Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coco, Igor and Catherine, Elizabeth, John and Rielle


News broke yesterday of Elizabeth Edwards separation from her philandering husband, John Edwards, as I finished reading Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky: A Novel by Chris Greenhalgh for today's Silicon Valley Moms Blog Group book club. I found the coincidence very ironic. You can't help seeing similarities between Stravinsky and Edwards, two men with big talents and the big egos needed to promote those talents, both dependent on rich sponsors to get their messages to the public. And both full of rationalizations for sleeping with other women while their wives are seriously ill.

Catherine Stravinsky, bed-ridden with consumption, must deal with the humiliation of living in the home and under the protection of the very woman who temporarily steals her husband, the designer Coco Chanel. The Stravinskys are in exile from their beloved Russia, which is caught in the throes of violent revolution. Composer Igor Stravinsky struggles to find time and peace to work on a symphony and a revision of the modernist classic The Rite of Spring. Chanel has offered her summerhouse outside of Paris for the use of the Stravinskys and their four children during the warm months of 1920. She also offers herself to Igor, who does not resist.

Reading American Wife last summer offered me a great deal of insight into the possible workings of the mind of a woman who remain married to a man like George Bush; Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky could also be read as a companion piece to the Edwards saga. Perhaps Edwards, like Stravinsky, passively blamed Fate for driving him into the arms of a flattering, and conveniently childless, other woman. The by-some-accounts slightly loony Rielle Hunter holds no comparison to the cultural touchstone and creative powerhouse Coco Chanel, except in her status, at least when the affair began, as a single working woman without pesky dependents. Elizabeth and Catherine retain their dignity and seem to gain some solace in the company and comfort of their children.

I turned forty-five this week. I celebrated with my husband and my children and then celebrated again with some old friends, some who are mothers, some who are not. We found plenty to laugh about and share, sitting together on pillows on the floor. Battles between women who have chosen different paths seemed airy, far away and very likely imaginary.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

ShelterBox - Response to Haiti Earthquake - Help Haiti

ShelterBox is a compact box of aid for displaced or homeless victims of disaster. The box, small enough to be carried by one adult, contains a ten-person tent, a cooking stove that can run on a variety of fuels - even dried paint, a water purification system, mosquito nets, tools, utensils and even a child's pack of paper and crayons.

See more and donate at www.shelterbox.org

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Tonic For What Ails You

You can't keep letting it get you down. Let it go. This too shall pass. The morning comes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

See Mom Run


"What are you reading?" asks my seven year old, most likely enticed by the cute robot on the cover of See Mom Run: Side-Splitting Essays from the World's Most Harried Moms, a new anthology of real life stories from blogging moms, compiled by Beth Feldman.

"It's stories written by mommies," I offer.

"What kind of stories?" she asks, still intrigued by the pink robot, but two seconds away from losing interest.

"Well, there's one mom who was driving to the water park and her daughter threw up all over the back of the car. "

"Really?" said Mia, her eyes lighting up.

"And there's another mom and a lady asked her if she was 'with child' when she wasn't pregnant and she wanted to ask the lady 'Are you with brain?'"

I added this last episode for the benefit of my husband who was walking by and would get the joke. I laughed loudest at this one, but to recapture Mia's attention, I added: "Yeah, and there's another mom who was at a restaurant and her baby pooped and pooped and wouldn't stop pooping!"

Mia, who is entranced by all things scatological, dissolved into loud and happy giggles.

Every parent has a immature digestive system story of his or her own to share. My favorite from our family starts when Mia was only a few months old and had been worrying her ever-observant mother with two days of wet, but not dirty diapers. One night I laid her on her changing table and tried a little infant massage in gentle circles on her belly. She complied with a big mess in front of me. Yeah!

A couple of weeks later, we were visiting with my husband's sister and her husband who had a new baby of their own. I was talking with my brother-in-law about how cute the little cousins were and he mentioned, "It's so funny to watch them poop."

"Yeah," I said. "It's like soft-serve!"

My brother-in-law gave me a half horrified, half-puzzled look and I suddenly realized he was talking about the funny faces that kids make when they are struggling with their innards, NOT the actual product of their struggles.