Monday, November 26, 2007

Just posting to say I'm still here.

I'm on my way to bed, but I thought I'd check in first. I spent my Thanksgiving driving back and forth to SD and recovering from a killer migraine. (Note to self: find new doctor and get prescription refilled.) Even though Bean drove me crazy for all of yesterday, I spent today missing him horribly, and was thrilled to come home from my night class and find that he had fallen asleep before dinner and slept until just that very minute, so we had a late dinner together before I packed him back off to bed. He has his first loose tooth, which he finds alternately extremely exciting and extremely painful. I remember the sweet agony of that tooth twisting in its socket, not quite out but almost, so that it kept catching on everything. And I remember the softness of the hole it left, with just a tiny bit of the sharp new tooth poking up.

I also remember Bean's very first tooth coming in, and the one that's coming out now may, in fact, be it (but I think, actually, it's the one next to his first).

I have to research how much the tooth fairy leaves these days. It's gotta be more than the fifty cents I used to get.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Plain(s)feminist, driving around lost.

When I first moved to Buffalo from my much smaller hometown, I was driven (pun intended) to misery by the traffic. I had been used to a much easier pace - to being able to drive roughly 30 miles an hour even during "rush hour." But when I moved to Buffalo, I quickly discovered that driving during rush hour meant sitting still for long periods, then quickly accelerating when the car ahead of you moved forward (because if you waited, someone else would try to cut in front of you), and then immediately stopping short to avoid hitting the car in front of you, which had suddenly stopped.

It took me a full year not to think about it all. the. time.

Also, it was easy to get lost in Buffalo and the surrounding towns, because whoever planned the layout was determined to keep the people of color out of the white neighborhoods and so everywhere you went, it was like a maze. (I don't know if that's actually why the cities were so oddly designed, but I do know that that's the reason the metro (underground train) was never completed.)

So the great thing about living here, even with the huge increase in population density I'm experiencing in moving from Tiny City to Bigger City, is that rush hour traffic is really not so bad, and most streets are laid out in a clear grid. This means that, while I do get lost, I can generally find my way again. And I'm almost never sitting in traffic.

Only sometimes...not.

Friday I spent about an hour driving (er, sitting) in rush hour traffic on the highway trying unsuccessfully to find a flu shot clinic that would take both me and Bean. I followed the Health Dept. website's guide and used Google Maps to get directions, which I followed to the letter, until I had that experience that some of you will recognize, in which I realized I was clearly not on the same road that the directions thought I was on. At that point, I had no choice but to give up in disgust, as it was past the clinic's closing time, anyway. So I headed back home, unshotted. During much of our drive in somewhat tense conditions - because I had no clue where I was going and there was a lot of traffic in all directions - Bean WOULD NOT SHUT UP, so that I was pretty sure I was going to end up sobbing in my car by the side of the road, banging my face on the steering wheel like Don Music.

On Saturday morning, I was willing to have another go at the flu shots, especially since Bean was in that narrow window between colds and I wanted to catch him while he was healthy. After plying him with pancakes, I headed off toward what I thought would be the nearest clinic (not the same one from the day before). We got hopelessly lost (took the wrong damn county road, and by the way, would it hurt to actually NAME roads?). It took me an hour just to find the place, and another 40 minutes just to get in. Bean then tried hiding under the chair, but by this time I was in no mood, and we both got our shots (and Bean, surprisingly, did quite well after the initial hiding reflex).

On Sunday afternoon, Bean had a birthday party to attend. I'd known about it for a couple of days, and I'd also known that I should probably look up the address online so I would be able to find it. However, I was either too lazy or too convinced of my own ability to find things (after all, I'd managed to find clinic number two, hadn't I?), so I didn't bother. Bean took forever to get ready, and I was watching the end of a movie, so we didn't actually leave until shortly after the party had begun (it was scheduled to go on for three hours, so I figured it would be ok to be a little late). I kept reading the invitation and looking at the map, and I had no clue where the place was, so I called the house and got directions before heading into downtown in rainy snow during a hockey game.

Apparently, the people hosting the party weren't sure how to get there, either, or maybe they just had a wicked sense of humor, because instead of sending me along the river, which would have been the simplest, most straightforward way to go, they had me drive through the heart of downtown in all the hockey traffic. Twice. I had to call three more times before I found the place. An hour later. For the record, it was probably a seven-minute drive from our house.

Bean, for his part, was great, and only blamed me once for not having gotten directions online. And he had a fabulous time at the party.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The State of Things.

1. Clearly, I am being kept too busy to blog. I'm not sure how permanent this situation is. I don't feel good about it.

2. The people downstairs have been having headaches daily for some time. This past week, I have been having headaches daily, as well. After the people downstairs called the fire marshall and found that there were no fumes anywhere that could be causing these headaches, I can only conclude that it's the dry air, and so I purchased another couple of humidifiers, which I will try tonight. Wish me luck. Waking up with a headache every morning sucks. If it works, I'll at least have a suggestion for the people downstairs.

3. I've gotten somewhat used to my schedule and I'm a lot more used to being the perpetual Parent on Duty.

4. I finally made it to the Mall of America - loved it. Can't wait to go back. They had a J.Jill just down the way from Nine West - what could be better? And sharks! The mall has a freakin' aquarium! I am SO going back.

5. For the first time ever, I'm thinking about having a holiday party. You know why? Because for the first time in 15 or so years, I actually have some space to do it! This is not a huge place, but I feel like I've moved out of the hall closet into an actual home.

6. Sunday nights still make me depressed. Even though I love my work-at-home Mondays. Go figure.

7. Monday night babysitting is still a hassle. To recap: the first sitter I hired back in August never showed up. The second was fabulous, but when hockey season started, she had to quit. Since then, I've patched things together thanks to a couple of former students and to visits from family members. I just hired a neighborhood kid to sit for the two remaining uncovered Mondays, and if this all works out, I will be delirious with relief.

8. The neighborhood is a bit Stepford - I went to a "First Friday" get-together and was a little freaked at how close knit everyone seemed to be. Not that that's a bad thing - just that it's not been my experience for the past 15 or so years.

9. Bean is awesome. He loves school and aftercare, and he almost never has screaming fits anymore. In fact, he's pretty fun to hang out with.

10. I do miss Mr. Plains(s)feminist - can't wait till he moves up here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


So, I've moved to a lovely duplex, and we are lucky enough to have terrific neighbors. They are quiet, they don't smoke, and when they play loud music, which is seldom, they play music I like. Also, they're nice people - they let me use their washer when mine wasn't working, their little girl is very sweet to Bean, and I've had several nice chats with them. They are also clean freaks and they put me to shame (I was just down there, and I feel like I need to clean the house again, even though I just cleaned it yesterday).

Our landlord, however, does not treat them very well. When I moved in, Landlord told me, with her hand held to her mouth to indicate that she was telling me a secret, that they were Black.

We all know what this means, right? When someone tells you in a stage whisper or in some other way that communicates pretend secrecy that someone is Black (or gay, or whatever), what they're really saying is, "and you know how they are." Or, "watch out - we're likely to have a problem." Or, when it comes from a landlord, "let me know if there are any problems."

And, sure enough, Landlord has not been as receptive to their requests for repairs and maintenance as she appears to be to mine. Now, it's true, I don't call her nearly as much as they do, and they have a lot more complaints than I do. But even so, it's not like they don't have valid concerns. And it's disturbing that they can call a number of times because their washer is acting up and get no response, but I can call once about my washer and have the maintenance guy over to fix it the next day.

This is a pretty clear example of white privilege, isn't it? Especially because I would have been totally unaware of it had I not struck up a friendship with the neighbors, had they not informed me of their unanswered calls.

The question has been what to do - how do we handle this situation? For the moment, I've called to report the things that they're concerned about - to work the system, in other words. But it doesn't feel right to either of us. On the other hand, challenging the landlord doesn't feel like a very productive move (for either of us), either.

What would you do?