Thursday, November 30, 2006

Oh Look, A Poop Story

Well, since I was all negative and like, babies? keep them away from me! on my last post, I thought it was a good moment to talk about poop.

(You know, I’m not a part of the "mom blog" world, despite the fact that I am a mom and a blogger. I know there are like 671,000 of them, and that some of them are like, the shit in the mommy blog world, but I’m way too shy to befriend any of them, and I have no interest in becoming like, a stalker on their virtual asses, and honestly, I just don’t have the time to read all these blogs on a regular basis [with the exception of local mom blogs], even though I really like them. So basically, I visit a bunch of them sparingly and only have a vague idea of the hot topics on the mom blogs.)

Poop seems to be one of those hot topics. I don’t know what it is about poop, but moms (or dads) post about it, and it’s like their audience goes wild. I personally don’t care much for poop, but today’s episode has traumatized me enough to need to share it with everyone.

It’s 9:20 a.m. I’m caught in some traffic on Biltmore Way, heading from Miami Children’s to Max’s nanny’s house. Max starts to grunt, and I start to laugh at his extreme effort to poop. Like, his face is red and all his energy is focused on the poop. I know he was successful because of the awful stench that suddenly permeates the car. It’s not just awful, it’s growing stronger by the second. I start to kid around with my son (oh, I was so naïve), saying things like “Eeewww, Maxi! You have stinky poop!”

And then, I turn around to make faces at him, and I see it. The poop. All over his car seat. Running down his legs. On his hands. Hands that are inches away from his mouth.

This is the kind of moment that makes you seriously question why and how you ever thought that becoming a parent was a step in the right direction.

I cut across two lanes of traffic, all Miami-like, and slip into a metered spot. I clear out part of the back, pull out his diaper pad, diaper and wipes. The wipes. Ha. I had exactly seven wipes left. I don’t even know how to begin cleaning this child. This child, by the way, is being kind enough to behave like an angel. Perhaps the sheer terror in my eyes and the manic way in which I’m moving has freaked him out, which I think is really quite fabulous.

I manage somehow. I strip him, clean him up, change him, and clean both his car seat and the regular seat, which he has totally crapped up (literally) by pressing his dirty little body against it. All of it with only seven wipes. And lots of hand sanitizer, which I glopped all over his legs and hands because it’s a sanitizer, right? So it should kill off all the poop germs that are seeping into his skin, right? A long 10 minutes later, I’m back on the road and it's all over.

Or not. It seems the poop was destined to haunt me today. I got into my car after work and - you guessed it - the stench of death assaulted me upon opening the door. I cleaned it up with some strong cleaner, but frankly, I don't know what I'll find in there tomorrow morning. And I'm a little concerned.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/30/2006   | | | links to this post

Mama's Wish List (Updated)

Don't know what to get your favorite blogger for the holidays? Here, let me make it real easy for you:

One full-body massage per month for a year
Dancing lessons
A box of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme
One pedicure every six weeks for a year
Gift certificates to Sephora,, Target, iTunes & Bath and Body Works
Any and all of those damn cute, gourmet-ish gift sets from Target
Need I say it? Shoes
A shower head. That detaches. And sprays really strongly.

EDIT: I've found some specific items I want. Namely, this. And this.

Still, I much rather gifts from here.


Posted by Tere @ 11/30/2006   | | | links to this post

The Pregnancy Dream

I have to confess, I’m a bit worried. Between someone I know who just had her second baby, to two others who are each about to have their second baby, to the dream I had last night about having my own second baby (it was a girl!), I’m fearing for myself.

Irrational, perhaps. But I have lots of qualms about having a second child, which I won’t get into since I already covered that. Actually, I’ve warmed up a lot to the idea (and there’s still the fact that I loved being pregnant and would easily welcome any opportunity to be all cute and adored by all once again), but the truth is that going that route right now would be pretty awful, for a good number of reasons. And in my typical paranoia, I’ve managed to scare the hell out of myself.

People (with collective rolling of the eyes): All right, paranoia, what’s the friggin deal? I mean, jeez, chill the hell out for like, two seconds.

It’s my pregnancy dream, people. Basically, over the last nine years, every single time I’ve dreamt I was pregnant, specifically that I’ve given birth and it was vivid and real, someone close to me has found out they’re pregnant within two weeks of the dream. I’ve predicted about nine babies now, including my own, and I knew as much because of some specific differences in that dream.

Last night’s dream did not follow the traditional pattern of the others, which is why I’m thinking of myself and not someone else.

So now I need you to cross your fingers in the hope that it's not me. Someone else, sure. But not me. Not right now.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/30/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Your Good Wishes are Requested

Dear people,

I hope to have good news for all of you in the next few days. Right now, however, I need lots of positive thinking, good wishes and finger crossing on my behalf.

So I'd really appreciate it if you could do that for me, k? If everything turns out as I hope it will, I'll treat you all to some coffee - promise.



EDIT: NFK is right in mentioning that this was a confusing message. A clearer explanation is in the comments section.

Posted by Tere @ 11/28/2006   | | | links to this post




Posted by Tere @ 11/28/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sleep Comes for Mama

I'm not quite sure if, clinically speaking, I actually suffer from insomnia. Maybe I'm just a poor sleeper. Either way, I've had a lifelong battle with sleep, or the inability to do it properly.

Until I got pregnant, anyway, and then the tide turned and now I do this thing where it's kind-of like I die every night and come back to life either by the alarm clock or the sound of my son shrieking into his monitor.

Judging by the way I feel, it seems that the problem all along was that I simply wasn't exhausted enough to deserve a full night of sleep. Because now, the exhaustion is so deep and so complete, that I couldn't stay up all night worried about being murdered if I wanted to.

As a child, the sleeplessness was definitely due to my obsession with crime. I mean, this was Miami in the early to mid-80's - I think I had every reason to believe that my family and I would be raped, murdered and dismembered. But as I grew older, I was able to place those fears into some kind of perspective, and my sleeplessness was there.... for some reason or other. Maybe because general depression and anxiety made me unable to sleep; maybe because my worries just don't ever give me a break - I really don't know. I just know that it would take me forever to fall asleep, and then if I woke up for any reason - a noise, to pee, etc. - I could not fall back asleep for the rest of the night.

But getting pregnant changed all that. It was as if whatever my body was going through beat out the worries and anxieties and all the other crap that crowds my brain. You can't imagine how good it felt to finally sleep a whole night - despite all the physical discomfort I felt.

With Max's birth, I needed sleep more than ever. And it was the last thing I got. I'm still not over how utterly shocking that first night home with him was. Sleeping was not an option, and it was the one thing I needed most in the world.

And now, I feel more exhausted than ever. I work all day and then come home to chase after my little ball of lightning. Or to clean. Or to run errands. Don't get me wrong, Ben is a true partner in caring for our child and home, but he works 12-hour shifts four to five times a week, so he's just as exhausted as I am.

And so, this is the first time in my life that I sleep. I can't get over how wonderful it is. I pass out within minutes of lying down, and although I wake up feeling tired, I still have a night of sleep. Max is pretty easy to deal with at night, and I'm basically at a point where I can't stay awake even if I try. If anything, my problem now is that I sleep so deeply that I have a hard time waking up. A very hard time.

This sleep thing? Wow. I never thought I'd experience it.

Posted by Tere @ 11/27/2006   | | | links to this post

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Shocking News: Please Have a Seat First

My house is clean and organized.

Yes, you read that correctly. Clean. And Organized.

Well, as clean and organized as it's ever going to get.

The challenge now? To keep it this way. The cleaning part will be easy, it's the "organized" part I'm worried about.

Behold, an organized book shelf:

No, seriously, that's as good as it gets around here.

Posted by Tere @ 11/26/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 24, 2006

No One Worries About the Worrier

I was writing an e-mail to one of my best friends just now, discussing a problem I'm trying to work through (she mentioned she was worried about me, and I was startled by that comment), and a little piece of reality hit me:

I worry a lot. A LOT. About almost everything. Some of it is very irrational, like having a plane fall on my house; some of it is very unhealthy because I see danger and evil in almost every damn thing. But the running theme of my worrying is a simple one: I fear anything bad happening to the people I love. I worry for their safety, their health, their emotional state. I worry if Ben's had lunch at work and if Max will die from picking food off the floor at home and eating it. I worry about my single friends getting raped by some hot guy who's a psychopath. I have lists of specific worries for everyone in my life. And most annoyingly of all, I'm almost constantly asking these people to be careful, to be cautious, to think before they act, to make sure they have everything they need, to go pray or talk to a therapist, to not ignore their gut instincts, etc. And since I've become a mom, the intensity of those worries and their pervasiveness in my life have tripled.

And yet, no one worries about me. There's no pity implied in that statement, it's just a fact that I've only now become aware of.

Except my mom. But that's because I picked this worrying mania up from her, and I am just one of a hundred people on her list of those for whom her worries are never-ending.

Posted by Tere @ 11/24/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Poetry Rocks - Why Can No One Else See That?

I need an answer from you, people. You can speak for your own personal selves or the American people as a whole – I don’t care so long as you answer me.

Why does no one like poetry anymore?

What’s the problem, exactly? What’s so off-putting about it? Is it archaic? Does it bring back icky memories of your boring English classes? Is it just too complicated for your lazy-ass self?

I ask for very personal reasons. You see, you know me as a blogger, you know me through whatever I post here. But I know me – and I define myself – as a poet. It’s what I am, first and foremost. I’ve had a lifelong love affair with poetry and began to write my own at age 11. It was pure crap, it really was, but it was therapeutic and put me in a place where I had to examine things – my life, myself, my family – to be able to make sense of any of it and figure out how to deal with it all.

My life has in many ways been defined by the poetry I discovered as an adolescent - I immersed myself so completely in that world that it couldn't help but color and shape the way I now see life, humanity, emotions, situations, etc.

And as the years have passed, the most sure-fire way for me to free myself from whatever crap is weighing me down or hanging over me is to write it out. One of my books deals entirely with TFBIETL. It took me a couple of years to complete and is absolutely raw and graphic and fucked-up, but it's what I had to do to get over him, the relationship, and all the crap that went with it. By the time I finished the last poem, I was free. Free. I was no longer affected by him or my memories or anything. I reached my goal: indifference.

And since most of my poems are fueled by depression or anger or guilt, I have to be in a certain mood to really write. I make an effort to write even just a bit on a regular basis, but the real stuff only comes out when I reach that point where I'm ready to be blunt and the need to see it on paper wins over all my melodramatic nonsense.

Now that I'm a mother, I feel like I want to express a lot of those related feelings through poetry, but I find that I'm not good at "positive" poetry. And to be honest, I see life in a way where even the happiest things have their tinge of sadness, and it's that that I'm trying to tap into as I try to express these newer feelings. I've written two poems in the last month - the first two I've written since my son was born - and those came to me, literally, as I woke up, in a total fog, where I just grabbed the pen and notebook I keep on my night table and wrote, wrote, wrote without stopping to think. They'll sit that way until I am in the right frame of mind to return to them and edit them.

The more I think about this, the more convinced I am that I need to return to a certain level of brutalness with myself where I can detach myself sufficiently so I can write what needs to be written minus the sappiness, sugar-coating and all other such crap that gets in my way. And yet, being in this place is hard because of the toll it takes on me and my emotions and general attitude about everything.

My dream has always been to publish my poetry (I'm exploring on-demand self-publishing). Scratch that - my dream has always been to have people enjoy and relate to my poetry. I would love to be all rich and famous because I'm just such a funny, relevant writer - but I would be thrilled and feel utterly accomplished to be known and respected and admired for my poetry. It is a notion, I know, that doesn't jibe in today's world. And that feels like hell.

So I just write for whatever benefit it brings me, a little sad and frustrated that it all remains unshared. It's not that I even think I'm that great a poet, just that there's something about poetry that begs to be shared. Perhaps it is because I read the works of people who lived in different times and places and still it resonates with me in some way, and I simply want the same of my work - that it touch others and move them in some small way.


Posted by Tere @ 11/22/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

NEWSFLASH! Tere Doesn't Suck!

As confirmed via telephonic conversation with one Charlie R., I am not hated, nor a source of anger, nor remembered as an evil, selfish bitch.

I am, in fact, cool and a source of fond memories.

He is still, btw, nerdy and brilliant.

And so I feel warm and content.

The Tere Mom Blog: conquering all forms of angst, one post at a time.

Posted by Tere @ 11/21/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 20, 2006

What Happens When You Leave Your Child Unattended

And in the hands of his aunt and uncle.

Posted by Tere @ 11/20/2006   | | | links to this post

Is it bad to feel this good?

I recently got word that one of my ex's (not saying which one) current girlfriend is a *known* whore and *avid* drug abuser. And has been for at least 14 years (yes, it was quite an early start!)

It sucks considering that last I heard (from the ex himself), this guy was trying to stay on a healthy path - in terms of lifestyle, career, etc.

It's awesome because, according to a decent number of sources, she is a spectacular train wreck and I - quite frankly - feel a very perverted joy in knowing this guy went from me to far, far, FAR worse.

The confirmation that yes, there are far worse partners than me makes me especially giddy.

Posted by Tere @ 11/20/2006   | | | links to this post

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Coffee Nights

If there's any one thing that I miss in my life, it's my coffee nights.

They began simply enough: in 1996, I discovered Joffrey's (in the Grove) Vienna cooler coffee drink, and I began to hang out there on a regular basis. At some point, I was hanging out there once a week. A friend or two, sometimes a whole group, always accompanied me.

There was no point to coffee night other than talking shit. A lot of it. It was gossip, people watching, cracking jokes, and spirited debates. It was a blast.

Over the years, coffee night underwent minor changes: from Wednesday to Thursday, back to Wednesday and finally to any night that was convenient; when I moved to the Gables (and Joffrey's in the Grove closed down), I switched to the Starbucks on Ponce and Miracle Mile.

My coffee nights became my stress-buster of the week. It got so that I needed those nights just to chill out and goof off. I loved it when a special guest would join us, that special guest being anyone who didn't regularly participate. I loved looking forward to it, planning it out, and I especially loved sinking into a chair and knowing that for the next couple of hours, I was guaranteed a good time, in one way or another.

Coffee nights began to taper off with my pregnancy. By the time I was close to popping, I was exhausted and in bed by 9 p.m. And with Max's birth, the nights were gone for good. Between my exhaustion and Max's need to nurse every hour and a half, it just wasn't going to happen.

Now that life is pretty much back to normal, the problem with coffee night is that there's no one to join me. In its last couple of years, coffee night was basically (my ex-friend) Sue and me, plus random guests. With that friendship ending, I've got no one who needs and enjoys those nights as much as I do.

Ah, well. And so it goes.


Posted by Tere @ 11/18/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 17, 2006

Angry Computer Guy

I saw Angry Computer Guy twice today, and while he didn't look as angry as usual, he did not look very happy, either. Big surprise. This guy is bitter, mean and so cynical, he makes me look like Rainbow Brite.

So here's the story: Pop Culture Diva and I share a large office. We keep things light in there – lots of joking, laughing, music – whatever we have to do to stave off the bureaucracy that’s slowly threatening to suffocate us. We have regular girls’ bitch sessions about life, love and celebrities.

On one such particular day, we were talking about something or other regarding relationships and men (I remember I was saying something about having gone from living with my parents to living with a husband – which, bad idea!). At this point, two of the computer techs, one of them being ACG, walk in to do some updates on our computers. Now, when we have visitors, we’re friendly but not very serious. We shoot the shit, commiserate about work, and then try to carry on with whatever we were doing.

So with the first computer guy, we exchange some small talk, throw in some jokes, and continue our conversation. ACG walks in, gets right to work, and is just seething over in his corner. But since we’re coming off a friendly conversation with the first guy, we’re laughing and I make a crack about how the guys I know (a part I think ACG missed) are mama’s boys who live with their parents even though they’re pushing 30 and make good salaries.

Oh boy, did I set him off. When I made that comment, the vitriol just starting rolling off his tongue. It was along the lines of women being gold diggers, and how his ex-wife got the house he bought and how some man is now living in that house and he still has to pay alimony.

Dude. Personal issues much? Sucky life and all, but damn, we were kidding around! Meanwhile, I’m desperately trying to keep things light by riffing off his comments, but he’s not having it. At all. Like, he wants to kill me. And it doesn’t help that I’m a woman and therefore a potential moocher of the fruits of his hard computer labor.

When he was done with his rant, the silence was deafening. We could hear the crickets chirping outside. He, however, was done with his work and just picked his shit up and walked out.

Did I mention we’d never seen this guy before that day?

It seems that word around here is that he’s just a really angry guy (I’ve since seen him make really snide remarks even though he wasn’t even part of the conversation). Whatever his ex-wife did or didn’t do (and believe me, I take his version with a grain of salt because this guy does not seem to be in the right mind to even semi-objectively share his story), she surely worked him over. Then again, maybe she just got tired of his anger and sent him to hell.

If you knew this guy, you wouldn’t blame her.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/17/2006   | | | links to this post

You know you're deep into motherhood when...

... a handsome man walks by you and all you can think is, "Wow, that guy looks just like Greg* from the Wiggles."

(* - I don't think Greg** is particularly hot.)

(** - Greg is currently very ill and we wish him a speedy and complete recovery.)

Posted by Tere @ 11/17/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Seriously, who is this kid??

Because I swear I just don't know what happened to my baby.

(With his new favorite toy, the dryer balls)

(It's the haircut that's done me in)

Posted by Tere @ 11/14/2006   | | | links to this post

The Thoughts That Rattle Around in my Head

* Whenever the blogs I regularly read don’t update for a few days, I think the writer died.

* Someone came into my house overnight and replaced my baby with a chubby toddler. I don’t know who this child is.

* I’ve been having very strange dreams for at least three nights in a row, and they’re so sad and vivid and uncomfortable that they’re troubling me even when I’m awake.

* There will be an intimate little gathering at my home in a little over a week, and I have yet to plan a single thing or invite anyone. I don’t even know, except some usual suspects, whom I should invite or if anyone will go. Will I sound crazy or rude or totally lacking in social skills if I just ask those who want to be invited to e-mail me? It would make my life a lot easier that way. Maybe I'll just leave it all to the day before and invite 6 people.

* I think it’s time to suck it up and commit to allergy shots.

* Will my house ever be organized?

* Why must Ben watch the same movies over and over again every single time they air on TV, whether it’s all day, all week or all month long?

* The headaches I’ve been getting on a daily basis for days now are making it really hard for me to focus or concentrate on anything.

* On the rare occasions my house manages to be organized, it feels completely weird and fake.

* I need a larger closet.

* I also need a regular exercise buddy who will motivate me to move my ass and who will make me feel like shit when I slack. And who is willing to come to my house and accommodate my hectic schedule.

* I think I could use a makeover. But I only want one if I get to have a whole bunch of new clothes, cosmetics and shoes.

* I haven’t had a nice, relaxing bubble bath in a long time. Perhaps I should.

Posted by Tere @ 11/14/2006   | | | links to this post

About Truths, Regrets, and Having Balls

(nothing in particular precipitated this post, it's merely me collecting my thoughts on the matter)

At the height of one of our darkest periods together, Ben told me something that I’ve come to realize is very true about me: in the absence of answers, explanations, or any kind of words from someone, I create my own truth about them and their thoughts and feelings about me and our relationship, and I stick to that “truth” regardless of any information or answers I may later on receive.

That’s the plain truth. That’s my way of creating closure when I can’t count on the other person to give it to me. And I’m thinking about this now because I keep catching myself doing it – having mental conversations about people and filling in all the blanks in the way I see fit.

And you know what happens from there – the things you tell yourself just to make it all bearable at some point become “the truth,” and for me personally, they remain the truth, even if, as in some cases, the person and I get to clear the air.

Silence is deadly, because in its presence I pick up whatever clues I can about someone, and then put it all together to form a story that explains why things are they way they are. When Ben and I went through this, for every “truth” I threw at him, he offered his side, fully explaning his actions and answering all my questions. And yet, for a long time, I couldn’t accept any of it. I felt like, if that’s the truth, if it was all that simple, why couldn’t you simply tell me? Why not send me an e-mail if speaking to me was too much, and say, “for the record, know this…”?

Leaving me alone in silence with no clear answers or explanations is the worst thing someone can do to me. I can handle infidelity, someone telling me they didn’t love me as much as I loved them, or at all, or telling me that they really didn’t plan to spend their life with me or any of whatever crap they promised me – any of it – as long as someone TELLS me. How fucking hard is that? I mean, it’s real easy to look back and say, “Oh yeah, I regret hurting you,” or, “I regret letting you go,” but whenever I’ve heard that, the only thought in my head is, “Oh yeah? If that were true, you would do or would have done something to fix it,” and I care for nothing else they have to say, because the silence I had to live with is simply unforgivable, and words like that are cheap and easy to toss around.

It’s just part of my way of dealing with things. I’m black and white on these things, even if the rest of my life is all gray.

I will forever admire Ben for doing what he did. For having a regret so great he couldn’t stand to live anymore unless he at least tried to do something about it. He was a real man for doing that, for bucking up and plunging in, without knowing how his efforts would be received or what the outcome would be. He may very well tell you now that it wasn't worth it, but at the time, it was. And he did something about it.

That's more than I can say about anyone else.

Posted by Tere @ 11/14/2006   | | | links to this post

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dear People of Miami, You're so Savage I want to throw up

So we needed to get this rubber mat thing for the floor (I can't describe it, just click on the link). We have one set already and needed another one, because we had to get rid of our area rug, and with a 14-month-old running all over the place, we need something to protect him (and the wood floors!)

We decided to go to K-mart, since that's where Ben got the first set a few months ago. I was there two weeks ago (the one in Westchester) and had actually snagged some good deals on some stuff I had no idea I needed until I saw them there. So as we arrive today, we see all these signs announcing that the store is closing down. And I'm like, "Oh shit," to which Ben is like, "What?" And I just have this feeling inside - store closing in Miami? Chaos is sure to be king in there.

And when we walked in, wow. Holy hell. Damn. It was beyond chaos. People were grabbing things - anything - and piling it into carts. Actually, they were ransacking, because there was no "shopping" going on there. People, it was bad. BAD. There was merchandise strewn everywhere: on the floors, spilling onto the main aisles, right up close to the doorway. I think they were trying to get away. There were bras hanging in sporting goods, children's toys in bed and bath; and the lingerie dept.'s walls were bare and and sad and absolutely ravaged.

People were dashing about like they had 60 seconds before the clock rang and all the stuff would disappear. It was madness - incoherent, savage and ultimately, pointless. The entire store was 20% off. That's it. The place looked like savages had torn it apart, and it was all 20-fucking-percent off.

You tell me everything was 75% off, and I might understand, if not approve of, the savagery. And while 20% is nothing to shrug off, I don't think it merits such unhinged luncacy as what I saw today.

We wandered like scared bunny rabbits for 10 minutes before giving up. By the time we passed the fishing rods (the fishing rods that were thrown all over the floor and spread over three aisles), I wanted to throw up - it was just so beyond messy that it was actually depressing. As we headed out, we passed the registers, where carts piled high with crap stretched far back into the clothing department.

"It's so bad I almost want to write about it," I told Ben. "Why don't you?" he said. "Well," I replied, "I've been planning this post about Little Einsteins and how annoying they are, and I wanted to finish it today." "Oh, I think that can wait one more day," he said. "This is worth it."

Wish you'd been there, people. You would've wanted to vomit, too.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/12/2006   | | | links to this post

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Come now, you know me better than that

You didn't really think I'd leave NYC without snatching up a pair of fabulous shoes, did you?

Look at them, people. Gray. Suede. Wedge heel. The sheer luxury makes me want to cry.

All I need now is somewhere to where them.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/11/2006   | | | links to this post

Friday, November 10, 2006

I Went to FIU, but don't tell anyone.

People, I hated FIU. I did. I was miserable all three years that I was there. It was awful.

I'll get into all the reasons why in just a minute, but first, familiarize yourself with the current state of affairs at my alma mater. I know I don't know the details of this affair, but why anyone would blow off and be uncooperative about a $20 million gift is beyond me. All I can say is, bravo to Dr. Wertheim for calling Maidique's bluff and walking away. (note to self: after this post, you will never get a job at FIU, even if you're able to get over your drama about the institution).

So anyway, my time in FIU. Was miserable. Let me be fair: I was personally in a bad place, and I know that colored my experience. My grandfather died a couple of months into my first semester; I hated my college algebra teacher (and college algebra, period, because I have no math skills. I did, however, write a very clever poem about math in class one day, so I guess it wasn't a complete waste of time); I wound up failing trig (twice); my relationship with TFBIETL (who was still in high school) was deteriorating and I had no clue how to save it; and I began to date the most evil, vile man I've ever known in my whole life. All this in my frist year.

I think in the midst of all this personal turmoil, a good college experience would have really helped. But the truth is, it was a nightmare. There were no clear instructions on how to register, or what exactly my core classes were. The advisors I encountered were so inept I wanted to slap them. The classes themselves were barely engaging. I had some great classes here and there (to this day, whenever I think about Martinson's media law and ethics class, I feel a jolt of excitement. And Sugg was so quirky and his sense of humor so trippy that I loved his classes), but overall, I was bored. Unchallenged. I was enrolled in the "honors" track, which consisted of a class that tried to cover everything ever known to humanity, and it was SO awful that I dropped out of the program (I still can't wrap my head around the professor who declared that anything that hangs on a wall is automatically art. WTF).

And socially speaking, forget about it. If ever there was a cesspool of silly cliques, it was here. I ran into friends from elementary school who I hadn't seen since 8th grade, and that was pretty cool, but that was part of the problem: social life in FIU is so 8th grade. I felt like I was back in junior high, and if I remember correctly, it was in junior high that I became suicidal. The cliques inevitably formed around the sororities and frats, and therein lay the root of the problem. Look, had I gone away, were I in a new, different place, maybe I would have joined a sorority. I highly doubt it, but I can't discount it, because who knows what stupid things I would have done all alone in a foreign place. But in a commuter school like FIU, the Greek system amounts to little more than the same cliques that existed in junior and senior high. They joined the frat or sorority that most closely resembled the clique they belonged to in high school. From my side of the fence, it looked like nothing but insecure pepople paying for friends and popularity. And perhaps I wouldn't be as dismissive about the Greeks had they actually made an actual attempt to be friendly, to be the ambassadors of FIU they claimed to be. But they weren't. They ignored anyone who wasn't like them. They cast derisive glances at anyone who didn't live up to their definition of cool. And while they had no bearing on my life, just being around them was pretty depressing.

Was FIU as inept as MDC proved to be (through Ben's experiences there)? No, it wasn't. But it was bad. It was bad because it was unchallening, alienating and indifferent. That I got my degree in three years was not a testament to how smart and studious I am; it was simply the quickest I could get out of there, and that was all I cared about.

-- More at SOTP.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/10/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Housing Market can kiss my ass

The number one thing I've hated about living in So Fla for a while now is the housing market, and how completely ridiculous and unrealistic it is. Many of my fellow local bloggers have covered this, extensively, and while I can’t link to every post about it, you can go to Critical Miami and SOTP and search for them.

I’m prompted to address this issue here because I’ve just read three articles in Miami Today about the market, and as usual, I’m so riled up I’m about to explode.

One of the articles, titled “Unflinching home process may be hurting sales, experts say,” has some genius quoted as saying: “Speculators have left the market. Speculators played a bigger role in the market than anyone thought.”

Uh, no. Those of us who haven’t had our heads up our asses have always known that the market was fueled in large part by speculators. It was also fueled by real estate agents, developers and mortgage brokers who amped up the hype about how hot the market was in such a self-serving and irresponsible way that they created mass hysteria about it.

In the process, they got so busy focusing on the “international” market, on the rich folks in other countries who don’t even live here and don’t contribute to the area’s growth and prosperity, that they put the regular people who do live and work here in a terrible position.

I just love how all these people in the industry and local officials are all scratching their heads now, wondering WTF happened and acting like they themselves didn’t play a large role in creating a housing market that middle-class people, to not even speak about lower-income ones, can’t afford, or afford at the risk of drowning in debt.

All the while, the reality of what So Fla is was right there, staring everyone in the face: a largely immigrant population that traditionally starts at the bottom and moves up; dire poverty; stagnating salaries, etc. Everyone just chose to ignore that. Yes, we are an international market. Yes, there’s demand for homes here. But there is still the reality of the people who work their asses off and need a home, and those people far outnumber the select few who can drop half a mil on a 3/2 without blinking an eye.

I’m pissed, people. I’m beyond pissed. I can’t figure how out Ben and I – who bring home post-taxes the kind of money that anywhere else would put us in the upper-middle-class box – can’t afford a fucking condo here. It isn’t just the prices, obviously. It’s the insurance and taxes, too, which is where government officials play into this. I mean, the thought of paying $5K in taxes for a small-ass condo is enough to make me want to vomit. Oh, and considering that our family’s growing, we actually need a house – so make that twice the price of a condo and double the taxes. And the insurance? I don’t even want to go there.

So if this is our situation, what about the thousands other who make less than we do? I think about them, too. I wonder how they manage, how they plan or hope to move up and forward in this market. As it is, everyone else we know who is like us – college-educated professionals with stable jobs and good paychecks – who own homes are stressing about the rising taxes, the funky mortgages they did that are now biting them in the ass (and yet, without those types of financing, they would have never been able to buy in the first place). I don’t know a single person who has bought a home in the last five years who is not currently up to their ears in house-related bills that eat up more than 80% of their monthly income. If that doesn’t freak the fuck out of you, if it doesn’t piss you off, it should. Because for all those able to own these recently-purchased homes, regardless of how much of their income it takes, there is an entire segment of the population out there – a big chunk of the people who call So Fla home – who can’t afford jack shit. Nothing. Nada. And there’s something incredibly sick about that.

The problem now, however, is that buyers have finally realized that there’s no need for such hysteria, that prices were raging out of control, and they’ve pulled back. But sellers are in total denial about this. In one of the Miami Today articles, “Realtors blame wide-eyed sellers, media for slowdown,” this guy named Eric Feldman hits it on the head: “People who are trying to sell a home today for the same price their neighbors got last year are causing a problem.” He cites some people who paid between $239 and $279K for a home in Aventura and now want $800K for it. It’s not selling, but they won’t settle for less. “Why not be happy with $650,000?” he asks (it would still be a profit).

The answer, Eric, is because they’re greedy. It is mainly greed that has driven this market. First the greed of developers and others in the industry, and now the greed of sellers. They know people who sold homes for double, sometimes triple, what they bought them for, and they insist on the same. Part of it, too, is that many current sellers paid ridiculous prices for their homes, and I bet they feel like assholes and can’t accept the fact that their homes are simply not worth as much as they would like. Kind-of like, I got fucked, now I’m going to fuck someone else over. It would be typical of Miami for it to go down like that.

I always look at my parents’ neighborhood as the perfect example of the housing market debacle. My parents live in the Shenandoah/Silver Bluff area. These are well-sized homes, well-built in the late 30’s and early 40’s, usually with front and back yard. Their home in particular is a 3/2, close to 1500 sq. ft. They bought it in 1999 for $145K, which seemed like a lot to all of us. Now, for me, in a realistic market, for a house this good in an area so cute and centrally located, I would totally understand if today, six or seven years later, the market doubled the value of the house to $250 - $275K (this sounds cheap and undervalued by today’s standards, so I’m going to remind everyone that in 1998, old Spanish 3/2’s in Coral-fucking-Gables were selling at $168K – we’ve all just forgotten that the Miami market was always high, but grew at a steadier pace). But by 2004, five years after their purchase, houses identical to theirs were selling for $400K. The taxes on those properties were double theirs (I know, I checked). Today, in 2006, two houses across the street (each has an extra bedroom, they’re 4/2) are selling – one for $549K and the other for $599K.

Give me a fucking break. This is all such bullshit. Those houses, as well as two more two blocks away that are selling in the high $400’s, have been rotting on the market for months (actually, one of them sold in June, after six months on the market, for $397K. It’s back up for sale now, and the seller wants $469K for it). This, in an area where houses were selling the day they went up. And I’m glad. This, to me, is greed. I know when all these sellers bought their houses, how much they paid, and how quickly they’re turning around to sell the place at these offensive prices (see above example).

So where does all this leave us? Nowhere good, as far as I’m concerned. Sellers won’t budge, no one in the industry wants to accept that So Fla is by and a large way poorer than they wish it were, and officials could care less about insurance and property tax rates. When I tell people that this one factor alone is forcing us to consider relocating somewhere else, it’s because both Ben and I refuse to pay $400K for a house that not only will eat up our monthly income, but that we KNOW is just not worth that much. That’s the bottom line. No house, no sense of homeownership, is worth the price of a house that you just know is priced that way due to hype and talk and mass hysteria. I don’t blame people who’ve bought homes and stayed there – we’ve all had choices to make, and for some, that was the right choice. You already know I blame developers and agents - but I also blame people who’ve bought homes only to turn around and sell them within a year for double what they paid. I’m not even talking about the mythological condos that get flipped five times before they’re even constructed. I’m talking about existing single-family homes and townhouses – there are real people out there, real hard-working people who have kids and/or older parents to support, who need these homes. And to buy these homes just to flip them at obscene prices is just wrong. I don’t care if there was money to be made, if it’s all business. I care about community and living in one where growth and prosperity don’t exclude the majority of the population. I care about housing being truly affordable, because when even the middle class can’t afford to buy, the problem is dire and the ones hurting the most are those who aren’t even in the middle class. I care about equality and living in a place that WANTS as many of its residents as possible to own homes and grow roots and become active members of the community.

Maybe, then, that’s why I might ultimately not belong here.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/09/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mama pretends to be a party girl

The only pictures I took during my trip are of my friends and I partying. Early into our dinner Friday night, we started joking about "sexy" poses and from that point on *tried* to look sexy in all the pictures (something to keep in mind as you enjoy this limited selection, then - we were being playful and silly).

Friday night we dined at Spice Market. We started out downstairs (that's when we were feet from Ricky Martin and his entourage), and ended up with our own private room.

Cristi loves her seabreezes...

Cristi, Sue and I take a break from sexy poses.

Saturday night, after dinner at Milano Ristorante, we headed to Session 73, where Chachi took good care of us and kept the drinks flowing (and let me sit on the bar so I could be wild and crazy and take good pictures of everyone partying).

The sexy is on!

I'm skipping all the cleavage shots (male and female) since no one needs to see those.

Sue's not naked in this pic, and I think she would want everyone to know that. It's the best one of the bunch that shows me with my new love, Joe. He's a true gentleman who made sure we all had a blast.

The early part of the evening consisted of boys surrounding us, staring, but not saying a word. Just like in 7th grade. Some of them warmed up and drew in closer, like this one (white shirt), who ultimately didn't speak to any of us but didn't go away, either. We have no idea who, if any of us, he was trying to get to.

The guy to the right holding the beer, however, joined our little crowd and chatted me up. He didn't believe me when I told him I'd be posting the pictures I was taking on my blog. But he should have.

The band, the crowd - pictures taken by a very, very buzzed Tere.

Fun, silliness and a little booze prevailed. And for just one night in NYC, people, this mama brought sexy back. Literally.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/08/2006   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Crappy Things About Myself I Learned in NYC

Ah, fall in New York City. Central Park was glorious with its yellow and orange-hued trees. Beautiful wool coats (in many colors) and luscious boots (in a myriad of styles) abounded. The crisp cold helped keep the stench on the subway to a minimum.

And somewhere between Union Square and SoHo, I wandered the streets, lost in thought over all the things about myself I’m normally not too eager to think about or deal with, instead of enjoying my surroundings and the shopping orgy I had originally planned.

I’m not sure if it was the fact that I forgot my list of places I wanted to go to, or if I was feeling fiscally responsible, or if it was just that I had not been completely, utterly alone without anyone else’s needs or issues to address in such a long time – but somehow, I didn’t shop and instead let my mind wander to those places that I haven’t visited in a long time – due to fear, but also to lack of time.

While I try to be both upbeat and realistic about myself, like anyone else, I’m basically full of shit and have enough characteristics to convince me sometimes that it must be miracle that I haven’t managed to alienate everyone around me, to not even speak of earning their hatred.

I’m impatient and feel that 90% of the time, I’m right. And while I can admit I’m wrong, the problem is that I’m rarely wrong. Now, I’m not confusing my opinion with facts here. I mean, when someone tells me something and I tell him or her how it’s going to end up, and what I predicted is exactly what happens. When you combine this with my impatience, you get a very frustrated, tired Tere who just doesn’t want to hear it anymore. I find myself telling the same people the same things over and over again – and true, no one has to believe me, no one has to take my advice, but I’m finding more and more that when things happen just as I said they would and the person keeps agonizing or rationalizing or pitying themselves, I feel no sympathy. Zero. I could care less. In fact, I find myself thinking, “well, what the fuck did they expect?” and just wish they'd either fix whatever's wrong or just shut the fuck up. It happens with my single friends who have NO clue what the hell goes into an adult relationship (and do I have a clue? Probably not, but I sometimes feel like the only one who’s not living in a soap opera or a teen novel), but keep repeating the same behavior that obviously hasn’t done much good for them. I feel this way with Ben over a zillion things. I feel this way with myself when my head is saying one thing but my bones are just too damn tired and despaired to give a shit. I’m impatient with the people I love, and it affects my ability to feel empathy, and that's just plain awful.

My social skills have been reduced to crap. I interrupt when I don’t mean to and in the process create a jumble of awkwardness and say stupid things that half the time don’t even have anything to do with the conversation (but make perfect sense in my head) and that leave the other person trying to remember what the hell they were saying and usually ends with them just giving up. I roll my eyes at about 95% of what I hear (directly or not) and don’t even care if I’m caught. Half the time, I let my reactions and emotions play out in my face and only realize it when it’s too late and can’t take any of it back.

I find myself feeling frustrated over everything. Over the job that I feel more and more is a total mind-fuck that I'm trapped in; over the fact that I - who never gave a fuck what others thought about my appearance - am now stressing and unhappy over how unattractive and blah I look all the damn time, no matter how hard I try to put myself together; over the housing market and the utter helplessness I feel over our inability to afford any damn fucking kind of house around here, and the implications that come with that; over the freedom I wish I had to be able to work for myself - anything, really, that would free me from taking orders from incompetent, inefficient, overreactive dickheads and the sycophants that surround them.

I'm paranoid over stupid things and the constant worrying is making me sick. And it's gotten so that all the mechanisms I've developed to remain positive, cheerful, and with a healthy dose of perspective are having a hard-ass time keeping up with this shit and the strain is getting to be too much.

And yeah, this is all the shit that's been bottled up while I've been busy being pregnant and caring for a baby while maintaining a marriage, home and job - so maybe it's all going to come out all at once the minute I have some genuine alone, responsibility-free time so maybe I should chill the fuck out and take it in stride, but it's been a long time since I felt so overwhelmed by so many crappy feelings, so cut me a little slack, please. Worse still is the feeling that there are no viable solutions in sight.

NYC, I think, was both a good and bad thing. I wonder if there would have been any way to avoid all this - did I have too much time on my hands? Not enough money to piss away? Or were all these things just waiting to eat me up the minute I was away from my daily routine?

Posted by Tere @ 11/07/2006   | | | links to this post

Monday, November 06, 2006

The requisite post about new york city - the tired mom edition

Yes, I survived both flights. I even used the bathroom for the first time. It wasn't as bad as everyone makes it out to be.

No, I don't feel silly about the last post. In fact, I'm going to repost it next time I fly.

It was great to be with my girlfriends and to have the city as our playground.

It was very cold, but not windy, which made the cold bearable.

I did some shopping, but not as much as I expected. I didn't have the energy.

I saw so many gorgeous boots I almost couldn't handle it. How I managed to be a responsible adult and restrain myself, I'll never know.

I walked way too much. For someone who really just wanted to relax, the walking was way too much.

I partied like the party girl I never was.

I didn't miss my family or my life until Sunday morning, a sign to me of how much I needed this trip. But when I began to miss them, shit, did I miss them.

It was a celebrity-studded weekend, including run-ins with this guy and this guy. This guy was on my flight up. Oh yeah, and on Friday night, I had dinner next to this guy.

Food was great - I ate like a pig and enjoyed every minute of it.

I was able to have time alone to think about some shit I'm dealing with and came back just as anxious but a little more refreshed and feeling grateful for my family - a husband who paid for the trip and happily sent me on my way; and a son who had a blast with his daddy but was very happy to have me back home.


Posted by Tere @ 11/06/2006   | | | links to this post

Thursday, November 02, 2006

If this should be my last post...

Indulge me, people. Tomorrow morning, I will do that which I fear most in this world, and right now, the fear and anxiety are eating me alive. I could very well look back at this post and feel silly, but right now, I sincerely feel like I'm writing my last words.

I hate flying. Hate it to the point that I'm willing to forgo my dreams of seeing Turkey, Egypt and Morocco just to avoid flying. The older I get, the worse I become about this.

I cry now. Cry. Jeebus fucking H - I cry as I sit in the plane, convinced I'm either about to burst into a thousand pieces in the take-off explosion, or will plummet 30,000 feet to my death and be fully aware of it all the way down.

When the pilot greets me as I enter the plane, I quiz him to see if he's drunk or seems depressed, because I won't get on if he's not sober or seems apt to take us all down with him because his life sucks.

I've resorted to taking Xanax because without it, there's no way I'll even go to the airport, much less board the plane. And I hate the thought that I need a stupid pill to get me to do something that is, in all reality, safe and common and perfectly normal.

There is no rationalizing with me, no way to talk me off the ledge.

And ever since I booked my trip to New York, I've done a good job of being excited about it and chatting with my friends about it and making all kinds of plans that involve H&M, French toast and donoughts.

But this week has been hard, and it's been hard for one reason only: Max. Every day has felt like my last day with him. I have not allowed myself to slack and sit there while he entertains himself; I have kissed him within an inch of his life; I have held him and savored him every possible moment; I have permitted every tantrum, every instance of him doing exactly what I've told him not to do - I've been haunted by this overwhleming need to stay aware of him and my feelings for him and to act on those. It's been wonderful and exceedingly painful at the same time.

My overriding thought this week as I've watched my son play and explore and just be his charming self has been, "If I die on the plane, I will miss all this." That's it. That's the root of all the crap I'm feeling right now - that I will miss out on the most awesome thing ever, and also, that my son won't have a single memory of me. The thought that he won't remember all the time I spent with him and all the love, attention and affection I gave him - that he won't remember what it felt like to be in my arms or the sound of my laughter - it just kills me. I also find myself wondering, if I don't make it back, will he feel the difference? Will something change within him so that he is a little less happy, a little less secure? We have never been apart for more than the eight hours I spend at work; we're at a point where, if I leave the room, it is only a matter of minutes before he starts calling out for me. What will it do to him at this point in his life if I go away and never come back? Surely, it won't be as traumatizing as it would be were he 4, 5, 6, or older. But still, would he somehow feel it, and would it do something to alter his bright, sunny nature?

I just can't handle that thought, nor the thought that I would never see his face or watch him grow. I can't. I've always been afraid to fly, but now I'm terrified. And yes, any single random thing can take me away from him or vice versa, but this is a fear that's stronger than any logic I possess.

Tomorrow morning, when I'm on the plane, I will have with me two pictures of him that I love. I will look at those pictures and ask my son for strength. As as the plane takes off and I go through the worst of my fear, my eyes will not leave his face. Because if this is it for me, if my time is up, then I want his face to be the last thing I ever look at.

So, what if these are my last written words? All that matters is that Max knows how very much I loved him - every single part of him - and how very proud and incredible and humbled I felt to be his mom. I've done the best I could this last year and can only hope that the strength of my love is with him always.

Still, if I don't make it back safely and you meet him one day, be sure to tell him he was the light and joy of his mother's life. Be sure he knows he was my everything.

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Posted by Tere @ 11/02/2006   | | | links to this post

Simple Joy

Max has discovered the DVD rack.

Posted by Tere @ 11/02/2006   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Ex(ish) Files: You’re a Good Man, Charlie R.

Had we taken our friendship to the next level, it would have been the healthiest relationship I’d ever had.

That’s about the only thing I’m certain of when it comes to Charlie R., or Chuck, as I called him. The sad thing is that after a lot of awkwardness (and stupid behavior on my part), our friendship dwindled, then died and the end result was that I lost – whether as a friend or more – an awesome guy I loved very much.

There’s no point now in getting into the details – it all happened many, many years ago. But basically, we developed a great friendship, we ended up falling for each other, feelings were known, and then nothing happened. Frustrated by his lack of action (and feeling too vulnerable to do something about it myself), I went on to date Cold Dead Fish. It was a move that took childish romance awkwardness to painful awkwardness. We remained friends, kind-of, but by the time high school was over, so was our friendship.

Our first contact after that was our first day at FIU – we had a class together. Awkwardness, some more awkwardness, until we both basically gave up and pretty much didn’t speak to each other. You know, I wish he had just said whatever he had to say at that point – what was there to lose? It was obvious he wanted to tell me off but was too much of a good guy to say a word. Which, fine, that’s nice, but I prefer honesty even when that honesty includes being informed that I’m an asshole.

And that was that. Chuck became someone I remembered fondly, with love, and for whom I always wished many great things. He was a dark soul like me, always finding the dark humor and sick side to everything. And he was a totally geeky and frighteningly smart, as well as perceptive, funny and caring. How does someone like that NOT become your best friend, and how do you NOT end up falling for him?

It was later in life that I realized that had it all played out differently, it would have been a great relationship. We were sympathetic souls, and we probably would have fed on each other’s drama and also come out as a strong, close couple. At the very least, had we become involved in that way, the course of my very fucked-up romantic life would have been vastly different. But now I’m veering into spilled milk territory, and there’s no point in that. In a way I’m glad I never got to know, because had he been my high school sweetheart, there would have inevitably come a time when we realized we’d grown apart, or in opposite directions, and it would have ended, and it would have been much worse.

So that was where I stood with Chuck. Until one of his friends read this blog and realized who I was. And so, I have found myself in the recent past talking and thinking about Chuck. To his friend’s credit, he’s been kind enough to not flat-out tell me that I’m the miserable bitch who ruined Chuck’s life, and he would rather poke his eyes out than send his good wishes my way, but I’m not all that dumb, either, and I can tell - I get the message loud and clear. And, I deserve it. I fully admit that and won’t even bother to deny a thing, and will, in fact, tell you that I can't even express how ashamed I am of my behavior in this whole affair.

Still, it sucks. In “Tere’s World,” we would each have our say, make peace and then move forward in friendship and harmony. Oh, I have never had a single experience to support this theory, but it’d be nice, wouldn’t it?

Oh well, I surely learned my lessons from that experience. For whatever it's worth, I will always miss Chuck and all that he was to me.

Posted by Tere @ 11/01/2006   | | | links to this post

Welcome Amalah & ClubMom Readers

Wow, what they say about the famous bloggers is true: one link from them and your stats shoot to the stratosphere.

Amy (the world-famous Amalah) was kind enough to link to my post of Max in all his delicious Halloween glory in her ClubMom Daily Dose Blog Roundup, and within, like, 3 seconds, my stats have sky-rockted into the heavens and beyond. As in, by 3:15 p.m., they were triple my daily average. Ack. Wow.

So, thanks Amy and all of you who have paid a visit. Please get comfy, click on the archives, and stay awhile - I hope you're entertained enough to come back again. And again. And again.

Because I need your love.

Posted by Tere @ 11/01/2006   | | | links to this post