This idea has been brewing for awhile, but something about this week has inspired me to make it happen. Maybe it’s that back-to-school energy that still inspires me to buy new pens and notebooks every September; maybe it’s that this month marks my ninth year as a freelance writer (here’s my origin story, if you haven’t read it).
Or maybe it’s just that I’ve been busy out of my gourd this week, and realizing how much more efficient I could be at everything if I had somebody helping me make the sausage over here. Whatever the inspiration, I’ve decided that I need some consistent help with admin, story research, and really, a whole long list of things that keep silently shuffling forward on my to do list without ever getting accomplished because I need a second brain and more hours in the week in order to accomplish them all.
So, I’m hiring! I need a (very part-time, freelance) assistant who can manage some of my logistics, help with story research, and so on. Here’s the deal.
I’m delighted to announce that — after blowing her deadline by 9 days!* — Violet Marian Upham-Smith arrived this past Sunday, August 18, at 2:34 AM. As you can see, she is 7.5 pounds of wonderful and Dan (her rockstar dad) and I are completely smitten. (Also sleepy.)
I fully admit to falling asleep after Russell Crowe ruined the Les Mis group singalong, but now that I’ve caught up on the remaining 19 hours of the Oscars last night, there are a few things I think we need to talk about.
1. Enough with the Black Swanning already.
Forget your feelings about her nipple-y dress and overly earnest acceptance speech, Anne Hathaway killed it f*cking dead as Fantine and I’m glad she won. At the same time, I am not excited about two big wins, two years in a row, for already-tiny actresses winnowing down to skeleton size for these roles. I know there’s a case to be made for method acting and I guess, yes, an 18th century French prostitute dying of consumption would be pretty starved-looking. (Though the chicks who played her on Broadway never seem to need to go there.) See also an insane ballerina. But the media frenzy around these weight-loss-for-art stories only reinforces our skewed ideas about what women need to look like to be successful. We do not get this lathered up when male actors change their body shape for a part, period. It also gets in the way of appreciating the fine acting these women are actually doing because instead of talking about the interesting choices they made with their brains, we’re thinking, as usual, that women are their bodies and not much more.
I know this has already made the rounds on Facebook, but I think it’s worth sharing here, too.
I don’t have to tell you that the story of Sandy Hook is a tragedy beyond comprehension.
But Sandy Hook is also a story of helpers.
And now it is time for all of us to be helpers, too.
Liza Lang was helping when she wrote “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother,” to show how poorly our country misunderstands, mistreats and ignores people with mental illness.
Mayor Bloomberg and the Campaign of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (and many other activists) are helping by demanding that President Obama and Congress come up with a plan to end gun violence.
Four years ago, we danced in the streets. Literally. I lived in Harlem in 2008 and when Obama won, you didn’t have a choice — everybody flooded out of their buildings and ran to 125th Street to watch his acceptance speech on the Jumbotron. Black, white, old, young. Strangers were hugging. City bus drivers honked their horns in time to the cheering. I called my dad (who is a professor of civil rights and constitutional law) in Philadelphia and held the phone up to the roaring crowd so we could both hear what history being made sounded like.
Here we are street dancing.
Regular readers, forgive me: I know I’ve already told you about why you need to see the documentary Girl Model (like when I said that here and also here). But New York-area readers, attention: The film is currently playing at the IFC Center through next Thursday, so you should totally go. It’s provocative, heart-breaking and beautifully made, and if you don’t believe me, go read this lovely post by Kate on Eat The Damn Cake.
I did a really interesting interview this week with Amy Levin-Epstein, who writes for CBS MoneyWatch. We talked about why Mary Kay is so appealing to so many women, especially right now in the midst of our recession, which may actually be a mom-cession (so much for all that he-cession talk?).
Here’s part of what I told MoneyWatch.
The company’s founder, Mary Kay Ash, knew exactly why women were frustrated in the 1960s: the lack of gender equality, which meant they were dependent on their husband’s income and unable to make much headway in the workplace. But she also knew that a significant majority of women weren’t responding to the hardcore feminist revolution that say, Betty Friedan was advocating in “The Feminist Mystique.”