Two things, entangled. Yesterday I received an email from Jeremy at Little, Big, reminding us of the anniversary--third, if we can believe it--of the United States' invation of Iraq. He asked us progressive parent blogger types to recognized it. Reading his email, I was thankful for someone's explicit intervention. I was wrapped up, of course, in my life: babycare, olderchild care, musing over a next book project, laundry, and not to make it sound like life is entirely dreary and interior, cleaning up after a very, very fun visit from Marion Winik, in town to read from her new book Above Us Only Sky at the lovely Big Blue Marble Bookstore. She stayed over, we had visits from other friends, including my agent, his wife and their kids, and our friend and author-blogger, Eileen Flanagan, of Imperfect Serenity. It was, as Marion toasted at one point, heavenly. Today I was cleaning up, recycling the bottles, happy, tired. Not thinking of the War's anniversary.
So, a moment to remember the hugeness of the world and our nation's political role in making things worse,not better.
Entanglements. We tend to think small. Our lives keep us busy. We vacuum, and we live in a vacuum. War? How come on this anniversary, what we're embroiled in are "mommy wars" not debates over the wars that kill? And cultural commentators now use the phrase "daddy wars' to talk about men's issues. What about the big war out there? We waste the word, focus on fake wars that could be fixed, that are made worse by media creation, take our eyes off the war that kills.
It's the craft of living in a vacuum, and the narrowing vision of it all that struck me as I read the New York Times this morning. The responses to Claudia Goldin's Op-ed last week, the one about how mothers aren't opting out when you actually look at statistics were singularly bad, and troped, to use a good ole literary criticism word. They came from Mommy Wars central casting, they didn't even need to be written by real people. The most amazing thing: they continue to talk about motherhood in a total vacuum. If you were reading these pieces and the letters in response, and you were from that mythical planet in outer space where miraculously you too speak and read English, you would think we are a society in which families are mothers alone with children. No one talks about fathers. No one talks about more complex dynamics than a mother and her life of paid or unpaid work. Where's the context?
I spoke with a wonderful radio journalist the other day from WMRA in Central Virginia. It was a pre-interview for a show I'll be appearing on next week. At the end, he asked me where I'd like us to be heading. I explained. He told me that several times in his life as a journalist, he'd seem stories take exponential leaps forward from the discourse they'd been stuck in. He told me he thought this happened without regard to the left-or-right politics of it, but because media owners thought that a new story could make them money, that the new story was more commercially profitable than the old.
Let's hope. And is there a way to get out the word?
Stay tuned for a new feature: guest appearances at the Playground.