Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The problem with loving so many people is that everything is personal. Maybe leaders of nations should have their children and brothers and cousins in Baghdad, in Tel Aviv, in Gaza, in nuclear-capable India or Pakistan.
We have loved ones in three embattled zones right now, one reassures me that he is thirty minutes from the bombing. This is not reassuring to me.

My prayer for the New Year is the prayer of St Francis of Assisi: Lord, make us instruments of thy peace . . .

Monday, December 29, 2008

In some ways it's easier to adopt the second time. Some of the things we learned the first time, intellectually, emotionally, bureaucratically, apply.
The thing knowing doesn't change: how strange it is to go to bed when your child is waking up on another continent.

GOP's still not for POC

I cannot understand how reaction can be "split" in the GOP to the inclusion of a "parody" that debut on Rush Limbagh's radio show in a Christmas compilation cd for RNC members. How parody will be received depends on the context.

Here's the context, as reported in the New York Times:

"There are no black Republicans in Congress, and a party spokesman could name only 2 blacks among the 168 members of the national committee. Katon Dawson, the chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, resigned from an all-white country club in preparing for his campaign to be party chairman."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On smelling and spelling

Post-adenoidectomy, Miss I can smell things she'd never smelled before, and with what intensity! She describes smells everywhere we go. A whole new sense-world has opened up for her.
She's also learning to spell.
The combination resulted in this Miss I-ism, at an ice cream parlor:
"I smell D.A.W."
"What?!"
"Wait . . . how do you spell 'mint chocolate chip'?"

Monday, December 22, 2008

Scarlet Letters for the Blue and Orange

An MSN Money writer informs us that without the bailout, citibank "would have reneged on a $400 million, 20-year deal to name the new Mets stadium "Citi Field." Now, one New York pol quipped, "Citi-Taxpayer Field" might be a better name.""
Why a quip? I'd like to start or help out with a campaign to actually name the new Mets stadium "Taxpayer Field."

PS I don't understand the difference between a Ponzi scheme and the late economy in general.

And Modest, Too!

An elderly woman remarked to her husband in passing dd at the grocery store: "She's beautiful." Dd said sincerely, "She's right. I am."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Miss I and I reviewed the process it took to bring her home recently to prepare her for the wait for Littleone, but like any 3 year old, she was still disappointed when our social worker showed up without her. "Where's my baby?" she demanded when I opened the door.
Miss I tried to keep me up late Friday night in order to do the paperwork standing between us and Littleone. "What do you have to do?! Your name, your age, how you feel . . ." and then you "get on a plane."
If only it were that easy, Miss I.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thankfulness

Our adoption has brought some really terrific people into our lives, and today, I am feeling so very grateful for them.
Thanks for taking this journey with me.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another "Easy for You to Say"

I read something today that reminded me of when our first social worker told us that she understood our openness to a child of African descent since we already had one that looked like us.
Unintentionally, adoptive parents who are trying to challenge a hierarchization of children available for adoption sometimes reproduce it, saying things like "Yes, but your children are healthy, white infants as young as possible." "Healthy" "white" and "infant" are combined, and the opposite of that combination is presumably a hypothetical "medical special needs brown toddler/older child," and you can see the implications . . .

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Can't Take it Anymore"?! Is it That Bad?!

Come on, people! I'm serious (see post below). You can even be anonymous.

I just read a thread called something like "Can't Take it Anymore" on another site, and the "it" was Christmas shopping. She still needs something for her husband, and a "helpful" poster seriously suggested a Honeybaked Ham. I am laughing so hard I'm crying (I'm so sorry if you're That Poster). But I'm just trying to imagine how Doctor Bloom would react if he unwrapped a Honeybaked Ham on Christmas. He'd love it about as much as I'd love the Bratzcam below (Fortunately, we're already done. See my Roomba review).

(Anyone who needs an affordable and responsible present for a small boy: We just gave a friend's child a Galimoto and at first he had no idea why, and about fifteen minutes later he was thrilled. Look ma, no batteries. I'm going back to buy another one for my own kids tomorrow.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gift Recommendations

I have one, and I need one. If you have the answer, and need another, leave a comment!

Have: The Princess and the Pea by Rachel Isadora ($11 on Amazon). This retelling of the story has an African Prince in search of his Princess from among the North African nations. Selam! Jambo, Habari! Iska Waran! Dd and her preschool class love the illustrations, and the fact that they have a couple more ways to say "Hello" to visitors. A great gift for your little girl.

Need: Another idea for a soldier recently deployed to Iraq. We're putting a carepackage together on Christmas day for my cousin. We've gotten him the Mobile Foodie kit from flight101. It includes minitins of spices, a little wasabi, and a tiny tabasco. What else? When our loved one in the Navy was deployed, we sent her PowerBars (which the Post Office misunderstood not as "food" but as electronics, delaying delivery. Complete your declaration carefully . . .) We've heard others requested socks and pajama pants. But I hear that there is a Wal-Mart near base. Is that true? Should that affect what goes in a carepackage?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Shot in the Heart

For anyone who thinks attachment issues ever really end:
Miss I's surgery was more than a week ago, and she's been feeling much better, but she's also been crying . . . and screaming . . . and waking during the night. She's refused her favorite babysitter's attention on a visit, and asked a friend of mine to take this dictation: "Dear Momma, I want S. to go home" while I was in the room but S. was (intending to be) playing with her.
But nothing compares to the manifestness of the expression of her anxiety in preschool. I've even been staying in preschool to ease the transition, which is how I know.
Her teacher brought out the play doctor's kit in part because so many of the children were curious about her surgery and hospitals and this would deflect attention from Miss I's surgery specifically and perhaps give her a space to explore her feelings. Explore she did. Miss I took the role of doctor, had her teacher K become the patient. When she gave K a pretend shot in the arm, she leaned in, and with menace, said "Now you're never ever ever ever gonna see your Momma again." K said brightly, "I know my Momma always comes for me," to which Miss I replied in a sing-song voice with mock disbelief "O-Kaaaaaaay."
If you delivered for FedEx, and it was THIS close to Christmas, and you were delivering a really big box that said BIKE with a big pink picture to match, would you ring the doorbell picture side out?!
I opened the door, Miss I directly behind me. "IT WAS A SECRET!" I said, in shock. "Well it isn't anymore," he replied, affectlessly.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Something I Never Thought I Would Have to Say

"You can wrestle with your brother, or you can watch the Nutcracker, but you can't wrestle with your brother at the Nutcracker."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Fine Print Continued

My dear friend asked in the comments to the last post about the guardianship papers issue:
Dh dropped us off and I signed in while he parked the car. The first nurse to see us asked Miss I "Who did you bring with you?" and when she answered "Mommy!" that seemed good enough. Later the anesthesia PA said, "I assume one of you is not the natural parent of this child." I discreetly handed him a bc copy, but he said "Oh, I don't need that." "Funny," I said, "Your pre-op paperwork says it will be required." This came as a surprise to him!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Miss I is doing very well. We're finally in a room -- it took a long time to be assigned one -- and she's just gone to sleep.
She's a fighter, and she tried to fight off the anesthesia just out of the OR, so she was "out of sorts" . . . So out of sorts that she punched me in the face (she has no memory of this). After a bit more sedative and a long sleep, she was fine. It wasn't until her brother arrived that she tried to eat and drink, and ultimately, smiled. She sat on his lap for awhile (a comical sight, as she's very tall and only about seven pounds lighter) and he reassured her that he'd take care of her at home too. I'm so proud of both of them.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Miss I's hair was beautifully braided in small, loose braids. They were so beautiful that she decided to save some of them. So she snipped two from the front at preschool today, and stored one in her bin.
Before I unbraided, I was terrified that I'd find she'd given herself a mullet, but it isn't too bad. It will mean no ponytails for awhile, lots of flat twists, and maybe extensions :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Island of Misfit Toys

The following toys should never have been made for what I would have thought would have been obvious reasons:
Darth Vader Learning Laptop
B-Bratz Webcam
WWE Role Play Superstar Gear
Gwen Stefani wind-up doll
A toy that has this note from a previous buyer: "Be aware that the microphone does not work like a real microphone... it is only a remote control."
Somewhere in the clearance section is a remote control that works like a microphone.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Be Sure to Read the Fine Print

From the preparing for surgery booklet for Miss I's surgery Tuesday:
"If you are not the biological parent (natural mother or father) of the child, you must bring copies of court documents of your legal right to give consent for the procedure and anesthesia."
Yet later, "If you are not the biological or adoptive parent, but you do have guardianship, please bring legal proof of guardianship." So adoptive parents may or may not be required to present documents supporting their legal right to give consent for the care of their children. If I have any questions about this, I can speak with a social worker in advance of admission.
Oy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Around My Mother's Table(s)

We celebrated Thanksgiving with two tables this year. A twenty-some pound turkey and an extra turkey breast. And the following guests:

Grandma and Pappap Gardener
My siblings and their spouses
My parents' grandchildren (6 total kiddos)
Aunt and Uncle
Aunt and Uncle's adult daughter
Aunt and Uncle's soldier son
Soldier son's soldier friend
Soldier friend's young wife
Soldier friend's young wife's mother
Uncle Gardener
Grammy and Grandpa Bloom

This year, we missed many, but we were blessed to spend the holiday giving thanks with people we'd never met before we passed the plates. There were three vocal and committed members of the right side of the Republican party, two libertarians, a few public educators, two pacifists and two paratroopers. I hope your holiday was as blessed.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Why Did I Wonder

"Momma, sometimes when I get out of the shower and my skin is shiny I look like dark chocolate."
"I wonder what I look like . . ."
"Ham."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I'd Like to Buy the World a Roomba

Do you remember "I'd like to buy the world a Coke . . ."?
If I could, I would buy everyone who reads here a Roomba. I love my new Roomba so much, I really want to spread the completely uncynical love I feel for my new Roomba 535 to your house, and yours, and yours . . . She makes me happy, with her happy green clean glow, her little blue dirt light and her dedication to fetching dog hair.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Targetting Target

Moms are mad.
Target online had the Britax Marathon carseat in grey and cowprint on sale for what appeared to be a close-out price. I had promised not to buy anything for newbaby, because we are months away and it only makes the waiting harder. But the price was too good to pass up. We'd just hold onto it until we had someone to put in it.
It was also too good to be true. Target apologized today to apparently millions of angry moms for the "inconvenience" of the mispriced item, cancelling the order and offering to sell it for the regular retail price of $279. But here's the problem: they also offered some moms $30 credits for their troubles. They offered other moms $10 credits for their troubles. They offered still other moms no satisfaction. It will cost them far more than $30 per mom in the next few days while they field an extraordinary volume of phone calls, while still other moms decide to take their online business elsewhere. I pity the customer service reps who take those calls. I'm just taking my Christmas shopping to another site.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

More Nastiness at the Bloom Household

"I don't like you, Momma!" This is familiar -- and I responded with my familiar "I can understand that, but you do have to respect me." Only this time she followed it up with "Not even GOD likes you."
Wow. Now who can top that?!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Some things are better left unsaid.

Little Bun was furious with his dad.
So furious that, despite no name-calling in our family, he said "You're a freak," and when that didn't make him feel better, repeated over and over "freak, freak, freak, freak, freak . . ." His dad, to prove (I suppose) that it wasn't getting to him, said "Say what you have to. Get it all out . . ." Little Bun blurted "Sh*t," which was followed by stunned silence from both.
Dr.Bloom suggested several punishments, but I feel that "Sh*t" was possibly covered by "Say what you have to" and "Get it all out."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Language Bomb

Share with your friends prone to hyperbole.

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (with spoilers)

We didn't expect anything serious to come out of the second Madagascar. We just wanted to do something with the kids that didn't entail sick Mommy moving. We were surprised, more than once.

The movie begins with young Alekei in an African Wildlife Preserve, clearly the treasured son of the pride's Alpha male. While his father is occupied fighting the Beta-lion (voiced by Alec Baldwin, looking very much the feline version of the actor) the toddling cub is lured off the reserve. His father tries to save him (and for a moment appears to be shot) and Alekei is washed away. Soon a rescued Alekei turns up in the Central Park Zoo, renamed "Alex," and we are back in the familiar territory of the original film.

A quick sequence takes us through what has brought our four heroes to Madagascar (a device some reviewers found annoying but I found fun) and soon, they take off in a fragile plane, only to be grounded on the continent proper. Soon Alex realizes that he has landed on his native ground, and he is reunited with his father and mother (and the film explicitly refers to Roots). Alex/Alekei finds what he has always been missing (though the performing King of New York has no survival skills necessary for the King of the Watering Hole). Marty finds that in the zebra herd, he doesn't stand out anymore. Gloria finds true love.

Alex/Alekei's forced removal from Africa and separation from his doting father and his renaming was hard for the Bloom family. Thankfully, however, it affirmed that Alex/Alekei had always been loved at home, and in the end, the adult Alex was who he was in a combination of nature (as a cub he was inclined to dancing) and nurture, in Africa and in the Central Park Zoo, by his beloved friends. Marty, too.

More conservative families may find objectionable a penguin's romance with a dancing hula girl, and the interspecies infatuation of a giraffe and a hippo. Of course, this is no less weird than the polymorphic perverse (in the Freudian sense) King Julian, who comes along for the ride.

Her Nose and th Unknown

Everyone here at Chez Bloom is sick -- except for Miss I. I have spent about a week under blankets, a week during which Miss I has petted my head and said things like "Oh Mommy, you're so cute." That's real love -- because I assure you there is nothing actually cute about me right now.

Miss I. hasn't been sick, but she is having surgery soon. After two years of house-shaking snoring and sleep apnea, speech difficulties (which, to be honest, I will miss), and a permanent runny nose (which I won't miss -- while I'm generally opposed to retouching photographs I can say I have digitally wiped her nose more than once), she'll be having a tonsil and adenoidectomy.

The risks of the procedure are relatively low, and certainly less than a lifetime of sleep apnea. But this is one of those times were *adoption* becomes an issue (as if it isn't part of our daily lives, which I don't mean to imply). Because we don't have a family history, her ENT has more concerns about bleeding and post-op complications. We're running a battery of pre-op tests, and they're planning on keeping her for two days even though most patients go home after one. I'm sure everything will be fine, and in comparison to the experiences of one of our beautiful friends, this is nothing -- but it is something that reminds us how much harder the road is for adoptees. Family members assure me that surgery on your child is always scary (which I know to be true from experience with Little Bun) but this, like so many things already, comes with the added unknown -- and there's only more to come.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hope and Joy

I wish I had something prepared for this occasion, but despite the fact that I looked forward to this moment, I suppose part of me didn't actually think it would come.
Two things that strike me as just right, and what's right with America:
1. Obama won by a clear majority. No hanging chads, no court cases, no conspiracies, no electoral college upsets, no last ditch smears (not sincere efforts at "October surprises, anyway). If you believe in democracy, you have to accept the outcome -- even if you don't like it.
2. McCain's concession speech was genuine and gracious, and a reminder of the McCain so many would have wanted to see elected. Pre-shoring up the base, real deal McCain who has been friends with Joes Lieberman and Biden (pre-Joe the Plumber) would've made a worthier opponent.
One thing that's right with the world:
A national holiday in Kenya today.
One thing that Joe got right:
It didn't take long for a test to present, in this case for Russia to react.
Really, Russia? What, three hours?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

M,
I think I might have accidentally dressed as Palin on Halloween.
If not for the high brown boots, newly brunette (goodbye grey!) 'do, and good girl? glasses, why did two Texans follow me off a cliff -- even after I told them with a wink that I was clueless?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

"By the end of the week, he’ll be accusing me of being a secret communist because I shared my toys in kindergarten. I shared my peanut butter and jelly sandwich."

Me too . . . meeeee toooooooo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This is terrifying, and I worry that is only an indication of things to come.

Oh, and also . . . these guns were controlled. And look what happened. No civilian needs and uzi, and no child should ever fire one.

On Willful Misreadings

From McCain's Ohio speech:

In a radio interview revealed today, he said that one of the quote -- "tragedies" of the civil rights movement is that it didn't bring about a redistribution of wealth in our society. He said, and I quote, "One of the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change."

McCain's willful misreading reveals desperation (PS radio shows are not "revealed" -- people heard it at the time! It wasn't private. It's been dug up and placed in a new context -- Joe the Plumber's imaginary America -- but it hasn't been "revealed.") McCain has misread that passage from a radio call-in show so badly that if he were my student, I'd make him go back and read it again. What he says in that passage is that reformers of the 1960s thought they could pursue their agenda through the courts -- but the constitution sets LIMITS rather than asserting possibilities. The courts were the appropriate place to seek the restoration of fundamental rights (voting for all people) but NOT the appropriate place to seek a shift in the economic disparity between (principally) white and black citizens. It was NOT the role of the courts to reinterpret the Constitution, but the responsibility of community organizations to advance the causes of the (principally) urban black poor, specific to changes in schools.

Further reporting on the radio show shows that "Obama, then an Illinois state senator and part-time law lecturer at the University of Chicago, defined ``redistribution'' as ``how do we get more money into the schools and how do we actually create equal schools and equal educational opportunity.''

Such an effort . . . failed because the high court ruled it had ``no power to examine issues on redistribution and wealth inequality with respect to schools,'' Obama said. The justices decided ``that is not a race issue, that's a wealth issue and we can't get into this.''"

It's not a bomb-shell. It's nothing new -- except that it shows that Obama understands the Constitution and the judiciary process and the civil rights movement and . . . In short, that he's smart, and he's a pragmatist.

The absolute worst reading I've seen has been that by Glen Beck, who breaks the quote into almost unintelligible parts and then says whatever he wants to say in between. If he's ever had an English teacher s/he should be reprimanded for passing someone who is clearly an incompetent reader.

I'm finished suffering fools lightly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is that all that's on your mind?

On the way to preschool today:

Miss I: I wish the steering wheel was on the other side.
Me: It is in England.
Miss I: I wish we could go there.
Me: Maybe we can sometime.
Miss I: I wish there was enough food for people in Ethiopia. I wish people didn't get sick.

So we talked, for a couple minutes, about how sometimes it's really hard to feel happy to be here and have me as her Mommy and sad about her family in Ethiopia too, and then she skipped happily to be with her friends.

But here's part of where it comes from:

Friend, to dh: Why doesn't she (Abebech) eat much meat?
Dh: Why does she do anything she does.
Friend: Social justice.

And we continued dinner.

Monday, October 20, 2008

W.

I don't have time for a full movie review, but . . .
I went to see Oliver Stone's W. last night. I had high hopes for the film, despite my hatred for JFK -- I really loved Stone's Nixon, a meditation not just on the presidency but also on memory, personal and public. But despite Josh Brolin's brilliant performance (it really is!) W. doesn't work for a few reasons:

The rushed editing job looks rushed. Trying to get it out before November, Stone apparently quickly cut the film. It's especially clear in the scenes of his youth.

It's entirely too oriented to Daddy complex. "You're a disappointment, Junior." "Jeb, Jeb, Jeb." We get it. His Dad was an aristocratic statesman, an Episcopalian who made measured decisions and tried to keep the personal out of the political. Geo, intemperate in all ways -with alcohol, with women and later, with religion - could never please his father, and probably still hasn't. He should have stuck to baseball -- we know it, his Dad knows it.

In the War Room, despite the Kubrickian homage, it isn't sure of its appropriate affect. Dick Cheney demonstrates on the map why we must take Iraq and occupy it endlessly (Ultimately to isolate Iran, the real target for Cheney-Rove, the film suggests), and then Colin Powell takes the stage. Over a score appropriate to an after school special, Colin Powell reminds us of the legacy of W.'s father, the basic decency of Americans, the democratic process, and the necessity to engage our allies (even if it takes six months to get a resolution through the U.N.) . . . all things I believe in, but I laughed so hard I cried.

Which brings me to the final reason it doesn't work: It wants to be a farce -- it never tries to explain this historical moment, despite the Daddy issues above -- and it succeeds in one moment, its homage to Bunuel's Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. Bush and his compatriots, including Tommy Franks and Condoleeza Rice, amble down a long road, realize they've missed their path, and amble some more. One long shot looks like it was taken straight from the Bunuel. But we've already lived 2000-2008 as farce.

History repeats, Hegel tells us. Yes, Marx adds, the first time as tragedy the second time as farce. Already farcical, malevolently comic, we don't need the representation. If we want to laugh-cry-laugh, we've got the real thing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The News

I've been reading too much news, and it's all started to sound the same.

Coffee causes breast cancer. Coffee doesn't cause breast cancer. Wine helps your heart. Alcohol shrinks your brain. A smaller brain may not be more cognitively impaired in healthy adults. Obama's going to win he's not going to win he's going to win. The DOW is up 300 but down 200. Barrels of oil are half-priced, but gas has only dropped a quarter because the gas at the station was already paid for at the higher price was not was too was not.

When I read that women who receive a lesser dopamine-response reward from drinking chocolate milkshakes may drink more chocolate milkshake to compensate, I laughed when I got to the end:

"This is very interesting but it doesn't really help us now with tackling obesity," he said.

Indeed, this is all very interesting but it doesn't put food on the table -- or help us lose the weight. It reminds me of Adorno's assertion -- yet again -- that the mass media are endlessly signaling themselves.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Apparently my kids weren't alone in the Chihuahua movie audience this weekend.* It topped the box office! Dr.Bloom responded that he "takes it back -- it is the end of the world."
Miss I, aware already of how these things work, tells me she's looking forward to "the second chihuahua." I'm hoping by then we'll be out of this economic tailspin, the election will be behind us, and people will want to see good movies instead.


*(in fact they weren't; they were with their long suffering grandparents).

Friday, October 10, 2008

"CNN contributor David Gergen, who has advised Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, said Thursday that the negative tone of these rallies is "incendiary" and could lead to violence."

I hadn't read this yet when I remarked today that I had real concerns about some of the anti-Obama rhetoric intensifying in the last couple of days. I'm pleased to have read that McCain finally(!) asked supporters of his to be respectful -- only it's come far too late after the mantra "dangerous, dangerous, dangerous," and it lacks the endorsement of McCain's running mate.

5769

We spent last evening at our home with our (secular) Israeli friend, serving as his surrogate family and serving lentil crepes, cheeze blintzes with fig preserves, and baked apples (but why the raisins? Miss I asked as if including raisins was an act of betrayal).
Afterwards, Miss I smacked him with her Bible (the Scholastic Read and Learn) and asked him to read "his book" -- which for her, seemed to be Genesis. And so he did.
And so I marveled at our family and our "family." I am amazed at how we are blessed.

(and I felt a little better about the world and all of us in it than I had since seeing the movie reviewed below).

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I went to see Bill Maher's Religulous last night. With characteristic mean-spiritedness, Maher takes on organized religion and spirituality, but it's a foray into a conversation worth having -- or a first volley in a rationalist/spiritualist war.

Maher begins by suggesting that he wants to know what makes Religion -- principally, the largest three monotheistic religions (though he ventures into the c*nnabis religion , Scientology and Mormonism briefly) -- tick. But he doesn't, really -- in Maher style, he wants to tick Them off. And he does.

Along the way, he meets the man some believe to be the antichrist who concedes that if Satan had told him he was his representative, he would have done that job just as well. He meets a former soul-singer preacher with lizard shoes and lots of bling, who argues that Jesus was "rich" and dressed well.

But first, he meets a trucker, in the trucker's chapel, who prays for Bill, asks for God's blessing on Bill. Bill thanks him for being not just a Christian but Christ-like.

Bill goes places I've written about here -- places I want to see/don't want to see: Creation and Holy Land theme parks. The Holy Land's "Jesus" is remarkably articulate. Bill never acknowledges that Pascal's Wager is not just for idiots, but for Blaise Pascal as well -- he never considers Pascal's thinking on uncertainty, that even uncertainty in all things is not certain. He's that sure of his skepticism.

He short changes the director of the Human Genome project, one of the small percentage of non-atheists in the basic sciences. He has a fantastic conversation with the director of the Vatican Observatory. He insists that the most horrific things ever done have been done in the name of God -- but he forgets that the most beautiful and wondrous have been, too.

And then, standing on the place in the Holy Land where many people believe Jesus will return, Maher pleads for skepticism -- to save the world. With a montage of nuclear bombs and scripture from Revelations and the Qu'ran, Maher reminds of one of his earlier complaints -- there's nothing he likes less than prophecy, except self-fulfilling prophecy. We can't have someone who actually wants this world to pass to hold the power to make it so. But in the end his target is not "extremists," but those moderates he decries as collaborators.

I can't recommend it -- I left the theater with blues I can't shake -- but I'd sure love it if you'd join in the conversation.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Company You Keep

"In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy.""

(The Washington Post)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Rightly, many people are wondering what to do. I'm still wondering how it could have happened, and marveling at the range of explanations -- which, inexplicably, includes "Jimmy Carter did it." The NYT dates the crisis to 2004 here. This of course is more conservative than my explanation.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

I want to quit talking about this election, I really do -- I think it's already cost me a couple friends and I know it's cost me readers.

But Sarah makes me:

""Our opponent though is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough that he is palling around with terrorists who would target their own country," Palin said of Obama, also calling him an embarrassment.""

See, there's this whole "false witness" thing. She's said it's time for the gloves to come off -- maybe she thinks commandments are for losers.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My daughter threw a spoon at my head this morning because I wouldn't put on Word World right away. "What were you thinking?!" I asked, and was sorry I asked as soon as I got the answer. "That I would be extra, extra mean mean mean and you couldn't comment."

Hoping for nicer mornings at your house.

(Bob Hebert on the debate:
"After Ms. Palin had woven one of her particularly impenetrable linguistic webs, Joe Biden turned to the debate’s moderator, Gwen Ifill, and said: “Gwen, I don’t know where to start.”
Of course he didn’t know where to start because Ms. Palin’s words don’t mean anything. She’s all punctuation.")

Friday, October 03, 2008

Weird World

"Agency spokeswoman Christine Anthony says state law requires that all implements in pedicures be sanitized, and there's just no way to sanitize live fish."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Lots of people still ask me how to answer the hard questions? How to respond to the uncomfortable comments? I'll let you in on my son's strategy:
Little Bun, when asked "Is your sister adopted?" or "Is that your real sister?" has taken to clamping his lips shut and performing a Greek dance -- the first time he did it, he said it was the fastest distraction. Later, he could just remember having done it the first time.

Conspiracy Theory of the Day

If I had a load of money and less of a conscience, I'd scare people into selling low. Tell them the sky is falling and then buy the moon.

With stocks down and people selling off, people with money can now buy all of America on sale, if they act now, before the bail out bill is passed.

Dollar is up, oil is down . . . I wonder what things will look like after the holiday, and once the initial "Act NOW!" panic has settled so cooler heads really can prevail.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You Seem to Become Increasingly Adorable





Newsweek's Fareed Zekaria thinks now is the time for Governor Palin to gracefully bow out. Here's why:

COURIC: Why isn't it better, Governor Palin, to spend $700 billion helping middle-class families who are struggling with health care, housing, gas and groceries; allow them to spend more and put more money into the economy instead of helping these big financial institutions that played a role in creating this mess?

PALIN: That's why I say I, like every American I'm speaking with, were ill about this position that we have been put in where it is the taxpayers looking to bail out. But ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the health-care reform that is needed to help shore up our economy, helping the—it's got to be all about job creation, too, shoring up our economy and putting it back on the right track. So health-care reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans. And trade, we've got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, scary thing. But one in five jobs being created in the trade sector today, we've got to look at that as more opportunity. All those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.

Where have we heard such a muddled mess before?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

President Bush, at the UN, on Syria and Iran:

"The terrorists believe time is on their side, so they've made waiting out civilized nations part of their strategy. We must not allow them to succeed.""

I don't understand this. We must not allow them to succeed at . . . waiting?

Monday, September 22, 2008

No Oversight?

This is shocking. The original draft authorizing Paulson's bail out seems like something that wouldn't happen in America -- except, that is, following the last eight years.

From the NYT:
"For Mr. Dodd, a larger issue was at stake in Mr. Paulson’s plan. “After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not just our economy that is at risk, but our constitution as well.” Mr. Shelby echoed the point, saying the Treasury department was continuing “its ad hoc approach on a grand new scale.”"

ETA: Yeesh. If I didn't worry so much, this article would be like a birthday present.

The Value of Pragmatism

A commenter suggested this article and I didn't want the link to be buried in comments. It helps explain why a loved one of mine, a Goldwater Republican, is voting for Barack Obama.

(Thanks for reading, and thanks so much for the link!)


We had to take this drive-by photo of Obama supporters demonstrating their resourcefulness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Made to Order

We shopped sans Dr.Bloom today, and the kids were great. It isn't easy to behave when shopping for cat litter, rat litter, Wittgenstein's Culture and Value, and vegetables for a week's worth of dinners. But they did, so I took them to (fast food) lunch.
It all fell apart in line. When I asked what they wanted to distract them from dangerous activities, Miss I said "anyfing." The man in front of us turned around and asked, "Anchovy pizza, then?" "Sure," she said, and went back to flipping over those railings that really do look like playground equipment and just beg for flipping while Little Bun scaled the nearest upright. "Little Bun, Miss I . . ." I began in exasperation . . .
"I tell you, if they'd eat anchovy pizza with me I'd adopt them," the man teased. My first thought was relief that he'd thought they were both foster/foster-adopt/adopted. Only later did I realize I probably shouldn't have laughed.
Tired of being a Washington outsider? Take Washington to Alaska and keep repeating "Maverick" like a cereal slogan. The McCain campaign, now with more "Maverick" (but don't read the ingredients).

Free Market Capitalism not working for you anymore? Nationalize debt, but find a way to drive up fear about the other party's socialism. (And suggest deregulation of health care companies to boot -- that worked so well for the banks, thanks much).

Our national way of life, and the global way of life based on it, is changing. It has to change -- again. An Historical state of affairs, it is subject to change. The way we do things is really only relatively recent in comparison to American history, and it's been untenable since at least 2001 by all markers. As one commenter remarked, since then, publicly and personally, we have been impoverishing our future (or our children's future, which has been the Bush policy) to be wealthier today.

And then the future arrived.

We are in a future that requires us to redefine ourselves -- the "free market capitalists" thing isn't accurate, it isn't working and it isn't true. Rugged individualism isn't the same as rampant unregulated Capitalism, and neither is a virtue.

Those feelings of anxiety, of impending doom -- that some have been tying to Obama and "the left" -- appear to me to be instead the deep fear not that something is going to go wrong, but that something already has.

This is perhaps why some have called the new national institution to buy out bank losses (American and UK) at mark-downs (reverse auctions) "Paulson's Monster." But it ought, really, to be called "Our Monster."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Swiftboating on Ice

Thanks to J for making my day:

On Poverty and Desperation

Much ado has apparently been made of Barack Obama's half-brother George, who lives a private life in Kenya, his privacy recently invaded by the UK Telegraph and subsequently by conservative commentators.

The story has been refuted, by George himself and others.

It offends me that this story is circulated. It does nothing to contribute to civil discourse or promote real consideration of what it means to care for the poor. It distracts us from the real issues (Biden was speaking of eliminating Bush tax cuts for the richest 3% and employing tax cuts for the middle class, a sound response to a flagging economy). It appeals to emotion to encourage the middle and working classes to vote against their interests.

On a personal level, I wonder who will make my daughter feel guilty that she does not financially support her extended family in Ethiopia?

So much for family matters remaining private.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"Hold Me Accountable"

You must avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety. This looks like impropriety. This investigation began before she was selected as McCain's running mate, and they ought to cooperate to complete it.

So much for "hold me accountable," folks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Lamentations

Nothing grows in my garden. Well, one tomato, three lemon cucumbers, a single scrawny pepper, and four stalks of corn -- two of which produced tiny, inedible ears (exciting as they were for the kids). The transplanted grapes -- shoots from family grapes brought from Italy -- didn't take.

Part of this can be blamed on the weather, but I am also convinced that right now, I just can't grow anything.

The kids are fine, the animals are healthy. But all my houseplants, even, are dead or dying.

It's baby week beyond our house: We met a good friend's beautiful new baby. We received text and a phone photo of a new nephew. We heard another good friend will be having another baby in the spring. I love these people, love these babies. And I feel guilty that their joy -- my joy for them! -- is also a reminder.

I can't grow anything here.

And my dissertation isn't writing itself.

(Of course, it is September. And if it's September, I must be lamenting.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Next thing you know they'll be telling us the earth is really super-old and carbon-dating matters and science is real and stuff, but only if that's what voters want to hear.

Flip, meet Flop.

But this is far scarier:

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9-11

Or, You Can't Take That Away . . .

I'm never going to forget. I've told you the story before. I was at home, with my near-newborn, in an apartment in New York. Dr. Bloom was at a window, where he could actually see the first tower smoke, before it was news. He called me and asked me to turn on the news. Something was happening. The infant Little Bun layed on the floor in front of a screen on which the world as we thought we knew it seemed to collapse. My dearest friend's ship changed course, preparing to defend our nation.

Later, we gathered with our community. Was it hours later? Days? I don't know. Still later, with our church, who had lost members, but which thought they would be returning. Pictures taped to trees. Have you seen this man? Paper flags, printed in the newspaper, taped to the inside of our windows. We cried, and prayed, and feared, and prayed, and cried, and listened to F-16s circling our home.

And one day we decided to fight against that fear. Not only fear generated by the terrorists (they'll WIN if we don't get back to our normal lives!) but by our president's men, too (who would later tell us that if we didn't take a family trip to Disney World, the terrorists would WIN), a government who wanted a war in Iraq when we wanted them to continue the mission in Afghanistan. Get plastic and duct tape for the windows. Next time it'll be biological. Make sure you have a doomsday bag in the basement. It might be a dirty bomb. Be sure you have a basement. Plan a meeting place, an escape route from the city. Trust in the All-Mighty God, who is surely on the side of Infinite Justice (a catchy name for an operation, right?) . . . only be sure you have a back-up plan. That plan should include living in fear.

Only . . . if you survived . . . get on with your lives. Smile patiently when others try to take your pain, turn it into theirs, pretend that they could understand what it was like. Have a new look in your eyes that might never go away. Be proud to be American (but secretly wonder about this business about a trauma-bond).

Mr.McCain, I'm using today to say that you can't take that experience and what I learned from it away from me no matter how you try. The Republicans do not corner the market on a desire for security for our children, for all of God's children.

Why We Need a Sense of Humor

From the lovely Miss I this morning:
"They gave me idiot parents here." A friend assures me that this is just a specification on the general "I have the worst parents."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Before we drill anywhere else, let's get our house in order. Interior scandal here.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"It is shameful and downright perverse for the McCain campaign to use a bill that was written to protect young children from sexual predators as a recycled and discredited political attack against a father of two young girls - a position that his friend Mitt Romney also holds. Last week, John McCain told Time magazine he couldn’t define what honor was. Now we know why,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton."

Really Valuing Life

The most disturbing thing about the footage of the Septa hammer attack (Philadelphia) isn't even that the attacker is first on the train with a young boy. It is that someone saw the attack, and got up and *moved away.* Ten people did not help stop the attack on that young man. Ten people did not assist him, did not help him get assistance at the station, didn't help him to the hospital. One person provided some sort of help, but another, rather than calling 911, stole the victim's cell phone and sold it for $150.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The joke will be on us

I thought they were kidding about the proximity to Russia as foreign policy expertise. Apparently, it wasn't meant to be funny.
Please, oh please, read the transcript of Charles Gibson's interview of John McCain. Here's an excerpt.

GIBSON: But as you know, the questions revolve really around foreign policy experience.

Can you honestly say you feel confident having someone who hasn't traveled outside the United States until last year, dealing with an insurgent Russia, with an Iran with nuclear ambitions, with an unstable Pakistan, not to mention the war on terror?

MCCAIN: Sure. And one of the key elements of America's national security requirements are energy. She understands the energy issues better than anybody I know in Washington, D.C., and she understands.

Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

This is so super awesome.

And another thing -- I was worried that I might have to hold off the teen-pregnancy discussion until my kid got out of like second grade, but thanks to the RNC for thrusting Palin's family into the spotlight! Today we had an opening, and it's all thanks to family values more conservative than mine.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The One Where Dr. Bloom commits the cardinal sin of parenting

Dr. Bloom was on call this holiday weekend, so we were hanging around Bloomsburg most of the time, much of it car-less. The grandparents Bloom took pity on us one day, and took me and the kids to a fair. I made playdates for the other dates, and generally kept the kids entertained. But alas, by the end of the weekend, Dr. Bloom had caught up at work, the kids were tired and whiney, and worse . . . there were no snacks.

When I say to Dr. Bloom that we should do something fun with the kids, he proposes the grocery store. This would not be fun for the kids, or for me. I check my email, and wait for Dr. Bloom to come up with a more interesting possibility. He suggests the grocery store again. In those few moments, Little Bun becomes engaged in The Pokemon movie on Cartoon Network (I now hate the cartoon network for ruining holidays with inane marathons).

I mention to Dr. Bloom that I am not thrilled by Little Bun watching the endless Pokemon commercial, so he tells Little Bun to turn off Pokemon immediately and put shoes on to the grocery store -- he can't sit around and watch tv all day. He clearly does this to make me sorry I asked him to intervene and to make Little Bun cry. But wait -- it gets worse.

I calmly tell Dr. Bloom that he has mishandled the situation: Now I have an enraged child, who believes that he is being punished for watching Pokemon by going to the grocery store, which is already NOT FUN.

Dr. Bloom smirks; I freak. I take a moment, and then decide that I will never hear the end of Pokemon OR the grocery store unless I take the kids and go, stopping at the playground first as a peace offering. But I don't tell them this -- I just say, "Kids, meet me at the door." They do.

Dr. Bloom demands to know where I'm taking them, so I dig in my heels, and say nothing. Then IT happens.

He tells the kids THEY DON'T HAVE TO GO ANYWHERE WITH ME IF THEY DON'T WANT TO.

Appalled, I'm silent (we do not undermine one another's authority as a RULE), but I'm still putting the kids in the car (they are no dummies; they don't believe their dad that they can choose not to go wherever it is I've asked them to go).

Finally, I take a deep breath and say

"IAMTAKINGTHEMTOTHEPLAYGROUNDTOHAVESOMEFUNBEFOREWEGOTOTHEFREAKINGGROCERYSTORE."

Dr. Bloom responds, flustered, trying to reclaim some authority for himself, which he now realizes he might have lost for both of us: "You need to think about the consequences of your actions --" Only he can't think of any for a second. Then one dawns on him and he lights up: "They haven't gone to the bathroom first. What if Miss I has an ACCIDENT?"

"THENI'LLDOTHELAUNDRYLIKEIALWAYSDO!!!!!" I roar.

With that, Dr. Bloom, like the kids, gets in the car, sulking. We sulked our way to the splash playground, and after, to the grocery store, and home . . . to a quiet, indoor Labor Day picnic, Pokemon on in the background.

Monday, September 01, 2008

More Adoption, Less Politics

In a minute.

"Country First" assumes that not every one puts Country First. Well . . .

But this is what really gets me. Awhile ago, one of my students provided evidence that a character in a story was a "good character." He had, after all, a blind child. "What makes him good?" I pressed. "You can see here where he's on the beach, and he says that this is his son" he said, confused that I did not accept what he thought was plain to see . . . What should a man on the beach do with a son who is blind? Hide him? Drown him?!

"Before, they were excited about her, with the Down syndrome baby," conservative, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist said. "But now with this, they are over the moon. It reinforces the fact that this family lives its pro-life values."

The "Down Syndrome baby" is a person (Trig is four months old). And it seems odd that people, whatever their position on abortion, would congratulate Palin on carrying her child (as others have remarked, she was not congratulated, so far as we know, on not terminating her other children). Yes, I do know that a high percentage (nearing 90%) of children identified as ds by amnio are not carried to term. But isn't it a strike against people with downs syndrome and parents of ds children when someone is "exciting" for not terminating a ds person?!

I find the same thing odd about the story I would otherwise not mention here (Obama does not support the circulation of this story, and I do think candidate's children should be beyond the, ahem, Pale) but -- why should Palin be praised for not terminating Bristol's pregnancy?! It's Bristol's pregnancy, not Palin's!!! I know that families (particularly families of prominence) have pressured young women to terminate and/or hide pregnancies and/or relinquish, but I do not understand how this situation makes anyone "over the moon."

Dear baby Trig and baby-to-be,
We lived out our pro-life values by not terminating you. Isn't that great?! No, you don't have to say it. We already know you're feeling overwhelming gratitude that we let you be (even if we didn't protect your privacy) -- according to the media, this was in serious, reasonable doubt. So you're welcome!

That's the biggest "yeesh" of all.

And I hope that marrying the baby's father is really the best choice for Bristol and her child, and not merely for the campaign. I can't imagine that it could be.

(ETA (after others have shared their agreement, so this I say alone): That Trig has downs syndrome and Palin took less than usual precautions -- rather than more -- and that Palin seems to have thrown her daughter under the bus to prove that there was no cover-up with Trig's birth DOES seem to me to reflect on her judgment and values).

Sunday, August 31, 2008

One would think a relative unknown with a short record wouldn't have marks on that record already. Yeesh. And yeesh. Nobody is perfect, but be careful if you crusade for reform . . .

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Go Your Own Way


I don't have time for a substantive post right now, but I thought I'd share with you one of my most interesting photographs of August. We were on I-95, when I saw this. Of course my first response was to take a picture (which horrified my children's grandparents). In my defense, the truck was being hauled by another truck.

Be Someone's Bra

Insurance companies should not dictate the time it takes for a woman to recover from a mastectomy. A friend forwarded this petition from Lifetime.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It Happened.

This week, at an amusement park and at the zoo. I said "no," and she screamed, "YOU'RE NOT MY MOTHER!!!!" and tried to run away. Surprisingly, no one apprehended me for dragging her away from the situation (perhaps scarily, if you think about it).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Oh My Crocs

Check out this anti-crocs rant in Newsweek. I had no idea.

(Miss I looks darling in her Crocs, so we're not giving them up, but in our household we have decided that they don't work on the grown-ups).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

But Enough About Me . . .

A cousin to Miss I: You have beautiful eyes.
Miss I: (sweetly) What about my eyelashes?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What a Way to Start the Day

With all sincerity, on a Tuesday (a workday):
"Daddy, I thought you were going to make me and Momma breakfast in bed!"
Daddy's offer, instead, was cereal-in-a-bag for in-the-car.

Monday, June 30, 2008

What was I saying? I forgot . . .

Miss I: I lost my ID.
Momma: Your "I.D.?"
Miss I: (hesitating) Not the card with your picture on it. The thing that comes out your mouth when you talk.
Momma: Idea?
Miss I: Yeah. I lost my idea.

Later in the day
Miss I: I wish my mouth was on the top of my head.
Momma: Why?
Miss I: So I wouldn't lose my ideas.
Momma: Before they came out your mouth?
Miss I: Yeah. I wish my mouth was just on my brain.

(Little Bun suggests that it's a good thing her mouth isn't on her brain: ease of eating and time for "the filter")

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pieces

We received a tremendous gift from Ethiopia.
I can't share how, or what was in the letter -- that belongs to my daughter. But I can tell you that that letter was accompanied by pictures of some of the most beautiful people I'd ever seen: one with eyes like my daughter, one with dimples like my daughter, another with her deep warm skin tone, ample evidence that she will be as tall as her pediatrician guesses she will be. I can tell you, too, that her birthdate was confirmed and we were given a time. We now know who was with her when she was born.
Miss I did not understand the magnitude of this gift, though she enjoyed the pictures and knows I am delighted. She will be raised always with access to this information and those pictures (one of which will be hung on our family picture wall). She won't know what it is like to grow up not knowing whether anyone in this world looks like her, cocks her head just so. She won't have a hard search. She won't wonder if her extended Ethiopian family wants to know her or if they will welcome her (however awkward the language and cultural divides will make that) . . . and for that I am so very grateful.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sweetness

On the way back from a short vacation, apropos of nothing:
Miss I: Daddy, someday can we have a day where we have this music [the Cranberries] all day and for dinner -- have dessert for dinner?

Then later, she "reads" a letter she's found (this isn't quite what it says!):
"Dear Ethiopian child, you are lucky that you havin' a new family. Love. The End."

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Money, Money, Money

I'm so sorry I haven't returned to this sooner. A herniated cervical disk has made typing painful (true story -- since my daughter knows it has stopped me from blogging, she tells people I "can't work because of her broken computer disk.")

The other things that has kept me from addressing this with the seriousness it requires are daily life with my daughter and the seriousness it requires itself.

We adopted because we wanted another child, wanted Little Bun to grow up with a sibling or siblings. That decision preceded a program or country decision. I've written about our ill-fated efforts at domestic adoption (the burning building post, which bizarrely, has grown legs, and I find it all over the internet!). Briefly, this was our first realization that some (most?) relinquishments were not *necessary* in the way that I had imagined them to be. We chose to proceed with an adoption from Ethiopia in part in response to that and in part in response to Little Bun's need for some predictable outcome. He suffered the uncertainty far worse than his parents for a time.

Our decision to pursue adoption from Ethiopia, then, started out with the desire for another child, *followed by* our desire to make that adoption as ethical and necessary as possible. We chose Ethiopia because we needed to believe that it could not/should not have been another way for our child. Given HIV, high maternal death rates due to complicated pregnancies and deliveries (on the decrease, thank God, in just the last two years), malnutrition, extreme poverty . . . we would be able to tell our child that it could not have been another way (we thought). That is, the problems were far more complex than a handful of money could solve, even for one child. The cost of one adoption could not replace a child's lost parents, reduce the stigma of having an HIV positive parent or a single mother in a culture far less amenable to such an arrangement than ours, could not fix medical conditions we were open to or access to medical or lifelong care that could be provided here etc. In the coming months children may be relinquished due to a lack of drinkable water, certainly because of a lack of basic nourishment. I worry, as I had before we received our referral for dd, that a child's relinquishment may the a permanent solution to a temporary problem, as I've seen often now in domestic adoption. But then I also know that our child came to us clearly dehydrated, malnourished, failing to thrive, and a few sicknesses resolving, but very clearly loved. Her story is clearer cut than many, but not as clear cut as we imagined. Would even a fraction of the money it cost us to adopt her have allowed her to stay in some part of her family of origin? Perhaps. But there were elements of her relinquishment that money simply could not solve.

If we had been adopting principally to "help," we would have been surprised to be struck by the feeling that the help -- the relinquishment option -- might have led to the relinquishment itself. I have even heard from families who adopted Waiting Children that this does not resolve all ethical dilemmas. But the reality is that as ambivalent as I am about relinquishment, and as ambivalent as we are here at the Bloom household about some aspects of our daughter's story, we know that here at Chez Bloom she is thriving just as her first family had intended.

The point is -- and it's taken me so long to get to it! -- that we were motivated first to parent another child, and once we were so motivated, we focused on our accountability to that child, especially when s/he reached adulthood. If I feel that I cannot say with certainty that it *could not have been another way* I know we are as close to that as possible, and when I see Little Bun and Miss I with their arms around one another, I delight in the fact that in the here and now, it IS this way.
Sster at Boomerific is safe and dry, as are her husband and baby. But she has not been able to return to their house yet after the flooding in Cedar Rapids. Reports from those who have been able to return and those who have surveyed damage have not been promising for household objects, though some businesses say it isn't so bad as they expected.
Certainly, things can be replaced over time, but with a little guy and an academic career . . . some of those things will need to be replaced rather sooner than later. They will be setting up a Target registry and perhaps an Amazon one as well. If only particular editions could be replaced complete with margin notes . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Update on the attitude

After much tantrumming, Miss I went to bed with the right half of her hair braided and the left loose.
I can't wait to see what people say tomorrow.
Scenes from our weekend:

Predeparture,
Little Bun: (trying to enhance sister's anticipation) Miss I, you've only been to New York twice.
Miss I: Well, you've NEVER been to Ethiopia.

After a good long tantrum,
Momma: Are you tired?
Miss I: (with eye roll) You guessed it.

At the Queen of Sheba:
Miss I: Ummmm, I want chicken nuggets and fries.
Miss I: (after some yummy lamb) I . . . Am . . . Ethiopian.

In the restroom, after I denied her the opportunity to ride a camel at the zoo, pants still around her ankles,
Miss I: Momma, I will LIKE you if you let me ride a camel. No? I think I will NOT like you if you don't . . . No? I think I will HATE you if you don't let me. Momma, if you don't let me, I will KILL you. (she didn't).

In the car, two hours after bedtime,
Miss I: Nobody is kind to me, nobody loves me, nobody holds me, nobody rocks me, and . . . ummmmmm . . . I hate you all.

Everytime anyone said "no" in public, to draw attention and sympathy to her plight:
Miss I: Mommy, OWWWWWW.

I love preschool.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Miss I gave words to her ambivalence this morning. She first asked me to tell her again what happened to her first mother, and then asked, "Do you think that's sad?" I told her that I do. Very sad. I am sad for her and I am sad for her first mother, who doesn't have the joy of seeing her bloom and grow.
"But are you happy with me?" she asked, deep in thought. I am, I said, and it is okay to feel both things.
She seemed relieved for the moment.
I think it has something to do with our two year anniversary.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mo-Lisa's Smile

As you know, Little Bun refers to the child for whom we wait as "Moses." Miss I has said "Moses" and "she" in the same sentence, believing we are awaiting a girl.
"Moses isn't a very good name for a girl," I said, to which Miss I replied brightly "Then we'll name her Mo-Lisa." We've all taken to the name Mo-Lisa.
Yesterday at BigChainBookstore, Miss I declared "Look! It's Mo-Lisa!" We all turned, to see Mona Lisa smiling at us from the cover of book.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Starvation Spreads in Ethiopia

Little Bun has just learned that relief organizations need at least 50 million dollars to address the spreading famine in Ethiopia. He has promised to give all of his allowance (he wants me to tell you that he had saved it for a new DS game) if "grown-ups will match his donation."

He has $48.

I'm taking him up on the deal and donating to UNICEF.

Family Portrait in Fabric
















Especially for my textile-artist reader and the Gardener family:
This is Little Bun's family portrait quilt square.

Friday, June 06, 2008

German Biblical Theme Park:
Good idea, hoax or another sign of the apocalypse?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I owe you all (or perhaps myself) a post, but my neck is killing me. Since it's literally painful to blog right now (if I owe you a phone call, this is also why I have not called -- it hurts to hold the phone up to my ear).

Remember when I told you about couch-moving incident? I'm sure I told you -- we bought an old, reupholstered Victorian couch from Craig's list, without thinking about how we would move it up the steps and into the house. It was ten o'clock at night when we tried to move it. It started to rain. Dh insisted that I just "try harder." I did, we got it in, and the next day I couldn't lift my arms.

He thinks this is why I ruptured the disc between C6 and C7, which we just discovered this week after months of agony. I don't think so. I'll let him keep believing it, though, since he says he'll never forgive himself, which means he has been carrying the laundry upstairs and scrubbing the kitchen. I think it is the result of years of wear and tear including sports injuries and arthritis, and one little girl repeatedly turning my head so I will "wook" at her -- but don't tell any of them that.

I do want to respond to the question posed in my last post, and I also want to address another ethical issue: the contribution the promise of openness (whether in domestic adoption or international) may make to relinquishments that might otherwise not have happened. I'm trying to find a way to treat this issue without sounding as if I support closed adoption or the denial of original birth certificates to adoptees -- I am in favor of neither of these things. Until the next time the naproxen works . . .

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Million Dollar Question

I was asked this question, and before I provide my best effort at an answer, I'm opening it up -- and hence opening a can of worms:

"I'm wondering if someone can help steer me in the right direction. This isnot a comment on your latest post, but a question that surely you have addressed somewhere. We are considering an Ethiopian adoption (we have a little boy naturally) for our second child. I just can't get around the fact that I might spend 20,000 dollars to adopt a baby whose family would be able to take care of her if I gave them that money. I feel like if I truly loved a child, I would just give that money to a family (families) and then the child would be able to stay with her own family. In other words, why does the person with the money get the baby?"

Carlos, as you wait, you might read my archives from early 2006, as I struggled while we waited for our referral.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When Did DD Become Aware of her Adoption?

Overwhelmed with Joy asked in a comment on my last, and perhaps cryptic, post.

Miss I is now three and almost-a-half, and recently has showed some concern about some of the language we use. Particularly, "mother" and "first mother," are terms that confuse her. I suspect that natural- and birth- would be no more helpful to her, for it is about the term "mother" and all derivations. She currently wants to be only my baby, my *only* baby, and a baby forever. I suspect that this has more to do with her transition to preschooler from toddler. I think, too, that it is because at three, adoption is far more conceivable to her.

We've been reading her lifebook to her intermittently since she came to us at 17 mos. She was old enough to celebrate her adoption, at two. She was there when my nephew was born, and knows that she was not born to me. How well she understands why she is in a family she was not born into, who can say? How well can a three year old understand death? illness? finality of any kind?

For a transracial adoptee, adoption is almost inescapable even from a young age. I would not expect an adoptee the same race as her parents to have the same level of comprehension of (or interest in) the construction of her family at the same age. Our daughter knows our family is much different from other families. Yet I'm not certain that she really knows.

Friday, May 23, 2008

I gotta post quickly because dd resorted to pretending to eat a crayon to pull me away from all the comments on Nicole's recent post, but I am

a.really sorry (though I know it isn't my fault, I belong to the class, so . . .) for all the aparent "we wipe the bums" rhetoric. It exhausts me. We wipe the bums because we get to do so. It's part of the package that we are privileged to have and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous and damaging to our children

b.mulling a conversation I had with dd (recall, 3) who was uncomfortable when I said "your first mother" -- though I've said it before, this time it struck her wrong and

c.desperately wanting to put the "is Natural mom offensive?" business to rest. I've posted about it before, but here's the short version: I am my dd's mother by legal decree. THAT is the opposite of natural in this context, not "artificial," not "fake." My husband is my legal spouse, not my natural one. My son is my natural and legal son. My daughter's natural mother is not her legal mother, I am not her natural mother. It's true and it's okay.

(Also, I am totally itching to get involved in the resurgence of the vaccination debate, but I am behaving myself for the moment).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Must Read on Food Waste

Increasing food prices have caused many people to consider cutting their grocery bills. The first place we look to cut should be waste. Check out this NYTimes article on food waste. How we eat affects efforts toward a (more) just world.

Terribly Sad News

I cannot imagine what Steven Curtis Chapman's family, and in particular his teenage son, is feeling after the loss of Maria in their own driveway.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Another Sign of the Decline of Western Civilization

I read this burning question in a magazine this weekend:
"How many different ways can I wear my new gladiator sandals?"

Then there is this news out of Ethiopia.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Please head over to Mia's to learn more about the open records debate, to see how nothing has changed, and to understand why it should.

Moses!

Little Bun came home the other day and yelled "Moses R. Bloom, get down here now!" When I asked what he was doing, he said "practicing."
He considers himself the "family hero" for finding a name he thought we could all agree on for our third -- Moses.
"Moses" will not actually be Moses. "Moses" will come with a name already; Moses could be a girl . . . and Moses? Since I'm not Gwyneth Paltrow, Moses seems a bit much. (Not as much, however, as a name I was surprised to learn ranked somewhere in the 900s for popularity -- "Messiah.")
Still, it had occurred to Little Bun that "Moses" is or will be a real person. I thought it had occurred to me before, too, but it hadn't, really, until this afternoon. I was walking down the sidewalk on a beautiful sunny day and it hit me that somewhere in this world there's someone else whose life I'm responsible for stewarding. H*ly Moses.

ETA I just learned that the baby house is called Mussie (Moo-say?) -- Moses.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why is a mouse a terrifying find in a house that has three pet rats? (I literally cried when I found it and now cannot get the fact that there was a mouse in my house out of my head).
Apparently my dog and my cat have decided that if an animal is in my home, it must be a pet, and so are no longer doing their duties.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Little Bun had too much caffeine at his Auntie's wedding. Any caffeine is too much caffeine. Caffeine for Little Bun is prohibited.
We discovered that he had had this one Pepsi too many when his eyes flashed rapidly, he giggled maniacally, and tried to breakdance in his rented tuxedo.
Later in the evening, after he'd settled, he had this to say:

"I'm really sorry that I disobeyed you and my disobedience led to misbehavior. I asked the lady for an Orange Soda but I guess she only heard 'soda' so she gave me a Pepsi and once I had that Pepsi . . I'd never HAD a Pepsi, and I couldn't pass up my chance. Now I'm sorry I took that chance."

Do You Know What You're Getting Into?

Dr. Bloom finally shared with significant people in his life that we have completed our homestudy and preliminary dossier documents for #3 (Some have known for sometime for practical reasons, and while they think we are crazy they have been wise enough not to say so). The Blooms were not pleased.

"Do you know what you're getting into?" one pivotal person asked. I responded, "Did you know what you were getting into when you got pregnant with each of your children? Children are always a surprise, and we're looking forward to that again." What I wanted to say was "I know! That's what I wanted to ask SIL when she announced her pregnancy, but I controlled myself!" (with a smile -- because I really am guilty of thinking that same thing).

I'm not sure I know what the question means -- do we know what it's like to parent three? (of course not yet) do we know the potential medical challenges of our child to be? (not yet, but we're as educated as anyone can be about the conditions to which we've opened ourselves) have we considered that family members who are willing to babysit two Bloom children might not be willing to babysit three? (this is not a real problem as we don't go out) . . .

More than last time, we DO know what we are getting into. So many lessons we've had to learn about being an unconventional family have already been learned. We've prepared twice for a child with medical/developmental special needs, and while our children have surprised us with their perfect health, that preparation could come in handy this time. We've learned to play zone defense.

Pregnancy and adoption are not comparable, and it saddens me when prospective adoptive parents try to make adoption intelligible to others by comparison with pregnancy. Yet there are times when the tact necessary for engaging with a pregnant woman is also necessary for engaging with an expecting adoptive mother. This is one of those times, one of those times when "congratulations" is appropriate even if you don't mean it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Overwhelmed with Joy has announced the opening of her Sparkle and Charm Boutique. Be sure to check out her beautiful bows (Miss I wants the butterflies), admire the detail, and congratulate her on the launch!

Off to the youngest Auntie Bloom's wedding -- Miss I will be a flower girl in a lovely organza dress with embroidered butterflies sewn by the talented Grandma Gardener. (If only Miss I had those bows today!) I'll post a picture tomorrow.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Teleflora Responds

Thank you for contacting Teleflora to share your thoughts about the
"Teleflora presents America's Favorite Mom" program.

In response to your concerns, Teleflora is immediately changing the
name of our "Non-Mom" category to "Adopting Moms." After closer
examination, we can see how this may have been offensive to moms who
have adopted children -- moms who are indeed real moms to their
children in every sense of the word. In fact, many of us at
Teleflora are "adopting" parents ourselves, including our president
and owner. The essence of this category still focuses on a
grandparent, neighbor, step mom, or mom to adopted or foster
children, each one raising and loving a child.

This show of insensitivity on our part was in no way intended and we
deeply apologize for any concern or distress we may have caused. It
was always our intent to salute and celebrate all moms.

In closing, all of us at Teleflora would like to offer our sincerest
best wishes to all the many women throughout the world who have
worked so hard and given so much to earn the name "Mom."

Sincerely,
The America's Favorite Mom Team

Non-Mom

It seems "Does she call you Mom?" isn't such an odd question. Teleflora and NBC have decided to include adoptive mothers in the "Non-Mom" category for their America's Favorite Mom contest. Jennifer K. is an adoptee, and a mother by birth and adoption, yet she qualifies as a "Non-mom."

I wonder if my non-kids will be able to find an appropriate card. They'll probably have to not make one themselves. I just hope they never buy me a teleflora bouquet.

support@americasfavoritemom.com
info@americasfavoritemom.com

PS I just faxed Jeff Zucker.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Multiple Choices

It's so hard to decide on the spot. I wish you had been there to vote on the following options:

"Does she call you Mom and Dad?"
A. Yes, except when she is calling me "Sugar-free."
B. No, she calls me Momma and her Daddy Daddy.
C. Of course. But if you are asking if she understands that she had another mother and father, yes to that too.

"I could never do that."
A. I know what you mean. I could never have married your husband! (with a wink).
B. Adoption isn't for everyone. It's really only for very empathetic people who can understand their children's losses even if we haven't experienced it ourselves. It's only for people who don't expect to see themselves reflected in their children but to see their children shine. (Add a whole host of self-righteous statements to round this one out).
C. I'm so grateful that we did.

I answered C's.
The Blooms are a bit down in the dumps this week, but still, there's a lot to celebrate:
Little Bun has a piece in the All City Art Show
Miss I is finally transitioning to the preschool room (we've been waiting a long time for a spot)
Dr.Bloom's sister is getting married this weekend, in a garden
and I'm going to the Neil Diamond concert some months from now.
All of these things are very exciting.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Adoption Effect?

This study is worth reading and discussing. I'd be interested in follow-ups to 18 and early twenties.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

MILtGtB(o)

At a recent party with seven year olds, one party-goer, a casual friend of Little Bun, grabbed my breast. I wasn't going to tell you about it, but then I took another look at the subjects of my most recent posts and realized that it was a natural inclusion.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I tease that she's three going on thirteen

but I think our culture is making it happen. Here's evidence in an msn article about the latest starlette scandal:

'Tween-focused franchises such as "Hannah Montana" and "High School Musical" have become a major element of Disney's strategy, as it attempts to capture the 6- to 14-year-old set as they outgrow animation-focused children's programming.'

The problem here is not the photo (though the photos are bad for reasons beyond the "beyond her years" they project). The problem is in Disney's strategy, in Nielsen ratings and the ways we as an audience have begun to see ourselves as Market. It's in parents' thinking, and it's right there in the article: Six to fourteen year olds are described as a *set*.

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a tween. At the dawn of the industrial revolution (but not much before) there were Children. And later in their lives, children became Adolescents (and they slammed doors and their parents cried). In the best of cases, those adolescents became Grown ups. Please, grown ups, help us reclaim childhood by rejecting this market notion of "tweens," ages six to fourteen.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Picasso Perhaps?


On the back of Little Bun's German test, influenced by Picasso. Dh doesn't see a problem with the sketch, but I worry that it's the beginning of a series of drawings like Seth's (Superbad).

Sunday, April 27, 2008

They still don't miss a trick

A family member recently suggested to me that we might be *making* our daughter think about race too much with "all the talk about it" at our house. Dawn's most recent post gives excellent reasons why this isn't so, and why the talk and the problem-solving are good things.
Rather than giving my own well-thought out response (it's been a long weekend and I'm kind of beyond well-thought out anything) I'll share this anecdote:

Miss I has made a new friend. Her friend Rose is one of four sisters who all look alike, and all look like their parents. Rose has seen us at the soccer field twice per week for three weeks now, yet she asked yesterday, "Where's Miss I's Daddy?" "He's on the field," I said. "In the khaki shorts." "Where?" "There." "Where?" "There . . . Dr.Bloom, wave to Rose," I called. Dr.Bloom obliged, and Rose waved back. Yes, he was familiar to her, but . . . "Does Miss I look like you?" she asked seriously.
Later I explained to Dr.Bloom why I had had him wave. Miss I added, "But I said 'No!' I'm not pink! I'm brown!" and she chuckled as if she were years wiser than dear Rose.

And a bonus Little Bun anecdote:
I had to go to a "retreat" on Friday. "Does this look retreat-ish?" I asked dh, gesturing to clothes. "No!" Little Bun answered brightly. After a pause, he asked "Did you want a 'No' answer? 'Cause I don't even know what 'retreat-ish' means." Smart boy on the way to being a very smart man. He'll make someone very happy someday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oh, Pennsylvania.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Apparently Our Children Have Been Listening

to the national news and Charlie Gibson-hosted debates, because they're demonstrating the same level of sophistication in their political debates. This morning I overheard one kindergartener telling another that he should support Obama because "Obama wants to stop the war and cares about homeless people."

Saturday, April 19, 2008

To B

You can remark to the mother of children of color that you're worried about the "make up" of a particular neighborhood -- that you think the street might be mostly "black" and are wondering if that means "unsafe" -- but if you do, she will likely be offended. And she will not be being "overly sensitive" when blood rushes to her cheeks.

Note that ultimately she doesn't sweat whether you think the neighborhood is too "black," however much she wishes people didn't think like this anymore. She is a pragmatist, and she believes that she cannot change your mind, what happens between you and you. She will be most disturbed by what you say, by the fact that you have managed to miss that her family is multiracial, decided to wonder "black" and "unsafe" in front of her children, and refuse to understand why she is bothered.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"If reality tv has taught us anything, it's that you can't keep people with no shame down."
If you haven't seen Jeff Scher's animation, you should check it out. I love Trigger Happy and Grand Central Terminal, but for those of you who have parented young babies, take a look at You Won't Remember This.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the News

Across the bottom of the screen, CNN called the election campaign season "Ballot Bowl '08." Then they reduced McCain's speech to the press association to bullets like "Hope . . . . is not based in delusion" and "People didn't turn to faith, hunting, through bitterness" while he was talking about the tendency of the media to reduce a politician's sentiments to bullet points and bullets to dodge. Shouldn't we be offended by that?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Of Course People are Frustrated!

Note: I've expanded on comments posted on another blogger's page here:



But that doesn't make them bigoted. It DOES however often lead to displacement. Yet when Obama calls displacement displacement, the media wants "us" to get up in arms about bigotry!

These latest comments have not been given a free pass at all . . .

Having grown up in rural agricultural areas and former steel cities I don't think Obama's remarks that people have turned from the potential of Washington and national fiscal policy to have real (positive) impact on their daily lives are offensive. I DO know these people, farm people and steel people, agricultural people and urban people, many people, many very good people -- white and black , old and young and middle-aged -- who have displaced real concerns about the economy and the disappearance of viable non-corporate ways of life and the decline of the real purchasing power of the dollar since the 1970s onto other issues that have "us" fighting one another rather than challenging the rise of the economic top five percent. Obama is by no means the first person to have observed that -- many academics in many disciplines have perceived this for some time. Compare it to ethnic conflicts within a colonized people who divide themselves further rather than organizing to change the balance of power against a colonizer. Ask who benefits most from disguising the fact that our interests are actually aligned. Don't miss the fact that the economic right strategically commandeered the values and religiosity of middle America for capital gains. Note that reflecting on this is not the same as rejecting the values and religion of this mythic-imaginary middle America!

I don't think it is at all "obvious" what we ought to do with Obama's thoughts on the displacement of economic anxieties onto social ones.

But in any case, the term "free pass" here [as a way of describing seeming low-levels of scrutiny for Obama] is of concern to me. I have *never* seen it used in a context that was not intentionally racially divisive itself (one would not say that a woman is getting a "free pass" as a woman in the same way that one would not say "gender card".)

In our house we might say that as a good orator (he is) and as a charismatic figure (he is) and as a viable racial minority candidate Obama has become a media darling and could seem to do no wrong for some time (which would be a fair criticism -- of our media!), BUT that time has passed

And not for the benefit of the electorate necessarily but because a prolonged democratic race makes for better news ratings. No one is getting a free pass anymore (one has only to look at CNN to know this is the case; certainly FOX is giving no one a free pass) because free passes don't suit capitalism.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Go Before You Go

It's been such a long time since I wrote an entry in this category! But this story is too much fun not to share, and it seems that Po-pos are the talk of the moment.

I was teaching on Monday night, so dh decided to take Miss I and Little Bun to the playground. Due to recent events at the soccer field, dh insisted that Miss I use the potty before leaving for the playground. She refused, insisting that her "bladder wasn't full" (recall that these are doctor's kids); he waited, sure that if it wasn't yet, it would be as soon as they stepped out the door. She denied this.
He was very firm: "We will not go to the playground until you go to the bathroom."

Finally Miss I gave in, and went in to the bathroom. After a pause, the toilet flushed, the sink ran, and Miss I trotted out to put on her shoes. Little Bun remarked, "I don't think she really went." "Sure she did," dh responded. "I heard her flush." Still, Little Bun was not convinced.

Little Bun was right. Miss I, who really did have to go after all but had faked the whole thing, had to admit this to dh and return from the playground in defeat.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I just read a post that, at another time, would have set my teeth on edge. But at this point, I am too content, too secure that in fact my life DOES cheerfully revolve around my children and their needs, that always I am mindful of what they will need to grow them into healthy adults independent of me and their father.
I am not sure what has resulted in this confidence -- perhaps it is the way my daughter is growing and glowing, her infectious exuberance. Perhaps it is that I do not think there exists on earth a more socially conscious or compassionate six year old than Little Bun. Perhaps it is how incredibly average their sibling rivalry is, how uneventful our evenings are, how delightful our mornings (even when I awake to a high straining version of "Chubby Checker" -- again with the Chubby Checker! but she identifies songs by artists and loves Chubby Checker like she loves KC and the Sunshine Band -- at six o'clock in the morning).
Perhaps it is simply time.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Is it harder for someone black or for a woman?" strikes me as an unbelievably stupid question (I hope a black woman runs next time and reveals the stupidity of it) and a strategically problematic one (if you want to argue that you are capable of defeating McCain) and again, a distraction from the real matters at hand.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Is not, Is Too

Little Bun was trying to explain a conflict with friends of his over the game of Last Man Standing. Apparently a friend thought he had tagged Little Bun, Little Bun thought he hadn't been tagged, controversy ensued, and they've been on the outs all week and about seven of the kids give Little Bun angry looks now while about seven more give angry looks to the (former?) friend. By my calculations that leaves six students like Switzerland. First grade is socially complicated and highly political.

Miss I couldn't be left out of this conversation. She offered this parallel: "Like when Ethan said to me that the Hand Jive is Chubby Checker but I say NO! the Hand Jive is not Chubby Checker but he still thinks it is Chubby Checker." Not a comparison or a controversy I was expecting!

(Of course it could be worse -- both of my kids could be cage fighting).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I've almost made it for a full day without coffee (I drank 1/4 cup). I've also gone cold turkey on cola. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but if you review my archives you will find that it is a great challenge for me (it is why I cannot be hard on my friends who won't quit smoking). But the motivating factors this time are a ridiculously high resting heart rate (why it's like I'm not even resting!) and my doctor's insistence that we can attribute ten of the twenty pounds I'd like to lose to cola alone (I can't drink diet. I just can't). My husband, who drinks caffeine up til 11 at night and still sleeps soundly is no help with either of these. So . . . help!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's in a Nickname?

My daughter has bestowed on me the bizarre nickname "Sugar-free," as in "Hey, Sugar-free!" when she sees me. Any thoughts about where this might have come from?
I've engaged in and overheard several more conversations on Wright this week. I've thought a lot about why Reverend Wright's words aren't only "problematic" and sometimes perhaps "ignorant" but also "threatening" and "scary," why Obama's "faith" in him makes Obama a terrible unknown (though Obama's two books give strong clues), why there's some sort of implication of a "betrayal" to come.

I really think the real fear has little to do with Reverend Wright himself, and little to do with Barack Obama's faith or personal judgment, but plenty to do with perceived racial allegiances and everything to do with Obama's mixed race body.

It's all too familiar -- on some level scenes from D.W.Griffith's Birth of a Nation play on the screens of white American brains. I've read since that the racist subtext of the Clinton 3am commercial and its connection to Griffith's film/primal white American anxieties did not go unnoticed (New York Times 3/11/2008 -- I'm only a bit behind). The Clinton campaign willingly traded anxieties about the ability of a female president to respond to a crisis for more insidious anxieties about the possibility that a black president might betray "us." The suffragists should not have been impressed.

For those whose memory of Griffith's revisionist history of Reconstruction America is dim, Birth of a Nation adapts a novel The Clansman with the titular character and those of his ilk as the original American heroes. After post-Civil War blacks are freed, they take advantage of the misplaced generosity of the North, engaging in debauchery. Worse, a black militia forms and determines to take over the south.

Silas Lynch ("the mulatto"), the mentee of traitor to his race and powerful politician Stoneman, organizes "his people", who not only vote but also gain office. Scenes of whites judged by all-black juries and shoeless black senators ensue (as well as famous attempted rape scenes). The white minority is disempowered and nearly disenfranchised, certainly disheartened. Miscegenation is legalized; the real horror is revealed. Only the newly formed Klan can restore order (once they discover the power of the white sheet to terrorize small children on the beach) . . .

Birth of a Nation and its images linger like a national nightmare hanging vaguely on after awakening.

I've heard the argument that Obama is not "black enough," a charge he dealt with throughout his life and in part by attending Reverend Wright's church as a means of connecting with the African American community from which he had been largely excluded by his upbringing. Now the charge is that, with ties to a Black Liberation Theologist, (explained in a Forbes Q&A with a writer on BLT) he is "too black," that he not only believes in racial equality but also, like the black militia of the Birth of a Nation, believes that black people have not only the same right to walk on the sidewalk as white people but also the right to shove whites off.

I want to talk about the economy, taxes, trillion dollar wars, health care, poverty, education, Clinton, McCain, Obama -- but we can't do that with lingering nightmares from the birth of this nation. (And be honest -- don't you kind of feel like someone is keeping us distracted on purpose?)