Cross-Posting: Healthy Mind Platter

July 24, 2011

It seems like a good idea, but I can’t imagine trying to get all this scheduled in – still, I love the organization of it!

By “it” I’m talking about Dan Siegel’s “Healthy Mind Platter,” which I wrote about in my other blog. 

Let me know if it makes sense to you!


Disappearing Girls: Movies & Real Life

February 2, 2010

I like Bob Mondelo, movie reviewer for NPR. He’s got that perfectly modulated authoritative-witty-man voice down, and while I often don’t agree with his estimations, I enjoy hearing them.

It was quite troublesome, however, to hear him reflecting and questioning on the possible meaning of the similar plot lines of a recent crop of films and miss so entirely – how to put it? – reality.

Apparently, there’s at least three recent films – I’m kind of out of touch, these days, but I have vaguely heard of The Lovely Bones – where a daughter is murdered and her ghost returns to talk to / commune with the father.

Mondelo, wondering what chords of cultural anxiety Hollywood is plucking with these plots, came up with the Iraq war.


Earlier in the day, I’d come across the Hook reporting that they’d found remains that are most likely those of the girl who went missing from JPJ arena here in Charlottesville a few months ago. The article referenced the plights of other abducted and murdered girls – Elizabeth Smart, for instance.

What was so disturbing about the movies Mondelo was discussing was that it sounded like a repeated story – in real life – girls being abducted, murdered.

And the ones we hear and see are often white and blonde. They are the high-profile cases that capture our horrified fascination. Other ones in recent years include wives and girlfriends.

Mondelo did posit one theory that seemed closer to the mark – that these father- characters don’t want their daughters to grow up – by dying and becoming ghosts, they remain ever-young, ever-innocent, ever-present.

What I wish he would have worked on a little more was the confluence of the mass audience appeal of watching -whether on the television news or the big screen – the story of girls being taken and done away with.

As soon as I write that out, I have the flashing image of Snow White running in the forest as her pursuer with the dagger chases her. I saw part of that movie the other week – hadn’t seen it in decades – and it’s really quite a gruesome story of repeated attempted murder. And gee, when you think about it, Sleeping Beauty and Ariel both face possible death .

Strangely, though, all of the traditional Disney fairy tales have the step-mother as the murderer/oppressor and the random strange man – crowned, of course – as the savior. Quite a flip of reality, no?

But wait – back to the recent movies – these also seem to focus on the almost saint-like male figure – fathers. What’s going on here?

One of the pieces of all this I find myself resenting is this underlying assumption that girls are victims-in-waiting – let’s chain them down or lock them in towers or cover them in burqas – do anything to protect them from the dark forces out there waiting to snatch them up.

I’m troubled by the media frenzies that seem to tenaciously devour a story of a girl or woman’s disappearance – but never investigate further into the reasons and contexts behind these kinds of tragedies.

I’m bothered that these storylines and fairytales merge in our imagination – and do happen in real life. Do they feed each other?

Do girls represent the tender parts of ourselves? Some older societies once sacrificed virgin girls to the gods. Are we still performing this type of ritualized offering to our unspoken desires to trample upon innocence?

Does the exploitation of our Jon-Benets maintain our version of gender power? Do we need to have someone play the victim?

I don’t know the answers. All I know is that there are some chilling coincidences that reflect real dangers to our minds and bodies – to my little girl. To me. To the women I love.

We see rapes, abductions, domestic violence all the time – but we don’t do much to prevent them, as a society, do we? With the images we fetishize? With the stories we tell?

Are we teaching our daughters that they are victims? Or, even worse, maybe even at the same time, are we teaching them that beauty will somehow protect them?

Certainly, being beautiful has a magical quality that helps Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, and others escape dire ends, receive mercy. Becoming the object of beauty for princes is a way to be liberated from oppressive mothers and poverty.

Did Harrington – the girl whose body was found – believe that her beauty would protect her, so it was okay to go hitchiking into the unknown?

I don’t know. I’m not feeling analytically astute. Just disturbed.

Tough Preschooler Questions

January 24, 2010
Jo: Why don’t Sam and I look the same?
Me: Well… because… (idea!)… because you and Sam were made out of different material.
Jo: Material? Why?
Me: Well, it’s kind of like when you make a collage.
Jo: A collage?
Me: Yes, you make a collage out of scraps of red paper, and then you make a collage out of yellow paper. Both of the collages are yours, you made them, but they look different.
Jo: Oh.
Me: So Sam and you were both made by Daddy and Me in my tummy, but we used different material for each of you, so you look different.
Jo: In your tummy? We were made in your tummy?
Me: Yes. With Daddy’s and Mommy’s material.
Jo: How did it get in there?
Me: (Why did I say anything!) (dodged this one) We put the material in there, some of Daddy’s, and some of mine, and it made you.
Jo: And what did it make?
Me: It made your brown curly hair, and your blue eyes, and your pale skin.
Jo: And what else?
Me: And your chin that is my chin, and your eyelashes that are Daddy’s, and your feet just like mine.
Jo: And was I really tiny?
Me: Very very tiny! And you were in my belly, and I ate food to grow your body, so you would get bigger.
Jo: So I ate what you ate? I ate your dinner?
Me: Yes, you did!
Jo: So you ate your dinner and I ate it after? How?
Me: Well, it went down my mouth and into my tummy, and then from there it went into your tummy.
Jo: And did I poop?
Me: Yes, a little. But mostly the food made your body. Just like how we eat food now, so that we have energy and grow.
Jo: Did I wear diapers?
Me: No, you were naked.
Jo: I wasn’t wearing anything?
Me: Nope. You were totally naked and curled up and when you came out, we put a blanket around you.
Jo: Why?
Me: To keep you warm when you came out! And then you nursed and drank my milk, and you had hiccups and Daddy talked to you.
Jo: And did I cry?
Me: A little.
Jo: And did I start with a J?
Me: Yes, because your Daddy and I decided to name you Josephine.
Jo: Will I have a baby when I grow up?
Me: If you decide to, you might.
Jo: I will decide to.
Me: Well, we’ll see. You may not want to.
Jo: I want to; I want to have a baby.
Me: Well, you have plenty of time to think about it.

Jo: Mommy, when will I be five?
Me: Next year.
Jo: I want to be five now.
Me: Why?
Jo: Because I have too many time-outs, being four.
Me: You know what? Even grown-ups take time-outs.
Jo: They do?
Me: Sure! Time-outs don’t mean you’re bad. They mean you’re taking some time to calm down and remember how to listen and be a kind person. I take time-outs when I get grouchy sometimes.
Jo: Oh.

Jo: Mama, is your Daddy died?
Me: Yes.
Jo: Why did he die?
Me: Well, his body was sick, too sick to stay alive anymore, so he died.
Jo: And where did he go?
Me: um…
Jo: Did we bury him in the ground?
Me: Yes, we did, didn’t we? You remember? We put him in the ground so he could be part of the earth as it continues.
Jo: But why did he get sick?
Me: Because he was old.
Jo: You’re not old.
Me: Not very old, no.
Jo: I’m not old. You’re not old. We’re young.
Me: That’s true. We won’t be old for a long time. But we do get older. Everyone does. I used to be as young as you, for instance, and now I’m older.
Jo: Where was I when you were young? Charlottesville?
Me: No, you weren’t here yet.
Jo: Where was I? In your tummy?
Me: No, I was a little girl.
Jo: Where was Sam?
(Don’t remember how I got out of this one…)

Jo: Mama, when is Tomorrow?
Me: Tomorrow is tomorrow.
Jo: Is Today Tomorrow?
Me: No, it’s tomorrow. We don’t ever get to it. It always stays – tomorrow, the next day.
(later) Jo: Mama, tomorrow isn’t happening anymore.

Posted by maiaomin

The Baby Illusion

January 9, 2010

It’s 7 a.m. and my almost two year old son is sucking on a lollipop. Watching Teletubbies.

This is an image of giving up.

There’s this arrogance many of us have before we have a child that comes from the illusion that the challenge of having a baby is like any other challenge. Hard – but doable.

Kind of like when you watch The Amazing Race and think, “I can carry a chicken on my head while rollerskating through Mexico City. What’s these rubes’ problems?”

Or when you go to the modern art museum and scoff at a Rothko: “Come on, I did that in preschool!”

You hear that frustrated mother struggling with a baby on an airplane or watch the father close to tears with a toddler at the supermarket, and you think, “These people are sooo lame.” You make a face at the baby and it giggles. There: You’ve proven your point.

Someone gives you a copy of Ann Lamott’s memoir on having her child, Operating Instructions – and by “you” I am, of course, talking about myself – and you, eight months pregnant and high on hormones, smugly roll your eyes at her descriptions of bleary-eyed, hair-tearing episodes with her infant. “She really is a wack job,” you conclude, recalling those graduate school debates with your best friend of Ann Lamott vs. Natalie Goldberg.

Then you have the baby.

And sometime soon thereafter – maybe the first day, maybe not until the sixth month, maybe not even until the kid is almost two and you can’t take it anymore and make him stop crying with a lollipop – I wrote about the weaning process recently, but it was just the beginning – the visions of all those people in the grocery stores and airplanes and Ann Lamott herself come rising before you, ghosts of your ignorant, arrogant past – and all you want to do is crawl on your hands and knees begging for forgiveness.

I am so sorry. I had no idea and no right to judge.

Because having a kid is not like pulling all-nighters in college; it is not like a military boot camp. It is also not like The Amazing Race or painting a Rothko,, either. It may be possibly like some cult indoctrinations or torture techniques used in totalitarian regimes. But I am sure it not like those much, either.

Nothing else melts you so utterly, strains you and pushes you and drives you mad and breaks your heart and fills your soul and stresses you out on every level – spiritually, mentally, physically, psychically, emotionally, intellectually, socially…

There’s no way to describe it or portray it that can wipe the smirk off the uninitiated’s face.

So, while I ask for forgiveness to those I wrongly judged in the past, I also say to those of you judging me for the lollipop:

It’s okay. I forgive you.

Cville Amateur Improv & Karaoke!

July 22, 2009
I was realizing the other day I don’t have enough opportunities in my life to Goof Off.
I miss theater for that… I miss being part of an ensemble… I don’t have time or the will to try and crack into the local drama world… so this is what I came up with!
Do you love to act, perform, sing, do improv, play theater games – but you just aren’t ready -for-primetime material? You don’t have to be good to join us, you just have to want to have fun. Who knows? We might even form a real performance troupe…! … or not…!

Join us on Facebook

The New Blog

October 20, 2008

I’m doing a new blog.

It’s a whole new sensibility for me, represents the changing concerns in my head. Since spending most of my time home with my children in the last eight months – my whole work-at-home scheme is yet pending – most of the thoughts in my head that do not have to do with nursery rhymes and diaper rash center around the interior landscape of the spirit – I’ve been mining, in tiny sandbox-sized heaps, some depths I haven’t noticed in a long time.

And so, the new blog is about an exterior landscape and how it relates to the inner one…

This one may just lie dormant for a little while.


August 7, 2008

Thanks, Cvillain, for giving us a mention!