Category Archives: General

On pregnancy, birth and motherhood

It’s been an unusually long time since I’ve updated this blog and there’s good reason for it: a sweet little baby boy who arrived in October.  If not for an arduous pregnancy and the insanity of becoming a mother, I’d have written sooner; I’ve certainly had plenty to say in the last several months (it’s election season!).  I’ve had much to relate on pregnancy, birth and motherhood thus far, but I never–gee, imagine that–have the time to sit down and type it all out.

And the further it all dissolves into the past, the less I remember.  So, quickly, before the baby wakes (again), I’m going to offer my thoughts with the asterisk that I may expound (or not) on these in the future when I find some free time in which I’m not hurriedly trying to eat, shower, nap or take in some of the culture I’ve been missing out on for several months (hellooooo mountain of books pleading to be read!).

Pregnancy.  I love not being pregnant.  My pregnancy, however, was unusually trying, particularly toward the end when I developed both preeclampsia and pre-term labor.    So maybe I’d love being pregnant with a different baby, but right now is feels awesome to not be pregnant.  The kicking–feeling my sweet little baby moving around inside me–saved me.  That was the best part.  Would I do it again?  Yes, probably, but I need more (much more) time to enjoy that absolute joy of not being pregnant.  Ha.

Birth.  I went all hippie during my pregnancy and really wanted to have as natural a birth as possible.  Despite having never done it, I fell into the camp that believes that birth shouldn’t be feared; that my body is built to do it and it’s an amazing experience that one shouldn’t mask with drugs.  I was right–it was pretty amazing; I did it without an epidural and truly it was not the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life.  It wasn’t a picnic, but it was manageable and so, so worth it.  So, if you’re pregnant and reading this and contemplating skipping the drugs, go for it–you can do it, and you’ll be glad you did.  I used Hypnobirthing and cannot recommend it more highly; it really helped me stay calm and relaxed.  I also had a doula, which I highly recommend, for the extra support and knowledge.

During my pregnancy, because I had chosen a natural path, I was surrounded by a lot of professionals and moms-to-be that advocated for home births.  My husband and I knew we wanted a hospital birth, though we appreciated the view of the homebirthers that childbirth was, for most women, a perfectly natural event that didn’t require medical intervention.  I still respect this view, as my decision to birth in a hospital was respected by them, but I think it’s worth noting that though I expected to have a normal birth (or as normal as possible when preeclampsia is involved) it didn’t end up that way.  I bled…a lot.  I ended up with a transfusion the day after my son was born, to put into context just how much blood I lost.  This was not something my OB could have foreseen happening and it’s a damn good thing I was in the hospital to deliver, because she was able to take immediate action to stop the blood loss–I’m certain my already being in a medical environment kept me from losing more blood than I would have had I birthed at home and traveled to a hospital immediately following delivery.  So, if you’re asking me for my opinion, I highly recommend choosing a doctor who shares and respects your view of childbirth and, if you do that, you can have a great experience in a hospital setting.  And you’ll already be there just in case something goes awry that needs immediate attention.

Motherhood.  One paragraph on this is not enough, and I’m sure this topic will have many future posts devoted to it.  Everything that everyone told me about having a child is true, but to extremes I could not imagine.  I was told I’d be tired, but I had no idea just how tired.  They told me I’d be madly in love, but I couldn’t comprehend the depth of that love until my baby was in my arms.  His half birthday was yesterday.  I’m still frequently exhausted, unkempt and looking for any morsel of food I can quickly shove into my mouth, but I’ve never been happier.  I went many years thinking I’d never want children, and now I can’t imagine why or how I ever thought that my life would be better that way.

Hope to be posting here more frequently in the days and weeks to come!  Happy Spring, all!

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Only in America

Americans are entitled to a lot of things.  Scratch that.  Americans are entitled to a lot of important things.  I’m talking things that people in other countries across the globe only dream about–we get to pick our religions (or ignore them completely), we can diss the government to our students, look at lewd photos of our Congressmen online.  Heck, we can even cheat on our spouses without the threat of getting stoned to death.  Oh, and if we don’t want to admit we stole a television from that electronics store, no one can force us to.  Our Constitution grants us these liberties.

Perhaps if air travel was around when our Founding Fathers put that document together, they’d have granted us all the right to cheap airfare, as well, but guess what?  They didn’t.

I know it’s shocking to think that in a world where you can get a hamburger for $.89 in under three minutes that somehow airfares might still be unaffordable for some people.  Not even some people.  A lot of people.  But, folks, the reality is that sending a jet into the sky to soar thousands of miles above the population at speeds that make birds drop their beaks is not cheap.  It’s not cheap because it’s infinitely more complicated than slapping some beef onto a grill. 

Yes, yes, we’ve come a long way in transportation.  Most people can afford cars now, to the point that we look down our noses at those who choose to take the bus.  And, oh, yes, you can take a bus ride across your town for probably under $3.  Some wonderful (East Coast) cities even feature trains that connect their cities to other cities, and that is a relatively cheap way to travel, too.  Cars, buses and trains have nothing on the complexity of an airplane.  

Look, I’m in no way qualified to dive into exactly how difficult it is for a jet to take off with hundreds of people (and baggage) aboard and stay aloft long enough to get to a destination and then land again.  But, I’ve been working with people who are qualified to dive into this for the last year now and let me tell you: it’s bloody difficult. 

We’ve come a long way in air transportation, too–of course, you all know that traveling by plane is the safest way to travel.  There are lots of highly skilled people in place at airlines to ensure that this remains true, but their expertise is costly.  The expertise of a well-trained pilot is costly, too.  Airplanes are really costly, and so are all the parts they contain.

The bottom line is that flying from one city to another (mind you, in usually less than half the time it takes to get there by car) is operationally expensive.  And because of this, regardless of what people now expect, flying is still a luxury. 

It’s a luxury because, unlike most buses and trains, airlines are not in the business of public service.  They are not (well, for the most part) subsidized by the government.  Airlines are in the business of making money, though even sometimes they forget that themselves.  Airlines are for-profit businesses–just like those companies that churn out quick and cheap burgers–and when they don’t make money, they close (well, or get a little bailout…but that’s for another time).

People feel entitled to cheap airfare.  I think public transportation helped this mentality or perhaps it’s good ole American entitlement at work again.  But the fact is that airfare has no right to be as cheap as it often is today (anyone remember $2000 fares pre-deregulation back in the ’70s?), and so instead of demanding that businesses drop their fares lower and lower and lower, some people might just have to accept that they can’t afford to fly.  I know, it’s a tough reality to face, but it’s reality nonetheless.  Because, I reiterate, hopping on a plane is NOT as simple as hopping on a bus.  (Disagree?  Please let me know and I will work to arrange for your morning bus driver to pilot your next flight.)  Look, I want to fill my closet with Manolos, friends, but it’s not gonna happen anytime soon, because I can’t afford it.  And, painful as it might be to accept, I do accept it. 

However, airlines recognize that everybody feels entitled to fly!  They realize that trying to explain the complexities of their planes’ engines will fall on deaf ears and instead have focused their collective attention on finding ways to make travel more affordable for more people.   Hooray!  The fact is that they need people to be able to afford to fly…or they go out of business (or get subsidized). 

So, post 9/11, airlines came up with a really easy way to drive down fares.  Get ready, here comes the buzz word: unbundling.  A few airlines tried it with a few services at first, and then a couple of new airlines came along that built their entire businesses on unbundling and showed legacy carriers that they could unbundle even more than they originally thought.  (Shhhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve been doing this in Europe long before American airlines caught on!)

Unbundling is when you pay for just your base fare, and then choose to add other services–like checked bags, early boarding, seat assignments, snacks–to the cost of your ticket either when you purchase your travel or at the airport. 

The great thing about unbundling is that if you don’t need to check a bag or if you can’t afford that mini Vodka, you don’t have to pay for it.  Only the people who want those services pay for them, and your fare is lower because the airline is no longer trying to cover all of its costs in all of its fares. 

GASP, you say! But those are fees!  I’m getting nickel and dimed to death!  The airline is passing its cost on to me!  Yes, the airline is passing its cost on to you, because that is what businesses do.  Well, at the least the ones that want to stay in business do.  I repeat: air travel is not a public service.  The shirt on your back was not free because someone made that shirt and passed the production cost on to you (plus some mark up to, you know, pay its employees and maybe make a little profit at the end of the day). 

What airlines have done is innovated a way to make travel cheaper for you while being able to stay in business (or not need a bailout). 

Some airlines, *cough*Southwest*cough, still claim their services are free so unbundling products isn’t necessary, but you aren’t really that naive, right?  We all know the cost of those “free” bags is now loaded back into your fare (oh, you didn’t notice the uptick in average Southwest fares in the last several years?).

Admittedly, these add-ons are not terribly convenient.  No one wants to feel like they’re paying fees ad nauseam, but this is the cost of cheaper airfare for all.  You pay to check your bags so the guy without any doesn’t have to subsidize you.  He’ll then pay for his own sandwich since you brought one from home. 

And let’s face it, everyone complaining about unbundling would still complain if these fees disappeared and airfare went back up–people will always find something to complain about, especially if an airline is involved.  Especially if they feel like air travel shouldn’t cost more than taking the bus.

It’s OK for airlines to make money, too, you know.  I know that’s a hard one to swallow, but you wouldn’t just sit at your desk all day working for free, right?  Of course not, and you shouldn’t be expected to.  And neither should your pilot.     

Oh, I just remembered one other thing the Constitution guarantees: you can choose to drive between San Francisco and New York any time you’d like and never have to set one foot inside an airplane or give one penny to those blood-sucking airlines who could get you there in six hours instead of five days for less than you’d pay for gas.  Here in America, that’s your choice.

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The Impulse Porsche

My father-in-law just bought an impulse Porsche.

This is on a plane of impulse purchases to which I cannot relate.  My impulse purchases involve highly-caloric pastries and clearance shoes at TJ Maxx. 

I have tried to impulse buy more extravagant things–Louis Vuitton handbags and Jimmy Choo shoes–but I’ve never been able to go through with it.  I stand there with my plastic in hand, knowing the card can handle the purchase, but then I hear this voice in the back of my head (it’s probably my mother’s) telling me to not be so irresponsible.  And I leave, overcome by a mix of relief and disappointment. 

Knowing how tortuous it is for me to stand there considering a $900 handbag or pair of shoes (and never going through with the purchase), one can imagine that the mere thought of spending upwards of $40,000 on a car in the blink of an eye literally makes me nauseous.  If I visualize myself in that position, standing at a car dealership saying, “Yes, I’ll take that red turbo 911, thank you very much,” I could actually make myself vomit.

To be fair, it wasn’t entirely an impulse purchase.  He’d been mulling over this car for a few days and also considering the possibility that his current 911, which is getting up in mileage, might need thousands of dollars of work soon.  But, he didn’t need the car, and the fact is that he just really, really wanted it.  And so he bought it.  Just like that. 

It isn’t the first time–he has a long history of buying impulse cars.  In fact, there’s a great story about him pointing out a car to his wife while driving past a dealership in the 90s, and she responded, “it’s cute,” and he came home with it later that day to her shock and horror. 

Maybe it’s because I don’t love cars or maybe it’s because I’m not flush enough to contemplate spending so much so quickly, but I’m mildly shocked and horrified myself right now. 

Maybe someday, but for now…well, it’s back to chocolate croissants and marked-down pumps.

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A Tale of an Awkward Restroom Attendant

Sunday I took some visiting friends to Todd English’s new P.U.B. at CityCenter.  It’s a casual place, as you would expect a pub to be, but it’s on the Strip in the city’s most luxe property, so the prices are a tick more than what you’d expect at a typical pub.  But it’s a pub, nonetheless, with a vast selection of beer and a carnivorous menu to complement. 

So, imagine my surprise when my girlfriend and I ventured to the restroom and discovered an attendant.  A male attendant.  The restrooms at the P.U.B. have separate toilet areas, but a common sink area, so no, this male attendant wasn’t technically in the women’s restroom…but in a way he kind of was.

I’m going on the record right now: I HATE restroom attendants.  I hate them because their services are never optional–as soon as you emerge from a stall, they hunt you down to squirt you with soap and then you can practically feel their breath on the back of your neck as they wait to hand you a towel.  They stare mercilessly if you take a moment to primp.  And then you are expected to tip them for this “service.”  It’s like they’re watching my every tick, trying to anticipate my next move and can never relax because of it…and then I can’t relax because they can’t relax!  And what’s less relaxing than all of this is having the attendant be a MAN.  It’s like the icing on the cake of uncomfortable.   

I don’t need anyone to put soap in my hands.  I don’t need the water turned on for me.  I don’t need a towel handed to me to dry my hands.  And I certainly don’t need to tip you for something I did not ask for and do not want.  And most of all, I do not need any of these things in a pub.

I didn’t take my purse with me to the restroom and neither did my friend, so we weren’t able to tip this attendant.  Could I have gone back?  Sure.  But I didn’t, because I resented the whole thing.  The whole uncomfortable situation and then my inability to tip him for it.  I felt like not returning with a dollar was making some sort of point, though I’m sure it just irked him.

It reminds me of the time a homeless person came up to my car at an intersection and asked if he could wash my windshield.  I politely declined, but he did it, anyway.  When he finished, he wanted a tip, which I refused to give him, and he proceeded to spit on my windshield. 

I think I’d mind the whole attendant thing a lot less if the person didn’t assail me as I approached the sink–could they perhaps wait for their services to be requested so that those of us able-bodied folks who just want to wash their own damn hands can do so in peace?

As an aside, the P.U.B.’s menu has been revamped since I was there a month ago, and it’s much improved.  I recommend it without reservations.  Just remember to use the restroom before you go.

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Filed under Food, General

An interview…with me

My awesome friend Melody interviewed me about an item I’ve crossed off my bucket list as part of  the Motivation Monday series on her blog, 6 Feet Over.  If you want to know which item has a big check mark next to it, you can read about it here.

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Number One

This isn’t my first blog, and probably won’t be my last.  Welcome to my musings on life, the universe and everything.  (Thanks, Douglas Adams, for giving me such a perfect summation of all that I’ll endeavor to cover here.)  Mostly it’ll be musings on writing, politics, food and fashion, with a helping of customer service rants (because I do those really well) mixed in for good measure.

I’m a Chicago-born twenty-something who has lived in Las Vegas a few years longer than expected, but my heart really belongs to D.C.  I’m a writer who mixes it up with some marketing/PR, the occasional corporate teaching of business writing and public speaking, and limited (very limited) graphic design.  I am, at times, a cynic, frequently humorous (dry, like a good martini), and always a capitalist.  I can’t stop myself from pointing out irony, and I drink tea, not coffee.  Also gin, but not scotch.

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