"Brigitte Höss lives quietly on a leafy side street in Northern Virginia. She is retired now, having worked in a Washington fashion salon for more than 30 years. She recently was diagnosed with cancer and spends much of her days dealing with the medical consequences. Brigitte also has a secret that not even her grandchildren know. Her father was Rudolf Höss, the Kommandant of Auschwitz." [more inside]
The Big Father Essay. Some readers may find sections disturbing.
In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
Portraits of My Family by Camilla Catrambone. "These portraits aim to represent my family members through the objects they've owned." [Via]
Sarah Polley, previously, is a Canadian actress and director whose new documentary Stories We Tell is about her own family's story. Or stories. And how storytelling shapes us. Sarah Polley's Meta Masterpiece [more inside]
Amy Chua's anecdotal "tiger mom" manifesto meets some peer-reviewed data-driven research. Oh snap! [more inside]
When your abuser or estranged relative dies - funerals, obituaries, & condolences. This is a practical, thoughtful and informative website created by two Christian women who are knowledgeable about dealing with pathological narcissists and sociopaths within a family context, in particular the topic of "Silent Partners". [more inside]
Imagine a world where "gay" was "straight" and "straight" was "gay"... How Would You Live If You Couldn't Love? (19:13)
A beautiful short film centered around themes of childhood bullying, community intolerance, and bigotry from within one's own family that is a lot more affecting than one might expect at first from the deceptively kitchy concept.
The Complicated Chinese Family Tree - Cantonese Version! Or, if you like, the original in putonghua. (This previous post may be of some assistance.)
"We hate being told we must be saints or angels, because we’re doing something really ordinary and normal – that is, taking care of kids in need. If some children showed up dirty and hungry and needing a safe place on your doorstep, you’d care for them too – we just signed up to be the doorstep they arrive at. The idea of sainthood makes it impossible for ordinary people to do this – and the truth is the world needs more ordinary, human foster parents. This also stinks because if we’re saints and angels, we can’t ever be jerks or human or need help, and that’s bad, because sometimes this is hard." -- What foster parents wish other people knew.
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
As if a line like "their house is a museum, when people come to see 'em, they really are a scree-am" (heard, of course, in the Addams Family theme) wasn't playfully brilliant (and brilliantly playful) enough, the same fellow happened to also have written the Green Acres theme. If you're an American of a certain age, you'll remember these two songs from their original TV runs during your childhood, or perhaps from reruns if you're a bit younger. Anyway, the composer of these catchy, familiar ditties was one Vic Mizzy. Hear Vic talk about the Addams Family theme and his degree in advanced finger snapping here. Thanks Vic!
LOI, Vietnam — They had no plan to break barriers or cause trouble. But 30 years ago in this bucolic village in northern Vietnam, the fierce determination of one group of women to become mothers upended centuries-old gender rules and may have helped open the door for a nation to redefine parenthood.
The Old Man at Burning Man. "When I mentioned to friends that I was going to Burning Man with my 69-year-old father, 'Good idea' were the words out of no one's mouth."
About a year after her participation in the groundbreaking Comedy Central documentary series the Comedians of Comedy, Maria Bamford was on stage at the Friars Club in LA when a heckler began shouting at her. What happened after that isn’t entirely clear, other than Bamford had a breakdown, walked off stage, and disappeared. She was found three months later selling clock radios on the sidewalks of Detroit. A fellow homeless person, who was also a Comedy Central fan, recognized Bamford and eventually her parents were contacted. They brought her back home to Deluth, Minnesota and began to get her help. Maria decided to document her recovery in a series of short videos called The Maria Bamford Show, which were first posted to the TBS networks' now abandoned Super Deluxe Web site. [more inside]
I love you, dad One of my fondest childhood memories is me sitting on a sled, being dragged along a thinly snow covered road by my dad. I was looking up at him and reflecting on the fact that he is also an individual person, just as I am. He has his own thoughts, his own wants, and his own memories. He’d had an entire life to live before I even existed.
“Commitment vows are very powerful, even in a cynical era when people aren't afraid of getting divorced,”
Families in Flux:"As household arrangements take new directions, scientists attempt to sort out the social effects" [more inside]
"With multiple organ failure it’s hard to get everything balanced just right so that oxygen is getting to the brain and the person can “wake up.” So, if nothing else, I know how to misallocate an important moment. Here I was, with my mother dying in front of me, and I still wanted her to be proud. Just, proud."
"It feels strange to be active and highly visible on the Web for 15 years but it was only when I joined Facebook that someone from elementary school or high school ever contacted me." In which on Ev Williams's platform, Mr Haughey compares his experiences of Facebook and Twitter. [more inside]
"Which is another way of saying that Facebook is George Costanza's worst nightmare: It enforces, second by second, the collision of worlds."
Are Your Facebook Friends Stressing You Out? (Yes.) - "The finding, which is similar to one determined last year, is nice as a headline: It's both unexpected (friends! stressing you out! ha!) and ironic (the currency of the social web, taking value rather than adding it!). What's interesting, though, is the why of the matter: the idea that, the report theorizes, the wider your Facebook network, the more likely it is that something you say or do on the site will end up offending one of that network's members... Unsurprisingly, per the study's survey of more than 300 Facebook users, 'adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.'" [more inside]
“I stole this book from the library ages ago…”Behind the Curtain (AKA OMG Marvin K. Redpost is a girl!) is one of the funnier excerpts from The Complicated Geography of Alice, a memoir in progress.
“Fourth grade” I say, watching them huddled together in the mirror.
“…one of those Marvin K. Redpost books. He kisses his elbow one day and when he wakes up the next morning he's a girl.”
“I meant to make you take it back but I bet we still have it.”
“My mom's cataloging fifteen years of gender-bending in one week.” She says, rolling her eyes.... “Seriously Mom, how did you NOT know?”
She will ask me this a hundred times. I will ask myself a hundred more and still never I didn't have a good answer then and I don't now. Perhaps we simply see what we expect to see and write off anything that doesn't fit into the little boxes we put people into. Or perhaps she'd learned to mask and over-correct, to hide so well that by the time those distinctions matter, I could not see her until she tore down that wall. I wish I'd known sooner.
"Farmer's Dilemma" is a short, sad and beautiful comic about family and acceptance. From Sam Alden's art blog, GINGERLAND.
Cargo bikes, long a mainstay in the Netherlands and emerging as an automotive alternative in the U.S. (via bike-friendly Portland), come in many flavors: Longtails, longjohns, cycle trucks, porteurs, trikes and the traditional Dutch bakfiet. Will a cargo bike transform your life?
The Mom Stays in the Picture - When Allison Tate wrote about how "Too much of a mama's life goes undocumented and unseen... I'm everywhere in their young lives, and yet I have very few pictures of me with them", it resonated with many other women. "To read through the notes that came with the thousand-plus photos (and yes, we have read every single one) was to read the minds of today's mothers. Over and over you told us that you don't look the way you want to look, don't look the way you once did. Even when joining a movement created around the motto 'I am not perfect to look at and I am not perfect to love, but I am perfectly their mother,' you felt the need to apologize." (via middleclasstool's other half)
Expedia's latest and ongoing ad campaign, "Find Your..." offers 'personal journey' stories from travelers who have used their site, with footage from their trip. Their latest entry: "Find Your Understanding," tells the story of a father traveling to his daughter's wedding. Via.
Levi van Veluw* has taken his self-portraiture to the next level by bringing his family into the picture. "Portrayed in this piece is a room with 5 persons sitting at a table.... The endless repetition of wooden blocks stands for van Veluw’s attempts to gain control of his own position within the familial structure."
He was doubled-over, crying. He looked up at my mom and simply said, "Play this at my funeral." Which we did, on Memorial Day, in our backyard beside his trout pond. .."I made this video with and for my father, Larry Zander, who died a few weeks ago, on May 27, 2011. He was 78. For those of you who knew my Dad, you will instantly recognize him in his natural habitat."
Don't judge Honey Boo Boo, because the tv show doesn't care what it's saying about American culture.
A Confederacy of Bachelors [NYT] Meet the brotherhood of Fortress Astoria: Danaher Dempsey, Luke Crane, Rick Brown and Shyaporn Theerakulstit, best friends and artists. They have no children, no linear career histories, no readily disposable savings. The four men, all heterosexual, approaching 40 and never married, have lived together for 18 years, give or take a revolving guest roommate, cohabitating in spaces like an East Village walk-up, a Chelsea loft and, now, a converted office space in Queens. [more inside]
Louis C.K. on eating pressure and providing an alternative to The Man - "I ask him to think about what he really needs; when he tells me, I give him a little more. It buys me goodwill with this person; I feel good about what I'm paying them. I like to give people a little more than they want, and I like to ask people for a little less than they're willing to give." [more inside]
"I think my father is a hateful person first. The religious beliefs gave him a forum and permission to be cruel to the world." Nate Phelps, son of Fred Phelps, answers questions about growing up in the Westboro Baptist Church, and his life after leaving it. (Warning: descriptions of domestic violence.) [more inside]
"I had always assumed that if I could get a foreign-policy job in the State Department or the White House while my party was in power, I would stay the course as long as I had the opportunity to do work I loved. But in January 2011, when my two-year public-service leave from Princeton University was up, I hurried home as fast as I could." Anne Marie Slaughter, the former policy director for the State Department and professor at Princeton University, has written a nuanced essay for this month's Atlantic Monthly, about the feminist generation gap and work-life balance at the top levels of government and academia: Why Women Still Can't Have It All. [more inside]
'A childhood that began with a sort of cautious optimism quickly devolved into absolute horse shit.'
Matt Might, computer science professor, has a son with a new genetic condition. This is the story of how they figured this out. Matt Might, perhaps best known for the illustrated guide to a PhD, tells the wrenching tale of their son's terrible medical condition and how they've worked to figure out what is going on with him.
Eugene Ahn, AKA Adam Warrock, on quitting being a lawyer to become a full time rapper.
The GOP’s woman problem is that it has a serious problem with women. Frank Rich on George Stephanopoulos's unanswered question, how the Republicans have shifted to being the party of misogyny since the 70s, and why Mitt Romney would be just as bad as Rick Santorum.
"Andrea Yates' story tracks so many of the themes we talk about all the time today. The role of religion in family life. The cognitive dissonance of so many marriages. Lingering stigmas about mental illness, especially as they relate to postpartum depression. The Yates trial was a big deal 10 years ago — even though it was overshadowed by the fallout from 9/11." The Atlantic looks back at the Andrea Yates case and how she's doing now.
Given or Taken – an ABC television documentary by the usually excellent 4 Corners looks at a period in the nation’s history when unwed mothers were forced, coerced or tricked into giving up their babies- often without holding or even seeing their newborn. Writer Kim Berry describes a little of what it was like to be relinquished by her teen mum.
Dementia be Damned [via mefi projects] With dementia and brain related links, personal stories about good and trying times, and information about the latest research, it's a fascinating read about a woman with lots of personality and her amazing Mom. [more inside]
Tollemache, Ralph William Lyonel Tollemache- (1826–1895), Church of England clergyman and bestower of eccentric names.
In 2002, Doug Monroe placed his parents in assisted living. A decade later, he's looking back at "the weighty financial and emotional costs that come with a parent's immortality": The Long Goodbye.
Family Dysfunction: Some Tense Literature for Thanksgiving (Plus a Playlist) In honor of the holidays, here’s a dysfunctional family reading list and playlist to celebrate those good people who you just can’t get away from.
A woman wonders how she will teach her daughter about sex in an essay titled How I Learned About Sex.
After months of struggle to get his family out of Cuba, Orestes Lorenzo got his response. Raúl Castro, then Minister of the Armed Forces, declared "If he had the balls to steal one my MiGs, then he can come back and get his family himself!" In hindsight, that was probably the wrong thing to say. [more inside]