Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Two Toothbrushes Up, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Custard Stand

I know, two toothbrushes up* is no way for a middle-class white girl to go through life. But my mom is coming for a visit this week, and that always makes me stressed. Today, however, is the end of my single parenthood (at least for a while), as landisdad is now free to be home both in the mornings and the evenings (ain't we got fun). Tonight was my last night of picking up both the kids from two different schools, cooking dinner, resolving sibling crises, engineering baths, supervising homework, making sure that teeth are brushed, jammies are clean, TV is short, and reading a jillion bedtime stories. By. My. Self. Oh wait, did I mention collapsing with the scotch? And the good scotch, too, not that crap my dad brought over one time.

To all the single moms out there, you are the bomb. I don't know how you do this shit on a regular basis. Even if I wanted to get divorced, I'd never make it through the first month of being alone. Yesterday, (yes, on Memorial Day!) landisdad went to work at 9 in the morning, and came home at (I think) 2:18 a.m. And then left to go back to work at 6:30 today, and still isn't home yet tonight. Let's all clink glasses to celebrate the end of this massive project, shall we?

And did I mention my mom is coming? And that I'm a teensy bit stressed out about it? And that our house looks like a bomb went off in it, and that doesn't help? Deep breaths.

So I decided over the weekend that instead of approaching the stress in my normal fashion (read, becoming a total bitch to everyone who loves me), I would instead make every effort to be super-nice to people (it's a lesson I learned from the Bernstein Bears, I'm ashamed to admit). And you know what? It worked! I was super nice to the kids, and instead of being whiny and demanding, they were nicer to me (well, except that the SP is of course almost 2!) I was super nice to landisdad, and he actually got his work done faster (yes, that is faster than it could have been) because he wasn't spending all of his time wondering if he was going to have to get in a fight with me when he got home. And I was nicer to myself, because I didn't have to spend all that time yelling at anyone.

Tonight, the Bee asked me on the way home if we could go to our local custard stand (aka ice cream stand, for those not in the know). And to celebrate the end of single parenthood, I said yes. After dinner, the three of us traipsed down to the custard stand, and got some cones. On the way there, we saw some neighbors with kids roughly the same age as the BB and the SP, and we stopped and played with them for awhile. We got some cones, and walked home, and I gave the kids a (now much-needed bath), and got them changed into pajamas, and put them to bed (with no TV, since we got the custard). And now here I sit, happily blogging when I should be writing something for work, but what the hell.

Because landisdad's single parenthood? Starts tomorrow.

*And I also know, I have no street cred. Still, that's how I feel sometimes.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/31/2005 08:08:00 PM
Monday, May 30, 2005

Reason #487 to hate Chinese wage slavery

Reason #487 to hate Chinese wage slavery
Originally uploaded by landismom.
...because if this thing cost what it would to manufacture in the United States, my neighbor would never have bought it for the Bee for her birthday last fall. And I wouldn't have had to spend two hours inflating it today.

Seriously, this thing came with a foot pump. I'm really happy, that due to a prior inflatable purchase, I already owned an electric pump to inflate things with.

BTW? I. HATE. BARBIE. In all her many forms.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/30/2005 02:39:00 PM
Saturday, May 28, 2005


Originally uploaded by landismom.
Today is our town's annual street fair. We love the fair, because it starts right at the end of our street, and it is filled with fun things for the kids to do. Today, when we walked down to go to the farmer's market, we saw an enormous climbing thing in the shape of a dragon at the end of our street, and both the kids were totally excited.

There are generally four or five stages of live music that play all day, dozens of crafters, lots of local organizations tabling and great (but greasy) food. Virtually the whole town turns out to it, and this year was somehow more exciting than usual, since the Bee now has so many in-town friends from her school. The town gets jammed with people who come from surrounding areas, but we can just walk down, walk home for lunch or to pee, and walk back to continue the fun. Our street gets completely parked up, but it's a small price to pay to have this much to do in one weekend day.

One of the people who comes every year is a woman who does traveling bug shows, for schools and birthday parties. This is a picture of the Bee, holding an almost six-inch-long millipede. I was totally skeeved out while she was doing it, but proud of her for not being "girly" and for wanting to hold it. After she gave it back, she said it felt sticky. *Shudder!*

But I know that part of my reaction to a six-inch long bug is gendered, and I'm glad she doesn't have the same reaction.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/28/2005 02:25:00 PM
Friday, May 27, 2005

nicknaming the wee bairns

Well, chip asked for a description of how my kids got their nicknames, and yet I can't bring myself to let landisdad write a guest entry. Okay, I'm a control freak, what can I say? But the reality is that I believe that every partner in a relationship deserves to have space that is totally theirs, and this is mine (or at least the public part of it).

The honest answer, though, is that there is no real rationale behind my kids' nicknames These are their actual 'pet' names in our family, and so yes, if you see a woman walking around calling her almost-two-year-old son "Potato," it's probably me. I say probably, but I'd guess it's pretty definite. Unless there are a lot of other parents who nicknamed their kid the Sweet Potato, but that seems unlikely.

Landisdad gave our daughter the nickname Bumblebee the night that she was born, when we were all in the hospital together, and the nurses and doctors and eight billion interns had finally left us alone. He says he doesn't really know why he picked it--it just came to him out of the air. I've subsequently noticed that a lot of people seem to have pet names for their kids that start with 'b'--I've heard "bean," "bear," and even some other "bees." I don't know if this is a tendency that only starts with English speakers or what--but it's definitely not one of those things that I noticed before becoming a parent, and now it seems impossible to ignore.

When she was an infant, we had two different silly songs about her as a Bumblebee that we used to sing when she was upset. The Bee got carsick on long trips as an infant and toddler, particularly in places with a lot of traffic (lots of stops and starts), and we used to sing to her to distract her from feeling nauseous. One of the parenting memories that I'm sure will survive until my dotage is a trip we took on Route 1 on the Northern California coast when she was about 9 months old--the whole trip was almost three hours of non-stop singing, as we lurched around hairpin curves and had to take a detour up an old logging road to avoid a camper that had caught fire on the side of the highway.

When I was pregnant with the Sweet Potato, landisdad spent some time actually thinking about what to call him. Or I should say, it. The SP was one of those babies that was shy during ultrasound, so his gender was a surprise. Part of the reason that we developed his nickname early on, was that we didn't know what else to call him/her, and we couldn't convince our insurance carrier that we should get an extra ultrasound just to figure that out. (The Bee also had an in-utero nickname before she found out what her actual name would be--it was Runcibella. I'm not even going to get into that in this post.)

And when it was time for the SP to eat solid foods for the first time? His favorite was sweet potatoes. Landisdad makes a kickass sweet potato recipe, and our little Potato will eat as many helpings of them as we pile on his plate.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/27/2005 01:45:00 PM
Thursday, May 26, 2005

huge sigh of relief

Yesterday morning, the Bee's doctor left us a message that her 24-hour diabetes test was negative. Huzzah!

I refrained about blogging about it for 24 hours, because I was at a conference all day yesterday, and then spent the night drinking with my girls. I feel like a new woman--lightened of the burden of worrying about my kid having a serious illness, and refreshed by hanging out with the great women that I have come to know through my work, in our ongoing struggle for justice.

One of the things I miss most about having an office to go to is not having daily interactions with co-workers. While they can sometimes be short-tempered and annoying, I still miss having people to talk to about my job and the campaigns that I'm working on. I'm the kind of person who does much better work when I am able to be collaborative, and while I do get collaboration through my current job, it's almost entirely through email loops and conference calls--on the days when I actually have meetings, I usually have to drive 2-3 hours to get to them, which takes a lot of the fun out of it.

But yesterday, I got to go to a great conference about a topic that I really care about, with people that I've been doing good organizing with for several years, and it was fun. We had some very productive discussions and I think that out if it, we will jumpstart a coalition I helped organize that has been flagging for about a year--much to my frustration.

It was the cherry on the sundae to call my home voicemail & get the message from the doc.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/26/2005 10:35:00 AM
Monday, May 23, 2005


by Jess at Daughter of Opinion:

3 names I go by:
Money (because the SP stopped channeling Keith Mars and started channeling Trent Walker)
(sorry, all the others are either my actual name or too close to it)

Screen-names I've had:

3 physical things I like about myself:

3 physical things I dislike about myself:
the fatness
I'm not at all flexible (and never have been)
that's pretty much it

3 parts of my heritage:

3 things I am wearing right now:
My Metropolitan Museum of Art watch
5 earrings

3 favorite bands / musical artists: (Note - in no particular order)
Mary J. Blige
Tupac Shakur
Bruce Springsteen (hey, I am a Jersey girl)

3 favorite songs:
Tupac's "California Love"
Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl"
Lauren Hill's "Zion"

3 things I want in a relationship:
near-constant use of the word 'hegemonic'
inside jokes

3 physical things about the preferred sex that appeal to me:

3 of my favorite hobbies:
Networking (I know, it's weird)

3 things I want to do really badly right now:
Eat all of the chocolate in the house
Cuddle with my Bee
Kiss my boy on the head

3 things that scare me:
The Bush Administration
Nuclear war
People who have cleaning ladies

3 of my everyday essentials:
A walk with the kids

3 careers you have considered or are considering:
Stage manager

3 places you want to go on vacation:
Anyplace with a beach and someone to bring me drinks
Rome (again--but with the kids this time)

3 kids' names you like: (other than my own kids' names)

3 things you want to do before you die:
Learn Spanish
Have grandchildren (like, many years from now)
See an end to war

3 ways I am stereotypically a boy:
I hate to cook
I'm not great at small talk
I curse like a longshoreman

3 ways I am stereotypically a chick:
I'm enamored by the pink & glittery
I stand up for myself even if I have to cry to get through it
I love gossip

3 celeb crushes:
Walt Whitman
Allen Ginsburg
W.B. Yeats

3 people to play next:
well, my blog only has three other regular readers that I know of, so I guess it's:
Emma Goldman

• Posted By landismom @ 5/23/2005 11:46:00 PM (8) comments Blogger Comments (8)

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/23/2005 12:31:00 PM (0) comments Blogger Comments (0)

Saturday night's alright

Our usual practice on the weekend is that the Bee gets to stay up for an extra half-hour or so longer than during the week. It's her extra Mommy/Daddy time, and usually, the three of us play some kind of board game together. The last few weeks, since landisdad has been working on Saturday nights, it's been our Mommy/Daughter time, and we've been making collages.

It's fun to make things together, and unlike most of the art projects that we do where I just help her (or her and the Sweet Potato), when we do collages we both do one. I've been having fun too, and we get to have some very interesting conversations. The Bee is big on bathroom humor right now, and her tendency to talk about excrement was exacerbated this weekend by the 24-hour urinalysis test that we had to do. At one point, I offhandedly remarked on her joking, "after all, what's funnier than pee?" To which she simply replied "poop!" before dissolving in a fit of giggles.

It made me smile, too.

In other news, I was a huge snarky bitch to landisdad this weekend, and couldn't really figure out why, until Sunday afternoon, when I came home from grocery shopping to tell him that when our house is a mess, I have a mess in both my house & my workspace. Then he cleaned the kitchen and I cleaned the bedroom while BOTH of our children (mercifully) slept. AHHHHH! That's better.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/23/2005 12:18:00 PM (0) comments Blogger Comments (0)
Friday, May 20, 2005

the high stakes of parenting

This post by Metrodad got me thinking about the concept of parenting and fear.

I'm one of those people who likes to have a plan for every conceivable situation. That means that I spend a lot of time worrying (?) about things that might never happen. I think it a lot of that trait was a defense mechanism that I adapted to the breakup of my parents' marriage. After my parents got divorced, my mother waited about six minutes before getting into a relationship with the man who eventually became my stepfather. (No, I'm not bitter about that AT ALL.) I was never mad at my mom for leaving my dad--he was a vicious drunk, and I knew that it was something she had to do. But I was tremendously angry at her for hooking up with my stepfather, because I thought that she was admitting that she NEEDED a man--and that she would settle for anything, rather than be alone.

My stepfather and I are pretty much polar opposites, and that was especially true when I was fourteen and fifteen years old. He's a right wing nut (and proud of it), an anti-choice, racist, knuckle-dragging mouth breather. Some examples? 1) He once called my sister-in-law a femiNazi because she beat my brother at a game of pool. 2) On the occasion of meeting my in-laws for the first time, he said to me (after they'd left), "Landisdad's father doesn't look like too big a Jew." 3) Landisdad still remembers that, on meeting him for the first time, he described HIS OWN GRANDCHILDREN as "those little brown kids." I mean, how can you be racist about your own grandchildren?

I, of course, am a paragon of decency and compassion. I've also been a raving left-winger since I was 12 or 13, so my own burgeoning political awareness happened about a year before he came into the family.

After my mom decided to date this guy, I spent a bunch of time running away from home. I was the oldest of my mom's children, and my stepfather had five kids--two of whom lived with his ex-wife, two of whom lived with him, and one of whom bounced back and forth between both of his parents. My step-father and my mom made me babysit for all of my younger brothers, plus his kids younger than me--both of his older kids were old enough to work real jobs, and I wasn't. And by babysit, I mean, provide daycare in the summer. Seriously, at age 15, I was responsible for my three brothers (one of whom was three), and three of my stepfather's kids. About a month or two after they got married, I got tired of feeling like the world was doing me more wrong than I could handle, and I decided that I was going to live with my dad. I had enough experience running away by that point that I just packed up my stuff and walked out--I didn't even call to tell my mom where I was until after my dad came and got me.

Living with my dad was a new adventure, and after about another month, one of my brothers (I'll call him Brother Bear) decided to join us. The three of us moved into a new apartment (my dad's single dad apartment wasn't big enough for three), and Brother Bear and I changed high schools. It was a rough transition for all of us. Brother Bear and I basically held my dad responsible for destroying my parents' marriage through his drinking, and we didn't really want to live with him--we just couldn't stand the thought of living with our stepfather. It was a real case of the devil you know being better than the devil you don't. And as time went on, I ended up running away from my dad's place too. We sort of developed a pattern--about every six months or so, he'd get so drunk that we'd have a huge fight, he'd try to hit me or something, and I'd just leave. In those instances, I almost never had time to plan--on at least one occasion, I walked out of the house without my shoes on, and had to borrow some from a friend to go to school the next day.

As you can imagine, now that I'm a parent myself, I can only imagine the hell that I put my own parents through. I look at my kids, and I can only imagine what would happen in ten years, if one night the Bee or the SP got so angry with me that she just walked out and didn't come back. It's terrifying to think that those patterns might repeat themselves.

I am not, of course, a vicious drunk. Nor am I likely (given my own experience) to divorce my husband and marry someone that my kids absolutely hate.

But that doesn't mean that I won't make equally bad choices, that will cause my kids to hate me. It doesn't mean that my kids won't decide to sleeping in a bus station, which I was reduced to at one point, is better than living at home.

We're trying to work with the Bee and the SP to see that families get angry at each other. We're trying to let them understand that everyone-even parents-make mistakes, and that's okay. We're want them to know that, no matter what they do, we will always love them.

The idea that I might cause my children the kind of real grief that my parents gave me is the thing that makes me wake up with tightness in my chest, unable to get back to sleep for hours. I don't want my kids to walk into every room looking for the exit. I don't want them to be preparing six different ways to escape any situation. I want them to be healthy, emotionally and psychologically, as well as physically.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/20/2005 08:38:00 AM (6) comments Blogger Comments (6)
Wednesday, May 18, 2005

why I should be committed

Holy crow am I stressed out right now. Here's why:

Last week, I took the Bee to the doctor because I suspected she might have a urinary tract infection. On Monday, the doctor left me a message--the urinalysis was clear of infection, but "we might want to do another test". Of course, by the time I got the message, she was gone for the day, and I couldn't see my way clear to calling her through the answering service without more info. Finally connected with her yesterday, and it turns out the Bee had protein in her urine, a possible symptom of diabetes. Now we have to do a 24-hour test this weekend, which involves getting a urine sample EVERY SINGLE TIME she pees in one 24-hour period.

Now, leaving aside the fact that there's a tiny little Landismom running around in my brain screaming, "my baby might have diabetes," I'm thoroughly stressed out about the test. Because the person who's going to have to be sitting in the bathroom with the Bee for many hours on Saturday is yours truly. And she wasn't very happy about having to pee in a cup once, when we were at the doctor's office--I can imagine how she's going to take it when we tell her this plan.

To complicate matters, of course Landisdad is still working for about 5 hours this Saturday afternoon, leaving me to attempt to juggle this while also supervising the Sweet Potato, who has somehow miraculously transformed himself into a hell-raiser overnight. Example? This morning after breakfast, while I was making the Bee's lunch and she was upstairs getting dressed, I noticed an unnatural quiet emanating from our living room. I walked in to find that the SP had covered the entire coffee table with chalk scribblings. Now, to be sure, chalk is washable. But it meant that he was covered with chalk himself, and in need of a new outfit, Landisdad was already at work, and I had five minutes before we needed to leave for school, so I could get home in time to be on a (pointless) conference call. What happened to my sweet little boy who just carried around books and called me daddy?

• Posted By landismom @ 5/18/2005 01:09:00 PM (4) comments Blogger Comments (4)
Sunday, May 15, 2005

will the garbage ever end?

Uh, sorry but I'm in a whiny mood today. Proceed at your own risk.

I'm so tired of cleaning up garbage, I want to scream. Yesterday, we were having a playdate for the Bee, and in preparation for it, landisdad and I kicked the kids out in the backyard so we could get some serious cleaning done--things that we don't want the kids to help with, like scrubbing out the downstairs bathtub and mopping the kitchen floor. Yesterday, at least the downstairs of our house looked like normal people lived there.

Today, it's back to it's usual state. I'm seriously thinking about putting a tarp under the Sweet Potato's chair, because less than 24 hours later, it's covered with crumbs and worse (ie-crushed blueberries). Why can't anything stay clean for longer than one minute?

It's times like these that I seriously consider getting a dog. My brother & SIL, who have an adorable child one month older than the SP, never have this problem. Why? Because every single food item (and some non-food items) that falls on the floor is immediately consumed by their dog. Why won't cats eat Cheerios or pretzel goldfish? I'm so tired of walking through the kitchen and feeling something crunch underfoot.

There are lots of times that we get the kids to clean up with us, and sing the 'clean up' song from their daycare. (Side note--did you know that if you google "clean up song," you will get over 4 million hits? The hyperlink is not worth scrolling through that mess, IMO.) But somehow, scraping dried spaghetti sauce off the table isn't one of those things I think they're ready for yet.

The real reason I'm so cranky today is that landisdad has been working a lot of overtime, including last Saturday night, last night, and the next two Saturdays (at least). So in addition to the fact that I have to single parent during those times, we're not having any date nights, and I'm missing adult conversation in a serious way.

BTW, any parents of older kids who are planning to tell me it just gets worse when they're older, be warned. I may have to climb through the internets and strangle you. Just sayin'. (But not you, chip)

• Posted By landismom @ 5/15/2005 12:08:00 PM (5) comments Blogger Comments (5)
Friday, May 13, 2005

didya ever see that Seinfeld...

where Kramer & Newman got spit on by Keith Hernandez? That's what I feel like I'm dealing with here.

So we had the meeting with Mrs. X to talk about the Bee's spitting incident, and while I don't think there was a second spitter, there does seem to be some discrepancy in the various accounts of the events. However, (and more importantly to me), Mrs. X this time described the spit as more of a raspberry (in keeping with the Bumblebee's description of what happened). There's still disagreement about how far away the parties were from each other, but I doubt we'll ever resolve that without a grainy 8mm film of the incident surfacing.

Landisdad and I decided that the Bee had been punished enough (since we made her miss an exciting event at school the night of the incident), and that we would work with her more at home on appropriate methods of expressing anger.

And I managed to have a civil conversation with Mrs. X, where for once, she didn't interrupt me, so that's good. Mrs. X thanked us for coming in, and being involved parents who are working with the school.

Relief all around, I think.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/13/2005 01:09:00 PM (4) comments Blogger Comments (4)
Thursday, May 12, 2005

caps for sale

So I'm briefly interrupting the spitting saga (spitting mad?) with this anecdote.

As previously reported, my kids love books. The Sweet Potato has always loved the Eric Carle books (on a side note, when can I become a children's book author--have you read some of this stuff?), but lately, his favorite book is Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina. For those of you not familiar with it, this is the story of a peddler who is having trouble selling his caps, and goes for a walk in the country. He falls asleep under the tree with all the caps stacked up on his head, and he wakes up to find that all but one of his caps have been stolen by monkeys.

He tries a variety of persuasion methods, including shaking his finger at them and stamping his feet, but the monkeys are unconvinced until he throws his own cap on the ground in a rage. Then, the monkeys who have been copying him all along, throw their caps onto the ground too.

We've been reading the SP this story every night for about a week, and doing a little demonstration during the reading. Last night, he was so excited that when I started to read it, he was waving his finger, and then stamping his feet, far in advance of those pages.

It made me so happy to see him that excited, and of course he's just adorable, doing his little monkey dance in his crib. I just love how kids lose themselves in fiction.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/12/2005 12:45:00 PM (3) comments Blogger Comments (3)
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

today's google search?

"kid behavior problem"

because I can't face the dreaded Mrs. X now.

After the Bumblebee has spit on her.

I am a bad mother. Married to a bad father.

I want to cry.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/10/2005 03:03:00 PM (10) comments Blogger Comments (10)
Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day

Okay, I know I'm a day behind everyone else in the blogosphere. Sue me.

I started to write a post about how I had a somewhat disappointing Mother's Day, and then I thought, "but why do I care?" Have I been so programmed by Hallmark that I expect flowers and sweetness all day long? Isn't enough that I got woken up by the Bee at 6:40 a.m., because she was so excited to give me my present that she couldn't wait another minute?

And then I had this interesting conversation with her, as we were driving the Sweet Potato to daycare, and I was wearing said present, a plastic pin covered with sequins in the shape of a butterfly:

BB: "I'm glad you like my present."

LM: "Of course I do, sweetie, I always like what you make for me."

BB: "But I didn't really make it. We didn't get to take home the ones that we made-just ones that were the same shape."

LM: "What do you mean? you mean someone else made this pin?"

BB: "Yeah, I made a butterfly, but that's not the one that I made. Mrs. X said we just had to take the same shape, but not to worry about whether it was the one we made or not."

LM: "Okay" (voice in my head: "you mean I'm wearing this pin for SOMEONE ELSE'S kid? I hate Mrs. X!")

Sigh. At least I know that the present the Sweet Potato gave me was his actual handprint.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/09/2005 04:25:00 PM (0) comments Blogger Comments (0)
Saturday, May 07, 2005

Today, our farmers' market re-opened, and we welcome it! Our Saturday morning ritual, since we've lived here, is to attend the farmer's market. This early in the spring, there are usually more flowers than fruits and vegetables, but it's still fun, and nice to be out in the weather, communing with our neighbors. Some of the local coffee shops always set up tables, and people can laze around, drinking coffee while their kids play together.

The Bee loves the farmers' market, not least because of the prevalence of baked goods that are sold there. And somehow, while in the winter and during the school week, we rarely let her eat sugar for breakfast, landisdad and I find it impossible to deny her the joys of a fresh, homemade cider doughnut and a cup of lemonade. The Sweet Potato loves it because there are always people walking their dogs, and he gets to point and yell, "dog! wooh, wooh!" (although he won't say no to a doughnut, either).

Usually, there is some local band or individual singer playing under a tent. Lots of folks today were out in sweatshirts, but as the morning wore on and the sun came out, we all started stripping them off. A local real estate firm was giving out balloons to all the kids, and we soon had some tied to our wagon. We ended up buying some bread, and an organic chicken, and some handmade soap, and some leeks. We talked to a candidate who's running for our local town council.

The farmers' market is one of the best things about our town. I love the fact that, every week, for more than half of the year, we have a common ground to meet in with our neighbors. It makes me feel like we live in a real community--it's like living in a European village, with a town square, where everyone comes for something, once a day.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/07/2005 04:54:00 PM (5) comments Blogger Comments (5)
Thursday, May 05, 2005

cover the uninsured (and make sure the insured stay covered)

This week is Cover the Uninsured Week. Why isn't this Cover the Uninsured Year? or Decade? Why are we allowing this crisis to go on unresolved?

While I think it's great the the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is devoting substantial resources to exposing the problem of the uninsured, the real problem is with us for the other 51 weeks out of the year. I also worry that institutionalizing this as a one-week event is subjecting the uninsured to the kind of flavor-of-the-week status. I'm disturbed that RWJ isn't proposing a solution--just a dialogue. Well, we can talk about it some more, but it's sort of like rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic--the ship is still sinking.

The reality in America is that every day, more and more folks lose health care. Every day, more and more hospitals and health clinics and doctors' offices have to make the choice to treat patients whose care they may never be reimbursed for. Every day, employers have to struggle with the idea that next month, they may not be able to pay health premiums for their employees. And that's bad for all of us, the uninsured AND the insured.

It's clear to me that we need a systemic fix to this problem. It's equally clear that we need to stop tying health care to work. We should be able to figure out a way to give everyone health care, regardless of whether they are working or not. If we did that, we'd make life easier for moms who want to stay home with their kids. We'd make it easier for small business owners, who want to provide health care for their employees, but are being squeezed out of the market. We'd make it easier for the poor, who wouldn't have to worry that going to the ER for a kid's broken leg is going to make them even poorer. We'd make it easier for health care institutions, who wouldn't worry that they won't be able to pay their own employees' health care costs, because they have so many charity care patients.

We need a system like Medicare for everyone. A government-run system that will ensure that everyone in the country has access to at least basic health care--not just for kids and the elderly, but for healthy, working adults.

We need some other things, too. We need the major health care institutions--hospitals, drug companies, physician networks, whatever--to change their attitudes about pricing and profits.

But most of all, we need to say, as individuals and as a group, it's good for me (or us) when other people have health care. It's good for me, because I know the kids in my kid's class are vaccinated. It's good for me, because I know the person who sold me my coffee this morning doesn't have TB. It's good for me, because I know that my brother, who's working a minimum wage job, can have health care without his employer going broke. Even if I have health care now, it's good for me if the system changes.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/05/2005 08:27:00 AM (8) comments Blogger Comments (8)
Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I knew this would happen if we got a digital camera

My favorite camera store has closed, and I'm mourning it today. It was the kind of place that was totally unique, and I'm really sad to find out that they've gone out of business.

About six years ago, I inherited a Nikon F3 from landisdad's grandfather. I had always been interested in photography, but had never had the cash to get a really good camera. I had (and still have) a point and shoot Pentax, but the F3 was a real windfall for me. There's nothing auto about it. In order to shoot well, I had to learn how to focus, read up on filmspeed, and understand something about shutter speed. It's a great camera, but a total bear--the thing must weigh three pounds. Once, when I had it hung around my neck, I leaned down to give the Bee a kiss, and whacked her in the head with it, and was wracked with guilt for the next three days, as it gave her a huge bump.

It's the kind of camera that, if I'm shooting a rally or march, older newspaper photographers will come up to compliment me on it. It's sort of like being in a little club--the club of the serious amateur photographer.

I don't have a flash for it, so I can really only use it during the day, but it's been the camera with which I have taken some of my favorite photos of my kids. Landisdad's grandfather was a pretty serious photographer, and it came with both fisheye and telephoto lenses, so it's really useful in crowd photography. I usually just shoot black and white film with it, although I've taken some amazing color pictures too.

About four years ago, I started taking all my film to a camera store that was around the corner from where I worked at the time. It was a wonderful place, staffed by people who really knew something about taking pictures. It was not terribly far away from two different art schools, and there were always student photographers in there, both in front of and behind the counter. Once, when I had to take the F3 in to get repaired, the guy who fixed it for me offered to let me name my price for it.

But I never felt like it was the kind of snooty place that only catered to professionals or serious students of photography. They liked amateurs like me. And it was also the kind of store where the same woman was always behind the counter, knew my name, and threw an extra can of film in my bag once a year or so, just because I was a good customer. They never mentioned it when I made grievous photography errors, probably because they all knew that the way you learn to do something complicated, like take really great photos, is to make a lot of mistakes.

I've changed jobs three times since I first started going there, but it was always the place I trusted to do my good developing, even when I stopped working in the city, and started having to drive nine miles just to get there. I got to the point where I was only bringing in film if I had to be in the city for some other reason. And I was ready to drop some off last week. But it was closed.

I knew that the push of digital would be hard on places like this. I knew that the fact that the neighborhood is getting gentrified would make it harder to pay the rent. But I didn't think it would happen so soon.
I was just there last month, and there were no signs that they were failing. For god's sakes, there's a RitzCamera on the next block that seems to be thriving!

It saddens me, because I know that the presence of Ritz helped to shut them down. I like my digital camera, because it makes it so much easier to send pictures of the kids to my mom. But I've never felt the urge to make an 8x10 out of a picture that I took with that camera. I've never just sat and looked at the velvety texture of the Bumblebee's face in one of those shots, the way that I have looked at her face in some of my black and white work.

• Posted By landismom @ 5/03/2005 01:32:00 PM (4) comments Blogger Comments (4)
  2. My daughter is the Bumblebee. My son is the Sweet Potato. You'll have to ask their father.

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