1.30.2008

Cambodia Pix

Cambodia Pix

I have hundreds but narrowed it down to 29 seeing as Blogland doesn't tolerate overwhelming details. Click on the elephant to begin your virtual tour.

Iz and Sambar the Elephant

There is a bit of narrative in the photo captions, but I will have to do more thorough write ups later. Can't guarantee when that will be, but I suspect it will coincide with Leelo and Mali surrendering their individual and nightly 8:30 to 10:30 P.M. bedtime battles.

1.29.2008

Can I Sit With You? LIVE!

Can I Sit With You? LIVE!

Friday's Can I Sit With You? Event in SF was the most fun ever had in the entire history of Queer Open Mic/Special Ed PTA Fundraisers. Seriously (Seriously!, to quote my esteemed co-editor), I would do this every weekend if venues, energy, authors, childcare obligations, and cosmic forces were amenable. Jennyalice and I got to go out with BOTH of our husbands at the same time! Ep and Jo stayed up past midnight! SJ Alexander, Badger, Godfather M, and Babysitter A were all there! Talk about a star-crossed event.

First there was the Open Mic (I missed Sarah Dopp; boo on the stupid rain that made me late), then there were the readings (and you can check out photos and videos via the Can I Sit With You? blog), then host Cindy E. donated all the night's proceeds and I almost wept, then we sold five million books, then we told all sorts of people who somehow didn't know that yes of course we are accepting stories for Can I Sit With You, Too?, and several people promised to submit an essay by the end of February, and then those of us who weren't wiped moved across the street for cocktail and show tunes hijinks. Not naming any names, but -- if you were already seething with jealousy over our authors' talents, it won't help to know that some of the bastards can sing, too.

We've got to do this more often.

1.28.2008

Moment of Enlightenment in Cambodia

Moment of Enlightenment in Cambodia

Iz and I were looking at a beautiful silk painting of the five stages of The Buddha in our hosts' home in Phnom Penh. I mused out loud as to what the small concentric circles on The Buddha's palms and soles meant. My host Trishala is a Jain, and I am a lapsed Catholic, so the two of us could only look at each other and blink. Then Iz piped up:

"That means he's reached Nirvana."

Yeah, sort of. But you've gotta love Unitarian religious education classes.

1.25.2008

Vaccinated

Vaccinated

Mali had her first vaccination yesterday (DTaP). She is three years old. I've been meaning to start her vaccinations for over a year. She hasn't had an injection since she was a wee infant, and was more surprised than upset -- until she got the magic Mickey Mouse bandaid over the injection site. They she was back to grins and deviltry.

There are many reasons why she got stuck: She's had a clean bill of developmental health from the MIND Institute, Thimerosal isn't in vaccines any more, I no longer worry about Thimerosal in vaccines causing autism, and I keep meeting people who have vaccine-preventable illnesses like Whooping Cough that should only exist in pre-WWII children's books like Ballet Shoes.

Also, I am simply no longer hooked on The Cause of Leelo's Autism. Not at the moment. I think his autism is most likely genetics (hello, quirky men on both sides of Leelo's family) plus possibly an environmentally-triggered genetic abnormality or mutation. But I no longer dwell on Why Why Why, because it's a waste of both my and Leelo's time. Instead, we focus on helping Leelo gain skills and independence, and on giving him lots of love for who he is, rather than despite his autism.

Do I want to know why Leelo is autistic? Yes. But only because I want my children to have as much information as possible, should they breed.

And if there was a cure? Yes, I would sign Leelo up. But only because I think he craves better communication skills and social facility.

In the mean time, Mali will have one vaccination each month (no multi-dose visits) for about a year; then she'll be caught up, and we'll all be part of the herd.

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1.23.2008

This Ain't No Bake Sale

This Ain't No Bake Sale

Can I Sit With You? will have its first series of readings this Friday, January 25th, in San Francisco, during Queer Open Mic at Vince and Pete's Three Dollar Bill Cafe! Authors Sarah Glover, Liz Henry, Michael Procopio, and touring contributor SJ Alexander will each be reading from their Can I Sit With You? stories. (Jennyalice and I will be there as well, of course.) Rumor has it there will be book signings after the readings, so if you already have a copy of CISWY?, bring it along.

For those who need an excuse to leave the house and be entertained: we'll be selling copies of the Can I Sit With You? book, so if you buy one at the event you'll be supporting SEPTAR, the Special Ed PTA of Redwood City.

Details:

Queer Open Mic
1/25/08 8pm $1 - $5
at Vince and Pete's Three Dollar Bill Cafe
1800 Market Street • San Francisco CA, 94102


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A little bit about the Open Mic Night, from host Cindy Emch:

Queer Open Mic is a twice monthly gathering of poets, performers, writers and artists of all types to come together and share art. Proto-feminist and genderqueer in scope, QOM aims to combine raunchy enthusiasm, warmth and community, unapologetic queer, radical politics and sweet rhythms to create a space for spoken word, poetry and performance that is multi cultural, multi gendered, completely inclusive and dynamic. QOM is hosted by Cindy Emch and Mollena Williams. Please show up around 7:30pm to sign up on the open mic list. You're encouraged to read one piece of work that is five minutes or less. And by encouraged we mean threatened with spankings, shoe throwings and general hilarious tantrums if you don't follow the rules.

About the Performers:

Liz Henry lives in many intersecting communities, as a feminist, poet, translator, blogger, science fiction fan, queer & genderqueer writer, and computer geek. She's had work published in Parthenon West, Xantippe, Lodestar Quarterly, Poetry Flash, Two Lines, Cipactli, caesura, other, Literary Mama, Strange Horizons, and has been publishing zines and little books since 1986.

SJ Alexander lives in Seattle, avidly follows the doings of Britney Jean Spears, and is a Kennedy Administration buff. SJ writes almost daily at "I, Asshole" online.

Sarah M. Glover is a recovering C.P.A. who lives and writes in San Francisco. She is currently using her young children as guinea pigs while manically scribbling away about ghosts and fairies. Hopefully, the scribbling will make it into a book before they leave for college.

Michael Procopio lives in San Francisco, but has yet to figure out the precise name of his neighborhood. He is a food blogger who dislikes the word "blogger" almost as much as he does the words "moist," "classy," and "slacks." His likes include the drawings of Edward Gorey, Cotswold cheese, and the musical stylings of Jacques Brel. His websites are www.word-eater.blogspot.com, and www.kqed.org/weblog/food .

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1.22.2008

Thank You, Dipsy; Thank you, Po

Thank You, Dipsy; Thank you, Po

My love for the Teletubbies has always been proportional to how much Leelo loves them. Without Teletubbies iTunes videos on my laptop, Leelo might never have broken through the Potty Training ribbon this past summer. His newly developing computer skills are frequently honed on the Teletubbies web site.

And I now love the people behind the Teletubbies as well. An executive from Ragdoll, the Teletubbies parent company, somehow came across this site and read how much the Teletubbies mean to Leelo. She contacted me to let me know that she'd read about how Tinky Winky & Co. had helped our family. And then she offered to send us a care package.

The package arrived shortly before Christmas, at my husband's work (our "business" address). It was only with the greatest difficulty that my husband was able to wrest the four Teletubbies headbands from his co-workers. Leelo's eyed almost popped from their sockets when we showed him all of what was inside the box: DVDs, stickers, stuffed dolls, etc. I don't think he's put down the inflatable Noo-noo since it arrived.

So, I hereby pledge my continued allegiance to all that is Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, & Po. With gratitude.

1.21.2008

Back From Cambodia

Back From Cambodia

And this is what I'd love to do to Iz right now:

Iz Getting Her Head Squashed at Banteay Srei (Near Angkor Wat)

We had a wonderful time on our trip and she is an excellent traveling companion, intrepid and resilient for the most part, but -- she has been insisting for four weeks that there were no list or instructions for the massive circuit board project that is due in class tomorrow, she got mad each time I asked if there were any instructions because she said she had them memorized and she had already picked out all the correct components when we went to Radio Shack three weeks ago. Now it is night before the project is due, she has been up 36 hours with only one short nap since we left Phnom Pehn this morning, she finally gave in and called a classmate to get the very clear project details and instructions lists, and of course all the materials she picked out at Radio Shack are wrong. I am going to kill her. Or I would, but thankfully coming home means that her father can intervene and try to help steer this boat away from the iceberg of Iz's own creation.

One week plus of lightheartedness and cheeriness, ffffft! All gone. Damn it.

1.11.2008

Off We Go

Off We Go

It is very tempting to title this with the same Dead Kennedys tune that my oldest brother keeps singing to me, however.

Iz and I leave for Cambodia in a couple of hours. I am not bringing my computer or phone. We'll be back on the 22nd.

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to Iz's campaign for Cambodian kids: MB, Badger, TLF, Dee, and ...SouthEast Pages(?). If I left out your name please feel free to give me a virtual kick in the ass. Those of you who wanted to contribute but forgot or spaced or didn't get around to it, consider contributing to Cambodian Children in honor of Beth Kanter's birthday, instead.

---

Can I Sit With You? news: New story up, from Kari of The Karianna Spectrum.

Also, four Can I Sit With You? writers (SJ Alexander, Michael Procopio, Liz Henry, and Sarah Glover) will read their stories at Three Dollar Bill's in San Francisco, at Queer Open Mic Night, on Friday, Jan. 25th, at 8 PM. Locals, mark your calendars. Jennyalice and I will see you there.

1.09.2008

Persian Girls

A MotherTalk Review

Persian Girls Cover

Nahid Rachlin has taken her own story, interwoven it with the plight of women in Iran and contemporary Iranian history, and given us an intelligent memoir that will satisfy even those who usually crave frothier fare. Persian Girls is so beautifully and lucidly written that I kept hiding in the bathroom to binge-read it.

Nahid and her sister Pari were outspoken, free-thinking girls in a family that allowed its sons to embrace the Shah's love of all things Western but held its daughters to more traditional Iranian values. Pari in particular dreamed of America and of being an actress, but as the older daughter was pressured into marrying a man who considered acting on par with prostitution. Nahid, who wanted to become a writer, managed to persuade her father to send her to college in the United States, where she married an American and became a citizen herself. From childhood through adulthood, the sisters' love for and delight in each other is clear, despite their divergent paths.

While Persian Girls is an autobiography of Rachlin, it is also a portrait of women and girls in urban Iran in the decades before the Islamic Revolution. Rachlin makes tangible the intellectual agony of living in a society that considers women chattel, in which even during Rachlin's lifetime allowed men to marry nine-year-old girls, and in which women's behavior is still legally restricted. Sometimes it was even more heartbreaking to read about her sister Manijeh -- malicious as she was to both Nahid and Pari -- who behaved exactly as society and her parents expected her to, and yet was still blindsided and crushed by her arranged marriage. And, as the mother of a special-needs child, I couldn't help but sob at the description of a woman who was pressured by a suitor to abandon her blind toddler.

I was also heartened by Rachlin's many descriptions of women creating their own societies and taking care of each other. Rachlin's beloved aunt Maryam, who was the author's adopted mother from infancy through age nine, raised Nahid in a loving and traditional Islamic community of women, one in which the rhythms of their daily routine created a comforting cocoon. Even Pari found some solace in her neighborhood female friends, though it was not enough to alleviate her depression after losing custody of her son Bijan to her cruel first husband.

In the Iran Rachlin describes, women can never depend on men, but they can sometimes depend on each other. And sometimes, that is enough.

A final note: while I have gobbled up many memoirs by Iranian women, including Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis, and even Firoozeh Dumas's Funny in Farsi, I have never before encountered such a vivid description of life under the Shah, and the American and European complicity in his corrupt rule. I would like to thank Nahid Rachlin for helping me to be a little bit less ignorant.

Want more Persian Girls information? read Ms. Rachlin's Persian Girls Backstory, or discuss Persian Girls in the MotherTalk Book Club.

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1.07.2008

All the Kids Are Finally Back to School

All the Kids Are Finally Back to School

It's been almost twenty days since I've taken a deep breath or had a real moment to myself.

I think the only person who's happier than I am about school resuming is Leelo. Yay routine! He has a new, permanent teacher in the classroom as of today. Fingers crossed.

Iz and I leave for Cambodia Friday night. We have a 9AM - 4PM layover in Hong Kong on Sunday. Anyone have any ideas for how we should spend that time?

1.02.2008

Pre-Thanks

Pre-Thanks

(From 11/21 ... that is one big blog fragment pile)

We are at my in laws' new house in Nevada.

Iz is thankful for their massage chair, the flat screen TVs in every room, and for being allowed to watch The Disney Channel while on vacation with her Hannah Montana-loving cousins.

Leelo is thankful for their heated pool.

Mali is thankful that everyone from Seymour's family is here, so she can have an audience for the Mali Rosenberg Show (now playing at select veterinary offices and airport lounges).

Seymour is grateful for the views of The Strip on one side and Red Rocks on the other, especially since the latter supposedly has many miles of beautiful mountain biking trails.

I am grateful that babysitter A came with us on the plane and is here right now after we went to bed around 1:30 and then Leelo got up at 6 AM, that Leelo was such a good boy during a rather long and complicated travel day and had no accidents even though his silly mom forgot to change him into a pullup for the flight itself, that Ep graciously picked up Pat the Cat from the veterinarian's office since they needed to keep him and his idiopathic bladder past our flight departure time, and that my life in general is so much more pleasant than it was one year ago.

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