Thursday, January 27, 2011


My friend is an Internet guru and information vacuum, she is awesome and also she send me great things to read. Today she sent me a link to a post on the great and multifarious that catalogs a Twitter trend where people are upset that everything bagels don't live up to their name. To wit:

"You call this an everything bagel?! Where are the french fries & the pizza & the pot brownie & the Taco Bell fire sauce?!"
-- @ronniewk

"The "everything bagel" really only has like three things. Just what I want for breakfast. Lies."
-- @missrftc

And my favorite:

"This "everything bagel" is great. Has onions, poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, q-tips, Greenland, fear, sandals, wolves, teapots, crunking..."
-- @johnmoe

Clearly, everything bagels always taste better with crunking.
Outside of the fact that this is funny and brings a small argument for Twitter to exist, the reason I find it particularly hilarious is becaue J and I call each other Bagel, and when I feel particularly charitable, I tell people "he's my everything Bagel".
When J and I were first together, we were having an idyllic Sunday morning, reading the Sunday paper in bed. Filled with the perfection of the moment and the blindness of new love, he looked over at me and said "I love you, baby." But what I heard was, "I love you, bagel." This reminded me of Steve Carrel's character Brick from Anchorman:

For some reason, Bagel stuck. And somehow, it ended up being what we called one another.
Now, as a mini-hobby, we find it ridiculously satisfying to find bagel shops that affirm our choice of nickname:

But sometimes it works against us. In our first birth class this week, the instructor was talking about dilation. We all know that you are supposed to dilate to ten centimeters before you deliver a baby. But do you know how big ten centimeters is? I mean really? In the words of our instructor, "Four inches across, about the size of a bagel."


As my grandma used to say, Egads! The reality of birth is starting to dawn on me, now that it is getting so much closer. I am 30 weeks along and this shit is real.
I know we are making the right decision to try to have a natural birth, but I have to be honest, it ups the fear factor. People have suggested that I not think about it, but to be honest, I would rather think about it and be prepared than not think about it and be overwhelmed with the shock of the pain and turn to meds. If i mentally prepare, I think I will be better off.

I know one thing, Bagel will be there for me every step. So this is in praise of the everything Bagel, who indeed, would not be complete without crunking.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Happy Holidays: PS 22 Chrorus sings "O Holy Night"

I might be an atheist, and I might hate how capitalism turns everything with meaning into a consumer event, but I love Christmas and this reminds me why.

I like that they changed the lyrics to be less alienating. It is a public school choir, after all.
Lots to be thankful for this year, that's for sure.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Symbolism is Not Activism

I'm not the first to say this but I don't think changing your Facebook profile picture to your favorite cartoon character from childhood is going to help prevent child abuse. This kind "symbolism as activism" is making me nuts lately, as there is so much of it, and the fact that we participate in these very easy, very convenient protests makes me think it is not just ineffectual, but possibly harmful to the causes we ostensibly care about.

One of the most powerful things that humans do, indeed, part of what makes us human, is that we name something and it begins to mean something.

The good lady above gets a lot of what she says right, but words are not dead. They are not inert. The fact that we make words mean something, and that the meaning changes, tells us that words are alive; we make them live. Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckman considered the process of language creation and assignation part of the Social Construction of Reality, which basically says that we build our world and we give meaning to it. From Wikipedia:

The central concept of The Social Construction of Reality is that persons and groups interacting together in a social system form, over time, concepts or mental representations of each other's actions, and that these concepts eventually become habituated into reciprocal roles played by the actors in relation to each other. When these roles are made available to other members of society to enter into and play out, the reciprocal interactions are said to be institutionalised. In the process of this institutionalisation, meaning is embedded in society. Knowledge and people's conception (and belief) of what reality is becomes embedded in the institutional fabric of society. Social reality is therefore said to be socially constructed.

One of the major principles of the theory is the idea that language and symbols are powerful because they allow us to communicate shared ideas and meanings. They write in their essential book The Social Construction of Relaity: “A sign [has the] explicit intention to serve as an index of subjective meanings … Language is capable of becoming the objective repository of vast accumulations of meaning and experience, which it can then preserve in time and transmit to following generations… Language also typifies experiences, allowing me to subsume them under broad categories in terms of which they have meaning not only to myself but also to my fellowmen” (p.35-39)" So, like the lady above says, it's important that we can say "saber tooth tiger" to one another, but it is fascinating that we can also say "love" and it have nearly the same effect.
I've written about this idea before, in talking about Herbert Blumer and Symbolic Interactionism but Berger and Luckman are talking on the macro scale, while Blumer and SI are really focusing on micro interaction.

I've been thinking lately about symbolism and activism/protest and I've decided a few things. I think that we engage in symbolic activism because we are aware, on some level, that we are creating symbols and we have the capacity to spread those symbols out in the world, that we can change the social fabric. I am not one to argue with the idea that language matters, and that by changing language we can change the way we talk and think about oppression, but I do argue with the idea that wearing a purple shirt for one day or changing your profile picture to a cartoon character is activism. Now, if people are doing these things and admitting that they are merely symbolic showcases of solidarity and not particularly meaningful or effective then I have less of a problem with it. I mean, I still think these people should really do something, like go to a rally or write a senator or adopt an abused kid or join a group who are actively working for social change. I will also point out that changing the way we talk about things like discrimination based on race and gender and ableism and sexual orientation is more effective than relatively quieter symbolic acts because when we change the way we talk we expose the paths of least resistance that others traverse, and we can make people aware of how privilege and oppression are inherently part of the way we talk and think. The difference, however, is that while crucial, this is not protest. Oh, against child abuse? Good, but we shouldn't get rewarded or feel particularly good about ourselves for expressing a sentiment which is clearly the dominant narrative anyway. The next thing you know, we are gonna have cookies for people who don't kick puppies.

I am a long-time reader and lover of Tom and Lorenzo, who do a lot of writing about fashion and TV and who have insights that make watching certain shows way more interesting to me (Mad Men in particular). But they also harbor deep and moving insights about social change. One of the shows they write up is Glee, a show that I have an increasingly tortured relationship with but has remained on my radar because of it's treatment of issues connected with LGBT youth. A recent post beautifully summarizes what i have been blathering on about for too long already:
In recent weeks, there has been a rhetorical explosion around the concept of bullying, especially gay bullying. That's a good thing, of course; a very good thing. Tragic that it took a flurry of young men taking their own lives in the wake of others' cruelty and prejudice, but it put the topic of gay teenagers on the national agenda in a way we haven't seen for some time, if ever. The problem is, when a topic like this is given a little sunlight, people think they know all they need to know because they read a couple of articles or blog posts about anti-gay bullying and subsequently the public has no real concrete solutions nor does anyone do any real work addressing the issue (Did you wear purple to show your solidarity? Did you shoot your YouTube video?) before interest wanes and the topic gets shunted aside. Do we sound cynical? Then we sound cynical.

Listen, I know that time is limited and it feels good to show solidarity with others who want to fight injustice, but you can't just say (symbolically or literally) that you want to fight injustice, you have to do something about it. And doing something doesn't mean buying/ wearing a T shirt. Take for example the recent TSA debacle and the way some people are "protesting". Wearing an otherwise invisible T-shirt with message that will be read by low-level functionaries does not raise the cost of business as usual. The main thing that will be accomplished is generating profits for the T-shirt makers and retailers. That's part of the beauty of capitalism. It takes our dissident impulse, commercializes them, and sells them back to us for a profit.

Before you engage in protest or activism, always ask "Cui bono?"

UPDATE: found another blogger with similar views, at least on this topic. See here

POST UPDATE: hooray! sarcasm!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Say hello to the Peanut

This was taken at 17.5 weeks so they are a little out of date. My favorite is the second one where his hand is raised by his head, as if waving.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One wait ends; another wait begins

I promise pics will be up soon, just trying to get the scanner to cooperate.

As many of you know, the Bagel and I struggled to get pregnant for the last few years. Last August (2009) after trying for over a year and a half with no results, I finally switched to a new OBGYN who was not petulant or dismissive and I started taking a hormone to help me ovulate. Except I didn't, not often enough. Six months later we started another medicine, called Clomid in addition to the first hormone. The scary thing for me was that I could only be on Clomid for six months. If something didn't happen it would be time to look more seriously at other fertility options. Expensive ones. Scary ones.
We went through four cycles. I really started to despair. I also felt like I needed to make a decision, as I had been simultaneously pursuing grad school and pregnancy. I decided that June would be the last time I took the Clomid until after I finished my Masters; it was time to commit to one path. Then Bagel and I went to Madison to visit my top choice for grad school. We fell in love with it. We had fun. And consequently, we got pregnant.
When I took the test I did it at home alone. You have to understand, we have taken a lot of pregnancy tests only to be disappointed. I didn't want to put Jeff through it again. Convinced I would see only one line, I took the test and a few minutes later wandered back in to the bathroom to discover a blazing neon double line. For the next three hours I paced the house like a crazy person. I took Bean on a walk and wanted to be like, "Hey! Hey tree I am pregnant!" Finally, Jeff got home. He saw through the curtains that I was pacing the living room. I pounced as soon as he was in the door. It was a great moment.
The last four months have been hard and amazing and weird. At first I was in disbelief. When we went in for our first ultrasound I stared to hemorrhage at the doctors' office. It was so awful. They quickly did the ultrasound and found the baby's heart still beating. We went back the next week. They discovered then that the week before I had miscarried a twin. It was a shock. We went back the next week and they confirmed that I had lost one of the babies. I didn't know how to feel. I still don't. I can't imagine having twins. But who was that baby that I lost? Who was he/she supposed to be? Outside of this incident my first trimester was uneventful. However, it made me fearful of making a public announcement before we got far enough along that we could have some reassurance I would likely not miscarry. Then I wanted to wait for some of the screening tests. I kept putting it off because I was scared that as soon as I told everyone, something terrible would happen. I am still afraid, but it is getting better. Someone very close to me lost her baby at nearly this exact point. I can't imagine what it must be like. For this reason, I decided to hold off on announcing publicly until we had our important 17 week appointment, this is what we had today. Luckily, the baby looks great and everything seems fine so far. In one of the pictures from the ultrasound, the point of view is from the top down; you can see his head and his arm is next to it. It's almost like he's raised his hand as if to say hello, or in the spirit of his mom, "Look, I know the answer."
I had very mild nausea for most of the first trimester. I thought I had escaped unscathed until thirteen weeks when suddenly I was yarking all the time. It looks like I may have it for the rest of my pregnancy. This part is not fun.
Tomorrow I take a test that will likely confirm that I have gestational diabetes. Though my weight issues haven't helped, genetics and family history also play a major part. Stupid pancreas. I have actually lost weight since I got pregnant (all that yoga this summer plus I have a gym class twice a week and walk every day. Plus the incessant yarking.) I don't eat sweets, I don't ingest High Fructose Corn Syrup and I eat crazy amounts of green vegetables. I am doing everything right and this still happens. It is frustrating, but I am determined to have a healthy pregnancy and to do everything I can to have a natural birth.
This wait to get pregnant seemed endless. Now I have to wait five more months (about) to meet my son. One wait ends, another begins. Well worth it, no doubt. I hope you all continue to wait with me.

PS- I promise that I will still be writing about things other than pregnancy, but, as one can understand, this is going to be a major topic of discussion.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Joanna Newsom, "Soft as Chalk"

So, so long ago
And so far away
When time was just a line
That you fed me
When you wanted to stay

We'd talk as soft as chalk
Till morning came, as pale as a pearl
No time, no, no time
Now, I have got all the time in the world

Say, honey, did you belong to me
Tell me, honey, was your heart at rest when, darling
All the mourning doves were howling us
A song of love's oh god-awful lawlessness, lawlessness
Say, honey, did you belong to me
Tell me, honey, did I pass your test
I lay, as still as death, until the dawn
Whereupon I wrested from your god-awful lawlessness, lawlessness

I roam around the tidy grounds
Of my dappled sanatorium
Coatless, I sit amongst the moles, adrift
And I dote upon my pinesap gum
And the light, through the pines in brassy tines
Lays over me, dim as rum
And thick as molasses, and so time passes
And so, my heart, tomorrow comes

I feel you, leaning
Out back with the crickets
Loyal heart marking the soon-ness darkness
Tonight, still the mourning doves
Will summon us their song
Of love's neverdoneing lawlessness, lawlessness

While, over and over
Rear up, stand down, lay round
Trying to sound-out or guess the reasons
To sleep like a soldier, without rest
But there is no treason
Where there is only lawlessness, lawlessness

In the last week
Of the last year I was aware
I took a blind shot, across the creek
At the black bear
When he roused me in the night
And left me cowering with my light
Calling out
Who is there
Who's there
Who is there

I watched you sleep
Repeating my prayer
Give love a little shove
And it becomes terror
And now I am calling
In a sadness beyond anger
And beyond fear
Who is there
Who's there
Who is there

I glare and nod
Like the character, God
Bearing down upon the houses and lawns
I knew a little bit,
But, darling, you were it
And, darling, now it is long gone
Sweetheart, in your clean, bright start
Back there, behind a hill, and a dell
And a state line or two, I'll be thinking of you
Yes, I’ll be thinking and be wishing you well
We land, I stand, but I wait for the sound of the bell
I have to catch a cab and my bags are at the carousel
And then Lord, just then, time alone will only tell
You morning dove

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Andrea Gibson, "Photograph"

I signed up for Andrea Gibson's email newsletter because she is a fucking goddess, and writes sentences that make me want to chop off my hands for ever thinking of trying. I was looking at her website tonight, of course very prettily rendered, hoping to find news that she will be in NC soon and instead found some of her poems written out and accompanied by audio readings and reveled. Here is the first section of a poem called "Photograph" that kind of gut punches you and makes you love sick for someone or maybe a version of yourself you may never have actually been.

"I wish I was a photograph
tucked into the corners of your wallet
I wish I was a photograph
you carried like a future in your back pocket
I wish I was that face you show to strangers
when they ask you where you come from
I wish I was that someone that you come from
every time you get there
and when you get there
I wish I was that someone who got phone calls
and postcards saying
wish you were here
I wish you were here
autumn is the hardest season
the leaves are all falling
and they're falling like they're falling in love with the ground
and the trees are naked and lonely
I keep trying to tell them
new leaves will come around in the spring
but you can't tell trees those things
they're like me they just stand there
and don't listen"

yes, please, more like this.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"Ir's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers"

The Bagel and I used to have a neighbor with a bumper sticker on his car that read:
"Ask Me About Gourds".

I so so so so want to go back and find him and make him read this excellent piece in McSweeney's. If you like things that are funny, or gourds, or the lucky convergence of the two then you must read this.

It reminds me of the classic first edition of "Sedaratives" in The Believer in which a reader asked how to cook the perfect egg and Amy Sedaris rightly told hum to "just poach the motherfuckers".

If that doesn't do it for you watch this altered Paula Dean video. All I have to say is "We're ... gonna be ... arrested."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

10 Lesbian and Bisexual poets that you shoud read

Anyone who knows me is aware that I'm an A in the LGBTQIA community and that I dig on some poetry so when I saw this post on Jezebel republished from the awesome Lesbian siteAutostraddle who admonish us to read a fucking book already, they had me at Adrienne Rich.( As a sociologist in queer theory, Rich pioneered the concept of compulsory heterosexuality which makes her a total rock star.)
Some commenters complained on Jezebel that there should be some representation for the gays too. I think it is perfectly appropriate that a lesbian site focused solely on women, and hopefully this way, someone else can publish an article about 10 gay and bisexual poets you should be reading.

Also featured are the redoubtable Eileen Myles, spoken word poets Kirya Traber, Alix Olson and Andrea Gibson. Gibson's poem "Ashes" is one of the most personal and important pieces of poetry I have ever witnessed, so if you do nothing else, watch this video.

They also feature personal favorite Audre Lorde who is a damn fine sociologist. She "pioneered the concept that racism, sexism and homophobia were linked in that they stemmed from people’s inability to recognize or tolerate difference." (from the write up on Autostraddle)

From Lorde's “Who Said It Was Simple”:

But I who am bound by my mirror
as well as my bed
see causes in color
as well as sex

and sit here wondering
which me will survive
all these liberations.

So do yourself a favor and check out the original article on Autostraddle, you just might end up reading a fucking book.

A very nice commenter pointed me to a video of Tristan Silverman, a Chicago poet who makes a nice addition here. Check out her performance of the poem "Because I was Asked"