Friday, November 28, 2008

The World's Saddest Pumpkin Cake

Last year, it just slid out of the very cool bundt pan with hardly a shake. This year, not so much...

The icing didn't do a lot to disguise the issues...

(Re: The sign. Moaning to Baroy about what had happened to the cake, I said, "It tastes awesome, but I can't just serve it without comment! I can't have people thinking I meant for it to look like this! I need like a sign or something..." This is what I came back to a little later. Baroy cracks me up. It's why I keep him. Well, one of the reasons.)

And for those of you who follow me on Twitter (I'm tinycoconut there, fyi), here's an extra photo of the done-two-hours-too-soon turkey in its Who-Framed-Roger-Rabbit swaddling:

Thanks, Butterball Turkey Talk Line! It stayed perfectly hot, and was still awesomely juicy! (Which is probably also thanks to Alton Brown and his now tried-and-true brining technique...Yes, I know brining is 'out' these days, but I'm sticking with it, 'cause I love the way the turkey turns out.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Not Just a Jew

So there's this guy in my office, and really, he's very very nice, and I feel mean for complaining about him, but...

Oy. If he doesn't leave me alone with the Kosher stuff, I'm going to kill him!

I'm mean. I really am. I know he's just trying to be nice, to find some kind of common ground. Or not-common ground, because he's not Jewish. Insteady, I guess he's trying to find something to talk about with me. Some kind of more personal connection than the weather. It's so sweet of him to try. But I really am going to kill him.

It all dates back to when I took a couple of days off for the Jewish holidays. Soon thereafter, he started pulling me aside when he saw me getting coffee (which is right next to his office).

"Hey, TC, did you know that they have a Kosher kitchen on campus?"

Oh, really? I had no idea. How interesting. I mean, I'm not Kosher,'s nice to know that they try. Thanks for telling me.

"TC, some day we should go over to the LunchPlace and I'll show you where the Kosher kitchen is!"

That would be really cool. I mean, like I said, I don't keep Kosher, but, sure, I guess...

"TC, did you see that the Kosher kitchen is sponsoring a dinner Friday night? You should think about going so you could meet other Jewish people from the campus!"

Yeah, well, thanks, but I have to get home and feed the kids, and did I mention, I'm not Kosher, and...

"Hey, TC, come look at the photos I took at the Kosher dinner on Friday night. I have some questions to ask you about the whole Kosher thing. I mean, why did they blahblahblah and when they blabidyblah, why did they bleedledeedoo..."

I do not know. I DO NOT KNOW. I am not Kosher. Not Kosher! NOT! KOSHER!

You know, there's an African American woman in my office as well, and I've noticed lately that there is another coworker of ours who, every time she goes by this woman's office, stops to talk about Obama. It's, well...embarrassing is what it is. Awkward. I wonder where it comes from?

And I wonder whether I'll go directly to hell for being so mean about someone who is just trying to be nice...or whether I'll stop off at the Kosher kitchen first?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Snooping and Kvelling

Em knows that she has no expectation of privacy online, and in particular in her email account.* She's 11, for one thing, and she's gotten in trouble on the computer in the past, for another. So every month or so I log in to her account and check on what's come in--and gone out--just to be sure everything's OK. Just a couple of emails, here and there. I'm in, I check, I'm out. Well, most of the time.

We were taking a walk this evening, and she mentioned to me an incident that had happened at lunch, where some of her friends were joking about a boy in her class. This boy is on the spectrum--my guess would be somewhere just slightly south of high-functioning autism--and Em has been in his class for the past three years. She said that her friends were ragging on him during lunch, and she--as she always has, to give credit where credit is due--had told them to cut it out. Apparently, though, this time she took some flack for it and--as she told me during our walk--she thought that was especially unfair. Then she mentioned that she'd emailed one of the friends, a more-or-less innocent bystander to the talk, to try to tell her side of the story.

And so I decided that tonight would be one of the nights I'd do a little checking in her email. Because, really. I just had to see what she'd written. Sue me. And then sue me again, because I'm about to share a small part of it with you:
C says that I should lighten up and just have fun and that he doesn't know that they make fun of him but thats my point! He's just like any of us he's just a little more special.
Just a little more special. I think I know someone else that applies to as well.

What a kid.

*Yes, I know that expectation of non-privacy probably doesn't extend to my blog as well. Too bad. This should be the worst thing I ever do to her--invade her privacy so that I can tell everyone how wonderful she is.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Stupid and Unreliable

Today I had my first bad day at my new job. Not unremittingly bad or anything. Just...stuff that went wrong. Problems that cropped up that I had to deal with. (All of which, happily, was interspersed with the becoming-usual fun or interesting stuff, like talking with one Very Famous Scientist and making him laugh, and doing an interview with a couple of earthquake researchers that was so fascinating it made me feel--not for the first time--like I really am getting away with something here, getting these one-on-one fascinating graduate-level lectures not only for free, but for PAY.)

Still, there was the bad. And, for some reason, it really hung on today. Most days, at most jobs, I can just shake myself free of the annoyance at the end of the day. Maybe I'll trot it out later in the evening as a story to make Baroy laugh or commiserate with me or something, but by then I've let it go. Not today. It stayed with me on the way to pick up Em and N at religious school, it stayed with me as I drove them home, it stayed with me during a PTA meeting after I dropped them at home, it stayed with me while I studied with N for his social studies test tomorrow, and while I put Em to bed and lay down with her for a while.

It was then, lying in the dark listening to my daughter's breath grow deep and regular, that it hit me why. Why it was sticking with me. Because the badness of today had to do with mistakes made by other people at other institutions. People whose mistakes are making me look stupid and unreliable.

In my line of work, reliability is key. I have to be trusted, or the information I'm giving people will be rejected out of hand. And the mistakes made today could very well put that reputation for trustworthiness at risk. (Yes, I'm probably being melodramatic. It's one day, one bit of faulty info. But, like I said, it's been a stickily bad day.) Even though this incident was So Very Much Not My Fault, there's still the fact that my name is at the top of a piece of paper distributed to a large number of people...and there's also still the fact that what is said on that paper is, in some ways, a lie.

But, worse yet, is that these mistakes also made me look stupid. They were mistakes I never would have made, if it were within my power not to have made them. (Yes, I know that's convoluted, but it's the best I can do here. Work with me.)

This is what cuts right to my very core. If there's anything I simply cannot abide, it's being made to look stupid. Because I'm not. There are a lot of things I do in my professional life that are less than exemplary, but I'm not dumb. And being made to SEEM dumb, to APPEAR dumb, when it wasn't even me BEING dumb...urgh. And so, with each email I had to send out ("I apolgize for the error, but...") I died a little inside. And that's why now, a good six or eight hour later, it's still smarting. I'll get over it. But damn. I just want to scream: I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb...*

*Fifty points if you didn't even hesitate before being able to name the movie from which those last two lines came from. Not that it's that hard. I don't have that boy gene, the one that enables you to quote obscure lines from every movie you've ever seen. I can remember about seven lines, from about five movies, those being two of them. When it comes to movie quotes, I'm will happily admit to being stupid.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mother of the Year...For Reals

What you think to yourself when your son announces how urgently he has to pee, despite the fact that you reminded him to go 37 times before getting into the car: Fraggamaggafriggamurgh. And also, would it be really wrong to strangle him just for a few seconds? Yeah, I guess it would.

What you say out loud when your son announced how urgently he has to pee, despite the fact that you reminded him to go 37 times before getting into the car: I reminded you to go 37 times before getting into the car. [Big sigh.] Let me know when you can't hold it any more.

What you do when he tells you, four seconds later, that he can't hold it any more: Pull over to the side of the rush-hour-trafficky freeway, sigh very deeply several times in a row, roll down your window, take the top off your travel coffee mug, pour out the leftover coffee, and silently hand the mug to your son.

What your son does when you do this: Stare at you blankly.

What your daughter does when you do this: Stare at you in absolute horror.

What you do when they stare at you: Tell your son in a very grim voice to get it over with already. Tell your daughter that it's one of the benefits of being a boy, and that if she needs to go, she's shit out of luck. And yes, you use those very words.

What you do when your son finishes peeing in your travel coffee mug: Put the cap back on the top, put the mug in the cup holder, rejoin the barely moving traffic.

What you hear from the seat behind you: Your son, sighing deeply, and saying, "Oh, that is SO much better." Your daughter, in a high squeaky voice, repeating over and over again, "Ew. Ew. Ew."

What you do when you finally pull into the driveway of your home: Turn around to both children and say, "Throughout the rest of your lives, whenever you are pissed at me and thinking that I don't love you, that I don't care about you, that I am selfish or mean or whatever...I want you to think back to this very moment, the moment I ALLOWED YOU TO PEE IN MY COFFEE MUG, and take it all back."

What they do in response: Giggle. And then nod. And then get out of the car as fast as they possibly can, running into the house screaming, "Dad, guess what Mom did...!"

What you do with the travel coffee mug: Consider burning it. Then, take it into the house, pour its contents into the toilet, turn on the hot water in the kitchen sink, pour a capful of bleach into the mug, and leave it there with the near-boiling water running into it for 15 minutes. The next three times you run a load through the dishwasher, the mug will be in there. And from then on, every time you make your morning coffee, think about how you deserve a reward. No. A fucking MEDAL, you deserve.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hope and Hate

I took Em and N with me last night to vote, and let N push the ink votey thingy down in the hole for Obama, while Em got the privilege of voting against Prop 8. Both were given "I Voted" stickers, and both left the polling place absolutely ebullient, though N confessed to me that even though he'd voted for Obama in his class election and in the voting booth on my behalf, he sort of wished McCain would win.

"Why?" I asked.

"Because his name is easier to say than Aback Abama," he admitted. And that, my friends, is Example 875 of Why I Want To Eat That Child Up With a Spoon. (And why he still needs that speech therapy, too.)

Later, after watching Obama's acceptance speech, Em emailed her Uncle S. "Hey. Obama just won!!!! N and I went to help Mommy vote and N got to punch in the president and I got to say NO TO PROP 8!!!!!!!!!!!" And, later in the email, "This is the first election that I was actually able to understand it and able to appreciate it! We made history!!! And I was alive to see and make it! I am just so excited I can't put it into words!!!"

And THAT, my friends, is Example 1,242 of Why I Want to Grow Up to Be Just Like My Daughter. We made history, indeed.

Sadly, like me, she visibly deflated this morning when she heard about Prop 8. "I don't understand," she said. "How could that be?"

"I don't know, honey," I said. Because I don't.

"You look sad," she said.

"I am," I admitted.

"Are you still happy about Obama, though?" she asked anxiously.

"Of course I am," I replied reassuringly. She'd already heard back from her Uncle about how his plans to move to Boston are now firmer than ever after last night's proposition vote, and I think she really needed permission to still feel excited about what had happened, instead of only sad.

And it was true. I'm very happy about Obama. I'm just not as hopeful as I was just a few hours ago.

It's hard to feel hopeful
in the face of hate.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Shameful Advertising

I've been too busy, too distracted, too...elsewhere to post these past few days. Haven't even visited this site to check on my stats, which tells you something. But I'm here now...because of something I saw on someone else's site.

It was the site of a friend of mine, someone I've known for years...or, rather, someone I thought I knew. But then, today, when I went to her site, there it was...a "Vote Yes on Prop 8" ad from Google Adsense.

I was, to be honest, a little bit sickened. I've tried to stay away from talking politics here, because it just never ends well. But working to defeat Prop 8 means a lot to me, and I'm not shy about saying so. In the same way that I don't think marriage should be based on sexual preference, I don't think that roundly and soundly rejecting Prop 8 needs to be based on sexual preference, either. I can be straight and think that a movement to legislate the way in which two people are allowed express their love and commitment to each other is hateful and discriminatory...and I do. I find the whole "Yes on 8" movement deeply, personally, upsetting and offensive. And while I've made some version of peace with those friends who I know disagree with me, this person wasn't one of them. I thought we were of like minds on this. I thought I knew her. Seeing that ad on her site unsettled me. It threw me off. It made me...well, it made me angry. I kept having imaginary conversations with her in my head, challenging her to go and tell our mutual friends--our mutual gay friends--why their relationship is any less real, any less worthy of being made 'official'--than mine or hers. I was pissed.

It took a while for me to start to wonder if maybe I was missing something. Nah, couldn't be. I mean, I have Adsense on my blog, too, and all it took was a click of a button when I first signed up to tell them that I didn't want any Republican political ads on my blog. Why didn't she do the same? Didn't she realize that this would be the end result...that her site could be used to promote the very things she fights against? How could she be so...stu...

Uh oh. Oh, no. No. Nonononono. It couldn't be. Could it? Could the fact that the Prop 8 issue in California isn't a straightforward Republican versus Democrat issue mean that it wasn't covered by that checkbox in my original agreement with Google?

Yes. Yes, that's precisely what it did mean. Because there it was, in all its offensive glory, the moral equivalent of me walking into my synagogue with a swastika on my arm. An ad, on my blog, urging people to "protect marriage."

Oh, god. I feel sick.

So, here and now, is my official apology: If you're a Californian and you have been to this site in the last few days...and if when you were here you saw this absolutely-contrary-to-everything-I-believe-in ad...and if seeing it upset you, angered you, made you begin to reconsider what you thought you knew about me--as it did when I saw it on my friend's site--I apologize. It's my responsibility to watch for these things...It's my blog, and I'm the one who chose to start putting ads on it. The good news is that I can also pull those ads. Google AdSense has been removed from my blog, and it will not be returning.

I can't wait for this all to be over. There's just way too much ugliness mixed in with all that hope.