Monday, September 22, 2014

Picture of the Week- Walking around South Lake Union

3 Awesomely Feminist Things for Yesterday

1. Gabrielle Union on the Latest Hacking Horribleness- I cannot imagine going through what all these women keep facing, and I feel disgusted there is such a market for it (if you believe in privacy, don't look. that simple), but I thought Gabrielle Union addressed it brilliantly:
"[I]t has come to our attention that our private moments, that were shared and deleted solely between my husband and myself, have been leaked by some vultures."
"I can't help but to be reminded that since the dawn of time women and children, specifically women of color, have been victimized, and the power over their own bodies taken from them. These atrocities against women and children continue worldwide."
"For anyone out there also being affected by these and other hacking and hate crimes - We send our love, support and prayers. We have done nothing wrong."
Don't let this become normalized. It continues to be outrageous and cruel. I am glad she addressed it in this way, and I hope other female celebrities feel empowered to stand up for their own dignity.

2. Emma Watson's speech at the UN (and how much press it got even in the first 12 hours)- Watching her address the crowd, it is clear she is pretty nervous (and rightfully so) but what she says is so powerful. She said, “Men — I would like to take this opportunity to extend your formal invitation. Gender equality is your issue, too.” Truth! Let's hear more:
"I’ve seen young men suffering from mental illness unable to ask for help for fear it would make them look less “macho” — in fact in the U.K., suicide is the biggest killer of men between 20 to 24, eclipsing road accidents, cancer and coronary heart disease. I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality either.
We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes, but I can see that they are — and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence.
If men don’t have to be aggressive in order to be accepted, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive. If men don’t have to control, women won’t have to be controlled.
Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. … It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum, not as two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we are — we can all be freer. And this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom."
Is Watson the first person to be making these points? No, but this is awesome to have said on a global platform where so many are paying attention. I am excited that this can become common knowledge, that these tired and sometimes ugly gender roles hurt everyone, and it doesn't matter whether you are a man or a woman, you should be supporting feminism (also, to push back against the creepers on the internet).

3. The awesome girls who handed off their homecoming queen crown- Have you read this story yet? A bunch of nasty senior girls convinced a less popular girl that she was on homecoming court when she wasn't. In response to this really awful incident, two of the girls who did make the court made a pact to give this girl their crown if they won, and one of them did. They did the whole thing in front of everyone, which I would have hated, but the whole thing is quite sweet.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

6 Things- David Wain Trauma, Walk to End Alzheimer's, and Miller's Guild Bread

1. Shutterfly matte-finish books- We got our Year 11 book this week, and I splurged on a matte cover for it. They are so pretty. I love the way it looks.
2.  The White House PSA against Sexual Assault- I am just so glad that this issue is getting so much cultural traction right now, and I hope the efforts continue until it doesn't have to be such a big thing (in case this is not clear to you, now is not that time. If you haven't noticed, it is a hard and dangerous time to be a woman, especially a woman of color, in this country). If you are looking for a way to help, one simple step is to tell those pesky alumni associations for basically whatever university you went to that you won't give them money until you see some demonstrable efforts to rectify the situation ("But, but, Penn State has the largest Alumni Association in the world!"). Write a letter and get creative!
3. Surviving the trauma of "They Came Together"- Wow, that movie was stupid. I picked it because we should have loved it- Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler! A Comedy making fun of romantic comedies! But their send up felt tired, as if they haven't seen any romantic comedies since Nora Ephron. Maybe it just feels like the whole genre is so tired that some of the tropes they took aim at (montages! Trying on clothes! Love proclamations) have all been done before, and without creepy moments about having sex with your grandma. I do have to say, I give them credit for committing, and I still laughed. But not enough. Not enough.

4. Seattle's Walk to End Alzheimer's- We walked for our third time, but this was the first time we did it in Seattle! It was a little bit smaller, and they seemed unprepared for the size of the crowd (they kept running out of things), but we still enjoyed it! The best part is that their finish line is across this cute little bridge in South Lake Union Park, which is pretty cool!)

5. Miller's Guild Bread-  We had Miller's Guild brisket (ok, the Boy did) at Taste of Seattle, and he loved it, so we decided to try it this weekend as our being adventurous (trying to get back to that!). We were expecting a kind of barbeque place, but it was inside a W hotel, so it was exceptionally fussy and super butch manly. Like Dude Fancy. Based on that theme, the food was mostly meat, but they had two fish options. Everything was good, but Toulous Petit stands as our favorite expensive Seattle restaurant, and we are still looking for good cheap/ middle of the road options. My favorite part was the bread which they serve in a big skillet thing, which is pretty cool.
6. The Third Series of Sherlock Holme's- It basically feels like the makers of the show watched Psych over the hiatus. Two episodes in, everyone seems to be having way more fun, and if you are going to be a little bit sexist, better to have a certain air of irony around you. It also seemed much more meta, like it has internalized and responded to its fandom. I like Mary a lot, and I thought the wedding episode was the most fun one ever. So I am not hating watching it, like I suspected I would because I hated most of Series 2. I feel too like if you can't continue the incredible freshness of the first season, you are better off messing with the tone than trying to constantly up the stakes. It leaves you with no where to go. Anyway, the Boy won this weekend for picking our late night viewing.

Bumpwatch Week 31

How Far Along: 31 weeks!  Bumbo Baby is now the size of a pineapple, and he has taken over everything. He is basically controlling me from the inside like a puppet master. The parasite is getting too powerful! Perhaps I exaggerate, but seriously, he lets me know when he is pleased or displeased. Also, I feel like I have exploded to epic sizes now, because the Boss wants more room.
Best Moment of the Week: Doing the Walk to End Alzheimer's! We got up on Saturday and did the walk for the first time in Seattle. It went really well, though we didn't finish with the speed walkers, because I had to stop to pee multiple times. I brought the team down that way. On the other hand, the route was and mile and change up and a mile and change back, and we saw lots of people on the "have to stop to pee" end of the crowd just give up and turn to go the other direction as they saw the crowd moving that way. I finished that whole thing! It was a fun thing to do, and I am glad I can still get my 10,000 steps a day, even if my "pelvic floor" (yes, this is a thing. And it needs to toughen up) is not crazy about it.

Also, last night, there was a giant spider in our house. I kid you not, it was the biggest one I have ever seen in the place (and we probably kill a spider a day in or around the house). I got my 7 month pregnant ass up on a chair and squished it. It's nice to be able to still do things for myself, and The Boy was super impressed. Charity Walks. Spider Murder: It's the Little Things.

Most Interesting Prego Quirk: If you go to the emergency room, they will absolutely lose their shit for you. You will be triaging before you finish signing your paperwork. Even when it is clearly not a big deal, and you can see the baby (literally at this point, they may have been concerned a small creature was going to bust out of my abdomen Alien-style), they give you oodles of attention. I can see why, but on the other hand, everything was fine, and we basically knew that when we got in there. 
A certain amount of pregnancy discourse seems to be about warnings, fear, and the awareness that things can go really really wrong. We took our first baby class yesterday, and it traumatized us. Do you know that baby's can choke on everything? And you should never feed someone under 4 a hot dog because they will choke? And you should heat up and dice their apples? Did you know that even if you do everything right they might die in their sleep anyway? I get that they have to tell you things so you can make good choices, but Baby CPR class really did crush my soul. Luckily, The Boy has better perspective than I did coming out of it, and we could bring it off the edge to a more sane place. Still, what I learned this week is that when you are dealing with a person this small and delicate, some medical professionals consider it their duty to freak out as much as possible.

I Would Really Like Some: Leonardo's bread. Also, their pizza. It's just weird to be so far from home right now.
Bizarro Thing No One Warned me About: Everyone loves talking about Braxton Hicks and contractions at this point, but no one really mentions that you have them way before you feel like anything is going on. I didn't think I was having contractions yet, but apparently I am having them like 12 minutes apart all the time, it's just that they are so wimpy I don't even feel them! So no worries, future pregos, you won't necessarily be Braxton Hicksing for weeks.

And The Boy?: As I said, he was not as traumatized by the Baby CPR class as I was. He prioritized being the best in the class, so he really rocked the CPR. Loudest one when fake calling 911, etc. He named his practice baby Dumbledore and I named my fake baby Fred. It was only later that we realized we both chose characters who died. Still, I think he is plotting his baby-proofing now.

Looking Forward to: A less eventful week, going shopping this afternoon for the picture frames for Bumbo's room, and putting up fall decorations! Also, as people start buying tickets for visits and I look at the calender, I am getting excited that he isn't too far away!

Quote of the Week- Contact Between Women

“My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences.”- Audre Lorde, The Cancer Diaries

Saturday, September 20, 2014

30 Day Challenge (that has now lasted like a year)- Where Are We At

Day 1- Someone who you think underestimates their own beauty. –J Cro
Day 2- Something that you genuinely think is beautiful that isn't always treated that way.- Pear Shapes
Day 3- Someone whose courage makes them beautiful.- Mindy 

Day 4- Someone who is beautiful because they are always experimenting with their look.- Paige 

Day 5- Someone who is beautiful because of their confidence. – Amanda 

Day 6- Something that you think is beautiful about women who are Moms (or Grandmas).

Day 7- Someone who always expresses themselves in a beautiful way. Aunt Tunde

Day 8- Someone who you think lights up the rooms they are in. Melissa

Day 9- Someone who you think is beautifully unique. Grammy

Day 10-Someone with great hands. Nana

 Day 11- Someone who you think is beautiful because they know what they want from life. Jenny

Day 12- Someone you think is bold and courageous.- Amanda

Day 13- Someone with great skin.- Elizabeth 
Day 14- Someone whose smile makes you smile. Aubrey
Day 15- Something that you think is beautiful about yourself. Feet and Smile
Day 16- Someone who you think has beautiful strength- AuntAnn

Day 17- Someone who sticks it to gender norms.- Pam
Day 18-  A way you think a person's personality makes them beautiful. A Sense of Humor
Day 19- Someone whose intelligence makes them beautiful. Kate and Courtney 

Day 20- Someone who only gets more beautiful with time. AuntJoanna

Day 21- Someone you think has great style. Dorian 

Day 22- Something you don't have that you find beautiful in other women.- Julia

Day 23- Someone whose positive thoughts shine out of their face.- Rochelle

Day 24- Someone who is beautiful because of what they love.Mrs Alfeo

Day 25- Someone who radiates warmth and love.Bryana

Day 26- Someone with great hair.-Ellen, Corinne, Angela, and Concetta

Day 27- Someone who is beautiful because of how they see, not only how they look- Natalie
Day 28- Someone who is hilarious and that makes them beautiful.
Day 29- Someone with beautiful eyes.
Day 30- Something that you didn't notice before as beautiful, but you do now.

30 Day Lady Positivity Challenge- Day 27

Day 27- Someone who is beautiful because of how they see, not only how they look.- Natalie

We are getting to the end! I think this is a really great topic- when a baby is born, part of the pleasure of being present for the start of their of their life is seeing the world through their super fresh eyes. We are quick to notice how a person situates themselves around what they see, but if you reflect on how they actually see the world differently, you might discover a whole new wonderful side of them (not to mention something new to love in the world around you). So if you aren’t going to do this challenge (and it does take forever), I think this might be a good mini-challenge, to empathize enough with the people we love to try to figure out why what they see is beautiful to them. 

My cousin Natalie is another one of those people who just seems effortlessly cool and creative with everything she does, and I think a huge part of it comes from how she sees the world. She is also an amazing artist, but we can talk more about that later. Natalie grew up in Kenya in a community of missionaries, so right from the start, she has an incredibly unique perspective. After visiting Nairobi myself last year, I can see that her family occupies this kind of strange middle space in both Kenya and in the States where they would spend their furloughs. They belong to unique communities in both, but they also exist a little bit as outsiders wherever they go. They never completely blend in, and I bet they feel pretty self-aware in most situations (at least in their transitions).

Perhaps because of this position, Natalie especially has struck me as a sensitive observer. She is super fun and silly, but I think she plays things close to the chest, is endlessly graceful and quiet when dealing with strangers, and a keen responder to others. She comes off as shy (though as a toddler she was super outgoing and really good at jumping on the bed). Being a missionary kid means you are meeting new people all the time, and I am consistently impressed with how she handles that discomfort in a way where she both connects with people and seems to accept the disconnect.  Plus, she has let it propel her into a life brimming with courage, and I feel like for the rest of my life I will be jealous of her adventures!

When Natalie moved (semi-permanently) to the States for college, she went to a school driving distance from our grandparents (both of her sisters landed closer to their other set) so we were lucky to get o spend a lot of time with her. I know my grandparents loved having her at the house as well. I have loved having Natalie around, because she has a great sense of humor and fun. The key to success at family events (and life really) is having someone else in the room who says YES, let's do it. Natalie is always that person. She never needs to be the center of attention, but she is a good leader and friend to many of our cousins who live nearby. She recently moved to Texas, and I really missed her when trying to pull together s'mores and togetherness. We got spoiled to have her around.

I also have the sense that Natalie is a real girl's girl. She has a big, very loyal group of girlfriends, an she is the favorite of many of my girl cousins (my cousin Shawnie is currently plotting Natalie's marriage to a pro athlete). My theory is that being a girl's girl or not primarily depends on one's ability to listen and care, both of which seem to be strengths of hers.

Natalie also loves to shop and to play with fashion, and who can blame her when she looks like a model? Natalie is a tall drink of blonde water, and she dresses like these girls on Top Model after Tyra makes them give up their accessories and put their hair back. I have heard from many people that Natalie looks just like her mom did (but Moffitt blond), but she actually reminds me of Shelly (none of us look all that much alike, to be honest). I feel like her seeming effortlessness comes from a deep knowledge of what works on her, what she likes, and a quiet confidence that shows she knows what she is doing.

This same beautiful vision of the world, aesthetic sensibility, and confidence in her own choices has led Natalie to the fine arts. The art world systems are built to kick your butt in the beginning, but I hope she sticks with it, because she is really talented. For her senior project, Natalie painted these gorgeous small-scale abstract landscapes, and now that I am genoming, these small geographies resonate with a lot of what other artists are thinking about. If she had a website, I would send you to it, but she is only 6 months out of undergrad and hasn't gotten there yet, She also spent a summer interning at Kitengala Glass, a giant, bizarre, and totally amazing workshop outside of Nairobi, where she learned to blow glass and make mosaics and be cooler than all the rest of us put together. 

Of all of my Mom's siblings, her brother Steve has always been the quietest but one of the most adventurous, especially when it comes to trekking up mountains and climbing rocks (also in life choices, you don't move your whole family to Africa if you let your fear of the unknown control you). He reminds me of my Poppop in that they seem perfectly comfortable with silence, just looking around, especially when they move through natural settings. I see this quality in Natalie as well, a comfort with the quiet, a connection with the natural world (she slept in a tent by herself for a week on her school campus once- how cool is that?), and a  lot of subtle tools to communicate what is most important to her.

To be a successful artist, we all know you have to be a skilled maker, being able to effectively manipulate whichever materials you choose. To be really great (or anything worth paying prolonged attention to), you have to be a great observer and thinker. In one of her senior critiques, Natalie was kind of backed into a corner to talk about a very personal experience in a way that made her uncomfortable, but I think there is some power in her doing that. She is already a great observer with a very unique perspective, so the more she shares what she sees, the greater she will be as an artist. This powerful combination is what gives me faith that she can be really successful as an artist if she chooses. 

I think Natalie's (and her sisters') view of the world is so much more transitive than those of us who had the privilege of an easy and mostly unchanging environment. I love when she opens up more about what she is seeing, thinking, and feeling, and I have learned a lot from watching her behavior and kindness the past few years. I just think she is fearless, awesome, and able to see the world in all sorts of beautiful color. In my opinion, she is an extraordinary person, and so much of that comes from how she carries her history and wonderfulness right with her. She looks at the world with both freedom and caring, and this lens creates a view new to me and many around her.

So here's to you, Natalie, for rocking big earrings like every day is your birthday, for having an endless supply of fun ideas, for making really beautiful abstract paintings, for being yet another tall person when I am doomed to only the slightest verticality, for building an amazing console, for turning one room in Nana's house into a colorful art gallery, for using your talents when people ask, for having the courage to put yourself out there over and over again, for your optimism and faith which I hope you never lose, for knowing this is what you should be doing (and for being right), for weathering the horribleness which is being 22 and starting adulthood, for giving our grandparents so much love and confidence in the time you lived with them, for letting the rest of us know little by little the beautiful way you see the world. You are beautiful and I am so grateful for the past few years and chances to know you better!