Archive for June, 2012
We had babysitters last night but it was a perfect storm of Working Mamahood: a stressful meeting, a race home to be in time to pay Julia’s tutor and drop off a BBQ chicken for the girls’ dinner, then sweatily retracing my steps to find that the place I had planned on meeting Jeremy was closed for renovations.
I had a glass of wine two doors away. J arrived and I glowered at him until I remembered that this place exists and was in fact just around the corner. We had a fricken celestial meal. The highlight was the salmon tartare, which came in a white dome of frozen horseradish that melted on your tongue like angels singing.
We sat at the bar watching the kitchen prep: liquid nitrogen to keep the horseradish domes crisp and to freeze the popcorn; the cherry sorbet served in champagne coupes with a little lime soda. Commonwealth is run by San Francisco hippies and $10 from every tasting menu goes to local non-profits, hence the name. J got tipsy. I had to pack for a business trip when we got home, but then we curled up on the couch and watched Thor, which was extheedingly thilly.
I know I was rude about the SMH just a fortnight ago, but it really was my first window into the adult world, and for many years the name Fairfax held for me the ring of integrity. I’m gutted at the layoffs. The innocent are punished while the guilty walk free.
Jeremy and I have been watching Altogether Too Much Archer, with the result that every now and then one of us will shout:
Yesterday before camp, Julia piled all the cushions and blankets on the living room floor and rolled around on them, crying: “I am in the comfy zone!”
I said: “You’re going to have to get out of your comfort zone.”
Claire said: “And into the DANGERZONE!!!”
What is up the NY Times’ butt? Another breathtakingly sexist review, this one by Francine Prose:
“But Gina doesn’t seem to have a heart — or, for that matter, a conscience. Nor is she particularly intelligent…”
Compare with Hermione Lee in the Grauniad, who at least seems to have read the same book I did:
A 34-year-old married woman – sexy, energetic and independent-minded…
Or more damningly, compare with Lydia Millet’s NYT review of Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask:
Milo Burke, a deeply cynical academic development officer, earnest binger on doughnuts, avid consumer of Internet porn, and devoted father and husband…
Or even Michiko on Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story:
insecurities manifested in Lenny’s self-deprecating humor, his compulsive need to try to make others like him…
Awful male characters are complex. Awful female characters have no redeeming features. Got it?
SIGH. Anyway, I enjoyed Waltz as I did not particularly enjoy Lipsyte or Shteyngart, and I had fun being drunk and envious in suburban Dublin again. Like most Anne Enright, this reads as the lovechild of Emma Donoghue and Lionel Shriver. Mmm.
Here are a couple of unicorn chasers.
Tintin author Herge was a super-problematic dude in many ways, but he was exemplary in at least this one: he made friends with a Chinese scholar and he listened to his friend and he let that friendship change him and his work. That’s all you can ask of anyone, really, so: props.
This conversation between two Asian-American foodies about cultural appropriation is a privilege to overhear, and also contains these handy hints on not being racist:
Danny Bowien is a guy who NAILS it in terms of messaging. He does funky hybrid party Chinese food that I think we’re all honored to be the inspiration for. Danny hit me on twitter today wanting to put my Hainan Lobster Rice on the menu, do it! I love that people like Danny and Kareem Abdul Jabbar are interested in our culture in an inquisitive and honest way.
Danny’s the chef at my new favourite brunch place, so: yay.
I do get that it’s totally my fault for reading the Sydney Morning Herald (which I remember from my childhood as a fun, sophis window into the adult world, but which today (possibly without its even having changed!) reads as a gross crawly-bumlick to wealth and power, as unrepresentative of most of Australia as Fox News and the NY Times are of most of America.)
When St Pauls College (last seen waving a flag for rape!) holds a party at which the white guests are served by Indian waiters in colourful dress in celebration of the “colonial” theme, the appropriate headline is not: “Was this uni Raj night racist?” The appropriate headline is “Fire everyone responsible for racist uni Raj night.”
And! If you are the principal of one of the major private schools, and you say aggressively racist shit like this:
Dr Paul Burgis, the principal of PLC Sydney, where 34 per cent of students are from other cultural backgrounds, said there was a huge level of exposure to, and acceptance of, other cultures at the school.
”It would almost be offensive if I, as a principal, was to talk about it: ‘Why do you have to raise it as an issue? We’re past that now, we’re just friends’,” he said.
”At a school like PLC it’s almost an invisible question.”
…your racist ass should be fired, rehired only to write an essay explaining exactly why making cultural difference “an invisible question” is itself part of a set of racist strategies, promoting whiteness as the cultural default and problematizing any person or experience that deviates from that racist-ass norm, and then you should be fired again, with no pension.
You know what’s offensive? What’s offensive is that people like Paul Burgis are awarded doctorates and given influential jobs in education when they exhibit ignorance of the most basic facts about institutional racism or systems of oppression or the cultural transmission vectors for all of the above. How do you even wade self-importantly into a discussion of race and privilege in Australian classrooms and throw around a word like “invisible” with no apparent awareness of its, you know, meaning?
To be fair Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man, a book about the racist use of invisibility, is ONLY SIXTY YEARS OLD AND NEWS OF IT MAY NOT HAVE CROSSED THE PACIFIC YET.
DEAR AUSTRALIAN JOURNALISTS, NEWSPAPER EDITORS AND PRIVATE SCHOOL PRINCIPALS: YOU MIGHT WANT TO READ THAT BOOK, IF YOU GET A MOMENT.
IN CLOSING: AARGH.
This is an awfully nice illustration of what I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. Jeremy took the first picture; the composition’s not ideal but you can see my position, which is the point of this exercise. You can see my thigh muscle, such as it is, just sort of sitting there like a lamb roast, with my lower leg dangling off it in a pendulumish fashion. You can see how hunched my shoulders are and how I have tipped forward ahead of Bella’s motion. As a result she is jumping very flat. You can’t imagine her getting over anything bigger in this sort of form. Luckily, this picture was taken almost two years ago.
This next shot is a couple of weeks old. Not to brag or nothing, but check out how much rounder and more athletic Bella looks. That’s because I am not riding her quite so much like a bag of puddings.
Much remains to be done! My ankles are still deplorably weak, especially the left one, which I broke, and I still need a stronger core and to sit more quietly. My hands need to be a hair lower to make the line from my elbow to the bit perfectly straight. But I have improved a heap. This makes me quite unreasonably happy. Living out your childhood fantasies: I recommend it.