NYTimes: The 10 Best Books of 2018

I haven’t read any of these and I’d like to try at least a couple (except for the last two, obviously, because yikes). Has anybody here read them and can recommend?


This kid is way too smart for her age. Today she told me in a very tragic voice, “We didn’t play at school at all today, mommy. No playing at all.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“We just cleaned up,” she said with a dramatic sigh. “This means you have to play a lot with me today, mommy. A lot!”

I do play with her a lot, by the way.

She’s only going to be 3 in February. I expected this at five, so it’s hilarious.

More Tales

And you can do this for other fairy tales. Cinderella is about sexual compatibility being stronger than anything else (the foot has to enter the shoe, which is the imagery of a sex act, perfectly.) Hansel and Gretel are about the devouring motherhood. Etc.

But it only works with traditional folk tales.

Snow White

Fairy tales help people work through archetypal conflicts. In Snow White, for instance, we see the eternal drama of a little girl discovering her womanhood.

A girl’s maturity threatens the position of the mother as the woman of the family. The girl feels that she is transgressing against the mother’s role by growing up. This is, of course, not the actual mother but the dark image of the mother, her negative shadow, which is why she’s called a stepmother in the story.

The girl hides from the wrath of the mother shadow in the company of the dwarves who represent miniature, incomplete, non-threatening masculinity because she’s not ready yet to engage with real, fully grown masculinity. The mother shadow tries to subvert her growing up with the traditional markers of domesticated femininity, clothes, mirror and food. Food is what manages to thwart the girl’s growth because it returns her to the earliest, pre-genital stage of development.

Finally, the prince awakens her with a kiss, which symbolizes the awakening of adult femininity that completes her growth.

I’m writing all these trivialities because I just heard in TV how the fairy tale is evil because the prince kisses Snow White (the name screams to the skies that this is a female coming-of-age story, by the way) without consent. This is very dumb because the point is precisely that sexual awakening happens outside of our willpower or reason.

Birds of a Language

After the workout, I and one other woman who missed Monday’s challenge activity stay to catch up. We are both exhausted and are going listlessly through the motions. In the midst of the activity, we discover that we both speak Spanish. As a result, we lose track of time and keep doing the activity energetically long past the timer goes off.

“What happened to you, guys?” the trainer asks. “Suddenly you are both on fire!”

“She speaks Spanish!!!” we yell excitedly in unison.

Parenting Hack

Yesterday in the bathtub Klara refused to brush her teeth. Arguing with toddlers is a complete waste of time, so I said, “Hey, let’s brush teeth with toes!” I put a bit of baby toothpaste on her toes and she had a ball brushing her teeth with toes. The whole thing was so funny and put her in such a good mood that she easily agreed to brush her teeth with a toothbrush and real toothpaste after that.


After the Ph.D. one gets to spend five years in a gut wrenching struggle for tenure. Publish or perish is sometimes publish and perish. For those who become tenured here is some of what lies ahead: comprehensive annual assessments and five year post tenure reviews; the often brutal politics of academic departments; educating ill prepared students most of whom are merely going through the motions; working like a dog to publish scholarly material no one will read; endless committee work that will have virtually zero impact on the quality of the academic enterprise …

It’s infantile moaners like these that poison academic life. I probably have tougher working conditions than this dumbazoid but I haven’t encountered absolutely anything “gut-wrenching, brutal, perishing, dog-like, or endless” in academia.

What I don’t get is, if you hate it so much and feel brutalized and gut-wrenched all the time, then why not go do something else? Life is short and there are probably many people who want your job and would love doing it.

Also, if you work with people – students and colleagues – how is it fair or honorable to inflict yourself on them in this mental state? Students pay for their education. Many of them get themselves in debt to be in your classroom. And you are selling them this rotten attitude and this extreme contempt for them and for academia. This is disgraceful. Not even in the darkest time of my life did I indulge in the need to feel this sorry for myself.

There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that this spoiled little whiner has experienced no bigger hardship in life than “gut-wrenching committee work.” God, it’s annoying.

“Mwah, mwah, poor little me, I got tenure and I have to do some work, what a tragedy.” Disgusting.