26 February 2007

Dr. Phil the Younger

My son has a girlfriend. He's 14.

She's great, by the way. Smart, quick smile to go with an edgy wit, doesn't put up with crap. She doesn't even do the TeenSpeak thing to excess, which, ohmygod, is like, soooo awesome? So, if my youngest of offspring must have a girlfriend (Seriously? You can't wait until you're 35, son?), I couldn't have picked a better one. Plus, she'll keep him in line.

So, my son, still fresh in the blush of Young Love, suggests that I may want to rethink my stance on relationships. Apparently, I should be dating more. Or dating period.

I'm a single mom. Three teenagers, two big dogs, mortgage, full-time job. I currently do not have the time or inclination to take on a relationship. This, of course, could instantly change, should Antonio Banderas, Johnny Depp, or Denzel Washington suddenly come a-knocking. Or should I win the lottery and suddenly have time to shave my legs and paint my toenails.

These scenarios could easily occur around the same time that monkeys fly out of my ass.

Dear Son: Yeah, so, I'm just saying, you maybe should think about how you look at relationships. You know, you're always saying a relationship takes work and energy, and you already work and have kids and stuff, but maybe you should think about that in a different way.

Me: Different way?

Dear Son: Yeah, you know, like it's someone to talk to and know about, plus it's fun. Maybe it would give you energy instead of using your energy, or something. Like maybe it's a good thing, not more work.

Me: ...

Dear Son: So, like maybe you're not thinking about it fairly.

Me: What are you, Doctor Phil?

Are you serious? The kid whose stretchmarks I bear dispensing advice to the lovelorn? Is he not here as a direct result of a heartily embraced relationship? Well, that and The Best of Barry White.

Scratch that.

So, it's all fresh and exciting for him. Relationships have not yet evolved to include such mundane things as Effort and Work. Good for him, I mean that. Damn, I love that kid. And he's probably right. To some extent. You, Gentle Readers, understand the many layers and phases of love, and he'll get that someday. Hopefully slowly, and weighted toward the joy end of the spectrum.

I look at his (too) handsome, earnest face, and know there's no explaining it. He'll learn it all -- good, bad and ugly -- as we all do. Young love: nothing better.

So, I've been Dr. Phil'd by this young man whose diapers I changed. WTF?


It probably wouldn't hurt to consider his thoughts. Throw off a bit of the (well-earned) cynicism. I wasn't always cynical. I was once a fresh-faced romantic. Of course, I also wore acid-washed, pleated jeans with tapered ankles. You move on. With wisdom comes a certain amount of cynicism. That's just the way of it. But, don't we all sometimes think on those days when it was just fun and your heart was close to bursting?

Go on with your bad self, Young Dr. Phil. Just not too fast.

08 February 2007

Sunshine In a Box

This is Seattle this week:

I took this picture at work. Some people say, "Oh, look, the fog has rolled in off the Sound! It feels so cozy!"  What is wrong with these people?

Cozy my ass.

I am so sick of rain and fog and GREY I could puke. If only I had the energy. I am going through some serious sunlight deprivation here, folks. It's been going on for three years. What is this, Alaska?

Seattle has a reputation for rain. "What did she expect, moving to Seattle?" A valid question. You think I just moved here on a lark? From across the Atlantic with three kids and a rabbit?

Yeah, let's just do that without thinking it through.

I researched the hell out of locations before moving. I built a spreadsheet comparing my six finalist locations. I quizzed Seattleites online about everything, including the weather.

Especially the weather.

What I didn't realize then is that a Seattleite's perception of weather is completely different from mine. Here's how a typical chat would go, back in those halcyon days of Researching Seattle:

Me: So is the rain really as bad as they say?

Seattleite: Naw, we just say that to keep people from moving here!
Especially the Californians!
Miami's rainfall is way higher than ours!
Dude, we actually have drought conditions in July and August!

Me: Wow, I didn't know that! So ... it really doesn't rain that much?

Seattleite: Well, only in the winter.
But hey -- no snow!
And no thunder or lightening, just a light drizzle.
You don't even need an umbrella!

Me: That doesn't sound too bad. What about summers -- I really love the sun, does it get hot in the summer?

Seattleite: Dude! Summer is the best part!
Yeah, it gets hot, but not crazy hot, not like sticking to your clothes.
Never too hot, never too cold!
And the mountains and water? Seattle summer is the bomb!

So I'm thinking, wow, sounds good. I'm glad I checked with these folks. I can deal with winter drizzle if my payoff is this legendary summer! Hell, yeah! After moving, I found out the following things which had not shown up in my research:
  1. "Hot" to a Seattleite is 72F - 74F. With no humidity. And a maritime breeze

  2. "Winter" goes from September to April.

  3. They say May and June are"summer". They lie. May and June are just April Showers, continued.
  1. Summer is actually only August and half of July. Make it count.

  2. On Winter Solstice, it's dark when I arrive at work and dark when I leave. At 4pm.

  3. The Emerald City moniker doesn't just mean "green all the time". It means you are not in friggin' Kansas anymore, Dorothy.

Seattleites live in a weather bubble. A snowglobe without the snow. The Seattle comfort zone ranges from say, 62F to about 72F. Below or above that is considered "freezing" or "burning up".

A day that hits 80 (no humidity, mind you) is "a real scorcher".

If it hits the low 90s (again, no humidity), people lose their gottdamn minds.

Meteorologists break into TV programs with heat advisory warnings, and folks are advised to hit the malls or theaters to avoid heat stroke. You'd think it was Armageddon. Get to the A/C, where it's safe, people! Watch those babies and old folks, too.

I have not worn shorts in three years. I can count the times I've worn short sleeves. I am the color of a corpse. I wear undershirts and socks year-round. I miss real weather. I miss thunder and lightning and snow. I especially miss people who know how to drive in snow. And snowplows. But I miss heat most of all.

Hindsight is a clear-sighted bitch.

I am now researching Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD. Go figure). This is actually a big deal, because I am basically a suck-it-up-and-drive-on type of girl. What, a crisis? Sounds like a personal problem to me, soldier. Depression? Not me. PMS? For wimps. Feeling blue? Best fit that shit in after taking care of business. This of course, only applies to me. Everyone else is allowed to feel blue or have PMS.  That's "different".

I am allowed to feel crappy, I'm just supposed to keep that shit boxed up nice and tidy. Let it out of the box, and then who's going to take care of business? So to even think I could join the Ranks of the Depressed was a huge internal battle.

Whatever. I'm over that. This endless drizzly-assed GREY is depressing as hell.

I don't think SAD covers it though, for me. I have diagnosed myself with MFD-SAD, or Manic Fucking Depressive Seasonal Affective Disorder. I don't need a medical degree to know this is true. It's the manic part that confirms it.

The sun came out two weekends ago. I was as one possessed. I cleaned and organized the garage; cleaned the yard, driveway, and street of the storm debris that had been sitting for weeks (Yes, we actually had a real live storm!); got all the Christmas decorations down, packed and organized; cleaned house; did laundry; walked the dogs; cooked dinner; and finished a big project for work.

Those are the parts I remember. I get so freaking deliriously happy when the sun comes out, it's like a drug.  I swear I get high on sunbeams. That could be a song. I Get High On Sunbeams.

Fortunately, I now have Sunshine In a Box. I arrived one morning to find it outside my office door, with a Post-it note attached. A dear friend and colleague apparently heard I was about to lose my fucking MIND, and lent me her lightbox. I could kiss her boots. I considered setting up a shrine for her, the better to worship her like Ra, the sun god. Yes, a shrine. This is how twisted and desperate a sun-whore's mind becomes in the absence of sunlight.

This is Sunshine In a Box:

(Yes, that is my G.Dubya Bush countdown calendar on the right. We have 713 days left in his reign.)

The light box is the blazing white rectangle, lower left. This sucker is bright. Either it's working, or the  incrementally longer days are having an effect.  More likely, my mind is pulling some sort of psychological trickery on my ass. The placebo effect. I don't care.

I do not care.

Beats drugs or therapy.

03 February 2007

Rock On, Senator.

My daughter heard Barack Obama speak. Shook his hand. And, perhaps best of all, had the perverse pleasure of shoving past a FOX news reporter to do so. Go, baby. She skipped Arabic class and took the Metro to GMU in Virginia to watch history in the making.

That's pretty goddamn exciting.

She reports he is a magnificent speaker. He is also left-handed, which she promptly added to her list of things they have in common: biracial, single mother, went to school in another country with another language, left handed.  "We're practically twins", she stated. In the spirit of Senator Joe Biden's recent comments, I guess she could add "so well-spoken" to the list.

This is just one of the many Very Cool Experiences she's had since leaving the Left Coast for Howard U. in DC. She's but a stone's throw from W. and his minions. In fact, she was at the White House just last weekend for an anti-war protest. She walked with a group from the NOW headquarters, and also helped them sort through all manner of interesting hate mail from pro-lifers, which was evidently entertaining as hell, and definitely not carrying Christian messages of love. ("Jesus hates you!" Seriously?)

I don't know yet if Senator Obama is the best person for president, and I don't know if America is ready yet to finally cross race and/or gender lines in the White House. What I do know is that Barack Obama, while surely inspirational to a great many people, is especially and critically inspirational to my daughter, in a way that John Kerry or Wesley Clark could never be for her. Barack Obama means it's possible.

For her.

For people of color. For people from single-parent households who went to public schools. Barack Obama means that maybe important qualifications are things like activism, principles, integrity, and vision, and not things like privilege, or your great-greats coming over on the right ship, or a family legacy at some fancy-ass academy with a brick wall around it where boys will be boys and the headmaster golfs with Grandfather.

Barack Obama in this election means another barrier knocked down. A big one.

Senator Obama is fighting to squeeze through a pinhole in that glass ceiling, and better yet, he's got company. With Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson throwing their hats in the ring, we could see the nation's first Black, female, or Latino president. What do you know, we've got a diverse hiring pool for the job of commander in chief! About time. I hope they smash the fuck out of that glass ceiling.