Sunday, September 23, 2007

It Is Done

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?" (JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)

After eight months, Jack and I have finished reading aloud the entire Harry Potter series. It was a rainy, gray day yesterday--the perfect weather for a marathon read of the last 120 pages in book seven. Except for a bath break, we read from 5:00 to 11:00 straight.

Whew! It was a great ride! It made me laugh and it made me cry. It made Jack pull the covers over his head whenever someone snogged.

JK Rowling gave us so many great, complex characters to think about. She gave us lots of opportunities to talk about what it means to have courage, how we can make good choices even when it's hard or scary or counterintuitive, how there are consequences for our actions, and how we can gain wisdom through reflecting on our mistakes and changing our course.

And as Jack gets older, I expect I'll bring Harry Potter up every now and then. How we need to be careful about rushing to judgment about people when we don't know the whole story. How we need to be careful about how we gain and exercise power. How we need to understand that sometimes following the rules and doing the right thing are not always the same. How loving others makes all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Building a Lego Wife

Friends my age have children who are getting married! It's a little crazy entering this new phase of life, but I'm enjoying learning from their experiences. One of the challenges is having no control over who these children are marrying, despite all of the planning and scheming through the years.

My friend Linda, whose daughter Shelley got married last summer, said that she never realized that she'd been imagining her idea of a perfect husband for her daughter through the years--picking and choosing traits and putting them together in a nice package. Sort of like building a Lego husband she said. Then of course, Shelley brought home a completely different boy! But it's all good.

I wonder if I'll do the same for Jack. Or if I'll be one of those moms who picks out the "perfect" girl for him when he's, say, eight.

I must say that it's very tempting to do just that with Jack's bff Gracie, who moved away from our neighborhood a couple of years ago. We arranged for them to spend the day together on Saturday, and neither of them could sleep on Friday night. I swear it felt like Christmas Eve.

I like the idea of Jack and Gracie ending up together. They have an amazing relationship. Even when they have a rare disagreement, they work through it together with a great deal of civility. They genuinely enjoy each other and they're instinctively on the same page. And the silver lining is that I like Gracie and I like her family.

Gracie's mom, Diana, and I laugh about the possibility of them getting married someday. We're not really serious about that, but we think the connection they have is pretty rare and special.

What I hope for Jack is not necessarily that he'll end up with Gracie, but that he'll end up with someone that he can connect with so well. And it won't hurt at all if I like her too.

Friday, September 14, 2007


Photo by Tamara Trivino Ibar
I have been procrastinating writing my report on Chile. No reason other than that procrastination comes naturally to me.

But the time has come because the week of September 11th is nearly over. And September 11th is a pivotal date in Chile's modern history. September 11, 1973, is the day Augusto Pinochet, in a coup d'etat backed by the CIA, toppled President Salvador Allende, a socialist who was democratically elected. Pinochet established a military dictatorship and stayed in power for the next 17 years.

So maybe he wrangled Chile's economy, but at what price? Pinochet's name is virtually synonomous with human rights violations. And as I've dug, I've gotten the impression that the societal instability in Chile that apparently scared the U.S. enough to help overthrow a democratically elected leader was actually stirred up, in part, by opposition funded by the CIA.

Ah, but I do not want to make this report about how horrifying it is when U.S. foreign policy is shaped by fear, arrogance and greed.

I'd rather write about how wild it is that Chile is nearly three thousand miles north to south, but not even 300 miles across at its widest point (unless you count Easter Island, 2,000 miles west).

Or that the northern part of the country includes the Atacama Desert, which is the driest place on earth.

Or that the literacy rate is higher than 95% and that Chileans call their country paĆ­s de poetas, land of poets. Chile has had two winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature: Gabriela Mistral in 1945 and Pablo Neruda in 1971. If I ever go to Chile, I want to visit Pablo Neruda's three homes.

Or that the Ceuca is the national dance (click here to see a video). How cool is that to have a national dance? Although I suppose if we had a national dance, it would probably be the square dance, and I had my fill of that in fifth grade p.e.

Next stop? Bali. I have made a pact with my friends Linda and Lisa. Within five years, we will have traveled to Bali together.

Friday, September 07, 2007

I'm Here, Really

I'm still here, just not apparently getting around to blogging. I keep thinking of all sorts of things to write about, but I don't sit down and do it. I'm still, for example, thinking about what I'm going to write in a report about Chile. And since I've already picked my next country to research (I'll let you all anticipate that one!), I'd better get going on my Chile report.

Lots of tennis this week, mostly watching US Open matches. The other night, though, I was all set to watch the Venus Williams match I recorded, then accidently saw the final score on the internet. So I half heartedly fast fowarded through it. I'm going to be more careful about my browsing until the tournament is over!

But I've also gone to the courts to play twice this week. We're trying to get a regular group to meet at a regular time every Tuesday morning, but I was the only one who showed up this week. There was another group of women, who are league players, at the courts and they invited me to play with them. I was intimidated at first because I have zero experience with competitive tennis, but I think I played as well as some of them!

This afternoon Jack and I made it to the courts after several days of trying (we kept forgetting to get our rackets and balls out of the car Roger was taking to work). We hit the ball back and forth (he's hitting them more consistently, and got several really good shots). Then I practiced my serve and he tried to return them. He did hit them a few times! Then one got him in the stomach. We kept playing. Then one got him in the forehead. Yikes! He may possibly get a bruise. But I don't think it was as bad as when Uncle Greg whacked him in the head with a Wii controller playing tennis doubles!

I also attended my first ever PTA meeting this week. What a slice of middle American life that was! I'm very happy that I volunteered to do the newsletter (I took my first issue to the district copy center yesterday). I can sit in the monthly meetings feeling absolutely no guilt whatsoever about not volunteering to help with the holiday parties or the fundraisers.

After the PTA meeting I ran into Jean, the school librarian I helped all last year (entering all of the books into the database). She had some thorny computer questions that I helped her out with. It felt good help out. She wants me to substitute for her when she needs a substitute. That isn't often, but it would be a fun thing to try. And a tiny bit of money would be involved, which is always nice.

Last but not least, Jack and I finally finished Harry Potter 6 and are now several chapters in to Harry Potter 7. I'm so afraid that I will hear something I don't want to know before I finish it--especially since Jack took a sneak peak at the epilogue.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Worth Reading

I just came across this blog story (click here) today that reminded me how important it is to remember that we are all connected in significant and meaningful ways.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Gender Preferences

I spent a good part of the morning sitting on the couch watching US Open tennis, including watching relative newcomer Agnieszka Radwanska beat defending champ Maria Sharapova in the third round--a big upset. I believe watching tennis at the grand slam level qualifies as a good workout (heart rate up, jumping off the couch at tense moments, etc.).

I don't usually watch sports, but I do get sucked into the elite competitions--grand slam tennis tournaments, golf majors, NBA finals, and, of course, the Olympics.

Over the years, I've discovered that I have a definite gender preference in most of the sports I watch. But my preferences vary depending on the sport.

I like watching women play tennis better. I like watching men play golf better. I like watching women gymnasts better. I like watching men dive better. I like watching women play soccer better. I like watching men play basketball better. The main exception is swimming. I am quite content watching either sex glide expertly through the water.

Is this normal?