LA Kings Kisscam

I generally deplore forced public affection. Not that I dislike any public affection — I certainly engage in it myself, and I think it’s sweet to see people spontaneously showing their love for one another. But that’s just the thing: it’s sweet because it’s spontaneous. Thankfully, I’m with a dude that agrees with me — below is his reaction to when people started clinking on their glasses at our wedding reception.

After he shot out that look, we quickly kissed and there were no more calls to “KISS ALREADY,” thank god. (don’t even get me started on how incredibly cringeworthy I find big public proposals.)

But you guys, you guys: the LA Kings Kisscam from their Game 7 against San Jose last night might have turned me. Come for the insane sweetness of the David/Harper Beckham kiss at 1:09; stay for the hilarious kiss-a-thon at 0:33 where a lady kisses FIVE guys, but ends up shafting the guy behind her (not like that, ew); and finish strong with the adorable Kings uber-fans at 1:46 who apparently are a regular feature on the Kisscam. Aww indeed.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2f32zx0kjA%5D

PS Kings won! Go, Kings! Beat the Red Wings/Blackhawks!

(Photo by Stephanie Cristalli)

Parental Leave




Evan sent me an article today on the differences between the Danish and American healthcare systems/social policies, and it made me curious about the specific lengths of parental leave in various countries. I had heard anecdotally about how very different it is in other countries, but to see the actual numbers was a total gut-punch.

According to Wikipedia (because, duh), the US is one of only four countries (the others are Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland) that guarantees exactly zero days of paid maternity leave and — of course — zero days of paid paternity leave).

I am choosing to not be depressed at this. When I went on maternity leave, I was lucky to be in a situation where I was able to cobble together 16 weeks of vacation days, sick days, state disability (note that California is one of the few US states that mandates some paid leave for new parents), and disability from my insurance company — even then, I wasn’t being fully paid, and I spent quite a bit of time during my leave on the phone with various agencies to ensure that everything went smoothly. Even more fortuitously for us, Evan was in a flexible-enough work situation that he was able to take four weeks off, followed by being on call for the rest of my THE-BABY-WON’T-STOP-CRYING-EVER emergencies. We were, and are, very very lucky indeed.

But if we ever decide to go down that path again, I can’t say I won’t be pulling up this list again, as a guide for where we should probably move to first. Maybe Denmark? Sweden? Or if we don’t want to venture too far from home, Canada offers new parents 35 weeks to split between them (in addition to 15 weeks of maternity leave), which sounds pretty good, eh? See, I’m a natural already!

(All photos of us taken during those first 16 weeks of Zoe’s life.)

Convos with my 2-year-old

Zoe will be 2 in July, and these days, depending on the moment, she’s either a complete delight or a total terror. Thankfully, at this age, both extremes are still kinda hilarious to us. One funny thing that she does now is this: whenever she can’t manage something on her own, like open a jar, turn a doorknob, or peel a sticker off the page, she grabs my hand, carefully puts it on the offending item, and then looks at me expectantly (sometimes, she exclaims, “OUT!”).

The bossiness will be strong in that one, that’s for sure.

So this adorable video is like a glimpse into my near, near future. Eek! Keep me in your thoughts, people.

PS for those interested in more toddler sass, make sure you follow the hilarious Honest Toddler account!

Star Trek: Into Darkness

Evan and I did something bad last week. Not, like, cosmically-evil-bad, not even in-any-way-illegal bad. More like the type of thing that you tell little kids about and they all intone “OOOOOOOH!” in unison, but still want to hear about: we played hooky from work for a few hours and snuck off to a movie!

Our regular sitter is gone for a few weeks, and rather than dip into the well of our backup sitters during the start of the busy summer movie season, we reserved a few quiet hours last Friday and suited up (not really, thank god) for a Star Trek matinee. And man alive, am I glad we did! I’d been feeling pretty grumpy about the quality of movies we’d seen recently (42, blah. Iron Man, ugh. Gatsby, gorgeous, but ick.), and while, yes, the latest Star Trek is ridden with more plot holes than a macramé plant holder, it’s also a lot of damn fun.

These don’t hurt:

But for my money, the best part of the whole experience is the sheer scenery-chewing gusto with which Benedict Cumberbatch* embraces every single line he’s given. A sneak peek:


It’s not just his delightful over-enunciation and Rickman-esque bass tones — he’s a truly delightful adversary, one whose magnetism leaves the protagonists’ and our heads spinning just enough that we don’t notice the extent of his evil strategizing (or lack thereof, at times!). He’s definitely the most memorable movie villain I’ve seen in years, and Cumberbatch’s portrayal is enough to recommend the movie, though, for sure, it has plenty of other exhilaratingly enjoyable bits.

All in all, totally recommended, even if you don’t have the added excitement of playing hooky added to your viewing experience!

* As already noted by all who’ve encountered him, Benedict Cumberbatch really is a phenomenal name, made more so by his (largely female) fandom, who of course are known as Cumberbitches. Ha!

(Top photo courtesy of Kellidaisy.com, bottom two courtesy of Tumblr)

The Baby Bachelor

So this may be only the second-best Bachelor parody out there, but it provided both today’s guffaw-till-I-cry moment of the day* and the very real hope that my kid will be much easier to understand in just six months or so!

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oavg_YqE7w8%5D

* Isn’t it weird how much we expect this now? Pre-internet, I feel like I had a laugh-till-my-stomach-hurt moment maybe once every two weeks or so, and now, it’s seriously daily. Have I grown much better at finding things that tickle my funny bone, or am I just supremely sillier than I used to be?

(Photo courtesy of Someecards)

Bike Questions

When we moved to our current neighborhood, almost six months ago now, one big plus for us was the location. There’s so much close by, and the paths to our nearest “main street” drag, to the park/playground, and to Zoe’s daycare are pretty and residential. With our sparkly, new-house-buying eyes, we exclaimed, “we’ll get bikes and ride everywhere!”

So, of course, it’s been almost half a year and we’re still driving (and sometimes walking) everywhere. Part of this is probably due to this small, really minuscule speedbump: I don’t have a bike. I actually haven’t regularly ridden a bike since I was a kid, but I take strength and enthusiasm from one of our society’s most tried-and-true (and trite) adages, and I am ready to ride again.

But guys, I’ve been doing some veeeeery minimal research into bikes, and this shit is daunting. I feel like I thought it’d be like buying a rug (“I want this color, and it should be around this size. Ooh, that fits — done!”), and instead, it’s like buying a goddamned car when all I know is that I want to drive something pretty.

So I need help! Here is what I want: to go on very short trips, 2-3 miles roundtrip at the most. These short trips would primarily be to/from daycare (which is 8 blocks away), the boba shop (don’t judge.), coffeeshops, that sort of thing. I am not concerned with being fast, and my neighborhood has moderate hills, but nothing too intense. I want to have some way of attaching (is that the right verb?) Zoe — a bike seat or trailer or something. I’d prefer it be pretty simple to operate. I’d reeeeeally prefer it be pretty, because, well, I’m shallow. And finally, this brings me a teeny bit of shame, but: if possible, I’d love to hear what bikes I could easily ride while still wearing heels/wedges. Because that’s just reality, man.

I’m willing to spend a decent amount (what is that for bikes anyway? $500? $200? $800?), because I plan on riding it a little bit every day. Do you spend a lot on bikes after you buy them? Like a certain amount a month or so? I’d probably be storing it outside, if that matters.

AAAAH, so many questions. Let’s calm down and focus by looking at more pretty pictures of ladies on bikes:









PS Unlike all of these stylish ladies, I plan on wearing a helmet. Ugh, another thing to research — where do you get a cute one?

(Photos courtesy of 1 & 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10)

Dealership Plates

Like anyone who’s lived in LA for a while, I’ve sat through some serious traffic. Living and working in this city doesn’t necessarily mean you go through traffic hell every day, but it does mean that you lower your expectations a lot, at least if you’re concerned with your blood pressure and overall health. So you hopefully buy a car with a comfy interior, figure out a way to create an ideal music/talk radio/podcast/audiobook setup, maybe work out a great bluetooth situation so that you can make calls during your commute, and just sit back, at least somewhat content in the realization that if you’re going to be crawling along for 45 minutes (to go six miles!), at least the sky is a clear blue and the sunlight’s streaming in.

But at some point, you also realize that it can be quite boring, so if you’re like me, you start cataloging the minutiae of your particular commute: obsessing over how the gardener on that corner lot always misses the same section of lawn, counting down the days till that terrible-looking blockbuster comes out and they finally change out all its equally terrible billboards, and — my favorite — taking note of every single other car around me. I try not to stare, because we’re all pretending to be in our own worlds, but c’mon, if you’re a beat-up purple (old) VW bug with a Colorado plate and a large number of bumper stickers advertising various peace-related causes, I’m going to be making up a story about what your life is.

One weird phenomenon that I noted in my hours on the road is, to my knowledge, a predominantly LA thing: the dealership plate. By my count, every tenth car in LA is driving around with no real license plate (not even a temporary one in the rear window!), but instead sporting an advertisement for where they bought the car. I gave myself a few days to see if I could capture this, and I was able to take the below pics with close to no effort:



I guess it’s possible that each of these cars was fresh from the dealer, or even out on a test drive, but… probably not. And given the sheer number of these driving around, I’m pretty sure people just leave them on their cars for months and months, or basically as long as they can get away with it. Frankly, why not? Without identification, you’re essentially not accountable for any damage or reckless driving that you do, and I have never ever seen a car with one of these plates be pulled over — I’d imagine if one was, you’d be in trouble for not having a real plate? I mean, technically, you could be going around committing all manner of crime, because how are they going to identify you? “It was a dark blue Durango… from Keyes in Woodland Hills?” Real helpful.

So now that I’ve come face-to-face with how incredibly prevalent this is, I’m baffled at how it’s anywhere close to legal. I only vaguely recall the details of my last car purchase, but don’t you have to have a temporary plate showing before you get your real ones in the mail? Is there some special exception here for which literally one in every tenth Angeleno qualifies? Does this happen in other cities, or is it a total LA thing? And how did I manage to get four pictures and not one is of the biggest offender, which I’d see MULTIPLE TIMES A DAY on my commute: the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Beverly Hills?

All good questions. Someone help me out here?

Pregnancy Dos and Don’ts: A Lit Review

This is a month or two old, but I didn’t see it the first time around, and it’s the perfect encapsulation of what it is to be pregnant in the era of internet “information”:

How to Have the Best Pregnancy Ever

My favorite part:

And your husband should have a suitable job, because what he does for a living at the time of your child’s conception could actually cause birth defects. So make sure your child’s father is not a mathematician, physicist, computer scientist; artist; photographer or photo processor; food service worker; landscaper or groundskeeper; hairdresser or makeup artist; office or administration support worker; sawmill operative; working with oil or gas; working in a chemical industry; printer; or operating cranes or diggers.

Two ways to look at it:

  1. You can’t win.
  2. You’re always winning!

Trying my hardest to always go with #2, especially because the chatter hardly dies down once the kid is out…

(Photo courtesy of Jezebel)

Magic Johnson and EJ(3!)

Living in LA, it can be hard to escape the presence of Magic Johnson — besides the fact that he’s obviously one of the greatest Lakers ever, he also owns a million companies, including a chain of movie theaters and, I swear, a TGIFridays that I see every time I drive home from the airport. Of course, most recently, the biggest purchase he’s been involved with is the LA Dodgers, a news item that highlighted how much people in general and Angelenos specifically seriously, SERIOUSLY love Magic.

And I get it, Magic is a great and really inspirational guy. But I don’t think I ever really had a strong opinion on him till I watched the below video, where he proves himself to be an incredible father and gay advocate. Some backstory: Magic’s son EJ(3!) was just “seen” stepping out with his boyfriend (aside: when you watch the video below, it’s hard not to realize that EJ’s TMZ moment — like so so many — was totally orchestrated in conjunction with some involvement from him, which is its own weird thing that I don’t even think is so sleazy any more (they’ve worn me down), but still a very strange part of the business of celebrity). A few days later, of course also on TMZ, a sit-down with Magic ensues where he talks more about EJ coming out (with Magic’s help!) and his support of his son. Obviously it’s savvy, great press for the whole Johnson family, but I don’t care — Magic as a proud dad makes me all snuggly inside:

[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYFkPRN4pfs%5D

PS Another great, recent insider perspective on homophobia in sports, written by one of my favorite football players, Scott Fujita (who happens to play for the Cleveland Browns, hurrah!).

(Photo courtesy of Radar Online)

The Little Reader

I’ve just emerged from a fog of sickness that descended over House Phoenix — a disgusting stomach bug that first hit Zoe, then Evan, and finally (and most whiningly) me. But those small, almost cute (stomach bug!) words don’t even begin to describe the all-engulfing, emotional, wrenching experience that was having the whole family be sick for weeks. Ugh, gastroenteritis begone — I’m just so incredibly glad to see the end of you!

So one thing that happened as a natural result of being cooped up together for days on end without visitors is a lot of contemplative conversations between Evan and me, which often devolved into sentimentalities about our little girl (blame me — I get very emotional when I’m sick… or hungry… or when it’s cloudy out…). As much as we take detailed note of all the changes that she’s going through from day to day now, it’s hard not to still dream about what sort of older kid and young woman she’ll be one day.

With that in mind, when I ran across this video of 13-year-old Nevaeh Mosher today, I found myself with really mixed emotions.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOzzFiqof84%5D

On one hand, I was a huge reader as a kid, and have all sorts of memories of not wanting to be bothered by life, because I’d prefer laying in a sunny spot of my house and just getting lost in a book. That’s a pleasure that’s really hard to describe to non-readers, and it’s one that I still enjoy so much as an adult. Reading really does open you up to so many other worlds, incredible storytelling is a thing of magic, and skillful deployment of language can be a revelation.

But at the same time: 325 books a year is a LOT, and you do wonder what else in her life that leaves time for Nevaeh to do. The video seems to suggest that perhaps her upbringing is such that losing herself in books is one of the safest things that she can do, and she truly seems like a mature, determined young woman. As with most 13-year-olds, she’s a bit absolutist, but black-and-white opinions like “without education, you’ll be a nobody” are certainly more welcome than “Joe Jonas or NOTHING.” I’m just not convinced that I’d be psyched if Zoe ended up as a 300+ books a year reader, though I can’t quite pinpoint why…