Saturday, July 11, 2009

American Dream by DeParle

I just finished reading American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle.

Wow. What an amazing book. DeParle is a reporter for the New York Times, and in American Dream he follows three families off the welfare rolls as the U.S. transitioned from AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children - a federal program of welfare) to TANFF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - state run programs of welfare). The three families are essentially single parent households headed by Jewell, Angie, and Opal. Sometimes they have live-in boyfriends, but definitely no full-time fathers or husbands. DeParle looks at their stories from the legislative angle of Bill Clinton's policy decision, the bureaucracy angle of Wisconsin's management of the new responsibility, from the historical angle of the Caples clan that were once slaves on a Mississippi plantation, and from the cultural angle of what it's like to be a black single mother on welfare.

This book is expansive!

Jason DeParle is an incredible journalist. He is the real deal. Man, if it weren't for the New York Times.

Also, he's married to Nancy-Ann DeParle, Obama's Health Reform czar.

So, it's not a cheerful read, by any means, but it's a well-written and very important book that has helped me to gain a better understanding of how U.S. policy on poverty has evolved in the last couple of decades. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Dress Pursuit

I gotta say, the Bandha experiment didn't work out too well. The dress came in the mail, I put it on, and my husband's response was, "Um... you're not going to like it." My husband is the best. He is so smart. I value his honesty way more than I can accurately describe.

The dress has gone back. It made me look like a Mormon, and that's just not a look I ever want for myself.

In other fashion news, I am watching the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and it's triggering major fashion flashbacks. Figures, since it aired in 1997, the year I graduated high school. The tiny black skirts always worn with tall black boots, the perfect mini-dresses, the unique overcoats, the white tees with cutesy screen-prints. She was totally copping some riot grrl tendencies, wasn't she? I can clearly recall longing for the perfect dress that didn't cling too much, but just enough, and that would make my legs look miles long.

Le sigh.

Different day, different dress, same searching.