Industry rule #4,080: Record company people are shadeeeee

If you haven't heard, the RIAA is now claiming it's illegal to rip your CDs into mp3s. Thought you paid for the right to listen to the music on your CD in any format you wish after you paid $17.99 for the new Three Six Mafia record. WRONG! You need to buy that shit on iTunes if you want to listen to it on yr iPod, dumbass. CDs are for CD players, not iPods.

Also, via WFMU's Beware of the Blog, Epic Records, a subsidiary of Sony BMG, is hiring unpaid interns to write gushing prose about their bands on blogs and MySpace pages. As if those horribe faux-graffiti Sony PSP ads you see all over the city aren't embarrassing enough for them. With companies this creative and committed to finding the best artists for their customers, I wonder why record sales keep going down every year?


Over at that other blog I almost never post on, I just put up some mp3s of recordings I've made recently of various things, mostly street performers. You should go check them out, because some of them are very good.


Why You Should Carefully Consider the Invitations You Accept, Even if Someone Offers to Cook You Brunch

I am a member of a committee at our church. I faithfully attend meetings, but I rarely contribute any suggestions or ideas, and God knows I never volunteer to actually do anything. I just show up at the meetings and everyone appears happy to see me. Maybe because I am a fairly new member, they seem to forgive me for failing to be of use in any way. I was asked to join the committee and couldn't say no, as usual. Plus, our church is full of very active people, and I thought belonging to a committee would make me look less conspicuous.

We had a meeting this morning, to discuss and plan for an upcoming event. The woman who offered to host the gathering is our church's resident rich lady. I will not speculate on exactly how rich. Suffice it to say she lives ON LAKE SHORE DRIVE. From her east facing windows, all you can see is the lake. Quite a beautiful view. Also, her building employs a gaggle of valets, doormen, and elevator attendants. I was embarrassed to leave my keys in the ignition of my filthy Ford Focus, with its "check engine" light on, no less. That was the least of my worries, however. You see, resident rich lady's home has a reputation. Of course it is a nice place. But it is also full to the brim with priceless antiques and artworks. The two hours spent there were perhaps the most stressful of my life as a parent.

I wasn't the only one there with a child. My friend Amy also brought her daughter Sam, who is rounding the corner to 2 years old. We decided to take turns. One of us would participate in the meeting while the other watched the kids, and we'd periodically trade off. This might have worked well if the kiddos had wanted to stay in the same area. But they didn't. It also may have been a better plan in general if the hostess had thought to place her most valuable items up on higher shelves, away from little hands. But she didn't. There was one broken item. Call me a terrible person, but I was secretly relieved that it was not on my watch (it was my turn to sit in on the meeting) and not my child. While I was pretending to participate in the meeting I was really hoping that Amy had a close enough eye on the kids (especially Simon). And while it was my turn to watch them I shadowed their every step, praying I'd be able to lunge fast enough if anything were to be knocked over. Whew! That could not have been good for my blood pressure! I was so relieved when it was time to leave. Even the awkward time spent waiting with the doorman for the valet to bring the car around seemed heavenly compared to the pressure of being in that ornate abode.

So here is my simple plea to the rich people of the world. Please, rich people, if your home is filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fabulous artwork, lovely antiques, and ancient African artifacts, DO NOT INVITE TWO YEAR OLDS OVER FOR BRUNCH. We will gladly welcome you into our toy-filled, child-proofed homes. But do not suffer the little children to come unto you, but forbid them, for to such belongeth the kingdom of God only if they do not send their parents to their deaths prematurely by breaking one of said antiques or artifacts and causing massive heart failure. Thank you.

One other funny note. As we were all getting bundled up before leaving, the hostess noticed that I could only fasten the top button of my coat, due to my protruding belly. She went to the closet and pulled out what looked like a huge brown blanket. It turned out to be a coat. Fendi. 100% cashmere. I put it on, as per her request, and all the ladies raved about how great I looked and how this coat would certainly cover my belly. I agreed to borrow it until warmer weather arrives. This was a kind gesture, indeed, but I couldn't help but feel foolish. First of all, not the most flattering piece of apparel I've ever worn. I could successfully hide a six year old child under that coat, let alone my 20-week pregnant belly. I believe it could possibly be a chic look if you were a tall and thin individual. But when you are short and stout like me, it just looks like you couldn't find your coat so you opted to wrap a king-size comforter around your shoulders.

Also, I have to say that I felt uncomfortable in such a high-end item. I had some clothes to return to Old Navy on the way home, and I took it off before I went in. I couldn't quite imagine standing at the counter in my brown blanket and saying, "Hi. Do you like my new Fendi coat? 100 % cashmere. Nice, huh? Look, I really need you to put the money from these items back on my debit card, because this $35 may make the difference in whether we can pay our electric bill this month." Taking the coat off wasn't simple either, as I was worried about getting it dirty (again with the filthy car).

There's nothing like a trip to a Lake Shore Drive home to remind you of who you are and where you come from, and to make you thankful for the things that fill your own home. Things you find beautiful but that didn't cost $4000. Most importantly, things your child can lick, drop, or repeatedly whack with a plastic drumstick.


"...transmits high-frequency sound pulses into your body using a probe."

I know it's been a long time since my last post, as many have noted. I'm blaming S.A.D. Also, nothing has really inspired me to post, until today.

Today I met Laura at a little Maternity center in Lincoln Park to witness her first (and possibly only) sonogram of this pregnancy. After a short wait in the waiting room, and the nurse's little check up (waiting room part 2), we went into the room containing that giant computer that is a sonogram machine. The doctor came in, asked if we "want to know", slapped some gel on Laura's tummy, and after only a few seconds of watching the psychedelic black and white moving image on the monitor, Laura let out a gasp, indicating that she knew the sex. I was not sure what I was looking at, since most of the time a sonogram is like watching a black and white Stan Brakhage film*. But when the Dr. zoomed in on a little bulge sticking out between two skinny leggish looking things, I realized that the Hartrich house is soon going to be new and improved, with 50% more testosterone. The point was firmly driven home when Dr. typed out "IT LOOKS LIKE A BOY" on the screen and, with a cute nod in our direction, said, "I'll print that up for you."

As we were walking to the car, it dawned on us. Two. Boys. In one house. I guess it's time to brush up on my wrestling moves. I only had a sister when I was growing up, and in some ways I was the more feminine of the two of us. Now I'm going to have two little boys constantly scheming up the crazy plans that boys make up together**. Thanks to our president and his buddies, who taught us the principle of pre-emptive strikes. Now I know the importance of stopping them in their tracks. I'll have to brush up on that too.

*Don't sleep on Dog Star Man.

**Yes, I realize that girls probably make up crazy schemes too. But I know that boys are always doing it, for their entire lives. And yeah, maybe some boys don't do that too. Quit whining you liberal ninny!


You Can Get Yourself Clean, You Can Have a Good Meal, You Can Do Whatever You Feel

Some of you have already heard the big news: I AM FAT. It's true. According to my attentive midwife, I am gaining weight at a rate that could possibly lead to the high blood pressure I so desperately want to avoid --- the kind that would ruin my chances for a homebirth.

It's embarrassing to have to answer the question, "Can you tell me about what you have been eating lately?" especially when you must omit the answer that is blaring through your mind ---ICE CREAM. Sure, I have been eating yogurt and granola, beans and rice, tofu and stir-fry, and all that other stuff I listed for my midwife. But I don't think those were the items that caused the scale to tip another 9 pounds in the direction of oblivion. I'll admit: I was embarrassed and disappointed in myself as I listened to the concerns of my care-provider. But, simultaneously, I was so happy to have a midwife who would communicate her concerns in a timely, compassionate manner. Last time, my OBGYN waited until I was in the hospital, swollen and with blood pressure skyrocketting to mention, "Oh, yeah, I noticed you had a sudden weight gain when you came in A WEEK AGO." Just another reason I'd like to kick her in the face.

Anyway, after my chat with Jewel (my midwife --- she comes equipped with hippie name) I was determined to turn things around.

Saturday I bought myself a bicycle! Susan and Joel, city biking experts, accompanied me to Working Bikes Cooperative, and I got a nice mountain bike for $70. I feel slightly nerdy about my bike because everyone likes to make fun of people who ride mountain bikes in the city. I had my reasons: I exchanged a few emails with a woman who hauls her kids everywhere in a trailer on her bike. She recommended I get a bike that would allow me to sit upright, as this would give me greater view of the traffic situation, and keep me and my encapsulated children safer. So, for the safety of the kids, a dork I shall be.

I am excited about the idea of the bike, and entertain romantic notions of biking to the store, park, school, church, everywhere with the kids in toe. Realistically, though, this might not happen for a long time. First, I have to get comfortable on the bike myself. Not only will I be riding in the city for the first time, but it's been several years since I've been on a bike at all. Big thanks to Susan and Joel for muffling their guffaws as I painstakingly lifted my enormous pregnant leg over the frame and then teetered down the street. They assured me it would come back to me quickly, and I can only hope they are right. My enlarged state probably doesn't help the situation.

Then, once I am confident on the bike, I can try it with the trailer, perhaps with a bag of sand mimicking the weight of my child. If I'm really diligent, this might happen by the time I'm 8 months pregnant. I'm sort of anticipating a point in time when I'll feel too huge to ride anymore, so then I'll stop and wait for the baby. Post-baby, it's hard to know when I'll be willing to start again. Some people say a bambino should be a year old before you put them in the trailer. The lady I mentioned earlier claims she had her baby in there from day one. Maybe I'll find a happy medium. Either way, while I do aspire to be a biking city-mama, I don't know if it can happen in the very near future.

A more immediate solution to my ice cream induced problem comes in the form of the YMCA. We joined yesterday and utilized the facilities for the first time today. As I type this, my arms are sore and my hands smell like chlorine. The pool is a glorious place to be when pregnant. For a short time in your day, you can feel weightless and graceful. I'm hopeful that the pool can be my ally in the battle against complete and total fatness. I don't need to lose weight, I just need to stay where I am for a little while. Can you help me pool? Can you?

In other, but still baby-related, news we have a sonogram scheduled for Thursday. If all goes well, we should find out if Simon will have a little brother, sister, or hermaphrodite. I'm just saying, it's a possibility, that's all. It happened on Freaks and Geeks, you know.

Finally, I used to have a husband who wrote this blog with me. Does anyone know what the hell happened to him?