OFFICIAL BLOG

Fieldnotes

Photo of the Day, Manhattan

Published by Wednesday Martin
If you live in an “attended” building in Manhattan–one with doormen and elevator operators –and even if you don’t, you are tipping big time right about now.
If you live in an “attended” building in Manhattan–one with doormen and elevator operators –and even if you don’t, you are tipping big time right about now.

The holidays are here. In Manhattan, many members of the tribe I study go away on a "winter break vacation." These vacations come in two varieties: ski and warm. Popular ski destinations include Aspen, Jackson Hole, Deer Valley, Sun Valley and St. Moritz. Popular Caribbean and warm weather winter break destinations include Anguilla, Turks & Caicos, Half Moon Resort in Jamaica and the One & Only Ocean Club in the Bahamas. If you are a glutton for punishment you might take your kids to Atlantis. Some people in the tribe I study do a "double" vacation over the winter or spring holiday — a week of warm weather vacation somewhere in the Caribbean and a week of skiing. Talk about over the top. Members of the tribe of Manhattan parents I study are currently packing, packing, packing and happy, happy, happy. At parties, everyone seems more relaxed and friendly than usual. But they're still also busy as can be. As any parent (let's get real, it's the mothers who do it) knows, it's not easy to pack yourself and your kids.


Why Do We Send Photo Portraits of our Kids for the Holidays?

Published by Wednesday Martin
These contemporary artifacts demonstrate that children, our most precious possessions, are on display during the holidays
These contemporary artifacts demonstrate that children, our most precious possessions, are on display during the holidays

Across the country, it's holiday time. That means holiday cards. These cards often highlight family and particularly children. Usually the card itself is a family portrait, or a portrait of the kids. Ever wonder why? (article continues on psychologytoday.com)


"Sorry!" Cats from 30 Pounds in Shoreditch; Snow in Manhattan

Published by Wednesday Martin

One of my favorite British-isms is "Sorry!" When I first started spending time in London, I noticed it was used all kinds of ways I wasn't used to. For example, being American, it took me a while to get the hang of walking to the left rather than the right, so I was frequently in someone's way on the sidewalk. "Sorry!" they would say, meaning, "You're in my way." It's more polite than the thing New Yorkers say in the same situation: we issue an exasperated, angry "Excuse me?!" which is not much of a euphemism for "Effingmove it!" Other times in England "Sorry!" is used if you make a mistake, to simultaneously acknowledge and gloss over the social awkwardness. "Sorry!" the flawless concierge at our hotel would say if I knocked a pen off the counter. That sort of meant, "Sorry that happened and rather than ignoring it, which would be potentially even more awkward, I'm going to sort of take responsibility for it myself." As we rushed to get on our plane at the end of our trip, I "bumped queue after queue" simply shouting over my shoulder, "Our flight is leaving, sorry!" In this context it meant, "Thanks for understanding my boorishness." Thank goodness someone has written cogently on the the uses of "sorry" in British idiom. I love this hilarious piece, "A Poor Apology for a Word" by Henry Hitchings in the New York Times.


Photo of the Day, London

Published by Wednesday Martin
A “children’s table” would be a foreign concept in many cultures, where separate spheres for kids and grown ups do not exist. I loved watching these boys and their mums enjoying themselves, adjacent, apart, yet together, at a cafe in South Kensington
A “children’s table” would be a foreign concept in many cultures, where separate spheres for kids and grown ups do not exist. I loved watching these boys and their mums enjoying themselves, adjacent, apart, yet together, at a cafe in South Kensington

As I sat working in a cafe in South Ken, this group of four mothers and six boys came in. The boys seemed to be eight or nine years old. Maybe it's because I'm the mother of two boys....but I love mother/son outings and was drawn to ask the "mums" if I could photograph them all. I explained that I was a social researcher from New York City who studies childhood and motherhood (obviously I'm not a photographer), in London doing a little fieldwork.


Fieldwork in London

Published by Wednesday Martin

I'm always excited to be in London. Londoners are interested in reading and in relationships, which makes it a great place for authors and social researchers who focus on families (ahem). And for a New Yorker, there's the extra benefit that London feels familiar, yet different. The building height restrictions in most of town, plus the horizontal sprawl (versus the density and upward lift of Manhattan) make it feel inviting, homey and manageable. Yet London is as diverse and cosmopolitan a metropole as you will find anywhere in the world, rivaling Our Town when it comes to incredible restaurants, theater, cafe culture, fashion innovation and self-important hustle and bustle. Currently there's a show about 80's fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum that I loooooved. It's called  Club to Catwalkand it immerses you in the 80s London club and fashion scene in a way that's both informative and very emotional, if you experienced it the first time around.


Mothers to Star Magazine: Fu*k Off!

Published by Wednesday Martin
It’s open season on mothers. Especially ones in the spotlight.
It’s open season on mothers. Especially ones in the spotlight.

I used to think our national sport was football. Then I had children. And learned very quickly that in fact, our national sport is judging mothers. It starts early in the process. From the moment I conceived, it seemed, everybody had an opinion about what I ate, what I wore, what I should do. Much of it was well-intentioned--advice about how to handle morning sickness was something I really appreciated. I did NOT appreciate being told by one woman that "I was always too busy to have morning sickness." Nor did I appreciate child birth educators telling me that having an epidural would make me a bad mother.


Dior and Chanel — High Art?

Published by Wednesday Martin

In an era of multinational conglomerates controlling dozens of fashion brands, and designers designing for more than one house, or moving from one to the other, what is a fashion brand? What is a fashion designer? And how and why do women choose the ones they do?