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The thing is, in general, I am fully behind trying to spread knowledge and better understanding of the world.

So I totally understand the knee-jerk reaction that WATER IS A CHEMICAL, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PEOPLE. I Hulk out in a similar manner whenever I hear anyone say the word "toxin".

And yet. And yet, if you are educated enough to know that water is a chemical, you are educated enough to know that some words mean different things in different contexts. You understand that one person may say "I'm suffering from depression" and another may say "God, I'm so depressed today, I hate my job" and that the same word can mean a long-term disease and a bummer of a day. You understand - clever you! - that one person may refer to "the theory of evolution" and it means an understanding of the world that is essentially proven, and another person may say "I've got a theory, it could be bunnies!" and it means that Anya is once again sharing every random neural firing she runs into.

So you should freaking well be educated enough to understand that in some contexts a "chemical" is a form of matter that always has the same proportions by mass of its components and that can't be separated into its components without breaking electron bonds, and in another context, a "chemical" is a substance that has been manufactured or isolated and refined in a lab or a factory and moved into widespread production and distribution without exhaustive long-term testing and has a very good chance of, years or decades after it has become ubiquitous, being declared to have serious adverse health or environmental effects. Because where there's a need for a word to express a concept, language users will create or adapt a word to express that concept. And if you don't understand that there's a need for a word that expresses that second concept, you're not as educated as you think.

white sons

Nov. 25th, 2014 06:39 am
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I wrote this whole long post about what I am committing to doing, and saying, in my effort to not raise another Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman. About how I don't even know where to start with some of it, and, though it sounds obscene to say so when friends last night were having much harder and scarier conversations, still the thought of setting out to make changes to our lives seems scary and hard.

Then I saved it and did not post it. Instead, last night Mr. E and I talked about what we should do. I think maybe as non-Black people this is a good time for us to have awkward, difficult conversations about race in our own families rather than in social media.
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Was talking on Twitter about how unfortunate it is that retail therapy totally works. :D: Only saving grace is that, at least for me, it's so much more helpful/satisfying if I'm filling a real need with whatever I'm buying than if I'm just impulse picking up some random crap.

For example, last week I bought a watch and a desperately needed new pair of work trousers. Behold, getting dressed in the morning is easier at least one day a week, and that is valuable to me. And the watch: I know people say watches are obsolete because now everyone has smart phones, and all I can say is, these must be people who don't walk around outside a lot or take public transportation. There are at least a couple of times almost every single day when I want to know what time it is and I really don't want to pull out my cell phone. Now I can!

In general, I am honestly a big fan of material things, as long as they are the right material things. Material things that are sort of what I want and sort of not just pile up in the house and make me miserable. Material things that are perfect give me a shot of genuine happiness every time I experience them or use them. Like:
  • The gorgeous coat hooks on our stairs that Mr. E and I picked out together and he installed one day to surprise me and which mean that we have a completely convenient place to put jackets and hats as soon as we come in the house and which, incidentally, are great looking
  • Chanel Cuir de Russie, which smells like old lady right when I put it on and within about 20 minutes has transformed into this rich, smooth, work-of-art leather aroma, so that for the rest of the day, no matter what kind of mess I look like, I smell like subtle, complex, recondite pleasures; and it makes my entire day better
  • My purse, which took me forever to find the exact right one, and which is exactly big enough for my wallet, coin purse, sunglasses, phone, iPod, headphones, small pocketknife, tissues, hand sanitizer, pen, lipstick and enough room to pull one thing out without knocking everything else out, and not one bit bigger or heavier or more awkward
  • Our drinking glasses, which are blue and have this smooth texture which is a small pleasure to touch every time I get a glass of water
  • Dried persimmons, for obvious reasons!

What are your favorite material things?
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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.
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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.
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THE TWENTY-YEAR-OLD AT THE SKETCHY CORNER PHONE REPAIR PLACE FIXED MY PHONE.

Yay!

------------

I've been thinking about Allison's iconic line from The Breakfast Club:
When you grow up, your heart dies.
I mean. There's some truth to it, isn't there?

One of the biggest parts of growing up, for me, has been slowly trying to grind it into my head that the world doesn't give a single solitary shit about my heart. The world cares about my hands. And what I do with them. That's the only thing that makes a difference to the world. My heart can contain oceans of feeling and it makes not a single difference to anyone outside my head unless I do the hard grinding work of doing something about it.

And I don't know about you, but my heart is kind of stupid? I find that if I care too much, it actually makes it harder to get up and do things. Also, I'm lazy. My heart wants to daydream. My heart wants things to just work out. My heart wants the Junebug to love it when I hug and kiss him as much as I love it; my heart doesn't want to do the hard work of figuring out how he likes to get attention and affection and express it that way instead. My heart doesn't want to do annoying repetitive research and organization at work, that over weeks and months and years accumulates into experience and understanding. The other day the Junebug was crying that he didn't WANT to do something and I told him I understood, I was going to do things I didn't want to do every single minute of the whole day. I tell my heart to shut up a lot. I tell it that I don't have to like the things I do, I just have to do them.

Do that for a few decades and yeah. Maybe your heart dies.

Because I think, all respect to Ms. Bujold, but I think Miles was wrong. I think that I am in fact buying my heart's desire with my heart. I spend all day ignoring my desires and doing things I don't want to do so that I can have the life I want - not, like, at some mythical point in the future, but right now - and that doesn't make any sense at all BUT IT'S TRUE. Moment to moment, my life is really annoying. On the occasion I get to take a step back and a deep breath, I love it. How - why - what?

--------------------

As part of the stupid week of stupidity I had fifteen minutes to kill in a bookstore and I accidentally bought a book we already own, because it was that kind of week. Having bought it, though, I went ahead and reread it. The Dispossessed, Ursula K. LeGuin, classic of the genre obviously. Really good book. But, two things I noticed, which I did not notice the previous time I had read it:

1) Though it's not explicitly about gender in the same way as The Left Hand of Darkness, or anything, there's a lot of gender in it. But just like Left Hand and its male pronouns, you can see the bits where LeGuin was explicitly thinking about gender, and you can also see where the patriarchy sneaks in around the corners. If you tell me that in your utopian society sex is totally egalitarian and free of weird fucked up power or ownership themes, but you show me that your sweet sympathetic hero tries to rape a woman the first time he gets drunk and never gives the slightest thought afterwards to how she might be feeling or tries to apologize or wonders about his actions or anything, you have depicted a different society that I think you meant to depict; one much more like our own.

2) Deliberately depicted, though, was the way that gender ties into the book's huge theme that survival depends on cooperation. LeGuin hammers it home that Shevek could not do his work without colleagues, people to bounce ideas off of, people to support him, people even to try to tear him down. He couldn't find them on Anarres so he had to go to Urras. And she also makes it very clear that a female physicist could not have found what Shevek found on Urras. A female physicist could not have developed the ansible because she might have been as bright and as motivated but she would have been stopped by the hard limits of what one person can do all alone.
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You know that argument which, I believe it is [personal profile] thefourthvine who has named it the "They should just" argument? You know the one. Poor people should just make better financial decisions. Women who don't want kids should just not have sex. The argument that announces that 1) there are important real-world reasons why the "they" the speaker is talking about don't just do what they're suggesting; 2) but they don't care enough to find out what those reasons are.

Is it just me, or do most of the arguments I've seen against gentrification boil down to "People richer than the people who used to mostly live in this neighborhood should just not move into this neighborhood?"

At least the Google Bus protesters in San Francisco and the East Bay are making a different argument, i.e. "If you move into this neighborhood we're going to make your commute even more fucking awful than it already is." Because the opposite of a "They should just" argument is a "How can we?" argument. "How can we make it unpleasant enough to move into our neighborhood that it's no longer worth it to you?" is kind of a dickish argument, but at least it's something.
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Welp, good and bad.

Good: Rocket let me sleep for one almost 4 hour stretch and one 3 hour stretch last night. Hallelujah, hot dignity dog.

Bad: Possibly because he's got the same thing I've got. Woke up feeling terrible, with muscle aches, and now it's progressed to layering pants and socks kind of chill. So yeah. I'm sick. Freaking daycare.

The problem here is that years of depression have conditioned me to do the wrong thing. See, I remember this from when the Junebug was tiny! If I started resenting him for real, and genuinely falling into despair over my life - bam. Sick in less than a day. See title of last post, for example. And then when I would get better he would be my adorable sweetie again.

But the problem is, thanks to years of therapy and so on, my reaction to feeling bad about my life is "Dammit, self, you get out of it what you put into it. Let's make the effort to all go out to breakfast. Let's tell Mr. E that it's okay for him to go for a run and I'll watch both the kids. I can draw with the Junebug all morning! He could probably use some one on one time with me!"

Which, normally, would be great! Except I think that this time it would probably have been more productive to grab Rocket and huddle under the blanket all day and make Mr. E deal with the Junebug. :/

One plus, though. I got him this little kiddie wipe erase board & blackboard? And this morning, over and over, he wanted me to draw him a kitty cat and a mouse and an elephant and a dump truck. And then he scribbled over them or erased them.

And at first I got frustrated. But then I remembered this story Mr. E told me about this one experiment, probably published in the Review of Poorly Cited Internet Studies, at least I can't find it now. So maybe it doesn't exist. But I took it as a pattern anyway. The experiment was, they took some people, and they divided them in to two groups, and they told the first group to draw the best house they could. And they told the second group to draw as many houses as they could. The upshot is that the best house was drawn by someone in the second group. Because practice makes perfect.

Anyway, so I took it as an opportunity to draw a million elephants and dump trucks, and it became more fun.

courage

Sep. 19th, 2013 10:58 am
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Well, I'm officially past my due date. Still waiting.

And it turns out I'm fucking terrified of labor. I hadn't really expected that, because I wasn't last time. In fact, I hadn't really realized it, until I discovered I was putting off going to bed, because when I do, I lie there in the dark and wonder if tonight will be the night the contractions start getting more intense, and silently freak the fuck out; and also, I noticed that I've been getting more and more freaked out about going to my prenatal appointments, until I was almost kind of lightheaded with fear as I walked into the last one, even though Mr. E got to go with me. Because that was how labor started last time: I went to a routine prenatal appointment, and they got very concerned faces, and then started throwing around words like "pre-eclampsia" and "seizure", and that segued smoothly into the worst weekend of my life.

When I told my mom I was pregnant with Hypo she kind of freaked out. I didn't. I had optimism for some reason, figured it had a good chance of all being fine. For the record, it is fine so far. Late in the pregnancy now and blood pressure remains normal for me, which is low in general. But I'm doing all my freaking out now. It's probably a good thing that I will not get much of a choice about when this baby comes out because otherwise there is a chance that I would end up internally dragging around a third grader.

But I don't have much of a choice. So I will have to be brave.

[This is where I would go find a Courage Wolf macro and include it, except that the last time I image Googled "Courage Wolf", which I did to try to psych myself up for something, I mostly got a whole lot of macros encouraging men to rape women. So I don't Google "Courage Wolf" anymore, because I am trying to integrate [personal profile] rosefox's excellent "Don't make yourself sad" dictum into my life. Thanks for simultaneously making everything possible and impossible, internets!]

So I've been thinking about courage lately, partly because of being pregnant and facing labor, partly because of [personal profile] thefourthvine's post about podfic permissions. Because so much of it was about anxiety and things that you could do to reduce your own or someone else's anxiety.

[Okay it is vital that I be REALLY REALLY CLEAR here that I am not, at any point in this post, at all telling anyone else what to do. This stuff started me thinking about ME and how I want MYSELF to behave. Maybe that's narcissism; I like to think of it as minding my own business.]

Now I'm totally in favor of reducing anxiety. I had really bad anxiety for a long time, as part of the classic anxiety-depression cocktail, and it just totally fucks with you in ways that are hard to explain or even believe if you've never dealt with it yourself. It makes everything so hard. I remember one particularly awful day when I spent I am not even going to tell you how long, because I am ashamed, trying to work up the nerve to leave the house and go to Walgreens. Chris Pureka wrote in "So it Goes": now just pouring a glass of water is like trying to move boulders with your breath.

That about sums it up. You're trying. Nothing's going anywhere. The tools you have are simply inadequate for the job.

And when I had that anxiety, trying to just sack up and power on through was worse than counterproductive. If I wanted to beat myself up about how something should be trivially easy and why couldn't I just do it, well that option was available to me all day long. If I wanted to actually get a thing done, then it was time to turn to options that would actually work, CBT techniques and the like. (Not that CBT. The other one. You perverts.) The key to getting things done when you have anxiety is absolutely to reduce the anxiety, to chip down the barrier to entry.

But I don't have that kind of anxiety anymore. (Thank you, Science!) Now I have fears, about things, especially social things, which annoy me, because I used to be considered a very brave person. I would certainly not consider myself that anymore. That bugs me. I think being brave was good. I think I had more fun. I would like to get back to being brave. And I'm not sure how. And I think at this point, reducing the anxiety is not the way, because the goal is not really to get the things done; things are already getting done. The goal is…hard to define, even. To change the way I feel about the things? What does it mean to be brave? How do you learn to be braver? What are you brave about? Are you brave?
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This morning there was, waiting at my bus stop, a really lovely woman - digression: I was going to say a really lovely girl, but she wasn't a girl. But when I say "lovely woman", for some reason, to me it sounds like I'm talking about her personality. Does it sound like that to you? That's weird. Also, it occurred to me the other day why a "young girl" is like 17 and a "young boy" is like 8. It's because you could easily call a twenty-eight-year-old a girl if she's female, but you'd hell of not call him a boy if he was male. Very irritating.

Also, she wasn't lovely, exactly. I mean, she was very attractive, but in a "to me" kind of way. Like, glasses, kind of funky bag, interesting expression on her face. The sort of looks that start me thinking about how I might strike up a conversation. Under other circumstances. That's right where my mind went. Like, if I wasn't married, and heavily pregnant, if there were any chance that I might do something with her phone number or email address or Facebook name if I could get her to give it to me, how could I have struck up a friendly conversation. (Weirdly, it wouldn't have been hard. Normally bus stops are an ass-terrible place to hit on someone. I still remember the guy back in Chicago who honestly tried to pull something like "you're taking the #6, I'm taking the #6, we have so much in common!" But this morning there had just been a brief incident with the train a block away that it would been easy to comment on, such that if she had been interested in conversing it would have been a perfect topic.)

But of course I didn't, because I am not in the market. Not just not in the market for pretty girls. Or lovely women, rather. I'm not in the market for anyone. I can't make new friends right now. I am hanging on to my old friends by my fingernails because I refuse to give them up out of sheer bloody-mindedness. And as I thought of this, I noticed that there was some grey in her hair. And it made her a little less attractive. No less lovely. But less pull. Less reason to strike up a conversation. Some of the fire of her life has gone to ash already. And it made me sad, because there's just as much grey in my hair, or more.

But it's true, you know. I've burned up half my life - if I'm lucky. And what I have left - and I do have a lot left, but you know what, it's taken up. It goes to the Junebug. It goes to Mr. E. It goes to the baby in my belly. It goes to work, and if I have a spare half hour left, I need it for myself. I don't have anything to give someone new right now.

I'm not sure whether that's sad or not. I was thinking about this piece on Friends and the narrowing of life as one gets older. Yes, no, you don't have to get married, you don't have to be monogamous, you don't have to have babies, you don't have to stop hanging out with your friends. Those are all choices. But you do have to make those choices. You do have to either do those things or not do those things and do different things instead. Per the article, "creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman described the show as a look at 'a time in your life when everything's possible,' when the future was 'more of a question mark.'" Ignore for a moment the hyperbole of that "everything"; yes, limited possibilities, yes, for some people more than others. Nonetheless, there is a difference between the time at which you think "what am I going to do with my life?" and the time at which you think "Oh. So this is what I'm doing with my life."

And that's not necessarily sad, though. I mean, that question mark they speak of, that's a sign that whatever you're going to do, you're not doing it yet. There's definitely something to be said for getting down in the trenches and doing the damn thing. Which is where I am. Doing the work. Of course my life isn't full of possibility right now. You can't pour tea into a cup that's already full.

On the other hand, if your cup is already full, you don't need any more tea. And that's not such a bad place to be, with a nice full cup of tea and your work cut out for you.
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Children at Mahalaxmi played ankh micholi, hide-and-go-seek, in and out of the crowds of adult legs. This is how we are to one another, I thought, divided by generations. Do jungle animals understand the true nature of the trees among which they have their daily being? In the parent-forest, amid those mighty trunks, we shelter and play; but whether the trees are healthy or corroded, whether they harbour demons or good sprites, we cannot say. Nor do we know the greatest secret of all: that one day we, too, will become as arboreal as they. And they, the trees, whose leaves we eat, whose bark we gnaw, remember sadly that they were animals once, they climbed like squirrels and bounded like deer, until one day they paused, and their legs grew down into the earth and stuck there, spreading, and vegetation sprouted from their swaying heads. They remember this as a fact; but the lived reality of their fauna-years, the how-it-felt of that chaotic freedom, is beyond recapture. They remember it as a rustle in their leaves.

- Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh
One of my strongest memories of childhood, and one that's hard to believe now, is just how long the days were. Second grade, third grade: each day was an epoch. I couldn't see the end of the week from the beginning of it. And that was when I was like five times as old as the Junebug is now. Frankly I'm surprised that he remembers me when I pick him up from daycare in the evening, after not seeing me since the morning.

saying yes

Nov. 19th, 2012 10:27 pm
metaphortunate: (gryffindor pride)
[personal profile] lightreads writes:
I was there because I want to live a big life, I want to do the hard thing, I want to be the one who said yes.

Which, now that I have seen someone say it, is the best way to describe the painful and struggling answer I am always making to this poem by Constantine Cavafy:
For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honor to honor, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no—the right no—
drags him down all his life.

I do not think I have ever had the great Yes ready within me. I suspect that I have always been one of life's great natural Noes. But one who has said Yes anyway, because fuck, who is my own character to tell me what my life is going to be like? I'm not the boss of me! I don't care if it is the right No. I too have stepped up to things because I want to be the one who said Yes.
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A friend of mine just wrote me for advice, citing that I am the expert regarding family members being disappointing letdowns.

I don't usually think of it that way, but…maybe I'm not just being a drama queen in that I am sad and/or stressed whenever I think of my family? Anyway, I suggested that she take a look through the Captain Awkward "families" tag. But she has two kids under four, so in case she didn't get half an hour to herself in front of the computer before Christmas, I summed up all of the good Captain's advice:

1) use your words to ask for what you want
2) but you can't change other people, so
3) if people insist on being jerks, you have to decide whether it's worth it to you to stick around.

And it's good advice. I've used it myself a lot. But it's very, very culturally specific advice. It's very America Right Now advice, where if you don't like the situation, fuck off somewhere else. There are a whole lot of situations you can be in where you cannot leave, where you have to deal with people. Sometimes people in those situations write in to the Captain, and she tells them to start organizing and planning so that they can leave as soon as possible.

And that's good advice. I've used it myself. There's a reason I live halfway around the country from my birth family. But…I can't help thinking that I'm at a stage in my life where I'd also like to hear advice about what you can do when you can't get away. Or if you don't want to get away: is there really nothing else you can do? I'm not saying that would be better advice; I'd just like to see more than one perspective on the matter.

hi guys!

Nov. 1st, 2012 10:25 pm
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Umm, long time no talk. What's been going on….

I have had almost one whole glass of wine so I am pretty drunk! It is sad as shit what being pregnant for nine months and then nursing for sixteen months will do to your alcohol tolerance.

Incidentally, 13 or 14 months was about when I stopped being comfortable nursing in public in terms of feeling judged for nursing a kid that old. Not sure why. Maybe because he's started walking.

Before I had a kid I had Opinions on how old was too old to be nursing. Like, I thought, if the kid was old enough to speak up and ask to nurse, it was too old. Now my educated, considered, and strongly held opinion is that it's none of my god damned business how or whether anybody else's kid nurses. They know what's going on with them; I don't. I have enough to do just figuring out what my own kid needs.

Speaking of which, I stayed up too late last night reading Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parent's Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More, which I got because of a recommendation from The Fat Nutritionist on Twitter. It's theoretically aimed at adoptive parents, but has a lot to say that is relevant to anyone who's feeding a kid. Perhaps especially anyone who has food issues of their own, although, do I know any adults who don't have food issues of their own? Anyway, I found it a can't-put-it-down page-turner.

I have been thinking a lot lately about letting go of things I can't control. My baby goes to daycare. He's come home making signs that I don't know. He's learning things that we haven't taught him. It's weird. Really weird. I have to let it go. He's going to learn things I don't teach him, maybe even things I don't want him to know, or not to know at a given time - biting, for example, which we have already gotten a note about an incident of - and that's probably even a good thing. No parent, not even the best-intentioned, should be in complete control of everything their kid learns. I have to let it go.

There are people I really like whom I am coming to terms with the fact that they just don't like me as much as I like them. Not that they don't like me, I think? But you know how it is. There are people you like and you want to see more often… and there are people you like, and you see them maybe once every year or two, and that is just fine by you. And I am that person to some people. And that's okay. I have to let it go.

I've been having a lot of anxiety lately… not just about the election, but Lord knows, it doesn't help. And I'm trying to get better about curating my own news reading. I don't need to click on every "read this to be outraged! If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!" link my friends retweet about horrible things happening in Naperville, or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is not one goddamn thing I can do for women in the Congo. Seriously. Not one thing. To be anxious about them is a narcissistic, masochistic indulgence that does not help them at all. I don't need to pay attention to things I can't affect or help in any way. In fact I specifically need to not do it, because, because it eats up energy I could be spending on things I actually can affect. Attention is the currency of the day. The things I can't afford to spend it on: I have to let them go.
metaphortunate: (Default)
I know seven het couples, including the one I form a part of, that got together and got serious despite both of them knowing at the time that one half of the couple wanted to have children, or at least a child, and one half strongly did not.

All seven of those het couples currently have one child, and I happen to know that at least one of the others is currently working on a second.

Possibly there are tons and tons of couples who get together despite this discrepancy and many of them end up with no kids but it just happens that the seven that I know all went the other way.

In four of them the guy was the one who wanted a child, in three it was the girl.

I don't know any of the people in the other couples well enough to ask them if they got pressured. (I feel like you would have to know someone really fucking well to ask that question. Or, not at all. I've had some hella deep conversations with people I knew I would never meet again.) I know that I was never pressured, that I changed my mind, and didn't tell Mr. E until it was almost too late, because it's such a difficult thing to change your mind about. I wonder how it went for other people.

I'm sure a lot of people get together but don't get serious because they don't agree on this issue. I wonder whether there is any correlation between getting serious and secret doubts about one's position. At the time we started getting serious, I didn't have conscious doubts. Still, I'd never seriously considered getting my tubes tied. In retrospect, I wonder about that. My brain does a lot of shit it doesn't feel the need to let me in on.

I don't have any conclusions, but I think about it a lot.

Have a couple of links:

"No Children", by the Mountain Goats.

"The Ghost Ship that Didn't Carry Us", by Cheryl Strayed.
metaphortunate: (Junebug)
Last night I dreamed (vivid, fever dreams) that the Junebug was not an actual human baby; I dreamed that we had adopted a baby gorilla. And I was looking at him, lying in his crib in his diaper, all furry, and thinking that right now he is adorable and everybody loves him but what is going to happen when he is a full-grown male gorilla? We won't be able to control him! Full-grown male gorillas are dangerous! He'll have been raised as a human, but he'll never be able to live alone - what happens when we're gone! And in the dream I was thinking that maybe I wanted to have a human baby of my own - but what would the Junebug think, would he think that we loved him any less, would he hate his sibling for being so different and being able to do stuff he'd never do?

Hello, my anxieties about having a special needs child!

(No reason as of now to think that the Junebug is special needs - but these things happen sometimes.)

It's really ugly how having a baby has forced me to confront some of my own -isms. I want my child to be able to walk, I want my child to be able to read! How different is that from saying "I want a child who is able to walk?" I think it's different? But maybe not that different. Argh. But I want all these things for him, I want his path to be easy! I guess it's just really important not to project disappointment on him for the harder paths that he may end up having to take in some way.
metaphortunate: (I'm tasty)
Sometimes I wonder whether feeling bad about myself just about all the time is like the teind my brain feels the need to pay to Society for the fact that I do whatever the hell I want to just about all the time. It's like, as a mother I should be spending all my time playing educational games with the Junebug to develop his little brain and body and promote proper socialization or whatever, plus researching preschools, plus sanitizing all his toys, plus eating absolutely as healthy as possible because of nursing, plus going to bed early so I can be emotionally resilient and present for my child in the morning, plus gazing lovingly into his little eyes while nursing instead of dicking around on my phone. And as a professional I should be all caught up on submitting my experience reports for licensure and studying for my licensing exams, not to mention volunteering for overtime. And as a wife I should be making sure that Mr. E and I have alone time and real conversations when we have the chance. And as a friend I should be making more time to see my friends, and call them, not to mention I should not abandon [personal profile] hradzka in the middle of interesting online conversations. And as a feminist I should be reading the Marq'ssan Cycle or watching incredibly depressing movies like Osama that Raise Awareness but ideally would also be directed by women so that I could support Women in Hollywood. And as a functional adult I should have my budget all sorted out and know immediately how much money is coming in and how much money is going out and where to and I should be maxing out my retirement etc. and making the smartest possible financial choices. And also my house should be clean and things should not just live in heaps in the bedroom and living room. And as a fan I should be finishing the fanworks I have started. And as a nerd I should care more about things like robots and Maker Faire and I should like to design mechanical things and I should have far more cool and productive hobbies, ideally involving math in some way. And as a person with a stake in the future of my country and of the world I should be working on ways to lobby the government or possibly Occupying something somewhere.

But as me, I do some of these things, maybe, sometimes, in a haphazard and half-assed way, and instead I spend my time on the web, on Twitter, on this ridiculously moribund journaling site; I spend it reading completely socially unredeeming novels like Georgette Heyer; I spend it window shopping, I spend it sleeping when Mr. E will take the baby, I spend it on fic, I spend it drawing goofy jokes, I spend it looking at fashion blogs! I spend it kissing the baby, but also trying to get him to play with a toy by himself so I can have fifteen minutes to clear out my closet. I spend it watering my sad-ass plants and hoping they'll do better come spring. IDK. I enjoy the things I choose to do! But I feel awful about choosing to do them pretty much all the time. It's like, as long as I feel bad about not being a successful nurturing productive socially responsible member of society, that at least is something I can do that I'm supposed to be doing?

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