Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Class Warfare

Thanks to my old teacher and Pal, Ruthie, for this picture.  Leave it to Dorothy Parker to just hit it on the head.

See, Laney goes to camp in this super chi-chi neighborhood in Chicago.  It's a Park District Camp, so the camp isn't too pricey - but the neighborhood it's in is lousy with rich people.  And every time I drop Laney off or pick her up, I get annoyed. 

I get annoyed by the cars.  My car has dents and a piece of pink duct tape holding on the trunk handle. I don't mind too much because I think if you gotta have duct tape on your car, pink is the way to go.  It's sort of cute.  It's like the back of my car is smiling at you. But it's hard to park my adorable old POS by Laney's camp, because the streets are glutted with Lexus SUV's and practical little Hondas.  The Moms drive the Lexus SUV's and their nannies drive the practical little Hondas.

The Moms. The Moms piss me off even if I am sure that they are probably all lovely people who love their children and watch Parks and Rec and drink wine and say "fuck" sometimes when they talk.  But, GOD, they are are all so fit and have such nice clothes! They wear $80 yoga pants over $140 Reeboks and are like 4% body fat.  I'm carrying a laptop in a bag I bought at Goodwill and tottering around on uncomfortable heels that I bought on sale at Payless.  I like to think that if my yoga pants cost $80, my body would transform itself into 4% body fat because of shock.

I would love to have a membership to East Bank Club and a nanny and be 4% body fat and lease a new Lexus every two years.  I am annoyed by these people because I am jealous.  Sometimes I fantasize about scraping a Lexus as I parallel park.  You'd never notice it on my car.  Their cars though... ha HA!  A scrape would really stand out on a Lexus three months into a two year lease.  But I don't because that would be rude and also because I am very proud of my parallel parking skills and couldn't stand for someone to think I'd done it accidentally.

If I were to start randomly scratching the paint off new Lexuses out of spite that might reasonably be interpreted as an act class warfare (more an act of desperate pettiness... but whatever). You know what's not class warfare?  A progressive tax code in which people who make over $350,000 a year pay 35% in taxes and are not enabled to stash money in overseas accounts and don't get a $77,000 tax credit for having a $100,000 horse. Because I had to pay over $3000 last year in taxes and have DUCT TAPE ON MY CAR!!!!! Mitt Romney got a $77,000 credit because he's rich enough to have a $100,000 HORSE!

I got off track... I wonder if the horse's dressage saddle is held together with pink duct tape... Do dressage horses have saddles?

Anyhoo, to summarize: bursting into tears and throwing punches when you see someone at 4% body fat who drives an unbesmirched car and buys shoes at Macy's that aren't even on sale is not behavior anyone should indulge no matter how fat you feel that day and how cute the shoes are.  Progressive tax rates?  Those are fair.  And rich people should quit whining about it and pay them.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Nature... Nurture... Dunno

I've had adoption much on my mind lately.

A few years ago, this wouldn't have been unusual.  When Laney was new to me, I thought about it constantly because I felt not only unequal to the task of being a mother, I felt unworthy.  This is probably true for all parents, since being someone's parent is a uniquely humbling experience.  But I think it was aggravated for me after years of failing to get pregnant and, at least how I saw it, failing at being a woman.  And I worried and worried that a failure like me was lacking the fundamental skills required for mothering.

But, finally, that fucked up mindtrip came to an end and I grew some confidence.  Laney is my girl.  She's mine until she grows up and then she's her own (but still a little bit mine, right?).

Which brings me to lately, in which my cousin's husband, Michael, has begun poking around Ancestry.com. This led to some emails among me and my cousins and my brother discussing my paternal great-grandfather, a fellow named Francis Patrick Nolan.  I found myself very curious about old F.P.  I wondered what kind of man he was and if he was funny, or quick-tempered, whether he was musical, whether he was mean.  This curiosity left me curious about why I was so curious and what all this curiosity meant for my own kid.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Am I curious about F.P. because his blood runs through my veins?  Or because he was my grandmother's father?  I lean towards the latter.  As my grandmother's father, he had a material effect on the woman she was; a complicated woman, hilarious and loving but also prone to a kind of coldness.  She could be mean.  She could be wonderful. It stands to reason that when confronted with the specters of her parents, I'd be curious about who they were, since the parents they were to their daughter informed the woman she was, the mother she was to my father, and so on and so on.

But there's that blood stuff too.  The blood and the DNA that have been passed down for generations.  Biology binds us to the ones that came before too, right?

I can't help but think that my father, whom she never knew, has had a much more significant impact on who she is than her biological grandfather, whom she may one day find.  But that is a question of the past that'll be resolved in the future.

We'll have to wait and see if she'll be interested when her cousin's husband starts farting around on Ancestry.com.  Will she want to know about my mother's father in the same way I'm curious about my grandmother's father?  Will she want to know about him because that will help her to understand her own grandmother?  Or will she, lacking any shared DNA, feel no connection to him at all?

There's no way to know until we know.  The quality of having been adopted is not, after all, monolithic.  Different adopted people have different relationships to their own adoption.  For now, as I wonder about this stuff, I have to accept that it is what it is; which is a bit of tautological rhetoric loathed by some (like Laney's grandmother).  But I think it's a convenient idiom: this is a situation over which I have no control.  Laney will have to work out her own connection to the past. I'm blessedly, blissfully done with feeling like less of Laney's mother because of biology.  

She is a curious kid, though.  I wonder who she gets that from?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stupid New Yorker

I have very nice neighbors.  My immediate neighbor planted a rose bush in the corner space because I once told her I loved roses.  The next neighbor down brought Laney Halloween cake mix and frosting last year.  But the best gift* comes from my neighbor, Michael, who subscribes to The New Yorker but reads it on his iPad - he gives me the print copy.  It's a weekly treat courtesy my nice neighbors.

Well it was.  Until today.  Today I was leafing through the issue he brought by yesterday and I started this article that I thought was about sex. I am delighted by the idea of super-literary, softcore New Yorker style sexiness.  But it was a story about corn sex.  And corn sex is difficult.  Just to be clear: not people having sex with corn. I'm talking pollination.  I'd just as soon not think about corn sex with people.   Apparently, it's radically difficult for corn to get pollinated and this weather exacerbates exponentially the difficulty.

Furthermore, according to the article I could not stop reading and which I expect is true because, well, it's The New Yorker, the effects of our current climate abuse won't be felt until 2048, when Laney is my age.  I'll most likely be dead, so what do I care?  Except, all things being equal, I'd prefer for my daughter to live in a world with food and where she can walk outside and stuff.

In short: it scared the shit out of me.

Because what can we do?  Neither Obama nor Romney are going to talk about it because American politics are stupid and rather than admit there's a problem, it's a lot easier to construct convoluted Kenyan, communist conspiracies and ignore the derechos and droughts. And we have a media that seems to believe that despite the science having been decidedly decided on the very real threat of climate change, that guy with the Bachelors in Metereology from University of Phoenix that James Inhofe put on the Exxon/Mobile payroll should still get TV time. And also, all the rest of the retired senators and congressmen will have made so much dough from the revolving door between the Capitol and K Street, that they can buy their progeny a future.

But I am not prone to pessimism (I am, however, prone to alliteration).  So, I'm putting my faith in the next generation.  As I've mentioned before, my own generation is pretty sucky, but we feel OK about that because at least we're less sucky than the baby boomers (although, to be honest, that's a pretty low bar to clear).  But the next generation is just going to have to be awesome and fix it.   Leaving those of us in my sucky generation with two obligations: (1) make the kids aware of the issue and (2) teach them science.

I try (and fail... but I try) to make our obligation to the planet a theme around this household.  I'm going to redouble my efforts.  We all should.  We need our kids to believe in this and to believe they have the power to do something.  Because we're too crazy to fix it now.

But we're less crazy than we were.  I know that seems hard to believe when you turn on Fox News, but remember Freeedom Fries and that whole Dixie Chicks thing?  We're a little less crazy. 9/11 broke our national brain and it takes a while to recover from that.  But I think we are.  And I am hopeful that when Laney enters the adult world, those people running for office on the God Will Take Care of Everything ticket will be like Larouchies were in the 70s.  And the only media figures saying that there's no such thing as climate change because it's cold in winter (which is sort of like saying "there's no such thing as gravity because, look, planes"), will be broadcasting from the tissue box in the local looney bin.

And I'll turn down the AC.  And ignore James Inhofe.  And encourage our elected officials to quit being such pantywaists and at least TALK about some climate legislation.  Because this shit is seriously scary.

* Actual my favorite Michael gift is that sometimes he drinks with me and makes me laugh.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


There was this article flying around the internet recently about the benefits of idleness.  Did you see it?  You're on Facebook - you saw it.  I confess that when I saw the title, I thought, "Fantastic.  Now not only will I constantly be dealing with shit I have to do, I'm supposed to feel guilty about feeling like I have to do shit I have to do."  To be fair, this isn't really what the article was about.  But, you'll forgive me for the wrong assumption because the internet is just chock-a-block with articles about how you're doing everything all wrong. Especially those of us in the working mom camp.

Anyway, I did read it.  And I didn't love it. He lost me a bit when he got to the paragraph lauding the woman who was totally relaxed since she got an artist's residency in France.  I'd be pretty relaxed if I had an artist's residence in France.

(I tend also to generally disregard anything in which someone leaves America, goes to France and figures it all out.  It's been a cliche since Gertrude Fucking Stein.)

But then he goes on and talks about the whole thing where you feel like you HAVE to being doing something all the time. I'm a person who reaches for her phone to check email when I'm stopped at a red light. If someone gets on an elevator with me and pushes a floor before mine I think they're really rude for wasting my time like that (fortunately, I have a phone that I can check during that 5 sec interval). I once made a home-from-school daily schedule where tasks were delineated within 5 minute increments.  

That's not cool.

This evening, Laney is at a friend's.  I'm going to pour a glass of wine and read a Carl Hiassen novel or re-watch last night's Bunheads.  You should be idle with me and start watching Bunheads.  It's Gilmore Girls with ballet.  Last night American treasure Kelly Bishop narrated a ballet she'd choreographed called "Paper or Plastic."  The grocery store cashier was cast as the devil.  Nature died.  Seriously - that show is so great.