Thursday, March 31, 2011

On the Dining Habits of Princesses

Last weekend I finished reading  Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein.

First off, that is an amazing title followed by a somewhat descriptive subtitle: "Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture."

I do not have a daughter.  In fact, something in my gut tells me I might never have a daughter.  I feel like boys are in my future.  Stay tuned to watch me eat those words in a few years.

So why did I pick up this book?  Well, I am a daughter and I do have (currently) one niece by marriage and one niece by best friendship.  And I care about girls, our girls, the generations of sisters were are raising individually and collectively.

And did I mention the awesome title? 

This is not a book about how to raise healthy girls.  It's not a how-to or a "simple solution in three easy steps" book.  This is more like, OMG!!!!! WHAT HAVE WE DONE AND WHAT DO WE DO!?!?!?!?!?

I can get on board with a book like that.

Orenstein (if you use last names you sound academic- btw, if you actually read one of my academic papers, you would not know they were written by the same person; you would probably fall asleep - insomniacs, please contact me for assistance) writes in a informal, "sister friend," fellow commiserating parent, bloggy style.

I can get on board with a book like that as well. 

Side note (we're just full of side notes today), bloggy style?  I didn't know what I was typing until it was out there.  You can't just take something like that back.   

I don't feel like critiquing so here's what I liked about the book. 
  • Orenstein's informal, unassuming style
  • Her recognition of her own limited perspective
  • The information on the EXTENSIVE marketing machine being aimed directly at our children, particularly our daughters, telling them how and with what to play
  • Her self-questioning nature and willingness to say, "maybe I'm completely wrong about this..."
  • It's not a scholarly article, so it is not researched ad nauseum but several experts from a variety of perspectives are interviewed
  • It affirmed what I already thought (just being honest here folks)
  • She places the development of the "girlie-girl" culture in historical, sociological, and psychological context
  • It's a "small sample group" as the critics say, but it is also part memoir (I think) so get over it, it makes it more interesting
  • Orenstein's approach reminds me a lot about how I was raised, except my mom had fewer and less intrusive outside influences to battle in the 80s - internet?  what's an internet?
  • It seems like a jumping off point for future inquiry - the data is just now beginning to come in
Orenstein grew up in the 1970s, she's raising her daughter in the beginning of the 21st century.  I grew up in the in-between time that she just touches on, the 1980s and early 1990s, when girlie-girl marketing was limited to Rainbow Brite, Care Bears, My Little Pony, and Barbie; still very girlie-girl but hardly the hyper-sexualized Bratz dolls or the over-marketed Disney princesses.  Orenstein writes about the evolution of the Disney Princess brand since 2000 - fascinating stuff - as well as the American Girl dolls (I own ALL of the historical dolls and plan to pass them down one day but they are the original Pleasant Company dolls, not the Mattel version...I might be a little bit proud of that).  She writes about Spice Girls and Barbie and Bratz and Britney and Hannah Montana and the color pink.  She writes about the Disney princess stories and the Brothers Grimm and ancient folklore.  She writes about social networking and blogs, how we live our lives as performance, always thinking about how to capture the current moment in a tweet or update or blog post rather than just living the moment itself, and how that effects our girls as they enter their "tween" (a term developed by marketers) and teen years. 

Did you know that the developmental stage known as "toddler" was created by retailers?  They were trying to figure out how to get parents to buy new stuff for their kids between their baby stage and their kid stage.  Enter the toddler stage - a whole new demographic for which to purchase.  An interesting tidbit from Ms. Orenstein.

I agree with critics that it seems to end too soon, I wanted just a little bit more of a wrap-up, some "parting wisdom" to take on the road, but it's an interesting book, especially if you are raising girls, are a girl, teach girls, or wonder about girls, and a great way to start the conversation or perhaps move it forward.

For all you theology nerds

You know you're out there.  All you people from my past and my (slightly smaller contingency) present.

I haven't read Rob Bell's book Love Wins.

But do you know what I love about responses to Rob Bell's book Love Wins?  NOBODY SEEMS TO HAVE READ IT.*

*Jeremy, I know you read it.  And I liked your take too.

If you are not a theology nerd and don't keep up with current Christian gossip and don't like banging your head against the wall over ancient disagreements that get us nowhere and only end in furthering our divisions and frustrating everyone...

Oh, wait, did I show my cards too soon?

Anyway, if you do not know about this book and do not care, that's okay.  If you do not know about this book and do care, here's the gist:

Rob Bell is a popular, hip, somewhat progressive, (insert current buzz word here) Christian leader guy.  Lots of people like him, some people love to hate him.  He writes books and hip, cool Christian people read them.  And then get scared.  Especially when he suggestions (spoiler alert) that there might not be a hell to which all of us heathens can be sent.

A gazillion blog posts and tweets later, no one can agree about this book and, further more, very few seem to have actually read it.  It cracks me up. The majority of the responses start this way: "I have not yet read Bell's book, but..."

Reactionary much?

Oh the religiously righteous.  You make me sleepy.

I went to seminary once.  Intro to Theology was an exhausting class.

So, let me say, I have not read the book.  In fact, I probably won't.  I've already read it.  It's called If Grace is True by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland.  Okay, it's probably not the same book but I already know how I feel about the subject and I am not currently in professional Christian leadership so I don't have to do the required reading.

All of that to say, I kind of liked Rachelle Mee-Chapman's take on the whole thing.  And she mentions Carlton Pearson, which is always an interesting topic, especially for you Okies.

Spoiler alert: she hasn't read the book either.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weekend update

A quick update for our friends and family.

Where we are living next year: TBD
What I am doing next year: TBD
What S is doing next year: TBD
What Buddy is doing next year: eating, playing, sleeping, and pooping - location TBD

What I am doing this afternoon: laundry, groceries, Drop Dead Diva on Netflix, and picking up S from the airport - order TBD

It's almost April and we still don't know where we're going in July.  NC for grad school?  OK for a year of preparation before a second go at grad school?

S is making all sorts of plans- applying for jobs, applying the school, creating spreadsheets for his ambitious non-profit startup.

I made a wreath and a menu board.  I am at a bit of a standstill.

I need structure to be productive (aside from craft projects).  Please structure, appear in my life!

Coming up: I just finished reading this book.   Time to discuss!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

"All failure is fleeting"

Earlier this week I made the comment to a friend that it felt like the first two weeks of March pooped on my face. I still have a home, my family, food in my refrigerator and pantry, and much to be thankful for but a few really big things in my life felt like they were falling apart.

I was all set to write up a post about how excited I was about March - flowers blooming, warmer weather, my birthday, a visit from my parents, and finding out about grad school.  Then February 28th arrived and the poop began to fall.

First a crisis in our marriage. I had to drive to Dallas with only Buddy for company and shed a lot of tears.  It's turning out alright, dare I say even wonderful; it's still there though, the pain and hurt that comes with a crisis.  I came home and things are good but my parents canceled their visit and then I got a bladder infection. 

But, it's okay!  My birthday was around the corner!  And we were going to make it wonderful!

Until I get not one but TWO rejection letters from schools where I applied for PhD programs.  I'm waitlisted at the other.  SMASH!  Goodbye dream...

Then S had to work on school stuff the whole weekend before my birthday when we were, you know, gonna celebrate.

Then it rained on my birthday. 

Then I only got two 3-day for the Cure donations on my birthday when I was aiming for 29.


It was beginning to feel like the universe was just closing one door after another.

See, the thing is, this was supposed to be my year.  I've felt like I have been biding my time in the ATL during the past three years while S does his school and work stuff and now it was my turn!  As I approach 30 I was going to get to move forward toward my education and career goals, motherhood, creative pursuits, this was going to be THE YEAR!  No more standing in place, treading water, waiting for my ship to come in, etc, etc.

It's only March, I guess it can still be my year, but the year's going to have to do some extra credit work to get that designation now.

A few days have past, I'm a little more calm, a little less teary, and don't feel like a complete and absolute failure every hour of every day.  But I am still discouraged and disappointed and frustrated with my current circumstances.

Then today I came across this song on another blog.

I love this song.  It might seem a little cheesy but it lifts me up and makes me happy.  I went right over itunes and downloaded her album.

So now, here are some things for which I am thankful:
1) amazing friends who showed me so much love these past two weeks
2) amazing family who showed me so much love these past two weeks
3) a marriage worth fighting for
4) the azaleas that are about to bloom
5) Buddy
6) granny squares and making a blanket like this
7) fresh flowers on my pretty white table
8) the pretty dress that I found for my concert that I can also wear someday when I have a "passenger" on board
9) cookies
10) believing in my dream enough to try again next year if need be
11) the awesome white necklace I made that looks like this
12) life still being full of possibilities
13) being 29, even with the bumpy start
14) getting more birthday cards this year than, well, ever
15) my birthday present from S, a visit from my mom!
16) going to Alaska two weeks from today
17) physicians on call and 24-hour pharmacies
18) a husband who thinks I'm worth it
19) McDonald's $1 sweet tea
20) the second half of March! out like a lamb, right?

We're working on plans A, B, and C now that "go wherever B goes to school" doesn't seem to be working out.  Still keeping my fingers crossed to move off that waitlist!  It's not what I hoped for, not what I expected, not what my mentors assured me would happen, but it's okay. 

You tell me, don't try it
I'm warning you that I won't buy it
All failure is fleeting
I trust it always has its meaning 
-Mindy Gledhill 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Today's the Day!

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday (that's me)!
Happy birthday to me!

And happy birthday to my mom!

(me and my mama)

Today is also the day for my Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure fundraising and training kickoff!  My goal is to get 29 donations before midnight tonight in honor of my 29 years. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Coach S: Soccer Edition

S is a coach.  I am not a coach, not even a little bit.  I ask my music students if they are going to "baseball rehearsal" this afternoon, that is how much of a coach I am not.  But S is and he's a really good one.  After a successful volleyball season, he is following up with an even more successful JV soccer season!

You're much further away from the action in soccer and lots of the games are after dark so it's hard to get good pictures but here's a not good picture of the guys scrimmaging after their opponent didn't show up for a game.

On Friday they beat the best sports school in land (of ATL), St. Pius X.  Basically, they won the World Cup.  It's a good year to be a JV soccer player!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The post where I ask for money

It's not for me, really, it's for this:

I intended for March 1st to be the kick-off for my fundraising via blog, my birthday on March 15th marks the beginning of the Facebook fundraising operation. But then my world turned upside down for a few days and fundraising got put on the backburner.

Now I'm back!  And I still need to raise that $2300.

You might remember that I walked 60 miles in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta last October.  Last year I reached my fundraising goal by August which was amazing!  However, I must have been a little too convincing because I ended up recruiting some of my most generous supporters to walk with me this year in Dallas/Ft. Worth.  Now we all have to raise $2300!  Eek! 

So we begin now!  How do you help?  You can click on the widget over there in the column on the right.  Do you see it?  It's pink.  And has a picture of a lady who is not me.  That will take you to my personal fundraising page.  Or you can click here.  You can also read a little bit about why I walk and how you can honor your loved ones through our Bold Soles walking for Bold Souls tribute.

I turn 29 in less than a week.  My goal is to get 29 donations of $29 or more by the end of the day on March 15th.  Let's get this party started!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dorky music moment

Something else about Agnes Obel, doesn't her music make you think of Philip Glass and a little bit of Yann Tiersen?  The rhythmic and chordal patterns she uses reminds me of Glass's soundtrack for The Hours mixed with Tiersen's music for Amelie.  What do you think?

Two of my favorite composers writing music to two of my favorite movies in one wonder I like this chick.

Down the rabbit hole

Pardon our absence.  Why were we gone?  Because sometimes marriage is so hard that things fall apart and picking up the pieces takes some time away.  It was a rough week.  Maybe rough isn't the right word; it really, really sucked.  But we have found ourselves on the other side and things are good.  I can say that honestly - it is good.  So happy to have that be the truth.

Buddy and I drove to Dallas and then back again within a four day period.  That's a 13 hour drive and not too fun.  I've again learned this week what amazing friends I have.  One of the amazing ones, Carrie, sent me oodles of new music to listen to on my drive.  I fell in love with Agnes Obel.  These are some of the songs that spoke to my heart and helped bind my wounds.

Onward we go...