Saturday, May 30, 2009

The clothesline of life

I'm generally something of a sun hater. I'm all, oh! Where's my hat! And no, I do not wish to have an outside table, thank you. I even have a touch of the reverse seasonal affective thingy, getting all anxious-like with all that DAYLIGHT and outdoor activities I'm not doing and such.

But laundry! I do love hanging up some clean laundry in the sun. Wet clothes and sun are a match made in heaven. It somehow makes the world spin at all the same speed, or something. It sloooows me down inside. Seeing it hang there in the breeze. It seems that's how life is supposed to go, all the time. That all is right with the world.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Inspired by this post shared with me by the lovely Noelle, I have been thinking about wardrobe. Michelle writes about her adjustment to DC work fashion codes after living in fleecy-chic Seattle. I know this shock well, though I made the opposite move and largely made it happily. I went from suits and work shoes with, like, HEELS every day to jeans, Danskos, and vests. And hats. My dainty eyes have never gotten used to the bright Northern sun, and then there's the famous rain, the years writing a dissertation on melanoma prevention, and marrying and birthing pale, freckly types. I need hats here.

I have the odd moment of missing that put-together, confident HILLARY-like feeling that a good pantsuit and three-inch heels can provide, but mostly I have never looked back. Just like I can never pack very well for a trip to a different climate (it's not REALLY 85 degrees in North Carolina, is it?), I sort of know that there is a whole coast of people over the Rockies dressing up every day. But I have also forgotten it. I see visiting speakers from the east coast, and they are so...busy. So..ironed. Bah. I'm sure I'll adjust if I ever move back there, and forget that fleece and Merrells (or Doc Martens, depending where you hang out) are the order of the day in Seattle.

That said--having made the east-west transition awhile ago, I have maintained this outdoorsy ironic image of myself, but then I took Hugo to the zoo on Friday (to meet Melanie Beanpaste! How lucky am I??). As we were walking out the door, I realized in horror that my outfit was a little...mommish. Is that a word? I'm not all into clothes or anything, but I was shocking even to myself. There I was, running shoes, jeans rolled up, polo shirt (I swear I was wearing a polo shirt), hoodie zippy waffly thingy. Hair in a pony tail, and a baseball cap. I nearly fainted.

The thing was, it was all so functional. I needed good shoes for a day of walking, I needed sun protection, I needed an extra layer for the moments in the shade. But still, it was a bit of a shock. I looked just like the moms that I had seen right through on the street for so many years.

But enough about me! What about you? Tell me a story of what your work uniform is--whatever you wear to labor and toil in. Does it fit how you would LIKE to dress for work?

(More to the point, am I the only one who has an identity crisis over clothes?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Nora seeks good grades and peace

So I'm looking for a therapist. I am! I KNOW. Hello, FUTURE EMPLOYER!

I called a bunch, talked to a few. A therapist friend recommended a guy who does shamanic work along with therapy--how cool is that? But, his voice was a little drippy and anyway none of these people take my EXTREMELY COMMON health insurance, and I am in post-job-quitting personal poverty, so bah! One lady--how cool she sounded. Sharp, edgy. A little sparkly, maybe. Like she would challenge me. And her practice is right next door to my office. I was in therapy lurve. But bah! No insurance.

So I, being very smart, take the alternate route of looking in my health insurance provider directory to see who DOES take my insurance, and start calling away. One lady, she seems cool enough. The location works. She assures me that she adores working on MY KIND OF ISSUES--overprivilege-induced restlessness--and directs me to her website, to the FORMS. Imagine my delight when I see a SIX PAGE questionnaire! About me! Asking about what I like most about myself--about my birth order--about what is going on with me, right now. Again, therapy lurve came knocking. I am pretty sure I've found The One. I can hardly wait until our first meeting.

I lovingly fill out my FORMS. We MEET. She reads through the forms. Hmmm, she's all. Mmm hmmm. She asks me a few questions. I answer. She writes feverishly. I'm distracted by her feverish writing. I make jokes because I'm distracted. She says something about how she knows it was a lot of work to do the forms, she appreciates it.

I'm all, ha ha, do I get an A?

And she's all, not in the least ha ha, do you NEED an A?

And I'm all, SERIOUSLY? Did you really just SAY that? (Except I was all that just in my head)

Then at the end, she's all, we're out of time. Do you have any questions? Mmm hmm? And I'm all, what do you THINK? Of all the crap I just told you for the last hour of my life?

And she goes into some THING about how maybe I am looking OUTSIDE myself, you know, instead of IN HERE between my BOOBIES, for satisfaction. Yes, yes, probably right about that. I did ask her what she thought, after all.

But then she's all, you know, like getting a PhD. And I'm all (again, in my head) whoa there, skipper! I thought I got the damn thing to get a better job! To make more money for less work! To move to the Northwest! To learn about *(&^ genetics so I could help people with *(&^ cancer? I was mistaken, it seems. I was FALSELY SEEKING SATISFACTION.

So, bah. She was professional, and writes an awesome questionnaire, but it was not a good FIT. And now I'm just going to shut up, because the more I say now the more loony I look. I'm just going to shut up and look between my boobies for some peace.

Next up is a guy who seems great, of course. Don't we all before we get to know each other? He brings his yappy dog to sessions to dialogue with clients. I have yet to dialogue with a dog of any sort, and I didn't with his in our introductory meeting, in fact it rather IGNORED me. (What does that meeeeean?) But it was cute at least, it didn't have an underbite like some of those little dogs do. If I was back on the east coast I could call my stoner therapist and that would be that--who also let his dog ignore me in all our sessions, mmm hmmmm. But noooooooooo, I had to go chasing peace to Seattle.

photo credit

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Hugo and I go to visit Jeff at his office. Because I like a good dose of identity crisis to start my mornings, the wife, and because Hugo ADORES it (a fridge full of string cheese! white boards and markers! Beanbag chairs! Daddy!). As H was drawing H's on the white board at the CONFERENCE TABLE where they all eat lunch, I see it, there on the table.

When Jake left we inherited his ant farm, Jeff's all.

He continues all, they like LIVE on the sugar stuff in there. They invented that stuff in, like, space.

I'm not a vegetarian. I unceremoniously fling slugs into the street to near certain death if I find them on my flowers. Yes, I am a hypocrite. But yo, it was the most pathetic thing I ever saw. A totally enclosed lucite thingy with swimming pool blue sugar crystals. Dead ants everywhere. And a few feeble live ones climbing over the dead ones, except not, because they could hardly do anything except lift their front two legs. NOT industriously digging new paths through the sugar as you might think. It made me sad.

So I go all WEIRD on them, because this is what I DO--and I'm all, you have to free those ants! How can you sit there and eat your LUNCH watching those poor animals enslaved in that thingy? And of course--OF COURSE, because this is also what I do--it sets off this BANTER where Jeff's friend is all, they get to live in FOOD, what could be better? And I'm all, that's what the slaveowners said, that they were great providers and the people were so well taken care of.

And he's all, they get to live out their natural LIVES in there. And I'm all, but what about the QUALITY of their lives, climbing over their dead friends?

It was all just so dumb. He just got smirkier and smirkier and I got more defensive about the plight of the ants. And then I launched into the story about how I was at the Jackson Lab for a genetics course and on the last day they paraded out their knockout mice like for sale or something AT A PICNIC. These poor things are just bred to get diseases and I could hardly stand it, even though I know it's all for research and etc. And my fellow non-mouse-researcher friend who is way funnier than me and could actually stand to be inside the mouse tent goes up to one cage where there is a mouse running in circles and she's all--to be FUNNY--what is that, running-in-circles mouse? And the guy is all--NOT to be funny--yes. We giggle over that one still, a million years later.

And he's all, how are the ants different from those mice? And I promise him I'm going to go home and think up an ARGUMENT for why the ants should be freed--it's about the INTENT, isn't it? Mice are put through what they are so we can hopefully cure human disease one day, right? That the ants are there to amuse bored engineers over lunch just doesn't have the same ring to it.

But at any rate I don't compose my big argument (I get distracted by grilled cheese or something), nor do I sprint out of the building with the ant farm and smash the stupid thing on a rock. And it turns out Jeff's coworker actually thinks I am odd, and not charming and witty and sparkling with intelligence as I had imagined myself to be during our banter (sparkling! I was sure of it). And so it goes, thank heavens I never became a lawyer or an animal rights activist.

Monday, May 11, 2009


I can tell I'm in a funk when I start censoring all my own blog post ideas. That one is too bitchy. That other one--too personal. They'd never like to hear about that. Or--a big one--they will see the REAL ME if I write that, horrors. I wouldn't want that other idea all over the internet. That one has been done a million times. Another cute Hugo story? Blah blah, everybody's kids are cute. Swine flu? I'm actually qualified to talk about that one but only sort of, and public health is one of my favorite topics, but bah. And so the silence continues. I have, like, blog laryngitis.

So how about I tell you how my mother's friend was visiting, and she's a play therapist, and she thinks Hugo is the poster child for attachment parenting and asked me all kinds of questions like about how we have done it. And mostly I really don't think we have done much, but the one thing that I seriously think has made a difference is our family bed (I KNOW! Too much information! I probably just cut my blog audience from 4 to 2, like when Oprah endorsed Obama and her audience shrank from 10 gajillion to 5 gajillion). And she was all, you have to blog about that. People need to know. And I was all, ha ha, no. Bor-ing. And then another friend emailed asking about our experiences and her relief nearly dripped out of my computer because she finally felt validated about cosleeping with her infant and she didn't know anyone else who admits to it except me. And even then, I'm all, no, I won't write about that.

So how about this? THIS made me feel like a good mother, today. I made a KALE SMOOTHIE and he loved it. Oh Lord, that sounds annoying. How can you stand me? I want to go for a cheeseburger or something just to counteract the kale thing. But it sure was cute.

And that concludes this episode of The Anxious Liberal Mother Chronicles. Oh my heavens.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Competitor meets hepcat

The emotionally elusive barista from my workplace coffee stand, remember him? His job was outsourced and he will probably quit rather than join the new vendor. It's terrible, it really is. He made a special effort to tell the guy in front of me in line how much he will miss him. I may not be around here much longer, and I want you know that your grumpy mug always cheered up my morning, man. I get kind of excited, naturally approaching my turn with great anticipation, sure that the crisis had opened the emotional floodgates and that I would finally get the connection I had so craved from him. Finally, I would have my MOMENT of RECOGNITION. I'll really miss you, Nora, he would say. You have brightened many of my days these six long years. But? Nothing. Just the coffee. So of course I get all needy because that's what I do and all I'm really going to miss you guys, it really sucks, I'm sorry, you are a big part of my day. He kind of just looked at me funny, pretty sure he rolled his eyes at his colleague, and I slinked away with my coffee and felt more terrible.

Bah! Bah for the recession! Bah for outsourcing! Bah for the barista-shaped hole in my soul!

And now for a completely different coffee shop--then Jeff comes home from a cafe near our house, (Fuel Coffee, yum yum, where I wrote most of my dissertation, yet where I am not a regular and know no one) whose owner has published a book! About coffee culture in Seattle! I thought you would probably like it, he's all. It's called Tall Skinny Bitter: Notes from the Center of Coffee Culture. It seems great, a piece of history, seriously. I feel cool just owning it. But right there in the first few pages, there I see it--and my heart starts to race. "Who's Who in the Coffee Shop: Customers." Have they found me out? Am I IN THE COFFEE BOOK?

The answer is yes, of course. Alongside the "regular," the "customer who used to be or thinks he or she is a barista," and the "name-dropper,"--and my favorite, "tall nonfat vanillas: admit it, you can spot these folks a mile away"--there I am! THE COMPETITOR, it says. Vies for being the most regular--and wants recognition for it.

I start to flush, feel a bit warm. There I am, right there in the coffee book. But there's more. On the same page I see "Who's Who in the Coffee Shop: Baristas"! Alongside "morning person" and "passionate about coffee" and "I have a degree and can't find a job," there I see him. HEPCAT, it says. Classic barista, probably a musician/singer/artist, sometimes filled with charming angst. Of course.

At least I'm not with the tall nonfat vanillas--my drink (Americano) was deemed the THIRD most "serious," after only the doppio and the cappucino. And I drink NO-ROOM Americano, yo. So I have at least some of the recognition I need, for today. I am whole.

Completely unrelated to my disturbing customer behavior, apparently there is a THING about macchiato. You should never, ever order a macchiato when what you really want is a caramel latte, because then it means that you have been to Starbucks who took the name macchiato, which is supposed to be "two shots of espresso marked with steamed milk" and plopped it onto their caramel latte (and they don't even use caramel SAUCE with that, just caramel syrup ick). The end.