succumbing to peer pressure

Friday, September 02, 2005

Parents and (unconditional?) love

So Carrie and I had a little impromptu therapy session tonight and talked briefly about the whole parent thing. Her take is that we either buy into our parents loving us unconditionally, either in agreement or disagreement with whatever the relationship may actually be, or we accept that under some circumstances, even if they are extremely rare, that love and support is contingent upon something. I'm not sure where I fall on that spectrum of thought right now, but what I do know is that I have to figure out a way to make my parents less influential in my life. I always thought that I did a pretty good job of seeing them as fallible humans, outside the Mom and Dad box. I've always acknowledged that they sometimes do and say things that seem 'wrong' to me or for whatever reason they don't provide the reaction that I need at that point in time. And I always thought of myself as forgiving and understanding of that. They aren't perfect, they make mistakes, they hurt my feelings, but these things happen. They're generally good people, well-intentioned people. So if those things are is it that I seem to have internalized the few 'bad' things in our relationship? And how come I can't seem to outgrow so desperately needing their approval, first and foremost, before my own or my colleagues'?

Sean Smith (from Premiere magazine) on Jodie Foster:

Her voice hasn't changed. You can still hear the tomboy in tennis shoes, the 12-year-old toughie. Yet that face seems to acquire new angles each year, as if some unseen diamond cutter were chiseling away the last bit of rough. We have been watching Jodie Foster for four decades now, and she continues to intrigue us. Perhaps this is because, while we may love to watch Julia fall in love, we love to watch Jodie think.

What a lovely way to be described.

It's not often these days that I have nice things to say about the mainstream media, but my boy Anderson Cooper comes through with some righteous anger (got to love those Channel One folks from high school) (via April's favorite word - Amygdala):

Cooper suspended the traditional TV rules of decorum and, approaching tears of fury, said:
Excuse me, Senator, I'm sorry for interrupting. I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.

And when they hear politicians slap—you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up.

Do you get the anger that is out here? …

I mean, I know you say there's a time and a place for, kind of, you know, looking back, but this seems to be the time and the place. I mean, there are people who want answers, and there are people who want someone to stand up and say, "You know what? We should have done more. Are all the assets being brought to bear?"
Landrieu kept her cool, probably because she's in Baton Rouge, while the stink of corpses caused Cooper to tremble in rage all the way to the commercial break.

Sounds like other reporters have stopped playing nice too (more at the link).

In much lighter news, the guest list for our party this weekend has topped 30 and Anna and I are very psyched (and feeling very loved!). Fortunately, she likes to hostess too (oh Carrie, how I miss sharing those duties with you!) so we've been shopping and cleaning and decorating and all the fun things that go along with revelry-making. Tomorrow morning I try my hand at Carrie's bourbon-dark-chocolate-cookies.

And refill my prescription for nasonex, since I've finally been convinced that maybe I do in fact have allergies (I've been skeptical since my doc suggested it). I finally started thinking like a scientist and linking the times when I've felt worse, and they've mostly followed time outside or driving around in my car with the windows down. And the clincher for me - running errands this afternoon I was really starting to struggle, feeling pretty congested, driving with the windows down (trying to conserve gas by skipping the AC) and rapidly after putting up the windows and turning on the AC I started to feel better. So I guess I'm mostly convinced. Sigh. I don't want to be allergic to the outside. I like the outside.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

So I guess I sort of glossed over the few days back in Atlanta immediately after going to NYC, but my friends Jann and Chris (the guys with a guitar and an upright base on those pics from NYC and other) were in town for a few days for a music festival. And the night that we went to hear them play we also made friends with three brothers from Wisconsin who are in a band called On A Sun. They're pretty good, and they're incredibly adorable - after closing the bar with us at the Underground they gave me a copy of their cd, for free, as long as I promised to e-mail them my thoughts about it later. So I finally got around to e-mailing them a few days ago, and since then all three have taken time to e-mail me back! So cute!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


I sort of tuned out the hurricane coverage after learning that the Superdome weathered the brunt of the storm ok (I figured if the next morning headline wasn't "thousands dead as superdome collapses" then the rest of the city must be pretty much ok). Silly me. The water keeps pouring it, the death toll keeps rising, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do. The vast majority of those stuck in the city are poor, staggeringly poor, stuck there precisely because they don't have a car, couldn't afford a bus ticket, a hotel room somewhere else for days, etc. etc. These people didn't choose to stay. 25% of New Orleans lives below the poverty level. 25%! How does that happen?

A former student of mine popped her head in my office doorway today. She's a 'refugee,' back in her old apartment, just days after moving to New Orleans, planning to start a PhD program at Tulane. A program that won't even start now until the spring semester. She's fairly ok. Got out a day ahead of the most frenzied evacuation rush, managed to pack a change of clothes, a pair of shoes, her dog. Now she plans to go back to her mother's house in NY, wallow, as she put it, for a while, then go work overseas until the new year.

The first of the energy effects hit Atlanta today - starting at noon gas prices started creeping up over $3 a gallon, by the end of the work day there were lines at most gas stations, rumors of shortages, and price-gouging. Supposedly the Gov has passed an emergency petrol bill, temporarily freezing prices.

I just want my bike back.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Hoorah! As usual, Carrie has a rather brilliant post up over at Secede from the Union. Really, go read the whole thing, but just in case you need a teaser to motivate the click:
Maybe if people were more choosy about their “fuck[s] every once in a while,” they wouldn’t be so emotionally empty afterwards that they cling to the first motionless object they find. Relationships of uncertain duration can be truly delightful, sans commitment, sans ring, sans clothes, but they require players who don’t have to “need” in order to want.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I just may have to make this my new screensaver. (Warning! naked boy under link!) Thanks to Carrie!

Geeky Mom (who's description, "Raising children on nothing but brains and gadgets" I hope may one day apply to me) raises many a good point. First:
Watching Jon Stewart spar with Christopher Hitchens, I was struck by something that Stewart said. He said, "Not once has Bush or anyone in the administration come out and talked to us like adults. Instead he falls back on these platitudes that don't mean anything." And I thought, yes, that's it. We know it's a complex situation, even if we thought it was wrong in the first place, we're in it now. We deserve a discussion, a debate. We don't need "Mission Accomplished" or "We're making progress."
I was thinking this same thing this morning (ok, afternoon) while reading an article in the Times about parents of children killed in Iraq. The article was ostensibly about whether or not other parents agreed with Cindy Sheehan, but what I kept reading over and over was this hard, binary division - either you think the war is wrong and thus are aiding the terrorists and devaluing the sacrifices of our country's sons and daughters or you whole-heartedly support what we're doing and don't question the president or the rest of the administration (and thus honor our sons and daughters). I know that these sorts of divisions make snappy news articles and sound bites, but has our world really been so simplified? We're living in complex times, we are complex people, why can't we talk about these things? Is it really so impossible to think this war was misguided, to question my government, and yet still support and honor our troops? I don't have many close military ties, either through friends or family, so I don't know - when I argue that we were misled into this war, that our leaders are doing a poor job of organizing this fight, am I offending soldiers? Am I making their job harder? More dangerous? I get that when you're there, you have to buy into it, you must believe that what you're doing is important and right, because how else could you do your job? But is it really so hard to draw a line between supporting the people on the ground and not supporting the people who put them there?

And second:
I've been pushing politics to the back burner because I've felt helpless. I live in a blue state with red senators and congressmen. My local politics are also red. There are so many things I'm concerned about, I don't know where to start. Energy policy, women's rights, health care, education. All complex issues without easy answers, and I'd like for somebody to get the courage to start working on them. I'm holding my representatives to task when they get back to work in a few weeks.

Burn out is way too easy. Carrie's onto something with her focused anger.

And lastly, not from Geeky Mom, there's Operation Yellow Elephant: Blog Your Campus. The idea is simple enough - post signs or otherwise publicly expose the hypocrisy of young Reps and other conservatives who support a war they refuse to fight in. Although I partly agree with Easily Distracted's points about a similar tactic (it doesn't actually change much/anything, it opens the door for identical tactics from the 'other side') I still think it's a good, entertaining idea. Because, as Saul Alinsky instructs, to keep one's base motivated, one has to use creative, entertaining methods. And, I would argue, to maintain one's sanity in times like these, one needs to cling to a sense of humor (see burnout above). And sure, Reps and other conservatives are welcome to fight back in a similar manner. In the end, we're all hypocrits about something, it does us good to be kept honest and on our toes about our convictions and espoused principles, and, at least in my book, wit is always rewarded and appreciated, even when used against me.

Maybe it's the latest regimen of drugs (mucinex + aleve + nasonex) or just quality time with good friends, but I seem to be breathing a bit easier today. Even went for a jog around the neighborhood, furthering my infatuation with Candler Park/Lake Claire. So, because it's a good day, I start once again thinking about just glossing over the family thing, not dealing with it, because things seem ok today, and dealing with it seems so big and hard and scary. The thing is this - while I was in high school and starting college, my older brother was a bit of a screw-up. So while I watched my parents struggle with that, and flounder and seem mostly lost, I decided that I had to do my best impression of both a perfectionist and an invisible person - never call attention to myself, never rock the boat. When I left for college, my freshman year, I got a steady stream of, don't screw up. Don't be like your brother. Don't lose your scholarship. Don't flunk out. Really helpful stuff. And while it isn't like that anymore, and I thought I had let go of most of that stuff (Sid's right, we never really let it go, I just mean, dealt with it, made peace with it) it has become more and more obvious that I have a long way to go.

Since today is a good day, it's easy to call to mind a summer day after sophomore year when I turned to see Dad looking at me, pleasure and pride clearly written on his face. But the lesson of this summer has been that on the bad days, that picture disappears pretty quickly. When I was stressing over my Exam, the thing I feared most about potentially not passing was having to call home and tell my parents. (my own personal embarassment, disappointment with myself, and having to face my department were a close second. but second nonetheless) This, despite the fact that while I was home Dad made a point of telling me that he was proud of me, regardless of the outcome. In my rational moments, I know they're proud of me, supportive of me, etc. etc. But it seems that when I'm struggling with something, I go right back to those freshman year lessons. So the dilemma is now, having carried that around for 7-odd years, can I put it down on my own, re-learn the more recent lessons of pride and support...or do I have to share that burden with them before I am able to lighten my load?