On Change, Seasonally

I feel fall coming. I’ve been smelling it on the morning air since early August, but now I’m really feeling it. The morning air is crisp, a reminder of the cold bite that I’ll be complaining about in a few months. For now, it’s refreshing. I roll down the windows and feel the warm sunshine and the cool air and I am content. I drive, watching the rolling ribbons of brown leaves part to let me through, and I know that the time for warm summer nights and sunshine will soon be a thing of past and something to look forward to.

I think of the changes of this summer – the adventures, the love, the friends, work – and I can’t believe it’s gone so fast. Did I take advantage of it as I used to? No. I used to relish summer, staying up all through the night and watching dawn break over the sleeping city. Now I count late hours as borrowed from the next day, and wake to rejoin the rush. Swim attire has been replaced by business casual, the need for adventure replaced by a longing for a comfortable couch.

Growing up is a strange process since it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s the small changes that happen season by season, so subtly that you don’t notice them until you look back to see where you’ve come. Not that I’m grown up, by any means, or that relishing late nights is an activity left only to the young. Just that there are little bits of my maturity that seem to be slowly falling into place. Or perhaps I’m just spreading myself too thin and the lack of time stretching in front of me to be filled with adventure is shrinking as a result of obligations that I never imagined I’d have rather than the reality of adulthood.

I know that it is my responsibility to make sure that I maintain the work-life-me balance. And in that precarious juggling act is time. I need to carve out time for me to do nothing. Perhaps I need to be more strict about that, reminding myself that the busy everything can wait. But the busy everything is so pressing, so nagging, and at times, so incredibly fun. The busy everything doesn’t wait.

I long for hours – I wish I could waste them again, the way we used to. We’d lay around the apartment, we’d take walks, we’d adventure. What’s an afternoon drive to Wisconsin when you’ve got nothing else to do? Now, I have to schedule laundry strictly in order to ensure it will get done.

I wish for evenings. For weekends. For unplanned, unscheduled, unmarked time. And when I have it, I will do nothing. I will not do the things I’ve been meaning to. I will not clean, or cross things off my to-do list. I will draw a bubble bath and grab a novel and sit for hours, until the water is cold and my toes resemble shrunken heads. I will watch endless episodes of everything on Netflix. I will become bored. I will relish that boredom by painting my toes and face-masking. I will spend a long afternoon napping with Carlos curled around my feet. Ah, that would be lovely.

The Economist…


Work and parenting

Motherly love

Jul 26th 2011, 10:20 by S.D. | LONDON

A WORKING mother knows that balancing the demands of private home and high-rise office is not her only worry. While busy, breadwinning fathers are unlikely to provoke moral panic, the public’s interest in how working women raise their children is easily piqued. One of Britain’s biggest-selling newspapers proclaimed fearfully on Friday: “Three in four middle-class mothers continue to work after having a baby, a study shows… The figures point to a relentless rise in the number of working mothers of very young children.”

ever, to dislodge the stigma that attaches to single parents.

Contrary to these veiled aspersions, the study in question should reassure career-minded mothers. Conducted by researchers at University College London, it surveyed 19,000 British households to determine how parental employment affects a child’s behaviour throughout the first five years of life.

The results will startle those who think that children benefit from having a stay-at-home mum. In fact, the paper indicates that maternal employment can often improve the chances of having well-adjusted kids.

For example, five-year-olds whose mothers had been at home when they were babies were more likely to have behavioural problems than other children. For each child, the longer the time their mother was off work, the more bratty was the child’s behaviour. Housebound women were also far more likely to report symptoms of depression than their working counterparts, problems which can only make the process of childrearing more difficult.

Of course, life can rarely be boiled down to simple equations of cause and effect. What complicates this picture is the correlation between work patterns and other factors like lower household income, poorer education and depression, which might affect whether a woman chooses to go to work. Interestingly, when the study adjusted for these factors, the relationship between bad behaviour and maternal unemployment remained strong for girls but not for boys. This may reflect, the authors said, “the importance of gender in family role model processes”—the inference being that girls benefit from having a mother as an exemplar of a woman who is successful and independent, while the effect is less pronounced for boys.

The paper also looked at the working arrangements of all adults in the household—a sensible method, and a point of distinction with other studies that focused exclusively on what mothers do with their time. Once again, the trends differed by sex. Boys, but not girls, were likely to suffer from their mother being the sole breadwinner, although once the results were adjusted for income, education and depression, the detrimental impact on boys disappeared. Boys thrived equally in homes where both parents were working, and in two-parent “traditional” families in which their mothers stayed at home. Girls, in contrast, appeared to have significantly fewer problems where both parents were employed than in traditional homes.

For social progressives, the results are mixed. Working women can head to their desks knowing that they are doing their daughters a service, and that they are not doing their sons any harm. Yet the study also suggests (the admittedly widely-accepted proposition) that the children of single mothers are more likely to be troublesome, and that the best arrangement for both boys and girls is to live in a two-parent household in which both adults are employed. These results provide a robust defence of why women should be supported in returning to work after childbirth; they make it harder, how

The study has other limitations, too. It restricted its analysis to white children because of problems with sampling other ethnicities. Statistically, that is not a huge drawback: 92% of Britons identified themselves as white in the 2001 census. A bigger issue is the way the data were collected, involving questionnaires about children’s behaviour, almost always answered by mothers. Working mums know that they are vulnerable to criticism from certain sections of society and the media; when surveyed, this might incline them to paint defensively rosy portraits of their children, and so to skew the results.

Race and Stuff…

I’ve been meaning to blog about racism for awhile now, but I found this article today, and until I get around to finally actually blogging about it, I think this will do:


Back in the Jim Crow days, there were two basic approaches to racism in the segregated South. You were an aggressor—a lawmaker wedded to segregation, a member of a lynch mob, a scientist trying to prove non-white people were inferior, or your garden variety white person who might use a racial epithet. Or you were a bystander—someone who maintained the status quo by saying, “We don’t want any trouble.”

Nowadays, being racist in public is less acceptable, so people come up with all kinds of excuses for prejudice. Like, “Just kidding!” Or, “I’m not racist, I’m just honest. (Variation: I’m just exercising my First Amendment Rights.)” “I have black friends.” “Posting on Facebook can’t be racist.” And so on. Even amid claims that America is now post-racial, one of the tried-and-true ways to be racist has endured: the argument that fighting against bigotry is more trouble than it’s worth.

Take, for instance, what happened recently at an Arkansas graduation: A black teen mom named Kymberly Wimberly was the top student at McGehee Secondary School in Little Rock. Despite these accomplishments, a white co-valedictorian was named along with her. Was it because this white student had the same GPA? Nope, it was because school officials worried that making Wimberly valedictorian would result in a “big mess” at the majority-white school.

This response may seem antiquated, but it’s not uncommon—and neither is the old-school racism it defends. When Prescott, Arizona, residents shouted racial epiphets at non-white students while they were painting a school mural, the administration’s first thought wasn’t to speak out against racism. It was to lighten the skin of the Hispanic boy depicted on the mural. Why? They wanted to avoid “a controversy.”

As late as last year, schools in states like Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama have held segregated proms for black and white (and sometimes Hispanic) students. Overt racism still exists—one parent in Charleston, Mississippi reportedly said in 2008, “I’m not going to have any of those niggers rubbing up against my daughter”—but others prefer these divided dances because they want to side-step “racial flareups, a fight.”

In this case, fear of violence is code for fear of change. And that’s not much different from the Jim Crow era. A student named Chasidy Buckley, ensnared in the Mississippi prom fight, didn’t mince words when she described what was at the heart of the segregation: “The [school] said, ‘why change now? Let’s just keep going.’ That’s the whole thing with our town. Everybody’s afraid of change. It’s just horrible.”

I’m embarrassed for America.


We have so much hate. It’s not just directed at Blacks, or Latinos, or Asians. It’s directed at everyone – gays, lesbians, women, minorities. (I apologize for any missteps in capitalization – I’m not hip to the politically correct shit these days.)

I remember my high school English teacher Mr. H drawing boxes on the whiteboard and explaining that people need to think in categories.

I’ll give him that.

I personally put myself in many boxes, all at once. The two that stand out are White and Woman. I was so excited to receive a book I ordered just before I went to Chicago about the modern definition of feminism written by two girls about my age.

The one thing that struck me as I was reading the book was how many women said that they never really explored feminism proper because they thought it was for white women. The term “feminism” was too academic, too Ivory Tower, too haughty for the regular woman’s vernacular. And so they avoided it. It didn’t mean that they weren’t living it, engaging in it, defining it for themselves. It just meant they weren’t calling it that.

But they had a hard time seeing themselves as both Black (or Latina, or whatever they were) and as a woman. It was like they didn’t think it was possible to be two things at once. (It’s hard, especially when one or more of the boxes you’ve put yourself in – or are put in – are minorities.)

I’ll give Americans the opportunity to think in categories. Race, gender, economic standing – those things are all categories. You’re free to make observations. But you’re forgetting to observe other important stuff to.
Instead of: “Hey I bet that Black kid is going to steal that lady’s purse. Look at his baggy pants; the kids these days.” It should be: “How nice of that young man to help that lady across the street. Look as his baggy pants; the kids these days.” (You’re still an ageist ass, but better that than a racist, right? I’m just kidding, I’ve got an ageism rant you’re probably dying to hear. – I just made myself laugh.)

But we’ve failed at educating people how to stop it all at observation. Instead, we’ve let our categorical thinking invade our lifestyles, our habits, our daily lives.
We categorize, we lump people together, we judge.

We don’t embrace all of our categories, our weirdness, our faults. We push them away and instead pick the thing we like the best.

I’m a marketer.

I’m a doctor.

Well, what else are you?

It’s a hard habit to break, I know.

There are a lot of pieces that make each of us a whole person – color, gender, passions. I wish we as Americans could try to look for the whole person.

We’re too sensitive to race. Let’s stop focusing on it because we’re creating the “other.” We’re providing the boxes to put people in. Let’s focus on humanity.

Fuck the statistics, we just keep living up to them. You tell someone what they will be and they’ll be it. You’re going to end up in prison. You’re going to end up the President. You’re going to get pulled over if you keep speeding.

I am sad to say that I’m ashamed of how we act like we stand up for rights, and the American dream, and advancement, and equality, and education, and morality – and really, we display very little of that to the world.

We are not a nation of equal people. We are not a nation of prosperity. One in seven of our citizens is on food stamps. (To qualify for food stamps, you have to make 130% of the poverty level or less.) We are a nation of hatred, of bigots, of uneducated, arrogant fools. And until we learn to accept and tolerate, we will get nowhere.

Let’s get together and create a better future.

For everyone.


Heritage

I have two very important announcements to make.
#1. My hair is black again. And it’s lovely.

#2. I am German and Danish, predominantly, with some Irish thrown in. I may be a tad bit Native American, but that might just be a rumor. (Lise’s great grandmother was Buffalo Bill’s sister…..) My father may have been English. But I can tell you with great certainty that I am not African-American.

and thirdly, housing for next year completely screwed us over. Emily and I are living downtown, a half hour commute from the Lake Shore Campus. This, of course, will cost me an extra $2,500 per year. Great….As of today, I am determined to break the housing contract and get an apartment nearer to campus and at a lesser price.