Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The New Year

Today was Rosh Hashannah or the Jewish new year. For many Jews, it's still Rosh Hshannah, for others, not really, but the for everyone, today was the day and I did almost nothing to celebrate. I didn't take my kids to services because I figured they'd be too overwhelming. I didn't take myself to service for the same reason. But we did all sit down to dinner together. It wasn't an especially special dinner, but it was at the table, we lit candles and blessed wine and honey and apples. ("Just like Shabbat and Channukah!" my daughter said.) And then, for dessert, we had a birthday cake -- because some people believe the world was created on Rosh Hashannah and what better way to celebrate the new year than singing happy birthday to the whole world. So here's to a new year for the whole world. Above all, let it bring peace. Everywhere.

But What Does It Mean Mr. Brooks?

Today in the New York Timess David Brooks wrote this:

"What we need in this situation is authority. Not heavy-handed government regulation, but the steady and powerful hand of some public institutions that can guard against the corrupting influences of sloppy money and then prevent destructive contagions when the credit dries up."

Can someone please tell me what this means? Because to me "heavy-handed government regulation" actually means simply "regulation" which means legal limits set on banking which, if we still had, would have meant our economy would have unfolded quite differently over the last 20 years. I understand nothing about what's happening, but I'd guess that with at least some regulation, some sense of rules and the limits of lobbying to undo them, the free-wheeling sub-prime-debt swapping ponzi scheme that made billionaires and now will bring our economy to its knees might not have happened. (I really must read Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston.)

More to the point, what does "public institutions that can guard against corrupting influences" mean? Does it mean a Treasury department that's not subject to the judiciary? I think it might. I think by "public institutions" Brooks might mean people like treasury secretaries and Fed chiefs and SEC commissioners because without laws (AKA regulations) institutions are run by people, people who need people, people who are beholden to people, people who like other people and do things for them and after sitting around in a group and thinking with them.

I know Brooks is a conservative and so for him "regulation" is actually a four-letter word. I know that he might mean something something else by "public institutions" than what I've guessed, but it's not clear what it might be, at least to me.

I'm not saying laws themselves aren't eventually interpreted (and, let's face it, avoided) by people who need people, of course they are. But a society needs rules, rules that protect the weakest among us and limit the most self-serving and those who've forgotten that the public good is not the same as their bottom line. If there aren't laws on the books to structure those limits, people simply continue to come in and out of institutions of authority. Some will hold the corrupting influences of sloppy money at bay, others will slosh around in them. So which would you prefer? Legal structures or the potential for all that sloshing? I think we've seen what the latter gets us. How about after the dust has settled, we get some well-considered version of the former. Mr. Brooks might not like it, but everyone else might. At least I will.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Scar Jo, The Marriage

What's this? And to whom? Really?

Me, Losing It: Exhibit A

There I was in the preschool holding, I mean cubby, room. Here comes another mom, she's from an English commonwealth nation and we were all complaining about kindergarten and the cost of it and she says, "That's just what I'm worried about if Obama wins, all our tax rates will go sky high." I thought my head would explode. I actually felt that familiar whirring in my ears. But did I excuse myself to go to the hallway and breathe into a paper bag? No. Why not? You ask. Because clearly I have learned NOTHING in the last 39 years and 11 months. And since I've learned NOTHING I say something incomprehensible about how it'll be worse if McCain wins because there will be no confidence in America anywhere else in the world. Another (midwestern) mom says something nice and reasonable about how the market's going down no matter who wins. Then the non-voting mom from the Commonwealth, who has assured us she's not a Republican, then announces something along the lines of how all the banks were going to leave New York if some Bush tax kicked in after a certain amount of time and all the jobs would go abroad to London or somewhere because it's so expensive to do business in New York. And there it was, on a platter: A second chance. I could have shown maturity, wisdom, restraint. I might have bit my tongue and smiled sweetly and said whatever. But did I? Oh no I didn't. Not only didn't I, but I swore. In the holding room with children under three swarming around.

Oh yeah, it was a great moment. A bright, shining moment.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Away for the Weekend

We're off to DC for the weekend to celebrate my fabulous Sister-in-Law's great big birthday. Which is to say I won't be blogging about the debate if it happens and if it does I might not even be able to watch because I'm so nervous about it. I'll bring my knitting, which will help. Some.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I Mean Come On!

Did you see this?


When my kids are tired, when I don't feel like fighting, when I know I can fight all I want and after a lot of crying I'm still going to give in, I let my kids go to sleep in my bed.

Some nights I can tell the fight won't be too bad and my daughter Helen, because she's always the one who wants mommy's bed, will settle down in her own bed so I say No. Other nights, nights like tonight, I know I should just throw in the cards. On those nights, after they're well and truly asleep, we transfer the kiddos back to their beds, a process Helen calls "wishing." In other words, she wakes up in the morning and announces, "I wished myself back into my own bed, Mommy!!"

Even though every time we let them sleep in our bed we're tempted to pull out the air mattress in honor of the profound and essential and fleeting cuteness of our kids curled up in our bed, we resist for fear of losing not only the battle but the actual war. And when one of us -- tonight it was me-- takes the kiddos back to bed, one of them invariably turns over onto a belly and pulls up her knees and pushed her tuches up into the air in order to assume what's known in yoga class as "child's pose." Tonight, after watching MSNBC and the depressing ads for Cialis and the uninsured, there was nothing so sweet as that little tuck and prop. It was a hard day for us for a reasonable selection of reasons -- not a bad day, mind you --just a hard day. Anticipating Helen's morning announcement that she herself got herself back into her bed -- well, we should all be so assured of our agency in the world. We should just assume that even when it turns out the odds really are stacked against whatever it is we want to do, we can wish it to be something else and if we wish hard enough, and, you know, work hard enough, maybe the thing that we wished for that seemed impossible won't seem so out of reach.

There's a bad side to this wishing, like with Sarah Palin and how she talked about her relationship with Russia. And then there's the good side, the side that let's you dream a little and work again. That's the side that, with a little snort of Bourbon, I'm wishing myself back to. I mean, as Sarah Palin proves, a girl can't make it on wishing alone.

The McCain Campaign

This is perfect.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Campaign Suspended

McCain's decision to suspend his campaign so he can go work on the bailout legislation has me almost as speechless as, can I actually say it? Ohmygod! Sarah Palin!

It's the Economy.....

I feel like I should write something about the economic disaster unfolding in Hickey Freeman suits all along the Eastern seaboard. Yesterday, I sat on a playground wondering what the Acela looked like and if it was filled with investment bankers and other busybodies hurtling between Washington and New York. That thought is about as sophisticated as my thinking on the mess has gotten. Because I don't understand it. I don't understand a lick of it and I haven't read that much about it because it makes me feel like I do when I think about long division. Because I don't understand how lobbyist can be lobbying for accounting rules to be suspended so investment banks won't take further losses so it would be like the whole thing didn't happen. I don't get how there are people who argue that capping executive pay will stifle hard work. I don't see how any of these people can say with a straight face that government shouldn't regulate their business but it must save their bespoke shirts when all their bets went bad. I mean, I can see that if someone doesn't save the banking industry the reprocussions across the global economy will be severe. I think I get that. But I don't get why these people can't understand that at a certain point enough is enough and rules are required and a little humility is called for, nevermind paying back their $50 million bonuses. But that's all I got.

The Sequestered Candidate

You might have read elsewhere that the McCain campaign refused to allow reporters to ask any questions of Sarah Palin when she met with world leaders yesterday. Here's what Andrea Mitchell had to say about it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I've just come home from a park playdate with Kim. It was very exciting to make that happen and of course Kim and I started talking about blogging and Kim said I should "totally check out my traffic." Which of course I've been meaning to do but haven't gotten around to it because I figured I wouldn't be able to figure out how to check my traffic.....or more precisely, I thought I wouldn't have the patience to figure it out unless it was absolutely spoon fed to me by google. Which it probably is but after a quick check of the places I'd never been on my blogger dashboard, I didn't find the traffic information but I did experience that really tense feeling I've gotten in my shoulders ever since my Dad told me I'd decided I couldn't do long division and if I hadn't made that decision, I really could divide those phone numbers he'd given me to practice. Which is to say I know myself, I know my limitations, I don't yet know anything about the traffic on this site, and I won't know how to divide phone numbers again until I make my kids do it when they're in the fourth grade and my father comes and visits and makes us all do it together as homework.

Chris Rock on Letterman

Really, I know I'm giving a lot of orders this morning -- read this, check out that -- but you might really want to watch this clip of Chris Rock on Letterman. Seriously.

Books for Barack

OK. So I'm clearly having some trouble working this morning. Over at Not Quite Sure, I read about Ayelet Waldman's brainchild Books 4 Barack. Check it out.

On Politics

OK, so I couldn't resist a quick trip to Andrew Sullivan before I started working on the preschool newsletter.  Mr. Sullivan had a link to conservative commentator George Will's Washington Post column.  I recommend reading the whole thing; it's always good to catch up on the other side, especially when presented by such a considered thinker. If you can't, here's the kicker:

"It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency.  It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience.  Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?"

Monday, September 22, 2008

Too Scared to Read

Now that the economy has tanked (as my friend Jesse Eisinger predicted it would last year, but not in this link), I'm so especially extra nervous about the election that I can't even read any news about it. I can't read about how Obama isn't angry enough or Palin is under lock and key or Biden furious about McCain but no one is listening. I can't do the day in and day out of who's up and who's down. I just can't. So I'm not. I'm just not. But when I do, you'll hear about it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Water, Water in my Yard, if Only I Had a Yard!

In the seventh grade I read Dune, and ever since I've been terrified of the day when we'd all have to suit up in special outerwear that collected our sweat so we'd have what to drink. The dread of it still keeps me awake some nights. Which is why if I lived in a house that had a small backyard, I could end up buying the rainwater hog. Because, you know, my house probably wouldn't have a green roof, but why not a hog?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

So today in the playground a little girl comes up to my clutch of adults. She approaches the bag of snack I've opened, snack being crackers and some weird Whole Foods version of goldfish which are gold ducks my kids don't really like. She's maybe 6. She looks at me because she's about to dive in, and I'm fine with her diving in, but I'm nervous, so I say, with great enthusiasm, "That's fine! Do you have any allergies?"

Never mind at dinner where I found myself repeating, with greater and greater urgency: "Don't put your truck in your lemonade!" I mean, what if the truck were allergic to lemons?

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Perfect Tuna Melt

For lunch today, I had the perfect tuna melt.  It was at a diner and I was meeting a friend and I didn't really know what I'd want and in those instances at a diner I usually get a salad but today it's a little chilly and I didn't want a salad.  I went for the tuna melt.  It was open faced and on whole wheat; butter had been swiped along the bottom of the bread. The tuna was creamy perfection and the American cheese on top was just so.  After I at the third quarter, I knew I was full, but I looked at that last bit and I thought, "I just can't say no to you," knowing it would probably be a good long while before I indulged in the melty mayonnaise-y-ness of the tuna melt again.  And I was glad while I was eating it, but now I think I really shouldn't have.  I feel a little queasy, and even if it'll be a good long time before I eat another one, that's no reason to make myself queasy in the here and now.

David Foster Wallace

Deborah Treisman, fiction editor of The New Yorker, has this remembrance of David Foster Wallace.  I have read only two things by Wallace. The first is the famous "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again," which I read when it was originally published in Harper's.  It's the story of Wallace's journey on a cruise trip and I read it over 10 years ago and scenes from it still come to my head at random times. If you've never read it, go do so.  The other thing I read was a review essay, also in Harper's, of A Dictionary of Modern English Usage (the first edition). That essay instilled in me the belief that teaching grammar is a powerful thing, a political thing, a thing I could and should do, once I learn some more grammar.  I ripped that essay out -- it's right here in my "articles" folder and it's called "Tense Present: Democracy, English and the Wars over Usage."  Brilliant. I should re-read it.  But I can't say much more about his writing. I can say that his suicide made me think of the unimaginable demons he must have suffered, that anyone who takes such a step must suffer.  It makes me mourn not only his mind and his writing, the part of himself that he put out into the world and that I know to mourn, but the human experience that  can drive people to such extremes and leaves the rest of us shaking our heads in a baffled "why?"    Why.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stating the Obvious

Tonight, while making dinner for my kids, I tried to imagine November 5th, and I was seized by a terrible, horrible, no-good fear. What if the unthinkable happens? I don't think I'll be able to watch the election returns. I really don't.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm Sorry I Can't Spell

I regularly misspell Barack Obama's name. I'm sure I misspell many other things. I'm really sorry and I'll try to do better.

Why I Shouldn't Be Blogging

I shouldn't be blogging. No. I should be taking pictures of foods my daughter likes to eat and I should be taking that disposable camera with film in it which has the pictures in it in to the drug store to be developed and on the way to getting the pictures I should be stopping off at the copy place to make a photo copy of my son's birth certificate. I think I already have my daughter's, but I better double check because I may have lost it when I lost the forms that went with it which I filled out two weeks ago but then forgot to bring in because I was worried about applying to a special public elementary school for "gifted" children and I'm sure my kids are gifted but I'm also pretty sure they're not gifted in quite the way they need to be to get into this particular elementary school which only accepts children so gifted that I was nervous sending in the application for fear that it was so obvious that the mom sending in this particular application wasn't nearly gifted enough to have a child who'd warrant acceptance at this school. Then, instead of looking for the lost forms, I looked up the artsy cool public school closer to home where I'd love a child of mine to go and I tried to download that application and after the downloading failed three times I finally got it to work (I don't know how I did that) but when I did it turned out the application was from last year and when I called I learned they still don't have the new application procedures ready which is fine because I'm not in a rush but acceptance is through a lottery and I want to make sure I have the best chances of my kid getting in which means I actually have to submit the application and not just fervently pray to win the lottery as I do with the real lottery even when I don't buy a ticket, which is always, and I just don't want to forget about the application like I keep forgetting to bring the food pictures in to my daughter's classroom. Luckily, my son doesn't need to have pictures of foods he eats brought in to school, but if he did, now, I'd be ready. If only I'd stop blogging.

Eight Minutes from Jon Stewart's World


I'm Not Getting the Boots

But I am going to a house party for Barack Obama.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This is Rich, or something.....

The woman who coined the phrase "Bitch is the new black," is now being called sexist by Carly Fiorina.  Oh, she also said that Palin wasn't qualified to run HP, the company she used to run. Which is to say, take her opinion with a grain of spun salt.

It's in the Boot

I got the new Anthropologie catalogue today and I was extremely amused to find in it pictures of young women with young girls posing as if they had something to do with each other, like the young women might be the aunt or the mother of the young girls.  And it made me laugh to think that Anthropolgie is now trying to appeal to the mommy-set, when every time I go in there I have to warn myself that the life led by the young women who wear clothes from Anthropologie is not my life and the undergarments they require--or don't--are so different than those my opstpartum body demands.  Then I saw these boots swinging on legs next to fabulous Mary Janes on a young girl, and my daughter and I both turned from human into covetous lap dogs.   We want to live the Anthropolgie life!!  I guess we'll have to wait for it to go on sale.

To Amnio or Not

The persistent Andrew Sullivan has asked the burning question: Why would Sarah Palin even have an amnio if she's so pro-life? There are many answers offered up on his web site, and I myself even sent one in.  But one point I made in my email to Sullivan is the decision to have this test is so personal that it's not worth discussing.  But Sullivan seems bent on proving that Palin makes bizarre decisions.  Granted her decision to fly back from Texas to Alaska when she found out she was in labor was bizarre, but it doesn't really matter.  

The reporting of her fiscal mismanagement matters. Her cronyism and secretiveness as a governor matter.  Her positions on creation and the environment matter.  And her pro-life position matters inasmuch as she would no doubt support the appointment of those who would overturn Roe v. Wade and put those judges forward herself.  

What I don't get is what Sullivan is hoping to get out of this line of questioning.  It only feeds the right's fire that anti-Palin forces are going after her family life unfairly.  Her family may be up for grabs, but her medical decisions?  Like Roe v Wade says, those are private.

The Experience Question

David Brooks says some annoying things in this column, but he makes a worthwhile point.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How I Feel About Food

Back in on the early side of my mid-twenties, I didn't care so much about food.  Don't get me wrong, I liked it, a lot.  I thought I knew something about it (doesn't everyone?) but I wasn't that interested.  I didn't like to cook and I wasn't very good at it and basically my head was just taken up with a whole lot of other things besides what I'd make for dinner.  Then I got much closer to my friend Melissa, then she taught me to cook, and then I thought I'd left behind my blase-food days forever.

Turns out, not so much.

Because right now it's early September and I don't even care what's new at the farmer's market.  Today it occurred to me that I might have missed Concord grape season, and you know what I felt?  Nothing.  The other day a friend described a perfectly gorgeous, spontaneous, and simple roast chicken involving plums and garlic and for two days I was jonesing to make it and then the heat of the weekend just fried that good feeling right away.  And here's something else: For some time now I've wanted to make the four grain pancakes in the Joy of Cooking, but I just can't seem to buy the oatmeal.   No,t hat's not a typo, I meant to write Oatmeal.  I can never remember to get it and when I do I panic over what kind - quick cooking or traditional? What's happened to me?

Granted, there's a lot I have to get done right now and I've been sick for the past two weeks and the week before that my daughter was sick and didn't sleep and as a result of all this my brain in general is a bit jumbled.  But still,  I go to Yummy Mummy and I feel like the biggest loser.  Don't even get me started on the links or the blog roll.  How do all these people manage to care as much as I care about chocolate chip cookies about all the food they make?  How do they manage to shop for all those ingredients, never mind blog about their food extravaganzas?  The other day I threw away a year old, half-eaten bag of banana chips and I felt accomplished in the food department.

Maybe when we start wearing sweaters again I'll feel like recipe books are my friends again.  Until then, do you think I can convince my husband that married people have cereal for dinner, too?  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Say Yes to the Dress

My friend Nicole is getting married.  I'm her honorable person.  In fact, I might be so honorable, I could very well end up marrying Nicole and her beloved Louis.  

When we first started talking about what I'd wear to the big event, I was all, "I could wear my beautiful black blouse with this black satin pencil skirt I have."  And she was like, "I don't want to get married by an undertaker." Considering that we live in New York City this felt like a bit of an overstatement, but, whatever, I take her point, even though that's just what I wore when I served as an officiant at another friend's wedding.  I admit I felt a little too clerical in my black getup the first time around, but still, I wasn't told not to wear it.  Which is why I was kind of amused by this article in the Times today (fortunately I read the Palin article the night before so I was done weeping).  It's all about brides who tell their guests what to wear.  Now, Nicole is too serious about throwing a good party to insist on a dress code, but still, having been told what not to wear, it resonated.

But the good news is I lucked into a completely fabulous party dress. It's purple, it's Grecian, it's got an Empire waist yet it still shows off my curves yet it has a swag of fabric over my center which is the perfect camouflage for what's sometimes known as my stomach but also could be called the most unfortunate side effect of having had twins. And best of all?  It was on secret sale.  Seriously.  There I was, ready to pay $150 more than I wanted to, and when I brought it up to the register, the guy said, "Oh! It's on sale!"  How amazing is that? Clearly, I had to say yes to the dress.

But This Is News

So not only does Palin sound like Bush when she talks about God and not blinking (do those two have special eye drops or something?), but as this New York Times article shows, Bush-Cheney Washington isn't all that far from Palin Alaska.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Following Obama

This reader over at Andrew Sullivan's blog makes the point that it's enough with the governor of Alaska.  Let's focus on what Obama is doing.  Let's point out the lies McCain himself is telling. Let's get to the issues and win.  Should I say it?  Yes we can!

Mother on Fire, or Whose School is this Anyway

I love Sandra Tsing Loh. I don't always agree with her, but I love reading what she has to say, and when I read the review of her new book, Mother on Fire, I went straight to amazon and bought it. But this bit from her NY Times blog I don't love:

"I do not know why Barack and Michelle Obama cannot send their children to a nice public school in Hyde Park."

Tsing Loh writes that she doesn't know much about Hyde Park, where the Obamas live, but the real estate prices seem high and since the public school scores seem low, it must be because educated middle and upper middle class parents aren't sending their kids to the school.

She goes on to write about how good it is for the kids from poor and immigrant families to be around middle class English speakers and she makes a powerful point. By investing with your kids and your time in public education, you're putting your money where your election cycle mouth is. Apparently, the only candidate to send her kids to public school is Sarah Palin. Tsing Loh despairs of her party and their elitist institutions. But you know what I say to Sandy? It's kind of none of your business.

If candidates' kids are off limits, and it makes sense that they are, then the school choices that candidates make for their children should be off limits, too. You can want public education to work and still send your kids to private school. Take me. In the next five years there's a very likely scenario in my own life wherein I'll be working in a public school and my children will be attending a private one. Inconsistent? Sure. Good for my family? Could be. Any of Sandy's business? Only if I write a book about it.

I don't buy for a minute that the Republicans now get to be on the right side of public education policy because Sarah Palin sends her kids to public school in Alaska. Considering that she'd like creationism taught in those schools and wants Harry Potter out of the libraries I think it's pretty fair to say public school for Piper does not buy Sarah Palin a hall pass on education policy.

We can lament the disintegration of the middle class until we're blue in the face -- and when you're talking about not great public schools and over-priced private ones that's a lot of what we're talking about -- but that's a grown up discussion. Every family must be able to decide for itself what will and won't work for its members. For some that means public school no matter what and for others it means private, but there's no reason to gnash teeth over politicians who choose private school for their kids. It might be selfish, OK. It might be easier, sure. But it's between parents and their kids and no one else. This kind of thinking might spell the continued demise of public education to some, but there are all kinds of ways to build and maintain a social contract and improve our schools. Hoisting up kids as examples of a politician's commitment to education policy is disingenuous. We all live with contradictions, and we all do the best we can.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

20 Questions for Sarah Palin

From Foreign Policy, so they're about policy. I wonder when Palin will start answering. And when McCain, et al will stop lying.

Glimpsing the Car with the Dream

Yesterday, my train was stuck one stop away from where I wanted to go so I decided to get off and walk. When I hit 53d and Broadway, there was a huge crowd on all four corners and police barricades. Then I looked up and saw the bug marquis for the David Letterman show. Then came the motorcade drove by and the crowd started to cheer. It was Obama. I have to say, just seeing his car had me all choked up. I'm so glad I went local.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Not Quite Moving On: The Bridge to Nowhere

James Fallows has some questions about that bridge to nowhere that Palin says she says "thanks but no thanks" to, because she apparently said, "Yes, Please" first. Does this count as policy?

Moving On

I got my haircut today, and my hairdresser, the amazing Mary Jones said, "I can't talk about Palin anymore because whenever I do I feel like we're sending more energy her way and I don't want to do that." Me either. So here's what Cintra Wilson had to say on Salon. I didn't finish this article, yet, but this is my window, and so far, Cintra is saying it all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Who ARE These People?

Over on Politico there's a story about Hillary supporters coming to the defense of Palin and urging the media to back off. Back Off? They're ASKING QUESTIONS! That's what the media is supposed to do! And you know what a candidate for Vice President is supposed to do? ANSWER THEM!

Don't even get me started on the pull quote saying that "we" have far to go because some people have pointed out that being a mother of five and having a job that takes up 7,000 hrs a week (and I'm talking about campaigning for VP) might create some conflicts. If this election is now about character and family values and the mommy version of the culture wars, I don't want to hear a supposed democrat defending a candidate who would not even be allowed onto a Democratic ticket for what the Rush Limbaughs of the world would say about her family life. Don't even get me started on the anti-choice business.

Who ARE these people and where do they get off?

Sleep Strike

I don't really look for opportunities to blog about my kids, but my son has gone on something of a sleep strike. He's been waking up around 4:30 and by 5 or so, he's just too bored not to play. So, he plays -- but it's not like he can play quietly in his room while I sleep peacefully. No. I have to be up and with him in the room. Or my husband does. Either way, there's no sleeping in until 6:30. Honestly, getting up at 5 wouldn't be so bad if I slept straight through from, say, 11 on. But my daughter's been sick, so she's been up every night for the past week. Which is to say even though my kids are 3 and 3/4, they're sleeping like they're five months old, except without the nap. Which is to say right now I'm just hoping I don't fall asleep on the subway with them, because if they're awake on the subway and I'm asleep, that would be bad.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Go, Joe!

Now that's a VP! (link from not-quite-sure.blogspot.com)

In Other News

I can't believe that I continue to be obsessed with Andrew Sullivan's blog. There's much there to read on the VP situation; I recommend reading it all.

Set Pieces

When I was little, our next door neighbors had a dog, a boxer named Bambi. I loved Bambi, and Uncle Sid and Aunt Tedi always welcomed me when I came over to play with her. I'd walk in and Bambi would jump up and put her front paws on my shoulders. Aunt Tedi would tell her to get down while I laughed and laughed and Bambi would get down and race to get her -- our-- favorite toy, a rubber pull thing-a-ma-bob. Bambi would hold one end and I'd hold the other and we'd pull.

I was a something of a loner as a child, but Bambi was my friend. I think of myself in their front hall, with that rubber toy between me and Bambi, and I think I was happy.

When Uncle Sid and Aunt Tedi had to put her down, I was devastated. Tedi was, too. Bambi had been their third boxer, but she was to be their last. I don't know why they decided not to get another one, but I always assumed it was because Bambi was so spectacular any other dog would pale by comparison.

Even without their dog, Sid and Tedi's door was always open to me and there was always ice cream in their fridge. Tedi, who didn't waste a penny, always drove a Saab, a standard, it was a kind of silver-mauve. It was always in their driveway, unless Tedi was at work, or playing golf.

Sid and Tedi were like family, and the first floor of their house was as strangely familiar to me as my grandmother's apartment. It's not that I was there so often, it's just that I knew what exactly it felt like to be there. When I went upstairs to visit with Sid when he was dying it was only the second time I'd been on their second floor in the 35 years I'd been visiting that house. I can't remember why I went up the first time. And now, Tedi's died. Tomorrow is her funeral, and, as I did with Sid, I'll go to Providence for it.

When I went to Sid's funeral, I did it partly for me but also for Tedi, because that's what you do, you go to be with the family. This time, though, there's no family who will see me standing at the service. Sid and Tedi had a son, but he lives in California and was grown and gone when I was a child. He'll be there, but it won't really matter to him that I'm there. Instead of going to "be there" for someone who's still living, I'm going tomorrow simply to say good-bye to Tedi.

I've never had a birthday or anniversary when I didn't get a card from them (always in green ink because their last name was, you know, Green). I never went home with my kids without Tedi running over with a truck and a doll and a word or two about how I should be raising them. I've never gone to my parents' house and not looked for Tedi's car in the driveway. So tomorrow I'll go and I'll say goodbye. Her car will still be in the driveway, the picture of her and Sid will still be hanging in the front hall, the "Oriental" knick-knacks will still be carefully placed on the side tables just like they were when Bambi was alive. But this is the last time their particular set from my childhood will still be there. The season will pass and the election will be held and someone else will move in next door and maybe they'll keep Tedi's beautiful hastas in the garden or maybe not. That's how it goes. But that's why now I have to stop and stand still and say good bye.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Target Practice

When we were trying to encourage my son to pee in the toilet, my dad suggested "target practice." Throw some Cheerios in the pot, and let 'em at it. The first time we tried it, Elliot was really into it. After that, not so much. Today, I walked into the kitchen to check on Elliot's playing -- he had built a complex city --and there he was standing in front of his Playmobil Rescue Fire Boat, and what was he doing? Target practice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I Choose Samantha Bee!

Thank YOU!

The Convention Ends

I've been cured! I woke up and y mad-obsession with Sarah Palin's nomination was gone! Was it the fact that my daughter was up with a fever from 1:30-3 that did it? Or was it just watching John McCain's speech?

N.B. I want to say that I respect John McCain. There's much about him that is way more appealing to me than most other Republican politicians. When he lets himself be himself, he seems almost reasonable, even if I disagree with many of his opinions. McCain let some of his appealing self come through last night, but that didn't make that speech any better.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The XX Factor

I once wrote a post about Slate's XX Factor. I was upset about something Linda Hirschman wrote about Hillary. Talk about the Salad Days! In any case, today, there's a post on it by two women whose work I have admired for a while now, Dahlia Lithwick and Emily Bazelon. In it I learned that Palin's husband is on leave now ("supposedly"). But it also synthesized the current bafflement among women on the left and how damaging the Palin model of working motherhood can be. Check it out. And thanks to my friend P. for sending it along.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Thank you, Maureen

"But when you use sexism as an across-the-board shield for any legitimate question, you only hurt women."

Here's the whole column.

And by the way....

Could they have paraded that baby around any more? Jeez. I want to say really judgmental things about having a baby and going back to work three days later and then deciding to run for VP OF THE WHOLE COUNTRY when that baby is just FOUR MONTHS OLD. Instead, I'll say this, as Nicole pointed out and Roni confirmed, Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to be Speaker of the House of Representatives, a woman who is two heartbeats away from the presidency, and a mother of five, Nancy Pelosi waited until her youngest child to nearly complete her senior year of high school before running for office.

I guess that's how elite moms balance work and family in places like San Francisco.

The Convention

I watched it. I mean, I had to leave the room when Giuliani was on, but I sat through Romney. And I watched Palin, and I was knitting and I think I might have to take everything I knit out because I think I must have started knitting really tightly and now my head hurts. So please, go read some Andrew Sullivan. I noticed that scrunchy thing Palin does with her face, too.

No Chef Here: It's the Palin Show!

Apparently, Sarah Palin made a big deal of getting rid of the chef at the Governor's Mansion in Alaska. Forget about going back to work three days after having a baby, this is why you should question Palin's domestic policies and how she applies them to her own home. Any reasonable person - man or woman -- with a full time job and a house full of kids knows that you take help wherever you can get it. If the chef is there, budgeted for, and earning a living for his or her own family, then why not have that chef help you out? Would your kids rather you spend your time making them caribou hot dogs or doing puzzles and helping with homework? As she learned by hiring a lobbyist for Wasilla, we all get by with a little help from our friends. Palin helps no one by playing super mom and super cook. When it comes to being a parent, cooking is the least of the work we have to do.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How the Christian Right Made Feminists Wonder About Working Moms

Here's the article that says some of what I've been meaning to write about the whole working mom-Sarah Palin-thing, but I bet you know what I'll say and I haven't had time to work since Friday since a long weekend means no work time and lots of family time.

I'm almost ready to take a break from Palin. It's just that the more that comes out, the more upset I get.