Friday, August 29, 2003

Friday Five

The Top Five Most Profound Moments in My Life (topic suggested by Colleen)

1. 1973 / 1974, Learning to read - I vividly remember the moment when I was looking at a copy of One Fish, Two Fish and I realized that those blobs of letters had meanings which corresponded to the words of the story, which I had memorized. Some switch flipped in my brain, and I was reading like crazy in no time. Books, reading, writing and language have been one of the most important aspects of my life ever since.

2. 1980, Watching a production of Brigadoon - This was the first play I saw that wasn't an elementary school production. It was a "grown-up" play with real scenery and costumes. I felt immediately that there was something different going on here, something completely unlike going to see a movie, and I knew I wanted to be a part of that. Because I saw that play, I ended up going to a fine and performing arts high school, majoring in theatre in undergrad school, and getting an MFA in directing. I'm not currently doing theatre, but I feel certain that when my life circumstances change, I'll drift back into it, even if it's only as a hobby.

3. 1988, Meeting Adam - Like Adam, I feel like it's. . .inadequate to describe the day we married as one of the most profound moments of my life (I always worry about people who describe their wedding day as "the happiest day of my life;" so what, it's all downhill from there?). Our wedding was simply a public acknowledgement of the relationship we'd already had for some time, and which continues to grow and evolve.

4. 1995, Getting pregnant for the first time - I always knew that I wanted kids, but it was hard to imagine when it would be the right time. When I unexpectedly got pregnant in the middle of graduate school, with no money and no insurance, I knew that despite all the difficulties of our situation, it was the right time. When I lost that baby, I was devastated and determined to have children as quickly as possible. That unplanned pregnancy cemented for me that I definitely wanted to have kids, and that even if circumstances were less than perfect, I wanted to have them sooner rather than later.

5. 1996, Facing off with Michael Bloom - After I directed my thesis show, a new faculty member chased me down to give me a lengthy and detailed critique of the show, focusing on all the things he felt I'd done wrong, and all my failings as a director. He ignored the obstacles I'd had to work around and claimed that if he had any authority in the matter (which, thank God, he didn't) he would keep me from graduating and kick me out of the program. Although I'll admit that the show was flawed, I was deeply invested in it, and felt good about what I'd been able to accomplish virtually single-handed. To have someone ravage my work so heartlessly was like being kicked in the gut. I could tell he was trying to get a reaction out of me, dragging the discussion out and latching on ever more obscure and outlandish criticisms, in hopes that I would break down. So I refused to give him the satisfaction. Despite my instinct to curl up on a ball and sob, I listened to all his points calmly, responded in the coolest tones and refused to let him see that he'd gotten to me. I was hurt and upset by what he'd said, but I also felt incredibly in control of myself and my emotions.

Honorable Mentions:

Seeing the Nike of Samothrace in the Louvre - I walked down a staircase, and there it was on the landing, with sunlight pouring down on it from a skylight. It was, quite literally, the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

A particular dress rehearsal of my undergraduate senior directing project, when everything clicked and came together exactly as I'd imagined it in my head. It was at that moment that I knew I wanted to be a director.

Driving through the English countryside and feeling like I was coming home - I've always been a huge Anglophile, but I didn't actually get to visit England until I was 32 years old. It was everything I'd dreamed it would be, and I can't wait to go back.

Other participants: Adam, Will, Dave, Merideth, Chris, and Gina

By the way, I've decided not to try to catch up on the Friday Fives I missed - the moment has passed, and besides, I've got a lot of writing to catch up on. My September column is due on Monday, and I've been holding a major revision in my short story in my head for days - if I don't get it down soon, it will evaporate.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Blog-o-rama

Two new blogs that you should be reading:

Colleen's Postcards from Faerieland and Dave's Epiphany in c (this is a new blog for "Democracy Dave," focusing on space and science related issues). They'll both be participating in the Friday Five.

I also recommend Meditations on Life and Writing. (I found this link at this woman's work.)

Catching Up

The c-section was a bit more arduous than planned and I'm just beginning to feel like myself again. Sorry to be missing in action for so long. . . .

Alexander Norman (Alec) was born at 7:46 on August 11th. His birth weight was 9 and 1/2 lbs (!) and he's the picture of health. Here are some pictures:
tipping the scales, snuggling with mom (notice how I cleverly cropped myself out of the picture), and with big brother Drew and big sister Franny. Watch this space for more pictures - he's already growing and changing so much.

In other news, my August column has been published - let me know what you think.

Other than that, I've just been resting and nursing the baby and doing lots of reading and tv watching. If I continue to feel well, I'll post my recent reading list and catch up on the past 2 Friday Fives.

Monday, August 11, 2003

B-Day

Today's the day. I'm leaving for the hospital in about an hour and will be having a c-section at 7:30 CDT. I'll be incommunicado for about 4 days, but I'll try to post an update when we get home from the hospital (including the as-yet-unnamed baby dumpling's real Christian name and links to pictures).



Saturday, August 09, 2003

Dawn on Nature vs. Nurture and Sexuality

In light of recent discussion in this blog (and others it links to), I found this post from Dawn to be particularly interesting. Quote: "The nice thing about "proving" that homosexuality is coded into our cells is that then people can't argue that since gay people "choose" to be gay, they don't deserve "special rights." I hate that argument; I hate it when people say that being gay is a lifestyle choice. But I also don't like the push to prove that being gay is some kind of physical anomaly and since the poor gay people can't help it, we really ought to make some allowances."

My personal opinion is that, like all nature vs. nurture questions, the answer of how our sexual preferences are formed is really complicated. It seems likely, based on the research that I've read, that there is some degree of innate tendency towards hetero or homosexuality, but obviously all of our sexual preferences (by which I mean kinks / fetishes / predilections including but not limited to gender of preferred partner) are also affected by environmental influences. There's some kind of interaction going on there, but it's far too complex to codify, and clearly it varies from person to person (which is how we end up with the Kinsey scale range of human sexuality, instead of being able to neatly divide everyone into two camps, and even the Kinsey scale is probably too simplistic). Ultimately, I agree with Dawn - it shouldn't matter. People love who they love, and (barring the usual caveat about consenting adults) it isn't anybody's business except the people involved.

Comments

I find that I must offer Chris an apology, because he hasn't refused, but instead has been unable to add a comments feature. I fully believe his explanation, because he's been trying to add enetation (which I use here). Enetation is absolute crap and only works about half the time (most of the emails I get regarding my blog start, "I just wanted to let you know your comments feature doesn't work"). Possibly it works better if you pay for it, instead of using the free version, but I'm not about to pay for something that doesn't appear to work. So my advice to Chris is to find some other kind of comment thingy. I'd do the same, but I'm too damn lazy to go looking for a replacement. I suppose I should also take this opportunity to apologize to all those people who keep trying to comment here and are unable to - sorry 'bout that. . . .

One More Response to Chris

Sorry, but he refuses to add a comments feature to his blog, and it's impossible for me to refrain from commenting somewhere.

Chris's repeated insistence that Dean isn't a viable candidate is all well and good, but I'm still waiting for him to answer Dave's question - who else, of the nine Democratic potentials, can beat Bush? Please give a detailed explaination of why you think this candidate would be a better choice than Dean, using color charts and graphs. (Ok, I'm just kidding about this last part, but I am genuinely curious to know who Chris thinks would be a better candidate.)

Religious Controversy and Tolerance

Thoughts inspired by Chris's reflections on the nature of religion and the place of debate in the church.

I believe that people of good will can disagree about religious issues in good faith. It's important to note this, because, like politics, religious debate is often characterized thusly: my position is well thought out and reasoned, prayerfully considered, and uninfluenced by cultural trends or worldly considerations; my opponents' position is a rationalization designed to appeal to modern sensibilities, with no basis in religious tradition, prayer or spiritual reflection.

It is absolutely possible to read the Bible, pray and reflect on controversial issues (or noncontroversial ones) and come up with completely different answers than someone else. One obvious reason for this is that the Bible was written by many different people, at various points in history, in many different languages, and translated in various ways, depending on the cultural context of the translation. Of course, there are denominations which believe that every word of the Bible was divinely inspired and is thus inerrantly true, but even those who hold this belief must do some picking and choosing and interpreting, because there are many places where the Bible contradicts itself and scientific or historical facts. Most Christians do not believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and are freer to decide for themselves which portions of the text are timeless truths and which ones are cultural leftovers that may have been originally relevant, but have no bearing on modern life (i.e. kosher laws, for most Christians). Since the majority of Christians do this, it seems a bit unfair to say that those who come to different conclusions than yours "treat faith like a buffet that should be picked over according to one's own personal standards" while you "believe that it's important to eat the vegetables because Mom says they're good for you." Virtually all Christians engage in the "buffet approach" to the Bible - the only difference is which portions are accepted and which are rejected.

Because of this, I think it's fairly pointless to debate the meaning of individual Biblical passages and the relative weight they should be accorded in resolving issues such as the role of homosexuals in the church. Sufficeth to say, I have prayerfully considered this issue, consulted my Bible, and discussed it with Biblical authorities I trust, and I have come to a different conclusion than Christopher's. I feel that the Biblical admonitions against homosexuality are cultural relics, and that our modern understanding of human sexuality can lead us to a different and more inclusive treatment of gays and lesbians. In my own church (which is the only one I'm really qualified to comment on), I'd like to see the issue of same sex unions addressed first, rather than ordination of homosexuals. If ordination of homosexuals is approved prior to same sex unions, then straight ministers will be expected to be either celibate or married, while homosexual ministers must be celibate or they will be living in a relationship which is not sanctioned by the church, this would be neither fair nor appropriate.

Finally, some people who disagree on these issues, on both sides of the debate, are not doing so from a position of good faith and a sincere desire to seek God's will. There's no way to know for sure who these people are, but one clue is their conduct during these debates. For example, some of those who opposed the ordination of gays in the Episcopal church engaged in a last minute smear campaign designed to discredit Robinson, in order to derail his ordination. The allegations they came up with were, on their face quite serious: that he had touched a male parishioner inappropriately, and that an organization he was affiliated with had a porn link on it's web site. Upon investigation, these charges proved to be baseless - the "inappropriate touch" was a pat on the back, and the porn links were several degrees removed from the site of the organization that Robinson was formerly affliliated with. (In other words, the organization's site linked to a site, which linked to a site, which linked to a site that had pornographic images. Given the prevalence of porn on the web, I daresay many respectible organizations are only a few links removed from pornography, but that is a very different thing from promoting it yourself.) Given the scanty and easily disproven nature of these accusations, it's hard to believe that they weren't brought up in a malicious, win at any cost spirit. If they were, then they are a prime example of seeking to impose your own interpretation on the church rather than seeking God's will, exactly the sort of thing that religious conservatives accuse liberals of.

Friday, August 08, 2003

What's Up With Me

Apologies for not posting much actual content around here lately. I've been using most of my writing time to:
1. Finish my last paper from the class I took last semester (I took an incomplete and promised the professor the three papers I owed her before the end of the summer). I turned it in today and it's a load off of my back to know that I've finished the requirements for the class. I'm not entirely satisfied with this last paper - it was kind of thrown together and it shows (especially the conclusion), but it's done.
2. Work on a short story that will not be finished before the baby comes, but at least is now officially short story length (over 2,000 words). I wanted to get down all the details that are currently in my head before I took what will probably be at least a 2 week break from writing.

Nonwriting activities that have been taking up writing time:
1. Spending last minute quality time with my kiddos before the new baby comes. I know they're going to get the short end of the attention stick for the next few weeks and I wanted to make up for it (at least a little bit) now. Or this was the goal anyway. Unfortunately, I don't feel like going out anywhere, and they're sick of staying in, so our "quality time" has mostly consisted of squabbling and time outs. Oh well, it was a good thought.
2. Last minute baby prep. Special thanks go to Merideth, who invited my children to spend the night tonight so that Adam and I could clean my house before my in-laws arrive tomorrow. Now if I can just keep the kids out of the house until tomorrow night, perhaps I can present Jane and Andy with the illusion that we don't live in squalor.
3. Being tired and whiny and generally difficult to live with. But in 3 more days I won't be pregnant anymore!

Friday Five
Top Five Life Goals No One Knows About
Top Suggested by Will

1. Write a novel
2. Learn to horseback ride
3. Become a good enough (general ballroom or swing style) dancer that I won't be embarrassed when I attend weddings and other events where you're expected to dance with people other than your spouse.
4. Live in Europe for at least 6 months.
5. Learn to sew well enough to make my own clothes.

Other participants: Merideth, Chris, Gina, Adam

Thursday, August 07, 2003

The Gay Bishop

Despite scurrilous last minute attempts to discredit the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, he was confirmed yesterday as the Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop. The Episcopals will be voting on same sex marriage later in the week. I'm finding all of this very heartening, seeing as how my own denomination (The Presbyterian Church USA) has been stalling on these issues for several years.

Both Will and Merideth have posted excellent analysis of this decision in their blogs.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

A Pirate's Life for Me

If Pirates of the Caribbean piqued your interest the way it did mine, then I recommend this article on piracy. It appears to be very well researched and thorough, but it's from some kind ecological resistance magazine, so I can't guarantee that the author doesn't have an agenda. The section on women pirates is particularly interesting.

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Too Tacky to Be Believed

I'm all for supporting our troops, but this is just ridiculous. I think if I were in the military, I'd just find it demeaning.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Happy Birthday to Me

It's my 33rd birthday. I've celebrated by not getting any sleep last night and being tired and cranky. Also by eating lots of weird food (leftover pizza, watermelon, potato chips and French onion dip, and cookie dough), taking a nap, and dreaming about falling off the Mansfield Dam (when I have anxiety dreams, I don't do it half way). Oh, and having lots of contractions and trying to decide if I was about to go into labor or not.

My husband and children have marked the occasion by presenting me with a complete new set of all the the Lord Peter mysteries to replace my tattered and much loved copies from high school, and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. Adam also made me pancakes for breakfast and skipped out on the film shoot this afternoon so that I could get more rest.

Tomorrow my parents and my brother are coming over and my mom's going to cook crab legs for dinner. My in-laws sent me a check, so I may go out in a bit and buy a few more books to read while I'm recuperating from my c-section. All in all, not a bad birthday, especially considering that we all kind of forgot about it (me included) until the last minute, because we've been so focused on the imminent arrival.

Proof That the Universe is Biased Against Short People

There's a new magazine for tall people. Why exactly do tall people need their own magazine? So that they can gloat about how they can reach everything? There's no "Short" magazine! This is blatant discrimination.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Friday Five
Five Things I Never Pass Up
Topic suggested by Merideth

1. Good quality chocolate - we're not talking Hershey Bars here - the good stuff like Toblerone or Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream
2. Seafood, especially shrimp and snow / Alaskan king crab
3. Free babysitting
4. A nap
5. A used book store - really almost any book store will do, but browsing is so much more fun in a used bookstore - you never know what you'll find

Other participants: Will, Chris, Gina, and Adam

Protecting the Rights of Minorities in a Democracy

A while back Merideth posted an interesting question about legislating civil rights - "And I have to wonder (I really don't know. Perhaps one of you will.) did we end segregation with a majority, or with just enough outrage to make legislators examine their consciences? Women's voting rights? The subhuman value placed on women and African Americans was legislated by a majority who saw no compelling moral reason to treat these people (as groups) as much more than property." The question is should legislation be guided by majority opinion, or should legislators lead the way by passing civil rights laws even when the majority of Americans disagree with those laws. This issue has come up frequently in recent discussions about homosexual rights and especially homosexual marriage. Many moderates feel that these rights should eventually be extended to gays and lesbians, but not yet. They want to give the country time to "catch up" with liberals - perhaps when poll numbers indicate that the majority of Americans support these changes, then it will be time to pass such legislation.

Andrew Sullivan has a partial answer for Merideth's question in his column today, in regards to the last major change in marriage law, miscegenation. "In 1967, the Supreme Court struck down state bans on inter-racial marriage on equal protection grounds. But what's interesting is how unpopular this was at the time. The Gallup poll in 1968 found a whopping 72 percent of the public opposed such marriages. That's markedly more than the opposition to same-sex marriage today (which is in the 50 - 60 percent range, and in the states considering it, actually a minority view). Why was that not an example of outrageous judicial activism? Yes, I know that equal protection on grounds of race has far more teeth in constitutional law. But still. This was a hugely unpopular and undemocratic move. It directly thwarted the democratic will of the people, especially in those states forced by judicial fiat to let blacks marry whites. It was judicial tyranny at the expense of democracy. " Would any of us now argue that these laws should not have been struck down? As Merideth pointed out, there's a reason we live in a representative democracy - the majority can be wrong and without safeguards to protect the rights of minorities, horrific atrocities and injustices can be inflicted on those with less power and political capital.