Wednesday, March 31, 2004

whining update

OK, so at least my wallet was returned! The custodian in our building found it in a trash can (men's room), cash removed but reimbursable receipts, palm pilot, and IDs all intact. Interesting. So I'm out about 50 bucks and the annoyance of replacing cards that I'd already cancelled, but worse things have happened.

Chicago Tribune | Not your mother's magazines

Nice to see Brain, Child and Literary Mama making the news together here. I did this interview months ago and had just about forgotten about it!

Chicago Tribune | Not your mother's magazines

Monday, March 29, 2004


I had a fabulous weekend in Georgia, hanging out with old and new friends, going to papers about British Women Writers, learning a lot, laughing, eating well. It was tiring, and it was hard to be away for almost four whole days, but worth it.

Then I got home. And Nick was fussy about the present I'd brought him, and I had work to do, and the weather wasn't quite as pleasant here as it had been in Georgia.

But that was OK. I could handle it. Then I had back-to-back-to-back meetings this morning, meetings which didn't quite go as I had hoped. And then when I went to synch up my palm pilot, I discovered that it was missing from my purse. I can only surmise that someone saw it lying at the top of my purse, next to my open office door (ok, stupid me), and took it. With my cash, credit cards, and receipts from the weekend. Yes, reimbursable receipts.

The palm pilot is in some ways the least of it. After all, the data was backed up fairly recently on my laptop. I've replaced two of these already and never lost anything important. But the money, the IDs, the credit cards--all in the snazzy leather case that had come for free with this most recent PP purchase--all that's a loss.

The credit card reps have been nice, sympathetic, all that. I guess I go for a new driver's license tomorrow, and a university ID as well. The cards are already cancelled. The cash is of course a loss, and I don't know quite how much was there (around $50?) because I'd been travelling and not quite keeping track. Again, shame on me.

I could have handled the bad meetings OR the theft. But both in one day seems like too much. Maybe this is my Lenten trial, in which case I guess I'm getting off pretty light compared to, say, crucifixion. But I'm not in the mood for silver linings quite yet. I just want to whine.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

which children's author wrote you?

Apparently I'm a Dr. Seuss character.
Here's the quiz:
Which Children's Author Wrote You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Midlife Mama

I was not an adventurous child. And yet somehow I took a train by myself when I was eight years old. My family was staying outside of London for a couple of weeks one summer, and I was sent off on the train to visit a friend. I'm pretty sure I was put on the train at one end and taken off at the other, but as I recall it, when I went back home, no one was there to meet me. Maybe I got off a stop early, maybe I was returning sooner than expected; in any event, my arrival at the station necessitated a phone call in a London call box, which involved pressing buttons and manipulating foreign money. I remember being a little frightened, but finding an elderly man to help me make the call, after which someone appeared pretty quickly and got me back home. In those days, it seems, a young girl could ask a strange adult male for help and be pretty sure of getting it. Or at least no one ever suggested otherwise to me.
Read the rest here: Midlife Mama

Saturday, March 13, 2004

checking in

It's the end of spring break and I'm not feeling as if I've had much of one, what with a variety of minor medical things (really minor, but they took time) and grading. And buying a car! But that's all done now, and the break's over Monday, and then it's the mad rush to the end of the semester. In the meantime I've updated the viewing and reading lists and am thinking it's about time to archive them again.

Yes, this is a boring entry. It's how I'm feeling right now. More excitement later. Or check Kate's blog for way too much excitement, and an update on how the American media is probably getting the story wrong.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

New review at Literary Mama!

Here's my review of I Don't Know How She Does It. Check out the other new reviews and poetry at Literary Mama.

Friday, March 05, 2004


Well, probably not really, yet. But it's been up to 80 the last two days, the plum trees are starting to show their clouds of purple, and a few daffodils are out as well. It will get cooler again this weekend, of course, but I've already taken the turtlenecks out of my drawer and worn sandals the last two days. So something's afoot.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Sex and Silence at Yale

Does anyone else care about Naomi Wolf's claim that Harold Bloom "encroached on her sexually" when she was a college student? Here's her long piece about it: Sex and Silence at Yale

If you go to Arts & Letters Daily, you'll find (left column, a few slots down, now) several responses to Wolf. All are from women, and all castigate her, more or less, for betraying the women's movement by crying Wolf. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

The thing is, she's not really trying to claim she's a victim. Or that's not how I read her piece. I think she's talking about how institutions deal with women and their claims of harassment and the like--and I think that's important. Now, Yale claims she is exaggerating their non-responsiveness, and I think it's important to sort out what really happened, who said what when, etc. But if what she says happened really did--not that Bloom put his hand on her inner thigh, though that's gross, but that Yale gave her the runaround when she wanted to talk about it twenty years later--I think that's a problem.

What feminism should be about, it seems to me, is authorizing women's choices (see below on the nanny wars). If Camille Paglia and her friends chose, in full adult manner, to have affairs with faculty members when they were undergrads, that's fine. (I guess, though it strikes me as unlikely that they could really make an informed choice. But say they did.) Wolf says she did not so choose, and that when she didn't she was demeaned, isolated, etc., and that further, when she chose to talk about it, she's been isolated and attacked. Is that right or fair?

nannies and others

My new reading group got together to discuss this article today: The Atlantic | March 2004 | How Serfdom Saved the Women's Movement | Flanagan. So, OK, leaving aside for a moment the lameness of a reading group that only has time to discuss MAGAZINE ARTICLES instead of whole books (yes, we're busy, yada yada) was an interesting discussion. Only one of us doesn't have children; two had nannies, two used daycare and other options with small kids. Only one of us has a child in daycare or with a nanny now--the rest of our kids are all in school.

Of course I hate Caitlin Flanagan because she has the job I want. Or maybe Adam Gopnik has it, but today I'm thinking it's Flanagan. But besides that, we talked about how the history on which this article rests is pretty shaky--it's not as if women just started working in the 70s, for example. (Not even middle class white women--given the opportunity, they have always worked, and the historian among us pointed out that even in the 50s their percentage in the workplace kept rising.)

And then there's her own smugness. Even those of us who employed nannies didn't have them cleaning for us!! Where does Flanagan get off generalizing from her own experience, using her anecdotes as some kind of yardstick against which to measure other women?

But the thing that irritated us the most was the assumption that women are necessarily competing with each other, oppressing each other, divided. Where are the men in this article? Do the dads hire care, or are they simply irrelevant to this story? Do they feel guilt? Do they agonize over their choices?

Actually, I think they probably do, but you wouldn't know it from this piece. You might also take a look at this one: MOTHER COURAGE by Elizabeth Kolbert, which is similarly dismissive of the problems of white middle class women but seems at least a bit more sympathetic to me, and maybe more on the money, at least in her last paragraph: "Choosing between work and home is, in the end, a problem only for those who have a choice. In this sense, it is, like so many “problems” of twenty-first-century life, a problem of not having enough problems."

I think I want to say more about choice, but I'm not sure I'm thinking clearly enough to do it now. The thing is, even the question of a women's (always a woman's!) choice to work outside the home is rather vexed: I need to work because I make the primary income. But then again, if I didn't, my husband probably would. Or we'd figure something out. So do I really NEED to work? As much as I do? Well, if I want this kind of job, this is how it's done, how much time it takes, etc. But there are other jobs, no doubt, that I'm qualified for. (Stop laughing! PhDs in English are highly employable!) And maybe they would take less time, give me more leisure, more time with kids or the house or my husband (hmm, interesting order there...). Or maybe not. But I think we are kidding ourselves, sometimes, about what's a choice and what's a necessity. And that's all I'm going to say about that right now.