Sunday, May 29, 2011

East Coast: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways

Things I love about the East Coast (even if I am in a city that is not THE city):

  • Public transportation. Though I am still confused by Boston's Silver Line, which seems to be a magical/mysterious bus that is part of the subway system.
  • Seasonal Pop'ems. Yes, it is way too early for Fourth of July edibles, but I am not complaining. (I did, however, already buy flags for my Fourth of July Shabbos meal, which will have to take place well before the fourth, since I, terrible citizen that I am, will be out of the country for the fourth.) 
  • Pretty, quaint old buildings. Because Southern California architecture leaves much to be desired.
  • Walkable cities.
  • Dunkin' Donuts. Yes, I am aware that Dunkin' Donuts iced lattes are more sugar than coffee, but they are so very delicious.
I will say that I do not miss the East Coast's humidity. My hair doesn't miss it, either. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Because It's Been A While Since I Expressed My Love of Journalism

It's been a while since I posted an ode to journalism. So, here's a sad one from this op-ed by a Russian journalist:  

In Russia today, journalists are murdered like Anna Politkovskaya, beaten like Oleg Kashin and intimidated like me, but — as terrible as this will sound — that is not the real problem. The real problem is that journalists are ignored. The risks they take in challenging Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchy have ceased to have meaning. One is valued only for telling a harmless story, an amusing anecdote that can exist, side by side, with ad space.

There's what to say about whether this attitude toward journalism is present in America, too, but I have research to do (story of my life) and it's almost 1 in the morning, so I'll leave you to your own thoughts about what it means that people are more interested in pictures of the royal wedding (those hats!) than in serious journalism. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review: The Case for Falling in Love

I'm always tickled when my blog gets books to review, and if they sound interesting, I take the book publishers up on the offer for a review copy. The Case for Falling in Love by Mari Ruti seemed intriguing, though I wasn't sure why falling in love needed to be defended. I mean, who has ever said that falling in love sucks? People want to fall in love, don't they? It's like writing a book called The Case for Ice Cream, Cookies, and Chocolate. Does anyone sane question the awesomeness of those things?

The title, though, seems to be a misnomer for the book—at least for the first quarter of the book, which is all I managed to get through. A more accurate title would be something to the effect of: Author Bashes All Other Self-Help Relationship Books for Relying on Gender Stereotypes and Then Replaces Them with Her Own Stereotypes. That might be a little long for a title, but you get the idea. I had no interest in reading any further.

I don't think the author is wrong when she says that if we rely too much on gender stereotypes, then women play the victim and men are thought of as incapable of feelings and obsessed with being powerful. And that surely, this is not an accurate depiction of love, nor is it a healthy approach to love. And I definitely have no problem with bashing self-help books as a genre or with bashing relationship self-help books in particular. 

But the author then seems to make her own ridiculous generalizations about men. She'd much rather date men who ask for directions than those who don't because ones who can't ask for directions are unable to recognize their infallibility in any realm. Guys who ask for directions are clever. Guys who are masculine and macho exploit women. Guys who are good at making the first move in a relationship are the guys you should worry about and maybe avoid.

I think the author has some great points about gender stereotypes being ridiculous and not a way to approach relationships. I am just not sure she provides a better approach. Though I do like her assertion that the person with whom you fall in love is an "exception" in that things you thought mattered beforehand do not matter as much. "[W]hen it comes to your 'exception,' you're willing to push aside the gender codes that you might usually navigate by. This is excellent news, not the least because the person you fully fall for is, by definition, always your 'exception.' "

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Buried Under a Pile of Grading

I am currently buried under a pile of grading instead of a pile of my own work, which is definitely a step in the right direction at least. I am tantalizingly close to being blissfully done with this semester (and am using way too many adjectives, or adverbs, as the case may be). Also, I am baking cupcakes. Obviously. And in so doing, may have permanently dyed my countertop and my fingers red.

I will be back to my regular blogging shortly. Until then, do something fun and think of me holed up in my apartment grading 120 handwritten essays. All I can say is that handwriting is definitely a lost art.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

It Is in the Small Things We See It

One of my favorite poems:

Anne Sexton
It is in the small things we see it.
The child's first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you'll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you'll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you'll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Still Buried Under Piles of Books

I will resurface at some point in the next week or so after finishing two papers, drafting a conference presentation, and grading 40 final exams. But just to keep you entertained in my absence, this is my new favorite website.