Monthly Archives: June 2012

On Being a Night Owl

I’ve never been much of a morning person.

In college I used to avoid classes scheduled earlier than 10:00 AM as much as possible. I just never felt fully awake or engaged before 10 AM. My first real job was an internship with seriously weird hours: 5-10 PM weekdays and 9-5 weekends: I was working for a political consultant and with campaigns, every hour counts. I LOVED those hours. Eventually I began my career as a PR professional and the morning issue became irrelevant: I needed to work every single hour possible to get the most work done. I still found my best work was completed from 5-10 PM, and I often worked late, but I needed to be “on” in the mornings too. I think adrenaline was the key to my being able to handle the mornings, because most of my most important meetings were in the mornings and I was able to excel then. If I had to.

I was in that profession for a long time. Then I got very ill.

It took me a long time to recover from that illness: about a year. After that, I worked from home. I was primarily a customer service person and a very good and devoted one. But I worked seven days a week, and odd hours.

Then (eventually after a ton of crap) the twins were born. My husband was both working a grueling full-time job while pursuing an MBA at night and on the weekends. He just wasn’t available to help most of the time. The twins were preemies, and needed feeding around the clock. (My daughter needed to be fed every 1-2 hours because of acid reflux.) I was pumping and breastfeeding and my supply was awful. We couldn’t afford a night nurse. And so, I became the night nurse. At first, my parents stayed in our city for six weeks and relieved me at 7 AM every morning so I could sleep a few hours. Then my brother joined in a month later. My MIL would come evenings to share the load, and my FIL, when the babies were old enough, would come every afternoon to help me down from our third story walk-up so we could take the twins for a walk. I can’t stress enough how critical this help was.

My day would begin like this: at about 10:30 or 11:00 AM my mom would wake me up. I’d go get a Jamba Juice (I had to have the Matcha Green Tea Blast) then my day would begin in earnest: pumping, then feeding then burping then playing then napping (with my anxiously watching their every breath) then breastfeeding then pumping then medicine for my daughter, then changing diapers then bathing. Rinse and repeat until 6 AM.

I loved the late evenings. Darcy would be home from business school at 11:00 PM, and would immediately go to bed because he needed his seven hours of sleep to face his insane schedule. And I would stay up. I watched a lot of old movies on low volume, and kept a hawk eye on my babies. I have extremely fond memories of this period. I watched “Mrs Miniver” for the first time (a favorite now) and sang the kids lullabies from the Karaoke channel and read the Aesop fairy tales to them. My daughter had to be propped up a lot because of her reflux, and was feisty from the get-go: her distinctively loud voice was prominent from the moment she was born, when she screamed so loudly that everyone (and there were dozens) of people in the OR laughed. My son was (deceptively) laid-back and mellow. It seems to me looking back that I was at my full potential during this time: I really rose to the occasion. Was it the schedule? Or is this the evolutionary thing everyone talks about, where you don’t remember how hard labor was so you’ll do it again? I don’t know. But I think this period was my finest moment, my Churchill war years if you will.

Rollin’ with my Homies

But my body clock is still messed up by it. I detest getting up, still, everyday, at 7:30 AM. It feels like torture. I love to write at night. I love to read at night.

Are you a morning or night person? And if you are one or the other, why?



Filed under Parenting After IF

A Crow’s Funeral

Six months ago, I posted this.

And now I feel a fool. Again.

Justine was totally right about crows. I wish I hadn’t been so hard on them so many years ago.

Crows are extremely smart. They learn at least 250 different calls, and communicate in different dialects according to family, social group or in general. They are as smart as primates in many ways. They are omnivores and that makes their brains bigger and more complex. They mate for life. At one point during the PBS Nature documentary I was watching, I was reminded of Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

But crows have hard lives. They rarely make it past adolescence: often getting picked off by hawks, or hit by cars.

It also seems crows feel emotional pain. There is a legend about crows having funerals, and it turns out this phenomenon has some scientific evidence. Crows generally are part of a social group. When one dies, the whole social group will often gather nearby and wait for a few minutes, before flying away.

This greatly moved me.

Tomorrow morning I intend on having a conversation with my local crows, because there are many of them still around my home. I will tell them that I’m sorry that they have gone through so much pain (especially because more than likely, there will be crows who have lost a baby around me) and let them know I understand, and I respect and value their journey. And I wish them well.


Filed under Infertility

The Real America

Today I parked next to a Ferrari convertible with a toddler’s booster seat in the front seat. Welcome to bizarro land.

Stumbling Gracefully and I were talking about “Friday Night Lights.” She said, “I like that show because it’s about the REAL America. We don’t live in the real America.”

Deborah’s comment today really struck me to my core:

I may have said this before, but it fascinates me how much time you spend worrying about how you compare to the rich and famous. I guess just because I don’t worry about that at all. I do worry about how I compare to the people immediately around me, my coworkers and friends, and how the childhood I’m giving J compares to what my parents gave me. Famous people, and the very wealthy, just seem too far away (literally and figuratively) for me to worry about. But I guess where you live, these people are NOT far away. That seems like it must be really hard.

Where I live is odd. It shapes me in ways that I know and ways I forget. To be amidst a lot of privilege day in and day out is my reality. All of my peers, my fellow parents, my longtime friends: they all live in luxury. To be sure, I am at the very bottom of the totem pole of wealth here. While I budget and don’t eat out and go to Safeway and rarely go out for an evening’s entertainment, life is not an economic struggle for us. I don’t see the struggle of others first hand in my personal life. In fact, when I first discovered ALI blogs I was amazed by how many people’s insurance didn’t cover infertility treatments or that most women and men in this country can’t afford even a cycle of IVF. That’s why Faces of ALI has become such an important work for me: it aims to tell the economic side of the story as well as the emotional side of the story. I was listening to an expert speak about Middle East politics today on NPR, an academic, and he said that the ONLY thing that will ever change minds about a subject is by SHARING STORIES. That’s why I really want to publish Faces of ALI. Before I turn 40. I want to change the way the infertile in our country get medical treatment. I want more tax credits, I want insurance to step up to the plate more. Every American deserves the chance to pursue infertility treatment. Not just the wealthy.

Because we all know that the Real America is a place of inequity, of vast differences in income, wealth, geography, belief systems and familial resources. I go visit my parents in Arkansas and drive the country roads riddled with broken-down trailers and rusted out cars and it reminds me of driving through the beautiful backroads of rural Tanzania and the huts and gardens and the rusted out trucks were there, too.

Justine wrote a haunting story about stumbling across an evicted home and finding a pair of tiny ruby red slippers amongst the abandoned possessions. Justine ran back home and took her son to help try to do some good in this crappy situation. The tenant was a single mother with five children, who was often high. Justine gathered up as many non-expired canned goods she could to donate to the public food pantry.

We see the many different elements of this odd, flammable patchwork quilt of our country, divided into squares by moral imperatives, by the gap between the wealthy and the poor and the middle class, by the educational opportunities or not young people have to pursue. By taxes. By healthcare costs.

What can we do to get out of our comparative comfort levels and understandings? Can we share stories? What can we do to help others?


Filed under Blogging

Aspirational Vs. Inspirational

Yes, I have a lot to say about Bohemia today.

I read a lot of magazines. I will name them not. But they annoy me. They sell me things I cannot afford and they sell me the notion that the only way to live is to be rich, rich, rich but with the tastes of Bohemia. Also, that women need to be thin, thin, thin.

I don’t subscribe to these magazines. They come to our home, unsolicited. And I throw them across the room after reading about people who had just bought a penthouse, and were surprised to discover a beach home that they just “had to have.”

Today I discovered a quote that explains an actual theory behind this philosophy: it comes from Andy Warhol, and his mission for Interview, a magazine about the high/low differential: the “difference in the classes: the ultra-rich and the ultra-bohemian.”

It’s messed up crap that doesn’t speak to most of America.

So, I live in Marin County. The “high” ones are the anorexic ladies who lunch at the club and flirt with the tennis instructors. The “high” men are the financial wizards or tech-loving outdoorsy people or the landed gentry who come here because it is just too damn beautiful. Us townies who were actually born here and grew up here? Yeah, not so much luck settling here. Most of my childhood friends have moved.

I was reading the NY Times “Vow” section tongue-in-cheek on Sunday at my in-laws. The story was quite gripping until the mention of the bride’s family, who have a “second home” in Bolinas, here in Marin. Bolinas is not only outrageously expensive, it’s incredibly exclusive: Martha Stewart was banned from buying property there.

Why mention that? Why say “second home in Bolinas” when it’s not a necessary detail readers need to know? I asked my MiL about it.

“Oh, my husband and I love to read about these stories. We think we could apply a few of the not expensive details in the story to our events and that makes us happy.”

In other words, the very rich have tastes they learn from the bohemians that the middle class then adapt into their own lives.

I know there is a lot of criticism about lifestyle blogs, but this is the very reason I love them so much. The main tastemakers are fashion-oriented women who can curate their own styles. Like Pandora’s Box or Atlantic Pacific. By following them, we get to bypass the “aspirational” and move straight into “inspirational.”

For example, this outfit was directly inspired by Blonde Salad.

What say you: do you like this movement of relative nobodies suddenly dictating style based on their own talents and instincts, or do you prefer cultural “gatekeepers” to limit style from the higher-ups, like Karl Lagerfield (who cribs from bohemia) directly to the rich, then filtering down to the masses via hip-hop stars, and actresses and H&M? Do you aspire to a wealthy aesthetic? What inspires your style?


Filed under Blogging

Girls and the Lure of Bohemia

Image from Wikimedia Commons

Bohemianism is the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians can be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds. Per Wikipedia.

Bohemia, the garrets, art. I touched on this in the last post, and thanks for the very thoughtful responses. I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole subject of “lady bloggers.” My end takeaway right now is: we need the blogging niches for the community and the term “lady” is offensive for all sorts of reasons: I agree with you all about that. But I am still convinced that there have been some great pieces of writing about many subjects other than ALI on ALI blogs which, if the author agreed to share them to the world at large, (and this point is a MAJOR IF, I feel you on not wanting something to go viral because of the privacy of your blogs) deserve greater circulation.

Maybe there IS a blogging platform out there that allows these pieces to have greater viewing and I am missing it. BlogHer is a syndication platform with curated content, and actually those two pieces I mentioned were “Voices of the Year,” which is how they went viral.

SOOOO, “Girls.” I have had a whiplash of emotions around the series. First, jealousy that the creator was 24 when she landed an HBO show contract!! Irritation that Judd “nerdy guys should only date hot girls” Apatow was involved. Hesitation about the way four women would once again be stereotyped by four specific characters. Concern that twenty-something women were calling themselves “Girls.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed the show. And am totally bummed out it’s over.

The character of Hannah, the creation of the story’s main actress and writer Lena Dunham, is someone I haven’t seen before on film. And it’s not just her body type or the way she’s painfully out there in ALL scenes.

She’s a real female Bohemian. And I can’t say that I have seen this sort of portrayal previously. I HAVE seen the romantic, tragic beautiful muse character of Bohemia-land. (See Mimi in La Boheme or her modern counterpart Mimi Marquez in Rent or even Jessa, Hannah’s BFF.) But a female whose art is the most important facet of her life, whose main goal is to live a fascinating life so she can write about it?

It’s a unique perspective for me, the person who lived and grew up with parents who were writers, because I firmly rejected that path due to the (relative) financial hardships that accompanied that life. I determined that I wanted a life of monetary ease, and quickly set about achieving that through my career and by working hard and pursuing the usual goals: love, marriage, house, kids.

The writers and artists I encountered when I lived and worked in London and San Francisco mostly fit into the category of Trustafarians. They didn’t need to worry about their financial concerns, so they could choose a life pursuing painting, fashion or music. A few of them repelled me with their rejection of the “American Dream”: it’s so easy to put down the “dorks” who work hard as lawyers or PR people or accountants when you don’t have to worry about paying rent…

That’s why Hannah is so compelling to me: her parents cut her off financially in the first episode and she has to scramble to finance her dream of being a writer. She gets fired from her salary-free internship at a publishing house when she dares to ask to be paid. (Her boss explains he gets hundreds of requests to work for him for free everyday.) So we see her flail through a series of crappy jobs in her attempt to, well, support herself.

Most striking of all: SPOILER!!!
She basically terminates her relationship with the guy she chases the whole season because it gets “too serious.” Because it might interfere with her attempts to live in this authentic way.

I found myself cheering her on, now, as a 39 year old, in the final wordless scene as she sits on a beach and calmly eats a piece of cake, even after her life has sort of imploded by everyone’s standards. I am proud of her, in that scene. That she has remained true to herself. I know that had I watched that scene as a 24 year old, I would have been appalled and scared for her future.

Have you watched “Girls?” Did you enjoy it? Does living a life dedicated to pursuing your artistic dreams appeal to you? Or does it scare you?


Filed under Blogging, writing