Archive for March, 2007

30
Mar
07

Further clarity on the media’s daycare bashing

From Slate this week, more dish from one of the study’s authors on interpreting their findings – and dismissing (or resigning yourself to) the media hype of the permanent damage to children from daycare.

Are you with me now, despite my disruptive bubble-blowing and cantankerous personality?(sh*t, there’s that formidable vocabulary again…)

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28
Mar
07

Achieving and Losing the American Dream

In the last 10 years, a few trends have swept the different companies I keep.  First there was the wedding wave of my late twenties; these days it’s the baby boom.  In between, many of us – single and married alike – have been fortunate enough to purchase our first homes – both suburban homes and urban condos. 

Yet, it seems at least half of my home owning friends were, like me, dependent on a large financial gift from their parents for their down payments (this is especially true in the NYC co-op market, in which the liquidity required to cover ~25% of the asking price up front is inconceivable for many, if not most, Americans).   I bought my condo just two years ago, close to the peak of the market, and instead of living rent free as a residential counselor in MIT’s undergraduate dorms.  Though my independent consulting helps to make ends meet, the reliable annual income I earn from MIT as a research and teaching assistant is only a couple hundred dollars more per month that my monthly housing costs.  While I appreciate the value of building equity and the amazingly generous gift my parents have given me by helping me buy this home (especially when I think of the $80k in rent we paid in Manhattan over seven years), owning a house demands a certain level of financial stability that I’m unlikely to possess as a graduate student without their on-going support (undoubtedly one of the perks of our four to one parent-child ratio). 

The recent spate of coverage on nationwide foreclosures and subprime lending sheds light on the financial precariousness for households that lack such a safety net.  In particular, foreclosures are disproportionately clustered among the elderly and non-white (especially African-Americans) in urban and inner-ring suburban communities, due in large part to the invidiousness of predatory lending in the subprime lending market.

Continue reading ‘Achieving and Losing the American Dream’

22
Mar
07

Spring Break!

And no more of that depressing stuff!  I’ve been quiet on the blogging front this week as a) try to reintegrate myself into society, and b) get ready for a visit to my dad and spring training in Florida this weekend.  Go Sox!  But while I resume my web surfing on campus instead of from my couch, the rest of my neighborhood and city tries to recover from one of the more raucous weekends in memory. 

Last weekend was an organic hat trick of debauchery, three days of fun usually designed for an official long weekend where Monday is available for recovery, sitting in traffic, etc.  This year, St. Patrick’s Day fell on a Saturday, with the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade occurring per usual that Sunday. Add to that a snow storm began Friday afternoon, right around lunch time.  By the time the M.A.S. and  I got back to Brighton mid-afternoon, the Screamin’ Eagles

were out in full effect, moving cautiously down the slippery sidewalks to different impromptu parties, taking special care not to drop their thirty packs of Coors Light, Bud Light, and Busch Light.  When I passed by Roggie’s at 7pm, headed home again after yoga, drunk co-eds were comparing notes on how long they’d been living it up at happy hour, with one young woman whining that she’d only got off work at 5.  I traipsed past them only to run into three dudes crowding the sidewalk, one of them bleating like an antelope I saw on safari in the Serengeti, as his friend reassured him, “we’re sleeping until like, noon tomorrow.”  More college kids crowded the bus stop, this time with their thirty packs resting in the snow, while they waited for the BC bus to come pick them up and drop them around the neighborhood.  Saturday was a repeat of Friday, only with everyone out in their green finery.

Continue reading ‘Spring Break!’

19
Mar
07

25 Was the Worst Year of my Life (Ch. 2)

Seven years ago today – March 19 – I had spine surgery that fused three of my vertebrae together after a cliff jump gone horribly awry on spring break in Jamaica.  I spent one week in the hospital and months in physical therapy over the next year and a half, the length of time it took for my bones to fully regenerate and permanently fuse together.  I left the hospital 25 pounds lighter and re-acquainted with a size 4 for the first time in 10 years, had friends, family and colleagues rally around me in ways I could never have imagined (homecooked daily meals from Nikki, nightly walks with my superintendent’s wife, and the gift of a new tv with remote control from my classmates), and ultimately spoke at my graduation because I addressed movingly and eloquently the care NYU-Stern and its students showered on me.  In red sandals on the stage at the theater at Madison Sq. Garden, no less.  There I was: a skinny, glam 20-something living it up in NYC.  Full of promise.

If only recovery were as easy as watching daily episodes of The Wedding Show on TLC with Nikki, and whiling away Saturdays with my mom admiring the architecture of the Upper East Side on lazy walks around my neighborhood.  Instead, it was a narrow escape from almost being paralyzed, six months of virtual confinement to upper Manhattan, learning to walk without a cane, wearing lace-less shoes and learning to put things on the shelves above instead of in the cupboards below because bending down was both difficult and painful; monitoring my own emotions lest I leave my mother in tears; and managing a general feeling that I’d lost control of my body and that I was responsible for almost permanently injuring myself.  In addition to the size 4 sundresses and b-school celebrity, I gained new fears of heights, enclosed spaces, and falling, and lost my self-confidence and trust in my judgment.  By the time the rest of the country was confronting the random and brutal shock of 9/11, I was navigating my own major trauma from narrowly avoiding never walking again, or the unthinkable worse, dying.

By the winter of 2001-02, with the help of my mom, I’d begun seeing a psychotherapist specializing in trauma.  By the summer of 2002, I’d made arrangements to move in with friends from graduate school, leaving behind my once beloved apartment on the Upper East Side that became permanently colored from my sense of confinement following my accident.  From the shrink I learned coping strategies to learn how to manage my anxiety and panic, especially sleep strategies.  Eventually, I regained the courage to leave a job I was unhappy in and follow my simmering desire to work and live abroad.  Though the experience in Tanzania was not long enough for me, it was certainly long overdue.  In most respects, I resumed a life I believed was put on hold when I broke my back.  Still, I think of the time following the injury as a permanent disruption – two years of my life I’ll never get back. 

And I’m not convinced I made a full recovery from the accident.  For me, the passage of time has definitely helped.  I essentially understand that it was a freak accident – both in its occurrence and my deciding to even engage in the activity of cliff jumping.  And ultimately, I walked away from the fall (with assistance), and was never closer to paralysis than sheer probability and several hours of tingling feet due to bone fragments temporarily resting on nerves.  But still…

Continue reading ’25 Was the Worst Year of my Life (Ch. 2)’

17
Mar
07

Protected: The Path Dependence of Gizzie

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15
Mar
07

Protected: The Productivity Vortex

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15
Mar
07

Kids Today

I’ve made what feels like major headway this week on enhancing this blogging business (it’s all for you, my adoring hordes of fans).  Notice:

  • Categorized Links! 
  • Recent Posts!
  • The return of the Virgo’s List of Lists, including everyone’s favorite about running into my uncle the union electrician when we both should be working (this one, alas, is password protected, though my hated function hall anthems is on the open list)!
  • I have added little taglines to my categories, so roll that little arrow on over them.  Oooh, that feels so good!

But, before I go blind or develop a permanent squint a la Clint Eastwood, or possibly worse, fail out of school, I need to take a break from teaching myself code and put on hold the other changes I hope to bring about soon:

  • Images of Redstar in action!
  • Favorite and related posts!
  • Re-ordered archives!
  • A permanent tagline!

It’s going to be AMAZING, life changing.  Surfing the internet at work will never be the same. 

What a week.  I’m an old woman, beat down from taking on YouTube, html code, and generational gender shifts. 

I’m reading Laura Sessions Stepp’s Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both.  This book was released recently with the usual hype about whether this older feminist-mother-journalist was getting it right when she decries the apparently-sexually-liberating practice of hooking up among today’s young women.  As the title indicates, she thinks it robs women of genuine chances to experience love, intimacy and healthy, stable relationships, the latter of which most of her interviewees claim to want later in life.  From the NY Times ($):

“…criticism [of the book] has exposed a generational divide between Ms. Sessions Stepp, whose battles for women’s rights focused mainly on equality in the workplace rather than in the bedroom, and some members of a younger generation who equate feminism with sexual freedom.”

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I’m processing it on multiple levels – a social commentary on women, sex, and feminism as well as a piece of research aimed at a popular audience.  But, I can say already I observe a lot of generational differences between myself and these women, currently in high school and college.  It’s striking.  A lot of their opinions about love and relationships resonate with me, their statements are not unlike how I justified my own adventurous single life in NYC.  But their actions seem much more wild or cavalier or brazen than my behavior ever was.  I’m certainly not some middle-aged mom, we all know that, and so I’m struck by how I can relate emotionally to these women yet feel absolutely aged by their behavior.  I was amused enough by Stepp’s response to the criticism –

“Ms. Sessions Stepp said that she welcomes criticism, though not from people who have not read the book or who have never conducted research. ‘This is what I love about the bloggers,’ she said. ‘They haven’t been out there interviewing young people for 10 years. They’re talking about their own college experience. Everyone’s had some sort of sexual experience and they all think they’re experts on it.”’

to purchase the book so I could authoritatively weigh in on her findings and analysis. (Apparently she missed that Time magazine thinks we’re all geniuses.) Stay tuned.  Any more sleepless nights like this past week and I’ll be through it in no time.  Because unlike Stepp’s young women or the women they’ll become, the only thing I’m wrestling with at 2 a.m. these days is the meaning of life.  Clearly I’ve been lost these last weeks without the spiritual guidance of my generation.