Sunday, July 31, 2011


Inside the shopping bag it's all lavender and frighteningly disposable. The bizarre proportions and gigantic eyes made sense for Ariel who was, after all, a creature of the deep, but, I can't figure out why Rapunzel would need to see in the dark...or how she could possibly eat with such a tiny mid-section.

Now that we're back in the bosom of my family, we're more plastic and made in China than we ever intended to be. They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I wonder what happens to you if you live too long with no intentions.

C's birthday is always fraught with tension for me. I think I manage it well but it's hard to focus on the here and now with all of those 'what-ifs' crowding in with the crepe paper and tacky decorations. When I was pregnant I worried about treating my daughters as individuals--turns out death is no obstacle to certain parenting tendencies.

Luckily, in the midst of my crisis about mindless parenting, consumerism, and birthdays for dead daughters, I happened across this story.

Like all 36-year-old women born and raised in the Philly 'burbs, I find that Wendell Berry* can always explain how I'm feeling so much better than I can myself. Go figure.

*Mr. Berry is not paying me to endorse him...or acknowledging me in any way for that matter since we don't know each other or anything. But, I'm sure he'd like me if he just gave me a chance...


  1. This post is so very timely for me, and not only because I just started that story last night in the Atlantic's fiction edition. I have been thinking lately about all the plastic, noisy, junky stuff gifted to us, gender-normed and all. And then I get to thinking about our baby girl who we didn't get to raise.

    When I was pregnant with Calla, and didn't know she was a girl, I was adamant that, should she BE a girl after all, there was no WAY she was going to do the whole princess thing. I'd firmly and vehemently dissuade and gifting of all pink and princessy and whathaveyou.

    Oh, what I'd give for a scepter now.

    Love to C on her birthday, and R, and you.

    And Wendell Berry is just wonderful.

  2. Another one battling birthday fraught-ness.

    I can't seem to decide if I have too many lavender coloured, big eyed things. Or not enough.

    J's 'big' present is a new part for her train set. But I'm also buying her a pink train (what has become of me?!) She has Ariel and Rapunzel but doesn't seem to show too much interest in either quite yet. Probably too young. But I'm already giving imaginary speeches about excessively large eyes and improbably tiny mid-sections! Don't quite know how I square that with the purchase of said items by my own fair hand in the first instance.

    You, C and R are on my mind so very much this month.

    Off to read the Wendell Berry now.

  3. There have to be better ways of coping, but I lost my temper with Mom. "I am tired of this house being filled with plastic junk to feed some kind of shopping-obsessed grandparent guilt."

    Although I didn't truly want to hurt Mom's feelings, my MIL is bad enough with the mountains of presents every birthday and holiday and whenever she visits. I'd need a bulldozer to wade through.

    Yes, I know there are relatives who don't care and in that respect I'm thankful. But I really don't think all of this shopping is as connected with actual relationship as it pretends to be.

    We're trying to keep life simple. I don't know how we'll do it until these dueling Grandmas stop swiping their credit cards.

    I always wish they would go for an education fund or something that is pure practical and not at all "seeing the grand-kids' eyes light up."

    Speak on, Wendell Berry. Maybe I'm longing for some good-old-days. Maybe they weren't that good, but they look very pink-plastic-packaging-free from here.

    Boy, do I love what you write and the way you write it. Sick of the plastic, but I do not get sick of your words.

    Cathy in Missouri

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