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Thursday, December 14, 2006
Book Review: Death by PowerPoint
I just received a review copy of what appears to be a cheeky, yet helpful, new book, Death by PowerPoint: A Modern Office Survival Guide by Michael Flocker (De Capo Press). Although it doesn't target on-ramp parents it promises to be much more relevant than Comeback Moms, a disappointing (but not totally useless) book that came out this past summer.
Death by PowerPoint includes chapter titles that really speak to me. Titles like: The Lives of Drones and Workers. Apparently I've got a future as a drone, so I am definitely going to check that out. Plus, it's the first chapter, so it's too early in the book to start skipping around.
It's also got chapters on dress as well corporate politics and lingo.
It's even got a chapter on sex in the workplace. Hmmm, maybe going back to work is more fun that I thought!
Oh wait, the final chapter is about preserving one's soul in a soulless business world. Ouch.
I'll be back in a week or two with highlights. Don't be daunted; it looks like a quick read. It's just that unless Santa brings me a week of laundry, meal, cleaning, and childcare services, these next couple of weeks will be packed.
I promise that if your sweet, sweet seven-year-old should happen to become lost from you in a large place... let's just say Home Depot on Brodie, for example... and he's totally frantic, with big tears running down his face as though his sneakers just felt the biggest shift of security in his short life... I promise to not only casually approach him and say "hey, dude, what's up? You okay? where's your mama? did you guys get separated?" but I promise to respect his out-of-control fear, his need to create a distance from me (who is, in every sense of the word, a stranger that should be dealt with cautiously, as he's been taught), and to quickly notify the employees who can and should make an announcement to said kid's parent to come find him. I promise not to try to make him talk about something happy, or to tell him that he shouldn't cry or feel scared, but I will tell him that these things happen all the time -- to all of us over a lifetime -- and that his parent would NEVER EVER drive away and leave him at a store without knowing he wasn't in the car. It just doesn't happen. I promise to stay with him until his parent shows up, even if the 20-something employee tells me that it's totally fine to go away, that she'll watch him, as she turns her back on this boy and talks about her night out the previous night to pals. I promise to wait there until I SEE his parent walking toward us, quickly, frantically.
I promise to do all of the above no matter what, but it would be totally awesome if you would promise to me that when you come to collect your lost baby with tears still on his cheeks, you will try extra, extra hard to put aside your natural anger and fear that he went missing and, at the very least, HUG that child TIGHTLY, touch him, physically pull him in, and tell him that it's all going to be okay and that yes, you felt very scared and involved -- which can sometimes spark anger -- but that THE most important thing is that he is safe and found and always loved. Promise that you can do just that small thing, please.
[note, this this cross posted on my own blog, over at www.haikuoftheday.com]
This James Kim thing is hitting us hard over here. I know that everyone sees it as a horrible tragedy, but I think here in Austin it's especially wrenching.
James Kim was every man I know. His family is my family. It resonates so disturbingly close to us that my husband can't even really talk about what happened. I mean, to guess that they were in traffic, coming home from Thanksgiving, and that maybe they consulted their Treo to find an alternate route home... we did that, too. Only we're lucky enough to live in a warm, flat state where we can see the horizon for miles.
When you see someone who is basically your own age, who works in a similar field as you do, who has kids nearly the same age, and who becomes a superhero to save them, you expect that person to succeed as the invulnerable superhero, because that person is you.
You are invincible, impenetrable. Your family is the only family in the world - the reason you live, breathe, laugh and love. Of course you would do everything to save them. Of course you would use your ingenuity to keep them safe and alive. Of course you would sacrifice yourself for them. But in this world - in these times - when is that necessary? You know you would do it, but you're (hopefully) never faced with a situation when you have to test that faith. And then you see someone who has to face a horrifying decision - and you see yourself in him.
I have always felt perfectly, overly confidant in the safety of my family, because I married a superman like James Kim. If bad guys ever tried to infiltrate our life, I've always known my husband would prevail. I've always said that if we got trapped in an overturned sinking ocean liner (a la the Poseidon Adventure), or if we got lost while camping, or if aliens tried to take over the world, my husband would keep us safe. His level head, his brilliance, his second sense of what's safe and healthy and right and good would keep us all OK.
So seeing Mother Nature win the fight with James is devastating. And scary. And so close to my heart that if I think of it long enough, I can hear the discussions he and his wife must have had. I can feel their rising desperation. I can sense their struggle to stay calm and be smart and keep their children warm and fed.
I know there's nothing I can do or say to the Kim family. They don't know me and I know they're being taken care of. But I want to reach out. I want to say "You are me. Let me help you. Let me mourn with you. What can I do? What can I say?"
It's just too wrenching. And tragic. And way too close.
The rubby dubbies, they grow mold; They shall wear their trousers rolled.
I spend entirely too much time schooling betterhalf on the finer points of ‘bath toy’ versus ‘not bath toy’. While it might seem obvious to you or I that most things squeezy, foamy, spongy or soapy would be considered ‘bath toy’ and most things flocked, stuffed, edible, metal or electrical would easily come under the 'not bath toy' category, the same reasoning does not necessarily lend itself as readily to the daddymind.
Not that El is any help, she once used a stuffed lamb to clean up a spilled sippy of milk with the simple calculation of: towels are white and fluffy + lamb is white and fluffy = lamb is towel. Therefore when she asks that her HotWheels ™ accompany her into the drink, betterhalf finds this to be a logical request.
I thought it would be an easy task to explain why some materials don’t do as well when soaked in bathwater as others. Metal rusts, stuffing gets smelly, scrambled eggs get nasty and blow dryers just kill you (if the scrambled eggs don’t do you in first). Foam fish, little plastic men in little plastic boats and our beloved yellow “rubby dubbies” all float on top of the water, while the moisture gracefully beads off of their respective surfaces. These things make sense to me, though I guess I could stretch my imagination to see how they would not make sense to a 33-year-old man. Wet and dry. Land and sea. Everything in its place.
Until the day betterhalf pointed out that the rubby dubbies seemed to be looking darker. I took a look and went over them with a washcloth to no avail. I then peeked into what serves as their squeak/leak hole on the bottom and lo and behold—something was growing inside of them.
Despite the careful construction, the correct materials, the proper drainage system, we had moldy ducks. My worldview was suddenly thrown for a loop. Wet was dry, sea was land--I was through the looking glass; I was a duck.
I could be the perfect person in the perfect place doing the perfect thing. I could have all the right tools and coping skills for life and still, slowly, some awful gunk could creep its way up and begin growing inside of me.
I’m not sure how long I sat there holding the damn duck, wondering if I should figure out a way to clean its insides out or if I should just pitch it. It’s still sitting there on a shelf in the bathroom, another victim of wonder and indecision, the gunk still gathering.
I have heard the duckies quacking, each to each; I do not think they will quack to me.
i think you might need a little something to warm up them cold shoulders maybe a sweater maybe some heart... i think i'll give you some slippers to warm up them cold feet cup of tea, darling? cup of tea--earl gray, hot? something else, maybe a shot?
i think i need something to help me stop i think i'll take something to help me not
get a blanket, turn off the music, stop drinking it's stretching out the hole in my heart heavy lead ring of fire through my middle
i think i'll call somebody else i think i was misunderstood i think i got a hole in me where something else used to be i think i'm a human collander
maybe i misunderstood?
cold feet. cold shoulder.
gonna get up outta this cold bed time to throw off this cocoon gonna get me somthing new and prop up my silly wet wings gonna get me something... somekinda something from the grown ass man department, next to the sporting goods somekinda something from the big boy section, maybe by the auto parts, deer rifles and footballs somekinda something that doesn't go cold so fast maybe a sleeping bag for one trade one cocoon for another ain't nothing happening without a buffer
dontcha wanna know what i been doing? dontcha wanna gimme a penny for my thoughts? dontcha wanna know something about something you don't know anything about? dontcha wanna ask before you go thinking something about me that isn't true?
i ain't a thief, pal. i won't take it if it isn't mine i got sticky fingers but offerings for god ain't for me to steal outta the plate i tithed my share, too i'm no love crook...
Forgive me while I take an off-ramp from my main topic, going back to work after years at home with kids, and share a link to my essay in the December issue of Chicago Parent magazine.
Speaking of Chicago.... Anyone headed this way for the women's blogfest this July? I'm planning a post-conference mom's night out at the open mike poetry slam at the famed Green Mill. Email me for details.
Here's a little piece I wrote a while ago about breastfeeding in public. In light of the recent Delta Airlines brou-ha-ha, I thought it seemed particularly appropriate:
When my first son was a baby, I nursed in private. In the first few months of his life, we saw the insides of more dressing rooms and restrooms than I care to count. When we were at parties or social gatherings, the tiniest whimper sent me fleeing from the bean dip to a back bedroom, where I'd usually perch uncomfortably on a pile of coats in the dark, listening to others having fun through the closed door. By the time I got back to the party, the bean dip was always gone. When my second child was four weeks old, we went to dinner with my husband, my two brothers, and several of their friends. I was thrilled to be out. Weeks of watching daytime TV creates desperation for adult socialization. But, as if on cue, the minute the meal was set in front of me the baby began to fuss. So I headed for the bathroom -- the refuge of banished nursing mothers. This one had no couch. No chair. Not even a bench. "Great," I muttered, heading for the largest stall. Once inside, I passed over the questionable toilet seat (none of those handy sanitary covers), got Isaac attached, and leaned back against the wall. My arms ached, and the cold metal of the toilet-paper dispenser pressed into my lower back. A symphony of flushing toilets and various bathroom sounds accompanied my baby's meal. I thought of my own steak and potatoes, growing cold on the table. "Baby," I addressed little Isaac, "This is $&%*ing stupid." We walked back to the table. "The baby is hungry," I announced to six twentysomething men. "I am going to feed him. Here." I sat down, lifted my shirt, latched him on, and dug into my steak. A few uncomfortable seconds later, the guys forgot all about us and returned to their conversation. I, however, had been liberated! After that, we breastfed everywhere and anywhere Isaac happened to get hungry. The lawn furniture department at Target. Benches in the middle of the mall, at museums, at the zoo. And once, at my table in a Hooters restaurant, where a woman sent me dirty looks as I discreetly nursed my baby -- while her preteen sons ogled multiple sets of barely-covered, pushed-up breasts. Apparently, breasts on display for a sexual function are OK, while those used to nourish a baby are indecent. A PSA for all those who are shocked by those women who would do that, right there in front of everyone: really. It's not about you. If you can even see any skin (most of the time, the baby's head is in the way), you can always look away. I mean, really, why are you staring in the first place? It's not about being an exhibitionist. I've yet to see a nursing mother who yelled "Look, everyone! Boobs!" It's not about sexual indecency. Moms of new babies are generally a droopy, exhausted, spit-up covered mess. Do you think we're really trying to turn anybody on? It's pretty much all about having a hungry baby who needs to eat, right now. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather not live months of my life hidden away in dressing rooms or feeding my little one in a germy, nasty restroom. So, you've heard all my arguments, but still can't get comfortable with a woman breastfeeding in your general vicinity as you take in your meal? No problem. Why don't you just go eat in the bathroom? That's what I thought.
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causing us to trip a lot. Our noses could probably use a good wiping,
too. But we are decent people who will never be too proud to accept
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