Quick and Dirty

I've been reading War and Peace for most of the Spring, and finally finished it this week. It was worth it, though I had to take breaks from it periodically when things were moving too slowly, then I'd cheat on it with something quick and dirty that I could finish in a few days. It's made for a very fun summer so far. The quick and dirty list: Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, which had fun literary themes with college students trying to impress each other, a … [Read more...]

A Paradoxical Feminism: Tolstoy on Marriage


From the First Epilogue of War and Peace:  "Natasha had married in the early spring of 1813, and in 1820 already had three daughters, besides a son for whom she had longed and whom she was now nursing. She had grown stouter and broader, so that it was difficult to recognize the slim lively Natasha of former days in this robust motherly woman. Her features were more defined and had a calm, soft and serene expression. In her face there was none of the ever-glowing animation that had … [Read more...]

Divesting Myself of Fifty Percent of My Belongings


So Betty, How is that plan to give away fifty percent of your belongings going?Well, it's going. I  have given away the equivalent of one kitchen garbage bag per week in items that are not actually garbage. This week so far I have a stack that includes seven issues of Poetry magazine, a children's melody harp without strings, six or seven clothing items, and a bunch of my daughter's shoes that no longer fit (including a pair of Real! Wooden! Shoes! from Holland). My husband would say that … [Read more...]

Lest ye lead anyone into sin…


It's summer time. People are wearing fewer clothes, and the modesty debates have begun. Skirts vs. shorts for keeping cool, and what about bikinis? I say, fine, let them wear bikinis, let them wear whatever they want, as long as they pair them with some of these:Pervert deflecting hairy stockings, Ladies, because we wouldn't want to lead anyone into sin. … [Read more...]

Lucky Ducks


It's June. I've been on vacation, and my sister has been in town, the kids are all out of school, and I have no idea what's going on in the world. Except for this:I read Simcha Fisher's announcement of an upcoming big announcement last night and went to bed feeling like a loser because I thought for sure she was going to tell us she signed a book contract with FSG or got her life story optioned for a sitcom, and I thought, "I don't know if I can stand to know her good news, because it … [Read more...]

Don’t Swim Alone


It's that time of year again, when everyone shares the article about how drowning doesn't look like drowning.It's true.A couple years ago, my son and I almost drowned together on the first day of our summer vacation. Below is the post I wrote about it on my old blog. I'd also add the warning that there should always be more than one adult on the beach. I'll never take the kids swimming alone again.   There's something conspiratorial about packing a … [Read more...]

Expert Service

 My cousin went into labor earlier this week with her firstborn. It was almost thirty years ago that she and I planned our weddings, and named our daughters-to-be and imagined them growing up together sort of how we had ourselves. As I drove the two hours to the hospital where she delivered, with my own baby just a few months older than hers, I had lofty visions of myself as Mary, rushing to the hill country to assist her cousin Elizabeth. I was going to be of service! … [Read more...]