Wednesday, December 31, 2008
When my kids first saw the trailer for Depereaux, they were transfixed. I told them when the movie opened I'd go see it and decide if it was OK for them. Before I could, my husband logged onto the Despereaux web site and after watching a few scenes, my 4-year-old daughter came to me with a miserable look on her face and said, "I think I'll wait until I'm 7 to see Despereaux."
Bazelon points out that many movies for 4-7-year-olds all seem to have some kind of terrifying element. Not just sad, like Bambi, but terrifying. Why is that? Is there a belief in the movie industry that kids need more titillation now then when we were kids because they see so much more so much sooner. But they see so much so young because that's what's there to see and if it's cold and there's not much to do, do you go to the movies and grin and bear the scary bits? Why do they have to be shown so much so soon? Why is the excitement and suspense ante up so high?
I know this is a little bit like asking why can't we all just get along, but, come to think of it, why can't we? besides, the world is big and confusing and plenty scary for 4-year-olds as it is. It's a fine line between teasing that fear (as in fairy tales) and exploiting it and it's a long time since I've seen even an ad for a movie that seems to walk the right side of that line. Maybe Toy Story? In any case, for the time being, it's cupcakes and Dan Zanes for us.
Happy New Year!!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Yes, women trying to return to the work force after taking several years off have a terrible time finding work. Yes, they are often forced to take pay cuts or jobs lower on the ladder then their experience warrants. I'm all for having a debate on work-life balance and trying to change work-place policies to make them more amenable to family life for both women and men. But I don't think we should confuse the problems women face going back to work with a cry of "Enough!" when it comes to one nice woman from a good family. Because the work-life problem is a big one, but it has nothing to do with Caroline Kennedy.
Caroline Kennedy put together a reasonable working life writing books and working for the New York City public schools. This presumably gave her a flexible enough schedule to care for her children. Now she wants to enter public life in the legislative branch. Certainly she has an enviable professional network and has done some very good work. But does that mean she should get the seat?
When Hillary Clinton ran for the Senate, she did what she always does. She worked. As a partner in a law firm in Arkansas, she had to negotiate, like senators do. As First Lady, she learned the ins and outs of the legislative process the hardest way imaginable, in front of the cameras and as "the wife." And as a candidate, she went on that listening tour upstate and probably sat through 7,000 chicken dinners. Then she won the seat. Sure, she had a famous name, but she also earned it.
Galusker would have us believe that it's wrong thinking to argue that because Kennedy didn't follow the "straight and narrow" she can't do the job and just because she hasn't done something similar doesn't mean she can't. Well, no. She might be able to do the job, but that's not the point. The point is why is her hat in the ring in the first place?
I think it's gret that someone in Kennedy's position wants to do public service. It's a hard choice -- easier to make if you're wealthy, sure -- but it's still not an easy life. But why is Kennedy asking to start at the very top? And why isn't she running in an actual election? There are elections in New York. She could lay the ground work for one right now and she could run for any number of jobs. But instead Kennedy chose to ask for the high visibility seat that once belonged to her uncle, and without ever having run for elected office, she is being considered for this job primarily because of her family.
Certainly being the daughter of John Kennedy has been both a blessing and burden, but, let's be clear: without her name, she's a smart woman with a good address who went to the right schools and kept working when she had kids in the way that worked for her. With her father's name and history, she's a senate candidate. Now, really, is that like you and me?
Monday, December 29, 2008
But the making of a political point is not the worst of it, to my mind. The worst of it is that parents who choose not to vaccinate are able do so and not worry too much about measles or whooping cough or any other disease that used to kill or maim children, because they --self- righteously ---reject the purported risk. But in doing so, they rely on other parents to take on whatever risk they're rejecting (even if the risk is highly dubious). It's a terrible kind of selfish my-kid-first-ism. From where I sit, not vaccinating is either a privilege of wealth and access or a burden of poverty. It's not like I didn't worry about vaccinating my kids, I did. I worried, and I wondered, but still, if you're choosing not to vaccinate, I'm hard pressed to come up with a reasonable or ethical reason for the choice.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Because really who cares about what will please conservatives? I'm all for open debate between disagreeing sides. I'm not the most progressive of progressives. I'm good with incentives to do good (because we all know self-interest works). And I'm sure there are some smart conservatives out there (Andrew Sullivan is a conservative). But still. After eight years of conservative rule and 16 (or 30) years of undo influence on economic policy, I think it's fair to say conservatives have said enough. What with the collapse of the free markets, a crumbling infrastructure, and a fundamentally failed foreign policy, conservatives may now scuttle off to their tiny little think tanks, hang their heads and weep for what they've done to this country. Weep. Long and hard.
An emissions plan conservatives could warm to. As if.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
I'm in one of those stretches where I'm not sleeping. Sure, there are my kids, who aren't the best sleepers in the world and regularly keep me up -- but it's not just them. I'm just not sleeping so well. I need to exercise more, but I'm getting over a pulled hamstring (turns out I'm the kind of person who can think about running and get injured). I guess I could do some relaxation exercise, but I'm too tense. Did I even have to write that? So what can I do? I'll simply wait for the exhaustion to do its work; hopefully, tonight's the night. In the meantime, I leave you with a picture of the very, very intense cupcakes that I made with my kids today. Because what do you do when you're too tired to think? Bake. Naturally.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
You celebrate Christmas Eve.
Red cabbage is very good.
Hot spiced wine dotted with almonds and raisins and spiked with aquavit is a parent's perfect bug juice.
Herring. So many don't like it and I don't know why.
I learned several other things, but this next thing is the most important: Some Swedes have indoor swings. I think this could be a traditional Swedish household item for those long, dark Scandinavian nights. Or may be it's simply well-adapted apartment living. Either way, it's genius.
Really, there's nothing not to love about a Swedish Christmas in New York.
From the very beginning oil has been a limited resource of which the US doesn't have much. Putting aside the environmental impact of cars that burn fossil fuels like there's no tomorrow, assuming, as the decision makers at GM did, the gas party would last forever was just dumb. You don't really have to have an in-depth knowledge of the car business to grasp that. OK, they were focused on short-term profits. Of course, the country had an unquenchable (and indefensible) desire for SUV, but doesn't it take a genius to have recognized that there would be an end. So now tomorrow has come. What a surprise.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
"But note a curious fact about his career: It maps perfectly onto the 25-year bull market in stocks that, like Cruise, is starting to show its age. Nascent in the early '80s, emergent in 1983, dominant in the '90s, suspiciously resilient in the '00s, and, starting in 2005, increasingly prone to alarming meltdowns. For both Cruise and the Dow Jones, more and more leverage is required for less and less performance. Place Cruise next to Nicholson, Newman, and Tracy, and he is a riddle. Place him next to Reagan, and he is not so confounding at all."
The article is here.
You'd think in a four room apartment I'd be able to find them pretty easily. In fact, not so much. Truth be told, I might have to de-clutter. Not good.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
"I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing."
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Note: I did write a longish post about the Torture Report and today's Times editorial about it, but I feel like it's too serious to write about quickly.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
And here's a special Thank You to my brother Louis for getting me the gadget which I'd think a lot about but never actually buy. It made my Couch-to-5K outdoor experience quite excellent.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I read on and learn that that democratic discussion isn't going to happen between people or in assembly halls or church basement or classrooms. No. It's going to happen on the Web. And I just want to hang my head because a blogger writing about how the democratic discussion is going to happen online is, in the end, just writing so much self-referential chin music.
Sure we can discuss away online, and more people than can fit on the New York Times or the Daily Beast or even Huffington Post can join in. And then? Doesn't more democratic discussion have to happen through talking out loud to other people and then to matter shouldn't it make us act? I mean, Obama didn't win just because of all those words and all that content online. He won because there were people all over the country knocking on doors and taking people to the polls. Discussion led to action. Sure, it also led to a lot of web sites and lordy knows I love the web and the blogging thing. But, really, the whole shebang can't be about the web. It just can't. It's too depressing. Isn't it?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Good thing I re-started my Couch-to-5K training. I'd stopped for a sore knee and fully recovered, I'm starting again. Truly, this is the heart of Saturday night.
Friday, December 12, 2008
According the Elizabeth Kolbert's Talk of the Town piece in the The New Yorker (12/8, and no the first "the" is not a typo), the head of Ford, who made 20 million dollars in 2007, swhen he was asked if he'd take a dollor for his salary next year s aid he was comfortable with his compensation level. Great. Did talks break down because of that? Not so much.
Sure, bank presidents should be forced to take one dollar in salary, or at least cap their salaries at, like, a million dollars, which is about the same to them. But bailout burnout doesn't mean the Republicans then get to blame workers for the failure of overpaid management or, more to the point, the failure of this country to enact any kind of comprehensive health plan in the last 40 years. It's really unbelievable. Who are these people?
Here's Andrew Solomon's take on the film, which is right and moving, except for the kicker which says at its best the gay rights movement is holy. I don't think the gay rights movement at its best is holy. I don't think any movement that identifies injustice and intolerance is holy. I think such movements are themselves quintessentially human. Contradictory as Solomon says, but simply human. You don't get god points for finding the best part of yourself --the part that acknowledges limits and yearns to expand. As much as I liked the movie, and as appropriate as it is for this particular moment, here's the thing I didn't like. There were no women. I mean, one woman--Milk's campaign manager. But there's this kicky scene when Cleave Jones, a young protege of Milk, calls two friends and they call two friends and so on and so on and they are all men. That's the thing about the gay rights movement, it's so male. So it goes.
There was one other woman in the movie: Anita Bryant, who I swear is a dead ringer for --or at least progenirator of - Sarah Palin. In any case, I recommend Milk with my highest 5 hanky rating.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In any case, Frank Rich made a good case for why everyone should stop weeping with joy over Obama's smarty pants cabinet, at least when it comes to economics, seeing as some smarty pants economists (like Clintonite-I-didn't-make-a-mistake Robert Rubin) kind of got us into this mess. Then again, Paul Volker, not Mr. Rubin, is heading up the economic clean-up team. Got the message, Mr. Rich. I'm no longer reflexively cheerleading. But I'm not weeping into my fair trade coffee, either. I'm not the first to make the point I'm about to make: Obama never hid his pragmatism from the public. Obama, like a good politician, is most interested in getting done what he needs and wants to get done. And so, stories about how people are upset with appointments are jsut so much handwringing and foot stamping and, frankly, I get enough of the latter with my 4-year-olds. All told, though, it has me a little off the news. I can't even find the latest New Yorker. Now I'm wondering if I keep writing this same post in different ways -- I'm off the news! Everyone's too excited or too depressed about Obama! I can't take it anymore! Maybe I'm still in my election hangover. A month out it seems excessive, but it's probably the case. So it goes. I'll get a good night's sleep and wake from this dream one of these days. In the meantime, I'm off to Philadelphia.
Monday, December 8, 2008
At the very end of the Times article there was a stitch of hope -- a class of second graders that gave up recess to write letters advocating for recycling no matter the profit. They just want a world that's not full of junk, they wrote. I hope, as in words sung by Whitney Houston, those children are our future and that the words we tell them -- waste goes somewhere, responsibility matters, the world will melt -- will take root and drive their actions for the long term. Because right now the adults are all about the short term (sub-prime derivative instruments anyone?) and we've all forgotten the inherent value of long-term planning....I mean recycling.
Now, I've got to run to Whole Foods. But first I gotta find my reusable shopping bags.....
Friday, December 5, 2008
I should explain. The tour was of a dual-language program, Spanish-English. In kindergarten, the kids spend 80 percent of their time learning in Spanish and 20 percent in English. In first grade it moves to 50-50. Going in to the tour I was more curious about the dual language thing. Now, obviously, I'm besotted. I love the idea of a Spanish-English program, for many reasons (learning a second language, I think, opens your mind in an ineffable way -- there's not just one way to speak or be understood or simply be, never mind the fact that so many people speak Spanish and I feel like, shouldn't we all try, at least a little?)
And those trailers? Can I just say, they were really nice. And the teachers? Some serious bright lights.
So what's the down side? Well, this program is in a public school in my district but not my zone. Because it's in my zone, there's a way to get in, but no one yet knows what the acceptance process will be. We all just have to wait for the Department of Education to tell us. But you know what's worse than not knowing how I might get my daughter into the school? What's worse is the math.
There are two dual-language kindergarten classrooms at this school. I believe each class will have 24 kids, although I heard 20 as a number, too. They want to split the classes 50-50 between Spanish dominant/bi-lingual kids and English dominant (and monolingual) kids. Then they want to have gender parity. So, there will be, essentially, 24 slots for monolingual English children like mine, and of those, 12 slots for girls. Did I mention this is a New York City public school? I don't even know how many people apply or what the odds are, but not so good feels like a pretty good bet.
On the bright side, it's nice to fall in love. On the not so bright side, love means hope suspended, even with Kindergarten.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Now, I'm not going to argue that it isn't warped that television stars (mostly) have to be of a certain weight in order to succeed. Pace, Camryn Manheim, the Friends season 1 Jennifer Aniston (who was trim but nothing like she is now), and the pretty young woman who stars in Ugly Betty (America someone), zaftig mostly doesn't fly on the air. (OK. Aniston wasn't zaftig that first season of Friends, but she has said that she lost 20 or 30 pounds and the movie offers came rolling in and for some reason, she didn't put the weight back on.)
But then again, maybe not. The heavier Fey could indeed have made it on the air; I honestly suspect she would have but we don't know what would have happened because Fey decided not to leave it up to chance.
As a Salon writer noted (scroll down for the 12/2 post), Fey lost the weight because she was ambitious and wanted to be on TV. The weight loss meant she could do it without being labeled as the woman who did it without losing weight. That would've been a nice sort of feminist moment (although if she's healthier now, I'm not sure that that's altogether good either), but then we would've been having this discussion in reverse. If that were the case, would a heavy Fey be a story of body acceptance or cultural exceptionalism? I suspect the latter, though the rhetoric would be all about the former.
But this whole strain of discussion is absurd. OK. The most absurd thing is that Maureen Dowd even wrote about it (in Vanity Fair) in the first place. Fey, Like her 30 Rock co-star (the not overly thin but with a slamming bod) Jane Kurkowski, is pretty. Not drop-dea gorgeous, but normal pretty. More important than their looks, though, is the fact that both are extremely funny and extremely talented and that's why they're stars. That Fey lost weight to conform to society's idea of beauty? Like I said last night, it's too bad, but it doesn't make her any less authentic or her success any less remarkable. (And, uh, maybe she likes her bodies as it is now? Just maybe?)
So Fey, she's funny, she's a star of her own TV show, she's in a funny AmEx ad, she has a six million dollar book deal, and she earned all of it, and her waistline is essentially a sideline, so can we stop talking about it?
(I realize now that there's an opening to talk about how femal appearance played out in the election -- but then again, Hillary Clinton is poised to be Secretary of State and Sarah Palin is not. See, your smart, you work hard, you wear a lot of pantsuits, you're gonna make it after all, even if this crazy, appearance-obsessed, male-gaze dominated world of ours.)
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Certainly, I'm done with infertility now. And here I was planning on blogging about Tina Fey and her weight loss. It'll have to wait until tomorrow. All I'll say is this: A skinnier Fey is a no less authentic Fey and enough with the handwringing. OK. I'm just getting started, but I think I'm also done.
Monday, December 1, 2008
All I can say is all this do-it-yourself technology leaves precious little time for anything but managing the do-it-yourself technology. I know I'll love the shuffle, eventually, but don't even get me started on Shutterfly.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Now I'm at the point where what I'm writing has fairly little to do with what Kuczynski wrote and I fear that without my writing a lot more about myself not much will make sense. It's not that I don't want to write about myself and my infertility, it's just that the story isn't exactly unusual or trenchant. (If you like there's this short essay that I wrote here.) So to get back to the Times article I will say I wish the article had been less glib. I wish I didn't know how rich the author is. I wish I didn't have the snarky thought, "What the hell? She made a tuna sandwich for her surrogate?!" (Tuna is high in mercury and discouraged during pregnancy.) But mostly, I read the article and just felt sad. Very, very sad in a way I hadn't felt since those endless days of yearning. I'm relieved they're gone.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
This year? Not so much.
If Melissa and I were still blogging The Skinny, I'd be blogging about how I'm not bad for eating a lot and how each meal offers a whole new chance to connect with what I really want to eat even if it's a bagel and I had stuffing for dessert the night before I craved the bagel and not only that but after the stuffing I stood facing the kitchen cabinet dropping one chocolate chip after another into my mouth, unable to put the bag down and walk slowly away.
I don't know why this happened. I think I was just tired, and I think I overindulged all week (for a variety of reasons), and so by the time Friday night rolled around, I couldn't think of even one good reason why not to eat a little bit more of this, that or the other thing that I didn't really, really want. It's not the end of the world that I ate all that, it's just that now all I crave is, like, brothy soup with little bits of tofu in it. For example, I think I really want this soup in Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen. It's made of, I believe, mushroom broth, tofu and cilantro and I think it's called Green Soup or some such and that's what I'm going to make tomorrow, because that's what I really, really want. Along with a bagel. Because every time I taste a bagel from somewhere not New York, I have to have a New York bagels as soon as possible.
Remember: If you want the bagel, eat the bagel. Then have the soup.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
1) It tells me what I'm supposed to do.
2) It tells me how long it will take.
3) I can do what I'm supposed to do in the time it takes.
Really, the whole thing is terrific. And today, as I did what I was supposed to do, I watched the gym's bank of TVs and the one tuned to CNN kept showing the same shot of a man pacing in the wings of a very presidential looking stage. Then they ran a ticker (which I needed since I didn't have earphones) and the ticker said, "President-Elect Obama about to make important economic announcement." Or something like that. Never mind how thrilling "President-Elect Obama" remains, how about that he was pacing. I mean, I know he has a cool demeanor, but must be wound pretty tight (the discipline, the cigarettes). And yet, the pacing, it was unnerving. I don't know why. Maybe it's just that I don't want to see my presidents preparing to speak. There's no backstage thrill for me. I just want to see them speak. The pacing could have made me feel less assured by Obama had I watched the actual announcement, never mind listened to it. As it was, though, I just let the stalking steps of the President-Elect knock around my brain until it was time to get off the treadmill and head home.
Friday, week 2 begins. Wish me luck. And have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I wonder, though, if my reaction is partly abuot the thrill of finishing afgans I made for my kids, and almost finishing the famous bear, but also if it's part of a turning to home that happens when the world feels precarious. Knitting isn't a frugalista hobby -- yarn costs -- but it is very home art-y and it give me at least that great sense of making something in a prefab world. It's like why I bake cookies. (And bake and bake) I just get that mmm-mmm good feeling. And see, I'm so inistently earnest about it. I must be in love, I can't even make a joke. Times are too rough, and there's too much knitting to do. Way too much.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Well, maybe it's just my brother who's that kind of moderate Republicans. Maybe I'd do better with moderate Republicans who didn't spend their eleventh and my eight year giving me wet willies (wet finger in ear) when I was innocently watching MASH reruns while our mother was at the supermarket.
Seriously, though, I think it's pretty facile to say the Obama administration is the Clinton administration relived. Sure, many of the people from Clinton's administration will serve in Obama's. But that doesn't mean the administrations are the same. For example, the selection of Daschle for Health and Human Services speaks to an understanding of the on-the-ground legislating politics that makes Washington go. I don't believe Clinton in his first term had that, and certainly Hillary Clinton in her Health Care Reform efforts didn't have that.
Now, isn't everyone glad we got this out of the way before Thanksgiving so we won't have this fight and I won't have to upstage my older brother in my rightness and none of the children who will be present will be able to use this particular scene in his or her screenplay of a dysfunctional family gathering? I sure am.
Oh, and there's this: Happy Birthday, Louis!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
So, I'm not going to blog seriously about politics, meaning I'm not going to investigate anything or start a campaign to get Cheney prosecuted or get Michael Pollan to be secretary of agriculture, even though part of me wishes I were someone who would do something like either of those two examples. Likewise, I'm not going to blog about the ins-and-outs of my bear knitting pattern or how I had to re-do the bear's bottom three times before I figured out how to get it right.
Which is to say that just like the Obamas and the media and the rest of everybody, I'm in transition, finding my way back to normal life. The knitting helps, it gives me so much pleasure, and it's making me feel strangely competent (I figured out the bottom! And knitting on double pointed needles, too!) and I'm so glad to be knitting this bear for Melissa's baby girl.
So, maybe I am someone who would start a campaign to get Cheney indicted on war crimes and maybe I will knit another bear for some of the other babies in my life. That's how things go, right? Maybe this, maybe that, some feels more important, some less. But each task should get the respect it deserves, at least from me if I'm doing it, and at least on this blog. I guess I'm feeling a wee bit earnest tonight. Earnest and tired. So it goes. Local or express, you know?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
Which is to say I'm already sick of people second guessing Obama's decisions. In one of the many postmortems of the Clinton administration, I read that one of the problems with the first administration was that all of Clinton's people came in on this huge high as swashbucklers who didn't know the ways and means of Washington and didn't care. They thought they could do things their own way, and so they did. And what did we get with them doing things their own way? We got: Don't ask don't tell, a doomed health care plan and, in 1992, the Contract with America and a Newt Gingrich-Republican-controlled Congress.
So, you know what I say? I say it would be a change for a new administration, a new Democratic administration, to come in and hit the ground running and work the system effectively. There's change from within and change from without and Rahm Emanuel may be a jerk and Lawrence Summers might have been the wrong guy to run Harvard, but they know their fields, government and the economy respectively, and they've proven they know how to get things done within them.
Granted, this might be a little bit of blind faith on my part, but the change we need is not only an end to hyper-partisanship, it's an end to armchair quarterbacking every single decision from day one. Sure, the blogosphere needs words, but it also needs some thoughts. And some patience. Damnit.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
David, my husband, often points out that most candidates really start performing well when they know the campaign is lost. Witness Hillary Clinton this past spring. Or Al Gore when the campaign was all over. The stakes go away and suddenly, the candidate can connect. That, too, must have happened for McCain last night.
"Another contributing factor to Obama's victory, political experts said, may have been the growing number of Americans who, faced with the complete collapse of their country, were at last able to abandon their preconceptions and cast their vote for a progressive African-American.
"After enduring eight years of near constant trauma, the United States is, at long last, ready for equality.
Citizens with eyes, ears, and the ability to wake up and realize what truly matters in the end are also believed to have played a crucial role in Tuesday's election."
And it was. The whole thing was incredible. Reading the New York Times this morning, I was reminded of that period in April when I thought maybe Obama would lose, when Michelle Obama went on the Colbert Report and said, "I believe my husband will be President," and I so wanted to believe her, but I wasn't sure. Clinton was coming on strong, there was that whole "bitter" comment about people with guns, Ohio was impossible. Things looked bad. But Obama's dcampaign stayed the course, and now, unbelievably, I feel like we have a President-Elect whose demons seem to run toward the need to control and not the need to unleash. I believe we'll have a president who can actually govern because he will listen, consider, decide, persuade, and lead.
Obama in his speech and in his campaign also reminded me, for one, that the work is done not on the big stage but brick by brick, hand by hand, person by person and that leadership harnesses that work and power asks for help. Can you imagine Cheney thinking power asks for help?
It's a whole new day.