Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I read 500 pages today.

I don't think I've done that since... Well, actually, since the first time I was reading the Harry Potter books; I read each of them in one day when they came out. Quite reasonable then, that that's what I was reading today. Four hundred pages in Order of the Phoenix and now I've started The Half-Blood Prince. I wonder if I'll ever be able to read another book the way I can read this series?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fun with Flags

A couple weeks ago I downloaded a trivia app called QuizUp, and I am addicted. It has quizzes in just about every category you can imagine, from the educational (like geography, history, and literature) to the frivolous (like TV shows, internet memes, and food). For the past few days, I've been really into flags. But as I take these quizzes, I've been noticing how many countries use just the plain three horizontal stripes in different colors, which is super boring—somehow even three vertical stripes seem slightly more interesting—but especially in contrast to some that are really cool.




Bosnia and Herzegovina




Hong Kong




South Korea




Papua New Guinea

Saudi Arabia


Vatican City/Holy See

Several of my favorites actually are three-striped, but with just a symbol or design that makes them about a million times more interesting—or, as you may be noticing, different shades of green and blue. I have noticed that I'm a lot more inclined to like three-stripe flags if they have green in them, and I think those lighter shades of blue are just more unique (besides which, blue is my other favorite color).




Barbados (I think this one's especially cool because of the history—the old colonial flag had a full trident on it, and this new one with only the trident head symbolizes the break from the past. That just seems so... defiant. :) )


Norfolk Island




I spent all my free minutes at work last night on the CIA Factbook website, looking through flags and finding the ones I remembered from my quizzes. Is this the nerdiest thing I've ever done in my entire life? I think it is, but I am legitimately having so much fun learning about flags. (I said this to Mike and he said, "There's a YouTube channel you should watch..." If only there really were!) 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Parent Judgment

So it turns out that a ridiculous number of people in my own generation still feel strongly about dressing their little girls in pink. I'm surprised every time I see it, because really? People my own age? We're seriously still doing this?? But yeah—we're talking not just the fact that their daughters do wear pink a lot, but actual statements about how something isn't "girly enough" or apologies that their babies are just wearing some shameful old blue or green outfit instead of something pink, because they haven't had a chance to go buy new stuff yet. What in the hell, guys?

I keep telling myself to stifle my automatic reaction of judgment and irritation, and today I realized, no, I don't need to do that. Because your little girls are not dress-up dolls. In the year 2014, you are putting this on them—you are stereotyping them, right now in their infancy. You are willingly bearing the club that will bludgeon them for the rest of their lives, telling them that they must perform a socially-accepted version of femininity, that they owe it to the world to be pretty, that they should be soft and quiet and not have loud opinions, that their looks are the most important thing about them (and simultaneously telling their brothers a whole corresponding mess of crap that honestly, will probably be even harder for them to overcome than it will be for their sisters). You're probably shaking your heads when I say this, shocked that I'm so angry about a little thing like pink, getting ready to tell me to calm the heck down because you're not abusing your children, you're just dressing them in pink and it's not that big a deal. Well, please don't bother, because you are wrong. It's not the worst thing you could do, of course it's not. But it's not a good thing to do, and it would also take so very little effort to change, which makes it pretty hard to understand why you don't bother. 

There's a difference between pink and Girls Wear Pink. I've never really liked the color myself, but even I own some pink things. It is fine for girls to wear pink. If your little girls particularly like the color, then that's great. That's also not what I'm talking about. If you put down certain items of clothing at the store because they're not "girly enough," that's what I'm talking about. If you had a boy first and now you have to go out and buy a new pink version of everything you already had, that's what I'm talking about. Girls and boys are not different species. All human babies can wear all colors. If you have green and blue blankets for your boy, you don't have to buy pink ones for your girl. If you have LEGOs for your boy, you do not have to go buy those damn LEGO Friends for your girl. You don't have to—it's a waste of money—and you shouldn't—because you're telling your children that girls are Different. Pinkification tells children that boys are the default, and girls are a spinoff. It does, whether you think that's what you're doing or not. Whether or not you intend it, whether or not that's what you actually believe. Pinkification sends a message. So stop. Doing it. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sex and the City

Is there a word for a guilty pleasure you don't feel guilty about? That's what this show is. It's not good the way I want my TV shows to be good, but I loved watching it (and, okay, to be fair, I don't know if I've ever seen a TV show that's good the way I want it to be; Scandal probably comes closest). I don't necessarily love all the characters as individuals, but I love their friendship. I loved watching the show, but I don't love the way the show was done. There were always things that annoyed me, but never enough that I wondered why I was watching, and when I'd gone a couple days without seeing an episode, I found myself really missing it.

Miranda's my favorite, to no one's surprise, I'm sure. I find Charlotte incredibly annoying pretty much all of the time. I like Samantha and Carrie well enough, but Samantha just seems like such a caricature rather than a real person, and Carrie would be incomprehensible to me if I met her in real life. The shoes, and her clothes, good lord. I hated probably 70 percent of everything she wore, and I don't know how to explain the desire I had to see her wearing shoes with a FLAT SOLE while running down those ridiculous streets. Besides which, the whole garbage with Mr. Big... Come on. Why do people love the on-again/off-again Ross-and-Rachel romances? There are reasons they keep breaking up. But of course you know from the beginning that those characters are supposed to be The One. Well, not in real life, not in my experience.

Anyway. In many ways, this is a great show for women. It's not perfect, no show ever is. It's kind of obliviously racist in the way that the 90s generally were, despite the inclusion of several great characters of color. If Samantha was a caricature of sexuality, Charlotte was a caricature of conservativeness and Miranda (at times) of feminism. The two main gay characters, especially Anthony but also Stanford, were pretty stereotyped.

Frankly, the entire premise of the show—Carrie's column, of which each episode is supposed to be an installment—is basically that crap you see in Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Seventeen, with all the Dating Rules and Mars/Venus cliches. Some of the questions Carrie "couldn't help but wonder" are really stupid and/or sexist. "Can you have sex without politics?" "Are single women the new bachelors?" "Are relationships the religion of the 90s?" "Are men in their twenties the new designer drug?" "Are all men freaks?" "Twenty-something girls: friend or foe?" "Is there a secret cold war between marrieds and singles?" "Are New Yorkers evolving past relationships?" "If we can take the best of the other sex and make it our own, has the opposite sex become obsolete?" But the thing is—and this is both an annoyance and a redeeming factor—the show often says one thing (via her voice-over) and does something completely different at the exact same time. The very last lines of the last episode of season six are a major example that I will not include here because surely there are still some people besides me who haven't seen the show yet. Sometimes those stupid questions are dismissed by the action in the episode. Sometimes they're dismissed by the voice-over but fulfilled by the action. Like I said, in many ways a great show for women... And in some ways, it hasn't quite gotten there.

I'm glad I didn't read my own review of the show before deciding to watch it, because then I probably would have decided not to watch it, and I'm glad I did. (This BuzzFeed post says basically the same thing.) There's more to it than the silly magazine-cover cliches. If nothing else, it's still notable for the fact that it's a long-running TV show starring four women, written mostly by women, based on a woman's real-life column (and yes, it is sad that that's still a notable thing). As I've mentioned before, I'm really into women's stories right now. And let's be honest, Sex and the City is a pretty significant piece of pop culture history. All things considered, I feel good about finally having seen it—and there's a good chance I'll watch it again someday.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Duty or Love

I saw this on Pinterest today, and I liked it, but then I saw that the pinner's caption was, "Do all things out of love." I thought that was interesting. My own response was more on the lines of, "Don't do things that deplete you; do things that you love/out of love." Because, I don't know... Can you force yourself to love? And if you can, should you? Won't that still deplete you rather than energizing you? I think too many people spend their lives doing things because they think they have to or are supposed to. I think we teach each other to do that, and I think one of the most powerful experiences in life is deciding to stop. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lana's Movies

I just found this post that I never posted, for some reason. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lana is basically adorable, and has become even more so since she learned to talk. I realized today how much I love introducing new movies to her, because the way she pronounces the names (or sometimes makes up her own) is really cute.

One of the first ones we started watching was Tarzan, which she called "Monkeys", and pronounced "Gammies". It doesn't look cute written out, but try to hear it in a little mousey voice... It's pretty cute. Then she loved Tangled, and we watched it almost every day for weeks straight. She thinks Rapunzel's name is "Tangled", though, and I've had a hard time convincing her otherwise (she'll repeat "Punzle" when I tell her, but it doesn't stick).

The Princess and the Frog is another of her favorites, which she calls "Frog". She watched Fantasia with her parents over the maternity leave break, so I didn't know what she was asking for when I came back and she requested "Mickey Mouse". They actually have a Mickey Mouse DVD, but Lana has never liked it; Chelsea just told me the other day that she was always confused, too, when Lana would tell her that she watched Mickey Mouse with me. I guess Lana never requests that one with Mom and Dad, so she didn't know it meant Fantasia.

Sleeping Beauty doesn't quite make it out fully formed, so it sounds like "Seepy Booty". She's really into Snow White right now, which is one she can pronounce correctly, and also Alice in Wonderland, which she always just pointed at until I got her saying "Alice" earlier this week.

My favorite, for some reason, was when she started asking for "the blue movie" yesterday. I had no idea what she was talking about, so I held the box out and let her look through it. "There it is!" she started yelling in that super high-pitched, excited voice she has, and pointed to Toy Story (in a blue case). Why did I think that was so cute? I don't know but it's what made me decide to write this post. It's so much fun when they learn to talk.