Saturday, October 22, 2005

Korean child raising techniques

Don't tell us we didn't spoil you.

That was the email my mom sent with this link about these insane Korean girls who wrote this book on how to raise your kids as Korean overachievers.

October 16, 2005
Item: Sisters Think Parents Did O.K.
WHEN they were growing up, Dr. Soo Kim Abboud and Jane Kim used to sit, like many children, in the shopping cart next to the candy racks at the checkout line and wail loudly, hoping that their humiliated mother or father would cave in and shush them with a Snickers bar.

But their parents, who were hard-working middle-class immigrants from Korea, had other ideas. Eventually they set a rule: Read one book from the library this week, receive one candy bar the next. Looking back on it, the sisters are not complaining. Instead, in "Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers - and How You Can Too" (Berkley), to be published Nov. 1, they applaud their parents' coercions. "We read the book, and we got the candy," said Dr. Abboud, 32, who is a surgeon and clinical assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania medical school. "We didn't go without."

Go without what? A normal childhood? Yeah right. Basically these kids were raised like pavolovian dogs. I bet every time they pass a bookstore their bloodsugar goes up. What if these kids read too many books? Then they would be obese.

I took a psychology course in college and what these sisters are promoting sounds like is this scientist named Skinner who pioneered this philosophy called behaviorism. From what I remember it had to with negative and positive stimulus.

In "Top of the Class" the Kim sisters advise parents who want successful children to raise them just as the Kims did - in strict households in which parents spend hours every day educating their children, where access to pop culture is limited, and where children are taught that their failures reflect poorly on the family.

WTF! Failure is a part of life. It happens to all of us. Look at the cast of Desperate Housewives. If you have watched the E True Hollywood story you’ll know that Teri Hatcher had a string of failures but she kept on going and got a gig at Radioshack in order to maintain her name in the public. Failure is the name of the game. I’m learning about it everyday.

But while this approach is common in many Asian countries and among many immigrant groups in the United States, it runs counter to an American culture that celebrates if not venerates self-expression and the freedom of youth. (This is, after all, the country that invented the teenager.) And some educators believe such a single-minded focus on achievement can be harmful. "Often I will see Asian-American kids become lost when they get to the university," said Kyeyoung Park, an associate professor of anthropology and Asian studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, who teaches many first-generation Asian students. "They feel disoriented, because they realize they've been sheltered and the world is not as their parents said it was."

Asian American kids are not lost. Trust me. When they come to college they are set free.

Still, the sisters insist that in an age in which competition to succeed has never been greater and American parents are spending thousands of dollars on tutors and counseling for their children, traditional Asian methods are proven to work. They note that students of Asian descent make up about 25 percent of undergraduates at top universities like Stanford and Penn (and 41 percent at the University of California, Berkeley), even though Asians are less than 4 percent of the population, and that as of 2002 Asian-Americans had a median household income about $10,000 higher than the national average.

Part of their motivation for writing the book, the sisters say, was to counter the assumption that Asian students perform better simply because they are smarter. "My sister and I are not exceptionally gifted," said Dr. Abboud. "We're O.K. This is something anyone can do. It doesn't take a lot of money or private schools just to get kids learning on a daily basis."

Their right. Anyone can do this. Anyone who wants to give up having a life. But maybe that's what you have to do. Maybe these sisters are onto something. Maybe I am completely wrong about this.

As children the Kims were not learning on a daily basis, but an hourly one. One daughter's C-minus in biology could cast shame upon them all, so the Kim family reviewed each report card as a group in order to strategize about how each child could address weaknesses. The Kim parents also insisted their daughters come straight home to study after school instead of hanging out with friends (whom they could see on weekends only), and limited each girl to one hour of television a week and 15 minutes on the phone a day.

What kind of f**ked up family is this? Did the Kims parents also time their bowel movements? My parents would never ever do something so anal. If they did my sister and I would rebel. My parents philosophy with us was to pretty much let us figure out what to do. They figured that by bullying us into doing something would only piss us off and rebel. It was up to us to find out what we wanted to do with ourselves. If we were messing up in school, they would let us know what was up. One time I had to miss one of the biggest parties of my junior year in high school because my French teacher told my mom that I would fail the semester if I didn’t pass the final.

Every night the girls would complete hours of homework assigned by teachers and then do more lessons with their parents. Even artistic pursuits were approached with achievement in mind. Both girls played the piano and won several prizes.

"Our parents viewed competition as a necessary and unavoidable part of life," explained Ms. Kim, 29, who has a law degree from Temple University and works as an immigration specialist at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "They wanted us to embrace, not fear, it."

Ok. Your going to school. Not training for the freaking Olympics. These parents are turing competition in heroin and forcing their daughters to snort and shoot. Where's the boyfriends? Where's the dating? Where's the time to hangout at a cafe wiht

Dr. Abboud and Ms. Kim, who were educated in public high schools, believe that Asian-Americans succeed in part because Asian parents are willing to sacrifice their own leisure time to micromanage their children's educational progress. While neither woman has children - Dr. Abboud is married to an orthopedic surgeon, Ms. Kim is single - they don't hold back from prescribing parenting advice. "It's tough, because parents are so much more busy now," Dr. Abboud acknowledged. "Not many could do the three hours of teaching that we had. Even we couldn't do that. But you can still do 45 minutes."
Ok. First off that is such bulls**t. I know many people who are non Asians who are willing to sacrifice for their children. All parents sacrifice for their kids. Why is it that everyone thinks it is the Asians who are the only ones who think about their kids?

They are less understanding about what they view to be a particularly pernicious form of American overindulgence. "Too many parents now are into positive reinforcement for everything," explained Dr. Abboud. "In America people are so scared about doing anything that might negatively impact their children that they applaud every little thing they do. In Asia they expect both effort and results."

Well expecting effort and results all them can also mess up your kids too. I mean how would you feel if your parents love was based on your report card or SATS?

Both Kim sisters recall struggling at times with their parents' discipline and expectations. Dr. Abboud said she felt alienated and lonely at times during high school in Raleigh, N.C., and Ms. Kim, who was more gregarious and rebellious, initially wanted to be a writer. Her parents gave her a year after college to pursue it, but after Ms. Kim's efforts to find a job at a magazine foundered, she agreed to go to law school. Today she is happy she did. "American parents will say, 'Do whatever makes you happy, even if the talent isn't there,' " Ms. Kim said. "You need a reality check."

The reality is this. Sometimes you do want and sometimes you what your parents want. It either works out or it doesn’t. There are no guarantees in life. That's why you have to just go for it. Do your own thing. We only come around this world once.

For immigrants like the Kim parents, pursuing a life organized around the single principle of career achievement makes a certain sense because their children will be rewarded by better lives. Still, the relentless pressure to succeed can backfire. Peter A. Spevak, a psychologist who runs the Center for Applied Motivation in Rockville, Md., where he strives to help patients build career success, says that children who are pushed too hard may eventually prosper but can end up being "very frustrated" adults who feel like they "missed their own childhood."

"They can become a successful attorney," Dr. Spevak said, "but there's an emptiness to them."

I understand what they are trying to do. I can respect that. I really do. They want thebest for their children. Every parent wants that. But you can only push someone so much until they break.

The authors themselves acknowledge that Asian career values can be hazardous to one's health if taken to an extreme degree, as in Japan, where pressures to excel in an exam-focused educational system have been linked with high dropout rates, social withdrawal and suicide. "That's one stereotype we don't want to perpetuate," said Dr. Abboud, who said rules of the house should be strict but not oppressive.

Without even considering the psychic costs, American readers might find the book's narrow definition of success myopic in a country with such a vast plate of career options to sample from. Even some first-generation Asian-Americans do.

One such person is Minya Oh, a host for the New York radio station Hot 97 who goes by the on-air name Miss Info. Ms. Oh grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where her Korean-born parents owned a toy store. Like the Kims, the Oh parents pushed their daughter relentlessly and hoped that the academic intensity found at the nearby University of Chicago would rub off on her. They tirelessly attempted to steer her toward a career as an architect, she said, even though she had no interest in math or buildings.

Unfortunately for her parents, it was the rap music she heard around the neighborhood, not the hushed conversation on the campus, that made Ms. Oh prick up her ears. Her parents, she said, were gravely concerned when she decided to pursue her love of hip-hop as a career. They still are. After a decade of writing for magazines and appearing on radio and television, Ms. Oh still must endure her mother's reminders that it is not too late for, say, law school. The needling still rankles Ms. Oh, who said she considers herself a rebel against the old-world Asian success ethic.

I see Miss info all the time on VH1. I had idea she was Korean. No wonder she is a badass. Her parents should be so proud. She is like a really big deal. I mean if she was my daughter I would be bragging to all of the Korean parents about my daughter the hip hop dj.

But she is not sure her voice would be heard daily by 2.2 million listeners without it.

"Even when you rebel as a Korean-American child, you can only rebel so much," Ms. Oh said. "You have no option of absolutely falling off the overachiever wagon and being a schlump."

I am pretty harsh about this whole Korean overachiever thing but I have first hand experience in this situation. When I was looking at colleges in my Junior year I ended up going looking at Ithaca. I had this really cool orientation leader who showed me the best bars in Ithaca and introduced me to the sorority scene. Anyways she took me to this sorority party at Cornell. After a couple of Heinies my OL and the sorority sisters were talking about freshman year and started talking about roommate stories. One senior Lisa had the worst story. Her roommate was this Korean girl from Jersey who was going pre-med. It was hot and cold with her all the time. She was either never in her room studying or she would be banging some guy she picked up at a party. The girl was really suppressed. As Lisa put it “She was like a Catholic High School girl with chopsticks”. It got to be really annoying living with her because she would borrow Lisa’s clothes and Lisa never knew what to expect. One time a bunch of jocks were hanging out in her room doing shots with her Lisa’s roommate. Lisa found out later that they were members of the football team and her roommate joked that her goal this year was to do the starting lineup. There was also tons of drama with the guys she would be dating. Then her roommate would either be crying and screaming in Korean with her parents. The irony was that Lisa was able to pick up some Korean from listening to the conversations. Sophomore Lisa’s roommate dropped out of the first semesters after she tried stab her boyfriends with a steak knife at a restaurant. The funny thing is that from listening to Lisa screech on the phone with her parents, Lisa picked up some Korean, went to Korea for her Junior year and this 6ft blonde from Montana even had a Korean boyfriend at that time.

I am not trying to be prejudice. I am saying what I have heard and I don’t think these sisters have it right. Think about it. First of all none of them have kids. Second of all They are both in their thirties. (As far as I am concerned 29 is 30.) And one isn’t married.

Raising successful kids is not as easy everyone thinks it is. I'm not a mom yet but I know enough all parents can do is the best they can and hope for the best.

I do now that I will never pick a fight with Korean girls. They could probably kick my ass with all that luggage they are carrying.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Olsen Twin Dropout

I'm not surprised. This is from Gothamist who got it from People Magazine.

Mary-Kate Olsen has taken an approved leave of absence from New York University to focus on her increasing responsibilities as co-president of Dualstar Entertainment Group and to pursue personal interests," says her rep, Michael Pagnotta.

I don't blame her. In fact I was going to ditch school and go into fashion design but the lawyers made it clear that I had to go to college if I wanted the trustfund. Mary Kate doesn't have that problem.

It's kind of funny. The program she is dropping out of is the same one that I was going to apply for. But with my grades I would have to gone to GSP. It stands for General Studies Program but people like to call it the Generally Stupid People program. It's NYU second change program for high school screw ups.

When my guidance counselor told my mom that was my only option to get into NYU, she put her foot down. It wasn't that program was beneath us. It was just that she did not want me to have a complex about college since the program was part of continuing ed and I wouldn't be part of the real school. She also did not have alot of faith in my school grades. She had seen my high school grades and wasn't impressed. She was worried that I wouldn't get into Gallatin. Then I would be screwed.

Which is why I ended up in school on the west coast. It worked out for the best as far as I am concerned. I've in Manhattan all my life. It was about time I needed a change. Besides, how many people in the world can say they went to college in Malibu?

My social life is basically shot because of VD. None of the claque will rise up against her. I don't care. I have plenty of time for myself to catch up on the OC and Desperate Housewives.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


I got this comment about my marriage entry.

PP, I may just not be understanding something here. How can you be thinking about marriage when there's no one in your life? Don't you have to first meet a man, then start dating him, figure out if you like him, let alone love him, and a lot of other stuff before you can actually consider getting married? There's nothing abstract about marriage. It's very real.

Sweetie, before you get to that point you got have a gameplan. You have to have goals. Marriagejust doesn't happen on its own. A girl is always on the prowl.

This was a comment from J.Green


You obviously don't understand the mindstate of someone like PP. As someone with much experience with people very much like PP, let me explain.

Where did this experience come from? Watching reruns of 90210? or was it the time you were hanging out with your friend ducky?

PP views marriage much as you or I would view a profession. For example; I decide to be a lawyer. Once this decision is made I proceed to write my LSATs, apply to law schools, finish law school, write the bar, join a firm and then voila I am a lawyer and I have achieved that goal.

Getting married is not a profession it is a life changing decision. And you need to plan. It isn't like the movies, like 4 weddings and a Funeral and Shrek. It doesn't just happen. You need to prepare yourself for it. It sounds shallow doesn't it? But look at Lindsay Lohan. Her first boyfriend was Wilmer Valderama. Do you think that came out of nowhere? No. She obviously was attractive to Wilmer but if he wasn't star of the 70's show and was flipping burgers at Johnny Rockets Lindsay wouldn't have given him the time of day.

To her marriage is very much the same. Once someone like her "decides" on marriage, they then get themselves in physical shape, then make it known to friends and relatives they are ready to settle down, date a few men who fit the qualifications (ostensibly Jewish, a professional/successful entrepreneur, from a decent family), and after finding one who fits the quals and has also decided on marriage they have a beautiful marriage. And thus the goal to become married has been fulfilled.

Do you all remember the story of Cinderella? She is a pretty yet grubbily dressed girl who couldn't go to the ball because of her evil stepsisters ditch her. Then the fairy godmother comes in. Gives her a makeover and off she goes to the ball where Prince Charming falls in love with her. You all know rest, clock strikes midnight, she looses her shoe, Prince Charming has every girl in the kingdom try on the shoe. Finally it finds her foot. True love conquers thatnks to a milano blahnik. But would the Prince have been attracted to her in the first place if she didn't have her make over? Would Cinderella have settled for the woodmsn from Little Riding Hood? Hell's no. The only man who was going to tap her ass was one who could put a crown on her head. Even in fairy tales, marriage is a goal. You got to be prepared for that.

I realize for many people looking at marriage in this manner seems to be backward. I am trying to deal with this issue as we speak, since I seem to fit many girls like PP's quals.

Dude, I have no idea what qualifications you are talking but they sure ain't mine. My approach is not backwards. It's reality. Marriage is a recipe. Men and women look at each to see if we'll cook. Some women are looking for ground beef, others salmon. I'm a caviar girl. I know I will get a caviar guy. I won't accept anything less.

I'm not judging PP for thinking like this, mostly because i truly don't care. But if you are reading this blog and feel a little "lost" as to her train of thought, maybe this will help you understand her.

To her and girls with her state of mind marriage is in fact an abstract concept, maybe even a goal. This concept has time limits, restrictions and such.

The reason why people are lost is because they got Pretty Woman on the brain. They think if they have a heart of gold, Richard Gere will come to sweep them off their feet. Irregardless of the fact that they have been giving handjobs on the side. Not true my brother and sisters.

You are judging me and I am not judging you for judging me. Because we all judge each other. The moment we look at someone we make our calls who this person is and if they worth talking to.

Marriage is all about limits and restrictions. When a guy gets married and has kids he can't just go out anymore with the guys and have beers. He has to take care of the kids, mow the lawn, do the dishes. When a girl gets married and has kids she becomes a soccer mom driving her kids back and forth to school. She has to take time in the morning to make the lunches.

Once I get married, I can't hit the clubs as much anymore. Neither can my husband. all benefits of the single scene are now gone.

There's even limitations in cheating. You have to figure out how to sneak out of the house without your husband knowing what you are doing. Even if you are in an open marriage there are certain restrictions that have to be followed. There are some wives who tolerate it as long as their husbands don't flaunt it in their face. Some husbands don't care as long as they can watch.

Hope this helps, and PP please don't take this as an insult and correct me if I'm wrong.


This is the most honest comment I ever got. A bit flawed. But it's not your fault. It is probably from eating too much poutaine.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Happy New Year!

I spent the first night Rosh with the rents, we were supposed to go to temple but were too lazy we. We said some prayers. It was Thanksgiving all over again when Mom made this enormous feast including turkey. The tradition is brisket but Dad stopped eating meat 8 years ago. Of course we had apples dipped in honey and Dad bought this enormous raisin Challah. I think that was about 3 pounds. BS called to say hello.

Over cheesecake I told her I was mulling the marriage option while Dad worked on the Tivo. For some reason it was recording professional wrestling.

After swallowing a forkful of Junior’s Mom began to interrogate me.

“So you want to get married? Found anyone?”
“But let’s say you do. You marry the guy have three kids and live in a brownstone in Brooklyn. You are keeping house and taking care of the kids while he is out working at his practice. Are you going to be happy?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“No guess. Yes or no.”
“Yes I will be happy.”
“Then one day you are at a dinner party when you meet the most wonderful man. A man that you completely connect with. For lack of a better word he is your soulmate and you are meant to be together. But that ring on that finger tells you can’t. What you do you do?”

“Are you saying I am going to be cheating on my husband? Ohmigod! That is such a horrible thing to say.”

“Alright, let’s switch it around. Let’s say your husband finds his soulmate at a party.”

“Jesus Christ! Mom I don’t want to hear this.”

“No. You have to hear this. You have to understand what you are involving yourself in.”

“What I understand is that you are trying to sabotage my marriage before it even happens.”

I went over to Dad who was still working on the tivo but obviously heard everything.

I asked if he needed help.

“No. I think I know what happened. The maid must have been trying to record her soap operas. I found a lot of Spanish programming.”

Then he began to dig into me.

“Y’know , my goal was after law school? I wanted to be a successful divorce lawyer. I figured it was a great line of work to be in since you have a guaranteed market share. Then I worked for a firm that specialized in divorce. What I witnessed made me switch to corporate.”

“Dad, don’t start.”

He ignored me and kept going.

“A divorce lawyer has to delegate a process that has to determine the worth of somone’s time and effort. The value of a child is put into a formula to determine how much it would cost provide for them. Sometimes I wonder how a child would feel when they find out they have been converted to a number. A monetary amount.”

I rolled my eyes. He caught me.

“Sweetie.” He started to say in his dry lawyer tone of voice “We are not trying to hurt or sabotage you. All we are trying to tell you is that nothing is a quick fix.”

On the second night of Rosh we spent in Connecticut with relatives from my Dad’s side who I barely see. They brought out a brisket. I put my mind into neutral. I just looked pretty and spoke when spoken too. I was still thinking about what my parents said.

This morning I got this email from my mother telling me to read this article on this woman’s who’s marriage slowly dissolved in front of her face.


Why I'm Divorced
...and why you're next.

by Annabel Lee - September 22, 2005


Why, in an era when men and women can barely achieve détente, in a First World where everyone suffers from attachment disorder, are we still ponying up for marriage? On the HBO series Six Feet Under a show I adore because all the characters behave abominably at all times, yet never manage to have more than a millisecond of funmen and women can't stay married or remain faithful from one week to the next. We're not quite that bad, we HBO viewers, but we're getting there.
I'm no historian, but it doesn't take a Paul Johnson (author of A History of the American People ) to tell us why it's so hard to stay married. We live too long. Marriage is a naturally polarizing process that causes one person to detest, over time, what the other person loves. Only after a couple divorces do they move back toward the center, where their interest in one another began. (I knew a man who left his wife because of the endless chintz and throw pillows. I went to visit him once in his new Bauhaus apartment, but he couldn't really talkhe was too distracted by trying to choose the right tassels for his new Salamandre curtains.)

There's no incentive to stay married and wait for our children to grow up and come work in the family business, because they won't. If we're really, really lucky, they'll place a few calls and drive us to the nursing home. There's no hardship significant enough to keep us dependent on each other. No famine, polio, Indians. If the hardest thing in your life is that your husband won't pick up the dry cleaning, are you likely to hang in until death do you part? Surely not, when at the first sign of disappointing behavior helpful friends and therapists pipe up: "You can do better." Mutual funds do better, not humans. But why stick with the dope on the next pillow when there are Kate Winslet and George Clooney on cable to fill the twilight hours? And there's no sexual inequity to keep one party in line. In the bad old days, one person--the woman--took all the shit. Now who ya gonna call?

Call me insightful, but I began to suspect that my own marriage was in trouble after we passed the five-year mark with no sex. By that time my husband had replaced the glass door on his room--he'd moved to the other side of the house some years before--with a solid wood door, so he could have sex with himself in private.

Still, the dinner parties, the 50th birthday invitations, and the East Hampton guest-cottage invitations continued unabated, so other than no sex, no discussion and no more children (my husband drew the line at one), I thought we had an OK marriage. The couples we socialized with didn't seem all that much happier. They were constantly arguing about whose turn it was to do an undesirable thing, or the mess, or the children, or the money, and my husband and I had too much sense for any of that. Whenever I sniffled to the women in these couples about the lack of sex in my marriage, they said, without exception, "God, are you lucky. All my husband thinks about is sex."

That didn't sound like such a bad situation, but as I've learned, by inserting the well-placed question into many a casual conversation, most married couples are sexually incompatible. People with strong sex drives tend to admire and marry people who basically disapprove of sex. People with low sex drives are intrigued by people with high sex drives. Sexual opposites attract and then go on to torment each other 'til murder or divorce, whichever comes first, do them part.

So it wasn't the lack of sex that ended our marriage. It was the lack of sex in our friends' marriage. We had acquired a new chew toy, a married couple of our same age and education level, who by happy chance were practically neighbors. I got nowhere with the wife: She was one of the sex-haters. But she and my husband spent many a chaste hour together, gardening, driving to Costco in Torrington, and acidly badmouthing their spouses. The husband was like me: good-natured, a bit naive, impulsive, sexually frustrated. He confided all his secrets: the two guilty affairs that ended in taxis; the office crushes and late night phone calls and just-shy-of-full-penetrations. One night, while the two cold halibut talked mulch at the dinner table, the husband and I went outside for a walk. He'd been drinking, so he kissed me. I became enflamed and, within a matter of days, enraged. Why didn't my husband kiss me? The personal, which is always felt to be obscurely deserved, became political: undeserved. Aggrieved, I became a voting bloc, a teamster. And we all know what happened to the teamsters.

When I informed my husband that I had decided to go to New York City and take a lover, separating out the part of our marriage that didn't work, my husband informed me that he didn't care for this idea. He informed me that he would prefer to get a divorce. And, as you probably know, when one person wants a divorce, the other person gets that divorce, too.

Just as the itsy bitsy spider climbs up the spout again, marriage, in the land of Brad and Jen, causes divorce. Not just half the time. That washed-out statistic is from our parents' generations. Statistically speaking, my still-married cohort has at least another 30 years to get divorced before it starts dying off en masse. Let's see what the numbers look like then.

I repeat: Marriage causes divorce. And if you think a bad marriage ain't fun, wait until you get in bed with divorce.

Divorce, like death, is a crossing over, into a terrifying, mortifying land from which you never return, even if you remarry. It's the death of a civilization, the one the two people created out of their affinity for Shaker chairs, Pottery Barn lamps, 2 percent milk, and parties of six moving in tank formation across the living room to the dinner table. It's death to all the couple's secrets, which get rewrapped and regifted to the lawyers. And, of course, it's your children's initiation into what psychologists call "splitting": never again will one parent be good without the other parent being bad.

Something to bear in mind before you leave your spouse is that where you just happen to liveand my generation was always geographically promiscuous becomes absolutely vital. Why? Because as soon you start the divorce process, your children become potential wards of the state, and theoretically the state could be held liable if anything happens to the kid. So it's an insurance issue. If, as is my case, you happen to live two miles from the neighboring state of New York, and you were wondering whether to move across and start a new life in the wake of the devastation--forget about it. Unless you have sole custody, you're not going anywhere. Like fresh meat or lettuce from Nicaragua, your child may not be transported across the border.

Of course, there are winners and losers in divorce. One person--generally the one who remains more amusing at a dinner partykeeps most of your friends. One persongenerally the one who had more all along--keeps most of the money. And one person--sorry, girls, but it's the Lucky Sperm Club--generally gets at least one more crack at the whole sorry business, and can experience the profound geriatric delight of more children by a younger spouse.

But all of the above, while incomparably hurtful, shouldn't come as any great surprise if you have a brain in your head. The surprising thing about divorce in the 21st century, assuming you married in order to provide children with some (ha!) stability, is the custody battle. These days, even in heterosexual marriage, Heather has two mommies, and the male mommy is not going to let the female mommy walk off with the kids. Early in the process, my few remaining female friends (you figured out I wasn't the dinner party catch?) downplayed my chance of losing custody. "You're a great mom," they said. "The courts don't take children away from good moms. You'd have to be a heroin addict to lose custody." Uh, ladies? Wrong, wrong and wrong. Men who can barely keep their children's names straight are going after custody and getting it.

It's not that the courts don't know who the asshole is. They do, and that's why he's getting custody. A veteran divorce lawyer in Winsted, a woman in her 60s, explained it to me quite succinctly one day, as we sat waiting for our motions to be heard in the courtroom. "Judges are awarding custody to men because they know that mothers will hang around for any scrap of time with their children, whereas men, if they don't get what they want, will walk. And then the children lose their father."

In our case, it wasn't a judge. It was the so-called "family services" officer appointed by the court, who, after meeting with each of us twice, decided that my husband should have custody of our 7-year-old boy. I could visit my child once a week and on alternate weekends. The son only I had wanted (my husband didn't want a boy), the child toward whom I had self-administered possibly carcinogenic fertility shots, the child toward whom my husband had contributed a mess in a cup, the child who had lived inside my body for 10 months, the child I breastfed and diaper-changed and lullabied--I was now entitled to visit?

There's a lot of jawing about the good divorce these days. About putting the children first. Having put the children first throughout your entire marriage, it may come as a shock to learn that "putting the children first" means writing yourself out of the picture. Show me the parent who believes his child would be better off living full-time with the other parent, and I'll show you someone on life support. So the lawyers get richer. And more power to them, I say, because without my very expensive divorce lawyer my son would still be trying to remember where he'd met me before.

As a recent New York Times magazine article pointed out, a good death depends on your really, really wanting to die. But who wants to die? People say they don't want to be kept alive artificially, but when their organs start to shut down, they panic and call 911. Wouldn't you? Similarly, nobody enjoys going through a divorce; it's very unpleasant. A good divorce seems possible only if you had a really, really, great marriage, in which case you wouldn't be divorcing. "The parties hate each other," wrote the family services officer in his treatise on my marriage. Stop the presses!

Yes, like marriage only more so, divorce is full of nasty, nasty surprises. Injustices, outrages, and strange noises coming from the boiler room. There's nobody to help you flip the mattress over so it will last longer. I have learned to use a drill, strap a canoe onto the roof of my car, assemble a bike rack and live without sex (marriage turned out to be such good practice!).

But there's a good side to divorce. Apart from death, you've gotten the whole thing out of the way. You're soaring, solitary, perhaps, but high, high above your peer group, circling like an ever-so-patient bird of prey while you wait for the inevitable divorces of all your friends. Like Lasik and fiberoptics, we divorced people--we're your future.

For several years after my divorce, I interviewed candidates for the position of second husband. I crept into that Filene's Basement of the heart,, and its Internet brethren, where love means never having to say you weren't warned. If you thought you were dating the enemy before, consider these first-date opening salvos: "The judge was a woman, my ex-wife's lawyer was a woman, it's a total conspiracy against fathers. So of course that thieving cunt got full custody." Or: "The kids are doing great. Of course, I have custody, because my ex-wife is a [insert mental illness here]." All that foam coming out of her mouth at the altar and you just noticed?

Remember the ones you didn't marry? The ones you just couldn't imagine spending the rest of your life with? Well, they're back, with less hair, more attitude, less money, more paunch. And when you don't tilt your chin in just the right way, time's up! Because there's another one, Online Now! Chat Now! The illusory horn of romantic plenty has never been so full.

And it's extraordinary how many people on Internet dating sites bill themselves, evidently with no irony intended, "hopeless romantics." I guess they're the people who enjoyed Must Love Dogs --and really, you can't blame them. When your daily marital reality has never managed to produce even a moment of John Cusack or Diane Lane, who doesn't need pulp fiction? Movie producers aren't stupid; they're married, too.

So, when people ask me, as they often do, why I haven't remarried, I've learned that the correct answer is a wistful smile and a girlish shrug.

"I guess I haven't met the right one yet," I say.

And neither have you.

I am still trying process this. All I am thinking now is prenup.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Full Lockdown

Apparently there is no Star Trek marathon on the Sci Fi channel. Members of the nerd herd have been spamming my comments even after I made those changes. I guess I would be angry too if the school disbanded the AV club. Listen up you Vs. Get out of the house. Get out and talk to people. Go see a girl that is isn't in virtual reality.

Blogger comments only

Ever since I wrote about those Serenity losers somone has been spamming my comments. It is obviously somone with alot of time on their hands because you need to go through a process in order to put a comment down. From what most of the comments are about it is obvious some 35 year old virign living in his parents garage who watches reruns of star trek even though he has the dvds.

Can't write anymore. I am on Roshashana duty.

Monday, October 03, 2005

What are you majoring at Yale? I am getting my MRS

Mom sent me another article on more Yale women throwing in the career towel. She ended it with "Just give the word and you can have this life."

Ivy League could become Wifey League

Who says you can't have a career and be a good mom? For most of history, men did. Now, Ivy League coeds are saying it for them.
Some of the most brilliant women at the most brilliant colleges are declaring that they will end, or at least curtail, their careers once they have children. So says an article that ran on the front page of yesterday's New York Times.

"My mother always told me you can't be the best career woman and the best mother at the same time," said one Yale sophomore, declaring she expects to be a stay-at-home mom by the time she is 30.

Leaving aside the fact that life is chock-full of potholes, even for Ivy League grads, what's incredible about this attitude is how demeaning it is - to women.

I speak not just as a mom who works. I speak as a woman who went to Yale just a few years after the first women were admitted. How we laughed at the reason we had been excluded for so long. Yale's mission was to educate a thousand leaders every year, the old rationale went. But if it started admitting women, it couldn't do that because women would never be leaders.

How ridiculous, we women snorted. Of course we would lead, right alongside our male counterparts.

But now it seems that many of the young ladies bright enough to get to Yale are proving the old guard right: Some of them will lead, yes, but about 60% of them hope to be home with the kids.

Not that that's not an important job. Before you fire off that biting E-mail, let me state that motherhood IS hugely important. My kids trump my career, for sure.

But the idea that to do right by them I should bid goodbye to the working world? I haven't seen any proof. I challenge you to sit in a room with 20 children and tell me which ones stayed home with grandma, which ones went to day care and which ones had mom at home full time. Kids go with the flow. Neither working nor stay-at-home motherhood has a lock on perfection.

What most stay-at-home moms do have a lock on is this: wealthy husbands. So, whether the bright young things aiming for uninterrupted motherhood admit it or not, they are aiming for a good catch, too, a la 1952. I suspect they did not put this on their Why I Want to Go to Yale applications.

Of course, 10 or 20 years after they've been at home and are ready to reenter the job market, they may be shocked to learn that a yellowing diploma does not open doors, no matter how smart its owner.

On that day, summoning all their education, leadership and credentials, these mild-mannered moms may just take up where their feminist foremothers left off: Leading a revolution, this time on behalf of returning women stonewalled by the working world.

And, as with the any great revolution, this will be better late than never.

I think what she says makes sense. I mean think about it. It is like going clubbing. Once you get your groove on you get to know everyone and are able to get past the doorman and be able to get free drinks through some mild flirting. You leave the scene for awhile and then come back, you are not going to be able to get in because you don't know the doormen or the bartenders. It's common sense. Just because you have a Yale degree doesn't mean the world will open its doors for you. Women shouldn't confuse it for a lottery ticket.