Friday, December 24, 2010

Four Year Old Santa Envy

Can someone please explain to me why despite the Jewish preschool, Sunday school, and EIGHT NIGHTS of Hanukkah Eli still thinks Santa will arrive at our house. We have a serious Santa Fixation on our hands. A couple of weeks ago he informed the barber that Santa had already been to his house for Hanukah. He’s been obsessively watching the newspaper and neighbors houses for Santa Sightings. Did you know that Santa has been scoping out parkway sort of fly by style? The blow up Santa across the street may turn real at any moment. Santa also sometimes delivers the newspaper. When we explained patiently for the umpteenth time that we don’t celebrate x-mass the response was “well santa can come anyway….. I want chwistmas pwesents”

His siblings have always gone the other way. In Kindergarten they spent a train ride to Alexandria explaining to people that we don’t “observe Christmas because we do not believe that Jesus Christ is our savior” That was also the train where they sweetly asked every African American person in our car if they “observed Kwanza” And each year when we gather up toys to donate to kids whose parents can’t afford to buy them toys I’m told we should really give them to Jews and Muslims since the Christian kids have Santa to take care of them. Last night Rebecca was looking at her Renaissance Art Go Fish game and proclaimed that Raphael’s Transfiguration was inappropriate because we don’t believe in Jesus and there he is turning from man to God. (yes I admit it I really did buy my children a Renaissance Art go fish game when they were three) This then led to a long discussion about the possibility of separating artistic taste from theology. I explained that I’m pretty sure that thanks to musicology I know the Latin Mass and various feast days better than most practicing Catholics. This is the child who in Rome was completely obsessed with the Mommy’s and the Babies.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Hulk in the City

Last night’s entertainment involved cutting and pasting from various versions of hopefully uncorrupted documents. Once I figured out that none of what I wrote would see the light of day because the little beach ball of doom would undoubtedly show up, it became kind of fun. I could do things like For example after a nice story from Galileo about a Hermit killing a cicada in search of sound why not insert the phrase from my new favorite Tweeterer, Feminist Hulk: HULK NOT HAVE TIME TO STRETCH FIRST, PULL MUSCLE WHEN SMASHING BIOLOGICAL ESSENTIALISM. SMASH GO WELL, BUT HULK NEED HEAT PAD? And indeed as it turns out a bit of a riff on the Lyra Barberini goes very nicely with LONG WEEK OF SMASH LEAD TO WEEKEND OF LAUNDRY. POST-LAUNDRY, HULK UNWIND, WRITE SONGS ON GUITAR. WHAT RHYME WITH CIXOUS? And a footnote on livery works with HULK SEW "WHAT WOULD ANGELA DAVIS DO?" PATCH ON LITTLE PURPLE SHORTS. This was only slightly more thrilling than getting very excited about hooking a pick up to a viola and then hooking said pick up to an amp and getting completely stuck on the pick up spot. When it looked like we would have to scrape away at the bridge my technical support who is excellent in a lab and in a tree canopy decided I needed a professional. Given my new obsession with the HULK I was looking very forward to making some serious noise.
The 60 hour jaunt to the city ranged from the ridiculous to the fabulous. The ridiculousness started with a cancelled plane, and while I was in a completely inconsolable bratty mood on the phone my friend suggested I get off said phone and get my butt to the train, which left in 20 minutes. Remarkably (and with help from HomeTechSupport [HTS]), I got from running clothes to train in 18 minutes. Note that I very carefully planned the trip for weekdays so that the children would be in school and HTS (Manuel) would have an easier time. But Charlottesville had a serious snowpocalypse of at least 1.5 inches, which kept them out of school for two days. It was clear by Friday early afternoon that if I did not make my way to the StarLight express bus on time I would have a really cranky husband. And lest anyone think I was completely oblvious to snow troubles, my son did call me while I was at MOMA to share a full screaming tantrum about the fact that he did not have snow boots for said one inch of snow. “Terrible things happen whenever you go away….I refuse to wear my cowboy boots. I am not a cowboy…. This is a travesty for my feet….” were a few of the choice lines.
There is no place in the world better for someone who can’t drive than New York or Rome and nothing more delicious for a mother of three small children than a quiet and gorgeous apartment. (thanks uncle earl) I was slightly startled every time I pushed the remote control button that made the tv come out of the bookcase—James Bond. (It was not, however, as startling as the time I was there in grad school and some how traffic from outside set off a light bulb clapper and every light in the apartment went on and my middle of the night sleep state made me think I was being invaded).
But the reason I went was my grandparents and that was also the sad part. I feel compelled to visit them a few times a year although I’m not sure they are always cognizant of who it is. I’m most often confused with my mother. And admittedly I always plan some fun things and some good solitary work time while I’m there. They are at best shadows or shells of what they once were. That they were not much older than I am now when I was born means that I have vivid memories of them in their 50’s. I’m not sure at what point this happened and at what point it became clear that they are simply not really here any more. I know that when Rebecca and Jonathan were born almost eight years ago they were still sentient and able to take pleasure. My grandfather could still walk me to the NICU and express his doctorly wisdom. He could also suggest that the introduction to my Monteverdi book used too many words he did not know. When the kids were six months old my grandmother could still get down on the floor and play with them and when they were a year old she could still come out to our house in Port Jefferson and sit in the backyard while they climbed on her. One of my mother’s friends commented that I am a very good granddaughter. Well, the thing is, they were wonderful grandparents.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rage against the Machine

“With every tool man is perfecting his own organs, whether motor or sensory or is removing the limits to their functioning.” I thought this was a cool quotation from Freud a week ago. Now not so much….. On Friday I started having problems with the document that is in effect chapter one of my book. (don’t worry there are other chapters and other portions but this is chapter one as in ready to be a book chapter one) After getting the revolving beach ball on drugs for a few hours I then spent a few hours on the phone with microscoft word. The automated service by the way does not understand the words “fu****ers” or the phrase “do not apologize for the inconvenience any more” Eventually my microsoft friend Bob who sounded like an automated phone informed me that my document was clearly corrupt and that the way to write a book is to do absolutely no formatting until the end—and by the way it is a bad idea to cut and paste between documents. I sat down on Sunday to mess around with the corrupted document again only to find that the power cord to the mac had somehow been fried—so the computer was completely out of juice. Today’s technological insult involved dropping my phone in the toilet—don’t even ask. As it turns out the thing survived being RUN OVER by an SUV but not drowning by toilet.

Thankfully the fabulous Lauren was babysitting and drove the boys and I to the Verizon store during rush hour.(where on earth are people going here at rush hour?) Note that both were tantruming by the time we left the house and the only thing that stopped it was endless knock knock jokes. The boys loved the Verizon store especially the ipads on which Joanthan was somehow searching for what bathing suit is best for your body type. (his body type is scrawny) Eli had to do his email and blog and when we all left the Verizon store thinking he’d follow he in fact called our bluff and kept on doing his business on the ipad. I got the updated version of the “easy use phone” as in the phone for blind old people which has very large buttons, does nothing fancy and has the red 911 button which children are prone to press. During the car ride Eli solved the problem of what to get Papa for his birthday. “a gun” We spent quite a bit of time listening to the rings on my new phone and the kids wondered if we could get “gavotte” on it.

Now one of the many ironies in all of this is that the reason I have I have a Freud quotation at the tips of my fingers is because I am writing a book about Castrati, technology and machines. In theory I’m exploring the interface between human and machines and chapter one has a section entitled “instrumental excursis” which stretches from Aristotle to Freud on the potential of technology to extend the limits of the sensory.

On an un-related note Jonathan and Rebecca’s Friend Kiren got a new brother last week. We are very very happy that the baby is so precious and even more happy that it’s not at our house. Jonathan and Eli were both fairly quick to burst the new brothers bubble. When Kiren explained how cute his brother was J responded with “you know pretty soon that baby is going to steal your leggos. ” Eli want to build a baby house with baby weapons but seemed more impressed with Kiren’s new legos than Kiren’s new baby. Eli seems generally weak on concept these days. He also explained to the barber on Saturday that Santa had already come to our house for Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Emails that should not be written

I think I’m going to have to turn the blog over to my husband. Today’s post will be two pieces of his handwork. If you’re getting this through facebook you already know that as of today I’m pretty much done with male academics. I’m sure that just about every man I know is an exception to this rule but the general population I’d say has been irritating oppressing etc… for twenty years and I’m done.

My husband of course committed his fair share of male academic sins this week, but he has made up for them in all kinds of ways. He did take some time out of a busy day today to rewrite for me two emails. They each represent templates of messages that I or another female scholar I know received at least three of in the last few weeks. At rock band rehearsal last night we each identified another four people who are proficient in the genre and have used it this month—that makes 12 more. In other words you cannot possibly figure out whom they are from because they are SO REPRESENTATIVE. This is in other words a conventional genre. It is as one of my friends pointed out concerning that he can so easily inhabit the personae, which these represent. He claims they only took him two minutes each and did not take time out from his work or from crucial household tasks.

A Response to an essay:

Ms. Gordon,
I have read the piece that you sent me recently in October, 2003, and I enjoyed your clear and cogent style. I am afraid, however, that I have certain methodological concerns. It appears that you have not written the work you should have, which would have been the work I would have written had I thought of it. Instead, you have a piece that reflects your own understanding and interpretation, and you thus do not focus sufficiently on the key theoretical and conceptual insights that I would have brought to this piece had I written it. Let me offer one brief example. On page 7 of your essay, you argue for the development of an intellectual framework that does not at all reference my seminal contributions; I would never have left out such a crucial scholar as I, and the rest of your paper suffers accordingly.
I hope this is helpful, and I would be happy to work with you more closely over the coming decade so that you can more fully appreciate my erudition and experience.

All the best,

Email from deadbeat graduate student.

Dear professor Gordon,
sorry to have been out of touch recently. Here is a chapter of my brilliant dissertation. As you may recall, my dissertation focuses on my towering intellect. My working title is, "A work of unspeakable beauty and sublimity." This chapter is called, "Genius, pure but perhaps not simple enough for my readers." I hope you have time to read it in the next 20-25 minutes and send me fawning compliments, though I doubt you have the wisdom or depth to fully appreciate this grand accomplishment. I will be in my office awaiting your boundless praise.

your best student ever