Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is This Domestic Goddessness?

Yesterday, I baked a chicken in the afternoon (cut up with olive oil, salt, pepper and paprika). I steamed cauliflower and gave some plain to my kids and made a salad with olives, capers, lemon, and parsley for me and my boyfriend (AKA my husband). I made Israeli cous cous (AKA "middle eastern couscous," the big round kind). Elliot loves it with butter and cheese.( Who can blame him?) I refused to make macaroni and cheese or even a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my daughter when she didn't want what I'd made for dinner. She could have what I made plus some grapes. (Who can say no to produce?) We all sat down to eat pretty much at the same time.

But, would I have had to have made chilled martinis and applied lipstick for goddesness achieved?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gas Bags

OK. Gas is expensive. You know what? It should be more expensive. People who have to drive a long way to work and earn less than a certain amount should get coupons or rebates or something. People who buy gas guzzling SUVs and Escalades and Navigators should pay a premium. No, I haven't thought out the details, this is just my guy talking. Why is it saying all this? Because fossil fuels are, you know, a problem. And I bet some lady running for president knows all this, but she also is known to pander, and so she is pandering like she has half a brain about gas. The guy who isn't pandering? It doesn't look good for him. Too bad for us.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Hannah Montana Undressed

I know we're really puritanical here in the U.S., and insane for celebrities, but I'm kind of with the folks who think Miley Cyrus should have kept her shirt on for that Vanity Fair soot. I mean, the girl is only 15. Sure, she's commodified up the wazoo, but so what? Would Graydon Carter have his 15-year-old daughter in a shot like that?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

American Idol

I can't help it. I watch American Idol. I saw Carly sing Jesus Christ Superstar and I thought she was a superstar. And this, it kind of freaks me out.

Eggplant Extravaganza

I was invited to a pot luck brunch on Saturday, and the dish I was assigned was an eggplant salad.  I was a little nervous to make it, because the recipe's author was in attendance, as were an assortment of food writers, chefs, professional eaters and other serious food people.  
Now, the thing about serious food people, as I've come to learn, is they don't really say bad things about other people's homemade food in public.  They'll pass, but they won't dish. (I couldn't resist.)   The highest and best form of compliment you as a food preparer can get in that (or any potluck) circumstance is to hear one person recommend your dish to another. As in, "Mmmmmm, the eggplant! You gotta try it."  
I'm happy, too happy, in fact, to report that I overheard several comments along those lines.  And the pleasure of it is two fold. 
First, there's the basic ego gratification of getting a good grade.  It's like, I did it!  And I thought I'd overdressed it! 
Second, there's the pleasure of knowing something you did or made can give someone else pleasure and some kind of sustenance.  This isn't exactly altruism, because it's all wrapped up in getting the good grade, but it is especially nice.  But I think it's one that's easy to forget about since preparing food from scratch can seem like such a burden, not only because of the time and the planning, but because now, everyone's a critic.  We're all supposed to be so savvy and knowing about our food, so discriminating, that cooking for others becomes loaded with a whole lot else besides the pleasure of giving others pleasure and sustenance.  The ego stuff starts to matter the most, because all those palates, they're so critical. 
That's one more reasons why it's nice to cook for the professional crowd - they're so appreciative someone else did it. And if someone is a food writer, I thin they're glad that the recipes they develop actually get used.    
A friend of mine once went to a dinner party that she described as "Fantastic!"  Now this woman, N., is a true afficianado of the dinner party.  Someday I'll describe the unbelievable scene at the first dinner party I ever went to, thrown by N. and her then boyfriend now husband.  It was transcendent; the food was fabulous; the guests were interesting and engaged and grateful for the great food.  But that fantastic dinner party N. told me about?  She said the food was disgusting.  The host and hostess were unabashed and terrible cooks who served overcooked meat and jell-o mold for dessert. And they weren't being ironic with the dessert. But the conversation! The spirit!  Unsurpassed.
This is how I'd like to be in my cooking for others.  I'd like not to be invested in the grade.  I'd like for it not to matter if someone thinks the eggplant salad is overdressed.  I'd rather focus on the experience of being together and seeing what can happen.  Truthfully, one of my best dinner parties happened over one of the worst meals I ever made.  No one cared that the meat was positively stringy (who knew to get a shoulder and not a loin?), everyone had a ball anyway.
Granted, I'm conflating hosting and cooking now, because making something for a pot luck is not the same as making a dinner party, but I think some of the same spirit could apply.  As the pros don't say food at a pot luck is bad out loud, so us avocational cooks can take a breather on the grading, offer up what we have, and hope it's accepted in the spirit in which it's made.  Which is to say, let's get together and see what happens!  Not, let's get together and see who cooks the best.  For that, I'll stick to Top Chef.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hair-Part 1

I should say now that there will probably be more posts about hair. I have some hair issues. I think my hair issues --I can't decide whether to cut short again or keep growing -- are representative of the transitional nature of the current period of my life. But it's a big subject for me, so to ease into it, I'm going to talk about my daughter's hair. It needs to be cut. I'm not great at keeping on top of the kids' haircuts, and I really resisted their first cut (my babies!), but, whatever, I get the job done. My daughter's hair is now fairly long, she hates to have it combed, but it looks cute some of the time, and when I say cute, I mean CUTE. But now, I'm contemplating bangs for her, and I feel like it's a big decision. Like, if she doesn't like them, sure they'll grow, but we all know how awful it is to grow out bangs! And will, like, her whole face change? My friend E., the one without the cell phone, gave her daughter a pixie, and she's my idol. Because her daughter looks AMAZING with a pixie, and somehow E. just knew that would be the case. She didn't think twice about it. Me? I was nervous all day thinking about the bang cut. I know it would be easier for her and me, so why am I so nervous? Am I so sentimental? Do I have such rigid ideas about girls' hair? I'm usually pretty blithe about cutting my own hair. Why am I so timid about Helen's? I'm tempted to do research - moms and daughters and the bangs, what do you say? But part of me thinks I'm just resisting changing her hair like I resisted getting rid of their cribs, like if I do it, college will be tomorrow. But it will be anyway, so she might as well have the hair out of her face.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Real Life Changing Moments

There are a couple of new reviews of The Skinny up on amazon, and one of them, a three star, got me thinking. The reviewer described herself as a "connoisseur" of food and diet articles and books, and then in a parenthetical remark, she says she's "looking for that real life changer." I get that. Sort of. See, because what I think she's looking for is some Brand Spanking New insight into diet and eating habits that's going to change everything. When, really, what we all need is the kind of a-ha moment we can sometimes have (Roni described one in the comments of the cell-phone post the other day) when something we've heard a lot suddenly makes sense in a whole new way. For instance, once I was talking to a friend who was describing life at her in-laws in Los Angeles. "And no one eats very much...." she said. Her in-laws and sister-in-law are all very thin. At the time, I was still carrying around my baby weight, and that comment, along with hearing that if I wanted a cookie I could eat one, changed things for me. Suddenly, I realized, if I ate less I'd lose weight. WOW!

I've had similar and in many ways more significant moments like that. Like when I was first dating my husband and realized I felt something about him that I hadn't ever felt before, and this was just because of the way he put his hand on my shoulder when we were on the subway. (Romantic!) Or, in the last six months, when, after a project I was working on didn't work out and I wasn't sure what I could do, I was reading a random web site and realized I could just start something else, no matter how it might turn out.

My point here is that I suspect that the real life changing moments only come in books or articles if you're ready to hear what that book has to say. It's a symbiotic kind of thing, and I know this is totally obvious and I've probably said it a million times before, but that review just made me want to say it again.

Besides, it's better to talk about this while sipping my wine then worrying about the Pennsylvania primary or how both Democratic candidates have been diminished or if people who would've voted for Clinton will now vote for McCain and how that just might be a sign of deep misogyny since, even if she's not so appealing and has been ruthless in this campaign and willing to monger to our worst fears and prejudices, she still has some fairly progressive policies and McCain wants to lower taxes, stay in Iraq, and couldn't give a fig about health care.

It's much nicer to think about the moments when my life changed for the better, since I'm now very worried that election day in this country won't be one of those days.

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I Love About Madonna

I love that a lot of Madonna songs are about something. This song, 4 Minutes, after watching it once, seems to be about not much and the video is about, what?, mostly just how good Madonna looks and what a good walker/strutter she is. No one struts like Madonna. But watching it just made me miss Ray of Light.

P.S. I just went to and tried to watch and then link to Ray of Light and after hearing more of 4 Minutes, the soundtrack changed to Like a Virgin, and I thought, "Now this is genius Madonna!" But the problem might be that pop songs have changed, and I haven't changed with them.

Cell Phone Monday

It's hard to go back to blogging about our fortunate lives when my last post was an impassioned plea to feed the hungry.  But, what can you do?  Nothing but return to the random thoughts on life in the first world, and my random thought for today is about cell phones.

Recently, I've been thinking about giving mine up.  You know, when I was growing up, no one had a cell phone, and we were all fine.  We were safe.  My husband has two cell phones (and an office line where someone always answers) so if there's an  emergency, someone can always reach him. Always.  Even with a cell phone, I'm not always so reachable. So why do I need it? Could I recreate a simpler time by saying so long to the cell?  

I was thinking about this the other day, and then I started thinking about my friend E. I hadn't talked to E. in quite some time.  I missed talking to her.  I like talking to her.  I started to worry if something had happened in E.'s life that made her want to stay off the phone, even though she loves the phone.  Maybe something bad made her want to withdraw and shore up? She's usually so chatty!  I started to wonder if perhaps I had offended E., and she was just figuring out how she'd like to talk to me about it.  But then I realized I hadn't talked to her in so long, I'd hardly had an opportunity to offend her.  And then I realized that the very last time we'd spoken, she'd told me it was lucky I'd called her, at home, because she has no cell phone and she doesn't call anyone and wouldn't have my number even if she wanted to call me.  When we finally spoke the other day, E. said, "You know, at first the no-cell-phone thing was fine. And then I realized I hadn't talked to ANYONE in a really long time!"

All this to say, a so long to my cell would only make my life more difficult.  So, I'm embracing my cell but cultivating a Skinny attitude toward it.  I'm only going to use it when I really want to.

Other random notes:  
My daughter calls Passover "Makeover."  
My son ate my mother's chicken soup for the first time and pronounced it Deee-licious!  I was all farklempt.  
My mother made brisket for Passover, and a turkey, of course. For the brisket, she adapted a recipe from The Mensch Chef to make it kosher for pesach (she left out the Worscestershire sauce).  It was so good that I'm a little sad that that cookbook came into our lives just as meat seems to be leaving mine.  I could only have a nibble, but it was mighty tasty!  

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Hard Fact of Hunger

People are starving. On the eve of Passover, a feast that celebrates freedom and the renewal of life, I urge everyone to help however you can. Here are links to the World Food Bank and The American Jewish World Service.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hair Today, and Hair Tomorrow

I read about this in the New York Times, and I think it's genius. Because hair goes with you all day every day. Because when it's good, how good is that? Because I have hair issues. I realize that I must get into my hair issues here, but that will be another day. Tonight it's already too late, tomorrow we go to visit my parents for Passover. So for now, I leave you to consider all this and I ask, just how important is hair?

Domestic Goddess-Update

Monday night, when our kids wouldn't go to sleep and making anything else felt outrageously hard and there wasn't that much in the house anyway, David and I had some of that lasagna from the freezer. Hot, salty, cheesy, perfect. And not so much clean up. Which is to say, the crusade for home cooking continues. In general, it's going pretty well -- as long as I've gone shopping! Truth be told, thanks to Spring weather, I think we've entered the whatever-it-takes-salad-zone. This also means we've come to the season when I-don't-care-if-you-had-salad-for-lunch. Which is to say, if you're married to me or otherwise dependent on me for dinner and it's not cold out and I have a lot of vegetables around, be prepared for a big bowl of something green, maybe with an egg or two in it, or an avocado and sprouts, and some very garlicky, mustard-y dressing. Not so bad, when you think about it

Might I also recommend two recipes recently published in the New York Times by my favorite food columnist?
1) Coconut Fish Stew with Basil and Lemon Grass. I made it --in one pot! -- without basil, because I didn't have any, and it was still delicious.
2) Crispy Tofu with Shitakes and Chorizo, chorizo optional. David was really only interested in this dish when I mentioned the chorizo. Having eaten it, he's much more interested now.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now That's TV!

Check it out: The Wisdom of Angela Chase (of My So Called Life)>

Even In Australia

I woke up this morning and my left pinkie finger was swollen an aching. I don't know why, but it still is and it hurts and it's hard to type. Plus, I'm discouraged, discouraged by the state of the primary and the "bitter" comments. I'm dismayed that the world is going to pieces, and all we can do is parse half statements (which yet deserve to be parsed) and try to figure out who sat in what lecture with whom and what that means. Furthermore, I'm baffled that I was pleased that the Jezebel bloggers are upset about Project Runway's move to Lifetime, too, and that I woke up this morning and couldn't figure out what to wear or why I don't have more tops. And my pinkie hurts. And I didn't have sushi for lunch, even though I kind of wanted to. It all reminds me of Alexander and the Very Terrible, Horrible, No Good Day. Sometimes days are like this, even in Australia.

Monday, April 14, 2008


There was a birthday in our family this weekend (my husband's), and for it I planned to make chocolate cake, the recipe for which a friend had sent along with promises of foolproofness and deliciousness.

In general, I've been working on my cakes for several reasons:
1) My kids love them.
2) You just mix the batter and pour, no batches to worry about.
3) It'd be cool to be able to make a really good cake.

Truth be told, I make a pretty good cake, nowhere near as good as my chocolate chip cookies, but still pretty good. And I was excited to try this recipe. But my kids? They just wanted a cake from "the stupid market" (aka the supermarket). They see those supermarket cakes all the time and they always ask for them and we always say "No," and if they knew anything about Daddy's birthday, it was that cake was coming. I have to say, they saw opportunity on the horizon, they grabbed it by the neck, and they did not let go.

My son Elliot had a full-blown tantrum over wanting the stupid-market cake and not wanting to bake. And I was like, "Sweetheart, we're going to make the cake, won't that be fun?" And he was all, "Sob, sob, snot, sob, NO! STUPID MARKET CAKE! sob sob more snot sob." Until finally I realized I was being completely insane. David and I are not cake fanatics. My kids are. They've wanted that super market cake for what must seem like EVER to them. Would I bake just to improve my own skills and prove to them that homemade is better? When to them it's not? I mean, whose cake is it anyway?

In the end, David took the kids to the market, they picked out an "Oreo" cake (that turned out to be a cheesecake), they sang happy birthday in a darkened kitchen lit up by birthday candles, they helped David blow out the candles, had some cake and Helen pronounced the party "Fantastic!" And it was.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Just Say Sushi???

So the other night I was having dinner with some friends (a rare and wonderful event), and one of my friends told us, emphatically, that we shouldn't eat sushi. "The sushi craze is a big part of over-fishing! We all shouldn't be eating like we live in a country of small islands!"

On the one hand, I see her point. Sushi is as ubiquitous, and degraded, as rotisserie chickens. (And we all know how all those chickens get made.) But what if we mostly ate sushi as part of a bigger meal, and not the whole thing? Maybe if we were, you know, more moderate in our sushi-love it'd still be OK to eat it?

I admit, her pronouncement about sushi and overfishing made me rethink my sushi lunch today. (I had a salad instead. Besides not contributing to the problem of over-fished waters, it was cheaper and faster than sushi.) But I wonder: do I have to go all out and give it up entirely to contribute some serious no-overfishing-energy to the world? Or maybe I could just limit sushi to the occasional, wonderful sushi experience. You know, skip the stuff at Whole Foods and save up for some place amazing. I don't know what's really "Japanese" or not -- a only-if-it's good approach may be just a huge rationalization. Then again, I'm not that good at extremes, so it might be that rationalizing a partial limit is the only way for me to go.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

J. Lo's Weight Loss: UK Version

So, I google "J. Lo's 40 lb weight loss" because I saw, while standing on line to drop off a prescription, a magazine tauting said celebrity's weight loss as something involving "easy work outs," a "no starving yourself diet" and a "secret that will work for you." (Full disclosure: I'm paraphrasing the cover lines because I didn't buy the magazine and can't remember what it's called.) I was infuriated by that cover. Like J. Lo, merely because of her celebrity, had some fabulous weight loss fairy dust. And, you know what? I lost 40 lobs in three weeks after having boy/girl twins. You know how? I had the twins. Between their birth, and sweating, and peeing, and my blood moving around the weight fell off. (I sweated non stop for three weeks straight, not by design. mind you. It wasn't pretty.) No big secret. The other 20 pounds I gained? Not so much. They hung around for a solid year until I went on The Skinny. My encounter with this cover was my first face-slapping celebrities-are-better-than-you-and-me moment. Granted, it came late, but hey, I go local.

But here's the weird thing, when I googled "J Lo 40 pound weight loss" up pops an article in the UK paper The Daily Mail about J. Lo's grueling weight loss regime. Like she's up at 4 AM and working out for three hours a day and plans to participate in a triathalon to "make her babies proud." Like they give a %$!#@.

My point here, though, is what's going on here? In England her weight loss is the result of a grueling regime of diet and exercise and here it's all no-sweat work outs? Is it really American that gave up worshipping the monarchy? (Everything comes back to John Adams, I swear.) Right now, I just feel like hopping the pond, because if the weight fell of J. Lo like it did off me, then someone should just say that. And if she's working hard she should fess up on these shores -- just like Kate Hudson did -- and Kate Hudson was like 24 when she had her son!

OK. I'm done. Except for this: It's J. Lo's job to lose weight, however she does it. It's the press's job to crow about over her weight loss. But I'd Much Rather hear some crowing about some hard work than magic weight loss fairy dust. That's how real postpartum "get your body back" weight loss happens. Hard work, and, you know, sweating.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Project Runway

Can I admit something weird? I'm not sure that I'll keep watching Project Runway if it moves from Bravo to Lifetime. And Project Runway is, like, my favorite show. But I don't even know what number Lifetime is on our cable box, and I'm not all that interested in finding out. This says something about: Me; My feelings for Project Runway; My feelings about Bravo; My feelings about Lifetime. Is it any of it important? Not so sure, but this reaction, I've got to say, it's really weird.

Bad Mommy Moments

Since moving to New York City with almost-2-year-olds, I have been on the receiving end of many, many disapproving looks.

There were the parents and babysitters rolling their eyes at me as I let my kids splash in rain puddles while their children (singletons all) looked glumly on. There was the lady who scolded me for not picking up the Pirate Booty, strewn on the sidewalk in a tempest of a double-fisted tantrum just two days after we moved. In August. Don't you think some creature would scoop up 10 pieces of Pirate Booty? I sure did, but that lady thought I was an incorrigible citizen for not sweeping up my mess.

I've been stopped for letting my kids have sticks, and today a guy who ran a red light gave me an arch look for letting my daughter stand by herself on a street corner. I was 10 feet behind her, but still I warranted his disapproval.

The worst looks, though, are reserved for when my kids fall out of their stroller. It happens when we try to go over bumpy corners or sometimes going over a manhole. Our stroller is falling apart, my kids, now 3-and-a-1/2, are pretty big, and I don't strap them in. One big bump and they can go flying. They cry, we hug, and we brush ourselves off, lesson sort of learned. We try to do better the next time, sometimes we do, sometimes, you know, falls happen. But they're ok. I'm a little shaken up, and we go on trying to do better. At this point, though, I'm tired of getting the look that says, "I would never let THAT happen to my kids." Well, maybe you wouldn't, but odds are good that you'd let something else happen. Because when it comes to kids, despite our best intentions, sometimes, stuff we wish wouldn't happen happens.

I have plenty of moments when I make mistakes as a parent. I yell about something, I'm inconsistent about something, I give in to the cookie when I should just ride out the tantrum. In those moments, I apologize, I check myself, I really try to learn some lesson and move forward. But those moments of personal despair aren't observable to anyone on the outside. They're between me and my kids. No one else. I have to remind myself of that sometimes, what with the judging eyes of the world fixed on my little ones. Seems people don't want to pay for things like better schools and health care for children and families, but everyone's more than willing to pass along some free judgment on stroller technique and puddle principles. From my local lane, all I can say is this: Thanks! And stroll right on.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Domestic Goddessness-Again

I have a renewed commitment to cooking new and fresh foods and to sitting down to meals with family members in various configurations. (I'll take any configuration as long as everyone is sitting, not always easy with my children.) I have a deep desire to shop for food with recipes in mind, recipes that will yield not only a tasty dinner but some kind of leftovers. I must maintain discipline with these matters and overcome my essential torpor when it comes to doing anything other than reading cookbooks in the process of food preparation. Cookbooks are nice to read, after all, but without some shopping and chopping, they'll get nothing on your table.
You'll kindly forgive the vague formality of this post as I've just finished watching John Adams and find myself unable to focus on much. In any case, I have this renewed commitment to feeding myself and my family, and yet, and yet, I have very little fresh food in the house, and tomorrow will dawn and I will not have a recipe in hand or mind with which to shop and anchor my week. When it's early spring, is it too late to braise?

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Race

I think I shouldn't blog too much about politics-explicit, like the ups and downs of this or that particular hour, since I had to be told a week later that Hillary Clinton lied about being under fire in Bosnia and then said she said it because she was sleep deprived. (Um, so what does that mean when you answer the Red Phone at 3 AM and you've been up working and are then presumably sleep deprived, Hill? Will you say, "Oops" two days later?) But this is worth reading; it's on Bill Clinton and his demise. And what about Clinton strategist Mark Penn lobbying for a trade agreement with Colombia Clinton supposedly opposes? ( posts too much for me to find the link, but it's there somewhere.) Enough!

How To Be a Domestic Goddess

Set the bar low! For me all it took was making a lasagna (spinach) while my kids were playing, baking it during bedtime, and wrapping it up and popping 2-piece packets in the freezer while they slept. And.....Presto! I'm a domestic goddess in my very own mind. (And freezer. After all, those packets of lasagna are snuggled in next to packets of frozen pink cake....Tell me, is it time for me to develop a line of mixing bowls and measuring cups?)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Little Girls with Big Hair

So today's NY Times has an article about girls who are 8-12 going to salons and getting fancy hair treatments. As a light-make-up-wearing, only organic milk-serving, trying-to-limit-TV, free-to-be-you-and-me kind of mom in sensible shoes I know how I'm supposed to react. I'm supposed to wring my hands and bemoan the loss of childhood innocence and the imposition of sexualizing fashion on our precious little ones. I'm supposed to agree with the naysayers at the end of the article who ask "What kind of message are we sending our girls if we let them get highlights at 11? What does that mean?" But all I could muster was a little, "Feh." Because you know what I think it means? Bubkes.

OK, I'll qualify that. Hair treatments in a bubble mean bubkes. If your whole life is devoted to the art of the external, if you only care about fashion and show your daughter that the only way a woman can be worth anything or get anything done is by looking a certain way, then you've got some problems, problems that go well beyond the hair thing. Hair maybe part of it, sure, but unless you not only teach but show your girl that women can accomplish great things only when their hair and bodies slam, I don't think a few highlights mean your 10-year-old will screech onto the express lane with Rock of Love season 10 as her destination.

I would say I don't love the whole expensive salon thing, and I certainly don't love the under-10-at-the-salon-thing, but I've got to confess, when I was 12, back in, ehhem, 1980, curly hair was a good thing and my mom took me for a perm. Well, it wasn't a perm, it was a body wave.

Whatever you call it, two days after the chemicals were applied to my hair, I washed it (as instructed) and went to sleep. I woke up the next morning with hair like the Bride of Frankenstein. It was awful. I refused to go to school. My mom didn't know what to do. She brought me to my Aunt Grace's house. (Technically, Aunt Grace is not my Aunt, but trust me, she's my Aunt). Mrs. Herman came over. (I now call her Rita and her last name is now Archer, but for the sake of historical integrity, I'll refer to her as she was known to me then.) The women all pow-wowed over how to fix my hair as the minutes of my sixth grade Monday ticked by. Nothing could be done. My hair remained untamed and so I refused to go to school.

Aunt Grace, though, was having none of it. She sat down across from me at her kitchen table, she looked me in the eye, and she said this, "It is your responsibility to go to school no matter how your hair looks. Now let's go." So I did. Everyone in my class of 15 who'd known me since kindergarten laughed at me, but not in the worst way. Besides, they'd laughed at me before and they would again and I learned this important life lesson: It's. Just. Hair.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Besides the Point

So yesterday I skimmed over this post at Jezebel (which is now owned by Conde Net and which, I fear, is going to go downhill). It's about an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing a study that found that women with MDs, JDs, and MBAs get divorced at a higher rate then men with the same degrees. Women with MBAs get divorced at the highest rate. Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson, author of the study, advises women with advanced degrees to look for particularly caring and supportive men.


I know women with all three of those degrees. Some are married, some are not, some have kids, some don't. I know women who don't have one of those degrees, same thing. Some married, some not.

But here's the thing, I suspect that if you're in a straight partnership, gendered expectations get played out. By gendered expectations I mean that men expect their working lives will develop one way, and their expectations are influenced by what it means to them to be a man, and women, too. Same influences. Women and men probably expect certain things of each other as partners, as women and men and not just as individual people. What that means for a person and a couple I wouldn't want to guess because those meanings are idiosyncratic. But, seriously, is anyone surprised that they can generate conflict?

Which is to say if marriage and divorce rates reveal cultural expectations and statistical patterns, those patterns can only by useful when they're applied to general situations and not individual choices. Which is to say, now that we know women with advanced degrees get divorced more than men only brings me to the same old-same old point: Maybe, instead of advising women to marry nice men, we should focus on improving flex-time opportunities and reasonable child-care solutions. Sure a good man is hard to find, but a good boss, a flexible schedule, and good childcare are a helluva lot harder.

Update: Check out the comments! Jezebel's Conde Nast acquisition was a hoax! I noticed just now the banner no longer reads: "Conde Nast" over Jezebel. I was so taken in. Should I blame it on the cold? My kids slept until 7 this morning, so should I blame being taken on too much sleep? That's it!