When Communities Erode

07.12.13

Thanks to William for another spectacular guest post. You can follow him on twitter at @willibaldoea

We live in a time when no one wants to remember. We pretend we are where it starts. Look at the way we live—we build houses on cliffs, on fault lines, in the path of things, and when something happens, we don’t learn history, we build it again, right on the same spot, bigger, better… Fallout accumulates. What we’ve got now is a blend of fact and fiction that we’re agreeing to call reality.

– A.M. Homes, This Book Will Save Your Life

There’s a fantastic article titled “From Coast to Toast” in the August issue of Vanity Fair. It looks at two communities, one in Malibu and another in Nantucket, that are facing serious erosion problems and the increasing possibility of disappearing for good. I’ll let you read it for yourself, because I think it’s a fairly interesting and involved piece that merits attention and thoughtful consideration. Besides, I can’t tell you what the right answer is.

What I can say is that moments like this reveal something that goes beyond who’s rich and who’s not, which the debate here appears to be about. Admittedly, the debate is also about man and Nature, and we can’t seem to untangle the issues long enough to know what the most pressing facet of the problem is. Or what the most pressing facet is at this moment. That’s the real problem, in my eyes, and also the saddest part about this entire debate.

I can’t help but think about The Bling Ring, a film that’s simultaneously lauded for its beautiful direction but critiqued for its lack of anything resembling a moral stance. Sofia Coppola lingers among the teenagers she depicts in all their delusional and raucous splendor. She doesn’t say much about them, but her lingering instills a sense of discomfort. Or at the very least it did in me, because I recognized those teenagers. They were the same ones I went to school with who are now detoxing from heroin and cocaine addictions, removing tattoos they grew to regret, and dealing with the legal consequences of lives they put on the fast track long before the time was appropriate.

I can’t say my friends made the wrong choices and that I made the right ones. That all remains to be seen, really. What they do with their lives from this point forward, and what I do with mine, are the only true indications of what successes we’ll be able to claim later in life. So as Coppola did, I invite you to linger with the people you meet in the Vanity Fair article. Don’t judge them – because you’ll want to, and there are two sides that are equally understandable but also infuriating.

Just sit with them. Listen. And hope, for everyone’s sake, that this is something we can figure out.

If you want my opinion, I’d say let nature takes it’s course. It seems like the only humble approach possible, and maybe it’s what will ultimately save us from ourselves.

 

The One Where I Told My Son We Could Stop After He Puked

08.22.11

I’m tired and lazy. August might be a little sporadic with the posting.

Jane is back from Outward Bound. It sounds like it was an incredible experience, and it’s one I’ll invite her to talk more about. There were some harrowing moments with a tipped over canoe but it sounds like she was with an exceptional group of girls and they came to be close as a group. She came home taller, stronger, and without a lick of table manners.

It was good.

Last night two friends slept over and the girls wanted to see the new Steve Carel movie. I was in a G+ hangout with Cecily and she said, “I’ve seen that and I wouldn’t reccomend it for a 12 year old.” Which is awesome because now my pink haired friend on the computer can raise my kids for me. Now Jane can be pissed at Cecily instead of me.

They agreed to see The Help and three girls came back from the movies with all their eyeliner cried right off. We had some interesting discussions about what it means to be a good or bad person, how following the crowd is no excuse and what it means to be a lady. We talked about how far women have come in the workplace and how no one would be permitted to talk to them that way and Jane couldn’t stop saying how she wanted to punch Hilly in the head.

The girls all liked me again because I let them go to the movies, but they turned on me when I said lights out at 11.

We’re riding this rollercoaster of love me hate me, and Jane loves me when I’m buying her things and hates me when I say no. Which of course makes me want to do less for her and Mr G sees none of this and explains to me what a good kid she is.

She’s a good kid because I’m keeping her from being a spoiled brat.

Alexander has started vision therapy and it will probably have a section of it’s own right here on the blog. I am once again eternally grateful to my readers who encouraged me to investigate before scheduling his third surgery. We’re trying it for three months and much like the patching he used to do, and the speech therapy Jane had I realize that it’s all on me.

We can show up for the weekly appointments but without daily practice it’s useless. It’s awfully tough and Alexander sometimes gets dizzy. On day two of our at home regimen he started getting nauseous and wanted to quit. I wouldn’t let him. He started to cry and I handed him some tissues. He told me that he was going to throw up and I assured him that we’d stop the vision therapy just as soon as there was vomit on the floor but not one minute before.

I love him that much.

So at night I cry because I don’t want to have to hurt my kids, but this is his Hail Mary before surgery and I’m sure as shit not going to let him see me cry.

 

The Help, My Help

08.13.11

I know that I purchased The Help on January 7, 2010 because my Amazon account told me so. It was a good book. It wasn’t great. It started beautifully and everyone loves a good Southern Novel. There’s richness in the characters of south that we all love.

I wanted to love the book. I devoured the first two thirds of the book but then I was disappointed as the author dragged the ending out and had a need to package it up tidily. I saw the movie and I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a movie and thought, “that was better than the book.”

I know some people find the movie offensive. I guess I can see that. Historically it’s probably at least partly accurate but I sat alone in the movie theater wondering what I would do if one of my past housekeepers walked in. Would I sit with her? Would I know her children’s names?

We had help. Barbara came three times a week to our house after school and her daughter Debbie babysat us every morning before school. Debbie only missed one day of work. It was to go to the radio station and see Peter Frampton on his birthday. When I was six Debbie was a few minutes late to watch us, she was crying. Her father had just died.

I loved going to Barbara’s house. She would make us Jello recipes like the ones Bill Cosby showed on commercials. She used Cool Whip and she even had white bread. She said fuck and shit a lot. She’d taught herself English and apparently had started with the cussing. I loved Barbara and I’d like to believe that Barbara loved me back. We celebrated many Mother’s Days with Barbara and my mom. They were the women who shaped us.

When I was pregnant Barbara helped me get my house in order. Shortly after Jane was born Barbara died and I unimaginably raised a child that she never really knew.

In my teenage years there were Nellies, and Marthas, there were Letties and Mayras, but in my heart there was only Barbara. I’m not sure that The Help isn’t a movie that couldn’t be filmed today. I look at the Dream Act and those who would like to kill it, and I wonder if they were ever rocked by a Central or South American Nanny who sang them songs, and with a slip of the tongue called them by the wrong name, her own child’s name.

I don’t think The Help is our past. For a completely different (and probably better written) perspective read this. Now.

Cowboys and Aliens (not Cowboys and Indians) and Brendan Wayne (yep, John Wayne’s Grandson)

08.2.11

We just got home from watching Cowboys and Aliens with half the neighborhood kids. They still think Brendan is pretty cool, which, if you watch the video, matters.

About Captain America

07.24.11

Alexander went with a friend today to see Captain America. There haven’t been many movies for him to see lately and he had a good time seeing it with his buddy.

I’d been looking forward to seeing it with him. Alexander and I love movies at the Gold Class, we love the service, the pillows, the blankets, the space.

Or maybe I love it, and maybe he likes the movies, and maybe he likes seeing them with his friends.

I know it’s childlike to be this disappointed about not seeing a movie with the person I want to see it with. I’ve been trying to think of a good excuse, but I don’t have one.