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November 30, 2011

Occupy Nashville

Filed under: Personal, Politics — Tags: , — llcall @ 10:52 pm

AP Photo posted here: Arrested Occupiers after release

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the Occupy movement.  Sometimes it’s because they know I read a lot of news.  Sometimes it’s because they know I have a lot of political opinions.  Sometimes it’s because they know I have a radical brother-in-law.  Sometimes it’s because I’m the only under-45 person in the room (that happened at my conference in Jacksonville, more than once — I guess it was a really old crew).

Here, now, I’m going to attempt to do something I have never done on my blog before: offer some information without injecting any personal opinion.  I think I can do it, but it might make me light-headed.

I mentioned before that I spent an hour or so at Occupy Nashville; this is because my brother-in-law Tristan (the blond in a blue windbreaker, fist in the air, in the above photo) and his girlfriend Katy are two of the key people involved in the movement (or non-movement, as Tristan told me it is not really a movement — but we didn’t delve too much into that, so I can’t explain it any further).  We didn’t have much time to spend because Addison was napping in the car (attended by Katy; don’t worry, we didn’t leave her alone) and we had a two-hour drive to Huntsville still ahead of us.  But I wanted to do as much fact-finding as I could while I was there.  First, I got my hands on some literature that was being disseminated.  These somewhat-“consensus documents” — there seemed to be some disagreement about whether they had been agreed to by the whole group or whether a few people had decided to create them, but they were on kind of official-looking cardstock and I counted at least 20 or 30 people holding them — listed three aims of Occupy Nashville:

  1. End corporate personhood (this Wikipedia article gives a primer on this issue, which was reignited after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010)
  2. Get money out of politics
  3. Support the Occupy Wall Street movement

Next, I wanted to talk to some people directly and ask, “Why are you personally here?”  When a young (early thirties maybe?) Hispanic woman approached me to ask if I wanted to hold a sign in the upcoming march, I asked her that question. Rossana had a lot to say; it would have been good to have a digital recorder handy.  But I’ll try to relay what I can.  She started out by explaining that she’s concerned about how things are going in the country.  She doesn’t like either major political party or feel they represent her ideas and opinions on the issues.  She doesn’t see them coming up with solutions.  Then she said something to this effect:

Do I think this is going to change things, in the government?  No, probably not.  But it’s changing me, it’s changing us.  And I’m doing something to show what I want and believe.

She went on to talk about her attire — she was wearing a fair amount of make-up and was dressed quite fashionably, but if I even try to describe her ensemble (it was truly an ensemble), you’ll know immediately that I don’t speak fashion.  I can say a few things with certainty: (1) she knows how and dresses much nicer than I do, (2) her scarf, which was more decorative than utilitarian, was turquoise, and (3) her earrings were dangly.  She said that she made it a point to dress nicely when she came to the plaza because she has a job (something PR-related) and she wants people to know that she’s not homeless or unemployed/unwilling to work or just concerned about her own personal plight.  She said that she was hoping to use her international background and PR experience to help the Occupy movement transcend individual locales and become a worldwide movement.

From here, I asked more about her background, where she was from, what brought her to Tennessee, etc.  She was from Chile, where her father had been involved in political activity in opposition to the dictator in power.  He had thus been kidnapped and tortured, and from that trauma had developed schizophrenia, among other mental health issues.  She had gone to Brazil for school and there became part of a radical wing of the Communist Party.  When she eventually came to the United States, she had continued to be involved in violent protests and activism, although she ticked off a few places/events so quickly I didn’t have time to register it all.  She then reflected on how different Occupy Nashville was from things she had participated in previously, where she and her fellow protesters would just “blow sh&%$ up!”

I was hoping to talk to some more people around the plaza, but she suddenly broke off to join the march and most of the plaza emptied out.  People were carrying signs about issues ranging from teacher salaries to free speech to the 1%.  There were lots of blank posters, ready for people to fill with their particular interests.  There was also a food area with donated coffee, bagels, fruit, and other assorted foods, to which I added a partially-eaten plate of hummus (because my falafel lunch came with an obscene amount of it).  We left as the main plaza was emptying and the Occupiers were marching across the street.

So that’s all for my firsthand reporting on the ground at Occupy Nashville.  But a couple of weeks later, Katy wrote this article while they were waiting for eviction from the plaza (Tristan, along with about 30 others, had already been arrested for staying overnight on the plaza).  So if you want to know what Occupy ____ means personally for one Occupier, there’s her thoughts and experiences.

Finally, I’ll hit you with three other links (minus commentary) I’ve found interesting in the last couple of weeks:

  1. Washington Post opinion piece, “Why African Americans aren’t embracing Occupy Wall Street
  2. USA Today piece, “‘Occupiers’ defy simple descriptions
  3. Daily Show clip (I was trying to embed the video, but it turns out I don’t know how to do that.)

So, how’d I do at reporting versus opining?  Admirable effort, no?

But rest assured, I want YOU to opine (and/or report).  What do you think about the Occupy movement?  Do you have any personal or family experience/involvement with it?  What do you think “they” (or you, if you’re involved) want?

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A birthday shout-out to everyone’s favorite Nena

Filed under: Family, Personal — llcall @ 6:54 am

We thought the best way to wish Neal’s mom a happy birthday would be to showcase some of the outfits she’s given Addison over the past couple of years (since I’m not the best at posting pictures and she is always clamoring for more)!  So starting with the most recent — Halloween — and working backwards:

Addison was exceedingly lucky to end up in Huntsville on Halloween because (1) she got a cute costume (I’m sure I would have gone with one of my go-to options: a b-baller, a fashion victim, or a hobo) and (2) she got to trick or treat, which in case you can’t tell from the above pictures filled her with excitement and wonder.

Pretty sure this was the moment she discovered there was water EVERYWHERE

I don’t think these pictures really do justice to the cuteness of this outfit, but the life preserver/vest thing is really adorable.  The only problem is that when she wears this (as opposed to her usual white onesies), I’m suddenly reminded that she is more like a little girl now than a baby.  Strange.

Clearly, she'll someday be mad that I posted this for all the world to see, but we were at the beach and she had about two pounds of sand in her diaper. Too funny to pass up . . .

Lorie likes red and so she’s given her a couple of bright red dresses.  Judging by the higher-than-usual number of compliments she gets when wearing the red dresses, I think red is one of Addison’s colors.

I was going to post a few more pictures just to jog your memory about some of the cute outfits I’ve already highlighted on the blog, but since it takes about 2 minutes for each picture to load (I’m not even exaggerating, I timed it!), I’ll just direct you back to some old Pictures for the Weekend posts here, here, and here.  Truly, Addison is blessed to have such an attentive grandmother to save her from the monotony of white onesies.  Thanks, Nena, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

P.S. Is that how you spell Nena, Lorie?

November 28, 2011

Vacation, again

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , — llcall @ 9:02 pm

I haven’t even finished the posts on my last vacation (I’ve still got a half-written post on Occupy Nashville, among others) and I’m back from another week-and-a-half extravaganza.  But since Neal will kill me if I start recapping it before I unpack my bags from it, I’ll just share this brief exchange from this morning.

Neal: We need to change your clothes.

Addison: No!

N: If you want to go out, we have to change your clothes.

A: No!

Me: Do you want to go out?

A: No!

Me: Do you want to go to the kids’ place?

A: No!

Me: Do you want to get out of the house?

A: No!

Me: Do you want to see the world?

A: Yep. (As she begins to unzip her pajamas . . .)

Even after a week on the go, wading through Disneyworld crowds, waiting in lines for Dumbo, and hours-long flights, she’s ready to go.

Where on earth did she come from?  No, seriously.

November 11, 2011

The saucy side of D.C.

Filed under: Family, Personal — Tags: , , , — llcall @ 10:26 pm

Our trip to D.C. was altogether too short . . . but we sure managed to fit in a lot of good food in that short amount of time!  From Le Pain, which I already mentioned, to Indian, Thai (twice), and Chinese to some good old home cooking, I gained at least a pound or two.  We were fortunate to stay with my Cousin Audrey and Aunt Helen for a couple of days and sample the many delicious things Helen is constantly cooking, baking, and blogging about on her foodie blog, Saucy Cuisine.

Some of my favorite family food memories revolve around Helen’s gourmet dishes (she says she’s not gourmet, but I won’t hear it): unique cranberry sauces at Thanksgiving (even though Thanksgiving doesn’t hold much appeal for me, I can get behind her experimental dishes), handmade wontons, parties with all-you-can-eat homemade sushi.  The list could go on and on.  I think she once made a box brownie mix that was like the best brownie I ever had (sadly, it was only one brownie since they went like hotcakes).

But enough about the past, feast your eyes on what we got to enjoy during this visit:

Bacon and Egg Spinach Salad — serious perfection

(I have to say, the older I get the more I wonder if bacon is my Achilles’ heel. Goodness, I love the stuff!  If it didn’t cost more money than Neal’s willing to spend on meat, and was even a little bit healthier, I would certainly add it to about 80% of my meals.)

Zuppa Toscana — I’m not a soup person, but I would be if all soup tasted like this.

Spider Web Sugar Cookies — almost too pretty to eat, almost

I’ll never be a foodie or a cook (trust me, it will be cold day you-know-where before I add a “Recipes” or “Cooking” category on here), but I have to admit that I have tried some of the recipes on Helen’s blog.  Sometimes they look too good to resist and the directions are so straightforward that I feel like even I could do it.  And indeed when I tried these Parmesan Zucchini Crisps, Neal said they actually resembled Helen’s picture.

My food resembling good food = a big step up, I guess.

Suffice it to say if you’re looking for holiday food inspiration, or non-holiday food inspiration, my Aunt Helen won’t let you down.

November 9, 2011

How I’m not wasting time on the internet

Just so you know, I wasn’t kidding about Disneyworld next week.  Lest you think it’s some sort of impulse purchase (believe  me, I don’t have an impulse-buy bone in my body), going to Disneyworld is the reward I’ve been planning for about two years if I could finish a thesis-related paper and get it accepted to this conference next week.  I did and so I’m going, along with my parents who couldn’t stand the thought of missing Addison’s first Disney adventure.

Of course, what this really means is that I have just about one week to get back up to speed on a paper I’ve barely glanced at in six months and craft a non-boring (read: no dry academia-speak) presentation about it (this is a practitioner-oriented conference, which is important to me because I want my work to be practical and applied and actually help people in jail/prison).  Based on our care-taking schedule (which must be observed at all costs to keep Neal from going off the rails), I only have about four hours each morning.  That sounds like a lot of time, but in practice, it feels difficult to transition from “The Wheels on the Bus,” barnyard animal sounds, and endless bubble baths to my work . . . and then back again a few hours later.  I am only beginning to see just how similar my work style is to my father’s — famed for his 24-hour-plus workdays with barely any food or drink and no sleep — it can take us a long time to get going, but once we’re in “the zone,” we can stay focused for irrationally long periods of time.

In case you were wondering, I’m still in the “long time getting going” phase.  And I have been since Monday.  It turns out there’s just so many interesting things on the internet.  Did you know that?  Have you heard about the internet?

I just listened to this Manners for the Digital Age brief podcast debating the etiquette around posting pictures of other people’s kids on the internet.  The moderators each had differing views, so it was kind of interesting to hear their perspectives.  It’s a dilemma I’ve faced as well.  And really, not just with kids’ pictures.  Some adults are finicky about internet pictures as well.  I’ll tell you my rules of thumb in the comments if you tell me yours.  I’m really curious . . . (as opposed to just postponing the inevitable presentation prep, which I’m not doing, at all . . . I swear.)

November 8, 2011

“Vacation is the worst part.”

Filed under: Family, Motherhood, Personal, Therapy — Tags: , , , , , , , — llcall @ 8:08 pm

Of life, he means.  That’s what Neal just told me in response to my somewhat-whiny statement, “I just want to go back on vacation.”

It may seem strange that we didn’t completely figure out that some of my FAVORITE things — travel and vacations — are some of Neal’s LEAST favorite things until year six together.  But actually, it’s not strange at all because what was formerly Neal’s mildly-expressed preference for staying home, which I share a lot of the time, has turned into a deep-seated aversion to getting out of a two-mile radius of home since the bambina came along.  In some ways that I am only beginning to understand, Neal is filled with complete and utter dread when we 1) veer from a rigid schedule or 2) take Addison anywhere.  Which often seems strange to me since truly Addison is one of the best travelers around.  She never tires of seeing new places and interacting with new people, and handled five days of house-hopping with ease.

I suppose I didn’t mention it on here before (I meant to), but we just returned from a crazy, whirlwind vacation.  It didn’t involve knocking off any of my final states (trust me, I tried to talk Neal into a day trip to Mississippi so I could get to 44 states but he was certain either our marriage or his sanity wouldn’t survive the trip), but it was great fun nonetheless.  I started with a flight to Durham, North Carolina for a day and a half of eating with Ms. Kaila and her many entertaining friends.  Kaila spoiled me like crazy; I’m pretty sure I’ll have to make another NC appearance someday!  Then she drove me through the gorgeous fall leaves to Christiansburg, VA to meet up with Victoria, who graciously packed up her pregnant self and two-year-old to drive me to D.C. — but only after making me and Kaila homemade pizza.  Wonder woman, no?  It was great fun showing Victoria and Katie around D.C. for a day . . . I wished it could have been a week!  But something about the timing was meant to be since our other grad school friend Emily was also in D.C. that same day.  I can’t tell you how strange it was to be discussing toddler behavior and pregnancy issues (not mine, obviously), while having lunch in Adams Morgan with my two friends from Provo.  After a truly superb dinner at Le Pain Quotidien (their pesto = pure heaven), Victoria drove me to Dulles to rendezvous with Neal and Addison (yes, Neal braved a five-hour solo flight with a toddler; he still has the heart of a champion.).  Our few days in D.C. together were far too short.  I have some niggling regrets about people I didn’t get to see, not being able to go to church in my beloved old ward, and missing out on my favorite restaurant.  But really, there could never be enough time in a place I love and miss so much.

Our next stop was Nashville, TN, complete with a trip to the farmer’s market and an interesting hour at Occupy Nashville, which I may blog more about later.  Although Tennessee wasn’t a new state, I did manage to make better memories there, which was also on my states to-do list.  Finally, we made our way down to Huntsville, AL to visit Neal’s parents for a fun fall week.  Addison benefited from a thoughtful grandmother who picked out a Halloween costume and insisted on trick-or-treating, something that Neal and I no doubt would have overlooked if left to our own devices.  Ladybug pictures to come . . .

But back to the general topic of vacations . . . sort of.  I have spent much of 2011 trying to answer a couple of questions:  Why has the transition to parenthood been so dang hard for me and Neal?  And why has our relationship taken such a hit even though we had a strong foundation of communication before Miss A came along?  I’ve known some answers to these questions for awhile, and just before this vacation I had a couple of huge epiphanies (topics for another day).  But this vacation certainly solidified some additional reasons.  I actually feel and do better as a parent when we’re out and about, either for a day or two weeks.  That process of getting out gives me a needed adrenaline rush that allows me to more closely match the huge energy reserves Addison was blessed with.  That, and I kind of hate routine.  I hate doing the same thing everyday, sticking to the same schedule and the same activities.  Blech.  (Addison’s novelty and thrill-seeking streak certainly appears to come from me, though I hope she continues to have the energy to match her desires.)  And for Neal, a rigid and highly-specific schedule is like a favorite blankie you never want to let out of your sight.  I’m not even joking when I say that for the entire six months of our marriage counseling* we had the same conversation every single week:

Me: What do you want to discuss at counseling tomorrow?

Neal: Our schedule.

It’s a tribute to him that he kept coming even though every week I rolled my eyes and we discussed emotions and abstractions and existential crises instead.

So, to sum up.  Couple getaways, awesome.  Whole family vacations, tolerable (for him) only once every few years.  Separate vacations, good.  I guess I’ll have to take Addison to Disneyworld without him . . . maybe next week!

* I keep mentioning therapy in bits and pieces, but I’ve decided to add a new category about it because soon I’m going to start a series of retrospective posts about our experience in counseling.

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