Saturday, November 26, 2011

Bridesmaids, Revisited

Back in June, I saw Bridesmaids and really enjoyed it. I thought it was funny and smart and portrayed at least some of what really matters in women's friendships. Sure Kristen Whig's character Annie was going through a very hard time, but nothing about it seemed overly bad for the world of the movies, even though she was going through a seriously rough patch.

Last night, David and I decided to watch a movie. We were all set for a pure escape, total fun, no problem. We were ready for the Anything Goes of movie night. We decided on Bridesmaids. Turned out that since I myself am in a bit of a rough patch and coming off a week of a stomach bug that hit every family member, it hit me a little bit harder. The movie still had some almost perfect comic moments, but it seemed sadder, more strained, even more restrained. Maybe I just have to give up knitting during movie night (because I was knitting the lights were on), or maybe Bridesmaids isn't Wedding Crashers. It's about actual relationships and not exactly escapist when that's all you really want. Then again, our plan B for movie night was Blue Valentine, maybe we made the right choice.

Friday, November 25, 2011

New, New, New Computer!

Well, I did it. After five years, countless crashes, and months of living with the swirly-whirl of death as my constant computer companion, this week I finally broke down and bought a new computer. It's nice. Sleek and fast and the keyboard experience is very satisfying. But, I have to say, it's also a little off-putting, the new computer. The keyboard, with it's nice typing action, is lit up from behind and when I look at it it reminds me of nothing so much as an office building at night. I loathe office buildings and I especially hate the way they're lit up at night. I'm one hundred percent certain I'm not alone in this. Here's the other thing about the computer. It runs the very latest version of Word, which has all kinds of icons and layout options everywhere on the screen. Gone are the days of "normal view" in which a plain document and simple toolbar might fill my whole screen. I was thinking about how someone needed to tell the engineers and designers at Microsoft that sometimes less is more, and then it hit me. I may not like the new Word, I may feel overwhelmed by options when I work in it, not only because I'm so used to the old Word, but because I'm, you know, old. Or at least middle aged, and while I've never been one to be wowed by technology or especially interested in all the nifty things it can do, I'd better start keeping up a little bit more. Like exercise, getting a wee-bit more knowledgeable about technology will, I think, help me be a little bit more flexible as I age. A little more mobile. It'll give me options even when part of me really really wants to opt out. This is my theory, anyway. The problem as I see it is at least with exercise I always feel good after I do it. If I were to sit down to some reading about technology, I know I'd just want to unplug and knit. Actually, that sounds pretty good right about now.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

Because I am an extremely lucky fish, I had some of this pie -- Sweet Potato Ginger Custard -- last night, and I can tell you, it is Deeeeee-licious.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is There an App for That?

When I first saw the headline in the Wall Street Journal this morning, I thought I could just avoid it. Then, my husband placed it in the middle of my breakfast spot. "I thought you'd want to read that," he told me. I most emphatically did NOT want to read an article titled, "My Teacher is an App," but I decided I should be a grown-up and see what it had to say.

Reading it offered no real surprises but it was depressing. Education, I've learned, is full of the fad, and technology, from the radio to the movie reel to the tablet, makes for great fads. It wows people into thinking teachers might just be obsolete. Of course, as Lev Vygotsky might tell you, people really need other people to learn and deepen their thinking, but who cares about all that when you're talking about what matters in schools? And apps?

Becoming a teacher makes me feel nothing so much as cognitive dissonance. I can hardly think of an endeavor that's at once so pressured to be seen as professionalized and so infantilized. For every reformer who says the key to great school is amazing teachers, there's another scripting lessons. For every tool meant to foster a culture of critical thinking, there's a sheet of bubbles waiting to be filled in.

Fortunately, though, for all the abstract contradictions, and concrete absurdities, becoming a teacher means I spend one day a week student teaching (next semester it will be four). And there, the kids are funny and confounding and engaging and earnest; the cooperating teacher is marvelous and gives me something to think about every time I'm in the classroom. Granted, some weeks I think about how overwhelming the task of teaching is, but I also remain deeply curious about it. Which is lucky, because if I just read the paper, I'd think there's an app out there ready to teach for me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Who Wears Short Hair?

I have a complicated relationship with hair - long and short. I would really like to go into it, but it's complicated, and it's late, but still, I want to comment on this essay in Jezebel about short hair. Because even though it's late, and maybe I'm not reading so closely, I think the article basically says, "More than one straight man in the world likes short hair! I know, because I used to have straight hair and men told me I was gorgeous!" And in response, I have to say this: Really? REALLY? Seriously, REALLY?????

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Election Day, 2011

I have to say, I was even more excited by the election results and headlines announcing defeat to "Many G.O.P.-Sponsored Measures" and "G.O.P. Overreach," than I was by the moms-don't-sleep article in the Times on Sunday. Way more excited. Maybe I'll even sleep a little easier tonight.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

To Sleep, Perchance Just to Sleep.

It's hard to express the level of identification I felt with the article in today's New York Times Sunday Styles section on women and sleep. Or, more accurately, women in their 40s who don't sleep.

It's not as though I didn't know that I wasn't alone in my sleeplessness. A few years ago I made a new friend when we started emailing each other about books and sleep aids. And, truth be told, the sleeplessness of motherhood didn't surprise me. I've never been a great sleeper. Even in my twenties I'd fall asleep quickly and wake around 3 or 4. And can I just say, if you're awake at 3 or 4 AM and not inebriated or engaged in some kind of salacious activity, you're quite certain the world will end because you forgot to take out the garbage. But, at 3:37 AM, when I think about taking out the garbage I also think about everyone else who takes out their garbage, and how all that garbage will pile up into mountains, just like in Wall-E, and not just because the City won't collect it all. Because that's what life is like lying awake at 3 AM. In fact, last night I was awake worrying about an assignment for school and whether or not David Leonhardt was right about climate change being worse than we could imagine, just like the financial crisis of 2008 was. (This was in the Times Sunday Magazine years ago, but I can't find it now, and if I try any harder, I'll add to my sleeplessness tonight, when I'll be wondering why I was blogging and not working.)

So my question is why did I have such a strong response to that article in today'a Styles? Why didn't I just turn to my husband, who told me about the article, and say, "Tell me something I don't know." After all, I was up pretty much all last night, even though I was exhausted from not sleeping for several nights this past week and working all day. Plus, when I read the article itself, it didn't really give me any new insights. For example, the article suggests that technology creeps into our night-time wind-down. Yep. It says that women are perfectionists and want to put out a five course meal every night. Nope, that's ridiculous. Most people I know are amazed I spatchcock a chicken once a week. Still and all, even if the reasons for sleeplessness are run-of-the-mill, even if the fact of it is an accepted part of modern maternity even outside of New York City, it's so awful and cruel, it's somehow better to feel companionship in insomnia. Maybe knowing I'm not alone will help me sleep better tonight.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What's On Your Face?

My (totally awesome) niece Melissa made this video with a friend (who I'm sure is awesome, too, only she's not my niece). It's about beauty products and all we don't know about them. Check it out here.