Friday, March 25, 2005

Where did this week go?

My God. I looked up, and all the sudden, it was Friday. Yikes. So much has happened this week, but I haven't really accomplished much. Here's what I mean: did I get the house cleaned and my packing lists made? No. Did I send off for our travel visas, get our airline tickets, go out drinking with friends, attend two birthday parties, have a date, and meet a fellow adoptive mother (with a beautiful daughter named Kyra who is from the same orphanage as my Geej)? Yes. What a blur. Hard to believe I'm finishing up my last full pre-motherhood week. I've got much to write about, but am tired and sort of dazed. More soon.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Bumper stickers, spring storms, and adoption.

Yesterday I passed a semi-junky pickup truck on MoPac, and the bumper sticker read, "Guns kill people like spoons made Rosie O'Donnell fat." I had to ponder that one for a while. Was this guy in favor of spoon control?


Saturday I went to go see some of the free SXSW musical offerings at the Dog and Duck Pub. Some friends of mine were playing, and they had a tent set up out in the parking lot and good beer on tap. When I left the house to go down there, it was about 78-degrees and a tad bit muggy, and off to the west, there were some pretty gnarly looking clouds heading our way. By the time I got to the Dog and Duck, it was sprinkling. Soon, the clouds were directly over us, the wind had picked up remarkably, and the temperature was dropping by the minute. Then the rain came. It was hard and sudden, coupled with loud thunder. Everyone huddled under the tent while rain blew sideways, knocking over anything that wasn't held down or weighty. It was exhilarating, and a little scary. This continued for about 20 minutes, and then as suddenly as it came on, it left. And a huge rainbow remained, arching up toward the state capitol. The temperature had dropped about 15 degrees, and it was chilly, despite the bright sun. If the bluebonnets raging, and the mountain laurel if full bloom hadn't already clued you in, this storm clearly announced that it is springtime in central Texas.


Today I was told by my adoption agency that I should really plan on being in Vladivostok until the 26th. Get out your calendars kids: that means I'll be in Russia for NEARLY A MONTH. It all has to do with this mandatory 10-day waiting period they require after the adoption court date, and then the time it takes for a courier to go to and from Moscow to file the paperwork needed for us to leave the country with the baby, and then a couple of extra days built in there...just in case.

The only upside is that most of this time we'll have the baby with us, which will allow for some really important bonding time. No t.v., no phone. Just Mom, the baby, and me. I really think it will be good because her world is going to totally change. She needs to get used to us and trust us before we take her on a gazillion hour plane ride half-way around the world. And, luckily, it's not as miserably cold as it was when I went in December. It's actually been getting into the 40s during the day (with still quite a bit of snow and into the teens at night, but's better than -12 like it was last time I was there).

The down side to all of this time stuck in Vladivostok is that, well, we'll be stuck in Vladivostok. Bad food. No t.v. Cold weather. Unfriendly people. Unfamiliar language. Not to mention the expense of paying for a hotel room for weeks on end. I think that's part of the whole "10-day waiting period": It forces travelers to stay there longer and pump their dollars into the sickly economy. Meanwhile, I'm paying a housesitter to live in my house and take care of my 2 cats and a fish. And then I come back to the stingy American "Family Medical Leave Act," which provides me with 12 weeks UNPAID maternity leave. And while mothers who give birth are able to claim short-term disability insurance, and receive at least some of their income, if you adopt, you get no such help (despite the fact that I carry short-term disability insurance). In other words, May and June are going to be very lean months.

But that's okay. Because we'll just be hanging out at home, getting into a routine and learning about each other. It's so crazy that I'm about to be someone's mother!! The concept is just huge.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Russia in April...

Thank the Lord, I finally FINALLY found out my court date in Russia: April 5th. Which means we probably leave here on March 31st (since it takes 2 days to get there, with time changes, etc.). April 5th, I will get to lay eyes on that precious little creature and hold her once again. On April 5th, my mom will get to meet her only grandchild for the first time. I can hardly believe it.

When I got the news this morning, I just wept. It was the strangest, most overwhelming and indescribable feeling. It was just this big release and relief. After staring at the calendar for three months, wondering when...when...when..., I now know.

By the time we get there, The Geej will have just turned 8 months old. I have no idea how much she's going to have changed. But judging by my friends' babies who I've watched grow up, the 4 to 8 month period includes an unbelievable amount of change and development. Wow. She'll probably have a few teeth. And may be pulling up on stuff. And what about that crazy hair of hers? How long will it be? I am beside myself with excitement.

Of course now comes all of the preparation for the trip itself, but that's good. It will make the days fly by. Two weeks from today, I'll be on my way.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Minions In Black

Well, it's South-by-Southwest time here in Austin, and that means one thing: Badge-wearing posers in black are all over the place. You can't spit in the wind without hitting some Blackberry-sporting, cell-phone talking, too-cool-for-school acting festival goer. Yes, I'm envious. Because while I spend my hours sitting at my computer in my cube, these folks are roaming around town, listening to music and drinking cold beer. Right now, Stephen Malkmus is hanging out somewhere Austin. Calexico goes on in 15 minutes at Jovita's. Wayne Coyne is in the same zipcode as me. It's just not fair!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

A photo of me, taken earlier today. Posted by Hello

Open mouth. Insert entire leg.

So I've been perturbed at my adoption agency--specifically with my main contact, Jan--for some time now. During the three months (yes, it's been three months) since my trip to Russia, I've been expecting and needing regular communication with them. But it seems like I'm always the initiator. I've been having to place frequent calls and send e-mails to get info and learn of any new news. And I've also been relying on the Internet and the "Vladadopt" listserv in order to get any information at all about the new Russian adoption laws that have thrown everything into chaos and caused so many delays.

Well, the final straw came when two question-filled e-mails I recently sent to Jan were simply ignored and then when yesterday came and went without a word from them. You see, yesterday was the third Tuesday of the month, and it's been my understanding that court dates are issued on the first and third Tuesdays of the month only. (Don't ask me's just another crazy rule I've encountered in this whole process.) My whole return trip to get The Geej is based on this long-awaited court date. I was fully expecting to hear yesterday that my court date had been set. However, there was no news which, in my mind, meant that I would have to wait another excruciating 3 weeks until the first Tuesday in April.

This morning I shot Jan a rather terse e-mail about how I thought that they were doing a very poor job of providing proactive communication about what's going on and of simply checking in on those of us who are in this messed-up "between trip" situation. (If there hadn't been this Russian legal hold up, I would've already gone and gotten my baby and been back for a couple of weeks by now. But instead, this waiting period has dragged on for 3 months.) I basically said that I was losing confidence in their agency based on how they've handled this situation. This was a big deal for me to do. Usually I am the "sit there and take it" type, but I just had to vent a little about this awful frustration I've experienced, exacerbated by the spotty communication on their end.

She called me back pretty quickly after I sent the message and told me--no shit--that she'd been traveling quite a bit over the past three weeks, dealing with the unexpected death of her mother who had burned to death after some of her clothes caught on fire.

Gulp. Um...what?

OH MY GOD!! I have never felt like such a cockroach.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Not exactly "Kramer."

You know how on sitcoms there is almost always the "wacky neighbor" character? Sometimes there's the slutty neighbor. Or the creepy neighbor. Or the impossibly geriactric neighbor. Or the absurdly stupid/borderline retarded neighbor who probably shouldn't be living alone. But more often than not, they're garden-variety eccentrics who add a little comic relief to the situation. But in real life, you usually end up with the "jerk ass neighbor," or the "loud as hell neighbor" or the "always cooking curry and stinking up the joint neighbor," or the "diametrically opposed to your politics neighbor." They're rarely good-natured and almost never lovable. I've had some pretty craptastic neighbors in all of my moving around. Just to name a few:

Mr. Hump-n-Pump--My roommate Paige and I lived next to this guy in college whose bedroom was next to our den. He would loudly masturbate and/or have sex with his girlfriend at all hours of the day, without ever thinking (or caring) that we could hear every headboard thump, mattress squeak and moan. One time when my mom and aunt were visiting, Paige and I started to hear the familiar Hump-n-Pump noises, and began to cringe. It was about 2:30 in the afternoon on a Saturday, and he was going strong. My mom finally spoke up and said, "What's that noise?" And I was like (insert Napoleon Dynamite-like indignation here), "MOM! Gosh! I don't know! Jeez!" That's just not a topic you want to discuss with your mom.

Nathan--I never knew Nathan's last name, but he and some of his Cro-Magnon frat brothers lived above Paige and I in the same apartment where we were contending with Mr. Hump-n-Pump. Yes, we were blessed. Anyway, this dude was one of those big Baby Huey frat boys who is a pudgy, infant-faced doofus, always in constant need of a haircut and who probably only ended up in the frat because he was a quadruple legacy and for his infamous beer-bonging abilities. He never gets laid and rarely goes to class, but he'll still graduate because his rich daddy knows the dean. You know those guys...I think we call them "Future Republicans." Anyway, this fuckhead stomped around his apartment like he was wearing lead mukluks. It was unreal how loud this guy was just walking around. He and his drunk-ass friends would sit out on their balcony (right above our bedroom windows) until 4:00am on a Tuesday, hurtling waterballoons (with the help of a giant sling-shot) at traffic on the busy street beneath the hill our apartments were perched upon. What a complete ass.

Pear-Shaped Boy--This guy (who had an oddly feminine lower-half, complete with a very wide-load ass) lived above me for a brief period of time while I was in grad school. He would vacuum at very strange hours (3:00am on a Wednesday. for instance) while repeatedly BLARING Skynrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" or Reba McIntyre's "Fancy." I never quite figured that guy out.

Cockroach Lady--Instead of taking her trash the 15 yards to the dumpster, the Cockroach Lady would just let the trashbags pile up outside her door. For weeks. In August. In Alabama. My formerly bug-free apartment became infested with cockroaches. Despite my complaints to the apartment management, she kept up with her disgusting laziness. I broke my lease and moved out very soon after I woke up one morning to a gigantic cockroach making its way across my face.

But I think my current neighbor takes the cake. I HATE her. I mean, I loathe her with all my being. I have no idea what her name is, but I call her "Psycho Bitch." First of all, in the house where P.B. lives now, there used to live this lovely, elderly Japanese woman named Yuki. But Yuki had a stroke and could no longer live on her own. So by some weird twist, this gal (who isn't a relative) ended up living in Yuki's cute little house AND driving Yuki's car. She's "taking care" of the property while Yuki is unable to. Well, this has been going on for about a year-and-a-half.

I first knew I didn't like her when a dog showed up in her back yard, and P.B. never EVER paid it any attention. The poor, sweet dog (a Catahoula) would bark and howl when P.B. would pull her car out of the carport and leave in the mornings (all the time, P.B. would be yelling at the dog, "Annika, NO!!!"). I bought Milk Bones, and would go give her a treat or two each morning before I left for work. Poor Annika was so attention starved and grateful for a little pat on the head and a treat. It was just so sad. Long story short: The dog "broke out" of the yard during a bad spring storm and got loose. A friend I had staying with me at the time saw the dog running around that night, and thought that someone had picked the dog up and taken her to the animal shelter (because, of course, she had on no collar). The next day, I knocked on P.B.'s door and asked if her dog was missing (which I already knew was the case), and she said, "Well...sort of. I mean, I was going to take her to the pound anyway...." Turns out, she'd ended up with this dog after a bad break up. She didn't want her, but she had the yard so... So she didn't care at ALL that this dog was gone. (BTW--My friends and I found Annika at the pound and contacted Catahoula Rescue, created flyers and sent mass e-mails out about her in hopes of her getting adopted prior to being put down. I have no idea if anyone ever adopted her, however.)

Some months later, I heard a bad catfight outside. When I ran out to investigate, Psycho Bitch came running out into her carport, topless, holding a piece of fabric in front of her substantial boobs. She said some shit like, "Oh God. I shouldn't have had that last drink!" She was obviously wasted, topless and alone. Weird.

This past Sunday, I was about to pull out of my driveway. My cat, Earl, was outside, enjoying the nice weather. He was standing in her driveway, sniffing the breeze when she came HAULING ASS into her driveway, not pausing or slowing down one bit. If he hadn't totally scurried out of the way, she would've hit him. And I swear she did it on purpose. If she had hit him, I swear, I have no idea what I would've done.
Right about now, I wouldn't mind living next to Pear-Shaped Boy. That would be like winning the neighbor lottery compared to living next to this crazy ass ho.

Conversations with Cheryl, #7

(Said to me as she's looking at the "World Market" sales circular in Sunday's paper)

Mom: Hey. What's a moe-jee-toh?
Me: You mean a "mojito"?
Mom: Yeah, I guess.
Me: It's a rum drink from Puerto Rico or Cuba that has crushed mint leaves, sugar cane, rum, soda water I think. It's good.
Mom: It SOUNDS good. They've got a whole kit here that you can buy to make them.
Me: Cool.
Mom: We should go get one and make some today! (It's 9:30am when she's saying this.)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

WARNING: This is what happens to you after eating the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch sandwich from Burger King. Avoid it like the steaming turd that it is. Posted by Hello

It was a sad day in Hootie-ville...

Have you seen that god-dang Burger King "Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch" commercial they're airing ad naseum (pun intended)?! Oh my GOD. I want to vomit every time this 30-second piece of mindrot comes on the screen. If you haven't seen it it's because a) you don't have a t.v., b) you live in Norway, or c) you're damn lucky and you should run out right now and buy a lottery ticket.
First of all, it features Darius Rucker, lead singer of the uber-shitty 90s band "Hootie and the Blowfish" in a Nudie suit, complete with cowboy hat, strolling, strumming and singing a vaguely country sounding ditty as he wanders through a hyper-reality/borderline surrealistic set that is apparently the mystical "Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch" we all remember from childhood fairytales. Ooh! How clever! Not only is it a colon-clogging sandwich, it's a state of mind! I'll order 5, with extra bacon please!
At the Tendercrisp Bacon Cheddar Ranch, there are "chicken breast trees," "streams of bacon ranch," "cheddar paved streets," and "tumbleweeds of bacon." Tumbleweeds of bacon? How high do you have to be to even come up with such a concept. Oh yeah, and there are buxom, sexy maidens and vaguely gay cowboys who love scarfing down some Burger King. And presiding over it all is BK himself, sporting a very, VERY scary Mardi Gras-type oversized plastic head while he's pushing some starlet (whose name I'm sure I'm supposed to know) on a swing while she suggestively says, "Come and get it!" or some such shit. It's just so horrifying and stupid and gross. Not that fast food commercials are ever anything but, but still... I think this one is a hall-of-famer in the Museum of Utter Crap.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Dear Tina: Will you marry me? Oh're already married...and I'm not gay... Can we just be best-est friends then? Posted by Hello
Good kisser? I'd guess "yes." Posted by Hello

The Lezbo Three

So once again, this game of blog-tag has occured. (Thanks, Texpatriate.) This time the theme is "Three women I'd go gay for." I'm assuming these are women who both are and are not known to be gay, right? So, pretty much anything's game, right? Okay, here I go:

Tina Fey.
Damn smart and funny. Not just goofy funny, but witty funny. And cute as hell. First Emmy-winning female head writer of "Saturday Night Live." Rocks the sexy glasses. Me-ow! I want to be her best friend. But in lieu of that, I'd totally go gay for her.

Gina Gershon.
I know. I'm being pretty typical here. But not only is she sex on wheels, she seemed like a totally cool individual in her IFC gig, "Rocked." It was one of those art-imitating-life-imitating-art kind of things. Oh yeah...I'd make out with her. And I bet she's a hell of a kisser.

Anna Nicole Smith.
Not really. Just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.

Salma Hayek.
This one has nothing to do with her wit or intellect. I'd go gay for Salma because she's fucking surface-of-the-sun hot. I'm not sure if's she's the perfect female specimen, but she's damn close. And she's got the sexy Antonio-Banderas-accent-thing going on. And--bonus points--her tits are real. What's not to love?

So there you have it.

I think the next topic should definitely be "Gay Guys We Wish We Could Convert." I'll get us started: Anderson Cooper; Kyan from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy", "Most Male Models..."

C'mon. It'll be great.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The peaceful Guadalupe. Sigh... Posted by Hello
A little friend I made this weekend. I love me some goat!! Posted by Hello

Weekend Away, #3

On Sunday, we woke up pretty slowly. It wasn’t raining, but it was still damp and gloomy outside. The caretaker, Mr. Graham stopped by to say hello and drop off two bulging bags of fresh pecans from his trees that he’d shelled and split himself. He told us about how he had just become a great-great granddaddy. The baby boy is a month old, but Mr. Graham was bemoaning the fact that he “hadn’t gotten to take him hunting yet.”
We walked down to the river and then went on a bit of a drive around in the surrounding Hill Country. Yes we saw “Stonehenge II” and more deer than you can shake a stick at. I even got to speak to some cute goats once when we were pulled over. We had breakfast at a local diner that featured many, many portraits of John Wayne, and a crowd of white folks in their church clothes.
Came back, cleaned up, closed up the cabin and headed for home. It misted on me almost all the way back. Very foggy and surreal looking in places. I just kept thinking all the way back to Austin, “I hope that wasn’t the last time. I hope I can go back some day.” We’ll just have to see…
No, I did not buy a gun from this place. But the cactus is nice, isn't it? Posted by Hello
A painted wood version of the hippy proprietors of one of the shops I went into on the Old Ingram Loop. Posted by Hello

Weekend Away, #2

On Saturday, I woke up and it was very gloomy outside. I walked down to the river and was amazed at the quietness of it. Being here at the tail end of winter is so different than visiting during the bustling summer months. I wished I had a canoe that I could get in and just float away.

After getting ready, I went and shopped at the shops along the “Old Ingram Loop.” What this is is a collection of about 8 little shops selling everything from hand-tooled belts and cowboy boots, to furniture made of antlers, to antique lamps, etc. There weren’t many folks shopping, so it was pretty laid back. I parked at one end, and hopped from shop to shop. All of the shop keepers were very chatty in that laid back, small town kind of a way. I went into a shop called “Judith’s,” and Judith was there showing off her collection of patriotic stuffed bears that, when activated, sing “God Bless America.” She said it was her “tribute to the troops.” There was another woman in the shop next door who was chatting to me about her 19-year old shop cat and about how her friend had a new grandbaby. The last place I stopped on the loop was owned by this hippie couple who’d moved there from Scottsdale “because it got too big,” and were now getting worried about Ingram/Kerrville heading in the same direction because they’re “about to put in a damn drive-thru Starbucks on Hwy. 27.” This shop had two lumbering shop dogs, both Labs, who followed you around and leaned against you for some love whenever they had the chance.

After the Ingram Loop, I ventured into downtown Kerrville, and ducked into the antique mall to avoid the ever-increasing rain. I wandered around in there for almost 2 hours. There was a LOT to look at, but I didn’t end up buying anything. After that little adventure, I realized it was already 3:30pm, and I hadn’t eaten anything. So I grabbed a sandwich and headed back to the cabin. I ate and lay down to read a book, and didn’t last more than one chapter. The steady rain on the metal roof lulled me to sleep.

Jenny and Lindsay arrived that evening, What-a-Burger bags in hand. We chowed down and made a few pitchers of margaritas that we drank while chatting and laughing. It was nice and mellow. These gals are both mothers of two little ones, so it’s rare that they get to play mom-hooky and get away for an hour, much less a whole night. So I think they had a nice time, even though we didn’t do anything more than hang out.
The view. It's much lovlier when spring has sprung and everything's green, but you get the idea. At the base of the property is the Guadalupe river, and across the river, a summer camp. Posted by Hello
The weekend cabin. It was gloomy this weekend as you can tell... Posted by Hello

Weekend Away, #1

I decided to get out of town after a brutal week at work. It wasn’t that the work I had to do this week was difficult, it just required a LOT of my time. So I took off a ½ day on Friday, ran some errands, threw some stuff in a bag, and hit the road. Destination: Ingram, Texas, about 2 hours southwest of Austin.
A bit of history…

When my grandmother was in her late 60s, she married her second husband, a widower named Dayton. It was weird because my grandmother had been a single woman for a long time, having divorced my grandfather in the early 1960s. But she was healthy and active, and she and Dayton were a lovely couple, traveling, playing golf, and enjoying their lives together. This was the early 90s, and I was living in Austin completing college. Not long after they married, I learned that Dayton “had a house on the river” in Ingram, and that as long as we took care of it, members of Dayton’s new family (i.e., Grandma’s kids and grandkids) could use it as a place to get away.

The first time I went to the house—which is really just a stone cabin--it was with mom and Roy. They had gone down for a week, and I drove down and joined them for a weekend. It was summer time, and we’d be awoken each morning by the loudspeaker announcements and the sound of “Revillie” being played over the p.a. of the summer camp across the river. And despite the fact that it was hot outside, the house’s placement at the top of a sloping hill and the breezes off the Guadalupe River kept it perfectly pleasant out on the shaded porch.

The place is rustic, but is brimming with charm. The property it’s situated on is worth god-knows-what these days. It was originally built by Dayton’s mother as a place for him to live while attending college at Schreiner College in nearby Kerrville in the late 1930s. It has one bathroom, concrete floors, a sleeping porch, a big stone fireplace, a flagstone patio overlooking the river, and a swimming pool. It is one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. His mother aptly named the house “Shangri-la,” and there is a guest book with signatures dating back to 1938. In the den, there is a beautiful wooden Edison hand crank record player along with a bunch of thick Edison and Decca label 78s in the storage drawer. Hanging above the mantle is an old painting of Will Rogers framed in rope. In the built in wooden china shelves, there is a full set of “Bucks County” dishes that would fetch lots-o-dough on E-bay. This place is practically frozen in time, but it has cable and central heat and air.

My grandmother passed away unexpectedly in 1999, and I’ve only been here once since then. We had a “girls” weekend when a few of my girlfriends came down, we drank a bunch of beer, cooked out and just enjoyed hanging out. I have wanted to come since then, but it was always awkward asking Dayton after my grandmother was gone. Dayton passed away a few months ago, and his son Lee was nice enough to let me know that the cabin was available to be enjoyed…at least until they sell it…which will be soon. So I suspect this will truly be the last time I ever come here. They’ll sell it, and he and his sister, who have little if any emotional attachment to this place, will make a gazillion dollars off the property alone. And I’m sure someone will simply tear down this humble cabin and build a huge monstrosity in its place. Indeed, since I first started coming here, large, modern homes have sprung up all around Shagri-la, where there used to be empty land. I’m sure some real estate investor is sitting off in the wings like some vaudeville villain, wringing his hands, waiting for the day he can get his claws on this land. When I got here, the cabin needed a good airing out, and it was a bit dusty, but other than that, it’s in good shape. Once I got the car unloaded, I made a grocery list and went to the grocery store. I spent a quiet, relaxing night by myself, just reading and watching TV. Somehow just being here makes the stress of life’s craziness melt away.

More later...

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

2 Newsflashes

The "Easy Fold" Envision high chair is not easy to fold. Lying bastards.

Six-months pregnant rocket scientist, Denise Richards has filed for divorce from that charmer, Charlie Sheen. Their marriage didn't last?! Dear Lord, is there NOTHING I can believe in?!

I'm delirously tired and looking forward to a 14-hour work day tomorrow. So this is all you get for now. Good night, my chirrens.