Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Here's the thing: if we can beat Toronto and New York 1/3 of the time, and beat everyone else a lot, we can make it to the playoffs. But we simply cannot win the World Series unless we can beat Toronto and New York, well, more than half the time.
Really, at this point I just have two words for the Red Sox: Bronson Arroyo.
LIVE FROM BAGHDAD: MORE DYING
James Brolan, the CBS soundman who was blown up in Baghdad on Memorial Day, was cute and funny and cheated at Scrabble. The 42-year-old former British soldier left a wife, an 18-year-old son and a 12-year-old daughter.
Paul Douglas, the cameraman, was a slab of a man with a great smile and gentle charm, a whiz of a cook who lived in London, where he liked to ride his motorcycle and cruise in an old Bentley that he'd restored himself. The 48-year-old left a wife, two daughters, three grandchildren and a mother.
Several teams of doctors have been fighting to save the life, and the legs, of Kimberly Dozier, the CBS correspondent who was hurt by the roadside bomb. The single 39-year-old was a headlong, generous reporter who had spent years covering Iraq and Afghanistan.
"People rarely think of a woman as pretty as Kimberly as being strong," Dan Rather blogged on the CBS Web site. "She is."
Mr. Rather recalled that she had kept a kayak in her room in Baghdad, hoping she could someday persuade the military to let her row on the Tigris, near where she almost died while embedded with the American infantry, reporting a story about what the troops were doing on Memorial Day.
Doctors said that her heart had stopped beating and her blood pressure had plummeted. But somehow, with the help of blood donations from those in the combat hospital, they stabilized her. (Soldiers dragged Mr. Douglas away from the burning vehicle and put a tourniquet on one of his legs that had been blasted off, but it was too late to save him.)
The administration and some right-wing commentators have blamed the press for not reporting positive news in Iraq. The radio host Laura Ingraham has suggested that the press is "invested in America's defeat" and has mocked TV journalists for "reporting from hotel balconies about the latest I.E.D.'s going off."
Conservative chatterers have parroted President Bush's complaint that "people resuming their normal lives will never be as dramatic as the footage of an I.E.D. explosion."
But now two network personalities — Ms. Dozier and Bob Woodruff — have been severely injured by roadside bombs while embedded with the military, trying to do the sort of stories the administration wants.
"One thing I don't want to hear anymore," Steve Capus, the president of NBC News, told The Times's Bill Carter, "is people like Laura Ingraham spewing about us not leaving our balconies in the Green Zone to cover what's really happening in Iraq."
Even with constricted coverage, the tally of journalists killed in Iraq is now 71, more than the number killed in Vietnam or World War II. (This war is now six months short of the United States involvement in World War II, but at least then we knew we were winning by this point.)
Shaken by the CBS losses, networks were reassessing how to cover a story with such excruciating risks. Journalists in Iraq are hamstrung in Iraq just as the troops are, struggling, with ever greater frustration and higher costs, to do the job they were sent in to do.
As the CBS war correspondent Lara Logan told CNN recently, American officials often reject her requests for optimistic stories, saying: "Oh, sorry, we can't take you to that school project, because if you put that on TV, they're going to be attacked, the teachers are going to be killed, the children might be the victims of attack. Oh, sorry, we can't show this reconstruction project because then that's going to expose it to sabotage."
An American soldier was killed in the blast that killed the CBS cameraman and soundman and injured Ms. Dozier. But more than a day after we knew everything about the CBS victims, no information had been released about him.
There is a tragic anonymity about this war. Kids die but we don't know who they are, other than their names, which turn up in small print. They do not touch everyone's lives because, without a draft, they are not drawn from every part of American society. The administration tries to play down any sense of individual loss; the president has not attended a single funeral, and the government banned pictures of their returning coffins. The Iraqi civilians who die don't even get their names in the small print.
Journalists die and we know who they are. We know they liked to cook and play Scrabble. But we don't know who killed them, and their killers will never be brought to justice. The enemy has no face, just a finger on a detonator.
I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, do we really think protecting American movie stars is the best use of the prime minister of
Monday, May 29, 2006
If you get excited that Bruce brought out Peter Wolf for the last song, and they played "Dirty Water" seguing into "Buffalo Gal," then you probably grew up where I grew up (and if "Buffalo Gal" makes you think of Malcolm Maclaren, you get a few more points).
If I say that we took the girls to the opening night of the Seeger Sessions tour, then you can easily figure out where I live (but you don't need to mention it).
I've been disgruntled with the blog lately. Partly because I'm disgruntled with myself, but also because the way I've set this up isn't working for me right now.
I'm annoyed with trying to post every day, which keeps my head buzzing with topics, opening lines, even entire posts--I want to let other things buzz. I'm tired of letting my stats get me down, or up--my moods turn on a dime too easily anyway. I'm frustrated with my semi-anonymity--I want to blog about Blue State dramas, like a ridiculous sexual harassment scandal at a major local institution, and our appalling governor (who, besides thinking that Iraq is part of his jurisdiction, just booted three members of the state public health commission who voted to ban formula from maternity ward giveaway bags, and reversed the ban which benefits...uh...newborn babies? new mothers? oh yeah, large corporations!).
I've toyed with quitting altogether, and obviously I took a break, but then I found myself wanting to post about the Bruce Springsteen concert, so, for now, I'm taking down my stats, abandoning my post-every-day policy, posting only when I want to about what I want to (sorry, folks, nothing to say about the Brangelina baby) , and relaxing about the anonymity schtick (really I just want not to be Googleable, which seems feasible).
Me: Did you like the concert?
E: [shrug] I don't know?
Me: Why don't you know?
E: Because I wasn't there for the whole thing.
Me: Did you like it before you feel asleep?
E: [shrug] I don't know. I can't believe I fell asleep.
Me: It's kind of funny that first it was too loud for you, and then you fell asleep.
E: I liked "Oh Mary Don't You Weep" and "Erie Canal."
Regardless of whether she actually liked it--and I'd say that her assessment is accurate, because she liked the idea of it, and had a bit of fun during some songs, and when we walked around, but she also was a bit perturbed throughout--I hope that adult E will enjoy telling her friends that her first concert was Bruce Springsteen when she was five, and she fell asleep.
I had no intention of going to my 20th college reunion, but my friends started working on me a few months ago. It's hard to resist when people say things like "all I want is to see you." Really, though, I didn't want to go. I went to college with a lot of very successful people, and while I'm no slouch, I'm pretty transitional and angsty these days, and I don't particularly want to share. Plus, as S pointed out, all my classmates will be talking about their investment banking deals and the renovations to their houses in the Hamptons, and I would have to face my bad choices (joke).
Still, I vacillated. I like my friends; could be fun; what if my looks are peaking now and have deteriorated by 2011?
Then it was announced that the first night of the Seeger Sessions tour would be Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend in East Coast Big City. Then the show was moved outside. Then it became clear: if we could get tickets, I was meant to skip the reunion and take the girls to see Bruce Springsteen; if we couldn't, I was meant to go.
We got tickets.
At about 8, I turned to S and said, "They've just finished their gin and tonics, and now they're sitting down to their beef tenderloin." And I was happy to be where I was.
K: M, how did you like the concert?
It doesn't get much better than outdoor music on a beautiful summer night. Especially when M is standing on the chair next to you, rocking out, with a beautific grin on her face (and even when you're sitting down with sleeping E's head on your lap, watching the giant tv screens). Especially Bruce (I am not a diehard Bruce fan, but you've got to admit, he puts on a show, and, being the 70s white girl/40something mom that I am, I can't help swooning a bit when he does that back-to-the-audience butt wiggle across the stage).
You can read a review for details. I'll just say: thumbs up to the banjo, the fiddle, the raggedy rocking horns, the politics, the acoustic versions of "Cadillac Ranch," "Ramrod," and "You Can Look (But You Better Not Touch)," and, of course, all my favorite folk songs.
So I'm watching this amphitheater of middle-aged white people singing along to "John Henry" and "Erie Canal" and "Jesse James" and "Pay Me My Money Down," and I'm thinking about the intertextuality of the whole thing, because everyone sings along at a Springsteen concert, except usually they're singing about Rosalita and Wendy, and Pete Seeger is the master of singalongs--I remember Arlo Guthrie once talking about how Pete Seeger taught him to say the line just before you sing it so everyone can sing with you--and about how much I love American folk music, and how I wish everyone loved it, and I'm wondering whether I just love it because I sang it as a kid--I know just about every song on that record--and then I realize that it is much more than that.
What is so great about American folk music--work songs and spirituals, ballads and protest songs--is that it is profoundly collective. It is about ordinary people singing together about shared experiences. Even the music itself, the danceable tunes and clappable beats, or the haunting melodies, works to bring people together. Which is why it's so great for kids. Which is why that whole amphitheater was rocking out. Which is why it is so profoundly political.
And then I thought about contemporary politics, and how I wish the Democrats, some Democrat, any Democrat, would stand up and say "The goal here isn't to get more and better and bigger for yourself. The goal is to help each other, to work together, to make life better for everyone. So let's kick these big-business-loving, poor-people-and-immigrant-hating, war-mongering assholes the hell out of Dodge, and get down to business."
At least Bruce is saying it, but that just isn't enough.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
tonight - sushi with Grandma, Grandpa, Lucy, Mabel, J and M, followed by Chocolate Guinness
tomorrow - Major Sporting Event
Friday - birthday party at Daddy's restaurant
Saturday - Major Musical Event
Sunday - K and D, and dinner at Daddy's restaurant again
next Wednesday - dinner at fancy restaurant on the corner with Grammy and Grandpa
Some Things About M at Just-Turned Ten
- She went to her first slumber party on Saturday night and had a great time.
- This year she finally started sleeping through the night almost every night.
- She has just started reading grown-up books, mainly about food.
- Every day she reads at least one Little House, Betsy-Tacy, or Abby Hayes book, if not several. She has read each book in the series' more times than I could count.
- At every tee ball practice, she is out on the field with the dads, playing catch with the kids. She wants to play softball next year.
- She and her friends (girls and boys) are into Yo Momma jokes and pinching each other hard enough to make marks.
- She likes to wear a short dress over jeans.
- She made homemade ice cream sandwiches from her new kids cookbook the other night.
- She stays home alone while I run errands or pick up E from school.
- She is not ready to be a teenager.
M Shares Her Birthday With:
Lillian Gilbreth (just found that one out on Wikipedia--she will be thrilled)
my friend B
The other day, walking home from yoga, I thought about how I started doing yoga in January 1996, when I was four months pregnant with M. I kept at it pretty consistently through my eighth month pregnant with E (unlike my beautific prenatal yoga class in Berkeley, in Red State Capital City Suburb I just stayed in my regular class and my teacher modified for me). With two kids, though, yoga fell by the wayside, and I only picked it up again regularly this January, when I was unemployed and S gave me a membership to the gym for Hanukkah and I worked out maniacally to maintain my sanity.
There are other points of commonality between when M was born and now: the week after M was born, S became managing partner of a restaurant; this month he became chef of X. When M was born, I knew what I would be doing for the next year, and after that came the great unknown; right now I know what I will be doing for the next year, and after that comes the great unknown.
I'm not quite sure what to make of these parallels. I don't think the next decade will be much like the last one, and that's ok. I wonder how much of M at 20 is already visible in M at 10. Certainly M at 10 is beyond anything we could possibly have imagined on May 24, 1996.
It seems inconceivable that I have been a mother for a decade, that she has been alive for a decade, but although sometimes I wish I could click my heels and make her (and her sister) disappear (temporarily, at least), I can't imagine life without her. Who would approve (or disapprove) my fashion choices? Who would sit in the cafe and read with me? Who would go for the longest walks with me? Who would tell me to calm down? Who would get her sister to behave, or at least try? Who would sing the same song over and over?
Luckily, I don't have to answer those questions.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
- my high school diploma and yearbooks (thought not for my year--but I think that one is in another box)
- lots of unsent letters to boys and men
- an incredible Valentine S must have made me in high school, with about ten separate mini-Valentines
- dozens, maybe hundreds, of stories and poems I've forgotten writing, a striking percentage of which are blatantly autobiographical, which makes sense since I only wrote stories and poems until I was about 22
No, I am not going to wax frustrated or melancholic. Instead, presumably to nobody's surprise, I am going to write about books.
I had boxes in the basement of my dad's house, boxes whose contents I couldn't even recall. My dad had been nagging me about them for years, and I had been ignoring him and them, because I clearly didn't miss them so they might as well be in his basement as anywhere else I could schlep them. But with the house sold, they had to be dealt with. So yesterday, S and I rented a U-Haul (which really we didn't need, but it was only $25 and made everything much easier) and picked up a set of dining room chairs, a bed, a marble-topped coffee table, a mini-cuisinart, a watering can, several boxes of wine glasses, a painting for my mother, and my boxes (there will be more to pick up next week, after the last tenant vacates, but that will be then).
I got a little freaked out just checking the boxes in the basement, trying to figure out which were mine. There were four boxes with my parents' books, and I remember those books so well. Our living room was very big--we took down two walls to make three rooms into a long room with the dining table at one end, the piano in the middle, and the couch and chairs at the other end--and around the perimeter of the room was a baseboard heater with a single bookshelf above it (there were also floor-t0-ceiling bookshelves in my mother's study, and the front hall). For some reason, the book that always most intrigued me, though I never actually read it, was Richard Farina's been down so long it looks like up to me (the copy we had is the one at the top right). I opened one of the boxes and there it was, right on top, and I immediately visualized just where it went on the shelf: to the right as you came in from the front door, behind the canvas chairs (were they red and orange? or was one yellow? it scares me to lose these details, but then I wonder why they matter).
I decided not to take my parents' books. We already have 20 boxes of books in the attic that we don't yet have shelves for, and I had my own books to take. But those boxes set the themes of the day: revisiting my childhood, and deciding what to keep.
The thing is, I am basically a keeper. I have every letter ever sent me, and virtually every piece of paper the girls scribbled on between the ages of birth and kindergarten (by fourth grade I've gotten ruthless, and most of M's stuff goes straight to the recycling, but I'm still keeping E's, so she won't feel bad that I kept M's and not hers). I once threw out a bunch of papers from grade school--and I regretted it.
At the same time, do I really need the John MacDonald mysteries? outdated Renaissance History textbooks? my college physics notebooks? The answer to all those questions was no: I got rid of Judith Krantz and Ken Follett novels, a veritable bibliography of labor history books (oh wait, maybe Elizabeth wants those), all my college notebooks (though not my folders--there's an important distinction), and, alas, my mother's torn copy of Simone de Beauvoir's Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter, which I so remember reading, but nobody is ever going to read it again, because it is in two pieces with the pages falling out, and an intact copy could easily be found at the library or bookstore.
Yet even as I know it was the right thing to get rid of all that stuff, I still rue the fact that I will never again stumble upon it and be reminded of all the nuclear freeze organizations I wrote to about internships in 1982 (drafts of letters in the back of a class notebook), or the fact that I used to love Travis McGee. Then again, what difference does it make if I forget?
And lest anyone think I went overboard, I kept an awful lot: my collection of movie star biographies (my collection of movie star biographies! I love my collection of movie star biographies!), the original paperbacks of Tales of the City and More Tales of the City, my children's chapter books for M (except I kept my old Mallory Towers books for me, because she has all new ones, the first several bought when we were in London, the rest commissioned from my dad when he is in London, all read dozens of times over), the few picture books plus chapter books M already has for E (whose teacher just started reading Stuart Little to them yesterday, so she was ecstatic to come home and discover her very own Stuart Little!), my cookbook collection (Libby, I had a copy of Mrs. Beeton!), Bill Lee's autobiography (I actually had that one on the discard pile, but S took it off), art books, novels.
But what made me most excited was finding three books that I loved and have remembered ever since, weird unfamous books whose names I'd forgotten. One is The Bishop's Mantle by Agnes Sligh Turnbull whose cover blurb says it all: "The best-selling love story of the rector of St. Matthews--a man of God, and of the earth." Another is The Shining Tides by Win Brooks, which is about a striped bass--really, it is, at least in part--and which I just loved. The third is Blue Treasure: The Mystery of Tamarind Court by Helen Girvan, which is about a Vermeer painting, and it totally pissed me off when Vermeer books hit big a few years ago and nobody mentioned it, though maybe there was a reason for that.
I have no idea if these books are any good, and I don't even know if I'll read them to find out. But just having them again makes me so happy, and they'll definitely go on my bedroom bookshelf, once I get a bedroom bookshelf.
Yes, it's definitely time to boost the bookshelf capacity.
Monday, May 22, 2006
Of course S dropped her off, picked up his backpack, gave us each a kiss and headed we-all-know-where, so I got to deal with the hungry-E "I want a push-up NOW!" tantrum, which was quite a spectacular tantrum, especially given that E does not usually tantrum in the kicking, tearing things apart, running out the door, refusing to listen or negotiate kind of way. I told her repeatedly that she was not going to get a push-up, offered to make her scrambled eggs or french toast, carried her kicking and screaming back inside, and then told her that I was going to clean the kitchen, and she should let me know if she wanted anything, to which she responded, "I want a push-up!" I mean, wouldn't you? (Respond that way, not want a push-up.)
I went into the kitchen and had the brilliant (obvious) idea of just putting some food in front of her, so I was cutting melon chunks, when she walked in and put a piece of styrofoam down on the stool. On it she had written "I [heart] YOU."
I put the melon chunks in a bowl, wrote "I [heart] YOU" on a piece of paper, put the bowl and paper on her little table, and went back in the kitchen.
She immediately started eating the melon. A moment later, she came into the kitchen and handed me a piece of paper that said "IAMH." "Does that say 'I am hungry'?" I asked. Yes, it did, and she wanted a pear, so I cut up a pear, wrote "EGGS?" on the piece of paper, and brought her pear and paper.
Her response (written, of course)? "OK."
As I was scrambling eggs, she brought me another piece of paper on which was written "THAYOU." I assume you can decipher that one. And after I gave her the eggs, she brought me yet another piece that said "THAYOU MAM."
She got some play money yesterday, and when she was done with the eggs, she brought me a $100 bill attached to another piece of paper on which was written "100D," and then another $100 bill attached to a piece of paper that said "100ISFORYOU100ISFORI10010" (I myself am a little unclear on the conclusion of that one which could very well be transcribed incorrectly on my part).
Then we lived happily ever after.
(In case anyone has forgotten, she is still five.)
Sunday, May 21, 2006
I feel like there should be a meaningful analytic conclusion to this post, but there isn't.
Apparently someone thought so, because they invented tee ball, so now we are playing tee ball. More precisely, E is playing tee ball. Even more precisely, E is wearing a team hat and shirt and the tiniest (cutest) little mitt ever, and she is poking #5 (she is #6, so she sits next to #5, waiting to bat, and she is positioned next to #5 somewhere in midfield) (is there such a thing as midfield? they are neither infield nor outfield, which must make them midfield) (then again, in tee ball, outfield is not exactly relevant, so perhaps we should call them developmentally appropriate outfielders). At any rate, they are happy.
But we are not gathered here today to provide a play-by-play account of tee ball (we all batted, they all batted, everyone made it home, graham crackers were eaten, and we went to the playground). I am here to offer remarks upon men, women, and tee ball. And the picture is not pretty, my feminist friends. We are at approximately 100% traditional gender roles. All dads are on the field during practice, throwing balls, catching balls, setting ball on tees, and generally being tee ballish. All moms are on the side, sitting in those folding chairs that always break, chasing after toddlers, reading the NY Times, and gossiping.
And you know, this time there's nothing I can do about it. I've been a good feminist mom on so many fronts: I've hid my fear of dogs and thunder so they won't be fearful girls; I've encouraged them to confront the boys who tell them they can't; I've bitten my tongue as they've climbed higher than any child should climb, boy or girl.
But I loathe baseball (except the Red Sox, of course). Hated it when I was a kid; hate it now. Can't throw, can't hit, can't catch. And I simply cannot, or maybe will not, but will not so strongly that it is essentially cannot, help with tee ball. And whether the other moms feel the same or haven't given it a second thought, this is just the way it is at tee ball.
And the sad thing is: the boys are, for the most part, better at tee ball than the girls. They throw farther. They hit farther. They even catch occasionally. Nature? Nurture? I don't know, but that's the way it is.
Luckily, at the playground after the game, E and N and K do the monkey bars again and again as their moms, who couldn't do monkey bars as kids and still can't, watch with our usual awe. There is still hope.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
E has been watching a lot of Little People movies, about which I have nothing to say, because I haven't been watching them.
M has been watching movies she has seen a million times, and I can't even tell you what they are, because I haven't been watching them.
I have rented Nine Lives several times, and I have nothing to say about it, because I have not yet managed to watch it.
There is baseball, there are books to read, there are projects, Match Point and The Squid and the Whale still cost extra on my membership, and I just haven't been very movie motivated.
But last week, I saw a copy of Bride and Prejudice on the wall at the movie store, and I knew we had this week's movie (we'd already chosen last week's movies: Little People for E, something I don't remember for M, and Nine Lives for me). When S and I saw Bride and Prejudice last year, we agreed it would be a great movie for M. And when I finally talked M into seeing Pride and Prejudice IN THE MOVIE THEATER and she loved it, I knew it was a good sign for Bride and Prejudice (the last movie M had seen in a movie theater was Rugrats in Paris, at the age of four--she is not a movie theater kind of girl--and, as we know, M prefers to watch movies she has already seen).
So we rounded up Lucy and Mabel, warmed up with some edamame and rice, sushi, unagi don, jap chae, and ice cream, and settled in to Bride and Prejudice. Thumbs up all around, although I did have to keep up a constant stream of explanatory patter. But really, how can you go wrong with four sisters, India, London, L.A., a mean mom, technicolor song and dance numbers, love gone wrong, love gone right, and elephants!?
And if you're wondering about E, it's a sad sad story involving much recalcitrance at leaving Grammy and Grandpa's house, many threats, and a for-once-kept resolve to follow through on my threats. Alas, E did not get her own movie tonight, though she did get ice cream and she did watch Bride and Prejudice with us, until she fell asleep on the floor.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Second, I think Stella is one happy daddy's girl.
Third, I think blaming it on the media is ridiculous. Need I say more?
Fourth, I think that it would be absurd, not to mention appalling, for them to fight over money. We're talking OVER A BILLION DOLLARS. Just give her a few hundred million. What possible difference could it make?
A few links: Paul's repeated exhortations to leave them alone and not believe the lies; the trashy version from the Sun that says Paul walked and she's devastated; a Bridget Jones tease from The Independent, along with the solemn money article (but really, you shouldn't need links from me, this story is everywhere).
[Mom, I'm talking about Paul McCartney and his much younger second wife who are separating. You know, the Beatle.]
[And just for the record: I have no thoughts at all about The Da Vinci Code. Haven't read the book, not interested in seeing the movie, don't care if it was plagiarized, and that's all she said.]
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I know, standardized tests bug me every day, but I am especially bugged today by the way standardized tests are developed. First the test guys write the test. Then they test the test on kids. Real kids. Kids in school. Kids who already spend way too many school days taking tests that count, and now have to spend an additional school day, a day they will never get back, a day they could spend reading or doing art projects or learning about Peru or Mars, they need to spend that day taking one more test, a test for which not only will they never get the results, but their school won't even get the results, so the test in no way can be said to enhance their learning on any level, except that it helps ensure good tests for future generations of test-takers, which simply isn't a good enough reason.
There are two bureaucracies I deal with a lot these days (I'm not sure bureaucracy is exactly the word I mean here, perhaps it would be better to say systems? or administrations? or bureaucratic systems? or administrative bureaucracies? but bureaucracy has the negative connotation I need, the idea of a system that works nowhere near as well as it could or should, regardless of any individual's efforts, largely due to layers of complexity and tradition and inertia and obfuscation). One of the bureaucracies is smaller and more accessible to me. I roll my eyes at its numerous shortcomings, but I can find my way through it, I have connections who can--often enough, though not always--make things happen for me, and basically I accept it as a generally navigable if often frustrating part of my life.
But the other bureaucracy, oh my god. This is the kind of bureaucracy that give bureaucracies a bad name, except it's worse. This bureaucracy profoundly affects the lives of lots of people, in generally dreadful ways. This bureaucracy makes no sense and contradicts itself constantly. Whereas I have faith that the people in the other bureaucracy, which I know more intimately, are at least trying, this bureaucracy makes me lose all faith. And I wonder, too, whether bureaucracies turn people into obfuscating obstructionists, or whether people who tend toward obfuscating obstruction find their way into bureaucracies.
Can you tell that I spent my day in meetings?
3. Internet Meanness
I don't have strong feelings about Dani Shapiro's Mother's Day essay in Salon. She's a fine writer and I'm almost always interested in personal narrative and mothers, so I read it, but I found it neither fabulous nor terrible, nor was I particularly invested in either Shapiro or her mother. Clearly, however, others felt differently, for if you keep going to the letters, you will find vicious attacks on Shapiro from all directions (as well as defenses, but that's not what's bugging me). You might argue that anyone who writes personal essays lays themselves open to criticism, but so much of what I see on blogs and websites with comments is so hostile, so rude, so cruel, so mean-spirited, it just makes me sad for all of us that this is what passes for discourse in our communities. Or perhaps, the problem is that we do not think of ourselves as responsible members of communities, but simply hurl our words into the ether at targets we forget are real people with feelings too.
So what's bugging you?
When we were living in
I made it this weekend, for my sister’s birthday. It was delightfully easy: melt the chocolate, butter and sugar in a double boiler; beat the eggs, ground almonds, and salt; add the egg et al. to the chocolate et al. and mix for a long time; bake. I had a moment of anxiety when the partly-melted chocolate/butter/sugar looked alarmingly like the granulated mess of the recent Chocolate Meringue Truffle Cake imbroglio, but I quickly realized that it looked granulated because the chocolate and butter had not yet melted sufficiently to absorb the (granulated) sugar, and soon enough it looked quite right.
The Green & Black’s recipe said to bake for 35-40 minutes, but the other one said to take it out at exactly 45 minutes when the top begins to crack, so I was not alarmed when it did not seem ready at 40, and cheerfully took it out at 45, with just one small crack. S was dubious, however, and I do think it maybe should have stayed in a little longer, but I’m jumping ahead of myself (everything seems to take longer in our oven, and I am naturally impatient, which is one of the many reasons I am not a very good cook, but really I need to get a thermometer for the oven and come to terms with this situation, because it is an issue every time I bake).
We stuck one candle in the middle and served it with whipped cream. It was dense and fudgy (hence, perhaps, the need for maybe a few more minutes in the oven?), extremely rich, with a strong, pure chocolate taste. It didn’t have the promised molten center, but that may also be due to the fact that we served it a full day after I made it. Really, it seemed like a chocolate truffle cake not a chocolate mousse cake, especially given the ingredients and process (I would expect a chocolate mousse cake to be lighter and involve either cream or egg whites, whipped).
My nephew gobbled up his piece and said, with a satisfied sigh, “that was fantastic,” so you can take that for what it’s worth. Everyone else cleaned their plates too, albeit more slowly, and said it was delicious. I had a small piece, and thought it was a bit much, but I must admit that the next morning, as I poured cereal for small children, I cut myself a tiny bit, and then another, and then another. And when my nephew got grumpy, I took my aunt’s prerogative and gave him a piece of that cake and another cake that someone had given my sister, and he said that mine was much better and the other one was too much (and he was happy for the rest of the day).
So I’d say it’s definitely recommended if you like your chocolate cake intense, though it's worth perhaps considering a few more minutes in the oven, or serving it on the same day it's baked.
[And M wants me to add that yesterday she and S made eclairs and they were delicious.]
Monday, May 15, 2006
Julia Glass, The World Over (out next week)
Curtis Sittenfeld, The Man of My Dreams (out tomorrow)
Anne Tyler, Digging to America
These are the number of holds on those books at the Town Library:
Bechdel - 9
Glass - 25
Sittenfeld - 60
Tyler - 229
You might say that I am pathetically mainstream. You might also say that I wish I was the kind of person with the money and attitude to go to the bookstore and buy whatever I want to read, regardless of whether it's only in hardcover. You might be right, on both counts.
These are the books I got at the Town Library:
John Darnton, The Darwin Conspiracy
Jane Urquhart, A Map of Glass
Which means we may eventually get to the long-promised and equally long-postponed post on all things Victorian and novelistic. Or maybe not.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
Anyway, this is the perfect CSA to join: it's a friend's brother who used to be a chef and is farming their grandmother's land with his girlfriend the dancer, about an hour south of East Coast Big City. So you've got local, you've got community, you've got art vibes, you've even got the possibility of vegetables for the restaurant. All good. (In Red State Capital City Suburb, we were deeply entwined with our CSA, but everyone is entwined with everything in Red State Capital City Suburb; still, it's nice to feel a real connection that I didn't think we'd get, here in the big city.)
The only thing that's a little sad--because I wouldn't be me if I didn't look at the dark side--is that joining the CSA means less excuse to go the farmer's market. But maybe we'll just go anyway.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
I'm not usually so gung ho on spying/civil rights-type stuff. I mean, I'm your usual liberal, but those just aren't the issues that get me going. But this phone thing? I'm aghast.
The security rationale for the NSA needing to know how often and how long I talk to my mother and sister? For knowing that S calls me between 5 and 6 every single day for approximately four minutes? And yes, they are talking about me, because they are talking about "every call made within the country," according to CNN (and I checked to see if this was just one of those CNN goes headline on something that everyone already knows about or that doesn't actually matter, but this story is big and getting bigger).
I'm emailing my senators right now.
Tagore could never have imagined this...
Edited to add: Now the Times is on it, and this is insane:
"It's not a wiretapping program, it's simply a compilation, according to the report here, of numbers that phone companies maintain," said Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.He compared it to "mail covers" and "pen registers," techniques long used by law-enforcement authorities to record the addresses on letters or calls made by individuals under investigation.
Jeff, my friend, do you see those last two words there? Those would be "UNDER INVESTIGATION." Do you understand the difference between compiling information about people UNDER INVESTIGATION and compiling information about EVERYBODY???
Sometimes I just want to slap people upside the head.
Sometimes I just want to slap the whole world upside the head.
WHERE THE MIND IS WITHOUT FEAR
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
[I can't get it to format correctly--after the first line, all the other lines should be indented.]
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
- Attitude and resistance (M, but luckily it's slowing down)
- Clinging to Mommy (E, and it only seems to get worse when Daddy is around)
- Hypochondria (both--every cut is the equivalent of a quadruple fracture with the bone sticking out of the skin, and the stomachaches, my god, the stomachaches...)
It would be so much easier if they would just say, "I miss Daddy."
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Edited to add: There will be a good night's sleep in Red Sox Nation tonight!!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Luckily I find it in the newest collection of essays from editrix supreme Andi Buchanan: It's a Girl: Women Writers on Raising Daughters. Of course I'm predisposed to like this one, given my plethora of daughters, but interestingly, a lot of the issues didn't resonate with me. Perhaps I'm a more secure mother than I think I am, but Barbie doesn't bother me, I'm pretty much over my childhood (really, Mom, I am), and I work hard to maintain my equilibrium on fat, beauty, and other body matters.
Nevertheless, some of these essays were absolutely lovely. With flawless form, Martha Brockenbrough's "It's a Girl" details her shift from male identification to the embrace of her own femininity in the face of her daughters. Rachel Hall's "Breasts: A Collage" weaves together adolescence, nursing, and her mother's breast cancer in painfully beautiful poetic prose--I think it's my favorite piece here. Anything Amy Bloom writes works for me, but "Me and My Girls" is a beautiful evocation of what it means to have two daughters who are so different, yet each so much hers, and so much each other's--this one resonated with me on all levels.
A good book: I recommend it. For more on the blog book tour, check out Andi's blog.
Their manifesto does cool things with acronyms:
M - Maternity and paternity leave
O - Open flexible leave
T - TV & after-school programs
H - Healthcare for all kids
E - Excellent childcare
R - Realistic and fair wages
They have lots of cool organizations signed up to work with them.
Their book is in the 40s at Amazon which is very cool.
Go check it out! And blog about it, so more people know! Come on, please please let me for the first time ever be the originator of a blog stampede (a cool kind of stampede, of course). (Though really the originator would be Libby, since I found out about it from her, but if you link back to me, the origin will be made clear.)
Sunday, May 07, 2006
--So much for that. I'm not even going to try and make the sentence work. Instead we're going to go for a kind of liveblogging my so-called life sort of effect. I was rudely interrupted by crying over water in eyes, stomping out of bath, and screaming about clarinet practice.
--Moving right along. #1 is now asleep. #2 should be asleep, but is watching TV, because going to bed before 9 is simply insulting for an about-to-be ten year old (and please don't say anything about how your children have gone to bed at 6:30 every day of their lives, even though they are now 11, 13, and 15, because bully for you and that's not how it is over here, and you'd be amazed at what violence can be wreaked through the ether, i.e. upon you by me). At any rate, I have ten minutes to get to the business at hand, so let's get on with it.
As I discovered at the supermarket, but in fact already knew through the graces of my good friends at Popsugar, Denise Richards is on the cover of every major magazine this weekend (useless links--nobody will give up the story online).
To briefly recap, for Grandpa, Denise Richards is famous primarily for Wild Things, a truly fabulous teen girl sexploitation flick, up there in the pantheon with Poison Ivy, a classic of the mid-career Drew oeuvre (post-scared little girl, pre-romantic comedies) (yes, I checked Denise's resume, and though it's long, there's not much else there to be famous for). Of course she is also famous for her brief marriage to--and apparently much longer divorce proceedings from--Charlie Sheen (if you don't have time to click on the link, we'll just say history with prostitutes and stints in rehab and leave it at that).
--Left you hanging there, didn't I? OK, everyone is now in bed, and sweet goodnights have mitigated the events of the evening. I must finish this up so I can repair to the NY Times and a strong drink (I'm thinking white grape juice and vodka), and attempt to wait up for S, though that seems unlikely.
So Denise Richards was married to Charlie Sheen and best friends with Heather Locklear, and don't you dare say anything bad about Heather Locklear, because, well, simply because Amanda Woodward, so there (and I just can't find a good link for Amanda Woodward--there's a project: someone needs to do a good Amanda Woodward website, and all will be right with the world--but for those for whom it's sufficient information, I'll just say Melrose Place, and if that doesn't help, sorry, Mom, I'll just say a stellar TV actress who has graced numerous trashy hit TV shows with aplomb and a remarkable ability to stay size 2 and not make you hate her for it).
Oh my god, why is this taking so long?!
Basically Charlie and Denise split up, and then, to everyone's surprise, because they seemed like one of those happy rock-and-roll marriages, but then again look at what happened to Valerie and Eddie, Heather and her husband, Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, split up, and now Denise is fooling around with Richie, and she and Heather have had a best-friend break-up.
But the point I wanted to make, because this was meant to be analysis, not simply narrative, because you can get the narrative anywhere, but you come here for the analysis, is that basically, Denise Richards is a publicity hound. You know all those pictures of her at the park with her kids? (Can't find a link to those either, and I really must get to the end of this, but take my word for it--you trust me, don't you?--there are constantly pictures of her at the park with her kids.) Those pictures are so staged it's like you're watching stills from a movie. That woman is not weeping because her divorce is so nasty and her husband loved prostitutes more than her. She is not weeping because she has lost her best friend. She's kind of psyched because really it wasn't so much fun hanging out with Heather because every time one of her shows went off the air she was on another show, like, five minutes later, which was so unfair, and Richie Sambora is probably pretty good in the sack, and he's certainly cuter than David Spade, and, my god, she's on the cover of every magazine this week, and maybe this will get her a real movie offer! Score!
And I am so done with this.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
There are two problems here. Well, actually there are a lot of problems, as some of Laura's commenters suggest, like Flanagan's basic hypocrisy in construing herself as a traditional stay-at-home mom, when in fact she works, albeit from home, has a full-time nanny, and never does housework. But, more specifically, when Flanagan writes about her life, or about gender issues in general--no, let's call a spade a spade, she does not write about gender issues, she writes about women's issues, because there is nary a man in her writing, unless he is a disappointed man whose wife is not giving him what he needs, or her own happy, satisfied husband (and we won't mention the blow job thing)--when Flanagan writes about women's issues, she begins with the fact that she stays home, but she never stops there. She inevitably goes on, whether it's via the topic of working mothers (bad) or teen sex (bad), to bashing feminism. And that's where a whole lot of Democrats, and I would guess some Republicans too, get pissed off.
The second problem, is that she never, ever, writes about supporting the environment and gay marriage and immigrant rights. I had no idea. Nobody had any idea. And you might ask why we should know and why we should care, and you might be right. But you might not, because if someone's main schtick is to bash feminism, and she never writes about any other political issues, then, based on the knowledge we have of her politics, it seems at least somewhat reasonable to believe that she might not be sympathetic to other progressive values.
And here we get to what is good, if infuriating, about Caitlin Flanagan: she is complicated. But if she doesn't show us certain facets of her complexity, she can't really blame us for not taking them into account.
Friday, May 05, 2006
We got out the old hand-me-down flowered green keds and I showed her how with the first shoe: tie a knot, make a tree, the bunny goes around the tree and through the hole, pull, double knot. She tried it with the second and didn't have much success; we ended up doing it together.
When I picked her up at school, her teacher said "Tell your mom what you did today." I thought she was going to say she wrote the morning message on the whiteboard (which she did, and a fabulous job of it too--I knew because it said so on the daily report outside the classroom, and I'd already checked it out). But no, she announced that she had tied her shoe during nap! Yes, her teacher confirmed, when nap was over she showed them her shoe and she had tied it, all by herself.
This morning she wanted to tie her shoes again. So she did. A little loosely, but hey, it's only the second day, and she has the rest of her life to get it tight.
(She's particularly excited because A and N can't tie their shoes yet, and she is younger than them.)
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Why is Vogue so utterly obsessed with Alice Temperley? The clothes are certainly cute, but this must be at least the third isn't-Alice-Temperley's-life-and-style-the-best-thing-ever article I've read, and I really do not read Vogue very often.
Jamie Oliver is only THIRTY?
Topshop. Ah, Topshop. Alas and alack, I am too old for Topshop--at least I was two years ago, last time I tried. I bought socks. But they are very nice socks.
And then there is Plum Sykes. Why must there be Plum Sykes?
From her article about her new apartment:
Getting married, writing a novel, and decorating an apartment all in the space of a year is quite something...In the end I realized that the only way to get [my husband] to agree to what I wanted to do was to sweetly pretend that I was going to do exactly what Toby suggested, and then just do what I wanted anyway...Husbands think they know a lot about decorating. But I have come to the conclusion that their opinions are unsound. Straight men are not wired in the art of prettification (thank goodness).
Hurricane Katrina was quite something too.
From a description of a costume party in the excerpt from her new novel (her first novel was utterly, totally, and completely unreadable--I lasted 15 pages):
There were Bogies and Bacalls lounging on black lacquer and gilt chairs, and a very convincing Jean Shrimpton and David Bailey duo were giggling by the bar. A Penelope Tree and Truman Capote duo sat cross-legged on the floor talking intensely, while a Halston and Warhol combo stepped coolly over them. On Lauren's sofas, which had been recovered in old 1930s Japanese kimono fabric, three sets of John and Yoko sat gossiping as hard as though they really were John and Yoko.
Yeah, gossiping, that's what I always associate with John and Yoko. Really, though, you lost me at the second "duo."
OK, I will never buy Vogue again.
Until I do.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
If Doug Mirabelli had made it to the game on time (he was in the lineup and out of the lineup till 6:58; his plane landed at Logan at 6:48; he had a police escort to Fenway; he changed in the car and was on the field at 7:13) (here are some cool pictures, thanks to Soxaholix, who are right on as usual this morning), it would have been enough.
If the Sox had scored in the first inning, it would have been enough.
If the Sox had come from behind and tied it in the fifth, it would have been enough.
If they had gone up 4-3 in the 8th, it would have been enough.
If Big Papi had hit a three-run homer, it would have been enough.
If Papelbon had pitched another perfect final inning, it would have been enough.
If the Red Sox had beat the Yankees in their first match-up of the season, it would have been enough.
The look on Johnny Damon's face as he watched the last three Yankee batters go down in order was enough.
[You know it was all only enough because they won, but still, it was a classic.]
[This one is for Phantom Scribbler.]
Monday, May 01, 2006
We were talking about the Revolutionary War. I explained to E that America used to be part of England and then there was a war and we became our own country. M said it was like Johnny Damon used to be a Red Sox and then he became a Yankee. E said it was the opposite, because the Yankees already existed. I said it was the opposite because he was becoming the bad guy.
Unfortunately, we can't watch the bad guy's first appearance in pinstripes at Fenway because it's No TV Week at M's school and we need to support her. So we'll listen to it on the radio.
It seems inevitable that the Red Sox will lose this game, given their recent record (focus on the last column). It seems inevitable that the Red Sox will win this game, given, well, given that sometimes it happens.
In fact, the great thing about the Red Sox now is that all narratives are inevitable.
for summer is a-coming today,
and whither we are going we all will unite
in the merry morning of May.
The young men of Padstow
they might if they could
for summer is a-coming today,
they might have built a ship
and gilt it all with gold
in the merry morning of May.
Unite and unite...
The young girls of Padstow
they might if they could
for summer is a-coming today
they might have made a garland
of the red rose and the white
in the merry morning of May.
Unite and unite...
[I sang this one at my hippie grade school as we danced around the maypole. One year I sang it as a bedtime song to M on the first of May and had to sing it every night for the next six months. It was the second song we sang this morning--after "Oh What a Beautiful Morning," which I used to sing to Baby M on her changing table and now sing to Fussy Morning M as she lies in bed with her eyes clenched closed, sucking fiercely on her sucky fingers.]
I'll sing you one-o, red fly the banners-o.
One is workers unity and ever more shall be so.
I'll sing you two-o, red fly the banners-o.
Two is for a man's own hands working for his living-o,
One is workers unity and ever more shall be so.
I'll sing you three-o, red fly the banners-o.
Three, three, the rights of man...
Four are the four years taken...
Five are the years of the Five Year Plan...
Six are the Tolpuddle Martyrs...
Seven are the hours of the working day...
Eight is the Eighth Red Army...
Nine are the days of the General Strike...
Ten are the Days That Shook the World...
Eleven are the Moscow Dynamos...
Twelve are the books of Lenin...
[S's grandfather sang this one to his father, his father sang it to him, and he sings it to the girls. It's one of M's all-time favorites.]
Happy spring, and viva la revolution!