Pink Ears

I didn’t join my friends at the march in New York City or DC this weekend, because we had a weekend getaway planned. I did monitor everyone’s progress on Facebook though, while sitting with a mound of disguarded snow gear at the lodge in the Poconos. It was easier for me to the guardian of the crap than venture out on the slopes. It’s been 25 years since I was last on skis, and it was too much trouble to take lessons, while everyone else was going in different directions. When I got home, I got more feedback on the event.

Everyone said it was remarkably positive and inclusive. Everybody had their own reasons for being there. Some were there for the environment, others for women’s issues, others for immigration. I wonder if anyone has crunched the numbers to find out what the biggest issues were.

It was also freed from the usual activist crap that turns off average people. There wasn’t any of theory/jargon/self-hatred/ naval-gazing that has weighed down other protests. There was any one group of professionals looking to score points and congratulate themselves.

It was a beginner’s protest. A whole lot of attendees  never attended a protest before. That’s great. It was a different kind of populism from Trump’s brand of populism.

At one point during the weekend, Steve and I left the boys in the room and went down to the bar for a drink. The large TV over the bar was showing the protests on FOX. Our bartender started complaining about all the violence. (There wasn’t any, but whatever.) She said, all those people should just give Trump a chance. We just smiled. We were in rural Pennsylvania afterall.

Keeping Chaos at Bay

Things are wacky in the home of Apt. 11D right now. I had a 1,700 word article on special ed that had to be totally rejiggered after Betsy DeVos opened her trap in the Senate this week. We’re supposed to leave for our first weekend ski trip at 3:00 today, but Jonah told us yesterday that he has a mandatory track meet down at the Jersey shore on Saturday morning. So, we’re going to have to leave him alone in the house on a Friday night (ugh!), where he’ll have to drive to the meet on his own and then drive two hours to the ski resort after the race. We don’t have ski gloves yet. We haven’t packed. The laundry isn’t done. My insomnia flared up this week again, because I haven’t gotten enough exercise this month. There’s a nest of little animals in the attic. I don’t have shampoo.

And the country has elected a totally insane individual to run the country. Who knows what’s going to happen to healthcare, education, taxes, foreign relations? I’m assuming the answer is nothing good.

My facebook page is scary. Too much emotion. Too much tension. I’ve never seen anything like this.

At the same time, it doesn’t do anyone any good to panic. I’m managing my own chaos with lists and deep breaths. We need to handle the new presidency in the same way. As grown ups.

Poor Hillary.

(I’ll keep adding to this post throughout the day.)

It’s Friday

Alright, the kids are on a broad spectrum antibiotic to battle strep throat plus a mysterious virus. They are both at school. I have an actual list of things to do today, instead of just putting out fires as they come up. I’m working on an article on this Supreme Court case. I even made it to the gym this morning, where I did a couple of miles while watching HGTV. Win!

I have some random bits and pieces of good things to share this morning.

I really loved this quote in Megan McArdle’s article about divorce.

But more recent research suggests a very different truth about happiness. As Daniel Gilbert argues in the brilliant book “Stumbling on Happiness,” unless our circumstances are truly unbearable, our brains will seek to find their natural level of happiness, like floodwater evening out across a plain. Whatever we are stuck with … whatever we commit to … we will find ways to make it work — and we will be just as happy with it as we would have been with any other outcome.

I’m fascinated by Ayelet Waldman’s LSD trips.

Two state legislatures are debated getting rid of tenure.  Well, most colleges have already gotten rid of tenure informally by hiring adjuncts in higher and higher numbers.

Do you believe that intelligence report on DT?

Ice and Ill

We’re encased in ice. The driveway, which wasn’t shoveled in time, is a fine sheet of black ice. I might try to hack away at it with a corner of a shovel in an hour or two, when we are supposed to briefly go above freezing. I would rather that the postman didn’t wipe out on our front steps.

I’m working for a bit. Waiting for some return e-mails, and keeping up with the news. But mostly, I’m monitoring a sick kid upstairs. Strep throat again. He’s watching a movie wrapped in a purple blanket. A glass of ginger ale with a bent straw and bite-sized carbs on a green napkin.

There are certain rituals that MUST happen when you’re sick in this house. Mommy and boy movie time is one thing that always happens. A few years back, Jonah got a five-day stomach virus. We watched all the Marvel movies, from XMen to the Avengers, that week. I’ll go upstairs and join Ian on his movie binge in a moment.

Since I’m sealed in this tomb of ice and illness, I’m cleaning the tomb. I put away the Christmas ornaments and manger. I can only deal with Christmas clutter for two weeks. I think my OCD is getting worse, as I get older. Today’s plan is to purge all the random plates and bowls from the kitchen. One green plate and one small blue bowl will get packed up for the Good Will.

And I have to read every article about Trump’s secretary of education pick. I’ll have to do some school choice articles soon, and I’m trying to choose the best angle.

 

Monday, Monday

Alright, I’m reorienting myself this morning. I was knee-deep in a sticky project for a month. I think it’s done. I hope it’s done.

We had a family weekend with Halloween dances and cross country races.

I’m beginning the research on a college sports article for the Atlantic. And I may do something on German schools and how they sort kids out at age 10 into the college track and the non-college track – do American schools do that in a more subtle way?

 

Monday Morning

I’m going to jot down a few words before I have to leave for spin class in twenty minutes. No guarantees that it all makes sense or that words are spelled correctly. But I want to check in with y’all this morning. I might be able to do some proper blogging this afternoon.

“Your cup runneth over,” my friend Elizabeth said last week. And it’s true. Last week, I juggled an article that just won’t seem to get itself finished, Jonah’s college applications, special ed PTA stuff, two doctor’s appointments, and one German exchange student. All great stuff, but it was a lot.

And then in the midst of all that, I decided that my living room was looking tired, so I bought all new cushions for the sofa and  a throw for the arm chair to clean things up. I went with a cream, blue, and grey theme. Very clean and modern. This mandatory redecoration project meant two trips to West Elm and IKEA and required — yes, required — some serious consideration about placement and organization.  Compulsive? Me? Nah!!!

This week is much more manageable. The article-that-won’t-die needs another day of work, and I’m on the fun research stage of the next article. Research is always much more fun that writing first drafts. Writing first drafts is about the suckiest thing in life.

With the German exchange student occupying my office, my computer has been temporarily relocated to my bedroom dresser. It’s freaking me out. And I think that this disruption to my work space is partially responsible for the article-that-won’t-die.

Can I just say that the German student’s English is excellent? Should Americans be doing a better job teaching foreign languages?

Also, the German said that he feels sorry for Jonah, because all of his sports and homework. He likes to remind Jonah that he never gets any homework.

Oh, and colleges are free in Germany.

 

 

 

How To Not Raise a Bro

Steve and I watched Ryan Lochte and the asshole from Stanford this summer with a great deal of concern. Those privileged, good looking, talented boys/men are very much like the kids in our town. We desperately don’t want our kid to be a “bro” – a partying kid who thinks the rules don’t apply to him. But how do you counteract the general culture that they swim in it all day long.

Jonah got in trouble a couple of weeks ago. It was a relatively minor infraction, but it required a real punishment. He was grounded and his phone taken away. We then read every instagram note, snapchat story, and text message on his phone. Wow, he swims in dangerous waters.

He, like all the teens in town, are “friends” with hundreds of other kids. Kids he doesn’t even really know. These “friends” post pictures and videos of their parties gleefully recording every shotgun, every pong game, every blurry eyed drunk face. Idiots. And it’s not just the skateboarding, shop class kid. It’s the AP honors kid, the going to Harvard kid, the marching band kid.

And then a friend who has two teenage daughters warned me that I needed to watch out for the girls now that Jonah got so cute over the summer. She said that I would have to be careful, because girls would start launching themselves in his direction. So, we had lots of talks about all this over the weekend, but would I be a terrible feminist, if I asked the parents of girls to talk with their daughters about this, too? Perhaps teenage girls shouldn’t give themselves nicknames on their finsta-accounts that call themselves “hoes.”

Another parent in town was so dismayed by his kid’s behavior and the general culture of the town that he made his kid drop out of school and join the military. That seems a bit extreme. The parents who put their kids in fancy Catholic schools in the area say that the same problems exist there, too. In fact, the private kids are even worse, because their parents go away to Thailand for two weeks and leave the kids alone in their McMansions with an unlocked liquor cabinet.

As much as we would like, we can’t wrap our kids in cotton and lock them in their room until 25. How do you parent properly, when other parents aren’t? When other parents buy the booze for the kids? How does a kid make good choices, when he lives in a world where everybody else is making bad choices? Should we move to a cabin in the woods until everybody else grows up? Tell me, readers.