Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Can't Hear You 'Cuz I'm Sitting in My Time Machine

I just downloaded a song from Yaz, a song from The Style Council, and two from The Cure. Naturally, I am now bouncing around the kitchen like a...a...a woman bouncing around the kitchen. If anyone can correctly guess the titles, I will do one (winner's choice!) of the following:

1) If my passport arrives as promised, I will post my passport picture which looks—uncanny, I say!—like the mugshot of someone who drank a lot and then was found walking backwards down the freeway at three in the morning. I'm sure you realize the steep psychological price I would be paying should you choose this option.

2) Post a short video of Lea "playing" a Barbie guitar (it was a gift from Lolo; not many options available to me there, folks) and singing that Maroon 5 ballad, the name of which I can no longer remember.


3) Send you a handwritten letter from I, the Nesting Ground Mistress. Said letter to include...hold onto your cargo shorts... stickers. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking Stickers, Ver? Really?!, and I'm here to tell you yes, yes dear reader, stickers. Speaking of which, remember A Call to Pens?! Come on, how fun was that? Um, rhetorical.

Pretty slim pickings there in the prize department, I'd have to agree. But is there another small blog out there running a contest I don't know about? I think not. So text, channel, ring up, or otherwise contact your inner competitor, and guess the songs already! I'll keep bouncing around the kitchen...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

I Love a Happy Ending

Since I'm sure you're [sarcasm] waiting with bated breath [/sarcasm] to learn the outcome of the Missing Passports Saga, I will now issue forth:

Went to Belmont post office at 9:15 am, but was told that passport services were not available until 10:00 and that I should make an appointment. The first available was 10:30. Drove from Belmont to Ranch 99 in Foster City to purchase 20 lbs. of red rice (don't ask). Drove back to Belmont and read a story from Words Without Borders (I am loving this anthology; pick up a copy!) until 10:25. Emerged from my car and entered a now packed post office. Two guys ahead of me in the passport services line. In a smiling and friendly manner I say to the one in front of me, "Do you have an appointment?"

"There are no appointments."

"Yes there are. I have one for 10:30," I say. The man looks at me like I'm trying to steal his baby. "Do you mind if I just ask the clerk if I'm supposed to go back into the office?"

"This is the only line where they are accepting passports."

"So that's a 'no'?" I ask. Whatever.

When it's the man's turn, karma rears its head. He has come to apply for a passport for his daughter, but he is alone, and both parents and the child must be present in order to apply. He slinks away, and I approach the counter. "Hello Gracie!" I say. I try to jog her memory. I say remember I came in a few months ago and you figured out some way we're related blah blah blah, but Gracie also looks at me like I'm trying to steal her baby.

Since the family card appears to be getting me nowhere, I explain my circumstances. Gracie nods sagely. "You have to wake up at 4:00 in the morning because that will be 7:00 in the East Coast, and that's right when the call center opens. If that doesn't work, you have to go to the San Francisco Passport Agency and just elbow your way in."

"But they don't have any appointments until April 5th," I say. Panic rises, folks. Because this is the house we have already rented and paid for. And you can't see him, but there is also a chef we have paid for, and a housekeeper. And we did this because it is our long-awaited family vacation.

"Doesn't matter," says Gracie. She shrugs her shoulders. "Even if they give you an appointment, all it does is ensure that you can enter the building. There's never any guarantee that you'll be seen. I know a bunch of people who waited from opening 'til closing and never saw anyone."

And so I leave the Belmont post office quite disheartened. I head to my Pilates session to release the tension, but there I grow briefly worried because my trainer's increasingly bizarre directives are beginning to make perfect sense to me. Diamond on my back. Shoulders gliding. A tattoo that starts at the base of my spine and grows. Shorten the space between 6 and 12. Heavy sternum.

I leave there with determination in my step and my eyes on the prize. Pick up Lea at preschool, stop at Mollie Stone's for fresh fish, leeks, etc. Head directly home, put the stuff in the fridge, and guiltily inform Lea that she can watch tv because Mommy really has to make an important call and cannot be interrupted. She happily complies.

And then it begins. For two solid hours I work the phone trying to find a path of glory through the maze that is the passport call center's menu. I visualize speaking to an actual person. I whisper prayers. I make promises to the universe that I cannot possibly keep. And finally, finally, I hear a real voice.

"Hello? Hello?!" I say.

"Hello, ma'am. Are you calling to check on the status of your passports?"

"Yes! Yes! Five of them, actually!" I scream in delight. "I have the locator numbers! Shall I read them to you?"

I don't understand why the man is not as excited to speak to me as I am to speak to him; this makes no sense to me. But I forget all about that when he says the magic words. He says, "Okay, let's take care of this for you. When are you traveling?"

It takes 30 minutes more (by this time Lea's brain has turned to mush, an unfortunate side effect that I will spend the rest of the day correcting), but he finds all the passports, discovers that they were not scheduled to be sent out until April 12th (far, far too late for our long-awaited family vacation), and expedites the process to ensure they will arrive by the end of this week.

I guess it won't be a true happy ending until I'm holding the passports in my hand, but I'm going to hedge my bets and proclaim...trumpets blare...a small victory.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Saga of the Missing Passports

No doubt the following statement will inspire the FBI (or is it CIA?) to begin a file on my nefarious behavior:

I hate government bureaucracy.

Or, to be more specific, I hate sweating over whether or not our passports will arrive in time to take our long-awaited family vacation. I have attempted several times to avert the sweating by dialing the telephone number at which one is—in theory—able to check on the status of their passport application(s). Applications which, by the by, were completed within the correct timeframe to—in theory—receive the passports in time for (as I believe I've already mentioned) our long-awaited family vacation. But, of course, no one except an automated voice ever, ever, ever answers the phone at that god-forsaken number.

When all else fails, turn to the Internet, right? Right! Except that every time I click on the link which—again, in theory—leads to the page on which one is able to check on the status of passport applications, the page is blank. After giving this the ol' college try about twenty times, I decided to try it on the spousal unit's computer. This worked, but led me to believe that the government is not a strong supporter of the Macintosh operating system. Anyways, after typing information into several little boxes, I did indeed retrieve the "status" of our passport applications.

The "status" is that the applications have been received.

That's it.

Well, that is not my definition of "status."

"Status" should reveal—should it not?!—when the freaking things are going to be mailed and if I will receive them in time for (and once again I believe I've already mentioned this) our long-awaited family vacation.

Next I called the San Francisco passport agency which, I learned, would not see me unless I had an appointment. Great! Appointments are terrific. There's nothing like standing face-to-face with someone and handling your business. Except. Except that the next available appointment is on April 5th. Not surprisingly, our long-awaited family vacation is supposed to begin a few days before that.

Next stop: friendly Filipina passport clerk at post office, who accepted applications and who also, via a complicated twisting of family trees, was able to claim some sort of kinship with me. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Was Joking. Geez.

I have been staring at this screen for a long while now, waiting for inspiration to strike. I was tempted just to post another one of my riveting You Tube home movies and call it a day; lucky for you I didn't.

Instead, I will share with you an e-mail exchange I had with a friend who is embarking on a new career to save the planet. It began innocently enough with his announcement that he was about to purchase a Prius. But then he said I couldn't sit in it because my ass (he said that; he said "ass") was not swathed in organic cotton produced within a 50 mile radius. This struck me as unnecessarily aggressive of him, so I responded:

I draw the line on wearing hemp from Belmont. I much prefer my toxic denim to be sewn by a 12-year-old residing in an underdeveloped nation. Muwahahahahahahahaha!

And then he said:

Is Muwahahahahaha the manager of the sweatshop in the underdeveloped nation? At least you know her name. That's a start.

Again with the smart-ishness. So I said:

Silly man. Muwahahahahaha is the sound my blood diamond makes when it scrapes across the aluminum cans I never bother to recycle.

And then he said...well, I don't know what he said. Because it's been two days and I haven't heard from him again.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Helpful Hints for the Spartan Man or I Went to See "300" and All I Got Was This Dumb Blog Post

Warrior culture made it impossible for a guy from Sparta to be just a guy from Sparta. He must, instead, be a SPARTAN MAN! His abdominal muscles must be chiseled, his chest heaving, his thighs powerful enough to climb the completely vertical face of any mountain. A SPARTAN MAN!, before he becomes a SPARTAN MAN!, is first ripped from the tender arms of his beautiful SPARTAN MOTHER! at the age of seven, and then shortly thereafter sent naked into the snow with only his spear and wits to aid in his survival. Said survival necessitates killing a huge, fanged, frothing-at-the-mouth beast so that he can, of course, return to warrior camp with his belly full of the animal's meat and his body draped in its warm fur. This is how you become LEONIDAS, KING OF SPARTA!

But on to my helpful hints. And by helpful hints, I mean that if the SPARTAN MEN! had followed my advice they might have been able to defeat the million-strong armies of Asia (about that: must the "armies of Asia" always be depicted as grotesque, hedonistic, dirty fighters? I'm thinking, too, of "Lord of the Rings" and the way Legolas was constantly whispering that something horrific "stirs in the East").

Ahem. Helpful hints:

1) Stop admiring one another's "fine thrusts."
2) Stop discussing the "Hot Gates" and pointing at them with sticks on your make-believe sand map.
3) "Fine thrusts" and "hot gates" can only serve to distract SPARTAN MEN!
4) Leather jockey shorts, red capes, and sandals? Fellas, that is not a substitute for armor.

I'm so glad I got all that off my chest. In closing, I will leave you with my favorite dialogue exchange:

King Leonidas to badly wounded SPARTAN MAN!: I hope that little scratch hasn't made you completely useless.
Badly Wounded SPARTAN MAN!: No Sir! It is just an eye!


The Comfort Women House Resolution now has 318 signatures. Does that include yours (thanks Auntie Ginger!)? If not, please sign now.

Balls & Barack & More Balls

First of all, if you haven't yet signed the petition that Evelina Galang has put together, please do so now. It takes less than 30 seconds, and while I know you're busy, you're not that busy. Signatures have doubled since yesterday, but I can't lay claim to more than a handful of those (thanks Ate Cristy!). Come on, my beautiful readers...


Friday has reared up and bitten me in the arse, that's for sure. It's been one of those lots-of-balls-in-the-air kind of weeks, and guess what? I'm no juggler. And also? The balls weren't even the kind of balls I like; they were the kind of balls I like to throw at other people while I run away.

[In the back of my head, of course, I can hear Beavis and Butthead voices going heh, heh. she said 'balls.']

Leaving pesky balls behind, let me venture tentatively into the area of politics. My friend Perry has set up an "Obama for President in 2008" social network, so I've been blogging a bit over there. As a Nesting Ground reader, it will come as no surprise to you when I say that when I am forced to focus on only one topic, I become even more of a bumbling, stumbling fool than usual.

Instead of blogging about things that would be, you know, pertinent to the subject of Barack Obama's rise to glory, I drone on about what I feel is his camp's less than stellar choice in campaign music. Next, I will no doubt delve into even more important matters such as his preferred brand of shoes, hair products, and whether or not he uses mechanical pencils. 'Cuz apparently that's what I do. Pffffft.

I must end this riveting post now (hey, at least I'm not discussing the weather) because it's time to take Risa and Vida to softball practice. And softball practice know it already, don't you?...balls. And balls, naturally, bring us right back—however clumsily—to where we started.

My work here is done.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Please Sign

On March 2, 2007 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe insisted, “There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support it (the coercion of WWII military sex slaves).” We ask Congress to urge Prime Minister Abe to look at the evidence, to see the coercion, to apologize and give appropriate reparations. The women are waiting. For updates and more information, please visit Laban for the Lolas.

To sign the petition below, please click here.

Dear Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi,

We the undersigned request you to support House Resolution 121-1H. We urge you to bring the House Floor to a full vote.

Historians and researchers in South Korea and Japan discovered several official war documents in the late 1980’s that established the existence and systematic abuse of WWII Comfort Women. They estimated 200, 000 young women were taken hostage by Japanese soldiers to serve as military sex slaves from all of South East Asia.

After fifty years of silence, surviving Comfort Women have broken the culture of shame to document their experiences of systematic rape and sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army. Their demands are simple -- they would like a formal apology and reparations for the war crimes they suffered, crimes that continue to affect their aging bodies in physically, mentally and sexually abusive ways. The women make their demands in order to reclaim their dignity, and ensure the safety of their own daughters, granddaughters and now, great granddaughters.

The surviving Comfort Women are mostly in their 80’s now. Many are dying. We urge Congress to act swiftly so that some may see justice before they pass away.


[your name here!]

Monday, March 12, 2007

Monday Scattershoot

Be still my heart! Linkable notebooks?! It's only a matter of minutes before I give in.


What Lea said the other day as she gazed out the window while I cruised us safely down El Camino: Mama, did you ever feeled [sic] there are giants up there? And we're just their toys? Because I'm always thinking...


It's been about least three years since I indulged in the candy-coated, double dipped marshmallow fluff of In Style magazine. And now after perusing this month's issue, I remember why I stopped. It's so decadent, so evil. Plus, is a visual retrospective of Ashlee Simpson necessary in any universe?

All the same, if you get me the dress Zhang Ziyi (or is it Ziyi Zhang? I'm flummoxed) is wearing on page 3,742, you could change not only my life, but quite possibly yours. Never mind that my version of the dress would require five times the fabric as that of Zhang's/Ziyi's. Just never mind that, you. You're so detail-oriented.


Evelina Galang brings attention to the plight of our lolas, the comfort women.


Goal for the rest of the year: sincere bonhomie.

Why? Because I like the word "bonhomie."


Tomorrow night is the monthly restaurant fundraiser for R & V's school, which means I will be forced to darken the doorstep of a dining establishment called "Armadillo Willy's." Do you think this is as hilarious as I do? Nevertheless, I will bring my bonhomie and hope for the best.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Just Added To The List Of Things I Cannot Do:

Wash a car.

Despite some pockets of free time in the past few days, I have repeatedly failed to bring the car in for its post-snow beauty treatment. Instead, I have been sheepishly piloting my hulking mess of a vehicle around town and fretting about whether or not some smart-ass teenager was going to use a fingertip to write "Please Wash Me" in the thick film of dirt.

Today, after multiple botched attempts to enter a carwash—laugh if you must, but I swear to you that every port of entry read "EXIT" and I swear, too, that at least ten of the carwash guys were mocking my ineptitude, a fact which I simple could not abide—I decided to do it myself. The sun was out, after all, so I picked Lea up from preschool and told her we had a job to do. When she discovered we were washing the car, she was all a-twitter since it's a task she often does with the SU. At home, she immediately changed into a bathing suit which was at least one size too small and, from the sad looks of it, highly uncomfortable. But she refused to change, so off we went to the backyard.

I had pulled the car close to the garage, but Lea informed me that it would have to be backed up quite a bit so the hose could reach it. By the time I was done, she had retrieved a bucket, washing mitts, Armor All, some oddly shaped brushes, and two lint-free cloths from the garage. I felt like I had a knowledgeable partner, you know? Someone I could turn to when I wasn't sure about things like the ratio of soap to water, someone to instruct me in the proper use of the mystery brushes, and someone to look at me like I was insane when I tried to use the very tiny sprayhose on the deck that is only meant to be used for potted plants.

But Lea was not, in fact, a knowledgeable carwash partner. She was just an almost 5-year-old who wanted to play in the bubbles. And I was just a woman with a bucket of sudsy water and good intentions.

Monday, March 05, 2007

My Speeding Bullet

Our neighborhood ski trip is the sparkling highlight of Winter's end. This year, a record 18 couples—each with 2 or 3 kids—invaded what I assume was once (before our disquieting en masse arrival) a peaceful destination: Bear Valley, California.

Now under regular circumstances, I would eschew any vacation that involved as much of a hassle element as the snow. Between the anxiety of locating and packing items used only once a year, the actual physical bulk of the outerwear and footwear, the scheduling of ski lessons, my issues with hats (well documented here on Nesting Ground) and a thousand other whatnots, it seems on paper to be not quite worth the bother. And yet, and always turns out to be completely worth the bother. Especially when it's filled with moments like the following. Watch as Lea attacks the mountain! She is a panther on skis! A sight to behold! Don't blink or you might miss her! Faster than...than...well, just see for yourself:

Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha! The sad thing is that she's already a much better skier than I am.