Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Crap crap and more crap

I am in a crummy mood. First, my meds seem to be having some annoying side effects. All of a sudden, several months in. I am misplacing and forgetting things more than usual. And I seem to be having a month-long period, which is enough to make anyone crabby. More doctor appointments—oh goody.

Also, this really pissed me off today. We have company devotions. A nice time to share prayer requests and such. Well, one of my higherups asked me about a prayer request sent in last week, and I somehow managed to confuse two people, both from the same ministry and both with serious issues. And you know, this woman was also emailed this same request, but there she was staring me down with a beady eye. Because you see, it was a test. She was ticked off about something or other and as usual with her, she found a handy target to nail to the wall. She does this frequently when she’s in a sour mood. I’ve heard her rant when someone forgets to switch their cell phone to silent. “I’ve done everything and I just don’t know what else I can do.” Well, shut up and get a life comes to mind. That, newsflash, every now and then someone will forget. Or, perhaps, that given the turnover here you should just expect to send out a notice every few months to let the new people know that Armageddon will come if they don’t silence their phones. And I’m not feeling very Christian and forgiving at the moment. Damn, it’s those petty stupid things that make daily life so much more unpleasant than it has to be.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

So the drama

We've had some rainy days this past week. As you know, on rainy days children are tightly wound. Those are the days I bring the girls home and they decide to see what happens if they leap of the back of the sofa onto the cats, or chase each other around the house until someone cries.

The other day I picked up the girls at daycare and we were driving home through the rain. I was teasing Firecracker because she wanted to play on the slide, even in the rain. "It's not FAIR!"--the universal cry of childhood.

DramaQueen chimed in: "All our plans are CRUSHED!"

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Five Years Ago

On September 11, 2001, I woke up early to take a pregnancy test. Dear Husband had already left for the day. The test was positive. I had to get DramaQueen dressed and to daycare and drive to work, where there would be a company-wide meeting. Usually I turned on NPR and listened while I drove, but today I wanted to think about being pregnant. I missed my mom, who had died in June, and wished she could know about the new baby. I wondered how DramaQueen would react. I wondered how we would manage it financially. My thoughts wandered along these lines as I drove to daycare. I got DramaQueen out, and hauled out all her stuff for the day. And then I opened the door. This was an inhome daycare. The woman who ran it was talking loudly on the phone, her eyes riveted on the TV. It took a few moments before I understood what I was seeing. And as we watched, the second plane hit.

I left. I couldn't think to do anything but continue to work. I phoned Dear Husband from the driveway. As I drove to work, I started crying, and screaming. I wondered if all the other people in the lanes next to me were also listening to the radio. Why were we driving around as if this were any ordinary day?

At work we all crowded into a small conference room with a TV. No one was working. The company-wide meeting was called off. The CEO was on the phone, trying to find out the fate of friends in New York. We were all eventually sent home, to sit in front of the TV for the rest of the day.

How, I thought, can I bring a child into this? From then on I felt uneasy about being pregnant. The meeting had been rescheduled for that Thursday. It turned out to be an announcement of impending layoffs. I was ravenously hungry at lunch. Then I went home and threw up. Thus began unrelenting morning sickness. Thus began months of uncertainty--would I be kept on? Yes. Then, the company declared bankruptcy, and I knew I would be out of a job before I gave birth in May. I still felt miserable. Firecracker kicked a lot. It hurt. It felt wrong, but the doctors brushed it off. We went to Las Vegas and I was so tired walking through the shops. I found a sale at Baby Gap. What is this? I ased a salesperson. It's so small. It's for a preemie, she said. At least I don't have to worry about that, I thought. Yes, I actually thought that. Then one day at work, I began spotting and cramping. Two days later I gave birth at 26 weeks, in a room crowded with doctors and nurses from the NICU.

How many people, I wonder, oriented their lives around 9/11, however distant geographically. Everything in my life shifted and settled askew, all the small personal matters seemed connected in some way to that horror. No one I knew in New York worked there; no one I knew was injured. But I had lived there. That the Towers could be gone--something so integral to the skyline--I'm not sure I could go there and see that gap, and think of all the gaps, the missing mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I go to Curves. Those of you familiar with the place know that Curves pipes in music, all sorts of music. As long as it's peppy, you'll hear a variety of dance, country, pop, 50's bubblegum, surf music--whatever. I usually don't pay much attention. The other day I was rotating to the next machine when I heard a song I haven't heard since the mid-80s--New Toy by Lena Lovich. I would not have thought of Lena as mainstream fodder. How quaint and antiquated I feel. Perhaps I'll next hear God Save the Queen or London Calling as I'm doing my bicep curls. This got me thinking about my favorite albums of all time, which in turn made me think about how my musical tastes seem to have ossified before the 90s hit:

1. Still, by Joy Division
2. The Queen Is Dead, by the Smiths
3. Aeon, by Dead Can Dance
4. Avalon, by Roxy Music
5. The Unforgettable Fire, by U2
6. Low Life, by New Order
7. The Dreaming, by Kate Bush
8. Scary Monsters, by David Bowie

At various times I've made an attempt to plunge into the currents of new music and surfaced with a few items. Recently I picked up a copy of PASTE on the 100 greatest living songwriters. I take comfort that I recognize most of the names, even if I've never really listened to them. Others I have never heard of in my life: Sufjan Stevens, Conor Oberst, Stephen Malkmus, Alejandro Escovedo, Sam Beam. The accompanying CD is also full of people I've never heard of: Elf Power, Golden Smog, Janove Otteson. And on and on. Does anyone actually have time to keep up with all this?

PS: Firecracker is much better now. Whatever the problem was, it seems to have resolved itslef.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Firecracker Update

Well, we are no closer to understanding whatever was or is wrong with Firecracker. Things have been better the past few days, either from the laxative or the fact that I keep food in her stomach at all times, not sure which. Now I have time to worry about broncho pulmonary dysplasia as we approach the season of respiratory infections. Yea me. We are supposed to visit my dad this weekend. He is not the greatest housekeeper. Well, he's lousy. Brother 2 isn't much better, because he lives in my grandparents' old home, which is slowly sinking back into the land, taking the carpet as old as me with it. Of course, many of the structures in Alabama look as if they are sinking back into the land. It is a very Faulkneresque place. In fact I'm convinced it is more Faulkneresque than Mississippi, and that Faulkner may have used some of my ancestors as models for the characters in As I Lay Dying.

I'm hoping that Brother 3 will also be visiting, so that we young folks can escape to Brother 2's girlfriend's house, which is a sanctuary of cleanliness, and I can listen to my brothers play guitar and fiddle. Brother 3 surprised the heck out of me by picking up the fiddle on our last visit. I had no idea he could play, and apparantly neither did he. He's one of those people who just pick it up and start noodling about.

Brother 2 and Brother 3 are the ones I see most often, which isn't often enough. They grew up in the 50s and I grew up in the 70s, so there's a big generaton gap. Brother 3 is like the White Rabbit--he keeps up a constant internal and sometime external monologue of worry. He works at the CDC and has a passion for China. Brother 2 has a lovely "southern gentleman" voice. He's into bluegrass and folk music and feels utterly out of place in rural Alabama, except that he would never be comfortable in any other landscape. His favorite author is Mark Twain, and I think they would have got on just fine. He has a radical streak, too. He once told me he thought that the redistribution of wealth was a fine idea, not a particularly common idea in rural Alabama.

Hope everyone has a peaceful Labor Day weekend. Get some sleep.

Driven Mad--RevGals Friday Five

1. Driving: an enjoyable way to clear the mind? a means to an end? a chance to be quiet with one's thoughts? a necessary evil? the downfall of our planet and its fossil fuels? Discuss. I am not a happy driver. I get nervous in unfamiliar neighborhoods. I hate left turns, particularly without lights, but I also hate turning left on green across multiply lanes of dense traffic with someone sitting on my back bumper. Where I live it is a necessary evil. If there’s public transit somewhere (and there is a bus shelter in front of our apartment complex), I’ve never seen it. There has been talk of a rail line, but people grouse about their property values. In other words, please don’t give any of the THOSE _____people access to our neighborhoods.

2. Do you drive the speed limit? A little faster? Slower? Have you ever gotten a ticket? I generally drive about 5 to 10 miles faster than the speed limit except in rain. I’ve had two tickets in my life, both for speeding.

3. Do you take public transportation? When? What's your opinion of the experience? There’s no public transit here. When we go downtown we often drop our car at the nearest MARTA station (which is a good distance from where we live) and take the train into downtown. No parking issues. I loved the subway and buses in New York City. Getting around was so easy, and if you had a long commute you could at least read.

4. Complete this sentence: _____________ has the worst drivers I've ever experienced. Phoenix, Arizona, has the worst drivers I’ve ever experienced. First, everyone’s a cowboy. Yee haw. Second, the folks who were born and raised there sort of forget that the city grew by about 400% and so you can’t just drive 85 mph, even if that is the speed limit. Oh, and the speed limit IS 85 mph on the highway, so of course everyone is driving 90 to 100 mph. Third, no one there is used to rain, so they either freak out and slow to a crawl or are oblivious and keep barrelling at their regular speed (80 mph). Or, because everyone’s a cowboy, they try to do something dumb, like cross a wash during a storm. Then you see them on the evening news, standing on the roof of their pickup, waiting to be rescued. Fourth, for some unknown reason Phoenix started putting in roundabouts in some areas. Needless to say, no one out West knows how to handle a roundabout. Good luck getting in. Fifth, people are just jerks—they tailgate, they honk, they are impatient, they weave, they run red lights, they sit on train tracks, they refuse to use signals, they speed through school zones, they use intimidation tactics. If you don’t turn fast enough they’ll go around you and turn in front of you.

5. According to the Census Bureau, reverendmother's fair city has the 6th longest average commute in the United States at 29 minutes each way. How does your personal commute rate? My commute is a jolly 15 minutes (except that I have to drop the kids). Dear Husband’s is more like an hour to an hour and half. I just refuse to work in Atlanta. In Phoenix I had an hour commute, and I promised myself I would never do that again.

Bonus for the brutally honest: It has been said, and the MythBusters have confirmed, that cell phones can impede driving ability almost as much as drinking. Do you talk on a cell phone while driving? I’ll call on my cellphone if I’m running late or I’m lost, and I’ll take calls from Dear Husband, because I never know when an emergency will strike. I don’t like to do it unless I’m in steady to slow traffic going straight ahead—no lights or turns. And I like to keep it short.