Archive for March, 2007

sweet, sweet interlude

Julia is blicketing around saying “Booey, booey.” Claire has been sitting on the loo for half an hour, flipping through magazines and singing. Our babysitter is arriving at six, and then Jeremy and I will meet Peter the Rocket Scientist for a movie.

Claire is up to chapter books. She and I have been reading “Charlotte’s Web” all week. It’s really good.

i follow my nose

A certain amount of glee surrounds the fact that $company is now seven years old (yeah, I did a startup six weeks after I got hitched. 2000 was quite the year.) I am frankly amazed that we survived this long. There was (perhaps needless to say) one Very Bad Time and a number of times that, while not so Very Bad, were not good. But here we are, with zhuzhy offices and actual revenues, for all the world like people who knew what we were doing all along (we didn’t.)

All we had was a hunch. It occurs to me that all the really important decisions of my life – who to marry, where to work, when to sprog – were made on the basis of my gut. I think there are three sets of skills necessary to modern adulthood. The first is mastering administrivia; taxes, visas, passports, job applications, budgets, credit card bills, doctor’s appointments, admission forms, financial aid. A second and quite closely related skill-set concerns your performance. These skills involve figuring out what’s expected of you and serving it up, ideally with a twist that no one would have thought of but you. Bedrock director Jimmy Fay summed it up as “Say your lines and hit your marks.” Haim Ginott’s variation is my oft-cited parenting mantra: “Don’t just do something; stand there.”

Gut feelings fall into a third, seldom-used group of skills. For me, the only way not to get paralysed by the sheer earth-shatteringness of big decisions is to make them behind my own back, as it were, or in some other form of massive denial. Jeremy and I have long described our relationship as “the one night stand that went horribly wrong.” We pretended we were only moving to California for a year or two. To the consternation of at least one notable mentor, I turned down offers from $reputablemagazine and $hippestplaceonearth to work at $company. My conscious mind is a bit of a plodder, quite frankly, but my unconscious mind knows exactly what it’s about.

In matters of love
the reptile brain is wisest.
Marry based on smell.


[12:12] mizchalmers:
[12:13] FurHordinge: xkcd has worked out how to remote-control cory

my four year old is a better person than i am

C: Who are those kids on your computer?

R (distracted): I don’t know, just some random kids on the Internet.

C: They’re not random kids on the Internet. They have names.


R: You’re absolutely right. That one’s Fiamma, and I don’t know his name but I’ll find out.

In other news, Julia requested my assistance for an urgent off-bed mission this morning. She disappeared under the bed – you could only see her round toddler butt, which Jamey calls the counterweight – and emerged brandishing my lost car key, a $175 value. She is the snow-haired snotspring of my heart.

Happy birthday Big Daddy G!

personal first

Jamey and I finished the Rainbow Falls 5k listening to Jonathan Coulton singing “We are the champions,” appropriately enough. Couch to 5k in three weeks. We got pink ribbons and hugged and danced, much to the delight and amusement of the race organizers. We ran just under 40 minutes. That’s my personal best and, indeed, only.

The blog format itself cannot contain my self-esteem.

off balance

I think the steady pain under my mastoid bone is an ear infection. I was sitting on a swing in Holly Park with Julia on my lap, trying to show Claire how to swing. As soon as I kicked off I lost my balance and went backwards into the rubber (San Francisco playgrounds have thick floor matting made of recycled car tires, luckily for me.) Instinct shielded Julia, and she was interested but unhurt as I picked myself up and dusted myself off. My score: crushed thumbnail, scraped knee, aching neck and back-of-the-head where my full weight landed.

Tomorrow: my first 5k run!

In cheerier news, here are a few songs from Claire’s repertoire.

“Flower pony, flower pony, they are my favourite things, YOU WILL LIKE THEM.”

“Power, power, SHOUTING, SHOUTING, you can do it, every day!”

“I’m a cat, I’m a cat, I do not like dog food!”

rockaway babies

Multimedia message

Originally uploaded by yatima.

Jules inspects Martha inspecting a rock.

hog wild

New York, Brasserie 8 1/2. Pork sausage with apple and cognac pannacotta. Roast sucking pig with crackling.

“It’s like three-dimensional bacon.”

“Cubic baconium!”

“I like the cockles. All it needs is dairy, and it’s the ultimate treyf meal.”

“You do realize we’re breaking Lent for you?”

“We declared it a feast day.”

“It is the Equinox.”

“And the Year of the Pig!”

a slug’s life

Today I cracked the ten-mile mark. Not that I ran ten miles today – oh, no! Ho ho ho ho – but that I’ve run my 1 1/2 mile track seven times now. I’m on a Kinks kick and I have to tell you, listening to Waterloo Sunset while looking down at San Francisco, my heavenly city? Is a peak experience.

I started running because I was having a bad-body-image moment. I’m still carrying a lot of post-pregnancy weight. After Claire the fat just fell off me. After Julia it just stayed on. There’s no visible difference yet, only two weeks after I started, but the truth is I’m not really running to lose weight any more. Oh, the idea of having less body-fat is appealing, but it’s not as appealing as the fogdrifts over the city, the wildflowers coming out on the shoulder of the hill, the neighbors walking their dogs, the Kinks on my iPod. I came for the exercise and I stayed for the pleasure of it.

Who knew? Always before I thought I needed other people to push me; they pushed too hard; so I hated exercise. Now I trot along at my own lazy speed, with the result that I enjoy the run enormously and look forward to going out again. I won’t win a marathon any time soon, but I’m hoping to complete a 5k on Sunday. And this is the real surprise: every day I can run a little further. Every day my version of a lazy run is a tiny bit less embarrassing.

They say it takes 21 days to acquire a habit. Does that mean 21 days elapsed since I first ran on March 2? That’ll be this Friday. Or 21 days on which I ran? That’s be April 18, my grandmother’s 101st birthday.

Either way, wish me luck. And envy me my fog, and hill, and owls.

“how is she?” “annoyed!”

Bewildered and appalled by reports from this week’s conference on human trafficking and by rumours of a DHS-ICE raid on the day laborers on, of all streets, Cesar Chavez; and still half-living in the world of the film Children of Men, which although it is an earth-shattering and incredible film is not an especially nice place to live; I finally got off my arse and got an account on

Kiva is one of my favourite things in the whole world right now, along with Recchiuti chocolates, Jeremy and the children and high realist fiction. It’s democratic microcredit. You get to lend small amounts of money to individual people in the developing world. Meet my new business partners, Akossiwa Alanyo in Togo, Faalevela Robertson in Samoa, Sarah Mukuhi Ndungu in Kenya and Tatyana Pilipyenko in Ukraine.

Together, we’re going to change this motherfucking world if we have to do it one damn dairy cow at a time.


J: Claire’s socks are missing.

R: They were on the bed.

J: I know. Julia got them. Now they’re somewhere in the Juliasphere.

R starts to laugh.

J: You know – anywhere in the house that’s, like, this far off the ground.

R: I know exactly what you mean.

She’s at the insanely delicious age between twelve and eighteen months when children are so joyously perfect you want to gobble their pink cheeks and take bong hits off the smell of their hair. She is pure love, with a fat belly and a bottom as big as a melon. She’s toddling like a champ, but when she topples she’s like a Weebl going over backwards onto her round rump. She actually uses this topple in a very characteristic manouever, when she’ll sidle around in front of you and then go Weebling – *plump* – onto your lap.

Whenever one of her people appears on the scene, she squeals “Yay!” She has quite the vocab, in fact, recorded here for your Julia-interpreting convenience:

BEBE GATO! (All cats are called Bebe-gato – an honorific, I think.)
BYE! (You can go now.)
DAIRE! (Rather a fetching title for Claire.)
DAT! (That.)
DAY-DEE! (I think Julia considers Daisy her own dog.)
DISS! (This.)
GOCK! (Sock.)
MI-YO! (Milo.)
PATO! (Zapato. For some reason both girls became obsessed early on with shoes. I blame Salome.)
POOPOO? (Can mean poop, diaper, toilet, wipe, fart or just genial smalltalk.)
TA-TU! (Thank-you!)

I think the most endearing things she’s doing right now, though, are keeping track of your conversation, her wide eyes going from one speaker to the next; imitating the burble and flow of a conversation in strings of what are evidently very meaningful syllables; and most gloriously of all, understanding the rhythm and inflection of jokes, and joining in the laughter almost before it begins. It makes her seem uncannily wise and extraordinarily good company.

I am the luckiest woman alive.

isn’t this disallowed?

On Saturday Claire and I went to see Fiddler on the Roof at SOTA.

C: What’s happening?

R: The girls are hoping they’ll get to marry someone nice. Do you want to get married?

C: No.

R: Okay.

C: When I grow up. Then I’ll get married.

R: Okay. Who will you marry?

C: Maybe Rowan? Or Ada?

R: I hope you marry someone you love as much as I love Daddy.

C: *I* love Daddy! I’m going to marry Daddy.

the people in my neighbourhood

Ran. Saw owl. Thought about how delighted I am by predators – bobcat in Marin – coyotes in Orinda and Portola Valley – nature’s proof that an ecosystem is generating surplus. Thought about post-scarcity economies. I met Boy Shannon on the J-Church yesterday and we spent the ride vehemently agreeing about things, as is our wont. He made a very shrewd point about the miracle of the loaves and the fishes being a metaphor for post-scarcity.

At the top of Prentiss Street I (literally) ran into Coach Charlotte and the Workout on the Hill; I felt a bit self-conscious, wondering how she would react to my freelance exercise regime. She was thrilled and held me up as an example to the grunts.

On BART I bumped into Jeff Wishnie, polymath: old Burning Man friend, tech entrepreneur, paragliding instructor and now CTO of Inveneo, building Wifi in northern Uganda. He told me about the huge gulf between the almost-modern capital city Kampala and the refugee camps. Darfur, I guessed? Well, no, not even refugees (he corrected himself) but internally displaced persons, IDPs, which is actually worse. They’d be better off if they had managed to cross an international border. These people are actually the victims of insane religious zealot Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army, which kidnaps and brainwashes children.

Got off the train, bought coffee and a pastry, walked to work under the ridiculous abundance of sunshine and sharply defined buildings in the clear drinkable air that is San Francisco at this time of year, wondered what the world would be like if everyone had enough to eat and people felt basically okay. Thought about post-scarcity economies. Thought about my kids.

butter wouldn’t melt


Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens.

walk this way

Julia in the Time Tunnel

Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens.

imaginary conversation

“Baudrillard is dead.”


“So it seems.”

annals of the former slug

Ran yesterday and today. Ipod: Mixalot, Coulton, the Goose extended remix of Ray’s Whoopass, which has a lovely slow bridge that helps get me up the Eugenia stairs.

Saw the owl! Think I saw Artolog too; whoever it was had a VERY BIG LENS.

Didn’t get as big a runner’s high today, so I’m thinking my body only wants to run every other day. Besides, I’m lazy, so I can’t be doing this daily exercise. I’ll lose my mojo.

In other news, I FUNNY.

Marketroid: One hundred percent of development should be test-driven!

Me: Sounds extreme.

If you don’t get it, don’t worry.

any more sarcasm from you, mister bennett…


Originally uploaded by Goop on the lens.

…and I’ll rip your head off. Are we good? Good.

slug no more

Mr Mark Pesce of Sydney, Australia writes to note that on the contrary, I am your performing monkey. The Yatima organization regrets the error.

Last night another person asked if I were pregnant again. (The first one was my mother, on our Sydney trip. I complained about this to my brother Al and he said “Well she’s always been a terrible mother.” I told my mother this and she laughed. You see what I have to deal with.) I am not pregnant, merely fat.

So Jeremy bought me a shiny ice-blue iPod nano and an armband, and I loaded up the iPod with free nerdcore and Creative Commons remixes so I wouldn’t have to give any more money to the horrible recording industry, and I laid out my sweat pants and sports bra and tank and hoodie and running shoes.

And this morning I ran around the top of Bernal Hill. It was gorgeous up there, of course – grass-green and rust red and the sun has come out and both bridges were as clear as spider-webs spangled with dew. I had to walk the uphills, wheezing like the sloth I am, but the music helped a lot. The MIA Super Mario Bros mashup still cracks me up.