Sep. 8th, 2014 09:11 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
I am tireless in trying to teach the Junebug public transportation etiquette. No, that's not true. I am extremely tired but nonetheless almost completely relentless in teaching the Junebug public transportation etiquette. I don't care if I've spent all day working flat out on deadlines plus Rocket is strapped to me screaming and trying to pull the Junebug's hair while the Junebug tries to go through my purse. You will nonetheless see me somehow manifesting extra arms to hold a tiny jacket, pat a baby, block him from grabbing his brother's hair, and still keep the Junebug from kicking you, all while bouncing gently and whisper-singing "The Wheels On The Bus". Because I genuinely believe in being a good bus citizen.

Unless you're lavaballing it. Then you will see me beatifically watching as the Junebug wriggles around and puts his filthy shoes - shoes which walk through seven straight blocks of soup kitchen detritus, fast food wreckage, and hobo fluids, every single day, by the way - all over your pants. He will innocently kick you for ten stops or until you move your damn leg over and I will calmly smile.


Sep. 8th, 2014 05:47 am
metaphortunate: (wonderful)
Last night, for the very first time ever, Rocket slept through the night without a snack! We got to bed late, but 10 1/2 hours without nursing!

Me, I woke up in the middle of the night to go throw up because apparently life will have its little joke (probably food poisoning NOT pregnancy), but still. STILL. A new vista of sleep stretches before us.
metaphortunate: (Default)
I've been trying to expand my musical horizons lately: break out of my rut, not be that person who only likes the stuff they liked when they were 17. I mean, I will always love me some butt rock, but why stagnate? So I've been trying different things, on the child feeding principle that you have to try things three or four times before you really know if you like them.

It turns out I enjoy opera! Quite a bit! I guess that's not so surprising considering how much I have always loved prog metal. And I have started listening to country, and discovered that there is a lot to like. One thing about country that especially speaks to me these days: there's a lot of country songs about kids and childrearing. Everything from the sentimentality of "There Goes My Life" or "He Didn't Have To Be" to the bitter humor of "One's On The Way".

And I have also been listening to hip-hop, and before anyone brings up the ~misogyny~ of hip-hop let me tell you a little story about Ray LaMontagne. Because Spotify served me up a Ray LaMontagne song on my country radio - Spotify, by the way, is fantastic if you want to listen to new music! - a quiet, beautiful song called "Like Rock and Roll & Radio" that I immediately fell wildly in love with. I must hear more of this, I thought. So I pulled up the album, started from the beginning, and on the first song the singer expresses his intent to beat his ex-girlfriend like he says her father should have. Your sensitive white people folk music, ladies and gentlemen! It turns out that I am completely used to a certain level of misogyny in my music, that I just grimly live with, and staying under that level, well, it's not hard. Plenty of rap music turns out to easily clear that bar.

But because I'm sort of off sausage fests these days anyway, I went looking for female hip hop artists, and that's what I've been listening to lately. And I've learned a couple of things.

I can get into Angel Haze's flow or Rah Digga's energy as much as I like, but I can never, ever, ever sing along with any of their music. And some of that shit is catchy! This is a problem! This is worse than the time I found myself singing "Uncle Fucker" under my breath at work! And it is, to me, a KEEP OUT sign placed all over the music.

For which I do not in any way blame the artists, mind you: considering that the entire history of music in America is the history of black people coming up with musical forms and white people coming up with ways to take them over and make money off of them, if I were a talented black MC, I would spraypaint THIS IS OUR SHIT, EVERYONE ELSE KEEP OUT all over my work in any way possible.

And, again, I'm totally used to spending all my time playing in other people's sandboxes. For example. Prog metal. Completely infested by the kinds of guys who, as Neal Stephenson wrote, sincerely believe that they are way too smart to be sexist. Let's take a moment to revisit Queensryche's classic concept album Operation: Mindcrime, musically a work of genius, lyrically an unintentionally hilarious celebration of manpain which reaches its nadir when the main character finds the dead body of his beloved, his only friend, the ex-hooker nun who's been providing him social services, and tearfully, rhetorically asks who's going to fix his meals now. …Yeah. Well, that was the soundtrack of my adolescence, so I'm totally used to enjoying music that has enormous IT'S NOT FOR YOU signs plastered all over it. It's not a dealbreaker. I'm happy to live with it. But I don't stop noticing it, either.

I know hip-hop deals with as many subjects as any other musical genre, but the playlists I am checking out, they seem to be hitting the high points. And the most popular songs in the genre, by female artists, seem to overwhelmingly be about: 1) being sexy at the club; and 2) triumphing over other bitches. And that's not speaking to me. I'm lucky enough to be at a point in my life where I don't really have any bitches that I need to triumph over. Like, not personally. There are lots of people I wish would just die, but that's more for political reasons. And as far as being sexy at the club, I can't remember the last time I was at a club; and I can remember the last time I was sexy, and it was right around when I got pregnant with Rocket, and that was a pretty long time ago in terms of that sort of thing, and I'm not sure that I'll ever be sexy again. And it turns out that listening to all these songs about triumphing at sexy are making me feel worse about myself, in the way of "don't read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly."

Hey, speaking, of which, I have a question: how do you deal with the end of sexy? If you are a member of the sex class, that is the person in the relationship whose body's power of attraction is meant to create desire not only in your partner but also in yourself ("I have to imagine he is fucking you just so I can climax"): how do you deal with it if your looks, your power of attraction, such as it ever may have been, is gone, but you are in what is meant to be a sexual relationship and you would kind of like it to continue as such? Do me a favor and leave aside completely the question of whether this is relevant to me at this very moment. No, I'm serious. If we're lucky enough to live long, if we're lucky enough to have lovers if we want them, it will become relevant if it's not now. I'm not gonna age like Helen Mirren or whoever, I'm gonna age like an ordinary person without massive amounts of plastic surgery, and that means I'm gonna age more like those mysterious things you eventually unearth with horror in the back of the fridge. So how do you have a sexual relationship when your body contains all the sexual magic of old Gorgonzola? Do you decide that it's the other person's turn to be sexy? Can you both just decide that? Do you keep the lights off forever now? Do you try to create a sexual narrative that doesn't include sexiness? How do you do that? Help me figure it out, y'all, I found a white armpit hair in the shower this morning, I need some damn songs about that.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
1) "I'm the mama! I'm the mama now. I will sit in the rocking chair. I want to hold Rocket. I will give him yoms [noms, which means nursing. - ed] I want you to put Rocket on my lap and he is hungry so I will give him yoms."

[pause, look down]

"Where are my boobs?"

2) While riding his push bike, talking about something, which I didn't quite catch: I caught up to him as he was finishing with "And so that's why Rocket needs a parent."

Me: Rocket has parents! I'm his parent, and daddy is his parent.

Junebug: Yeah, and I'm his owner!


Aug. 5th, 2014 09:08 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
Well she's been parodied by Weird Al now, so that's it: it's all been said, and you can skip the rest of this. Nonetheless, I don't care that this post is a year late: I need to talk about Lorde's Pure Heroine, because I'm obsessed with it, I've barely been able to listen to anything else lately. Listen: imagine if Leonard Cohen got reincarnated as a 16-year-old female Kanye West and Lana Del Rey fan from the suburbs of New Zealand. I mean, I know I don't know shit about music, but compare "Everybody Knows" to "Buzzcut Season": isn't it the same airless, ironic, elegant pop fatalism? What about "First We Take Manhattan" and "Glory and Gore": that arch, overtly erotic charade of aggression? Not saying all her songs hit the level of Cohen's best, but…she was 15 when she wrote "Royals". I'm so curious about what she'll come up with next.

Ask A Man

Aug. 1st, 2014 11:38 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
May I recommend to you Ask A Man. (A personal favorite, to start with.)

From the description:
Stephen Shaughnessy is a Certified Man who lives in England in 1882. He answers questions on tumblr through the strangest of black magics, which he does not choose to explain here.
But Stephen Shaughnessy first saw the light of day as a helpful guy in the pages of The Suffragette Scandal, by Courtney Milan, currently $3.99 on Amazon Kindle:
It has come to the attention of the editorial staff that our newspaper, with its determination to be "by women, about women, and for women," cannot possibly impress anyone as we lack the imprimatur of a man to validate our thoughts. To that end, we have procured an Actual Man to answer questions. Please address all inquiries to Man, care of Women's Free Press, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. - F.M.
I know people who scoff at the idea of comfort reading. Which is fine: you don't have to like all the things I like. Though I will note by the way that a number of you have sources of comfort in basically all of your reading that not all of us have. Representation, of course; and the characters who represent you not having mysteriously gone llama. The subtle reinforcement of the social pyramid is a nearly unnoticeable source of comfort to those of us on top! But, you know, that's cool, like I said, you don't have to like romance novels or anything like that, and it's not like Milan is immune to it in her own ways. If you're not into femme stuff, or fluff, peace out now; I want to talk about Courtney Milan, and her books are romance, and fluff, and they are the best fluff ever and if you like this sort of thing you need to read these. NOW.

Here is the key to the joy of Courtney Milan, helpfully summed up in the title of one of her very own novellas:
The Lady Always Wins
Remember when I wrote about Georgette Heyer?
Hugo wants Anthea and Anthea wants Hugo, that is a fact. But in the way their conflict is set up - the classic way that courtship is set up - if Hugo is cleverer than Anthea, Hugo and Anthea get each other, and if Anthea is cleverer than Hugo, neither of them gets to be happy. What's Anthea's motivation to be clever, or funny, or effective, or wise, when doing it gets her punished instead of rewarded?
Oh my God, Heyer is funny and fun, but all of her heroines (but Sophy! Go, Sophy) have to accept their proposals in tears, reposing on the manly bosoms of men who have masculinely rescued them and corrected them and sorted out their lives, because God knows the women were making a dog's breakfast of them. Elizabeth is so very Wrong about Darcy and Wickham (Darcy needs to be less of a dickhead, but he's not Wrong about Elizabeth's family being jerks, because: jerks.) Marianne is Wrong about, uh, everything, and needs to nearly die and admit that she is just so goddamn emotional and wrong before "by general consent" she can become the reward of everyone's obligations to Colonel Brandon. Jo is Wrong about wanting to be a boy and a writer and not marry and she needs to stop writing all that awful trash that they put in newspapers! where kids can read it! and marry a much older man (all covered in crumbs, obviously) and start a Boys' School where she can teach Boys and have Boys because Boooooooooys, fuck it.

(In these days of the 50 Shades trailer coming out and everyone falling all over themselves to go on about how awful it is that women just keep throwing their wallets at that crap, I'd like to take a moment to say that I haven't read 50 Shades, but I have read Twilight now, and I saw the movie, and my understanding of the rest of them is that it kind of boils down to this:

Bella: Damn, you are hot.
Edward: You are also hot and fascinating, and I would like to spend eternity hearing about your favorite bands, but I can never be with you because I am too sexy and powerful and dangerous!
Bella: Wow, really? I would like to have a sexy powerful dangerous boyfriend who thinks I am hot and fascinating. Incidentally, I would also like to MYSELF be this sexy powerful dangerous thing.
Edward: No, I can't! It's too dangerous!
Bella: And sexy and powerful?
Edward: Maybe.
Plot: [Occurs.]
Bella: [Gets every single thing she wants.]
Bella: Huh, this is what I used to want, and what I tried to get, and now that I have it…I'm really happy and pleased with my undeath choices. Plus we even have a magical daughter who was sleeping through the night 30 minutes after she was born. Let's make out!
[makeouts] [interrupted by wrestling mountain lions and punching a dude who used to kiss her without permission]


Anyway, Courtney Milan, back to her: it's like a romance novel, with the focus on women, and the comfort reading style, and the sexy parts, but without the bit where the women are doing everything Wrong and the men swoop in and correct them. Instead, the women are doing various other things! Sometimes they are not daring to let themselves be great and they need someone to encourage them to be great. Sometimes they are in a tough situation but they meet someone else who is in a tough situation and they find ways that they can help each other. Sometimes they are in a tough situation but they meet someone who needs help and that gives them an idea for a way in which they can help the other person and also themselves. Sometimes they meet someone who is Wrong and just needs his ass kicked. Sometimes, although in minor parts, they are lesbians. They're pretty cute about it!

And the lady. Always. Wins.

And Milan is seriously just getting better and better. Like she says: don't start with the Carhart series - unless, going back to representation, you would cry with gratitude to read a happy ending romance novel about a good person who happens to be struggling with what looks like bipolar, in which case you want Trial by Desire. But every book she has published is better than the one before. Last year I was raving about The Countess Conspiracy, because Ms. Milan knows what unspeakable desire really lurks in the hearts of women: a powerful, sexy man who is devoted to the dream of getting his beloved her rightful principal investigator status on her published scientific discoveries and then becoming a faculty husband.

But The Suffragette Scandal is even better.

So read it.

If you like that sort of thing.


Jul. 29th, 2014 01:54 pm
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Q: How was your vacation?

A: Ten days eight timezones away, with me and Mr. E plus both kids plus the in-laws, every single one of us getting sick, except me who was sick when I left, stayed sick the entire time because you can’t get better when you don’t get any sleep, and am still sick? Staying in a B&B so filthy there were actually insects in the bed, because there literally wasn't another free pair of rooms in town, so we came home to do a full bedbug decontamination on all our stuff instead of resting? That vacation?

Q: Yeah, that one.

A: Well, first let me say that I recognize that I am a very lucky woman. I’m in a position to take a vacation, which not everyone is. And I’m lucky that I have in-laws who are willing to pay their own way to come on vacation with us just to hang out with the grandkids, without which I honestly do not know what I would have done; because even with them, two days into it I would have cracked and tried to change our plane tickets to come back home right away, but I couldn’t because I was too sick to fly. And I’m lucky to have two kids who have such vibrant good basic health that even when they develop a 3-pack-a-day cough and pour snot out like giant ambulatory faucets, it doesn’t sap their energy or slow them down in any way. And hey! The baby is clever enough that at just over 10 months, he has worked out that he can avoid having his nose wiped, which he hates, by smearing his face all over our shirts the moment he feels snot on his face!

So all in all, vacation was absolutely better than childbirth, I would say. Though it did last longer. And I might even be willing to take another vacation again someday.

Not, like, soon, though.
metaphortunate: (Default)
More on Snowpiercer, about which I was saying that it ruined our date night because I talked Mr. E into seeing it and then spent the rest of the night apologizing.

The biggest problem for me is that director Bong Joon-ho says that the whole film is about Curtis’ journey, and Curtis’s journey is so aggressively uninteresting to me that it actually caused me emotional pain every time it was made impossible for me to ignore it. Beautiful snowscapes! Gorgeous art deco train design! Picturesquely Mad Maxian gutters and tatters! Tilda Swinton’s hilariously cringing amoral functionary! Nihilistically hot Song Kang-ho SORRY no more time for any of that it’s time to FOCUS ON MANPAIN. Movie starts, you see the tallest white dude in steerage, he has beautifully lit blue eyes, a slightly shorter white dude looking worshipfully at him and telling him how cool he is, and an aged white dude (John Hurt, thriftily reusing the beard from Only Lovers Left Alive) Obi-Wanning his way through a short speech about how Tall Dude Must Lead. Oh my god. Oh my god, I do not care about this dude’s destiny. I hate him, I hate his destiny, I hate his conflict, such as it is, I hate his supposed character arc, I hate his face. I hate the fact that obviously the movie is about him because OF COURSE IT IS. He’s Captain America, incidentally. Of course he is.

Spoilers, such as they are. )

The opening titles were amazing though. Truly we are living in a golden age of film title sequences.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
I forgot to mention that my mom was here for a week and the Junebug asked "Why?" so many times that he actually broke her. He actually did. My mom, who could be usefully visualized as some sort of unstoppable grandmother Dalek force going "APPRECIATE. APPRECIATE." about her grandkids, and everything they do is delightful, or at least completely understandable, and any problems or acting up are due to their heartless parents unreasonably demanding that they get up, go to bed, eat, use the potty, catch a train, get in their car seat, put on their shoes, etc...Even my mother finally turned to me and said "You and your brother never asked 'Why?' this much. NEVER." And then she looked kind of haunted and repeated the way the Junebug sing-songs "WhyyYYYyyy?", and shook her head.

I felt somewhat vindicated.

3 years

Jul. 3rd, 2014 09:44 pm
metaphortunate: (Default)
My 9 month old has mastered leaning back against my arm and tipping his head back when I rinse his hair so as not to get water in his eyes. This still eludes my 3 year old.

I mean, I guess I can see it. Leaning back, trusting me to hold him up, keeping his eyes closed - that’s kind of a trust exercise, right? Mama could do anything! Mama could shove walruses up his nose! An innocent toddler could be sitting there in the bath squeezing his eyes shut and suddenly - walruses! In the nose! Much better apparently to freak out for maximum splashing and cry the entire time.

So yeah, I have a 3 year old now. Dear God, kid birthday parties are a pain in the ass. You do have to invite either no daycare kids or all the daycare kids. And you have to give them all presents because apparently the under 3 feet crowd is easily confused with hobbits. And sure, you buy like some bubbles and some cheap plastic crap, but you invite 20 kids and suddenly that adds up.

In the end it was a successful party though. We had it in the park. Arrival went like this:

1) Kid and at least one parent show up
2) Kid begins silently, grimly clinging to parent’s leg
3) Parent apologetically swears that kid was very excited just a second ago and was talking about the party all the way there
4) Kid cannot be dislodged for 5 or 10 minutes, despite offers of tempting balls to kick or hit with a bat, snacks, a kite, or friends
5) Kid tentatively goes after a ball
6) Kid becomes a blur of motion that periodically slows into focus to ask for a cupcake. This lasts for the rest of the party

Invariable process. We had very few meltdowns, and I think the Junebug had a good time, so: win.

Daycare is closed this week. Mom came to visit this week to help out. The Junebug adores her, so, you know, that’s great. If you’re on Twitter, you already heard this, but: now I get to hear the stories of how when she was a new mom, my dad’s mom came to visit, and what a pain in the ass she was. And I knew my Abuelita Y was a character, but damn.

Apparently Abuelita Y did this EC thing where she always put my dad on the potty while she nursed him? Which [ profile] rightkindofme says she did too, so it must be possible, but frankly I have a hard time visualizing it and would like some diagrams. Anyway, it seems Abuelita came to visit and harassed my mom until she tried it but OH MY GOD NO. She also decided to get up in my mom’s business about how much money they were ~wasting~ on the laundromat - since they didn’t have a washer - and she made my mom wash all our clothes by hand in the tub while she was there. Apparently Abuelita helpfully held baby me while my mom was doing this.

So I’ve got it easy, really.
metaphortunate: (Default)
When you see a person who is visibly pregnant, you feel:
  • vaguely grossed out and embarrassed for her, as though you were seeing someone loudly hawk up phlegm or perform some other unattractive and probably sticky biological function in public.
  • a protective tenderness. You want to offer her a seat, or get her a snack, or stand between her and the person who’s about to try to touch her belly.
  • a creeping biological horror, as if watching a video of Cordyceps fungus infesting an ant, changing its behavior, killing it, and erupting from the back of its head.
  • like giving her a high-five!
  • a strange, slight jealousy. You don’t want to be pregnant; and yet.
  • an impotent terror, as if watching someone trip and fall towards a counter and reflexively put out their hand down into the sink where a garbage disposal is running. You want to shriek NOOOO! STOP! and you know it is far, far too late.
  • welcoming. Another member has joined the club; you’ll have so much to talk about, and now there will be someone else who always has wet wipes that you can borrow.
  • a jealousy so strong it tastes bitter. If she already has children, you might have to just look away; keep your face still.
  • pleased that you might have found someone who could use your outgrown newborn clothes, or baby swing.
  • irrationally terrified that she might break her water or throw up or something and you’ll have to deal with it.

  • "Better you than me, sister."


Jun. 14th, 2014 11:13 pm
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Mr. E and the Junebug were out to the East Coast for family stuff for a couple of days, and here’s the thing. Once you’re used to two kids? Taking care of just one baby who isn’t even crawling yet is like:

Like, what the fuck was even my problem when the Junebug was this age and I thought my life was soooo haaaaaaaard. Whatever. Hung out with [personal profile] laurashapiro today, and basically had uninterrupted adult conversation except periodically I got to blow a raspberry on a baby to make him giggle. Glorious.

One of my mom’s friends has a gay kid, which my mom knows because he’s out on Facebook, which she thinks is “just wrong” and I think “literally what the fuck else is Facebook for,” and talking to her about this stuff is always such a trip because the basic assumptions are just so far apart. Like, she’s telling me that this couple with the gay son, sometimes they’ll be watching TV, you know Univision, and some cross-dressing comedian will come on and the dad will get furious because he hates it. And I’m trying to clear it up, and I literally cannot figure out whether the dad is angry because the comedian is making fun of trans people/gay people/men in women’s clothing, or whether he’s angry simply because a man in a dress is on his television reminding him that actual trans/gay/crossdressing people exist. No amount of questioning can elicit a straight (sorry!) answer. And by the way, yes that is all one thing in their world, you are just talking about dudes who act like ladies or vice versa. If you try to explain that transgender, gayness, and crossdressing are not the same thing, you get met with a sort of blank stare like “look, I’m sure sparrows can tell each other apart, but what the fuck is the difference to humans?” Ah, family.

Speaking of gayness, I am completely over Jane Austen adaptations, which makes me angry that I just realized that what would be completely awesome would be a lesbian Pride & Prejudice AU, where Darcy is a girl - named Darcy - who stands around Firthing and resisting Elizabeth’s charms not because Elizabeth is broke and her mom’s intolerable but because Darcy is desperately clinging to straightness and refuses to admit that she’s fallen in love with a girl. Best part: the title? PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Come on, that title is a million times better for the lesbian AU than it is for the original!
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Thursday when I was home sick I decided to start watching Orphan Black, since I hear so many good things about it. And then I was totally unable to because Netflix doesn’t stream it. (Which is just infuriating, because I can stream something Mr. E isn’t interested in watching, but if I get a DVD Mr. E isn’t interested in watching, then I’m blocking him from getting any more DVDs until I watch it, which in the case of a whole 6 episode disc could be a year at this point, which is an unreasonable length of time to prevent Mr. E from getting another DVD.) Anyway, I wasted some time being frustrated about that, and then I decided to watch some more Orange is the New Black. I got up to episode 3 season 1. (I know everyone else is up to season 2. That’s how fast I watch TV shows.) It’s really good! Looking forward to getting the chance to watch ep 4.

Anyway, I paused between episodes to make some tea, and I was idly thinking, “Wait…I meant to watch Orphan Black, why did I change my mind?” And I answered myself, “Oh right, cause I’m not feeling great, I think I thought a comedy might be easier to WAIT THAT’S NOT TRUE AT ALL IT WASN’T STREAMING.”

I didn’t change my mind.

But I got to see my brain confabulate what I had intended and what actually happened and come up with a rationale about how I changed my mind.

(Where your eyes don't go a filthy scarecrow waves its broomstick arms/ And does a parody of each unconscious thing you do/ When you turn around to look it's gone behind you/ On its face it's wearing your confused expression/ Where your eyes don't go)

Speaking of the silent monster(s) who share your identity, I recently read Ancillary Justice, and it is just as good as everyone has been saying it is.

I know not everyone is pleased with Leckie’s approach to rendering a agendered language, but the use of feminine pronouns throughout gave the whole universe an enjoyably retro 70s lesbian/feminist-separatist sci fi feel for me, so I dug it.

I wish I’d known that it was the first part of a trilogy. Actually I wish it hadn’t been the first part of a trilogy, because fuck trilogies, can people please write some more just one goddamn book? But I am pleased there’s a chance we’ll learn more about how the ships absorb their ancillaries - the glimpse we saw of Justice of Toren getting a new body brought online was fascinating. I will be picking up the sequel, which of course makes me part of the problem.

(Every jumbled pile of person has a thinking part that wonders what the part that isn't thinking isn't thinking of)

I find the question of free will vs. fate in the sense of causality, physical law, etc., so boring at this point that I am reluctant to give it even as much space as I have in this sentence. But the not only multi-bodied but multi-minded beings of Ancillary Justice provide an excellent allegory with which to look at the much more interesting question of how free our will is when it is limited, not by fate, but by our own minds. Anaander Mianaai’s technically internal conflict illustrates it most dramatically, of course, but I ask you: how many times have you firmly decided that you would do something, and then, simply not done it? Let me tell you how many times I have logically and rationally decided that I am not hungry and I do not need to snack and those pastries aren’t good for me anyway and then quietly gone over and gotten myself a donut. Or let me wonder - because I can’t tell you - how many times some wordless part of me has taken an action or made a decision, and then what I with somewhat black humor call my consciousness fills in the backstory of an explanation, as I did on Thursday, about OITNB - only so slowly and clumsily, because of my illness, that for once I actually caught myself doing it. Someone in here is doing their will, but I am damn sure that it is often not what I think of as me.

In our world, of course, one body to one person; no matter how many conflicting impulses or personality parts or what have you within one body, I must treat it as one unitary being; and so I personally must come to the darkly amusing conclusion that everyone but me has free will. Because from my point of view, you are one voice saying one thing, and you say what you like. But with my panoramic view of the inside of my own skull, I am locked in here with a huge, silent, invisible, and only dimly deduced presence that can’t be reasoned with, can’t be questioned, and very often, can’t be moved from its choices by all the will that I can bring to bear.

(Though I note one more thing. I myself am not good at getting myself to do what I have decided to do. That is partly because I do not practice it. Conscious will, I do know, is a thing that gets easier with practice. I don’t practice it, deliberately, because I know a thing or two about myself. And one thing I know by now is that this consciousness of mine, the wordy part, you know, is the part of me most easily swayed. It’s the part of me that can be convinced to starve myself. To hate myself. It’s the part that goes on diets. It’s the part that divides all my days up into duties on the calendar. And the part that I can’t reach - I know, after all these years of living with it, that’s the part that won’t let me starve us, whether of food or of fun. I could get better at weakening it. I don’t dare.)
metaphortunate: (Default)
1) Is someone trying to put something in your mouth? Stop them. They’re not the boss of your mouth. Grab whatever it is, especially if it’s greasy, drippy or sticky.

2) Huh, that looks okay. All right, open mouth. Shove it in there.

3) DO NOT SWALLOW. That’s what they want you to do. Just shove it all in there. Be like the noble hamster. You don’t know what a hamster is, but somewhere in your soul is hamster ambition. Maybe you were a hamster in a past life. You are hamsterous. Is there more food? There is! Find it all. Shove it all in your mouth.

4) Now look vaguely worried and periodically make little retching motions. Do not, under any circumstances, swallow. Keep packing in the food.

5) If you run out of room in your mouth, tuck the food in between your chins for safekeeping.

6) If you run out of room in your chins, hide it in your pants. Knock it onto the floor. Just make sure your parents can’t find it, at least until they step on it barefoot.

7) DO NOT SWALLOW. Occasionally, if you feel your parents are becoming complacent, barf up a half a cup of milk or so. Do NOT allow any of the food to escape. Be the hamster you want to see in the world.

8) When your parents finally freak out and dig three pieces of bacon and half a strawberry out of your mouth, on the changing table, fifteen minutes later, cry and cry. Those were your slimy, half-decomposed pieces of bacon! You might have swallowed them later, if you felt like it! You’ve been robbed! Those cheating parents.
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I recently took down a post for reasons that don't need to be further explored here right now, but if you read it before that and/or responded: it's not about anything you did, don't worry. I just should have been more careful about some stuff.
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Last weekend we got a babysitter (!) and went out to see a movie (!!!) and we saw Belle, which was pretty great and could totally have been entitled Awkward Turtle, because the entire movie was basically people going “I’m sorry, I…was not told that there would be a black woman in this Merchant Ivory film. Well. This is awkward. Ah…was Helena Bonham Carter busy, or…”

What I didn’t like about the movie: the way the dude playing John Davinier delivers every single line in the last 45 minutes of the movie as though he is just barely holding back his tears of manly passion.

What I did like about the movie: So many things. Let’s start with the way it explicitly lays out Dido’s - and Elizabeth’s - double bind with regards to marriage. Remember, in Emma, Emma telling Harriet:
If I were to marry, I must expect to repent it."

"Dear me! it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"

"I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine. Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want: I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husband's house, as I am of Hartfield; and never, never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always first and always right in any man's eyes as I am in my father’s.”
Well holy shit, she wasn’t wrong, you know. Dido is an heiress; rich in her own right. When she marries, control of all her money and property, like literally down to the change in her pocket, passes into the hands of her husband. He could starve her, beat her, rape her if he chooses, both by law and custom. Emma, single, sees how well off she is as she is. Dido and Elizabeth see that by marrying they are literally betting their lives on a man’s character. Elizabeth must marry anyway: she has no money and no way of earning any except at the altar. But Dido’s uncle decrees that she, with her independence, must not marry; because anyone noble enough for her to marry would refuse to marry a black woman, and anyone willing to marry a black woman would be so low in rank as to disgrace her.

Thanks, Groucho, you’re a terrible matchmaker. Dido and Elizabeth also see the consequences of not marrying. Emma waves off those consequences. The well-off, elderly spinster: Emma characterizes her as
an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty. Woman's usual occupations of eye and hand and mind will be as open to me then, as they are now; or with no important variation. If I draw less, I shall read more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work. And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the great point of inferiority, the want of which is really the great evil to be avoided in not marrying, I shall be very well off, with all the children of a sister I love so much, to care about. There will be enough of them, in all probability, to supply every sort of sensation that declining life can need. There will be enough for every hope and every fear; and though my attachment to none can equal that of a parent, it suits my ideas of comfort better than what is warmer and blinder.
Dido however sees clearly how her spinster aunt is always a companion (never the Doctor;) not respected, not central, though she lives in a home it is not a home of her own. It’s a powerful scene when her uncle, who genuinely loves Dido, tries to physically put that role upon her. A role of relative independence and safety. She literally runs in horror.

I must note that Emma also passes pretty lightly over enforced celibacy and sterility. If you don’t want kids, more power to you, but Dido’s white uncle decreeing that Dido could never have children, whether she would or not, is an oppression with a particularly horrible resonance and relevance for a black woman.

And, unlike Emma, though Dido has money, what she doesn’t have is friends. Only her aunt and uncle, more than a generation older. Theoretically she has rank: in reality, she has no place in society. Who would support her rank, once her aunt and powerful uncle are gone? Who would befriend and protect the anomalous black lady?

And so Belle shows us how, in a system of inescapable oppression, the degree to which you have any choices becomes the degree to which your actions make you complicit in your own oppression. Should Dido, not a slave by the merest chance, as she is starkly aware throughout the entire film, deliberately give up her legal right to personhood by marrying - no, I don’t exaggerate, see William Blackstone: “By marriage, the very being or legal existence of a woman is suspended, or at least incorporated or consolidated into that of the husband…”? Or should she deliberately accept an untenable social position? And does it even make sense to talk about this rich, free black woman as occupying an untenable social position when the movie confronts you with another black woman, Mabel, whose position is never made clear? Dido’s uncle says she is paid a good wage - he also says he lives “under the family’s protection”…? Mabel’s scenes with Dido are brief but intense: are they two black women meeting in an alien country? Are they mistress and servant with an unbridgeable gulf between them? Are they a knowledgeable woman, member of a community and perhaps a family, and a castaway girl who doesn’t even know how to comb her own hair? Can Mabel help Dido? Should she? Why should she?

The movie is just a beautiful illustration of the concept of kyriarchy. Belle fences with Davinier: is she punching up because she’s a woman and he’s a man? Punching down because she’s rich and he isn’t? Punching up because she’s black and he’s white? Punching down because she’s noble and he isn’t? Punching up because she’s illegitimate and he isn’t? Punching down because he needs the job working for her uncle? The answer is irrelevant, the point is to realize that they’re all caught in so many systems of inequality and stratified oppression that trying to separate out just one and say “Let’s attack just this one!” is doomed to failure. I can’t find the citation now, but someone wrote recently about remembering that intersectionality theory is not about self-consciously tallying up which of your identities are privileged and which aren’t: it’s about addressing the way that systems of power work to reinforce each other. Twitter is making it hard to pretend that garden variety societal misogyny isn’t the fertile ground in which the Isla Vista shooter’s hatred of women grew: but also keep in mind that one thing that enraged him was that a black guy talked about having sex with a blonde girl. Does this sound familiar? That Rodger saw women only as prizes, that he thought black men were defiling what he thought of as his prizes, that he thought black men were unworthy of prizes - it’s part of the same story. The hierarchies reinforce each other, and they are murderous.
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It's the life of Riley at our house, man, until you turn seven months old. But then your troubles begin. You have to sleep in a crib. You have to start on solid food - and that means... THE WIPENING. And then there's the night weaning.

But at the age of eight months, 20 days after the beginning of sleep training/night weaning, it is reasonable for us to expect that:
- Rocket can be put down in his crib at around 7:15 pm and will go to sleep with no more than a minute or two of crying, IF ANY
- He will sleep till at least 6 am, maybe 6:30, with only one night feeding, which I wake him up for and which he will go right back to sleep after
- My boobs have adjusted to the night weaning and I no longer wake up in pain & soaked in milk. (I could have night weaned more gradually & given my boobs longer to adjust. I was so desperate for more sleep & fewer wakeups that I chose not to.)

Not every night goes this smoothly, but enough do that at this point it is what I plan on.

I'm keeping the one night feeding because my understanding is that night weaning cuts down on your daytime milk production as well (and indeed I have unfortunately seen a drop already.) So I plan to keep doing the 1 am feeding until Rocket is eating more solid food or until I just can't goddamn stand it anymore, whichever comes first.

Rocket has 4 teeth and he wants to crawl but he can't and he loves kisses and tickles and his brother and there is a very outside chance that he's learned the ASL sign for milk but a much bigger chance that he just likes to practice opening and closing his hand and he is in all ways a big bag of squishy adorableness. This has been your State Of The Baby Report.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Seriously, what is it about tiny little scale models of things. I had a miniature house when I was in my tweens - okay, I didn’t have a house, but I had a nightstand next to my bed with two shelves and I filled it full of two stories of model furniture. I was too old for dolls, it’s not like I played with it, I just…liked having tiny furniture. For some reason. Going to the Michael’s was the biggest trip because maybe I’d be able to get a tiny chair or some freaking thing.

I remember one time we were flying home from visiting family in the old country and halfway through the Miami airport I realized I had left my brand new tiny tea set on the plane. We actually went back and tried to look, bless my parents, but it was gone forever. I was too old to cry at that point, I remember, so all I could do was be sad. That particular I-fucked-up-and-it-can’t-be-fixed sadness like something stuck in your throat. One evening recently the kids and I were on our way home, Rocket in the Ergo, Junebug in the stroller holding a balloon he had from daycare, when the wind blew hard and blew the balloon out of his hands and into the street and it was gone. I tried to run after it, but there’s a limit to how fast you can run with a 17-lb baby strapped loosely to you, and I couldn’t run too far and leave the Junebug stranded alone in the middle of the sidewalk.

So obviously he cried all the way home, because he is young enough to cry. And I know that sadness - and luckily, as it happens, at daycare right now they’re learning about emotions - so we talked about feeling sad. And about what might happen to the balloon. Maybe a squirrel would find it? Maybe a seagull would run into it. And not eat it, because it’s not food, that part was important. It didn’t cheer him up exactly, but I hope it made him think about more aspects to the loss than just the sadness. I feel better about losing things if I think that someone else might find them and get to use them. Like, at least the things can fulfill their purpose, if sadly not with me.

Anyway, I bring up tiny scale models of things because the Junebug now has a miniature coal-burning cast-iron stove and oven. I see these are going for like $40 on eBay, which is funny because my in-laws found this one for something like $5 at a garage sale, way back when the Junebug was so small that we couldn’t give it to him for fear that he’d choke on the small parts. But it was a gift, so we dutifully kept it, and then the other day I realized it was taking up space on my bookshelf so I gave it to him.

Holy shit, he loves it. What an excellent present. Let me tell you what is so great about it. He announces that he is going to cook “hot eggs”. Or hot bacon. Whatever - the point is, he tells me what’s going to be for dinner. Then he tells me that I have to move back because he needs to open the oven door and it’s going to be hot. No, I have to move ALLA WAY back. Then he tells me he’s going to put some bacon on my plate and I say “Yay! I want bacon!” and he tells me that he’s only going to give me a LITTLE BIT of bacon. And then he decides when we’re done and it’s time to go cook more hot bacon. And he gets to do this over and over, and I am confronted with the stark reality of just how much we boss this little guy. Because we have to, lord knows, but still. I’m very happy to have a toy that gives him a chance to boss me around for once.

Ugh, I had a parenting fail today, which I don’t have time to go into the details but the part that annoys me is that part of what went into it was a stupid assumption that he would be into the kind of thing I’m into, or was into when I was a kid, when I know that he actually prefers playing with different types of toys. And this bugs me because, I know that I have enormous flaws as a parent: I am too impatient, I lose my temper, I yell, conversely I can be a pushover at times when discipline is what would make everything easier for both of us, I get distracted by my phone; but, if there is one thing that I really, desperately want to do as a parent, it’s to see and love my kids for what they are actually like, not fall into lazy assumptions about what they’re like or what they should be like. And I try try try to do that. So I hate it when I trip up.


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metaphortunate son

September 2014

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