Wednesday, October 11, 2017

About last night....

I couldn't sleep last night, and neither could Alex. We both tossed and turned and tossed until I finally decided to get up and watch TV. I was sitting on the couch, watching New Girl when an enormous flash of light, like a bolt of lightning, lit up the sky. It was accompanied by a bzzzzzt sound (not thunder) and the general decrease in our electrical power.
It reminded me of the Northridge earthquake, standing in my parents' bedroom in the early morning light and watching the sky light up with transformers blowing up.
Turns out it was a fallen tree that had hit a power line. the road going west out of town in closed. We are so lucky that a fire didn't start.
I have to admit, things are so crazy lately, I was first thinking - could that have been a bomb? Could North Korea have sent a missile?
Needless to say, I didn't sleep much last night...

And today, the smoke is so thick over SV that we all can barely breathe.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Tom Petty

In high school, I worked at my Dad's business, answering phones and doing paperwork. It was a good job and I liked it - mostly because I worked with Patty. Patty was a woman with an amazing outlook on life. She always found the funny. She was always upbeat. She knew how to deal with customers, even when they really made me mad. And she listened to the radio incessantly. For a while, it was Howard Stern. Then it was some other talk show. I remember the OJ Simpson trial in there too. But we also listened to classic rock. We could get the "new" classic rock station from LA - was it 93.1? Anyways, they played all kinds of songs and Patty knew them all. She started to teach me and we ended up playing "Name that Tune" almost every day. I would borrow her tapes to play in my car. I loved the music. I started to listen to the Beatles. I would write out song lyrics - like, longhand. I loved the poetry. And I remember that Tom Petty had a hit at the time - Mary Jane. Everybody loved it because we all knew it was about pot (OMG - so cool to like a song about POT!) and the video was super creepy with Tom dancing around with a dead girl...
Patty told me that Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had been around for a long time. I got their "greatest hits" cassette tape and I was surprised at how many songs I knew. That tape was on repeat in my car. Over and over.
When I was a bit older - after college, I could afford to go to concerts and I got tickets to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers at the Santa Barbara Bowl. The absolute best venue to see a show, hands down. It's set in the mountains, in a schwanky neighborhood with oak tree lined streets and a beautiful view. I had gotten tickets for the actual second to last row. We were in the nosebleeds. So far away from the stage. But that night was magic. It was the first time that I had just seen a band play. A band who knew each other. Nothing else. No fireworks, no set changes, no big screens.  Not a big show or a big production. It was just Tom Petty, a stunningly dynamic performer, and his band. They played all our favorites, and I'm unsure they even had a set list. One song blended into another and the whole crowd sang every song. I danced and danced up in the nose bleeds and I made friends with all the people surrounding us. I remember a couple of women, "much older" than I was (at the time, probably 22-23 - they were probably 20 years older than me) and the music affected us the same way. The music spoke to us all in that audience that night.
One vivid memory I have from the concert is Tom playing guitar and looking over at one of his bandmates with a huge grin on his face - then the music changed. They had anticipated (or felt? or known?) the change coming up. They communicated without words. What a remarkable thing.
Since working with Patty, Tom Petty had been a constant presence in my life. I always return to his music, and there was nothing better than his concert. It's by far the best I have ever attended. The best for, oddly, the lack of showmanship. Allowing the music - complex, upsetting, melodious - to speak for itself. And showing the audience what true musical talent is. What a joy it is to hear a band of people who know each other inside and out to produce this wonderful art that deeply affects us all.
It's been a rough year - it's hard to deny that. I thought this year would be better because it couldn't be worse than last year, but here I am eating my words.
The world is full of awful people and awful things. It's art and artists who get us through these times. Tom Petty was one of those for me and I will never stop listening to his music as long as I live. I'm sad that he's gone.

Monday, October 2, 2017

6 years

This is a picture from our honeymoon in Yosemite. We hiked the Valley floor that day. It rained but it was still fun because there are always fewer people when it's raining. But rain at lower altitudes means snow at higher altitudes. We tried to drive out of the valley back to our cabin, but the snow was coming down, the road was slippery, it was dark, cars were getting stuck and my Dad's car that we had borrowed wasn't going to make it. Oh yeah, and we had no gas! We turned around and got a hotel room in the valley. I wished I had PJs and my glasses, but otherwise, it was a great adventure. A fitting start to our marriage, if nothing else.

A few days later, Alex planned a 17 mile hike with over 3000 feet of elevation gain (and loss, eventually). We started at 6am and had a lovely view of the sunrise hitting Yosemite falls across the valley from us. But the climb was slow going, the trail was icy and I had a meltdown. I don't do well on hills and I'm afraid of heights. At one point, the trail was slippery, icy granite and a sheer drop on one side. I was terrified. Also, we kept getting passed by people just reminding me how much I sucked at hiking and being outdoors in general. At some point, I accused Alex of trying to kill me on our honeymoon. We finally made it to Glacier Point around noon and we decided to call it a day. I was exhausted, emotionally at least. We had to pay $50 to get a bus down to the valley floor.

Marriage is an interesting thing, from a lot of perspectives. I really like Alex (obvi) and I think we balance each other well. He's calm when I'm crazed. He's over the top, and I bring him back down. He sets out to do something in the most complicated way and he generally listens to me when I tell him there are easier ways to do things. He lets me make crazy plans and do outrageous things without questioning me. He lets me be me and I think I let him be him.

You are around this person the most of anyone else, save for maybe your kids. You become almost the same person. I know how he will react to lots of situations and I'm sure he knows how I will react too. But we still have fun. We still laugh. He still goofs around and makes me question my sanity in marrying him. And sometimes the boring mundanity gets to you and I go a little crazy and he just takes my craziness. Or my imposter syndrome. Or my anxiety. Or whatever it is I have at the time.

Turns out, marriage is both wonderful and awful. You face the world together and sometimes that's really hard. There are disasters, personal, professional, local, world-wide, etc. Sometimes you don't agree. But you still wake up next to this person. We've both finished our graduate work. We've moved across the country, started over at Stanford. We spent 2 months on the road. And we are gearing up to do it again next year. We've had a kid, who is probably the coolest one I've ever met. Also, the one person who can drive me the most crazy too.

You choose to be in this relationship every day, every hour, six years (actually longer)... Nothing else could be better. I am sure of that.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Diary in the Life of a Mom

June 30: Celebrated the end of our first week of teaching with my co-teacher, Rob (he's from New Zealand, and the students love him). Beers at the treehouse, late night for us all. It was super fun - reminded me of what life was like before D. D falls asleep in the car, and miraculously, we can transfer him from car to bed (this never works...)

July 1: Crazy day with lots to do. Hit the Farmer's market and the library in HMB. Then to Costco to get gas and fill up on food. Took food to Alex's refrigerator in lab and hit a pool party hosted by one of Alex's labmates. Then back to lab for Alex to do some work and for me to pick up my stuff. Then to Chipotle for dinner, and meet up with friends at the Canada Day celebration on Stanford Campus. Then over to the building directly across from the Stanford Stadium to watch fireworks. They were so loud. So loud. My kid cried and wanted to leave, but we forced him to stay. We are really good parents :) Another night we can transfer D from car to bed...

July 2: desperately clean house. Alex goes for bike ride with Rob. D and I hang out. Rob and wife and weirdly, friends from grad school come out for BBQ at our house. It's a gorgeous day and we go for a nice walk around LH. Good food, good company - lots of laughs. I loved it.

July 3: I teach with Rob at 9am. My lecture is ready, mostly put together. I'm tired. Too much fun in the sun, I guess. This class is intense and I teach for a full hour. I feel defeated afterwards - anti-climactic, I guess. A and D come to work with me, and we leave early, around 2pm. D falls asleep in the car on the way home and sleeps for about 1.5 hours total for nap. We are exhausted.

July 4: A relaxing day. We hang out at home. A goes for a bike ride. We go to LH 4th of July picnic where there are games like a 3-legged race, an egg toss, a water balloon toss, a tug of war. D competed in the game where you fill a small cup of water, put it on your head (and try not to spill it) and then try to fill up a big cup across the way. He was the slowest of all the kids but he was so adorable. He took it really seriously. Also, he loved the hay hunt. They took a bale of straw and hid a bunch of stuff in it - little toys, candy, etc. He spent a ton of time in that and was very determined. He also swung on a swing tied to a tree branch. It was a real dose of Americana in the redwoods.

July 5: The cat wakes me up at 4:30am. I think she was upset. Or hungry. Or something. At the same time, I hear, "Is that you, Mama?" and D is up. I feed the cat and try my best to get him to go back to sleep but to no avail. He seems agitated, excited? My mom radar says, maybe he's getting sick? But then I think, no it's just been a crazy couple of days. We finally get up at 5:30am and we play with toys. He's grumpy bc he didn't sleep. He doesn't eat much. I have to teach at 9am, so we leave to get me there on time. I don't feel so great. My stomach is off. A & D drop me off and I go to class, tired. At 11am, daycare calls. D has a fever. 99.9. I think, well, I should have listened to my mom-radar. Last time I ignore that. We are teaching until noon, then Rob and I get lunch. We have to write a midterm and study guide. Daycare calls A. D is at 102.8. A leaves to get him, takes him to store, gets Tylenol, gives him Tylenol, juice and ice cream and goes to my lab to wait until I'm ready to leave. Rob and I write midterm study guide. Then I meet my family and we go home. I don't feel good either. That night, D and I slowly get worse and worse. I get a fever. My stomach is really upset. D is coughing. His fever is pretty high. We are dosing Tylenol, then motrin. Watching lots of TV. I take a nap and then go to bed at 8pm. D crawls into bed with me to fall asleep. Sometime in the middle of the night, I wake up and have to barf. I feel better, but still shitty, tired.

July 6: D comes into my room at 6am, scream/crying. He sounds like a seal. His fever is super high. I give him Tylenol. Play with toys. Watch god knows how many Puss in Boots (so, so bad, let me tell you). I take a nap. A finally gets up. I take another nap. We are all sick. Joy. D's fever is still high. He's upset and clingy. Just wants to cuddle, but he's so HOT. Ugh. He also takes comfort in holding my hair, which, after a while, just annoys the shit out of me. We spend the day taking meds, watching TV. At some point, he falls asleep in my arms like a baby. We watch Beauty & the Beast, Frozen. He won't eat, but he will drink apple juice. I think that's the only thing he got in him yesterday. Bedtime comes, and after one story he falls asleep immediately (9:30pm). At 10:45pm, he wakes up scream/crying. He is incoherent (but not feverish). I think he has to pee? Or he need water? I don't know. I finally calm him down, get him back to sleep. At 11:45, he wakes again, scream crying, and incoherent. This time, he wanders about the house, and I can't figure out what he wants. Dear god, help me. Finally, he lays down again and goes back to sleep. I think his fever has finally broken. He's not hot anymore.

July 7: At 4:30am, he wakes again, comes into my room and barks, "I need medicine". I give him medicine and get him back to sleep once again. At 7:30am, again, "I need medicine" - still sounds like a seal. I give him motrin, but he doesn't want to take it because it's not the Tylenol that tastes good. He wanders about the house, scream/crying/barking. It's fun. He finally takes his medicine. And he agrees to eat some Olaf soup. Chicken noodle soup for breakfast, it is. He drinks some juice. We turn on Puss in boots. Its still on, Mama needs to work. I feel better, but now tired/exhausted. My parents were supposed to come this weekend. No more. I have no idea what D has and I don't want them to get it. Also, he is not that fun when he's sick. Another day of TV, hanging out at home. I am frustrated and stressed out (but I feel better after writing this). I have so many things to do at work, and I cannot do them at home, esp with kids TV in the background. I am hoping I get time to work later. A is going to ride his bike to work.

Ugh, just ugh.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

I picked up this book a the library the other week. I really enjoyed The Secret Life of Bees by Kidd, so I thought I would probably like this book as well. The book follows a slave named Handful (or Hetty) and some of her owners, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, two  sisters from Charleston, SC, who become abolitionists and feminists in the early 1800s.

When I was in high school, we took these trips down to LA as part of the National Honor Society. Mostly, we just joined that group so we could take the trip. It involved going to Hard Rock Cafe or Santa Monica Beach or some "cool" place like that and it was always fun. One time, we went to the (at the time, newly opened) Museum of Tolerance in LA. I remember that trip being a little depressing (obviously) and my only lasting impression from that museum was a pile of shoes. Shoes upon shoes upon shoes. All of them left when Jews were led to the gas chambers during the Holocaust. I don't know what it was about those shoes, maybe it was the familiarity (I wear shoes all the time) or how personal they are (we all have different shoes) or the fact that those shoes touched someone who was then brutally murdered, I don't know, but it made the Holocaust much more horrific to me. Much more real (more meaningful than reading about it in a history book).

I started Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States and I honestly could not get through it. The horrific descriptions of how people were kidnapped in Africa and chained down in a ship to be sold for slavery was more than I could honestly handle. I had never thought of slavery that way. I can remember asking my mom when I was a kid if people treated slaves nicely and then maybe if they did treat them nicely if slavery was OK. Nope, never OK and people were never nice. To force a person into submission like that you cannot be nice. Nice is never a part of it. I had never appreciated that aspect of slavery. I had never really understood slavery and what it would have been like for people, day in, day out. I don't think I have the brains to understand it. But it is something that I need to remind myself of and I need to teach my kid about and I need to try to face, difficult as it is.

The older I get, the more horrified I am by things happening in recent history. The Holocaust, slavery, reconstruction, integration, the fight for equal rights. There are no words for how abhorrent some peoples' actions have been. I can't explain how I can know about these things for years, since I started school, but not truly appreciate what these things did to people, especially people of color.

This book was unreal. The novel begins with Sarah receiving Handful as a gift for her 11th birthday. Her mother ties a purple bow around Handful's neck and presents her to Sarah at her birthday tea. Sarah tries to refuse her; she doesn't want a slave, but her mother insists. Handful's mother, Charlotte lives with the Grimké family as well and Handful is forced to leave her mother's bed and sleep on the floor outside Sarah's room in case Sarah needs something in the night. Sarah is upset by slavery and at this young age, tries to free Handful (but is stopped by her father, a judge). Sarah and Nina are real people who left behind journals, letters and writings on the horrors of slavery and feminism. Kidd based her novel on what she knew about them. Sarah also (in real life) had a maid named Hetty who was presented to her as a gift. But we have no idea what happened to her in real life - it seems she died young. Kidd invents a life for Handful/Hetty and imagines what it would be like.

Sarah teaches Handful to read, and they become close friends (not sure what other word to use here, but Sarah has sympathy and empathy for Handful's position and tries to set her free in the only ways she can). This book is heartbreaking. The way the Grimké family treated slaves was horrific, to put it mildly. I cannot imagine being born into slavery and knowing nothing else. I also cannot imagine not being able to leave a place whenever I wanted. What freedom we have!

The story follows both Sarah and Handful as they navigate the life they are given. Sarah starts off with a voice, loses this voice for a while and then finds her voice, literally, in lectures for abolition. Handful draws strength from her mother, even when her mother is no longer there. This book was about strength, but also about what horrors people can survive and continue on. I both loved and hated this book and I feel like I learned a lot from it. I would highly recommend it as it's well written and compelling. However, it's obviously got me thinking about lots of things like slavery, racism (why are people such assholes?), why are cops shooting unarmed, harmless black people? and all kinds of stuff like that.

Sorry for the random stream of consciousness. Guess that's what this blog is for...

Friday, April 28, 2017

Just some pics

 hanging out with Grandpa
 superbloom above Ventura
 waiting for Dada to get a suit
Me and D on the Dragon at Happy Hollow

more pics to come...