Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I made my goal of 100 blogs by the end of 2008, but did not have 2 blogs every week, having lapses of a few weeks when things were very busy.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Christmas eve highlights included the traditional meal, not suitable for low carb diets, of cheese fondue (with fresh sour dough bread) and chocolate fondue (with bananas and mandarin oranges). There was a certain amount of climbing on uncles. We were all happy just to be together
J Boy wanted my oversized to be the first opened, even before his own. He didn't even seem to mind that he had the fewest presents to open, the result of his own generousity in wanting to be the giver of so many gifts.
Husband thought an iPod shuffle might fill the bill for J in terms of giving him an outlet to mellow out. And, it seems, husband was right. Amid the lovely, loud and lively gathering at Husband's parents, he managed to find himself in the most comfortable chair and mellowed out with some tunes.
Friday, December 26, 2008
We've had a bit of a snow event as the meteorologists call it. Actually multiple events. We stuck close to home (as in either inside the home or outside shoveling the white stuff) on Sunday and half of Monday. We figured early in the week we might have to be flexible with our Christmas plans as another foot of snow was expected on December 24th. We had conversations on both sides of the family that the celebrations might have to be deferred to a less snowy day as another dump of snow was expected in the greater Vancouver area.
We woke up on the 24th to about 4 inches of snow on top of the 15 or so previously accumulated inches. And it was snowing hard and not expected to let up till sundown. We know our only hope of making it to West Vancouver, where both of our parents live, was to make a hasty exit once our road was plowed.
We doubted we would be able to make it home, so our plan was to pack up everything we'd need for 36 hours, which included one overnight, Christmas celebrations with both families plus our own Christmas. So in addition to bags and boxes of gifts, we packed an overnight bag with two "good" Christmas outfits for each of us, play clothes for the kids and enough snow gear to outfit the Olympic ski team. I packed up ingredients for food dishes we had committed to bring to both Christmas. Oh and we had to telegram Santa to let him know we were moving locations.
So Husband and I madly raced around the house packing up things and stuffing them into the van, taking care that certain items were hidden. We even managed to remember the Pillsbury cinnamon buns for our traditional Christmas breakfast and in a moment of divine intervention, I remembered my camera and battery charger.
We were about 80% of the way completed when Husband reported that our street had just been plowed. Husband thought that meant we were doomed not be meet this window of opportunity but I thought we were close enough we could work faster and get out the door. So Husband and I abandoned personal hygiene (no time for showers) and redoubled our efforts and were out the door in 20 minutes. Conditions were manageable with our pricey snow tires and we made our way across town. We knew, and were right, that once we got the 4 blocks, we're on major routes.
We who grew up driving on the prairies frequently make fun of Vancouver drivers as incompetent. We see them slowing down or stopping as they try to climb a hill, spinning their tires and shining up the ice or not applying brakes in time to stop at intersections. But Husband, who grew up driving in Vancouver, earned his Prairie Driving Badge as he negotiated hills, snowy roads and even incompetent Vancouver Drivers.
We had some additional drama as Brother 1 and Brother 2 had to negotiate further deteriorated road conditions in the afternoon. But despite warnings of highways closures and veritable gridlock both managed to get to the parental homestead (by which I mean suburban home). Brothers 1 and 2 of course had long held Prairie Driving Badge having both spent a couple decades driving in Alberta.
And so we survived the snowiest Christmas on record.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
I was in my early 20's and didn't know many people with small children. But every night on the news there was a story that someone had heard from a friend of the aunt of a coworker who had overheard a loading dock worker from the Sears across town say that a load of Cabbage Patch dolls were due in. Within hours the parking lot was jammed and hundreds of parents, decidedly short on Christmas spirit, who pushed and shoved their way into the store to find only 10 dolls have arrived and had long been sold.
There were stories of tearful children, distraught parents and frazzled store managers. Heartbreaking stories of sick children who just wanted a cabbage patch doll under the tree that Christmas.
About a week after her birthday S informed me it wasn't the Mermaid that she wanted but the slide. J joined in her crusade. Every time the commercial came on I was summoned to the TV to see "what she really wanted for her birthday". S was willing to wait until she turned 6 but her brother was kind enough to point out that Christmas came a lot sooner than her next birthday.
The pair were steadfast in their requests and so in about early November I decided I better try to make this happen.
So a few google searches told me two things. First it is called the Barbie Mariposa Mermaid Bath Play Set. Second it is not available in Canada.
And so began my daily searches for the BMMBPS. I could find it listed at Target, Toys R Us in the US (but not in Canada) and a handful of other smaller sites. But it was "unavailable" "not in stock" or "sold out" everywhere. Who knew that Teletoon has such influence over the buying public?
I actually checked out a number of toys and department stores in person just in case they were secretly hoarding inventory but either I met a bunch of clerks with fabulous poker faces, or it really wasn't available.
Husband, who fully supported me in this endeavor, suggested I try eBay. And I did find a few of our precious commodity. But it was listed for $50, highly inflated over the list price of $15. And that was in U.S. dollars. Earlier in the year that would not have made much difference but those that watch the world currencies will know that the Canadian dollar sunk in November to the lowest in a long time. Add to that handling, shipping and potentially a $15 UPS Custom's broker fee, we were pushing $100 for a $15 toy. My in borne cheapness all but eliminated this option. But I did decide I would check the reviews to see if it just might be worth it.
The reviews universally came in at one star out of five. It is cheap, does not stick to the side of the bath tub as advertised (so Barbie can slide into the tub) and the consensus was it was not worth the $15. Certainly not $100.
And so I began my Christmas shopping in earnest. If I couldn't get the Girlie Goo what she wanted I had to get her something fantastic (not necessarily expensive) which would make her forget about the BMMBPS. And while I was at it, I'd better get the J Boy something great as well. Within days I had a list mapped out.
One morning, I was doing a routine search for something else and guess what popped up on the Toys R Us Canada site?? The BMMBPS!!! It showed "unavailable", but at least it was listed. I called the toll-free number and the attendant told me it was not available on line this Christmas. Hopes dashed.
"Are you near a Toys R Us location? We will be selling it in stores".
Oh happy day. As it happens, the Toys R Us I had just visited days ago, had the BMMBPS in stock. Seventeen of them to be exact. And one of them is already under our tree. (But I think S has entirely forgotten about it, which is another lesson to me for next year.)
Monday, December 22, 2008
My first photo essay
Looks like Christmas!
According to J, snow too "dusty" to make a snowman, so we got creative!
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I am here to publicly stand up in favour of Christmas letters. As you might have guessed, we usually send one.
Objection #1: Demise of Letterwriting:
While I would love to write long handwritten (or even typed) letters to our 17 sets of aunts and uncles and and the two dozen or so friends we make a point of making contact with at Christmas we have other things we are doing in December: Christmas concerts, family get togethers, shopping, baking, celebrations, singing carols, church services, gift wrapping and let's not forget about the decorating and the related negotiations. The only available hours are the ones after the kids are in bed, which in December is about 10:00 p.m. And we do need to do some of that wrapping then.
If we did any kind of handwritten note, it would probably be something like "Merry Christmas, Best in 2009". I admit that I have stopped even signing our letters. It's December 21st and the next thing to do address Christmas envelopes so signing and personalizing 40 or so letters would mean these would be Easter cards.
Objection #2: Disdain for Bragging
I know that for all the mockery that goes on, there must be people that write letters that goes something like this:
We couldn't be prouder of Davey for earning 17 Cub Scouts badges this year, the most in the Province of Ontario. He also won the district science fair and the judges all told us personally that it was the best project they had ever seen and they fully expect Davey to win Nobel prize for Physics within the year. Of course you will all know about his painting that is hanging in the National Gallery. We are sure you all saw him interviewed by Peter Mansbridge on the national news. For those of you that missed it we enclose a DVD of it. He is also being Scouted by 3 NHL teams plus for the national swim and ski teams.Either the people we know are much less accomplished, less prone to exaggeration or more modest. Regardless, my heart jumps when I open a letter and see a 2 page single spaced letter with newsy tidbits about family vacations, children's activities, job changes, house changes and increasingly the illness of parents or family members. Call me crazy, I want to hear the news from people I care about but I no longer see or hear from during the year. I brashly assume that our circle want to hear simliarly from us.
Meanwhile Janey continues to excel at ballet. We had to decide on which of the 13 offers we should accept for her to play Clara in The Nutcracker, all from international ballet companies. She is also modeling on weekends and we expect her to be on the runways of Milan when the spring collections are released. She had 3 books published this year and we enclose a copy of one review that compares her to Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. At age 6 she has completed high school and her Bachelor of Arts with concurrent majors in history, sociology, english, economics and political science.
My Rules for Christmas Letters
1. I will write nothing that will embarrass anyone (except maybe my kids).
2. I send them to people we don't see regularly. So we don't hand them out to coworkers, neighbours or friends from church. The only people in town that get them are our immediate family and that is just so when an Aunt says "that is quite something in your daughter's letter" my parents won't have to pretend they have read it.
3. We don't send them to people we barely know, like someone I met in the Starbuck's lineup in 1996.
4. After a few years of not receiving a letter back, people are crossed off the list. But our list never gets any shorter as some in town friend will move away and they will be added to the list. Some friends I have been exchanging letter for 15 years and have not seen the whites of each others eyes in that time.
*** *** ***
With that great buildup, let me just warn anyone reading this that happens to be on our Chrismtas list. You already know our Christmas greetings are coming late. But I actually did not write a letter this year. It's a photo montage with captions. So this may actually be more bragging than our regular letter, but our kids are adorable and we want you all to know it.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
S: Daddy I told V she was my best friend.
D: That was nice of you.
S: And she said "same here".
D: That's nice honey.
S: What does "same here" mean?
Me: Canada, you know that honey.
S: Mommy, some kids don't have a Mommy and a Daddy, right?
Me: That's right honey.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Thanfully, Husband was already finalizing (in his mind) the outdoor lighting plan so he and J were able to have some planning sessions. But one day after school J insisted that the lights go up. NOW. Not only was Husband at work but he had an after work dinner so would not be home until after bedtime.
And so we began protracted negotiations. I had my limits. I refused to get up on a ladder and hang lights and I refused to commit Husband to putting up all the lights when he got home that night. J Boy also had his limits and his starting position was that all the lights be hung up right now. I began to wonder if any middle east peace brokers might be available for a quick session to get us past our impasse.
One thing I have learned from more than one such negotiating session with J, patience is a virtue. He will eventually yield to a reasonable compromise. Eventually can be hours though. In the end I committed Husband to putting up one string of lights the next day after dinner. J boy agreed he would cease pestering me. Win win win. Husband obliged J (and me) and put up the obligatory string the next night and seized on mild weather the following weekend and executed his entire lighting plan.
The problem was when the pleading-for-tree started, neither J's birthday (November 23) nor his party (November 28) has occurred. I have a firm rule that I want J's party done before we start hauling out the Christmas rubbermaids.
We had another tense negotiating session that had J threatening NOT to go to bed unless we put up the tree (another night Husband was not home). He finally relented when I said we could put up the Christmas stockings if he would talk in a civil voice.
Friday, December 12, 2008
This tooth has been loose since February. In fact I took pictures the day I realized it was quite loose as I was sure it would dislodge very soon. I wanted to capture his last smiles with baby teeth. Little did I know I could have (theoretically) grown another human being in the time it took to get that took separated from the gum.
J is definitely in the dangler camp. Despite being the last in his class to lose a tooth in his class, which he saw as a source of low grade embarassment, he was not inclined to wiggle it much.
On Wednesday night, the poor tooth was literally dangling from one corner. I suggested J could probably suck it out (but told him not to swallow). He declined. He gave half-hearted effort at pulling it out. He finally relented and let me try and with the downward force of a feather, that puppy just came right out.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
And if you happened to be a fly on the wall at the kids haircut place this morning, you would have borne witnesses all my naked-unlaidbackness.
There are 2 hair cutters which I don't like because I cannot watch them both at the same time, which, portentously, turned out to be the problem.
"No, no, scissors for the rest" she says as she adds paradoxically a different blade to her clippers and buzzes some more.
Hair cutter #1 looked shocked.
Friday, December 5, 2008
And she wants to spend time with us. On the my mornings I am at home (half of them), she wants to cuddle and read a book, watch TV, play on computer or just have a chat.
But you know what she likes best??? And here I realize that I hit the Mommy jackpot. The girl LOVES Starbucks!! Most Friday's after we drop J boy off at school we head down the hill to our Starbucks. S gets us a table after securing my promise that I will order her the usual breakfast: banana chocolate chip loaf and a glass of water with no ice. I get a coffee and we chat and connect and I soak up every morsel of adorableness because I know from experience that we are at the peak of adorableness and it will fade as she enters grade 1 and spends 6 long hours under the influence of other people.
Today, she wanted to sit on my lap and cuddle while we had our Starbucks and I obliged. As we left I told her "Wow I got cuddles and coffee together, those are my 2 favourite things in the world."
S asked me which I liked more. Not even close, girlie goo, not even close.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
S and I accomplish our mission and we head home where I other things that must be done (that do not include emptying dishwasher or in any way tidying the house).
It’s in the kindergarten parental waiting spot that I am already having this nagging feeling that I should be more worried about the party. Then I learn that a ferry route has been completely shut down for hours as a car drove off a dock. This means traffic, which is already nightmarish on a very rainy Friday rush hour,will be much worse for our trip to the movie theatre. The main alternate route for the ferry commuters will be the same bridge, and only route, that we will take to theatre.
But the traffic, though worse than normal, was not near as bad as my doomsday scenarios. We arrived at train station just in time to pick up Husband and head to theatre. We were early as were most other partiers.
The excitement over the movie and no doubt the freedom from the car for the long commute made the kids as excitable as Democrats on election night. Fortunately the party room was indestructible, though I think the kids pushed it to the limit.
The movie was fabulous and held the kids’ attention for almost 2 hours. We had some brief trauma as we had a lot of kids who needed a simultaneous bathroom break and the movie theatre at 7 on a rainy Friday night resembled Walmart on a 'everything is 80% off' sale. Somehow we seemed to keep track of the 9 kids and herded them back to camp indestrucible for cupcakes and presents and at 7:30 it was all over for another year.
1. Get favours and candy for kids
2. Make cake
In stroke of genius, I conjured up idea to buy BOLT books for the kids to take home. In even greater stroke of luck, mega bookstore next to my office had the 10 copies I need in stock.
Husband and I had been happy with the scheduling of the movie on a Friday night as it left the rest of the weekend open. We had a start time of 6:15 p.m. but were told that the movie times could change so we would be contacted the Monday before the party with the exact movie times.
When the call came the movie was scheduled to be 45 minutes later that scheduled. Which means the movie would end at 9:30, a little late even for 7 years olds, never mind the two 5 year olds invitees. Party scheduler did tell me we could switch to the early movie time at 5:15. But I knew several people had busy after school schedules on Fridays so I wasn’t sure that would work. So I suggested that we might be able to make the early movie work if we could have the party room after the movie. I told party scheduler I would email my peeps and see what better suited the majority.
Most families replied that they could make either work (taking pity on a birthday’ed out Mommy, no doubt) or that they preferred the early show. So I called movie theatre and they told me that no, the party room was to be before the party. As I got wound up into apoplectic state, party person realized that he either had to agree to my scenario or find a way to give me a tranquilizer dart over the phone. He opted for the former option.
Husband has been not so subtly trying to secure my agreement that the fancy cakes were over now that we were spending our retirement savings on birthday parties for the kids. I did toy with the idea of making a simple BOLT cake of a dog tag, but as the day drew closer I did not have the stamina to make a fancy cake. In fact, I decided that cupcakes would make it altogether easier as no cutting, knife or plaintive requests for that part of the cake. I thought I might make individual cupcakes with the kids initials but honestly, it was a busy week at work and at home and I didn’t spend much time thinking about it.
On Thursdays, Husband works from home. I was having one of those work days where finding time to pee was a challenge. While I drafted crucial letter to client, I called Husband and mentioned that I was going to make cupcakes from a mix. There was silence on the line and I believe that Husband either fainted or was on his knees thanking God as he knows I’m a bit of a make-from-scratch Nazi when it comes to birthday cakes. I did mention that I would have to top the cupcakes with candies to make up for other deficiencies and he said he would take the kids to get an assortment of candies.
As I walked home from the bus, Husband is driving J to tae kwan do and pulls over. As he rolls down the windows, the kids are simultaneously excitedly telling me their good ideas about how I can put the face of Bolt, who is a dog by the way, on each of the cupcakes. I have definitely created this monster.
Husband and kids come home with various candies and we broker deal where cupcakes will have candy faces on it, which J boy has convinced himself looks just like Bolt. Done!
But as we enjoyed our quiet family celebration, I couldn't help but be amazed how that squishy newborn we marvelled at 7 years ago, is now reading, writing, riding a bike, playing on the computer, making friends, conducting experiments, concocting potions and most vexingly having his own ideas about things.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I, like other global citizens, have accepted my role in the war on terror.
I have paid extra security fees on flights.
I've joined long lines for airport security.
I have removed my shoes, opened my bags and removed my belt at the airport.
I've quietly accepted randon fondling at airport screenings.
In all but one case, I have left all liquids behind and subjected myself to drinking airport water.
I have endured long lineups at border crossings and one interrogation where I was all but accused of smuggling migrant workers into the country.
But the new rules for passport photos, are really too high a price. Does everyone need to look like they should appear on America's Most Wanted?
Saturday, November 22, 2008
1. No matter how predictable an event, Husband and I will be unprepared for it. We have many candles, boxes of matches and flashlights scattered aournd our house. With the arrival of the wind we did nothing to prepare for it even though we knew a power outage was likely. This was the extent of our discussion on hearing the wind:
"Wow, that wind is strong"
"Yeah, that's amazing"
2. Our kids are well-suited to frontier life. When the power went out they had no fear. Since the sun starts to set around 4:30 these days and the power went out about 7:00 it was dark. Like really dark.
"Kids, stay where you are, Daddy and I will get flashlights. Don't be scared."
I needn't have wasted the perfectly good oxygen with the reassurance as they were running around saying "THE POWER IS OUT!!!" with about the same enthusiasm as we'll hear "SANTA CAME" in just over a month. They could hardly believe their good luck at the incredible gift of entertainment.
As Husband and I tried to converse over where flashlights might be and divided the house into zones (as in, you check the kitchen, I'll check the laundry room) the kids were running around and we were more fearful than them, but of injury to themselves, each other or us.
3. Dust is not flammable. All those decorator candles I have littering the house were gathered and congregated on our two fireplace mantles to provide a small amount of ambient light. Unbeknownst to me, dust collects on candles. It may in fact be attracted to candles as there was an inch of dust on them. Note to self: dust candles annually.
5. Husband and I are too dependant on electricity. With the power out, we were at a loss for what to do. Computer and TV were out so we had to satisfy ourselves with holding our hands over the sharp corners of the furniture so the hyper active twins didn't have to make a trip to the ER running on a generator.
6. Let Husband do what Husband does best. The power came on after a couple hours. It flickered off again an hour later but by then I had obsessively checked my email and all the news sites to realize nothing important had happened in our hours off the grid. The power coming back on was a great source of amusement for the kids until they realized the cable was out on the TVs. But eventually we all settled into bed for night.
The activities of the week caught up with all of us as I awoke at 8:47. While I'm hardly one to complain about a decent weekend sleep-in, the kids had activities and we had to be out of the house in under 30 minutes. J Boy was just up and uncharacteristically already dressed. S was somewhat predictably still in bed. I brought the sleepy headed Girlie goo downstairs amazed that at almost 9 she should still be so tired. Husband made his way downstairs uncharacteristically last. I deposited the Girlie goo in his lap with her wardrobe and headed to the kitchen to get breakfast for the 3 of us. Husband threw me a familiar "why are you rushing?" look and I double checked my watch and saw that it was 8:01. Apparently, I should have left Husband to reset the time on the clock beside my bed.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The Dads may be willing and able party assistants but it's the Mommies finalizing the guest lists, managing the RSVPs and price-checking favour bags.
This year is the third J will be having a party where we don't have to clean up after ourselves. We eased our way into the party mania and had a small bowling party when J turned five. He invited his sister, two cousins and a couple of friends. We did have some tension over keeping our guests on our own lane and trying to loosely enforce the concept of turns but overall we were happy with the party and leaving the mess for our party attendant.
Last year after having spent several years mocking people who have gigantic kid birthday parties, we had a gigantic kid birthday party. For the 6th we invited most of his class and a few extra friends for a gymnastic extravaganza. It was one of the most economical parties for a small herd of children and well worth the money. An hour of playing in the foam pit, bouncing on the trampoline and the kids were ready for pizza and cake. A chaotic few minutes of present opening, a couple rounds of 'what time is it Mr. wolf' and bingo party was over. A bit hit except for the mound of presents which seemed excessive by anyone's measure.
With J's past two parties and even S's party this year there was not much discussion about where we'd have the party unless you count the two month of internal dialogue in my head. I presented my idea to Husband who wisely agreed. I pitched it to the birthday child who did not know they really had a choice.
That changed this year.
I did not want to repeat the GKP (gigantic kid party) so my idea was to go small and splashy: a climbing wall party. They are more expensive but for a price similar to last year we could have in intimate party with J boy and 4 or 5 buddies and not spend the equivalent of a car payment on loot bags.
I didn't really spend a lot of time thinking about selling the idea to the soon-to-be birthday boy as I thought he'd jump at the chance. I did float a trial balloon around the time of S's party and he seemed amenable. But as they say, the devil is in the details.
October was a nutty month for Husband and I. I tried a few times to engage J in discussing the party and guest list. I knew I needed to reserve the party. But I needed to secure his formal agreement on the party venue. As we creeping into November, I was starting to develop that nervous tic.
I finally laid out the options clearly: very cool wall climbing party with 4 or 5 good friends or lame bowling party with more friends. In retrospect I should have spent a little more time on my marketing plan.
Neither option got the nod. Climbing too small and bowling by my own advertisement was lame. And, as he told me "I always have bowling parties". Right, that one time when you were five.
I waited a day thinking that he might be manipulated into my way of thinking, i.e the climbing party, but the boy is not always as pliable as I would like. He steadfastly maintained that he wanted a bigger party than 4 or 5. And that a bowling party was a no-go.
And so in between dental appointments and ballet classes I mused party options. Occasionally, I'd flip an idea over to Husband who would give me his on-the-fly assessment. In a moment of either desperation or brilliance I thought of a martial arts party where J takes tae kwan do. I really thought I was doing well when they had openings. But was disappointed when the 'junior leaders' led the party at an extortionate party rate. And that didn't include food. Or drinks.
I started seeking out ideas with a few colleagues who have kids the same ages. I did feel some sisterly compassion when one friend told me her 7 year old also rejected the intimate party scheme. She suggested a movie party as a new Disney movie will be released the weekend of J's birthday.
Husband bravely wandered cross-portfolio and found a long list of party possibilities within 50 kilometers. I gamely went through the list and eliminated most on grounds of gender or geography. I was neither interested in a spa party for the J boy nor one that took more than a tank of gas to get to.
With the martial arts party as the back-up, I kept searching. I found a circus party where the kids could learn trapeze and juggling. The price was not bad, well about the same as martial arts but way cooler. And no party slots available until 2009.
In a move that reveals just how great my desperation was, I briefly considered a home party and checked the price of having a scientist (other than Husband) come and do tricks.
Husband sensing both my ineptness and my desperation suggested that we try another movie theatre a little bit further away. I did and secured a spot for the weekend after J's birthday. Big score. Now just to sell it to the J boy.
I had all kinds of movie trailers lined up to pump up the movie. He, perhaps sensing my tension, agreed that it would be very cool party. I did momentarily get heart palpitations when I realized HIS party conflicted with a party S had been invited to. She doesn't get invited to many and complains about the number of parties J get to go to that she doesn't. But in an uncharacteristic stroke of good luck they had another party opening so we are set for Friday November, 28th in the evening. Stay tuned for the post-party dissection.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
By that I mean if you were a white man who looked good in a suit, your odds of landing a job were good. That wasn't the only factor. Marks were the best indicator of getting jobs, volunteering in the legal clinic was a help, but to my careful yet admittedly anecdotal observation, so was looking the part.
Now I was 22 at the time I started interviewing and I could easily pass for 16. And I was just over 5 feet tall. Not exactly cutting the figure the law firms were looking for. My marks were above average, I volunteered at the free legal clinic and I more or less could string a sentence together. I tried to compensate for my inadequacies (i.e. not having a Y chromosome) but developing a firm handshake and wearing dark conservative suits.
My number one choice of law firm was looking to hire three students, but declined to offer me a job even though I ranked third in the interviews. They had already hired two women and it was simply untenable to hire three so they hired a man in my stead. I know this because the lawyer who had interviewed me, and knew my interest in the firm, wrote me that in a personal note on my rejection letter.
I am by no means saying that the challenges of practising law as a woman in the mid to late '80s was overly burdensome. Almost half of my class were women. The path had largely been cut the the decade before by women who sacrificed much to prove that the quality lawyering skills had no correlation to gender. And I did get a position with a firm that was a good fit for me. I am saying that even in a time when things were supposedly were equal they weren't.
And I think it's fair to say doubly true for those with apparent physical limitations or a skin colour other than white, though I am obviously not able to relay any experiences.
I think that many people around the world think the same of President-elect Obama for precisely the same reason. He doesn't necessarily look the part. He has dark skin, he's skinny and his ears stick out. I heard two people interviewed in the closing weeks of the campaign that stated rather emphathically that his name alone should disqualify him as it 'sounded too Muslim'. So even with the wrong name, he managed to find himself in the top job.
But he had a message, a manner and a mind that won over half of the votes in the U.S. and it didn't matter about that other stuff.
So for those who don't "look the part" of the whatever they might want to be, take heart. By carrying too many or too few pounds, by being too plain or too attractive, by having bad hair or no hair, by having skin colour other than white or by having the wrong last name, it might just matter a little bit less.