Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Lush Life

Life is good.

Theo is hilarious and exhausting. He spent the evening dragging his wheeled suitcase around the house, whispering “I am searching for sick animals. I will help them.” Then he bossed us around and had a time out for arguing about bedtime (again) and told me he wanted to rub noses with me before going to sleep. He says he wants to be an Expert for Halloween.

I am watching this season of Dancing with the Stars but I’m not particularly intrigued by any of the contestants. I can’t allow myself to root for Rick Fox because I think he’s slimy but then again he’s sort of charming. I don’t understand why Tom Bergeron hasn’t won an Emmy. I think he’s a genius. I still miss Gilles.

There are a few reasons I haven’t been writing here much. Since moving back from Germany I’ve gradually become more private. Theo is getting older and becoming more of a person with friends and opinions and stuff he might not want splashed all over the internet. I have a great job that I love, and I’m not sure I want them to know all my Stuff just yet.

But I’ve missed writing and I’ve missed being part of the internet dialogue. So I am thrilled and delighted to be joining the writing team for Style Lush. I can’t wait to share my favorite stuff and my shopping dilemmas over there. I hope you’ll join me.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rudely Interrupted

The stories of bad manners over at Jonniker's post are apt to curl your hair. Rudeness abounds, apparently, particularly among our families-in-law and surrounding special occasions. The combination of the two - weddings! - is a powder keg, especially because it involves gift-giving and catering and lots and lots of money. Soliciting gifts! Proffering laxatives to encourage weight loss! Holocaust references! Reading those comments should have made me feel superior, right? I write thank-you notes. I get along with my mother-in-law. I strive not to tell people they look like concentration camp survivors. But as I read, I began to cringe. Because some of those stories could have been written about me.

-Before I had a kid, breastfeeding kind if icked me out, and I expressed disdain for the idea of nursing past a certain age.
-I once called a bride and asked if I could bring a date to her wedding, even though the invitation was addressed only to me.
-I did not make an effort to greet all the guests at my own wedding reception.
-I've made comments to a friend, favorably comparing the size of my home with the size of her smaller home.
-I've straight-out asked people about their ethnic backgrounds.

RUDE, RUDE, RUDE. I'll admit it. I do strive toward good manners, but sometimes I fail. And all of the incidents above have context that might make them sound slightly less horrifying, but they probably really bothered someone who was around when they happened, maybe even the people involved, probably people who I love and would never want to offend. They all involve situations that make me uncomfortable. And so I avoid them (see: wedding reception) or over-compensate by trying to justify them (see: house conversation, breastfeeding conversation) or just plow ahead with the discussion, searching for a bright light and a point that everyone can agree upon. Never mind that I may have shocked everyone in the room.

I am not easily offended. I like to talk about what's really going on, what I'm really thinking. I want to hear what you're really thinking. Most of the time, unless it's way over the top or a repeated problem (a family friend who never fails to make a sexist remark to me each time I see him comes to mind), I see rudeness as either a manifestation of nerves, a colorful personality, or laughable idiocy. I try not to take it personally. But I've finally learned that most people don't really feel like that. (Well, except the Germans. And maybe the Dutch.) (See? Now I've offended some people. But probably not anyone who is really German or Dutch.)

And I find it all a bit exhausting. Hurt feelings are one thing - I do my best, and sometimes fail, not to be insensitive. But taking a circuitous route to asking a question or sharing an opinion just because culture dictates it annoys me. If a good friend who is known to be a bit spacey invites me to her wedding and doesn't put my fiance' on the invitation, I'm going to quietly ask if she would mind if he comes. (She said yes. She just forgot to put "and guest" on the envelope. Wouldn't it have been a bummer if I'd gotten angry and felt slighted because of her perceived rudeness in excluding my date? Then again, maybe she still can't believe I called and asked if he could come. I'll never know.) If I have questions about nursing and how it feels and wonder why someone would want to extend it into toddlerhood, I'm going to ask, hopefully of someone who will answer me honestly and confidently, but I don't know, sometimes I misjudge my audience. However, if living abroad taught me one thing, it's that behavior is judged on a continuum. There are few objective standards of right and wrong, rude and polite, cruel and kind.

I'm sure I've horrified some of you with my behavior. But I'll bet you have some confessions too. Here's your chance. Any rudeness you'd like to share?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010


We spent last week in Los Angeles. Our vacation was well timed, taking into account the early summer doldrums of cloudy/rainy Oregon, the end of a busy work period, and the cabin fever that I begin to experience when my little nuclear family hasn't been out of town together in almost a year.

Three days of Disneyland took it out of us. We ate breakfast with Minnie, we rode the Dumbos, we squealed at and got splashed by the pirates. There were churros and mouse ears and light sabers and more rides on the Buzz Lightyear AstroBlasters than the recommended daily allowance. After finally extricating ourselves from the Pixar Play Parade on the last day, we were undecided about what to with the rest of our time in the sunshine. San Diego with LegoLand and spectacular zoos almost won the day. But, in the ended we decided to stick around Los Angeles and see what we could see.

I love getting to know new cities. My ideal urban vacation begins with spending the first day traveling from one end of the city to another, absorbing the neighborhoods and snacking at the cool bakeries and eating street food and riding public transportation. I follow that up with a boutique and bookstore shopping day and a museum day punctuated with stops at restaurants I've read about in advance. I like to stay in a downtown hotel with a groovy bar in the lobby and a doorman.

Even pre-parenthood, my southern California experiences had been the opposite of that scenario. I'd either gone straight from airport to Disney to Knotts Berry Farm to airport, or I'd ridden around wearing a suit in the back of a rental car with a bunch of coworkers with a projector on my lap, traveling from conference hotel to conference hotel. I began to wonder if that image of LA as a wasteland of air conditioned malls and backed-up freeways were true. But in the end, I refused to believe it.

So our L.A. vacation landed somewhere in between a shoe-shopping, wine-swilling poolside retreat, and a traffic-bound dash from complimentary breakfast to theme park and back. We ate some great meals, including a magical Mexican dinner at Border Grill in Santa Monica. Jeff and I traded off sprawling on the sunny lawn watching Theo run barefoot across the grass and taking in the collection at the Getty Museum (a place I'd vaguely head of before, but one that is a must-see, especially if you like spectacular views and cool architecure or gardens). There was no bar in our hotel, but we had air conditioning and Froot Loops at the complimentary breakfast. We drove around Hollywood and Bel Air and Beverly Hills while Theo slept in his car seat. We went to the beach.

We had a great vacation. But it's good to be back.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Winner!

Our Oscar Pool winner is...

KENDRA with 17 correct picks out of 24. As she pointed out in comments, she came in near the bottom of the pack last year, so if you feel like you suck at this, never fear, a comeback could be nigh!

The final results:
Kendra - 17
Sandi - 15
Jeff - 13
Jennifer - 13
Gerry - 13
Daniela - 12
Kerri W - 12
Jennie - 12
Tom - 12
Monique - 11
Kristen - 10
Cody - 10
Britten - 10
Amy - 10
Dan - 9
Hollie - 9
Kathryn - 8
Anna - 8
Erin - 8
Emily - 8
Kerri Anne - 8
Kerri B - 7
Francie - 7
Erica - 6

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oscar Post V

If there's anything that could bring me back from the blogging grave, it's the Oscars.

Enter the pool here!

Of course, there will be prizes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Best of

This month, I'm going to write about my best moments of 2009. It was quite a year.

Best Trip:

Our life was all about travel for so long, we'd become experts at hotel sleeping and bag packing and hellos and goodbyes. So when we moved back to Portland, we plunked down our suitcases, heaved a sigh of relief, and pledged to settle down for a while. We took a couple of weekend trips and a quick Vegas getaway, but there wasn't much glamor to speak of - nothing compared with Easter in Spain, or a villa in Tuscany, or an accidental trip to Hong Kong.

Whatever my twentieth high school class reunion lacked in glamor, however, it made up for in genuine fun and good will and laughter. It reminded me who I am and how I got here and made me proud of the people I started with, and who know me in a way that no one else does. (They also lived through the bad hair years with me. Never fear, you'll get to see more of that this month too.)