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For Jenny, The Bloggess

Sweetie, I love you to death, you know that, right? You're such a talented writer, but you're also "funny as shit" (said in a British accent). If I can't read your blog for a few days I go into withdrawal.

You're funny as shit in person too. And so damn adorable I want to hate you, but I can't. Because you're too damn nice. Plus, you're one of the most supportive bloggers I know. I feel blessed to have been Bloggessed on a fairly regular basis for the last year and a half.

But, sweetie, please forgive me. I know you've just had your wisdom teeth removed, two of them because you're a freak of nature lucky. I know you're high and insensible right now. But when I saw a certain item in the room full of crap waiting room at Cracker Barrel yesterday, I couldn't resist. I bought it for my son.

It's a bath toy, battery operated, and it shoots around the bathtub making bubbles and entertaining the kiddos.

Or, scaring the hell out of them:

Is this thing on?

Ewww. What is this thing again? Are you sure it's a bath toy for kids, Mommy?
It looks like it came in a plain brown wrapper.

Mommy. You know Jenny's going to be really pissed.

Forgive me?

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Peacock on a Fence

Peacock on a Fence

There was a time in my life when I was almost afraid of color. I wore a lot of black. Or mostly black with a little red thrown in. Or mostly navy blue with a little red thrown in. Or mostly brown with a little red thrown in.

Are you sensing a pattern here?

As as adult, and with confidence in myself, I've learned to love color.

My house has every color of the rainbow on its walls. I like to tell people we got drunk and painted the house. My favorite color scheme in my home, the dining room, is orange and teal. I have almost a pumpkin orange on the walls, light teal window treatments and a teal, brown, and cream rug. It makes me happy every time I see it.

I wear color too. I'm not afraid of it any more. Well, maybe I'm afraid of yellow. It makes me look too sallow. But other than yellow, if I like it, I'll wear it. In fact, I'm toting around a patent leather kelly green purse right now. It's fabulous.

Today I wore a light orange sweater topped with a dark plum corduroy jacket and a black satin skirt with dark plum flowers sewn on and embroidered in orange thread. It sounds a bit out there, but trust me, I looked fierce. (As Christian would say.)

Color adds so much to my life. As much as I love the serene calm of white snow, all that white space calling out to me; I love the gorgeous fuchsia, celadon, kelly, violet, and all the blushing colors of Spring, more. Or the warm, rich colors of Fall deep with spices, the burnt red of crackling fires and falling leaves, and the deep shades of football jerseys.

I'm discovering that my personality and love of color is appearing in my photographs as well.

I'll always love the dark tones of a cool vintage photo,

Looking Through a Fence

or the peaceful feeling of a nice black and white conversion (or mocha and white),

Holden snow2 Mocha

but color is my forte.

Moonlight Dancing

Rich, saturated, glorious color.

Not Just a Pretty Face

Color just suits me.

Ride on a Dreamy Carousel

And I still love to add a little of my red every now and then.

Red Barn

What's your signature color?

Originally posted on Lawyer Mama Dabbles.

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Becoming My True Self
Perfect Post Award 03.08

I'm wearing these today with a black skirt that falls just at the knee, a pink sweater, black jacket, and a black scarf with pink, green, orange, and purple swirls on it. I think I look fabulous.

Pink socks
Taken with my crappy camera phone.

Over the years I've discovered that I love color and I love to wear color, particularly in unexpected ways. It's just that I've always been a pretty reserved dresser at work. In my line of work, it's sort of expected.

Now that I'm back at work after The Depression, I've decided that I'm going to wear what makes me happy. No more hiding who I really am. And who I am is a somewhat reserved woman who loves to to take people by surprise.

I've gotten a lot of double takes today. Even more double takes than the time I showed up in thigh high white stockings with hot pink vertical stripes. (They were fabulous, by the way. I'll take a picture next time I wear them.) While it's refreshing to have people stare at my socks instead of my chest, it's a bit uncomfortable. I feel like I have to explain why I'm wearing these stockings when, of course, I really can't. It's not like finding your authentic self is something you can bring up in hallway chit chat.

So then I wonder if I'm really trying to show people who I am or if I'm just trying to shock them. And then regretting the choice. Still, I haven't taken the stocking off. This seems to be some sort of personal test and I'll be damned if I'm going to fail it.

I spent most of my childhood and a fair part of my adulthood trying to be just like everyone else. While secretly (or overtly) admiring everyone and everything that was original, different, not "me." Maybe I'm not the girl with the pink and black stockings, but I'm not going to be just like everyone else.

If I can teach my children one thing that I think will help them most in this world, it is this:

Don't be afraid to be different.
Don't be afraid to question.
Shout it from the rooftops.
Examine everything.
Live an authentic life.

So tell me, how do you show the world your authentic self?

Post, and my soul, inspired by Shutter Sisters.

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Iraq: Five Years Later
I'm over at MOMocrats today spouting off about the Iraq war today. Actually, all of the MOMocrats are. Check it out.

I was also spouting off about Mommy guilt yesterday at D.C. Metro Moms Blog. Something I know nothing about. {/sarcasm} Actually, all of the D.C. Metro Moms were. Check it out.

I'm also spouting off at Lawyer Mama Dabbles about my discovery and love of color and such. Check it out. I like that photo essay so much, I may post it over here.

And you thought I'd just been slacking lately!

Yes, my readers, comments, and Technorati rating are starting to approach zero, but that's just because I don't have time to comment on all of your lovely blogs. I've been doing the "drive by" a lot lately and I apologize. I'm not doing a very good job of holding up my end of the conversation. But I'm trying.

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Sexism: This is What Hillary Clinton is up Against
Sometimes I live in a little bubble. A comfortable little bubble with no overt racism, sexism, or even social conservatism. I'm surrounded by people who think like me. I read blogs of mostly people who think like me politically. (With a few awesomely wonderful exceptions. You know who you are!) I may make forays into the non-like minded blogging world, but it's usually just to keep abreast of what anti-Liberal propaganda is floating around out there.

I like to think there is a little more air in my bubble than, say, George W. Bush's. But sometimes I wonder if I'm just as out of touch with reality. In this case, a woman's reality.

My parents taught me, like so many other girls of my generation, that I could do anything or be anything. My gender was never an issue.

As a little girl, I played soccer on a team full of boys. I played tee ball and baseball on a team full of boys. I joined a swim team, with girls and boys. I climbed trees; I played flag football; I mowed the lawn. I took advanced math classes; I started out college majoring in Computer Science; I took the hard science classes; I went to law school.

It never mattered that I was a girl and then, a woman.

There were a couple of incidents here and there, but I chalked them up as isolated happenings and not a symptom of the larger world. I clearly recall an argument I had in my college black studies class with a fellow class mate and Male Chauvinist Pig. In our class, our discussions generally started out with race and then moved to our sheltered little college world. Or, we started out talking about our lives and then moved onto race. It was an effective teaching tool and I looked forward to our twice weekly discussions.

On this particular occasion I can't recall how the argument started, but I remember the MCP raising his hand and stating that, of course, a man was far more important to the stability and health of a relationship than a woman was because of the male earning power. He went on to say that a woman wasn't without value but that if he or his future wife wanted someone to stay home with their children, it would be her. Because, of course, Mr. MCP would be making more money.

That was like waiving a red flag in front of a bull.

I raised my hand and retorted that his argument was based on antiquated gender stereotypes, that in my future career I would undoubtedly make more money than my husband (sorry, T.) and that if one of us stayed home it would be him. Did that make *me* more important in our marriage? Then I told the class that if Mr. MCP didn't change his attitude, his importance to a marriage would become a moot point because no one would marry such a blatant misogynist.

I got a standing ovation.

So I assumed that encounters I had with future MCP's were similar and that the rest of the world was cheering me on.

Then I entered the professional world.

Before I headed off to law school, I worked for an insurance company I've mentioned here in the past. I began to notice that most of the lowest level employees were women: the claims processors, the administrative assistants, the clerks. Men who started out in the lower ranking jobs moved up more quickly, with the same experience and education. The vast majority of the upper level supervisors were men.

About this time I also started to deal with something that had happened to me in college and began actually paying attention to the world around me. What I saw was frightening. Girls and women were starving themselves to meet some strange physical ideal. I had friends and co-workers who twisted themselves up inside and completely changed their lives, interests and personalities to make their men happy.

I had begun doing volunteer work in college and, as I became more and more involved with the Violence Against Women program, I began to see what was happening outside of my little bubble. While clearly not everyone was suffering as much as the women I counseled, I saw how our society was hurting all women.

Women had lower salaries, lower expectations and more difficulties in the professional and non-professional world. We live in a "girl poisoning" culture. Sexism is rampant and deeply ingrained into our culture. It may be overt, such as sexual harassment, or it may be as subtle as the magazine covers in the grocery store.

It's there.

Now that I am a lawyer, I work in an area of the law that is dominated by men. I specialize in construction litigation. I have to admit that I enjoy being underestimated by opposing counsel or opposing experts. I've always assumed that it's not because I'm a woman, but because I'm a 5'2" cute woman. I also love that there is never much of a line for the ladies' restroom at the conferences I attend.

I've gone back to pretending that gender doesn't matter because it hasn't overtly affected me.

One of the professional organizations that I belong to is the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). It's purpose is to promote women in the construction field and to break down barriers and eliminate stereotypes. I've been proud to be a member of a professional organization with such an important goal.

Then I received our NAWIC magazine for the month.

In case you can't read it, that headline says "What's hot in Residential Construction." That is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Paige Hemmis on the cover in a hardhat, shorts, pink tool belt, a light pink tank top, and hot pink sports bra.

This is what Ms. Hemmis generally wears on her show. I'm sure it is comfortable and, let's face it, the show is on TV for entertainment. I'm sure ABC thinks that Ms. Hemmis is far more entertaining in that get up than in usual construction attire. Although I hope to GOD that none of my clients allow someone dressed like that onto a construction site. Jeans and steel toed boots are safer and more appropriate.

It doesn't annoy me to have Ms. Hemmis on the cover. After all, she is an accomplished woman. She was a certified EMT. She has college degrees in theology and psychology. She is a self-taught carpenter and co-founded Rent to Own Investments, a company that renovates houses and helps develop rent-to-own arrangements for people who can't afford down payments. In her spare time, she races cars.
This is one woman who has it all.

The interview with Ms. Hemmis was nice, as were the additional photos inside the magazine. However, the NAWIC IMAGE editor chose to put the most provocative photo of all on the cover, along with the headline What's hot in Residential Construction. What does that cover say to you?

It doesn't say, "I'm a confident, intelligent, ambitious, ans successful woman in construction." It says, "I'm a pin-up girl who happens to work in construction. Don't I look sexy in my tool belt?" At least that's what it says to me and every other woman in my firm who has seen the cover. In fact, our NAWIC chapter wrote a letter of protest to the editor.

I don't blame Ms. Hemmis. I don't even necessarily blame the magazine editor, who claims that she didn't view the cover in this manner at all. Instead I blame all of us. I blame society. It is second nature to all of us to use sexy instead of competent as a marketing tool. Those of us who accept it are just as guilty. An accomplished woman like Ms. Hemmis is viewed as hot rather than intelligent and capable. And this is from an organization dedicated to eliminating stereotypes and breaking down gender barriers.

With sexism so firmly entrenched in our society, I ask all of you: Does Hillary even stand a chance?

Maybe I'll go back to my bubble now.

The D.C. Metro Moms are discussing Parenting Guilt today. Pop on over to read all of our posts about guilt and the chance to win Devra Renner and Aviva Pflock's book, Mommy Guilt.

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Our Newest Family Member

Her name is Patches. Hollis picked her out, so he named her Patches, despite the fact that she really doesn't have any patches. But the name seems to suit her anyway.

Yes, she does look an awful lot like Pandy, with white whiskers, white socks, and a white belly. But her cutest feature is totally unique - a little white diamond between her eyes. I thought of all sorts of clever names for her, but I guess the days of actually getting to name our pets are over!

Patches is a rescue kitten and comes with a host of health problems. Our vet tells us she has roundworm, lungworm, and a respiratory virus. We have to keep her isolated from Hilly until she's better. But Patches has made a little boy very happy.

If you're interested, I'm pissing off people left and right on D.C. Metro Moms Blog. I seem to have started a small mommy war. Oops.

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Recovering From Depression
Thanks for all the emails, my favorite people. I am still alive. I just went back to work.

That's right! I'm back at work and doing fine. I have a feeling I'll be on my Effexor for awhile, but life is looking so much better. I'm just trying not to push myself too much in the next few weeks, so I've been cutting back on the blogging. I haven't read many blogs other than MOMocrats and D.C. Metro Moms in the last few weeks.

Please forgive me but I'm now deprived of my daily afternoon nap and I'm just able to sit on the couch and veg, or maybe mindlessly edit a few photos before I collapse into bed. Once I (and my kids) are back into the usual schedule, I'm sure I'll be back trolling blogs in the evening. Until then, please don't forget me!

I still have dirt to dish about the D.C. Blogger Happy Hour last Friday in Rosslyn. Lots of fun people were there, including a co-worker of Amie's that I won't link because he blogs anonymously and presumably would like to keep it that way. (He's not in the group photo.)


I think Devra won for best quote of the night. It was a toss up between these two:

"What do you want me to put in my mouth?" and
"You must be watching the wrong sort of porn."

Ah, that Devra. I love her to death. And not just because she's the only person on the planet shorter than me.

Of course, I have photos for you!

Lawyer Mama's Blogger Happy Hour - March 08 photosetLawyer Mama's Blogger Happy Hour - March 08 photoset

Clearly, a good time was had by all.

I'm not at all bitter that everyone left by 11pm, forcing me to go back to my hotel and take pictures of my feet. (Don't worry, I left them out of the photo set.) On the plus side, I got to watch that adorable movie, Juno, and raid the mini bar. Of course, it made me cry. (The movie and the mini bar. Who leaves chocolate out of a mini bar?)

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Shutter Sisters - The Daily Click
Edited to add: I forgot to mention that I have new photos up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles, including one that is one of my favorite pictures I've ever taken. I'm not exactly sure why I love the photo so much, but it tugs at my heart strings so. See if you can figure out which one it is.

I'm so friggin excited I could pee myself!

The awesomely fabulous Shutter Sisters picked my photo of Hollis's feet for the Daily Click on their photography blog.

Go check it out.

Woot! (Doing the happy dance!)

I have a new review up on Lawyer Mama Review. It's been a busy week over there. This time it's the Gay Uncle's Guide to Parenting by Brett Berk. It's funny. It's informative. It has practical, realistic advice. Where the hell was this book when Hollis turned two????

In a Lawyer Mama first, I'm giving away a copy of the book to one lucky commenter. Comment by 3/14 and you'll be entered to win!

(I must love this book because I'm doing a give away and I don't have my disclaimers and other legal stuff up yet even though I give other people advice on them all the time! Bad Lawyer Mama. Bad.)

Try not to be insanely jealous, but I'll be heading up to D.C. later today for a blogger happy hour at The Continental in Rosslyn. If you're a D.C. blogger, or even just a D.C. stalker, we'll be there at 7 pm. Just look for the group of loud people, the big black man, and possibly me dancing on a table waving a martini. You can't miss us!


Keep Climbing
I have new reviews up on Lawyer Mama Review. Remember Highlights magazine from when we were kids? Well it's still around and I'm reviewing High Five, a Highlights magazine for the preschool set. To go along with that, PBN is having a Blog Blast TOMORROW where you can win a free year's subscription to High Five or Highlights magazine. Go check out how you can play.

I also have a review up for a new book with a mystery and a twist at the end. If you like psychological drama, you'll love the Liar's Diary. Of course, the title intrigued me because I'm a blogger, but this writer also has a blog that you'll love.


Dirty Foot

Keep Climbing

Dirty Feet

Later on you'll ask me, "Why all the feet, Mom?"

I have an answer. You see, I blinked and suddenly you weren't a baby anymore. I can see it in your long, lanky boy legs, your face, your once round tummy, the way you run, and your feet.

You no longer have the chubby little feet of a baby. You have the feet of a boy; made to run, to climb, to walk away.

I want to remember them always, just as they are now.

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Most Interesting....
My most interesting photos on Flickr. As determined by Flickr's mysterious calculations.

Flickr Most Interesting

I have new California photos up on Lawyer Mama Dabbles.

Check over at MOMocrats for the latest on the election.

I swear I'll be back with an actual, real post tomorrow!

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Life Is What Happens....
I've been missing for several days because I've been caught up in life.

You see, something has happened. Something almost imperceptible externally, but oh so noticeable to me. The earth has shifted on its axis again. My world has righted itself.

That deep green mucky hole I've been wallowing in has been filling up. For awhile I've felt as if I might be able to grab the top and pull myself out. And now I have.

Don't get me wrong, my living room gorilla hasn't suddenly turned into a cute little monkey I can put in a cage. He's still there. But now he prefers to hang out in the bedroom or the bathroom. Sometimes he even heads out to the garage.

Those are the good days.

I wish I could pinpoint exactly what or when everything changed. I can't. But I can tell you when I first consciously noticed it.

Sitting on a plane with Hollis, shortly after take off from Norfolk on our way to New Orleans, the sun started to rise. The tiny toy world from above the clouds is always amazing, isn't it? But that morning the amber glow of fresh sunlight made everything, even our unnatural silver tube, golden.

I watched Hollis, squirming in his window seat with excitement, wanting to see everything but happy just riding along waiting to discover what would happen next. I realized that I was happy to be there with him, on that journey, even if we never reached our destination.

That's what life is, isn't it?

So in the air at 15,000 feet, with my son and our sun, I realized that I want to give my children more of me. Not more of my physical presence, or even more time reading books, coloring, or rough housing, but more of what is essentially me. The part of me that I so often try to keep closed off from everyone, even those who love me best. The part of me that depression makes so ugly and moribund.

I'm going to try to enjoy my journey even if the destination isn't necessarily clear and the ride isn't as smooth as it could be.

I want to see what happens next.

So I'm going to turn my head to the sun as often as I can and remember that feeling I had at 15,000 feet; the belief for one moment that everything was going to be just fine.

If that doesn't work, I'm going to focus on this:


and this:

Halo of Hair

and keep breathing, keep living.

It's a start.

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