Friday, March 31, 2006

A Little Gratuitous Red Sox Blogging

I love that John Henry is always referred to as John Henry. Theo is sometimes Theo, sometimes Epstein. Francona is pretty much usually Francona, if occasionally Terry Francona. But John Henry always comes with the full handle, which of course reminds those of us who grew up on folk songs of John Henry and his hammer beating the steel drill.

I also like that John Henry is a driven man. This is from an email he sent in 2002 to recruit Bill James to the cause:

We are engaged in this epic, long-term battle/saga with the New York Yankees. We are determined to achieve what no long-suffering, die-hard Red Sox fan believes can actually happen. Wherever we go across the nation, Red Sox fans come out in large numbers. They're all waiting to be delivered. It's not an exaggeration. Short of war, there has not been a bigger quest since King Arthur's days. We've joined together, we're having a lot of fun and it's just beginning here. [link]

Now there's a man with a mission. And he did it!

Looking anxiously forward to Monday.

[Mom, he owns the Red Sox.]

Alison Bechdel

Look: Alison Bechdel has a blog, and a new book coming out. Dykes to Watch Out For was one of my highlights of the 90s, but somehow I've lost track of it (might that be because I left the Bay Area and moved to Red State?). Must get back on track.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Happy Birthday Madison!

When Madison was born, I was annoyed that I was in Paris. Isn't that appalling? And spoiled? And obnoxious? And just about any other negative adjective you can come up with? But it's true, as those who read my Paris journal will recall (sorry, no link, it's not online, but if you know me and you email me, I will send it to you) (but I don't think it mentions Madison).

We were living in London and I had a ton of work and we had plans to go to Paris so we went to Paris but really I just wanted to stay in London and work. Paris ended up being lovely, but one of the things that made me able to appreciate the loveliness was that on maybe our third day there, I stayed in our hotel room and worked while S and the girls went out and enjoyed Paris. Yes, indeed, I did, and I had a great day, and at the end of the day I decided to reward myself with a trip to the internet cafe to check my email. Yes, I am a hopeless geek: working in a hotel room in Paris makes me happy and I consider email a reward (but hey, I was in Europe, which was a very good thing, but all my friends were in America, which meant email was crucial to my sanity).

So I went to the internet cafe and I don't remember if I read Dawn's blog or if she had sent an email, but I discovered that Madison had been born. Every day after that, M and I went to the internet cafe to find out if Dawn and Brett had taken Madison home. When they did, I think I cried. Then we went to our favorite children's clothes store (yes, we were in Paris one week and we had a favorite children's clothes store) and bought Madison an adorable summer outfit.

So now I always associate Madison's birthday with spring and Paris, and those are two very good things, three if you count Madison.

Happy Birthday Madison! We love you and we can't wait to see you very soon!

Swords and Guns

Just as mothers of boys are glad they don't have to deal with Barbie and Libby Lu, mothers of girls are glad we don't have to deal with guns. Neither M nor E has ever asked for a gun, drawn a gun, turned a stick into a gun, made a gun out of legos, turned a baby doll into a gun, or engaged in any other gunliness.

Then the other day we won a raffle. (Finally! Can I tell you how many raffles we have entered and not won? Can I tell you how many raffles one encounters as a responsible school- and activity-involved parent? Can I tell you how many tickets we bought to win this raffle? Well, only three, but still, it's been a lot of raffle tickets over the years.) The raffle was related to the show M was in this weekend, and it had many wonderful components: books and notebooks and dressups and vampire bites and a shield, two swords, and a gun.

All of a sudden, my peaceful book and bead and lego and baby doll-filled home was awash in bloodthirsty yodels, startling gun pops, and the smack of sword upon shield. M pointed the gun at my feet and told me to jump. When I didn't: POP. M and E fenced dramatically, and of course E ended up in tears, because M had gotten a sword and the shield, while E only got a sword, and it wasn't fair. M stuck a sword between her arm and side and announced that she'd stabbed herself.

And you know what? It was fine. In fact, it was quite hilarious, a kind of kids-in-the-candy-store, girls-gone-wild-on-spring-break, parodic excess of sword and gun play. And then, it stopped. The swords and guns went in the box, and we went to the playground.

I don't know what will happen when G's four-year-old brother comes over, but for now I think I'll just continue not to worry about swords and guns.

My Little Astronaut

E [talking on the space phone she made at school]: Hi. How you doing? I'm doing great. I'm still on earth, but I'll be there in a little bit.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On Being Loathed

I'm not quite sure why it's so upsetting to be hated by someone you have no respect for.

I got a nasty email today from someone I think is dreadful. He is an egotistical, sexist, cruel, stupid man whom I had to deal with for many years. We pretended to be pleasant most of the time, but the pretence appears to be up. I wasn't at all surprised to hear how he feels about me (indeed, I may understand his feelings better than he does, given their transparent roots in his own suppressed anxieties), but he also accused me of things I didn't do, misinterpreted things I said, claimed that lots of other people share his feelings, and cced the email to somebody I like and respect enormously.

I didn't reply. But I've been consumed with...well, I'm not quite sure what. Anxiety. Sadness. Frustration. Fear. And really, I couldn't care less what this guy thinks about me. But it's still so unpleasant.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I'm Not Feeling So Secure

A friend of mine has applied for a job with the federal government that requires security clearance. She put me down as a reference. Luckily she is a person about whom I have only good things to say, though I promise I will not tell the government about her penchant for martinis and her insistent feminism, both of which I consider good things, but they might not.

Ernie, the contractor doing the interviews for security clearance, sounds seedy on the phone. It doesn't help that he calls me at least half a dozen times, asking me for the name of the cafe where we're supposed to meet, the address, my cell phone number. When I listen to the message asking me for the cross street and my cell phone number, which I gave him just a few days ago, I decide to cancel the interview, but then the next message is him again, saying he found them.

He is less seedy in person than he was on the phone, and he buys me coffee, so I warm up a bit. But then the interview is absurd. He has not prepared, so he is scribbling my friend's name and address on the worksheet as we talk. He asks me the same questions again and again. "How often did you see her?" "You saw her how often?" Then he starts feeding me answers. "How would you describe her personality? Bubbly? Open? Shy? Reserved?" "She's responsible, isn't she?"

I tell him she is wonderful in as many ways as I can. She doesn't gamble. She doesn't have large sums of money from unknown sources. She loves her family. She is loyal to the United States of America. All true. He scribbles my answers on a shabby sheet of paper.

I have no doubt that my friend will be a credit to the United States of America. I wonder how much Ernie's congeniality had to do with the fact that we are nice white girls. I imagine how easy it would be to lie baldly in such an interview. I fear that Ernie will be unable to decipher his notes.

If this is national security, I'm not feeling so secure.

Sometimes I do really stupid things

like walk three miles home from work in high heels.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Starting to Believe

Warmth: check

No coat: check

Sunshine: check

Crocuses in other people's yards: check

Shoots in our yard: check

Ice cream: check

Neighborhood kids playing outside before dinner: check

Could be maybe that spring is acoming.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


We have successfully completed the long awaited/dreaded weekend o' activity. Since Friday, we have managed two ten-hour restaurant shifts, four performances, two school fairs, one 70th birthday party, one set of overnight guests, one morning at religious school, and one grandparental lunch. Thank goodness for cheerful, competent teenage babysitters and pizza.

My Little Red Sox Fan

Me: Look how big David Ortiz is.
E: Is HE still on the RedSox?
Me: Yes.
E: Good.

Me: Curt Schilling threw 109 pitches and 82 strikes.
E: You are so kidding.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Internet Controversies and Marriage

I try to avoid internet controversies--and with that introduction, you know I am about to weigh in on an internet controversy.

The other day this blogger I'd never heard of wrote a post about women gaining weight after marriage. I believe the money quotes were "Personally, I think it would be unfair to Husband if I gained a bunch of weight and did nothing about it,” and "But it would be false advertising if he’d married his 120 pound girlfriend and ended up with a 160 pound wife.” Much blog response ensued, and basically I'm with Cecily (scroll down on the first one) (I'm not pregnant and overweight, but I am married to a man who thinks I'm hot whatever my weight and finds this whole thing absurd) (and the dude who won't take his wife to his Christmas party...well, don't get me started).

Anyway, I had nothing original to add to the discussion, and I try to avoid internet controversies, so I said nothing (don't you wish people would do that more often? I wish I would do that more often). But even as I try to avoid internet controversies, I often find myself following them (it's like celebrity gossip, I just can't help myself), and today I saw this post, in which the blogger tries to clarify what she meant, and I do feel for her: I'm sure it's tough to be the center of an internet controversy, especially a controversy about women and weight. In this one, the money quote, which she bolds and repeats, to make sure we get it, is
people in an intimate relationship should be considerate of each other and understand that their physical appearance, and any MAJOR change to it, can affect their partner and their relationship.”

So I thought ok, fine, no problem, that's what she thinks, and I turned off my computer. Then, as I was baking a chocolate cake for the cake walk at M's school fair (Chocolate Domingo from The Cake Bible), I realized that the issue here was no longer women and weight, but marriage. Or at least, the issue that interested me, and about which I had something perhaps original to say, was marriage.


At the end of Jane Eyre, Jane hears Rochester calling her, treks across England to find him, discovers him blind and alone in a tumbledown shack in the woods (kind of), and, Reader, she marries him. The money quote here is "I am my husband's life as fully as he is mine." Some people find this the most romantic thing ever. I find it depressing. Jane has finally escaped a whole series of men who want to control her, including Rochester. She has her own money, thanks to an opportune inheritance. She has found some lovely female cousins and is living
happily ever after with them in her own cozy cottage. Life is good. Why does she need some blind guy? And the thing is, back then in Victorian England, a husband and a wife were one life, but, legally, that life was the husband's. According to the law of coverture, when a woman married, her legal identity disappeared and she became part of her husband. The fact that in the next sentence Jane says "No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh," only reinforces, for me, the problematic--oh, let's just say oppressive--nature of their union.


Wait, we were talking about bloggers, what's with the Jane Eyre exegesis?

Well, that blogger sounds to me a lot like Jane. In her vision of marriage, which sounds like it works for her, and it probably works for lots of other people, and that's great for them, the husband and wife are intensely bound to each other, merged even, such that they have the right, indeed the responsibility, to weigh in on each other's individual choices, because those choices are, essentially, their choices as well.

But I see marriage as two people coming together as autonomous individuals to share their lives. Indeed, in my vision, it is that very autonomy that generates the pleasure and productivity of marriage. (Several weeks ago I wrote a long post about our ketubah which sort of went in this direction, but I never posted it because I feared it was hopelessly sentimental.)

This isn't to say that S and I just do whatever we want. We can't, in large part because we have children whose needs must be met, which would preclude, say, me going to California for a month, or him quitting his job to be a starving musician. Economically and parentally we are a single unit, and we need to deal with those aspects of our lives together.

But our bodies? Our thoughts? Our work? Our friends? Our passions? Those are very much our own, if sometimes, happily, shared, and one of the cornerstones of our marriage is that we each try to enable the other's life. Sometimes this is relatively minor: I make it possible for him to go out and see music whenever he can. Sometimes it is major: he told me to quit my job before I truly lost my mind. In general, too, I'm better at theory and S is better at practice, but that's how it is.

Our marriage is in no way perfect--sometimes I wish it would just go away, or maybe I wish he would just go away--but one of the things I like best about it is that
in it I can be fully myself, knowing that S is supporting and appreciating me for myself, whatever or however I am.

Friday, March 24, 2006

I Wish I'd Written This Article

Making up for Louisa Kamps' sycophantic profile of Ayelet, Elle lets Laurie Abraham skewer Caitlin Flanagan. [link from Jenny]

I Don't Get It

I will now lift a tiny corner of the thick veil of secrecy I keep tightly closed over my professional life.

I am not a high school social studies teacher or a political science professor or a constitutional lawyer or a congresswoman. Everything I know about checks and balances I learned in 11th grade U.S. history (thank you, Mr. J.). Given that I was known to occasionally skip a class in 11th grade, it is quite possible that I missed the day when Mr. J. explained how Congress can pass a bill and the president can sign it and then say he is not going to obey it.

Or maybe they didn't get to that till college, when I must confess that I took not a single politics course and my U.S. History classes were colonial history and labor history, which didn't address the president's ability to ignore Congress. Or maybe they save that for law school, when they teach future presidents that they do not need to obey laws, and maybe that day I had strep throat. Or wasn't in law school.

Or maybe I'm just too stupid or not sophisticated enough to understand, regardless of when they taught it. Because, you know, I'm just an American citizen, and I thought there was this system in which the judicial and the legislative and the executive all kept an eye on each other and made sure no one branch had too much power and they all kinda sorta had to do what the other ones said. But maybe not.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Has Spring Sprung?

It's not working for me yet.

Perhaps it's because I'm in a new place.

In Red State Capital City Suburb, I had spring's progress precisely calibrated. First there were snowdrops in the far reaches of the backyard. Then crocuses along the sides. Daffodils and hyacinths bloomed all over town, but I particularly noticed them on W Street, as I walked home from work. Forsythia banked the side of the hill that edges E Street. Lilacs and redbud. By the time we got to tulips, warmth and euphoria had settled in.

When M was around four we came up with a spring tongue twister: Hyacinth, chrysanthemum, forsythia. You can say it in any order, but however you say it, pretty soon you'll just be going "th-th-th," your tongue flapping between your teeth.

Apparently there have been crocuses by M's school for going on two weeks, but I so rarely go to M's school that I didn't see them till today. There were daffodils too. There's barely anything on our street, though, just a few straggly shoots. I keep checking our back yard, which is harder to check than in Red State, where our kitchen table was right in front of a big window and I looked out at the back yard during every meal. So far we have nothing, but I don't know if nothing is planted or nothing is growing yet.

Mainly I look around me and see gray.

It's partly the oddness of this winter too. So many shoots came up six weeks ago, when it was warm, and then endured the last weeks of cold and more snow, prematurely yellowing their green. I wonder what will become of them.

And then there's me. I'm not quite sure what happened to the last three months, or what's going to happen next. I suppose I should be ready for renewal, but if renewal isn't here yet, then I'm not quite sure what to do.

This week I bought daffodils. They look beautiful on the dining room table.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Excuse us

while we continue to track Pete Doherty on his trek toward doom.

A Guy Walks Into an Agent's Office...

As soon as I heard about The Aristocrats, I knew I had to see it. Not because I am such a comedy fan, but because I'm not.

Comedy terrifies me. I like funny movies and books and plays and jokes, but I have never been to a comedy show of any kind. The idea of someone trying to be funny and failing is just too painful, so painful that I'd rather not take the risk, even if that means I sacrifice the possibility of gut-splitting laughter.

A film full of comedians telling different versions of the same joke sounded positively catastrophic, way too much for me to handle, which of course meant I had to see it. I mean, this was supposedly the funniest joke ever told, this was my chance, if this wasn't funny, I would know I was right, and comedy was just a colossal cultural mistake.

Of course we didn't manage to see it in the theater, and now we have a membership at the video store which means we can see lots of movies for free (sort of, I mean, once you've paid the money, the movies feel free) but can't see new movies when they first come out. And then I wanted to wait for S. But this weekend the stars finally aligned, and Saturday night, post-margaritas at the excellent cheap Mexican restaurant, post-E reading Hop on Pop, post kids to bed, we sat down to watch The Aristocrats.

I was dreading it. There was no way, I thought, that this movie could possibly be as funny as everyone said.

Well, it was.

Not every moment. Not every version (Sarah Silverman just didn't do it for me, sorry). But I would have to say we pretty much fell off the couch clutching our stomachs more times than I can count. Lots of the comedians try to explain why the joke is so funny, some more convincingly than others, but the bottom line is that the joke is funny because the comedians are funny. Especially George Carlin, Whoopi Goldberg, and Bob Saget (I'll never be able to watch Full House with a straight face again), but a bunch of others too, including the mime.

So maybe I'm wrong about comedy.

Or maybe not.

Maybe sick twisted scatological perversion is just funny.

[And why did the religious right not go insane over this movie? Did it just slip under the radar, or did they go insane and I missed it? I mean, that is one sick twisted scatologically perverse joke, or rather, lots of sick twisted scatologically perverse jokes.]

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wily Mo

Wily Mo Pena. Wily Mo. Doesn't it make you smile just to say his name? I have to confess I felt my usual pang at the loss of Bronson Arroyo, but then I realized that the pang had to do with my issues with change, not with what's best for the team. And the Soxaholix are happy, so who am I to argue?

In Which I Am the Kind of Mother I Am Absolutely Determined Not To Be

I am going to complain about M's grades. Even worse, I am going to complain about M's A-'s. I am going to attempt to cloak my complaint about M's grades in a meta-complaint, but really my point here is that the stupid teacher does not appreciate the brilliance of my brilliant child. Feel free to stop reading now.

M is very pleased that she gets letter grades this year. She says it is easier to know how you're doing with A's and B's and the like, rather than numbers (last year I believe it was 4, 3, 2, and 1, and 1 meant unacceptable, 2 meant needs work, 3 meant acceptable, and 4 meant proficient, or something like that; she is also comparing to the scale of 100 on which her tests are marked). I wring my hands in despair at the failure of my attempts to bring up a non-competitive, learning-for-its-own-sake, Type B kind of child. (You can all laugh now.)

It's ridiculous to give fourth graders letter grades. (There, that was the meta moment.) It's even more ridiculous to give fourth graders letter grades with pluses and minuses. (OK, a bit more meta-ness.) I mean, how much distinction can there be between a fourth grade B+ and a fourth grade A-? Certainly these fourth graders are not misquoting Foucault, or forgetting that they were supposed to square the circle.

But the grades were given. The report card was full of A's, regular A's, straight A's, as it were, except for the A-'s. The A-'s were in reading and writing.

Let me tell you about M. M does not ever not read. M has read A Midsummer Night's Dream and can discurse upon it. M reads cookbooks and novels and biographies and Blake poems. M understands pretty much everything she reads and has strong and interesting opinions about it. M writes endless hilarious stories and carefully thought-out book reports. The letters she sent home to her class from London were classics. You should see the dialogue she wrote with S where he is a chef and she is a pan. Even her spelling sentences are creative. Reading and writing are M.

Math is not so much M. She does math fine, but she grumbles a bit and we help her a bit and basically the math accomplishments are intelligence and determination. Social studies, art, science, gym, sure, M does fine with those, and she likes them fine, but they are not her passion, and they are not where she stands out from any other kid who does fine. She stands out in reading and writing.

BUT she does not like to follow the template the teacher sets. Her punctuation is dubious. Sometimes she writes fast and that means sloppy. Sometimes she is slow, because she likes to find the perfect word. In other words, if you are an unimaginative teacher who cares most about the rules, you are going to give M an A- (whatever the hell that means) in reading and writing. And you are going to show not her weaknesses, but your own.

So there! Take that, you teacher, you!

[What did I say to M about her A-'s? "That's fabulous, sweetie. I am SO proud of you." Because, of course, I am, and I want her to know I am. Even if fourth graders shouldn't be getting grades.]

Monday, March 20, 2006

What a Wonderful World It Could Be

This morning my yoga teacher played Louis Armstrong's "What a Wonderful World" during shivasana. It made me think of that slide show of pictures from the February 15, 2003 anti-war demonstrations, set to "What a Wonderful World," that flew around the internet just before the war began. Remember? There were marches and rallies all over the world: millions of people in London and Rome, hundreds of thousands in New York, hundreds even at our little weekly vigil in Red State Capital City.

It would be easy to look back and think only that we were deluded, useless, thwarted. But I'd rather think about how many people cared that day, how many people knew this war was wrong long before it started, and how many more people have realized it since. I'd rather imagine what all those people could accomplish together, and hope that someday they will.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Three Years Too Long

Sometimes I think I should just take this blog down and replace it with STOP THE WAR over and over, in the biggest, blackest letters I can find.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Art and Commerce in The New Yorker

Unfortunately, the New Yorker profile of Tobias Meyer, head of contemporary art and auctioneer at Sotheby's, is not online, so if you want to know more than I'm going to tell you, you'll have to find yourself a hard copy. Might be worth it. It's a good article: readable, a fascinating fly-on-the-wall introduction to the heady world of expensive art, ideologically dubious. Of course you know it's the ideological dubiety (isn't that a great word I just made up?) that's gotten me going.

Meyer sounds like a lovely guy: hardworking, well-clad in colorful bespoke clothing, nicely apartmented and boyfriended, and with an aesthetic eye to die for. Also, apparently, raking in enormous amounts of money for Sotheby's, including selling the most expensive painting ever sold, though his February auction did not make as much as Christie's.* And in the gap between that sentence and the end of the previous sentence lies the ideological confusion.

Now I'm not one to erect barriers between art and commerce. God knows, artists need to live and I'd much rather see artists making loads of money than, say, hedge fund managers. So it's not that Meyer has both a killer eye for art and a killer instinct for making money off of art that I find dubious. It's the structure of the article.

The piece begins with Meyer's own beauty, follows him to the Met where he communes with an Antonello, swoons over his apartment and art collection, then goes biographical, lining up the art-loving mother, the precocious stint at a Christie's training course, the art history degree, and the apprenticeship at a local antique shop (all this in the great cities of Europe, of course). And there we have the ingredients for a portrait of the art-lover as a

Then, all of a sudden, just after Meyer's successful first auction in 1997, we are in his office on the Upper East Side in December, trying to get a collector to sell a Lichtenstein, and we're off. The rest of the article is buying and selling and, especially, trying to get other people to buy and sell, with the goal, largely it seems, of making more money than Christie's. Now when Meyer sighs over art, it is "to let collectors know that 'desiring an object, desiring to own an object--that it's O.K."

Well, thank you very much, I'm glad it's ok, and I'm glad that it's so easy to segue from "desiring" to "desiring to own," because, you know, we are living in the triumph of capitalism in which to buy is to live and the triumph of the art-lover is the selling of other people's art. I wish I could slide a Ulysses reference in here, but I'm flagging. My point...what is my point? My point is that this article sets us up to buy into its equation of art and commerce, and that we need to recognize that as a rhetorical move, just like Meyer's rhetorical move, not a fact.

As for me, I'll be fine with the inexpensive art on my walls and the fabulous art that the general public gets to see in museums, even if that means I never get the "very primal pleasure," "soul," and "status," that rich people acquire when they acquire art via Tobias Meyer for obscene amounts of money (little of which goes to the artist, lots of which goes to Sotheby's).

*I learned all this from the article--before I read it, I'd never heard of the guy--and I'm just trying to give you a taste, in case you are too lazy to seek out the current New Yorker.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Could we all just have a moment

of 90210-fan appreciation for the brilliant femmes of Go Fug Yourself.


The other day I started writing a post about decisions. It began portentously:

Change is hard. And changes are generally preceded by decisions, which I find very hard. But what about when you decide, and you change, and then you're not quite sure whether you've done the right thing? Very very hard.

The intent, of course, was to make readers think I was talking about important matters, and then to upend those expectations:

I wasn't planning to change my running shoes. I was planning to walk out of the store with some version of the Mizunos I've worn for years. But then the eager young salesman got ahold of me. He made me walk up and down the room and put me on the treadmill and decided that I do not, in fact, have pronating problems, and suggested New Balance or Saucony.

Long story short: I got the Sauconys, despite long ago bad Saucony history, and now I have new pains in my upper right leg, so I'm wondering if I made a mistake.

Then I contrasted the spur of the moment Saucony decision with my agonizingly prolonged skincare switch from Clinique to Origins:

I thought about the change from Clinique to Origins for months. The saga of my sensitive skin is long and, well, sensitive, so I will just say that I fall for the ads that promise the most sensitive of eco-friendly skin-care products, and let me tell you that while the Body Shop may be eco-friendly, it is in no way sensitive-skin-friendly, so don't even think about it.

That's where I stopped writing, though I knew where I was going: another helpful saleswomen, pretty green tubs and bottles, maybe some links, and I look pretty good, only I'm not sure the moisturizer is, well, moist enough (god I hate the word moist, it is one of my least favorite words ever), though I do like the foaming cleanser.

Then, the other night, S and I made a big decision (we decided not to renovate our house right now, which is a very big and good decision). We weren't expecting to make a decision at all, and certainly not that one. I was reading a magazine related to my work and complaining about it. S made some suggestions about my work. Somehow we went from there, via finances, to our decision, which wasn't even something we had been considering. We had, however, been working over a lot of other issues without being able to come to any kind of satisfactory resolution. When we made that decision, all of a sudden a bunch of those issues fell into place, with total clarity.

The interesting thing is that this is exactly how our last two big decisions happened. We spent six years unable to decide whether to leave Red State Capital City Suburb, or rather deciding one way, and then deciding the other, and then deciding not to decide yet, and never feeling right about any of it. Then one night in London we started talking about the social geography of North London and ended up deciding to move back to East Coast Big City, and it was absolutely clear that we had finally made the decision, even though we had no inkling that a decision was even on the table when we began our conversation.

When I decided to leave my job, too, there was a lot of stuff going on that we couldn't handle, and then in one conversation--which did, I'll admit, involve much tears and screaming, on my part, and patience and forbearance, on the part of S--all of a sudden it was obvious that I had to leave my job, and then everything else suddenly made sense.

I feel like maybe this is what Blink is about, only I haven't read it. (OK, I just checked out Blink and it seems related but not exactly, as I'm not talking about first impressions, though I am talking about sudden and unexpected insight and clarity.)

Anyway, I'm not sure what this has to do with running shoes and moisturizer, and I'm not sure it has any replicatory potential, in fact, now that I've realized it, it probably won't happen again, but it was still kind of interesting to reflect on how we apparently make big decisions.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Irish Stuff

I was wondering why I’ve been getting so many hits for Chocolate Guinness Cake. Then S pointed out tomorrow’s date. Of course.

Then we were talking about the Pogues. Who have been prevalent lately. And I said that I’d never actually heard the Pogues. (Often, in the case of music, I have heard of when I haven’t actually heard.) An hour later he put some music on and I said, hey, that sounds like Irish punk, that must be the Pogues. And it was.

This story tells you some things about my husband. 1) Music is his absolute passion, second, barely, to me, M, and E (and, really, sometimes first). 2) Any music that comes up in conversation, we own (or rather, he owns). And chances are good we own it on vinyl. And if we don’t own it, he finds it. 3) He is wildly thoughtful of me in a most personal way.

We also compared Pete Doherty and Shane McGowan, conclusion being that Shane has survived because it’s just alcohol, and we still think Pete will die.

Oh, and I liked the Pogues. But I think, after all that, that I had heard them.

Thoughts on Brad and Angelina

I was just getting ready to write a thoughtful intellectual post about neo-Victorian novels (which I've been thinking about writing for weeks now, ever since I wrote the post about contemporary women's literary realism, because if contemporary women's literary realism is my favorite kind of contemporary literature, the neo-Victorian novel is probably my second favorite, with memoirs and biographies a close third). Then I saw these pictures of Brad and Angelina, and I got distracted.

Apparently Brad and Angelina are in Nice, though given that the pictures show them at the Nice airport, presumably they are now leaving Nice; in fact, as I write this, they have probably left Nice. The blurb says they've been in the south of France for the last few days, which would explain Nice. Not that I've been paying attention, but in recent weeks they've been in London, Switzerland, Paris, Berlin, New York (that was just Brad, and for some reason I can't find a picture), and I would guess various other places I haven't noticed, given their peripatetic penchants.

Which I just don't get. The woman is pregnant. Doesn't she just want to lie down? Do lots of money and lots of help make it that easy to spend every night in a hotel and get in another airplane every other day? Don't the kids ever say "I want Bitty Baby," and, oh no, we left Bitty Baby in Malibu? Are they fleeing something? In which case why do they make themselves so available to the press, because you don't get this many pictures taken of you unless you want pictures taken of you?

I mean, I love to travel. I am always happiest when traveling. But I'm not even jealous of how much they are traveling. This is ridiculous. And I really hope she doesn't go into labor on a plane.

[Oh my goodness, it's the all-Brad-and-Angelina-all-the-time blog!]

[And the Angelina blog! And another! And yet another!]

[I love it when other people's obsessions make me feel like my own are positively low-key.]

Edited to add: INDIA, he took a side-trip to INDIA! I mean, I loved Rishikesh as much as the next India-loving self-questing white girl, but, like I said, this is ridiculous.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

I know

it's wrong, so, so wrong, to be happy about someone else's pain, but I can't help feeling just a tiny shiver of glee at the news of Johnny Damon's tendinitis.

Monday, March 13, 2006

40 Out of 50

The first time I did this map, it looked kind of funny, and then I realized I'd left out Red State.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

The first time I drove cross country, we went from the northeast to the west, via Appalachia and the southwest; the second time, eight years later, we went west to east, northish.


When my children ask who I love more (do you love me more? you love her more!), I tell them I love them both the same, but I am lying. I love them completely differently.

M I love with the intense passion of self-love. I surge with pride at her achievements, I feel her pain at my core, I want to shake her annoying habits right out of her. She created the mold of My Child, and I am dazzled by the so many ways in which she exceeds me. She is my comrade in arms and together we conquer the world, except when we are conquering each other.

E I love with the awe of otherness. She is an endless source of surprise and delight. Her love for me is as big as the Himalaya, making it easy to love her as much in return, even as I wonder what kind of changeling she really is. She is my baby and I could hold her in my arms forever, except that she is determined to discover the world on her own terms. Through her eyes, I see everything anew.

I love them both more.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

It Depends

Dr. B asked: Which is preferable: living someplace where a house costs half a million bucks and there's a lot to do, or living someplace where a house costs under $100K and there's nothing to do?

My immediate response: Done both. Expensive with lots to do.

But as I thought about it, I realized that the question wasn't adequate.

Red State Capital City Suburb was cheap and there wasn't much to do. East Coast Big City is expensive and there's lots to do. We are happier in East Coast Big City. You might think this answers the question.

Except that S and I were both unhappy with our work situations in Red State Capital City Suburb; if we'd loved our jobs, we would have stayed and been fine. Our families are in East Coast Big City which had as much to do with our choice to move here as there being lots to do. The ugliness of Red State was a perpetual irritation in our daily lives, completely extraneous to cost or activities.

L.A. is expensive and has lots to do, but we would not be happy there. Rural New England is cheap and there's nothing to do, but we would be happy there.

I'm not surprised that Dr. B got answers going every which way, because each person's choice is influenced by so many factors beyond those two. But simplifying things is certainly a good way to get a conversation going.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Friday, March 10, 2006

It's Still a Good Deed, Even If You Don't Tell Anyone

Lance Armstrong comforting Dana Reeve's son is very nice, but Lance Armstrong bragging about comforting Dana Reeve's son on Inside Edition is not so nice.

Music for Today

Driving across town this morning, I heard a song on the radio and thought Stephin Merritt. The voice was kind of perky in a Stephin Merritt being perky kind of way, and the chorus went "Don't waste your time on me, you're already the voice inside my head," which seemed like a Stephin Merritt kind of lyric, though of course there really isn't such a thing as a Stephin Merritt kind of lyric.

Yes, to those of you rolling your eyes right about now, I figured out later that it was Blink 182, and in fact I realized it was not Stephin Merritt about halfway into the song when the vocal changed and it did not change to Claudia.

But the song made me thing of our disappeared copy of 69 Love Songs (if anyone out there knows where it disappeared to, it's time to confess) which is just one of the great, well, one of the great collections of love songs. So if the idea of a song called "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" and another called "The Luckiest Guy on the Lower East Side" (two particular favorites chez nous) and yet another called "The Death of Ferdinand De Saussure" (don't remember that one, but love the title, especially for a love song) appeal to you, or even if they don't and you're willing to be convinced, you should immediately go out and get 69 Love Songs and play it in honor of this lovely almost-spring day. And if you already have a copy, what are you waiting for?

(Look, there's going to be a new Stephin Merritt album next week, and a book about 69 Love Songs!)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

If you're going to read one Steve Almond story

it should be "Run Away, My Pale Love," which is just way brilliant, though I had no idea it was the same character as "My Life in Heavy Metal" and I'm trying not to think about whether that makes me like the story less, because it's not really the character that makes the story, but the intensity of the language and its depiction of the terrors and banalities of desire.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Yes I Do Love Cell Phones, Thank You Very Much

Yesterday, for the first time ever, my cell phone rang in a meeting. I was the embarassed one scrambling to find the phone in my bag. Luckily I realized immediately that it was my phone, located the phone by the second ring, and shut it off. When the meeting ended, I called A and apologized for hanging up on her so rudely.

The funny thing is I had just been planning a blog post--yes, writing in my head during my meeting--about how much I love cell phones. Why do I love cell phones? Let me count the ways.

- I love that I can reach S all the time (he wears one of those goofy phone holsters, and he always keeps his phone on, because chefs are never near landlines and always need to talk to each other about things like picking up some cilantro on the way to work or the dishwasher not showing up).

- I love that I can make phone calls anywhere, because I have a hard time returning calls, but I also have some dead boring spaces of time in my life, and without my cell phone, those two facts would be mutually exclusive, but with my cell phone, I can use them to cancel each other out, by returning and making my phone calls while, say, I sit on the bench at the playground, watching E do the monkey bars over and over again.

- I love that I can use my cell phone to find the person I'm trying to meet. For some reason, this function is particularly useful with Lucy, whom I have found at the beach, on a street corner in Town Between Our Towns, and in the middle of several hundred thousand people at an anti-war rally ("I'm next to the flag." "But I'm next to the flag." "I'm next to the flag by the people shouting 'US out of Irag.'" "I think I'm walking toward you." "I see you!"), among other places.

- I love that when I'm not quite sure about whether to give M some next stage of freedom, I can give her the cell phone and feel secure.

- I love that when S or I go out of town, we can call each other whenever we want, wherever we want, as often as we want, without worrying about calling cards or collect calls or all those other phone mechanisms we used to have to worry about. As a corollary, I love that when I am visiting somewhere, my friends there can easily find me.

And you know, I don't even mind when other people talk loudly on their cellphones, because it makes it that much easier to eavesdrop, which of course I love to do.

Go read

Dawn's beautiful essay about adopting Madison in Salon! (Mom, I know you don't click on my links on principle, but make an exception, you'll be glad you did.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A Sad, Bad Day in the News

Dana Reeve died at 44, leaving an orphaned son.

Kirby Puckett died at 45.

Gordon Parks died at the ripe old age of 93, but it's still sad, and am I the only one of my generation who associates him more with his photographs than with Shaft?

The Patriot Act was renewed.

The Supreme Court ruled against the law schools that banned military recruiting because the military's don't-ask-don't-tell policy violates their anti-discrimination policies. And what really bummed me out about that one was that Roberts felt the need to affirm the right to protest the military recruiters, which suggests that that right was somehow under question.


The only positive thing I can think of is the Red Sox pitching staff which seems like it has the potential to wreak some major havoc and maybe even win a whole bunch of games. Even I can't help letting myself get a little excited about it, except, of course, that it's the first week of March, for god's sake, and you know that whatever can go wrong will, because this is the Red Sox, after all.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Everyone Keeps Talking About

Charlize's bow, but I think the hair was almost as horrifying.

South Dakota Is a Bleakly Beautiful State

but this is wrong.

I'm Finally Reading Steve Almond

I first heard of Steve Almond when his Salon piece on being hated was running around the internet and I was kind of amazed that here was this writer I'd never heard of who was famous enough to be hated and then to write an incredibly obnoxious essay about it and get his essay published in Salon. Later I realized that I had heard of the candy book out of the corner of my ear, though the author hadn't registered.

A few weeks ago someone told me about taking a writing workshop with Steve Almond during which he was incredibly cruel and inappropriate, though he apologized and stopped when called on it. Then last week Bookslut linked to "Bad Sex with Steve Almond" in Nerve.

So when I needed to grab a book at the library recently, I naturally thought of Steve Almond (first I thought of Poppy Z. Brite, but the Town library appears not to go that far). A quick check of the shelves brought up My Life in Heavy Metal which I've been reading.

I did not want to think that Steve Almond was a good writer, but he is.

Nevertheless, I do not feel compelled to read a lot of Steve Almond.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A Few Words on the Oscars

E's pre-show - product placement

Isaac - stupid

Naomi's dress - ugh

Keira - fabulous

ponytails - ubiquitous

Eric Bana - who?

Jon Stewart's dream - hilarious

Jon Stewart's monologue - eh

gay Western montage - ayup

supertitles - lame

Best Supporting Actor - most popular

Ben Stiller - unembarassable

Wallace and Gromit bowties - styling

Dolly Parton and her breasts - eternal

cutting off the second winner's speech because the first winner went on too long - heartless

Morgan Freeman - ascot

March of the Penguins - predictable

the penguins - cheesy

the flame/dance/film thing to the Crash song - huh?

politics and the Academy - self-aggrandizing

pimping the big screen - belated

Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep - brilliant

Robert Altman - hero

Dustin Hoffman - odd

Jon Stewart - eh

Best Actor - expected, deserved

Heath Ledger - also deserved

Philip Seymour Hoffman - coolest

Reese Witherspoon - yeah!

Ryan Phillippe - seething?

Larry McMurtry's jeans - nice

Larry McMurtry's voice - unexpected

"The duty of art is to send light into the darkness of men's hearts." - ok

Jack Nicholson - Jack Nicholson

Crash - wrong

chick in the orange dress - boobful

cutting off the first Best Picture winner for a commercial (and was she really thanking her WIFE?) - totally lame

Oscars, I wish I knew how to quit you. And that will be the last Brokeback joke, I promise. And the last words on the Oscars.

[Edited to add: Defamer pretty much sums it up--all you need to read is the 8:23 post.]

M's Oscar Commentary

Have you ever noticed that the men are more realistic than the women? Like you can imagine him [Philip Seymour Hoffman] being a *** with you. But you can’t imagine the women doing anything except being movie stars.

[Jon Stewart appears.] He’s the guy who wrote America! This is going to be funny!

[The camera pans to Jack Nicholson rocking out to Dolly Parton.] Look at the old guy!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Friday Night Movies That Had To Be Turned Off Because They Were Too Scary

E: Wallace and Gromit, A Grand Day Out. That was too bad because I would much rather watch Wallace and Gromit than Dora, in fact I should not even be mentioning Dora in the same sentence as Wallace and Gromit.

M: Thoroughly Modern Millie. That was ok, because the thing with the Chinese guys running the white slave trade was just racist beyond belief, and Julie Andrews was really annoying, though Mary Tyler Moore was funny, in a dopey kind of way.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Should I Go or Should I Not?

I have a semi-major college reunion coming up (20th, if you must).

I have entered the city in which I went to college twice since I graduated: once the following autumn to visit a close friend who was still there, and once a few years later when I was driving down the adjacent freeway, needed a battery, and, knowing where the convenience store was, figured it was as good a place as any to stop.

I'm not really the reuning type.

At my 10th reunion I was giving birth to M 3000 miles away (I wondered why I couldn't reach A all weekend to tell her the news, and when she finally called me back and told me where she'd been, I realized that I hadn't even known it was happening).

I see my good friends from college all the time, or at least email with them, or at least exchange holiday cards.

People say the point of reunions is to see the people who weren't your good friends but whom it's still nice to see.

I figured if I was going to go to any reunion, it would be my 25th, as that seems to be the reunion to go to, if I continue to model my life after K and D, which I fully intend to do (they went to the same college I did 10 years earlier).

A has been harassing me about it for months now: she wants us to go together. B asked me about it last weekend; she's going. I just got an email from C, whom I haven't seen since my wedding, saying that she doesn't want to go unless I go. (Their initials really are A, B, and C.)

The pressure builds.

Book Candy

You'll Never Nanny in This Town Again. Celebrities and nannies. Mmm. Like two hours of Popsugar. Best in the first 2/3 while she's dishing on the disastrous home life of Michael and Judy Ovitz; gets a little tedious toward the end when she's mopey and finding herself.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Doorway Dropoff

Today E's class started Doorway Dropoff on Thursday mornings. Doorway Dropoff is when your parents drop you off at the doorway and you put away your lunch and hang up your coat and take off your boots and put on your slippers and find an activity all by yourself, rather than with the accompaniment and assistance of said parents. Doorway Dropoff is in preparation for next year when the kids in E's class will be forced to leave the heavenly haven that is their perfect school and head out into the vast wilderness of school school.

(I don't know if I've actually blogged much about E's perfect school, which really is the perfection of schoolness. For the purposes of this post, all you need to know is that her school goes from 2-5 [years old, not o'clock] and she is in the oldest class, kindergarten, from which in June [or July or August, depending on whether they stay for the summer] everyone will be expelled into kindergartens and first grades all over Town and the surrounding vicinities, depending upon whether they keep going private or are switched, as E will be, finally, thank the financial gods, to public.)

There was much anxiety about Doorway Dropoff in the last several days, so this morning I did not mention it, though I did whisper to S that today was the first day of Doorway Dropoff, but he should not mention it (he takes M to school, I take E to school--this originated out of necessity and has evolved into insistent preference on the part of both children).

E remembered Doorway Dropoff in the car and immediately got anxious again, almost to the point of whimpering. I was cheery. She said she didn't want to do it. I said everyone was doing it and her teachers would help her. She asked if I would help her take off her coat. I said I would help her take off her coat at the door and she could put it away herself. Not in her cubby, she said, on her hook. Right, I said, on her hook. (In winter, coats and snowpants go on a long wall of hooks because there is not enough room in cubbies.) Then she changed the subject, though her affect was still a bit whimpery.

When we got out of the car at school, I handed her her lunchbox. She carried it for a bit, along with Bitty Baby, and then she asked if I would carry it. Till she got to the doorway. Sure, I said, I would carry it till the doorway.

By now I was apprehensive. E is often clingy in the mornings, though her clinginess has reached the point of routine. I take her into the classroom. We get out of the coat and boots and into the slippers. I ask her what she wants to do. She says Mama and clings to my leg. I ask her if she wants to choose something or go to a teacher. She shakes her head mutely. I take her to a teacher, the teacher puts an arm around her, I give her a kiss and leave. (Have I mentioned how incredibly great E's teachers are? They are the best teachers ever, all THREE of them.)

Given this routine, it seemed likely that I was in for some reluctance at the doorway. Indeed, when we got to the doorway and her teacher saw us from inside the room, she immediately got up and headed toward us. E paused to show me something on the bulletin board. I looked and then I told her it was time to go in. I gave her a kiss, and off she trotted, lunchbox and Bitty Baby in hand, as happy as could be.

Let's hear it for working out your anxieties ahead of time and facing the moment with aplomb!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Paris Shows

Not that fashion matters. And not that by choosing to follow fashion in my own desultory kind of way I'm not aware of my complicity in the problematic gender implications of it all--oh what the hell, let's just come out and say the misogyny of it all (OK, I think that sentence is messed up, but I really wanted the repetition of the "Not that," only then I got all confused about where the negative lies, but I wasn't willing to give up, so I just went with it). But these articles are totally scary, though it's kind of nice to see men calling other men on their shit for once.