more great pix

I had a fantastic day today... walked with Baxter to the PATCO train station and trained it into Philly to do brunch with friends. It was so liberating to not have to drive my car and still be in the city with baxter so quickly. We are going to need to take the train more often.. He LOVED it and was so well behaved. We really enjoyed ourselves. Dinner tonight was with the Kennedy Clan, plus susan and Baxter. Good times.

Still brainstorming about what my next project will be, but time with good people doing fun things is always a quick picker upper.

Here are some more fantastic pictures.

Top R:Baxter
"reading" a photography book while in Ocean City.

L: Peter and Baxter

R: Baxter and his girlfriend Hazel (taken at Heide's house Wed night)

L: Bax and Hazel


call it what you want...

[photos from last weekend's trip "down the shore" with Heather, Matt and Peter]

Ok... so...Call it what you want...

"Bored" (from David, the beloved therapist), "In a rut" (my other therapist, Michelle), "Depressed" (what i fear it may be on the brink of)... but i'm definitely .... stuck.

SO tired... all the time. and sleeping 8 hours a night... plus lots and lots of naps. With my flexible schedule, nothing is imminently "due," so i can tell myself that a nap is ok. but i wake up feeling blah all over again.

What is it? other than the obvious, of course... Well, the obvious is a huge part of it. But I also feel like I don't have anything really fabulous to sink my teeth into. No show to plan, no book that I'm writing, no big research that I'm excited about... and no crushes. what. a. drag. I get excited about teaching and about playing with Bax and about hanging with friends... but my energy level is so low I'm not really seeking out those opportunities as much as usual.

I'm a person who always needs a project of some kind. A big huge project. And for a long time, my marriage was that project. Then Mike's illness was that project - as fucked up as that may sound. And then my grief was that project. For about a year I felt like my ability to take care of things on the domestic front, raise Baxter, take care of bills, and still be a functional person was my project and I was proud of my success in the wake of the unthinkable. But now? I just don't really feel passionate about much at the moment.

I always used to feel this way. If you've read this for a while, you know that my restlessness is something I am very used to.. I was restless until I moved to the city and met Mike in 1999. I sometimes wonder if I lived in the city if I'd still feel this boredom. Yes, I love it here. I love my house and my friends. But I need to be in the throws of things to feel ... alive. Not necessarily a "place" but perhaps an event... or a person... or a .. .something?

So, my new project? Trying to find a new project. Wish me luck.


dreams dreams and happy schemes

I keep thinking that I already blogged about this dream… but I guess I never did. Instead, I told my friend, Scott, who is convinced that it illustrates some kind of zen spiritual awakening… at least in my subconscious.

The dream goes like this --- I’m inhabiting the body of a surfer-dude like 20 something year old guy. He’s playing video games. The game he’s playing positions you up atop a big hill and you see the world from the perspective of various anime boys. These boys run around and try to dodge these cannonball like things that roll quickly up the hill at you. The second you’re hit by one you inhabit another anime character's body and again try to avoid the big cannonballs.

So, as this 20 something year old dude, I’m playing this game. I keep getting hit by these giant cannonballs and keep getting zapped into another anime boy’s body. Finally, after the last cannonball hits, my lil anime dude sits up and looks around. No more cannonballs.

Then, below him he sees the most amazing thing. It is a stunning view of this radiant city below. Then I, the surfer dude, remark out loud how effing amazing it is that I’ve been playing this for months and have never actually seen that city.
So… maybe I’m entering a chapter in which the cannonballs are going to stop for a moment and I’m going to see that stunning city below.

I also had a crazy messed up dream last night about Jon Stewart. I have dreamt about Jon (first name basis, yes) for eons. Studying The Daily Show, writing about it, and watching it religiously gave me this messed up sense that somehow I was buddies with him. I did meet him a couple of time. I worked for The Daily show in 2000 when they were in Philly covering the RNC and then I saw him again in 2003 when I went to NYC to do interviews with other producers of the show. I had a sweet little 15 minute personal conversation with him in cosi at 36th and Walnut, but that's as intimate as our connection ever really got - at least in "real life."

But my dreams have always been about our being buddies. Tight buddies. Never romantic or sexual – just dreams about us hanging out, joking and talking. Mike used to get such a kick out of these dreams. They were so common that in the morning he would ask if I had had coffee with Jon the previous night and he referred to Jon Stewart as "Danna's friend Jon."

It had been a while since I had dreamt about him, but last night I got the double dose: Jon Stewart AND Stephen Colbert. The Colbert plot was downright depressing. I dreamt that his longtime marriage was over because he had been having an affair with a young production assistant. I told him how disappointed I was and he hung his head in shame.

The Stewart dream plot was a lot whackier.

We were on a city bus. He had groceries. I missed my stop. And then… I pitched an idea about a comedy show. A bad bad idea.

It went like this:

“Ok, Jon, so I know everybody pitches ideas to you and everyone thinks their idea is the best… but this is totally out there and I think you’re going to like it.”

Sly smile and head cocked to one side…”Ok, Danna… go ahead.”

“So, I know it’s a comic cliché to have a Santa Claus who is drunk or like… inappropriate in some way, right? Like Billy Bob Thornton as Santa. Boooring… Been done, right?”

“Yes.” He replies, arms folded.

“But… get this,” I eagerly extend my arms in a dramatic introductory gesture, “Santa is featured as one of those Russian nesting dolls… AND… you ready? He is totally whacky and inappropriate, but NOT cause he’s drunk… it’s because he has a brain tumor!!”

I’m all smiles, eyes wide, awaiting a response from my friend Jon.

Nothing. Crickets.

“Jon,” Do you get it? Santa says stuff like, ‘Kid, get off my lap!… what do you think I am, a donkey? I’m not a donkey. I’m a jackass.’ And it’s FUNNY cause he’s not drunk… he’s got a brain tumor!

I think even my subconscious realized how utterly horrifying this scenario is, cause in my dream Jon just looked at me it shock and then said, “Catch you later, Danna” and got off the bus.

And finally… I have to write about this cause it’s the coolest thing ever.

My friend Heide recently flew USAir with her husband on a weekend trip to Montreal. After returning home, she sadly realized her iPod and all her beloved music was missing. She had left it on the plane! After trying – in vain – to contact the nonexistent USAir Lost n Found, Heide tried to just accept the fact that her fantastic gadget and favorite music was gone gone gone.

However --- hiding on the back of Heide’s iPod was a sticker she had received as a free gift – from StuffBak.com. StuffBak is a company that uses small incentives and the goodness of human beings to facilitate the return of lost items. The “finder” sees a StuffBak.com sticker with info about a reward if found. Stuff Bak handles all the intermediary stuff and the “loser” (no offense, Heide) decides if he/she wants to add more money to the reward once it’s found. Then Stuff Bak gets the two parties in touch with one another and voila: Item is returned and finder gets a happy present of $20 from StuffBak plus whatever additional reward the person wants to offer.

So, a week after losing her iPod, Heide got a call from an employee at StuffBak.com, telling her that a good Samaritan in Indianapolis had found it!

Coolest thing ever.

I think what I love about it is that it incorporates a small financial incentive with the goodness of people to help both parties involved.

My next communication research project is going to examine how StuffBak.com not only rewards both parties in these easily identifiable ways, but also indirectly benefits individuals and society by increasing people's sense of social capital and trust in others.

I’m a dork.


happy weekend

Quick lil' post before Heather and Matt come by to pick up Bax and me to head to Ocean City for an overnight. Yay!

So, the picture is from last week's "family week" at daycare. The teachers usually leave it up to the kids to really pinpoint who is in their family... Bax decided that he wanted to depict Mommy and "Daddy on the Moon."

I'll leave it at that.

Couple funny piecees of randomness:

1) Russ came over for dinner the other night. I instructed Baxter that when guests arrive, you should offer them something to drink.

"Would you like something to drink?" he asked Russ in a perfect Host's voice.

"Well," replied Russ, "Yeah.. let me see... What do you have, Baxter?"

Bax loked concerned for a minute - looked over at me - then lit up and said, with a sweeping hand gesture,

"Would you like some wine?"


2) a dear friend of mine (whose identity will be concealed unless she says I'm allowed to disclose it) told me a story that has had me chuckling for three days. She bought a washer and dryer set months ago and opened up a credit card at Sears to get a discount. To make sure that the thing got paid off quickly, she set up an automatic payment of $80 per week from her checking account. Early this week she thought, "Hmm... it's been a while. Those things should be paid off by now..."

so, she checked in with Sears and... get this...

She had overpaid them

by $3000.00.

Yes, she'll get the money back.

3) I was teaching my class of 25 college students and trying to explain a concept called semantic differentials - it's about different ways to measure attitudes towards various things.

I explained that you present the attitude object (e.g.: Tide Detergent) and then present the subjects with various bipolar scales with 7 points in between.

for instance:

Tide Laundry Detergent

Good __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Bad
Favorable __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Unfavorable

Then you average the people's responses to get an estimate of an attitude measure towards the object.

Sometimes people get creative and use whacky bipolar opposites, like "expensive" and "inexpensive." Problem is, for some people, expensive might indicate quality, and for other people, expensive might suggest a rip off. So, you have to be careful with the scales you use.

Another example that a lot of advertising research uses is:

Fast __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Slow

In the case of Cingular Wireless, I explain, fast would likely be "good."

But, I ask, "Can you think of any case in which slow was better than fast?"

silence, and awkward glances that I don't understand.

so i go on...

"Help me out here, people. Can you think of something that is much better when it's really slow than fast."

I hear a voice from the back row..."i can think of something."

giggles, blushing ensue.

Naive naive danna: "Ok... ummm... uh....that's all for today. See you Tuesday."

i LOVE my job.

4) I was in a bad way early this week. Sick as a dog. I'm doing better. I'm a little happier and feeling more energy. All good things.


The Gyno meets Ikea.

I have an article I'm supposed to be revising so I can start on my way to a successful journey towards tenure... But I'm finding it impossible to focus. This morning was a "stug" - my friend's therapist's word for a sudden turn of unexpected grief.

But I should have expected it.

Had to go to 8th and Spruce at Pennsylvania Hospital for my obgyn annual. Joy.

Annuals are bad enough, but couple that with the proximity of Penn hospital to my old stomping grounds, plus the fact that the freaking waiting room is where Mike and I sat happily gazing down at my growing pregnant belly, eagerly awaiting a visit with the doctor for us to get to hear that crazy fast "swooshing" sound of a heartbeat...

yeah - fucking horrible is right.

So, they took forever to call me back to the exam room. 45 minutes in that waiting room, on the verge of tears, heart racing... thinking how just 3 years ago we were in there together at the "beginning" of everything. The beginning of our married life - the beginning of our family... Goddammit.

So, I'm waiting and waiting and finally they call me - but not to see the doc... just to fill out their freaking form.

Fucking form.

Do you drink? If yes, how much and how often.


Do you smoke? If yes, how much and how often.

double shit.

Marital status.

I f*cking LOVE that one.

Do you suffer from depression or anxiety disorders?


So, I'm now confronted simultaneously with:
a) my grief and anger that Mike is gone when he should be here.
b) all my bad habits and "flaws."


By the time I got back into the examination room, I was a mess in my head. I was literally lying there waiting for the doctor, dressed in my stupid gown with the lil' sheet over me saying out loud to the pink venetian blinds, "I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave."

Then the doc came in. She's new - i had never seen her before 6 months pregnant. So cute. My age and so sweet.

"So," she said, sitting down on the stool, "how are you?" head tilted to the side and eyes wide.

"ok." I lied.

deep breath followed by tears.

"I have to apologize right away. I feel so emotional in here. My husband died last summer and this is where he and I would come while I was pregnant and check on the baby and get excited about our seemingly endless future. So, I'm falling apart here."

"Oh my god." she whispered.

"I know. It's ok. I'm ok. Usually. But I hate being here. I hated that form. Your form? you know? the one that highlights all the bad things you're doing? Like drinking and smoking and not exercising and ..."

She nodded.

"I'm not where I was three years ago. The form asked about breast self-exams... I don't even shower every day, let alone do breast exams. I've barely got it together. I mean... I do have it together. My son is ... amazing. I love my job. I'm good at my job - at least the teaching part. Research doesn't seem to happen because I'm too busy trying to take steps to be a functional being."

I breathed long enough to look at her face.

She was crying.

"I'm so sorry, " she said. "I'm right where you were just a few years ago. I can't imagine. I just can't imagine."

Sometimes it just feels nice for someone to again validate that fact. It may be my reality. But it's... unbelievable. It is simply fucking unbelievable.

So, confirming what I had just lectured about in my "persuasion and communication" class on Tuesday - I sought solace in the consumption of goods. I went to Ikea. Yes, I know I didn't fix anything "real" by shopping... but for a little while I fooled myself into believing that the purchase of a new duvet cover and bins for Bax's toys could help me reconstruct my sense of self.

Did it work?

Well, I stopped crying.

But now I feel guilty that I shopped. Plus, now I feel like I need to upgrade other things in my house to match the new and improved duvet and toy bins.

Curse you, empire of conspicuous consumption!


Doin it and doin it and doin it well. (ll cool j, people.)

So, Susan said I have to get that very sad photo of Bax with the nebulizer mask off of the top of the blog. So, here goes

So - this weekend was a fun-filled one for mama and the Baxman. Friday afternoon, I picked him up from daycare and we drove straight down to UDel for a departmental BBQ and pool party. Then we stayed at my colleague Steve's house and Bax got to play with his three fantastic kids and Captain Scott. The next morning we all lounged around and then went out for pizza together. Scott filmed this lil' clip of the kids riffing. Louie is on drums (the kids a freaking prodigy with rhythm), Josh is grooving next to Louie, then Bax is jamming in the hat across the table - sitting next to Chloe. They were SO good... just chilling and eating and singing.

I've started to get my life together a bit, but I had a rough week last week. Reeling from Bax's illness and 4 days of douche-bagness due to his oral steroids, I just couldn't seem to get my feet on the ground. Running to catch up - every minute.

Then, my head started going places it hadn't before. I started doing a mental comparison of my current life with the life I would be living if Mike hadn't died.

My life now is so full of tedium- from morning til night I'm running to catch up. Morning:

get bax breakfast,
get ready for work,
get bax dressed
get my stuff organized
feed cat
scoop litter
take trash out
start laundry
do neb with baxter
get out the door by 8.

I don't usually think too much about it, cause its a waste of time to get bogged down. In fact, usually I think about all the shit I do on a daily basis and feel a little like superwoman or like a warrior - and that energy keeps me going strong. But last week I was tired. And lonely. And for some reason on my ride to work (driving on 95S) one day last week, I had a flashback.

... to driving south on Route 95 with Mike - on our way to a camping weekend in Delaware in 2002. Just the 2 of us. Cooler of food, tent and camping gear in the back. We rented a canoe and cooked dogs on the grill that weekend. For whatever reason I flashed back to that great weekend and thought - shit... instead of spending weekends trying to get my footing and do grocery shopping ... maybe we would all be going on camping trips or heading to the poconos or to the beach with baxter. and I started really resenting the fact that that is SO not my life right now.

But, you know what? How do I know what our weekends would be like. Having kids changes things a lot. Would we really just be doing fun family activities on the weekends? Would we be camping and beaching and hiking and doing day trips to New Hope (which I love and miss so much)? I don't know that we would actually be doing all that stuff... we could be getting bogged down in the details of the day to day anyway.

So, Wednesday I took some steps to get my feet moving forward again. I took a great long walk with Baxter in the morning. I moved my bedroom around - including the king sized bed that I built from Ikea... placed it directly under my big windows. Moved my elliptical machine (and actually started using it again). Then, in the afternoon, per Susan's instructions, I got a manicure and pedicure - and the woman talked me into my first eyebrow wax.

Nothing says fresh start like getting hair ripped from the follicles.

Anyhow, good news is that I feel like I'm moving in the right direction heading into this new week. I caught up with some important people in the last 5 days... and human interaction is my religion. I cooked dinner for Tom and Mary (yes, you read that right. I cooked!), had a great long conversation with Michaela on the phone, caught up with Lonia and talked about plans to visit this fall, got some time and a great mexican meal with Russ, did my Sunday brunch with Michelle and company, and got to see a fringe show and spend time with friends in the city last night.

I'm sure I'll get stuck again - and again I'll take steps to try to get out of it.

But, fortunately, I'm in a better place. And as you can see in that video - my boy is back! And that brings me MUCH joy.


Bad Mommy

So, My friend Scott Caplan - or "Captain Scott," as Bax calls him - came up from UD to help out with the baxman a bit. According to Scott, the vision of Baxter with the nebulizer mask on is just so utterly pitiful that he wanted to get a picture of it - particularly how well baxter dealt with the damn thing - sitting in his lil' Thomas chair watching TV with this crazy contraption on his face. He looks an awful lot like an 80 year old emphysema patient. Particularly as he sits in his mini-lazy boy with his legs crossed. It's just so wrong.

Even funnier than the pitiful image of baxter -- is the fact that Scott captured MY arm trying to snap a photo of bax with my cell phone to exploit his vulnerability.

Poor Baxter. Asthmatic, uncomfortable, and exploited.

BAD Mommy.