Archive for February, 2013

Highly Recommended: Newly Consumed Media

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Yeah, I worked over the long weekend, but I also did stuff. Like read. And watch things—sometimes even with others! (It’s a glamorous life I live.) And you know what? All good. All very, very good. Here’s the report of Highly Recommendeds:

1) Alice Munro’s latest. Munro pretty much never goes wrong, so. This is basically another Alice Munro book, quietly removing the breath from your chest. I’d already read most of the stories in The New Yorker, but it was wonderful to experience them again, since her work rewards a second (and third, etc.) read. Also, there’s a story kind of buried halfway through that is punch-to-the-gut shocking. How’s that for an enticement?

2) George Saunders’ latest. Similar situation to Munro in that 1) I’d already read most of them in the NYer but was very glad to read them again, and 2) Saunders does not, as a rule, go wrong. He also takes your breath away, but not quietly. He kind of ravages your breath. Expect to have no breath left at all. In a good way. I did think that the final story (which is also the titular story) was less successful than the others. Everything else: WOW WOW WOW EFFING WOW.

3) How To Survive a Plague. Intense, rousing, sad, inspiring, provocative documentary about the history of ACT UP and their extremely instrumental role in getting AIDS drugs developed, tested, and distributed. Still brooding about this one.

4) Enlightened, the HBO series. I am in the early stages of giddy love with this show, having snarfed it all down in the last week. HOLY FREAKING BLEEPFEST, Mike White is a brilliant writer. I am so totally gobsmacked by his ability to walk the line between compassion and ridicule, to show his protagonist having authentic spiritual experiences and then mocking her (ever-so-gently) for how she attempts to apply those experiences to her life and her job. Laura Dern is fantastic, the plotting is super-smart (and thrilling!), and EVEN THE VOICEOVER works. AND I HATE VOICEOVER. Mike White, I bow down. Low.

Looks like Junot Diaz’s latest is next on my read list and, again, having read much of it already (NYer), I expect it to do me right. These are good times for great art, peoples!

A V-Day Mini-Screed

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Here’s my favorite thing about Valentine’s Day: Sarah F., who is one of my bests and favorites, was born today. Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Otherwise, eh. I am in mad, deep, spiritually grateful love with John, but I don’t need a day like this to remember that. And when I was single (for 4/5 of my twenties), V-Day was always a fight against The Big Mope. I knew it was a waste of energy to feel bad just because the card company whipped up a regular old Saint’s Day into a national froth of red-dyed unCool Whip, but how could I not? And that was before, like, a bunch of the Internet happened.

That’s why I much prefer the Parks and Rec-invented Galentine’s Day, which was yesterday and which went unacknowledged in my blog and largely in my life, due to massive work deadlines. I love you, ladyfriends! (Also, I think the men need one of these. How about we declare February 15 Valenguy’s Day?)

In other news, I’ve been seeing a lot of references to the Aziz Ansari interview on the A.V. Club, in which he references the Sonja Lyubomirsky piece in The New York Times (stay with me here) about the supposedly short shelf-life of love. And here’s what I have to say about that: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGH.

In case you don’t want to wade through all of the backstory, here’s an Ansari quote from the A.V.:

This Sonja Lyubomirsky essay in The New York Times is well worth a read and discusses a lot of the fears I have about love and marriage that I’ve discussed in my recent stand-up. In summary, research shows when you first get married, you experience the intense longing, desire, and attraction described as “passionate love.” However, after an average of two years, this wears off because of our tendency to get habituated to positive experiences. Then couples enter what researchers call “companionate love,” which is a less impassioned form of love that is a blend of deep affection and connection. Basically, the research shows—love fades.

This makes sense to me even in relationships that aren’t as serious as marriage, though. I’ve seen it in myself, and in friends’ relationships. There are things in that piece that really make me think about relationships, findings like, “Surprise is apparently more satisfying than stability,” and we are “hard-wired to crave variety.” It all goes against the romantic notion of meeting someone and falling in love and being happy with them forever, which is all that’s been ingrained in our heads since we were young.

AZIZ. We need to talk. I read that article, too, and here’s what I thought: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRGH. Because when oh when oh when will researchers (and everyone else) learn that there is a difference between infatuation and love? And that infatuation, while it is thrilling and wild and heart-thumpingly enjoyable, is not to be trusted or desired and that we should therefore be grateful that it doesn’t last?

Real love does last, and grow, and deepen, if you pay attention and stay connected to your partner. Sure, there is a big caveat, which is that if you have kids, you’re going to struggle a bit, because it’s pretty much impossible to stay connected and process all the conflict when you’re wiping poop off of everything. But if you stay with it, just as the research Lyubomirsky’s article points to shows, that will pass. (And if you don’t have kids, you’re out of the woods on that one.)

Either way, it is NOT a universal truth that “Love fades.” The rewards of long-term, consciously tended love are huge and powerful and exciting and even, yes, surprising. I’m here to testify! 11+ years and more ferociously in love than ever.*

Soapbox going back under the desk now.

*Please may I not be smote with lethal marital conflict for saying that.

Hammies!

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Specifically, Roborovski hamsters, also known as the smallest hamsters in the world. I’ve now got three of ‘em, and they’re all named Javier. Check it!

Very, Very Leetle

Very, Very Leetle

Shorter Than the Food Bowl

Reach, Javi, reach!

Munh! You may not enter my tunnel!

Munh! You may not enter my tunnel!

Okay, maybe you can enter my tunnel.

Okay, maybe you can enter my tunnel.

Javi in Le Tube

Javi in Le Tube
Little Hammie, Big Wheel

Little Hammie, Big Wheel

Little Hammie, Big World

Little Hammie, Big World

Le habitat

Le habitat

Closer

Closer

Larger

Larger

Toots adorbs, right? I’m massively in love with them. There’s only one problem, which is that they sleep from 7 AM to 9 PM. And as I keep them in my office, I basically do not see them, except as a sleeping mass in their hidey-house. Whoops!

In my own I’ve-had-a-million-rodents-I’m-not-that-dumb defense, I must say that I know that hamsters are nocturnal. But I was assured that Roborovskis are crepuscular, like rats. NOT BLOODY LIKELY, INCORRECT PERSON. I was also told that they do not fight. ALSO VERY WRONG. Ah, well. At least they have plenty of room for their scuffles. And if at some point I have to separate them, I already have two cages.

And three hamsters.

Okay, let’s just stop worrying and everybody go watch the puppy bowl.