Originally uploaded by landismom.
Yesterday, we went to the United for Peace & Justice/US LAW march and rally in New York. I know, you probably didn't read about it in the paper this morning (or this afternoon, for those of you lucky enough to still have kids who nap), because for some reason, the New York Times didn't deem it newsworthy, nor did my local paper. But there were 300,000 people there.
I'm just saying.
For some reason, wordpress is not letting me post more photos. Here's a picture of how the Bee feels about President Bush. The Potato was just happy to have a stroller, so he didn't have to walk the length of the march.
Today, the kids and I went to the zoo, and most of us thought that was more fun than the rally.
I was over at Dadcentric, and saw this post of Metrodad's. I started to reply in the comments, but then my response got into its fourth paragraph, and since I'm already stalking him in every place he blogs, I thought I'd try to restore my own dignity by just posting it here.
Let me just start by saying that landisdad and I do have a joint checking account. We didn't until about six months after we were married, largely because we knew we were about to move, and it seemed like too much trouble to open a new checking account that we were just going to close a few months later. It took LD quite a while to convince me to merge our money, though.
Growing up, I was never really poor. I have friends who once started a 'what was the longest you went without food in the house growing up' contest, and let me tell you, I lost by a mile. A lot of that had to do with the fact that I grew up in a sort of rural suburb, and my mom had an enormous vegetable garden in the back yard–we never went without food, because if my mom wasn't gardening, she was canning or baking or making homemade soup. When I was a little kid, she made all my clothes.
When my mom started working again, I was seven, and there were a few years before my parents split up where we were a happy, two-income family. After the separation and divorce, I watched my parents struggle about money. My dad used money to control his continuing relationships with us, especially during the time I spent living with him when I was in high school. Neither of my parents were particularly good at teaching us financial responsibility–my mom's model was along the lines of, "I went without, and so should you," where my dad was more along the lines of "I'm spending it all, and if you want me to spend any on you, you better do what I want you to." He filed for bankruptcy when I was a freshman in college.
When I got out on my own, I didn't have any clue how to manage money. I survived college without racking up any serious debt (well, what I would consider serious now–but back then, $3,000 was a lot), but I wasn't qualified to do anything. I didn't crack $20,000 a year until I was 28 years old.
Landisdad, on the other hand, grew up in what I consider to be a completely anomalous family–one that had money, but didn't use it as a weapon to bludgeon each other with. I don't begrudge him that experience, but it made it extremely odd for the two of us to move in together. One of the lasting effects of my upbringing is that I am extremely uncomfortable in a position of financial dependence, and it took me a lot of time to work through that shit.
I like to spend money. I like it a lot. What I really don't like is to have someone telling me how to spend my money, or that I'm spending it on the wrong things.
During the time that we were living together, we split the bills for our collective expenses. We'd each write a check for half the rent, half the light bill, alternate paying for groceries. It was a pretty big step for me when we got a joint credit card, because I did some damage to my credit record in my early 20s. After we got married, when we decided to have a joint account, I pretty much insisted on being the person in charge of it. We had a long talk where we discussed the idea, and I told him that I'd do it on a trial basis. Seven years later, we're past the trial basis.
I write probably 90% of the checks, and I'm the person who thinks about the family finances the most. We make investment decisions and major purchases together, and it's worked pretty well. Our division of labor evolved this way, not just because of my own fetishistic need to control my own money, but also because I'm more
anal organized about it than he is. I file everything, and I put our tax data together for the accountant. I was paying bills tonight, and it struck me, once again, how incredibly nerdy I am in my approach to money management. Suffice it to say, there are spreadsheets.
It's not like we never worry about money, but we don't ever fight about it.
Now my question is, how do we get our kids to grow up with a healthy relationship to money?
I bet you thought I was going to stop writing about my basement once it was finished. Too bad.
I always thought finished basements were tacky–shag carpeting? gross! drop ceilings? so declasse!
I've become a convert, friends.
Basement, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
- Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the rainy weekend, you are there, beckoning the kids.
- You let them scream to their hearts' content, while landisdad and I sit in peace, sipping coffee and reading the entire paper.
- Other children are lured to play at our house by your underground wiles, and I can actually get some cleaning done, instead of enduring a whine-fest about how boring everything is.
- And let's not forget the best part of all–my office-slash-dining room is back to having only the two functions, instead of also housing the many, many boxes of crap we insist on keeping. I no longer have to work in fear that my tax returns from 1992-200
45 will fall over and crush me to death.
Why on earth didn't we do this three years ago?
There's a whole bunch of stuff in the Times today that I wanted to blog about–this article, about the divide in public policy between so-called Blue states versus Red states. A few months ago, I blogged about the changes in laws that are prompting gay and lesbian families to move out of states that are taking away their parental and civil rights. This article, with its conclusion that the state/federal policy divergences usually get realigned cyclically, made me wonder how long we'll have to be fighting off right-wing social policy at the state level before that happens.
There was also this interesting article on immigrant workers' centers. I'm glad to see that these centers are on an upsurge again, especially since the Bush administration's response to the pro-immigrant rallies of recent months has been to start raiding workplaces.
Warning: this post may not be appropriate for a beautiful spring Friday afternoon. Proceed with caution.
In addition to Generation X, the other book I've been reading recently is Stud's Terkel's The Great Divide: Second Thoughts on the American Dream, an oral history he did in the '80s about the growing divide between the rich and the poor, which I picked up in a second-hand bookstore recently. So much immersion in '80s thinking has me wondering: is terrorism the nuclear war of the 21st century?
When I was about 12, my local paper did a story on the possible fallout from a nuclear strike on Philadelphia in their Sunday magazine. I remember looking at the map on the front page, which showed how long it would take the blast wave to radiate out from Center City, and realizing that my family and I would have about 5 minutes to get to a bomb shelter. Throughout high school and college, the idea that we were five minutes from midnight on the clock of human history was a fairly prevalent one. Movies like the Terminator and The Day After saturated us with images of the pending nuclear apocalypse. Many people went to bed every night convinced that having Ronald Reagan's finger on the button would lead to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union, and spent time organizing huge rallies and small street corner demonstrations for peace.
And there was glasnost. And humanity collectively breathed a sigh of relief, as we slowly began to wind the clock backwards.
I'm not sure exactly what o'clock we're at right now. But what I'm wondering is, has the threat of terrorism become as pervasive as the threat of nuclear war was, in the Cold War era? For myself, I'd say no. While the spread of terrorism does concern me, I'm not convinced that the extinction of the species is imminent, the way I was in the early- and mid-'80s. But I wonder, for those who are younger than me, those who didn't grow up under the shadow of the bomb, if terrorism occupies the same mental space that the concept of nuclear winter once did for me.
I'm extraordinarily amused by this googlefight. Don't tell his sister, though.
At dinner tonight, the Bee asked me, "when two men get married, why do they say, 'you can kiss the bride'?"
It led us into a discussion of gay marriage, and I always like to have those kinds of values discussions with her. The best thing about it was that she started talking about the two kids that she knows from school with gay parents, and how crazy she thought it was that their parents couldn't get legally married. It made me think of a post of Trey's that I read earlier today, about his family's trip to the White House Easter Egg Roll. And it made me want to call up the parents of those kids, and thank them for being out at the school because I know that my daughter will not be homophobic, in part because she's had these two boys as friends, has seen their fathers and mothers as parents just like any other parents.
We're all feeling wistful in landisville today, because the Bee has gone to day camp by herself for the first time.
It's spring break here (yes, I know everyone else had it last week), and since we're shopping around for summer camps for the Bee, we decided that she should go to one of them for a few days during spring break so we can see how she likes it. Today was her first day.
She was nervous, of course, which resulted in a huge meltdown at bedtime last night. But LD and I had some discussions with her about how she'd make new friends and how brave she is, and then she wrote about it in her journal this morning after breakfast. She seemed perfectly happy by the time I left to take the Potato to daycare.
Landisdad called me after he dropped her off to tell me how it went, and I just called him again to talk about some other scheduling stuff, and we both sort of wondered aloud about what (and how) she was doing. It's times like these that I'm happy that I have such a wonderful partner to raise my kids with, because who else wants to spend ten minutes in the middle of their day thinking about the brave behavior of my first grader? (Except you, of course, dear reader.)
I've recently become web-addicted to the book trading site bookins.com. If you're in the US, and you have a pile of books gathering dust, check it out. I've received several books, and two items on my trade list are winging their way to someone else right now. (Yes, please take my copy of Codex off my hands. Please!) I find that, curiously, there are a lot of books I'm willing to own if the price is only $3.99. (Well, okay, there are a lot of books I'm willing to own, period.)
Yesterday, I got a copy of Douglas Coupland's Generation X in the mail, which I've been reading today. There's something really quaint about it. Subtitled "Tales of an Accelerated Culture," it is of course the story of the last generation to grow up in an internet-less world, my generation. While the main characters have ennui aplenty, they also spend an awful lot of time–as my friends an I did–sitting around shooting the shit. One wonders, if one were to encounter them today, how they'd ever find the time. There are no cell phones, no IM-ing, no Blackberries.
(Tangentially, how excited is McDonald's that Wal-Mart has been taken up as the poster child for symbol of bad service sector employment? Seriously, when was the last time you heard someone refer to a "McJob"?)
It's funny, but I find myself more and more, when reading fiction of the '80s and early '90s, spending a lot of time thinking about the way the book would be different if only cell phones had been invented. There are quite a few mystery novels, for example, where the plot hangs on the main character's inability to both call the police and keep tailing a suspect–a plot contrivance that just seems off today. And it's not like I have this experience reading all fiction–I'd never argue that Pride & Prejudice would be improved by the introduction of Mr Darcy's blog, for example.
It's amazing how something that once seemed so current can now seem so dated. It's gotten to the point that the only fiction of 15 or 20 years ago that doesn't make me feel depressed is science fiction. Somehow, William Gibson still holds up, when more realistic work does not.
*sorry that this title doesn't have anything to do with the content of the post
For some reason, we persist in speaking English to the Potato, despite the fact that he's in that stage of toddler-dom where he acts as if he can't hear it about 98.6% of the time. In fact, today landisdad started speaking gibberish to him, just to see if he could get his attention, but that didn't work either.
It's a little frustrating, to say the least.
We've recently begun comparing living with the Potato to living with a rockstar. He's trashing his room almost every morning when he wakes up, and on weekends, again at nap time. He doesn't believe in naps anymore–just dumping all of the clean clothes into his dirty laundry, taking every book out of the bookcase, and emptying out the toyboxes (so he can sit in them and 'drive'). Today, my brother came over with my niece, the Butterfly. She's about the same age as the Potato, and yesterday, she found a tube of Desitin in her room while she was supposed to be napping, and smeared it all over the place.
It's nice to have a cousin of a similar age. Otherwise, I'd suspect that this kid would never be civilized.
The Potato is also sporting some incredible facial damage right now–first he got hit in the eye with a toy at daycare, then he tripped running on the playground and landed on his face. At this point, he's got a black eye, half the skin on his nose is missing, and his forehead has a huge goose egg. I'm surprised no one's called Child Protective Services yet. I'm carrying around the Incident Reports from his daycare in my purse, just in case.
I think all kids are accident-prone–the Bee has near-constant bruises on her shins and knees–but the Potato seems to be a special case when it comes to death-defying behavior. I can't tell if it's gender or personality. He's much more physical than either his sister or his cousin–he was climbing up on stuff when she was barely walking. And he's the kind of kid who thinks it's fun to just jump up and down in the same place, over and over again. Sadly, he's most likely to do this in the bathtub.
I'm sure that, growing up, he'll become more coordinated. My suspicion is that he'll become some kind of athlete, because he's just so interested in pure physicality. But for now, I'm keeping the band-aids close, and 911 on speed dial.
And we're hiding the Desitin.