Friday, September 30, 2005

American Consumed Girl Place



It was Grandma's last day with us before returning home for the winter, so we all went to the American Girl Place for a special girl's day out. I have much to say, much of which American Girl Company may not be pleased with. But it must wait. Sleep. Sleep. Must get sleep.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Cartoon

I brought my computer into the bedroom tonight to make George read this. While I thought it was insanely funny, he read it with deep thought - the state in which he reads everything which is why he graduated from CalTech in physics and economics and I from the New School twenty years later in liberal arts. Katrina (also known as Lucy, Matilda, or Bootsy) was having a ball jumping about the bed with her pink fuzzy toy. Hmmm, I dangle toy slightly above George's bottom and YEOW!!! Sharp kitten claws attack.

He takes the pink fuzzy thing and teases kitten. Toy dangles precariously over side of bed. Kitten jumps about in ecstasy and then POOF! Danger's gone.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Kat


She's a hurricane evacuee so I think we'll call her Katrina. Only because I lack imagination and we can call her kat for short. Here she's plum tuckered after an active day between a five-year-old girl and a one-year-old cat who's not so sure he wants her company.

List

What I didn't do:
  • Get fingerprinted to complete adoption application.
  • Swim/workout at gym.
  • Plan week of nutritous home cooked meals.
  • Shop farmers' market for fresh vege's.
  • Take daughter to playground.
  • Clean house, laundry & dishes.
What I did do:
  • Adopted a kitten.
  • Tried on several swim caps over new hair extensions. Too tight and looks weird. Decided I can't go swimming anymore.
  • Slimfast for breakfast,pub grub for lunch, and Thai food for dinner. So much for cooking.
  • Played w/Edwin & new kitten.
  • Played w/new kitten.
  • Made kitten toy.
  • Watched as cats & Chloe dragged & deposited toys & yarn balls all over house. So much for cleaning house.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Telephone



Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, they're home, they're home, they're home.
Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, can we go to Guilia's house. They're home, you know.

Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.....

It can be frustrating at times to have a clear view into our friend's home.

I imagine the fun it would be to extend a string across the street with tin cans at either end. Think it would pass the historical preservation society's review?


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Edwin,



Today
I slept with you.
I brought you your drink.
I gave you my drink.
I cleaned up after you.
I even let you crawl all over my keyboard.

So why do you keep trying to bite my butt?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Snack Run


This is what I returned from a snack run at 10pm this evening. You can imagine the chuckles in line at the register (chubby hubby for the hubby, slim fast for me, tomorrow). When the jokers left the scene, the sales woman asked in all seriousness, "hey, does that stuff work?"

No. No fad diet thing ever really works. But to her I said, "yea, sure." Because she went on to say that after working 10 hours standing up at the convenience store, and then going home to take care of her 18 month old baby and her house, she really can't imagine how she can work in an excercise routine or even try to prepare a well-balanced meal. I wanted to jump over the counter and hug her. Honey, I feel your pain. Well, I've got it easy, but we all have our issues.

Buying something that says Slim Fast just makes me feel better.

Coffee

... seems to have the reverse effect on me, lately. After my daily two cups of Starbucks Breakfast Blend, I feel the overwhelming need to nap for an hour.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11 Remembered


I'm not sure where to begin. This was the first year that I've been out of touch with all the September 11th memorial stuff broadcast on TV and radio because I spent the weekend at the farm, yet the day is no less meaningful. A little background perhaps.

I'd spent much of my adult life in New York City - I arrived at 19 and left at 34. It is the place that I grew up. My first trip there was when I was 12 (I think). I lived in Minnesota and my father had finally allowed me and my sister to visit my mother at her home in Staten Island. My memories are scattered about the trip. I remember eating Chinese food made by real Chinese people. Taking the 2 line uptown instead of downtown and ending up in the South Bronx when I should have been at the South Ferry. Seeing cockroaches (bleh) scatter when turning on the bathroom light at night. Making out with a boy in the school yard. Drinking alcohol for the first time (anyone remember Pink Champale?). Getting drunk for the first time. Seeing the World Trade Center.

My mother worked in the financial district and I was mesmerized by all the people in their suits and briefcases bustling through the narrow streets. It was so lively. When I listened, I heard voices from a hundred different countries. There were vendors crowding every corner selling hotdogs, pretzels, Jamaican food, vegetarian food, sunglasses or umbrellas, newspapers, watches, handbags, caps, t-shirts, anything you could imagine. I looked up Broadway, Hero's Canyon, and felt as small as a cockroach making my way through a crack in the sidewalk.

Then we made it to the Trade Center and the claustrophobic walls of buildings seemed to open up. From the spacious plaza the two elegant towers shot up to the sky. I was lost in the sky and the reflection of sky on the towers of glass and steel. "Oh my God," I thought, "they are so huge, how will they ever take them down?"


I moved to New York when I was nineteen. I wasn't exactly running away from home, because at 19 you're too old for that. But I was running away from something. I'd just dropped out of college at Brigham Young University and had no plan for my future. My mother bought me a ticket to New York to come live with her until I got my head straight. We shared a small apartment in Brooklyn with another roommate and immediately I began to work in Manhattan. Nearly everyday I commuted to the city through or near the Trade Center. I could never get lost in New York because wherever I was, all I had to do was look up and find the twin towers. With those towers in site, I could always find myself.

Later I took a job downtown and became one of those briefcase toting suits that I marveled at when I was young. Even with my plebian job in a cubicle in some big corporation, I felt I was on top of the world. While I never worked at the Trade Center, many of my clients had offices there. I loved going there for appointments and taking the elevator up to the high floors. On windy days, the buildings swayed, the elevators creaked and moaned, but up they zoomed - faster to the top than it took to get to the 7th floor of my apartment building. While other people looked alarm, their faces tightened with concern, I was exhilarated.

One day in '96 I had taken an extended lunch hour to shop around the village. My pager was buried deep in my purse and I couldn't hear the beeps above the buzz of Friday afternoon consumers. After two hours, I returned to my office with my manager jumping all over me with concern. "Oh shit, I'm in for it," I thought. He was freaked out because there was a large BOOM, and then fire engines and helicopters were all over downtown. Everyone was crowded in front of a small television. There was an explosion at the Trade Center and the area was being evacuated. My coworkers all thought I was there visiting my client (my cover for my shopping spree). At first, it was believed there was an explosion at a ConEd facility, but soon we learned, someone had bombed the World Trade Center. It was unimaginable. My body went cold with the realization that I'd been riding in the R train underneath the towers at about the same time. There was a loud noise, the train stopped and then resumed again. No one thought anything of it - loud noises, delays - common in the subway. We spend the rest of the day managing disaster recovery for all our clients' data and phone services. I worked late into the evening while people at the Trade Center had to be evacuated through dark, smoky stairwells down hundreds of flights of stairs.

In spite of having just been attacked by a terrorist, life resumed downtown as normal. Well, there were a few small changes. Concrete barricades (large, beautiful planters) were placed in front of important buildings frustrating the livelihood of many vendors. Buildings placed security guards at their entrances and required identification to enter. For most places that lasted for a few short months. However to gain entrance to the twin towers forever after, one had to wait in a long line, speak with a security guard while they rummaged through your belongings, and call up to your client to confirm that you're allowed in. It was just as tedious as going through the airport.

I dated my husband at the Trade Center. He had his office on the 104th floor facing south. Our first date was lunch at the Hudson River Club. I nearly skipped back to my office where my coworkers teased me relentlessly because I couldn't hide my pleasure. He lived in Chelsea, I in Brooklyn, so we met in the middle. After work we'd meet at the base of the North Tower and then find a quiet restaurant to eat and talk. Some nights we walked along the promenade, watching the sun set over Jersey before returning to our homes. We soon married (so soon that my catty coworkers assumed that I'd been knocked up) and he moved in with me in Brooklyn. We rode the train in together, getting off at the Trade Center, and meeting there before riding home together. The first home we bought was a funky penthouse loft in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn. From our upper terrace, we had the most incredible view of New York harbor, downtown Manhattan, and the twin towers. My daughter was born in Brooklyn about a year later (what is it they say about new homes?). I thought I'd reached Nirvana and I never wanted to leave New York. My life was perfect.

Soon afterwards George left his company, Cantor Fitzgerald. He jumped on the rise, and suffered the fall of the dot com frenzy. His new job was spared, but without all those sexy options, he looked for work elsewhere. Our daughter turned 1 and we celebrated her birthday with a going away party and then moved to Chicago.

About three months later, I was anticipating a call from my real estate broker. It was the morning of September 11th, 2001 and we had a scheduled closing on our Brooklyn loft. Our buyer had weaseled out of two closing dates already and I sat nervously by the phone praying it would close. The phone rang. It was Barbara. She sounded concerned when she greeted me. Before I let her talk I blurted, "don't tell me Barbara that this thing isn't going to happen."

"Turn on your TV, Dominique," her shaky voice replied. Huh? I did. What I saw couldn't be real. Both towers of the World Trade Center were ablaze. There was clouds of black smoke pouring out of a gaping hole where my husband's office used to be.

You all know the rest.

I don't think that I've been able to effectively describe my emotions that day. After crying (and screaming) all morning, I tried to break away and took my daughter down to the coffee shop just to be by people. Everyone looked normal. There was a lot of chatter, but where was the crying, the moaning, the rage? The garbage men were picking up garbage. Guys were watering the flowers that decorate our street. People were making coffee. I took Chloe to the playground because I couldn't stay at home. She was grateful to be outside and play with the other kids while I sat on the park bench and cried alone. I didn't know anyone in Chicago. My home had collapsed and I didn't know anyone around me.

Later downtown Chicago was evacuated in case there would be more attacks. George appeared in the door with steady concern, "this is going to bad, very bad" he said, and then proceeded to watch non-stop news coverage for the next several months. In one day, almost everyone he had worked with in his first professional job had died. Oddly enough, Cantor had recently had a round of layoffs. Some people survived because they had the privilege of receiving a pink slip a few days earlier. George's best friend had left the company soon after he did. Bill had planned to return that day to reconsider employment. Luckily he was detracted by some contract work. The president of the company survived because he was late that morning from taking his daughter (son?) to her first day of Kindergarten. His brother did not. I'd heard from my friends in my old apartment building, they'd all stood on a terrace together, holding each other until they had to rush inside. The cloud from the debris overtook Brooklyn and everything was dark for several hours. Papers littered the terraces, many had letterhead from Cantor Fitzgerald.

I didn't have any friends that died that day. I am lucky. I knew one man, G, a client. He didn't like the company I worked with. The account was dumped on me because I've always been able to manage the "difficult" customers. People in my office trashed G. They'd all assumed he was alone in life. They made fun of his mannerisms, called him lecherous and teased that he must have a crush on me because I could actually get appointments. While I never sold anything significant, I always looked forward to our meetings. While a little gruff, he was polite and treated me with respect. After he'd died, I'd read in his obituary that he had been married for over 25 years, had children and grandchildren, and his children described him as a devoted father and a good neighbor. His life was rich with family and friends. He was loved and desperately missed. These guys in my office had him so wrong.

In spite of a great deal of anxiety of large, public places - especially airplanes - George and I returned to NY to put our loft back on the market. Our buyer worked in the Trade Center and he'd lost all his down payment. The cashiers checks and paperwork were all locked in his office and destroyed. When he finally returned to our loft, he went to the terrace and cried. He then told the broker that he couldn't possibly live there and see the gaping hole the buildings left in the skyline. When we saw downtown from our loft, smoke was still rising from the rubble.

Like many Americans, I lived in ongoing anxiety and fear. Anxious to understand some of the history of Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden, I'd read much on terrorism. It didn't help. I'd blocked the windows in my daughter's bedroom with a wardrobe closet and a dresser. If a bomb went off in downtown Chicago, I didn't want a window to shatter on her. I stopped shopping at malls or even department stores, and as soon as a park became crowded, I would leave.

Eventually my life returned to normal. It is strange to return to New York - I can't identify downtown so easily without the towers soaring above the skyline. I still love the city, but I miss it less and less with each passing year. Chicago is becoming my home, now.

September 11th is a day of sadness to me. I think of all that bustling life coming in and out of the World Trade Center: all the young talent, the mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, the police officers, the firemen, the cooks and the cleaners, the masters of the universe, the worker bees, the ideas, the incredible art that adorned its walls... I can't name all that was lost that day. I think of all this and I am sad.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Bush: One of the Worst Disasters


I swear this wasn't photoshop'd. Found it at Snopes.com.

Puttin' it Up

This




To That.




I'm not sure why I'm so inclined to spend hours picking grapes, skinning grapes, cooking grapes, seeding grapes, cooking them some more and then canning them when for about two bucks I can buy my own Concord Grape Jam at the store in less than 15 minutes. It must be my Mormon upbringing or just an obsessive gene trait that lay dormant until I came along. You know the one, like when I have a perfectly sufficient bank account but I can't buy a new skirt because I see terribly cool skirts in the store and exclaim, "wow, I can make that" and then I never do.

I didn't think they would jell (this is my third try), but after it all cooled down, it was perfect. Hmmmm, yummy jam.

On a Lighter Note

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Katrina Fundraiser

I've created a blog specifically for the "Fast for Food" fundraiser event. Please check out Fast for Katrina and spread the word.

Thanks.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fast for Food

The Mormons have a tradition of fasting once a month for both spiritual edification, physical cleansing, and to fund the church's welfare program. Members fast for 24 hours and donate the cost of the food they would have eaten during that time to the church. (For anyone curious, I grew up Mormon and have an ongoing love/hate relationship with them. A story for another day.)

In the spirit of solidarity to the victims of Katrina who had to wait at least 72 hours before receiving food and water, I plan to do a 3-day fast (w/water, though) starting next Friday, 9/9 ending on 9/11 (somehow appropriate). I will donate the cost of what I would normally consume to one of the charities directly supporting Katrina survivors.

Will anyone join me? Please send a link to this post to all your friends. Spread the news. For anyone interested, comment below with your commitment. Choose your own charity, but please let me know how much money you donate, or raise from other people willing to sponsor you.

Let's repair America and begin by supporting our friends in need.

Peace to all.

Angry and Sad

I haven't seen a television report in about a week now, as I'm at the farm and the reception is terrible here. I am grateful to not hear the pundits and the disaster cheerleaders brought to us by CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, etc. This Internet world, while there is much to sift through, can also be a useful tool to weed out the bullshit. We choose our own perspective, I suppose. And today, I hope to find action and compassion.

I found this post today on my screen (George must have been surfing late into the night because I don't remember when he came to bed).

This is from a blogger in Bangladesh:

Daniel Brett writes a striking post "What America can learn from Bangladesh":

"Last year Bangladesh faced a natural disaster which was an altogether larger disaster than Hurricane Katrina and the casualty figures were probably lower than the casualties sustained in the New Orleans disaster. But the disaster was contained due to the survival instincts of the Bangladeshi people, their ingenuity in the face of adversity and their culture of hard work. Rather than shoot and loot, Bangladesh immediately used its modest resources to limit the impact of the floods before international aid arrived.

The fact that the economy was able to recover from the floods so soon is a testament to the ability of Bangladeshis to pick themselves up and go about rebuilding.

The Americans have never really faced such adversity...Bangladeshis place great importance to social and family ties and these have brought them through a multitude of natural and man-made disasters. Bangladesh's experiences show us that, in the face of disaster, money does not make society more cohesive or better organised."

I fear the response of the looters. What is it about human nature that all civility breaks down as soon as law & order enforcement no longer exists? Yet, from the comments above, perhaps it is not human nature that is at question, but the society from which it comes. Perhaps these folks down in New Orleans have been disenfranchised for so long that they feel it is not really their community which they destroy with their madness.

Bangladeshi blogger Mezba has things to say to the Americans which may cause heartburns to many but can these be denied?:

"We, the rest of the world, still hold the Americans to a higher pedestal than the rest of us. Like it or not, Americans are still considered a standard of excellence.

* They put a man on the moon in 3 days, but the aid took 5 days to arrive.
* Congress stayed up all night to pass the 87 billion dollars needed for Iraq’s army, but did not pass an aid bill for New Orleans since the last 5 days.
* When National Guard officials were needed to stop looting and anarchy in their home state, they were off doing the same in a foreign country thousands of miles away.

And who is suffering? Society is judged by how they treat their poorest, their weakest, and their most vulnerable citizens. The people left behind in New Orleans are certainly those. I hope, for their sake, the American government gets its act together.

Shame on us. This is more than embarrassing, it is immoral.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Housing for Katrina

I've found a really great way to help with Katrina survivors. Check out Katrina Housing. If any of you have a guest bedroom or as much as a vacation house or cabin, this is a way to really make a difference. I'm hoping to donate my farmhouse to a family that is anxious to get their kids in school while they figure out what to do next with their lives. I've asked my inlaws to do the same with the three spare bedrooms they have in their home in Mesa. Because no one will be returning to New Orleans within the next six months, or ever.

If you have no room to spare, donate now.

Thanks.

Too Late

It's probably too late for me to post (because I can't keep my eyes open between all the Katrina coverage and other bloggers I'm intent on keeping up with - okay and the 3 glasses of shiraz) so don't expect brilliance. Well, please don't expect brilliance otherwise, but considering I've got about 3 readers, the bar's been set.

I must report that for two days I stayed within my Weight Watchers Points. That's huge because that was the point of this damn writing exercise in the first place. And for two days of pain (except for the last 3 glasses of Shiraz) I expect a 6 pound weight loss. No way. I've got my period instead and I'm still at 195. You know, maybe it's the scale.

Katrina's still got me down - way down. Maybe it's pts leftover from 9/11. How can a million people lose their homes and economy so quickly? It's one thing to read about millions of people dying in a foreign country when an earthquake swallows them all into the sea. But that seems so remote. We Americans all grew up hearing about bizarre natural disasters that consumed life by the thousands and sometimes millions but had little identification with it. There's actually a mathematical phenomena (don't ask me what it's called, though) that explains why people can't visualize numbers beyond a few hundred. After that it's all just, Wow.