Sunday, January 28, 2007

Children of Men

So, what could possibly make me want to see a dystopian near-future sci-fi flick? (Who am I all know by now I'm addicted to sci-fi dystopias.) But hearken to this amazing and only slightly ironic endorsement from newly-wed mei mei Emily: "It made me want to have a baby."

Normally, I think attempts to make sci-fi movies are doomed to cheesy failure. This isn't sci-fi's fault, but the exceptions are few. Enemy Mine (1985), with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., is one of the few exceptions (I re-watched it while hanging out in WA this past week. It's still pretty awesome.) And this movie. I thought the portrayal of the near future (the 2020's) was visually realistic, and the technological flourishes were well-chosen and not too brash, except for maybe the scene at the dinner table with the virtual keyboarding, but that didn't bug me (it probably bugged Brent). But there are no big pointy shoulders in shiny clothing; what a relief to look into a future where people wear things still recognizable as clothing.

The basic premise, and I'm not giving away anything you don't pick up in the opening scenes of the movie, is that for some undiscovered reason, human beings have lost the ability to procreate. It's been roughly 20 years since the last baby was born, and the world is going to hell in a handbasket. What's the point of...well, anything, when there's no future to anticipate?

So of course, the plot unfolds around the figure of a pregnant girl. Unwed, marginal, and vulnerable, she is very much a Virgin Mary symbol (even makes a virgin birth joke before admitting she has no idea who the father is). And of course the baby is a baby Jesus figure, a concrete embodiment of restored hope for humanity. One interesting aspect of the story is the reversal of the assumption of the male gender of the baby, an assumption made by the mother and then later by a traitorous Judas character. That the baby is a girl underscores the break the baby represents from the violence presupposed in the worldview of the men in control of this anarchic future. The most arresting scene of the movie (despite the awesome moment where you get to see the baby come out, and let me say how excited I am that they included that, and also add, don't worry, it wasn't "gross") is the escape from the bombarded building: mother and baby and protector simply walk out, and as the soldiers hear the baby's cries and comprehend the significance of them, the fighting simply ceases...Until fired upon from afar, and then the frantic and ineffectual violence breaks out anew.

But for all that, the movie ends optimistically: Tomorrow really exists.

I cannot help but add one small pet-peevish criticism. I have no idea why, especially in a movie where the director was brave enough to give the audience a close-to-real birth moment, there would be no concern for continued verisimilitude regarding care. That poor baby went at least a whole night and a day without eating once. I was so concerned about this that I leaned over to Brent and hissed, "that baby needs to eat! why doesn't she feed her?" Is there some reason I don't know about that breastfeeding cannot even be hinted at in a movie? I know this is a small thing to pick on, but honestly. Wouldn't it be nice to have at least one movie remind us that breasts are not just pointless lumps of bodyfat that men (well, mostly men, I suppose) have arbitrarily decided to get off on? For myself, I had never regarded my breasts as anything but pointless, and if they had been any bigger I would have regarded them as pointless and annoying (friends not as lucky as me tell me that they really do have to wear awful way to have to live, in my opinion). Now, however, I am quite absurdly proud of them. I like them. I think they're beautiful. And they have a point (so to speak). I truly think this movie would be better if someone had thought of this and included a breastfeeding scene; it would have added to the feminist theme, the peace theme, the nurture theme, as well as reinforcing the point, first made visually and symbolically by the sight of the pregnant belly, that humanity's biology had been restored to rightness.

favorite Seattle pictures

Thursday, January 25, 2007


As of January 23. Forward crawling motion achieved and perfected in a few short hours. Bonus milestone: she pulls herself up to her feet now using any available surface.

But where oh where are those teeth she's been promising for months now???

Saturday, January 20, 2007


So, here we are in Seattle!

It's been great. I slept in till 9:30 this morning, pretty awesome, I must say. I've watched some Battlestar Galactica with my mom, and tonight we will get me caught up on season 3 in time to enjoy the premier tomorrow night. And I'm reading the new posthumous collaborative Heinlein novel, Variable Star.

But I am also:
  1. grading TH 222 term sheets and exams
  2. writing up a paper proposal for a conference opportunity I just learned about, with a deadline of Jan 31
  3. working on my sermon for Feb 4
  4. prepping for precepting next semester's theology & sci fi course (ED 325)--PTS readers (all 2 of you), if you're looking for an awesome course for spring semester, check this one out!

So, basically, vacation means time to do all the stuff that I don't really have time to do at home. Except, you'll notice, the one thing I should be doing prominently not on my list...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

on breastfeeding

Now that Clare's a little older, her singleminded devoted intensity to the eating experience has given way to distractability and some new habits.
  1. Hand on head, elbow out, in the "don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful" gesture.
  2. Hand raised up in the air in the "praise God!" gesture. I suppose she's praising God from whom all (milky) blessings flow.
  3. Hand grasping big toe in what I will call The Multitasking Yogi Pose.
  4. Hand reaching up to touch my face in her most endearing new habit. It's nice to think that she's realizing there's a face attached to the boob, and Mommy is more than just a milk dispenser.
  5. Hands grasping the boob on either side in the desperate "isn't there any more in there???" gesture. That one being, obviously, my least favorite.

A concluding theological thought: if more theologians were mothers, perhaps we would have an understanding of kenosis linked to breastfeeding as a symbolic and physical "emptying" on behalf of others.

Monday, January 15, 2007


I don't make resolutions. Not really. I mean, not consciously. I don't write anything down and don't pick any goals or deadlines. This would be a great time for me to resolve, for instance, to start working on getting back into shape, or more specifically (I read somewhere that generic resolutions are the first to go) to not skip any more yoga classes. But I don't resolve. I'm not sure why I don't join with the millions of people who make promises to themselves upon the occasion of the new year, but I just don't.

However, I find that I mark the clean slate beginning of a new year in other ways. I just cleaned out my hotmail inbox. I had nearly 500 messages in there, stretching back to before Clare was born, before I was pregnant even. I don't know when it was that I lost control over my inbox. But messages just kept compounding.

But now, it's all gone. With a few clicks of the mouse I ruthlessly deleted almost everything. I didn't go through the messages. I deleted whole pages of missives without a glance, a hundred at a time. I saved an email from Brent with the subject line "I love you" and a couple messages from people I wanted to remember to write. And that was it. Now I have 5 messages in my inbox.

And boy do I feel good.

I also shaved my legs today for the first time in a long, long time. And I cleaned out the closet this week. And gathered up all Clare's outgrown clothes to pass on to friends. And yesterday I reorganized my desk.

It should be a good year, 2007.

Friday, January 05, 2007

things Clare is doing now, and Christmas '06 pics

things Clare is doing now:
  1. babbling: ga, la, da, na, ba, wa, even ma. She likes reduplications and Malda swears she heard "mama" while we were in TX. And she's definitely saying "dada."
  2. sitting up--she's an old pro at this by now. I saw her pull herself up from her tummy to sitting up during our visit.
  3. nearly crawling. I'll keep you posted.
  4. getting frustrated when I take a toy away. Not a very welcome milestone, let me add.
  5. eating her veggies with gusto. Once at Harding I had to take a psych test as part of the app process for becoming an RA. It had this question on it: "Do you eat your food with more gusto than other people?" I've been paranoid about my level of enjoyment of food ever since, but luckily, Clare has not inherited this neurotic anxiety.
  6. closely related to #5, pooping a lot more solidly than before. Yay.
Christmas Day at Granddad and as-yet-unlabeled grandmother's house

five generations: Zada Belle Finley Gravette, Clare Madalyn Thweatt Bates, Malda Lyn Coulson Bates (bottom, right to left); Delphene Gravette Coulson, James Brent Bates (top)

Monday, January 01, 2007

three 2007 beautiful things

  1. watching a husband be a daddy.
  2. Sol's first US Christmas with all the family.
  3. five-generation pictures. We go to Whitesboro, TX (yeah, I know, maybe someday the Chamber of Commerce will decide that's awful...) today to get a picture with Clare, Brent, Malda, Mimi (Brent's grandmother Delphene) and Nana (great-grandmother Zada Belle).