Monthly Archives: February 2008

Blowing Smoke

Yesterday, I went to dinner with friends in Alexandria, Virginia. We went to an Italian restaurant – it was rustic, homey, warm, and smoky! Living in Colorado, I am spoiled because every public place (just about) is smoke-free by operation of law. Even the casinos are now smoke-free which is quite neat. You can come home, hang your clothes back up in the closet, and go to sleep without the bed smelling like smoke.

Last night, we were seated by our maitre de and I asked, “is this non-smoking?” Of course, it was! But then I kept smelling smoke. I felt like I was back in Europe. So, as I was looking at the overpriced items on the menu and trying to decide which one to pick, I asked our waiter again, “are you sure this section is non-smoking?” He confirmed my fear that it was and that their ventilation system and division of smoking v. non-smoking section was just VERY poorly planned. Needless to say, not a terrific dining experience and the worst part was that I stunk the entire ride back- as we passed the White House, the monuments, and Capitol Hill. Here I was, in our nation’s capital, smelling like I smoked a pack of cigarettes, heading back to the hotel room, which also stinks. Oh, yeah- as I wrote this blog during a boring session of the conference I am attending, I could still smell the nasty stench of someone else’s death wish on me.

When states go smoke-free it is very nice on the population of the state that chooses to not voluntarily take their life. I feel very lucky to not have to think about where to go eat because of the worry of smoke that could harm my infant child. It is tough to go back to the smoking state after you’ve been smoke free.


Parking in the Beltway

So here I am in the Beltway, the heart of politics, the capitol of Government, the hub of everything corrupt and good; and I really miss home. On the drive in, I heard the James Taylor song, “In my mind I’m going to Carolina.” I immediately substituted Colorado for Carolina. I really do miss home when I go on long trips and realize how nice it is back home.

Yesterday, I had to deal with parking in the beltway – what a nightmare! I ended up parking at the long term lot at Reagan National and that was a nightmare too! The parking is steep too – it can be when there is so little available across the city. I tried parking first at the Springfield-Franconia metro stop – that turned out to be a mistake and took away 40 minutes from my time and $4.50 because I had to enter to find out whether they even had parking. First, the overnight spots were not marked so I had to park in a regular spot and go talk to the metro folks to find out where the overnight spots even where. Then, to top that off, once I got to the location where the overnight spots were, there were no empty slots. I had heard horror stories that if you park in these spots and you stay overnight or in my case, three nights, you could come back to find your car towed or ticketed. So, I did not want to risk it even though the guard at the metro told me it would “probably be okay.” I was not having much luck thus far in DC and decided not to chance it with a rental vehicle and an unknown area.

So I headed to the airport to park at the long term lot for $10 a night – sheesh! Talk about steep considering the lots are a free-for-all and then they load the shuttle down so much that one guy was holding his suitcase over his head. I kid you not. So, I got dropped off and took the metro straight to the hotel where the conference is being held but talk about a nightmare. Fortunately, I ended up in a very nice room at the Omni with a balcony overlooking the Washington Monument- sure, it is 20 degrees with a wind chill of 0 degrees and I cannot sit out on the nice balcony to enjoy the breathtaking view of Rock Creek and the monuments but who’s complaining? Seriously, I am not complaining. I am only making the point that I miss home and the hassels here are not really found in other cities. You would not need a Garmin in Denver but here, I do not think it is wise to leave home without one. You really appreciate all the conveniences you do have when you come to a city where it takes an hour to travel 9 miles and while the metro really does rock, it really is a dreary place too – with people so disconnected with society, it is tough to find someone you can ask a question to without being ignored. All in all, I am thankful to visit DC but am very happy to be returning home and “going to Colorado” in more than just my mind.


Travelling Solo

I took my first solo trip with my daughter – we travelled from Colorado to Virginia, so of course we had to change planes so there is a higher risk of losing bags, bags not arriving on time, missing the connecting flight, running from terminal A to terminal E, and so on. Never did I think they would cancel my 39-minute from Charlotte to Norfolk. I mean, “come on!” So, the plane was 1-hr delayed getting into Charlotte so that should have been my first sign of trouble. It was – but what was I gonna do really at that point? I never expected to be sitting there in the Charlotte airport, Terminal E, sitting in a white rocking chair, nursing my daughter, and what do I do? I saw my bags being removed from the plane along with the 24 other bags on there- Fatigued, I saw the bags and thought, “hey, those look my bags… hmmm.” Then, it hit me. CRAP- I think this flight is going to be cancelled. Eventually, I did get over to customer service but not soon enough. The earliest they could get me out of there was an 805pm flight – it was 430pm. Yikers! I kept a positive outlook, trying to not get angry at the horrible customer service – sorry, that’s a misnomer these days in the airline industry in America. The only airline left with any customer service is Southwest Airlines and from what I hear, they are going down the crapper too. I have never had a flight cancelled EVER, so I was not surprised that this would happen during my maiden solo voyage with our infant child.

Before I go on, I must rant about the airline industry in general but mainly in America. I am appalled and in a nutshell – they suck! Jet Airways in India on a 45 minute flight from Ahmedabad to Mumbai was able to serve a full meal to over 130 passengers- full meal- choice of Veg or Non-Veg and our daughter got an amazing infant meal too. They were able to serve the meal, the beverages, and masala chai afterwards and clean the plane well before we landed. Amazing! On my 5-hour delayed flight to Norfolk last night, the crew did not get up out of their jump seats. It was bumpy, granted, but is that an excuse for not serving anything? At the end, they managed to come around and tell people to put their seats back up but did not clear any beverages or nut packages because … why? Oh yeah, they did not serve any! Not even a glass of water. I am very disappointed with the airline service in this country but what are we to do really? Stop flying? Yeah, that is easy in a country so vast, it takes 6 hours to travel from west coast to east coast!

But, I digress – back to the topic at hand. Travelling solo went just fine. I feel blessed because my daughter was happy crawling around a dirty airport, ate when she was fed, and did not whine much. In fact, she slept for most of the trip from Denver to Charlotte and slept the entire trip from Charlotte to Norfolk so it made my life easier. Travelling solo was not as bad as I expected but I did miss my husband’s company and assistance. I did manages to quickly scarf down a BK veggie burger, onion rings, and 2 milks (purchased on a meal voucher given to by the airlines after I cried) while my daughter played with another kid. Thank goodness for dirty airport carpets and great people! Yes, you read right – CRIED! I have to say the positive of being delayed was that I met some terrific people and my daughter got play with some kids – she enjoyed the company immensely. I was exhausted but my daughter was very excited and did not skip a beat.

Either way, whatever the inconveniences, my first solo trip was a success- not because of the airlines but because of my daughter and my attitude towards the situations we met with. Now, I get to look forward to the return trip on the same horrible airline: US Airways. And to think, I went through a lot of trouble to not fly United- Hmmm…. Happy trails to you all!


The Subjective Standards on Parenting

I am a new parent, a sleepless new mom who has forgotten what it feels like to go to a movie theater or a play or musical. My infant is now almost nine months old and I find myself doing that thing parents do – talking to other parents. “Does your child sleep through the night? Really? How did you do that?” “Where did you buy that?” “Is your child eating solids yet? What is the food he or she likes best?” “What do you recommend?” And so on…

As a first-time parent, it is difficult to not get sucked into the assortment of books out there, authors who know best because they hold a Ph.D. in something and feel the need to express it in a 400-page long book. Wait! Who has time to read a 400-page book on how to be a better parent? Am I not neglecting the child if I have time to read a 400-page book on how to let my child cry it out in the middle of the night? Hmmm….

So anyway, I reached month eight for my daughter and realized, “Crap! No one is sleeping through the night – I need help now!” So I talked with one of my friends to find out the latest poop on how to get the child to sleep and on a schedule because frankly, I stink at attempting any of this. I run out and buy the book only to be disappointed after reading 5 pages of it. I still tried and got to page 275 – I am not sure it is going to work because I tried it over several nights, and it did not. I let the child cry it out like the book suggested but after 40 minutes of my daughter wailing, I could not stand it anymore and frankly, it took two nights to even get to that number. Poor girl! Then a friend suggested another book- the No cry sleep solution book written by a real mom – yeah, okay. I have been doing most of what is written in this book already and it is not working! I am not a patient woman as it is and it seems this book (while it is a no-cry method) really will require much patience and me staying at home some to get things done. Anyway, the question is, at what point in time do you just accept your fate and accept the fact that 90% of the earth’s population is not reading these books – they are relying on herbs, old wives’ tales, and other methods of raising these children and the kids are apparently turning out just fine. Albert Einstein had learning disabilities as a child – he did just fine wouldn’t you say?

According to one book I read, my child would have ADHD and be a complete freak if they did not get the requisite amount of sleep and naptime. Hmmm – okay. Thanks, doc. In my own household, my husband functions very efficiently on little to no sleep- he is a genius in my opinion anyway. Of course, I am biased. Then, there’s me – I do not work well on little to no sleep because I have always needed 9-10 hours to be an energetic, positive person. I have another friend who is a complete wreck no matter how much sleep she gets. Really? Am I a bad parent because I do not let my child cry it out and put her to sleep at a set time? Really? What is the standard by which we judge parents these days? By how regular their kids sleep in the middle of the day and at night? As I read these books, I feel less like a parent and more like a robot- conditioned to do things one way – the right way – or be judged a bad parent for ever and ever, especially when the child comes back from school with a behavior report. Oh yeah, that is all linked to how I did not make them have a sleeping schedule when they were an 8-month infant!

In the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, I learned that I needed to filter what the pediatrician told me because they did not know my child and I had to trust my instinct and protect this little life. In the first few months of my daughter’s life, I learned that I needed to filter what the family members told me – she was fine – she was getting enough breast milk, and sure enough – she was! I have been filtering things since I was twelve years old but now that I am responsible for a life, I have to be even more discerning in what I believe and what I will be lead to believe. No, she does not need specialty toy X valued at $69.99 at Babies R Us to succeed in life. Heck, my daughter loves to play with our phone, remote control, and Tupperware. She is happy with a spoon and a pot. So, as I embark on this journey to try to get my daughter on a schedule, I need to learn more than ever to filter the comments, the advice, and read the books I want to read and take from them the lessons that matter to me and fit our lifestyle.

Subjectively speaking of course, I am not a bad parent. I am not a bad mother, but a mother who truly cares about her little one enough to not believe all the hype or be sucked into a world where there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s an objective standard for you: As you read through the hype and filter it, make time to love your child – the best way you know how and everything outta turn out fine.


The Caucus Experience

I attended my first Caucus last Tuesday evening in Colorado. I changed my registration from a Republican to Democrat when I found out Obama was running. I wanted the opportunity to vote for him in what I thought would be a primary. I was wrong. Colorado uses the weird, outdated caucus system. I had never participated in this before mainly because I voted absentee or voted in primaries in the states where I was stationed with the Air Force. I was curious and excited and yet, a bit nervous at the same time. I could not find parking and arrived 2 minutes late into the room. As I walked into the room, I felt strange as 60 eyes stared at me. I registered, the rules were read, and then we took a straw poll. The room was divided into the Obama side and the Clinton side. 22 people moved to the far side of the room and 8 people remained near the exit. Clintonites were outnumbered and rightfully so. Hillary Clinton only had 30 delegates in Colorado and the state was not worthy of her campaign so she had ignored campaigning here. So, of course, people went with the candidate who did appear, who did come and discuss issues with the Colorado Democrats that were eager to listen. After the straw poll, one of the women on the Clinton side complained that she felt unwelcome in the room because of the all the Obama signs and stickers. The debates continued from there – people complained back and forth about the candidates but I took away a very important observation from the bickering and the bitter comments from the Clinton side- the Clinton side was very defensive about her. Most of the Obama folks were not even sure about what he stood for – they just liked him – the “rockstar appeal”.

In either case, it was an interesting experience for me. I felt like I was caucusing in enemy territory because I was a registered Republican for 15 years prior to this but I felt very comfortable and at ease with the Obama folks – they were young, professional (for the most part) and just really excited people- they were enthusiastic and happy to be there. I did not get the same impression from the Clinton side. I am not sure how the candidates will do in the big race in November. For example, part of me thinks it would be better for the Democratic party to have Obama on the ticket because if Clinton is on the ticket alone, the Republicans will win. But then again, who knows? Americans tend to vote on image and appearance instead of the issues. Most people do not have time to read or listen to the debates and tend to make judgments on rumors, what others think, and appearances. For example, I think many voters who would vote for Obama will not vote for Clinton and would choose McCain over her for sure- simply because they think McCain is more moderate than Clinton.

All in all, it was an interesting night and I had a good time but certainly wish I could have gone to the Republican caucus too to see the differences — maybe in 2012, I will switch back over to truly be able to compare the two camps?

Happy Voting in November!!
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