Archive for March, 2012

28
Mar
12

what I did while I wasn’t here

Apparently, this is one of the most popular blog headlines.

Alas, I’m a cliché, and probably in more ways than this.

But I was in New York City for four fabulous days, at a conference, well, at least some of the time, and having lots of fun with lots of very good friends.

Some highlights of the trip.

What I ate:

The Best Gyro. Ever. (Greek Kitchen)

Miso Menchanko. (54th St. I think, in the block west of 6th St.)

Pad Prik Khang, with shrimp; and a sake-sojo martini that gave me such a headache I thought I might be having a stroke. (Boyd Thai, Greenwich Village)

Spicy tuna sushi, washed down with an ice-cold Sapporo. (Sushi Damo, 58th & 9th)

Savory crepe with chicken, mushroom and asparagus, topped with a tomato-olive tapenade. (Europa Café, 57th St.)

And, believe it or not, at the LaGuardia airport:

Sun-dried tomato and goat cheese panini with a Pilsner Urquell ($8, but never mind.)

I only have pictures of all of my meals because Husband was at home, and I thought he might look at this as a way of our sharing the trip. You’d have to ask him if he agrees, or if he thought I was just being really annoying.

Some other interesting sites:

Rockefeller Center

This looks so much bigger on TV.

St. Mark’s (?) Cathedral

I really should keep track of the identities of these things. Stunning, though, isn't it?

Columbus Circle

Does this coat make my butt look big?

Times Square

I would have taken pictures on our pedicab tour of Central Park but I was too busy hanging on for dear life. This is also why you don’t get a picture of the chocolate almond croissant I got from the Bouchon Bakery. It was, for lack of a better word, amazing. Probably a thousand calories. But worth every single one of them.

I also don’t have pictures of Murray Perahia in concert. They kind of frown on that, although it didn’t seem to be stopping someone on the other side of the hall. I’m sitting in the back of Avery Fisher Hall, with ~ 2,500 people between him and me, and he plays Bach with such a beautiful, delicate, intimate yet singing tone it’s like he’s sitting right next to me. And then oh, how the Chopin roared! I was there with at least a dozen of my music-camp-faculty colleagues, and we were joking that we were going to have T-shirts made to wear at camp this summer that say “Just play it like Murray plays it.” As if.

It was also nice to see a full house, and again the next night for the Interlochen Academy’s anniversary celebration concert. Maybe it’s NOT the end of Classical music after all.

I loved the city. Anything you want to eat, do, see, buy, they have, and probably in the same block on which you find yourself. It was cleaner and safer than I imagined, although there was one poor soul on the subway that I can’t stop thinking about. As my friend Liza, who lives on the upper tip of Manhattan, says, you can’t help everyone. But I do think maybe we should try harder to help more.

And I don’t think I would be very happy about having to drive there, although I might be able to convince myself that I could find that perfect balance between assertive and defensive driving. I certainly wouldn’t bother with wanting a nice car; maybe something pre-dented.

I wrote the poem in the previous post on the plane on the way back after almost a two hour delay while we waited for the mechanics to make repairs. I’m always happy to have people fix things wrong with the plane that I’m supposed to be flying in; not like the pilot can hear a funny noise and decide to pull over onto the shoulder and call AAA. I would however always, selfishly, rather it was someone else’s plane that needed repair. I didn’t really understand the surly young man behind me — would he have rather they had flown without rear pitch control (whateverthatmeans)? And it did make my night’s sleep rather short by the time I got home. I was extremely grateful not to be seated next to the girl who had plopped herself down next to me in the terminal (despite the other 85 empty seats at the gate) and then regaled her father via cellphone with her tales of woe, including an apology for being so drunk last time she called him — apparently her brother had carried her out of the bar after she passed out and she didn’t even realize she had made any phone calls until the next morning. Charming. On so many levels. Not helped by the fact that some other people seemed to think she was with me. Apparently my sympathy only extends so far.

And despite popular opinion, most of the New Yorkers were exceedingly friendly, except for the waitstaff at the Pazza Notte on 6th. We weren’t getting dinner, just drinks and an appetizer, so, despite the fact that it was 10:30 p.m.and there were at least ten empty tables in the restaurant, we were escorted to two uncomfortable chairs and a barrel (I’mnotmakingthisup) in a stinky corner by the kitchen to drink our watered-down cosmopolitans and eat our not-really-all-the-convincing bruschetta. Quite a contrast to the ramen place, where every. single. employee.  thanked us as we left.

Not bad, all things considered.

28
Mar
12

from there to here

The left wing bowed graciously,
after the plane caught its pocket of air
and nonchalantly dropped the LaGuardia runway into its wake
(an hour and a half behind schedule,
not that anyone’s counting,)
and New York City gleamed as if gilded in gold,
the Avenues wearing their red and white stripes
of cars going this way,
and that way;
Central Park all darkness,
the pedicabs and ice skaters long gone home.

The stewardess fills up my water glass
for the fourth time, then sneaks me a bottle of merlot
minutes after turbulence shakes us all like
dice in a Yahtzee cup.

I am 38 minutes away from you,
that “you the singer sings to,*”
according to The Flight Deck,
and despite that promise I make to myself
time and time again,
You know–that promise
not to wish my life away;
It cannot pass quickly enough.

There. It’s 36  minutes now.
Not that anyone’s counting.

 

*Ani DiFranco

23
Mar
12

Do I have to?

What if I don’t want to?

I don’t even know what it is.

23
Mar
12

one of the darker sides of technology

In a report on this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from the March 5 New Yorker:

There’s a software firm by the name of Tibco, based in Silicon Valley, which has generated data-sorting software for companies such as Amazon, FedEx, Goldman Sachs, eBay airlines, and the Department of Homeland Security. They have also designed a program for Harrah’s, the well-known casino, which “can figure out when a gambler is about to encounter a loss of such magnitude that it will cause him to leave the casino and perhaps never come back. The casino’s Luck Ambassadors [I’m not making this up] will then offer the gambler a free meal or a ticket to a show. . .and distract the gambler long enough to entice him to return later, to continue losing money in palatable increments.”

Well, at least it’s palatable.

 

21
Mar
12

Hey Jude, the Canadian version

Heard in the bathroom this morning, from Only Daughter with the newly formed Beatles obsession:

“Eh, Jude. . .”

😀

18
Mar
12

today’s Bible study

Today’s old-testament reading was from Exodus.

Moses and the Israelites have been wandering in the desert for 38.5 years.

They’re complaining, just a little.

(Big surprise, eh?)

They’re basically tired of wandering, perpetually lost, hungry, and thirsty, and bored with the limited menu: namely manna, quail, and water from a rock. Perhaps a little variety would be nice: maybe some salmon? a nice green salad? would a little fruit — some strawberries, or perhaps a handful of grapes, be too much to ask? all washed down with a nice, under-oaked Chardonnay?

ANYway, God hears enough of their incessant whining, and sends poisonous snakes among them. (Let THAT be a lesson to you.)

I can honestly say, in all these years of having children complaining about what they are being fed for dinner, I never thought of this.

 

15
Mar
12

Murakami, and why I won’t be reading him anymore; UPDATED

I had this all written this morning, (some of my best work,) and when I went to insert the picture I lost the whole post. (Ain’t technology grand?) I’m still not sure I have the heart to start over. But here goes.

***********

Still taking a break from The Street Sweeper, although I plan on finishing it. Instead, though, I just read Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. Supposedly his readership went into the millions with the publication of this book, but I can’t really figure out how, unless it was high schoolers looking for the sex scenes.

Ugh.

Toru is a “preternaturally serious” student. In case we miss this by the fact that he has very few friends, and spends all of his time going to class, doing his homework, and working at his job at a “lame” record store (is there a geekier job than working at a “lame” record store?), the few friends he does interact with can’t seem to stop telling him how “strange” he is, or how “strange” he talks, even when what he says seems perfectly normal.

In this way, Murakami seems to demonstrate very little faith in his readers. Another example: Toru travels to visit the young woman he truly loves, Naoko, who has secluded herself in the mountains of northern Japan at an idyllic mental institution retreat recovering from the emotional trauma of first her older sister’s, then her long-term boyfriend’s, suicides. (There is a lot of suicide in this book; it seems to be the solution of choice in Murakami’s Japan; and surprisingly, many of those who commit suicide in this story don’t seem to have demonstrated any signs of emotional or psychological instability beforehand.) The line between patient and doctor is particularly blurry — when Toru first meets Naoko’s roommate, she is introduced as “Dr.” because she teaches music to some of the patients; a fellow patient wears a white coat and makes his “rounds” from table to table at mealtimes expounding on arcane topics. The “patients” live calm, idyllic lives, eating prepared meals, living in austere yet comfortable houses, performing “meaningful” menial tasks. Many patients stay for years. In case the insidiousness of this is lost on us, Toru just happens to have a copy of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain in his backpack. “How could you bring a book like that to a place like this?” Reiko asks him. How indeed?

And then there’s the sex.

Murakami is clearly trying to write the way the teenagers/twenty-somethings talk about, think about, sex. But I don’t think he’s very good at it. It’s too self-aware, too self-conscious, too proper. And that’s not the worst part. Besides the fact that, except for Toru, none of the men treat their girlfriends very well, the women themselves seem to have no sexual desire, no needs, no agency, of their own. (Update: Actually, this isn’t true, I somehow forgot one twist to the story. There is one “woman” with sexual desire and agency, she just happens to be a “pathologically lying” 13-year old girl who tries to seduce Reiko during one of the girl’s piano lessons. An event so traumatic it triggers Reiko’s latest psychological break. And, as far as I can tell from the story, the only lie the girl has told is after her seduction fails, and she reports that Reiko tried to seduce her. Apparently the idea of a 13 year old girl being sexually assertive and/or curious, or that she would spitefully lie about it later, is too bizarre for Murakami to consider.)

But back to the rest of them:

Naoko is a virgin when her long-term boyfriend commits suicide; apparently she was unable to, well, open herself to him. Naoko and Toru have one apparently mutually-satisfying sexual encounter, immediately after which she disappears and checks herself into the rehabilitation center. (There’s a ringing endorsement.) When Toru visits, Naoko services him in various ways, (Ugh), but waves off his offers of reciprocity.

Toru’s one male friend at university sleeps with dozens of women, despite having a beautiful, accomplished, intelligent young woman as a girlfriend. This girlfriend apparently knows about his philanderings, but tolerates them, claiming that she loves him and this is just what he must do. Reportedly she, too, will commit suicide, around four years after the end of this particular story.

While Toru waits patiently for Naoko to decide she can return to society, he is befriend by Midori, a “sexually liberated” young woman in one of his drama classes. They are physically attracted to each other, but are unwilling to consummate the relationship because she is “trying” to be faithful to her boyfriend (this is Murakami’s version of “sexually liberated”? That a twenty-something young woman has sex with her boyfriend?), despite the fact that the boyfriend criticizes the way she talks, the way she dresses.

And then there’s Reiko. Reiko is in her 30s, and, perhaps as an outward symbol of her long-term struggle with mental illness, is apparently extremely wrinkled. Reiko comes to visit Toru in Tokyo after (spoiler alert) Naoko’s suicide (see?), finally leaving the “center” after 8 years, on her way to teach music lessons in yet another secluded location. They cook together, and then make love, four times, in one evening. The first two are strictly for Toru, iykwim*; but afterwards, she lies in bed, eyes dewy, and declares: “I never have to do this again, for the rest of my life.”

Seriously?

Ugh.

The next day, Reiko departs, and Toru calls Midori, telling her that “all [he] wants in the world is [her].”

Funny way of showing it, but whatever.

*if you know what I mean

15
Mar
12

Not a war?

Sez who? (Lots of people; mostly male Republicans, but whatever.)

Sigh.

Just when you think it can’t get more ridiculous.

Maybe this can be a sign of hope?

14
Mar
12

surprise, surprise, surprise

So, apparently, the world is aghast at news that Goldman-Sachs has been primarily concerned with its own profits, rather than those of their clients.

Am I the only one who is saying, well, duh?

The main thing that has kept me from investing in the stock market (besides our state’s educators college-savings fund and an old 401K from Former Husband’s employer,) is my complete lack of trust that any of these people are looking out for anyone but themselves.

Call me cynical, just don’t call me late for dinner.

13
Mar
12

Horrifying

Read this, and watch the clips.

Take a good look at the young woman who is faulted for having “too big” of hips.

And then refuse to buy a single magazine with an underage, emaciated, and/or exploited female model in it.

Who knows, it might actually make a difference.

13
Mar
12

sounds about right

12
Mar
12

gusts

the car dances awkwardly with the wind
ducking and grunting and protecting its head
at tops of hills
as I eye the fallen pines on either
side of the road
wreckage from last week’s snow storm

somebody said to me, just the other day,
that they felt they were
peering into the future
and saw bleakness and gray
(like Debussy’s Des pas sur la neige
so I played it in church yesterday morning
each sixteenth-eighth pattern the scuff
of your heel into the snow
the melody your thoughts,
as I explained to Dennis, after)
and I said no
one can see the future
I thought I saw it once
and told myself how I would feel

but now I am your star-struck girl,
with no need to knuckle down

01 Knuckle Down

12
Mar
12

For the Dead, by Adrienne Rich

For the Dead.

Lovely.

12
Mar
12

the battle over women’s reproductive rights

Diane Rehm had several women on today talking about women’s reproductive rights.

One of her guests was Phyllis Schlafly. This woman is an idiot, and should be completely ignored. Maybe we can send her and Rush off to some remote island somewhere and never have to hear from either one of them again. Seems like a match made in heaven: Mr. and Mrs. Misogynistic.

Her claims were many, and all equally ridiculous: single moms are all churning out babies out of wedlock so that they can solicit handouts from Obama’s government; feminists are all anti-men, anti-family; women WANT their reproductive rights to be limited which is why they keep voting for ultra-conservative Republican white men.

Diane did a poor job challenging any of these opinions. She must have been feeling under the weather. I’m very disappointed.

The comments on the website include bizarre, paradoxical claims such as that women want big government to protect their reproductive rights so that they can keep having babies and end up in poverty. Yeah. That makes sense. There also seems to be the belief that erectile disfunction is a “medical condition” but pregnancy (or ovarian cysts, or irregular or hemorragiac menstrual cycles) is/are not. Right.

I expect more from NPR and Diane. Ms. Schlafly shouldn’t have been given the opportunity to air such foolishness. I’m sure they could have found SOMEONE less ridiculous to support the claim that women’s reproductive rights are not under attack.

Or maybe not.

08
Mar
12

me again, but this just couldn’t wait

March 7, 2012

By

It’s called a “wrongful birth” bill and it’s all about preventing women from having an abortion, even if it kills them. The Arizona Senate passed a bill this week that gives doctors a free pass to not inform pregnant women of prenatal problems because such information could lead to an abortion.

In other words, doctors can intentionally keep critical health information from pregnant women and can’t be sued for it. According to the Arizona Capitol Times, “the bill’s sponsor is Republican Nancy Barto of Phoenix. She says allowing the medical malpractice lawsuits endorses the idea that if a child is born with a disability, someone is to blame.” So Republicans are banning lawsuits against doctors who keep information from pregnant women so as to prevent them from choosing to have an abortion.

This bill is actually more disturbing than the Republicans seem to realize. Giving doctors such a free pass risks the lives of both the expectant mother and the fetus she carries. Prenatal care isn’t just for discovering birth defects and disabilities. It is also for discovering life threatening issues such as an ectopic pregnancy which often requires an abortion to save the life of the mother. With rare exceptions, ectopic pregnancies are not viable anyway, but Republicans are allowing anti-abortion doctors to keep life threatening information from pregnant women all because they are obsessed with stopping any and all abortions. Women may not know they have a life threatening condition until they die on the emergency room table. And the doctor couldn’t be sued.

This is an egregious bill that will lead to higher mortality rates for infants and mothers. Doctors should be held accountable for not disclosing information learned from prenatal examinations. Pregnant women have the right to know if their future child is going to have a disability or if the pregnancy may require an induced abortion to save their lives. Any decision that is made as a result of the information is the mothers own. Doctors should not be allowed to make decisions for pregnant women as a way to prevent abortions. Women have the right to make their own health decisions and hiding critical information is irresponsible, unconscionable, and risks lives. In the end, Republicans are only putting more lives in jeopardy. They might as well call this the ‘let women die’ bill.

 

Happy International Woman’s Day.

Grrrrrrr.

08
Mar
12

this is kind of cool

08
Mar
12

call me Martha

Made 2 Roman blinds for the “piano room” front windows the other day. They fit perfectly, Husband installed them without drilling through his thumbs, and they looked SO MUCH BETTER than the dirty, hideous, puke-green-with-some-kind-of-apples-or-roses valances that were there before I decided that I must, as they say, strike while the iron is hot.

So this morning, after a biscotti and a soft-boiled egg and 30 minute of hip-opening yoga with Jason Crandal, I decided to make the valance for the back window. This window is of the picture-window type, coming in at a whopping 107″ wide.

Leaving off the details relating to the 2 hours of sketches and math involved in converting a pattern for a 52″ valance into a 107″ valance, the two trips to the fabric store to purchase sufficient fabric, and the 20 minutes of meditative breathing to establish the right frame of mind “preparation,” here is a chronicle of the day (I was going to Twitter as I went, but I only have 7 followers, and I didn’t want to interrupt the creative process):

9:30

Facing an enormous pile of fabric. Stripes, stripes everywhere. This is either going to look really fabulously fantastic or I’m going to go blind.

10:00

Have managed to cut out all of the pattern pieces and still have a full yard left. Clearly I suck at measuring/planning, but this is a good thing because now I have enough to make a blind for the front door and we will no longer have to worry about people peering in at us as they try to deliver baked goods or subpoenas (as if either ever happens) while we are emerging from the bathroom.*

10:30

Sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew

Wow. This is going really well! I’ll be done by noon for sure.

11:23

Sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew
sewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsewsew

I must have sewn 17 miles of seams already. This is ridiculous. What was I thinking? There is no way this is ever going to be done, or that I won’t have murdered someone just for the sake of finding something else to do.

12:07

2 “cascades” plus 5 “swags” plus 3 “trumpets” = 1 too few “trumpets.”

Must cut another “trumpet.”

No longer have sufficient fabric for front-door Roman blind. Peeping Tom’s take note.

12:35

Am buzzing on a caffeine high from 6 shots of espresso and breakfast being three and a half hours ago. Time for a turkey sandwich and a pear. No beer. Not a good idea when “sewing.”

1:10

Return to the task with renewed vigor and confidence. Must lay out 11 panels of now sewn-together valance parts onto 7.5 yards of fabric lining, using a 6′ long table.

1:27

Valance seems to be running too far to the east on the lining; must lay out again.

1:39

Valance now running to the west (only because I started at the other side). Must figure out why this keeps happening before I start cutting.

1:45

Oh. On third try realize that am pinning the seam allowances towards the “trumpets” rather than toward the “swags.” Question whether this can really make that much of a difference.

1:52

It does. Valance now pinned to lining.

Start cutting.

Husband comes in to ask how things are going. I reply that, despite earlier reports, valance will not be completed by lunchtime. Also report that am beginning to feel a little angry, but only a little. Husband suddenly thinks of something Very Important that must be done in The Other Room. (I call it “running for the hills.” Coward.)

2:05

Begin sewing 7.5 yards of lining to 7 yards of valance. Realize that “cascades” were attached on the opposite sides from where they were supposed to be attached. Am not sure how such a thing could have happened. Decide I will just deal with this later.

LATER

Can’t just “deal with” this. Realize that the result of mistake is that the rod pocket for the “cascades” is ~ 12″ higher than the rod pockets for the “swags.” The result of this will be that the majority of the valance will fall ~ 3′ above the floor.

After long and careful consideration, decide this won’t work.

Husband hears strange noises from kitchen. Comes to investigate. Offers helpful advice, support, and a willing ear while I talk through my idea for solving said problem. Challenges claim that the pattern states that at this stage in the process it is important to start drinking. Am unable to provide documentation. Must have lost that page in the scuffle.

Husband redeems himself from being a “party pooper” by helping to rip out “wrong” seams, and watching encouragingly while remedies are made.

3:14

Husband helps hang Really Really Long curtain rod despite directions for freakishly large drill bit, and. . .

3:37

. . .looks on approvingly while pleats in “trumpets” are adjusted for maximum effect.

 

This is all I accomplished today. It’s all I can do not to look at them admiringly every 7 minutes. I’m quite certain I have other things to do.

But Martha’s got nothin’ on me. Well, except ~ $970 million or so.

 

 

 

*Who designed this house, and decided it was a good idea to place the main bathroom directly in line with the front door?

08
Mar
12

Happy Women’s Day!

Just saw this on redamancylit.wordpress.com, quoting Gloria Steinem:

The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off.

Exactly!

08
Mar
12

missing the point, again

A University of Rochester economics professor blogged in support of Rush Limbaugh’s comments regarding Sandra Fluke.

Quoting him directly:

While Ms. Fluke [the law student] herself deserves the same basic respect we owe to any human being, her position — which is what’s at issue here — deserves none whatseover [sic]. It deserves only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered. To treat it with respect would be a travesty. I expect there are respectable arguments for subsidizing contraception (though I am skeptical that there are arguments sufficiently respectable to win me over), but Ms. Fluke made no such argument. All she said, in effect, was that she and others want contraception and they don’t want to pay for it,” wrote Steven Landsburg, the professor, on his blog, The Big Questions.

To his credit, Rush stepped in to provide the requisite mockery. To his far greater credit, he did so with a spot-on analogy: If I can reasonably be required to pay for someone else’s sex life (absent any argument about externalities or other market failures), then I can reasonably demand to share in the benefits. His dense and humorless critics notwithstanding, I am 99% sure that Rush doesn’t actually advocate mandatory on-line sex videos. What he advocates is logical consistency and an appreciation for ethical symmetry. So do I. Color me jealous for not having thought of this analogy myself.

Upon being sanctioned by his President, he has posted a follow-up, some of which I quote below:

The commenters [to my previous blog posts regarding this issue] have offered many bright and lively arguments and observations, some of which have led me to modify some of my views. This is a wonderful thing. It’s also the very opposite of Sandra Fluke’s approach, which amounts to a contemptuous dismissal of the very possibility of engaging these issues through intellectual discourse. I’d have expected a distinguished academic to feel the same way.

But he’s still missing the point. Or should I say points.

I’m curious as to whether Dr. Landsburg saw her testimony. It seems not.

Ms. Fluke DOES deserve respect, and was herself ridiculed, mocked, and jeered, quite appallingly so. Rush did not mock her position, he mocked her. This much is quite clear. It causes me to wonder whether Dr. Landsburg even saw or heard these himself, or was just reacting to the fray.

The concern regarding denial of oral contraception for women taking it for medical, non-contraceptive reasons is a real one.

And while Professor Landsburg congratulates himself on both his mastery of effective argumentative tactics and his open-mindedness, he does so in comparison to Ms. Fluke’s “approach” rather than to Mr. Limbaugh’s. As far as I can tell Sandra has been anything but contemptuous. One can certainly not say the same regarding Rush.

The fact that this clip is followed up with comments like these leave me very little hope:

This is just a few of them. Too early in the day for me to wallow around in such a misogynistic quagmire.

And it’s interesting how all of the “clueless” comments seem to come from men. Am I the only one who thinks that men should just stay out of this argument altogether? When you have ovaries, a uterus, and risk becoming pregnant every time you have sex, then you can talk about this.

Just sayin’.

 

07
Mar
12

allllllllllll gone

Just withdrew the last penny from First Son’s college savings account, and spent a bit of my afternoon at the bank depositing most of the last of his savings bonds, all in preparation for his final tuition payment.

What’s the sound of an empty penny jar?

I’m feeling a little wistful (all those years of saving!), and, happy for him because it means he’s almost done, almost a college graduate, but Gulp! as we hope he gets a job in this market. Especially considering he will graduate with maybe a few hundred dollars to his name, many thousands in student loans, no vehicle, no apartment, etc. etc. College seems like such a big step from high school, but this really seems like the first step into the Great Unknown.

When Only Daughter was 3 years old, VERY 3 (which has always seemed to be a harder age than 2 to me), First Son was 14 and suffering from puberty-induced testosterone poisoning. I remember watching them each struggle with an overwhelming need for independence paired with an astute awareness that they just weren’t ready for it yet, and puzzling over how much the same they were.

Now Only Daughter is trying to conquer her fear of the Back Handspring while I make sympathetic and encouraging noises: you’ve done them before, you can do them again; you’ll stop being afraid when you’re not afraid anymore; you’ll do it when you’re ready; if you decide to do it at the beginning of the tumbling run try not to change your mind in the middle. At the same time, I know for a fact that there is absolutely no flipping way (ha!) I could ever do one.

Friends of my parents had a pool when I was a child. I was a really good diver. The friend decided he was going to teach me how to dive backwards off of the diving board, and I would be all game for it until I went up and stood there, facing THE WRONG WAY. I never could do it. Too much about jumping into the unknown.

Gulp.

There have been a few times in my life where I closed my eyes and lept. In each of those cases I ended up in a much better place. No reason to believe, I guess, that it won’t work out that way for them, and wonder why, even knowing this, that it’s still so hard for me to take the next one, whatever it may be.

06
Mar
12

on losing things, and realizing what you’ve lost when you find them

Realized this evening that the diamond stud that usually resides in my right earlobe was missing.

Had a vague recollection of something pulling on my ear earlier today, but knew I hadn’t put in any earrings this morning (because the diamond studs are in the 2nd hole, and never come out), so I didn’t pay any attention.

Was instantly quite upset, and quite surprised that I was quite upset.

I’m not really a “thing” person — it’s just jewelry, it’s just an earring. And not that big of a diamond or anything, so it’s not like we’re talking “family jewels” or anything. But I was upset. So while I turned on what I call the “drunk lights” (it’s a long story) in every room, and lay down on the floor and peered this way and that trying to see if I could see anything, and swept in corners and scritched through the contents of the dustpan, I kept wondering why I was upset.

I found it, after 10 or 15 minutes, which really isn’t all that long, considering that it COULD HAVE BEEN ANYWHERE. Have no idea why or how it came to be where I found it, or when it fell out of my ear. And even after I found it, I was still upset.

I think I know why.

First Husband, who wasn’t really all that good at buying me jewelry (an emerald ring from Kmart ofallplaces, for example), had bought them for me when I completed my doctorate. I had the second holes pierced for them so I could leave them in all the time.

I began my pursuit of my DMA when First and Second Son were 9 and 6. I spent 5 grueling years studying and practicing and teaching (visiting instructor position my last two years), thinking that at the end of it I would have the credentials to get a “real job” as a full-time, tenure-track member of a university faculty. Since everything else in my life that I had wanted and tried for and was qualified for I had pretty much achieved, this seemed like a gimme.

This has failed to happen.

Other good things have happened since then, but I am realizing these days that my current professional life looks an awful lot like my professional life did before I pursued this degree.

So what was it all for, one might ask?

Good question.

I am a firm believer that self-improvement and education in any form are only good things.

But still.

Nobody does this just for the sake of their own edification. At least nobody I know. Or nobody sane.

I had been reading The Street Sweeper over the past few weeks, but found its apparent lack of editing and generally dark and gloomy tone a bit much for my current state of mind (false imprisonment, Nazi Germany, etc. etc.), so I picked up Anne Lamott’s Operating Instructions a few days ago and have been tormenting Husband the past few days reading funny bits to him while he’s trying to get his work done. There’s a line that particularly applies, which I am kind of chanting to myself like a mantra right now:

. . .backwards is just as rich as forward if you can appreciate the circle instead of the direction.

It’s so true, and one of the hardest things to believe.

06
Mar
12

A dog’s life

Okay, first of all, you have to promise not to laugh. I bought First Son a digital drawing tablet for Christmas, and it looked like so much fun I just acquired one for myself.

I’m just in the early stages of learning how to use it though, and have been completely surprised by how hard it is to draw on one surface while looking at another. Despite my obvious hand-eye coordination, it’s like I don’t really know where the tip of that pen actually is.

Anyway, here’s my first attempt at illustrated humor:

You removed my boy parts. I will never forgive you. Instead I will just lie here, dejectedly, and blink my sad little puppy eyes at you every time you look at me. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Must dance.

Too bad we can’t all get over all of our traumas so easily.

 

p.s. Hopefully by the next time I will have learned how to at least form legible letters. Or maybe I should stick to impossible yoga poses and Bach.

06
Mar
12

Game Change

Roger Ebert has reviewed the new movie Game Change, starring Woody Harrelson as one of McCain’s advisers, Ed Harris as John McCain, and Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. The movie itself looks really good, but Sarah Palin makes me so angry just on principle, (kind of like how our cat feels about the dog), that I’m not sure watching it would be a good idea.

It does reveal two interesting things I did not know before:

The incessant repetition of her trademark tag lines was scripted, a way the advisers devised to keep her from revealing how incredibly ignorant she was, and some of the advisers were so disgusted by her that they themselves were unable to vote for McCain.

I don’t find either one of those things very hard to believe.

I’d ask where is she, but I don’t really care. I’m just glad she’s disappeared.

 

05
Mar
12

Goldberg, Variation 1, Take 1

After taking Dex to the vet for his ahem gender revision surgery, spent the morning doing yoga

I will do this. I don't know when, but I will. I'll be sure to let you know

and being Martha Flipping Stewart making Roman blinds for my front windows.

I have some group classes starting soon, so thought I’d calm myself down preemptively get in the mood by practicing a little Bach.

Recorded this on my iPhone on the first take. A little rushed in a couple of places, a little sloppy here and there, but not bad for the first run.

Recording quality isn’t the greatest. . .but I’m going to put it up anyway to try to get me off to a good start.

And, in addition to the order from chaos, it just seems so darn joyful.

Hope you like!

Goldberg variation 1

05
Mar
12

ah, Rush, you pompous ignorant windbag

Read this

and watch this:

Rachel Maddow Show on Rush Limbaugh

Rush appears in all his overweight ignorant glory around 7:40.

How can a 60-year old man in the 21st century be so woefully misinformed about the female body? And how can he twist the truth so dramatically and get away with it (and this isn’t by any means the first time)? The thing I don’t get is how we knew he was an idiot 20 years ago and his listeners and advertisers are just now figuring it out?

Or, as Rachel points out, it doesn’t matter. He’s saying what he says to provoke, to be famous, to get people to talk about him.

But he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, it’s quite clear he doesn’t have any women working for him (or maybe someone might have informed him of how the Pill actually works), and there are plenty of people listening to him who agree with his ignorant vitriolic bullshit.

Maybe, instead of talking about Rush, we should be talking about why 50% of the population is represented by 19% of our government, and how we (women) got this far in a country where we are still so little understood and so poorly represented. As Rachel points out near the end of the video clip, Romney doesn’t seem to understand how contraception works a whole lot better than Rush. And as she also pointed out, it’s bad enough to be a jerk, but it’s even worse, especially when you’re trying to generate national discourse on important societal topics, to be stupid.

04
Mar
12

Help!

There has to be a better way. Does anyone have any suggestions?

20120304-182133.jpg

04
Mar
12

untangling the tangles

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was going to start a new project — one Goldberg Variation a week until the whole piece is learned.

Yesterday I started the first Variation.

But let me digress for a moment.

I’ve noticed over the past several months that when I’m feeling emotionally turmoiled (isthataword?) I turn to Bach. At the end of a particularly long day or in the middle of a stressful week or after a difficult or disappointing conversation or encounter, I find myself sitting at the piano, working my way through a Prelude or Fugue; musical Valium, if you will.

The past couple of days were particularly trying.

To spare you all of the gruesome details, let’s just say that a student of a colleague of mine at “my” college misinterpreted and/or misrepresented a very brief and casual exchange and the colleague, someone I like very much, and thought liked, trusted, and admired me, assumed the worst. And, rather than asking me what had happened, wrote me an email telling me how unprofessional and insensitive I was, and then blithely went about the rest of his evening, not getting my phone message, not reading my email. I, being the I-must-be-the-crappiest-person-in-the-world type, was awake until 3 a.m., and awake again at 6:30, and had a generally overwhelmed and in-the-overtired-induced-ozone all day Friday.

We exchanged a few emails after he FINALLY returned my call at 9:30 the next morning (15 hours after his message), and he apologized for jumping to the wrong conclusion, and for not asking me about it first, but I still generally felt like crap about the whole thing, but for gradually evolving reasons.

After I got over the self-loathing stage, I was angry, and had a few questions.

Why did this person so easily assume the worst? This isn’t the first time this has happened to me; it seems to be my superpower; I’d rather have another. I’ve always worked really hard, I’m fairly good at what I do, I’m organized and responsible and conscientious. This seems to have hurt me rather than helped me. I’ve actually been told that, as an adjunct, I “didn’t know my place.”

Anyway. . .

Even if things had happened as the student seems to have portrayed them, why is this automatically a bad thing? We coddle students too much, we treat them like customers rather than students; our job seems to be more about patting them on the head and making sure they feel good about themselves than about actually pushing them to achieve their best or challenging them when they don’t. This can’t be good for them, nor for society in general.

And, finally, why do I ALWAYS go so easily to self-critical, self-loathing, even when righteous indignation or outright anger is what’s called for? I think it’s a woman thing. I’m not sure, however, that it’s a good thing. Husband points out that he goes right to anger; he is much more efficient that way. I think it’s a guy thing, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing either.

I always end up feeling like this: (from thisisnotthatblog.com)

when I should probably be feeling like this

So, back to Bach. . .(remember Bach?)

His music often seems like a tangle. It can take days to work out fingerings that allow you to navigate the passagework; and often there seems to only be one fingering that actually works. The melodic lines can be easily identified and unraveled when listening to a good recording, or even just by looking at the score, but making them audible can feel like trying to untangle a large skein of yarn after the cat has spent a night “playing” with it. A forest of whirls and knots and undergrowth. And then, often seemingly suddenly, the order is revealed, and everything clicks into place.

Maybe that’s why. Order from chaos, eventually, but always ultimately, revealed.

In a not-completely unrelated story, we were without power for around 18 hours because of “bad weather.” (We’re not really sure what it was, although it was a little windy and we live in the forest, and apparently 74,000 Consumers Energy customers were without power in Michigan today, so I guess we’re lucky that it’s back on “already.”) Anyway, nothing restores a sense of order like coming home from good Thai food and Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in the same movie, to lights and heat and finally being able to clean up the kitchen.

Husband says that the clean kitchen is a sign of hope.

That makes sense to me, although I think the order-from-chaos thing helps.

I would post a recording of me playing the first Variation, but Husband thinks that recording it at 11:52 p.m. after a glass of scotch might not be a good idea.

He’s probably right.

Another time, then.

02
Mar
12

democracy inaction

People in Syria are being terrorized by their own government, with actions reportedly including houses being looted and people being set on fire.

The Egyptian military hangs on to power while the people wait for an opportunity to choose their own government.

Iran pursues its own religion-inspired agenda, while North Koreans are kept in the dark, both literally and figuratively.

Putin will win this election, whether he wins or not.

Meanwhile, we live in a country that at one point had the right idea about how this should be done.

Now, instead, we have things like Citizens United, and these clowns:

20120302-182643.jpg

We should be ashamed. We can, and should, do so much better.

01
Mar
12

ah, Bach!

Am thinking I need a project, so have decided to try to learn one of the Goldberg variations every week until I’ve learned them all.

But first, what I really want to know, is whether Bach might have actually had 12 fingers on each hand; or maybe a third arm?

It would really shed some light on the whole thing.




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