One year of BBSP

Today’s the one-year anniversary of this here blog. I’m a little stunned that I’ve made it this far. So of course, I’m doing what all good year-end wrap-ups do–I’m throwing a bunch of clips together on a page.

These are my favorite posts of the last year, in chronological order. Why 15? Why not? I originally set out to post 10, but I found 15 that I really liked, and I didn’t want to choose between them. But it could just as easily have been 20. Enjoy!

1. princess neck snap

2. kids and books

3. milli-Bee

4. 30 Days & Nellie Bly

5. teaching values through literature

6. big watee

7. reward & punishment

8. the persistence of memory through things

9. “I will not yield to a politic of despair”

10. grateful for small things

11. a difficult moment

12. the cult of personality

13. to sleep, perchance to dream

14. Blog Against Racism Day

15. another kid book recommendation

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January 31, 2006. random other things. 13 comments.

what’s your secret?

I’ve been reading Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel, and have just gotten to a long passage about the writer’s persona. One of Smiley’s points is that with living writers, you never meet them at the moment that they are writing in the persona that you fall in love with (or don’t, I guess). You might read their books out of order, sometimes years after they’ve moved on from being the person who wrote that book, and they can’t quite capture that exact persona again (or perhaps don’t want to). The real writer can never live up to the expectation that people have for her, and is constantly surprising people by having petty thoughts about the next door neighbor, or trying to remember to buy milk or diapers, and not thinking about the lofty ideals that she expresses in her work.

It made me think about the immediacy of blogging, and how I can read these blogs one day, and then meet the bloggers in person the next, and there still can be a disconnect between the person that I met and the person that I read. Okay, let’s be real here, what I actually thought about was, “I wonder what those women thought of me when they met me? Am I just a huge fraud on my blog, or do I have the same voice in real life? Is there a disconnect between what I write one day and the way I am the next?”

In some ways, it’s not a fair question. After all, the times that I’ve met other bloggers in person, we’ve both had our children with us, and nothing can keep you from having an honest and open conversation quite as well as mediating the toy-sharing of small kids. If I’d met these women for a drink, we’d have time to have a real conversation. Adding the complications of the kid playdate made that almost impossible.

I wonder, who were the first two people to meet in real life after they ‘met’ in print? The experience is not new to blogging, although blogging has ratcheted it up, I imagine. I was never the kind of person to have a pen pal, but people have had literary relationships with total strangers for years. The ability to have a print-only conversation has existed for centuries.

So what makes a total stranger, in such a world? If someone reads my blog everyday, they may know more about me than my co-workers do. That’s partly due to my weird work situation–it’s not like I’m sitting around in an office with a bunch of people that I hang out with in my off hours, exchanging life stories. All the same, my co-workers can’t be classified as total strangers. But can you? If I tell you that I spent the summer between my junior and senior years of college as an intern at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, ID, and that I spent the first week in Boise wandering around wondering where all the black people were, you know something about me that 90% of the people in my real life today will never know.

It’s not because I want to keep it a secret from them–it’s because they’ll never know to ask.

January 29, 2006. books for grown-ups, meta. 13 comments.

fo’

I’ll be gone for a few days with no blogging ability. See you next week!

Also, I was tagged by Megan with this meme. It’s the first meme of my new home. Treat it kindly.

Four Jobs I’ve Had in My Life:
1. word processor at a corporate law firm
2. waitress
3. office manager for a catering company
4. canvasser

Four Places I Have Lived:
1. New Brunswick, NJ
2. Oakland, CA
3. Boise, ID
4. San Diego, CA

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch:
1. Veronica Mars
2. Deadwood
3. Homicide: Life on the Street
4. The Wire

Places I Have Been on Vacation:
1. Catalina Island, CA
2. Rome, Italy
3. Paris, France
4. Seattle, WA

Four Websites I Visit Daily:
1. Metrodad
2. bloglines
3. Half-Changed World
4. 50 Books

Favorite Foods:
1 tuna pasta
2 Hershey’s kisses with caramel
3 popcorn
4 coffee (does it count as a food?)

Four Places I would rather be:
1. Venice, Italy
2. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
3. New York City, NY
4. Berkeley, CA

January 26, 2006. memes. 8 comments.

the big boy bed

This is a momentous day here in landisville. The Potato’s big boy bed is being delivered. As of tonight (crossing fingers), no one in our house will be sleeping in a crib anymore. I’m conflicted about it, of course, because while I want my kids to grow up, it’s another one of those ‘not my baby anymore’ moments.

Now, I have to admit that the bittersweet quality is tainted by the fact that we bought the friggin’ bed over Labor Day weekend. When we ordered it (and a desk for the Bee, that her grandmother was buying her for her birthday), they told us it could take up to 12 weeks for delivery. Needless to say, it’s been a bit beyond that. Happily, I’ve convinced the store owner that he really should cut us an enormous break on the price, given the fact that we’ve been so patient.

So we’ve kept our baby a baby a little while longer than we planned to. Of course, bedding junkie that I am, I bought a ton of sheets and blankets for the Potato months ago, and now they’re finally going to get put to good use. I didn’t think that the flannel sheets would be the first ones to go on his bed, but evidently, I was wrong.

The Bee is also excited about her ability to start doing her homework at her brand new desk, instead of at the kitchen table. Her grandmother bought her a bunch of homework supplies for her birthday (back when we still believed that this stuff would be delivered in 2005), and they’ve been hanging out forlornly in her bookcase ever since. When she comes home from school today, I’m sure that she’ll run up to check it out and put all her things away (finally!). I’m less sure that when it comes down to it, she’s going to want to do her homework there, since she usually wants to be near us when she comes home.

It’s these little rites of passage that get me. The Potato having a bed. The Bee sitting at a desk. They’re such wonderful kids, but it’s easy to forget that in the daily scrum of getting through the day, and so I really appreciate the chance to stop and think about how much they are learning and growing and doing every single day.

Now, I just have to hope that the truck actually shows up here…

January 25, 2006. growing up. 9 comments.

my creative daughter

First, thanks to all those who offered support after the Potato’s recent sickness. I took him to the doctor on Monday, and he had a nasty ear/sinus infection. He stayed home today and infected me too had a restful day, snoozing and watching cartoons. LD is working late tonight, and so the Potato and I went to pick the Bee up from school at the end of the day. She didn’t feel like doing her homework right away, so I asked her to play with her brother for ten minutes while I made dinner.

They both went off to her room. There was a bunch of giggling, and some thumping around. It lasted way longer than ten minutes. When they came back down, she showed me these.

Then, she went behind the couch and did a puppet show. I didn’t catch the whole plot, but it seemed to involve a girl named Erica who was from Mexico and spoke Spanish.

January 24, 2006. the cutest kids ever!. 4 comments.

1.0, meet 2.0

This will be my last post here at Bumblebee Sweet Potato, blogspot edition. I’m moving, as of tomorrow, to my new home, hosted by wordpress. From now on, you can find me here. For all those of you who are kind enough to blogroll me, I’m hoping you’ll take a few seconds to update your link–and if I’ve failed to include you in my new blogroll, give me a shout.

As of now, I’m planning to leave this version of the blog up as an archive somewhat indefinitely. WordPress is still in development on the importing-from-blogger-thing, and what I’ve realized over the last couple of weeks is that my interest in blogging stems from my interest in writing. Words. in English. not in my desire to learn HTML, which has confounded me. I think that for some of my favorite posts, at least, I’ll be using the old copy-and-paste method to bring them over.

So come on over to the new blog. Don’t mind the boxes–I’ll have them unpacked in another five years or so.

January 23, 2006. meta. Leave a comment.

Hope you found the place.

Were the directions okay?

January 23, 2006. random other things. 19 comments.

what, me worry?

The Potato was pretty sick last night, and I’m dragging today. He ran a high fever, and he wouldn’t go to sleep alone. I sat in the rocking chair in his room with him for an hour or so, and eventually let him fall asleep in our bed. The fever had broken by the time I fell asleep, but I didn’t want to move him. I know all parents hate it when their kids are sick, but I’m scared as hell of fevers.

The Bee was not quite three when she had her first febrile seizure. It was on a Sunday evening–the three of us had been at a wedding the night before, and she had been sort of tired and listless all that day, but mostly I chalked it up to a late night. We had taken her temperature earlier that evening, and she had a slight fever. She and landisdad were on the couch watching tv when he noticed that she was unconscious–I was at the other end of our family room. He ran to call 911, and after that I sent him down the street to knock on the door of our neighbor–a pediatric nurse–while I held her seizing body and thought, ‘she’s dying in front of me.’ She came out of it right before the paramedics showed up, and they stabilized her with some oxygen, and then we went to the ER. When they took her temp it was about 103–high, but not outrageous. I went in the ambulance with her, and landisdad followed us in the car. She was crying and disoriented the whole time. We got into the pedes ER, and since we clearly weren’t a real emergency, had to wait about an hour before being seen by a doctor. The whole time, we were listening to some kid screaming, and I was silently thankful that I wasn’t his mother, having to deal with whatever horrible accident had befallen him.

When the doctor finally came, she sent us off to get the Bee an MRI. She was so upset that they had to sedate her to make sure she would lie still for the procedure. She held my thumb as she fell asleep, and then they wheeled her off. She looked so small, lying in the machine…

Eventually, the doctor came and told us that the MRI was fine, she had no brain damage, and diagnosed it as a febrile seizure. She said that some small number of kids have a lower fever threshhold than most people, and that this might happen again, or it might not–and that the Bee would almost surely grow out of it when she was six or seven. She told us that we didn’t really need to go to the ER if it happened again, although it was up to us.

In the end, the Bee was also diagnosed with shigellosis, which made us the pariahs of her daycare for a little while (we had to keep her home for three weeks), and actually involved a quarantine from the Department of Health, which made me feel like a Dickens character. That was what had caused her fever (you gotta love it when your kid gets a highly contagious disease that’s known as ‘the American form of dysentary’. Oh yeah, and when you get it too.).

The second one happened about ten months later. In some ways, it was less scary than the first–at least we knew what was happening. Unlike the first time, she had actually been sick that day, so we weren’t totally surprised. But this time, she stopped breathing. And she started to turn blue. I held her (again) as landisdad dialed 911 (again) and ran to the neighbor’s (again) (and btw, I was so excited when the pedes nurse moved into the neighborhood, but the guy has literally never been home when we’ve had an emergency). And again, I thought, ‘I’m losing her.’ This time, I gave her mouth-to-mouth, and she started breathing almost as if she had forgotten how, and just needed a puff to remind her what to do.

The paramedics came (again), and we went to the hospital. I was about 7 months pregnant with the Potato, so that time LD rode in the ambulance. After it pulled away from the curb, I let myself hyperventilate for about 30 seconds before I dashed to the car to follow them. And (again) the doctor told us that we didn’t really have to come to the ER. I was very proud of myself for not saying, ‘Bitch, my kid turned blue! We’re coming to the hospital every single time that happens.’ We went home, no MRI this time, and we spoiled the Bee rotten.

And now every single time one of my kids has a fever, I wonder if it’s going to happen again. There’s no certainty that it ever will, but there’s no certainty that it won’t, either. Last night, I thought, ‘I wonder if I’ll still worry about this when she’s 16? or he’s 26?’ Because if there’s one thing I’ve come to realize about parenting, it’s that the worry never ends.

January 21, 2006. thoughtful parenting. 20 comments.

words on the page

I haven’t been posting much lately, because I’ve been spending my time trying to figure out how to re-do my template. For some reason, I can’t figure out how to make my comments appear in a new template, nor can I get my blogroll to work right. It seems like all the code is there, but it’s just not working. Frustrating, to say the least. I’m sure I’ll get it eventually, but I feel kind of stuck right now.

This post is going to be a little bit all over the map. I’m not that focused tonight.

On the kid front, it seems like the Potato is starting to catch up to the Bee in being a player in the sibling rivalry game. He’s in a very independent stage right now (our home reverberates with cries of ‘me do!’), and yet, somehow, if I’m sitting on the couch reading the Bee a story, he suddenly wants to sit in my lap, etc. We had a lovely playdate with LeggyP on Monday, but it was one of those every-kid-wants-to-do-different-things kind of playdates, which made adult conversation kind of hard. Landisdad came too, which made life easier–I always find it hard to chase two kids and concentrate on anything else.

Speaking of landisdad, his job situation seems to be shaking out in a positive direction–he has accepted a job that I’m hoping in the long run will make him happier. I’ve got a big project at work right now that is taking a bunch of my mental energy, too, and in fact I’ll have to be out of town for a couple of days next week.

So that’s about it for tonight. I have some other, more interesting posts that I’m mulling over, but they’re not quite ready yet. If you’re the kind of person who used to make mix tapes, head on over to visit Jim at Patriside. He’s got a great new Mixmania up, and he’s always spinning something funky.

January 18, 2006. random other things. 10 comments.

reading recommendation: Red Diapers

I was flipping through the Times magazine this morning, thinking that I was going to write a post about the cover story on the Living Wage movement*, and I went off on a mental tangent that led me to write this post instead. WorkingLife has a pretty good post up about it, if you are interested in the subject.

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking about the book Red Diapers a lot. “Red diaper babies” was the term of art for kids who grew up in the American communist movement from the 20s to the 50s and 60s. This book is a collection of memoirs of kids who were Red Diaper babies, including one of the most famous Red Diaper babies of all–the younger son of Julius & Ethel Rosenberg (identified in the book as Robert Meeropol–he and his brother were adopted and changed their last names to the name of their adoptive family).

I’ve been thinking about this book so much, because there’s been a lot in the news that’s helped me imagine what the lives of these children must have been like. The whole ‘the government is eavesdropping on people’ situation is one that would have been very familiar to the families that are involved in the book. Many of them were spied on by the FBI, some for having acted on what today would be considered to be fairly pedestrian political beliefs (ie–the belief that African Americans should be able to sit anywhere they wanted to on the bus).

After the tragic events of 9/11 there was a period where I believed that either landisdad or I would have to quit our job, in order to ensure that one parent was around to raise our daughter (the Potato was not yet born). I was terrified that, as part of our government’s response to the attacks, we would be giving up civil liberties left right and center, and that activists like me and LD would be spied on. It didn’t help that a European that I knew through AIDS activism was stopped at the border and refused entry to the country. Admittedly, one of the things that happened to me immediately post-9/11 was that I had a miscarriage, and I’m not going to deny that my hormonal levels were all over the place. But it now seems like I wasn’t that far off the mark, either. In the end, I decided that I needed to keep doing what I was doing, but we did make sure to establish a clear guardian for the Bee, in case that became necessary.

I wonder, sometimes, what my kids’ memories of life in our house will be like. Both of my kids attended more rallies in utero than most people do in their lives. They’ve been to organizing meetings practically since birth. I’m not trying to make it seem like they’re having some tremendously abnormal experience–I think that most kids who grow up in a household where both parents work are gonna get taken to work once in a while–it’s just that most kids don’t go to meetings where half of the meeting is spent talking about how to organize your own precinct to defeat an incumbent city councilman or something.

I think the thing I liked most about this book was the snapshot of what my kids’ experience might be. The editors (both Red Diaper babies themselves) didn’t try to paint a one-sided portrait of what it was like to grow up in a politically unpopular household. They got stories from people who loved it, people who hated it, and most importantly, people who were indifferent to it.

It may sound odd for me to compare myself to a Communist–after all, I’m not being excluded from employment, or forced to name the names of my co-conspirators because of the work that I do or my political beliefs. It sometimes seems like a valid comparison to me though, because I think that the left in this country has come so far centerward, that now the work that LD and I do is in the vanguard, rather than the center-left.

I’m sorry to say that I lent my copy of Red Diapers to someone a few years ago, and I can no longer remember who that was. I’d like to be able to read it again, but I’d also like my kids to have a chance to read it when they’re older.

*(Note, I’m linking to this on Sunday, when you can read the whole article online for free–not sure how long that will last, it might be archived already by Monday.)

January 15, 2006. books for grown-ups. 10 comments.

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