Thursday, December 24, 2009
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I'm interested to know if women of color feel that this piece paints an accurate picture of the breastfeeding history and choices among Black women, or not...although I find the story really convincing, I am hesitant to take NPR's word for the situation (especially with something so personal).
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I loved looking into the faces of my relatives and seeing myself. My Grandpa Ervie's smile, my Grandma Dutchie's saucer eyes, my father's confident stance. I've always enjoyed collecting family tales, but I know much more about my mother's side than I do about these people who stared out from the past tonight.
I felt what I always feel--a sense of belonging, of knowing who and WHY I am. And as much as I believe in adoption, gazing into the familiar eyes in the photos makes me long for a biological child in whose laughter I hear my father's father and in whose cornsilk hair I smell my baby sister. I don't know if it's a biological or cultural drive, this pull towards continuing a lineage (no matter how flawed), but I feel the tug.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009
I ache for those kids whose parents take them to the mall as a treat, living as they do in a world of Disney-fied winter. Again I ask, how will I raise a child who values realness and authenticity over the virtual reality that is all around and all the rage? How will I give my child faith and hope and a sense of wonder when every "snowflake" is not unique?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Saturday, December 19, 2009
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Friday, December 18, 2009
But all bad jokes aside, I came to a new realization about how I'm trying to approach pregnancy now: in the past, I had a "mission mentality" and now I'm trying to cultivate a "prayerful mentality." 'Tis the season after all...
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
- My old, dusty bluegrass tapes that still play just fine, thank you
- My new husband writing wedding thank-you notes like the good feminist he is
- The taste of raw cake batter
- The fact that I can waive off the threat of salomanella with the flick of a spatula
- The fact that I never got pregnant before I was ready
- The fact that both my husband and I are now ready to get pregnant
- The way my mother always watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- The way I teared up today watching the cheesy parade, thinking of my mom far away
- Being alive and well enough to go backpacking for my birthday this weekend
- Having new friends who will hit the trail with me, instead of the mall, on Black Friday
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Okay, HOW early are we talking here? I've had cycles ranging from 27 to 35 days in the past five months--I wonder what to expect this time around the red ferris wheel? Thanksgiving will be the 27th day of this cycle, and if the test came out negative I could drink delicious white wine with impunity and give thanks for the buzz that would oh-so-quickly follow. BUT, by that date the test is likely only 53-74% accurate--not the best odds. Hmmmmm.
So, if I wait to test until this Saturday when I'm out backpacking, then:
A) I might already have my period, or
B) I'd most likely be within the 84-99% accuracy range, assuming my period won't come any later than day 35 of my cycle.
If I get the negative result then, I can really booze it up to celebrate my 30th birthday! And hopefully, I'll be so happy that I'm camping, drinking and entering a new decade of my life that I won't be too upset about the negative result. And, if I get a positive result, that would be the best birthday gift ever.
On the flip side though, while waiting until the weekend might be the most responsible choice, the thought of washing down my turkey dinner with a couple of glasses of Gerzurtztaminer is mighty appetizing.
Readers, do you have a vote??? (And you can’t vote for me to be less crazy—sorry.)
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
- Give the teacher exorbitant gifts for no apparent reason.
- Stare off over the teacher's right shoulder, avoiding all eye contact.
- Pretend to care about learning, but actually just want to know how my kid can get an A.
- Vaguely tell the teacher that I'm sure my child "has had trouble warming up to other teachers" in the past.
- Smile and nod as my husband does all the talking.
- Take as absolute truth anything that my dramatic 14-year-old claims to be true.
- Fail to show up for the meeting.
- Come to the meeting when my child has an A and then ask why the teacher doesn't give A-pluses.
- Watch the clock continually, but fail to leave when appropriate pauses arise in an effort to get my full 10 minutes with the teacher.
- Get through the entire meeting before aggressively bringing up my real concern, and then throw it in at the end, extending the conference 7 minutes into the next family's time.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Check out this obituary from today's l.a. times--this woman is one of my heroines! I'll comment on her life and work in another blog. Enjoy her bio for now...
Alice S. Rossi dies at 87; feminist author and scholar
The founding member of NOW wrote 'Equality Between the Sexes' and compiled 'The Feminist Papers.'
In 1964, sociologist Alice S. Rossi caused a furor with a scholarly article called "Equality Between the Sexes: An Immodest Proposal." Discouraged that young women, including many of her brightest students, seemed "increasingly uncommitted to anything beyond early marriage, motherhood and a suburban house," she called for a redefinition of sex roles.
"This means," she wrote, "that tenderness and expressiveness should be cultivated in boys and socially approved in men" and "achievement need, workmanship and constructive aggression should be cultivated in girls and approved in women."
This "immodest proposal" seems mild today, but 45 years ago it sounded absurd, akin to asking the Marlboro Man to switch places with Donna Reed.
Traditionalists maligned Rossi as "a monster, an unnatural woman, and an unfit mother," she later
Rossi, who was 87 when she died of pneumonia Nov. 3 in Northampton, Mass., clearly wasn't a traditional wife. A researcher at several prestigious universities before she landed a faculty position at Goucher College in Maryland (and later at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), she juggled an academic's life with her life as a married mother of three. She also was an activist who joined Betty Friedan in 1966 as a founding member of the National Organization for Women.
She later compiled a 1973 anthology of essential readings on feminist thought that became a staple of college courses on women's studies.
Her contributions as a feminist scholar "had an enormous impact on the rebirth of feminism," women's movement historian Ruth Rosen wrote several years ago.
Rossi was born Alice Schaerr in New York City on Sept. 24, 1922. Her mother was a housewife who later held a number of jobs, including seamstress and department store clerk, said Rossi's daughter Nina. Rossi often credited her father, an experimental machinist, for encouraging her to pursue her dreams.
During World War II, Rossi worked for the War Manpower Commission and the lend-lease program. After the war she resumed her education, graduating from Brooklyn College in 1947. In 1951, after a first marriage ended in divorce, she married Peter H. Rossi, a sociologist who later achieved eminence as an authority on survey analysis and homelessness. He died in 2006.
In addition to their daughter Nina, Rossi is survived by another daughter, Kristin; a son, Peter E.; and six grandchildren.
Although Rossi, like her husband, had a doctorate in sociology from Columbia, she was offered lowly positions as a research associate while he was given faculty appointments. She was a researcher at the University of Chicago when she wrote “Equality Between the Sexes,” published in a special issue of the Academy of Arts and Sciences journal Daedalus devoted to different perspectives on the status of American women. Her article was, according to Rosen, the most startling and "the one that would provide the greatest intellectual legitimacy for a women's movement."
Published the year after Friedan's "The Feminist Mystique," it outlined a three-pronged solution, including creating a network of child-care centers, "de-sex-linking" occupations to open up more opportunities for women and reversing the march to the suburbs so that both parents could work closer to home.
The article established Rossi's credentials as a feminist scholar, which led to meeting Friedan in 1966 and winning her first faculty position at Goucher in 1969. Her first year as a professor was, she later recalled, "a trial by fire": She taught seven courses while raising three small children and managing a 22-room house. That year she also joined the first board of the National Assn. for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now NARAL Pro-Choice America) and helped organize the first women's caucus in the American Sociological Assn. (In 1982, she was elected president of the association.)
She left Goucher in 1974, in part because of its failure to make the women's college coeducational. (It began to admit men in 1986.)
Rossi spent the next 17 years at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she was the Harriet Martineau professor of sociology. After her retirement in 1991, she continued to conduct research and write on issues related to gender, family, kinship and women at work.
The egalitarianism she preached was sometimes sorely lacking in her own marriage. When she had difficulty juggling career and family, her husband, with whom she co-wrote a book on parent-child relations, "wasn't backing me up in terms of picking up the slack in our family relationships," she said in a 2007 National Public Radio interview.
In that interview, Nina Rossi recalled deeply resenting her mother's career: "I remember . . . just sitting outside her study door crying and not being able to break in." They had a troubled relationship for years.
"There was a period of Nina's life . . . where I was a neglectful parent because of the busyness of my life, and I took shortcuts in parenting," Rossi said.
Although she rose to prominence with the argument that men needed to be more like women and women more like men, Rossi later focused on the biological differences between the sexes as the cause of women's social and political inequality.
Like her earlier embrace of androgyny, this position was controversial too. "People wanted to hear that the problems were all social and cultural," Nina Rossi said. "But she stuck to her guns. She was always unafraid to buck the trend."
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I guess we'd heard too much NPR on Veterans' Day or something, but we started this lovely discussion by talking about whether the U.S. should get out of Afghanistan or troop up and "get the job done." Being a pacifist, I disapprove of the whole thing all together, but being a humanist, I'm terrified of what will happen to Afghan women if the Taliban comes back to power, so I sort of feel like we should stick it out until the Afghan government is more stable and can protect the female population from the Taliban extremists. Since it was genocide-awareness day at my husband's school (he's a teacher too), he asked, "Well what about the women all over the world who are being abused, raped, murdered, etc.? Why aren't we in those places, particularly Sudan, protecting those women?"
Hhhmmm, good question. I don't know the answer, but I did know the problem. "Men," I said. "You guys cause all the problems. You don't see women out raping and murdering and rounding huge groups of people up to exterminate. No one's ever even heard of a female serial killer!"
This led my husband to retaliate by telling the sad tale he'd heard of Eastern European madames suckering young women into prostitution rings in England, etc. This is an awful situation--despicable--but still, it's not mass murder, it's not systematic rape as a war tactic, it's not genocide. Women never do those things--we murder on the small scale, yes, and this prostitution ring sounds abominable, no doubt. Don't get me wrong: any murder, any sexual abuse is beyond horrific. But the way men abuse, rape and murder on the massive scale--that's something women have never done.
s it because we just haven't had the societal power to do so? Or is there something biologically determined about violence? Perhaps women are simply socialized out of being sociopaths? Who is to blame?
Even though I was joking when I first said it tonight, I think that in my heart, I really do blame all the world's violence on men. Not the men I know, but Men, with a capital M. Men.
Does this make me a man-hating "femi-Nazi" or just another blogger pointing out the obvious?
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
C O L U M N 14
COLD RED WINE AT
THE BLOCK PARTY.
- - - -
..."Why is that red wine in the fridge?" Wine Allergic Girlfriend asks me.
"Because it's chilled," I say, having no other answer at the moment. Serving red wine at room temperature is like serving white wine with fish; it's one of those little rules you learn about wine even if you have no interest in wine whatsoever. Every hobby or pursuit has these little rules—things you should and should not do in order to appreciate the pursuit—but with wine, these rules collect together to form the solid core of what we know as wine-snobbery. When you drink wine, you confront the expectations of what it means to drink wine: you should swirl the glass; you should smell the cork; you should not chill the red wine; you should not drink wine from a mug. The wine world is full of these little expectations, and this is why a lot of people disclaim wine before drinking it. "Oh, I don't know anything about wine," they say, worried they will screw up and somebody with a monocle will judge them.
The reason you don't normally chill red wine, according to Wine Bible author Karen MacNeill, is that at colder temperatures the tannins become more pronounced, adding an uncomfortable astringency to the taste. Similarly, if you warm a white wine up to room temperature you accentuate the alcohol, making the wine come off like your drunk brother-in-law: thick and slow with booze-breath. As MacNeill writes:
"The perception of alcohol, acidity, fruitiness, and balance are all influenced by a wine's temperature. Temperature, in fact, can make the difference between enthusiasm and apathy for the same wine."
This is a fact of chemistry: temperature affects taste. Add to this a common observation about wine: tannin-rich full body red wines taste better at room temperature. These two things lead to a rule of wine drinking: most red wines should not be chilled. This is fine. Like we said before, all pursuits have their little rules.
The problem, as I see it, is that in the case of wine the rules turn into an expectation. Expectations are weird things. They can be totally value free—a neutral belief that something will happen based on an observation of the past: I expect that the sun will rise tomorrow. But they can also be subjective containers of judgment totally divorced from reason or experience—a belief that something should happen based solely on the belief itself: I expect you to dress nicely and swirl the glass of wine before drinking from it. It's not so much that I expect red wine to be room temperature because it has been room temperature in the past or I have a working knowledge of chemistry; I expect red wine to be room temperature because that's how it should be.
As it turns out, however, certain red wines taste better when chilled. Not all red wines are the same, of course, and "[e]xtremely fruity, low-tannin red wines ... should be cooled almost as much as white wines so that their fruitiness is magnified" (MacNeill again). Until I read that, though, I had no idea why you would want to chill a red wine. Instead, I had an expectation about how red wine should be served; and I order the chilled red wine at the bar because it defies those expectations...
Monday, November 9, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
- Photos of my mother's side of the family--circa 1977, in somewhat-sepia tones; my grandmother and grandfather both passed away when I was eight but I'm paying tribute to them with a bottle of scotch and a rosary
- Photo of my dad's dad, my grandpa--he used to succor me on lemon drops and winks during long, Lutheran church services, so I put a shiny lemon that makes me smile on the altar
- Photo of my brother-in-law--he's only six or so in the photo and his blond hair is combed back in crisp rows, but it hurts to look at his velvety brown eyes; I put a box of paints and a red, plastic paintbrush that matches his shirt out for him; I hope he's painting his way through the afterlife
- Half a model ship--my husband's grandfather on his mother's side like to build these; I didn't know him but I like the idea of someone who is that patient
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sunday, October 25, 2009
This touching moment reminded me of a psychologist I studied in college, Donald Winnicott. He came up with the concept of the "good enough mother." Basically, this is the idea of an "imperfectly attentive mother who does a better job than the "perfect" one who risks stifling her child's development as a separate being" (Wiki 10/25/09). I remember loving this concept even as a self-centered college senior, faaarrrrr from parenthood. It gave me permission to stop being such a damn pefectionist and realize that, many times, there are actual, tangible benefits to being "good enough."
When you are good enough--instead of perfect--you can find more balance in your life. Obviously, no one can be perfect, so wouldn't it be lovely to let ourselves off that meat hook and just do our best to be "good enough?" This means I can commit to getting my papers graded by the time I'm asking my students to write a new essay--but I don't have to sacrifice my weekends to get them back any earlier. This means I can run as a hobby, pushing myself to keep going when I'm tired, but refusing to get looped into the competative "personal best" mania so many runners embrace. This means I can eat Hagen-Daaz, even if I no longer fit into the clothes I bought just last summer because really, who needs to wear sundresses now anyway? You get my point.
I have actually attempted to adopt the notion of being "good enough" for the past 12 years, and I do think I'm the better person for it--at least, my anxiety levels have gone down in some arenas thanks to good old Winnicott's discovery. Oh yes, perhaps I could have gone to a grad school with a better reputation if I'd killed myself to study for the English GRE while working full time...or perhaps I could have figured out that credit cards are evil before racking up some debt I'm still paying off...or maybe I could have taught summer school classes or traveled somewhere to help others instead to work on my tan...but in the end, I have very, very few regrets about the choices I've made based on my "good enough" philosophy.
Now if you think I'm sounding self-righteous, please know that I'm still working to turn off that little voice in my head that wheedles, "Good enough is never good enough..." But at least I have a good role model in my friend. And perhaps it's enough to simply keep trying to let good enough really be good enough for me.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
...And then my sink started leaking and my garbage disposal broke and we had to call in the emergency plummer, Jordan. He did a bang-up job digging the gunk out of our pipe and replacing the "sink blender" (which, apparently, is best cleaned by grinding about 12 ice cubes now and again). He also commented on the blissful peace and quiet in our home on a Saturday afternoon. Having 3- and 5-year-olds himself, he painted the distressing picture of a home in which the TV up all the way and the two kids are fighting about what to watch on TV, what they want/don't want for dinner, etc. We laughed and said we'd reconsider our interest in having monsters of our own.
Like any good dad, however, Jordan quickly moved to balance his portrayal of the wee ones. He smiled over our nasty, petrified pipes and said, "Despite the chaos, I would never not want to have kids, because when you have them, you get to fall in love again. You get to fall in love with the kids, but also with your wife or husband, just watching them fall in love with the kids..." As Jordan spoke, my husband smiled behind him and I loved him (my husband) for that little, hopeful grin. I could see where Jordan was going with all this--I guess oxytocin is not just for new moms any more.
Friday, October 23, 2009
HOWEVER, there is a woman in it who is shown having not one, but TWO, orgasms whilst giving birth. WOW. Her labor and birth experience are shot on film and included in the film--it's hard to believe, but seriously, you can tell it's happening to her, for real. I thought it must be faked, or maybe a re-enactment for film, but no, this mama's eyes roll back into her head with pleasure! It's incredible.
If I get pregnant, I plan on doing some serious research into this possibility.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
" The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind is faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." ~ Albert Einstein
Lately, I’ve been thinking about not thinking, which is to say, I’ve been trying to get back in touch with my intuition. I say “back in touch” because (believe it or not) there have been times in my life when I was much more attuned to other ways of knowing and being. So I know I have it in me to listen to myself in ways that my quotidian chatter doesn’t typically allow.
One snowy day last winter, a new friend and I went cross-country skiing in the mountains above L.A. When I told this friend, who practiced midwifery for many years, that I was thinking about trying to get pregnant sometime soon-ish and that I really want to have twins, she suggested I start “talking” with my future baby/babies. I could tell them that my body and our home would be a good place for them, and let them know that they’re welcome to move in any time.
Now, for many people, this is some far-out shit, but for me it actually felt like the perfect advice. As obsessive of a thinker as I am, I do believe in the world of intuitive knowledge and communication. Since the days of kicking tracks in the wet SoCal snow, I’ve mentally made a handful of shout-outs to the potential twins within. I'm trusting my intuition to find the right kids. Who knows if it will work?
Last week at an acupuncture appointment, I was laying there with the needles chilling me out, and experienced this wonderful dream/fantasy/vision: I could see this sturdy, inviting, well-made nest built right into my body. It had a satisfyingly-symmetrical hollow in the middle and was lined with soft, grey-blue feathers all the way ‘round. I was looking at myself and the nest from above, seeing it tucked into the crook of my pelvis, like a real bird's nest tucked into a knot in a cottonwood tree. The dark brown twigs were all in place and there was just enough space for one…or two…tiny people inside. All the work on the nest had already been done, and it was just there, cozy and inviting, waiting for the babies to find their way.
Knowing that I have this nest within makes me feel ready. Birds learn to make nests instinctively; this nest within me was built on instinct too. It's a good sign, I think, that my intuition led me to the right tree. I hope my baby/ies have a homing instinct too.