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Friday, December 21, 2012

At Least I Have A Gun

Boy, was yesterday a lousy day.

It all started on my drive to work.

I was minding my own business, driving down the highway, when in my rearview mirror I saw the blue lights flashing. I pulled over, kept my hands on the steering wheel, and tried to remember what I learned about the Fourth Amendment in law school.

The officer approached my car, all business-like, and asked to see my license and registration. In my sweetest voice, I asked him what seemed to be the trouble. He said I didn't seem to have had my car inspected recently - the stickers on my plate were the wrong color.

I handed over my registration.

He compared my home address to the address of the Town Office that had issued my registration. Then he started writing me a ticket.

I sputtered out a series of questions that boiled down to "what in the world am I being ticketed for?"

Driving in an improperly-inspected, improperly-registered car, he told me. Fix it by tomorrow, he told me, or I'd get an even bigger ticket next time. Cars like mine aren't allowed on the roads, he told me.

I was already late for work, but I didn't want to be driving an illegal car for one minute longer than necessary. I headed to the "correct" Town Office. I was operating on borrowed time, so I really wanted to drive fast. The speed limit, however, was 35MPH the whole way. I went a risky 40MPH.

I also wanted to kill two birds with one stone and call a mechanic on my drive to Town Hall so that I could set up an appointment for an inspection. But in Maine, you're not allowed to drive while you're talking on a handheld device.

After sorting out the registration and inspection issues, I headed to work. But then I realized how hungry I was. And how badly I needed comfort food.

What I really wanted was a decadent grilled cheese. I headed to the grocery store. I was looking for my favorite raw-milk French cheese. Not seeing it in the deli case, I asked the man behind the counter where it could be. He said probably the closest shop I could find it was in France. Unpasteurized cheeses aged less than 60 days are illegal to import, he explained. Two people died from the bacteria contained in such cheeses in the past 15 years, so the U.S. banned the cheeses altogether, he elaborated.

Hungry and fuming, I left the grocery store. As I exited, I realized I was right next door to the pharmacy, so I figured I would pick up some Sudafed for my head cold. I grabbed a box and went to pay. The check-out lady with acrylic nails shaped like Christmas trees looked me up and down and asked for some identification. "What do I need to provide identification for?," I asked. She haughtily responded that drug dispensaries (like Rite Aid/CVS/Walgreens) have to ask for id in Maine anytime someone is trying to buy a "drug" that can be used to home-manufacture methamphetamines. I showed her my layer of lingering pregnancy weight and my 401(k), and threw my driver's license at the register.

I was getting more worked up by the minute. I decided to do something productive with my day to make myself feel better.

I called in sick to work and went home to get some trash we'd been meaning to take to the dump forever. I loaded it into my car and drove to our town's "transfer station," which is a fancy way of saying dump. I backed up my car, opened the trunk, and was greeted by a shifty teenager trying to assume an air of authority. "Sorry, ma'am. I can't let you transfer those goods at this station unless you've got a ticket to do so." I NEED A TICKET TO THROW OUT SOME TRASH AT THE TOWN DUMP? "Yes, ma'am, I'm afraid you do. The tickets are issued at the Town Office down the street so we can keep track of who's transferring items and control our costs." I shoved everything back in my car and decided to let my husband deal with it.

I thought about going to visit my friend, Jill, in the hospital. First, I called her girlfriend, Jody, to see if the timing was okay. Jody told me Jill was actually toughing out her kidney stone at home -- they couldn't afford the hospital visit because Jody's health insurance doesn't cover domestic partners who couldn't prove they'd been in a civil union for more than 5 years.

By then, I'd given up and accepted the fact I was going to need some help calming my nerves. I thought about buying some marijuana, but that's not legal in my state because just imagine the havoc that an incredibly chilled-out person with a case of "the munchies" could cause. I decided I'd go to our local tavern for a glass of wine.

I bellied up to the bar and asked for a Merlot. The barkeep looked me up and down and asked me for some identification. I asked him if he was related to the check-out lady at Rite Aid. He said he wasn't joking. I said neither was I. He held out his hand. I gave him a low-five. He said "ma'am, I can't serve you alcohol unless and until I see some id." I said "you just called me ma'am. You've solved your own puzzle." He said "our policy is to card anyone who looks younger than 63. You look to be about 61. Let me see some identification." I showed him my eye wrinkles and unbrushed hair, and threw a maraschino cherry at the register.

As you can imagine, I was coiled tight with frustration. I needed a release. I needed some way to get rid of the aggression boiling inside.

I crossed the street, staying well within the outlines of the cross-walk so as not to be ticketed for jay-walking. I walked a half-mile down the sidewalk, passing the children's clothing store and the children's hair salon. I took a right. I stepped inside.

I walked to the back of the store. I paced aisles and aisles of options as I tried to make my choice. I nodded my head in the direction of the man talking to himself and enacting a beach-storming scenario on the linoleum floor. I pointed to one of the gleaming beauties that looked comfortable to hold and not too heavy, but guaranteed to do more in 10 seconds than Congress does in 10 months.   I'll take it, I said. A burly guy in a blue smock smiled, handed it to me, and pointed in the direction of the register.

I slid my credit card across the plastic conveyor belt to the lady wearing a Santa Claus hat with blinking lights and a name tag covered in stickers. She never looked at me, just monotoned that I needed to sign and hit "Enter." I did. She asked if I needed a bag. I said, "you have bags for these?" She said no. I left.

I opened my trunk, pushed aside my son's stroller, and lovingly bestowed my new semiautomatic Bushmaster AR-15 in my trunk. I crumpled up my Walmart receipt and tossed it in the trash -- the last thing I needed was a ticket for littering.

As I drove out of the crowded parking lot, gone were the thoughts of the day's annoyances and limitations. At least I was able to buy a gun in the same amount of time it takes me to log onto my computer in the morning.

And then, the only thought going through my brain was:

Wonder what's the best spot around here for target practice?

Lest you consider me a raging hypocrite, and lest you not catch on to the tone in which this post was written, allow me to assure you that none of the above is true. The important thing is, it all could be.

Image via

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

26 Acts

Two days after the Newtown tragedy, Ann Curry sent out the following tweet:

Those 140 characters have morphed into an online campaign that is heart-warming, inspiring, and a nice soul-scrubbing. A "pay it forward" for the digital world that can help restore our faith in each other.

Ann's initial idea for #20Acts - to honor the 20 first-graders who were killed on Friday - morphed into #26Acts to account for the 6 school teachers and administrators who died with them. Some have upped the ante to 27 to include Adam Lanza's mother, Nancy, who was his first victim.

The uplift has spread as more and more people sign on for the challenge. Ann repeatedly retweets what her comrades in compassion have been inspired to do: buy coffee or pay the highway toll for the person in line before them; drop off 26 pairs of new socks to a homeless shelter; bring a friendly dog over for a visit at a lonely neighbor's house. Big or small, monetary or not, people have brought comfort or a treat or a kind word into an unsuspecting recipient's life. Random acts of kindness in honor of the people who fell victim to a random act of violence.

I encourage you to participate, be it on a scale of 20 or 26 or 27. Just reading Ann's retweets has made me feel good; I can't imagine how much more meaningful it will be to actually perform an act of giving in those children's and those teachers' honor. The more of us who sign on, the more we prove to ourselves and to each other that we are, indeed, better than what we looked to be on Friday. And that if we are better, we can do better.

Whether you publicize your acts is your decision. On the one hand, it feels slightly off to trumpet a good deed out into the world; often the value of doing good is tied up in the nobility of doing it without the need for recognition. On the other hand, I really have found it gratifying to read about the good and the generosity that other people are putting out into the world, and I don't interpret it as bragging. If you decide to share your efforts, I encourage you to tweet them to Ann (@AnnCurry), and I'd also love it for you to tweet it to me (@AbbyDiaz1). If Twitter isn't your thing, I'd love to hear from you directly: email me at

In case you need ideas of how to participate, I'm listing below 26 examples of what I've read other people doing and some I came up with myself.

Thank you in advance, and hurray.

26 Ideas:
  • Donate blood;
  • Buy a cup of coffee for your school crossing guard;
  • Pay the metro fare for the person behind you;
  • Help someone bring their packages into FedEx/UPS/the post office;
  • Shovel someone's driveway;
  • Deliver a present to a single parent you know for them to give to their child/children on Christmas;
  • Pay someone's cab fare;
  • Bring lunch to a homeless person;
  • Make a donation to your favorite charity in the names of the 26 Newtown victims;
  • Host a play-date so that tired parents can have some downtime or go out for dinner;
  • Say something nice to someone;
  • Write thank-you notes to the CT first responders;
  • Give money to a layaway account at Wal-Mart;
  • Sign up to volunteer somewhere;
  • Bring food to a food pantry;
  • Give a ride to someone you know who doesn't have access to transportation;
  • Overtip your waiter/delivery-person;
  • Falcons friends: give your game tickets to a fan who's never been to a game in the Dome;
  • Pay a bill for someone you know who is struggling;
  • Drag someone's trash cans up the driveway for them;
  • Buy flowers for your assistant;
  • Make cookies for your mail carrier;
  • Donate your air miles to Make-A-Wish;
  • Work with your kids on developing acts of kindness they can perform;
  • Purchase a gift card for school supplies for a teacher; or
  • Put money in an expired parking meter.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Enough Was Enough

There is a classroom attendance list that no one will ever again answer "present" to, because the list is now a massacre's scroll.

Last night, President Obama concluded a Newtown vigil by reading the names of the twenty - feel that, twenty - first-graders who were gunned down in their classroom on Friday. He read nothing but their first names. And it was the most poetic, traumatic, beautiful, horrific, darling, depressing, poignant and powerful thirty seconds of speech I have ever heard.

Twenty children who were perhaps enjoying a morning snack or working on properly gripping a pencil. Twenty children who were looking forward to the winter's first snowfall, or their afternoon Cub Scouts' meeting, or the Giants' game on Sunday. Twenty children who were too young, too little, to have made any choice that could be traced back to as The Choice that led them to be placed in harm's way. They had simply woken up, eaten breakfast, kissed their parents, and gone to school.

And now they're dead because a young man borrowed at least a semi-automatic rifle, two handguns, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from his mother's "doomsday stockpile," drove to his former elementary school, and fired multiple bullets into the layers of skin that had just lost, or maybe were still in the process of losing, baby fat.

I started this blog in March of this year. In the nine months of my writing here, this marks the fourth time - feel that, the fourth time - that I have written about a tragedy caused by gun violence. Trayvon; Aurora; and a temple in Wisconsin. An even starker, more grim reality is that I could have dedicated those nine months to nothing but American deaths by guns, and I wouldn't have even scratched the surface of my material.

One of the reasons that I like writing this blog is that it is an outlet for me. I can try to be funny, I can reflect, I can opine, I can be silly. Usually, the outlet feels sufficient; after I click "publish," I feel drained somehow, in a good way.

Today, though, confronting this post and the subject it tries to tackle only makes me feel agitated and frustrated; a tear-choked, sputtering anger. My arms are clenched, my fingers pounding the keys. How can this be something that even exists for me to write about? How can we have been so asleep at the wheel that we've enabled our country to enable this slaughter and those that preceded it? If we're so smart, if we're such global leaders, if our democracy is so great, then how could we and how could it have so failed the very people who are most dependent upon the decisions we make, the cost-benefits we weigh, the control we wield?

I believe that life is about knowing when to compromise, that negotiation is an under-appreciated art, and that politics is most productive when middle-grounds are achieved. But I view as entirely unacceptable any more half-measures, much less non-measures, on the issue of gun control.  We are past the point of enough being enough. Enough was enough at Columbine.

It is unacceptable to argue that people kill, not guns. That is absurd. A man cannot walk into a room and kill its occupants by his mere presence alone. His body cannot secrete bullets. He cannot actually shoot daggers with his eyes. He must have an accessory, be it his hands or a knife or a gun. And the man who wants to kill efficiently uses a gun. A man, empty-handed, is not a killing machine. A man palming a pistol is.

It is unacceptable to hide behind the Second Amendment. Nothing in the Constitution is an absolute guarantee, including the right to bear arms. As I've also written before, even the most conservative wing of the Supreme Court has acknowledged that the right is limited, and indeed constrains Constitutional gun ownership to instances of self-defense and to weapons that are not "dangerous" or "unusual." We don't need to amend the Constitution to do want we need to; we need to apply the Constitution to do what we need to.

Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School wielding, among other weapons, a .223 Bushmaster rifle - the semiautomatic weapon that allowed him to put as many as 11 bullets in one of his child victims. The Bushmaster was the same weapon used by the DC snipers to pick off 15 victims in 2001 and 2002. What legitimate place does such a machine have in our supposedly civil society? That's not a rhetorical question. There is an answer: absolutely none.

But it's on our streets and in Nancy Lanza's son-accessible arsenal for two primary reasons: First, an assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. Second, even that ban included loopholes that profit-driven gun manufacturers quickly exploited. Nancy/Adam's .223 Bushmaster might always have been a room away, regardless of Congress' inaction since 2004.

That's because guns are good business. The NRA is a shining example of where money in politics can take you. Tread on supposedly sacrosanct gun laws, and you'll be treading water in some political no-man's-land soon thereafter. Bushmaster itself is manufactured by a private company that in turn is owned by Cerberus Capital Management, a hedge fund that bills itself as one of the world's "leading private investment firms." They have $20 billion under their management.

It is unacceptable for money to cloud the making of policy and decisions on this issue any longer. Show me the balance sheet that ranks "gun" as an asset and "6-year-old" as a liability. Let a Congressman lose his NRA "A" rating. Let Cerberus see its portfolio reduced to $19.5 billion. Let my daughter go to kindergarten next year without an armed security guard greeting her off the bus.

It is unacceptable to say we cannot or should not take action on gun control because the crazies will always find a way and because the video games are violent and because the mental health system is faulty. Ted Kennedy had a saying that went something along the lines of "don't let the perfect get in the way of the good." Perhaps we will never find a fool-proof, complete solution to mass-killings on our streets and in our malls and at our schools. But we can do better than what we're doing. Something is better than nothing. And the most committed, vengeful, imbalanced person cannot create carnage with a game console. He cannot create a portrait of terror for a child's final snapshot of life with a game disc.

We will go a long way to becoming the country we say we are if we remove the guns that have no place among us. It is unacceptable to say otherwise. It is unacceptable to act otherwise. It is unacceptable to accept otherwise.

We've all had enough.

This is a .223 Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle. It's also a picture of the last thing that Charlotte and Daniel, Olivia and Josephine, Ana and Dylan, Madeleine and Catherine, Chase and Jesse, James and Grace, Emilie and Jack, Noah and Caroline, Jessica and Avielle, and Benjamin and Allison saw before their sweet lives were cut terribly short.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thanks, Mayans

Don't look now, but they are quickly joining the ranks of Einstein and putting a man on the moon. It's all the rage in short-hand references to express how utterly flabbergasted or utterly superior you are.

"They're out of my favorite coffee. Thanks, Mayans."

"Bieber murder-for-hire plot foiled. Nice try, Mayans."

"Hangover 3? Hope you're right, Mayans."

Using "Mayans" in a sentence is the lazy-but-slightly-creative person's way of taking his or her ability to be ironic or satirical to the next level. Twitter is offering PhDs in this art.

The ancient Mayas, a people indigenous to Mexico and Central America, invented one of the first calendars - a calendar that is renowned still today for its accuracy. Word has it that trusty little calendar ends on December 21, 2012. Which could indicate fatigue on the part of the Mayans, or the end of the world as we know it.

Pretty exciting, huh?

A papal astronomer has issued assurances that the world is not going to end next'll just "rip apart" billions of years from now. So sleep tight. Hopefully that news will be of some comfort to the people of Russia, who have been so ridden with doomsday panic that its "minister of emergency situations" was forced to issue a statement, trumpeting his "access to methods of monitoring what is occurring on the planet Earth" and assuring his citizenry that the world was not on death's doorstep.

So that's awesome. If the Vatican and Russia say it's not going to happen, it's not going to happen. Probably. I mean, if a duo with direct lines to God on the one hand and the KGB on the other agree here, I like our chances.

Back to the hyperbole, friends!

Has something artificially tragic occurred in a circumstance that affects you in only the most mundane of ways? Give a shout out to the Mayans!

Is there some crisis - manufactured or otherwise - that has been averted? Tell the Mayans to go pound sand.

Need a way to express how distasteful or dismal or disappointing some future event is bound to be? Feign groveling at the feet of a Mayan.

This really isn't that hard to do, Einstein. I mean, if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can figure out a way to beat the Mayan punchline to death.

Image of what I presume to be a Mayan calendar via

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve 12 Twelve

Happy 12/12/12!

If you're not making wishes all day long, then get back into bed because you're wasting the day.

Today's 12/12/12-ness seems especially fortuitous, seeing how it comes 12 days before Christmas Eve and 12 hours after I finished watching Love Actually, which is perhaps the best Christmas movie ever made. My At-A-Glance desk calendar also advises that today is Virgin of Guadalupe day in Mexico, too. Basically, there's no way this day could get any bigger.

12 is actually a pretty propitious number. (Yes, I said propitious.) I mean, think of all the things that come in sets of 12:

  • Donuts
  • Eggs
  • Roses
  • Place settings (if your wedding registry as any say in the matter)
  • Soda
  • Beer
  • Jurors
  • Apostles
  • Disciples
  • Days of Christmas
  • Months
  • Members of a basketball team
  • Tom Brady's jersey number
Bottom line, 12 is basically where it's at, unless you're an unmarried, atheistic, anarchist vegan with flower allergies who doesn't like carbonation or sports. In which case you may not be into numbers at all, and you probably don't read this blog, so there's no earthly reason I'm acknowleding your carve-out.

As I wind my way through this day, I'm going to play a game. I'm only going to allow myself to wish for things I'd like to happen in sets of 12. Some of the wishes that instantly spring to mind that I'd like to package in 12-chunks include:

  • Seconds for the fiscal cliff negotiations to end;
  • Minutes to complete all chores on a weekly basis;
  • Hours of sleep;
  • Days of uninterrupted, idyllic vacation with my family;
  • Years of Breaking Bad;
  • Best-selling books I author;
  • Thousand blog readers;
  • Million dollars;
  • Pounds shed;
  • Miles between my house and my most-distant sister;
  • Combined points to be scored by Falcons opponents through the Super Bowl; and
  • Wishes to come true for every deserving wish-maker on the planet.
This is a fun game. Go ahead and play - in the comments section below, over dinner, or in the nether-regions of your own addled brain.

Monday, December 10, 2012


"I hope you're not allergic to cats!"

"Don't mind the fur balls!"

"You said I would never have to change the litter box!"

I'm now the person who says these kinds of things. Because we now have a cat.

"We" have been talking about getting a cat for a while because "we" think it is good for our kids to have indoor pets. "We" understand that it'd be way too much to have a dog in our small house, so "we" compromised on a cat. "We" thought about getting a kitten in a breed of our choosing, but "we" eventually came around to the idea of getting a cat from a shelter.

For a correct rendering of history, please replace "we" with "my husband" in every instance of its quoted appearance above.

I was never hugely enthusiastic about the idea of adding another living soul to our menagerie of indoor/outdoor creatures. In the abstract, getting a cat just seemed like another thing to feed and clean up after. But just as I got worn down about the chickens, I slowly and gently folded on this idea as well.

I know, I know. I'm a pushover.

In my defense, the cat is not a dog. It's also not a goat. Yes, indeed. He's also toyed with the idea of getting a goat. Multiple goats, actually. He once even wondered aloud what it'd be like to have an alpaca, and if our town's zoning laws would allow us to keep one in our yard.

I'm not exaggerating. Unfortunately.

So, I've steered us clear of becoming a mini-fairgrounds and repeat town ordinance violators. I've also avoided, for now, the barking, jumping, chasing, yapping activities of a dog. Caving on the cat really was just a strategic matter of survival.

My husband spent serious time on his iPad researching cats, cat ownership, and cat politics. Through those weeks of research, I repeatedly stated that, if we were going to get a cat, I would prefer that it at least be a cat from a shelter. Of all the options on the table, rescuing a cat that needed a home had an added appeal to least for me.

He protested wildly that adopting a cat would be like giving up control: we wouldn't necessarily get the breed we wanted, and we'd be at the mercy of whatever psychological effects the cat was suffering from its previous 9-X lives. I kept making my case, but in quieter, more subdued tones, as I internally resigned myself to the fact we were getting whatever cat my husband decided he wanted.

Then we went to a Christmas party on Friday night, my husband talked for a few minutes with a friend who'd rescued a cat, and that night my husband realized WHAT A GREAT IDEA IT'D BE TO GET ADOPT A SHELTER CAT!

Marriage is a beautiful thing.

So on Saturday morning, my husband awoke with visions of the Animal Refuge League dancing in his head. While I took my children to visit my 98-year-old great aunt (MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I SAID MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!), he bounded off to the shelter "just to see what they had." About 30 minutes later, I asked my mother to bet with me whether he'd come home with a cat. We both agreed he would. 45 seconds after placing our bets, my husband sent me the following text message:

"Okay if I get one today?"

Two hours later, Gypsy Rose Diaz arrived at her new home.

"You named your cat after a burlesque performer famous for her strip teases?" you are now wondering.

Well no, not really.

My husband wanted to name her Gypsy, and my daughter wanted to name her Rose. So we combined the names, and the fact that said combination alludes to a woman who authored a mystery thriller titled The G-String Murders is just a happy coincidence.

The feline Gypsy Rose is 4 years old, house-trained, and completely freaked out by her new living situation. I think she's black, but that could be just because she spends most of her time hiding from us. The experts say this is normal. I say it's a sign she's hugely intelligent.

Perhaps the ice will thaw and she'll become a vibrant member of our family. Perhaps she'll meet my son and ask for emancipation. Too soon to tell which way this one's gonna break.

All that's certain is my daily routine now includes tasks like trying to coax a shy cat out from under the sofa so I can put her in "her room" and leave for work.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

Remember how your elementary school class made that time capsule that you buried in some obscure corner of the playground for other kids or aliens or subdivision planners to discover 50 years In The Future? You stuffed it with Lunchables, a VHS tape of New Kids on The Block's Hangin' Tough, and figurines of each Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? You know, so that they'd know what it meant to be a child of the late 20th century?

I've been thinking recently that dating websites and matchmakers everywhere should take a page out of this elementary school lesson plan. They should encourage parents to jot down notes about, and gather artifacts representative of, their children as they age. Then down the road, when a prospective mate comes knocking, they can decide whether to proceed after digesting all that mother knows best. A spin on the What To Expect When You're Expecting series, you might say, only actually helpful. We could call it What To Expect from The Person I Expected.

There'd be an added bonus for mothers of sons, assuming they write their time-capsule submissions without their rose-colored glasses on: an immediate defense to charges of He Thinks The World Is His Pedestal. I warned you, sweetheart. Now please, I'm late for my mahjong game.

I'll get the ball rolling. Here's my first letter. The subject is my son.

December 7, 2012

To Whom It May Concern:

So, you think you might have a crush on my son.

Before you start not-talking to him and practicing how to say Mateo in Spanish, I'd like you to read this. There are some thing about him I think you should know.

He is almost 15 months old.

He still cannot walk on his own. He will travel on his feet, but only if he is holding someone's hand/finger.

He always wants to be picked up. As soon as he is picked up, he wants to be put down. He spends much of his life being carried in a horizontal position, as if he were Batman, Jr. preparing to take flight. It's the only compromise.

For months, he crawled using only his arms, as if our playroom were a beach he was storming. It took a lot of coaxing and coaching to teach him that his legs could participate in the activity as well.

He dislikes most new foods. The only foods he liked immediately upon their first introduction were french fries and Cheetos.

He is passionately interested, however, in whatever anyone near him is eating. He will grunt and gesticulate in wild indications that he would like to share. As soon as sharing has occurred, he throws the food item onto the floor. Then he immediately grunts and gesticulates for another piece.

He cannot be bothered to hold his own milk bottle.

He shows affection by clawing at faces, noses, and eyeglasses. If he really loves you, he will bite your knee.

He does not enjoy drinking water from a sippy cup, but he loves splashing his hands in the toilet bowl and then licking his fingers.

He left the holiday party at his daycare last night with a bleeding scratch and a black eye. That's because he spent most of the night wrestling with two 4-year-old boys. He had a spectacular time.

He will cry if the laundry machine dings during his afternoon nap, but he will sit in an LL Bean backpack carrier in a snowstorm without complaint.

He can only be entertained with sports -- either playing them or watching them. Either way, he will regularly groan "awwwww," as if he understands what just happened to the ball.

He has come close to breaking a Johnny Jump-Up and an Exersaucer from jumping too hard.

He has a great giggle.

His favorite person in the world is his sister.

He is very cute.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Yours truly,
Mrs. Diaz

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just Like Us?

It was the stifled urge to vomit heard 'round the world.

Earlier this week, Kate Middleton Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, reported to a hospital with "acute morning sickness." That forced The Palace to report publicly that, yes indeedy, The Prince and Princess of Charming are with child.

In the hours that followed that announcement, there was news that betting had begun on (a) what the gender of the baby will be; (b) what it's name will be; and (c) what it's eye color will be. (I'm serious.) Perhaps less surprising, fashionites are eagerly anticipating the loveliness Kate will bring to maternity wear. And every American, even those that think a "fiscal cliff" is short-hand for a really hard hike, will soon know that "pram" is British for "stroller."

The glee and early-onset hysteria that erupted post-announcement is surely just a precursor for the attention that will be devoted to, and lavished upon, this young couple and their offspring. We can all picture, easily, the first shots of Kate leaving the hospital a months from now, with the bundle of joy cradled in her arms. We can hear the chorus of "jolly goods!" as the baby travels in its first horse-drawn carriage to the site of his or her baptism, gowned in white and hoping to be seated at Uncle Harry's table for the post-ceremony brunch.

Pregnancy announcements and baby arrivals are almost always cause for joy, even amongst us mere mortals. But when a celebrity, even one of unknown origins and/or unidentifiable talent, comes forth with that news, it somehow becomes more special, more magical, and more noteworthy. And when one of the handful of royals on the planet starts shopping for onesies? Well, it's as close as we'll ever get to understanding what it must have been like when three guys heard about a baby being birthed in a manger.

Getting pregnant is a biological act we're all theoretically equipped for. A lot of us have a child; some of us have more than one. We love our children, but we could live with fewer Facebook status updates about Other People's Kids ("OPKs"). I mean, hurray, he likes peas, but do we need 47 pictures of him eating peas?

The universality of reproductive machinery doesn't matter, and the eventual fatigue with OPKs disappears, when it comes to Important People's Kids ("IPKs"). We can never see enough pictures of Suri Cruise walking down a New York City sidewalk. We can never get enough of President Obama's references to Sasha and Malia doing their homework. We can never hear enough about how the Jolie-Pitt children like to invite Cirque du Soleil for private performances in the game-room of their rented chateau in Bahrain.

The same goes for the more mundane aspects of life. I get almost no enjoyment out of feeding parking meters or going to the dry-cleaners, but I click through pictures of Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock doing those very things every day on US Weekly has gone as far as dedicating a page in its weekly to Stars doing Things "just like" us, such as standing up and sitting down and pushing things (children on swings, food in grocery carts, feet into shoes, etc.). And by now I think I could ad lib Jennifer Garner's shopping list for her weekly jaunts to the Brentwood Country Mart.

This skewed value proposition is perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the celebrity worship phenomenon. I can understand losing your mind around someone whose talent is awe-inspiring, and I can get aboard with the semi-religious idolatry of a person who does something you wish you could do but know you never will. What I cannot understand is why people - me included - find some added significance to the life moments that we all share or can equally aspire to. I may not be Jessica Alba, but I know how to take my daughter to the park. Why is it remotely interesting to watch her do it?

This umbrella of the inexplicable includes all the folks of questionable talent who have somehow attained a level of fame. The Kardashian family might headline this group, but it embraces almost all walks of reality television. The television industry may soon become the Peeping Tom Industry, what with all the time so many of us spend every night watching them get drunk and fight or them eat ants or Donald Trump say something so preposterous you hold your breath until the sky starts falling.

If the stars are "just like us," why are we so much more interested in what they're doing and the way they do it? Are we so bored with our own lives that the boring parts of a famous life somehow become entertaining? Why is it reassuring to know that Jennifer Lopez has cellulite and that Blake Lively sometimes leaves the house without makeup on?

Then again, maybe this passionate voyeurism is not reserved to the regular human-Special Famous Human divide. We learn to gossip in elementary school, and it's not of the "Did you hear who George Clooney's dating now?" variety. We continue to do friendly cyber-stalking on Facebook, even if we have to avoid the pea-eating pictures. And you read this blog (hopefully religiously, and thanks if you do).

So maybe we just like taking stock. Maybe we just like sharing in the human experience. Maybe keeping tabs gives us ideas, goals, confidence, standards, inspiration, and, yes, a little fun. Maybe watching someone do it in the limelight, with lots of money and lots of personal assistants, is just a little more fun because it's also a little more of an escape. Because, really, wouldn't it be great if when I bring my daughter to the park, I looked like Jessica Alba? I think so.

I don't think I have an answer to any of this. Not really.

What I do have, though, is one more question:


Monday, December 3, 2012

Poem for A Monday

Did my alarm go off?
I didn't hear my alarm go off.

It's 6:07. I'm already running behind.
Should have woken up earlier and gone to the gym.
But I didn't.

Why am I in my daughter's bed?
Oh yeah. She woke me up at 2:18
To chat.

Hear my son moaning in his crib.
I should go get him.
But I don't want to get up.

It's 6:23.
Now my son is humming
And banging his hands in rhythm.
God, I don't want to get up.

Get son.
Change son.
Dress son.
Feed son.

ESPN, tell me who won yesterday.
Please do highlights.
I have 43 seconds.

Time to face the kitchen.
Why is the dining room a mess?
What was my husband doing down here last night?
Building a nuclear reactor?

Never mind.

Put cereal boxes on counter.
Serve cereal to son.
Watch son throw it on floor.

Must be upstairs getting dressed in 23 minutes.
Make husband's lunch.
Make daughter's lunch.
Soynut butter is gross.
Make son's lunch.
Wonder if he'll eat any of it.

30 minutes have passed.
How have 30 minutes already passed?
Thank goodness I sliced and cream-cheesed
Those bagels last night for
My daughter's class snack.

Daughter is still sleeping.
Tired from all the chatting at 2:18.
Rouse daughter.

I should really do something about my hair.

Make the bed.
Hey, where'd my son go?
Remove son from playing in the toilet bowl.
Give my daughter 5 minute warning.

I should really do something about my hair.

Shake my son off my leg.
Stop biting me!
What in the world am I going to wear today?
Two more minutes, I'm serious!

I should really do something about my hair.

Grab that and that and that.
I think that's an outfit.
It's outfit-like.

Wash face, put on face cream!
Brush teeth.
Whoa, way too much blush.
Whatever, wintry rosy-cheek glow.

I should really do something about my hair.

Son needs a diaper change.
Change it.
Daughter needs to get up.
I swear to God, you have one more minute!

Quick! Dress before he starts eating your socks!
Where did I put my phone?

Okay, missy.
Downstairs, everyone!
Did I put on deodorant?
Hope so.

I should really do something about my hair.

Mittens. Yes, you do.

This bag.
That bag.
Don't forget your lunch.

In the car in the car in the car!
We did it!


You're right.
I did forget to feed you breakfast.
Special treat morning!

We'll go there.
Line's too long there.
We're late.

We'll go here.
Line's kind of long here.
Run run run.
Now hurry up and eat!
We're really late.

Full parking lot.
Squeeze in there.
When I say hustle inside I mean HUSTLE!

Put snack in classroom.
Put lunch in cubby.
Kiss kiss kiss.

Son to daycare.
Let go of my hair.
Kiss kiss kiss.
Sneak out the door.

Deep breath in.
Deep breath out.

Back at the car.
Is that me reflecting back at me?

Wait a second....

I left the house like this?

I should really do something about my hair.