Saturday, March 29, 2008

the results are in: my week at home

Tomorrow is the last day of my vacation. On the whole, I prefer travel vacations. It turns out that I am not the kind of person who can just let go and relax. I need to remove myself from the phone, the laptop, the chores, the daily routine, since I apparently can't ignore it all.

This is not to say the week was without its pleasures. Baltimore has great food, and we tried to eat all of it. This week we went out to eat at least once per day. We went to Los Amigos for Mexican food, to Salt for high-end cuisine. We went to Dogwood, where we combined good food with doing good (Dogwood trains ex addicts, the homeless, ex cons, so they can find employment in the food service industry). We ate at Austin Grill, at Na Do Ji, at the Towson Diner. Oh, and ate crabcakes at Faidley's in Lexington Market (and yes, they are as good as they say).

We also went out a bit. We saw the Map exhibit at the Walters Museum, along with spectacular photos from the Hubble space telescope. We visited Cylburn Arboretum and the National Arboretum (in DC). We spent Easter with my family and my mother-in-law.

I saw a few movies: a documentary on the Amish called Devil's Playground, a terrible chop socky movie called The Five Venoms. I am seeing American Gangster tonight.

I read a few books. I particulary enjoyed Bastard out of Carolina, and Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin. Yes, they have absolutely nothing in common, except that I enjoyed them.

Other than that: I cleaned the oven. I cleaned the fridge. I did laundry. Took my son for haircut. Got my hair cut and dyed. Went to the eye doctor. Worked (yes, I know I shouldn't have, but I really had to). Went to class. Did homework. Grocery shopped. Took the dog for walks, and played ball in the backyard with him. Paid bills. Cleaned out the junk drawer.

So, would I do it again? Yeah, probably. But I still think it's more relaxing to go away. Still any vacation is better than NO vacation, know what I mean?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

do I have to separate you two??

I emailed the Democratic National Committee yesterday. I asked them to use their influence with Obama and Clinton to get them to STOP bickering and focus on defeating the Republicans. The problem is that neither one of them is willing to forgo their personal ambitions in order to present a united front in the election.

We have two promising candidates, and we could still lose to McCain, because our candidates are too busy tearing each other down to notice the opposition. A political analyst I saw on TV yesterday said that Clinton's only chance at winning is to "win ugly". That she can only come out on top if she pulls every dirty trick out of the bag to throw at Obama. If she does this, by the time the general election comes around, no one will have the stomach to vote Democratic. People will either stay home, sick of the whole process, or vote McCain.

Either way, we will lose out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I went to the optician today. First time in ten years that I have had my eyes checked. Ten years ago, I had Lasik, correcting my life-long nearsightedness. Today, I discovered that one of my eyes is now near-sighted again, and one is far-sighted. This is why my drugstore reading glasses were giving me headaches... So, in ten days, I will have bifocals. Okay, nice modern bifocals with no tell-tale line through them... but bifocals.

Tomorrow, I go to the salon for a color touch-up and a haircut. My hair is mostly white now, so the color is being provided by modern chemistry.

I feel the same age I always have. I really do. But bifocals and hair color?? Time is definitely passing, whether I want to acknowledge it or not.

Friday, March 21, 2008

vacation -- at home

This is a huge first for me. At 1pm today, I am on vacation, until 3/31. At home. I have never taken more than a day of leave unless I was going away. Financially, it just didn't make sense to travel this time. I was really hoping for a week in London, but between the sky high air fares, and the execrable exchange rate, it was impossible. Hotels equivalent to a Holiday Inn ended up being over $400 a night in London when you factor in how many dollars to a british pound.

So, what am I going to do with my time? I hope to catch a few gallery exhibits (Maps at the Walters, and a photography exhibit at the BMA), maybe go to the comics museum. Our son wants to go to the DC Arboretum, a place we had a wonderful visit to a few years ago. I have to go to class on Monday night. I'm going to putter. Get my hair cut. Get my eyes checked. Read some stuff.

We'll see if I like this "at home" kind of vacation, and whether I find it as relaxing as getting away.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

a somber anniversary

Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq.

In those five years:
4000 US soldiers have died
over 20,000 US soldiers have been wounded
over 85,000 Iraqis have died
we have spent over $587 billion dollars on the war
the Iraqis have gone from 24 hours of electricity per day to less than 7 hours
we have destroyed countless schools, churches, temples, businesses, streets, bridges, marketplaces

Worth it? not by an kind of calculation known to mankind.

And so, I send a prayer for the dead and damaged. And a hope, however slim, that we learn something in this, and never ever repeat the mistake.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the "asking for it" defense

I am a little peeved. Okay, pissed, pissed, pissed. We just had a large juvenile trial here in Baltimore. A group of young teens was accused of dragging a woman and her boyfriend off of a city bus and beating the woman severely. A key to the defense was that the teens were black and the woman and her boyfriend were white. The defense argued that the boyfriend used the "N" word, and that the woman spit on the teens. And so they were "asking for it".

I am no legal scholar, but I believe there is not an "asking for it" rule. If you beat someone bloody, break bones in their face, it isn't okay because they were rude to you. Or nasty to you. If you were beaten first, if you were threatened with a weapon, you may defend yourself to the best of your ability.

But you don't get permission to severely assault someone who calls you a name, even an ugly name. And last time I checked, spit was NOT considered deadly force.

Not one defense lawyer, mind you, but five of them, came up with this strategy. They were not arguing mitigating circumstances. They weren't trying for a reduced penalty. They were arguing for "not guilty by reason of they was asking for it".

Now, the actual facts were in dispute. Maybe the woman did call them names. Maybe she didn't. Maybe she did spit on them. If she did, that would be very very wrong. And stupid, to boot. But in no way does that permit a group of children to drag her off a public bus and kick the living sh*t out of her.

The judge found the teens "involved", the juvenile equivalent of guilty. All the defense attorneys said they would appeal the decision.

What kind of message does this type of defense send to teens? They could have killed this woman, and apparently would have, if a bystander had not intervened. Asked if he felt bad for putting the woman in the hospital, one of the teens said "no. I don't feel nothin'"

I am afraid that's the truth.

Friday, March 14, 2008

life in the mom lane

I had an unusual experience on Saturday night. At 11:15pm, my son and I got in the car and drove to the local Gamestop. To stand in line. For a game. A pre-ordered game. Smash Brothers Brawl, for those of you who follow such things.

The store was full of boys and young men. There were 4 women: me, 2 other moms, and a girl who works at the store. There was one gamer girl, and one girl who came with her boyfriend and looked pissed as all get out about it.

There was a tournament going on to keep the kids occupied while waiting. My son did not participate, but clearly enjoyed watching and cheering and jeering. The tournament was won by a 9 year old kid, who beat several twenty year olds on his way to victory. There was a lot of smack talk. Lots of "you play like a chick" -- which produced outrage from the girl gamer who works there. Lots of free-floating testosterone and just general guy-ness....

There were punks (no really -- green mohawks, piercings, lipstick and eyeliner), jocks, skaterboyz, kids as little as six or seven, and a few sheepish looking grown men in the 30-40 year old range.

Every single one of them had pre-ordered the game. At the stroke of midnight, the cash registers started ringing. Each gamer went up to the register, produced their receipt, paid their balance and left with the game. The crowd was halved within 15 minutes.

Now, each one of those kids could have come in the next day and picked up their game. They probably would not have had to wait in line. And they were guaranteed the game if they picked it up within 3 days. But they all HAD TO BE THERE. They had to pick up that game the second they could.

Our son stayed up until 6am playing his new game. And said it was worth every second of waiting in the store.

And by the way, THANKS MOM!
so that is why I was at a game store instead of home in bed... for the thanks, and the grin that only a deliriously happy thirteen year old can produce.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Client 9

Oh, Eliot -- how could you? Eliot Spitzer, Mr. Clean, was a repeated client of a prostitution ring targeted by the FBI. Caught with his metaphorical pants down, his wife suffers, his kids suffer, and the state of New York likely loses its governor.

What was this guy thinking? He has made a slew of well-connected enemies over the years. He is a well-known public figure. Did he think that because he got an adjoining room in a hotel, and had the prostitute travel from New York to DC for his appointment, that no one would notice? Apparently, he thought the $4300 a night he paid would guarantee secrecy. What it mostly guaranteed is that he is an idiot.

What a disappointment! Another "champion of justice" topples over....

Sunday, March 09, 2008

taking time out to hang out

This weekend was a wonderful reminder that it is important to take time out to just hang out. In the day to day grind, it is easy to lose track of yourself. You get immersed in the tasks at hand, focused on the next thing on the list.

On Friday, we got together for dinner with the parents of our son's two best friends. Over the last couple of years, we have become good friends in our own right. We ordered pizzas, cracked open a few bottles of wine, and just kicked back and relaxed. It was brief -- the boys were volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House and finished up earlier than expected. We had to all cut our evening short to go pick up the kids. But the time we did get was great.

On Saturday night, I went out with the Orkney Road Girls, a small group of women who all live on Orkney Road. We get together sporadically, a few times a year, for food and conversation. There is something comforting and relaxing in the company of other women. This is a late realization in my life. I always believed I really didn't like women all that much, and preferred to hang with the guys. I have a few close women friends that I treasure, but I always figured they were exceptions to the rule.

I have to make more time for this, and less time for stress and chores and work.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gary Gygax, RIP

A big GEEK salute to Gary Gygax, who passed away yesterday. For those who aren't big ol' geeks, Gary Gygax was one of the creators of Dungeons and Dragons. While few adults play the original game anymore, many of us spent more hours of our adolescence and young adulthood than we would care to count playing D&D or one of its off-shoots.

We had a great time. And we made enduring friendships. We exercised our imaginations, extended our vocabularies, and occasionally learned stuff.

What more can you ask from a game?

Monday, March 03, 2008

a little sunlight and everything is better

I just took my lunchtime walk. I walked in bright sunshine. I felt 10 pounds lighter (I'm not) and ten years younger (ditto!). Monument Street is grubbily charming in the sunlight. People were everywhere. Walking, smiling, laughing, smoking, lunching, rushing. But out there in the bright light of day.


Sunday, March 02, 2008

the universe has spoken

The universe has spoken. Our son did not get into Park School. He is fine, more than fine, with the news. He is happy where he is, and is happy to be staying with his friends at Baltimore Lab. He was a little put out, initially, but this was more from the blow to his ego than from the actual result.

I think my husband and I are having a harder time with it. We wanted that kind of experience for our son, and we wanted him to have those opportunities. I think we also wanted some tangible proof of his progress. Had he gotten in, we could have pointed to that and said "look how far he's come". He really has come so far, and accomplished so much more than we had hoped. But we have to trust our judgement on that, and not some outside third party, and we of course, are biased.

I think that we will look back on this and think it was a good thing. I think he's not done learning what Lab needs to teach him.

Still, its hard to take when someone rejects your child.