You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

so here are some photos of my trip to NY last summer….

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Last year I saw three movies with the same antagonist, the “uptight” upper middle class white mom. Seeing them in temporal proximity brought the theme to the forefront of my mind and for some reason, I started ranting about it to my friend today. The movies are American Beauty, Spanglish, and Radiant City (a “documentary.”) Each of these movies focuses around a particular family and in each, the uptight, controlling mom is portrayed as the cause of the stress the family is experiencing. I know blaming the mom is hardly a new theme in American culture, but this is demonization of a specific type of motherhood. I can understand the urge to critique the style of parenthood that involves living in lifeless suburbs and shuttling your children from one activity to another in your over-sized minivan, but can all this dysfunction in American culture really be placed on the shoulders of middle-class soccer moms?

Although I’m not a film scholar, I am very tempted to write seriously on this theme, because I’m convinced that suburbia has negatively affected women and children to a greater extent than men, but moms in particular are often portrayed as the driving force behind the current configuration of suburbia. The writers of these screenplays might want to read some Dolores Hayden, to learn a little more about the relationships between gender, housing, and family life.

My question to you, dear readers, is, “Can you think of any other movies critical of suburbia and motherhood?”

Possibilities:
the wife in The Truman Show
Claire Wellington in The Stepford Wives (2004 version)

I have been working day and night and sleeping little, so there isn’t much fun to report. Since Jan 1. I have worked out seven times! Woohoo! And I have been taking vitamins! Yay! My big excitement this week has been the successful creation of Elderberry Jello. A few years back I bought this book on how to make your own herbal concoctions. It contains all sorts of recipes, but the most fun is the idea to make your herbal teas into jello. Yum!

I combined Elderberry juice (Beorn and I juiced some elderberries last summer and froze the juice in our chest freezer), much loved for it’s supposed antiviral properties, with sugar-free black cherry jello to create a semi-healthy treat. Tonight I had some with a little cool-whip.

Today I had a meeting with Potential Adviser. This person makes me overly excited and nervous because strangely enough, after three years of graduate school, this person is the first to truly engage with my research ideas. His questions and expectations that I actually engage with theoretical questions in my field scare me. (In fact, I ran into him over winter break at the grocery store and my first reaction was to run away.) I think this is because my graduate program is much stronger in one subfield and weak in the subfield I’m most interested in. Strangely, the program at B.A.U. appears to have a number of faculty with expertise in my subfield, but none of them are currently effective in advising students (several of them retired this year.) This excitement and nervousness results in insomnia and a tendency to overwork myself. I need sleep, yet I can’t seem to relax and feel tired. After several years of graduate school in which professors gave me A’s and failed to give me any meaningful feedback on my writings, someone actually demanding more of me is terrifying.

Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode about who has “hand?” Apparently it was called “The Pez Dispenser.”

GEORGE: I have no power Do you understand? I need hand. I have no hand.

KRAMER: Break up with her

GEORGE: What?

KRAMER: You break up with her. You reverse everything that way.

JERRY: A preemptive breakup.

GEORGE: A preemptive breakup. This is an incredible idea. I got nothing to lose. We either break up which she would do anyway but at least I go out with some Dignity. Completely turn the tables. It’s absolutely brilliant.

In my case, I’m not sure who has hand. Potential Adviser seems very interested in having me stay at B.A.U. In our most recent meeting, he again pointed out new developments at B.A.U. and their potential to positively impact grad students in my program. Yet I’m convinced (maybe because of my total lack of self esteem) that my weak dissertation ideas and inability to distill them into a coherent and concise proposal mean that at any moment he may decide that I’m not worth his time. Oh the anxiety!

I didn’t realize how long it had been since my last post here until I logged in again today. Beorn and I have been in internet purgatory and so doing anything online has been interminably slow. (For a full explaination check out Beorn’s Den.) Since our internet was essentially dead, I spent my winter break applying to PhD programs and playing Civ 4. I really wish I had never installed RescueTime, because now I have a pretty good idea about how much time I waste on the computer each week.

The good news is my grad school applications are mostly done. We got an extra futon mattress to layer with our crappy Ikea mattress so now Beorn doesn’t walk so funny all the time. This morning we bought Beorn a new bike (on the credit card) which will be worth the expense if he gets some exercise. We bought a cheap used computer for my mom whose old IMac was giving out on her.

The bad news is fellowship applications are due in a week and I have a lot of work to do if I’m going to turn something in. I don’t want to wait another year to look for funding, but I don’t really have the time to spend on it right now since the university approved my application to work two 50% time jobs this quarter. That’s right, I’m insane.

Tonight I started doing internet research related to my dissertation topic and found out some really interesting stuff through newspaper articles and online newsletters. Isn’t in great when a topic is all fresh and new to you?