rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2017-04-09 06:56 pm

Leaving LJ

Hey Y'all:

Due to privacy concerns with the Russian overlords and the new anti LGBTQ+ stuff, I'm migrating to dreamwidth, where you can find me here:

http://rackmount.dreamwidth.org/

FYI, if any of you are considering leaving, they have an auto-import for LJ, so I'll be around for a few more weeks, and then deleting this journal.

It's been amazing, y'all. I migrated to LJ in 2001 I think, after having an angelfire blog for a few years. I made a lot of friends, I kept up with a lot of friends, and even though it's a bit of a ghost town now, I'll miss this a bit. It's sort of a last breath of an old life.

Love to you all.
rackmount: (mad)
2017-02-07 09:33 am

Meeting school admin

So, we met with A's principal, who insisted we also meet with his teacher. Here's a letter I wrote to her after our meeting.

Dear Ms. U.:

I've taken some time to try to understand your position regarding our last conversation, but I have some questions that are preventing me from getting there.

My main points in our conversation:

1. Since there is disagreement about Asa's capabilities, let's test him and find out.
2. Acceleration is one way to put no more work on the teacher while also meeting Asa's needs.
3. We are also willing to brainstorm other ways of meeting Asa's needs.

The following is what I heard (though it's possible I misunderstood, so please do correct me if I've misunderstood):

1. Asa has been tested, but the school plans to do nothing with the results.
2. The school is against acceleration, even if testing showed that his needs are not being met.
3. The school is unwilling to discuss other options that are not acceleration.

My questions:

1. Why test if the results are not intended for use?
2. Why is acceleration off the table? I did some research, and it appears that a) acceleration is not for all kids, but b) it works very well for those for whom it is appropriate. I'm not an educator, so I may be missing something. Please do let me know what I'm missing.
3. If acceleration is off the table, are we also unwilling to talk about the possibility that better options are out there?

I assume you do not have a one-size-fits-all view of education. And while I understand that it is theoretically possible for Ms. A to meet his needs, what I actually heard her say was that she was unwilling to do anything differently or talk with us about what he's doing in a serious way. We've spoken to her a few times now, and we've gotten the same response every time: I will not change anything. And when I see that Asa has spent days at a time working on, for example, hundred boards (which he did extensively in pre-k, it's a well-known work in Montessori), I am frustrated by how little she is listening to us, or apparently him; and so he's spending days on end doing work he did years ago. I try to believe what people tell me about themselves. She said that she would do extensions of the work, but that if mastery had already been achieved, she would not accommodate him.

Please advise. As this may require long-form conversation, we can do it in a meeting if you'd prefer. I will not however have another conversation with the teacher. I have no interest in calling her methods into question, I just want to make sure my son is getting what he needs.

Best, etc.

This all happened. I was furious and wrote a much more inflammatory letter a few weeks ago, but then sat on it and rewrote it entirely. This is as emotionally neutral as I could get. How does an educator tell someone that they refuse to test to find out what is appropriate for a student?

On the plus side, L's teacher is great, and he's having a fantastic year. He could also be challenged a little more, but at least the curriculum is within his ballpark and he occasionally learns something new.

This is a top-10 school in NJ. I am horrified by what other kids must be going through.

To be fair, the school does have an amazing science teacher. And the writing program for both kids has been great. But 1/10 of the day doing real work and 9/10 doing busy work? I practically had a rage stroke after that conversation.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2016-09-26 10:16 am

Aggressive parenting

I was yelled at by strangers twice before 8:30 AM today.

First, because of a reasonable misunderstanding. J doesn't look disabled, so sometimes people get mad when he takes a parking spot.

Then we went for a teacher conference with A's 1st grade teacher. This began because every piece of work that A has brought home has been way too easy (like stuff he was doing 2 years ago). I sent an email to the teacher asking about it, and she asked that we come in.

And then she yelled at us.

It was an odd interaction, overall, because the information that went back and forth was basically what I wanted to hear. Were they doing things in math class that were harder than his homework book? Yes. Does he have the opportunity to read books that are harder than the ones he'd been bringing home? Yes. Is there a purpose to doing very simple reading exercises? Yes.

But on top of that, the woman actually started bickering with J. And I kind of get it. She was yelling at us (I think) because she regularly has to interact with Princeton parents, who are _involved_. It's not just about getting an education, it's about winning the race. She as much as said that we had hindered A's reading comprehension skills by focusing on speed (which is nonsense). I will absolutely cop to being an involved parent, and I refuse to believe I'm doing something wrong by checking in with the teacher to make sure he's being challenged.

I'm about the least touchy-feely person I know. I don't get offended easily. I'm surprised she's lasted, parents not all being as emotionally detached as me.

That said, the silver lining is that A is an extremely hard-headed, willful kid, and he knows how to handle adults. So it's probably a good thing that he has a teacher who will not take his shit. We discussed his behavior briefly, and the teacher pretty much had his number.

It took me a solid hour to get my heart-rate down, despite the fact that I heard exactly what I wanted to hear.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2016-05-05 11:49 am

Real Estate

We're probably moving.

We got an offer from a developer to buy our house for $100k more than we paid for it. I'm not enjoying the house-hunting though. My needs and J's are diametrically opposed (I want in town and walkable, he needs out of town and inaccessible). We saw a place that was relatively cheap, income with no work (rented parking lot!), and right in the middle of everything, and we had to pass it up. It was gorgeous, 100+ years old, wide beam floors, a little small, but really really nice.

The other major issue is that he's pissed off that he can't live the high life. If he were well, it would be a different story, but I have no reason to believe he'll live for mroe than 10 more years. I can't deal with something we can't pay off or at least that I can't rent out. He's looking at 1M+ homes, and I'm like, here's a 700k one, right in town, lovely, with income. Why not? The property taxes on our little starter house are already near 10k/year, so even if we pay something off, it's not like it's free and clear.

And this also means we're likely to stay here for a lot longer. I've finally sort of decided that that's probably best. It isn't what I want really, but I've sort of noped out of so much else that I'm not basically functioning at all. We're more or less doing it for the schools. If we moved to another area, schooling is going to continue to be on the order of 40-60k per year, and that's not something we can handle, given that J's illness also keeps our costs high. Harvard is probably hiring a bunch in 2020 and thereafter, so there's still a chance there.

Things are not quite as bad as all that. I have someone I spend time with here, finally. Not really someone who would have made the cut back in the day, but I guess that's what most people do as they age. I figure I've got maybe 3-4 more years until the kids get old enough that I can get an apartment in the city again.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2015-09-26 01:53 pm

We all have an embarrassing ex

My embarrassing ex just said this:

"Happy to be a man raising boys as I imagine you are too. We must protect them from the misandry that has afflicted so many. Thankfully it's not such a big deal in Asia it seems."

I was his experimental phase.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2015-07-31 01:16 pm

Health year (TW for diet)

BORING WEIGHT/EXERCISE TALK AHEAD

Finally FINALLY seeing results from the long slow trudge that has been this year's health turnaround.

I had been trying to do sort of an intuitive-eating-inflected diet: not too over-the-top, mostly focused on eating higher-quality foods. I lost 8-10 pounds that way back in January/February. And since then, nothing. Those 8-10 are what I gained in the last year or two from serious depression, and were on top of my usual highest weight. So I've been stalled completely at the weight that, 10 years ago, I'd have been embarrassed to be at, though admittedly lower than my desperate angry sad years from hell weight.

So finally about 2 months ago, I decided to kick things up a little. I started couch25k, which has been.. an ok experience, though somewhat depressing, since I was in the worst shape of my life when I started. I've been at it since, and am still on Week 2. So that's humbling. But, I'm also doing a much better job now than I was two months ago of doing it without wanting to die, and also getting in the 3X/week schedule without fail. I got a FitBit a week or two ago, so now I'm also trying to get in 10000 steps a day, effectively doubling my caloric outbox every day. It's disturbing how sedentary I'd become. Back in the day, it was nothing to just get that kind of exercise in the normal course of the day. But the suburbs are hell. Left to my own devices, I'm a big lump.

The good news: I've finally broken through the plateau. I mean, it took that and cutting most alcohol and switching from my morning peanut-butter on toast to peanut dust on toast (not kidding), and I'm still only down 1-2 pounds. Friends in your 30s: 40s metabolism is no joke. Do whatever you can to get your body sorted, because it only gets worse.

THe bigger news is that, just like magic, the abdominals have made an appearance. It's always this way for me. I run not because I love running (not by far), but because it is the only exercise that gives me immediate and discernible results. No number of crunches or leg lifts has ever given me the abs that running does, along with the other more obvious things running does. I f-ing hate it, but it does the job.

And, for whatever it's worth, I'm finally back in normal range BMI. I have the kind of body for which BMI actually is an indicator... Completely average in most respects. When it says I'm headed toward "overweight," it's about the same time hat I'm reflected that way in the mirror and scale. So for me, it's something I kind of needed to do for myself. A fake line in the sand, but one that's been keeping me going over the many many months of trying hard and failing to see any result.

I'm hoping that this is a breaking point and the work begins to catch up a little. It's common for me to have a hard time breaking through the weight levels where I've spent a lot of time in the past, and this one was def. one of those. Before I lost a bunch of weight a few years ago, I spent the better part of a decade at the weight where I was plateaued. But I really have another 5 pounds or so before I hit a level where I feel really good about my body, and if the past is any indication, that's likely to take another 6 months, depending on how unbearable I'm willing to let the diet be. And that just isn't very likely. Life is still kind of terrible, and food is my most usual vice for that sort of thing. So 6 months it is. I'm reenlisting for a second term. The delight of having abs again is going to have to serve as inspiration.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2015-04-20 01:04 pm

Re emerge

This is the season when all of the old friends who disappeared are making a new appearance. It's delightful. Although weird. They've been through the Slough of Despond, by way of Vanity Fair. These friends.. these are not the party friends, who are all well settled it seems, but my squarer friends. Law firm work friends. Classical music friends. Church friends.

The emails and messages are like this.

Dear M: I realize it's been a long time since we've seen each other [...] The last few years have been weird for me. I finished school, had kids, and my wife came out as a lesbian.
...

Dear M: How nice to reconnect! [...] The last few years have been strange. It turns out B (his wife) is an alcoholic. She started showing up to (music) gigs drunk and then I caught her in flangrante. Then it was two years in and out of rehab and lying, and then, thankfully, she dumped me.

Dear M: How has it been so long! [...] And then it turned out he had another family ...

And so forth.

This is, of course, an improvement on last year's string of suicides. Meanwhile all my party friends are deep suburban, moving up the career ladder and building cribs. So many cribs.

But the silver lining is that everyone seems to be coming out of it. There's a lot of blinking in the sunlight going on, and reconnection, which I very selfishly love. I started reading through the FB feed of one particular new/old friend, who had an idea back when we were working together of doing a series of mass-transit related haiku. I wrote quite a few with and alongside him, which I found a few years ago. And now it seems, he published them in a book (not mine, that would be weird). And he's become an even more extreme version of himself... a pure, intense shot of things I pretend at. Anglo-Catholic, cerebral, and deeply classicist. We aren't alike in terms of personality, but he's what I wish I were like. At least when I've forgotten myself a little.

He's a historian at heart. I am deeply not. I'd forget what I had for breakfast, if I didn't eat the same thing every day. But he's the best version of a historian. He's a connector.

However, as with my other friends going through similar journies, I am left feeling grateful to the breakdown in their lives because I'm not sure we would reconnect without those things happening. And that is a very strange feeling indeed. And I am left remembering what I was like the last time I saw these people, before all this happened.

You remember what we were like.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2015-04-08 09:31 am

Middle age

An email to a friend, who's best friend just married someone awful.

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. FWIW, for some people, making it official is the beginning of the end. I'm not sure what I wish for her, because I don't know her that well and none of the possible outcomes are awesome, but I hope she comes back to you, friendwise. It's brutal losing someone so close.

J's been quite ill lately, and though I am troubled for him and scared for the family, there's a very small part of me that's grateful that the married portion of my life may end sooner than I expected. What have I been brought to, that that is a thing I would actually think?

I had a Seder for J and the kids on Friday, and then I went alone to J's cousin's house for an Orthodox Seder. His cousin has four sons, the youngest of whom is 21 and smart and quietly rebellious and right up my alley. It was as though God wanted to give me an explicit comparison of what my life is versus what my life could be. And it wasn't just him of course, it was the whole deal. I either throw the party, or I attend it. I either take care of someone, or I drink and talk and let someone else clear the dishes. For me, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground. It's either serve or be served, and no amount of wishes for a team seems to make a difference. And I'm bad at serving. Singularly unprepared to do anything I'm doing right now.

It feels like I'm just marking time. Who cares about anything? You know? There's no reason to stick around. There doesn't seem to be much reason for anything. I really wish I could just buy a stupid sportscar or get a 20 year old boyfriend and have that solve the problem.

I know exactly what you mean. I couldn't even do that thing now, wanting to ignore everything for another person. It's all been ruined. Even as I was talking to this kid, feeling that excitement and quickness, it was also clear that it was just ... narcissism. I was my most sparkling self, and that's as much as I could believe about it, or as much as will ever be true.
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2015-01-02 10:36 am

year in review

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?

Went to Japan, which has been something on my bucket list for 20 years. I also learned a fair bit of the basics of Korean cooking, which has been amazing.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My two resolutions last year were: eat more vegetables and find a place for everything in my house. The first was a resounding success. I learned a lot about how to make vegetables I actually like. For some, it was instantly awesome (kimchi, seasoned spinach salad, seasoned bean sprout salad, daikon pickles, Korean shittake mushrooms), some I'm still working on making well and enjoying (various lotus root and perilla leaf treatments). This year, I want to figure out a few more banchan, and also eat 1-2 more vegetables a day (so 4-5 per day).

The second resolution was a limited success, more because it was such a big task than anything else. Our house was in complete disarray this time last year. Now we still have a way to go, but it's a vast improvement over last year. The kitchen is much much better than it was, the entry-way is 2 or so steps from being about right, the living room-dining room is a lot better than it was, and the storage space (hah) went from morbidly terrible to not quite as terrible. So I feel good about that.

This year, I plan to continue to improve the house, and get some serious landscaping done. I am also plannign on losing around 20 pounds and able to run 3 miles. I got a bit fat in the last 1-2 years from depression and circumstances, so it's time to get it off before it becomes too permanent.

Also, I want to take Linus to China in 2015, and I want to get Asa in the Charter School in 2015.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

My BFF had her baby around this time last year. A few cousins and friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

My other BFF's father, in a horrible way (from cancer and hospital/doctor ineptitude. I didn't know him well, but I spend a lot of time with the BFF, so I was along for the ride, so to speak. I think the two suicides were in 2013, but I haven't been able to shake them.

5. What countries did you visit?

There was a lot less travel this year, but I did make it to Japan, which was a big deal. I did a lot less there than I'd have liked due to Jason's illness and my depression, but even considering that, it was beautiful and inspiring. We were grateful even to be able to see as much as we did, considering that we both thought he'd never really travel again, and more recent trips for him (domestic) have proved that he has a long way to go before he can reasonably go most places.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014.

A nearby close friend. A nearby place to go see shows. Better health for Jason.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My birthday. I did nothing for my 40th birthday. It was only six months or so after Jason got sick so he wasn't able to do anything, and I've been so far for so long from the people who used to be close to me, that my relationships with people I care about has become dormant. My gift was being by myself, but ... it was sort of the crest of loneliness. I feel like happiness is over. I feel really empty, and being alone to turn 40 reminded me of turning 30 among strangers from law school. I feel like it's been an entire decade lost.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through it without harming myself.

Having Asa finally hit his stride, turning from a screaming angry toddler into a pretty delightful if occasionally still emotional little kid. Getting through his raging toddlerhood without hurting him in any deep way.

Helping Linus achieve some physical stuff that he needed to get (general physical improvement in strength and grace, bike riding, swimming, etc.)

9. What was your biggest failure?

It wasn't a failure so much as a nothing. I need to get a bit better about financial stuff.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I didn't but I suffered Jason's illness.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Dishwasher and new dishes. The car is now paid off, though it wasn't new even when we bought it a few years ago. I'm pretty pleased at how little I bought this year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

My brother. It's not new, but it's gotten more obvious. I finally unfriended him on FB because of some fucked up things he said about my mom in a public forum, among lots of people who know both of them. I'm a WASP, it's bad enough to be shitty, it's even worse to air that stuff out everywhere.

14. Where did most of your money go?

We switched from a 40 year mortgage to a 15 year mortgage. And we paid probably 40k in school fees for the kids. Hopefully next year will be half that.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Happier or sadder? Slightly happier, though still overall in teh minus column.

b) Fatter or Thinner? Slightly thinner, but hopefully that will be impoving soon.

c) Richer or poorer? About the same. $ in increased, but so did $ out. Again, probably will improve this year, especially if we get Asa into the charter school.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Exercise. Go to shows. Travel to visit friends.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Eat sweets. Drink. Watch television. This year I needed escape in a big bad way, but it's time to crawl out a little bit.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Lovely Christmas with my parents. Jason can't take a real tree and has some qualms about too much Christmas (because of being Jewish, although he's been really great about trying), so it was nice to go to their house and have the full-on Christmas experience. They live in a beautiful Victorian brownstone, so it heightens the effect.

The kids had a great time too. It was really infectuous to have them be so excited for everything. They didn't get a lot of toys because we're trying to lean away from having a lot of stuff, but they're still not in a place where there's a lot of comparison among kids.

Mom made a fantastic dinner and had a few friends over. It was very nice.

21. How many one-night stands?

Lots of imaginary ones, and toyed with the idea while watching one of the few shows I did go to this year, but I didn't have much libido this year.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?

With Asa. He was pretty hard to love for his first few years, but he really came into his own this year.

23. What was your favourite TV programme?

Misaeng was amazing, best television of the last few years. I also enjoyed the Joseon Three Musketeers and Liar Game.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Sadly, no new music for me this year.

28. What did you want and get?

A trip to Japan.

29. What did you want and not get?

A local friend.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?

I did not see many movies this year. I did just watch The Rabbi's Cat, which had kind of weird timing, but was otherwise lovely.

31. What did you do on your birthday?

Nothing.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A local friend.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?

......

34. What kept you sane?

Escapism. Linus and Asa.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Song Jae Rim and Seo in Guk

36. What political issue stirred you the most?

Ferguson.

37. Who did you miss?

Everyone!

Who was the best new person you met?

I made a couple of hassidic friend this year. They're both really fun, and it's been interesting getting an inside view.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.

Enjoy freedom while you have it. Appreciate what you have.

Not new lessons, but deeply felt this year.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
It don’t matter, anyhow
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe
If you don’t know by now
When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right
rackmount: (Live Free or Die)
2014-02-10 11:00 am

40

Blatant whining. sorry.

I turn 40 today. I started my day with this thought.

"It's only half over. Oh God."

Then I took out the recycling, cut down the boxes, shoveled the walk, made the lunches and got the kids ready. I took the day off cleaning yesterday, so the whole house is trashed. I can't decide if it's better to spend two or three hours cleaning it and be irritated about it, or to spend the whole day being irritated by the mess.

I did get a nice email from an adoring fan. I should have left town, which was the original plan. The hold-up of cousre is that Vday is in a few days, and then J's birthday, and I weighed the pleasantness of leaving with the guilt-trip that would follow. I'll probably go anyway in a week or two. And J's taking me out to dinner tonight. I don't even know what to say. Every time I think what I think, I shut myself down because it's a repetition of everything that's been said before, or it's hurtful or someone else will be impacted. I want to disappear. No impact at all.
rackmount: (Default)
2012-01-11 09:49 pm

(no subject)

there is a pitch and roll that things have taken on. i have avoided thinking too hard about the present, so it's the past, for the first time in my life, that i think about. for some time that meant the recent past, but now ive dug further. the old glossy dreams unrecognized by reality, the not-even-close old days. i have a lux quiet, an unhampered still.

i had always thought i'd never make a buddhist, because i don't have that kind of discipline. my stillness though is a product of daydreams of architectural stalactites, or patterns in domes or all sorts of background/foreground playfulness. Getting lost in geometry: that's the escape. That, and a little sun on my nose. What else?
rackmount: (Default)
2010-11-26 05:34 pm

10 albums that define your life

I haven't done this in a long time. THese are in no particular order.

10. Siouxsie & the Banshees, Peepshow: I remember listening to Scary Mary on the BGSU radio station playing this album in its entirety, which I taped and listened to over and over. I was hooked, and it sent me in my brief goth phase. Ever since, I have always loved pop that incorporated unusual rhythms, sounds and chord changes. I had listened to some "alternative" music before this, but this is what convinced me that it was something really different than radio pop.

9: Monk, Himself: My parents had this album, and I listened to it a lot. I'm not much for jazz in general (which surprises most people), but I love how Monk turns barrel house blues and stride on their ear. His sense of rhythm and fun are fantastical to me. It's by far the album that reminds me of the best of childhood.

8: Peter Gabriel/Last Temptation of Christ and Philip Glass/the Screens: college make-out music. Carried around in my backpack "just in case." Passed around to my virginal BFFs, to their immense chagrin or delight, I'm not sure which.

7: Bach, Musical Offering: the record that started it all. I spent a lot of time in my grandpa's study when I was young because he had the only room in my grandparents' house not ruled by chaos. It smelled like old musty books, had a great vintage (or just old) black globe and a million YA-type history books, and an old record player with a million 60's and 70's recordings of romantic classics: lots of Brahms and Beethoven and the lesser-knowns like Fritz Kreisler usw. I listened to these with him, until one day, he pulled out the Musical Offering when I was 8 or so. I listened to it all the way through without saying anything, and afterward, I literally said: "You've been holding out on me." It was not long after that that he became my violin teacher.

6: Sugar Cubes, Here Today Tomorrow Next Week: Bjork is my pop music soul mate and I fell in love with her listening to this album. The first album is better, but I didn't hear it until after I'd heard this one. What Siouxsie hinted at, the Sugar Cubes fulfilled. This bounced me out of my goth phase, because it was the playfulness of sound that appealed to me, not the darkness.

5: Bartok string quartets: When you listen to these, you hear how an artist transforms and changes over the course of life. Ever since, I've kept seeing this manner of transformation in all sorts of artists. It's almost like a study of what it is to be an artist, but done in music.

4: Skip James, the 30s sessions: You saw Ghost World, right? You know that scene where the protagonist buys the record, takes it home and then listens to one track on it over and over and it completely dumbfounds her? The song in the movie was "Devil Got My Woman" by Skip James. That happened to me, a few years before the movie came out, with that very song. I'm not kidding. I never "got" blues until then, and it completely changed the way I hear blues. It's stunning.

3: Artful Dodger, Rewind: After five years of listening to electronic music, this is the album that made me want to produce it. So crunchy and delightful. Though I had done the club scene before this, it was what was playing for me during the heaviest of my club years, and really during the best few years of my life, when I was without a boyfriend, doing fine with my career and really living among the people who ended up becoming the best friends I had ever made since high school. This is the period I think about when I am wistful for the past.

2: Cordelia's Dad, How Can I Sleep: The sound of college for me. Yeah, there was some Ani Difranco too, and I definitely listened to her as well, but this seemed a lot more personal to me.

1: Bach cello suites: It's what I have always listened to when the world gets to be too much.
rackmount: (heavenly)
2010-09-11 05:18 pm

The tyranny of physicality

When days are hard, when Linus is difficult or I feel overwhelmed by the drudgery of it all, I find the greatest comfort in consideration of death. Not just death, but execution, by hand-gun usually, but sometimes by blade or somesuch. There's something so soothing about the idea of the blood seeping out as consciousness leaves.

I think it's a return for me to a time when I mistrusted my body. I've never been terribly comfortable with my body, but I had a few years during which it didn't seem to hold me back that much. Now that my body is such a dominant feature of what my life is, I long for my body to disappear, to watch my physical self unhinge from my actual self.

I was thinking about this during last Sunday's Mad Men. Peggy walks in the bathroom and runs into the maiden (defined by her youthful body) and the mother (defined by her uterus). It struck me that Peggy is the crone. I remember being very young, in my early teens maybe, and telling my father than I couldn't wait to be old. But that's not it, is it? Being a crone is not about old age, it is about outliving the tyranny of the feminine body.

Incidentally, Aquarians are seen as the crone of the Zodiac. The year begins with Aries, the infant, obsessed with its own navel, and ends with the transformation of death, Pisces, the creature of water. Just before the transformation of death is the crone, the Aquarius, wisdom of age when physicality has become beside the point but the body has not yet unhinged. Aquarians are said to be a strange mixture of the child-like and the wise, the two periods of asexuality.

I meditate on Prometheus. It's one thing to roll a rock up a hill, but another to wait for death that never comes.
rackmount: (Default)
2010-06-17 09:27 am

the city of brotherly love

[livejournal.com profile] rm pointed out that the boy scouts is about to have a big mess on its hands, courtesy of the City of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia rents offices to BS for $1/year; they want to stop because of the BS anti-gay policy.

What's perhaps more interesting is the BS defense: that Philly has applied its anti-discrimination policy selectively. Philly also subsidizes rent to the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, technically what's good for the goose is good for the gander. I agree with the BS that Philly also should not be subsidizing the RCC for the same reason. But, as you know, you mess with the Catholics, you have a BIG OLD MESS on your hands. And Catholics run A LOT of city charity. It's a big kaboom. It's a REALLY smart defense.

My legal background is failing me right now. It seems to me that giving breaks is different than withholding right to rent at all. That is, it seems to me that it is within a city's power to judge whether a person or organization is, for public policy reasons, worthy of subsidizing. (Or, for the matter, supporting certain charitable organizations and not others.) Isn't that what the whole tax code is about? It's not like they're saying the BS cannot rent at all. On the other hand, I am already way uncomfortable with the tax code, because it also is an underhanded way of giving protection to some people/orgs and not others. But maybe that's a class of organization thing, rather than an individual organization thing. My pregnancy brain is having a tough time thinking this out clearly.

So, my friends, what do you think? This is way stickier, it seems to me, than my initial read of the case.
rackmount: (Default)
2010-06-16 03:37 pm

fake karl on terry richardson

ordinarily fake karl (lagerfeld you prole) is merely charming, funny, disarming and fierce.

recently, he also was stealing my thoughts. I quote this from his excellent blog:

Anyway. I wanted to talk about a couple of other things today. First of all, appreciation of photography. Many of you have been writing me letters telling me how much of an artist Terry Richardson is, and what a swell fellow he is, really. It's often the practice of the rich to determine the tastes of the rest of the world in art. The Medici's were particularly good at this. We now have people like that advertising fellow- the one who was married to Nigella Lawson (the food pornography actress). Saatchi. There's also that awful investment banker- the one who bought Damien's shark. What an investment banker knows about art, well, I don't know- the general consensus is that money equals art, and the more money something costs, the more art it is. Here's a system for you to use, which is what all the big art buyers use. It is called "Is it Art (By Awful Investment Bankers International)". If something costs between $50,000 to $100,000 it is minor art. The leeches- I mean, the art dealers, will term it "work by an interesting up and comer". If something is between $100,000 to $250,000, it is major minor art, to which the art dealers will declare "A very strong work by an unappreciated artist". And on it goes, until we get until the millions, where the work will be undoubtedly a Work of Genius.

This is all very well and good, except that from you newly bourgeois, formerly wealthy people to whom I'm addressing this post don't have millions to spend on Art with a capital A anymore. Meaning, by your system, you can't declare Terry Richardson's work art. It never was art anyway, you dull-witted Armani-suit-wearing morons. What is it? Well, it's misogynist porn that doesn't turn me on. Do you know what turns me on, hm? Dishwashers. I love the sound they make as they churn around and around. But that's not the point- my point is that Richardson's work is half the problem, because it's inherently misogynist, made by a creep who enjoys taking photographs of women on the toilet. It's an absolute indictment upon the fashion industry that magazines like Vice, Vogue, Purple, etc continue to publish this predator's work. Here's Vice magazine proving it's run by people who probably make rape jokes all day long and have the taste of a insurance salesman turned tax collector turned realtor who has been doused in the sweat produced by executives rubbing their hands together in glee as they go to murder a batch of kittens. My Coco, haven't you done well, Vice. (Also, here I'll point out that Vice published an interview with me a couple of months ago by a sycophantic...creature who asked incredibly boring questions).

What I am doing is giving a good spanking to all those in the fashion industry who have encouraged this charlatan and given him work. How pro-women of you, hm? How responsible of you, placing Mr. Richardson in power, hm? And that's not to mention the photographers "inspired" by him. How original- having a penis in a woman's mouth, no? That hasn't been done before!

In case you didn't read the above because you're illiterate and only read twitter: If you support Terry Richardson, you are anti-women. If you publish his work, you are anti-women. If you think him using his position of power to rape women is chic, you are anti-women. For an industry that makes an awful lot of money from women, it's not exactly a profitable stance, hmm?

That is the first thing I wanted to talk to you about. Secondly, I would like to give you a guide on how to use traffic lights, as you'll surely encounter these when you attempt "walking".

Now, "walking" is support the ordinary prole participates in daily, often with other proles. They do this on "streets". A street is a place which has buildings and a road. You will be familiar with these, as you probably had to climb out of your luxury automobiles and cross a "street" in order to get to the Chanel store, or something similar. (Of course, you won't be going into Chanel stores anymore, but you needn't worry for me. We have plenty more clients where you came from.) A traffic light governs the space between the cars and the people. They are very tall and have three lights on them. The colours are yellow, green and red. Yellow is a useless light and nobody knows what it means, so it's best to ignore that light if you see it. If you see green you can walk across the road. All the cars will stop and if they keep going you will be okay, because the green light will protect you (or so I'm informed). If it is red, you must wait for it to go green, because crossing the "street" on a red light will result in immediate vaporization.

Finally, to use a traffic light one must press a large metal button. This "activates" the traffic light and it knows you are alive and so on. The large metal button is the most important part, because if you don't press that the traffic light will never know you are there.

Once the traffic light turns green, do the "walking" we have practiced and you will get to the other side. There is an old German joke that my nanny used to tell me:

Q: Why did the formerly rich bourgeois person cross the road?

A: Because TIME magazine did an article on it, and the New Yorker also did an article on it, and their neighbors were doing it, so they wanted to see what it was all about and they heard it'd won an Oscar too...and one of those Nobel prizes, whatever they are. It seemed pretty reputable and they have a greatest hits album coming out.




if you don't already, i trust that you will now begin reading fake karl. because he is awesome.
rackmount: (Default)
2010-05-22 03:25 pm

garage sales

scored big today, especially on gifts for other people. my older niece will likely get the ryans room dollhouse, complete with all sorts of furniture, which would have been on the order of $200-250 new, but we got for $30.

we also picked up a play kitchen that looks a little like this for $10. it only has the oven, not the storage, and is probably a little narrower. It also doesn't have the sink on top, so i may try to cut a whole a put a bowl in the top. still, a lot easier than trying to ikea-hack and a lot cheaper than buying new.

we also got this rad retro trike for $30, which will need a coat of paint to make it gender-neutral.

and some other stuff, but i cannot believe how well we did on those. garage sales are usually useless because they only ever have plastic blinky loud toys we would never buy.

in other news, my belly button is gone.
rackmount: (Default)
2010-04-05 10:57 am

Linus in Pram


Linus in Pram
Originally uploaded by pomopiate
This is for Kellianne, who loves prams. I cannot imagine a kid actually riding in this behemoth.
rackmount: (Default)
2010-01-21 12:14 pm

Unrequested advice on the first two years with kids

For the people on my friends' list who have just had or are about to have a baby: you'll get lots of advice. As L approaches his second birthday, there are a few things I've learned. Take from this whatever appeals to you, or at least consider it. I won't be offended at all if you don't take this advice, but I thought you might find something here that improves things for you.

Stuff
- BUY USED AND IN BULK: I was lucky enough to find a garage sale a year or so before L was born. I picked up a swing, a bouncy seat, and pounds and pounds of clothing, from newborn size through 18 months. This ended up being _great_. I got things (a) cheaply and (b) all at once. There were things I'd have forgotten that magically were in our drawers when I needed them. I was able to find out what L didn't like (the bouncy seat), without paying for it first. Obviously it's even better if you can get hand-me-downs, but garage sales or CL will work in a pinch. I'd never have gotten through by doing it piece by piece. Lots of parents purge in one fell swoop. Find some.

(Also, don't get much in newborn size. You MIGHT need it, but you probably won't. Clothes that are slightly big will work fine. Obviously this isn't true if your kid is born prematurely, but statistically, that's unlikely.)

- STROLLERS ARE UNNECESSARY: I used our stroller a fair amount and was happy with it. Since L reached about a year, I've relied on it less and less and on our soft structured carrier more and more. I like strollers as much as the next person (SO CUTE!), but realistically, it wasn't necessary. If I had to choose between a carrier (such as an Ergo) or a stroller, I'd choose the carrier. To a new mother, I'd say, get a pouch or a sling (whichever suits you) for the first six months, and then switch to a gender-neutral carrier (so that your partner can carry too). If you start early, your muscles will develop along with your kid's weight. And, you'll be able to have a life, do housework, whatever, while also having a natural colic-and-crying-calming device. And be able to travel. And get plenty of closeness with your kid. Again, buy used. If you're in the states, thebabywearer.com is a great resource.

(For the record, I had a Rockin' Baby Pouch and an Ergo with infant insert for the first 9 months, and then ended up getting a very old Beco, a very old Angelpack and a slightly less-old Olives and Applesauce. They each have advantages, depending on what you're looking for. Ask me if you want any opinions.)

- MOST STROLLERS ARE TERRIBLE: OK, chances are, if you have a kid, you get a stroller. DO YOUR RESEARCH. If you buy in a big-box store, you will hate yourself for it afterward. Honestly, it's way better to get a good, expensive stroller used, than to get a bad, cheap stroller new. If a stroller doesn't do anythign fancy (such as jog or reverse seat), then I recommend getting something under 20 pounds, preferably that folds easily. My top three picks, especially for my city friends, are: the Micralite Fastfold (or the Toro if you can afford it); the Baby Jogger City Mini; or the Bugaboo Bee. I have the Micralite FF, which, 1.5 years in, still amazes me with what it can do, and how well it does it, and how rugged it is, especially at 15 pounds even. Apparently the 2010 models have cleared up most of its few drawbacks. Basically, it's small, thin, and has air-filled big back tires. The Mini is 16 pounds and also pretty rugged, but with better sun coverage and bigger basket, but without the big back tires. Finally, the Bee is a little bigger (I want to say 18 or 20 pounds) and less rugged (and more expensive), but the seat reverses, which I loved from my Stokke. I believe the first generation of the Bee had some folding issues, so be aware of that, especially if you live in a city.

Alternatively, if you don't live in a city (or have cobblestones or other ruggedness requirements), there are many travel strollers that would be fine. There's much info out there about travel strollers, so I won't bother you about it.

If you buy big-box, your stroller will: (a) be heavy (24 lbs or bigger); (b) not drive very well, which doesn't seem like a big deal until you actually try it; (c) not do anyting special like reverse-seat (though this is beginning to change); (d) be bulky and have problems like not fitting in your trunk. The only reason people used to buy these (I think) is that you could put a car seat in them. The big news is twofold: most modern good strollers allow for car seats too and studies show that kids shouldn't spend that much time in a car seat. I had a car seat adapter for my Stokke but I rarely used it. I certainly wouldn't give up the things a good stroller does well in exchange for it.

Addendum: Why not a Bugaboo Cam or Frog or Gecko? Default, this is what the city ladies with money want, though I don't know why. They are a bit pretty, but because they're so common, it's like you don't even see them anymore. These are heavy, bulky, and fold in TWO PIECES, which gets to be a real drag. So what they do is drive around the neighborhood and not much else. I do like the reverse seat and the air tires, so if you have enough $ for a Bugaboo as well as a functional stroller, go and God bless. Though, personally, I shy from something so common. If I were going to go that direction, I'd get a Stokke (which I did), or a Teutonia or even a Vista, which allows for a toddler seat if you end up with two. Or any number of other fancy, fun, big bulky strollers. But, buy used. We got our Stokke complete with bassinet and car seat adapter for $650 dollars, which sounds spendy, until you figure that, new, it would have cost $1400. Two years later, the going rate on craigslist for this exact stroller is around $600. So we will have spent $50 on it. Big box strollers cost about $200 to $250 new, and run about $10 at garage sales or $50 on CL. So, my used Stokke will have cost less than a new Graco.

Finally, there are a number of other strollers that can be had more cheaply because they are less well-known. If you want a fancy stroller for practically nothing, be on the look-out for used prams, such as Emmeljunga or Bertini. For about $100, you'll get all the cool things of a Bugaboo without the expense. For more city-friendly strollers, consider anything made by Joovy, the Valco Buggster or Ion, the Mutsy Spider, etc. If you're broke, a lot of research can yield a great stroller at a low price.

BASSINET YAY, CRIB NAY: We got a bassinet with our stroller, and I attribute at least some of our success with sleeping independently to it. It created a nice enclosed cozy space for our son, and when we were transitioning to a bed, we simply put the bassinet on top of the bed for a month or two. That way, L got accustomed to being in the bed while still in a cozier situation.

Alternatively, we did not use a crib. Frankly, chances are that you won't use a crib anyway. Some ridiculous percentage of kids end up just sleeping with their parents. It's the dirty secret for most parents. We went the Montessori route, which encourages having your kid sleep on the floor. There are nice wood beds for the floor, but I saw no reason to buy something so expensive that wouldn't last long, that didn't really add anything. We fully child-proofed L's room, laid down foam matting to cushion any falls and put the bed next to the foam matting, to lessen the distance between top of bed and floor. The bassinet prevented any falling for the first important few months, and then there was a short period when he'd roll over and fall, though it didn't hurt him, and then.... wait for it...

He figured out how to get out of bed and then started getting up before us and playing with his toys and books by himself for a good half hour or so before indicating he was hungry. It was a blessing to have that extra little time.

The thing I'd have done differently: I wouldn't have bothered getting a crib-sized mattress. Because he's on the floor, it makes absolutely no difference, and it would have been fine to go right to a twin-size.

BUY FEW NICE TOYS: The kids I've seen who are most focused and best behaved are those that don't have a million toys. They usually have a few out, and they get changed up every so often, with most toys being given away or permanently stored after a few cycles of coming in and out of storage. This both limits the amount spent on toys, and also seems to encourage focus.

I'm pretty happy that we decided to go the mostly natural toy route. L has a couple of plastic toys, but the majority are simple and nice. I don't know if this will contribute to anything, but it has made the play areas attractive and relatively free of ugly sounds.

Also, L didn't like toys, per se, until relatively late in the game. For the first year, he liked books, and adult things, e.g., measuring cups, keys, anything he could easily grasp. He also like pictures with big simple designs in deep colors.

CLOTH DIAPERS: Great idea, especially if you don't have a lot of money. If you try it and have troubles getting through the night, consider using disposables overnight.

Parenting
YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT: This is the most common advice given to new parents. If you think you're going to show up your awful parents, you will be in for a sore disappointment. And that first year will be very hard, basically until you figure out that you will do as well as you can do, but you will not be perfect. The mantra for us was, do what you can, don't make yourself crazy.

SLEEPING: See the Stuff section. It was important to me to sleep by myself. You start letting your kid in bed, even if only intending to do so for a short time? Good luck breaking that habit.

EATING: Don't die by the rules, and don't give the kid sugar. As to the first point: L doesn't like baby food. He never did. So he didn't eat real food until much later than most kids. We were of course worried about that, until he started eating regular food with no trouble. While I was trying to force baby food, I wish I had had the presence of mind to not sweat it. See also: YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT.

Also, sugar. Kids don't know from sugar until someone gives it to them. It shocks me how many parents give their kids sugar. THere's absolutely no reason to. L still doesn't really eat sugar. He doesn't ask for it, because he doesn't know it. It seems really quite simple to me. And the cliche is what it is for a reason. Sugar really does change your kid entirely. L becomes completely insane, unfocused, tornado-like, really.

Finally, if you don't have one, get a slow cooker. These days, I'm very much all about throwing five ingredients in the slow cooker, turning it on, and coming home to a healthy, tasty meal with only one pot to clean ... and leftovers to freeze so that there's always something for lunch or dinner. Before your kid eats food, this will guarantee that you have time to eat, which is massively important. After your kid starts eating, this will guarantee fewer boxes of mac'n'cheese, and more likely eating of vegetables.

Addendum: consider going at least partly organic. Read some articles on what the most critical things are. Turns out milk is a major issue.

BE THE PERSON YOU WANT YOUR KID TO BE: This is the hardest to follow but maybe the most important. We now watch TV primarily after L goes to sleep. I'm trying and mostly failing to start practicing music. I read more now, because we occasionally read together. I'm trying and mostly failing to keep the house in order. Again, keeping in mind that YOU WILL NOT BE PERFECT, it's worth trying to do this.

TV: Just keep it off, unless you have an extenuating circumstance. Like sleeping, it's a slippery slope. A little bit of TV every day can easily lead to a lot all the time. Read that article in the Times this week about how much media kids consume these days (and the negative impact). Keep in mind that Baby Einstein's parent company is Disney; they have a vested interest in keeping your kid hooked on media; and they are offering refunds to people who bought their product, because there has been NO EVIDENCE that they actually have educational value. As with sugar, your kid won't know he's missing anything.

DISCIPLINE: Personally, our first year, there was no discipline per se. OK, there was probably a little. But not much. Emphatic speech is enough to freak your kid out, so that's really all that's required. Obviously we did things that he didn't like, if he needed it. But there's a limit. Babies just don't have a sense of consequence. If you're dealing with colic, consider getting a pouch or sling. This helps a lot of babies.

Since then, I've probably been a more disciplining parent than most. A lot of my friends are from the attachment parenting school, which, in my opinion, has serious drawbacks, though some of the ideas are sound. You do what works for you, is my feeling, keeping in mind that habits are hard to break.

Now, I definitely rely on crying it out a bit these days. I've come to believe that there are times that people and also kids erally just need to express their emotions. Consoling is actually counter-productive, because it's the expression, or crying, that is required. When we're out at a restaurant or shopping or whatever, if L gets in this mood, we go outside or away from the action, and I just let him do what he needs to do. It really helped to envision it as expressing himself. It seemed less personal that way. By being unresponsive to it, he gets the message that crying or whining is not the way to get my attention. I am quite behaviorist about this; if you respond to every whine, your kid will whine whine whine. It's logical.

(On the few occasions where he's cried longer than 20 minutes, I usually check on him every 20 minutes. I don't want him to feel abandoned, I just want him to get the message that crying does not make people want to be around him.)

I also give L a choice. When doing an activity during which there are many possible ways to act out (such as walking down the street), I tell him that he can either walk down the street or we can go home. That is, he can have independence, or he can give up independence.

WHAT ABOUT ATTACHMENT PARENTING?: Works for some. As with all things, I took what I liked, dispensed with other things, and modified some things. I'm not super touchy-feely, so the idea of sleeping with L, or not letting him cry, just didn't work for me. But carriers have been insanely useful. Natural childbirth made a lot of sense to me, as did nursing, but in each case, I did what made sense rather than sticking to the party line. (I couldn't get a midwife, so I just had a natural childbirth with an OB. I nursed for seven months, and when it got to be too much, I stopped.) If you follow the party line, expect to have a hard time breaking the habits. Kids don't really develop strong habits in their first year, but they do after that. So if you nurse past the first year, it will be harder to break the habit. If your kid starts sleeping with you, he will insist on it.

That said, one thing that's difficult for many but worth sticking to, at least for six months, is nursing. I know it seems obvious, but most American women give up after not that long. It doesn't help that electric nursing pumps are really not as easy to use as you would hope. I had a terrible time with it. It took me hours to pump enough for L. But now he has the immune system of a .. well, i was going to say rockstar, but that's not what I mean. He never gets sick. He's super strong and healthy.

Education and Development
DON'T FREAK OUT: Kids learn at different speeds. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

GET A NANNY WHO SPEAKS A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE: If you're going to get a nanny, might as well have that person do double duty. Your kid will learn English more slowly, but will have two languages easily, and will always have an increased ability to pick up language. We actually found a nanny who was much less expensive than the going rate, by advertising in the local Chinese newspaper. There are nannies out there who don't have the kind of accreditation of fancy nannies, but who have plenty of experience. We went with our gut about that, and we ended up being very lucky. As with strollers, going outside normal channels can yield excellent results at reduced prices. (If you don't have the $ for a nanny, I've heard that getting music recorded in other languages and playing it while your kid is going to sleep can increase your kid's ability to hear and pronounce sounds from other languages.)

TOYS: See the STUFF section.

LANGUAGE AND MUSIC: Talk. All the time. Sing. Almost as much. Even if you cannot carry a tune. My husband has a tin ear, but L loves it when he sings. It's been great for both of them. If you feel awkward singing, consider taking a Music Together class. But mostly, talk talk talk. It feels strange at first, that whole one-sided conversation thing. It will get easier, the more you do it. This was the big reason I got a reversible seat stroller. If your kid doesn't spend a lot of time in the stroller, it won't make a difference, but if she does (like, if you live in a city), it may. Depends on your lifestyle. (A carrier allows the same thing.)

BOOKS: Peter Linnenthal and Tanya Hoban have a series of black and white books that L loved. Highly recommended. L's favorites, starting at like four weeks. I don't know if that's the reason, but to this day, L's favorite toys are actually books.

PHYSICAL DEVELOPMENT: We found a pediatrician who was wonderful by asking for the oldest doc at the practice. He's much calmer about things that younger people we tried were. That said, if you want to engage ever neurotic emotion you have, younger is better. :)

This helped us immensely, because L is small. Instead of getting a neurotic doctor who'd make us jump through hoops, our doc just told us that, so long as he's getting a varied diet and doesn't seem uncomfortable, that he's probably fine.

To generalize: don't worry about your kid's weight or height unless your doctor does. Same with development.

And, DON'T FREAK OUT.

Your marriage
DISCUSS EXPECTATIONS: If you haven't already, discuss your expectations now, while you're still modestly rational. Make a plan for the first two months especially. From what I've observed, most of the problems between husbands and wives, after kids, come down to two things: tiredness and:

He compares his contribution to those of his father and male friends. She compares his contribution to what she does.

That's it.

Ask yourself: what do you expect from your partner and yourself? Is this reasonable? Will each of you have (a) time to shower and eat; (b) sleep; and (c) clean clothes now and then? How, exactly?

SEX: Don't expect it for a while. Some small set of people restart with no problem after the 6 week moratorium, but childbirth and the subsequent requirements really mess up hormones and prevent desire. Good luck on this one. This is TOUGH.

ORGANIZE: Start out from a place of organization. It'll make it easier on both of you. This is one thing I wish we'd done.

YOU'RE BOTH EXHAUSTED: repeat this to yourself. And again. You'll say terrible things. You'll hurt each other. Try to stay compassionate by knowing that your partner is going through a tough time (that goes for both of you). It's a rewarding journey, but it is NOT EASY.

LET HIM BE A PARENT: Unbelievably, I know a lot of mothers who will not let their husbands be fathers. Any two given people will have different ideas about how to go about being a parent. Nevertheless, the two of you do not need to do everything the same. I know mothers who did not allow their husbands to be alone with their kids for more than four hours at a time. Insane, right? You won't be that way? Trust me, more people fall into that trap than you'd think. Just as you will not be perfect, he will not be perfect either. Choose a few rules that really matter to you and get your partner to agree. Beyond that, allow your partner to be a parent.

YOUR MARRIAGE WILL BE STRONGER AFTER THIS: The big blessing here is that, though you will almost certainly go through a very difficult period with your partner, it's also incredibly rewarding and bonding, at least for some people. Nearly every day, I thank God for the gift of my husband. Before this experience, I felt lucky; now I feel like we're really bound together.





So, I think that's about it. Quite enough, wouldn't you say? I'm glad this period is over, frankly. It's a big crazy ride, and I'm really enjoying him so much more, the older he gets. I feel pretty good about most of our choices, which is a relief. For all of you out there, I wish you the best of luck, complete ease, and happiness. Enjoy it as much as you can, but keep your chin up. The first two years slowly improve, at first imperceptibly, and then quite quickly. It's amazing and overwhelming and impossible and insane. Good luck!
rackmount: (Default)
2009-07-06 11:45 am

jewish wedding traditions I love

Even if you don't marry a Jew, you should totally Jew up your wedding, in my opinion. Jews, as you know, are pretty awesome in a lot of ways; their weddings are tops.

1) You and your partner will both be escorted down the aisle by BOTH of your parents! I know! This is two-fold goodness. First, and most obviously, the bride as chattel thing goes by the way-side. From your father's house to your husband's? Please. 1a) It wasn't my FATHER'S house, it was my PARENTS'. You mother carries you for 9 months, nurses you and probably does the lion's share of the childraising. So as much as I love my dad, it seemed pretty unfair to me that he was the one to "give me away." (Terrible expression, by the way. Points up a lot of what's wrong with it.)

The second part of the goodness is that it made it feel, for me, like it was a day for both of us, not just me (the bride). Did you know that most women report their level of happiness decreasing after marriage, and most men report their level of happiness increasing after marriage? If I were a dude getting married, I would be celebrating my newfound increased happiness. I'd want the day to be about me too.

2) The chuppah: the little house Jews wed under is like the home you're building together. What I like more about it is that it's traditional to have it open on all sides, to show that you will open your home to others. I like that. I also thought it had this overtone that no matter how basic the house you live in, that with two of you, it will always be home. Nice thought.

3) The Old Testament readings are way better than the New Testament readings. The new testament's all "love is patient, love is kind, etc. etc". The old testament is much hotter. Song of Songs? Not exactly the patient lover. "As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. Under its "shadow" I delighted to sit, and its "fruit" was sweet to my taste."

4) The ketubah, or wedding contract, is maybe my favorite part. Everyone should have a wedding contract, because then you have to talk about what your expectations are. Sadly, most Jews have forgone the idea that it should be a meaningful, detailed document. Because weddings are about showing off how much money you have (in every culture), the ketubah similarly has become all about getting something expensive, and basically generic. ketubah vendors have pre-selected text, and they fill in your particular details, like your name. that's how generic they can be.

Also, sadly, most ketubahs are ugly. But it's a fine tradition that should be adopted and (in my opinion) improved. my husband found an israeli caligrapher and artist who sold nicer-than-usual-but-kind-of-plain ketubahs, but he also made really lovely regular art. so we chose one of his regular works and had him modify it to suit our needs.

5) smashing the glass: apparently this is supposed to mean either a) that you and your partner will stay together until the glass becomes whole again or b) that in the midst of your joy you should not forget the sadness of having lost the second temple. however, there's something about this that feels like it probably started out as a sexual metaphor. Just saying. either way, it also def. has an overtone of "let's get this party started!" much more so than a "church" kiss and a walk down the aisle.

6) the chair dance: my (large, burly, lutheran, macho) cousins saw the chair thing as an opportunity to work out some of their feelings toward me. I have never been so scared in my life. it was fun.
rackmount: (Default)
2009-07-06 09:25 am

north shore

so you're in boston and your friend calls and says, lets go get seafood at that place in revere with the killer gulls. or maybe lets go to rockport or manchester or wherever really.

you get in the car and you get out of town and you drive and drive and there are these little working class towns and boardwalks and it's not that warm but everyone looks relaxed. as you get further north, there's less traffic. the towns are further apart.

you see a place next to the two-lane highway, a little grey-colored low building with long vertical slats. it's probably captain jacks or polly's or the shack or something like that. you don't even look at the sign. there's a patio in the back that looks over the water. it's cafeteria-style, and you order up twin lobters, corn on the cob, and a lot of hand-i-wipes.

it's july and the ocean smells lovely.