Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Hi!  So... lately I'm in the mood to write about good writing.  Or really, maybe, I just want to, in some way, archive things that I like.  The latter.  Both.  I don't know.  There are probably other reasons, too.  I'm just going to go with it.

In the New York Times this past Sunday, there was an article entitled "Let's Hear It for Aunthood" by Kate Bolick.  First of all, the first sentence is fantastic:  For simplicity's sake, let's call me a childless spinster.  So there's that.  But overall, it's a pretty good article.  She doesn't have a lot of precedent to draw from, regarding her subject, which is kind of the point of the article, so it's slim, but still interesting and well written.  (That may seem a given for the NYT, but...dude.  Have you read all of the Styles section before?  Or every single Modern Love column?  No?  Good for you.  Don't.  It's depressing how lame some of the stuff is.)

Wait.  Where was I?  Oh yea.  There was a paragraph that I thought was great.  This is not so much to do with writing styles or anything other than the fact that I feel the exact same way and yet would not have been able to put it so well.  So here it is (but first the paragraph immediately before my fave paragraph, for context):

In April, Melanie Notkin, a social-media entrepreneur, seized on this underrepresented underclass with "Savvy Auntie:  The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids" (William Morrow).  Her book is a spinoff of her Web site,, which aims to be an "all-inclusive guide" for what she calls PANKS:  Professional Aunts No Kids.  It's a rallying girl-call in high chick-lit style:  lots of hot pink and cheerful advice filed under rubrics like "Auntre-Nous:  Straight Talk for the Childless Auntie" and "The Importance of QualAuntie Time."

I do appreciate Ms. Notkin's auntrepreneurism.  But as a chronic non-joiner, I'm not interested in becoming part of a "unifying lifestyle platform"; for me, much of the allure of being an aunt is being liberated from expectations, free to make it up as I go along, constantly surprised by the delights of the relationship, which includes not only passionate love but blessed freedom.

See?  Good, right?  And no guilt about it.  Just a "chronic non-joiner."  That's what I am!  That's how I feel, only with respect to modern motherhood stuff.  Oh and with the exception of the "blessed freedom" part.  I do not have "blessed freedom."  S'OK, though.

So...yay!  OK then, so I have a few other posts like this, but with fiction.  A lot of this is just for me, to help me remember.

Until next time...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This times a hundred billion million


by SEPTEMBER 12, 2011

There was a period, about a year ago, when every few nights my wife and I would be awakened by the sound of little steps in the darkness. Then our son’s quick breathing in our room, and finally his trembling voice from the foot of the bed: “I had a nightmare.”
“About what?”
The answer was always the same: “I can’t describe it.”
At the time, I thought he didn’t want to describe it: putting a nightmare into words—saying it aloud and sharing it—would only expand the terror.
But I’ve come to wonder if he simply didn’t possess the vocabulary. And if that failure of language was at least part of the problem. Words are capable of making experience more vivid, and also of organizing it. They can scare us, and they can comfort us. What makes writing so thrilling is what makes childhood so difficult.
New York City is filled with children who have no reason to distinguish the eleventh from any other day in September. At some point they’ll learn, but for now, for them, what actually happened could never have happened.
I often think about how my sons will come to know about September 11th. Something overheard? A newspaper image? In school? I would prefer that they learn about it from my wife and me, in a deliberate and safe way. But it’s hard to imagine ever feeling ready to broach the subject without some impetus. In my mind, that future conversation begins with a child asking a question.
It will be easy enough to summon answers for the matter-of-fact questions—Because they were trying to kill the people in the buildings, and scare everyone else; Because they were angry about certain things America had done; Because the fires weakened the steel that held the towers up—but what about the broken contract? How could this world be so unlike the world that I believed I was living in?
I can’t describe it.
Do I not want to describe it, or do I simply not possess the vocabulary?
When I think back over the injuries that my children have sustained—my nightmares—my mind tends to fixate on the moment immediately before the accident: we were playing on the stoop, my thoughts were scattered, we were laughing. The memory almost always deforms into a self-directed fury: how could I have been so casual, so carefree—how could I not have seen coming what I couldn’t have seen coming? Why didn’t I take him into my arms and protect him?
We can’t revise what happened, but there are different versions of the story available to us.
One of the things most frequently said by survivors of calamities is some version of “Tell your children you love them every morning.” As Galway Kinnell wrote, “The wages of dying is love.” But love can also feel impossible to describe.
Is there anyone who hasn’t played out the nightmare of having been trapped in one of the towers? Is there anyone who hasn’t wondered if he would have had the superhuman composure to call and comfort a loved one? Dozens of phone calls home were placed from the towers between the moment that the first plane hit and the time that the north tower collapsed. When words should have been most impossible to find, there were words of grace, and dignity, and consolation. Words of fear, and words of love. There’s nothing to learn from this, except everything.
Elizabeth Rivas, a mother of six, was at the laundromat when her husband, Moises, a chef at Windows on the World, called looking for her. When she saw the news of the attacks on television, she rushed home, barged through the door, and asked her daughter if there was any word.
“He said, Mommy, he loves you no matter what happens. He loves you,” Rivas told CNN. That was the last they heard from him.
Rivas later said, “He tried to call me. He called me.” 

link from here:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Oh, Steve...

Hi!  Let's talk about Blue's Clues!  Wait - where are you going?  Wait!  Don't leave!  Stop!  It'll be fine, I promise!  I promise.  Truly.  Don't go.  This'll be fast.  And not pervy (surprise!) and not particularly awkward (surprise again!).  Although it relates in no way to Phebe Taylor, I just thought it was funny and wanted to share.  Are we ok?  Yea?  *sigh*  I shouldn't have called you a slut, is that it?  I'm sorry.  OK, then, we cool?  *bro fist bump followed by self-loathing*

Anyway.  So, we checked out, from the library, the four episode arc on Blue's Clues when Steve left and Joe took over.  It was a well done transition, in my opinion, and very riveting due to the drama of the whole thing.  I have low standards for riveting, it seems.

I like this photo of Steve.  Oh and there's Joe too.  (from here)

My kids aren't huge Blue's Clues fans, but still... drama, so they liked it.  And I like Steve and, to a lesser degree, Joe (sorry, Joe), so watching this video over and over and over hasn't been too bad.  But last night, I watched and paid attention a little more.  I don't know.  Suddenly, something that I had heard ten times before made me laugh for a good half hour straight (my daughter was confused).  Still smiling about it today.  So I thought I'd share!

I tried to find the exact twenty seconds on youtube that I'm talking about, but that was a weird rabbit-hole youtube search, if I've ever seen one.  Why would someone... you know what?  Not going to go into it.

I couldn't find the clip, but I found the lines that I wanted to on this website on  And I shall paste, due to laziness.  Oh, before I paste, I should tell you what's happened up until this point on the episode.  So, Steve announces he's leaving to go to college.  To live at college.  The previous two episodes, they had introduced Joe as Steve's brother.  He's going to take over the house and all the Blue's Clues-ing that that entails.

So, without further ado, I give you the lines, said as Steve is walking out the door:

Steve: Joe, remember. Blue's pawprints will be on the clues.
Joe: Blue's Clues?
Steve: Exactly.

Yes.  Yes and yes.  Exactly.  I fucking died.  I fucking love it.  Alright, maybe it's just me.  I just love it when kid's shows throw in a joke or some things that are for the parents who are forced to watch the goddamned thing over and over.  I also love it because "Steve" knows that really, it's all bullshit.  It is.  He just stood in front of a green screen for a few years and now he's fucking stuck as "Steve" for the rest of his life and now it's Joe's turn and well... they wrote that in.  Again, maybe it's just me - my interpretation.

The other reason that this is funny is that I know a small amount about the actor who plays Steve, Steve Burns, because he recorded an episode of the Moth and my husband told me all about it.  And he talks about being a former kid's show host and tells a funny story.  I found the youtube video from this website (I have no idea what the is).  So, even though this is long you should still watch it.  It's pretty sweet.  

Lastly, I feel I should say that my husband's not a hipster, but he knows about the Moth podcasts nonetheless.  And cool bands that no one else knows.  But he's not a hipster.  I swear.  I think the difference is that he dresses badly just kind of naturally and not ironically and he does not regale people with all his knowledge about bands and cool stuff.  Plus he wears wire-frame glasses.  OK, I feel better.