Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Throwing it all away. 

Okay, not all. But a lot of it. A lot of "stuff."

Being a parent involves throwing a lot of stuff away. Stuff you would have thought of as treasures as a kid.

Plastic tops. 

Sticky wall crawlers. 

Kids meal toys. Lots and lots of kids meal toys. 

All those four packs of red, blue, green and yellow crayons you get at restaurants that don’t give out toys with their kids meals.

Temporary tattoos. 

Broken crayons. 

Stickers. 

Dried up play-doh.

Dried up markers. 

Those don’t hurt.

But some things do. 

Scribbled drawings on a million scraps of paper.

The 1,000th origami throwing star he made.

All the drink pull tabs and rocks and bits of string and sticks and candy wrappers that he slips into his pockets during the day.

You can’t keep it all any more than you can keep him from growing up.

But you keep some of it.

Tokens of a childhood that goes too fast. 

And he stays your boy, no matter how big he gets. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Off the Grid

Well, not totally off, but, let’s say back to 2008 levels of grid engagement. Engagement? Entanglement? Enmeshment?


In any event, I deactivated my Facebook account a little over a month ago. I’m not sure of the exact date. But it was early May 2018. Irony: Few people will read this post because it will not be cross-posted to Facebook. Hmmm. 


Maybe, I’ll reactivate my Facebook account, post the blog entry, then deactivate it after a couple of days. 


Nah. 


The whole point of this post is that I am not on Facebook anymore and to discourse on what that’s been like, and why I did it. Going back on to talk about how great it’s been not being on Facebook seems counterintuitive at best, hypocritical at worst. 


And it HAS been great. 


I’m less stressed out. Truly, Facebook wasn’t all bad, but I felt pressure. I felt pressure to check it, to "keep up." I felt pressure to click "like", lest I offend someone by causing them to think (maybe), "Why didn’t The Working Mom like this post?" I felt pressure when I read and saw some of your posts and they made me feel not great about myself . . . or not great about you. I felt pressure to hold the "right" opinions. If I was too conservative for some or too liberal for others, I came under fire, which was not fun. (Although in truth, y’all, the liberals were far more likely to attack than the conservatives, at least in my feed. I’m a flaming liberal -- for Texas -- but maybe we do need to think about our approach to topics we disagree on, lest we alienate our allies.  But I digress, Mr. DeNiro. Maybe Facebook is not the right arena for these kinds of discussions -- political, social, religious.)


Increasingly, I found I did not like being on display. Increasingly, I felt like I had to moderate myself in ways that seemed unnatural. (Unnatural for Facebook, yeah, which is inherently unnatural.)  Increasingly, I wished for fewer likes and opinions. Increasingly, I didn’t want everyone to know what I was doing or what I just did or what I was wearing or the conversation I just had or the show I just watched. Increasingly, I wished for a smaller friend list, a much smaller one. Increasingly, I saw how shallow the interactions were, how one resurrection of a years-old photo of my then-sick/now-dead cat produced present-day wishes for his speedy recovery. (An experience that was, at once, painful, annoying, and infuriating.) Increasingly, I wished for freedom from the immediacy of the information cycle. I wished NOT to learn about "it" on Facebook. (This goes for Twitter too, but I don’t follow many news sources -- or people even -- on Twitter, so it’s not as bad there.  Basically, my Twitter feed is 90% Star Wars.)  Increasingly, I wanted to pull back. 


And then there’s the privacy issue. Facebook has surreptitiously taken and disclosed so much of our information to political think tanks, foreign powers, and marketers. It bothers you too, right?, when you see items advertised in your Facebook feed that you have just googled or searched for on Amazon.com. It’s unsettling. And how do they know? How, indeed? And if they can manipulate our shopping that way, what about the rest of our behaviors?  I didn’t want to continue to feed the beast. They had what I’d given them. I didn’t have to continue to give them more. 


Except.


I’ve stayed on some social media. I’m on Twitter (@Mom2IPK). I’m on Instagram (@merdypurdy). So my info is still out there in ways. Facebook owns Instagram, so I’m not completely out of its clutches. But Instagram doesn’t have a hold on me like Facebook did. Neither does Twitter. They just don’t invade your mind (or my mind, anyway) the way that Facebook did.


I’ve thought about whether I might come back to Facebook one day. How would that look? Would I sneak back on and make my profile private while I curated my privacy settings and deleted "friends"?   Maybe. That seems like a lot of work. And would it really be worth it? I don’t know. It should not take that much time and mental energy to participate in something like Facebook. It seems like it should be easier than it is. It should not take this much thought and constant curating to ensure one’s sanity and privacy. So maybe I don’t want to be there after all. Maybe I don’t really want to come back.


I do miss out on things: community event notifications, Facebook groups I might find useful, seeing pictures of my friends’ kids and family.


I don’t miss the pressure, though, nor the aggravation and the vulnerable feeling of being too exposed. 


So I’m staying off Facebook, at least for now. The good thing about deactivating is that you can always reactivate when you want to, when you’re ready. Right now, I don’t. I’m not. I’m happy here on my little-read blog and my tightly held Twitter and Instagram accounts. The broad boulevard of Facebook is still too much for me right now. 



Thursday, March 29, 2018

Middle Aged Dance Party

I used to love to dance.

Not just ballet, tap and jazz lessons that filled most of the first two decades of my life, but DANCE.

I loved to dance at school dances, fraternity parties, clubs, around my house.  I would dance until I was dripping with sweat and my spiral perm was Michael-Jackson-in-Thriller kinky.  Those of you who might be reading this and were there will remember.  I didn't care if I made myself ridiculous while dancing because dancing was . . . joy . . . and freedom.

Sometime, sometime after law school, I sort of stopped.  Stopped dancing?  Stopped being as joyful?  Maybe.

I became weary.  World weary.  Physically weary.  Weary weary.

I think a lot of us stop like that when we get older, when we finally start being "adults."

For about a week, I've been listening to the Ready Player One soundtrack on Spotify.  Back and forth, day after day, with a 1980s dance party blaring from my mom-mobile speakers.

I've been yodeling along with Danny Elfman on Dead Man's Party . . .  singing gibberish with Howard Jones on Like to Get to Know You Well . . . shouting and growling with Simon LeBon on a number of songs (he did -- and does still -- a lot of shouting and growling, have you noticed?) . . . wailing through Burning Down the House with David Byrne . . . and pleadingly trying to follow Pat Benatar through Invincible . . . .  And wanting to dance, thinking about dancing, sometimes head-dancing a little bit.

I imagine dancing to James Brown is Dead as I hurtle down I-35.  I imagine what moves I'd make and when I'd make them.  I imagine what facial expressions I would use, choreographing the unchoreographical joy of spontaneous club dancing in my head.  I want to do it for real, dance like that with that kind of abandon.

Where is my middle aged dance party?

Friday, February 9, 2018

The Shutdown Diary, Valentine Edition: Postscript

Well, color me surprised.  They did it.

The government technically shut down for several hours this morning, while Ron Paul continued his one man crusade against increased spending (in the face of his vote to reduce revenues by way of sweeping tax cuts late last year).  While we slept, the Senate finally passed the budget, which funds certain programs for two years or more, and funds the government for another six weeks while they hammer together a real budget.  (So, you know, stay tuned in late March, right?)

Around 5:30 a.m. Central, the House also passed the bill, sending it to the President to sign.

Here's a link to the highlights of what the new spending bill does.  There are a lot of good things in the bill, though left-leaners don't like that it fails to address the dreamers and DACA (which issue does require attention) and right-leaners don't like the departure from fiscal austerity that they favor (and I also sympathize with their aversion to deficit-making spending).

So the Valentine shutdown was over before it began.  I'm frankly glad of it.  But the starting and stopping that comes from short term budgets and the now-regular run up to the brink of a shutdown (and, now twice, with a brief shutdown to follow) has got to stop.  This is no way to run a government.  Congress can do better.  And I encourage them to do better before March 23rd, when government funding is set to run out again.  Let's not put it to the last minute yet again.  (And by "let's," I mean, "you guys," because I am at your relative mercy . . . .)

Happy early Valentine's Day, folks.  See you after St. Patrick's Day, maybe . . . .

(Oh, and what did I DO today in light of the non-shutdown?  Went to work.  Went to the ophthalmologist. Went to lunch.  Went home for a nap to sleep off the eye dilation.)


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Shutdown Diary, the Valentine Edition: Preface

Disclaimer:  The thoughts and feelings expressed in this post are solely the author's and do not represent the official position of any government agency.

Oh for fuck's sake.

Honestly.

It's 8:50 p.m. Central time.  I just checked CSPAN2:  It was showing a Ron Paul speech from earlier today in the lower lefthand corner and a view of an empty Senate chamber in the upper right with the legend, "Awaiting Senator to Speak."  Some random Senator, two hours before funding ends, is going to make a speech.

Cool.

So they'll definitely get this new deal voted on in the Senate and then get the House to vote on it AND get the President to sign it into law in the next two hours.  Right?  Sure.

Who could have predicted this two and a half weeks ago, right?, that we'd be doing this again?  Oh wait, I did.  😉

And the stock market is going ape-shit too.  I'm sure the volatility in the market has nothing to do with the volatility in our government.

This is so frustrating.

I refrained from using more profanity just there.  Good girl.  Proud of me.

Hey, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Schumer, who was in charge of getting Ron Paul onboard with your two-year budget deal?  Did that person take a nap?

Never mind, I'm not watching CSPAN2 until 11 p.m. my time this go 'round.  I'm going to grab my puppy and a glass of wine and switch over to watch the Olympics until I get tired.  (And what's all this with the songs with lyrics in figure skating?  Is this new?  I don't like it.  When does curling start?)

See y'all on the flip side.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shutdown Diary, January 2018: Day 3, An Orderly Shutdown

Disclaimer:  The thoughts and feelings expressed in this post are solely the author's and do not represent the official position of any government agency.

When the government shuts down, it doesn't just stop.  We who work for the government must actually do the work of shutting it down.  That means that we all go into the office today, despite the lapse in funding, to put up the appropriate out of office messages on our phones and emails, to file continuance motions, and generally to tie up all the loose ends so that everything will be semi-okay while we are out for however long we are out.  A skeletal crew is left in charge of each office to address emergencies, but we're literally, by statute, not allowed to do any work during the shutdown once we've completed our "orderly shutdown."


So I did that, the orderly shutdown.  It was confusing -- I think partly because no one expected the government to really shutdown.  People weren't as prepared as we were in 2013.  And it was stressful.  We had to request continuances of matters set for today, tomorrow, the rest of the week.  We didn't know what would happen.  I still don't know whether the continuance motion I filed was granted or denied.  But we had to do it and then leave and just kind of hope that everything turned out okay, and that the attorney in charge didn't find that she needed to be in three different courts at once.


After I orderly shut down my business, I came home and walked the dog. I was very tired.  And hungry.  Orderly shutdowns are exhausting, at least mentally.


My fellow federal worker husband arrived home soon after I did, and we had lunch.  Then we folded all that laundry that I washed yesterday.  Then we waited.  (Oh, and ate some Milk Duds.)  I tried to have a nap, but all of the lawn equipment operating in our neighborhood made that difficult, though not impossible, because I did sleep a little, dreaming of leaf blowers (the best kind of nap, noted my lovely spouse, ruefully).


The Boy, by the way, went to school today, as it is a Monday.


As of mid-afternoon, the Senate had reached a deal to fund the government through February 8th (so, you know, about two and a half weeks), with the promise to the Democrats that DACA legislation would be taken up by mid-February (so, you know, not within the period between now and when funding would run out again on February 8th).


That doesn't seems like much of a deal to me, but, on the other hand, I think that the Senate Democrats have made the political calculus that shutting the government down over immigration is not as popular as they may have thought.  While it's true that a majority of Americans want something done to help the children brought to this country outside of proper immigration procedures, a majority of Americans also do not believe that it is worth shutting the government down.  In a midterm election year, the Senate Democrats may have determined that the political risk to themselves of continuing the shutdown is just too great. So I surmise that they probably accepted the promise of a vote on DACA "soon," versus continued negative headlines.


That's all just conjecture on my part, of course, but it stands to reason . . . .


Around 4:00 p.m. Central, the very, very short CR passed the Senate and moved to the House for consideration.  Since it's not exactly the same bill they sent to the Senate Thursday/Friday of last week, they have to vote on the new deal.


I actually turned on C-SPAN to watch some of the debate in the House (wondering what in the world, really, there was to debate).  Here's my summary:


Republican:  Your fault.

Democrat:  Nuh-uh.
Republican:  Uh-huh!
Democrat:  Nuh-uh!
Republican:  Uh-huh-infinitity!
Democrat:  Nuh-uh-infinity-plus-one!

They fortunately completed this very important discussion before the day was over -- it took less than an hour, really -- and the bill was sent to the President for signature.


The orderly shutdown today was, mercifully, mostly unneeded, and we should be back to work in earnest tomorrow.


Until next time, folks!   (Say . . . mid-February? 😁)

Shutdown Diary, January 2018: Day 2, in which I do a LOT of laundry

Disclaimer:  The thoughts and feelings expressed in this post are solely the author's and do not represent the official position of any government agency.

For some reason, The Boy was really wound up last night after the lock in.  He didn't get to sleep until after 11:46 last night.  I am that precise because that is the last time I remember seeing on my iPhone.  I wonder if there was a lot of sugar at the lock in . . . .

Today, hubby and I woke up around 7:00 and had breakfast.  I walked the dog.  And my partner in life and I had coffee and toast with peanut butter for him and yogurt and granola for me as we watched the latest episode of This Old House.

By the way, in the last shutdown diary, we had a cat, Roxy.  Roxy died in 2016.  He was diabetic and had many skin and allergy problems.  Poor guy finally succumbed.  He was an old guy, though, and lived a full life.  But it was still sad when we lost him.

The dog is a new addition.  He's a puppy, actually, 11 weeks old.  He's a cavapoo and, so far, he seems really cute and smart.  He needs a lot of training, of course, but I think that once he's gone to puppy kindergarten (that is, Basic Obedience 1, 2, and 3, and then the Tricks class), he's be a really fun dog.  He's fun right now, of course, but a handful.  He is a lot more work than I thought, and the first few days of adjustment were difficult -- I won't lie -- but we've all started to settle in nicely.  His name is Schoeff, pronounced "Chef."  (I know, I know -- It's a weirdly spelled name that no one will get right when they look at it.  It was the name his breeder gave him and we liked it so we kept it.  It apparently means "lay assessor at court" or "juror" in German.  Fitting name for the dog of two lawyers, and their boy.)  Schoeff likes This Old House and gets upset if you pause it.



So, anyway, it's Sunday.  A day at home is a typical day, just like yesterday, except we check the news a bit more often.  And a typical day for me means laundry!  We tend to have between 4 and 6 loads of laundry a week.  How can three people generate so much laundry?  And how much laundry do other, larger families generate?  How do you do it?

And the status of the shutdown as of the publication of this blog entry?  No deal. We are still close. Next vote on a budget is scheduled for noon Eastern tomorrow.

Status is decidedly quo.  The newspapers say that they're going to try to get a deal by the end of tomorrow.  And though that sounds hopeful, I'm not holding my breath.

See you for Day 2.  Night-night.