American Craft Museum

There are so many museums in NYC that it’s hard to know about all of them, or even many of them.  I’ve been living here for over 5 years now, and I still learn of new ones I hadn’t heard of.  Today, I was browsing different sites with quilting ideas (I’ve been LOVING my sewing machine) and one of the pages mentioned the American Craft Museum.  It sounds really neat – apparently there are quilts on display, and I’m sure other crafts that I’d enjoy.  I must go!

Upon further inspection, it appears that the American Craft Museum is now a part of the Museum of Art & Design, which I have heard of.  Still, there are so many unique museums here, it’s really neat!  I’ll have to go to this one on a Thursday evening, which is their “pay what you want”  night.

It’s been a long day…

And I’m very tired.  I spent a good part of the day at my university’s registrar and financial services office, trying to figure out A)when I’m going to get my stipend, B)Why my student account statement says I’m part-time, and C)When I can register for a class at another NYC university through the Inter-University Doctoral Consortium.  Turns out, not until after my MS is conferred, which doesn’t occur until mid Feb.  That’s when I’m allowed to register for a residence unit and a class at another college – because you need to be a PhD student to do those things (not M.S./PhD track).  Good how that goes through in mid-Feb but registration ends this week, isn’t it?  As it turns out, this doesn’t mean that I can’t register, but merely that it may be a little more paperwork and I have to wait a month after classes have begun.

Well, I could write more – there are lots of things to talk about.  I’m excited my advisor got a grant funded, and we finally get to move into our newly renovated lab space!  But I’m exhausted, and I have to be up early tomorrow to babysit before going to a seminar on a different campus before going to campus to spend some time working on research, all the while not having any money for food or drink nor any normal materials for packing a lunch.  Me?  I’ll be eating pasta out of a plastic bag.  Much better than today, when all I ate from noon to 8 pm was cheerios.

Soooo tired.  Time for early bed, I think.  Goodnight!

Happy about Obama’s SC win

I don’t tend to blog about politics nearly as much as I follow it, but I decided this was worth at least mentioning – I’m really really happy about Obama’s SC win!  Early exit polls suggest he secured an overwhelming victory in SC, which is wonderful.  I am quite solidly in his camp – I would love to see a woman president as well and Hillary doesn’t rub me the wrong way as she does some, but I think the Clintons have been playing very dirty, and I have a lot more confidence and hope in Barack Obama to bring the change we need.

Obama Is Seen as Winner in South Carolina – New York Times

Powered by ScribeFire.

Time management skills

Lately, I have some really crappy ones.  At least I’ve managed to be on time to babysitting every morning, but aside from that, I stink.  I’ve been having a really hard time managing my work time and getting some stuff done for research and schooling.  I’ve also not been paying as much attention to our financial management as I should…meh.  So many things to do!  So in an effort to get things together, I bought myself 2008 calendars (wall and weekly), updated my google calendar with my schedule for the semester, and signed up for vitalist.com to use to keep track of to-do actions.  So we’ll see how that goes – hope it helps!

Privilege Meme

Watershed posted this on her blog recently, and I thought it sounded neat, so I’m going to do it too. I think I’ll get a pretty high score, because I was raised in a solid middle class home, and I’ve only gone down in class since leaving my parent’s home.  I thoroughly expect to go back up after I finish my schooling and Husband’s business plays itself out.
Watershed asked for credit to be given to the authors of the exercise:

This is based on “From What Privileges Do You Have?,” an exercise about class and privilege developed by Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University.

Like watershed, I have made bold and green for those which I answer yes.

1. Father went to college And he was at Duke, so check plus here.

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor. Yes, but not one I’ve ever met. Only a slightly more distant relative that I’ve heard of, because he won a Nobel Prize.

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home. I don’t think so, but it may well have been over 300, so I could be wrong.

9. Were read children’s books by a parent I only remember mom ever doing it, though.

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18 Oh yes. 3 hours a week in private figure skating lessons. Another hour of private choreography lessons to go with that. And 3 or 4 more hours of group classes, both on-ice (power skating or edges) and off-ice (ballet, jumps, calisthenics, cardio exercise).

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18. If you count other group lessons and extracurricular activities from my younger years, before skating was my one and only, there was also soccer, tap dance, gymnastics. And the girl scouts.

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively. They are, however, nearly always much thinner.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18. Got my first credit card at 18, I think. But it might have been late part of being 17.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. But there were many things that all of my ivy-league peers’ parents paid for that my parents did not. They stopped buying me clothes except as presents, they didn’t pay for most of my food after Freshman year, and senior year I had to take out a non-federally subsidized 20k college loan. I also had the max in federally subsidized aid every year. Overall if you add it all up I’d say they paid for the majority, but it might only be the plurality if you include grant money from the school that paid for parts of my tuition.

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs.

16. Went to a private high school. Nope. And I hope to send my kids to public school. If we’re still in NYC, that may not work for grade school, but I will want them in a public magnet high school before I’d want them in private high school.

17. Went to summer camp. Not usually things that were called “summer camp” or that involved sleeping away from home, but my intense summer skating training program was essentially a training camp.

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18. Never needed one.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. Occasionally, for Disney land or greater family events. Our yearly vacation was at a time-share that we owned. I imagine that counts as yes.

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18. We didn’t have close family friends or relatives who had a girl within more than 5 years of my age, so it wouldn’t have been an easy option, but my mom loved to shop so I had a lot of clothes growing up. I have much, much less now. Especially jeans. I tend to have 2-3 pairs of pants at a time nowadays, and usually at least one of them will need some sort of mending. I really could afford to have more pants, but it’s not a priority I suppose – I’d rather buy electronics than clothes.

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them. For the first year after I got my license I shared with my mom the Ford station wagon. Then my parents bought me a used Toyota Corolla, and I began driving myself to all my skating. My mom was then able to take on a better paying job because she didn’t need to be constrained by my chauffeuring needs. They didn’t buy my brother a car that wasn’t a hand-me-down until he was going to college.

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child. Nothing famous, but we had some paintings that I remember touching the texture of the oil brush-strokes. Just two, one in the master bedroom and one in the den.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home. But we did move to a smaller house before I left home.

25. You had your own room as a child. Not always though. My brother and I shared a room until he was 10 and I was 8.

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18. I never had a house line in my room, but I got a cell phone at 16 when I started driving myself sometimes.

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course. Didn’t need one.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school. But we had two family shared tv’s, one of which was in the playroom. So we weren’t all fighting over one tv, either.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college. My parents were always very financially responsible with whatever their income level was, and some of this was instilled in my brother and me. My brother opened an IRA before he even got to college! Despite the fact that Husband and I have a hard time managing our spending impulses but a low drive for the high-paying jobs that we could both attain if we wanted to, one thing we did right is that I began putting some of Husband’s and my money into a mutual fund and some into a Roth IRA I think during my senior year of college.

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16. We did drive to our family vacation, but we took planes based on frequent flyer miles from our credit card spending (which my dad promptly paid off each month) for special things like family weddings or deaths. Once or twice we flew to FL to go to Disney.

31. Went on a cruise with your family. And no international trips either. I never left the US until I did so on my own.

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up. We had a family membership to the Boston Museum of Science. I loved it, and my brother did too. Every July 4th we’d go into Boston and spend the day at the museum, go to a show in their OMNI imax theater, and then spend the evening on the roof we’re we’d watch the fireworks while they played the Boston Pops. Now that I think about it, it was one of my favorite family traditions.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family. My dad would turn the heat down a lot to save money, but my mom always turned it back up and I got the impression he was just being stingy.

Ok, so I got a 25.

Splitting up home chores

A friend of mine was recently talking about how she splits up various household chores with her husband, and so I’ve been thinking about it myself. I thought I’d share it here because it’s interesting to me how different things work for different people. To give you an idea of how long we’ve been working on our own balance of chores: Husband and I have been living together for 3.5 years but have only had our own apartment and the chores that go with that for 2 and a half years. And we’ve been married for a year and change :-D.

For Husband and I, it’s always a bit hard to tell if we’re splitting work equally, because we both tend to consider not only effort but pleasure or nuisance level as well, and our individual perceptions of that are not straightforward. So instead of just saying “You spend x hours and I spend y hours and they’re even (or not)” we look at how much we like or dislike those hours.

With cleaning, this has led to an imbalance in hours spent because Husband has a much lower cleanliness threshold than I do. It’s hard to make him clean a room constantly and in a timely manner when I can tell the disorderliness doesn’t disturb him at all. So I settle for asking him to help clean up sometimes, when it reaches a level that I dislike, and he doesn’t mind, although sometimes he’ll ask to do it later in the day. It’s like that for lots of chores – I can get him to split cleaning the dishes (no dishwasher) with me, but it requires that I not mind them sitting there for up to a day. Sometimes, I just feel like I don’t mind it as much – I don’t always see it as a nuisance (sometimes I even find it a bit relaxing), so why should I make him do it when it’s clear he really dislikes it? So I guess we maybe split the dishes like 10% him 90% me in the long run, unless I’m going through a stressful time and ask him to help with it more.

However, he does help out with things that he doesn’t enjoy doing. We don’t have laundry in our building so we drop it off a few blocks away and pick it up the next day or two. We agree for him to do it because neither of us likes it but it requires lugging a heavy cart up two flights of stairs on the way back.  He always makes the phone calls (deliveries, bill pay issues, troubleshooting, etc) and takes the trash out (down the stairs and around the building into the alley…fun).

He never cooks dinner for us both (maybe once a year he’ll make a tortilla pizza that he gets into), but I don’t cook when I don’t want to. He either makes himself something simple (his menu options are usually: ravioli; beans, cheese, tortillas; cereal and milk) or orders food. He’s a creature of habit so this is good enough for him. He never asks me what’s for dinner, and genuinely treats it as a special thing when I do make dinner, even when I do it as often as 2 or 3 times a week. But the rest of the time we just take care of ourselves for food. Sometimes if he wants something and I only sort of want it, I’ll agree to make it if he keeps me company in the kitchen, but he doesn’t help cook. We just talk while I do the work.

So our cake-cutting algorithm has led us to this, for most household chores: It likely won’t get done if I don’t ask for it to be done. Sometimes it’s done better and faster if I do it myself (cleaning bathroom, floors, dishes; cooking). But, he always acknowledges the work that I do, and would never, ever ask me to do any of it because he wanted it done. He says thanks when I do different things around the house, and I make sure to do the same for him, even when they’re small things. (i.e. Thanks sweetie for remembering to refill the ice cube trays!) This definitely helps us to avoid feeling unappreciated.

My point is, if you just look at what he does and what I do with regards to cooking and cleaning, it would seem uneven. But, we talk about it often enough, and he takes on some chores I don’t enjoy and runs various errands for us both. We’ve tried out arrangements where he did higher amounts of housework, but I was constantly being the household manager and it just didn’t feel right to me because it was adding stress. He always appreciates when I do do things and never minds or asks about them when I don’t do them, so up to now, this has worked for me.

A big thing is we don’t have kids yet, so who knows what will happen then?!

What is your household chore split up like, or if you live alone, what would you think is acceptable?

Safety….or lack thereof

There is now a sign on the outside of our apartment building bearing the symbol of the NYC Police Dept, with a clip-art picture of a cat burglar, warning us that there have been numerous apartment break-ins recently in the area and that tenants should be extra careful and reported any suspicious activity to 911.  We found this sign the day after one of our packages which had been left outside our apartment door (which they are NOT supposed to do) was opened when I found it.  Good thing it happened to be the package with the $10 cake caddy instead of the much more exciting video games that we are expecting to be delivered.  This was not the first time a package had merely been left on our doorstep – even those that require a signature are sometimes merely left outside our door or with a random neighbor whom we’ve never met.  But this was the first time that our suspicion, that this wasn’t safe here, was confirmed.  And then the very next day I see the sign on the building’s door. Lovely.  Perhaps we’d better start looking for some renter’s insurance, so at least we’ll be insured against theft.

Maternal Profiling

I wanted to share this, which was sent to me by MomsRising. This form of discrimination is one of the gender related discriminations that I see most strongly in the environment around me – I’m glad it’s finally getting some attention.

Maternal Profiling: A New York Times Buzzword

Written by Mary Olivella, Joan Blades, and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner

Every once in a while a word or phrase is introduced into the lexicon that sheds light on a widespread practice which hasn’t yet entered the national consciousness. These phrases take hold because we need them.

A few days ago, the New York Times listed a sampling of 2007’s newly coined buzzwords – words “that endured long enough to find a place in the national conversation.” Maternal Profiling was one of these. The New York Times defined it as:

“Employment discrimination against a woman who has, or will have, children. The term has been popularized by members of MomsRising, an advocacy group promoting the rights of mothers in the workplace.”

Credit is due to Cooper Monroe from MomsRising.org who coined the phrase to describe the profound bias mothers face in the workplace. The phrase has struck a cord at a broader level for all mothers who feel pegged and discriminated against whether in the labor force or as stay-at-home moms.

Maternal profiling is a term being used by the more than 140,000 (and growing) MomsRising.org activists who are bringing the concept into the public consciousness.

Although seldom discussed until fairly recently, maternal profiling is a significant and shared problem which negatively impacts vast numbers of women, particularly since a full 82% of American women become mothers by the time they are 44 years old.

The workplace impacts of maternal profiling are jaw dropping, especially given that three-quarters of American mothers are now in the workforce. In fact, the American Journal of Sociology recently reported a study which found that mothers are 79% less likely to be hired than non-mothers with equal resumes and job experiences.

Mothers also face steep wage hits and unequal wages for equal work. One study found that women without children make 90 cents to a man’s dollar, but women with children make only 73 cents to a man’s dollar. And single mothers make about 60 cents to a man’s dollar.

Even in well-paid positions, mothers face discrimination. A Cornell University study found that mothers were offered $11,000 less in starting pay than non-mothers with the same resumes and job experience, while fathers were offered $6,000 more in starting pay.

That same study also found that mothers were held to harsher work standards than non-mothers and were taken off the management track for reasons that were not justifiable when compared to the behavior of other workers.

The dirty little secret of the American workplace is that maternal profiling is alive and well and has been for a very long time. We just didn’t have words to label this form of discrimination.

The repercussions of this discrimination are far reaching and they are intricately linked with issues of poverty, a deficit of women in leadership positions, and the future of our country’s children.

A quarter of American families with children under six are living in poverty. Having a baby has been documented as a leading cause of “poverty spells” in our country — a time when income dips below what is needed for basic living expenses such as food and rent.

Right now, the vast majority of workplaces are still structured from the era when it was assumed that there was a wife at home full-time with the children–even though this has never been the case for many low-income families. The majority of women, of mothers, are in the workplace to stay now—and it increasingly takes two incomes to support a family.

The good news is that we know how to narrow these wage gaps and how to stop maternal profiling. Countries with family-friendly policies (such as paid family leave after the birth of a child and subsidized childcare) don’t have the same degree of maternal wage hits as we do here.

But we have work to do. It’s time to catch up. The United States lags far behind other countries when it comes to supporting families. For instance, Harvard researchers studied over 170 countries and found that the United States was one of only four nations without some form of national paid leave for new mothers. (The others were Liberia, Papua New Guinea and Swaziland.)

Unfortunately, so far only one state in our nation, California, provides for paid parental leave though Washington State will follow soon. The lack of paid family leave often causes parents to either quit much-needed jobs to care for their newborn (and thus lose their job-linked healthcare coverage), or else the financial hardship of living without paid leave drives women back to work earlier than they would have chosen. Yet when parents return to work, they face a chaotic and costly childcare system where the cost of care for two children can easily be upwards of $20,000 per year.

Then there’s the ever present question of what to do if you, or your child, gets sick. The absence of policies supporting a minimum number of paid sick days can force parents to choose between leaving a sick child at home alone, or staying home to care for their child and consequently losing income or possibly being fired. And, here too we lag behind other nations. Looking at the twenty countries with the top economies in the world, the United States is the only one that does not have a national minimum standard for paid sick days.

Given that we lag behind on family-friendly programs, it is not surprising that we also lag behind on the health of our children. Although we spend more per capita than any other country on healthcare, the United States is ranked a low 37th out of all the nations in respect to childhood mortality. International studies have shown that paid family leave policies decrease infant mortality by an impressive 25%.

All of the above is compounded by the fact that one in eight American children doesn’t have any health care coverage at all. (This is yet another area where we lag behind: The United States is the only industrialized nation which doesn’t have some form of universal health coverage).

It’s easy to see how having a baby in a nation without support for families could cause a downward financial spiral that lasts a lifetime—and how a lifetime of maternal discrimination can create a vicious cycle for the next generation.

We can solve these problems. We can end maternal profiling. American mothers and families are struggling, not because of an epidemic of personal failings, but because we need changes in our national policies, our workplaces, and our culture to reflect that women are in the workplace to stay and that the majority of them have children.

Women across the socioeconomic spectrum, and across the diverse backgrounds of all American families, are negatively impacted by maternal profiling. They (and many men) are becoming progressively more vocal about the need for our country to create family-friendly policies.

Another related phrase, “family responsibilities discrimination,” has been popularized by legal scholars such as Joan Williams to describe discrimination against employees who have care giving responsibilities. The Center for WorkLife Law has seen a 400% increase is such cases filed during 1996-2005 over the previous decade.

MomsRising.org was launched in 2006 to offer mothers and others an opportunity to collect and amplify our voices in order to bring about a cultural shift and policy changes in how our country treats mothers.

We can take the next step towards gender equity by ending maternal discrimination and by building a family-friendly America where having children does not create economic disparities for women. Just as the term sexual harassment transformed American workplaces, maternal profiling can contribute to creating workplaces that do not discriminate against mothers and other caregivers.

Maternal profiling – it’s as bad as it sounds. Let’s get rid of it.

Happy New Year!

Things to be happy about as we begin 2008:

  • A small thing that’s making me happy at the moment: Blogger finally changed the feature where you needed to be signed into google to comment on blogs – which made things difficult for me to comment since I had to sign in on my pseudonym and then got logged out of e-mail and calendar and reader under the name the I use for them. Now, I can use my WordPress ID on blogger comments!
  • Husband and I have survived a whole year of him supporting himself/us without a traditional full-time job.
  • We’re not piss-broke right now. We have enough money to eat, and drink, and join people for social outings…although there are still oodles of bills to be paid as well.
  • General health – no major sicknesses, and so far a year and a half since my skin cancer was removed and no new spots of skin cancer…as yet diagnosed anyhow. I do need to go get one checked that’s been bothering me lately.
  • My gym membership will be unfrozen in two weeks and I can start working out there again!
  • Husband and I are looking forward to another year full of love and family and fun and a wonderful, solid, supportive marriage!