Post of the Week

Post of the Week

Published March 17, 2000 2:07PM (EST)

the poetics of objects and space

Marney X - 09:55 pm PST - Mar 14, 2000 - #2211 of 2218

A length of cloth cut from a bolt of navy-blue wool
A length of satin for the lining
7 buttons
A new bobbin
A pattern
Pinking shears

"Will there be anything else?" the clerk inquired.
"No. This should be perfect," she said.

She cut and laid out the pieces of the coat-to-be.
Marked, pinned, and pressed the seams.
Filled the bobbin and threaded the eye of the needle.

Presser foot down , she leaned her right thigh into the lever that drove the Singer's needle on its methodical journey, up and down, up and down , over the material's highway.
There was a particular sound a sewing machine made as needle and fabric intertwined .
I remember.
You'd know it if you heard it.

Lovingly, she turned each corner and smoothed away the folds and creases. Lapels, pockets, inseams, pleats and a band-- held in place by two buttons-- that would be the detail for the coat's back.
5 buttons down the front to keep her treasure warm.

She made the birthday coat for her first Doll.

(August, 1949)

I was 3 years old then.
I remember Mother telling me later that there were 54 pieces in the pattern for the coat.
I now have 53 years in the pattern of my life.

I recall Mother sewing that coat.
I was the Doll.
I recall Mother.
Now Mother often does not recall the events of earlier today.

Earlier today I took that navy-blue out of my closet.
It hangs with my grown-up coats.
The coat is 22" from collar to hem.
Perfect in every detail.
In all the times and for all the things I have parted with over time,
I continue to hold onto the coat.
It, considering the girl she is, always amazed me that she had given it such care and patience during construction.
I believe it was the last of what few things she sewed.
Her career as Betsy Ross was short-lived. Not her style, really.
Nor mine.
I did sew a few things on the same machine, with its wonderful gold filigree painted base: horse blankets.
In some ways I am my Mother's daughter as well as her Doll.

Tomorrow is her birthday.
My Doll's birthday.

I will try to keep her warm while she waits to go.
I will loan her my arm and wrap her in our coat.
The only presents left that I have to give .

(March , 2000)


Home and Away
Mary E - 11:22 am PST - Mar 11, 2000 - #17 of 17

Some more odd notes about Egypt...

MacDonalds, Pizza Hut, and other fast food giants have made a prominent appearance in Egypt in the past decade. The attitude of the local people towards these chains is the complete opposite to that of we Westerners. We rather look down on fast or junk food, and often regard people who eat it regularly as too uneduacted to realize how bad it is for you, or too poor to afford anything better. On the other hand, going to fast food restaurants in Egypt is a sign of status. This is partially because only relatively wealthy people can afford to eat in these places--they're not a cheap eating option as they are here. Also, anything Western is considered glamourous in Egypt. I taught at a small private school outside of Cairo were the children were all upperclass. In one classroom activity I asked the children what they had eaten for dinner the night before. Several of them told me that they had "eaten Pizza Hut" or "eaten MacDonalds." (This wasn't bad English--Egyptians actually use the names of fast food restuaurants in place of the food). I got the feeling that the kids were bragging--they wanted me to know that their parents could afford to take them to fast food restaurants.

It was possible to get healthy and delicous pita sandwiches, salads, and freshly squeezed juices for less than a dollar at countless little cafes all over Cairo. But upper middleclass Egyptians look down their noses at such places and wouldn't be caught dead in them--they are for workingclass people only. The wealthy eat only at upscale restaurants or fastfood outlets. I lived fairly close to the American University in Cairo--the most expensive and prestigious university in Egypt. A MacDonalds was stragetically located across the street from the campus, and most of the patrons, aside from the odd homesick ex-pat, were expensively dressed students--often young women with skin tight designer jeans and headscarves. (There was a KFC and a Pizza Hut close by, and many street children hung out in front of these places to beg money off the wealthy fast food patrons).

In general I found that the Egyptians had an odd love/hate relationship with the US (or "America" as it always seems to be called overseas). On the one hand many--certainly not all--make it clear that they hate America and believe that Western culture is decadant. On the other hand, they are infatuated with even the tackiest manifestations of American pop culture. Disney characters are wildly popular and again reflected status--upperclass mothers often deck their kids out from head to toe in garments with Disney characters on them. I also taught in Korea, and the same love/hate attitude was very much prevalent there too. It's probably like this all over the world. One of the most ironic news photos I ever saw was of an Iraqi man wearing a Chicago Bulls T-shirt helping to burn an American flag.

For Tina--More Than Just a Domestic Violence Statistic

Mothers Who Think
CalGal - 07:17 pm PST - Mar 14, 2000 - #387 of 656

The thing to remember about battered women (and battered men) is that their outlook is often as distorted as their abusers. It's not a coincidence that they find each other.
Frankly, there is very little that can be done to protect abuse victims who choose to tolerate it.
In my opinion, DV is sourced in serious psychological disorders, not gender. (In other words, I ascribe to the psychological, not feminist, theory of domestic violence). The fact that men tend to use certain behaviors more, the fact that women tend to respond a certain way--these are all determined to a certain degree by societal expectations and norms. But the most likely outcome of a stronger, more empowered female society is more female batterers--not necessarily fewer female victims.
I would rather that society change its response a bit. Be supportive in every way of a spouse who gets out--including taking stalkers extremely seriously. (although it's worth noting that the real problem with stalking exes is the "stalking" part. We don't have a real way of addressing stalkers in our society.)
But we should be extremely unsupportive of people who choose to stay in an abusive relationship, no matter what the reason (love, fear, whatever). Particularly parents. In fact, I think that an abuse victim who doesn't try to leave the marriage is as much of an abusive parent as the other (even if neither hits the children). I'd like to see society change its response to DV, realizing that the ones who have no choice are the children. If a battered spouse won't leave, then he or she can accept that their children will leave.
If nothing else, this will send a strong signal to the children that there's something wrong with Daddy and Mommy. And in some cases, battered women may start to get the message that they really don't have the luxury of inaction or choosing to bear it. (It's much tougher for the relatively small grouop of battered men, since they can't get the kids. But you fight the battles you can win.)
Disjointed rant over.

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