Friday, April 4, 2008

You've got to be carefully taught

Today is the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. They're doing a revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" on Broadway. What's the connection?

This week's poetry, or rather, song:

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

In some ways we seem to have come a long way. One of the actresses in the current production of South Pacific said that when she talks about "colored people", the audience visibly gasps. She says she feels dirty, like she needs to take a shower.

And yet we can't bring ourselves to evaluate the presidential candidates just as people- not black or white, man or woman; but for the courage of their convictions and the fierceness of their intelligence.

Still, I hope that one day soon, Dr. King's dream will, indeed, become reality.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Don't settle, but do grumble (also, Poetry Friday)

If you haven't read the article by Lori Gottlieb in the Atlantic Monthly yet, you have been living under a rock. And I'm jealous of your bliss.

There has been much furor over it- discussions on NPR and MPR, feminists ranting, Ms. Gottlieb receiving mountains of mail. I for one found it quite annoying. She has a kernel of a point in there somewhere; but when she suggests that you marry a man whom you're physically repulsed by, or is actively grieving for a dead spouse, or is an unrepentant alcoholic...really, it's hard to take any of it seriously.

As all of us married people know, our spouses have quirks. Well, so do we. If accepting those is settling, then sure, all of us have settled. But do we always accept the quirks of the one we love? Or do we grumble and complain?

Which segues to this week's poetic gem, by the most marvelous Vikram Seth. I hope it makes you smile.

Prandial Plaint
My love, I love your breasts. I love your nose.
I love your accent and I love your toes.
I am your slave. One word, and I obey.
But please don't slurp your coffee that way.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Gunn fun

I haven't posted in over a month. Yikes. First I got brutally busy at work (the paying kind). Then the deadline passed, and I kind of lost my blogging mojo.

I guess it took the likes of Tim Gunn to make me snap out of it, make it work, and carry on.

The impeccable Mr. Gunn was at the Rosedale Herberger's yesterday in his capacity as Chief Creative Officer of Liz Claiborne. They had a fun fashion show, with believable women wearing non-outrageous clothes, that you could actually buy right at the store. Tim was exactly as he is on Project Runway- polished, elegant, kind and witty. He fielded a wide array of questions after the show, and I have to say he deserves all the gushing and swooning that's bestowed on him.

I could have gotten an autographed copy of his book and a photo with him, just by spending $100, but I refrained. The funny thing is that when I came home and told this to Dr. N, the resident fashion grinch...he surprised me by saying "That's not bad! You should have bought some clothes!" Knock me dead with a toothpick. But see, this is why I love the guy.

Strib style writer Sara Glassman had Tim do some fun free association (not in public). Enjoy.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The trouble with being so environmentally conscious... that if you leave your car dome light on, you don't find out for four days. True story.

Last Saturday I ran some errands with Mowgli. I had my hands full, as usual; so I must not have shut the car door properly after extracting Mowgli, various bags, and library books. Wednesday evening I go to the garage to pull the car out- heading to Deb's birthday dinner. As you might imagine, the car is dead as a doornail- the battery completely drained. Ugh. I ended up taking Dr. N's car, and we had a good time at Puerta Azul.

The guy from AAA got the car started the next morning, so all is well. But yeah, now I check twice...because I still drive only once in a while!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Poetry Friday

This one is a song actually, en Francaise. When I was a student at NID in the early 90s, I got it into my head to learn French. Because knowing so many other languages wasn't enough. I didn't have any time to spare during the week, so I started taking the all-day-Saturday class at the Alliance Francaise. It was an incredibly fun and immersive way to learn, and for a long while I was reasonably fluent in basic French (alas, too rusty now).

For our graduation, the students decided to do a variety show, and we acted out this song. I played the woman who is being propositioned by the guy in these sad, modern times.

La complainte du progrès

Autrefois pour faire sa cour
On parlait d'amour
Pour mieux prouver son ardeur
On offrait son coeur
Aujourd'hui, c'est plus pareil
Ça change, ça change
Pour séduire le cher ange
On lui glisse à l'oreille
(Ah? Gudule!)

Viens m'embrasser
Et je te donnerai
Un frigidaire
Un joli scooter
Un atomixer
Et du Dunlopillo
Une cuisinière
Avec un four en verre
Des tas de couverts
Et des pell' à gâteaux

Une tourniquette
Pour fair' la vinaigrette
Un bel aérateur
Pour bouffer les odeurs

Des draps qui chauffent
Un pistolet à gaufres
Un avion pour deux
Et nous serons heureux

Autrefois s'il arrivait
Que l'on se querelle
L'air lugubre on s'en allait
En laissant la vaisselle
Aujourd'hui, que voulez-vous
La vie est si chère
On dit: rentre chez ta mère
Et l'on se garde tout
(Ah! Gudule)

Ou je reprends tout ça.
Mon frigidaire
Mon armoire à cuillères
Mon évier en fer
Et mon poêl' à mazout
Mon cire-godasses
Mon repasse-limaces
Mon tabouret à glace
Et mon chasse-filous

La tourniquette
A faire la vinaigrette
Le ratatine-ordures
Et le coupe-friture

Et si la belle
Se montre encore rebelle
On la fiche dehors
Pour confier son sort

Au frigidaire
À l'efface-poussière
À la cuisinière
Au lit qu'est toujours fait
Au chauffe-savates
Au canon à patates
À l'éventre-tomates
À l'écorche-poulet

Mais très très vite
On reçoit la visite
D'une tendre petite
Qui vous offre son coeur

Alors on cède
Car il faut bien qu'on s'entraide
Et l'on vit comme ça
Jusqu'à la prochaine fois

Et maintenant, en Anglais (And now, in English. It's a little dated, and there are gaps in my translation [sorry!], but you get the idea!):

A complaint about Progress

To court, in the old days
There was talk of love
To further prove his ardor
He offered her his heart
Today, it's such
That's changed, it's changed
To seduce the beloved angel
He slid close to her ear
(Ah? Gudule!) (Ah? Gudule!)

Come, embrace me
And I will give you
A refrigerator
A nice scooter
A mixer
And a Dunlop pillow
A stove
With a glass oven
Heaps of forks and spoons
And pell' cakes

A tourniquette
To make vinaigrette
A nice exhaust fan
To blow out odors

Warm sheets
A waffle iron
An airplane for two
And we will be happy

Formerly it used to be
That when one quarreled
The air was left lugubrious
And the dishes left behind
Now, what is it that you want
Life is so precious
One says: return to your mother's home
And one keeps everything
(Ah! Gudule) (Ah! Gudule)

Say you're sorry
Or I'll take everything.
My fridge
My cabinet with spoons
My iron sink
And my poêl 'oil (?)
My cire-godasses (?)
Mon repasse-limaces (?)
My ice stool (?)
And my hunting-knife (?)

The tourniquette
To make the vinaigrette
The trash compacter (?)
And coupe-friture (?)

And if the beautiful one
Shows rebellion again
On the sheet outside
Is her fate entrusted

With the fridge
With the duster
With the stove
With the bed, always made
With the warm slippers
With the potato cannon (?)
With the éventre-tomatoes (?)
With the skin-on chicken (?)

But very very soon
One receives a visit
Of a small gesture
Who offers you the heart

Then one yields
Because it's best that one helps oneself
And one lives like that
Until the next time

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine tableau

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Hope it's full of delectable things.

The chocolate is available by mail order, if you don't live in the Cities. It's wonderful stuff.And the yarn is handspun Sock Hop in the Pretty Woman colorway.

Speaking of pretty women...

Sorry, one-of-a-kind Valentine doll, not available for purchase. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A matter of metaphor

I've been reading Steven Pinker'sThe Stuff of Thought these last couple of months, and finding it fascinating. Despite the comic strips and Seinfeld references, it is not an easy read. I skipped ahead to the chapter on curse words- which is really fun. Now I am back to the chapter on metaphors.

The metaphor for today might well be "burning the candle at both ends." Work (the paid kind) is getting busy, and there aren't too many breaks in the full-time mommy job. Did I bite off more than I can possibly chew? Today I had a client call scheduled for 2.00 p.m. I figured I could make this work, since that's the time I put Mowgli down for her afternoon nap. Then the meeting gets moved to 1.30. I'm a bit anxious, but I think, well, we'll see. I put her down for her morning nap at 10.45. She usually sleeps an hour, an hour and a half at most. 1.20 p.m. She's still asleep! Maybe she'll sleep through the call. I gently shut the office door, turn the volume down on the baby monitor and dial in. And I hear Mowgli wake up. We go through our call and I ask some pertinent questions and jot down notes. I can hear the crying in the next room- Where the @#$%^& is Mommy?!! I have the phone on mute. I hope the client won't go round and round in circles as she's prone to. Thankfully we are done by 2.00. My poor Mowgli- she's starving. I scoop her out of her crib and mumble my apologies. She's a good natured baby. All is forgiven.

I am considering daycare for a couple of days a week- it'll do us both good. On days like this I think I'm crazy for trying to do it all. And then I remind myself how good I have it. I have a job I like, with a boss who lets me do my own thing. I have a career. I get paid reasonably well. I have a 30 second commute. I have a great husband who walks in the door each evening and takes over baby duty. I get to hang out with my little Mowgli all day- watch her laugh out loud as I wiggle my toes, see her scoot backwards, giggle with her as she pulls tissue after tissue out of the box, hear her chant dadadadaadada with the utmost concentration. I get to hold her whenever I want and smother those chubby cheeks with kisses. A lot of working moms would give an eye tooth to have what I have.

So I'm changing the metaphor. I'm going to go with "having my cake and eating it too."