metaphortunate: (uncanny kubrick creamsicle)
Camille Fournier tweeted about the high-quality writing being produced, for free, by Kathy Sierra, who recently left Twitter because of renewed harassment. One of her examples was "Your app makes me fat", an essay about how poor user interface design, whether through incompetence or exploitative user "engagement", is a drain on users' cognitive resources that has real effects on our lives. The title comes from a study showing evidence that people doing mental work choose to eat more calories: hence, your app makes me fat.

Which is fine as far as it goes, but also makes me think about the reverse. Whether or not your app makes me fat, I can guarantee you that my diet makes me dumb. Thinking about this recently because of this stupid antibiotic blocking me from eating for hours. Let me tell you, when I'm hungry and I'm not eating, my entire brain is thinking about not eating. I'm supposed to be drawing up something, or coordinating different disciplines, or writing some thing up, but am I? Balls I am. I'm thinking about food, and how it's right there, and how I am not eating it. How long till I can eat? Wow, is that familiar. Wow, do I remember this from weight-loss diets I have been on. Wow, is it nice that most of the time in my life now I just notice "Hey, I'm hungry," get a snack, and then blissfully not think about food for a while. That is mental energy that I can spend on my job, my kids, my training that I'm doing, whatever; maybe even an app that I'm trying to learn how to use. And I'll always be happy if that app UI is designed better, but honestly even trying to learn how to use an app is probably a more productive use of mental energy for me than just grimly using that energy to not eat.
metaphortunate: (Default)
Someone recently linked to Now You Have Dunnett, which is a great blog because I love Dorothy Dunnett and her language and her lightning-fast characterization but wow, do I not have the kind of intimate knowledge of Renaissance-era Scotland that you kind of need in order to keep track of what the fuck is going on. So when I read her first I want someone to help me remember who the Protector is and who are all these women named Mary and why the queen of Scotland is French and when someone says "Pinkie" the correct response is not "Pie" but "a shitload of people just died there" - or possibly "a shitload of people are about to die there", because I don't remember, and that's exactly the problem - and so on. And then I want someone to talk with about how great that shit was we just read, and the blogger is doing that as well, so that's fun too.

So it's got me rereading Game of Kings, perhaps a little more fruitfully this time because 1) I've read it before, and it's actually more fun when you know what's really going on, and 2) the blog and its helpful reminders. You know what's weird, though? I want fic I want about this book. This is quite unusual for me, normally I get into fic by finding writers I like, canon sort of optional, rather than by wanting fic for a particular canon. And I haven't been reading much fic lately - and I've basically been reading no sexy fic at all. And yet, I'm reading Game of Kings, and there are two fics that I kind of want to read now, and they're both sex scenes.

1) Agnes Herries' wedding night with John Maxwell
Eeeeh, starting off creepy unfortunately, because the poor girl was 14 when she got married. But the thing is, these are historical characters. Not, like, characters in Historical Ages where everyone knows girls got married as zygotes, and what everyone knows is usually wrong: actual people in history whose dates were recorded. So that's my excuse, and presumably Dunnett's. But I don't insist on sticking to the canon or the history; the age isn't the key, anyone could age her up if they liked, only to the point that she's still Dunnett's ugly, vital Agnes, with a strong personality of her own and a head full of romantic daydreams; not having quite reached the bitterness that she was on her way to developing.

What I'd like to see is fun, loud, dreamy, ugly Agnes, well intelligent enough to know that her land is what the men want, not her self - canonically, she has "a face like a pound of candles on a hot day" - going to her wedding night with a man who has, more or less, sent her extravagant poetry and brought her a perfect rose and praised all those characteristics of a heroine of romance that she knows, somewhere deep in her squirrely little heart, that she hasn't got. But that she wants to marry him for anyway.

And John, who Sybilla says, and if you can't believe Sybilla who can you believe, is "clever enough - and kind enough - to preserve the fantasy, or at least let her down pretty lightly." But who's not interested in playing up the fantasy as Francis might be: when Francis is writing his love letters for him, John warns him to "curb your mad, antic mind, I beg you. I've no heart to spend myself sustaining what you are creating for me."

So, what do they say to each other, what do they do with each other that night? A girl marrying a man dressed like a dream and a man in a poorly-fitting dream costume marrying a girl whom he believes will be "an excellent wife" if he treats her right - in addition to all her money? And there is evidence that they get it right. After the marriage, when Francis is captured, John visibly takes no hand in the matter, but it's pretty clear that he sends Agnes to help him escape; not something he would do unless he trusted her. And Agnes is "jubilant" to have accomplished her task; she seems happy and competent, well settled into her new life. Transformed, as Dunnett says, by "the dignities of happiness."

So it went well somehow. But how did it go?

2) Will Scott and Francis Crawford's third, non-canon visit to the Ostrich
Well, and this is the most obvious, the one everyone wants. Richard ships it! Everyone ships it! The second time Francis takes Will to the Ostrich, he allows Will to think that he's taking him to a room upstairs to fuck him. Will's reaction: "When Will Scott got to his feet, his heartbeats were behaving oddly, but he was not slow in following the Master…" Of course, when Will enters the room he discovers that Francis has actually brought him upstairs to meet the John Maxwell above mentioned, and has allowed Will to think otherwise, probably as part of a general policy of always keeping him off balance, and also for his own private amusement.

So obviously, if Francis and Will ever went back to the Ostrich, during the offscreen time before the gang got disbanded, Will would be a little smarter this time, looking for the connection to be made, the guy to be met or captured, the contraband or message to be passed or intercepted or overheard. Francis would take him to an empty room and Will would be wisely expecting the message under the water pitcher, or the contact hiding outside on the windowsill, or something. He wouldn't believe the cover story was the only story until Francis pushed him down on the bed.



Better yet, what if there was sex and some kind of ridiculous triple-dealing spy business. You know there would be. Man, somebody write this.

AND DON'T TELL ME ABOUT YULETIDE I DON'T WRITE FICTION SO I CAN'T TRADE.
metaphortunate: (wonderful)
Rocket knows words!

- He makes the sign for "milk", and he uses it both for nursing and for cow milk
- He makes the sign for "more"
- Yesterday, he held up a book and said "buh"

Communication!!!
metaphortunate: (Default)
I have to take these antibiotics 4 times a day and I can't take them within 2 hours of eating or 1 hour of going to eat. I think these stupid drugs want me to lose weight.

But I don't even care, because omg I'm so grateful. Today I dragged my sick ass to work only because we had a deadline and I had no makeup and experimental hair and jeans and the repulsive raggedy old sneaks that are what I can lace over my two - two! - MAD SEXY ankle braces, and I still felt like cutest I have felt in maybe months. Because that is what not feeling like a disgusting disease-ridden sack of pus will do for you! When you move on up to merely a slightly defeated sack of meat with just disease sprinkled on the top, it's like a million bucks! God, antibiotics, how we're going to miss you.

Also someone seems to have replaced my regularly scheduled Junebug with Junebug: Snugglebug X-Treme version, at least for him. I have gotten hugs! And blown kisses! And Mr. E has gotten kisses hello and goodbye! I don't know what's going on here but I LOVE IT.

And, I got to binge-watch OITNB while I was home sick this week. I haven't seen the season finale of S2 so don't spoil me, but damn. On the one hand, show I love you. On the other, did we really have to have a fake rape storyline? Really? In a women's prison? Why is that…why. Oh my god, I hate that so much. Also, I love Vee as a character so much, and I love watching Lorraine Toussaint just Cersei her way through everything and everyone without so much as pulling her hem off the floor, but I am getting just a little creeped out at the constant tradeoff between Good White Mother Red and Bad Black Mother Vee. But, of course, that is the great thing about having more than one black woman character in a show: she doesn't have to be Black Women, she can just be Vee, because there's also Taystee and Poussey and Cindy and that one Golden Girl and etc.

Also, Red's not that great, so there's that. :D

best mom

Oct. 3rd, 2014 08:21 pm
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Well, today was great. By some miracle, Rocket let us sleep until my alarm went off, instead of going off like an air raid siren at 4:30 am like he has done the rest of the week. Like, I am so fucking exhausted that yesterday on my way to work after dropping the kids off I actually hallucinated a green light and walked out into traffic.

Luckily, the drivers in the neighborhood around my work are well used to looking out for people staggering out into the street to messages from street lights that only they can see, so nothing bad happened, but still. It was not good. I'll be asleep within the hour if I can possibly help it, because I can think of no better use for this Friday night.

This morning while we were waiting for the bus the Junebug got the bright idea to back up a few steps and take a running headbutt at my legs. While I was wearing Rocket in the Ergo, incidentally. "Ow," I said. "I don't like that. It hurts. Please don't do it again."

The Junebug, obviously, laughed. "That's funny!" he said. Then he took another headfirst run at my legs, at which point I did a smooth aikido pivot and let him run right past my knees and fall on the sidewalk. You know, they say three-year-olds are too young for natural consequences, but I dunno - he didn't try it again!
metaphortunate: (Default)
Z's dictum:
The cheapest way to get anything is to pay money for it.
Take childcare. Consider the effort and work involved in getting a group of friends to set up a babysitting club and keep it going. Consider the amount of careful, patient, futile effort it takes to try to convince your mother, when she babysits, to feed the kids what you want to feed them, to get them to go to bed on the schedule you set, etc. Or, you can pay a babysitter, and she'll show up when you agree and feed your kids what you say and get them to bed when you say, because it's her job.

The way this ties into the Samuel Vimes "Boots" Theory of socioeconomic unfairness is of course the kicker.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Last week was a hard week. Traffic gets worse as it gets later, and it takes us longer to get home, so I've arranged my schedule so that I only need to pick the kids up lateish from daycare one day a week. Except that last week, for various reasons, it was four days. So we were getting home late, having a long exhausting commute, eating dinner late, going to bed late, still getting up early. And one late afternoon, having already picked up Rocket and carrying him on my front, and my backpack with all his gear and milk and so on on my back, I was trudging up the stairs on my way to get the Junebug. And I love the Junebug, I do. But I got passed by one of his little classmates' mothers, and I saw little A. beyond the glass doors jumping up and down and waving at her mother, and just for a second, I had this momentary passionate wish that I were on my way to pick up a kid who was going to be happy to see me. Instead of what the Junebug does, which is see me, shriek, and run away, sometimes hiding.

It's not that he doesn't like me - I swear. It's honestly for a very good reason, which is that the last thing of the day is outdoor free play, which he adores, and he loves his daycare, and whenever I pick him up he is busy playing legos or digging sand or playing doggie with his friends or something like that. And I am there to interrupt his game, take him away from his friends, make him use the potty and then make him go commute. So he's not happy to see me.

It's also just his personality, though. He's always been this way. Remember "oh no! Why are all these smooches happening to the baby?" Then we had Rocket, and I was shocked to discover that some babies kiss you back! Rocket loves snuggles and kisses! The Junebug would rather eat a bug! That is just the way he is, and I do a lot of gritting my teeth and remembering that I need to love my kid for who he is, not who I want him to be, and accepting that he expresses affection with headbutts and asking us to pretend to be "stingrazors" with him. (Stingrays. But I must admit that his version is cooler.)

FUCK, though, this week my mom is here, and she is not at all on board with this accepting people for who they are. She thinks the lack of hugs is my fault, because apparently I haven't taught him how to show affection. I.e. I say "You don't have to hug if you don't want to." And I thought that she was coming to spend time with the kids? But she hasn't volunteered to keep either of them home from daycare with her any days, and finally Mr. E and I said why doesn't the Junebug stay with her tomorrow and they can go to the zoo, but this afternoon she was saying that if he doesn't like her anymore (i.e., won't accept hugs) maybe she shouldn't. So, fuck, I don't know. How much of this is her sulking because the Junebug doesn't hug, and how much of this is because we suggested it and there's her thing where she would donate both her kidneys plus her liver to me as long as I don't ask but if I ask for anything then I'm being difficult and she doesn't want to do it.

Fuuuuuuck. Hey, guess what? Rocket has his first sign! Guess what it is?

Yeah, he shakes his head "no". Way to live up to the stereotype, kid. Still. Exciting!

Parents

Sep. 23rd, 2014 06:57 am
metaphortunate: (Default)
Also we got home & Mr. E asked "how was dinner?" & I said "it was nice!" & Mom said "IT WAS AN ORDEAL." Has it just been too long since she hung out with small kids? Or would most people not count a dinner outing where the baby throws up, the kid knocks over the neighbors' water, and the parent, despite her best efforts, is moved once to loudly state "Mother. FUCKER." as a success? I can't remember anymore. :( Relatively speaking, it went well!
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
My mother and I took the kids out to dinner tonight.

Sitting at the next table on the patio were a group of people with a number of small dogs in doggy football jerseys. They looked at the 12-month-old, with his toothless grin, who cannot speak English, feed himself properly, or stand up without holding on to things; and then they looked at the 3-year-old, three times his age, who speaks in complex sentences, walks for blocks, pretends to be an airplane, pours his own water, butters his own bread, and cuts his own meat; and then they asked me if they were twins.

Non-parents, I know it's just three short years since I left your ranks, but you are hilarious.
metaphortunate: (Default)
I was talking to [personal profile] rosefox the other day about the futility and counterproductiveness of staying informed about everything horrible that happens in the world everywhere, that has nothing to do with me. Remember the wise words of Uncle Ben, guys.With great power comes great responsibility. The converse is also true. With almost no power comes almost no responsibility.

And let me give you a little depressive realism here. You know about depressive realism, right, depression has a fun little party trick where mostly it lies and lies to you about yourself and everything and how you are a loser and everything is awful but in one respect it tells the truth? There's evidence that depressives tend to more accurately estimate their level of control over external events that they have no control over? Y'all, go ahead and accurately estimate that "ordinary Americans have virtually no impact whatsoever on the making of national policy in our country." I mean, you know it, I know it. [personal profile] rosefox was saying the other day that they've been futilely protesting US involvement in the Middle East for 24 years. It is wasted time. I don't go to marches anymore. Right here, right now, they have no effect. I marched on Washington for abortion rights, I marched in my city against war in the Middle East, I wasted my time. With power comes responsibility. What that means to me is that I have to learn where I do have power and where I don't. And I need to focus my actions on where I have power.

Like for example, "staying informed" is an amorphous concept that sounds righteous and important but, really, being informed changes nothing unless I do something with the information. There's stuff I'm never going to do anything about, because I can't. I have no power over a kid being bullied by her school system over on the east coast somewhere, to take one example of something I was exhorted to care about by Tumblr this week. Look, I am sorry about that kid, but it would be creepy and wrong if a random person on the other coast had the power to significantly change her schooling experience based on information off of Tumblr, and in fact it is not the case. I have no power there. So it's not my responsibility. It's not important for me to be informed of that. On the other hand, it is important for me to inform myself of the way the police work in my country and in my city to the point that I finally, finally, really internalize that I should never call the cops again unless I am prepared for someone to die. And not necessarily someone in the situation that I wanna call the cops about. Maybe some random dude five miles away who fits a ~profile~. And I am so embarrassed that this took me so long to realize. And I am scared because the next time I hear slight thuds and a crying woman begging her boyfriend to stop hitting her, underneath my window, I can't call the cops. What am I going to do? I'm going to have to go down there and talk to them myself, and I don't want to, and probably that's what I always should have done, and I don't want to. And the next time I see thick black smoke coming from a van parked under an underpass downtown at 1 A.M., I'm not fucking going into that situation myself - so what am I going to do? Will someone die if I call the cops, or if I don't? This sucks, but it is about my actions, so it is my responsibility.

And of course this also sucks because it is limited to my individual power, to my individual actions. So neoliberal, right? I want to believe that people would be stronger if we acted collectively but maybe Ferguson is putting the lie to that. See this post: "if they can lie to us to our face and us KNOW the truth, what power do we have , then?"

Well…not a lot. And - didn't we know this already? Why didn't we know this? This isn't new, right, the people in power lying to the people without, and us know they're lying, and they know we know they're lying, and they don't have to give a shit, isn't new? I've been reading The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, about the AIDS crisis and its aftermath, and that's just the 1980s. Not even that long ago, don't we remember how the government let a gay generation die before Ronald Reagan would say the word "AIDS", let alone put some damn money into the problem? Schulman writes that ACT UP forced the government to finally take AIDS seriously as a public health menace, but….how? I know a little bit about ACT UP and its actions, but…. how do these demonstrations force people with power to do things differently? Do they? I've been reading about this, I've been listening to Revolutions - which is a great podcast by the way - I've been trying to learn how, fundamentally, people convince other people to do things. How people get other people to stop doing one thing and do something different. I swear this is a huge flaw in my education, this is a place where we have been let down. I should know this and I don't and I don't even know how to find out.
metaphortunate: (fooled you again brain)
I had some kind of minor nervous breakdown this weekend, I guess? I just kind of lost my ability to, like…make plans.

Or eye contact.

The particularly good/bad timing is that my sister-in-law and her husband are visiting, which is bad because I like them and yet I spent all of Saturday blatantly, horribly ignoring them and staring at my phone, and good because they spent most of Saturday entertaining my children and so I was able to do that. I really did spend all day reading. I haven't done that since the Junebug was born. *sigh* It was wonderful.

I didn't read all of Tana French's books that one day, but that's what I read that day, and over this past while I have been mainlining them all. I resisted reading them despite [personal profile] jae's glowing recommendation because I checked out the summaries and decided I just wasn't into that much child harm these days - well, they are murder mysteries, you have to expect a certain amount of murder. But then every time I turned around someone was drooling over the latest one, so finally I decided to start with The Likeness, on account of how no kids are the victims in that one. And then of course I read all the rest of them in a row. She really is excellent. Her books are a perfect illustration of what China Mieville says about detective fiction:
that unreality function is one of my favorite things in crime fiction: I've said this before in various other venues, but I think the logic of crime novels is not really "realistic," but is a kind of dream-logic. I don't mean that as a criticism but praise—I love the oneiric feeling of logic that is logical but that is punctuated by certain elisions.

On a much more cheerful note, and another story to scarf down in great chunks, Sarah Rees Brennan has finished The Turn of the Story! God, she's going to hate me for describing it this way, but: imagine that someone took the three main characters from Harry Potter and stuck them in a blender. Hit "Frappe" a few times. All right, pour them out, and now the redheaded born sidekick is also the smartest witch in his year and also the neglected child in a cupboard under the stairs. Except that there's no witches, but you know what I mean. The born hero is now the one with a huge and lovely family, and Hermione is a stone killer and the most delightfully misandrist elf you'd ever care to see (think Legolas, not Dobby.) It's not fanfic but it is a riff on genre tropes. In a sense it's the opposite of Lev Grossman's Magician novels. If Grossman had felt like writing about a guy who was fun to read about instead of The Douchebag Who Walked The Earth Like A Man, Quentin Coldwater might be a little bit like Elliot Schafer. Also, I might be interested in reading more than ten pages of the Magician novels. Yeah, I know all the problems with demanding ~likeability~ in characters, whatever. I'm a grown person, there are plenty of reasons to read books with unlikeable characters. If you as an author GIVE me those reasons. If you don't, then reading an otherwise dreary, forgettable book entirely about assholes is just me choosing to spend a few hours of my really truly irreplaceably precious free time with assholes, and I just…I don't want to do that. I don't believe in Elliot Schafer. No teenage boy has ever been that consistently kind and smart and brave and funny. But I don't really give a shit, because sometimes, for fun, I like to spend time with people who are kind, and smart, and brave, and funny. Even if they're fictional. I find it enjoyable! Go figure. Also go read the story, it is a prequel but it is complete in itself, and the ending is not what I thought it was going to be, which is always nice. It does suffer a bit from Rees Brennan's strength-that-she-leans-on-until-it-turns-into-a-weakness, which is that she is a very funny writer, so she writes very funny characters, to the point where sometimes their voices are not as distinct from one another as they could be. But, as weaknesses in free, fun stories go, "characters are too witty" is one that I will take. If this month has you needing a unicorn chaser, this story has got that covered for you. Heh. On a number of levels.

Music: I am still working through [personal profile] norah's Femcees mix, so no comment on that yet, but other than that I keep going back to Angel Haze. Oh, also, if you ever wanted to hear what has got to be Strexcorp's theme song, it's fabulous.

Going back to the small nervous breakdown: I think I need to make fewer plans. There are a million things I want to do, and I love my friends, I want to see you all! This….may be something I need to try to slow down on. I think the overhead is starting to get to me. I really gotta work on getting some more alone time.

etiquette

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.

SLEEEEEEEEP

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.

One:
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.

Two:
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!

Lorde

Aug. 5th, 2014 09:08 pm
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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
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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]

WHY WOULD WOMEN AND GIRLS BE INTO THIS, I CAN'T IMAGINE. DIGRESSION OVER.)

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.

vacation!

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.
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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.

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