Archive for the ‘Blab’ Category

A Little Citizen Goes to Washington

Friday, January 27th, 2017

IMG_3647One week ago as Donald Trump took the oath of office, I boarded a plane for DC with my six-year-old daughter, Lucette.

In the days after November 8th when the first rumors of a Women’s March on Washington began to surface, I told my husband Bruce, “I’m going. And I want to take Lu with me.”

I’ve had a lot of time to think about why. Not so much why I myself would want to go, to put on a pink pussy hat, to march with sign held high down the streets of our capitol—I knew I needed to do something drastic, to get up off the couch, out of my safe San Francisco bubble and make my voice heard. But why, as my Dad asked me a few weeks ago, why would I “put a child in that sort of situation.”

Because, I said. Because she is a Little Citizen. Because she will one day be a woman, and the things that are happening in our country today will directly impact her life. Because I want her to know that her mom stood up, not only for her, but all women and girls—of all colors, creeds and concerns. Because someday I want her to be able to say, “I was there, too.” Because I want her to know that she can say No. That it is very American to resist. That protest is patriotic, too. That this is what democracy looks like. That she has power. That her voice matters, and so she should stand up and shout.

She’s only six, but she gets it—she gets the heart of why we were there. She spent hours crafting her very own march sign that on one side said, “It is not OK to be mean” and on the other, “I can teach you to be a better person, and you can be a kind person.”IMG_3750

“Will Donald Trump be there, Mom?” she asked me, “will he see my sign? Because I wrote it so he knows that he can be a kind person. He should be a kind person. It’s dumb to be mean to me just because I’m a girl.”

The metro to L’Enfant Plaza was incredibly crowded—Lu’s Auntie Kathy handed her an iphone playing My Little Pony to distract her from the absolute crush that was honestly starting to freak her out.

But when we hit the streets, when people straightened their pussy ears and lifted their poster board signs and began to chant, “Love trumps hate! Love trumps hate!” I watched Lu’s eyes get wide with wonder. “Mom,” she whispered, “there are so many people here! Are they all here to march with us?”

And when I told her “Yes, we are all marching together today,” and I saw the white dome of Capitol Hill just blocks away, surrounded by a sea of pink hats, I started crying. Not sad tears, I had to explain to her—proud tears. I was so fiercely proud to be there.

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For most of the day, our “march” was more like a shuffle. But I have never been crushed in a crowd of kinder, more polite people. There was no pushing. There was no arguing. Other women helped me lift Lucette up to my shoulders so she could see (and breathe). Other moms gave me the wink and nod as they shouldered their own kids.

I honestly don’t know how much of that day Lu will remember. It was inspiring and empowering, yes, but it was also emotionally draining and difficult—and I’m just speaking for myself as an adult! Hanging around in a crowd of half a million people wasn’t all fun and games for a 6-year-old either (although I did find her a tree to climb and an ice cream cone with rainbow sprinkles).

I think she’ll remember the hats, and the signs, especially the ones that she thought were hilarious. I think she’ll remember that there were more people there than she’s ever seen in her life, and they were all laughing and smiling and helping each other. She’ll probably remember the pink hair spray she asked me to color her pigtails with. But I hope somewhere, the knowledge that she can make a difference remains and sinks down into her very bones.

The day after the march was pretty special, as we spent it visiting monuments and memorials—Lincoln and FDR and Korea and Vietnam, where I had to explain the concept of war.

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Her favorite was the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial—she had just finished learning about him at school and I overheard her telling her Aunties, “Did you know that Martin Luther King changed the world? People thought that if you had brown skin you weren’t as important as if you had light skin? Isn’t that stupid? But then Martin Luther King told people, ‘No, we’re all the same inside.’ Just like how if you have two eggs and one is white and one is brown, it doesn’t matter because inside the yolk is still yellow in both of them and you can’t even tell them apart!”

One of the hardest things about being a parent, to me, is the ever-present and awesome responsibility to do right by this small human being. To love them unconditionally, yes, but also to equip them with the knowledge and confidence and fortitude they will need to be a good citizen of the world.

Our world today is not the one I want for my daughter. But going to the March, I think, was a way of showing her that hope is greater than fear, and that she herself is brave and strong and powerful. And she is not alone.

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A Girl and a Goat from Gaonli

Friday, January 16th, 2015

When I was four years old, a missionary from India came to my Sunday school class. I don’t remember her name, just her sari. I had never seen one before and I was captivated.

She told us stories of the faraway land of India, of monkeys and camels and elephants, of the crowded slums of Mumbai and a woman named Ramabai Mukti who founded an orphanage and school for unwanted children.

It was a lot for a four year old to digest, but the woman and her stories made a huge impression on me. For years I was obsessed with India. I studied the country, its culture and history. I read alot about Ghandi. I asked my mom to take me to Devon Avenue in Chicago, where I purchased a sari of my own.

From the time I was 4 until I turned 16, I told everyone I met that I was going to be a missionary to India. As a religious kid in the Midwest, that seemed the best option to me for visiting this exotic land. Certainly my family would never have the money it took to travel to a place like that–we went to Indiana on family vacations.

And besides, I wanted to help. Even as a really young kid, I was struck by the idea that somewhere across the world, there was a girl like me.

But while I was born into a family who loved me unconditionally and encouraged me to follow my dreams, whatever they might be, this girl was born into a culture where she had no worth, no value, and no options. It seemed like a very random assignation of destiny to me. Why me? Why her?

 

As I got older, simple answers like, “Because it’s the will of God” didn’t work anymore. And although I renounced my future career as a missionary in my mid-teens, my fascination with India remained.

And finally, 37 years after I first heard of India, I set foot on its soil.

Last November I traveled to Jaipur with Tea Collection. My colleagues were there to shoot an editorial catalog for our Spring 15 collection, which is inspired by the beauty and culture of India. I was there as the storyteller, to record the sights and sounds and smells of our visit. To take notes on what it felt like to be there. To observe, to ask questions, to internalize the experience so that later I could make it real for readers who hadn’t come along on our journey.

But I had a second purpose. Tea Collection partners with the Global Fund for Children, and I and my coworker Jessie were to spend a day visiting a GFC grantee in Jaipur, an Indian-run nonprofit called Gram Bharati Samiti.

The day we spent in rural villages with Bhawani, Kusum and Sarita was the best day of my whole trip to India.

Better, even, than my birthday two days later when I was surprised with a chocolate cake and a gorgeous photo taken by our photographer Hideaki Hamada.

The people I met that day, the staff of Gram Bharati Samiti and the girls and women in the villages we visited–their faces will stay with me for the rest of my life.


I wrote a blog about my experience for Tea–you can read it here, and please do. You’ll find all about a 6-year-old girl named Buja and the amazing gift (baby goat!!) I was given by another girl named Rekha. It’s the best story, really it is.

 
Hardly a day has gone by since I came back without me thinking of those girls, those villages.

Someday I’m going back. I’m going back and I’m taking Bruce and Lucette with me.
We’ll ride elephants and tour palaces and go back to Gaonli village to see if Buja’s still there.

And then we’ll hop on a plane and head south to Mumbai. I want to see where it all began for me, I want to visit Ramabai Mukti.

 

 

 

-Lo, who can’t believe 2014 went by without one. single. word.

 

 

A Cinderella Story

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Usually, you’re very aware of the life-changing moments. Baby birthed, troth pledged, first day of college, cross-country move, whatever etcetera.

But October 11th came and went this year and I barely noticed. Meanwhile, down south in Gardena CA, someone found a starving, half-bald dog on the streets and took her to the Carson Animal Shelter.
        

On October 16, a Wednesday, my one-line-a-day journal says that I took Lu to school in the morning and watched her climb a tree. I didn’t know that was the day West Coast Boxer Rescue found that emaciated, mange-ridden little dog in isolation at the animal shelter and brought her into their fold.

They named her Cinderella, hoping to lend a little fairytale magic to her hitherto desperate life.

The vet told the WCBR rescuer that the dog wasn’t a 3-month-old Boxer pup, as they first assumed. She was a Boxer/Boston Terrier mix, and she was closer t0 a year-and-a-half.

It was an easy mistake to make. At 18 pounds, covered in mange, infested with worms and suffering from pneumonia and anemia–little Cinder was a sad story indeed. But there was something in her eyes. A sweetness. A spark.

A volunteer in Redlands welcomed her into her home, taught her how to sit and pee outside. Fed her and loved her and nursed her back toward health. Two weeks later, WCBR noted that Cinder was up to 23 pounds, her hair was starting to grow back, and she was enjoying a long-delayed puppyhood, playing with toys and goofing around with her foster-dog-brother, Baxter.

        

On November 7, WCBR reported that Cinder had gained 5 more pounds and was clear of pneumonia. In photos, the difference was obvious…

      

Around this time, I started stalking the WCBR website for Boxer ladies. Bruce and I had decided that, three+ years after the death of our much-loved LeeLoo, we were ready to add a dog to our family again. LeeLoo was with us for 7 years, and was a huge part of our lives. She died just 2 months before our daughter Lucette was born. Although I missed her every day, bringing a new dog into a home with a new baby wasn’t a good idea. So we waited until we were ready, until Lu was ready, and then we started looking for the right dog.

My parents got me a dog, Mitzi the Beagle, when I was 5 years old. So many of my childhood memories include Mitzi–running together down the lane to the cottonwood tree, exploring the 40 acres of woods behind our house, showing off at the 4-H Fair in Amboy every July.

                         

And then there was LeeLoo. My friend, my confidant, my best Boxer lady. I missed having a dog in my life, and more than anything, I wanted Lu to have that experience, that friendship, that one-of-a-kind love. So, as I said, we were looking. We submitted our application, I made a list of available dogs. Cinder wasn’t on it.

The dogs I was drawn to were fawn-colored Boxers. LeeLoo-esque Boxers. And by the time our application was approved, they were all adopted. That’s when Julie from WCBR said, “What about Cinderella?”

I had scrolled past her picture on the “Available Dogs” list several times, but never even thought that she could be our dog.

But after talking to Julie and talking to Doni, Cinder’s foster mum, I began to reconsider. On December 3, Doni sent me these pictures of Cinder:

                              

I printed them out, showed them to Bruce & Lu and said, “I think this is our dog!” Lu looked at the pictures, then leaned closer and looked harder. “Ooooh, she’s soooooo cute! Can she be mine? Can I love her?” she said.

On December 14, we drove to San Jose to meet the WCBR transport from southern California. I took one look at Cinder in the back of the van and burst into tears. Yeah. She was our dog.

         

She’s been a part of our family for 17 days now. I’m already wondering what we ever did without her. She’s the sweetest thing ever. Patient with Lucette, eager to learn new things, snuggly and snorty and wiggly and funny.

We call her Vila. In folklore, the Vila are nymphs, fairy-like creatures who live in the wilderness or in the clouds. It seems a fitting name for such a magical wee lady. We’ve already had all sorts of adventures together, and we’re looking forward to a lifetime of more.

        

Last night, snuggled up on the couch, Lu leaned over and planted a kiss between Vila’s ears. “I wuv you in the morning, Weewah. I wuv you in the evening,” she whispered. “I wuv you so much!”

And I sighed a happy sigh. Our family is complete.

-Lo, who’s thinking life is doggone good.

If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

I used to define myself as a Christian. I don’t anymore.

The shoe didn’t fit, so I stopped wearing it. Simple, really. And yet not.

Because when pressed to define my faith,  I have trouble coming up with an accurate term. A comfortable box to shove myself into. A category that encompasses all the whys and wherefores.

So I was intrigued by a definition I stumbled across recently in the back of a fantasy novel. (Sidenote: Many sci-fi/fantasy novels have really thoughtful and insightful takes on religion. I’ve read books by Jacqueline Carey and Robin McKinley, specifically, that caused me to think about my own experiences with God/churches/etc.  in whole new ways. )

This particular book was The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin. In the “Extras” section at the end of the book, Jemisin answers a question about exploring religion in her writing with this statement:

“Well, I consider myself an agnostic–not in the sense of doubting the existence of God, but in the sense of doubting the capability of any human religion to encompass the divine. More specifically I think religion alone is not enough to encompass the divine. Religion is a handy guide to living, assuming you’re still living in the society that existed at the time of the religion’s founding. It’s useful for unifying and motivating a population. But to understand ourselves and the universe, we need to explore other schools of thought–the complexity of the human consciousness, the limits of science, and more. I believe we will eventually need to interact with other intelligent entities, and exchange ideas. And we need to be wary of the ways in which letting others do this thinking and learning for us can come back to bite us on the ass.”

There is much about Jemisin’s answer that resonates with me. But in being a student of the divine, I have a long way to go. Many questions to ask and schools of thought to explore. But the older I get, the more strongly I believe that life isn’t about finding security in rote answers. Real living isn’t reciting catechism or memorizing prayers someone else wrote.

Life is seeking. Reaching. Asking. Taking a journey in search of the divine that doesn’t quite look like anybody else’s personal quest.

Some can embark on this journey from within the confines–the body–of a church. That’s a fine and beautiful thing.

I couldn’t do it. Can’t. Won’t.

So I left, and here I wander. But, to borrow from that Tolkien quote you see so often on the bumpers of cars, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

And neither am I.

-Lo, who means no disrespect to any whose shoe still fits.

 

 

Life Is What Happens

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

cornfed

Damn. I mean, Damn!

I have never neglected this space for such a long time. In fact, I used to post a minimum of once a week fairly effortlessly. But then, there are a lot of things I used to do that have become past tense.

If there are any of you out there still reading, I apologize for the long silence. It was an unintended sort of thing. A month would go by, and I would think, “I need to update the blog.” But then I would get busy, for there are a million and three things on the to-do list, always. Or I would be too tired (see aforementioned list). Or I’d get distracted by a tiny corn-on-the-cob waving lass (see above photographic evidence).

Or I would just think, “I have nothing to say that anybody wants to hear.”

And that may still be true. Or maybe it never was. But in the end, I’m doing this for me. I’m reclaiming this space to reclaim a small part of myself that feels lonely and lost.

Around the time of my last blog post, some six (gasp!) months ago, I began writing a poem which in drafts has alternately been titled “Heart” and “Lost” but will likely not be called either of those things by the time it’s finished.

I began it in a haphazard style, having awakened one day with an idea for a new cinepoem blazing in my brain. But the poem must come before the cinepoem. So I wrote, awkwardly, as you do when trying to wake a sleeping limb.

My brain felt numb and the words felt heavy and I struggled through five lines. And then I put it away and thought, “I will come back to this.”

And now it’s July.

Anytime I would think of the blog or the poem, (in between scrambling eggs while the tot sat in her highchair banging a spoon and chanting “eggseggseggseggseggseggseggs!” and trying to race down to fling blankets and tiny PJs and multicolored socks into the dryer before the tiny PJ owner noticed my absence and going to work and coming home and remembering to say hi to Bruce and squeeze in a “Howwasyourdaydear?” In between all of that,) I would think, “Oh, it hasn’t been that long. Surely I’ll have some time tomorrow. I’ll carve out an hour.”

And now it’s July. No-one is more surprised by this than I.

This day isn’t any more or less busy than any other day, but this is the hour I’ve managed to seize. And perhaps it’s true that I have nothing to say. Nothing anyone other than me finds fascinating, anyway.

But it IS fascinating to me. This life with all of its chaos and tumble and rush. It’s endlessly fascinating.

The way she says new things, every day, that show a little mind whirring and buzzing and becoming. The way her hair grows in frantic ringlets all over the back of her head but on top, and in front, it’s perfectly straight. The way she climbs to the top of the tallest ladder on the playground, fearlessly. The way she brings me books and climbs into my lap and says, “Sit here a minute, mommy.” The way she runs, with graceless toddler bravado, arms flailing, pigtails boinging. The way Bruce and I will catch each other’s eye over her head at random moments and just grin at each other like, “Can you believe this?!”

The silence of the past months, it seems, is an indicator not just of busy-ness but of becoming-ness. Of tired-ness. Of happy-ness. Of all the -nesses that make up a life.

And someday I’ll write all about it. Someday the words will catch up.

In the meantime, I’m going to grab an hour when I can. And I’m going to finish that poem and name it something ravishing. And I’m going to shoot a cinepoem. Soon. Like in a matter of weeks soon. (Really. Shel and I have a shoot date on the calendar.)

And if you’re still here and waiting, you’ll be glad you did.

-Lo, full of wishful hopeful thinking.

Owning It

Monday, January 30th, 2012

owned

I was reading and giggling aloud at Margaret Cho’s blog about her red leather super skinny jeans when I thought, “I remember when I wore leather pants.”

And then, quite suddenly, I was overcome with the undeniable knowledge that the-thing-which-you-dread-when-you’re-23 has finally happened to me.

I have officially become a boring person.

It’s true. I’m a baby-photo-posting, constantly-crumb-covered, 9pm-bedtime-having, blog-neglecting, non-red-leather-jean-wearing, still-post-pregnancy-dieting, always-a-little-bit-tired, ready-with-latest-cute-kid-antic-story, traded-in-my-motorcycle-for-a-scooter, perma-straightened-my-hair-since-I-don’t-have-time-to-do-anything-to-it, writer’s-block-afflicted, formerly occasionally cool person.

*shrug*

Might as well own it, eh?

-Lo, who realizes it’s better to be boring than bored. Because in this new version of my life, I am absolutely positively never ever bored.

Transition Lenses

Monday, November 21st, 2011

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“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” -Anatole France

Melancholy. That’s the feeling I’ve been trying to name.

I am not sad. I’m not unhappy, or disgruntled, or malcontent. I’m just, ever so occasionally, melancholy.

Several people who are further along in their parenting adventure told me that when your babe turns one year old, you begin to feel yourself again. As if the first anniversary is a magical switch that, once reached, will tilt the axis of your universe back to a more familiar (and less overwhelming) setting.

So as the fated date approched, I waited for a renewed sense of self. Some sort of assurance that I had gotten the hang of mum-hood while still retaining or regaining all the moving parts that made me the person I used to be.

And then September 2 came, and partied, and faded into September 3 and I felt no different than I had on the 1st of the month. Or on the 1st of August. Or July.

Don’t worry, I’m not sitting here all sad-sack thinking there’s something wrong with me. I believe that mothers, like babies, develop at their own pace. Just because other mothers have felt like life returned to some semblance of normality around the one year mark doesn’t mean that my sense of normal will behave the same way.

Maybe I feel this way, in part, because I waited awhile to have a child. My individual personhood (and couplehood with Bruce) was pretty well established for quite a few years. We had it down. And then, at 7am one Thursday morning, everything changed.

I changed.

And in the change, I lost myself.

It’s true that I’ve gained more in motherhood than I have lost. So much more. There are moments of wonder and joy that surpass anything I have ever known, that more than make up for the lack of sleep and the absence of time.

But that doesn’t negate the fact that the me who used to be is gone.

Sometimes I struggle with that. Sometimes I don’t know who, exactly, I am anymore.

After all, the learning curve is steep when you’re becoming someone new. You spend a lot of time admitting that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing. You stumble around. You try and you fail. You get overly nostalgic about the old routine, because this new one is incredibly uncomfortable.

So it’s only natural and fitting that on the difficult days and often in the dead of night, you mourn the you who is lost. Because you knew how to be that version of yourself. You had the playbook, more or less.

Now that playbook is undergoing a complete and total revision. And in order to embrace the new world order, you have to say goodbye to the old.

But sometimes letting go takes awhile.

So while I’m cocooned in this transition phase, while I’m releasing and embracing and fumbling around, I’ve decided to let the more creative parts of myself go into hibernation. It’s the only way to survive, really.

If I tried to be as prolific as I was pre-baby, to write even as much as I did when I was pregnant, I think my skull would implode.

It’s not that I’m not writing at all. I’m here, obviously. Just not as often as I used to be. Weekly posts have been culled to monthly posts. If I’m lucky.

I’m also keeping a journal for Lucette, trying to record all the little moments that slip too easily into the ether.

But I’m not writing for myself. The poetry is dormant for now. I miss it. I miss that feeling when the words start to click and flow and fit into place. I miss the satisfaction of a well-placed line break.

And I miss charting out new ideas for cinepoems. (In fact, I have a gorgeous one percolating that involves me, Lu, and a pair of tiny hats.)

I miss the more simple, selfish things, too. Like having entire Saturday afternoons to read a novel. Or weed the flower beds. Or obsessively re-organize my closet. Or do nothing at all.

Someday the energy, the creative spark, will return. Someday I’ll pull the poems out from their hiding places and build them a home of paper and ink. But not today.

Today I am going to change a poopy diaper. And find the missing white cow for the Little People farm. And read the story about the Busy Horses. And read it again. And again.

And somewhere between the highchair and the crib, I’m going to learn something new about who this mother-me really is.

I think it’s going to be great.

-Lo, who thinks that a world without the Cheeks in it would be a truly miserable place.

Good Gracious

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

gracious

I’ve been having an epiphany of sorts for the last few months.

Is that possible? To have an epiphany that stretches out over days and weeks? Perhaps a true epiphany is more like that typical “Aha!” moment. The lightbulb winking on and whatnot.

But the mommy brain I’m working with these days isn’t the speediest of creatures. Just this morning, I locked my scooter keys inside the seat compartment before I even pulled out of the garage.

And let’s not even talk about Monday, when I parked the scoot on Mission Street and walked away from it, leaving the keys dangling in the side lock ALL DAY LONG. How people passed up that opportunity for free wheels for 8+ hours is possibly proof that everyone else’s brain is just as sluggish as mine.

So it’s no wonder that this particular lightbulb has taken a looong time to illuminate. But now that it has, I can’t get the buzz out of my brain.

Being gracious. That’s the long and short of it.

I’ve been obsessed with the idea, turning it over and over as if in doing so I will discover some new meaning, a hidden key.

Becoming a parent makes you think of yourself differently. In some ways, it spotlights your biggest flaws, or turns up the volume on small eccentricities that you previously thought of as cute but now realize are just juvenile.

I have never made any bones about being a bold-faced misanthrope. I’m not a people-lover. Especially not en-masse. Crowds make me twitchy. Parties make me crave a quite nook and a book.

In my twenties I wore my misanthropy like a shiny silver badge. I flaunted it. I reveled in it. I embraced my inner grinch and dressed him up in big black boots.

I toned it down when I hit my thirties. I got more comfortable in my own skin and discovered that I was fine just being who I was instead of showing and telling all the time.

But I could still whip out the grinch at a moment’s notice, withering strangers with a glare. My sister has dubbed it the “Bugle Boy look” because of the time ages and ages ago when she and I went holiday shopping and for some reason ended up in a very long line at a Bugle Boy outlet. Someone tried to jump the line in front of us and I melted the skin off their face with my stare.

The thing I’ve begun to realize as I’ve gotten older and, yes, as I’ve become a mum, is that I tend to glare alot more than necessary. It’s my default setting, especially under duress.

And it’s not only strangers who feel the sting. I can whip it out on those closest to me, too. Even more so sometimes because I tend to filter my thoughts alot less around the people I heart the most.

But now I’ve had this epiphany about graciousness, and I’m trying very hard to be more selective about my misanthropy and grinchitude. I’m trying to save that withering glare for the occasions that truly call for it, such as keeping the skeeves out of my way when I’m strolling the baby.

I’m finding that I can be really good at being gracious if I stop to take a breath and put some thought into it.

Taking a few seconds to think before I speak or react or even blink gives me a chance to remember that it’s not all about me and how I’m feeling today. The stranger to whom I’m about to give a verbal smackdown might be having a much shittier day than I am, and I, in these few seconds, can either add to that pile of shit or shovel some of it out of the way.

So I’m working on it. It’s hard, especially when that default grinch setting is so easy to flip.

Recently we had a house full of people who have a history of putting me on edge, and that tense, prickly feeling has only increased now that my baby has been added to the relationship equation.

When I admitted to myself that I was going to be unable to defuse the grinch in this particular situation, I opted instead to stay silent so I wouldn’t say something stupid. In my head I kept hearing that old adage, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Going mute isn’t exactly gracious, but it’s a step up from bitchness, so I’ll take it. This new attitude will take some time to cultivate, after all.

But I’ve had the epiphany. I’ve seen the light. And I know it’s time to grow up. It’s time to be gracious.

-Lo, who will still wear stompy black boots, don’t worry. She just might remove a few of the pointier spikes.

365 LeeLoo-less Days

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

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One year ago today, LeeLoo passed away.

For months after, I cried every day. The sense of loss was incredible.

I still miss her and think of her daily, but it does get better with time, as the cliche goes. Perhaps because time dulls the edges of your memory. That, and having a wiggly newborn around just weeks after the Loo died proved to be very distracting.

But I still miss her wiggly butt and crispy tongue and nubbly underbite.

And I don’t think she’d mind, at all, if we added a new wiggly butt to the family. Not to replace her, because that would be impossible. But just because a fur friend is very good to have.

-Lo, marking the days.

Public Relations, Baby Style

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

plane-bags

The countdown is on for Baby’s First Plane Ride.

Lucette is 10 months old and has yet to meet her Great-Grandma Ruth. In a few days, we’re going to fix that. But the meet and greet requires an airplane.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve got some bad plane karma coming my way. In my younger–and much more arrogant–days, I lobbed quite a few hairy eyeballs in the direction of fellow plane passengers who were less than 3 feet high.

To be fair, a couple of them were kicking the back of my seat. Or trying to crawl under it. Or standing on the seat behind me, holding onto my headrest and also a clump of my hair.

So, at the time, I felt my dirty looks and loud sighs were completely justified. (And I still think that if you’re old enough to kick the seat in front of you, you’re old enough to be told to knock it off.)

But here’s the thing that I didn’t understand very well when I was a solo flyer: The only thing worse than a crying baby in the row behind you is being the parent of said crying baby.

I had my own Great Awakening to that fact when I started flying with my sister and nephew, who was then 6 months old. My sister was nearly nauseous with fear as we boarded the flight. Not because she’s a phobic flyer, but because she was so worried about how her baby would handle the flight… and how our fellow passengers would treat him if he handled it with screeches and squeals.

She needn’t have worried, that time. For a 6-month-old, a plane is a giant white noise and jiggle machine, and he nodded off to sleep like a bitty angel.

That was when I first began to understand just how hard it is to travel with kids. Because you’re not just dealing with all the extra stuff required… the bottles and snacks and diapers and toys and blankets.

You’re also dealing with all the unpredictable aspects of air travel (delays, cancellations, lost baggage, endless waits on the runway) and its affect on the sleeping, eating and pooping habits of a tiny human who can’t understand why they’re not allowed to get down and crawl up the aisle.

As if that all weren’t enough to frazzle your overly-exhausted nerves, you also have to deal with the disapproval–and often the outright disgust–of your fellow travelers. The muttering, eye rolling and exasperated sighing will begin as soon as they set eyes on your and your bundle of joy.

And even when you do your best to ignore it, even when you make superhuman efforts to keep your babe from bawling, even when you aren’t some oblivious,entitled parent-type who believes the entire universe revolves around little AshleyCaitlinLouise, even then, it still sucks to be treated like a pariah just because you had the audacity to both breed and travel.

(And for those prickly solo passengers who claim there’s never a good reason to take babies on a plane, consider this: My grandmother is pushing 90. She has bad knees and a bad heart. She can’t fly, take a train, or sit in a car for 3 days to come and visit her newest great-granddaughter in California. And she has been sending me letters for months saying, “Am I going to get to meet that baby before I die?!” Sometimes there are very good reasons to take a baby on a plane.)

So here we are, with the big day is almost upon us. Bruce and I have been planning for it as if it were a Seal Team Six operation, while at the same time remaining fully aware that babies tend to scoff at your plans. And then barf on them.

We’ve both been anxious about how this whole adventure will go. I have begun repeating to myself a daily mantra that goes something like this: “I don’t care what you think about my kid. I don’t care what you think about my kid. I don’t care…”single-bag

Bruce, being a more practical person, had a better idea.

Bribery.

It’s beautifully simple. We’re handing out bags of candy to all the passengers sitting near us.

 The bags are cellophane, so you can see all the tasty treats inside them and not wonder why this stranger is suddenly shoving a mysterious package in your face.

And they don’t just hold candy, no. That’s where the brilliance comes in. These bags? They contain ear plugs.

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Each bag also comes labeled with a little tag which has a picture of Lucette (standing in a cardboard box and waving) on one side.

And the other side has a message that reads:cimg2731

“Hi! My name is Lucette.
I’m 10 months old and this is my first plane ride.
I am going to meet my 89-year-old Great Grandma
because she is too ill to fly to CA to see me.
I will try very hard to be quiet, but let’s be honest,
I’m not very good at it yet.
So I apologize in advance for any squeals, growls, wails
or endlessly repeated vowel sounds that might annoy you.”

I figure that half the battle of not annoying someone is to make yourself more human to them. To say: Hey, we used to be you. Flying all solo and fancy-free. We know you would rather not be sitting by our kid. But hopefully giving that wee growling kid an actual name and story will make a difference. As will the sugar. And most of all, the ear plugs.

I’ll let you know how it goes…

-Lo, working the Baby PR.