Thursday, August 7, 2014


I was contemplating the fruit flies that had appeared on our blueberries that we just picked when I heard this wonderful interview. 

This, the flies, was not at all what I imagined when I pictured us traipsing through the rows of bushes heavy with plump berries waiting to stain our eager fingers.
I blame my romanticized notion of berry picking on Blueberries For Sal, which we re-read last week.  I mean, who doesn't want to hang out with bears while gathering fruit?  

We weren't in Maine so our berry excursion had no bears.  There were some Amish women that Miss C stopped to listen to as they talked to each other, but that was brief because Miss C is a competitive berry picker.  This also was not in my imagined experience, but as soon as her uncle taught her how to "tickle" the branch so that maximum ripe berries would fall into the bucket, it became a competition.  Between her and everyone else who happened to be berry picking that day. 

Anyway.  Fruit flies.  And 17 pounds of blueberries.  And this awesome interview with the actress Helen Mirren.

The interviewer, Melissa Block, says,

"You have talked a lot over the years about roles for women, the paucity of good roles for women, and especially women who are older, at a different stage of their career..."

Helen Mirren responds,

"You know, I have to say I haven't talked a lot about that.  Journalists have talked a lot about it to me, but I have not talked a lot about it.  And I have always responded, for the last twenty years, with exactly the same response:  'Don't worry about roles in drama.  That's not your concern.  Worry about roles for women in real life.  Because as night follows day, roles for women in drama will follow.  And when you have a female president of America, which hopefully maybe you will very soon, when you have female heads of hospitals, of legal firms, of schools, of universities, you will have roles for women in drama.'  And that has happened.  That's absolutely happened." 

I think what she's saying is: Art imitates life, yo! 
With an English accent. 
The rest of the interview is here

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Ann with an E

Miss C and I started watching Anne of Green Gables, which has led to me reading Anne of Green Gables. 

(Do not call her Carrots.)

I imagine that Megan Follows, who plays Anne, took 5 shots of espresso before filming each scene. 

Or as Miss C puts it: She is crazy. 

But she's the fun crazy. 
As I keep reading more of the wonder of Anne, I have concluded that she is the first character to demonstrate both The Positive Thought Movement, and a very real case of undiagnosed ADHD.

"Do you know," said Anne confidentially, "I've made up  my mind to enjoy this drive.  It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things I you make up your mind firmly that you will.  Of course, you must make it up firmly.  I am not going to think about going back to the asylum while we're having our drive.  I'm just going to think about the drive.  Oh, look, there's one little early wild rose out!  Isn't it lovely?  Don't you think it must be glad to be a rose?  Wouldn't it be nice if roses could talk?  I'm sure they could tell us such lovely things.  And isn't pink the most bewitching color in the world?  I love it, but I can't wear it.  Redheaded people can't wear pink, not even in imagination.  Did you ever know of anybody whose hair was red when she was young but got to be another color when she grew up?"    

---L.M. Mongomery

Friday, July 18, 2014

Yes They Do

I've got a perfect body
But sometimes I forget
I've got a perfect body
Because my eyelashes catch my sweat.

---Regina Spektor, Folding Chair

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Body Love

I was reading some very well written articles in The Economist The Wall Street Journal People and Elle (because it was a long grocery line, and because E. Jean makes me laugh).

Two interviews, one theme:

First interview,  with singer Mary Lambert, exploring the subject of her poem titled Body Love.
The interview covers Lamberts style of writing, her survival of being gang-raped, then includes this sentence:

She mines both ends of the spectrum, serving grueling and confessional lyrics with the gentle, come-hither appeal of a plus-size Jessica Rabbit.

Second interview, actress Melissa McCarthy addresses the trend of describing powerful female artists in this "plus-size Jessica Rabbit" way:
A recent reference to her as "America's plus-size sweetheart" in an article did not go unnoticed. "It's like I'm managing to achieve all this success in spite of my affliction ... Would you ever put that in the headline for a male star?"

Good question. 

Many interviews, with male or female stars, include a description of what the subject is wearing, how they are postured, and their demeanor.
But rare is the interview that automatically equates a male star's body size with his sexual desirability.  

Like Diego Rivera being described as a plus size Desi Arnez.  Hard to conjure.

The trend of equating women's body size with their desirability is rooted in an old idea:
that men's greatest need is to feel powerful, and women's greatest need is to feel desired.

In this concept, power, for women, only comes if they are first desired.  And to be desired, their current shape has to match the current definition of desirability.  (That is only the first condition.  The physical one.  Then there are about 20 more that aren't connected with body.  Be nice.  Be polite.  Don't offend people with your opinions.  Raise your hand.  Speak when spoken to.  Etc.)

Lambert's version of this idea is: "I only know how to exist when I am wanted."

But she challenges this idea, and ultimately discards it, writing:

          Your sexiness is defined by concentric  circles within your wood
                                              It is wisdom
          You are a goddam tree stump with leaves sprouting out

Because some ideas are bunk. 
Some ideas need to be vetted, and when found false, can be released.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How To Breastfeed Appropriately

This highly informative article is a must-read for anyone considering nursing their baby.

So you've decided to breastfeed. Fantastic! Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to nourish your baby while establishing early bonding. Unfortunately, breast milk comes out of breasts so there are a few ground rules that we need to cover.
As you know, (female) modesty is a highly protected value in modern society. Unless you're a magazine cover model or in a music video, exposing your female udder flesh is entirely inappropriate. Science has proven that breasts are basically large vaginas. Only you and your partner should ever see them. Just because your breast-ginas are full of milk, doesn't mean you get to wave them around. 

Please, for the sake of all of us, read this before you consider using an obscene body part to feed your child.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Communing, Communicating, and Excommunicating

"How is it I can feel peaceful, glorified, connected in the literal presence of sharks? That next to them, I can forget to be afraid? And sitting still in the house of God, I feel myself drowning.”

---Nicole Hardy, reflecting on a swim with sharks, compared to a seat in the pew, in Confessions of a Latter Day Virgin

This morning I read an article about Kate Kelly, a member of the Mormon church. 
 Last night twelve men, church leaders, sat to review whether Kate Kelly, and how she asks questions, fall enough within to stay In, or are too far outside.
They met to determine if she will be excommunicated.

I am drawn to these stories right now.  Not because I am Mormon.  But because the stories are abounding and they are not just in the Mormon church but in many churches.

Some journeys are hard to speak of while we are on them. 
I've been moving from a practicing Roman Catholic to a practicing Cafeteria Catholic. 
Which means: I take what I like and leave the rest.  
For those who take Everything, the term Cafeteria Catholic is not a light one.   It is indicative of someone with commitment issues.  I guess that is now me.
Social justice and contemplative nuns and monks and Thomas Merton and the Jesuit tradition of asking questions and the Franciscan tradition of deep compassion?  Yes please.
Also, examining and acknowledging the history of all the good stuff, along with examining and acknowledging the history of all the shameful and wretched stuff.  Yes. 
One without the other means there is no healing and no growth.  One without the other is stagnation and continued secrecy.  Air and acknowledge the dirty laundry because it needs to see the light of day in order for any transformation to occur.  For those who were and continue to be injured.  And for those who did the injuring. 

Sometimes growth and healing is a big huge mess at first.  And religions are not exempt from this.

These two questions are coming up in churches of all traditions:

What are we going to do about The Women?
What are we going to do about The Gays?

 Many religious institutions come back with the same answer. 

This leads to a  lot of smaller meetings, starting with, What are we going to do about Kate Kelly?

Monday, June 16, 2014

We winned!


Tonight I took Miss C to an Irish pub to watch the US play Ghana on the big screen. 
We left at halftime, when the US was up 1 - 0. 

Driving home, I was all, How awesome is it that we could finally win!  Winning is the best!  Nothing in life matters except for winning!  (Just kidding about the last two sentences.  But seriously.  Winning a soccer game is noice.)

And she was coming up with ways to make the losing team feel more secure.

(My squirrel lovin' cousin has this theory about Irish parenting vs. American parenting.  It is this: American parents say, "Honey, you are wonderful and kind and amazing.  You are just great."
Irish parents say, "Um. You're a bit chubby love.")

So apparently I've been American parenting because to hear Miss C come up with alternative incentives for the losing team was like she wanted the reward for losing to beat the incentive for winning. 

Miss C:
What if whichever team wins gets to keep going in the World Cup, but the losing team gets to help with kids soccer teams, and visiting classrooms, and also fundraising?

Me, in my brain:
That would be so nice.  If Ghana could help with fundraising and stuff. 
Out loud:  Honey, you are wonderful and kind and amazing.  You are just great.

Miss C:
What if the team that loses could stay in the World Cup and not have to go home so soon and also visit classrooms and help teach soccer?

Miss C:
What if you could pick if you won the game or if you lost, but if you won you had to be in the World Cup forever, but if you lost you could go all around to schools and soccer teams and do all different things?

Miss C:
Well, what would you pick?  If you could pick yourself to be any team and pick if you won or lost the game?  Mom? 

This kid is Queen of Extremely Specific Hypotheticals.

I have to say, I would pick to be the team that kept going in the World Cup. 

Miss C:
But you have to be in the World Cup forever.

Would there be any breaks?

Miss C: 
No breaks.  For the rest of your life.

She just made the World Cup sound like punishment.  Like a factory job making shoe inserts until you die.

No matter.

I would still pick being in the World Cup.  But I'd like to visit the classrooms too.

Miss C: 
You can't do both.  Are you sure you don't want to just lose and do all kinds of cool things?

I'll think about it.