Archive for February, 2011

28
Feb
11

fashion assignment: fur

I’m sure this is protected somehow and I won’t be allowed to upload all of the pictures, so if you want to see the slide show, click here.

I get the sense that Ms. Giannini was given an assignment: use fur in any color, but it must involve draping over the shoulders, and be in excessive proportion to the rest of the outfit. Jewel tones and an off-center slit in the skirt will earn extra credit points. And maybe I’m a prude, but necklines cut wide and to my waist or sheer tops worn without a bra just aren’t going to “fit” into my life. I guess it might get those college boys to pay attention in class, but probably not to what I’m talking about.

I get it that certain things are in style (and then they aren’t, but that’s a topic for another day). But do we really need this many versions of: trousers, gauchos, fur capes or trim, sheer “skirts,” and double-breasted dress/coats?

p.s. That skinny Calvin Klein girl shows up on the ads to the right of the Gucci slide show. This woman is not attractive, and the clothes are worse. Is this supposed to be the ideal we all aspire to?

27
Feb
11

is it worth it?

From “Meet Dr. Freud,” New Yorker, January 10, 2011:

In recent months, there have been signs that the pressure [in China] is greater than anyone imagined. Last January, a nineteen-year-old named Ma Xiangqian jumped from the roof of his factory dorm at Foxconn Technology, where he had worked seven nights a week, eleven hours at a stretch, making electronic parts, before being demoted to cleaning toilets. In the months after Ma’s death, ten other workers committed suicide at Foxconn factories, which make iPhones and other products.”

Seven nights a week?

Eleven hours in a row?

Apparently this isn’t that unusual in Chinese manufacturing.

A paragraph later:

Foxconn wasn’t ‘any different from any of the other big companies who are doing the same thing’. . .Beyond the drudgery of the assembly line, workers in their teens, or barely out of them, were struggling to live far from home, save money, meet spouses, and educate themselves in their time off, all under the eye of a state with no organized outlet for complaint.”

Meanwhile, our (American) children underperform in high schools and colleges, delay getting married and having families, and take on student loans they not only have no idea how they are going to pay off, but don’t really care.

This, my friends, is why they’re “eating our lunch.”

p.s. I still want an iPhone, but now would feel guilty about buying one. As if I need another reason to feel guilty. But look how pretty it is.

25
Feb
11

too tired to fight?

Was in the middle of a long post about the latest Pew Research study, which evaluates 7 recent trends: more unmarried couples raising children, more gay and lesbian couples raising children, more single women having children without a male partner to “help”* them (never mind that this question was not also worded in reverse, nor that the reasons for these absent males were not questioned), more people living together without being married, more mothers of young children working outside the home, more people of different races marrying each other, and more women (again, not men?) not ever having children; and whether people think these trends are good for society.

Have lost interest.

Big surprise: Women are blamed (even, inherently, in the wording of the questions), the question of single fathers or men choosing not to have children is completely ignored, as are the prejudices of society and judges in the juvenile system, imbalances of economic reality for working women, and policies which regiment inadequate child-support; the real questions, reasons, etc., seem to be avoided.

Besides, isn’t it possible that the question itself is self-referential, and therefore moot? If our definition of society includes an expectation of families made up of one man and one woman, married to each other, and 2.3 children, then, by definition, a family made up differently would be “bad,” and a single-parent family is the most different.

Anyway, I had a rant going when I heard this on the radio yesterday, but it seems to have fizzled out. Wonder why. . .maybe I’m just tired of women taking all the blame and beginning to feel that there’s nothing that can be done to change it.

Alas.

*I hate the word “help” when it comes to men’s contributions to the work of the home — as if the work of childrearing, cleaning, cooking, laundry, etc., is the work of women, and men “help.” Who do I help?

22
Feb
11

Sez who?

So I’m sitting on my bed, eating potato chips I shouldn’t be eating (kettle, sea salt and black pepper) and washing them down with cognac, scrolling through the blogs I subscribe to before I go to sleep.

I run across this quote on the blog 4mothers1blog.wordpress.com:

“Never one to shy away from stating her opinions, Globe and Mail columnist Katrina Onstad, wrote on Saturday February 5, 2011 that princess-to-be, Kate Middleton should get a job. Onstad argues that Middleton and Michelle Obama, along with “opt-outers” (a minority group of educated, privileged women who choose to play a supportive role to their high-powered spouse) are ultimately depriving themselves not only of compensation but contribution. Needless to say, these are fighting words that have long fueled the battle between stay-at-home moms and working mothers.  The 4mothers have a lot to say in response to Onstad’s comments and will be the focus of February’s At Issue.”

I then read a follow-up post at the same blog, and, when I wasn’t tearing my hair out and screaming, focused in on this paragraph:

“I have three children, and I felt Onstad’s cry of ‘Get a job!’ hit home with me.  One of the biggest shocks of motherhood for me was how crippling the sense of isolation and worthlessness can be.  I got to the end of one day last winter, and I miserably noted that my biggest challenge of the day, in fact of the entire week, was the simple logistics of getting three kids through snow to and from school.  I so desperately wanted a pile of papers to mark, lectures to prepare, an article to write: the kind of work I trained to do, the kind of work that feeds my soul and gives me an abiding sense of worth.   A pile of laundry, dinner to prepare and three kids to wrestle into pajamas was not the meal my soul needed.  Being at work is what I need to feel whole, and I am a better mother and citizen for it.”

Well, bully for you.

And I’m not saying that days as a mother aren’t crippling, nor that they can’t be full of a sense of isolation. But getting three kids to school through snow can be a formidable task, and worthless? Raising your own children is worthless?

And just because you need to be at work to feel whole, why do you then feel entitled to tell me I need the same?

Now don’t get me wrong — I have always worked — like the author of this blog post, partially out of necessity, and partially out of a need to fulfill some part of myself that being a mom couldn’t fulfill. And yes, I believe I was a better mom because I wasn’t only a mom. But that was for me to decide, me and me alone, and this propensity of women telling other women what they should or shouldn’t do just really, well, pisses me off.

And if that doesn’t piss me off enough, we have this closing sentence:

“But it really, really shouldn’t be to appear on the arm of a man.”

This is in reference to whether women like Kate Middleton, Princess Diana, Michelle Obama, have “opted out” of the workplace in order to “support” their high-powered spouse.

Are these people actually implying that Michelle has “opted out”? Out of what? Working part time, nights, as a law clerk in order to “feed” some “starving” part of her soul while her husband’s President? PRESIDENT? Are you wordIcan’tsay kidding me?

I guess it would be better for Sasha and Malia to be in daycare?

Isn’t feminism about having equal pay and equal opportunities for equal work? And if Michelle chooses to do important things that are related to her role as First Lady, things which don’t include the provision of a paycheck, does that make them less important? less meaningful?  Did I miss something somewhere that “feminism” includes a requirement that I have to do what other women think I SHOULD do? Why can’t I choose? Speaking of the pressure women are under, why is it that so much of this pressure is imposed by other women? And why can’t men “opt out” without being “denigrated” as the “wife” or the “mom”? Are those such bad things to be? What kind of pressure does it put on them? Why does anyone — singly or collectively — get to decide what’s right for me? my family? my spouse? my children? my life?

Meanwhile, women decide that Michelle Obama is a bitch, or that Hilary Clinton is either a bitch or not feminine enough, and that Sarah Palin is a viable candidate for president because she’s pretty and non-threatening and speaks just as incoherently as they do.

Why can’t we all stop telling each other what to do and let us all just do our best?


20
Feb
11

cats like chicken, don’t they?

We have two cats, Qbert, a Russian Blue I adopted from my baby brother (and hold responsible for the ridiculous name), and Sophie, a Siamese we got for my daughter for Christmas a couple years ago.

Qbert is relatively old, although we’re never sure exactly of his age. 10? 11? He’s hyperthyroid — I know right? I’ve wished my whole life to be hyperthyroid, and instead it’s my cat — and therefore quite skinny, despite the medication we give him every day. Sophie is a healthy 2-year old cat, not fat, but she definitely could miss a meal or two without it doing any harm. (It also would help her survival chances if she would stop attacking my knitting projects. I call her Sophie-the-evil-Cat, and claim that she is a heroin addict, except the heroin is yarn.)

Everybody knows the stories about cats and the sound of the can opener. Qbert is even more “in tune” with the goings-on in the household. If I go stand at the kitchen counter for ANY reason, he comes to my feet and squawks. Just to be sure he won’t be forgotten, he also waits outside the bathroom door in the morning and squawks, even if my daughter has already fed him. Now if you happen to be working on any kind of meat or fish for dinner, he really puts up a fuss. We made the mistake of leaving a pound of ground meat out to thaw overnight and found about a fifth of it gone; not sure how much of the plastic wrapping he also ate, but it didn’t seem to do any harm.

Anyway, we were eating chicken last night for dinner, so Qbert paced and paced and sat by our chairs, and put his paws up on the edge of the table and sniffed, and paced some more. When we were done we cut the tough leftover bits off the bones and threw them into the food dishes. Qbert ate from one bowl and then the other, and then back to the first, while Sophie sat, looking like she had seen a picture once of how a cat should look when sitting, and waited patiently. We finally decided that maybe Qbert had had enough, so my husband picked up him and moved him over so Sophie could have a turn.

Sophie sniffed this bit, and then that bit, and then this other bit, and then licked one piece like it was a lollipop, and then looked at us, and then at Qbert, and then sniffed some more. It seemed she was asking us, “Do cats like chicken? I can’t remember. Could someone look this up on Wikipedia for me?”

We finally released Qbert, who politely ate from one bowl and allowed Sophie to eat from the other. Guess cats do, in fact, like chicken.

19
Feb
11

thwarted expectations

Was digging around for a little something sweet last night, and found this in the freezer.

Now I’m open to the argument that Second Son has been well taught, and is being careful not to be wasteful.

Except there is literally not a single bite of ice cream in this carton.

I posted previously on my theory that his difficulty eating as an infant has triggered an aversion to any kind of effort as relates to the acquisition of food. But is it possible that it’s more work to put the empty carton into the trash bin than it is to put it into the freezer?

18
Feb
11

the politics of breastfeeding

Apparently Michelle Obama has inflamed the ire of various conservatives with her support of breastfeeding.

The two main complaints are that women are busy and have enough pressure on them already without this type of coercion, and that Ms. Obama is out of line by suggesting that it would be reasonable for the IRS to credit the cost of breast pumps to women’s tax burden.

Yes, women are busy, and no one should be forced to breastfeed if they don’t want to. But does anyone really believe that milk from cows, meant for cow babies, is better for human babies?

And secondly, the federal government is already subsidizing infant formula for families in poverty already. Isn’t breast milk actually a lot cheaper? Last I checked, it was actually free, if you don’t count the “cost” of having to avoid 5-star spicy dishes at your favorite Thai restaurant and alcohol. And, isn’t it also, in fact, a lot more convenient? No bottles to wash, no need to have constant access to perfect water at the perfect temperature, no cans of formula to lug around on trips short or long?

Of course, Sarah Palin has to weigh in with another well-researched and intelligent response. “No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, ‘You better breast-feed your baby,’ ” she said at a speech on Long Island. “’Yeah, you’d better, because the price of milk is so high right now.'” Except, according to the inflation calculator at the United States Department of Labor website, the cost of a gallon of milk, which was $1.69 in 1980, would cost $4.52 today. Is anyone paying $4.52 for a gallon of milk? I pay $3.99 for organic at my local grocery store.

But thank you, Sarah, for raising the level of argument yet again.

Sheesh.




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