Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"I Shot a Man in Weeeno . . ."

Proof That a Helmet Can Save Your Life . . .

I'm not sure that this was what my mom meant when she insisted that I wear a helmet while riding a bike:
A driver, now identified as an Asheville firefighter, shot a bicycle rider because he was angry the man was riding with his child on a busy road, Asheville police said.

The shooting happened Sunday morning on Tunnel Road.Officers said the victim was riding with his wife and had his 3-year-old son in a child seat attached to his bicycle when a driver approached him. Police said the driver, Charles Diez, claimed he was upset that the victim was bike riding with his child on the heavily traveled Tunnel Road.
Diez pulled a gun and opened fire, hitting the victim in his bicycle helmet, according to police. They said the bullet penetrated the outer lining of the helmet but did not actually hit the victim's head. 
Remember, kids, riding a bike on the road can be dangerous. Because someone might think it's so dangerous that he has to protect you. By shooting you in the head.

via Free Range Kids

Monday, July 27, 2009

Har Har

Today, CNN has an article featuring 43 strange or inappropriate things that people have said during job interviews. Though these remarks are billed as "laugh-out-loud hysterical" and "jaw dropping," most of them are pretty innocuous. Asked to describe himself in three words, an honest candidate says, "I hate questions like this." Who doesn't? Another admits that he is homeless and living in a "gypsy camp," so he cannot give a permanent address. Are you shrieking with laughter yet?

But my favorite was this one:

"Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room? I heard you have a great one here and while I don't plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast feed and would want to use that room."
LOLZ! A woman betrays an interest in the company's accommodations for mothers of young children, then realizes her mistake and assures the interviewer that she has no immediate plans to become a mother (because she wants the job). What a "weird" thing to say in a job interview!

I don't know why this stupid little article hit me so hard — maybe it was the tone of unbridled, compassionless glee at the hapless job candidates who do things like ask about benefits or reveal that they're going through hard times. At a time when so many people are looking for work, it seems in bad taste.
Bite me, CNN.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


When I was in high school, I had a friend named Molly and I remember being shocked when I learned that that was her whole name. I've been doing a bit of research on names and am surprised by the popularity of nicknames as given names.

According to the Social Security's list of the top 1000 names of 2008, the following names are fairly popular given names:
  • Jack (#39)
  • Jake (#112)
  • Andy (#211)
  • Frank (#278)
  • Charlie (#307)
  • Danny (#330)
  • Chris (#348)
  • Ricky (#365)
  • Larry (#375)
  • Joe (#411)
  • Sam (#458)
  • Molly (#104)
  • Kate (#139)
  • Ellie (#167)
  • Maggie (#214)
  • Abby (#259)
  • Angie (#340)
  • Annie (#392)
This is not a new phenomenon — almost all of these names were also in the top 500 in 1908. I guess I just didn't realize just how many people named "Abby" or "Jack" aren't really Abigails or Johns.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

New York Gov. to Sign Unshackling Law

Holy shit.

Yes, by all means, sign the law that prohibits laboring women from being chained to the bed during childbirth if they are prison inmates. How barbaric.

Names I Like Very Much, But Could Only Choose One Of



I have cousins named Jeffy and Steffy*, and I refuse to make my kids Molly and Olly.

*I haven't spoken to them in a while. I imagine that they go by other names now, though Jeff and Steph is not much better. Jeffrey and Stephanie is fine.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shallow Worries

 pb (B-Day +1) and her dad

At this preparatory stage of motherhood, I have many substantial worries: Will I be able to get pregnant? Will I be sick for nine months straight? Will the baby be healthy? Will I be able to hack childbirth? Will I manage to keep my baby alive once it's born?

All of these epic worries make my shallower worries seem unforgivably petty — so much so that I hesitate to mention them. But, if this blog is going to be useful as a record, I can't hold back.

One of my shallowest worries is that my baby will be . . .  unattractive. Not ugly exactly — but not within my frame of reference for attractive babies.

I should explain — my family are all dark-eyed, dark-haired, and olive-skinned, while my husband is the pastiest of redheads. All of my siblings have been adorable, round-faced, coal-eyed Mediterranean babies born with copious amounts of black hair. I hear that other babies lose their birth hair — none of us did (though mine did recede a bit from my forehead and shoulders).

Whenever I see a chubby, dark-eyed baby, I want to swoop in and kiss it. But I don't have such a thing for blond, blue-eyed babies. They're cute enough, but my brain doesn't seem to register MINE.

I'm sure I'll think that any child of mine is the cutest, sweetest, smartest baby alive, but the possibility of having a child who doesn't display the physical characteristics of my ethnicity is somewhat troubling. I imagine it's part and parcel of my larger guilt over not transmitting my heritage to my kids. I've taken their father's hyper-Anglo last name, I've abandoned my Catholicism, I've moved 100 miles away from my family, etc. I'm going to have to name Snapdragon Giovanni Giuseppe Luigino in order to assuage my guilt.

So maybe not that shallow. Still, in the scheme of things, a petty worry.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


My mother-in-law's best friend's daughter, C, had a baby recently — a little girl.

C is into all sorts of sci-fi and Ren Faire type stuff, so I was keenly interested in her choice of names for her newborn. I was definitely expecting something Celtic or fantasy-inspired: Arwen or Raven or Guinevere or something along those lines.

Then, MiL mentioned that C was telling everyone that she wanted something "beautiful and unusual" for her precious snowflake. That changed my thinking. Not only was it going to be an unusual name, it was going to be something that even C considered unusual. Seraphina? Iolanthe? Boudica?

When the baby came, MiL emailed to tell us that mom and baby were both healthy and happy and that C had chosen the name . . .

. . . Emma Isabelle.

Major disappointment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Happy Anniversary, FB

Two years ago today, FB and I finally moved out of the living in sin phase and into the legally-recognized family phase of our relationship.

While I haven't noticed a very stark contrast between our pre-marriage and post-marriage relationships, I'm very glad that we had a wedding. It was a beautiful day — about 200 of our friends and relatives gathered in my aunt's back yard and joined us in celebrating. We had delicious barbecue, kegs of Sam Adams, and an extensive cake buffet. Our dads (and many uncles, friends, etc.) are musicians, so people brought guitars, fiddles, and bodhrans and sang until dark.

Most importantly, everyone we loved was there, which was especially important because my beloved grandfather suffered a massive, fatal stroke just a few weeks later. He lingered almost a year before dying, but he was not himself during that time. Because of our wedding, everyone in the family has dozens of pictures of themselves spending time with him just before he left us.

We don't usually make a big deal out of anniversaries — we're going to dinner tonight, but after that, FB's going to watch the All-Star Game with friends. Last year, we went to Cape Cod for the weekend around this time. The trip was notable only because FB lost his wedding ring while we were playing in the very cold ocean (finger shrinkage). He has since gotten a replacement.

I love you, FB. Hopefully, we'll have to get a babysitter in order to go out for dinner next year!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Monday, July 6, 2009

Everything's More Fun

On a recent business trip, FB had a chance to hang out with his brother in San Francisco. After visiting the Exploratorium, FB sent me a text:

"This would be so much fun with kids."

Over the past few years, I've found myself thinking the same thing over and over. Christmas is lovely, but it would be so much fun with kids! We love the New England Aquarium — imagine how great it would be with kids! The beach, our garden, birthdays, rainy afternoons — all could be vastly improved by the addition of happy babies/toddlers/kids.

I can't wait to get started.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Twins by Surprise

Last night, sleepless, I found myself watching a TLC special called "Twins by Surprise." The show recreated the stories of four women who thought they were carrying singletons, but ended up with surprise twins. One of the mothers had her babies in 1979, before ultrasound was routine, two more were assisted by midwives (one home birth, one hospital), and one one had an unassisted homebirth.

It was an upbeat show — all the twins were born full term (or nearly so) and healthy — but the final story really bothered me. The woman who had the unassisted homebirth had no prenatal care and was relying on her obviously clueless husband's help. Both parents assured the camera that they had done all the necessary research and preparation, but I was skeptical.

I went and read some freebirth websites to find out what she could have been thinking. The sites I read had some good points, but also some very flimsy reasoning. I agree that routine birth is not a medical event and that doctors and hospitals do not always provide the best care. All five of my mother's children were born with the assistance of midwives, without drugs, and I fully intend to find a birth center for my own little Snapdragon.*

The part where the freebirth websites go off the rails is in their assertion that unassisted birth is a reversion to a natural state/historical norm. They cursorily acknowledge the existence of midwives, but all of the sites I read portray the choice as a stark contrast between strapped-down, knocked-out c-section and giving birth serenely and solitarily in a field of daisies. They draw facile analogies between quadrupeds and humans, implying that solitary birth is natural for women.

In fact, solo childbirth among humans is an historical anomaly. Social birth and bipedalism go hand-in-hand. In my other life, I am an historian and I can say for sure that throughout recorded history, solo births have never been the norm. It has been much more typical for women to be assisted by mothers, sisters, neighbors, and experienced midwives. Skillful helpers have soothed and served women in labor, encouraged them, and dealt with emergencies.

I am sympathetic to some of freebirth advocates' points: labor is natural, we are inappropriately socialized to expect suffering rather than competence, we need to listen to women and trust them.

But I don't think it follows that freebirth is the logical end of these beliefs. Many midwives and mothers — and even some doctors — are respectful and helpful, rather than overbearing and meddlesome. I don't think freebirth should be illegal because I'm staunchly pro-choice, but speaking for myself, I wish to be surrounded by caring, competent women, just as my ancestors were.**

*I have nothing against homebirth and think it's probably best for a lot of people — my major reason for prefering a birth center to a home birth is that I want to leave as much mess/bodily fluids elsewhere, rather than in my 700-sq-ft house.
**I do hope to have FB there with me, too — a feature of modern birth I fully embrace.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Lots of mommy blogs have those little Lilypie counters that show how long until their due dates or how old their kids are. I think they're cute. FB laughs at me, but then, he likes those little white stick figures people put on the backs of their vans, while I think they're tacky as all hell.

I checked out the Lilypie site and played around with the counters, hoping I'll have a chance to use one soon. Some of the sliders are babies dressed as flowers, which would be perfect for Snapdragon.

I didn't realize that Lilypie had other counters — some of them are a little creepier. Do people really want to publicize how long they've been waiting to adopt or trying to conceive? It seems like it would be torture to see the days and weeks ticking away if you wanted to adopt or conceive but couldn't.

One in particular made me laugh out loud. This is the icon for one of the "Trying to Conceive" counters:

I suppose if you look closely, you can see that the bunny's tail is over to the right, but at first glance, it's a little . . . on the nose. Maybe I'll get one of those counters after all, just so I can put some bunny porn on this blog.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Subaru Commercial

I hate commercials and, because I have a TiVo, I can usually avoid them. The only time I'm a sitting duck is at the gym, where reruns of ER help me through my cardio.

The worst offenders when it comes to dumb/formulaic/offensive ads are generally car companies, beer companies, and Burger King. So, imagine my surprise when I saw a Subaru ad that was not only true to life, but actually made me slightly more likely to consider buying a Subaru.

The ad opens with a teenage boy who says something along the lines of, "I'm the youngest, so I always get hand-me-downs." Then, it shows the boy with many discarded items — a bike with pink streamers, an old boombox, an ancient computer — that he modifies and uses cheerfully. At the end, he says, "Now, I don't mind" as another young man tosses him the keys to a gently-used Subaru. The line at the end is something about Subarus lasting.

Maybe they're running this ad because of the state of the economy. Maybe their ad agency hired someone from a large family. I don't know how they came up with this ad, but I found that it spoke to my experience exactly. This is precisely how my family deals with expensive items like graphing calculators, computers, and cars. The old white Buick that was originally my grandfather's went to my dad, then to me, then to my two younger brothers before it died for good. Since FB has a good tech job, we always have good, new-ish laptops, and my siblings (and dad) have been the recipients of our Macs whenever we upgrade.

Usually, car commercials show the product on a mountaintop or speeding through the desert — I just tune them out. This one captured how my family actually uses things. Good job, Subaru. The next time I'm in the market, I'll keep you in mind.