Archive for June, 2010

Meconium for a New Age

June 30, 2010

Images of the BP oil spill got me thinking about meconium—that first tarry poop that took alcohol wipes to get off my thumb in the wake of my first at-bat in the big leagues of diaper changing.

I remember being fascinated by this tenacious stuff in the first days of parenthood, like I was being initiated into some secret society—the one-time first poop of a lifetime, the leavings of “holding it” for 9 months while not officially eating (swallowing some random cells here and some amniotic fluid there) and forming into formless goo as the baby’s very intestines form.

I recall wiping that downloaded meconium from my fingers and thinking about beach days and wiping little black spots of tar from the soles of my feet while pondering those ominous distant passing oil tankers and their toxic leavings.

And then I was thinking about how crude oil and tar are really decomposed vegetation, swamp stuff and trees that, under pressure and deep under ground, turned into this stuff we harvest out of the earth and burn.  And it makes sense that it does burn because trees and plants capture sunlight and turn it into energy, thus wood and oil alike are forms of trapped sunlight suspended in matter—matter that burns when releasing that energy in the form of fire—light escaping back into the ephemeral wave form in which it arrived on earth.

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Triumph of the Will… to watch horror films

June 23, 2010

Welcome to Privilege of Parenting’s blog on the first of weekly rather than daily blogs in the service of both sanity and our collective children.

To kick things off for this solar year, I could not be more thrilled than to introduce a guest blog from my thirteen-year-old son, Will (who besides being my kid, is also one of my absolutely most favorite people on the planet).

As a matter of full disclosure, this guest blog came about when Will was asking for ways he might earn a little money this summer.  Besides washing the windows, I suggested that I would pay for a guest blog ($5.00); he answers my challenge today (and thus today he’s doing better than most of us in the cash for words department).

Readers of PoP may be aware that I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror films, yet this past year I have watched more than one or two with Will, and so his blog arises from, and weaves back into, the very fabric of our relationship (which mostly just distills down to how much love we love each other).

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Why I like horror movies

I am a true horror movie fan. I have loved this type of movie for about 2 years now and before I liked it I had the same question as a lot of people. “How could anybody like horror movies?” Well in this blog I am going to do my best to answer that.

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Full Circle Solstice

June 21, 2010

Well, happy summer solstice, again.

Hello, again.  Good-bye, again.

Go. Dog. Go, again.

How can I begin to say what I really mean?

How can I convey the love I feel for you, and for us and for our world?

I may have failed to tame my ego, heal my narcissism and more fully place my self in proper service to the Self and our collective SELF (although I like to think I’ve made a little progress this year), I have certainly failed to become any sort of perfect parent (not that this was ever the goal).

But I have treasured a year; and in working hard, I have made a difference—to myself.  I do know that I have also made a difference to some others, and I choose to not be coy and pretend I am unaware of this and the many kind and encouraging comments I have deeply appreciated along the way.

I have sought to give, but I have received much in the bargain—age-old wisdom proving true personally and viscerally that it is good to give, that it is through what we give that we find connection, relationship and happiness (and that “giving” can be attention, presence, affection, patience, even just thoughts).

I have apportioned time to blogging, time disconnected from Andy and Nate and Will (thanks to you guys for weathering my self-imposed year of blogging mindfully, too often at your expense).  So, now it is time to follow Kristen’s example and “buffer.”

Only connect.  This is what I have learned from Forster via Andy, and what I have striven to write and live (the challenge about connecting proves to be:  how much and with who?).  Moving forward I hope to continue to only connect, but in balance, connecting virtually, actually and internally with the spirits and the muses.

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Paterfamilias’ Progress

June 20, 2010

Happy Father’s Day.

There were two guys playing golf and a terrible lightning storm came up and the first friend was ready to run for cover when the second friend walked up to his ball, lightning hitting all around them, and prepared to hit his next shot.  His terrified friend shouted, “What are you doing—you’re going to get killed!”  To which the more intrepid golfer of the two calmly replied, “Don’t worry, I’m using my two iron—even God can’t hit a two iron.”

As to whether God can or cannot hit a two iron… it’s just a joke.  But we can now be sure that “God” (or at least random lighting) can, and did, hit a six-story high “touchdown Jesus.” This Father’s Day I miss my father-in-law, Arthur, who in the end of life had Judaism to win and Catholicism to place in the horse race of religion, but I am not privy to that particular betting window and so I do not know if any of his bets paid off.

Meanwhile, a reader comment on that Touchdown Jesus breaking news item caught my eye; peppered between smug quotes from Exodus about not making graven images and counter-comments about the folly of religion was, “If lightning hits a statue of Zeus is it different?  Discuss.”

On this the week of Father’s Day, that comment got me thinking of the archetypal Father and His evolution.  Whether it’s Zeus hurling lightning bolts or Moses going ballistic and smashing the tablets, I wonder how many men suffer under the yoke of internalized paternalism.  In other words, how many hotheaded guys end up acting like dicks mostly because that’s what they’ve been taught—that this is the way that real men, particularly Fathers, behave?

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Parenting Manifesto

June 19, 2010

The true history of all society is the history of parenting.

Parents have always seemed to be in charge, but every generation has faced a revolution of children growing up and taking charge—only to be usurped by the next generation.

To end the entrenched strife of anxious children and unhappy parents caregivers must see that they are as much child as parent—and that parenting (i.e. caring for others and the world) is enlightened Self-interest that sets us free via an expanded consciousness.

Thus a parenting attitude brings feelings of harmony, community and more widespread stability and well-being.

In order to liberate parenting from the yoke of experts and materialist exploitation of insecurity about the most important job any of us ever do, and which we so deeply yearn to get right, caregivers must unite in a common consciousness that sees all children as all of our collective children.

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350 in dog years

June 18, 2010

I entered the world like a trickster

Coaxed by the smell of barbeque

But the Jewess princess was

Drugged and passed out

By the time I arrived

Into Cold male hands and

Even colder light

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At five I nearly barfed

At Kiddie Land

The “fun” fire truck

An overwhelming howl

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Ten brought Slimy wood

And barred breath

Trapped under a dock

Sunlight like candy behind

Nose-pressed glass

As men neared the moon

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The Deep

June 17, 2010

This day always holds dread and portent for me as it marks the day in my childhood when my best friend, Jonathan, was killed; yet there is another story of attachment and loss that also clusters around this day in the watery tumult of my psyche.

It all goes back to high school—junior year honors English.  Ellen was in my class and of course I thought she was cute.  I sat one row over and one seat back, and thus my year was spent stealing glances at her as my mind drifted in and out, but mostly away, from Jude the Obscure.

The very last week of class the teacher invited us all to her house and on the way out, with summer stretched endlessly before me, I somehow found the courage to ask Ellen out on a date and was elated and shocked when she said yes.  I had asked out girls before, and had a good long history of “no” (particularly humiliating was my freshman year honors English fail with the girl who sat in front of me as my mind wandered away from the likes of Pride and Prejudice—I could simply not persuade that girl, a full head taller than me, to go on a date where we would ride our bikes).  But in 1977 I had a license to drive, and so Ellen would be picked up in a car.

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Adulthood begins at 27

June 16, 2010

This is a season when the dust is starting to settle around all our recent graduates, ranging from kindergarten to graduate school.

I have long argued in my own writing that adulthood no longer actually occurs in our culture at the point that most of us say that it begins (twenty to twenty-two).  A recent New York Times article by Patricia Cohen, Long Road to Adulthood is Growing Even Longer bears this out with an accruing host of facts and figures.

Social scientists and policy makers are noticing that there is a newly emerging phase in many Americans’ lives in which they are no longer adolescents and not yet adults.  Obama’s shift to allow children up to twenty-six to be on their parents’ health insurance plans, as well as shifts in the average age for marriage now (27 for males, 27 for females) underscore the late blooming trend.

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When writing gets leathery

June 15, 2010

Deep in the matrix of my psyche I associate writing with leather.  Not because of leather-bound volumes in oak paneled libraries, but because of coats—leather coats.

When I was a kid my dad had a friend who had a leather factory on the far south side of Chicago, near to where my dad had grown up.  The old Jewish quasi ghetto had morphed into an African American quasi ghetto.

Being middle class Jews trapped in some never-pay-retail internalized racism, it happened that my family once rode forever through a Chicago winter, arriving at a freezing warehouse filled with dead cow skin sewn into every variation of a coat that a pimp could want.

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Singularity is forever, but it’s not for everybody?

June 14, 2010

A rather provocative article by Ashlee Vance in the New York Times, Merely Human? That’s So Yesterday, raised a host of intriguing questions.  Essentially the article is about the idea of technological “singularity” where humans and machines will, according to some, meld and then immortality (or at least dramatically extended lives) will be possible.

These ideas, being explored by the best and the brightest (at least in the realm of computer science and bio-technology), distill down, in the end, to incredibly un-modern, rather more of the same, ends:  an elite “school” in which elite connections are made to further capital ventures in a rarefied grab for power, money, control and the hubristic cockeyed quest to become God and live forever (how old school is that?  Think conquistadors, explorers and myriad seekers of fountains of youth, treasure and the like who basically annihilated native peoples everywhere they went).

Yes, technology is zooming forward but no, it will not allow us to live “forever.”  Firstly, “forever,” is a concept that rests upon the notion of its opposite—time.  Once we get past time, then there is no “forever,” there just is.  Secondly, being rather restless and childlike, I’m not sure what these boys would do with themselves if they had forever on their hands.  In fact it’s those inevitably idle robotic avatar hands that might likely become the devils playthings after all—out of sheer boredom and the angst resultant from the ego elevated above the Self (like a child who kills his parents and then panics at being an orphan).  Given how bored many people are with their short span of days, what would people actually do with immortality?  They would probably eventually meditate and learn non-action and transcend the illusion of matter altogether—yet one could do that without actually making the forever machine since… we’re already soaking in it.

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