Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I just can't resist. For all my anthropologist friends out there- once again, the genius of anthropology creeps into the mainstream.

Sahlins said it first. The industrial revolution, following the enlightenment, created a whole culture of people whose needs as individuals aren't being met. And they feel these longings for self expression, and whatnot, physiologically. AKA they crave sugar. Sahlins called it the Sadness of Sweetness.
My girl friends and I call it something else entirely. When boys make us sad, when our jobs make us sad, when our moms or sisters or friends or global warming or teachers or bosses or experiences with sucking-at-life make us sad, what do we do? We EatOurFeelings.
Ice cream. Cake (with frosting out of a tub, obvi). Cookies.
It's a funny way to think about YouAreWhatYouEat.
Sahlins was right. It's the Sadness of Sweetness. We eat sugar like it is happiness on a fork (or when it comes to the tub of frosting, a spoon or, let's be honest, our index finger). But it isn't. It's sadness. We feed sadness with sadness. The Sadness of Sweetness. We don't EatOurFeelings because we want to feel better. We do it because we're wallowing in feeling sad. We're craving it and letting it engulf our individualism just for an hour or two. Our Sadness craves Sadness.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It Takes a Village

Motherhood is a tricky subject. Everyone (in America anyway; let's be honest) judges mothers. Have a career? hmmm.... DON'T have a career? hmmmmm... Nanny? NO nanny? Organic foods? Consumer packaged goods? Piano lessons? Still have a social life? Helicopter much?
This is one of the best arguments for "It takes a village" I've seen.
Guess what. Daycare is the modern version of The Village when it comes to raising kids. So are babysitters, and grandparents, and godparents, and friends, and teachers. 
Spending 24 hours a day with your child may make YOU feel like a great parent- like you are 'there for them' and like 'no one can do it like you can.' My theory though, hate to break it to you, is that you might actually be missing out on doing something amazing for your children... giving them adults. Lots of them.  

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On Listening

It's interesting what people talk about. And it seems sometimes that conversation is more present in our lives than ever. Or at least it is in mine; I have twitter and facebook and text messages and IMs all chirping at me all day long. Iran. Michael Jackson. Finally Franken. The Wild. The Twins. #fail. Unemployment rates. Honduras. Air France. Cool web links. Even cooler thoughts about web links. Blogs. Tweets. Updates. "News."
And I like that.

But I unplugged this weekend.
And I started to hear something that people AREN'T talking about.

How the recession is affecting small towns.
The silence driving through Eveleth, MN- on one of the busiest tourist weekends of the year- was deafening. One in three store fronts was boarded up in every town we drove through. Cotton, same. Virginia, same. Tower, same. And it felt like the dilapidated houses in downtown Ely were screaming out loud.

People keep talking about the death of Detroit. And the stock market. They talk about the death of American cars. And the death of American banks.
And, this week, everyone in the country has been talking about the death of Michael Jackson, an American Icon. Their conversations took down the internet.

But I haven't seen a single bit of media about the death of small towns. Or about how their people are coping or making rent or mortgage payments or buying groceries. I know how many foreclosures there were in Minneapolis. But what about Eveleth. Or Virginia. Or Embarrass. Or Gilbert... Mines on the Iron Range are opening and closing every day and the stories get buried beneath people's other conversations.

We mourn an American Icon more than we mourn our American towns.
It's interesting what people talk about. And what they don't.

What else aren't people talking about?