Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bitch 'n' Moan

It is HOT.  Seattle is in the midst of a heat wave.  Today it is supposed to hit 101 degrees, which will make it the hottest day ever.  Last night the low was 70 degrees, which, believe it or not, was the hottest night ever.  That's right, there had never previously been a single night since they started recording these things that it did not fall below 70 degrees.  By the end of the week, we may well have broken the record of five consecutive days of 90+ degree heat.  (Yes, Seattle has never had six days in a row of 90+ heat.)  To top it all off, it is unusually humid.  Not as bad as NYC in August, to be sure, but it's bad.

Since Seattle's usual July average temperature is 75 or so, very few houses have air conditioning.  This includes our house.  Yesterday when I came home from work, it was 88 degrees in the house.  It was also 88 degrees outside (evening temp, down from 97).  Yesterday at work the air conditioning was not working well, and downstairs there is never any air conditioning at all.  The woman whose office contains the computer servers measured her office temp at 98 degrees.  The servers actually sent her a warning message saying they were too hot and she'd better damned well do something about it.

I am off today, and I spent the morning running errands, then  spent the better part of the afternoon shopping for no reason other than that stores are cool.  Last night I slept on the recliner in the basement.  I have never been great with the heat, but being pregnant and hot is just about as bad as it gets, really.  Oh yeah: I've had a headache for the last week, too, probably from the heat.

All I have to say is that, when I moved here, people told me it did not get hot in the summer, and that it did not snow in the winter.  Seattlites are really big fat liars.

One of the errands I had to run this morning was a visit to the lab to have a Glucola three-hour test.  I had to have blood drawn four times, once when  I arrived, then once every hour for three hours.  My veins are notoriously hard to find: every time I have blood drawn, the person doing it comments on it.  Techs frequently have trouble, but oddly enough, doctors never miss (I don't know why this should seem odd, since they're doctors, but I guess I imagine they do not draw blood as often as techs and so might be less practiced).  My favorite was the guy at Student Health when I was in grad school who asked, "Would you mind if I missed?"  Um, yeah, dude.  I'd mind.  He called in a nurse, who called in a doctor, who asked, "Did you bring your veins today?"  He didn't miss, though.

Anyway, for four blood samples this morning, I got stuck seven times.  I thought she was going for the full eight, but on the last one she finally managed to hit the vein on the first try.  Both arms have multiple marks.  I feel like a junkie.

Anyway, I am going to go hide n the basement now.  If I can stand to move (because I still sweat in the basement, even though it is much cooler down there), I will continue knitting the Stella Pixie Hat which I began during my three-hour wait in the lab this morning.  If I can't move, I will sleep.  Ugh.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Random blog post

I'm awake when I want to be asleep. Must learn to control rage.

This is not what I am angry about, but I thought I'd ask: does anyone think those Prius commercials, the ones where people take the place of nature, are kind of disturbing? They remind me of that old Star Trek episode where Kirk is trapped on a model of the Enterprise with a woman who wants to catch germs from him so she can infect her planet and let some people die. At some point you get a glimpse out the window and the people, dressed in tight bodysuits, are packed in cheek by jowl with this kind of soulless misery on their faces. That's what I think of when I see the Prius commercials: not harmony between man, machine and nature, or whatever it is they're spouting, but nature so completely overrun by people that there is no nature left.

Not exactly the message a commercial for a hybrid car is supposed to be giving me, I suspect.

Friday, July 03, 2009

I'm not so sure about this parenting thing

So, after a long silence, I’m back. I have been feeling much better, although I am now getting to the point where I feel huge, so the period of comfort was fleeting.

I have come through my company’s busy season in one piece. We do overnight high school graduation parties, so June is crazy busy. Last year I worked the parties themselves; this year, because I didn’t think I could be on my feet all night, instead I stayed in the office overnight and manned the phones—a sort of nerve center of operations for nights when we had multiple parties going on. I worked 11 overnight shifts in a row, and boy, was my sleep schedule messed up!

Prior to the graduation season, it loomed like a huge monolith on the horizon and I could not see past it. Now that I am on the other side, I am thinking about September, when the baby is due. As I start to have trouble getting out of bed each morning (both literally—who knew sitting up was such a chore?—and figuratively—I could sleep all day if I didn’t have to get to work) the baby is making his presence known at every moment.

Oh yes, “his.” It’s a boy. I was surprised, I think because I was assuming the baby was a girl because I’m a girl. Duh.

Anyway, with the graduation season just past, I’ve been thinking about kids and what makes a successful parent. These parties are celebrations of an achievement, yes, but I don’t know that graduating from high school is the landmark it once was. Are these kids really adults now, and are their parents’ jobs really finished? Somehow, I doubt it.

We ask a few of the kids at each party to fill out evaluation forms to let us know what they thought of the party. Reading through them, I’ve been rather appalled at how few high school graduates can spell well, and how few can form complete and coherent sentences. Our boss’s 17-year-old daughter has been working in our office the past few weeks, and when she was asked to file a series of documents alphabetically in boxes, she asked for 24 separate boxes, one for each letter in the alphabet (yes, 24. Don’t ask). She had to have it explained to her several times that when you alphabetize things, each letter doesn’t need to have its own box; you can start with A and keep going though B and C until you run out of room in the first box, then start a new box. And it is not the first time I’ve heard of a teenager being unaware that one continues alphabetizing beyond the first letter of a word. That is, Aaron comes before Abel, and it’s not enough to just throw all the A’s in one spot willy-nilly.

All of this had me very down. I came home and said to my sweetie that I expected our son to be able to write whole sentences without spelling errors, and that he had better know how to alphabetize by the time he hits junior high, much less by the time he’s graduating from high school. I fretted, “What if our kid is stupid and I don’t like him because of that?” It’s one of my faults that I have a very low tolerance for stupidity, and though I’ve worked on it, I don’t know how I’d react if my kid were stupid.

My sweetie looked at me like I was nuts (he often does) and suggested that perhaps, at least on the subject of spelling and alphabetizing, we as parents might have a little bit of influence in the matter. Which I would take comfort in, except that I seriously doubt that any of these kids’ parents set out to make sure their kids didn’t know there are 26 letters in the alphabet.

So, what happened? I mean, I don’t know how much my parents taught me about these things. I know they emphasized the importance of school, and that I should get good grades. But other than trying to teach me the multiplication tables a grade early at home, I don’t recall them really actively helping me with school work or teaching me anything in particular. I definitely learned to alphabetize at school—I can remember it. I assume my boss’s daughter did, too: why didn’t she retain it?

On the other hand, my parents, who both learned English in their teens, never say “lay down” when they mean “lie down,” never say “he and I” (or, worse, “him and I”) when it should be “him and me,” write in complete sentences with good spelling and never confuse “it’s” and “its.” So maybe there’s something to leading by example.

Friends tell me that my sweetie and I will be good parents. But I don’t think anyone plans to be a bad parent, so I want to know: how can you tell? I don’t think my parents were great parents, but they weren’t bad parents. I think they muddled through. I think a lot of parents muddle through. They do the best they can. And school stuff is relatively easy to measure; if I wanted to be obsessive, I could play my son music in the womb, teach him sign language at age one, grill him with flash cards at age three, enroll him in five hundred programs by age six that will teach him three languages, how to do geometry proofs and the basic principles of chemistry by age ten. I am fairly sure that with a little effort I could sit at his high school graduation confident that he knows how to alphabetize.

But: will he know how to think? Will he know how to be compassionate? Will he know how to work hard? Will he know the world doesn't owe him anything?

Hah. Let me fret for now about what I will do if he's stupid. We'll worry next week about what I will do if he's lazy, narcissistic, mean, or downright evil.