Category Archives: family

Power Grabbing Youth

Sorry, I am obviously addicted to putting up video this week, but this one is priceless.  This is from a trip to Isham Park in Inwood at Christmas with Clementine and her cousin Kendall.  Yes, Clementine is dressed somewhat inappropriately for 20 degree NY winter weather.  Her choice, not mine.  Apparently she knows what evil superheroes wear in NY.

Guess which car we bought! (shocker)

We finally got a new car. After Chris played bumper cars with another mom from Clem’s class (well, doesn’t that sound not how I meant it) and the 88 Accord exploded into a thousand tiny plastic bits in front of the school, we thought we would be really groovy and just be a one car family. But that ended up involving me driving Chris to work a lot and then driving back to work to pick him up, but it made me feel like a soccer mom with a kid who happened to be six feet tall, and it defeated whatever eco-purpose we thought we had going there. The situation did have the advantage of giving me an excuse to rent a Mini a couple of times a month when I needed an extra set of wheels (go, Zipcar!), which unfortunately has now given me a taste for “peppy” cars. It’s a little bit like drinking a really nice wine and realizing actually is a reason they cost more. And then going back to the Two Buck Chuck.

Anyway, after spending ridiculous amounts of time on craigslist and driving to the four corners of the bay area to look at cars that either didn’t start (no, seriously) or smelled like a homeless person on a really hot day, I realized there was a sale on Prii at Toyota of Berkeley and decided one Saturday morning to just buy one. Having never bought a new car before, I thought you could just walk into a dealership and write a check, but it took 4 hours, during which time I got hungry and grumpy, and I’m surprised I made it through the sale. I was going to get a black one but they didn’t have one and they said all sorts of horrible things about black cars and, as I said, I was really hungry and wanted to leave, so I bought a blue one instead. Its cute, a cheerful color. I got the one with all the bells and whistles: Bluetooth phone connection (awesome!), GPS navigation (pretty good but sometimes the thing appears to be on crack), back up camera (handy). There are a lot of features that people who drive cars less than 12 years old heard about a looong time ago (like controls for the stereo on the steering wheel) but which excite me to no end. I am, of course, completely addicted to watching my fuel economy change every second or so. It’s a miracle I haven’t driven it into a tree yet.

The biggest problem is figuring out which blue Prius is yours in the parking lot. I’m not kidding. We went to Maker Faire last weekend and 5 other blue Prii were parked within visual range. It’s almost like being at a conference and putting down the totebag they give you at registration, and you forgot to tag it somehow. Despite being a gigantic cliché, I do love the car. It got 50 miles a gallon on the highway this weekend driving back up from Los Altos, though I get a little less than 40 doing the soccer mom thing around town. There’s some hack you can do that lets it use the electric motor more and therefore supposedly improves your mileage, but I’m skeptical. It’s a big improvement over the 22 our remaining Honda gets, and I’m quite happy with it.

They Might Be Giants

We watched Gigantic last night, the documentary about They Might Be Giants. A pretty good documentary, though really they had such good material to work with it’s hard to say. You forget how genius these guys are. And we didn’t have MTV growing up, so I’d never actually seen the videos of songs like Birdhouse in Your Soul or Don’t Lets Start. Way fun.

It brought me back to the week I fell in love with my husband. I was working at Miller Freeman and had just come back from a whole month off in India, during which time I thought about Chris quite a bit. We were both relatively recently single, and had been flirting for years. My first day back at work my boss informed me I was to go (have to go) to Cannes for a conference (Milia, the old multimedia event – remember multimedia?) I mentioned this to Chris and he decided to join me. I will spare you the details of the first couple of days, but suffice to say he met me in the airport with a more than friendly kiss. When the conference was over, my colleague Cindy and I were assigned to go to Monte Carlo (more hardship work, yes, those were the days) and meet with the Monaco office of Miller Freeman to discuss partnerships, and we decided as long as we were going to do that we should rent a car and drive around the south of France for the following weekend as well. It was kind of absurd, being in the midst of all this luxury, sublime food, gorgeous views, everything postcard perfect and sensual, and being freshly madly in love on top of it. I thought most of the time my head was going to explode, or pure crack was going to start flowing out of my pores, or I was simply going to fall over dead from an excess of joy.

So we leave Monaco, Cindy driving. Of course, the largest car you can rent in Europe is about half the size of the smallest car you can rent in the States, so the three of us and our luggage in this way-smaller-than-a-Mini were like a clown act. The drive to Vence is on tiny mountainous roads with curvy switchbacks, and I get very carsick very easily, so Chris volunteers to cram his six foot frame into the glove compartment that serves as a backseat. I proceed to get queasy anyway, especially with Cindy’s erratic driving, and Chris decides he will distract me from my discomfort by singing every TMBG song he knows. I was a TMBG fan, but nothing like Chris. There’s that whole end of I think it’s Apollo 18 where there are like 20 songs each of them just a few seconds long and I think he knew all of them. He also knew the real lyrics, whereas I, since I can never understand what anyone’s saying in any song, had pretty much made up my own words to most of them. So he sat behind me in this tiny car driving over this crazy mountain in the south of France singing me basically the entire TMBG oeuvre and put me in this state of absolute hysteria. I could not stop laughing, even though I was almost sure to throw up any minute. And every time I thought he would stop he would come up with another one. I could have barfed my guts out multiple times and still not have been more delighted with the world than I was during that drive to Vence.

Incidentally, that night, at the wine bar in Vence town square, is when we named Clementine. This was January 2000, and yes, we had just started dating, so we were way ahead of ourselves. And there is still much debate about whether I agreed to the name that night (Cindy claims she was too drunk to remember which way it went), but it is true that Chris proposed the name for our child that night. Good thing she was a girl; his boy name was Merriweather.

Campaign for #2

I want to have another baby. Chris doesn’t. Here are my reasons:
– our first kid is so cute, who wouldn’t want more cute?
– When I was growing up, of course my sister and I fought, but we always had each other. Okay, that sounds really stupid and obvious, but I don’t know how else to say it. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up without my sister, and I think it would have been a lot harder to get through the tough parts. I want Clementine to have that too.
– Once you get past the first couple of years, I think it’s easier in some ways with two because they can play together and you don’t always have to be the entertainment.
– I want to have the experience of having a baby again (not necessarily the childbirth part, but the rest of it)

Chris doesn’t put stock in these arguments. He loves Clementine dearly but doesn’t want to be subsumed by fatherhood at the expense of his life goals, like making games, which admittedly is not an easy career. I don’t want him to give up his dreams either, but I don’t believe that a second child would really be the obstacle he thinks it would be.

We’ve both stated our cases and committed to working it out somehow. But how? We fundamentally disagree, and the default case seems to be no.

Summer Veggies

We leave for Amalfi (vacation with Clementine’s 2 grandmothers) on Sunday, and when we come back, my veggie garden will probably be mostly done for the year. It’s been a total joy eating fresh from the garden beans, squash, and tomatoes all summer long. The corn didn’t really work out, and for some reason the chard never really took off (I think I overcrowded again) but there were beans for dinner about every third night, and the tomatoes just keep coming. Clementine eats squash like it was candy; she literally stuffed her face with it at dinner tonight and we had to take it away from her for fear she would choke. We are blessed with a child who loves vegetables, and I can’t help but think it’s partly because she gets such fresh, sweet produce.

Brian Sharp came over last week and made a vegan dish that blew my mind it was so good. The recipe is apparently courtesy of Lulu — thank you Brian and Lulu! I made it again a couple of nights ago (by no accident it features the three veggies we happen to have a lot of) and just had the leftovers tonight while watching ANTM. Assuming Lulu and Brian won’t mind me sharing, here it is:

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
large pinch of curry leaves (maybe 5-10 leaves)
a bunch of green beans, whole
a bunch of zucchini, chopped
a bunch of tomato, chopped
(I added a small head of cauliflower last time since we didn’t have as much squash)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1c grated coconut (the higher quality the better)

Pour a few tablespoons of canola oil (and definitely not olive, it’ll smoke at too low a temp) into a large frying pan over medium-high heat. add both teaspoons of seeds. When they start to pop, dump in the green beans and curry leaves. Cook until the green beans are done, maybe 5 or so minutes, maybe a bit more.

Once the green beans seem almost done, add the zucchini. Cook until it’s tender but not mushy, another few minutes.

Finally add the tomato, coconut, and turmeric and cook a few minutes more, until the tomatoes have reduced enough that there is a reasonable amount of liquid in the pan.

Serve over rice.

A wonderful, sappy feeling

I was going to write about politics now but I am still too much under the spell of the events of the weekend. We (me, my dad and my uncles) threw a three-day party for 50 guests from around the country in honor of my grandparents’ 60th anniversary and my grandmother’s 80th birthday. I did a lot of the planning and logistics, and leading up to it I my mind was too occupied with the details to think much about the significance of the event and what I felt about it. The reception on Friday went off fine, with a few glitches. The lunch on Saturday in Chinatown went less well,

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A familiar, distressing feeling

You know when you’re connected to both parties in a conflict, and you can see each side totally clearly, but neither side can see what the other sees and you can’t explain the other’s viewpoint to either side? It’s so frustrating. It feels initially like you’ve been given this vantage point so that you can help solve the problem, but as time goes on and you realize things aren’t getting better at all, you start to wonder if your attempts to translate are helping or hurting.

My mother and my sister don’t communicate well, or almost at all. I understand pretty clearly why each of them feels the way they do, but I can’t help them, and it feels crappy. I love them both so much.

A Nice Evening

Certain issues in politics and the media have been weighing on my mind lately (in fact, driving me a little crazy), but I have my father’s entire family, plus friends of my grandparents, in town from all over the country, and I am reminded of my grandmother’s sign on the wall at our most recent family reunion-type event that read: “Discussing politics accomplished nothing and can ruin a nice evening.” So while my family is in town, I will respect that sentiment and focus on enjoying the company of our 50 guests, who have travelled so far to celebrate my grandparents. The first event of the weekend went off well tonight; two more get-togethers tomorrow and then the AIDS Walk on Sunday. Then I will throw off the good girl mantle and rant a bit.

More on grandma

This is my Grandma Esther in 1958. Compare with recent picture.