Saturday, April 21, 2007

I've left Blogger.

I am now blogging at

Please drop by.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Today, I had totally fabulous hair.

Really. Worth blogging about.

I wish I could remember how I fixed it.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Helping a (graduate school) brother out.

I'm participating in a research study and perhaps you should too. Go and read about it at Scott Kaufman's excellent blog --

and if you feel so moved, follow the directions to participate.

24-hour party people

Have you ever been to an un-fun kid party? I mean, one where the adults had so thoroughly ran the Martha Stewart machine that it broke your heart to see the obvious care lavished on every little detail indoors while the kids ran through the house once on the way to the backyard and hid out in the treehouse so they wouldn't break anything? The mother was nearly in tears. Days of acquiring matching stemware for the sparkle punch, an hour in the party store agonizing over the color of confetti, three calls to Coldstone Creamery to update instructions on the design for the cake that Precious now won't even eat because "IT HAS CHERWIES ON THE PLATE....YOU KNOW I HATE CHERWIES....I TOLD YOU STWAWBERWIES..." The beyond lovely house, a soaring window looking out over a mountain lake at moonrise, echoed as the guests slunk away to let the birthday victim have her meltdown in peace. The last thing we passed going out the door was a tray of stemware, untouched.

I had one party as a child. Both parents worked, or worse, only Mom worked and Dad was unemployed. If there was money, there was no time. If there was time, there was no money. To me, therefore, giving my kid the opportunity to invite some kids to the house under any circumstances is a pretty huge deal. I'm glad to be able to do this, as I like her friends and find them interesting people. However, I'm not about to mortgage the house to hire Cirque de Soleil for
a private party. This, I've come to realize, is an unusual attitude among the parents of her peers. One of the things that
has been hard for me as a new arrival in the upper middle class is to figure out the child-rearing norms. Birthday parties
illustrate the great divide better than almost anything. Parents rent out museums, where the entire staff caters to the whims of five-year-olds. Parents purchase "party packages" at amusement parks so that a seven-year-old and 60 of his closest friends can ride a rollercoaster for two hours before eating cardboard pizza. We've been invited to water parks,
science centers, local craft stores, Libby Lu's, Build-a-Bear, Color Me Mine -- every conceivable store or amusement known to elites -- and every kid seems to have a more elaborate party every year. There's a weird "top this!" mentality among parents as they compete to place Junior (and themselves) in the limelight for a couple of hours. Between the site and
the stuff and the clean-up and the clowns and the everything, parents are paying between $300 and $1000 just to
"do" a birthday.

Remember when kids "had" birthdays? You know, like something that one had some ownership in?

Our kid is going to be eight. She likes to turn cartwheels, get paint all over the kitchen table, play board
games, talk quietly to her dolls, dance, write stories. This is not an age where commodified fun is necessary or desirable.
A little cake, a scenario (maybe...I'm now even rethinking whether I should have presumed to impose what adults would
call a "theme" on her), some materials, and the adults can and should step back and let the wild rumpus start. Feed the
kids a couple of hours into it, something simple. My husband will bake the cake (as his father baked all of his...) and
it will be maybe a little lopsided, with gumdrops for landing lights and a Hershey bar as the gangplank.
Our house is not large by McMansion standards but it was big enough to house a family of fifteen when it was built in
1914, so it will hold a dozen children for an afternoon. The cat will hide and the kids will shriek as they pound up
and down the stairs. There might be a lump on the head for someone and perhaps some Elmer's glue "boogers"
to gross out the squeamish girls. Balloons will be popped and drinks will be spilled.

It won't be perfect. It will be better than that. It will be fun.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Space, the final (girl) frontier

I am raising Goldilocks. Nothing is ever just right. Take the upcoming birthday party, lovingly whizbangingly brainstormed
by two parents who know their kid pretty well and pay attention. She loves space stuff. Her favorite TV show is old Trek, followed closely by Dr. Who. She has watched 5 out of 6 of the Star Wars movies (the most recent one is still a little too
scary and graphic for us to let her watch it) and has enjoyed them all. She has done a stop-motion animation film with
her Star War figures. She adores planetariums, she builds spaceships with Legos, she just plain is interested in space. Ok, so what could be better, we figure, than throwing her a space party? Bake a UFO cake. Serve chicken and stars soup. Make flying saucers as crafts. Play pin-the-tail-on-the-comet. Little styrofoam make your own solar systems. Too cool, right?
What eight-year-old wouldn't love that?


"But that's not a girl thing. None of my friends will come!" she wailed. She goes to a local Montessori where the kids are all pretty into space stuff...and where there's not much idiotic gender-typing going on in the class programming. We were
blindsided by this sudden anxiety that her interests were not authentically "girl" interests.

Resisting my first impulse, which was to tell her that little girls who act like turds get no birthday parties, I decided to explore a little further. "Why don't you think that Carrie won't like a space party? Or Kaley? When we went to the planetarium with them, they loved it. And Vama and Julia and Sapphie all had fun with the science experiments at the science center. Why wouldn't they want to come over to your house for a couple of hours and play space stuff with you?" (No reasons. Just more "girls don't like space stuff.") "You like space stuff, right?" (yes.) "You're a girl, right?" (yes.) "Are you maybe underestimating
your friends? Don't you think that they like what you like or that they like you enough to want to share your interests
on your birthday?" (Nooooooooo.)

Then that look she has. Always that look. The look that says "I'm about to counter-offer."

"Well, it was just that I was thinking...hoping...maybe..."

Spit it out. Mom and Dad have just spent a month dreaming up space games for a party. This had better be good.

"Well....I was thinking more like snowflakes. And snow. And penguins and stuff."

"You mean..." I say, trying to bridge between these ideas, "like if we pretended that the house was a snow planet? With
a polar cave and snowflakes hanging from the ceiling and light blue streamers and stuff?"


Phew. That was close.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Even when I am super-tired

...I find that I can't watch dumb TV. I know, some people do it to be ironic. Others find it soothing. I would rather do anything (like think "aha, you know, I know nothing about Jainism...I should look that up..." (true story. Just did that.)) than
stare vacantly at The Bachelor - Rome Edition. Or Fashion House. Or even "good TV" like House. Too bad. I like Hugh Laurie, but I don't think I'll ever feel intrinsically healthy enough to watch that show.

It's not that everything has to be edifying. Hell, I have watched the movie "The Cutting Edge" TWICE and liked it both times, so it's not that I'm all so highbrow. I just think I have a narrow spectrum of what I find interesting these days. That worries me some, as I fear that I will someday wind up being so quirky in my tastes that I will be cut off from sharing enthusiasms
with the other people in my life. Oh well. There will always be football, I guess. Thank god for books. And staring at
sleeping cats is kind of nice.

This is me, sneaking back into blogging. It is far more fun to read and comment on other people's stuff than it is to write my own.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This is a post to acknowledge that I haven't posted in a while.

I've been revising my book manuscript and enjoying my summer vacation. With my husband back from his
long absence and my kid home for the summer, it's been very pleasurable. A little course planning here,
a little heavy reading there, a zombie movie or know, the usual summer stuff. We've discovered a local
beach and we're going to the minor league team here, trying belatedly to make this place feel like home now that we've been here four years. I've still not made any friends, but I have people to say hello to when I run into them at the YMCA,
and I have pleasant coworkers. And of course I get to stay in touch with a lot of my former classmates and
colleagues at other institutions. Still, I'm lonely and bored a lot of the time. Which accounts for the blog habit.
(Hey, there, SimNashville! Shout out to y'all.)

When the school year starts, I'll get back to blogularity.