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Archive for the ‘work and family (im)balance’ Category

I don’t want this to sound like a gendered question, but you keep mentioning your kids, and so I was wondering if you felt that motherhood changed you as a writer.

I think it’s superuseful. I remember when I was pregnant with my first child: I was at a book festival and a writer of my own age, who will remain nameless, sat opposite me and said, “God you’re having a kid huh?” It was a man. He said, “I guess you’re going to lose a lot of time and you must be worried about falling behind.” I was about seven months pregnant, and I just had a sudden inspiration. I said, “Yeah I guess so” and then, “You must be worried about just a complete lack of human experience that you’re now going to be 40 and then 50.” His face went so pale. It was a wonderful way to frighten him back.

The honest truth is that Eliot wrote without children, Woolf wrote without children, Gertrude Stein, loads of people write extraordinary things without children so it’s not any answer. Every life that you live will give material for fiction. But given that I do have children, it is that experience of just the simple thing of seeing life in the round. It’s so dull to say that, but it is extraordinary to see your childhood replayed, refracted, to see yourself saying things your parents said, to be in this new relation to death.

When I think of writers, I really love someone like Ursula Le Guin, who had three kids and lived an entirely domestic life. I feel her children in those books, I feel that the weight of it, her experience of being a girl, a woman, a mother, an old woman, it’s almost overwhelming when you read her. I don’t know, when I read Woolf, I love Woolf and I love Eliot, but they remained young women their whole lives. That’s part of their genius. They had that pointed, critical perspective, which never faded. What I get from Le Guin, maybe because I’m now heading in the same way, is something I appreciate particularly.

From Zadie Smith in Salon with “Zadie Smith on male critics, appropriation, and what interests her novestically about Trump” by Isaac Chotiner. This is so, so good.

You said your concern was people, not politics. Does anything interest you about Trump, novelistically?

What interests me, which probably doesn’t interest other people, is the children. I’m going to talk in a generalization. When people are children of narcissists, and there are multiple children, they usually bond together against the narcissist. But when you have a lot of money, as Trump does, that seems to skew the whole thing. What I find so painful is the idea of children competing for the affection of a narcissist, whose affection they will never receive. That seems to me just excruciating. That’s what boggles my mind: Reading interviews with them where they boast about who gets to call him in his office more regularly or who saw him more than four times during their childhood. It’s so sad, that part. It’s slightly unbearable. Also because if the children don’t correct the narcissist, he goes to his grave never knowing. I think that’s the kind of man he is, right? He’ll never know.

I imagine Saddam’s kids, or Qaddafi’s, being the same.

But even with the children of a dictator there’s usually one who turns. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this. Maybe just to be told you are the prettiest is enough from this kind of parent.

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We are finally coming to a time when we understand that work life balance is vital (not just some soft issue mothers bang on about) and that workaholics are by and large a liability.. This is very good from Katharine Murphy with “The political life is no Life at all” in Meanjin. 

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Look at all these true winter colours.

I took Cormac with me on a business trip and after the work we turned it into a holiday together. It is the first time I have holidayed with him alone.

There is something very special about both that kind of intimacy and the nature of being away from home. It suddenly all feels quite effortless. You are a better kind of parent, more attentive, more patient, more capable of moving at their pace. And they are a better kind of child, more reasonable, more appreciative.

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The biggest problem with masculinity, Perry proffers, is that it’s based on a model that’s several thousands of years old, when survival depended on physical strength and male power. Or, as he puts it, “masculinity is to chase things and fight things and to fuck. Everything else is a bit of a mismatch.” This framework for men has remained remarkably persistent even as society has evolved past it, with modern jobs and relationships requiring a very different set of skills.

And what should masculinity evolve towards?

But simply by framing a repositioning of masculinity as a boon for men rather than a loss, Perry is doing something novel. “An emergent masculinity may be one that prizes tolerance, flexibility, plurality, and emotional literacy in the same way that strength, certainty, stoicism have been celebrated in the past,” he writes.

From Sophie Gilbert’s “The tragedy of men: In a pithy and insightful new book, the British artist Grayson Perry laments how ill-suited masculinity is for modern life” in The Atlantic. 

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From “The secret to work-life balance: less work” in The Atlantic by Jenny Anderson:

One in five working moms say it’s not just difficult, but very difficult, versus 12 percent of working dads. And mothers are twice as likely as fathers to say parenthood has hurt their career.

But one group in the study appeared to emerge at least moderately content: moms who work part time. They’re more likely to take the juggling act in stride (only 11 percent of them say it’s “very difficult” to balance work life and home life) and they’re also more likely to be satisfied with the amount of time they spend with their children.

There’s only one problem with part-time work, in my experience, and that was the way in which my career completely stalled during that phase. In some ways this wasn’t a problem at the time because I had other priorities and I also managed to launch a writing career on the side during it all. But inevitably, I grew bored with the career dormancy and that boredom became a little damaging for me in the end.

Being back at work full-time I am well aware that work-life balance is out the window. And instead, I am running on the adrenaline of a challenging new role as well as the sudden thrill of being taken seriously again.

 

 

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This, “Coalition accused of vilification after releasing list of ‘bludger hotspots’ in The Guardian..

The Coalition has been accused of “heartless vilification” for releasing a list of welfare “bludger hotspots” across Australia.

The federal government on Tuesday released a list of 10 suburbs and towns with the highest jobseeker non-compliance numbers.

The list, which News Corp dubbed a “list of shame”, referred to the number of welfare recipients who failed to meet requirements, usually by failing to attend appointments or interviews with job service providers.

.. begs the question what has government done in these areas lately?

What’s the social mobility rate for families in these suburbs? Has it shifted since you came to power? What’s the local job creation rate? I mean, if jobseekers meet their requirements, what’s their chance of actually obtaining a job with a living wage in their local area? How do their wage rates compare with those in more prosperous suburbs? Their children’s access to elite schools? The provision of infrastructure? The number of children in out of home care?

More score cards.

Boggles the mind that government could think they’re somehow excused of responsibility for economic management.

 

 

 

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Stop everything and go read this short story, it’s amazing. Here’s a taste to tempt you…

There’s a man I hardly know, an academic. He began sleeping with a graduate student when his wife was pregnant, but everything was cool, because, you know, everyone involved read criticism and all three of them really wanted to test the boundaries of just how much that shit can hurt.

I imagine that shit can hurt a whole lot.

Every time I hear about another professor with a student, I think, Wow, that professor I know is way more messed up than I ever thought. Stealing confidence from eighteen-, nineteen-, twenty-year-olds.

Nasty.

This professor, he cleared the fucking of the graduate student with his pregnant wife, and for reasons I don’t understand the wife allowed him to dabble in younger, unwed women while she gestated their child, while her blood and bones were sucked from her body into their fetus.

Though the wife is an interesting part of this triangle, it’s neither her nor the husband I’m thinking of here in bed while Sam bleeds out his last drop of life on our living-room floor. I’m thinking of the poor, stupid graduate student.

She and the academic attended a lecture together one night. After the lecture, there was a party where she was in the insecure position of being a student among people who were done being students. And though everyone was staring at her—they knew the wife—no one wanted to talk to her or welcome the grad student into the land of scholars.

This was not acceptable. She liked attention. She liked performance. She cleared her throat—and the noise from the room—as if readying for a toast. She stood on a low coffee table. Everyone stopped drinking. In a loud, clear voice, one that must still reverberate in her ears, the academic’s ears, everyone’s ears (it even managed to reach mine), she said, “You’re just angry because of what I do with my queer vagina.”

On my living-room wall I keep a photo of my Victorian great-grandmother engaged in a game of cards with three of her sisters. These women maintained a highly flirtatious relationship with language. “Queer” once meant strange. “Queer” once meant homosexual. “Queer” now means opposition to binary thinking. I experience a melancholy pause when meaning is lost, when words drift like runaways far from home. How did “queer” ever come to mean a philandering penis and vagina in a roomful of bookish, egotistical people? How did common old adultery ever become queer?

I feel the grad student’s late-blooming humiliation. How she came to realize, or will one day soon, that her words were foolish. I remind myself there in bed, Dont talk. Dont say words to people, because words conjure images. Her words created a likely unwanted idea of an organ that, like all our organs, is both extraordinary and totally plain. Some flaps of loose skin, some hair, some blood, but, outside the daily fact of its total magnificence, it is really not queer at all.

From Samantha Hunt’s “A love story” in The New Yorker. 

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Nutrition

Set aside an hour for a real lunch. Not food. Ingest the ambient sounds of your workplace.

Interpersonal Connection

Who was your first friend? Dial tech support and whisper his or her name until the I.T. person hangs up. Relationships are important for well-being.

From Krithika Varagur’s “Self-care tips from Yoko Ono” in The New Yorker. 

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They destroy productivity, so even you shouldn’t like your design.  

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This whole thing is very good, “You should’ve asked” at Emma. (Excerpt below).

You should've asked_008

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