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Archive for March, 2007

This is why all those baby/toddler classes cost so damned much.  It’s probably why Linda Hirschman can get away with whinging about all the mothers who should be doing something ‘better’ with their lives – it’s a whole lot easier to do something besides parent when you’ve got the money to hire people to help out.*

It’s interesting to know that, for the purposes of whatever drove this essay, M. and I are definitely an “Asian” couple; we don’t make anything even approaching $200,000.  But we’re not far away from $66,000.

*I’m puzzled by her use of “elite.”  Since she found “elite” women in the wedding announcements of the NYT, can we assume that they’re rich, but not necessarily driven?  Does “rich” = “elite” when it comes to well-paid employment?  Could none of them have been born to it, so to speak?  Where does someone like me – working on my PhD, from a white, upper-middle class background – fit in here?  She seems to circulate in an exceedingly small and homogenous world.

**Both links borrowed from Barely Tenured.

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[M. sees me walking around with MM ‘riding’ on my shoes]

M.: “Do you remember those cups with the strings attached to walk on?”

Me: “Yeah, those cups from ‘Romper Room’.”

M.: “‘Romper Stompers’.”

Me: “I desperately wanted some.”

M.: “I couldn’t ride them.”

Me.: [glare]

M.: “You desperately wanted some??  You desperately wanted some?!?”

Me: “Shut up.”

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Let-down

You know how when, after you’ve given birth, your boobs achieve the hardness of rock and hurt like hell, and then they “let down” and the milk starts to flow?

Okay, maybe you don’t. Hell, I barely know about it, since the whole nursing thing was a fiasco until MM was about 4 months old, and by then there was barely any milk to be had.

The point is this: I think I’m going through the psychological equivalent of let-down. For a long time now, my body has been tense and my mind has been tight. But in the last few days, I’ve noticed that I’m tired – to my bones – and weepy – all signs that my body, at least, is trying to get off the rollercoaster of stress I’ve been on for 2+ years.

Let’s hope I’m better at getting the stress out of my body than I was the milk. As my MIL commented (eyeing my breasts suspiciously), “They look like they’d do better than that.”*

*For the record, my response was basically, “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”

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I hadn’t heard about this when it happened, but it’s certainly one reason not to move back to Japan.  Apparently there was a magazine published earlier this year that took as it’s theme “crimes by foreigners” – but even this was a thinly veiled excuse for printing inflammatory and racist vitriol for the exclusive purvey, according to the publisher, of Japanese readers.

The efforts of the online foreign community in boycotting sellers is admirable and impressive.  It goes beyond a shame, though, that it was even necessary.

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Three things

1. So, I went to the therapist appointment.  I’m of two minds about how it went, both colored a bit by the fact that it was mostly filling out forms and questionnaires.  On the one hand, I thought that she made a pretty good initial assessment of where I’m at.  At the end of our time, she observed that her impressions talking with me were different from the one she got reading the questionnaires I had filled out.  On paper, she said, I’m seriously depressed.  But after talking with me, she said it was clear that I wasn’t suffering from major depression – something I agree with.  She said she marked me down as having “major depression – mild” (a nice both/and thing I like in an [academic] theoretical sense).

On the other hand, she almost immediately suggested medication.  Now, I’m not catagorically opposed to medication for depression or any other psychological condition, nor did I think her reasons for suggesting it were completely out of line.  She said she suggested it because she thought it might help in the short-term with helping my concentration and allowing me to get some work done and, by extension, increase my sense of competency.  Fair enough.  But my resistance to that approach stems from the fact that it teaches me nothing about how to overcome blocks and obstacles in any meaningful way.  I don’t think I’m so incapacitated that I need pharmaceutical help, and I’d rather learn a way to handle this kind of stress so that I can draw on it the next time it happens.

So, I’m planning to see her at least once more (it was very, very nice just talking about myself and my family without having to nurture the conversation, as it were – as self-involved as that may sound), but if she pushes the meds thing I’m going to have to find someone else, or quit altogether.

2. MM and I had an unexpectedly pleasant morning.  I’d decided to take her to a nearby park after we dropped M. off at the station, and when we got there we found they had a little playground (with swings and slides that were about her size) and a micro-beach they use to launch rental boats (there’s also a carousel, but I think that doesn’t start for a few weeks).  We played on the sand, backed away from marauding geese, heard a real live duck quack at us, played with Sebastian and his Jamaican mommy for awhile (who was reading “The Secret” – what is the deal with this book??).

To cap things off, we were lucky to run into our acquaintance M.E. and her son.  M.E. is the Korean wife of a Korean-American colleague of M.’s – we had them out for dinner once, and X (their son) and MM got along well.  We were able to commiserate about the toxic manager currently making life difficult for everyone at work, watch the kids play around each other, and it was just very pleasant to have a little adult conversation for awhile.

3. When I got home, I had an email from the Washington bureau of the paper I used to work at (as a research assistant, lo these many years ago), asking if I was interested in reapplying for the same position.  I’d sent a resume to them when they were looking a year and a half or so ago (when M. was also looking for work around here and we weren’t sure if either of us would ever have a job again).  There’s a part of me that would love to say YES!…but the reality is the job doesn’t pay enough to begin to cover daycare, and I’m not a big fan of American daycare on a good day.  It doesn’t make sense for us at this point in our lives…but it sure was nice hearing that the bureau chief was “very impressed” with my resume.

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I saw this over at Arwen/Elizabeth, and I always love a good meme.

Aprons (Y/N): I love aprons – mostly the Japanese full-body kind, rather than those little 50s Happy Homemaker kind. I don’t often wear one, since the ones I like don’t often fit me very well, but I should – I’m forever wiping my hands on my jeans when I’m cooking.

Baking (Favorite thing to bake): I used to bake all the time, when I was living at home with my parents. I stopped when I started living on my own, and M. doesn’t even believe me when I say I can bake pretty well. I guess, now that we have us a family, I should start again. I’ve never tackled yeast-based bread…maybe that’s a place to start.

Clothesline (Y/N): Not here in the States. I did my clothesline time all the times I lived in Japan (except when I was living with M., since he’d gotten himself a highly ineffective dryer). It’s overrated.

Donuts
: Used to make them when I was a kid, but you have to get the oil very, very hot if you want to avoid winding up with a very oily lump of dough, and I’m afraid of very, very hot oil. I can’t stand Krispy Kreme – too sweet – but I like Dunkin Donuts and Mr. Donut. My favorite are at Shoppers grocery store – they’re substantial and cooked to perfection. The weirdest homemade donuts I ever ate were at a fellow grad student’s house; they thawed frozen Pillsbury biscuits, punched a hole in the center, and fried them. They tasted a lot like you’d expect fried biscuits to taste.

Every Day (One homemaking thing you do every day)
: Sweep the floor and put away the toys.

Freezer (Do you have a separate deep freeze?)
: I desperately want a separate freezer, since our Designated Grocery Buyer (M.) invariably buys more frozen food than we can actually find space for in our little fridge freezer. But I’m pretty sure the circuit breaker couldn’t handle it.

Garbage Disposal (Y/N)
: We have one, but we also have a Special Smell coming from the kitchen sink, so I only use it sparingly.

Handbook (What is your favorite homemaking resource?)
: Ideally: the Martha Stewart housekeeping book I begged M. to get me for Christmas. Really: my mom.

Ironing (Love it or hate it?)
: Used to love it. Instant gratification, justifiable TV-watching time…but now I just don’t have the time for it, so it’s a real chore. I’ve started taking shirts to the cleaners.

Junk drawer (Y/N) (Where?)
: No junk drawer, but we definitely have a junk basket by the front door. MM can’t get her hand into it yet, so it’s safe where it is for now.

Kitchen (Design and decorating)
: Since we rent a house that was built in 1957, and the kitchen has not been remodeled since then, there’s just not much we can do. If it were MY house, I’d first gut it completely and replace the cabinets – they’re solid wood and not bad (especially compared to the plywood nightmares in my apartment kitchen in Indiana) – and I’d get a new range (ours is from Montgomery Ward and features one of them thar newfangled microwave thangs).

Love (What is your favorite part of homemaking?): Cleaning. I love vacuuming, cleaning windows, mopping the floor – anything that makes the house feel fresh and tidy.

Mop (Y/N)
: I never used to do it, but with a toddler using the floor as a surface for belly surfing, I’m better about it now. I usually use just warm water and vinegar, rather than a chemical cleaner.

Nylons
: On the dryer? No.

Oven (Do you use the window or open the door to check?)
: You have to open the door, since the window is so encrusted in decades of oven crap that it’s essentially opaque.

Pizza (What do you put on yours?)
: In the States, I love this mozzarella, bacon, and onion pizza my parents make with dough from Trader Joe’s; in Japan, Pizza Hut’s Idaho Special (potatoes, corn, mayonnaise, and cheese…anything else?).

Quiet (What do you do during the day when you get a quiet moment?)
: Usually sit in front of the TV like a zombie. Or check email. Even though I should be working on the dissertation. Occasionally, I knit.

Recipe card box (Y/N)
: No, but my mom made a family cookbook for all of us and my cousins years ago, and that’s pretty much the same thing.

Style of house
: One-level rambler; two official bedrooms, one micro bedroom that’s now my office, and one renovated garage that’s M.’s office. It’s old, it looks it, and if we owned it and had any money we’d really fix it up.

Tablecloths and napkins?
Place mats and coasters, usually. I often forget napkins.

Under the kitchen sink (Organized or toxic wasteland?)
: Mostly just the trash. All the toxic stuff is up where MM can’t get into it.

Vacuum (How many times per week?)
: As often as possible. I love vacuuming – so simple, and so satisfying.

Wash (How many loads of laundry do you do in a week?)
: Between three and four – lights, darks, linens, and MM’s stuff.

X’s (Do you keep a daily list of things to do and cross them off?)
: I used to, but I’m just too tired anymore. That, plus I don’t really want to see a list of things I haven’t accomplished staring me down at the end of the day.

Yard (Who does what?)
: We take advantage of my Dad’s pathological need to ‘keep things in the family’ finance-wise and have/let him do a lot of our yardwork. It’s hard for me to find the time to get out there to mow, and I HATE gardening with a passion. It’s the bugs. M. is not especially handy, even though he claims to come from a long line of gardeners, and has yet to even pull a weed.

Zzz’s
: I get to bed too late, but that’s usually my fault. I’m generally the one who’s up with MM in the morning (she doesn’t get up obscenely early, and she’s usually good about hanging out in her crib until I can drag myself out of bed, but it’s still earlier than I like. This is a recurring point of contention between M. and me.

Anyone else want to play???

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Wish me luck…

Tomorrow’s the first appointment with the therapist. She said to expect a lot of paperwork and just some preliminary talk, so I doubt there’ll be much to evaluate one way or the other. And I’ve been looking around at other people’s weblogs (a single mom of twins who’s also legally blind and the caregiver of a quadriplegic man; a dissertating mom of triplets) whose energy and enthusiasm for parenting, specifically, and life in general has really driven home to me what a whiny, whinging person I am right now.

But, the fact remains that I’m running hopelessly low on energy and I don’t seem to be bouncing back like I should. I’m not making the move to try therapy lightly; it really feels like something I at least need to try.

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