You read it.
These headlines need to STOOOOOOP.
JUST STOP IT.
You read it.
These headlines need to STOOOOOOP.
JUST STOP IT.
For the “International Day of Persons with Disabilities” on December 3, the nonprofit Pro Infirmis worked with Germany agency Jung Von Matt/Limmat to create mannequins reflecting less universal images of perfection. The statues represent a variety of disabilities from missing limbs to crooked spines, and they went on display in the windows of WE Fashion, modissa, PKZ, and Schild and Bernies in Zurich.
More -> Co.Create
This is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.
My wife and I were talking the other day, and during our discussion, some bit of enlightenment clicked in my brain. I take a lot of pride in being an involved dad…
This might seem fairly obvious, but it all started when our firstborn son entered the world. My wife and I had been married for about a year and a half when he was born, and I was all of 21 years old. The day he was born was fantastic. He was warm, soft, calm, and just amazing. That night we were still glowing as he slept in the bassinet by our bed, and we would wake up periodically throughout the night to attend to whatever his need was (most of the time it was just nursing with mom). The next day, friends and family stopped by to see him, and he happily let them hold him as he slept and cuddled. This parenting thing was going to be awesome. Sure, there might be some challenges, like getting him to latch on and nurse with any kind of regularity, and maybe the whole saving up for college thing. But really: parenting? No big deal.
Then the next day came.
And he screamed. And screamed. And cried. And screamed. And cried and screamed some more.
What followed was 6 months of hell. I don’t think the hyperbole is too far off here. We couldn’t figure out what was causing our son’s discomfort. It could have been colic. It could have been an underdeveloped digestive system. Only two things would stop him from crying: white noise and constant movement. We were getting on average about 3-4 hours of sleep each night. When we were awake, we were most likely bouncing endlessly on an exercise ball in the living room, with a tightly-swaddled (and probably extremely confused) infant in our arms.
Over the next few weeks, I ended up becoming way more efficient than my wife at getting my son to calm down. Within a few minutes of holding and shushing him, he would stop crying, nestle into my shoulder, and relax. I felt like the baby whisperer. In reality, it was probably because my presence didn’t signal to him that it was time to eat, whereas my wife’s did. So, I can’t take full credit.
Still, little things like that gave me a sense of accomplishment, and I like accomplishing things. As our son got older and his brother came along, and his sister after that, we settled into life. About 80% of the time, I’m in charge of the bed-time routine: giving the kids a bath, making sure they brush their teeth, getting their PJ’s on, and tucking them in. Usually, I’m happy to do it. When I get home from work I can tell my wife is tapped out of energy with them, and it makes me happy to know that I can give her a break while getting to spend a few extra minutes with our kids. Most importantly, we do it because it works.
In my final year of college, our oldest son was not yet a year old, and our second son was due in just a few months. After our original housing arrangement fell through the year before, we moved into the top floor of my parents’ house. Money was tight, our family was expanding, and I was not yet in the position to take a full-time job anywhere, as I had a few classes left to finish before I could get my degree. So, you could say things were going great.
In one of my classes, my professor randomly asked me if I had any children. It’s nothing I was ashamed of, but in groups I tend not to share a lot of information about my life, so it wasn’t common knowledge. I said yes, and asked what made her ask. “When students finish a test,” she said, “they let the door slam shut on their way out. Not you. You grab the door before it closes, turn the handle and it shuts without a sound. Only a parent would close a door like that.”
It was also around this time that I found myself working three jobs. During the summer, I delivered pizzas, worked at a bank, and spent 2-3 nights a week working at a hotel. It wasn’t easy, but I also really liked being able to say that I was working 3 jobs. I took pride in proving that I was willing to do anything to provide for my young family. People would hear how many jobs I had and their eyes would widen. That’s right, I was a hard-working man who took care of business. I had pushed myself to the limit, and although I teetered on the brink of a mental breakdown from time to time, it gave me a huge sense of accomplishment to prove that I was up to the task: 3 jobs, college classes, a wife, and a family.
My wife and I have this ongoing argument. The first time we had it, it was heated, lasted several days, and was really really bad. Now, it’s something we’ll bring up occasionally, and quickly joke it off before it gets ugly.
It’s about which job is harder: staying home with 2-3 children for 9-10 hours a day (hers), or working a desk job (mine)?
Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. My wife wants me to admit that her job is unequivocally harder. And while there’s no way that I would suggest that my job is at all harder than hers, what I do like to argue is that they are equally hard, but in different ways.
This argument is so stupid. On my good days, I’d be happy to admit that her job is most definitely harder than mine. At work, the hardest it’s ever going to get is that I may have several projects running at once with multiple deadlines. Deadlines can be hairy, but if I need to work late to meet them, I will. That’s not even close to being a stay-at-home mom. In order for my job to be as hard as hers, I would need to have the exact same projects every day, and they would all be overdue. Not only that, but any projects that I wasn’t giving immediate attention to would actively work to undo themselves and others by morning.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same action over and over while expecting different results. Stay-at-home moms are pretty much guaranteed to do the same action over and over, everyday. So, I guess the only way for them to avoid going insane is to start expecting the same result each time, right? Namely, that it will all begin again tomorrow. Doesn’t that sound…wonderful?
So, why do we have this argument?
I think we’ve pinpointed it together, and it’s that we’re both bringing some hefty insecurities to the table. My wife is afraid that what she does day in and day out isn’t valuable. No, not in a cosmic sort of way. Specifically, she is worried that I think what she does is dispensable, or at the very least, nothing special. Just a body filling a space, making sure the kids don’t die. If I tell her that her job isn’t harder than mine, she interprets that to mean that her existence is insignificant. That anyone could do her job. Heck, put in a well-trained monkey and after 24 hours, the kids would be saying “mom who?” That’s not a great feeling.
And as for my insecurities? Well, it goes back to that accomplishment thing. On my bad days, admitting that her job is harder feels like I’m admitting that I’m not doing enough, and that I should be doing more. I start to feel defensive. I look around at deadbeat dads who aren’t involved and believe that my wife just doesn’t see how lucky she has it. Put a well-trained monkey into my job, and all you’ve done is significantly increased your odds of encountering excrement.
Both of our insecurities are rooted in the need to feel valued and appreciated by the other person. That’s why the argument is so stupid, because the solution is so simple. If we each took the time to communicate appreciation for the other’s efforts, we would each feel needed. We would feel loved, and we would love in return. It’s balance born out of cyclical selflessness, and on our good days, that’s exactly how it works. And it’s better than anything.
Part of being an involved dad means doing things that are against cultural norms or gender stereotypes. Because I like to challenge myself, I’ll sometimes volunteer to do the kinds of things that seem a little crazy. Like take all three of my kids grocery shopping by myself.
I know this is against gender stereotypes because about 500 middle-aged women at the store stop dead in their tracks to tell me how brave I am.
Brave. Who doesn’t like being called brave?
I say “thank you,” make it about ten feet, and then another 40 year old soccer-mom showers me with praise. That’s the thing about grocery stores: these women are literally everywhere. Grocery shopping alone with my kids is like one big victory lap. All I have to do is make it to the cashier without knocking over a floor display, and there will be an oversized check waiting for me with a crowd chanting “USA! USA! USA!”
Yet, despite my insatiable need for public recognition, something about this whole experience doesn’t sit well with me.
Nobody tells my wife that she’s brave when she goes grocery shopping.
In fact, my sister who has four kids is more likely to be scolded for poor life choices when one of her children helps put a beet in her cart. In case you’re wondering, the beet isn’t the poor life choice. It’s that she couldn’t keep her kid from putting his grubby little demon hands on the produce. Kids these days, with their cellphones and jabber-whatsits.
While I believe that it’s a shame that my wife (or even my sister) isn’t told she’s brave by perfect strangers, that’s not the only problem in this equation.
Why am I brave for taking my kids to the grocery store? Are there bear-traps in the bananas? Do I have to swap out a jug of milk with a sand bag or else a giant boulder will flatten us in the aisle? "Clean-up on aisle 7. Dr. Jones miscalculated the weight of 2% again…"
No. It’s because our culture believes that grown men are genetically incapable of parenting children alone without it resulting in a major catastrophe. Let’s not sugar coat it: we believe men are dumb. Caveman dumb.
You don’t have to go too far to see why we believe this. Flip on the TV and you’ll see years of highly evolved sit-com buffoonery: men who are consumed with sports and sex, and woefully ignorant of what it takes to make a house run smoothly or please a woman. Laundry? Cooking? PTA meetings? Oy vey!
In the beginning, it felt good to be called brave. Now, it smarts like a backhanded compliment. Part of the problem is that I don’t even think these women realize it. They’ve been culturally conditioned to be impressed when a man picks his knuckles off of the floor to do anything remotely more complicated than grabbing a beer, or a remote. Can we agree that that’s a problem, and it’s not just men who perpetuate it?
So here’s the deal, Women of Grocery Land: either you start calling my wife brave too, which she is, or maybe we should save the champagne and national pride for a legitimately special occasion. Like when whole wheat bread costs less than two dollars, AM I RIGHT?
Our family is in a new phase of life now. Our two boys are old enough to start school, and I was very supportive of the idea of my wife homeschooling them. Based on her family’s past experiences with homeschooling, she was interested, but hesitant. She didn’t want to take on too much at home and then crack under the pressure. We’ve seen it happen to other moms, and I agreed that homeschooling is not more important than her sanity. We’re going to give it a shot this year, and then make the decision again next year.
One of the things we decided is that to ease her burden a bit, I would start planning our meals, go grocery shopping (for the soccer-mom praise, of course), and cook the lion’s share of our dinners.
For me, it’s yet another opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment, prove I’m doing enough, and be a superhero. Maybe on my bad days it’s also to prove that my wife’s job really isn’t harder than mine. I don’t know.
What I do know is that over these past 7 years of being a husband, and almost 6 years of being a dad, I’m starting to realize that it’s not about how much I’m doing to make this family work. It’s not about how much my wife is doing either.
As much as I love accomplishing hard things, taking on challenges, and proving my mettle as a nonconformist modern-day male, it can all end up being pretty meaningless in the end.
Who cares if I worked 3 jobs one summer? Or held a door handle so my classmates could take a test in peace? So what if I’m brave, or not, for taking my kids to the grocery store alone?
What matters in all of this is the unconditional love that I have for my wife, she has for me, we have for our kids, and they have for us. It’s about being fully known and fully loved.
I was coloring with my 4 year old son the other day, and I took the opportunity to tell him that I loved him. He sheepishly smiled and continued coloring. He’s been getting into a bit more trouble recently, so I wanted to make sure we were able to reconnect in this moment. I wanted him to know that even though he gets into trouble sometimes, he’s never going to stop being loved.
I got his attention again and said, “you do know that I love you, right?” He looked down with a nervous smile and said “nooooo.” “You don’t?” I said. A little bit of panic settled into my heart. He giggled out a response, “I DO know,” and then his face got more serious, “I just don’t know why you love me.”
I paused for a moment and thought about it. “Because you’re mine,” I said, “and that’s all there is to it.”
Belonging. I think it’s a large part of what family is all about.
We love because he first loved us.
My guest-post on my friend’s blog about what makes a YA book adaptation succeed or fail.
"If you follow the chatter of film critics (or even just a friend who likes to discuss film), it won’t take you long before you hear a commonly stated gripe: “there are far too many movies coming out that are sequels, part of a franchise, or based on a book.” I understand the sentiment…"
[Click here to read more]
This guest-post was written by my friend and former colleague, Andrew Rogers. He hosts an annual writer’s mini-conference, and won the Reader’s Choice Award in 2013’s Write Michigan contest. We’re trading blog posts with each other this weekend, so be sure to visit Andrew’s blog for more of his thoughts on writing, and you might just find my guest-post.
It’s an old discussion, really. The first film was made in the late 1800’s. This question was likely asked for the first time not long after that.
Which is better: the book or the movie?
I’ve been blessed to spend most of my working years in the book industry. (Many of them alongside Jonathan Michael.) So I admit, I’m biased toward books. But as you read this list know that it was written by a guy who was raised on the Star Wars films. It was written by someone who waited so long for the first Spider-Man movie to finally be made that he saw it in the theater no less than five times.
I’m a lover of great films as well as great books. But if I had to choose one medium over the other…books would always win out. Here are my reasons:
1. Books last longer. A good, long book could be a week’s worth of entertainment. A good, long movie lasts two and a half to three hours.
2. There is no bad acting in a book.
3. A film is passive amusement. A book is immersive involvement. A friend of mine said it best:
“In a movie I am relaxing and letting the story come to me through my senses — it requires very little imagination or mental effort to enjoy. Indeed, it often requires an actual cessation of thought… a suspension of disbelief. A book, however, requires active mental involvement at every stage from scene-setting and set-dressing, to prop creation, to line-delivery, to the interpretation of such lines and inferred subtext, to the sense of pace and delivery, uncovering the overarching storyline, to emotionally capturing the tension of the action and suspense. Sometimes actual learning takes place too (you feel you know how submarines actually work after having read “The Hunt for Red October,” or you understand what it would take to actually build a colony on the moon in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” or you understand planar geometry a little better after reading “Flatland”).”
A film enthusiast might argue that even while watching a film you need to actively search for overarching story-lines and interpret subtext, but I think the general argument holds. Basically, your imagination is more fantastic than CGI will ever be. (My thanks to Rich Tatum for these thoughts.)
4. Books are cheaper (if you use the library). Occasionally you won’t be able to get ahold of the hottest book on the market. Our local library had a waiting list of seventy-two people when I requested Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book. Needless to say, I went out and bought it (who could wait that long to finish such an addicting series?). But this sort of scenario is rare. Most of the time, you can get a book for free from the library. Movie tickets cost on average $8 apiece.
5. Films don’t have the luxury of time to show deep character development or complex background material. Movies are typically less than three hours long. The medium necessitates shorter time frames for developing characters and plots. This is not necessarily bad. Masters of the medium have created quite compelling films (“Silver Linings Playbook,” anyone?) But books can show development even better than movies. If they pace the story well, writers have more time to grow their characters. When there isn’t time to create and develop original ideas filmmakers (and some authors, too) rely on clichés to get by.
6. Well written words, read in the quietness of your mind, leave an indelible mark. This mark is different than the marks a film makes. Filmmakers might say the same about their medium as well. They have images, cinematography, actors, audio, and other tools for making their art. Writers have metaphor, poetry, plot, character, setting and other devices. Speaking as a book-o-phile, no sequence in film will ever compare to a passage of strong prose. My brain loves images, but indelible ones are only created when my imagination is the tool used to do the creating.
7. Since books (usually) appear first, movies have to compete with fan expectations. No movie can live up to expectations perfectly. They are, in a sense, destined to fail on some level. Someone should have told George Lucas that.
8. When you meet a new character in a book they bring no baggage to the reader. When you watch a film you may struggle with the believability of a new character simply because of the actor or actress playing that character. For example, the last Christopher Nolan Batman film suffered (in my opinion) because of the casting of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I think of “The Princess Diaries” every time I see her. Some may say, “Well, you have to cast a famous actress to help carry a movie that big and expensive. How else would they ensure ticket sales?” That’s exactly my point. Movies have to make concessions like that. Books never have to make similar decisions. (While we’re talking about Batman, remember the 1997 film “Batman and Robin” with George Clooney? Can anyone honestly say that they watch that film without Clooney baggage? He’s no Batman, that’s for sure.)
Before writing this blog post I asked the above question on Facebook. I was surprised by the amount of responses I received, as well as the thoughtfulness of the responses. Many of them circled around the idea that our imaginations can do more, and do better, to tell a story than films do.
I tend to agree. But as I’ve said already, I’m a book-o-phile. I suffer from an acute case of bibliophilism. What about you?