Dana: June 2008 Archives

A thank you

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The internet can be a very nasty place sometimes, despite all the talk about community. I've learned firsthand, if you've at all read how I've had to defend my intellectual property. Not long ago I had a reader email me a link to another woman's site, a woman who was using that which caused confusion with my trademark and thus established an infringement. I was cool and sent her an email asking if we could resolve it amicably. The week I emailed her had been a particularly rough one with family illness and stress and I knew my representation (and the USPTO) would demand that I maintain my proprietary interest and really, it's tiring sometimes.

So I emailed her. Based on a past experience, I expected nothing but cruel treatment. I waited. She emailed back. She was cool; she was more than cool: she understood my situation and removed the infringement and seriously, I wanted to fly wherever she was and hug her for being so classy about it. Anyway, I like returning good gestures. Actually, I was looking at her website and saw that she's selling handmade cloth diapers, cute cloth diapers, so cute that I would seriously consider getting pregnant again just to have a reason to buy some. She has different designs with cute Velcro enclosures. She's a mama trying to provide for her family, too. Please do me a favor and skip over to her corner of the Web and holler something nice, or, if you or someone you know uses cloth diapers you can snag a few of her adorable creations.

You have my gratitude for it.

Raising Burt Reynolds

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This morning I told Liam to brush his teeth before going downstairs, like he has everyday since he became bi-pedal and demonstrated the motor skills to brush his teeth. He rolled his eyes at me and ran down the hall with his plastic lightsaber before going downstairs. Ewan, whose motivation to obey comes from the delight in telling on his brother, shouted: "LEE-YUM DINIT BRWUSH HIS TEEFS!" Then Liam shouted back and Ewan responded in a louder tone and they went at it for however long it took me to scrape my exploded brains off the floor.

Liam started to notice girls mid-way through the year, right around the time he didn't want me to kiss him on the cheek anymore whenever I'd drop him off at art or Spanish class. Great. So it begins I thought. One day after his home lessons he placed a crumpled-up dollar bill in my hand, winked and said "Thanks for the lessons, hon. Here, go crazy." I sat there and blinked; he was a tiny Burt Reynolds, save for the chest hair, beef-burns, and gold-rimmed 70s sunglasses. He bought candy for some girl at an event we attended recently; she skipped over to show all her friends and they clucked like a den of gold-diggers. I've never met Clay Aiken's mom but I'm pretty sure that I sounded like her with that last line.

Liam is just a few years from that dreaded land called 'tweendom, a place where some Adam Sandler look-alikes called the Jonas Brothers live, a place where Disney starlets flounce around and act wholesome, a place where innocence is a commodity. Dramatic much, yes.

He's started acting a little sassier at home and developed a habit of not listening. I may as well talk to a cigar store Indian; the results would be the same. I tell him not to do something, he does it. I tell him to do something, he doesn't do it. He wasn't always like this and I've decided to fight fire with fire. He doesn't wash up and come to the table for dinner? We'll eat without him. "Dude, you missed eating with us? Guess you'll have to eat cold food by yourself. Sucks for you." Or "Oh, you didn't put your dirty laundry in the clothes hamper like you were told? Wow, that's probably why I didn't wash any of your clothes. I just don't see them if they're not in the hamper. Guess you won't have anything clean to wear tomorrow, huh? Bummer." There's also "Oh, you didn't do your independent reading last night? I'll have to mark a zero in the grade book for that assignment. No makegoods, sorry." It's working beautifully. Chris and I refuse to hold ourselves responsible for his bad behavior and Liam will be taught out of the gate that his actions have a consequence - whether that consequence is negative or positive depends on him.

We also recently unveiled "grounding" in the house of Loesch, and I'm not even going to fake that I didn't feel a little flutter the first time I uttered the phrase "You're grounded." I don't enjoy dishing out punishment to my kids but there's a certain irony in saying that to your spawn. When my mom would tell me that I was grounded I always told myself how mean she was, I was just so misunderstood, I would NEVER ground my children because I will be a better, more inventive parent. And then I grew up and realized that I use some of the same tactics my parents did and if I met up with my teenaged self, she'd think I sucked, too.

Age has a cruel sense of humor.

I've been out-Peter Gabrieled

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Whenever I ask a question or need advice, the internet is always there to save the day, like that one good friend who knows everything - perhaps the one who showed you the proper way to pad a bra in junior high - not the anonymous frenemy who responded to your good news with "Yeah, well who do you think you are, I used to work with Talent Plus and then I moved to New York and that's successful, big fish in small pond." It leaves you all confused and the only thing you can make out of such a statement is that the commenter once modeled for the local JC Penny catalogs and now works as a waitress at the Times Square Applebee's.


Well damn, she showed me! (My gawd I'm so ignorant, aren't I? A VAT OF COFFEE. That's what. Blame Chris.)

Indulge me in my triumphs, no matter how small you think they are. It's noon and I'm still in my pajamas, so please. Don't hate.

On that end, I've noted your sage advice and I could not love you more, what, with all the fun we've had in the Day in the Life. I'll be in jeans with curly hair. If I look stupid it's your fault.

(P.S. Um, does anyone else think that Blues Clues was totally inspired by the scene at the :59 mark from Gabriel's video? Conspiracy!)

Ask the internet

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A couple weeks ago I got two different pieces of hatemail, both reprimanding me for not posting every single day like I used to. One of them said that I must have run out of ideas. The bulk of my hatemail used to implore me to get a life, so I consider this an improvement.

(If those readers want to pay me to write every day, quantity over quality, I am totally open to that. Just a suggestion!)

This has been a tough month for a number of reasons, some of which I've gone into on my website, some of which I have not. I've taken on a bit of extra writing work because oddly enough, living ain't free and we need extra money to buy beef jerky. Chris takes over in the morning when he can and my mother comes up one evening a week. Despite some of the money-related misconceptions leveled at me in the past, I can't afford to hire either a nanny (or, sadly, a maid). As a result of this my emotions are running high and when my emotions run high I have to work very hard not to verbally eviscerate people, even if they have nothing to do with my problems, or even if they just insist on adding to them with their behavior. Regardless, boooo.

I'm working very hard at focusing on the positive and if I can't focus on the positive I can at least laugh at absurdity when it presents itself. I have several deadlines this week and a photoshoot tomorrow for the 30 Under 30 awards. The latter is turning into a "what will I wear?" fiasco. The photographer called and asked me if I could meet after work; I realize that he's not familiar with what I do but I still had to chuckle because my work, NEVER DONE. He then asked where I worked.

"From home," I replied.

It will be a group shot with the other 29 people, all of whom are coming from after work, most of who will be in suits and other business attire. The problem is that I don't wear a suit to work. I want to look respectable, but at the same time, success isn't always defined by whether or not you wear a suit. I wear jeans, a t-shirt, and Converse most of the time, though I do wear heels when out. So. Do I try to fit in with the crowd or dress as someone who works in Web and radio dresses? Dilemma.

Though I could always wear this shirt.

Loving

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To make up for the Star Wars crawl link that LucasFilm pulled (resulting in me having to pull today's post), here are two things I'm indecently into right now:

- This woman's photos. I am drawn first to a photographer's perspective, the rest depends on how they accentuate that perspective. Kathy perfectly balances beauty and unsettling emotion (in which there is beauty, really) and creates an aesthetic which I love. I've seen other photographers attempt it but it usually looks contrived or hackneyed. Her stuff is effortless and I hate her for it, hate her hate her but also love her because this photo and this photo, oh, and this photo (and this one, too). Also, I love she who loves Polaroid. She's definitely a muse.

- New Tune of the Week ran by this goober. It's a cool music site and I need to stop buying mp3s of his recommendations.

Go forth and love.

We're gonna have a good time

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Last night as Chris and I were watching political coverage on television I remarked that Alan Colmes slightly resembles a giant penis with hair and glasses. Chris guffawed and sputtered: "What an ignorant thing to say about the penis!"

This morning the Best Buy television repair man arrived half-an-hour too early at the crack of dawn (to replace some sort of filter-thing in our LCD) and we hopped and stumbled about the room in our underwear trying to put on pants and almost knocked heads like the Stooges.

Last Thanksgiving I made a big deal about hosting dinner for our parents and our straggler friends from New Orleans even though both our parents wanted to host the meal. Chris backed me up if only because we share a bed at night. Then when we went to our friends', Gravity Kills', show the night before and I perhaps (stupidly) had a smidge too much to drink because I am the world's cheapest date. I was sick the next day, in my dinner dress and apron, and Chris did not gloat. Me? I would have gloated until the cows came home, but not him. I almost wanted him to gloat, just to get it over with, because I knew that I was in his pocket.

Whenever he runs an errand or stops by the store he always brings me a Snickers because he knows how much I like them. For that I can forgive him taking off his socks in the living room and letting them nest under the chair.

I love knowing that I can always count on him, that when my chips are down; he's the proverbial prizefighter who blasts out of the corner to do some pinch-punching for me.

I believe in two things: that there is that one person out there for everyone, your soulmate; also that one person who is the only person that can put up with you for all your life. I can be demanding, I have a sharp tongue, and I know that Chris is the only man with the combination of grace and patience who can enjoy the show. (Though it's a pretty good show from my end, too.)

Happy birthday.

Little big top in the city

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As opposed to little house on the prairie. Last Saturday night Chris, the boys, and me got to do something every family in St. Louis should go do. Click the photo for the set.

A Day in the Life

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I'm in more of a mood to pervert photos in Photoshop than to write today. Yesterday was one of those days, one of those days I hadn't met in awhile, one of those days where the boys where at each other's throats, the house was a mess, I felt under-appreciated, mad, cranky, and otherwise hateful. Some people were grating my very soul from my skin and I wanted nothing more than to climb into the middle of my bed, pull the covers over my head, and close my eyes.

Usually when I have days like that I take to this website and compile a giant list of things to fling in my fantasy trebuchet. I'm still going to do that (I have a list saved for a special time) but for right now I want to be positive. Humor or observances of the daily beauty in life are wonderful remedies. As of such, whenever I feel the lake of fire lapping against my innards, I'm going to force myself to get a new perspective. Literally. With a camera. Today will be the first installment of a new photo series, A Day in the Life, which will do just that.

I started taking photos when I woke up; not as a distraction, but during our little routines, when I saw a moment and wished I could stretch its existence a little further, I'd snap a photo. I'll be updating periodically throughout the day.



Here's the set. Click to enlarge and for captions. Feel free to join in, join the newly created A Day in the Life Flickr group and post your own moments.

Happy Father's Day

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The smartest decision I ever made as a woman, as a mother, was choosing Chris to be my partner and father of my kids. I woke up early, tip-toed around the house, and made him cheesy scrambled eggs.

Until my archives are fully restored, you can't go back and read how I've often struggled with this day because of my rolling stone. I've graduated to a simple sadness which doesn't overshadow my day because I've reaped a good father in a multitude of other ways. For that I'm grateful. It does bring to mind this song, that Chris could've have written simply because of the shared perspective.

Happy Father's Day to everyone who chooses the role, who plays the part, who walks the walk.

I was in the Target parking lot trying to keep my kids away from the insane drivers by yelling STAY BY MOMMY! STAY BY MOMMY! Women recklessly jockeyed for spaces, their driving skills impaired by the excitement of spending $200 on Michael Graves ironing board slipcovers and dishes they don't need. We got to our vehicle and I fought with Liam over how to properly load the bags while fumbling with an obscenely-sized package of toilet paper. It was so big a package I was concerned that the cashier would judge me and think that all I do is wipe my arse. During this I received a call from a number I didn't recognize and when I answered a very polite man said hello, is this Dana, and oh yes, you've been chosen as one of the St. Louis Business Journal's 30 Under 30.

I dropped my gigantic toilet paper package to the ground and sort of kicked my leg in the air Michael Jackson-style, thereby straining my hamstring. It could not have happened in a way more apropos of my life. (I am classy and professional all the way. Invite me to your parties!) The awards ceremony takes place right before I fly out to speak at Blogher. I have a photo shoot in the next couple of weeks for the article, thankfully, because I only have two pictures of myself where I don't look like a douche. There will be an article about it and a write-up about me in the July 11th edition of the Journal.

Jamie and Crane invited me on the cool kids' show to talk about it this morning. The St. Louis Business Journal awards are the things for which Donald Trump Jr. types are nominated. Super successful people get nominated for this. I've never really looked at myself in those terms. I don't go to an office, I own only one suit, and I don't have power lunches. I write a website, do talk radio, and a few other things. It doesn't seem like work to me because I enjoy it so much.

(Maybe it's self-perception, but I have always felt like the underdog, the outcast, the nerd. I don't kiss up and I've never worked at "being seen" or having my photo in glitterati sections - which oddly seems to happen anyway because of the various functions Chris and I have to attend for our industries. I'm always photographed next to people exponentially more glamorous and popular than myself.)

I want to thank the people who nominated me, the St. Louis Business Journal, you all for putting up with me, and I don't care if it's the Clichéd Award Show Thing to do: I also want to thank God, I mean genuinely THANK GOD that I am able to scratch out a living doing what I love to do. I am humbled and grateful.

Liam asked me the most brilliant question yesterday. As I slipped on my heels I leaned over and explained to him that his grandmother and dad were going to be sad today and that he may see them cry. He knew why as Chris and I've had the Second Biggest Talk with him, the talk about death and dying which rightfully precedes the discussion of birds and bees. (Which we haven't had yet. We may be mourning me when we do.)

I told him that we were mourning the death of his great-grandfather.

"What is mourning?" he asked.

"Mourning is when we cry and are upset because we lost someone or something. After we lose someone, we're sad and that's called mourning." 

"Oh." I thought we were finished and went to reach for my earrings when he figuratively socked me in the gut:

"Why do people mourn? What are they mourning?"

I was overcome by all the ways I could answer this. People mourn a loved one's company. They mourn the guiding presence lost with an elderly person and the loss of potential with a young person. We mourn because we miss a person, for sure. Because maybe we worry about the state of their soul in the afterlife: were they welcomed into the pearly gates to the sound of a thousand angels singing, were they told "Well done, my good and faithful servant?" Or are they sitting in some sort of waiting room purgatory worse than that of a doctor's office? Or ... what if they believed in nothing? That's something about which I worry, depending on whom we're mourning.

I think there's another, larger reason for why we mourn. We're never more aware of our own mortality than when standing next to a casket paying our last respects.

Ten years ago I was one of "the grandkids." My mom and her brothers and sisters were "the kids." My grandparents were simply "Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa." And then they passed away and we all climbed one step up on this giant generational staircase. My mom and her brothers and sisters are now the "grandmas and grandpas." My cousins and me are now "the kids." My own children, all the great-grandchildren, are now "the grandkids." We'll all take another step up again, and again, inevitable, scary steps. 

I'm sad over losing my family traditions under my grandparents and having to make my own, but when you strip it all away it's really just sadness and anxiety about how all of this will end one day. I believe in the existence of a somewhere beyond the blue and the beckoning of angels et al. (name that hymn!) but this is all I've ever known. The notion of going from one world where I've defined myself by my relationships - a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend -  to another world where those relationships are irrelevant (i.e. Jesus says in the Gospel that we're not married nor given in marriage in Heaven) kind of unsettles me. It's a mild crisis of self-definition.

And all of this flew through my head and the moment where I stood in my closet staring at Liam and messing with my earrings seemed like an hour. I knew that he wouldn't understand this, and that it may confuse or frighten him, so for the moment, I responded with a simple "because we miss that person's company and that's what we mourn." The answer satisfied him. It didn't satisfy me.

Taps

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Chris's grandfather passed away Saturday morning. Chris was close to him as he grew up literally next door to his grandparents. I discussed it a bit on my radio show last night, wherein I annoyed myself a bit by breaking down and crying on air. I don't like crying in public, I don't like showing that sort of vulnerability and I'm uncomfortable around those who don't have such neurotic hang-ups. I've always grieved very privately and didn't cry at my own grandmother's funeral because I had it in my head that if I did it would make my grandfather sadder. A lot of people mistake this as a lack of sensitivity or an absent of intimacy with my emotions - I've been called "robotic" before. I feel just as much passion as the next guy; I just have a huge personal problem rooting through those emotions in public.

I specifically broke down when I talked about how when we visited his grandfather at the hospital, before he was sent home on hospice, how his grandmother stayed by his side and fed him, spooning ice cream into his mouth. My eyes were fixated on this scene. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this year and she not only stuck by and waited for him while he traveled with his infantry to liberate France, she stayed by him as he took a year to recover from the wounds he sustained doing it. All these years later she was beside him again, tending to him, wholly devoted. It was such a testament to love and commitment, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life. I can only pray that we are all so fortunate in our relationships. As his body was wheeled from his house after he passed, she continued to fuss over him, even stopping the funeral home workers at the door and asking if she could comb his hair one more time before he left the house forever. Only a great man who cares for his family and doted on his wife could invoke such adoration. She is understandably having a difficult time. I'm happy that he's had such a long, full life, that he was able to see two generations come from his union, that he was able to see some of his great-grandchildren grow. But my heart hurts for her and the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather-shaped gap left in the hearts of so many.

I finished all of my work this morning and am spending my afternoon ironing black slacks and dresses, pressing toddler-sized white dress shirts and shining occasion shoes. Ewan was born on the same day that my own grandfather died. I did not get any closure after his death and it has been a weight in my heart. My grandfather was buried will full military honors; Chris's grandfather will be as well. When the guns are fired and Taps is played at the funeral tomorrow it will take a monumental effort on my part to keep the dam from bursting.   


How I strained my hamstring

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Yesterday on Twitter I lied and said that I have some amazing news that I could share today. I have amazing news that has completely made my year, but I can't share it until next week. I'm sorry, that makes me one of "those people" doesn't it? Just know that it involves me receiving a phone call in the Target parking lot while wrestling with the most obscene-sized package of toilet paper known to man, dropping said package, and straining a hamstring when I did a leg kick while on the phone with a reporter.

(Liam and Ewan, I am so sorry that you have Gilda Radnor as a mother but when you get older you'll actually think that's sort of cool I hope, because I loved her. Though after I did my leg kick Liam said "Wow. That looked like that hurt." SEVEN. He's SEVEN.)

I'm in such a good mood today and earlier Chris brought me a Starbucks grande mocha latte and I'm now too distracted to write a coherent thought at the moment. So, three things:

1) I'm joining the stable of fine, funny ladies over at Mamapop on a permanent basis. Some persons enjoy the latest copy of People in the bathroom; I enjoy gossip sites during lunch. I am not ashamed. Please be sure to check it out.

2) Here are some photos from the Epilepsy Foundation's Bowl-a-RAM-a, a fundraiser with the St. Louis Rams spearheaded by our friend Jeremiah (click "Bowlarama June 3rd. Stupid Flash). There's a shot in there of myself with friends and of Chris with my cousin, Andi, the girl who lived with us one summer while she recorded an album. She looks just like me except younger, with better hair, and perkier. I hate her. 

3) If anyone has practical advice on starting a family and family finances, consider shooting some of that over to my friend Rebecca. She's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Happy weekending.

Summertime and the livin is easy

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We were heading outside to the tiny plastic wading pool when I heard thunder. So it's back inside until the storm passes. Liam's lessons will continue throughout most of the summer; the long calendar year allows time for illness, urgent matters, and days when we'd rather take off for the science center with friends instead of sitting inside doing worksheets and staring at bare branches through the window. I enjoy home education more in the summer because it's easier to get out and be with nature. Great. I sound like a hippie.

In other news, we were able to recover 100% of my content from the server crash afterall. All archives, comments, etc. will be restored shortly. Thanks, M!

First fling of summer

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- People who wildly honk their horn as a way to signal "I'M HERE GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GET IN THE CAR AND LET'S GO" instead of exiting the car and ringing the doorbell. Especially when it's dusky dawn. I want to go downstairs and stab that horn with my razor sharp hatred of stupid loud crap that people do in the morning.

- People who insist on making things a frillion times more complicated than need be.

- Trader Joe's grapes. TJ's, I really love you, I love you because you're like, the Whole Foods for people who would require a co-signor just to buy a tub of yogurt at the actual Whole Foods. But your grapes are either mushy or like rigor mortised toes. Please be more fresh.

- Liam's newfound sassy little attitude. If he rolls his eyes at me again and I'm going to mat and frame a photo of him using the potty chair and keep it on my living room wall until he starts dating, possibly longer.

- Joe Mitchell wannabes whose elitism is embarrassingly disproportionate to their skills and is apparent to everyone but them. They are the nail in the coffin of traditional media. Their unfortunate fame-whore aesthetic and overblown sense of self-importance blinds them from seeing their cheapening effects on the validity of the press and prevents them from progressing beyond hackneyed. To watch them practice journalism is akin to watching a four-year-old stumble around in her mother's high heels.

Things I would rather keep on the ground:

- People who keep it real, even if "keeping it real" is just loitering around a gas station asking for change so as to buy a forty.

- Banana bread with applesauce.

- Two of my girlfriends who came over when Chris was out of town and stayed past midnight to drink beer and talk.

- Ink. I'm contemplating on getting some more, this time a certain verse of Scripture above my elbow. As someone who can't draw to save her life, tattoos are a way of mooching someone else's incredible talent and keeping it with me. Some people think they look trashy which seems insulting to the art of it; I really don't care so long as people who get them are happy with them.

- My mother who purchased me a ridiculously-priced designer bag to replace the one I bought at Urban Outfitters and had been using. She said that my Urban Outfitters' bag looked like "cows' intestines." I've never bought a designer anything in my life and detest knock-offs, but I love this bag. I carry it around with me, even in the house, like Sophia Petrillo.

- This Ramones song. It's my favorite because - and no insult to the late great Joey Ramone - the lyrics sound like something Liam would write.

- Summer! Warmer weather, digging in the earth, homegrown tomatoes, being outside.

- That my little rant on homeschooling was apparently "loud" enough to be heard up at the state capitol. I received an email from the chair of the House of Representatives' Education Committee: "...I will no longer patronize Subway for their discrimination of homeschoolers.  Thank you for getting the word out.  I wish I had a list of all those who discriminate against non-public schools and homeschoolers.  I've found a few myself and work hard to protect homeschoolers as part of my job in the legislature.  I can feel a bill developing ..."

- Mullet wigs.

Your turn.

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Dana asks: "Thanksgiving Traditions: Yours or Your Mother's?"