Thursday, May 29, 2008

the great generational liberal white woman divide

"Can you believe the way they're disenfranchising Florida and Michigan?"


"And this thing about Robert Kennedy. It's ridiculous that they're making such a big deal about this."

"Hmm. I guess so, but you know..."

"I don't know why they're in such a hurry to get rid of her. She should stay in the campaign for as long as she wants."

Et voila.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

at the spa

I came up with a really useful mental invention last night -- I was feeling somewhat beat down, and asked myself, "what would make you feel better right now?" Being at a spa, I thought. You know, where you're constantly walking around in a robe with a towel on your head and things smell very floral and you're sipping some sort of herbal tea. I COULD DO THAT RIGHT HERE, I realized. So I took a shower (which for me is very spalike in itself) and then put on a bathrobe, made myself some chamomile tea and announced that I was in a spa and so couldn't see the dirty dishes or piles of clothes on the floor. I worked at the computer for a while (it was a working spa) and went to bed around 9:00 after demanding that L give me a backrub as part of my spa experience. He did it, too. It's amazing the power you can wield over people when you assume an imperious spa gaze and have a towel on your head.

Friday, May 16, 2008

on nature and culture

It's impossible to resist the drumbeat to naturalize your child as soon as possible. That pinnacle of bourgey nurseryschooling, the Montessori method, would have the kids outside all the time if possible, and if not, they should be touching only "natural" materials in their classrooms. Feh, plastic! (See my short rant on this topic below.) Pretty much anyone in the blogging world who emphasizes ecological responsibility -- and definitely anyone who emphasizes health -- focuses heavily on the sustaining qualities of connecting with Nature. Nature good, goes this popular line of argument, culture bad. Natural objects good, mass-produced objects bad.

So I fulfill my parental responsibility to regularly expose the young tot to the elements here -- walks to all of the public places, bird sanctuaries, little parks, etc. -- and despite the wealth of sticks and pinecones and rocks, he never fails to make straight for the cigarette butts, the bits of plastic wrap, and the old Skoal containers. The natural and the cultured bits are all the same to him. Cultured bits probably better, even, because they're likely to have letters on them, making them extra fascinating (and likely to bring on a fit of "S! S!!...K!K!KKKK!" and such. Our baby, and his crazy love of letters!)

Of course, nature becomes especially interesting once it's where you wish it wasn't. He's super interested in the ants which have just invaded our living room, for example. Score one for the nature-lovers there, I guess.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the benevolent dictatorship

I decided to title give this blog the title, "The Benevolent Dictatorship" because parenting a child is an unavoidably political activity. Additionally, and to my surprise, I've found that parenting gives an unexpected perspective back into the political world -- perspective into what it must be like to have control over a non-democratic country, or cult, or some other large group of people. Whenever you have power over someone, entirely, unequivocally, you have to get used to the feeling of having entire, unequivocal responsibility for that person. You can try to diminish the feeling by reminding yourself of your charge's otherness, the fact that they are separate people with their own physical integrity and responsibility for their own personhood. You can diminish the feeling by spreading the caretaking out among a larger number of people. But ultimately, the symbiotic power exchange between the primary caregiver and the primary care-receiver is deep deep deep and I suspect, unshakable. The way that Tito is always president in Yugoslavia unshakable. Death does not part you, or diminish your power and responsibility in the mind of the living partner.

There was another small accident today, a kitchen accident, and D was totally fine. Completely and absolutely fine, like not a mark, no pain or anything, just a scare. But for the parents who witnessed it, and the parents who came into the room immediately afterwards, and even the parent who prevented the accident from resulting in harm to D it was a deep stab right to the middle of the stomach. The stab was about the baby's potential pain, but also about the failure of our responsibility, our individual and collective failure. The logic of the failure of responsibility is that we caused him pain. And there is no such precious body to us that we could live without coming back in our heads, at unexpected moments, to the image of his pain and the feeling that we caused it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

mwah hahahaha

I was sitting here during D's nap thinking of the things that needed doing this afternoon, including a trip to the store to replenish our precious bodily fluids -- that would be milk, half and half, and Long Trail Double Bag Ale, naturally -- and I had a thought along the lines of General Jack D. Ripper's. Wouldn't it be just like Bush and Co to be contaminating our microbreweries and organic milk providers with the understanding that they'd be SAPPING THE VERY ESSENCE of the liberal voter? Yoiks!