temporary parents

As the oldest child (and only girl) in my house, I was in constant competition with my younger brothers. Every time I managed to win some new privilege from my parents, I just made the path to that privilege easier for them, and I tasted that disappointment keenly.

What was the good of winning something new, if I couldn’t lord it over them for at least a year or two?

I grew up less than 20 miles from where my paternal grandparents lived. I remember vividly going to spend the night at their house during the weekends, starting when I was around 8 or 9. I can’t remember if my brothers got to go or not–they certainly didn’t stay there on weekends that I was there. My grandmother let me stay up later than my parents did–a lifelong insomniac, she was always glad for some company at 11:00 p.m.

We played countless rounds of Scrabble and she kicked the pants off me at gin rummy. I don’t think I won a game against her until I was at least 13. When I had my hardest times with my parents, I always had her. I ended up living with my grandparents for a summer when I was in high school, when I couldn’t stand to live with either of my parents, and I lived with my grandmother for about half a year after I got out of college (my grandfather had died by that point).

There are many, many reasons that I miss my grandmother, not the least of which is that she died before either of my children were born.

I really wish that my kids had the opportunity that I did, when I was young, to hang out with their grandparents. Unfortunately, the only set of grandparents that live near enough for that are the ones that we’re totally alienated from–my dad and his wife. The closest one is my MIL, but she’s a good 2 hours away by car.

I also really wish that we had some temporary parents that we could send the Bee off to for a day or so. She’s at the point where she really needs some more independence—and some more one-on-one attention—than either of us is able to give her. The closer we get to Election Day, the more landisdad is on the single-parent track, which is stressful for everyone involved. It would help to be able to ship her off to someone who has the time to play 16 consecutive games of Egyptian Ratscrew with her. She’d really benefit from having a parental figure who is less about authority, and more about just being interested in her, and paying attention to her, without her brother in the room.

How do you find people that you trust to spend time with your kids, if you don’t have family close?


September 28, 2008. thoughtful parenting. 6 comments.

remember to breathe

I got a massage today, and it was good.

Last spring, when landisdad asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that the best thing he could give me was a deep-tissue massage. Instead, he got me 6. Love that man.

Last week, I was on the road for five days, and came back to the crazy, whiny kids that only a cloudy, not very pleasant fall Sunday can produce. Last month, for the first time ever, I exceeded my office’s mileage reimbursement cap. In addition to that, I’ve got people calling me at literally all hours of the day and night to solve problems, some of which are actual problems, some of which are completely annoying and wastes of my time. All that driving, and whining, and annoying have added up to a masterpiece of back tension.

Tonight, after an hour on the massage table and a glass of red wine, I’m feeling pretty good though.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I just might get through this.

September 24, 2008. work. 1 comment.

so let me get this straight…

we can’t afford to pay for health care for people who live in this country—but we can afford a $1 trillion bailout of Wall Street?

Guess we know who matters in this country.

September 21, 2008. politically motivated. 5 comments.

what’s at stake?

Well, the freedom to join a union without intimidation, for one!

September 20, 2008. politically motivated. 1 comment.

satire is your friend

September 19, 2008. '08 election. 1 comment.

video of the day


September 18, 2008. '08 election. Leave a comment.

useful link of the day

Heh. Put your picture into Obama’s logo.


September 16, 2008. random other things. 2 comments.

the nudist on the late shift

The first time that I went to San Jose was in 1992, when the city was still mired in its big transition between the Cold War economy and the new IT economy. I remember commenting to a friend at the time that it reminded me of Poughkeepsie. It seemed very much like a rust belt city, with a practically abandoned downtown, and a circle of suburbs that frankly had no there there.

Over the course of the next 7 years, I had occasion to go to San Jose a lot, first as an organizer for the peace movement (sooooo much fun, talking to those guys like DFNS from Falling Down, who were losing their jobs right and left as the military industrial complex shed positions overnight), and later as someone who was doing electoral and other political organizing in the Valley. During that time, the area changed dramatically.

I just re-read Po Bronson’s Nudist on the Late Shift, a book I read when I was getting ready to leave the Valley in 1999, and I have to say, it’s stood the test of time.

While I never actually worked in the hi-tech industry, I spent a bunch of time in the early- to mid-90s with people who did. A good friend of mine, for example, once dated a woman who worked for Oracle. After they broke up, she put up a website denouncing him, and warning other women not to see him. That might not sound like a strange story today, but this happened in 1994–long before the advent of blogs, or LiveJournal, or any of the kinds of social networking that we have available to us now.

There was definitely a sense permeating the Bay Area at that time that anyone with half a brain could get hired by a high-tech company and make a killing. Friends of mine who had no computer training of any kind–other than that they were capable of operating a word-processing program–were snapped up by software and hardware firms alike. Some of them still work in related-industries–some of them got burned out and moved on to other things.

Bronson’s book gives a good look into the crazy, speculative culture that was Silicon Valley in the ’90s. It made me curious about what life is like there now, and whether there is an ongoing current of hopeful smart people, migrating to the shores of San Francisco to chase a mad dream of high-tech fortune.

September 15, 2008. books for grown-ups. Leave a comment.

best political sign ever

H/T to Wonkette for pointing out this excellent sign. I think of him as a cotton wearer, personally.

Earlier today, I was canvassing in my favorite battleground state when a 92-year-old woman told me, “I’m not voting for Obama.” When I asked her what issues were important to her in this election year, she said, “I’m worried that if he gets in, we’ll have trouble from the blacks.”

After I picked my jaw up from the floor, I talked to her a little bit about my kids, and how a major concern to me in this election was how we would ever get out of the war in Iraq, so that the war’s still not going on when my 5-year-old grew up, and that if my kids did manage to grow up in a war-free society, that there will still be a health care system left for them to enjoy. Then I blew her off.

I’m sure that woman would have talked to me, a nice middle-aged white woman at her door on a Saturday morning, for as long as I was willing to spend with her. I’m equally sure that if one of my black co-workers, who are just as middle-aged and nice, had come to her door, that she wouldn’t even have opened it.

But I don’t have time to spend moving a woman who’s been alive for twice as long as I have, off of her racist bullshit. I have to spend time finding people who will at least be coded in their racism. In the political organizing trade, we have a term for someone who will tell a total stranger, on first meeting them, that they won’t vote for someone because of the color of their skin (or their gender, or their religion, or their sexual orientation, or any other damn thing that has nothing to do with whether or not they’re qualified for the job).

We call them a 5.

And what do we know about 5s?

They are not persuadable voters. We don’t spend time with voters who are not persuadable, on either end of the spectrum. We don’t, because our business is to persuade people, not to beat our heads against a wall talking to people whose minds we will never change. (It’s also not our job to spend time chatting with our most fervent supporters about how the world is going to hell in a handbasket, and how smart we are for making the right choice, but it’s very tempting to do so.)

Our job is to find the undecided voter, and to persuade her.

It’s hard, when you are knocking on doors, to just walk away. The nature of anyone who is gregarious enough to do this work, is to engage, to connect, to interact with the person who’s opened their door to you. But sometimes, it’s just a big fat waste of time.

September 13, 2008. '08 election. Leave a comment.

political video of the day

I think that now that I’ve decided to post politically on my blog, there’s bound to be a lot more posting. And a lot more videos.

Plus, Matt Damon. Who can complain about that?

September 12, 2008. '08 election. 2 comments.

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