Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Men Are Weird

A friend of Baroy's is in town, someone he doesn't see very often. In fact, I don't know if they've seen each other in the ten years I've known Baroy. But they've talked, and I've heard stories about him. He's not a close friend--more a friend of Baroy's older brother--but a friend nonetheless.

Anyway, they had plans to pay golf today with another friend of theirs. Yesterday, it poured. Buckets. So this morning, we get a call from friend #2 saying that all the municipal courses have been closed due to flooding. So Baroy calls the friend in town, tells him that the golf game is off, says "Talk to you soon, bud," and hangs up.

I'm staring at him, openmouthed.

"Men are SO weird," I say.

"Why?" Baroy looks truly puzzled.

"Well, if that were my friend in town, and we hadn't seen each other in forever, and our golf game got canceled, we'd *make other plans to get together.* I mean, for us it would be about getting together. For you guys, it's actually about playing golf! That's weird."

"Nah. That's just men."

It reminded me of something happened a few months back, when a good friend of ours lost his job and was really, really down about it. I suggested to Baroy that instead of all four couples getting together that weekend, as we usually do, the three other men should take J out and get him drunk and let him vent if he needs to. Baroy looked at me like I'd grown another head.

"Hold on," he said. "You really think that he's going to feel BETTER if we take him out?"

"Uh, yeah. It's called friendship," I retorted.

"No, it's called pity. If it were me, I'd *hate* it if I was dragged out by people who obviously feel sorry for me. I'd be so embarrassed. And what do you think we'd do, anyway? Talk about how he feels about getting fired? That's what you women would do. That's NOT what guys would do. Let me handle it my way, would ya?"

And, for the record, he did. We all got together that night--four couples with a total of eight kids--and at some point or another all the guys ended up in the kitchen drinking, and Baroy was telling J about his experiences with the same company, and you could tell it was making J feel better. And when I asked Baroy how, exactly, that was different from my suggestion, he just looked at me. "Because it just happened. We didn't make a big deal about it and make him feel worse by making it into some kind of 'occasion.'"

Whatever. I just don't get men.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Pissed Off

I know it's a little, um, hypocritical to post a long rant about how stupid everyone in the world is for not thinking exactly the way I do just days after posting a long rant about how horrible it is the way we all judge one another, but...Whatever. Hypocrite, thy name is Tiny Coconut.

So here goes: What is WRONG with people? I have spent most of the past week or so with my mouth hanging open at how so many people can be just flat out WRONG about so many things. Yeah, I know, two sides to everything, everything's not black and white, the world is full of greys, blahblahblahblahblah. But, sometimes? Not grey. Not even two sides. Just one side. Only one.

Only one side: Religion, when used as a political force, is bad. Evil. As are the people who use it.

Yeah, I know. But I believe that with all my heart. I'm the daughter and granddaugher of Holocaust survivors, and the great-granddaughter of Holocaust victims who I never had the chance to meet. I know whereof I speak. As my father always said, when he explained why we never received any training in Judaism or even set foot in a temple, "Religion is simply one man's reason to hate another man."

And so now I look around in bewilderment and think: How is it even conceivable that anyone could care what the sexes are of people getting married? How could it possibly ever make even the teensiest bit of difference to you, Mr. or Mrs. Whoeverthefuckyouare? Forget the whole question of whether or not your religious beliefs should be shoved down the throats of everyone else, because clearly, if you're standing out there exhorting people to stop those gays from marrying in the name of Jesus, you don't care what I think. You actually believe (and here I must chuckle grimly) that what you believe is what I should believe. Actually, you believe that what you believe is what I should be LEGALLY BOUND to believe. Well, you can blow me. How's that for a classy, intellectual argument?

But let's assume that it's OK for you to shove your beliefs down my throat. How can those beliefs--those much-touted Christian ethics of love and acceptance and do unto others, the mere phrasing of which (Christian ethics) I find unutterably obnoxious, implying as it does that no other religion has those exact same set of ethics--how can they possibly explain being so hateful and unaccepting? How can they explain doing unto the gays what you would fight tooth and nail against having done to you?

I don't know. I literally and absolutely can't fathom how anyone can feel hatred towards gay people in their heart and still consider themselves a good person. And I literally and absolutely can't fathom how anyone who would deny them equal protection *under the law* (i.e., not in your church, where you're free to do what you want, but in the public sector) doesn't think they hate gays.

I'm just in a rage today about all of this. A constitutional amendment. From the same people who fought and would still fight tooth and nail against an ERA. A constitutional amendment to say that you, sirs and madams, are not as good as us. You do not have have the same rights as the rest of us. You aren't worthy. But, no, we don't hate you. We're Christians. We love everyone.

To end this rant in which I've no doubt alienated several of you, I give you an entry from the Greatest Hits of Em, another "out of the mouths of babes" moment.

This was a year or so ago. Em and Baroy had gone over to M and G's house. I've written about them before; they are, indeed, a committed gay couple who by all rights should have been married years ago. Em was in their bedroom, and saw a picture of M and G surrounded by G's family, all dressed up. (It's a picture that was taken at G's grandma's 90th birthday party.)

"Is this your wedding picture?" Em asked M.

"No, honey, it's not," M replied.

"Where is your wedding picture?" Em asked.

"We don't have a wedding picture, Em. Uncle G and I aren't married."

Em considered this for a moment, her brow furrowed. "But you live together! How can you live together without being married?"

M and Baroy laughed for about a month over that one. It was, indeed, the perfect combination of liberal acceptance and puritanical outrage I've ever heard of. And it's one of my all-time favorite stories about how cool my kid is.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Too Much Information

This is what I did this week at work: Wrote a press release about a genetically engineered mouse who pen*s is bigger than that of other mice. Prior to writing about it, I sat in the scientist's office and looked at photographs--color photographs--to back up the assertion. Yep, this is what it's come to. I write about rodent d*ck contests. I look at mousey p*rn.

More 'fun' things about this mouse? It has hair growing out of the "palms" of its tiny feet. Yeah, there's a joke in there somewhere, but I'm just not up for it right now. I have to go scrub out the inside of my eyeballs.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Judge and Jury

One of the things I will never understand, no matter how old and wizened I get, is why it is that we parents, we people, so often rush to judge one another on the ways in which we conduct our lives.

I'm thinking about parenting in particular. It ought to be a personal thing, a thing where you make decisions based on your own personal parenting goals, and that's that. But it's not. It is very much not. Parenting has become like religion, with sects and people rushing about trying to convert one another from one point of view to another, as if a competing parenting theory--much less a competing theory that actually works--somehow threatens your own theory, your own parenting. I'm as guilty of it as the next mom, guilty of internally raising an eyebrow when I see a parent with a dirty wailing child, despite the frequency with which I am accompanied by one of the same. I'm guilty of making snide little comments to like-minded friends when I encounter a not-like-minded mother. I'm guilty of trying to convince people to do like I do--public school versus private, daycare or no, city living versus suburbs--even when they're obviously comfortable in their choices.

I remember writing a letter a long time ago in response to an online parenting column in which a homeschooling mom detailed all the wonderful things she was able to do with her kids, but was also unable to resist taking multiple pot shots at the parents of kids who are sent to schools, warehoused, as some people call it, which in itself is an unbearably offensive and downright meanspirited turn of phrase. It so infuriated me--infuriates me still--when I hear some parent justify their choices by denigrating mine. What's to be gained by that? I love hearing about choices other people make, and considering whether they might fit into my life...but I'm so immediately turned off when those choices come with a rush to judgement about people who choose differently. And yet, I'm guilty as charged, myself. Not all the time, but definitely sometimes. And I just don't understand why we do this to each other. I don't understand why I so often hear moms talking about how they need to find "people like me" to hang out with. Diversity is good. Different people means different opinions means opening your mind to different ideas. It means learning. And yet, I look at my closest friends, and they are indeed like me, in the ways that count to me--in general parenting philosophy, in level of intelligence, in the sorts of professions they pursue.

The funny part is the reason I've been stewing about this so much lately. It's because of my rabbits. Yep, you heard me right. Over the past six months, we've acquired two rabbits, Zaboo and Pumpkin. And because I didn't know thing one about caring for bunnies, I joined up with an email group so that I can get expert advice, something that I've found invaluable many times in the past. Well, there's plenty of experts, and plenty of advice in that group. I've learned a lot about caring for rabbits and how they're different from other animals and what I can do to keep them healthy and happy. But I've also experienced a level of judgement that is almost insufferable. Every time I post, every time I read the mail that comes out of that group, there's someone saying that the way I do things is wrong. Not just wrong, but abusive. Because I put them in a cage at night, because I sometimes keep them outside (in Southern California, folks, in the summer...you know, when it's cooler outside than in), because I actually let them run around in my backyard (something that makes both of them literally jump for joy), I'm not fit as a bunny mom. Because I dare to have young children in my home who might, you know, touch the bunnies and god only knows what else. And they let me know how unfit I am in no uncertain terms. Every month, the various rescues post lists of bunnies that they need homes for, and beg for people to step up and take in a bunny or two to save them from possible euthanasia. But then they'll talk about how they wouldn't adopt out to a home with children, or one where the bunnies are let outside, or whatever. Because, obviously, they're better off dead than in my house filled with love and warmth and care.

So I've been getting my back up, and corresponding with a couple of other people from the list who feel the way I do but are perhaps less verbal about it. And it made me realize how hurtful this thing we do to each other is, this thing we parents--of whatever species--insist on perpetuating as we go along. We live in these glass houses, lobbing stones without a thought for what good having shards of broken glass all around us will do. Wouldn't it be better just to open up the windows and let some fresh air in? Why can't we do that? Why does that feel so threatening?

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Out of the Mouths of Preternaturally Precocious Children

(aka, Conversations with E, Age 6)

E: What are we doing tomorrow, Mommy?
TC: Well, I have to go to my office and work, but Daddy's going to work out at the gym in the morning, so I'll hang out with you guys for a while and we'll find something fun to do. OK?
E: Yeah. That sounds reasonable.

I picked a huge basket full of lemons--we have two very productive trees in the backyard, and if we don't do something with the lemons soon, they're all going to get overripe. So I set E up with the electric juicer, cut all the lemons in half, and told her to have at it.
TC: Now, Em, if this is too much for you, don't worry about it. Just do as much as you can.
E: Nah. I'm going to do all of it. I need a good challenge in my life right now.

Baroy picked up E from aftercare the other day. He then sent me the following email:

"Okay - so I'm driving Emmy home from after-school care and as we're heading up the hill towards our house. I pointed out to her how pretty the foothills looked with the sun setting and she says to me, 'It is pretty. It looks like an artist shaded the dark places and made the other places light. Just like that artist...oh, it isn't Matisse. Who is that artist, Daddy?'

Who the hell am I raising?"

[FWIW, she was referring to Georgia O'Keefe. They have this Meet the Masters program at school, and they learned about O'Keefe a few months back, and they did apparently talk about shading and 3-dimensional painting, etc.]

#4: Just so N doesn't get left out of this...

I decided to start N at one of those Little Gym places that just opened up in our neighborhood. He doesn't separate well (actually, he didn't leave my side throughout the entire trial lesson, but we're going to give it another shot), so I tried preparing him ahead of time. I kept telling him about the fun gym we were going to go to, and about all the equipment, and all the children, and the nice teachers. Friday, we were driving home from daycare, and I mentioned it to him again:

TC: Hey, N, are you excited about going to Little Gym with just mommy tomorrow?
N: NO!
TC: You're not excited?
N: No Leelul Gym! I go Big, Big Gym!

And, indeed, that is now what both he and I refer to it as: The Big Big Gym. Actually, it's a better name than Little Gym, if you ask me...

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Running Away

I ran two miles this morning after dropping E off at school. I probably could have gone a little further, but I had to get back home to do an interview for the book. Then, this evening, E had a swim lesson at the Y. I usually run on the treadmill during her swim lessons, but I hate the treadmill so much, and besides, I'd already had my run for the day; I decided instead that I would just do the elliptical trainer for a while. Except the elliptical trainers were all taken, and the treadmills were wide open. So I stretched, got on the treadmill, and daydreamed away another two miles. Again, I could have gone longer, but there's a 25-minute time limit on the treadmill, and while I can run, I'm not what anybody would call fast.

It's so sad that no one reading this really knows me from my previous life, because--slowness aside--this is just incredible. And insane. And...incredible. I ran twice in one day, for a total of four miles. And I did it, not effortlessly, but as a diversion from the stress of the rest of my day, and as a pick-me-up. I did it without really having to stop and catch my breath either time. In fact, both times I could have gone longer, were it not for time constraints. Incredible. And, yeah, just a wee bit obsessive. Which is the part that is NOT out of character.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Random Acts of Food Violence

When i was pregnant with E, Baroy and I went out one night for dinner at a really yummy Italian place that was walking distance from our house. It was late spring, early summer, and after eating lots of garlicky food, we started to meander home. We got to our block, and as we were walking down the street, a carload full of teenaged boys comes by, music blasting, raucous laughter streaming out of the open windows. And then, without warning, something comes flying out of the window and hits me right in the face. More laughter, and the car speeds away.

I stop, stunned, and then suddenly, my eyes start to burn violently. "Oh my god, oh my god!" I yell. "Acid! I think they threw acid at me!" In that milisecond I imagine myself permanently scarred, blind, never able to see my child. I'm terrified.

Baroy is doing one of those trying-to-run-after-the-car while at the same time trying-to-make-sure-I'm-OK things, but finally he just returns to my side...and starts to laugh. At the exact same second, I realize I'm smelling something very familiar, very...taco saucy. I wipe my eyes with my hands, then sniff, then taste. Yep. Just as I suspected. Medium salsa from the Del Taco down the street. I look down. Shards of burrito all over the sidewalk.

It was official. I'd been the victim of a drive-by burritoing.

Friday, February 06, 2004

1/4 Down, 3/4 To Go

Phew. Well THAT was one of the more hellacious 48 hours of my life. But I finished the last of the four-chapters-plus-an-appendix that I was supposed to give them. I hit send at 3:15 this morning, but hey. I hit send. For right now, that's all that matters.

Lest you think I'm now going to sit back and rest on my laurels, au contraire my probably young friend. Five more "elements" (either five chapters or, more likely, four and another appendix) are due on February 23rd, just over two weeks from now. Whee! Yeah, this is fun. Or hell. I always get the two confused.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

That Sinking Feeling

Have you ever actually watched yourself "go under" emotionally? It's a fascinating process. And yes, I say that with the requisite amount of icy sarcasm.

I'm battling so many demons right now, I literally don't understand how it is that I'm functioning. There's the fear of failure, as I continue to not be able to meet deadlines I've agreed to on this book. (There are good, really good, reasons why I can't meet them, but I did say that I would, and therefore I should. But I'm not. Bleh.) There's the fear of being found out to not be nearly as good a writer as everybody thinks I am, which is feeding into the fear of failure thing, because it's making me be more cautious and thus slower while writing. Caution is not necessarily a good thing; there are parts of the book that I've written that I know are just too stilted or too wordy or just bad. Other parts I actually think are OK, even good in a spot or two. I just wish it could all be good.

Then there's the aforementioned resentment of having to work still. I know why this is popping up now--if I were a stay at home mom, I'd be able to work on the book without also having to juggle a 32-hour-a-week job as well as try to make sure my kids see me often enough that they might be able to recognize me in a lineup. Plus, suddenly it seems like all these people are suddenly leaving their jobs to stay home, like my friend ME from my office, and Jane over at www.plain-jane.com. (Yeah, I know. I somehow managed to link Natalie the other day, but now I'm at my office and using a different browser, and I can't do it on this browser. So sue me.) And I'm so jealous, in a sort of ugly-jealousy way, that I could just spit. Because I've finally realized. 'Taint ever gonna happen for me. Not ever. Doesn't that suck? Don't I have a right to feel bad about that?

So there's all that stuff. Plus more, like lingering issues about our not-so-friendly thank-goodness-not-in-the-neighborhood stalker. Which, of course, have chosen now to resurface, because really, I don't have enough on my plate.

So, to review: Stress, fear, anxiety, anger, resentment, depression. Maybe a little paranoia. Maybe a lot of paranoia. Have I covered all the bases? Oh, right. And hypochondria. Why I thought I could write a book on bipolar disorder without diagnosing myself is beyond me. (I am, in case you're wondering, cyclothymic, edging toward bipolar II these days. At least that's what I say I am.) But no delusions. That's good, isn't it?

Right now, my heart's pounding and my hands are cold and shaking, and I'm feeling awfully nauseated. And yes, I remembered to take my Zoloft. But really, Zoloft's good, but it's not that good. I don't think there's a pill out there right now that's going to buoy me. I'm going to have to do that myself. But damn. Just not feeling up to it, you know?

And so I'm watching, and I'm sinking, and I'm commenting on it. I'm talking about it at work, at home. You'd think if you can talk about it, if you can recognize it, you can stop it. I had never realized until the most recent Amy encounter, a good nine months ago now, that that's not true. You don't have to be in denial to be unable to help yourself. You can be totally aware, just watching yourself desperately tread water as the undertow pulls you down, and you can't even throw yourself a life preserver.

[OK, I need to step back a second here. Is that the single most self-pitying and pathetic paragraph any of you has ever read? I, personally, am voting yes. Oh, and among the top ten most overly dramatic as well. Yeah, it's how I feel...right this second. But trust me, I'm not really in that bad a way in a more global sense, I don't think. Just in case any of you were thinking about calling a suicide prevention hotline on my behalf.]

So whose brilliant idea was it that I write a book about mental illness? A book on a tight deadline, with all the stress that brings? A book that was obviously going to dredge up all my issues with my father at one point or another? Oh. Yeah. That would be me. Nevermind.

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