Friday, October 28, 2011

A Scary Halloween Tradition

Have you noticed? There's something about how Halloween that makes people racist. Or maybe classist. Every year, I have this same conversation with a few people:

Me: "Do you get many trick-or-treaters?"
Them: "Yeah, some, but you know, not kids from our block...." OR
Them: "We get a lot! But they're all, you know, 'those kids' who drive in."

I've had these and similar conversations with many different people, from many different backgrounds and walks of life. It's like, we are all OK giving free candy to neighborhood kids, but we feel uncomfortable giving candy to kids from other neighborhoods, kids who are usually of a different race, class or status than those in our neighborhoods.

(When I lived in Texas, people were referring to Mexicans in these conversations, so when I told this to D., I expressed my surprise that people so openly admit to racism. He said that around here it's more like classism.)

Why is this OK? I mean, we make all sorts of inappropriate choices on Halloween: overly sexy costumes (even for young girls), encouraged acts of destruction, binging on sugar, dressing up tastlessly, etc. It's not the classiest of holidays. But still, it's really weird to me that off-the-cuff racist/classist/mean comments are so common.

Is it just me? Have you had this conversation?

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Kid is Funny

Every few months, I type a page or two about my daughter: her interests, her accomplishments, what she has learned, where we are as a family. I am not a scrapbooker or a regular videographer, so these essays will hopefully serve as a form of a Baby Book, a way to remember these incredible moments in her life.

I won't bore you all with the whole entry, but I wanted to share these two sections. Indulge a doting mother, won't you?

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The crazy thing is, while I always knew I would love my kid, I didn’t expect to like her so much. She is independent, crafty, warm, and really funny. She has come up with three jokes in the past two weeks. The first time, she wanted to go play outside, but I told her it was too dark. Her response: “No Mama, sunny day!” I looked at her in surprise and she broke down in giggles. Next, she was in the car seat and Jiggs was riding in the back. He leaned his head over so that it was just above hers, and she yelled out, “Jiggsy hat!” It took me a while to understand what she was saying before I laughed out loud. Finally, the other day at dinner she was eating a banana. I asked her what color it was, and she said, with a smirk, “purple.” D. laughed and told her she was being silly, to which she built it up more. “Purple banana, Daddy!” she exclaimed. “That’s not a purple banana, Silly” said D., “It’s yellow and white!” “No Daddy, purple banana!” she said through her giggles. This went on for several minutes, each of them laughing more after each exchange. She remembered the joke too, as a few days later while eating a banana, she walked up to D. to tell him it was purple (while giggling).

Some of Sylvia’s favorite things:

• Painting – several times a day, she’ll declare out of the blue, “I paint!” and run full tilt to her chair in the kitchen, where I leave her watercolors set up. She’ll spend 5 – 30 minutes happily painting by herself, but often requests that we paint something for her, usually puppies or happy faces (occasionally houses, pumpkins, ghosts, kitties). She likes blue so much that she used the color up completely in both her sets of paint.
• Lollipops – she gets a Dum-Dum on Fridays at preschool, but she talks about getting one all week.
• Her turtle that shines stars and a moon up on the ceiling in different colors. She goes to bot [bed] clicking the buttons and talking to the moondt [moon].
• Pizza, pasta, cheese – these are her three favorite foods. She has thrown fits begging for cheese the way other kids beg for sweets.
• TV after sleeping – I’m not proud of this, but she loves TV after waking up. She watches a few shows in the morning and one after her nap. After she snaps out of her sleepy zone, she’ll spring off the couch, ready for action. But she doesn’t do well if denied the calm, in-between time in front of a soothing NickJr. show.
• Walking outside – Though we still try to wrangle her into the stroller once/day, Sylvia prefers to walk by herself when we take family walks with the dog. She trots ahead of us (“Run fast!”), often in search of blow-aways (fluffy dandelions) to blow (though she will blow – with a lot of determination – on any flower she picks). She also likes to race, and will yell “Ready, set, go!” before peeling by, and bounce (“Bounce high!”), which is a series of tiny jumps that she can sustain for almost a block.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Power(less)

This semester, my nonprofit PR class is promoting domestic violence awareness and supporting the local shelter/outreach organization Safe Harbor. The students have been wonderful, throwing a lot of time, effort and energy into projects to promote awareness on campus and raise money. They arranged for purple ribbons to be on every Homecoming float and are hosting an on-campus education event at the end of the month. They are also updating materials to better reach high school students. They make me so proud.

In all my efforts to focus on PR and doing good, though, I seem to have forgotten the sheer enormity of the issue (1 in 4 women) and incredibly depressing and difficult stories it involves. Relationship violence is difficult to understand ("why would you hurt someone you love?") and to emphathize with ("why didn't she just leave?"), but it's even more difficult to hear about injuries, destroyed childhoods, deaths.

All of this became very personal for me during last year's class when a dear friend of mine shared her own story of dating abuse. I was shocked. This year, it has hit home in that an incident of violence just occured in our community. This time, it was not dating violence, but a homophobic assault. The story involves drunk students, exchanged insults, and a beating that led to hospitalization. Interestingly, the students who want to address the issue/help/do SOMETHING have formed a group that covers not just queer discrimination, but all sexual violence. The students had the foresight and compassion to relate all sexual violence - violence against another person for anything related to sexuality - as a common issue. It's all about power and the horrific displays of it over another person.

I want to commend these students and their new campus organization, Tigers for the Elimination of Campus Sexual Violence. I also want to commend them for approaching this issue of sexual power from all angles. They helped draw attention to an offensive article in the campus newspaper's sex and dating column. They are organizing a peaceful protest today. They are giving power and support to the powerless and hurt.

I'm glad my class is doing their good work, but as with anyone who has worked with a charity, it's also easy to get overwhelmed in how much more we should be doing. Sexual violence is pervasive. It is happening in your community. It has affected someone you know. Let's talk about it, share stories, raise funds, support others, listen, get help, be involved. If you don't know how to start, get educated. Please. Let's stop this.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

On the Outside

I ran away yesterday. I went to the Big City. I wore Work Clothes and High Heels and ate at a proper restaurant all by my big self. I wandered around a mall and sipped coffee at Nordstrom's cafe. I then sat in a business office and had an intelligent conversation with grown-ups in which I got to use my brain and talk about a part of my life that doesn't get brought up often.* It was heaven...only to be followed up by a rather hellish three-hour, slowly creeping, rain-soaked commute back home. But that was saved by a toddler who ran up to me at full speed shrieking "Mama! Mama!" and squeezed my neck so tightly it hurt.

So yeah...always good to run away, but always great to come back home.


*As much as I intended this blog to be a combination of my work/professional ideas on PR, marketing and writing along with my life, it seems to have veered into Mommy Blog territory (hmmm, I wonder why). But you should know that I have very compelling and well thought-out ideas about PR, marketing and writing, and I promise to address them at some point (if nothing else, to keep me from talking about the trials of potty training or how hard it is to find a cute duvet cover for a kid's room). I have important ideas, people, I promise.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Two

Two years and one day ago, I met my daughter. My full birth story sums up the trials and joys of that particular day.

In the two years since then, my life has been turned upside down. Everyone told me that children change everything; I didn't realize how true that would be. The change has been trying, difficult and exhausting, but also joyful, fun and extraordinary. Parenting has worn me down and then built me back up as a better person.

Sylvia is a warm, funny, clever, goofy, engaged, intelligent, stubborn, spirited, and beautiful child. She is her own unique person. She continues to grow into a child I not only love, but I actually really like as well. I don't know if all parents feel that way, but I sure feel blessed.

Here's a look back on all her achievements of the past year: learning to walk, talk, interact and play. I can't wait to see what the next year will hold.



Happy Birthday, Sylvia. I love you.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Am Elsewhere

I have been an absentee blogger of late, but not an absentee writer. I am just wrapping up Chapter 4 of my thesis, and it has been the most difficult chapter yet. While I wrangled through large parts of most of the previous chapters in some way last semester or during my early writing attempts this summer, Chapter 4 is all new material with an all-new argument. Blah. It has sapped my creative and physical energy. It's not that I'm spending hours writing, but I sure am spending hours staring at a Word document, wishing the sentences would type themselves. I'm now staring at the same screen, but at least the top says "Chapter 5," (the last chapter!) so I have some sense of accomplishment.

In more upbeat news, my class continues to be awesome. They are doing a lot of work this week surrounding Clemson's Homecoming activities. Check out their plans here.

When I snap out of the writing duldrums, I shall return. My BABY turns two this weekend (ah!) and the weather is gorgeous and we may take a mini family vacation and there will be pumpkins and fall leaves and Halloweeen hooray! But until all that...back to the Word doc.