Monthly Archives: February 2007

babel, or, children in peril

Babel is the first movie I have seen in a theatre since “The Hours.”

Boy, I really miss sitting in a movie theatre, the public aspects, the trust of it, sitting and more or less agreeing to take something in together… even if there is no accord on what was taken in, what was meant, or even the simple differences between people who liked what they saw, and those who did not.

I subtitled this “children in peril” because in each of the remote human settlements, children are in peril. Sometimes we see it, in agonizing depictions or in foreboding; sometimes we don’t, but it’s there on background, in the tensions between people. (My previous distaste for violence hasn’t gone away completely, but I could sit through multiple screenings of The Departed. In contrast, the notion of threatened or suffering children strikes far too close to home.)

But the notion of random, messy connections, one which drove so many laudatory reviews, isn’t really all that miraculous. It’s the world. I expect random connections, and appreciate them. It’s a dead trip, or a slow mental day, when I can’t make them. I’m glad for the filmmaker to show it, but in a way, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Marie had introduced me to the music on a drive to ERCIM, the haunting beauty of a string “atmospheric” piece – Bibo No Aozora – was what still holds me, and its use in the film worked. In the end, perhaps it’s when we don’t bother with words, when we can be present, connecting glances, listening to music in the same chamber, when the babbling is reduced to a gentle, gurgling and benign murmur.

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Filed under Babel, children, communication, Complexity, connections, film, misunderstandings, music, public experiences, violence

[restaurant rave, SEA] Pomegranate

Finally, I found a place on the eastside that felt like home, or the best parts of it. A friend took me to Pomegranate in Redmond yesterday for lunch, and from the time we walked in, it felt like my place.

The space itself is open and colorful, a touch industrial, but warm, if that makes sense. (Pipes on the ceiling are still pipes, after all.) It also has a huge window in lieu of a back wall, giving a view into Lisa Dupar’s catering kitchen. Already, I was imagining getting into my car for snacking escapes, and daily pastry shows.

And the food! Most of the lunch menu centered around an item called firebread – like a thinner take on focaccia, with delicious toppings. You can check out the full menu using the links above.

I opted for the homemade tomato soup and grilled (white cheddar) cheese sandwich. Comforting and delicious. One of my friends had a slow-cooked, pulled-pork sandwich, which he enjoyed greatly. Making simple things well can sometimes seem too understated an approach for many restaurants and chefs. I’m glad the approach is embraced at Pomegranate, to every diner’s benefit.

Oh, and make sure you save room for dessert. Whether you go for the Key Lime Meringue tart or the understated knockout that is the bread pudding, you’ll enjoy it. I’m looking forward to my next trip.

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Filed under Baked Desserts, bread & pastries, Bread and Bakeries, comfort food, cuisine, delicious, delight, dessert, Desserts, eastside restaurants, lunch, pastry, restaurant, restaurants in Redmond, soup

some things I didn’t know about the moon

The moon is talking.

The moon is a woman.

The moon sounds like mommy. It’s beautiful.

(from Ben)

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Filed under astronomy, children, kids say the darndest things, moon, Motherhood, women

ben prefers the natural look

I had an appointment late in the day with a local makeup artist with whom I’ve become friends. But when I arrived, he was on his way out, sick as a dog. The woman who took over for him was friendly enough and didn’t try to sell me on any skin care products, thank god. And since she already felt like second choice, I let her have at my face with whatever palette she saw fit.

She did a good and different job – good in that her technique and ideas were very good; she had a good sense for color; different for me in that it really looked like I was wearing makeup. It’s not easy using greens.

When I met Ben at daycare, he stared at me, trying to figure out what this stuff was on my face. I sat with him at the snack table; he munched and stared. We got his coat and backpack, and he stared. He did the usual announcement of “My mom’s here” on our way out, and then we got to the car. As I buckled him into the carseat, he began touching my eyelids.  I told him that Mommy was wearing makeup. He kept staring. I asked if he liked it, and he said, clearly, “No.” When I asked if he would like mommy to take it off he said “Yes” but that he wanted to go to the grocery store first and get some chocolate.

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Filed under children, cosmetics, kids say the darndest things, makeover, mother, Motherhood, son

Dedham wildlife, 2006

Our trip to Boston in December was another episode in exhaustion, sprinkled with delightful interludes (seeing La Famiglia Dilletante, sitting with my spiritual mentor and eating uninterrupted for 10 minutes; Manhattan strolling with Smruti; Ben and the Big Blue Whale).

But the most surprising of these were the wildlife appearances in my old neighborhood.

As kids, we would have lived for the chance to see animals (other than the omnipresent squirrels) wandering through our yards. I had never seen a fox, or a raccoon. Sometimes the trash would be torn apart, and that would be offered as evidence of the wild kingdom amongst us, but other than the excitement offered by finding the occasional toad, it was a barren experience.

So imagine my surprise when I looked out the hallway window and saw a plump fox, lolling around the scrubby woods that was once our backyard. Lolling around, trying to get comfy on the hillside. So confident, that when Ben and I snuck out to watch him (from the other side of a cinderblock wall with a 4ft chickenwire fence), he looked at us and nearly waved. A star was born.

When we took a dusk walk on Christmas eve, we took a turn off Fox Meadow Lane onto Indian Path (I am not making these names up). Fluffy grey ashes were floating down, though there was no woodsmoke. “Wait, those aren’t ashes, they’re feathers,” I remarked to Himself. Looking up, I saw a hawk perched on a telephone pole, picking apart an early dinner. Ben followed suit, and that is when we had our first discussion of carnivores and hunting.

The reasons are many for the wildlife appearances, I suppose, but most of them aren’t very good. The increase in commercial development and housing subdivisions is also pushing deer into backyards, and, in my mother’s case,  front ends.

I’m glad Ben remembers the fox in Grammie’s woods, but I don’t feel so good about the circumstances that pushed him there.

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Filed under boston, conservation, dedham, encroachment, fox, hawk, Massachusetts, New England, sighting, son, suburbs, Uncategorized, wild animals, wildlife

oh, tell me something I don’t know.

“The main reason that educated and high-achieving women have trouble finding or keeping mates, according to observers past and present, is that they won’t play dumb enough to assuage a man’s ego or act submissive enough to put up with unfair treatment.”

So what happens when men begin to pursue women they consider their intellectual equals, and strive for more egalitarian divisions of labor?

“Studies have shown that men whose attitudes become more egalitarian during their marriage report higher marital satisfaction, and so do their wives; they also have better sex lives and more socially aware children.”

Amen, sister. Read the full story.

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Filed under marriage, relationships, what i did for love, wit, women

one lump or two?

The question is on the table. We’ve just reached the one year mark of no-nursing, and largely sleeping through the night. (I’ve been waking at 3-5am lately, but for no clear reason.) And so we’ve been talking about the possibility of a second child.

At Ben’s first birthday, I was asked if having a baby was the best thing I had ever done. I said no, it was the hardest thing I had ever done. I had just peaked in  a case of slow-burn post-partum depression, exacerbated by months-long insomnia and increased isolation.
Now, with the help of more sleep, I’d still say it is the hardest thing I have ever done, but also the most important. The most transformative. That I have never felt so much at stake in my life as when I think of what the future can hold for him. And, in case this is the first post you’ve read of mine, that I utterly adore him.

The painful mysteries of infancy that laid me to waste are more easily understood from where I sit now; and that part of what needs to be understood is that you can’t possibly get it in the moment. You can only be in the moment with the little whelp, reassuring him or her that you are there, and that you know he is unhappy/angry/frustrated.

But the notion of the satisfying motherhood is still more theory – I’d argue myth – than anything else for me at this time. I know it’s the most important thing I do, but it isn’t close to the full picture of who I am. I live in a place where people do not know “who I am” – a self-important phrase no doubt, but one that I mean with humility. That self-knowledge, as well as the ambivalence of himself in the face of our early experiences, all but puts the kabosh on it – though in his annoying Danish optimism, he insists on saying “Let’s see.”

Reading up on “only child” experiences hasn’t helped much – it’s as much of a crapshoot as imagining a child could choose the personality traits of parents – though it has served as a reminder of the rich, messy variety of experiences.

So, what do you think? Knowledge of me is not necessary in order to provide thoughtful advice, but it may help.

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Filed under 40th Birthday, aging, awkward, children, confessional, delight, mother, Motherhood, son, toddler, Toddlerhood, Uncategorized, what i did for love, women

police tickets start at USD300 in Seattle

I read the NYT profile on the Police reunion Sunday – as an NPR/CSPAN junkie, this is the only way I get my music news, and even then, it’s a reunion tour. I said to Himself – “Ooh, I’d love to go to that show.” Himself, to his credit, jumped to it, fingers a-flyin in search of a Seattle date. Then he stopped and said, “Ahem.”

Prices for tickets at the smallish Key Arena start at 300+, and run to 1,300. Per seat.

I remember in my teenage days buying posters because the records were much more expensive, and I could hear the right songs on the radio. Concert tickets were a huge indulgence. Now for the first time since adulthood, I felt completely priced out of an event. Again, to Himself’s tremendous credit, he said he would fund it, that I could celebrate my late grandmother’s 99th birthday in style. But the pricing is obscene; her thrifty soul would not approve. And in truth, neither would I.

Boys, I wasn’t born in the 50’s, but I also wasn’t born yesterday.

update, 2/23: well, things weren’t as dire as earlier reported. A few google searches without himself uncovered a few seats under 150. The new peak price being asked, via reseller, was 4,250.

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Filed under born in the 60s, concerts, greedy greedy greedy, Key Arena, Police, seattle, sting, The Police, ticket prices

first crocus, snowdrops

Wind blew our neighbors’ recyclables around our front yard today, plastering it with newsprint and clear plastic food containers. But garbage duty had its own rewards; the first crocus and snowdrops of the year appeared this morning, in full view of the living room.

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Filed under crocuses, flowers, snowdrops, spring, spring bulbs, weather

Mette’s baby

I wasn’t so sleep-deprived that I didn’t know the red flashing text next to my flight listing was a bad sign. Schipol was the hub of a pile-up for travellers en route to Seattle; Wednesday’s early afternoon A340 was rescheduled for 9am the following day, which left my flight delayed by 3, then 4, then 6 hours.

I took a call from a freelance journalist, explaining the legion of corrections I provided for his article one by one; in spite of this, he gave me a gift.

“My wife tells me there are great massages available at the Schipol Airport. If your delay proves to be that long, perhaps you should find them.” Wiser words rarely spoken. I was less than 50 meters away from the “Back To Life” massage bar, which consisted of three massage therapists in loose black jersey, a set of chairs and two aqua-massage beds. I put my name on the list for a 20 minute chair massage.

My name was called by a woman who had just arrived at the stand. She was beautiful, and not simply conventionally so, she was in my favorite way – an open face, eye contact, engaged. I told her I was tired and of my chronic muscle problems, and she set me into the face cradle.

I couldn’t see, but I could hear a colleague asking her what she would like to drink (Rooibos tea) and talking to her about Nectar, what a wonderful name that would be for “the baby”. How he knew a male doctor from Indonesia named Honey. I asked if she was pregnant, and she said yes. It was her first child; and she was looking forward to the baby’s arrival.

In the time it took to say that, I wanted to take care of her.

I asked about how she was doing, if she knew if she was carrying a boy or girl, how was her energy level, naming… and then my unsolicited advice kicked in – always sleep when the baby sleeps, pace yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help – and I made a point of telling her the advice I avoided to my peril (the sleep, the sleep, the sleep).

We talked about many things, as if we were old friends.

At the end of the massage, I stood up and she told me of her surprising experience, that women who were otherwise strangers had all extended such kindness to her once they knew she was pregnant. (I had the same experience.)

For me, it is wanting to support and protect her, to support her in her courageous decision to become a mother. It is a commitment to the world we live in, and to its improvement. And it’s a particularly brave woman who takes that on, in the face of what our world is becoming. Mette’s baby (and Mette) are ours in connection; the daisy chain of mothers who rested under Mette’s hands as she took away the tensions of travel, of work, of personal matters, all giving her hope…or more accurately, giving her our hopes in return (jd, 11 feb)

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Filed under Amsterdam, connections, Duty free, duty-free shopping, mother, Motherhood, personal, pregnancy, schipol, women