups just seem so stupid and unimportant. I'm so glad I could leave the kids with a nanny all day so I could go protest - made me think of the early suffragetts leaving their children with nannies to go march, probably most often with their husbands' dire disapproval. She will also watch them when I fly to DC in January. 

My bandleader's wife very unexpectedly has become galvanized by this, too. She told me as we marched that after nearly dying of post-childbirth heart failure a few weeks ago she just isn't putting up with any bullshit anymore. Right on! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

On a tear

It's been very difficult to function all week. I feel profoundly traumatized and can't focus on anything but my rage. And the more people on Facebook or in the media who express any of the following sentiments, the angrier I get:

1. It's our democratic process, you have to accept it (NO we don't)
2. Stop whining and being a sore loser (did you people ever stop vilifying Obama? No? I didn't think so)
3. Reach out to the other side and see how they feel. Don't just be in your bubble. (I've been to the other side. It SUCKS)
4. It'll be ok. Don't worry. (No, it won't)

I'm not going to rant here but my experience on Facebook has been a fascinating sociological experiment. As soon as I started voicing my opinion about the results, all the koo koo birds started coming out from under their rocks and posting their gleeful gloating memes - Hillary on the guillotine, etc - on my posts. I would immediately delete them and unfriend. I also kept an eye on who was doing this to other people and deleted them before they got to me. Anyone being nasty or gloating on their own wall was unfriended because, really, who needs these ugly people? I unfriended about 20 people and I believe a few did me when I publicly invited people to. One crazy Christian chick followed me on to messenger after going on a rambling anti-gay rant and I let her have it hard. It's been non-stop confrontation and ugliness. Many of my friends have said they're getting off FB for a while because it's too upsetting. And I totally get that instinct. But.

For me it's been very galvanizing. I've always been a people pleaser who's afraid of confrontation and afraid of people thinking I was a bitch. So my FB persona has always been very light and neutral. But I think it's time to step it up a little, publicly and privately. There are some things going on with my business that I've ignored because, quite honestly, I've been too afraid. But I'm not now. 

Last night I sent a letter to the people who were being bullies online - those old friends of mine who weren't happy with my contests and so started attacking the event on FB - and told them their behavior was unacceptable and I've canceled the thing they were going to be in charge of next year.

Next, once I get a hold of his email, I'm going to formally ban that guy who was being a menace.

After that, I'm going to write to the guy who wanted to sell his vintage clothes at my event and was a huge pain in the ass and totally sneaky and underhanded and tell him that he is also banned.

Fuck you. FUCK all of you.

It's going to take a long time to undo a lifetime of fear and compliance - keeping one's head down just to get through feels way more comfortable. But it's time for me to be a better person, stand up for what's right, and face down the bullies. How can I teach my kids this if I'm not willing to do it myself???

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Night

Last night, when it was clear all was lost, I went out on my porch and screamed as loudly as I could, "fuck you, you fucking piece of shit!!!"

I was screaming at Drumpf. But I was also screaming at that old white guy who told me I'd better constantly smile or be removed from the stage. I was screaming at all the old white guys who pinched and patted my ass as I was learning to swing dance. I screamed at the MANY men who have blatantly jerked off in front of me on subways, on the street, and in movie theaters. I screamed at the THOUSANDS of men who have made insulting sexist comments to me on the street with the sole aim of making me feel small. I screamed at the mechanics and contractors who have taken advantage of me because I'm a woman. I screamed at the Indian teenagers who yanked me into photos with them at the Taj Mahal and then pushed me away without so much as a hello or a thank you, because I am a woman and therefore an object they can use and throw away with impunity. 

I screamed until my throat was sore and my stomach churned. And just like this country, my screams fell on deaf ears, and nobody cared. They just evaporated into the dark night.

 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Helloween

Yesterday began with dragging two kids out of bed two hours earlier than normal, packing up school stuff and costumes and giant veggie platters for the "snack party", hustling to find street parking since the school parking lot was closed, walking two said tired and disoriented kids several blocks with giant veggie platters and heavy bags full of crap to school and stuffing said tired and disoriented kids into costumes to participate in their preschool Halloween parade (which due to their disparate ages were two hours apart, requiring me to take one kid on an hour and a half car ride to kill time).  Good times.

I spent the remainder of the day catching up on my Sunday night HBO shows, which was lovely. 

Then came the evening marathon of trick or treating with a two-year-old and four-year-old in a dark, chaotic neighborhood with hoards of kids. My friend (nine months pregnant with her fourth child) and I occasionally pulled each other aside and whispered ihatethisihatethisihatethis

Here are some things you don't notice until you're trick or treating with a two-year-old and a four-year-old: dark streets, steps up to people's houses, cacti in lawns, rose bushes, dogs, tree roots pushing up sidewalks making them an obstacle course for toddlers. In the dark. With tons and tons of people pushing and shoving. It sucked. But.

Everything went ok. The kids were polite and delighted the kind people doing candy duty on their porches, looked cute in their costumes and seemed to enjoy it. And I secretly loved the fact that already the kids are having a kick ass childhood compared to mine - my childhood Halloweens in NYC meant gangs of hoodlums run amuck in the streets, eggs thrown in your face, racial epithets slung in your direction...you know, good wholesome fun for the whole family. Not.

We went to dinner at a local El Pollo Loco and there were several other families there having a much more stressful night than us. At one point an exhausted mom of three next to us hissed at her pouting tween daughter, "keep this up and I'll turn into the monster you wanted me to be." Yikes.

Still and all, despite nearly going into cardiac arrest at various moments, it was a good day. I'm going to let myself off the hook and just try to spend this week recovering, though.