Friday, September 30, 2011

End of September? Reading List, Part One

Where on earth has this year gone?  We're already well into fall, and I feel like I haven't been able to catch up with where I want to be from a blogging perspective.

I had a health scare this month when I tested high for the first round of gestational diabetes testing, but that proved to be a fluke since the 3 hour glucose tolerance test was not even borderline.  It freaked me out a lot.  When I get freaked out these days, I obsess in my head, but don't write about it much.  I think I need to work on this.

I've been reading a lot.  I would like to write some reviews of a few of the books I've been devouring lately, but I don't think I'll ever get around to writing seperate reviews of each, so here's some (we'll call it Part One) of my top summer reads (in no particular order, except perhaps vaguely in the order I read/can recall them):

1.  Apologize, Apologize by Elizabeth Kelly--I got this at one of the Border's closing sales to read on Martha's Vineyard since the story takes place there.  It was surprisingly tragic (the description makes it sound like a coming-of-age comedy).  A fascinating character study of truly bizarre people.  And the main character even has a brief stint as a suicide hotline counselor...

2.  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua--A book that was all over the media because it claimed that Asian parenting was somehow superior to Western parenting.  I feel like this may have been what even Chua herself believed she was trying to write, but I think her editors did her a disservice in promoting the book this way.  The tale that unfolds in the narrative is one that is much more humble and honest than the way it came off in the news articles.  First of all, she is trying to recreate in her (incredibly priveledged) upper-middle class American daughters the character building lessons she learned as the daughter of working-class Chinese immigrants by being absolutely nuts about music education.  I don't think it accomplished what she thinks it did.

It ends, as all parenting narratives really should, in uncertainty and doubt.  Ultimately, the reason Chua's parenting works is because she cares so very much about her girls and they know that, not because of any particular techniques she claims. 

3.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave--This is the second book from the highly acclaimed British author.  It's unusual and powerful because it is written in two voices--that of an African refugee nicknamed Little Bee and a British woman whose life becomes inextricably entwined with Little Bee's under the worst of circumstances.  It is exquisite.  It's the most humanizing and heartwrenching tale of what globalization means that I have ever read.

I don't know what else I can say about this book except this:  Read it.

...to be continued.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Baby Fever/Spoiling Myself

This morning I found myself immersed in a deep conversation with the contents of my uterus.

It's not like I haven't held conversations before with beings that cannot possibly actually respond in a common language--I talk to my cats most days.  I have been known to heckle a tree or two in my day.  I've even cooed at my various pieces of technology that just needed a bit of coaxing to function.  But speaking to my own body is new.

It's happened.  I finally caught the baby fever.  Maybe I just read enough books to feel like I may actually have a clue how to care for a human creature under the age of two.  Maybe I was swept away by the awesomeness of cottonbabies, a company that makes cloth diapering systems that humans who are not super-adept supermoms can actually use.  Maybe feeling the little one squirming around on a regular basis makes the whole thing more real.  Maybe it's just third trimester hormones kicking in.

Whatever it is...  I'm finally at that gross, gooey-eyed, baby-obsessed stage where everything on my to-do list, every thought that forms in my brain, nearly every piece of media I absorb is centered around all things baby.  Preparing for baby, shopping for baby, talking about baby.  Baby, baby, baby.  I make myself sick when I think about it from an objective point of view.  But I can't be objective here.  Baby is too damned important.  Dudes, I'm responsible for the care, formation, and rearing of another human.  It's like I'm Dr. Frankenstein here--IT'S ALIVE!!!  And we all know where that story ended...

At the same time, a powerful need to indulge and appreciate these final months of me-focused Diana life has taken over.  Whenever I find those baby fever urges taking over the animal cortex of my brain, I suddenly find myself in a car, driving to a cafe or restaurant to sit for a few hours over some yummy indulgent drink or food and read a novel.  I have to cling to this last quiet resistance of solitude and peace and adult independence.  I nap whenever I can, precisely because I can do so right now.  I'm making plans with people I haven't seen in months/years.

It's like storing up for winter.  I'm the ant of young adult self-obsession.

Most of my blog readers (that I know of) don't have kids.  I don't really want Going Places to turn into something that resembles the blog version of the people mocked for the their facebook status updates on STFU, Parents, but it does seem likely I'm going to need a place to obsessively recount my (mis) adventures in booby feeding, poo obsession, and indulgent bragging about the wonder of my perfect infant.  I don't plan to subsume my identity on the almighty alter of motherhood, but let's be honest here--from the time the kid finally arrives, mommy brain will likely take over.

To that end, I'm working on a blogging solution that should enable me to balance the two competing lizard brains of my soul--the independent woman who started this blog, and the woman who's about to become a mom.  (There are hints of it in a blog I started on wordpress about a year ago.)  For now, I will just say that most of the reason for my failure to post here is an inability to self-regulate the conflicting nature of my interests, and my desire to spare my loyal readers the indecencies of pregnancy.

For those of you who've been craving the nasty oh-my-god-my-boobs-are-now-eclipsed-by-the-massiveness-of- my-belly and middle-of-the-night-gross-bodily-function updates, I promise that I'll have a separate place for that so that you may sympathize with (or mock) me to your hearts' contents in the upcoming weeks.

I will be posting such Mama Drama and Baby Obsessive posts at my new blog, The Parentally Challenged.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flashback Travel: Haeinsa Temple, July 2010

Temple art detail.  I would love to know which Buddhist story this comes from...

During the rainy season in Korea last year, I ventured to Haeinsa Temple with my friend Paul. The miserable rainy weather here reminded me of this trip. Despite the cloudy skies and constant, unpleasant drizzle, it was a pleasant trip to one of my favorite temples.

The Tripitaka Koreana and the reason for this temple's fame.  It's the print panels for a really old and awesome Buddhist text, preserved in traditional wood structures.

I had an epiphany walking this maze back in March 2008 when I came here with another friend.

Check out the full album with lots of cool temple art details:

Haeinsa, 2010

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