Thursday, February 24, 2005

more on mommy wars?

I keep wanting to pick up Becca's useful comments about the mommy wars, and how the issue needs to be reframed. Because it's true, if we only talk about moms, then what are we really talking about? Same old, same old. The SAHM/WOHM (really?) "wars" are just another way of dividing women into "good" and "bad" categories. Madonna/whore, anyone? Of course the thing with the mommy categories is that you can't win with either of them--as way more people than I can begin to credit have already noticed, welfare mothers are called "lazy" for staying home while middle-class women are labeled "selfish" for going out to work. Neither one is true, but this is not about truth, it's about making us feel bad so that we buy stuff, and about shifting focus from the real issues, which have to do with creating a climate in which men and women can work and parent equally.

In our case we've come close. For several years I was the sole wage-earner, one year Mark was primary, most years we both struggle along together. When Mariah was born we combined our two half-salaries and made do on that. Now we are both working full-time, but next year he doesn't have a contract and so far we're thinking we may just go with that for a while. No one needs full-time care at home anymore, as Nick did the last time Mark was home full-time, but it's still really helpful to have one person whose time is flexible and who can therefore do the weird errands that crop up, take the kids to the doctor, etc., etc. If more work turns up he'll probably take it, though, because at some point (sooner than we are ready for) these kids are going to want to go to college or something and it would be nice to be able to pay for it. But what we really would like is to share about a job and a half. Two incomes is nice, don't get me wrong, but with 1.5 and more time, things would be better--the house might be cleaner (no promises from me on that one), the refrigerator would stay stocked, the laundry would get done, and we'd both have time to do our creative work.

And I don't think we're the only couple who would make this choice if we could. I'm lucky, I know, that I am married to a man who is not putting his career first, who has always, in fact, put us (marriage, family) first. But actually that's not pure luck--he's who I chose, after all, and --though we didn't talk about it at the time-- I'm not at all surprised that this is the choice he's made, or really that we've made together. But it's not like we've had a whole lot of support for our choices, or for our wish for more time and a more flexible work environment. That's just not the way the world is set up for us right now. But that's what it will take, I think, to end all these "mommy wars."

This feels disjointed and not quite as forceful as I want it to be, but I'm too tired to change it now and I'm afraid if I wait until it's perfect I won't remember what I wanted to say. Sigh.

to-do list

When your to-do list has "think about sending out essay" on it, you're not likely to do it.

I'm just saying.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Mommy drive-bys

Others have already commented on the comments stacking up at Chez Miscarriage in her "Mommy Drive-By"post. They are funny and sad, but mostly sad. I initially read these thinking, "no one's ever said anything like that to me!" But then I remembered a couple--the guy on the Venice boardwalk who said "Hey, you're frying your kid!" when he saw Mariah in what we used to call the "baby-dragger" attached to the back of Mark's bike, sound asleep in the sun. With a floppy hat and lots of sunscreen on, but what did he care? But he went away quickly. Then of course my mom mentioned --on seeing me in maternity clothes with #2, at something like, oh, two weeks along-- that she had never needed maternity clothes before the sixth month. Can this even be true? Did I invent it? Probably.

The thing is, the first guy, well, a) not a mom, so it's not really a mommy drive-by and b) he did go right away. And my mom is, well, my mom, and if she even said that (I am more and more doubting it), but if she did, so what? That was in the days when --as she's also told me-- her doctor told her that if she gained more than fifteen pounds in her pregnancy he'd put her on a diet. Now, seeing as I weighed over eight at birth, well, you do the math. Of course she wasn't in maternity clothes!

I did a lot wrong --still do-- with both kids, and some things right, and I am never quite sure which is which. So I try (I'm sure I often fail, but I do try) to be humble about it, and apparently I mostly hang out with others who do the same.

Oh, and my own worst (I hope!) example of doing a mommy drive-by myself, was when my friend mentioned that her daughter (then about four) was up almost every night, and she had to get up with her. To take her to the bathroom or something, as I recall. I said (I cringe now), "Oh, I'd never put up with that!"

Famous last words. My own four-year-old daughter developed night terrors not long after. We dealt with them off and on for the next five years. Getting up only once a night would have been a dream in those days.

(Oh, and Caroline? I apologize for any insensitive older-sister mom remarks I may have made, or will make in the future. I think that's a whole other category...)

this woman's work: I'm back with tips

Do you ever read something and just think, yeah, what she said?

Yeah, what she said:

this woman's work: I'm back with tips

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

mom stuff

Hmm, nothing here reflects the title. Time for a new title, or new interests? Obviously I'm too self-centered to blog about my kids, or something, when things like the clapotis obsess me. (I found a picture of one where someone else had the dyelot problem and she just went on, so I think I will, too. But I bought new yarn, too, just in case.)

OK, so, some mama stuff. Yesterday the kids didn't have school (President's Day, you know), but we did, so Nick came to class with me. He could have stayed home with his sister, and he could even have stayed in the office with Mark, who was done teaching already, but he wanted to come to class. Everyone went "aww" when he walked in the room, because, you know, he's so cute. And seven. And did I mention cute?

He sat at a table and read Grimm's fairy tales and drew for the entire fifty minutes. I almost forgot he was there.

This is a major milestone. The last time I brought him to class I had to write an essay about how difficult it was. (The essay got published, though, in this book: Three Ring Circus, so it wasn't a total loss. But it was hard, hard, hard.)

rookie mistake

on the clapotis, which I'm sure you're tired of, though I'm not (yet). Sigh. I bought yarn in two different dye lots, and it matters. I have just knit up a few inches of a second skein, and it's markedly different from the first.

So. Do I:
1) keep going, hoping no one else will notice? (They will; it's pretty obvious.)

2) go look for two more skeins of the old dye lot? (Yes, I bought two of one and then started with the third...just didn't look.) Then rip out a few inches and re-knit? That could work: I ripped out a whole (sleeveless) sweater last summer, so I'm not afraid of that. Though this is a mohair blend (oh, don't even tell me how mohair is not a great choice for clapotis. I already know how hard it is to drop the stitches...) so the ripping out won't be easy.

3) go look for one more skein of the first dye lot, and hope that a middle section that doesn't match is just a cool effect?

4) go buy some different yarn and start all over? Yes, that would mean trashing over two weeks' work (I'm slow), but...the opportunity to buy more yarn is tempting. Sigh.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 21, 2005

I think someone's watching...

Or reading. My students, maybe. Because, since I put up the link to Dr. P's rules for papers, I collected a bunch. And you know what? Only one paper clip, and one folded-corner, among them. Lots of lovely staples.

On the other hand, the first paragraphs may still need some work. I'm not sure. I haven't read them yet.

Really, I don't endorse all of Dr. P's rules. I don't actually care that much about the staples, for example. I happen to have a stapler in my office, and I know how to use it, so the unstapled papers are only a minor irritation, if even that. No biggie. The plastic report covers have been mercifully killed, apparently--I almost never see those. And when I do, it's because they are big long papers that might not even hold together with a staple, so, again, no biggie.

If only rules for papers were easy, in other words, I would have some myself. And my students would follow them, because my students almost always follow the rules, and then they'd all get As and we'd all be happy. Well, the grade-inflation police wouldn't, but everyone else.

But, alas. Not so easy.

Friday, February 18, 2005

stupid legislation update/2

Cooler heads have prevailed. This bill was killed in committee, as was the bill banning gay adoption. Nice to see the democratic process work every now and then.

Scottish Nous: Professors Work Only 6-9 Hours Per Week

From Scottish Nous: David Horowitz graced (or profaned?) the campus of the University of Colorado on Monday night, exercising his right to free speech by spewing his hackneyed, corn-fed claptrap.  Ward Churchill's wannabe arch-nemesis demonstrated that he has zero understanding of the academic life, which is no surprise given the quality of his benighted attempts at "scholarship".  From the Daily Camera:

University professors are a privileged elite that work between six to nine hours a week, eight months a year for an annual salary of about $150,000, according to David Horowitz.

Um? No. Scottish Nous speculates that maybe Horowitz means business school professors. Maybe. It's sure not us humanities types.

I really got this from Dr. Pretorius at applecidercheesefudge.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

applecidercheesefudge: Rules For Papers

applecidercheesefudge: Rules For Papers
Sigh. Wishing I had the guts to speak like this sometimes.

my favorite valentine

Roses are red, violets are blue
Candy is a treat, but you are sweet
So you deserve a treat.

Don't you love that play with form, that casual disregard of convention, that internal rhyming?

Yeah, me too.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Polygraph Lounge:

Here's a fun date: Polygraph Lounge

why knitting is like writing

1. Both start small (letters, words, sentences; stitches, pattern repeats) and build from there.

2. Both can be done with relatively inexpensive tools, though someone will always sell you something pricier.

3. There are rules.

4. The rules matter.

5. Once you know what you are doing, you can break the rules.

6. Sometimes.

7. Pretty soon, you will make something that looks like something.

8. But it can take years before you make something you're proud of.

9. If it's not working, you can trash it and start again.

10. Often that's a good idea.

11. Sometimes you trash something accidentally. Stitches fall off the needle, you lose the scribbled piece of paper, the computer crashes.

12. This is very sad.

13. The thing you make to replace the thing you trashed will not be the same.

14. You will always lament that.

15. Even though the thing you eventually make might be better.

16. Some people will never understand why you do it. They will say that you could buy it for less, that it takes too much time, that other people are doing it better.

17. They will be right.

18. They are missing the point.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

clapotis update

I got to drop stitches today!

And you can tell how exciting my life is by the exclamation point above, can't you? Sigh. I spent Friday night and Saturday at a vestry retreat and it was all fine, and I got to knit, but I'm glad it's over.

Many chapters of Jane Eyre await me now. Not to mention stacks of papers. The clapotis interests me more at the moment.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Alas, a Blog » The office of the future

Alas, a Blog » The office of the future: "Our economy - and, in particular, our workplaces - are still modeled on the “Father Knows Best” model, in which all workers are implicitly assumed to have wives at home, taking care of the babies. This model of the workplace is costly to women who’d like (or need) careers but are economically punished for being mothers, and also costly to men who’d like (or need) careers but wind up being alienated from a family they barely ever see."

Great discussion in the comments of various models of balancing work/family. I haven't looked at the photo-essay yet, but I find the discussion heartening: we just can't assume that the standard "Father Knows Best" model works for everyone. On the other hand, neither does bringing kids to work. I'm about to do it this morning for an hour and that's about as long as it works for me.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Now Norma Knits 2: SEMPER UBI SUB UBI

[edit:] this just in: the bill was killed in the legislature today. Guess they didn't like the publicity they were getting. Now let's work on those other stupid bills!

Norma doesn't like the Virginia legislature.Now Norma Knits 2: SEMPER UBI SUB UBIYes, I'm embarrassed to live in Virginia. See, other stupid legislation, below.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

stupid legislation update

The bill I posted about before has been amended. Now, rather than banning GSAs (sorry, "club[s] or other group[s] ...focused on supporting, assisting, or justifying any lifestyle involving sexual behavior") the bill allows local school boards to "prohibit school facilities from being used by any student club or other student group that encourages or promotes sexual activity by unmarried minor students." I think this is progress, though it's still stupid. The basic misconception, that GSAs promote sexual activity, remains, though I think perhaps a GSA could challenge a ban by proving that it did not do so. Right? Anyway, there's still time to contact your state senator and encourage him/her to vote against it (HB2868), if you live in Virginia.



Switched to blogrolling because it gave me a few more options. And allowed me to subscribe to diaryland.


So I got a bloglines subscription, which means I can click obsessively on that rather than on my own site to get to the various blogs I read. Apparently this is progress.

Weirdly there are a few blogs I read that I can't subscribe to. I'm not sure why, though clearly diaryland is one problem. (I keep wanting to type "dairyland" for that, as if it were where the cows came home.)

The bloglines subscription, of course, encourages me to add more to the list of blogs I read. Sigh. This could be a full-time job. But it's not.

Monday, February 07, 2005

this is not a knitting blog...

...which may explain why I really don't have anything to say. I spent the weekend casting on and knitting 12-20 rows of clapotis, over and over again. Well, not over and over, but more often than I care to say. I have learned that I don't know how to knit. Actually, it's even weirder than that. I apparently knit European style, with the yarn held in my left hand, but then I knit into the back rather than the front of the stitch (believe me, this doesn't really make sense to me, either), which leaves my stitches twisted. Or something. I found this out because this pattern requires me to knit into the back of a loop as if that were unusual--and I had to figure out what the pattern thought was usual. Not what I do. Sigh.

Which raises an interesting issue: I don't know when I learned to knit. I learned to crochet one summer when I lived in Ogunquit, Maine, and I had a roommate who crocheted. She taught me and I made several afghans, learned to read patterns, etc. But I don't remember learning to knit. My mother knits, or once did (she tells stories of knitting argyle socks in college lecture halls--shudder!), but I've never seen her do it. I have or had a couple of aunts who knit but I don't think they taught me. My best guess, actually, is home ec class in 7th or 8th grade, but I obviously didn't follow up on it then, and am not sure how I got back into it. I know that I knew how to knit in the mid-80s, because I knit Mark a sweater then. Who taught me? And why did they teach me this weird way?

It seems very strange to me that I have a skill that I can't remember acquiring. I can't really remember learning to read, either, but it's pretty obvious that I don't remember that because I was so young when it happened. I'm guessing I was about four. But I was, I'm quite sure, significantly older when I learned to knit. Or. sort of learned to knit.

Anyway. Any knitters who want to help me with this front-of-the-loop thing, be my guest. It's going to bug me for a while, I can tell. I'm thinking about ripping out (again) my progress to date on one of the two clapotis (clapotises? clapoti?) that I've started, and trying it "my" way, to see if it makes any difference at all.

Or maybe I'll just chuck the whole thing and go back to thinking about books. That would be the smart thing to do.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

falling into an abyss

I've spent the last two days completely obsessed with this. I have now begun knitting it--about four times, because apparently I can't count. I think I'm doing OK now, but I'm not going to say any more about it until it's actually looking like something.

It's Stephanie's fault, because she collected all those fabulous pictures of other people's beautiful work.

I want to talk about Princess Mononoke, and about Jeopardy, but those are going to have to wait.