Academic Book Club was Thursday night. In which I got trotted out to the recently gutted and renovated GIANT downtown Victorian home of another Book Club member, a home that makes Lil' Ugmo look BEYOND ugmo. 4 levels, Sub Zero fridge (!!!), Montauk sofa (!!!), in-wall modern fireplace (!!!), those bleached grey hardwood floors, finished basement, yoga room/gym. OY. How am I supposed to host after seeing all that?!
Then you talk to these ladies and it's just...I do love them dearly but sometimes I can't believe how different we are.
We read Zadie Smith's NW, which I really disliked (full review to come). To me, the book seemed to be white, New York Times reading, benevolent intellectual bait. Like there was a checklist of post-colonial literature traits being offered up and fetishized for a white, privileged gaze. Of course, this lead to talk about The Wire. I feel like hearing some of them talking about The Wire perfectly encapsulates my discomfort with the way The Wire has been taken up. It can be so self-congratulatory at times, like, I get it. This is what IT'S REALLY LIKE and now I'm a privileged insider! - when the issues of poverty, the choices people in those situations make, the crumbling school system, even something as small as the culture and style and the music are so far removed from your reality. And that's not to say that you can't appreciate it, but that you have to be mindful that your appreciation isn't based on a fetishized, reified notion of those lived realities. So that you're not using them so that you can cluck and bemoan from the safety of your existence which is so far removed from theirs. That you don't fix them in that state.
At one point in the discussion, one of the members was talking about how the Toronto District School Board is crumbling and how Palmerston Junior P.S. is feeling the effects of no money. That school is in the Annex. THERE IS NO WAY THEY ARE DIRECTLY FEELING THE EFFECTS OF TDSB FUNDING SHORTFALLS. The Dotytron's school? Yes. I can buy it. At Palmerston, the kids do Shakespeare with full costumes and sets (it's a JUNIOR school), and one of the Annex artsy playwright parents in the 'hood does the staging. C'maaan. Don't act like you know firsthand about inequities. Your kids live such privileged lives!! You're the ones fretting about getting into a "good school" district and buying a house where they'll have access to such. You can't even get your kid to keep their mittens on, and look at me askance when I ask, "Can't you threaten them?" (which is totally legit. The Big Yam totally keeps his mittens on and puts on his hat, because he knows his little keister is going to get hauled back inside pronto if he takes them off...AND I CAN WAIT ALL DAY). Do we all have these contradictions? Of course we do. BUT ACKNOWLEDGE THEM!
Ugh. "I don't understand how Rob Ford can win an election! It's all the suburbs' fault!" (Newsflash: that patronizing attitude is COMPLETELY why). When's the last time you guys ever ventured to Dufferin and Lawrence? Or Scarborough? Or Flemingdon Park? Or Fairview Mall? Stop acting like you know what's best for the people who live there and talking about your stupid plastic bag ban like THAT'S AN ISSUE THAT ACTUALLY MEANS ANYTHING FOR ANYBODY WHO HAS REAL PROBLEMS. Also: stop talking about Rob Ford. Who cares? What power does the Mayor actually have? It's one vote out of all the City Councillors. Stop getting distracted and pay attention to the issues that actually matter and that will actually help you accomplish the goals you need to accomplish.
Then talk turned to General Petraeus and they started on the generally accepted liberal attitude that is like, "who cares what goes on in people's private lives!" The great unwashed with their prurient interests - it's like Clinton! People getting swept up by scandals that distract from the real issues." (P.S.: you're getting just as distracted from the real issues). Here's my thing with the Petraeus thing. HE WAS A GIANT NOOB ABOUT IT. Same with Clinton. Same with Adam Giambrone. I can TOTALLY get fired from my job if I happen to be surfing the net on company time, using company computers, and looking at an art spread from Vogue that features boobs. It doesn't happen generally, BUT IT CAN. SO WHY CAN'T SOMEONE WHO HAD AN INTER-OFFICE AFFAIR AND BROUGHT THEIR MISTRESS INTO THE OFFICE TO HAVE SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH THEM BE FIRED?!???????? That's just being unprofesh. I work really hard to protect my professional reputation, so why can't they?
I also feel like there's a disgusting, permissive sexism to it. Like a very, "that's just what men do." Uhhh...being a walking cliché is not just what men do. I called out the book club on it, too. I was like, guys, if you found out that I was being cheated on and that I stayed with the Dotytron, you would totally be all judgy judgy up in my grill about be me being a doormat and what a d**k the Dotytron is. Cheating on your spouse is generally, pretty wrong in my books. It means that someone shies away from making hard decisions, is selfish, and is a giant liar (this is separate from my views on nonmonogamy and polyamory). Why do we want giant, dillweed liars in positions of power? You know who I feel was unjustly vilified? Elliot Spitzer. That guy did it right - prostitutes at hotels. He wasn't bringing those broads into work and doing it in the staffroom.
Finally, JJ was wondering about the stand-offishness of some of the SAHM moms at the daycare and me and J were like, "why do you want to be friends with moms?" which also got us some sidelong glances. As I've always maintained, I don't want to be friends with someone who defines their self by one aspect of their personality. Like, "I'm a knitter. I'm a mom. I'm a dog person." The only time someone defining themselves with one trait would work is if they said, "I'm into the human condition." Just do you. Don't be a MOM. People are nuanced, complicated, and interesting. Honor that about yourself. Don't be like that lady at the Drop-In Centre I know, who has three kids and can only talk about that. The middle one recently just started school, so when I saw her at the Drop-In, I was like, "It must be so nice to only have one at home now!" and she's all like, "Uh-oh. Oh no. One is harder than three. I always say that. One at home is so much more difficult than having three." And in my head I'm like, RELAX, LADY. Just own your life! Don't be so passive-aggressive defensive about it! So you're at SAHM with one at home. That's cool, yo! It's not cool when you wear your insecurities on your sleeve and try to convince me of something that I know for a fact defies the laws of physics. This is the same mom who is Chinese but has mixed-race kids. So she "only" speaks Cantonese to her kids. She does the same with the Big Yam when J brings him to that drop-in. Guys, her Chinese IS THE WORST. It basically sounds like this:
Last night's pre-Academic Book Club meal was chili & fixins again.
Moti Mahal because we knew that if he could articulate his desires, he would want to eat Indian food and not, like, "IPad. Picture. Moon. Please" (which was one of his answers when we tried to ask him). The little dude is SUPER into this awesome solar system/space app right now and his favorite thing is looking at "picture moon" and then telling us that "sun star." I CAN'T HANDLE IT, GUYS. HE'S GETTING INTO SCIENCE!!!
The food was sooooo good. Their samosas are the flakiest/crispiest! Samosas, parathas, garlic naan, and 4 curries (goat saag, butter chicken, channa, and sadhar paneer) for $32!