Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Then, somehow, we segued into Yoga Family. I was the Yoga Mommy, M was the Yoga Two Year Old, and E was the Yoga Baby. I fed them tofu and soy milk and we all did lots of yoga poses. Great fun was had by all. I'm sure we'll keep playing it. I hope it stays fun.
Monday, February 27, 2006
(Yes, George Michael is another white guy I adore, from Wham to Faith to that coming out song that I can't remember and am too lazy to look up but quite loved.)
Edited to add: And how much more do I adore him for just saying "it is my own stupid fault, as usual," rather than trying to spin.
I've already given you enough chances to click on Lucy, but here's one more. She's brilliant.
If you're looking for the insanity (inanity?) of corporate America, Fend for Yourself is your woman.
Postacademic is having a rough time these days, but her prose still sparkles.
I hate to go all Charlotte's Web on you, but I am quite sure that it is a great satisfaction in life to have good friends who are also good writers.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
And if you're wondering what everyone else drank: Ball and Chain had red wine, M, Mabel and Brother o' Mabel had clementine sodas, E had milk, and we don't know what S had because he was mostly in the kitchen, as he tends to be.
At the precocious age of exactly nine years and nine months, M baked her first chocolate cake.
Both endeavors succeeded brilliantly. The sleepover involved popcorn, Olympics, much giggling in the guest bed (ok, guest futon on the floor), a few maternal exhortations to sleep, and popovers for breakfast. As for the cake, she and G, her sleepover partner in crime, did everything from picking the recipe (All-American Chocolate Torte* from The Cake Bible) to buying cream for the glaze at the corner store--all I did was boil the water, pour it, put the cake in the oven, and take it out (ok, I also made the glaze, but she and G decorated it with sprinkles and sugar violets!).
All very exciting.
* G's grandmother and I puzzled over why this was a torte. I thought tortes were denser than cakes; she thought they involved layers and custard. Either way, this one seemed a lot like a cake to me, and S says there is no difference, but there must be because the book also has an All-American Chocolate Butter Cake, though I don't remember it being so different from the Torte. Apparently Rose Levy Berenbaum's vision of torte is quite cake-like.
East Bay Express
San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times
New York Magazine
Yale Daily News
North Bay Bohemian
New York Observer*
Then there's the not-very-good excerpt in Salon or you can go here, search "Ayelet," and find a bunch of psychotic New York moms going off on her. And what the hell, while we're at it, here's Amazon, with the usual collection of passionately unenlightening customer reviews.
But what of the book itself? As I cruised the internet, I couldn't decide what to do. With the last bit of self-respect I still have, I would not let myself buy the hardcover. I considered entering the queue at the library, but didn't have the energy. Wait for the paperback? Did I even really want to read it?
Then, last week, as I pondered my plight, I was saved by my lovely sister-in-law, she who works at the bookstore and provides wonderful bookly gifts like an advance reading copy of the novel (it does have a name: Love and Other Impossible Pursuits), accompanied by a note saying that she saw it on the staff shelf at the bookstore, remembered that I loved Ayelet, and grabbed it for me. I emailed her immediately with profuse thanks, though I did specify that it is not exactly love that I feel for Ayelet, but rather ambivalent obsession.
Reader, I read it. And it was...well, it was ok. Not so bad. Or rather, bad in some ways, but not in others. I'm actually NOT not quite sure about this one. It's just...complicated.
First of all, Ayelet isn't a very good writer, sentence-wise, and that bothers me. I actually had to get a pen (I never write in books in pen, just pencil, but this was an advance reading copy which is not exactly a book, and I couldn't find a pencil, so I decided it was ok) and mark the sentences that just...clunked (not to mention the ones that were grammatically incorrect) (and the typos--Ayelet apparently remains incapable of proofreading) (I found the outrageous number of typos in her mystery series appalling, and, according to Jenny, they are notorious in the mystery-writing world).
Second, too much of the novel is schematic, often to the point of cliche: the nasty ex-wife, the gay best friend, the (explicitly pointed out) congruence between the heroine's marriage and her parents'. (Oh yeah, maybe you don't know what the book is about, not having compulsively followed the media even before you read it. Emilia Greenleaf is passionately in love with her husband, coping with the SIDS death of her two-day-old daughter, and struggling with her impossible stepson: complications ensue.) The schematism comes to a climax, not surprisingly, at the conclusion where everything works out neatly--too neatly: the bad guy does a good thing, Emilia suddenly develops articulate insight and does the right thing, and absolute narrative, thematic, and symbolic closure ensues.
So what's to like? Well, Ayelet has a great eye for the zeitgeist: she captures the expensive New York mommy world, staying, for the most part, just this side of satire (I've seen those women in Central Park at their stroller exercise class). She's good on Central Park too, and there's something about Emilia's combination of narcissism and self-awareness that is interestingly complicated, more complicated than the plot ends up. Her command of narrative structure is increasingly skilled, even if she ultimately capitulates to the simplicity of romance (not that there's anything wrong with romance, if that's what you know you want to be writing--and reading). And the book is, essentially, readable, which I do not mean to damn with faint praise, for too many novels these days are high-minded or important or deep, but not particularly readable.
Virtually all the reviews harp on Emilia's similarity to Ayelet and the thematic links between the novel and her NY Times essay and Oprah appearance (remember? the whole loves her husband more than her children thing?), but that's pretty boring to me. A novel deserves to stand on its own two feet, and this one pretty much does--I read it in two days and kept thinking about it, though that may be because I was so bent on figuring out how I felt about it. Ultimately, I'd say it's not a great novel, perhaps not even good, but certainly better than many, thought-provoking in its flaws and engaging in the social and emotional world it creates, even if that world is deeply privileged and claustrophobic (hey, Trollope wrote mainly about rich, tormented people too, though Ayelet is no Trollope) (nor is she Sue Miller, whom she apparently aspires to be) (but she is herself, carving out her literary corner of 21st-century motherhood, and that's something).
OK, I think I can stop now. And I hope this has gotten Ayelet out of my system--at least till her next book appears.
Friday, February 24, 2006
(And in bad news, I know I should have something thoughtful or angry to say about abortion in South Dakota, or at least a list of thoughtful and angry links, but frankly, I just find the whole thing so unbelievable that I can't even think about it. Which is privileged and irresponsible and all, but, equally frankly, me blogging about it is not going to make a difference.)
The mind boggles, on all fronts.
Then how do you figure out where the chocolate syrup is? Following some different instinct than the fish sticks, I assumed that the chocolate syrup would be next to the ice cream, perhaps because that's where it was in Red State Capital City Suburb. But it wasn't there, so I canvassed the entire store, once. Then I asked someone, and it was next to the coffee and tea, which I suppose makes sense if you are thinking about chocolate milk, which, indeed, we are.
Supermarket logic confounds me.
Speaking of jeans--I know, we weren't speaking of jeans, but it seemed like a good segue--I finally bought some. The ever-supportive, ever-entertaining, and ever-lovely Lucy and I hit the mall, accompanied by the power team of M and Mabel. We let M and Mabel shop by themselves with their own money--and a watch and cellphone. I felt almost a little weepy watching them trot off together, and I knew I'd feel really guilty if they got abducted, but, hey, they weren't, they bought tons of junk we would have tried to talk them out of, and a good time was had by all.
The Gap was a total bust for Lucy and me (is there anyone who can wear those jeans? if the long, lean Lucy and the short, squat me both struck out, I doubt it), but I scored at Old Navy with a pair of jeans and a pair of cords, both on sale (M thinks those embroidered pockets make me look really hip; I think they look really stupid but the pants were so soft and comfortable and on sale that I decided to go with her interpretation). Lucy, alas, went home empty-handed.
Which brings us to the issue of low-waist jeans (low-rise jeans? you know the ones I mean). Though such jeans may have been invented for the likes of Hollywood starlets and high school nymphets, the secret truth of the matter is that they are great for midlife moms. The waist sits right on your hips, under that bit of leftover baby belly, and the comfort is enormous. Except for the problem of the exposed butt. The one you make fun of when you see it on someone else. The one that emerges whenever you bend over or sit down. The one that had me yanking on the waist of the cords all day, despite my knowledge that it was hopeless. The one that appears to be the price of comfort.
Oh my god, maybe I am turning into my mom! (Her mantra: comfort uber alles.)
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Yeah, the falls were bad, and she didn't deserve the gold, but, my god, Sasha Cohen is a beautiful skater. I'm so glad she she got the silver. (And just to show how evilly jingoistic I am, when Sasha fell, I muttered "fuck," and when Irina fell, I pumped my fist and yelled "yes!")
Shizuka Arakawa grew on me. She's no Sasha, but she's a lovely skater. She deserved to win.
I don't like Emily Hughes. I'm not quite sure why, but I think it has something to do with her smile, which I do not like at all. And there's something about her skating too--she's just not graceful. But she sure fought for it.
Kimmie Meissner and Elene Gedevanishvili make me excited about the next few years.
And we LOVED the magic fridge ad.
E: What's your name?
E: What color is the sky?
E: What's the opposite of down?
E: Becca blew up! [general hilarity ensues]
We rapidly progess to knock-knock jokes. I go first:
Me: Knock knock.
E: Who's there?
E: Isabel who?
Me: Is a bell ringing?
Then it's E's turn:
E: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Me: Emma who?
E: Look, Emma is riding a bicycle. [more hilarity]
The connection that I know she is making--because I am her mom and I know how her mind works and I have heard every knock-knock joke that she and her sister have ever told--is to one of M's favorites, itself just a bit off:
M: Knock knock.
Whoever: Who's there?
Whoever: Isabel who?
M: Is that a bell on your bike?
So E went from a trace memory of Isabel and bike, via her best friend Emma, to Emma riding a bike. And she found it very funny. The point being that she doesn't get the knock-knock concept at all; she thinks that random connections are essentially hilarious, which of course they are, when she says them and laughs uproariously.
This all made me remember a big discussion with J and J many years ago over the ontology of knock-knock jokes. It was when M and N were just at the age to start telling knock-knock jokes wrong, and we were trying to explain to them how to do it right, but we only succeeded in getting ourselves all confused. The source of the problem was this one:
J decided that the heart of the joke was Allen Funt, and that knock-knock jokes hinged upon...well, I'm not quite sure what his argument was, but it had something to do with names, and J and I argued vehemently against him that it was simply puns. Then somehow we got distracted by a limousine and a lot of margaritas, and I don't think we ever resolved the issue, though we referred to it frequently over the years, and J and I were always right.
Anyway, what's interesting to me is how much kids love knock-knock jokes even before they get them, and how hard it is for them to get them. According to that most eminent source, Wikipedia, developmental psychologists study knock-knock jokes to understand kids' linguistic development. I'd like to see some of that research. It could be a lot more interesting than knock-knock jokes.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Lately my favorite radio station with the acoustic morning show and the reggae afternoon show has been a bit too gentle for my mood, so I've been listening to the alternative rock station. Which means I finally got to hear Matisyahu, the Hasidic reggae rap sensation. I knew exactly who it was the first time I heard him: the reggae backbeat, rapperly croon, and lyrics about loving God could only be one guy.
It was...well, the word that comes to mind is: sweet. And the image that comes to mind is those girls whirling around in ecstasy in their white robes. And the more I've heard it (I wish I knew the name of the song, but I don't--it's the one with the reggae backbeat, the rapperly croon, and the lyrics about loving God), the more I like it, even though probably there is some reason I shouldn't. But it's just...sweet.
I've also been hearing The Subways a bunch. The word that comes to mind is: eh. There are lots of Brit-pop garage bands I'd rather listen to, even if they are a boy, his brother, and his girlfriend who have been playing together since they were teenagers, which would be just last year (that is, they were teenagers just last year--they've been playing together for five years, I think) (and it's very sweet that he's still with his teenage girlfriend of five years ago, but still: eh).
Every time I hear "Rock and Roll Queen," I think I'd rather be listening to whatever song it is on Hole's Live Through This that it sounds exactly like. (Note to self: remember to listen to Live Through This.)
Matisyahu - 1
The Subways - 0
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
One of the cool things about Literary Mama, site and book, is how it mixes genres. There are poems next to essays next to stories and reviews. At Literary Mama, women reflect on being mothers and having mothers, but also on how our culture and literature represent motherhood, which is a crucial element in the experience of motherhood, however individually we may think we are experiencing that experience. Indeed, like all Andi's work, Literary Mama reminds us that we are not alone, which makes everything that much easier.
(Andi has been answering questions about the book in her blog--check it out.)
- Rauschenberg's combines at the Met
- the Confino Family Apartment tour at the Tenement Museum (with a great actress/guide who stayed totally in character as the family's daughter while we all peppered her with questions about tenement life--and let me just tell you that after hearing how ten people fit into that tiny apartment, Uncle J and Aunt M's apartment never seemed so spacious) (spatious? spashus?)
- Rabbit Hole (excellent writing and superb acting, especially from Tyne Daly and John Slattery, though we thought Cynthia Nixon was the weak link)
- dim sum at the place upstairs in the mini-mall below the bridge
- Citarella miniature tarts
- K's twins and C's youngest (I think I got to hold babies for three hours on Sunday, and they were all--babies and hours--delightful) (we adore C's oldest too, but she had a fever and stayed home)
And of course Aunt M, Uncle J, A, H&H, and the park.
Friday, February 17, 2006
1) There is no reason to write a seven-page cover letter. Ever. Or a seven-page resume. You're Condi Rice? Here's what you write: I helped the first Bush with security stuff, taught at Stanford, was Provost for six years, became the second Bush's National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State. There, you're done. Don't tell us the details of every faculty contract and peace treaty you've ever negotiated, don't give us the title of every speech, hell, you're Condi, you don't even need to list all the honorary degrees. The rest of you? You're not Condi. Even less reason for seven pages. We're talking two pages. Max. (If I had seen just one seven-page letter, I would chalk it up to anomaly, but I did not see just one, and let's just say that people who sent seven-page letters did not make the cut.) (Judgement, judgement is key, there is no job that does not require judgement.)
2) On the other hand, do not just fire off your template cover letter, especially if it has nothing to do with the job you are applying for. Learn a little about the job. Explain that you are the right candidate for this particular job.
3) Why are you the right candidate for this particular job? You are not the right candidate because you really want it. You are not the right candidate because it is perfect for you. We don't care if we're perfect for you, we want to know why you are perfect for us. There's a difference, and we want you to know it.
4) Do not tell us about ourselves. We know about ourselves. We want, of course, to know that you understand who we are, but you can show that in a sentence. Telling us how great we are will not help make the case for you. Besides, the more you say about us, the more you risk getting it wrong. But we don't know anything about you, so we won't know if you get you wrong.
5) Turning to the other side of the coin: if you receive a job application, respond to it. An easy response is "Thank you for your application. We will get in touch if we need any further information." You're not saying yes, you're not saying no, but you are saying that you know I applied for the job. A better response is an acknowledgement that the application has been received, followed by a rejection when the job has been filled by someone else. Of course the best response of all is to offer me the job.
6) Do not tell me that I'm the best applicant you've ever seen--and then offer the job to someone else.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
My dad is in town for the week, staying with us. He is an excellent guest: he does his own thing all day, he accomodates himself to our life, he doesn't talk too much or take up too much space, he buys lots of wine, he's happy to watch Olympics all evening, the girls adore him (most of the time, but that's another post I won't be writing).
Still, his presence makes me pull up my bootstraps. I clean more, I cook real food, I try that much harder to be patient with the girls.
And lo and behold, the house is clean, dinner is tasty, we all get along, nobody yells. It is a veritable domestic idyll. Simply because someone else is watching.
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
As for the ads: love the Chevy ad with the frozen S guy; love the ad with the two guys, the bear, and the beer; hate hate hate the damn Visa ads with the sappy scenes from a life and the words, just hate them.
[I guess I'm having a blogging kind of day. But now I really am done. Because I already know what happens to Bode because I caught a glimpse of it on CNN even though I tried not to look. What can you say? Kelly Clark was better than everyone else too. I hate it when the announcers talk about personal medals, because there's no such thing, but they know they were better, and that must count for something.]
It's something of a contemporary gospel that time has elided space and we are becoming one big homogenized global mass. Fashion, music, political protests spread--let's just go for the cliches, while we're at it--like wildfire. You can't tell the difference between the Gap in London and the Gap in Omaha. The whole world is bopping to "Hollaback Girl" on its iPod. Angry Muslims across the world demonstrate simultaneously in front of CNN International cameras.
Why, then, has it taken years for meth to slide across the country? Why has it gone from west to east, rather than coast to middle? (One answer may be that meth skews rural, for socioeconomic--lots of desperate, bored poverty in rural America--and practical--easier to run a meth lab in the middle of nowhere--reasons.)
Another part of the answer may be that this is as much about media attention as meth, which has probably been on the east coast for a lot longer than Frontline producers know--certainly it's been a major presence in the urban gay community for years. Perhaps the issue is less the speed of meth's movement and more the perennial alarmism of the mass media.
I'm not saying meth isn't bad--meth is devastating, and if it is finally coming to the east coast, I wish it wouldn't--but I'm still curious about the sociology of the whole thing: meth, the media, and the mythic status of globalization.
Monday, February 13, 2006
I just can't stand that Polish figure skating pair. M keeps saying the woman is pretty, but I think they're awful.
I miss the old skating scoring system. I mean, I'm glad it's not corrupt any more and all that, but I liked being able to measure the scores against each other and knowing what the top was: 6 for skating, 10 for gymnastics, whatever it is for diving.
The skiers were scaring me even before the crashes.
In fact, way too many of these winter sports are way too insane.
I think my favorite event so far was the 30 km cross-country race yesterday: exertion, tedium, and drama all at once.
It's only been three days and already I'm sick of the ads. At least they don't have so many of those damn profiles, though.
But we succumbed to an invitation to resubscribe to Gourmet for $1 an issue. We stopped getting Gourmet years ago, when it became too much lifestyle and not enough food. Recently, though, M has become even more of a foodie, and now she likes to read food magazines and the food section of the NY Times. She opened the envelope with the offer and asked if we could do it. Given how much money I spend a month on decaf lattes, the least we can do is subscribe to Gourmet. Who knows, perhaps the investment will pay off when she's a famous restauranteur supporting us in our old age.
We got our first issue a week or so ago, and there on the cover was a stunning Chocolate-Glazed Hazelnut Mousse Cake. The gauntlet was thrown. When S's brother (that is, his fiance) invited us to dinner, the date was set.
The recipe included hazelnuts, Nutella, Dutch process cocoa, and gelatin, so it involved a fair amount of shopping (did you say Nutella? did you say Nutella on bread? did you say crepes with Nutella? did you say the Nutella is already almost gone? why yes, you did).
A lot of cake recipes call for an 8" springform pan. I don't know why they do this. My springform pans, which are old and battered and extremely average, are 9" springform pans. When I am at the supermarket or Target and think, oh, I should look for an 8" springform pan, all I find are 9" springform pans. This may be one of those chef/restaurant/cookbook things that ordinary mortals do not adhere to. S says we should order a set of good springform pans, including an 8". This is a good idea, but on Saturday all I had was my old, battered 9".
The crust recipe looked skimpy to begin with, and, remember, the pan was 9" not 8". First I halfed it again, then I ended up making another half, because 1 1/2 did not fully cover the bottom of the 9" springform pan. But it was very easy: toast the hazelnuts, grind in the food processor with sugar, add flour, cocoa, butter, and salt, spread in the bottom of the (9") springform pan, bake.
The mousse was pretty easy too: do the gelatin thing, add the Nutella, beat with mascarpone, beat cream and sugar and cocoa, fold it all up, pour into (9") pan with crust already baked and cooled in bottom, refrigerate. A few hours later I made the easiest ganache ever (heat cream, add chocolate, whisk), poured it over, and it was done. I left out the part where I broke the crust, as usual, because I am impatient and sloppy, but I didn't break it so badly, I put it back together, and it was unnoticeable once the mousse was on the crust and the ganache was on the mousse.
If I did it again, I would one and a half the mousse as well, given the 9" pan and all, but though it was a little thin (maybe 2" high), taste-wise there was a good ratio of crust to mousse to ganache. We left it out before we served it, so the mousse was a bit soft, but it was quite delicious: the crunch of the crust and the softness of the mousse and the chewiness of the ganache made a good texture combination, and the varieties of chocolate and hazelnut in each were very tasty.
At the time I didn't think I'd necessarily make it again, but in retrospect, I'm thinking it was pretty easy and pretty delicious so maybe I will.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
a) tell M that when she is done with the school project and before she plays with her friend, she needs to clean up the Valentine supplies
b) get E to help me clean up the Valentine supplies
c) clean up the Valentine supplies myself
d) ignore the situation, lie down on the couch, and read the newspaper
I also need to be absolutely clear that we will have no dissing of Bode Miller anywhere near this blog. We are huge Bode fans. We like speed. We like honesty. We like partying when you win. We like New Hampshire. We like home schooling. We like organic farms. And we know that it's not bullshit (he was K's son's much-beloved counselor at the tennis camp his parents run, so we've been following him for a long time now).
We also liked the nine-year-old girl singing the national anthem, being partial to nine-year-old girls, but what was with the skaters with the flames coming out of their heads?
Saturday, February 11, 2006
[Anne Lamott's Blue Shoes is not a very good book, but her physical realization of Marin is fabulous. One scene takes place just where I'm talking about, and she gets it exactly right.]
Friday, February 10, 2006
- Her eyes are really blue.
- Her hair is going gray so nicely.
- She's shorter than I thought. (Apparently people think I am tall. In fact, I am quite short. I cannot count how many times people I've known for quite a long time have suddenly looked down at me and exclaimed, "Wow, you're short!" Perhaps I have a tall personality.)
You certainly would not think that I was some kind of freak.
Oh, but I am.
As the title says, this is not about body image or self-esteem. This is about fitting room facts.
Let's take it from the top.
Broad shoulders. Small breasts (really small). High waist.
Petite tops are out, due to the shoulders. Fitted tops and blouses occasionally work if they are cut exactly right, but often the right size for the shoulders hangs like a paper bag on the rest of the body. Forget darts. I know I should do shirrs and ruffles and flounces to accentuate or hide or artfully highlight or something, but it's not my look. T-shirts are often too narrow, too long or both. Usually, though, I can find something in a small, medium, or large that fits. My wardrobe has a full complement of all three.
Can we just skip bras? No, we cannot, because bras are at the heart of the matter, so to speak. Bitch Ph.D. has written at length on the topic, but she skews large. The options for the woman who has big bones (36ish), tiny breasts (smaller than A), no desire to pretend she has larger breasts (forget Wonderbras), no desire to pretend she has no breasts at all (sports bras are for sports), and a vague desire for pretty bras are, in a word, nonexistent. I'd settle for something that fits. It's not out there.
Moving down: smallish high waist; wideish hips. Which lead to the fitting at the hips gaping at the waist problem. Just about always.
The thighs protrude forward. Not offensively, not so you'd notice, but they do. I think it's because I run so much, but it could just be how I am. Pleats are out. Flat-front trousers are often out. They crease in weird places at the tops of the legs.
Oh the legs. What can I say. The legs are, to put it briefly, short. In my middle age, I have developed good relationships with tailors and accepted the idea that it is ok to buy too long and shorten. Petites can be a good thing, but petites are often unconscionably unattractive. Too often I just hold the hanger at my waist and know it's not worth it even to try.
There are oases in the storm. J. Jill 8P and Old Navy 8 Short are often successful. Feetwise (the feet are a little wide, but generally ok), Nine West 7 1/2 is pretty much always a home run. I can do well at Ann Taylor, especially if Lucy is there for moral support. Little boutiques with helpful saleswomen who believe me when I insist that I am not a 4 or an extra-small are good (really, I am not a 4 or an extra-small, though apparently some people think I am) (I have no problem stating out loud that I am an 8 or a 10 or a S, M or L, but it's probably too long).
So this morning I did finally find two sports bras, because sports bras don't particularly care if you are smaller than an A, but I did not find yoga pants, because apparently only tall people with no hips do yoga.
And don't even suggest shopping online. Because none of it fits.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Then I moved to Red State and realized that it was huge. I never got invited to a Passion Party, thank god, but I think I hit (or was hit up by) most of the rest. My friends and neighbors tried to sell me cookware, children's books, toys, spices (the vanilla is fabulous), jewelry, candles, clothes, cosmetics, and probably kitchen sinks, though at some point I stopped paying attention. At first I would go to the parties to be friendly and neighborly. They always promised that you didn't have to buy. Of course once you got there, you felt bad if you didn't buy. In fact, the whole thing made me feel bad, mad, and sad: bad for not buying, mad at feeling pressured to buy, sad for the people who thought they were going to make their fortunes. Eventually I just started saying no on principle, though I never stopped receiving the invitations, phone calls, and flyers.
A is the first neighbor I met when we moved to Town. She's in her mid-20s and lives next door with her husband, J. During the summer, she would sit on her porch and read or write on her laptop, so we would always chat when I was going in and out with the girls. Now I mainly see her when we both are leaving early in the morning to run or go to the gym. The other day, though, I bumped into her in the middle of the day as she was coming home for lunch (she works just around the corner). We stopped to chat and she told me that there had recently been some changes at her work and she needed to confront her boss about them, but she was ok in the long run because she'd just gotten a new part-time job that had a lot of potential. I said that sounded good, and we talked about ways she could approach her boss.
Then, as we were saying goodbye, she suddenly went into the pitch. It's organic skincare (I think M's friend E's mom tried to sell me this one back in Red State, but I didn't return her phone calls). She's never seen anything like it. She would never do anything like this, but she completely believes in the product. She knows it's going to be a great opportunity for her. Maybe I'd like to get into selling it. Or if not, I really should check out the product. She'll give me some samples. No pressure to buy.
I said that sounds great for her but I'm not really into that kind of thing, good luck, see you soon.
Yesterday she left a packet of samples in my mailbox with a nice note. She's good.
And you know what? This time I'm tempted. Not to sell. But maybe to try it out. I've been thinking about changing my skin care for a while now. Why not give it a try? If it works, I'll help A along with her new career and have happy skin. Nothing wrong with that.
Except for perpetuating a pernicious system that perverts social networks and keep women in thrall to the deceptive lures of capitalism.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Monday, February 06, 2006
Received a fortuitous dinner invitation for the night of the synagogue party, so that one has been escaped.
Ended up at the Super Bowl party--I'm not quite sure why--and had a fine time. Restaurant people are extremely easy to party with. I think it's because they party so much, and the essence of the business is hospitality, so everything is just laid back and there is plenty of food and alcohol and people are friendly and fun is had.
I spent the first part of the night hanging with A, one of S's co-chefs, whom I've never really talked to that much, so that was nice. Then I chatted with S's boss C's wife who turns out, of course, to know half the people I knew in high school (she was a few years older and went to a different school, but lots of my friends went to her school and lots of her friends went to my school and basically she knew all my friends' older brothers and we probably attended a few of the same parties, way back in the day).
The girls had a fabulous time bouncing about the restaurant with the other restaurant kids and the puppy (don't ask--I seem to be the only one who questions the viability of the puppy at the restaurant), stealing Clementine sodas from behind the bar (that would be M), protecting Bitty Baby from P and C who kept threatening to bake her in the oven (that would be E), and eating barbecue (M) and pasta (E).
Best of all, S won $250!! (It was some kind of competition I'd never heard of where there is a grid of numbers and you buy a square with two numbers and if the score at the end of a quarter ends with your numbers, you win. He had Seattle 3, Pittsburgh 0, so we now have spending money for our vacation.)
Sunday, February 05, 2006
E - March of the Penguins. I was pretty excited: E picked a movie I didn't mind watching! So much for that. We lasted about 20 minutes. I kind of regretted that we weren't seeing those vast expanses of ice on the big screen, but I was glad we were at home so I didn't have to worry about the volume of E's constant questions. The penguins walking across the ice were interesting and cute, we liked the eggs being transferred from Mom to Dad, but then the endless winter got a little slow for us and, for me at least, the anthropomorphizing got a little tendentious. We fast-forwarded to where the baby penguins hatched (E has been studying birds for the last two months at school, so we are very up on egg teeth and the like). Then we got bored and gave up. And I have to say, that we means both of us. Oh well.
M - Mary Kate and Ashley's School Dance Party. There is no excuse. I like some of the MK & A party movies: ballet, beach, costume. But the mall party is a sick and twisted exercise in training young girls for conspicuous consumption. And this one, in which they are boy crazy junior high girls getting ready for, you guessed it, the school dance, is just nauseating. But she wanted it. (Speaking of MK & A, lately M and E have gotten into Full House reruns on ABC Family and Nick at Nite. Somehow I missed this show in its original incarnation, but it is just the sweetest thing. Love the 80s fashion and hair, the plumpish oldest sister, the goofy dads and uncles, and, especially, MK/A back when they were adorable, and some of the jokes even make me laugh!)
Me - Celebrity. Woody Allen. And I didn't watch it till Saturday, hence Friday Night Movies posted on Sunday. And S was home so he watched it with me. And it sucked. My god, it sucked. First of all, the black and white was just totally annoying in this case. Second of all, the fact that we couldn't tell whether this was Woody Allen taking his schtick to the nth degree or parodying his schtick was not good. Third of all, the obsessive obsession with women's sexuality is just downright boring, along with obsessive. Kenneth Branagh as Woody Allen was a pretty impressive performance, but I don't know why Judy Davis keeps letting him cast her in these unpleasant roles. And, as far as we could tell, the take home message was: celebrities are happier. Huh?
Friday, February 03, 2006
[Yes, they really are learning about alliteration in kindergarten. In fact, kindergarten is a pretty happening place these days, today especially. We were out in Country Town at my sister's last night, and things got a little chaotic, so we were thinking about spending the night, but we had to come back because today was the 100th day of kindergarten!! And the littlest E's mom was coming in to celebrate Chinese New Year and they were having a dragon parade!! And missing even a moment of kindergarten simply was not an option!] [There are five Es in E's class, hence the need to distinguish.] [I had to stop by the school in the middle of the morning, so I took the opportunity to peek into E's classroom. They were jumping up and down on bubble wrap in their dog masks to be Chinese New Year firecrackers. Totally adorable.]
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Parties terrify me. (Stop laughing, J.) Really, they do. Every time we have a party, I am convinced, in the hours before, that this time we have made our worst mistake ever, and I vow never to do it again. Every time I go to a party, it is only after deciding numerous times not to go, coming up with an elaborate strategy for success and an escape plan in case of failure, and, finally, donning a mantle of fatalism. Of course the parties almost always turn out fine, but the fear is inescapable.
What I fear is very specific: the flop. The party where nobody shows up, or, even worse, a few people show up and hover awkwardly about, aware that the right thing would have been not to come so as to miss this visible failure. If you don’t see it, you can pretend it’s not happening, even if your absence helped cause the fiasco.
As I said, this rarely happens. We’ve had a lot of parties, and they’ve pretty much all been successful, except for one party in Red State Capital City Suburb which everyone else thought was fine but I could tell wasn’t working, or at least wasn’t working as well as it could have. But that was a work-related obligation kind of party, which leads to the point of this post, only I’m not going there yet.
Despite the plethora of pleasant parties in which I have participated, I once attended the party of my nightmares, so I know it can happen. The long version of that party involves a seductive guy who turned out to be a pathological liar (I first wrote paradoxical for pathological, which seems telling), the Grateful Dead on New Year’s Eve, an eventually-to-be-famous poet, a bunch of would-be junkies (some of whom eventually became real junkies), my sister telling me she loved me a lot (Amber can guess why), and did I mention the Grateful Dead?
But I’m going with the short version. A long time ago (I’m thinking 1985), my sister and I went out to
My sister and I were staying in this crazy student house in the
We showed up around eleven. My friend and her mom were putting out an enormous and beautiful spread of food. The only thing I specifically remember was an entire side of smoked salmon, but that can be taken as symbolic of both quantity and quality. We hung around the kitchen while they finished up. Then we moved to the living room and chatted. Eventually we started picking a bit at the food.
You can tell where this is going.
Nobody. Not a soul. No phone calls to apologize. No nothing. At some point, my friend said that her mother must have forgotten to invite people. At the time, I just assumed the mother was crazy, but maybe my friend was so embarrassed that was all she could think of to say. My sister, the other friend, and I pretended everything was ok. Eventually we pulled chairs up to the buffet table and settled in. I never ate so much smoked salmon in my life.
I’ve told this story many times. But until just now, I never realized that in fact we had a great time, even though the party fear had been realized. So maybe parties always do turn out ok?
Definitely not. Because there are parties and then there are obligations. And we are faced with three obligations in the next week, and the fear is taking over. There is the party for parents at M’s school, the party for members of our synagogue who live in Town, and the Super Bowl party at S’s restaurant.
The Super Bowl party is pretty easy. S is excited and so are the girls. I have about as much interest in football as I do in the barbecue they will be serving (which is to say, none). Nice people, but S's friends, not mine. Easy solution: send him off with the girls, and I’m going to the movies.
The party for parents at M’s school is a bit more problematic, but my path is clear. This one has serious potential for awkwardness, but I feel like, as a new member of the community, I really should go and meet people and make a good impression. However, S will be at work, and I am certainly not going to a party with dancing and pool tables and lots of people I don’t know alone. End of story. (In Red State Capital City Suburb, I did go to such parties alone, but in Red State Capital City Suburb I had a posse, and that’s a totally different situation.)
I’m not quite sure about the synagogue party. S will be home, so the going alone problem is solved. We already know a bunch of people from our synagogue in Town, and we like them. So the party has potential. But do people actually go to these parties? What if they don’t and we do and we feel like idiots? What if they do and we don’t and we feel like idiots? Oy. Luckily it’s not for another week, so I have plenty of time to decide not to go, come up with an elaborate strategy for success and an escape plan in case of failure, and, finally, if necessary, don my mantle of fatalism. It’s hanging in the closet.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
The the nominations came out. Can I just say ugh and ugh and ugh--hey wait, I just checked the list, and I read it wrong. I thought it was Brokeback Mountain, Crash, Munich, Goodnight and Good Luck, and Syriana, but it's Capote, not Syriana, so really there's only one movie that I just don't want to see, and that's Munich. Goodnight and Good Luck (which I keep writing as Goodbye and Goodnight) does not really interest me, but enough people have said it's good that I suppose I can see it. And I'm excited to see Capote, though I hope it's still playing (just checked--two theaters in the Greater East Coast Big City area).
If only K and I were one person, because she has seen Crash, Munich, Syriana, and Goodnight and Good Luck, but that probably explains why we're not one person (i.e. she is married to D and reads books by women writers from oppressed countries, while I am married to S and read chick lit) (actually, I have completely forsworn chick lit because it is all so bad these days; I read contemporary women's literary realism, which of course she does too, so maybe we are one person).
So if you're wondering what I thought about Brokeback Mountain, here are some thoughts, in random order:
- It was beautiful, all those mountains and such.
- It was too beautiful: Ang Lee frames every shot so carefully that I couldn't stop thinking that here was another shot framed by Ang Lee, rather than just falling into the movie.
- It was extremely faithful to the story, and having read the story, this made it a little bloodless for me. It also reminded me of Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility which is probably the most faithful Jane Austen adaptation out there (and I have seen most of the Jane Austen adaptations out there). The thing is, I like film adaptations to do something to the story, not mess with it, but add to my understanding of it. Which is why I quite liked the new Pride and Prejudice, though it made the purists nuts. Sure it was explicit when Austen is all about implicit, and there are no pigs in the novel, but it made the characters into real, living, breathing people, and that was cool. S, on the other hand, had not read the story (Brokeback Mountain, not Pride and Prejudice, which he did not see and probably has not read). He found the movie completely gripping, narratively and emotionally.
- The acting was excellent.
- As S said, the gay cowboy thing really did seem secondary to the pain of love thing (which is basically what Anthony Lane says too).
- I couldn't help but wonder whether the sheep were real or digital (this is the kind of thing I never wondered until Titanic, and I'm always too visually inept to tell).
- It was a very good movie, but it was too...perfect? neat? careful? for me to consider it a great movie. Still, it was definitely better than Crash. Now I have to go see the others.
Another Wendy Wasserstein appreciation.
I had no idea James Carville and Paul Begala had a new book out, but this review is just hilarious, especially this sentence which is a definite candidate for Best Sentence Ever, or at least Sentence of the Week: "I mean, there's triangulation and there's triangulation, and then there's Pythagoras on crystal meth." [link from Berube]
[This post is dedicated to Postacademic.]