Friday, November 28, 2008

on men

Joyfully, our country home is filled with our people this week celebrating Thanksgiving. We also celebrate Rachel's birthday - this year falling exactly on Thanksgiving day. Her birthday is always four weeks to the day to Christmas. This simple calculation means that Christmas this year is on a Thursday.

As a family, we are nothing if not loud and communicative. During one rare lull in conversation, Megan rose to the challenge to fill the space, and asked this question. "Has anyone noticed that even though there are lots of princesses, there is only one handsome prince? It doesn't matter if it is a book or a movie, the prince is always the same."

Without fail, Meg's thinking cracks us all up.

But is there some truth to this observation? Are men so infinitely boring that they can be captured in one prototype, so anally devout that they have no chivalry unless it is the noble kiss of the princess that can be won? Muscular and chisel featured, just change his hair color and it is the same person? And can it be the princess that has all the adventures?

Now, a more ardent feminist than I could have a hay day with this - but I want to be more truthful. The men I know personally in my life are far from cookie cutter man-bots. They do much more than rescue the damsel in distress, although they might very well rescue her, if she wishes to be rescued (a fine point they must learn to discern. Nothing is more difficult to deal with than a damsel who is rescued by the prince just before she was about to rescue herself. It is undoubtedly confusing to be a handsome prince.)

But on to other things. The Elliott tribe has produced very good menfolk. Take Vincent for example. On the morning of the twenty seventh of November, several factors converged in Vincent's life. His sister was celebrating her birthday. The party was taking place at breakfast - dubbed the HPP. (Harry Potter Party for those of you who are unhip.) A scull was centered on the table. We had a poetic reading, a song, an HP quiz (all presented by little girls in full regalia) and gifts.

Vincent, though, was thinking back to his year in Germany, where, on his birthday, Bjorn, a buff and rowdy fellow and friend, arrived in Vincent's room wearing a dress and carrying a cake. Apparently in some (possibly narrow) strands of German culture the best friend of the birthday person dresses in a fancy German dress and presents the celebrated person with a cake.

Vincent was able (to my great surprise) to locate the very dress Bjorn had worn and although it was a little tight in the boosum, took on the roll of best friend, and greatly enhanced the birthday party with the cake presentation. Now, n0t quite the rescue of a princess, this was a grand gesture on behalf of a brother to his lovely sister. Write this in to the story, fable writers, and you will find a prince of unique disposition.

I will say it again. My handsome princes are not all the same. Nor are they limited to a narrow constellation of adventures.

We can only hope, however, that next November twenty seventh the dress has 'accidentally' been burned. GRIN

Saturday, November 8, 2008

ah...the weekend

You just gotta love the weekend. The one day that the alarm doesn't wake you up. The day you can have an afternoon nap from one to three and not feel delinquent.

Went to the farmer's market this morning. A farmer / marketer stood with a scarf pressed across her mouth - it seemed that cold to her. Not much for sale. Potatos. Roots. Bulbs. I chose the potatos. And eggs. Seems the chickens lay even when it is cold.

Tonight I watched a taped episode of House and ate leftovers. A steaming cup of hot coffee is my companion right now.

You just gotta love the weekend.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

what you see depends on where you stand

So today a young white male told me gleefully he didn't vote - because, and I quote, "Jesus wouldn't vote and so I didn't either." Okay - here was my not so gentle response.

I said, "Are you kidding? Jesus would have driven me to the polling station, sharpened my pencil and told me to vote for Obama!"

Here's the thing. It is easy to dismiss and throw away something you've had too much of. Like doughnuts (British spelling, see previous blog) ... or like freedom, or privilege, or your vote.

I am a woman. I know what it feels like to be shut out. And the women who fought for woman's vote in America knew what it was worth. They knew it was worth being beaten for, being dismissed and humiliated for, being physically and emotionally abused for.

I haven't had those experiences. But I have been shut out of board rooms. I have been shut out of positions I am well qualified for. I have been marginalized and made fun of for my womanly perspective. I have kept silent out of fear. I have ducked out of rooms. I have cried alone over abuses. And I have been unable to vote in this election. (In this case, only because I am Canadian, but still, it was a loss to me as a permanent resident of this country.)

So throw away what you don't value. It's the way of our culture. Throw away traditions and rituals, throw away chances to honor people, throw away children even. But not me. I am going to be the old lady with a big flowered bag, gathering up what you throw away. I am going to gather up the rituals that give peace to people. I am going to gather up chances to bless and honor. I am going to gather up the little ones who are discarded. And I am going to make cakes and cookies and set tables and invite people to them. I am going to give hugs and help with homework and smile at every face I can make eye contact with.

And when I get the chance I am going to vote. And Jesus is going to drive me to the polling station.

whew ... or whoooeee! depending on your point of view

Well, the good news for me is that I don't have to move back to Canada ... very pleased to have been here during this election and seen the historic choice of Americans.

But I have a question.

Does this mean Tina Fey is fired?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

feeling left out of the party ....

Today I feel decidedly left out of the party. I would love to vote. I would stand in line to vote. I would brave inclement weather to vote. I would sharpen my own pencil to vote. But alas, as a Canadian I am decidedly shut out.

So YOU there - go vote. Vote for all of us who are disenfranchised and can't vote.Vote for the sake of your country or your friends or your own self.

Monday, November 3, 2008

"The Female Brain"

I've needed a good book and I think I found it. "Sassy, witty, reassuring, and great fun. All women - and the men who love them - should read this book." (Christine Northrup, MD, author of The Wisdom of Menopause)

For years I have said that one of the striking differences between men and women is that men get a body, and after they go through puberty that very body is their reality all their life. They can abuse it, train it, suffer aging etc, but it is the same reality.

Women, though, go through puberty and into a wild adventure of many many different realities. Each month forces changes on them that are so pervasive that they cannot be soldiered o
n through. Pregnancy radically changes a woman, and then when the pregnancy is over she does not go back to her old self, but to a new self, and I am not talking about a thicker waste-line. I am talking about deep self.

The September vol. of Monitor on Psychology has a cover article called The Pregnant Brain: H
ow pregnancy and motherhood change a woman's brain - for good. (Tori DeAngelis, pg 29) Pregnant women appear to experience slight decreases in learning and memory ability, some even exhibiting decreased ability in memory and speech. "Pregnant women do in fact experience a physiologically based baby brain, the likely result of a hormone flood that peaks in the third trimester as well as possible external factors, such as a more chaotic life during pregnancy, studies are showing."

Hah! Science supporting subjective observation.

Research, the article says, has found the brain actually shrinks a little during pregnancy (Jan 2002 American Journal of Neuroradiology, Angela Oatridge, PhD). Volume returns to normal after delivery.

And what about post partum downs? Hormone levels in a pregnant woman rise to 1000 times - let me write that out so you don't think I made a typo - a THOUSAND TIMES - normal levels and then plunge after birth ... a truly chaotic bit of human music, considering the power of hormones for all manner of things: thinking, well being, strength, energy, feelings ....

The good news is that rats, monkeys and bugs (beetles) increase in performance after pregnancy. The hypothesis is that women's spatial, cognitive and memory ability are enhanced after pregnancy, ostensibly to support childcare. The fact that they will be dead tired for the first six months after pregnancy means that any reported increase is, quite simply, a miracle.

The argument being made is that motherhood is as significant a stage of development as puberty and menopause. "This is another epoch in a female's life. The brain changes are as dramatic as what you see during the other phases." Go figure.