Friday, November 7, 2008

Yes, we did.

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
After 8 years of watching this sacred document be abused and disregarded, I am proud of us for standing up for ourselves in this way.
While we are on the subject, how well acquainted are you with these? And how many have been violated, ignored, and flouted by the Bush administration?
The Bill of Rights
First Amendment – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Second Amendment – A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Third Amendment – No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Fourth Amendment – The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Fifth Amendment – No person shall be held to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Sixth Amendment – In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district where in the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Seventh Amendment – In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Eighth Amendment – Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Ninth Amendment – The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Tenth Amendment – The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.
Sure, there are more rights and amendments that I did not include here. The Constitution is a living document, after all. But these first 10 amendments, the basic rights ensured to us all, has never changed. You will notice, also, that these rights are not granted only to citizens of the United States. They are universal rights afforded to anyone who lives here, for whatever reason and under whatever legal status. Just sayin.
Lecture over.

Friday, October 17, 2008


I'm at home, waiting for my hairdye to complete its formidable job, so I thought I'd update you on the homeless fellow I mentioned a few posts ago.

The Caboose and I have seen him regularly at our bus stop downtown in the Financial District, and each day we have a pleasant chat. By chat, I mean he launches into his typical monologue of loose associations and flights of ideas, while the Caboose and I smile at him and wait for the local bus to take us to his preschool. The Caboose never speaks to Norman, but he asks about him all the time and anticipates our meetings.

We have learned, from Norman, the following:

* He has crashed the Cannes Film Festival, where he met Maurice Chevalier.

* He was married once and wanted to adopt his wife's son, but the child's biological father forbade it.

* He doesn't sleep at the bus stop (though we have not yet learned where he does sleep.)

* Someone has taught him that its polite to rise when speaking to a lady, as he always stands up to talk to me.

* He did not know that the words chevalier, cavalier, and cavalry all come from the same root.

* He enjoys calculating the diameter and circumference of things.

* He agrees that I am not as dumb as I look.

After our most recent meeting, the Caboose and I climbed aboard our bus and sat in the back row, which is our usual spot. The Caboose stood on the seat, hands pressed to the window, and screamed, "GOODBYE NORMAN!" a dozen times to be sure he was heard. Norman didn't hear him, but everyone else on the bus sure did.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

More of the Same (Addended)

  • Greetings.

    It's Umma here. That's right. Booper has started calling me Umma sometimes. He is learning at light-speed in his KIP program. He now knows the following, in Korean:

    * How to count to 20
    * How to sing Happy Birthday
    * How to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
    * How to write his name.
    * How to say, hello, goodbye, thank you, freeze, stop what you're doing and look at the teacher, stand up, sit down, and behind. (we taught him koon-denghi, but he's learned an alternate word.)

    There is a lot more that he understands but can't say on his own. His pronounciation is impeccable. He enthusiastically gobbles up all the bul-gogi, kalbi, or man-du that I can make. (Though this may be in part due to a growth spurt because the other night he consumed an entire adult-sized burrito.)

    What's even more astounding is that the Caboose is learning a lot of these things too, just by association. It's true that their minds are sponges right now. So all the scholastic stuff is going great.

    Booper is also making a lot of friends, and I'm holding my own with the other moms. Some better than others, as you can imagine. Last night, however, I hit a snag. You see, one of the moms has a tradition of holding these periodic Moms Cooking Nights at her house. (She has an older child in the KIP program, so she's a veteran with these things.) She invites all the moms over, and then one of the Korean moms shows the rest of us how to make authentic Korean food. I'm all over that. Unfortunately, the first one falls on a weekend when my Mom is going to be in town. In order to avoid stepping on anyone's toes, I sent the following to the moms email list:

    "I would love to join in for the mom's cooking night, but want to ask the group if it's okay if I bring MY mom. She is visiting for Halloween weekend, and I know she'd love to join us. She is a lot of fun, very social, and loves to try new foods. All that to say, I don't think she will cramp our style. Is that alright with everyone? "

    A couple moms responded that it was fine with them. then I received this from the hostess:

    "I hope you are not offended but this event is really a KIP Mom only and meant to discuss classroom issues, etc. Inasmuch as I would love to meet your mom and I am sure she is very sweet and would have a fun time with us (and we could probably learn from her as well!), in the past, it became too big as other moms, sisters, etc. were visiting...and it was difficult to say no to one and not the other and it became a general party rather than a "school" related bonding event.

    Thanks for understanding. I hope you are still able to make it, even for a little bit."

    Now I don't want this to turn into some big *thing.* I am going to be dealing with these parents for the next 5 years. But I was a little surprised at this response, as I felt it was kind of controlling to say that we can only come to the dinner if we are going to talk about school things and this is not a "general party" (not sure what that means.) What do you think? Am I being too sensitive? Misinterpreting?

Addendum: At pick-up this afternoon, I ran into another mom from the class. As we were walking to get our kids, she kindly said, "By the way, I just want you to know that I thought "hostess mom's" response to you about the cooking night was kind of mean. I would have said it was fine for you to bring your mom." I actually got a little choked up when she said it. I guess this hurt my feelings more than I thought. I felt sort of rejected or excluded, and they don't even know yet what a handful my mother is!

I am still interested in other perspectives, so fire away!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

High Holy Days

La Shana Tovah! Happy New Year to all you Red Sea pedestrians out there. The countdown has begun....Ten Days to atone for all the sins of the past year. Granted, my sins are pretty mild by San Quentin standards, but pobody's nerfect, as the T-shirt says. During these ten days--so the tradition goes--I am supposed to approach any fellow shtetlers to confess my transgressions and ask their forgiveness. If I do so, they are obligated to forgive me. But since we are in the modern age, I will do so via the internet. So here goes:

1) I did not go to shul yesterday. And even worse, I walked past a HUGE synagogue just as it was letting out, holding hands with the boys, who were loudly asking "What's going on in there?" "Why are those people wearing those little hats?" I told them it was a synagogue, and when they asked for an explanation, I said, "it's a place where Jewish people go to talk with G-d. Like a church, but for Jewish people." To which they replied, "Oh...then you can go in there. So can we. How come we never go in there? And what about Daddy? Will they let Daddy in?"

2) I took the boys for ice cream cones yesterday afternoon after a wonderful check-up at the dentist. While I wasn't looking, the Caboose decided to climb up on the cafe table. But instead of him climbing on top of it, it fell down on top of him. On his FACE! He has a laceration on his precious little nose and one on his gorgeous little eyelid. I rushed him to the doctor, adrenaline surging, and they glued the wounds closed. But his eye is swollen nearly shut. He says he looks like a pirate. I think he looks like Joe Frazier. I know he will heal just fine, and it could have been a lot worse. But WOW! Do I feel guilty about that.

And these are just in the past two days. Going back further:

3) I have eaten an apple from the work fridge that I'm not sure was mine.

4) I de-friended someone on Facebook because he doesn't support Obama.

5) I have ignored my mother's phone calls at times because I don't feel like talking to her.

6) I have re-used birthday gift bags.

7) I have played Scrabulous/Scrabble Beta when I should be working.

8) I have coveted another woman's purse/shoes/coat/jewelry.

9) My driver's license does not reflect my true weight.

10) I have lied to my children and told them I don't have gum, when actually, I do.

11) I have consumed my children's Halloween candy without their permission.

12) I have gossiped frequently about other mom's at preschool.

13) I have judged. Boy howdy, have I judged.

Perhaps it is appropriate for me to stop at unlucky #13. So there you go. My Day of Atonement Meme. Now it's your turn. In the comments section, please.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Next Level

I was going to write a sarcastic and, no doubt, inciteful post last week about Sarah Palin, but I just can't get motivated to finish it. Is there anything I could say that hasn't already been said? I do not personally know anyone who remains undecided about this election. But if any of you are, please let me know, as I will do my best to offer compelling reasons to vote for Obama. Otherwise, I think I'm just preaching to the choir.

I am finally getting into a groove with the whole kindergarten/preschool transport thing. We have a system going that takes me 90 minutes, door-t0-door, to cover about 8 miles. Don't get me started. The Handyman can only offer sporadic assistance, so it's on me. Part of the commute involves taking the Express Bus downtown, just the Caboose and me. It's kind of our "special time." I bring magazines, flashcards, or workbooks to pass the time. Then, once we're downtown, we look for Cable Cars, F Trains, or other exciting vehicles. After the Express, we take a local just a few stops to his school. This involves waiting at a bus stop in the Financial District. Every morning, inside the bus shelter, sits the same benign old homeless man. He has a shopping cart full of the usual trappings of homelessness, though he is also usually reading the New York Times. He always greets us enthusiastically, then launches into some stream of consciousness monologue that leads me to believe he is bipolar and off his meds. He has told me I look like Shirley Temple, Margaret O'Brien, and "a movie star." He calls the Caboose, "young man." He has regaled us with stories of his career at General Dynamics and his travels around the country.

This morning when he saw us, he said to the Caboose, "Hey! I recognize you! I've seen you here before. You and your Mommy!" Then he started to talk about Yogi Berra and Yankee Stadium. Poor thing had no idea what he was getting himself into. He didn't get two sentences out before I hijacked the conversation and started rattling off the most interesting factoids about Yogi Berra, starting with the fact that he has appeared in a record 14 World Series. He didn't know any of them, and was thrilled to learn. Soon enough, our bus arrived and we were off with a promise to see him again tomorrow. Now I'm curious to know how this man became homeless.

For those of you who don't speak Yiddish, the above is what we call a shana punum, or beautiful face. It can also be called a zeesa punum, or sweet face. We just call it Booper. And Booper took his test this weekend at martial arts class and is now an Orange Belt. He was so proud of himself, but not nearly as proud as I was of him for sticking with martial arts despite the rough early going. The test involved him doing some things alone, in the front of the class, and I thought for sure this would spell disaster. Instead, it spelled O-R-A-N-G-E. Woot!

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Surprised you, didn't I? Well, Kang-gangsulle is one of the many things I learned at the Chusok celebration last week. This special day at school was a BLAST! We did the traditional Chusok dance, cooked songpyon, and made han bok-wearing paper dolls. Posting photos is a bit of a challenge, as I don't want to "out" anyone's kids. So here is a small sample to give you the general idea.

The children, all in han bok, walk to the auditorium for the Chusok assembly. The school supplied han bok for those who did not have them.

The teachers all wore han bok. This is Ms. Kim, the second grade teacher. Her han bok was gorgeous (and she is pretty great-looking, too. Booper talks about her a lot, and I think he has a crush on her.) She is reading a Chusok story to the assembled children. A lot of the moms wore Han Bok. I don't currently have one, but I am considering a purchase since there will be many more of these Korean celebrations in the future for Booper & The Caboose.

Another "line-up." Here you can sort of make out Booper's kindergarten teacher, Ms. Lee.
Later that evening, the moms from Booper's class all met for Korean food at a local restaurant. This particular establishment has a program in place where they donate 20% of your bill to the Korean Immersion Program. We had a private room in the back. Lots of laughing, eating, and planning ensued and we were there for nearly 3 hours. When I arrived home, the Handyman said, "I have this vision of you sitting at the table with, like, 8 Korean women." I told him, "You're close. It was me and 11 Korean women." And I loved it! Some of the moms speak hardly any English. Some speak hardly any Korean. Some are fully bilingual. And all are thrilled to pieces to have gotten our kids into this wonderful program. The feeling of community is inspiring.
I brought home some leftover kolbi, which was served the following evening for dinner and quickly devoured. I went to the Korean Market yesterday and bought some more to serve for dinner tonight. Check me out, getting all Jewrean on yo a$$. I asked the Handyman the other night, " didn't start out married to a Korean woman, but it looks like you're going to end up that way. How's that going for you?"

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Time Marches On

This morning at kindergarten drop-off, one of the Dads turned to me and said, "They grow up so fast." We've all heard this innumerable times, but I don't agree. In fact, when my kids were babies, I felt like the newborn stage was interminable. (Above a photo of the two of them the day after we brought the Caboose home from the hospital. It almost looks like the Caboose is smiling, but I think he's just trying to push his fat cheeks out of the way so he can breathe.) I know, not very maternal. But there it is. At least with the Caboose I realized that it would eventually come to an end. But not soon enough for me. I am not someone who does well without sleep, so the lack of rest along with the difficulties of breastfeeding (I can only use one boob, so supply is a chronic issue, but there were many others) and the never-ending tedium of diapers, feedings, pumping, baths, housework, regular work, cooking, etc. felt at times like more than I could bear. I would daydream about what life would be like when my kids were preschool age or older, able to walk, talk, and do things for themselves. In fact, sometimes I would have to chastise myself about wishing away their entire first year and instead try to get my head in the game, enjoying the present.

Now I find myself in this curious position of having these older, more independent kids that I dreamed of, and feeling some pangs for the past. For example, last night Booper informed me that he would like to get his homework done early so he can help me cook dinner. He explained that he wants to learn to cook so he can make dinner every night! He also offers to help with laundry and vacuuming. He is the sweetness, absolutely. But don't be too impressed. He now receives an allowance for the performance of certain basic chores (tidying his room, putting away laundry, clearing the table after dinner), and he can earn more $$ by doing extra chores. So this may all be a clever ploy to fill his coffers.
Lately, the Handyman and I have discovered the ease and convenience of asking Booper to get things for us so we don't have to get up. I remember when I was a kid, my parents would ask me to "get my purse," or "bring me a napkin." I would always think to myself, "what's the matter? Are your legs broken?" But now I see the beauty in the bottomless energy of an eager-to-please child who is proud to help.
In any case, while I am loving all this new maturity, I also find myself nostalgic for his younger self. The soft feet, silky hair, sweet breath. I crave more snuggles now with the Caboose because he still has that delicious toddler body, buttery skin, and plump cheeks. I can lift him and easily carry him. He stealthily climbs into our bed at the crack of dawn every day and burrows in next to me for a morning cuddle. Booper likes to cuddle too, but he is getting so big that I can now rest my head on his shoulder, instead of always the other way around. When he climbs into bed, it usually involves a knee in my (full) bladder and an elbow to my face. He has morning breath. He is a boy. He is turning into his own person and I am fascinated by getting to know him. So there is all this ambivalence about nostalgia for the old and admiration for the new. But did it happen "too fast?" Not for me. It feels like I've been being his mom for a looooong time. Here I am serving the brownies at his 5th birthday party. Check out his smirk.
On an unrelated note, have you heard this expression, "it is what it is?" I loathe this expression. I think it's meant to explain a position of Buddhist-like acceptance of the inevitable, but to me it sounds like giving up. A verbal shrugging of shoulders at something that is just not worth caring about. That attitude annoys me. It's like the new "whatever."