Are you unplugged? It's Friday morning and soon Shabbat will be here. I'll light the candles and we'll go to friends for dinner and tomorrow to services and to lunch (I'm bringing part of it). Later we're going to another home to be part of what they call a "shabbat hangout" where the kids all play and the parents (and their older friends, like us) talk, and study and enjoy the peace of 24 hours of an unplugged, non-electric, non-driving, non-cooking, non-working life.*
But the reason why Unplugged is so great is that when you start, you think Shabbat will be what you hate. No more errands or Saturday manicures or movies. No phone calls or emails or web wandering.
And then you unplug. And even if - as I suspect will be true for many - you don't go the way we went and adopt (almost) the entire package, you find the peace of what Josh Foer, in the video, calls this "ancient" idea, and are grateful for it. And for the people around you -- IRL -- close, and easy and at peace.
*OK I admit it. I'm really glad the health care vote is on Sunday; if it had been on Saturday it would have been a real pain.
She calls it a "potential game changer" in Afghanistan. Over and over we've learned that when women are empowered educationally, economically or politically the standard of living rises. This is a great example.
is it about women who blog that scares s o many people - even other women --
even the New York Times? Once again this time, they've decided to offer an
"analysis" or a "portrait" or an I don't know what
about bloggers who are women and moms. And when they do, they write with
a condescending, bemused attitude that is what I remember from the early days
of the women's movement, when men would joke about our desire to open our own
doors, earn our own livings, make our own decisions. It was kind of cute
to want to be able to get credit cards without a husband's permission, to cover
a story without having to go up in the balcony, to keep our names when we got
married. Feminism was just so adorable.
we're free on so many levels, and one manifestation of that freedom is the
vibrant world we've created online. Sisterhoods that cross race and
politics and religion and age as we share ideas and pain, joy and pride, birth
and loss and every other story that is part of living a life. There have
been a couple of wonderful responses to this irritating TIMES piece (and it's
not the first...) One of my own favorites, Mom-101,
whose admirers are legion, wrote
get past the first half of the article, there's actually some solid information
in there....But I wish [all] that had been to focus of an article about my
favorite blogging community that just made the front page of my favorite
section of my favorite Sunday paper. I wish it had opened with the yearning
of bloggers for the community to return to good writing, and the evidence that
in the end, that's mostly what pays off....
Of course, there
are more. My friend Danielle Wiley, known to many of her friends as Foodmomiac but also an executive at
Edelman PR, has also weighed in.
I invite you to
read the full piece and form your own opinions, but sentences like “bringing
together participants for some real-time girly bonding” might very well stop
you in your tracks. As I write this, my husband (and fellow Edelman executive
Michael Wiley) is at SXSW. Would Mendelsohn classify that experience as macho
bonding? Or would she write that he is attending a conference for the purposes
of education and networking? Why do people, including Ms. Mendlesohn, continue
to refer to networking among women as girly bonding? I seriously doubt the
participants at Bloggy Boot Camp were wearing jammies and braiding each other’s
hair. However, from the tenor of the piece, it was pretty easy to jump to that
the bottom line: I'm old enough to be the mother of both of these women
and many of their peers yet they have welcomed me as a sister - a blogger and a
friend. They've honored the sappy posts I've written about my sons
and my marriageand
they've shared ideas and advice in comments, in twitter and even in real life.
They and their compatriots are talented, skillfulcompassionate,
who have built what I think of as the new quilting bee, the new Red Tent where
they share the wisdom and mysteries that are women's lives. And they do
much more - just go check out the list in Liz's post. Not for one moment are they
silly or unaware or careless or trivial. And to gain a few points with
silly headlines and denigrating phrases isn't bad taste, it's also bad
journalism. Go see for yourself.
Two years ago I wrote this piece to honor the pending birth of a friend's child. It's about the first days after the birth of a first child. Yesterday marked the 35th anniversary of that birth - so, one more time, here's the memory - with gratitude and love.
What an emotional shock it has been to write this. I need to start with that; the feelings, years later, are still there.
What an emotional shock it has been to write this. I need to start with that; the feelings, years later, are still there.
Since this baby shower is for one of my favorite bloggers, and
friends, I'm grateful to be part of it. Our task is to share those lovely early
moments with our brand new children. That's why I've added this - which
may be the most perfect photo I own because it says just what we all know.
The connection of a mother and newborn is so complete that it's almost
impossible - even with writers as remarkable as this community -- to describe.
At least I can't find words that say what I know this photo says.
This is actually my second son, very soon after he arrived.
He's 28 now and more extraordinary than even I, proud mama, could have imagined
that cold November day in Roosevelt hospital in 1979. He and his brother
both started off with beautiful souls though. They are beautiful still.
When I think of those early days, it isn't all the getting up at
night (although it could be) and it isn't that I had so much trouble nursing
that I needed to supplement (although it could be) and it isn't the absolutely
perfect terror that I might do them harm that accompanied the first days of
their lives (although it certainly, indubitably could be.)
Nope. Here's what I remember, and what I wish for the two
of you and all you other moms and moms-in-waiting: it's a cold winter
night, maybe after about a week as the new parent of son number 1. It's
dark, but out the window you can see the boats going up and down the Hudson
River (even though our windows leak so there's ice on our windows, on the
inside.) You hear a cry and struggle out of bed, grab a robe, go retrieve
this new little person from his crib, change him and move with him to the
bentwood rocking chair (of course there's a rocking chair) facing the window.
And you hold him in your arms and you feed him. The dark envelops you,
the dim skyline across the river in New Jersey is the only light you have,
except for the tiny pinpoints of light on the tug boats and barges as they make
their way. And it's silent. Not a sound. And, with this new
life in your arms, you rock gently back and forth. The gift of peace of
those nights in the rocker was so intense that as I write this, I can feel it.
If I let myself, I could cry.
I remember watching my mother with each infant - can still see
her face as she responded to them, thinking to myself then "Oh.
This must be the way she was with me. How beautiful. How
And I remember this. My parents came to us very soon after
our first son was born, helped put the crib together, celebrated with us.
Late one night, as I stood with our baby in my arms, my dad walked into the
room. Looking at the two of us, in perfect peace, he said to me "NOW
do you understand?" Of course I did.
How can there be a women's story that women are not allowed to tell? Today is Purim - the celebration of the rescue of the Jews from the Persian King Asueras' evil adviser Haman. In a classic (and highly fortunate) intermarriage, she became the favorite wife of the powerful king. Unaware that she's Jewish, he's chosen her from all the maidens of Shushan and fallen for her - hard. The story is intricate but it ends with a bad guy trying to get the King to kill all the Jews (sound familiar?) and the Jewish Queen Esther convincing the King that the bad guy is indeed bad, and thus saving the day.
It's an old story with both sexist and feminist implications but today it emerged with a new life - at least for me. Here's why: it's required that Jews hear the story of Esther, the Megiila Esther, read twice during the holiday. It's read with a melody - a "trope" that's quite lovely. Usually, in observant Judaism, men preside. Prayers and readings are the domain of the male voice. But women are "permitted" to read the Megilla for a gathering of women. It's a act of Jewish feminism. And that's what happened this morning.
I wish I could describe the emotion that arises as one hears the women's voices together, and the single voices, one by one, reading out the story. It's an act of faith, an act of love, really, but it's also an act of community - the community of women coming together to share the story of a feisty queen who overcame fear to save her people.
Of course you would be correct to suggest that the simplest solution would be to choose a branch of Judaism that has made its way past such rules and you'd be correct. But we've chosen, despite the difficulties, to live this life, partly because of the very community that produced this day. And it comes, as a friend reminded me last night, as a package. So there will be moments - many of them - of frustration and anger. Of a sense of deprivation and loss. And the, just when it seems terrible -- something lovely happens. Something like today.
It was a fairy tale about a princess on a journey. Doing her duty, kind of like Diana (but, since she was played by Audrey Hepburn, even classier,) she came to Rome, after Athens, London and Paris, to conclude her mission.
But she was young and beautiful and sick of receptions and parades. And so, in the middle of the night, she snuck out the embassy window and ventured across the Piazza di Spagna and into the Roman night.
If you know this movie at all, you remember with sweet nostalgia the way you felt the first time you saw it. The princess asleep near the Trevi Fountain on the Roman equivalent of a park bench is awakened, like Sleeping Beauty, by reporter Joe Bradley, played by Gregory Peck. ( If the film has a flaw, it's that we know some of what will happen once we see him there. He's a good guy and that's who he plays. He isAtticus Finch, after all.)
The film was released in 1953, right in the middle of the 1950's. Written by Dalton Trumbo, "Roman Holiday" was credited to a "front" named Ian McLellan Hunter, because Trumbo, blacklisted as a member of the Hollywood Ten, wasn't permitted to write for movies any longer. It's one of the darkest chapters in Hollywood history, very much a part of the image of the decade and a sad facet of a beloved film that won three Oscars and introduced the world to Audrey Hepburn.
There's something else though. The people in this film behave well. There are things that they want, desperately, but there are principals at stake, and they honor them. When Peck meets Hepburn, he doesn't recognize her but lets her crash at his apartment. Once he figures out who she is, he knows this "runaway" could be the story of his life. Even so, after a brief, idyllic tour of the city, (SPOILER ALERT) she honors her responsibilities and returns to her royal duties, and of course, he never writes the story. It was very much an artifact of the
"Greatest Generation" ideals, manifested with such courage during
WWII and very much the flip side of the jaundiced (and just as accurate) Mad Men view of the 50's. Duty and honor trump romance and ambition.
Once again, I'm struck with admiration for the people of these times. Yes the 50's did terrible damage and made it difficult to be eccentric or rebellious or even creative. But films like this one, or Now Voyagerand similar films of the 40's, sentimental as they may be, remind us of what else these people were. They'd lived through the Depression and the war and they had an elevated sense of responsibility. As we watch much of our government (and some of the rest of us) disintegrate into partisanship and self-interest, it makes a lot more sense than it did when we rose up against it all in the 1960's. Doesn't it?
My posts seem to run in bunches. After
two meditations on marriage in the past month, here I am again.
It's all Meryl Streep's fault. If you know what it feels like when your kids run off together when you thought you were all going to dinner, or to struggle to remain your own person in a long marriage -- whether it ends or it doesn't, or just to be married for a long time and build a family with a partner - you know this story.
We went with another couple also married 38 years. It's hard to describe the shared recognition, the warmth we all felt at the familiar moments on the screen - the rare family dinners with our adult children, continuing to learn and grow - together or apart, watching the accomplishments and weddings and occasional rages of each kid, accepting the fact that we've entered that part of life where they're on their own - and so are we. Children grow up and earn their own lives, careers begin to ebb, and those of us who are blessed spend those years with one another. Or, if we must, search for and find someone else to ease the way.
It was all there, gentle, funny, loving and true. Like looking in a mirror. Oh - and lest you wonder whether a movie about a 50-something (or maybe 60) couple recovering from a divorce - in the torrent of high-profile films and stars, it's in the top five for the holidays. It may be complicated, but loving it isn't complicated at all.
And now it's ending. No, nobody fired her, she still has a large audience and many adoring readers but she's decided to stop. Here's part of what she said in her valedictory meditation on covering women in America - and I recommend you go read the entire thing:
My generation -- WOMEN -- thought the movement would advance on two
legs. With one, we'd kick down the doors closed to us. With the other,
we'd walk through, changing society for men and women.
out that it was easier to kick down the doors than to change society.
It was easier to fit into traditional male life patterns than to change
those patterns. We've had more luck winning the equal right to 70-hour
weeks than we've had selling the equal value of care-giving. We have
yet to solve the problem raised at the outset: Who will take care of
As a young mother and reporter, it did not occur to
me that my daughter would face the same conflicts of work and family.
Or, on the other hand, that my son-in-law would fully share those
conflicts. I did not expect that over two-thirds of mothers would be in
the work force before we had enough child care or sick pay.
Yes - those things are true. My own sons expect (and one has) wives who keep their names and expect to remain in the workforce. And yes, they still face issues of child care and equal pay and glass ceilings. The sad thing is, they won't have the provocative, inspiring, funny and very gifted voice of Ellen Goodman to cheer them on. Maybe she'll write another book though; if she does, I'll send a copy to each of them.