Wednesday, June 30

126 Days to Go

Today marks my twenty-second week of pregnancy. Up to this point things have gone like gangbusters, but I will say that as my belly expands I'm beginning to get a preview of the rougher road ahead. Aside from feeling like an anorexic (yet ever-swelling) version of the Venus of Willendorf, my only trouble has been with my allergies. Thankfully the sinus and respiratory irritations have been minor compared with what they have been in the past, but I will admit that the accompanying sinus headaches can hit me pretty hard and Tylenol just isn't up to the task. Given the woeful inadequacy of pregnancy-friendly solutions, it looks like my only option is to tough it out. Here's hoping the pollen count doesn't skyrocket and wreak real misery and havoc in the next four months!
Venus of Willendorf (22,000-21,000 BCE)

At work things are shifting into summer gear--a welcome change that means the end of school groups for a few months and, this year, the close of the Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire exhibition. As interesting and new as it has been to have Aztec art at the Villa, I am delighted to see it go. The public was especially anxious for tours of this exhibition, and that demand has made for a crazy few months. Plus, as much as I love history of all kinds, my true knowledge base lies in the ancient Mediterranean and that background is what allows me to add the nuance and analysis that takes my teaching to the next level.

As things return to normal at work and downshift into summer mode, I'm hoping for a quiet summer at work and the opportunity to exploit what remains of my second trimester before the fall and all it will bring with it arrives. I plan to get out and make the most of summer and the ability to tie my sneakers by myself as long as I can.

Friday, June 25

What Do You See?

Even before I started teaching at the Villa, this statue (pictured below) was always one of my favorite artifacts in the museum. Now I don't have any sort of attachment to the Neolithic period, but I do think the glimpses into the distant past that artifacts like this one offer are rather fascinating. It's also somewhat liberating to talk about artifacts from a time for which we have no written records. The lack of sources from these ancient people explaining or offering us insight as to who or what this object represents means there will always be a mystery about it. Given that freedom, I usually kick off my conversation with visitors by inviting them to take a thoughtful look at the piece and ask, "What do you see?" Frankly, I think the answer is pretty obvious--just show this to any junior high kid and see what kind of reaction you get--but in most cases people are shy about discussing sex with a group of strangers. They all want to have their curiosity satisfied, but no one wants to be the one to ask.

So, what do I see? I see a hermaphroditic deity. The museum curators have chosen to identify this figure as a "fertility goddess"--an identification that focuses on the double entendre of breasts and vulva in the center of the statue and the squatting position of the legs. (Way back when, women squatted to give birth. Really, if you think about it, squatting makes much more sense--you want to work with gravity, not against it by laying on your back.) However, the curatorial explanation of the object as well as an academic article I found which specifically discusses this statue completely ignore what I consider to be the patently obvious phallic head and neck of the statue. If you take those features into consideration, I think it's a lot harder to think of this figure as simply female. Just taking into account what we can see, I think it's quite probable this deity was meant to represent both male and female. If it is the case that this statue is meant to represent, not just the creative power of the female, but the combined creative power of male and female, it likely would have made the image a much more potent and effective one from the perspective of its ancient worshipers.

Of course my analysis of this prehistoric object is just as subject to debate as that of the curators, but at least it doesn't ignore the obvious!

Cypriot fertility deity, 3000-2500 BCE

Monday, June 21

Meet Baby Wells

Today was the mid-pregnancy anatomical ultrasound. The doctor checked out the baby from head to toe, and everything looks great--anatomy, size, and development are spot on for where we are in the pregnancy. The doctor was also able to determine the sex. There's no doubt in her mind, she said--we have a baby boy.

As Sam Beckett would say...Oh, boy!

Wednesday, June 16

A New Post--Finally!

Well, I'm back after a few months of a kind of cyber-hiatus. There were a variety of reasons for it, not the least of which being that the first few months of pregnancy are no picnic. During that time I lost all motivation for blogging, Facebooking, twittering, you name it. Unplugging for awhile actually proved to be restful, and I'm now ready to rejoin the 21st century (I think). Based on all of the inquiries I've received over the past months, it seems there are people who actually read my posts and have been especially anxious to hear how things are going now that Eric and I are parents-to-be.

So, friends and family, allow me to bring you up to speed. At the moment I am five months along. If you do the math, that means I am halfway through. Baby Wells' expected arrival is sometime around November 3rd. All things considered, everything has gone extremely well. The doctor says the baby is doing great and so am I. All indications are that we will be welcoming a healthy baby into the world come November. We'll know more in the next week when we have the more detailed "anatomical" ultrasound, at which point we also may be able to determine the sex of the baby. So, check back again next week--I may have some notable news to report.

Yesterday at Disneyland--five months and counting...