Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not-PC

There's this kid in our Mandarin class named "Emery" which is a perfectly lovely name...except when it's pronounced by someone with a thick Chinese accent (as is the case with our truly amazing instructor), because then it sounds like the teacher is mis-pronouncing the name "Emily."  I know it's not very politically correct for me to find this mildly amusing - and yet I CAN'T NOT.

Tonight is the first game of dodgeball after a looooooong hiatus (almost a year?)  I had dodgeball dreams last night that involved me freaking out because our team is inexperienced (true in real life - TIRL) and no one knew what they were doing (TIRL) or had read the rules (TIRL) and I was screaming my head off (TIRL) and we lost (TBD, but probably TIRL) and I lost my voice (TBD, but probably TIRL).  I've been having funny dreams lately.  The other night, the Big Yam was upset in the middle of the night and I felt like a squish and a cuddle so I pulled him into bed with us at like, 2am.  This is generally a mistake.  This means that he will kick and roll and heavy-breathe and otherwise be a giant nuisance and disrupt my sleep, all for the numbing 5 seconds of pleasure I get upon waking up bleary eyed and seeing him sleeping soundly.  Seriously...it's never quite as idyllic as it seems in my head and I definitely never get as great a sleep.  Most of the time, anyway.  That night, I dreamed the Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation (pictured above) had come up with a whistle-y 2 note song and it was repeating and driving me crazy.  Upon waking up and gazing lovingly at the prone and prostrate form of my sweet little Boobla Khan, I realized that the two note song of my dreams was really the sound of his whistling, clogged little nose as he breathed.  LOL!  Worst!

I recently finished Amy Waldman's The Submission.  I also am going on record as saying that it is CRIMINAL that this book was overlooked for the Pulitzer, or that awful, boring, tripe-y books like Emma Donoghue's Room get short-listed for prizes instead.  This is one of the smartest books I've read in a long time.  The book talks about a jury in Manhattan charged with selecting the monument that will stand in place of the World Trade Centre towers.  A blind competition, the entire process is derailed when they submission they select turns out to have been created by a Muslim-American by the name of Mohamed.  As the jury, America, the media, the architect, are thrown into each other's orbit, the author makes sage and astute observations about the state of American media, about art, about artistic intention, about Islamaphobia, about the roots of fundamentalism, about lobbyists, about politics and politicians, about grief, and about this moment in time for the America that was changed by the events of 9/11.  I know, I know.  When I write it like that you think this is going to be a boring, didactic treatise.  But it's not, I swear!  The characters are so well constructed and each position is so nuanced that you don't feel like you're being lectured.  Instead, I found that the story made me think about the intractability of Islam-focused racism in the United States and how few options there are to move forward with the discussion.  In light of the shootings at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, the anniversary of 9/11 that recently passed, the subsequent discussions about what constitutes "terrorism," and how we still consider the default American (or Canadian) to be white, this need for this kind of discussion is heightened in my mind.  This book is a pleasure to read and made me think about the dimensions of "the nation."

I needed something lighter after that so I hate-read Pamela Druckerman's Bringing Up Bébé which capitalizes on the current fixation with motherhood and parental anxieties by telling us how American kids are  undisciplined hooligans and how French children are so well behaved and polite and will eat anything and you can take them to restaurants, etc.  I'm being glib, but look at the subject matter.  Again, this was a piece of anxious, navel-gazing parental neuroses masquerading as some kind of quasi-armchair academic study of why some other parenting style is mystical and has all the answers and why Americans are raising a generation of boors (not entirely untrue).  Basically, I found the book a bit of a bore because the author adopts this weird, neophyte voice where she's like a babe wandering through the woods: "Why is my daughter so ill-behaved?  Why won't she sleep through the night?" and the proscriptions of the French are so common sense that it's ridiculous that people feel they need someone to tell them.  I think ultimately, that's my problem with the book.  I've discovered I have a major problem when people turn to books for things that you don't need books for.  To me, it just shows a lack of critical awareness and lack of confidence in your own good judgement.  When did parenting become a thing you learned in a book?  When did it get to the point where we need someone with authority to tell us that we have to establish a framework and discipline our kids?  The problem with this book is that this book has to exist and got any traction at all.  The "French" style is basically common-sense: go into things thinking that your baby is supposed to sleep through the night, be stern, have expectations, blah blah blah.  Anyway, you don't have to read this book.  The reviews encapsulate the arguments perfectly and the author is a bit of a pill.

Tonight for dinner we had freezer Greek mac'n'cheese and a salad of baby arugala with roasted beets.

Fin.

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