Tuesday, February 28, 2006


It was through the books of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo that I came to suspect that Sweden (and perhaps all of Scandinavia) is depressing. Previous to my encounter with these books, I think I believed a place populated by tall blondes who ski which also had all night sunshine in June would inherently be a glamorous place, far more than anyplace I happened to live. Of course, I have no excuse for this assumption as I spent my formative years watching the films of Ingmar Bergman and it doesn't take a genius to imagine the bleak life which would lead a people to create a god like Odin. Obviously, I wasn't paying attention. Or perhaps my teen years were so gray that I was impervious to the hopelessness of others. Perhaps it says something positive about me that I should think of the few days when the sun never sets and the ability to see the Aurora Borealis when I think of life near the Arctic Circle. It would be so easy, especially at this time of year, to focus on the cold and to focus on the dark.

So I see this news story and I feel overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness which is not unfamiliar to me and realize that it is the overriding feeling I get when I am forced to encounter the reality of Scandinavian life.

During the Olympics, I happened to overhear one of NBC's human interest pieces on a Norwegian skier who had won a gold medal at a previous Winter Olympics (Lillehammer? Nagano? not as recent as Salt Lake City) after which his brother disappeared. What struck me was the voice over which said that people disappearing into the Norwegian winter was not uncommon. Can you imagine living someplace where losing a loved one in a snowstorm is not uncommon? What worries me is not the idea that nature is cruel, but the far more worrisome idea that people disappear all the time and that we blame nature because, well, nature is the least disturbing explanation. Better to think your loved one perished in a snow dune than to think he just walked away without leaving word or was taken from you by human agency.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sparkly Snowscapes

The Winter Olympics have ended and there are only two more episodes of this season's Project Runway. Then it is back to not watching television (save the occasional Law and Order rerun) and not thinking about sequins. I fell asleep before the closing ceremonies were broadcast, so if there were any fabulous Moschino designed alpine cake dresses, I did not get to see them.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

vera vera WANG WANG WANG vera vera WANG WANG WANG

Fleur de Lis Ball last night. I didn't have it in me to forage for glowing ice cubes this year. Maybe it was the 4+ inch heels I was hobbling around in.

I think the amount of fun one has at a formal affair is directly proportional to the amount of time one invests in getting ready for the function.

It took me 2 hours to do my hair (blow dry straight, then hot rollers to make it curly--I was trying to go for a wavy affect, but I misjudged the curling power of the rollers and the staying power conferred by the product I used,) makeup, put on the undergarments (long line bra and SPANX--everyone talks up how great SPANX are, but these began to run the moment I put them on and I am not so sure they made me skinnier, which is the point of spending over $20 on pantyhose, right?) and the dress, then I was tripping in the shoes I originally intended to wear and had to upgrade to the aforementioned 4 1/2 inch platforms (I am, apparently, skinnier than I was when I had the dress altered for length and wore it in Jenny's wedding in October. Smaller butt=longer dress because the fabric is not being held up by the larger posterior. No one ever mentions higher shoes as a potential side effect of weight loss.) I looked great. The dress looked great even if it is the wrong size.

Perhaps it is a sign that I am ready to move on to another sartorial obsession, but I didn't even feel a twinge of desire for anyone else's black dress last night. And it seemed like every woman was wearing a black dress. Perhaps it wasn't a sign of anything. I must admit, I was pretty unimpressed by most of the dresses I saw. The fabrics looked cheap and the silhouettes were unflattering. I think a lot of people assume that formal means long or sparkly or some combination of the two and put very little thought in their appearance beyond that. The best dresses I saw were maternity dresses (one was this red satin dress and another was a knee-length black on black polka dot chiffon with a maribou trimmed hemline) and a sage green satin halter dress. Admittedly, in the sea of black dresses, one has difficulty distinguishing one dress from another. But the lack of fabulous dresses was disappointing because when I was at Marshall Field's after a dentist appointment a few weeks ago, I saw so many formal dresses which made my mouth water, a fair number of which were unadorned and black. So I wonder what people are buying that no one was wearing anything enviable. Do people have so many black tie functions to attend that they run through their better dresses and this event ranks low on the list in terms of seeing and being seen? Perhaps but, in years past I recall seeing far more spectacular evening gowns. Maybe we have evolved beyond conspicuous consumption and people are giving the money they would have spent on clothing to the charity they are supporting. Or maybe they are spending all that money on luxury handbags and shoes.

Beyond the process of getting ready and the anticipation of a night out, I probably had about two hours of fun. Fred wanted to bid on a Vespa scooter, but the silent auction went well beyond its fair market value, so he did not. We both liked the Star Trek Next Generation pinball machine, but where would we put it? It is my opinion that a charity can make the most money in a silent auction if they just offer baskets of alcohol. Seriously, no one ever wonders if they have room for that basket of single malt scotch or if they can buy the basket of wines for hundreds of dollars less at the store.

The live auction was disappointing because the items up for auction were pretty lackluster. Whereas last year they were offering a role in a feature film, this year's big item was Golf with Mike Ditka (an item that seems only slightly more attractive than Hunting with Dick Cheney.) What people really want are the ridiculous items with famous people. Forget playing golf with abusive ex-football coaches. I'm thinking that people will pay big money for an item like "Go Couch Shopping with Tom Cruise" or "Do the Chicken Dance with Condoleeza Rice."

Otherwise, it was pretty much the same as every year. We had to restrain my mother from overbidding on items for Julian, but she still managed to outspend some people on things she doesn't need. One of my cousins was so grossly inappropriate that after five minutes with her, I was ready to call it a night. By the end of the evening I was grumpy and my feet really hurt.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Knitting and Breastfeeding

Sadly, not at the same time. I would get so much more done if Julian would allow me to knit while he nursed.

Is it my imagination or is everyone knitting these days? It seems so strange to me, who has been knitting since childhood, to see the levels of obsession to which knitting is driving some people. Of course, some people swear that everyone is breastfeeding and this isn't the case (just look at the CDC stats.) I would venture to guess that the same demographic of women who are knitting are also breastfeeding and the fact that I think everyone is doing either says a lot about me and the socio-economic cohort to which I belong.

But there is, in my mind, a strange similarity between knitting and breastfeeding. At least in terms of the time it takes to get it right and to do it well. But everyone assumes knitting is so hard and breastfeeding is so easy when, in my experience, the opposite is the case. Ok, maybe knitting isn't easy, but the consequences aren't nearly so dire if you fail. (Though, of course, we live in an era of formula feeding, so there are, thankfully, no longer dire consequences if one fails to succesfully breastfeed.) Knitting and breastfeeding have a convergence for me in that they both are things which I do, and which I find myself talking a lot about lately, but which have become part of my identity to such a degree that it doesn't seem important; I go out and take some knitting with me to keep my hands busy. Julian starts to tug on the neckline of my shirt (because he hasn't yet learned to be polite nor has he learned patience) and I discreetly lift my shirt. It isn't that either is private, per se (though I am trying to get Julian to nurse only in the privacy of homes as I really don't want to be nursing a 15 month old active toddler in front of strangers.) Rather, it almost feels like I am bragging if I talk too much about my accomplishments in these areas.

Then I go on the internet and see all the websites devoted to knitting and all the websites devoted to breastfeeding (though I have yet to find any devoted to both) and start to wonder if I should be talking up my skills more.

So, here it is. I have a great baby who has never had an ear infection and I have never encountered a sweater I couldn't knit. And because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are ones of him nursing and a hat I designed.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I have a problem

I have been thinking about black dresses on and off for such a long time now and can't stop even when I want to.

A few weeks back, I was walking down State Street after a writer's meeting. The windows of the stores were filled with red dresses as February is women's heart disease month and, for some inexplicable reason, wearing a red dress is a show of support and solidarity (I guess all the ribbons and wristbands were taken.) I like the idea of wearing clothing to show one's political and philanthropic affiliations, but it seems like an opportunity rife with potential confusion. I mean, a woman walks into a room wearing a sexy red dress, I am not so sure that people will automatically understand that she is demonstrating her belief that more funding should go towards studying heart disease in women. Clothing is already so infused with hidden meanings and subtle signals, why pile even more meaning on an already overloaded plate?

But I digress.

We were walking past Carson's and the windows were filled with headless mannequins in red dresses and I found myself wondering what the dresses would look like in black. Not only wondering, I was coveting certain items, but only if they came in black. I was coloring the dresses in my mind. Not nearly as dirty sounding as undressing someone with my eyes, but every bit as wrong when we remember that I already own something like fifty black dresses.

I don't even want to wear half of the black dresses I own, but I can't get rid of them because they are part of the collection and, as every collector knows, the collection takes on a life of its own. I can't stop myself from buying new additions, even though I know I don't need any more and have so few opportunities to wear any dresses these days, given the season and my current role as mother to a monkey boy. Pants are most definitely bueno.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Is it just me?

We tried out a toddler gymnastics class today. It was terrible.

But maybe it is just me. Perhaps I am too judgmental, too cool, too cynical, and all this makes it impossible for me to tell the difference between well trained instructors teaching developmentally appropriate children's classes and severely mentally disabled people shouting at my child in an attempt to be wacky.

None of the other mothers even talked to me. I have never seen that many butts clad in Seven For All Mankind jeans in one place outside of a store. Clearly, an item of clothing has become passe when it becomes part of the stay at home mom uniform.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

True Confession #1: My foray into fan fiction

Awhile back, I wrote a short piece of Harry Potter fan fiction. Like many things, it began as a diversion from my real writing and it turned into a piece of real writing in and of itself. If you are interested in reading it, click here

Maiden Voyage

I have avoided creating a blog for some time now. My fear was that I would become attached to this, that I would write here and then would avoid writing in the real world, that this opportunity for naval gazing and exposure would serve as yet another internet procrastination tool (cheaper than ebay, more self-involved than message boards.) But the truth is that I haven't been doing much writing in the real world. All my projects are gathering dust. I underestimated the amount of mental energy I needed and foolishly thought that I could somehow succesfully juggle motherhood with my desire for artistic brilliance. I need an outlet and I need something external to motivate me. So here I am using Julian's naptime to create a blog. Perhaps it will prove to have been a wise decision, I may create more than I ever planned. Perhaps I will grow bored with this medium and will cease to post. Who can say?