Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rom Coms

We've been on a romcom kick lately and it's been very enjoyable:

The Bridget Jones Trilogy

Eminently watchable. I'm pretty sure this is the second time I've seen them all, and this time I watched them in reverse order and they held up well. It helps that I have my own Colin Firth to watch them with.

Maggie's Plan

It starts out totally predictably, but adds a few unexpected twists. It's endlessly talky, which is just really too much. (How could a movie with Greta Gerwig and Ethan Hawke be otherwise?) Julianne Moore is truly, truly terrible when she's doing accents. (I think she's just one of my least favorite actresses ever. But especially when she's doing accents.)


I'd never ever heard of this and ended up liking it a lot. It's sort of novelistic in its repetitions and patterns. Cher and Olympia Dukakis are great. And the filming is artistic and interesting. This one was a really unexpected treat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018


Gotta love when the readings remind you of your impending doom:

"Quaking seizes them there;
anguish, like a woman’s in labor,
As though a wind from the east
were shattering ships of Tarshish."

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Random Assortment

~ On declining fertility rates in South Korea.

~ "The Basic Decency of Republican Self-Government," on TME.

~ On Donald Hall.  (I didn't know that The Ox Cart Man, which we love, started as a poem! We also like The Man Who Lived Alone.)

~ "Everyone is cancelled" reminds me of Tocqueville.

~ Wow--I love her: LeGuin on conflict/change.

~ The U.S.'s Opposition to a WHO Breast-Feeding Resolution is deeply disturbing.

~ I love this and really hope that when we buy a house it will be a nice little house.

~ "Why people with disabilities want bans on straws to be more flexible" (via Sayers) and "Starbucks bans plastic straws, winds up using more plastic." It's great to take responsibility for our use of plastic, but we do realize that fixating on straws is not the answer, don't we? Like we use a lot more plastic than just straws in every aspect of our lives.

~ I love Capitol Hill Books.

Friday, July 6, 2018

On Marriage

In the midst of all the adjustments and difficulties and frustrations of marriage, I feel really fortunate that Francisco and I are able to talk and think together about what's best for our family in the midst of oftentimes big changes. In marriage more than anything else I have experienced what Aristotle describes as politics: Through reason and discussion, we reflect on and work together toward what is just and advantageous for our little community. We often talk and deliberate and discuss till we're exhausted--for cumulative hours and hours. But by now I trust that we'll agree at the end because we both seek to understand each other, and we both have the best interests of our family at heart.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

To Kill a Mockingbird

In my continued effort to read all things PAL, especially in the Southern Stoic tradition, I reread To Kill a Mockingbird as we had another nice few days at the beach. What a wonderful book, if a little overt--between Tom Robinson and Boo Radley and The Gray Ghost and Mrs. Dubose. And the stoicism sure is there--in Atticus' consistency in public and private and his refusal to choose his family over his public duty; in Mrs. Dubose's determined choices as she neared death.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

13 Clocks and Mr. Poppers Penguins

Summer has been delightful for reading more and longer books.

I'm sure I'm forcing long books down Chester's throat at way too early of an age, but don't worry--I still read him picture books, too. And I've been waiting for this for ages. 

The 13 Clocks is delightfully hilarious and clever. And the kid giggled and giggled whenever Thurber writes, "I'll slit you from your guggle to your zatch!" Wordplay is Chester's favorite thing--you should hear him try to rhyme! And Chester loved the idea of invisible characters. It is also cute to have him recognize and clarify with me which characters are bad and which are good. 

And Mr. Popper's Penguins! Is there anything better? Mr. Popper is charming, although I would not like to be married to him, and what an imaginative story. 

Now I am just pushing my luck too much with The Happy Prince and Other Stories and losing the kid entirely. (We love "The Happy Prince" and "The Selfish Giant" and I love everything Oscar Wilde, but there's a reason that some of these other stories have not been made into picture books--they are just too boring for little kids, although the irony and the sarcasm are just too good to be true.) 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Things I Don't Really Like about Rural Life

1) The ticks.

This was not a part of my childhood. Our family had three ticks in our first three weeks here. This means nightly tick checks and a mini-panic when we find one. (Finding it is, of course, better than not finding it.)

2) The skunks.

Need I say more? For several days there was a mama skunk and three babies hanging around and it was, admittedly, cute to see them falling all over each other when feeding. But smelling them is another matter.

3) The birds.

They interrupt my work. Their songs are intense and repetitive and now my whole family has disowned me.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

This Year

This year has been the longest and bleakest of what has been a fairly long and bleak career. There aren't a lot of jobs in my field--a hundred and fifty qualified people apply for each one. It's hard to explain to people who have the good fortune not to be in the same field as I am. I started applying for jobs 7 years ago, and have probably applied for 40-70 jobs a year. (Many of these aren't good jobs--they're just jobs. Probably 20 per year were decent jobs.)

Anyway, one of the really terrible things about me is that I'm embarrassingly persistent. But even I was on the verge of switching careers after expectations for a permanent position were unexpectedly pulled out from underneath me last July, leading to probably a year of low-level depression. Even more unexpectedly this spring all of that was reversed: I received a different offer for a more prestigious job and so my current employer stepped in and asked me to stay. And so we are happily staying. Nothing is perfect, but this is pretty darned close. I'm even ending up with paid maternity leave, which I wasn't expecting. (We had planned to have a second kid when we had a bit more stability and good maternity leave, but as that just simply wasn't happening, we threw caution to the wind.)

In the midst of this year, psychologically preparing to give up the career that I'd been preparing for during 6 years of graduate school and 6 years of non-permanent positions, interpreting the meaning of everything in terms of my faith was a pretty important part of that. What I came to was that at the end of the day, what I did for a career or job wasn't very important--focusing on Christ's sacrifice and loving Him and others is. It's funny now--in the midst of greater career happiness than I've ever had--which I know, like everything else, comes from God, focusing on that career happiness also seems like the wrong thing. Don't worry--I'm soaking in happiness; I can't believe my good fortune. But the same truths still hold--what I do for a career isn't very important--focusing on Christ's sacrifice and loving Him and others is.

And throughout my unstable career years, I have--for better and worse--worked on what I wanted to  and not what the field affirmed as valuable. And what I have worked on has been motivated by my faith. I hope I can continue to do that, so that my work--as unimportant as it is (and I can tell you I could probably count up the number of people who have read it because that number is not high)--will be something that I feel proud of.

Friday, June 22, 2018

A Random Assortment

~ Best graduation speech ever.

~ If you love those odd little American religions: "A Forgotten Religion Gets a Second Chance in Brooklyn"

~ A friend recommended the lifetime movie about Meghan and Harry, and I have to admit: I thoroughly enjoyed it. The Fug Girls recap it here.

~ "To my daughter, who taught me not to worry about time." I don't think my son has taught me this lesson, but it's clearly one I need to learn. Maybe this next go around will teach me?

~ "Atheists are Sometime More Religious than Christians." Only in America.

~ Gender complications: On testosterone rules.

~ What's really happening when asylum-seeking families are separated? My heart is broken by this. Families belong together. Asylum-seeking ought not be criminalized.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Far Out Isn't Far Enough

Fascinating look at the life of Tomi Ungerer. We read and love Crictor and Emile, but I didn't know much about him beyond that. The documentary isn't for the faint of heart: He also drew erotica. But I thought it was a really interesting and revealing look at the clever, funny, multi-dimensional and insightful person behind the books the kid and I love so well. And it really highlights the way that his style of children's books breaks from the nostalgic, sentimental kitsch marketed to kids at that time. It also explains why it's so hard to find used copies of his books--they were banned en masse after it came out that he also drew erotic works.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Cloisters, Other

The Cloisters is such a great museum with such nice outdoor spaces. It really makes for a more pleasant museum experience.

The unicorn tapestries are great--such an interesting combination of secular and sacred.

I'm reading Flannery O'Connor these days and she loves this story about the man whose vision is gradually healed.

I love breastfeeding positive religious art. Although not really sure how the baby Jesus is going to nurse through Mary's clothes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Heavenly Bodies at the Cloisters

You can't really tell, but the picture on this dress is of Machiavelli from the frontispiece of The Prince.

Wow--what a fascinating dress. And the way it's displayed!