Monday, July 17, 2017

Right Now


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I have no desire to watch the show, and it's actually taken me weeks to work up the emotional fortitude to tackle the novel. It's fantastic and terrifying. Between that and Season 4 of West Wing, I'm just beside myself when it comes to politics and possibilities. What seemed like complete fiction to West Wing writers in 2001 (President Bartlet is running for reelection against an anti-intellectual, anti-immigrant opponent) is REAL LIFE NOW... how far are we from Atwood's dystopia? (I mean, have you read this? Terrifying.) (Note to self: work on plans for living off grid.)

I've done quite a bit of reading this summer. I'm just over halfway to my goal of 52 novels this year, which is great since we're about halfway through the year! I need to step it up, though, because my reading game slows when school starts. I just finished reading The Leavenworth Case by Anna Katharine Green. It's one of the earliest American detective novels, and I'm teaching it in a Victorian Crime & Detective Fiction class this fall. At least, I think I am. I'm still building the syllabus and working out the reading schedule for that class (my others are all set!) so I need to finish this book and then claim a few hours to myself to sit and figure out the course schedule.

I also recently finished reading Secrets of Happy Families which was a little bit hokey (hold Weekly Family Meetings, craft a Family Mission Statement... good ideas in theory, I suppose) but what I got from it is that you mostly should make explicit the kinds of things that you want your kids to implicitly absorb about your family values. Kind of like the yard sign we put up, I guess--that's a way of making our family values explicit, not just to our neighbors, but also to our kids. The family coach we worked with last year talked about using the phrase "In our family, we don't ____" when we explained why Zuzu wasn't allowed to bite/hit/choose your inappropriate and antisocial behavior, I'm sure my sweet snowflake of a rainbow baby has exhibited it. And I think it's the same kind of philosophy. You make your kids feel like they are an inherent and necessary part of a core group that holds a certain set of values, and then you make it fun, safe, and comfortable to belong to that group.

One other thing that this book didn't cover but that I was thinking about recently are the cliches "Happy wife, happy life" and "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." There's truly something to be said about the way one parent (not just mom) can set the tone for the entire family, and how much power we have to shape kids' perceptions of experiences, just by saying things like, "This is the BEST VACATION EVER!" or "I have a feeling today will be a really great day!" Kids aren't just sponges--they are also mirrors.

West Wing season 4. I love it so much.

David and I tried to watch the very controversial Thirteen Reasons Why and we gave up. I found it absolutely too disturbing and frustrating. It also made me think of some of the dark thoughts I was having on the 4th of July. It's no secret that I've been pretty disturbed and frustrated by the politics of this country, and I wondered if the Great Democratic Experiment of our constitution is playing itself out and demonstrating that people really are just self-interested and selfish A-holes so democracy is kind of crumbling and our best bet is a benevolent monarch who keeps us in line in an ethical way because when you leave people feeling like we live in a competitive environment where it's every man for himself (like, say, high school), we will inevitably end up using and abusing people we perceive as weaker than ourselves.

WOW this little blog meme sure has been a cheerful way to start the day! You're welcome!

Anyway, we are NOW watching The Keepers, which is a fascinating documentary about who killed Sister Cathy, a nun living in Baltimore in the 1960s. What looks like an unsolved mystery may actually be part of a huge cover up. We're not very far into it yet, but Gemma and Abby are already my heroes. They are like real life Miss Marples or Jessica Thatchers, just a couple of retired ladies doing their sleuthing at the library and on facebook and in coffee shops. I want to be just like them when I retire!

Just started following Celeste Barber on Instagram. Definitely search for her... her posts are completely amazing. Even inspiring. Lol.

To the Moana soundtrack mostly. Also always and forever Hamilton.

Sweaty, stinky clothes from walk/jogging to the park today. I need a shower, but we're going to the pool later, so I think I'm just going to stink for a few hours.

I'm shopping for a new couch, but I'm not committed to anything just yet. Leather couches are expensive, man. I'm selling off furniture on Craigslist--my couch and another chair I hadn't even planned to sell went on Saturday. I have another chair/ottoman set that I'm selling although I'm having second thoughts because it's the comfiest chair in the entire world. It's just that the upholstery doesn't really go with anything else, and then I wonder if I should have it reupholstered, but that seems a little daunting and pricy, so I'm not sure...

What projects we want to do at the Forest House, and where we want to start with painting.

How much more my kids are playing with their toys now that 80% are packed up in boxes. It's true what they say--they play more with less. Also moving toys around the house totally influences how they play. The art table that was ignored in the basement is getting a lot of attention now that it's in the living room. I need to keep this in mind as we're setting things up at the Forest House... Less is more!

Why we're bothering to move from our awesome neighborhood with such a fantastic park within walking distance. I'm trying to keep in mind that summer feels all blissful, but once school starts, I know I'll be more grateful for the shorter and simpler commute and drop off situation. Still, the nostalgia is hitting me hardcore already. And I don't know where the new grocery store or library is, either. Do they even HAVE those things where we're moving? (Kidding... kind of.) It's sort of like when you have a great hair day the day that you've decided to go in and get it all chopped off. You're going to go ahead with it, but you're having serious second thoughts and you'll probably cry about it for three days until you get used to the new hair. (Tell me that's not just me.)

Conflicted. Sad about leaving the old house. Ready to get settled in the new house. Sentimental about leaving the neighborhood. Excited to move to our secluded location. Aggravated by not being able to find things that David has packed. Looking forward to unpacking and organizing the new house. Wanting summer to last forever. Ready for school to start. Mostly packed except for clothes. Completely overwhelmed by everything we have left to do.

David and I generally don't have many major conflicts, but we always have one big fight in August when the transition to the new semester and all the stress that comes with it hits us hard and we inevitably work out the stress by yelling at each other. Over the weekend, that fight visited us early because I was SO PISSED that he went ahead and packed all the couch pillows and throw blankets. I use those every night when I curl up to watch TV or read. The girls use them almost everyday to build blanket forts. In my mind, they are the kind of thing you pack up the LAST DAY and you toss them in a garbage bag. But David had neatly stacked them in actual moving boxes and he was pretty mad when I unpacked them. We exchanged some choice words and then I stomped upstairs and watched The Keepers by myself. I mean, we have to live here two more weeks! I'm not doing it without my favorite fuzzy blanket and also some pillows. Fortunately, we were both feeling more reasonable the next day (and also my pillows and blankets are still out of the boxes, so...).


  1. Both the book & the TV series of "The Handmaid's Tale" scared the crap out of me too -- but were soooo well done. I see the TV version got a whole load of Emmy nominations this week -- all well deserved. I also loved "The Keepers" -- Abbie & Gemma (as well as Jane Doe & Jane Roe) totally rock. I didn't even mind that there wasn't really a resolution at the end -- it was just amazing to watch things unfold, and how much they have accomplished.

    Victorian Crime & Detective Fiction? I would so love to take your class! :) "The Moonstone" has long been on my to-read list.

    I sympathize with your moving blues. Hang in there!!

  2. Is it weird that I love the predictability of one big fight every August, and knowing why? I'm not surprised the move bumped that up a little.

    Every time we move, no matter how much we want to or how excited we are about it, I lose my damn mind and burst into tears and someone - my mother, my best friend, my roommate, my husband, this has gone for years - basically pats my head and finishes packing whatever box I'm working on. I always feel like a childish lunatic at that point, but it's also kind of a running joke. Now my husband is like, "why not cry now, so we can just get that out of the way?" Like it works like that...

    Anyway. I'm team fuzzy blankets 'til the very last minute, all the way.

  3. A to the Men with sarahs Comment. Every move I am stressed BECAUSE of how stressed Miles is and how much he becomes a "everything has to get done at this second" psychopath.

    West Wing . Man, it's so good. Been a few years since I've rewatched it all. Bartlett 2020!!

  4. The hair cut thing! Yes! It is not just you, I thought it was only me. Happens every time.

    Also yes to the kid who is loud all day and then starts whispering in his carseat. Argh! Speak up child!

    And moving is the worst. I'd have to kill someone if my blankets were gone 2 weeks early.

    Basically I'm commenting just to agree with you and validate you. Hang in there, because you're right about everything. :)

  5. I'm in the middle of "the Handmaiden's Tale" for my bookclub. Fantastic and terrifying is a good description!