Saturday, April 30, 2011

Wow...I can't believe I won! First of all, I want to thank the inspiration for all of this - Phebe Taylor...

Hi! First of all - the title. I got to hold a goddamned Emmy today! A fucking Emmy! Can you believe that? That shizz was heavy too!

So, how this came about is kind of simple. One of my 3 year old son's classmates had a birthday party and we go over to their house for it. They had a house party - unusual in itself and automatically puts these people in the category of people I'd like to know, even before the Emmy thing. I like the mom a lot and SHE HAS THREE FUCKING EMMYS! (EMMIES? WHY AM I SHOUTING? I DON'T KNOW!)

She was a costume designer for Sesame Street before she had kids. Three Emmys! So she was talking about the view from their living room - which is nice, all forest - when I turn around and notice them and quite rudely interrupt whatever she was saying with "Oh my God! Why do you have Emmys?" I'm still a little giddy, actually.

So, this whole thing makes up for the five and a half years of absolutely horrible kids' birthday parties that I've had to go to. Of course, not all of those parties have been horrible, but the vast majority have been. But, totally worth going to all of them, because today I held a fucking Emmy.

I'm considering inviting myself over again and having a little alone time in the bathroom with one of the Emmys and giving a big ass speech in the mirror. Ima get to work on that right away.

I still need to quiz her on the mildly famous people who went to these technical Emmy award ceremonies. She did *not* see Kathy Griffin freak out hilariously, as that happened in LA, I learned. But she must have some stories. And while it's not so good as having gone to the MTV awards and being ass-grabbing distance from the RPattz, like my friend the primamomma, it's still pretty rad. Pretty rad.

Whew. I need to come down some more, it seems. EMMY!!!

Also, I got an invitation to another evening that's a dream come true: The 18th Century Tavern Charity Night at the Murray Farmhouse in Poricy Park. Complete with authentic meal, dancing and entertainment. I am so ridiculously excited it's insane/lame. I may have to drag a friend as I don't think my husband will go. OMG, I should get a period costume. That's the next logical step. Wheee!

Alrighty, happy weekend and I HELD A FUCKING EMMY TODAY!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parenting Magazine

So...I hate Parenting Magazine. Or Parents magazine. Or Mommy magazine. All that garbage. Mostly I think it's because I hate being told what to do. Oh, and I hate articles that are basically advertisements but which present themselves as living better type articles. Mostly, I especially hate being told what to do. But I already said that.

Also it's because of articles like this - "The Secrets of Happy Families." Most of it innocuous, I'm sure. So I'm reading along, giving them the benefit of the doubt. And then this: "5. Happiness doesn't always make you happy. It's a strange concept: The things you do to be fulfilled don't fulfill you. A parent's daily schedule is packed with piano lessons, soccer practice, playground playdates, and mommy-and-me classes. Individually, they are meant to bring joy and fulfillment, but collectively, doing them all can leave you frazzled and worn-out.
"Ask an emergency room doctor if he feels anxious and stressed out," says Rubin. "He will say 'Yes, and yes.' But in the big picture, I bet that job makes the doctor feel happy and fulfilled." So think macro, not micro: Driving your child all over town for piano lessons and soccer practice may not leave you content, but knowing that you're enriching your child's life in the long term should."

End quote. Fuck you, Parenting Magazine. Fuck you. You know what would be a good book title? "The Audacity of the Parenting Magazine Article Writer"

So, I was angry. But then...then there was a bit of awesome in the last page. Someone snuck it in. There are about twelve blurbs and they all fall into the following category: "I almost fell over when my child said ___ to ____" Mostly lame. Or sorta funny, but primarily lame. Example: " mommy doesn't wear pajamas" to our elderly neighbors. Fine. Ha, ha, awkward.

The best though? The reason that it's ok that somehow I have this subscription and will possibly be charged with it even though I'm pretty sure it's just junkmail and that I never signed up for anything. The reason that it's ok that the rest of the magazine pisses me off.

My favorite entry was the following: I almost fell over when my child said..."this is bull----" to her grandma because she wouldn't let her sit in a rocking chair. Oops!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Another Trip to the Library! Squeeee!

Hi! Yesterday, I made another trip to the Monmouth County Historical Association Library, and good Lord, that place rocks. This was only my second time there. So much more to mine there. I really cannot wait.

So before I tell you what I found, I have to make a comment. Most of my posts seem to be propelled by my need to move past the last post. Like, I'm so annoyed with my writing and sick of seeing it, that I hurry up and cobble something together to write about. Not that I don't want to get most of this stuff down, it's just I'm annoyed with how I do it, nearly every single time. Is this just how it goes? If I think back to the first few years of graduate school, I guess it was the same. Mediocrity and failure for years.

OK. This is cool, though, last paragraph notwithstanding. I found a letter in the Miscellaneous Taylor Family file. It was from a Mr. James H. Peters of Elberon, New Jersey. It was received by the Monmouth County Historical Society on October 22nd, 1935. I will transcribe it:


I read with great interest an article in the Asbury Park Press about the acquisition of the old Taylor house at Middletown.

My Grandmother Mary Taylor was born there about a hundred years ago. Among a number of papers handed down to me I have a very fine genealogy of the Taylor family that goes back to 781; a Taylor Coat of Arms, casted on an old fire-back for a fire place; a piece of tile from one of the Taylor houses that burned; some verry accurate maps or diagrams of the Taylor properties at Middletown showing the location of the Taylor houses and burying grounds, as well as other points of interest; together with written matter pertaining to the home life of the Taylors.

I will be very glad to show you the above if you will make an appointment with me for some Sunday, as my work takes me away from home durring the week.

Very truly yours,

James H. Peters

There is a note on the letter stating that an appointment was made for Sunday, October 27th. I'm very curious as to what happened. In the letter he refers to the Taylor house that burned. That was Phebe's house that became known as the Beekman House - the house on Ruckman Hill. I've read of that surviving tile somewhere before, but can't remember where. Anyway, I know where it was in 1935! I also found the "written matter pertaining to the home life of the Taylors" to be mouth-watering. What if they mention her? What if the mystery of why her gravestone is so simple and cold could really be solved? What if something really happened?

Another exciting thing is that I went onto when I got home and thought I'd get started trying to find this James H. Peters and I did! Pretty quickly, too! I matched his signature and everything - I'm such the detective today! He was born in 1896, he had a first wife named Alma, a second wife named Betty and a son named James H. Peters also. The son was born in 1917 and died in 1970. I didn't get further than that, but that's a lot. Senior's WWI Registration form is on file, as is a 1930 Census form that describes the household. Insanely easy.

I should be able to cyberstalk James Jr. some more and hopefully find out where those items are. Ooooh! Ooooh! Wills. Wills are public record, right? I can find if they willed that stuff to anyone. I can also ask the Historical Society if they have any record of that appointment.

A lot more to do. Honing in on Phebe from all sides. I believe I'll go to the MCHA library at least once a week from here on out. My happy place.

Until next time...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This week's NY Times Magazine Diagnosis

Hi! I hate the last post. So disorganized and confusing. So, new post! This one short.

I love the following things: The New Yorker, The NY Times Magazine and... my family? I guess? Just kidding. Anyway, I love the New Yorker and the NY Times Magazine. Two good things about New York, right there.

Although, the NY Times Magazine is pushing it with me. They've recently redesigned and they've decided to jump on the "social media" bandwagon. Meaning that nearly every single (every.single.) article has something to do with the internet. Or smart phones. Or whatever.

Case in point, my beloved Diagnosis feature. This time, and this is new, they posted the symptoms of this little girl who was losing her hair on-line on their blog and asked the readers of the blog to play along and try to diagnose her. Whatever. Fine. But then they publish, in the magazine, about six people's suggestions, ranging from stupid and annoying to correct, as it turns out.

Another lame thing is that they've taken an essay and made it into a flow chart. Now, don't get me wrong - I love charts. I really really do. Just not unnecessary ones. There was nothing to be gained from it being in the form of a flow chart. Nothing. It was just a gimmick.

OK, that's my rant. I don't like it. But that's not what I wanted to write to you about. I wanted to write about the post-diagnosis analysis written by Lisa Sanders, M.D. (the author of most of the article). On a side note, I wonder if she's down with this new format.

It turns out (spoiler alert!) that the girl and, surprisingly to them, her sister have a chronic, inherited, debilitating and potentially degenerative muscle disease. But she and her family only noticed the hair loss of the one girl, not the weakness in both that is a major feature of this disease. And people wondered how this could be.

I'll quote Dr. Sanders here in this little excerpt that I like a lot. A lot. And keep in mind that I like it a lot, even though, there's the whole social media garbage mixed in. Cause that means I like it a whole lot. OK.

"Sarah of Washington wrote: "I'm really confused by the fact that these young women didn't realize they were weak even though one couldn't do more than one sit-up and the other couldn't lift a gallon of milk." Many readers felt equally bewildered. But Anon from New York wrote about the perceptions of those with chronic diseases: "When you live with your own 'normal' (which may be wholly abnormal), you take for granted everyone else feels that way, too.... If it is all you have ever known, you can see why it would be something a patient might not mention." For the parents, it would have taken an enormous leap to imagine that their seemingly healthy daughters could have something seriously wrong with them. Often, what we see in our children defines our understanding of normal. This family, like many who live with chronic diseases, have come to understand that there are at least two kinds of normal - one for them and one for everyone else."

Now, the reason I like this has nothing, really, to do with my MS. My situation is completely different - I was "normal," physically, at least, and then in the last year that drastically changed. I suppose, though, that this is my new normal - my new energy level. My new, 80 year old lady energy level. I should get cats.

No, I like this for the interesting idea it presents. I like it as a kind of recognition of a phenomenon. I'd say this more applies to the whole Southern-ish type living in a Northern state, as far as my situation is concerned. What was/is normal for me is completely not normal up here. It's kind of interesting.

I also like the idea of a family as a world unto itself. I never had that. We were always made to be aware of appearances and of fitting in. "Remember who you are and what you represent" was like a family motto. And while it didn't work out for the family in the Diagnosis article, I think it's nice to just move along in life like a little unit. Helping each other out within the group and not really worrying about anyone else. That's nice.

Alright. I went to the library yesterday and got a bunch of material for another post. So I'm excited. My local library has some good, really old books. Which is nice.

Next time a Phebe post. I promise.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Randomness - a biography of the tangentially related Charles Macintosh and a fantastic photo of the actually related John Maclean, Jr.

In perusing the Google, I just found a biography of Charles Macintosh (chemist and inventor of Macintosh waterproof fabrics) by his son George Macintosh - mentor and special friend of professor of chemistry at Princeton, John Maclean, Sr. Phebe's granddaughter, Phoebe Bainbridge, married John Maclean, Sr. and they named one of their sons George Macintosh Maclean in honor of his friend. (This is explained possibly more clearly, with pictures, in this post. Thank you for your patience while I ramble.)

I like this thing I've stumbled on of sons writing biographies of their fathers. Earnest, impersonal (largely), career-highpoints-listing biographies of their fathers. I need to read both that I've found much more carefully.

BTW, this has nothing to do with anything, other than the fact that I believe this is a wonderful photograph. Just wonderful. This is a photograph of another of John and Phoebe's sons, John Maclean Jr., who was the 10th president of Princeton University (The College of New Jersey, as was), taken towards the end of his life. It's wonderful. Have I mentioned that? This John Maclean (Jr.) also wrote a biography of his father, John Maclean, Sr., the chemistry professor and his biography includes a good deal about George Macintosh, who was a chemist as his father, Charles Macintosh, was.

Lots of chemists here. I like it. In my past life (meaning from high school all the way through a post-doc), I studied chemistry. Studied the hell out of it, actually. But then I gave it up. Oddly, though, before I quit, I post-docced (sp?) for a Scottish professor of chemistry, who happens to now be at Princeton. How's that for weird? I wonder if he knows who John Maclean (Sr.) is. Or Jr., for that matter. He should.

Anyway, I am amazed at the link between Phebe and all these chemists. Somehow I was supposed to do this. Or something. I can't help but think magically about it. I do so love to think magically.

Next post? More rambling. And I delve into a fictionalized account of Commodore William Bainbridge's upbringing in Middletown. It is oddly specific in detail and it is oddly lacking in Phebe. Which makes me sad. What if she went insane? Will I ever know what happened? How can she not exist in these accounts? The last thing written about her, that I've found, is from 1751. She lived another forty years. I just have to hope it's out there and I just have yet to find it.

Forging ahead - Penny