Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday at my parents' table I gave thanks for family and friends and safety and health and Hope and Change, but today is a different kind of day. Today I need to give another round of thanks to the Black Friday sales and to Lo, who thought of me when she ventured out into them, and to Am@rican Expr@ss, which has kept on sending me a card every year even though I stopped using it years ago after I paid the damn thing off. A new computer is coming my way, and I think once I figure in savings on shipping and having a brand-new warranty, it's going to cost me less than the rebuild would have.

Yesterday's thanks were more important, no doubt about it. But today's are nothing to sneer at.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Because life has its charming ups and downs

The breathing study was, on the one hand, a success in that my breathing appeared completely fine, but on the other hand, a dud, in that when people with asthma are in between flareups their breathing is completely fine. So nothing was ruled out or in.

And my dog spilled water all over my computer yesterday morning. The computer you say?...ah. Toast. The computer is toast: this is the word from the folks at the Apple store. It's going to cost an arm to rebuild it and a leg to recover the pictures, and another leg if I decide to get everything off the hard drive.

If I don't start backing everything up maniacally when this is all over, youall have permission to shoot me.

Meanwhile, posting is going to be pretty patchy--no computer at home, and all.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Store Birthday to Me, sort of

The store opened on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 2005. It was a crazy process, and a long one, and it is not ideal for someone with seasonal affective disorder to be starting a major venture at the exact same time of year, to the week, when her biochemistry takes its annual nosedive.*

But that is what I did, not quite intentionally, but the retail season being what it is, the Saturday before Thanksgiving was the absolute last day I could tolerate opening--in the give and take between me and the contractors, therefore, the Saturday before Thanksgiving was the point past which I would not let deadlines be pushed. There were electricians installing track lighting in the morning, but at noon we opened our doors.

The first birthday felt like a huge accomplishment, and for different reasons so did the second. Last year at this time I was astonished that things were obviously improving. I'd gotten myself into a serious hole and it seemed like I was getting out of it. There were setbacks, but that was largely true. This year, there's still more climbing to do to get out of the hole, but we will emerge. Only it's a little harder to see where we're going after that. The economy is hard. Not horrible around here, actually: houses still sell, and most folks around here are relatively recession-insulated. There's no big company that's about to leave town, and in my case, my customers are the kind who see books as a necessity more than a luxury. But we're still feeling it. We were especially feeling it before the election, but even with the election over and people's moods turning around, it's still hard to see the kinds of steep gains in sales that would make me feel better about the store's long-term health.

I just feel mired. I know that a lot of this is about the time of year, as well as the economy. But I am having a hard time getting things done, as always, and a hard time feeling happy about the things I do get done, which is not always true. It's my bad time of year: mid-November to the end of March or early April.

I'm trying to keep it front and center that depression means that things that would give me a sense of accomplishment, a sense of "hey, I got that done!," don't. They just don't. Instead, this time of year each thing I do just seems to clear the way for the next thing to come at me and make me start the getting-things-done process all over again from the beginning. Sometimes I hang onto tasks I could finish easily as a kind of shield, or I leave little pieces of disorganization in place as a way to slow down the production line a little so it's moving at a pace I can handle emotionally, even if practically speaking I could easily be moving a lot faster. I'm capable of being more effective, but I'm not capable of feeling more effective, so I bring down my level of competence to the place where I can handle it.

This morning, I got change from the credit union, and I got the cake for the weekend's celebration. It was two trips when it could have been one, and both of those stops were places I have been on errands in the last two days and I could easily have gotten what I needed then if I'd made a list and been planful, but sloppiness is more where I'm at. I'll go over just to be around some now, and tomorrow, too. But I don't really want to be part of festivities I can't feel.

It's depressing.

*Kind of like what it's doing this week, right on schedule. It's the annual kablooey! of my sense of pleasure and ability to connect to the world. A. and Phantom are both on me to use my lightbox, and I am, and it's helping a lot, but the other major piece of routine that lets me stay on top of my depression instead of going under it is exercise, and there I am not doing well. The bottom has fallen out of my swim schedule because of what I suspect (after prompting from Phantom) is going to turn out to be cough-variant asthma, though I don't have a diagnosis yet. I have a breathing study on Tuesday, in the slot when I would have been swimming, and the name of a pulmonologist to consult. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In case you thought we were done with them

Z.: Will you tell me a bee story?

A.: I'm too tired for bee stories tonight. Maybe Mama will tell you one.

S.: Well, once there were two bees--

Z.: No, not DAT one!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't tell Z.

Pirates stole an oil tanker off the coast of Kenya.

I'm just wondering what kind of an operation you would need to dispose of two million barrels of crude.

Saturday, November 15, 2008



That's her pirate sweater. In case you couldn't tell.

Friday, November 14, 2008


So, Z.'s favorite thing about morning playtime is dress-up. She makes a beeline to the dress-up cubbies when she walks in every morning, and she squeezes herself into a pink tutu that is more than two sizes too small for her, because it is all pink tulle and sparkles. There is a pale, pale blue nighty of many flimsy layers. There is a red-violet velour dress with little silver hearts instead of polka-dots. There is a green floral smock. There is a row of purses, on hooks. There is one floppy hat.

And there is a basket of plastic, high-heeled mules, sized for preschoolers.

Dress-up has been bothering my inner feminist zealot for months now (c'mon, you know you all have one). Granted, these are discarded real fancy clothes, and there are no Disney logos, but there is also no boy-gendered dress-up, or even any non-frilly dress-up. I know that our children are geniuses of invention, but the costumes don't offer any obvious path for role-playing--no pirates or doctors or witches or firefighters or cooks or cowboys. There is the opportunity for fabulousness, and I'm not knocking that. Fabulousness is fun. But fabulousness all by itself is not very interesting. Do you keep telling stories about tea parties, and ladies who lunch?

And the shoes. The shoes. The shoes.

They drive me fucking nuts.

But I never said anything, because somehow, I had this idea that Z. wasn't wearing them. I dunno why I thought that. Of course she was wearing them; this is Z. we are talking about. Today I saw her putting them on as I was putting her lunchbox away. I went over to give her my goodbye hug and kiss, and I talked to her about how those shoes weren't good for walking, and weren't comfortable, and weren't good for her feet or her legs.

And then I asked the teacher if any other parents had said anything about the shoes. She said no, and the shoes had just come with the room, and she'd never given them much thought, except to tell the girls they could only wear them on the rug because otherwise they fall too much. (They fall too much!!! Of course they do, they are three-year-olds in HIGH HEELS!!!) And then I told the teacher (who dresses like an old school dyke, even though she is not one) that it would make me happy if the shoes were phased out.

And the teacher was totally fine with it.

So now I think we are honor-bound to buy some good pretend-play costumes for the classroom. Z. is thinking pirates.

Pirate captains.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm going to try to be there

Fight the H8 in Your State

I'm single-parenting on Saturday, and 1:30 is prime naptime. But this is important, and it's probably time for Z.'s first protest, don'tcha think? Assuming she's not dissolved into a puddle, anyway.

What I was saying about that bluest-part-of-a-blue-state thing

My ward voted 97% for Obama.

Actually, more than 97%.

Here are the numbers:

Obama: 12,604
McCain: 314
Nader: 20
Barr: 14
Write-in: 8

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Because if it's not about the election it's about my kid

My first! ever! RBOC post! It must be November!

  • So, I got Z. an Obama/Phillies baseball shirt, too, only hers is an adult medium (so is yours, Mom!), which was the smallest they had. Until such time--if ever--as she grows into it, or gets bored with it, she's using it as a pillowcase by night, and a cape by day.
  • Also, she had her flu shot yesterday, only it was a puff up the nose. She did great. I should probably get one, too.
  • Her class is doing an "All About Me" unit, where they look at who has what color eyes and has how many people in their family and which pets and all of that. Thus, I know that she has brown hair and brown eyes, three people in her family, one dog, and is now 43" tall. That makes her too tall to ride for free on SEPTA and big enough for many many rides at Sesame Place that she couldn't go on last summer.
  • This makes me feel better about having moved her into a booster seat last week. Once she started wearing her winter coat in the mornings, the carseat straps got uncomfortable for her and there was no more strap to pull, but she looks so, I dunno, untethered in the booster.
  • She learned "God Bless America" to sing at the Phillies parade at her preschool last week. Two weeks ago? Whenever that was, with the World Series and all. She thinks it's a swell song to sing for Obama. She's singing it all the time. I wish she knew more verses, if it even has more verses. It's getting old.
  • Barack Hussein Obama is gonna be our next president. How about that?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Does this brain still work?

I have coped with the past several anxious weeks by never slowing down long enough to really let my emotions catch up with me.

Pennsylvania was, until last night, the reddest of the blue states, and I live in the bluest part of it. Really, even in my strongly Democratic city, my neighborhood votes way to the left in primaries. I am used to electoral disappointment. I expect it.

When there was talk in the last week or two that Pennsylvania might still be in play after all, that without it McCain really had no shot at the electoral college, this election felt like Philadelphia against John McCain. My northeastern, largely African-American, heavily Democratic, underfunded, insurance-assaulted, university-dominated city, standing against the cynicism, vote manipulation, lies and disdain of a party that had no idea what kind of groundswell they were facing. Community organizers, my ass.

But I was worried. I was still really crazy worried that I hadn't done enough.

I know I have a lot of magical thinking about my participation in politics. I canvassed for nuclear disarmament the summers of 1988 and 1989, and you know that was why the Soviet bloc crumbled and the Berlin wall fell. In 1994 I failed to switch my registration to Pennsylvania in time and didn't bother with the absentee ballot in DC, and the Republicans swept both houses.

But what else can you expect from a lesbian born and raised in a disenfranchised city, within a mile of the Capitol? I expect to be left out and powerless, and I expect that my feet moving on the treadmill of the political process is the only thing that keeps this country from moving backwards faster. I think a lot of lefties in this country feel that way, though, and there are a lot of lefties in my neighborhood.

When they called Pennsylvania last night, I shrieked loud enough to make A. think I was hurt. When they called Pennsylvania, I finally believed Obama would win. Not just could, but would. This morning, Z. and I were ready to go more than an hour before we had to be anywhere, and I wanted to celebrate, so we did something we've never done before and went to the cafe for breakfast. Everyone there was saying "We did it!" No one said "He won." I started asking, and my neighbors had all been out knocking on doors and making calls.

We did it. We did. Philadelphia beat John McCain. Our side won.

But not in California, except, well, I haven't been as upset about Prop 8 as other queer folk I've talked to today. I guess the polls were running against it so strongly that I hadn't pinned a whole lot of hope to it, and I live in a state where what happens in California isn't going to affect us much. I also am not at all sure how I feel about civil marriage itself--as a shorthand for equality, hell yes; as a church-state catastrophe, definitely; as a wedge issue, I am pissed off beyond measure. But having spent my entire life outside of legally-sanctioned marriage and having a lot of, um, issues with heteronormativity, I'm not feeling it personally. My marriage doesn't have its basis in civil law. I feel pretty damn married without a slip of paper from the state. I grant you that I absolutely would not feel that detached from the fight if it were happening here, because then I would have done a lot of considering about whether A. and I should and would make it legal, and it would infuriate me to have those considerations rendered moot, but that's sort of where my limitations lie.

I'm actually much more upset about the Arizona measure that restricted state-approved parenthood to married couples. Z. would have one legal parent if she were born in Arizona. My straight friend who adopted as a single mom wouldn't have her daughter. If Pennsylvania hadn't allowed second-parent adoption at the time Z. was born, we would have made sure she was born somewhere that did.

Now I think I'm just rambling, folks. It's late, it's been a long month or two, or four, or twenty-two.

What I want to say before I tumble into sleep is that Prop 8 passed by less than four points. Eight years ago, California defined marriage, by referendum, as being between a man and a woman--that measure passed by 22 points.

From where I stand, The Bad Guys losing 18 points of their 22-point margin in eight years? That's us winning. That's all.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day/Election night

We lined up this morning at the Presbyterian church a block down the hill from us. Two divisions vote in the social hall there, and it was reminiscent of the co-op line fifteen minutes before closing on the night before a big holiday. Lots of crowding, but people patient and chatting with neighbors, everyone in it together and anticipating a celebration.

Z. dressed in a blue-striped dress top and (finally, after more shouting than I want to recall), red cords, with my yellow Obama "volunteer" button on her dress. An Obama poll worker gave her another, which I pinned on her coat--parents, you'll understand what a godsend that was while we were still lined up outside in the (somewhat) cold.

The whole wait was maybe 45 minutes. Luck of the draw, A. had Z. when we got to the front, so I went into the booth on my own. Standing inside the privacy of those curtains, I had a hard time pressing the green button to record my vote. For long, long moments, I felt caught in something that I couldn't move out of before I'd let it move through me.

It felt like prayer.

Please, god, please, god. A new world.

Edited at 11:02 pm: NBC just called it. For Z., President Obama will be who she knows, how she grows up.

Fly, my baby girl. Fly.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama is running so our children can fly.

This afternoon, I drove down Dr. King Drive, turned and took Powelton and Walnut out to West Philly, and knocked on doors for the third and last time this campaign.

I initially signed up to canvass because I was so infuriated by the McCain campaign's choice of Sarah Palin that I could not stand to sit by once she was in the race. I am excited about Obama and I voted for him in the primary, but I have always felt fairly cynical about elections because I'm pretty far to the left and it's always a fight between the center and the right. I'd much rather have the center in power than the right, but it's just hard to move out of my comfort zone and walk my feet tired to help people who, election after election, don't come out in support of my civil rights.

When the McCain camp shifted into buffoonery, though, it felt personal. I felt insulted, and I wanted to get even. So. I signed up. I joined the campaign.

Here's the thing: I clicked the wrong email, the one that said to come to Pennsylvania and volunteer for Obama. That meant I signed up as though I were an out-of-stater, and that turned out to be a great stroke of luck, because I didn't wind up at the campaign office on the main drag of my integrated, hippie-populated neighborhood, but instead was assigned to knock on doors in a part of the city ten miles away, in a neighborhood where seeing a white face on the street makes you wonder what brings them there.

Knocking on those doors changed my sense of what I was doing. Seeing the Obama signs up in house after house in a Black neighborhood, well. I'm a white girl, but I grew up in Southeast DC, on stories of Dr. King and Rosa Parks.

This was on the wall in the canvass office today:

Rosa sat so Martin would walk.

Martin walked so Obama could run.

Obama is running so our children can fly.

May they fly, may they all find the wings to fly.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What the cool kids are wearing

The new, hot shirt in my neighborhood...


...and I got me one. Score. I'm all set to canvass again tomorrow.

(Nicholas, I got you one, too, with slate-blue sleeves. I'll touch base about getting it to you.)