Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Stars, studs, and more

Blogging's been pathetic here lately, because I've been preoccupied by a not-that-long-looming oral exam, and a very imminent second driving test. But, in the interests of not letting WWPD completely slide...

-What is going on in Wallonia? The (highly implausible) story of a lost-in-translation encounter with a tattoo artist reminds me why I stopped going to an otherwise fine hairdresser with whom I shared no language - sometimes communication is key. Not that the haircut I gave myself is so spectacular, and language barriers were clearly not the problem.

-These have made me reconsider my aversion to crafts. Want!

-Highly recommended.

-Story of my life.

-Highly depressing. For some reason the piece's subhead - "The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same?" - reminds me of Tara Parker-Pope's announcement that not only is she going to go from couch-potato to marathon-runner, but you should, too! Not that a marathon is a divorce, but both are (or so I've heard, having experienced neither first-hand) painful but necessary for some, painful and unnecessary for others, and not the sort of thing that should be encouraged, even in jest, for all. If the piece is depressing, it could be because of bits like this: "Some of us stay married because along with fancy schools, tae kwan do lessons, and home-cooked organic food, the two-parent marriage is another impressive—and rare—attainment to bestow on our fragile, gifted children." Does this mythical demographic not spend enough time gazing into its navel and spinning whatever it finds in there into tales for the national press? Or is the piece a let-down because it already existed in the form of a TV show and movie that famously made arranged marriage look like the way to go - four forty-ish women get together and speak of nothing but men, all the while alienating the actual men in their lives, after which one of the four writes an article about it. Perhaps this is the influence of anti-monogamy advice columnist Dan Savage talking, but I can't help think how much better it would have been for the author's kids if she and her husband would have arranged a (discreet) open marriage, stayed together officially, and (most importantly) given her no reason to spill all to a major publication. But I shouldn't say this, because that would be judging her, and the number one rule of the overshare is that no one's allowed to judge - the appropriate response is to praise the author for her (and alas, it is typically her) honesty.


Matt said...

I wonder if you'd have to be drunk or high or something to fall asleep while someone tattooed 56 stars on your face. It's not always extremely painful, but it's not just a pleasant buzz, either, especially if someone is pushing on your face.

And I don't understand the "don't judge" stuff at all. What people shouldn't do is draw illegitimate inferences from people's behavior- things like, "she doesn't like Kale, so she's a morally bad person" or "he doesn't pick up his clothes off the floor, so he's a morally bad person". But "she has humiliated her family in a major magazine for personal gain so she is a selfish and shallow person" or "she has based her life around cliches that she hasn't though about but should have so she is a shallow and foolish person" are perfectly reasonable inferences and ones in fact we should make. If that's "judging" people, we need more of it.

PG said...

It was called Sex and the City, not Marriage and the City (which would have seemed wrong given that one of the show's tropes was that marriage + children required one to leave the city). I don't think SATC and Loh are coming from the same place at all; if Loh was with this guy for 20 years, then she settled down at 27, an age that in SATC circles would seem bizarrely young, given all the men still left out there to shag with a body that's still fairly unwrinkled without requiring medical procedures. (And maybe Loh did settle down earlier than was appropriate for her character?)

I agree with Dahlia Lithwick that Loh's problem seems to be that she has all these media-constructed ideas about what Marriage, Parenting, Home Life etc. are supposed to be. People who don't set up these imaginary standards for themselves probably find it all less stressful than she apparently does.

However, I think your analogy fails here: for whom is a marathon necessary, except perhaps the first guy who ran one in order to transmit an important message?

Phoebe said...


I just meant that there's an implied 'don't judge' within the overshare genre. The ideal reader from the perspective of that type of story (if a story can have a perspective) admires the author's openness and feels that the only way we can speak openly is if we don't judge. Obviously I judged a bit in this case.


"I don't think SATC and Loh are coming from the same place at all"

I was thinking of Charlotte - she was definitely married and divorced and married again, all in the city. Granted she wasn't 27 at the time of her first marriage, but the way that story line (fairytale wedded bliss, failing marriage, life as jaded divorcee, overanalysis over brunch) played out, I'm not sure how it would have changed things had Charlotte already been married to Trey (?) at the start of the series. The main thing that's always struck me with SATC in both series and film incarnations is how central chit-chat about men is to the women's 'we don't need men to be happy' discussions. If they all were in stable marriages, one imagines, they'd be freed up to talk about things other than guys. And that's also the sense I got from Loh's piece - it was more of that 'men, men, men' discussion, all in the midst of attempting to make a fish-bicycle point. But Lithwick's point also makes sense - I don't think these are mutually exclusive.

"for whom is a marathon necessary"

Agreed that it was not the world's greatest analogy, but I don't think it fails entirely. A marathon is necessary for people like Tara Parker-Pope, who for whatever reason need something universally-recognized and over-the-top as motivation in order to remain healthy and active, happy, whatever. What I was most concerned with was the idea that neither is something that should be urged 'for all' - perhaps for all in the same exact situation as the author, or very close, but not all married people should be urged to divorce, nor should all couch potatoes be urged to run 26.2 miles.