Koreatown Dates

This past weekend marked three months since Evan and I moved into our new house! Besides all the excitement/worries that come with the 93-year-old house itself (as I type this, there is hammering and drilling happening all around me, as we’re having central heat and air-conditioning installed this week), it’s been really fun to be in a new neighborhood.

The Larchmont area that we’ve moved into has been a great fit for us, partly because of where it positions us within the city — we’ve only ever lived west of here before, in the Hollywood/Mid-City West/Miracle Mile areas, and while we’re an easy and quick drive from all our old standbys there, we’re also now much closer to one of my favorite neighborhoods in LA: Koreatown. Continue reading

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Letting Children Fail

When I think about parenting challenges in my future, I think a lot about failure and perseverance. I’ve always had a natural tendency to not want to do anything I’m not good at, which is something that I’ve tried to work on in my adult years. As such, even though Zoe’s still so young, it’s very important to me to instill in her a desire to work at things that don’t come naturally to her, and to learn how to deal with failure.

The fact that some failure is an inevitable part of living a normal, well-balanced life was a difficult lesson for me to learn. Once I embraced it though, I could start learning how to deal with both the initial failure and my own reaction to it. It’s humbling work, but so important as I try to become a better person every day. It’s hard though: even now, the starkness of the word “failure” still startles me, and I am fighting the compulsion to soften it in this post by changing each occurrence to the more moderate “mistakes” or “errors” — I’m standing strong on this though, which, sadly for you readers, leads to a lot of word repetition!

All that’s just a long-winded (I’ve given up any attempt to work on my failure to ever be brief!) prelude to this fascinating article in The Atlantic, written by a middle-school teacher about the lengths parents go to to keep their children from experiencing failure, and how it can have an incredibly adverse effect on their development. I couldn’t agree more that failure and success are both integral parts in a child’s education, and that school is meant to teach kids so much more than just what’s in the pages of a book.

One of my favorite passages from the article:

But children make mistakes, and when they do, it’s vital that parents remember that the educational benefits of consequences are a gift, not a dereliction of duty. Year after year, my “best” students — the ones who are happiest and successful in their lives — are the students who were allowed to fail, held responsible for missteps, and challenged to be the best people they could be in the face of their mistakes.

And a great point from the comments:

One of the best things that schools, teachers, and parents can do for their students is to give them a safe place to fail. It’s much easier – and, generally, far less costly – for an 8 year old to not put in the effort and not reap the reward than it is, say, for a 24 year old to do so.

So what happens when an educational system turns out huge numbers of adults-to-be who have figured out (via their parents’ help, or on their own) how to game the system so that they never have to experience failure? Of course it has an effect on their individual personality as an adult, but what about on society as a whole? Intriguing stuff.

(Photo courtesy of St. John’s University)

(Really) Fake Girlfriends

What would lead a guy to create a fake girlfriend? I can hardly imagine the mindset you would have to be in to think that you could not only fool everyone around you, but truly fool yourself at the same time. But it obviously fascinates other, more artistic sorts who have grappled with portraying the concept. I SMELL A LIST: Continue reading

Mini-Obsessions

I grew so accustomed to having an outlet here to indulge my spiraling, detailed thoughts on the ephemera that swirl through my head on a daily basis. When I took a holiday break, things began to build up in my head. Rather than inspire me to let loose with a string of posts come early January, the following would ensue: I’d have an idea of something to work through, and then instantly, I’d think, “oh, but I need to talk about Les Miz first, or that great book I tore through, or maybe it should be my college football postmortem, or hey, that service I used to print Instagram photos.” And then, all of those ideas crowding around the small door of opportunity and patience I have for writing would block each other, and like a putz, I end up saying nothing. And the pressure grows.

So, a bit of a reboot! Making a list lets me down never, so a list of my recent mini-obsessions, to clear the decks, as it were:

  • Nail art: I just bought an assortment of colors that come with teeny skinny brushes, and though I’m starting slow (a single yellow diagonal on dark grey nails), I can’t want to get super-elaborate! One lesson already learned: designs look WAY better on short nails than long.
  • Snow activities: we booked a mountain cabin weekend getaway with close friends today, and I am SO excited! We’ll be in Lake Arrowhead for Presidents Day weekend, which is apparently a great time of year to hope for snow on the ground. While spending most of our holidays in Ohio and Montana means we’re pretty familiar with snow, something tells me that experiencing it with a passel of small children (four under 4!) is going to make it a whole lot crazier, hopefully in a fun way.
  • The Manti Te’o Fake Dead Girlfriend Scandal: Y’all. Y’ALL!!! Maybe the most surreal sports story of the year, and it is MID-JANUARY. And given that it’s a bit of a slow time for news in general, people are jumping all over this, including these tweets.
  • The Africa They Never Show You: I’m guilty of having thought, sure, I’d love to travel more, but not necessarily to Africa. This Tumblr changed my mind in a jiffy. The above photo, showing the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, is making me weak in the knees!
  • Churro Kettle Corn: From my glorious mecca, the reason I have taste buds. The world is amazing.
  • Safety Not Guaranteed: Now that I’ve seen pretty much all the prestige 2012 Oscar bait that I wanted to, I can confirm my suspicion from six months ago that this quirky indie — ostensibly about a crazy dude who thinks he can time travel, but really about the huge, real, breathtaking risk of real relationships, and the immense pleasures in life available when we drop the veneer of irony — would be my favorite movie of the year. I just rewatched it, and yup — it made me feel all the good tingles all over again… no, not those, you perv. Canadian tuxedos don’t quite do it for me. Trailer: [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82y3OQoPqp0%5D

Ahhhhhhh. It’s good to be back!

(Photo from David Ruiz Luna’s Flickr, via The Africa They Never Show You)