So the Fish Said...

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem, I whisper with my lips close to your ear.

- Walt Whitman

Meet the Fish

I want to get a pet duck and keep it in the bathtub.
I am addicted to chap stick and altoids.
I am freakishly flexible.


World's Most Beautiful Child

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World's Most Handsome Child

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Other Important Things

Clive Owen

Clive Owen
Pretend Celebrity Boyfriend


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Withering Retort

Oh, my friends, I have done it! Not quite eight months into child two, I have discovered the perfect, never fails, one size fits all response to all the DIRE WARNINGS and ASSHOLE OBSERVATIONS to which parents are constantly subjected by the general public. Like, "That baby doesn't have a HAT!" and "She's still using a BOTTLE?" Like "You know, if you let that baby sleep with you, he is going to WANT TO SLEEP WITH YOU FOREVER" and "If you feed that baby whenever he's hungry, he's going to expect to just EAT WHENEVER HE'S HUNGRY." Like "Oh, I've heard that babies who don't crawl don't ever learn to read" or "Shouldn't she be walking/talking/self-feeding/conjugating Latin verbs/calculating Pi by now?"

It's true, I have formulated the perfect response. That response is:

"And?"

It helps if you put on a bit of a bitch face while you say it. Most people shut right up, but some are persistent and start to explain in detail exactly how you have strayed from Ideal Parenting Practices, in which case, just do it again as often as needed. "And? And? And?"

Works like a charm.

The Mastitis Awards

And the winners are:

Best Performance by a Husband in a Leading Role
Chris, who left work Thursday morning three minutes after I finally admitted that I needed him to, took over all child care and maintenance responsibilities while I napped, showered, went to the doctor and then napped again, fed the kids and made me dinner. Then he took Friday off so that I could have a three hour nap in the afternoon. He refused to lactate so he could take over the nursing, but he did just about everything else.

Best Performance by an Antibiotic in a Supporting Role
Keflex

Best Costume
Tights, yoga pants, socks, t-shirt, long sleeved shirt, hoodie. Just to stop shivering.

Best Comedy
Thursday morning:
Me: Hi, I have mastitis. I need an appointment.
My doctor's office: Sure. I can fit you in on Monday afternoon.
Me: You don't have anything sooner than four days from now?
My doctor's office: Nope.
Me: Great, I've always wanted an abscess.
My doctor's office: Huh?
Me: Look, I have a 103 degree fever. I can't wait until Monday.
My doctor's office: Can you hold please?
Me: No.

Best Recipe
Mastitis brownies from my friend Laura.

Best Idea for a New Sticker for Prescription Bottles
"Must be taken with BROWNIES"

Best Idea for How to Make a Million Dollars
Sell a picture of my mastitis-afflicted boob to a museum as modern art. Actually, forget it, nobody should have to look at that.

Best Sequel
Beth Kicks Her Own Ass: Part 86
Once again, our heroine gets sick, starts to feel better and spends the day cleaning her entire house and carrying her three year old back and forth across the neighborhood - twice. The next day finds her wrung out like an old mop. You would think she would learn, but no, there is sure to be a Part 87.

How's the Weather?

Chris: Strange weather today.
Beth: Yup. While you were downstairs it rained, the sun came out, and then it rained again.
Chris: Huh.
Beth: And then midgets flew across the sky.
Chris: Wow, another midget storm?
Beth: Yup. And then unicorns flew out of the midgets' butts.
Chris: Again?
Beth: Yeah. And we still haven't fixed the damage from the last midget butt unicorn storm.
Chris: Well, strange weather today.
Beth: Indeed. You should see the pictogram on weather.com.

Illin'

So! Mastitis is fun! All the excitement of the flu, plus tremendous boob pain. I had to have Chris come home from work this morning because I didn't think I was able to be responsible for the children.

I'll be back just as soon as my skin stops hurting.

Well good morning to you too

Mia is in bed whining about the injustice of having to return to preschool. Not today, mind you, just at some point in the future.

Owen woke me up every 25 minutes all night long to complain about his newest tooth, and is now howling if I dare stop him from chewing my flesh.

These are the moments when I start to fantasize about day care.

Twinge

We are done making babies. Totally finished. No doubt about it. And while I do sometimes think to myself that we could manage just one more little baby, because they are so small and sleep most of the time anyway and maybe we should just barely consider... I quickly snap back to the reality that while babies are nice I absolutely do not want three children. And when I mention these moments of wonder to Chris, he kindly reminds me about the miserable 24 hours that followed Owen's birth and I quickly switch from "just barely maybe" to "no way in hell am I doing that again." It is decided, I am happy with the decision, and over the moon with the two kids we have. I don't want another baby.

But then I finally get around to packing up the co-sleeper that has been sitting disassembled in the corner of my bedroom for months, and I think, I should sell this. It was pretty expensive, I bet I could get a good price for it. And I start pondering the pros and cons of Ebay (expensive shipping) and Craig's List (giving possibly sketchy people your home address) and consignment shops (take a cut of the money) and deciding which is the best option. And while I am deciding, I instead pack the co-sleeper into the back of a closet, because I am not quite ready to part with it.

These little twinges go away, right? Or am I going to have that co-sleeper in the closet for the next ten years?

More Harping on Preschool

Thank you all for your kind words and reassurances and advice regarding our preschool debacle. Some of the advice sounds really good, like making a special calendar where she can cross of days and always know when preschool is coming, or bribing her. I'm totally in favor of bribery as a parenting technique, but we have decided to give her just a bit longer to work through her feelings before we start paying her off with candy. Since many of you mentioned it, let me assure you that I am not lingering at drop off, prolonging the screaming and the inevitable. Rather, I am stopping the car just long enough to boot her out of it and then driving off, trying not to watch her wailing in the rear view mirror. (Her school does a carpool lane and there are many, many competent adults outside to receive her, she isn't just going it alone.) (I feel I have to clarify for the trolls.) And I must confess that my favorite part was hearing all the stories of your own experiences of kids who could peel asphalt from the road as they expressed their opinions about being abandoned at preschool. More than all the helpful advice of how to work through this, it is comforting to know that my kid is far from the first kid to go through this, and that even kids who spend lots of time in non-parental care have problems and it is not (or at least not solely) all my fault.

All that said, on this week's second Preschool Eve, Mia melted down at bedtime. All about preschool. Then she spent half the night screaming. Again all about preschool. Then she spent much of the morning sobbing. Preschool once again. But, about 45 minutes before school started, she pulled herself together. In fact, she wanted to go to preschool. In fact, she wanted to leave right now and so I had to drive us around the neighborhood for a while until it was actually time for school to start. When the time came to drop her off, she didn't cry. She didn't scream. She just went to school, and now she is terribly bitter that she doesn't get to go again until next week.

I don't think we are out of the woods, but I think they are thinning out and we have discovered an unused footpath which we have decided to follow on the hopes that it will eventually lead us out of the woods. (Too much? Sorry, got a bit too enamored with my metaphor there.) This may be due to my skillful and inspired parenting, which involved validating Mia's feelings, telling her how great I thought preschool was going to be, assuring her that she wouldn't always feel this way, and finally telling her that while I was happy to talk about it as much as she wanted and it was always ok to cry if she felt like crying, I wasn't going to listen to any more whining about it.

Or possibly, it was because Snow White called her in the morning to wish her a good day at school, and Jasmine called in the afternoon to congratulate her on doing so well. Yeah, probably that was it.

Did you know that you can have the Disney over-marketed cash-whores Princesses call your kid? Well, you can. I sort of wish I didn't know about it either, but click here and plunk down three bucks and your little princess can talk to a real live Recorded Princess for roughly 45 seconds. You're welcome. Or, I'm sorry. Cinderella and Snow White sound pretty realistic (although Snow White sounds like she a phone sex operator playing innocent school girl, just like in the movie), but Jasmine is nowhere close. And no, I can't believe that I have reached the point where, not only do I order my three year old two Princess phone calls a day, but I critique the delivery.

Anyway, light at the end of the tunnel possibly in sight. Thanks for all your support.

(And also, wow, I had no idea that fundraising was so ubiquitous these days, and I suppose it is good that I got the wake up call now so that I am mentally prepared for it. But still the idea of a for-profit organization holding a fundraiser for their own benefit just seems... I dunno... a bit tacky.)

Owen Wednesday(ish) #30: What Is It With Laundry Baskets Edition

See the teeth? There are four of them now.

And then, last night at dinner...

Burning questions

Hey, is it customary to sell wrapping paper or grapefruit or other random crap to your friends and relations as a fundraiser for your kid's day care center? I've never heard of it before today, and it strikes me as... odd. Now sure, I am happy to buy your wrapping paper to help stock the library at the local public school in some underfunded district, and have even been known to do so to help stock the library in the incredibly rich counties where we've lived, but day care? If the day care needs more money, shouldn't they just, you know, charge more?

And yes I know, day care costs a fortune around here. But our solution to the child care issue was to give up my entire salary. Does that mean I can hold a fundraiser to buy more construction paper and glue for Mia?

I'm not bitter about it or anything, it just strikes me as... curious.

Oh, and supposing you received this type of request in the name of your delightful and adored (and by no stretch of the imagination underprivileged) niece, just as a for instance. Would etiquette dictate that you pony up?

Woe and Monkeybars

So, preschool is going better. Sort of. Once Mia gets into her classroom, she's fine, but getting her there is fraught with drama and woe. Most recently, when informed in the morning that it was a preschool day she flat out screamed for a solid half hour. She cried and screamed and cried some more and as I hugged her I could feel her heart pounding in her chest. She cried while I got her dressed, she cried when I told her to get in the car, she cried all the way there, and she howled when it was time to go into the building.

And then, she was fine. She did a puzzle, made a craft, went down the slide, played on the monkey bars, and even ate her snack. She had only good things to say when I picked her up. Except that she also said she doesn't want to go back.

I am at a bit of a loss about what to say to her when she is begging me not to take her to preschool. I have tried reminding her that she has had lots of fun being there. I have tried telling her that it is ok to cry, that I understand, and that she won't always feel the need to cry. I have tried telling her that this is new, and new can be a little scary, and that soon she will get used to it and be happy to go and won't feel this fear and sadness anymore. And she seems to be getting some of that, but she is still screaming.

I dunno. Anybody have any brilliant ideas of what to say to this kid as I am forcing her to do something that causes her to sob?

(And hey, because I love you, I got my sidebar to load last so you no longer have to sit around waiting for those stupid-ass slow ads to load before you can get to my fabulous and scintillating content. Or actually, I got him to do it for me. You're welcome. Now, get off my ass about the "remember me" thing - I'll get it fixed one of these days. Maybe.)

Fair Warning

Dear World,

We are heading out to run some errands in a few minutes, and I can virtually guarantee that Mia is going to pitch a messy public tantrum. Sorry about that, but if we don't go it will blow the whole "actions have consequences" concept we are trying to instill in the child. I'll do my best to make it brief. In the meantime, just avert your eyes.

Love,
Beth

Mish mash I was taking a bath

I sing "Splish Splash I was Taking a Bath" to Mia when she is in the tub, and she thinks it is hilarious. Or maybe she is laughing that I only know two lines. Come to think of it, I sing her lots of songs where I only know two lines. She is very tolerant.

We had a blogger playdate today with Erin, Clementine and Oscar, who are no longer in Bangkok no matter what that blog says. (Erin was the blogger who recognized me at the MILF Society meeting a couple of weeks ago.) (Ok, ok, it so it was at the library. You people are no fun.) Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures of the children together, which is a real shame because it was a total love fest. We could hardly get them to stop hugging and kissing each other long enough to pay attention to any toys.

Um, would someone out there like to volunteer to be tech support for my blog? I need to fix my cookies so that my "remember me" works and update my index file so that the blog content loads before the sidebar, and I have dedicated hours upon hours to trying to do both of those things and cannot get them done. I will pay! Real money even! Or iTunes gift cards or Chris Cactus cds or some other item of value to you. Come on, it has to be like 20 minutes of work for someone who knows what they are doing.

Or maybe I could get Swistle to mail you brownies? Did I tell you she sent me brownies? Wasn't that nice or her? She sent them to console me for having to live with this miserable leprosy on my hands (it isn't leprosy, but leprosy might be preferable) and they were delicious and a total surprise and I ate every last one of them during Mia's first day of preschool. Which was only two hours long and which I was only home one hour of so I ate two dozen brownies in an hour. And it helped. And let me tell you, the only thing better than Surprise Brownies is Surprise Brownies on your first child's first day of preschool when said child spent the first half hour sobbing and screaming "I want my mommy!"

And oh yes, I am going to a gallery reception tomorrow - friend of the artist, don't you know - and I was wondering what you wear to a gallery reception? Also, if any of you happen to know a good restaurant in Glen Echo, MD, shoot it at me because we are taking advantage of having babysitters to make this a date night/fancy gallery party evening.

Princess Love

At the ripe old age of three, Mia has taken a firm stance on the subject of gay marriage. She's all for it. For the past few days, Cinderella and Snow White have been dancing, falling in love, getting married (which Mia believes is accomplished by kissing), and living happily ever after. This is despite the presence of an Aladdin doll who is, one would assume, ready and willing to pitch in.

Indeed, all is happy in Princess-ville unless I put Cinderella's shoes on Snow White and vice versa. Apparently they agreed to love, honor, and cherish, but not to communal footwear.

Do you think I could find a "Civil Marriage is a Civil Right" t-shirt in a 3T?

Owen, Month Seven

Sweet Owen,

You are seven months old today and as happy and flirty and chubby as ever. Well, at least you are happy when you aren't cutting teeth, which you have been doing all month. Your two bottom teeth came in almost a month ago, and you two top teeth are finally cutting after making you miserable for two weeks. At least the teeth will eventually allow you to eat pizza, which seems to be a major goal of your life.

You still aren't sleeping worth much, thanks to those teeth and a cold you picked up, but we had a great stretch at the beginning of the month once your reflux medicine kicked in. Turns out that was the culprit after all, despite the highly skeptical nurse we encountered the first time we tried to get you some help. Eating solids hasn't improved matters, although I suspect it just isn't possible to fill you up enough to last more than a couple of hours. You eat rice cereal, oatmeal, apples, pears, bananas, peaches, sweet potatoes, avocados and yellow squash. So far the only thing you don't like is yellow squash, and I can't say that I blame you, but I made a big batch of it and refuse to throw it away so I just hide it in other things and you are none the wiser. We tried your first finger foods this month too, although they were my fingers doing the feeding and you hated it. Maybe next month.

You started playing games this month. One of your favorites is "Something on Owen's Head." This involves, surprisingly, putting something on your head and then saying "Hey Owen! I think you have something on your head!" You smile and giggle and sometimes laugh so hard you fall over before finally pulling the something off and grinning expectantly at me until we do it again. Your approach to any object is taste it, shake it, bang it. You love anything that makes noise, the louder the better, especially daddy's guitars, your pianos, the real piano, and your new guitar. You also love peek-a-boo and splashing in a tub and when I blow raspberries to the tune of "Summertime."

You are so desperate to move. You can roll and spin and scoot backwards fast enough to cross a room and get yourself wedged under the furniture in a matter of seconds. You can stay up on your hands and knees and even get all the way up on your hands and toes. You are figuring out how to move your legs in a crawling motion, but haven't figured out to move your arms yet so that when you do make forward progress you end up collapsing on your nose. You can stand with help only for balance and precious little of that, and when you see someone dancing you jiggle and wiggle your chubby little legs like you want to dance too.

You are a total ham any time you see a camera, grinning and laughing. You love to be tickled. You love zerberts. You love Mia's toys and most especially Mia. You could happily watch her for hours and I am sure that as soon as you learn to crawl you are going to dedicate that new talent to following her everywhere she goes. You love to be thrown up in the air, spun around in circles, flipped upside down. Anyone who does any of those things once had better be willing to do it 50 times, because after the first time you keep flinging your body in the direction you want to go, and I can see you thinking "Again! Again!"

You coo and hum and buzz and babble and when you cry you say "mama mama mama" and break my heart.

Mia is off to preschool two days a week now, and you and I are trying to figure out what to do with all this time alone. You tend to look around for Mia when she isn't with us, and I think you are already a bit confused by this school thing, but I think we are going to have a lot of fun. It is hard to adjust to only having you wanting my attention, but I am glad to finally have the chance to do it.

Love,
Mama

Owen Wednesday #29: Drop and Give Me 20 Edition

Getting jiggy

On Saturday we had rain of biblical proportions around here, and in between playing with umbrellas and wondering whether the pond and/or basement were going to flood, Mia and Chris taught each other some "moves."

Chris started with that arm wave thing. I think it is called the "Seizure."

Next was that thing where you hold one leg and swing it around. The "Wow, I Look Silly" maybe?

Followed by the ever-famous "Traction Spins."

And then the "Foot Through the TV Jump." Sorry you can't get the full effect of the move here, but I had to crop out the princess underpants that Mia is so fond of showing off.

For the big finale, the "Deranged Frog."

And then they collapsed in a heap on the floor.

Finally, wouldn't this have been an amazing shot if Owen hadn't been screaming his fuzzy little head off? Oh well.

P.S. This is mostly for my mom, now that we have done the whole cathartic I know you read my blog, I know you know, I know you know I know thing (which by the way, guest post from my mom this week, mark thine calendars!), Mia's first day of preschool. Moments before she hiked her dress up to her neck.

No, I just paid attention in third grade

Mia: What direction is this?
Me: North.
Chris: Really?
Me: Really.
Chris: How do you know that?
Me: Because the sun comes up over there and goes down over there, which makes that North.
Chris: You have a scientific mind.

(Stay tuned for a photo essay of the rainy day when Chris taught our daughter to break dance. Like an old white guy.)

Bright side, I suppose

Owen picked up a little cold last week and passed it to Mia over the weekend. By yesterday she was mostly recovered, but did have some lingering congestion and occasional cough. I felt confident that she was healthy enough and not contagious so I sent her off to her preschool, but I was concerned that her stuffy nose would immediately brand me as the mom who sends her sick kid off to school. I suppose then it could almost be seen as fortunate that she cried the entire time, therefore providing a perfectly legitimate alibi for that stuffy nose.

My god it was awful. It will get better though, right? Tell me it will.

First Day

Dear Big Bad World,

I'm sending you my Mia today, my Bean, my baby. Yes, it is only a couple of hours at a six-class preschool that, if the trees were down and I stood on the roof, I could see from my house, but it is also the first of many steps she will take away from me into a place where I cannot follow. Where I will have to stand on the sidewalk and watch her walk away, her curls bouncing above her new preschool shoes. Where I will have to smile and wave, act excited and happy, when all I really want to do is grab her and run away and bury my face in her neck and hug her until she shrieks and giggles and says "Mommy stop! You're squishing my lungs!"

I don't want to do this. I know that parenting is really just the process of enabling the thing you hold dearest to walk away from you, but she's only three and I don't want to do this. But I know it will be good for her, that she will enjoy it, that she needs more exposure to other children, to other adults, a chance to start discovering who she is without Mommy. And so I will do it. And I will wait, hopefully, for the time when it starts to get easier. And I will not let her see me cry.

Please be kind to her, cruel world. She can be a little shy until she gets used to things so she may just play quietly in the corner for a while. Please don't write her off while she warms up to you. Please be patient while she finds her voice, and please brace yourself for the onslaught once she finds it. Please accept her and respect her, please guide her and teach her, please treat her with love and joy and understanding. And please send her back through those doors the minute her day is over. I'll be out there on the sidewalk, waiting.

Social Fretworking

I belong to a bunch of those social networking sites. You know, like that Spacehook one and Flyface and even that new one you kids are all het up about. Jitter? Skitter? Whatever. I'm not really active on any of them, but it is sometimes amusing to see which ex-boyfriend has gone bald and which high school rival is on her third trip through rehab. I'm not highly searchable on any of these sites, but once in a while someone finds me anyway and gloms on. You know, by friending me or stalking me or whatever it is called depending on which site is doing the branding.

Sometimes this is fun, like hey! Haven't heard from you since high school! Sorry that fomenting total anarchy hasn't seemed to work out for you. Or oh look, once a windbag, always a windbag. Every so often, however, someone friends or stalks or whatevers me and I am very surprised, because we left things on Bad Terms. Now, there are not many people with whom I am on Bad Terms, but they do seem to pop up with astonishing regularity, frequently via these social networking sites. And they never actually communicate with me, they do just enough to let me know they are there. And when it happens I always wonder gosh, is this an Overture? An Olive Branch? An invitation to participate in a cathartic airing of old grievances leading to either forgiveness or mutual recognition of how silly those old grievances are, thereby improving our karma by removing these black marks from our souls? Or is this just one of those internet whores who tag everyone they remotely recognize in an effort to look cool and connected and popular?

Inevitably I fret and worry and ponder and most often eventually do nothing. Opting instead to leave the potential olive branch unsiezed just in case it turns out to be an invitation instead to further heartache and woe. But I always wonder.

How about you? Any skeletons in your closets that have found you again through the internet? What happened?

Owen Wednesday #28: OMG Sneakers! Edition

Hey, what happened to my toes?

I wasn't done chewing on those yet!

Seriously, could I get some toes over here?

And then...

Beth: Hey Mia, can Mommy take your picture?
Mia: No.

Happy Birthday

Today is my mom's birthday. I'd act all coy about how old she is, but some of you likely remember how I went on and on about hosting her 60th birthday party at our house last year less than a month after we moved in, so I guess that cat is out of the bag.

My mom and I have very different personalities. She's outgoing and exceedingly kind and talkative and the most empathetic person I have ever known, and I'm none of those things. She's also smart and driven and capable and caring, and I hope that I learned a bit about those from her.

I don't remember ever having a fight with my mom. Is that strange? I mean, I was generally a good kid and she was generally good at letting me live my own life even when she secretly thought I was making a royal mess of it, so I guess we never had much to fight about.

I love my mom. And it is because I love her (and I really hope this won't upset her) that I want to let her off the hook.

So everybody, please tell my mom Happy Birthday.

And Mom, I know you are reading this, so Happy Birthday from me too. I love you.

How To

How to climb out of your baby's crib without waking the baby. By Beth Fish.

Step One: Assume the Position: After extensive research, I can state with authority that the most important part of exiting a crib is the position you select when you enter the crib. You can't just sprawl in there all willy-nilly and then expect to make a graceful exit. The ideal solution is to keep your legs carefully folded underneath you in a sort of upright fetal position. This allows for the smoothest eventual exit. However, you must carefully monitor your lower extremities as after an hour or two your legs are likely to fall asleep rendering you unable to move and stuck in the crib all night.

Step Two: Get the Baby to Sleep: Hey, don't look at me, you are on your own here. I do strongly recommend that you try to avoid telling your baby that he is a goddamned fucking pain in your goddamned fucking ass, because he will eventually sleep peacefully or do something cute or vomit all over himself and then you will regret all that swearing.

Step Three: Break Contact: Next, you must disentangle all of your bits from your baby. As handy as it would be, it is not advisable to leave an arm behind in the crib as it may pose a choking hazard. Ditto a breast. Based on how soundly your baby is sleeping and how many teeth are currently assaulting his gums, this may take anywhere from a few minutes to until you reach your dotage.

Step Four: Make your Escape: Now is the time to seize your courage and exit as quickly and smoothly as you can. Lingering only shakes the mattress and angers the sleeping beast upon it. Provided your legs are still functioning, rise carefully onto your knees, throw your outside leg over the crib rail, and use your hands to boost yourself out of the crib and onto the floor. Attempt not to tip the crib over as you do this, and be ready at all times to drop immediately back to the mattress and assume an attitude of total innocence and an intention to spend the rest of your born days in that crib.

Now, would someone please tell me that I am not the only person who has been desperate and stupid enough to spend the better part of more evenings than I care to count huddled in a crib with my kid? And if I am the only one, would you at least tell me the craziest thing you have done trying to get your kid to sleep?

More Politics

Over the weekend, I spent some time listening to someone expound at great length about how the very first thing Sarah Palin needed to do as the new Republican VP nominee was get a makeover.

Really? The very first thing? Before brushing up on foreign policy? Before a thorough briefing on the economy? Before she focuses on healthcare or domestic security or working to establish her credibility or prove that she is an intelligent, competent, qualified woman (if indeed she is, I don't know), she needs a haircut and a new eye liner?

There are two things I know for certain about Sarah Palin. First, there is no way in hell I will be voting for her. Second, her appearance does not make a good goddamned bit of difference. I don't hear anyone suggesting that the very first thing Barack Obama needs to do is get a haircut that does something about those ears, or that the very first thing John McCain needs to do is lose the comb over and botox those wrinkles.

It makes me furious to hear women being critiqued based on their attractiveness rather than their qualifications, and it makes me doubly furious to hear it being done by other women. Maybe we would have more women in positions of power if we would all stop analyzing each other's shoes and instead analyze each other's ideas.

Back to poop and drool tomorrow.