Thursday, April 28, 2016

My commute and my life in 7 years

I've fallen woefully behind on this 30 day challenge, and the end of the month is almost upon us. I'm not even halfway done. Here is the challenge if you are interested. 

What?

I told you guys that I was bad at both completing tasks and following instructions.

I'm doing two of the prompts today in an pathetic attempt to get back on track, though I know it likely won't make much of a difference, and I'll likely never finish the rest of this challenge.

Self awareness, for the win.

The first prompt is about my commute to and from work/school; the second about my life in 7 years.

Oookay.


My Commute
Considering I am sitting here in my pajamas on the couch with the laptop and the dog, I don't really have one, at least not in the truest sense of the word. I work from home almost all the time, and these days I don't ever write nearly as much as I used to or should now. Frankly, I'm too busy homeschooling and toddler wrangling to get any time to "work" beyond the work that all that stuff entails.

I'm a bit frustrated with the reality of my situation at the moment, not so much because I'm personally frustrated by it, but because it has become apparent that I'm essentially the worst nightmare of one of my daughters. The idea of being a mom stuck at home with a ton of kids, regardless of what other contributions to society she might make in addition, is abhorrent to her.

Sigh.

I felt the same way at her age. I still feel that way a lot now. I've mostly made my peace with my place in life at the moment, but there are days that I still question everything, particularly the days when it's made obvious just how negatively this place is viewed by her, though I suppose my being here is actually the luxury that gives her that perspective in the first place.

I digress.

This was supposed to be about my commute.

My primary occupation, if you don't want to consider it "work", is parenting. I live in my car for hours and hours each day, shuttling kids to and from school and doctors and orthodontists and band.

My desired occupation, that of a writer, doesn't have a commute. In the imaginary world where I could get up each morning with a hot cup of coffee and nothing else to do, I could churn out books left and right. Perhaps someday....

My secondary occupation, the one where I stand in bars full of drunk people and read questions, doesn't currently have a commute as I am waiting on a venue. My fingers and toes are crossed that the one I'm pulling for comes through, and if the planets composed of bars full of drunk people align, my commute will be approximately 10 minutes each direction.

My Life in 7 Years
Ooooh, math, and the kind that I despise the very most in this world, the kind that makes me look into the future and figure out how old I'll be and my children will be someday.

In 7 years, I will be 46.
I will have been married for 25 years, with my husband 31.
My oldest will be 21, the age I was when I got married. He should graduate college that year.
My older daughter will be 20, in the middle of college.
My younger daughter will be 18 and a senior in high school, getting ready to graduate.
My middle son will be 14, a freshman in high school.
My baby will be 8.

Aside from the terrifying truth of those numbers and where my kids will likely be in life at that point, I don't actually know what I'll be doing.

My two current homeschoolers should be back in the public school system at that point. The older of the two is going back to middle school this fall. Barring any reason to keep my son or pull either of them, I'm assuming they'll both be in public high school in 7 years.

I'll have two kids probably in college. Two.

The only two kids I was ever supposed to have, according to my initial life plan. Heh.

The baby won't be a baby anymore, and whether he is in public school or homeschooled remains to be seen. A lot of that is going to depend on how he learns and grows and whether any marked changes happen to the school system around here at the elementary level. He might still be home, learning here. He might be in school. I don't know. A lot of where I am will depend on where he is.

By then, I hope that I'm working more, doing something. Anything. I'd like to still be doing pub quizzes because it's fun even if I still freak the fuck out when I have to do it.

I hope I've finished at least one of the many books I'm working on.

I hope that I'm able to work as a doula more consistently.

Beyond that, I'm not expecting anything specific. 7 years ago, I was a very different person in a very different place. Pretty much everything about my life was different. I had no clue how much was going to change. I had no clue about a lot of things.

Back then, I still had both of my parents.

Ack.

Can I be done with this prompt now?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the bathrooms and Beyonce edition

Rawr.

These past few days, goddamn.


If you don't understand what Lemonade is, then it's not for you
Sunday afternoon, my husband took most of the kids fishing and while he was gone and the baby was asleep, I watched Lemonade. I'd been seeing posts and comments from friends raving about it all morning, this visual album that needed to be watched to be understood.

I watched it, not really having any idea what it was about.

I didn't want to spoil anything for myself ahead of time.

Good.

Lord.

It was good. It was so fucking amazing.

I need to watch it about 12 more times to really experience it all fully, but I'm not sure that I can handle it emotionally.

Musically, visually, spiritually. It is a story of long histories and pain and healing and redemption and rage.

I don't for one second think that this was made for me, but I related on far too many levels to the images and words. I know that my experience with it is one limited by my experiences in life, by my perspective, and I know full well that this all just means more to black women. So much more and for so many reasons.

I'll not be commenting on any of that specifically because I learned a very long time ago when it is not my place to opine, where it is my place to yield to those with a closer relationship, a deeper understanding.

I stand back now in deep adoration, drinking in the words of those women, the ones like Luvvie. Please go and read her piece here. 

In the days following the release, I've seen people in the media wondering how she maintained so much control about the project itself and protected it from leaks ahead of time.

We don't see conversations like this with male artists. No one muses aloud about how they became so saavy about the business aspects.

I've seen people question the authenticity of her emotions because she's making money on the sale of the music, as if that has ever been a basis to invalidate what male artists had to say.

I've seen people (who I imagine didn't actually watch the piece, but commented on screenshots instead) condemn her for politicizing music, who've vowed never to support her because of her support of the BLM movement, of the fact that she provided a space for the mourning mothers to let their pain be seen.

Music isn't made purely for entertainment, at least not all of it. Music, I'd argue the important music, is made for a reason beyond fleeting amusement. It's tied to a story, it's intended to connect to the audience, it's intended to make a statement, it's intended to make you feel something. Just because her career began in pop music doesn't mean she's disqualified from saying something with more meaning today. No. No it does not.

I've seen people bash her for airing her dirty laundry, for the accusations made about her father, her husband. I've seen people rush to the defense of her husband, shame her for mentioning what happened between them. Blame her for the reactions of her fans based on the social media posts of potential Beckys.

Fuck that noise right now.

No, seriously. Fuck. That. Noise.

This is her story to tell.

She didn't name names. If the women who might have been involved in the attempted destruction of her marriage out themselves on social media, that's not her fault.

If you're feeling sympathy for the man who appears to have betrayed her, made amends, reconciled and appeared in the video....well...

This story is about her. Her life, her love, her pain, her rage, her healing, her marriage. It's not about the woman or women who ended up merely becoming a footnote in her story.

This is her story to tell.

If this is the manner in which she has chosen to tell it, one which is resonating deeply and profoundly with large numbers of people of all genders and ages and relationship statuses, then so be it. If it makes you uncomfortable, oh well. I don't think she cares. If you don't get it, good for you. For real.

Then this isn't for you.

Move along.

This isn't for you.

Stop believing it is supposed to be.

p.s. Piers Morgan, this sure as hell isn't for you. Sit down.

Bathroom Bills Gone Wild
I seriously cannot believe that we are at a point in society where we are arguing about bathrooms.

I'm going to bullet this list because I'm pretty fucking tired of arguing.

- If you're worried about your daughter sharing a bathroom with transgender people, you should probably keep her away from every adult and older child she knows and is exposed to as well, because they're far more likely to abuse her.

- Do you just not care about the boys? Um....because your logic seems to suggest that all those predators are now and should remain in the men's bathrooms. With your sons.

- That little girl you're so passionate about saving might actually associate as male. And that son you don't seem too concerned about may have been assigned to the incorrect body at birth. I apologize for just blowing your mind.

- The same logic used in these arguments were used before in regards to segregation. History. It's a thing.

- If you really care about protecting kids in bathrooms, lobby for sex offenders to be banned from all public bathrooms. Worry for half a second about the kid that was just beat to death inside a school bathroom instead of some imagined harm conjured up on cable news.

- The statistics don't support the claim that transgender individuals pose any threat to anyone in bathrooms. 

- There are elected officials that have been arrested for improper behavior in bathrooms.

- Trans people are far more likely to be victims, across the board, in every setting, public and private.

- It's none of your damn business whether a trans person has physically transitioned or not. Stop obsessing about genitalia.

- If the threat you've deemed legitimate is that predators will use bathroom equality as some way to enter bathrooms, you probably missed the part where they're criminals and don't actually follow the law anyway.

- Attacks in public bathrooms are exceedingly rare anyway. Pedophiles usually target and groom children they already know, not strangers.

- The fitting rooms at every Target I've been in for the last few years have been non-gender specific already. I was in one last night, actually. With lots of people of all ages. There were people who appeared male and people who appeared female. I did not demand to see anyone's genitals. The world did not explode.

- You've been sharing bathrooms with trans people already. For your entire life. For real.

OH. One more thing.

If someone says they'd rather share a bathroom with a trans person than a bigot, they aren't calling you a bigot....but if the shoe fits, feel free to lace that shit up and take a lap.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Things that make me laugh

These prompts are weird, can I just say that?

This one: Two words/phrases that make you laugh

Here is the link to the list if you're interested. 

So do they want two words or two phrases or two word phrases?

I have questions.


How about a two word phrase?

FART
NUGGETS

Admit it. You totally laughed right now.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

I'm supposed to tell you about my current relationship...

I knew from the moment I saw this challenge that I probably wouldn't finish it, but it was probably worth starting anyway for the sake of forcing me to write more frequently.

I've failed abundantly at it thus far, considering this is supposed to be the 11th day in the challenge, I started it early, and it's the 21st of April.

Oh well, I never have been good at following directions.

Today, the prompt reads, "Your current relationship; if single, discuss that."

Here's the link to the list of prompts if you're interested.

My current relationship. Well.



I've told you all almost everything about us and yet somehow have said virtually nothing. That's the trick of being a writer in this online world, this ability to simultaneously share everything and nothing.

If you'd have told me 24 years ago as I sat in a stuffy driver's education classroom, bored and annoyed by guy sitting in front of me, that one day I'd marry the quiet one beside me who had never even made eye contact with me up until that point, I'd likely have told you that you were crazy. Certifiably so.

Back then, I was more outgoing. I was far more reckless. I was in an odd place in my personal development, having already gone through the most turbulent times of my adolescence and making some attempts to atone for a string of awful choices. I was trying to fix all the things that were wrong with me the best I knew how. I was a mess, even at 15.

The guy in front of me, one who would talk incessantly, one who believed that I wanted anything to do with him. He tried, daily, to get me to feign interest in him.

I was trapped in the last seat in the row, on the aisle at the end, in the corner. When it got to the point that I couldn't take it anymore, I turned to my left, looking for an escape from the drone of his voice.

He was there.

He'd sat next to me for months by that point, but we'd never had any interaction at all. I introduced myself, desperate to make small talk. I don't even remember what we talked about in those moments, while I was trying to avoid someone else, while we were both supposed to be paying attention to some lecture about blind spots. I guess it doesn't matter now, not that it ever really did. He was my soft place to land when I was running away.

He is still my soft place to land when I'm running away.

This morning, one of our daughters woke us up at 6:18am. She needed me to cut her sandwich. Let me sleep a bit longer, I begged. He laughed at the ridiculousness of being awoken an hour before anyone had to leave to go anywhere to cut a sandwich.

Parenthood.

We both tried and failed to go back to sleep. The sun was up and sandwiches needed cut, after all.

I rolled over to his side, nuzzled my face deep into his chest, inhaling his scent. Beard balm, lotion, cologne, him.

We fit together perfectly, him and I.

We always did.

Even when we didn't.

Perhaps that sums up our relationship better than anything else I've ever written.

I could have stayed there forever this morning, our bodies intertwined.

We talked for a while as we lay there, willing the day not to start quite yet. About my brokenness and his, about the reasons we are who we are and how we got here, about how living in this world we occupy now, in this great after phase for us, is better even though I never thought we'd be here someday.

There were a great many times I wasn't sure we'd make it this far.

We did.

There's an ease to us now, one which didn't exist before. A rhythm.

He's home, and not my current home; he's my only home.

Home should be a soft place to land.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The vast difference between the first and the last

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while now, and every time I've sat down to write it, I've stopped myself.

I tell myself that I should not write it because someone out there is going to get mad, someone is going to take what I say personally, as an affront to them and their experiences.

It's none of those things.

I'm speaking as to my own experiences in this life, sharing the things I've learned along the way, wishing that I'd learned the things I know now earlier in my journey as a mother.

I should know by now that no good comes of allowing what other people might think to dictate anything about how or what I write. I should.

And yet, I hold it back.

I've started doing that more, mostly because I'm just tired of living in a world where everyone thinks everything is about them.

It's not.

This is about me.

Read it or don't. I'm good either way.

I do have a lot of miles on me as a mother though, so there is that.

Time takes on a different meaning once you have children, I think. It no longer moves in any type of predictable pattern. Some experiences are over and done in the blink of an eye, while others seem to linger, wafting in the air around us indefinitely. There aren't do-overs in life. No matter how hard we might try, we can't wish for time to reverse itself. The moments are fleeting, the years zoom by even when the days drag on for an eternity.

I see these posts shared online, I know you've seen them. Some of them scold the world for telling mothers what to feel. Some lash out at the things people say, the advice people give, the recommendations those who've been there before might make. Some even do that at exactly the same time they are lamenting the disappearance of the village, if one ever actually existed. Some seem to beg for help and cast it off in the same breath. Some insist that mothers savor every single moment, that they push aside everything else they are feeling to live entirely in the present, because "one day" this or that.

Here's the thing. It's all true.

Every single piece of it.

I've felt all those things. I've written about most of them. I've been on both sides of it all, the defiant new mother determined to do things my own way, angry at a world telling me that one day I'd miss the newborn stage, that sleep deprivation is temporary.

I know now just how wrong I was.

This is the wisdom that truly can only come, I think, from having done this as many times as I have. If you've figured this all out on your first go-round, kudos. I don't think most of us do.

I know I didn't.

I think most of us are so caught up in trying to do everything right that first time, in forging our own path for our growing family, of fighting against all the advice we deem awful. We're tired and sleep deprived, we convince ourselves that things would be better as soon as they were walking or talking or potty trained or in school, not ever realizing that we would be trading one set of struggles for another or that raising children never gets less complicated. We didn't realize that the hands on part of parenting diminishes as they age, but that everything else gets harder. We thought we knew better.

I thought I knew better.

I know now just how wrong I was.

I know now that sleep deprivation really is temporary. I know that for all the celebrations of all the firsts that they accomplish, there will also come a last, except that the lasts don't generally announce themselves with all the fanfare of the firsts. You might not even realize a last has come and gone until enough time has passed that you've realized that phase, whatever that phase was, is over.

Done.

Gone.

Forever.

There are so many of those moments, these lasts, and I can tell you with more certainty than I can tell you anything else about parenting this truth - you will miss this.

You might not miss it right away.
You might scoff at the idea of ever missing it now.
You might struggle to imagine a world where you're ever past this stage.

But it will end and you might not even notice until one day you do, and when you do, it will hit you.

It will hit you with enough force to level a tall building.

The last time that you nursed your baby.
The last time that they crawled into bed with you in the middle of the night.
The last time they fell asleep on the couch and you carried them to bed.
The last time they reached out for your hand in public.
The last time they asked you to hold them.

You'll blink and in that fraction of a second, they'll be grown. On the other side of that last.

I know, I know, you're reading this and shaking your head. I see you in the trenches. I remember what it was like when I was there the first time, and I'm still with you there this last time.

I'm down here with you still, in the land of teething and sleep regressions and mysterious rashes. I'm here. I see you.

And I know that even as hard as this all is at times, as much as I am exhausted and touched out and overextended and overwhelmed, I know that I'm going to miss this.

When my last babe stirred beside me last night, cupped my face in his tiny hands and said, "Nini, mama", then scooted down to nurse, telling me, "Lub you, mama", before he suckled his way back to sleep, the tiredness that resides deep in my bones was swept away immediately.


I can sleep later.

I know that there will come a day when he won't be whispering to me in the middle of the night.
I know that there will come a day when he will sleep and I will sleep.
I know.

He'll never be this age again.
I'll never have another baby in this place again.

I know this, because I've been here before.

I know I will miss this.

I already do.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Mom, have you written my birthday letter yet?

It's not quite your birthday, but you've already asked a few times when I am going to get this done. There's a part of me that wonders at what point you all will outgrow wanting me to write these letters, but it hasn't happened yet.

I'd be okay with it staying that way forever, by the way.

You'll be eleven in a couple of days. Finishing up elementary school in a few weeks. Moving on to middle school in a matter of months.


This year has been so full of changes and transitions for you.

So many of them, coming from so many different parts of your life, sometimes all at once.

These transitions haven't always been smooth ones, this is true. This year hasn't exactly been peaceful and calm all the time. When we decided to pull you out of elementary school and homeschool you this year, it wasn't a decision we made lightly or without (literal) years of contemplation. We were sure that it was time, we were sure that this was the year to do it, we we sure that our reasons were sound ones. This picture, this one right here, told me we did the right thing. You weren't anxious, you were happy to go to school for the first time in a long time.


You, for the most part, rolled with it. You knew why we were making such a drastic change. You embraced the homeschooling supplement program with great enthusiasm, having the opportunity to meet new people and study subjects you would never have had the chance to learn about in traditional school. You've thrived in that setting, you've learned far more independence and flexibility. You've even, dare I say it, learned to love to read.

Then there is the matter of the jazz hands. All the jazz hands.


This past summer when your brother couldn't go on the 14+ mile backpacking trip your Dad had already planned, you hesitantly agreed to go. You really weren't sure what to expect, having only done short hikes and trips before, but you absolutely loved it. Well, almost all of it. I know that middle of the night nosebleed and the afternoon when the dehydration hit you weren't the highlights, but you and Dad figured it all out together. You fixed what needed to be fixed and went on.


While you were out there, you fell in love with fishing, deeply in love with fly fishing. When the opportunity to take a fly fishing class here in town came up, you jumped at the chance, not hesitating for even a moment. After the first class, you mentioned that you were the only girl there merely in passing, telling me that you really don't care that you're the outlier and that you are this secure in your own skin that it doesn't phase you, even when other people point it out.


It's just not on your radar.


You love what you love, and you really don't care what other people say.

Plus, you can do a perfect whip finish on a fly. Dad still can't quite get that one down, needing to ask you for help instead.


The two of you need this together, this hiking and backpacking and fishing and fly tying. You are the one of our children most like me and you are the one of our children least like him in every other way. This gives you a boatload of things in common, things that you both love, things you are both passionate about, things you are both damn good at. I don't even know how many trips you have planned with your Dad currently. He taught you to paddleboard and backpack and fly fish and snow ski last year. I'm excited to see what you learn this year.


I think he's totally serious about wanting to climb one of the 14ers someday, and I'm sure you'll be the first one he asks.


At some point this past year, you also decided that you want to start competing in triathlons. I'm not entirely sure where this came from, but you've been training for it ever since you made up your mind. You weren't even a very strong swimmer when you decided to do this, but you jumped in the pool and started swimming laps anyway. You've been tacking on a lap to your total just about every time we go.

You're out there in the neighborhood running laps and pushing the bike rides longer and longer, racing against no one but yourself and the clock.

You've even tried to convince some of your siblings to sign up with you. Whether they agree remains to be seen, but you've had a head start on training for sure.

When people asked what you wanted for your birthday this year, you asked for a new pair of running shoes, a matching exercise outfit for the triathlon and a fishing pole.


Oh, and fake nails and makeup.

You still want to be fabulous, of course.


OF COURSE YOU DO. You're still the girl with the matching outfits and the leopard print rashguard.

You've always got one bag packed, one foot out the door. You're always on the lookout for the next adventure.

In the past few months, you've started cooking and baking too. It's turned into a full blown obsession, one that frequently leaves the kitchen looking like a complete mess. There have been a few times where things didn't quite work out according to the recipe, but for the most part, they've been wild successes. You love contributing to the family meals, you love making special things for each person, you've even started asking people for requests.

I can see you on Cupcake Wars someday.


As this school year comes to a close and the planning for next year begins, I know that you are a little unsure of how it will go - I know that going back into public school has you nervous. It will be okay. You will be okay. You've learned already this year just how well you do in a school setting where classes change all the time. You've learned already how to get around the campus and adjust to the preferences of different teachers. Since your older brother and sister have already been through this middle school, you already know many of the teachers too. Many of your friends from elementary school will be there, and you'll meet even more new people.


You're going to be okay, in fact, you're going to be better than okay.

You're going to be amazing, because that's the one thing you've proven this past year more than any other. You truly can do anything you set your mind to and will work and work until you reach your goals.

You just have to decide to do it.


Keep setting those goals. Keep surprising me with the newest thing that you fall in love with, then teach yourself how to do perfectly. Keep refusing to fit into the tiny boxes people try to put you in. Keep following your heart.

I'll be here, searching for deals on those books you love, keeping track of your lap times, obliging whenever you want to try a new recipe, taking pictures of you when you aren't paying attention.

I love you, sweet girl.

Stay you.

Happy birthday.

Love,
Mama

p.s. YOU are my superwoman.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A fruit I dislike and why

God. Do you guys honestly care about this?

LOL

I'm going to guess that no....no you do not.

I didn't make up the list. Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.



A fruit I dislike. Hmm.

I'm going to be really specific. 

Red Delicious Apples. 

I love most varieties of apples and even buy these ones when I'm making something specific with them, but to just eat? Nope. It's a combination of a texture issue and the specific flavor of this variety. Just not my thing. 

I love Galas and Pink Ladies and Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps. Oh, the honeycrisps. But never ever a red delicious. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the this election is a sham edition

I wasn't going to write today, but then I got online this morning and saw a few things that told me I was wrong. I am writing.

So there.


This is some next level victim blaming....
This past weekend, a mother of 3 from Washington disappeared after going on a date with a man she met online. News broke this morning that body parts were found in a recycling container, though they haven't made a positive identification yet. It appears they've found her.

A 37 year old man was arrested in connection with the discovery.

And you might already be able to guess where I'm going with this....

Instead of being appalled at the crime that appears to have been committed here, instead of being disgusted that there are predators like this out there in the world who wouldn't just kill someone but chop them up into little pieces, instead of expressing concern for her kids....people online have condemned her to death because she met up with a guy from the internet.

Wait. What???

Yes, this is actually happening in the comment section of every page and website running this story. There are people who expect this woman to have saved her own life by never meeting anyone from the internet rather than expecting whoever killed her to NOT KILL HER. So, it's her fault.

I bet that if it is discovered that she was also raped, we should probably bash her for whatever she was wearing too, because god knows that these men certainly can't control themselves when there are women to rape and murder and chop up into pieces.

Seriously, wtf is wrong with this society?

What happens when you actually go back and watch movies or read books critically....
This one is likely to ruffle a few feathers, so go grab your pitchforks. I'll wait.

I read some of The Jungle Book Stories with the kids last week in preparation for the new version of the movie being released this week. Re-reading some of these books that I loved as a child now as an adult has rattled my cage more than a little bit, I have to say. Now, I'm more critical. I ask questions. I get angry at the portrayals of races and genders. I bristle at the assumptions made by the author, of the biases and the stereotypes. This book is full of them, let me tell you.

But that wasn't enough....nooooooo....we had to go and watch the animated Disney version of The Jungle Book and holy shit, you guys. I was sort of prepared to want to throw things at the television, but I wasn't really prepared for just how awful it was.

There are only three female characters in the movie, the main of which, Mama Wolf, was voiced by a man because of course she was voiced by a man. The mother elephant is disregarded, talked down to, yelled at and/or ignored...then her son comes along and says all the same things she does and his father stops and listens and complies. WHAT.

That's not even the worst part (I mean, aside from the racist King Louie thing and the whole underlying issue of the song I wanna be like you)...but at the end of the movie when he sees the little girl for the first time, they tell him she's trouble.

GREAT MESSAGE DISNEY THANKS.

Then she sings a cute little song about how she has to get the water because she's the girl and someday she'll have a husband to do the man things and she'll stay home and cook and then she'll have a daughter to get the water.

***bangs head on wall

I almost don't even want to go see the new version at this point, but I'm going to try, if for nothing else than to point out whatever subtle or not-so-subtle racism, classism, imperialism and sexism is in this one.

Rawr.

Viruses and allergies and rashes, oh my!
My poor baby is covered in rashes, a few different ones, in varying degrees of healing. He had a particularly bad case of hand, foot and mouth disease a few weeks ago which he still isn't totally done peeling from. Really, we need to call it what it is.

He's molting.

My baby is molting.

As if that wasn't enough, he already had underlying eczema which has been extremely aggravated by the HFM and has now shown up in patches all over his little body.

Then, last week, he finally got his first dose of the MMR (If you're going to start in on me about vaccines in any way, lemme just stop you right there. He didn't have the dose at a year because he was running a fever and he's a well documented reactor when it comes to vaccines. He will be caught up with the schedule soon, though. If you want to tell me whatever your opinions are about the dangers of vaccines, know that I'm sticking my fingers directly in my ears and yelling lalalalalalalalalala I can't hear you. On purpose. I have studied epidemiology quite extensively and am very familiar with the risk and benefits of vaccines. Don't argue with someone who has a background in public health about this stuff.) Deep breath. Anyway, he got his MMR last week, and is having the rash reaction to that too.

On top of all the other stuff.

My poor bebe. I just want him to not be polka dotted and itchy for a little bit.

The 2016 three ring circus that we call an election
SO MANY THINGS I want to say here, but for the purposes of brevity, I'm making this short bulleted list of a few points.

  • Bill needs to stop trying to help his wife.
  • Bill and Hillary need to stop trying to talk down to the #BLM movement. 
  • The wonder of our system is that each party in every state does the primary/caucus thing differently, which this year looks an awful lot like 100+ different ways to screw up. 
  • This election is going to piss off a lot of people in both major parties because of the way that delegates are being awarded. And it's only going to get worse. A lot worse.
  • We need to let go of the idea that we can only function as a two party system. There is far more variety than that allows and the two party system is a complete disaster anyway.
  • The media should be more equal about the time they give, positively and negatively, to the candidates. They are supposed to do that, but it's not even close this year.
  • Trump needs to remember that this thing called the internet exists and you can't just ignore everything you've ever done or said in the past because you're trying to convince people you're a conservative now.
  • Fact checking memes should be required before posting online.

Monday, April 11, 2016

My feelings on ageism

Told you guys that I'd eventually manage to screw this challenge up royally. Heh.

I tend not to write much anymore, and I tend to write even less on the weekends. It is what it is, it just makes me terrible at following through with anything like this.

Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.


I'm supposed to tell you my feelings on ageism today, which is generally defined as discriminatory treatment towards a group of people on the basis of age. Though it is usually used in terms of older people, it can apply to any circumstance where a person is stereotyped because of their age. 

Anyone who has been around this blog for any length of time can probably figure out that I'm not a fan of most of the -isms. Age is really just a number as it is, and our experiences in life are far more indicative of our knowledge base in any one area than the number of times we've orbited the sun could ever be. 

Ageism, like most of the various -isms is firmly rooted in assumptions and stereotypes, which are rooted likely in the biases of those people who first started to develop them, which were in turn likely began because of some ulterior motive. 

In other words, ageism exists because something about people of a certain age threatens someone else in some way.

That threat can be the age itself, though that likely isn't the case most of the time. There might certainly be circumstances of categorical ineligibility based on age, either at the young or old end of the spectrum, where people are forbidden from doing something solely based on age, like driving or voting or enlisting in the military or working in certain jobs. These limits are quite arbitrary and may indeed be irrelevant for measuring an individual's ability to do something, but usually exist because there is some larger reason at play. On the young side of the spectrum, we want to ensure maturity in decision making presumably. At the older end, we might want to guarantee that the training necessary to work in a certain field will usually result in a person being able to work a certain number of years to justify said training. So we just assign categorical limits, fairly or not, because of some larger reason.

Usually, though, there isn't some pseudo-legitimate reason for the bias. Most of the time, we are talking about straight up assumptions made about people solely because of their age, which sucks. 

Have you ever had someone assume you don't have the necessary experience or expertise in an area just because you were young?

Have you ever had someone assume you aren't up to date on new advancements just because you are older than they are?

Then you've dealt with it. Almost all of us either have or will deal with it at some point.

I think it's part of the human condition, particularly in our youth-obsessed society. Women in particular have to deal with this more than men ever do. Men become more distinguished as they age.....women just get old, so says everything media. I mean, seriously...have you ever seen an ad for women's hair color where the goal is to keep some of the gray? Hell no. We're supposed to cling to our youth desperately with neck creams and wrinkle filler and botox treatments. 

But then, that's an issue of multifaceted bias, which is just reality. It's all intersectional, and I don't think you can really just talk about ageism without talking about the biases that go right along with it. 

I digress. 

I was always on the young side because I skipped a grade and grew up resenting my age most of the time until I was finally old enough to do whatever it was that everyone around me was able to do. I've been the youngest mom in a playgroup and will be one of the oldest once my youngest starts school. These days, I'm on the other side of it, as someone who recently started working in a field where I'm definitely on the older side. Let's just say the pub quiz universe isn't dominated by women pushing 40 with a herd of children. I'm an outlier, if there ever was one. I've seen both sides, for sure.

Luckily, I'm still hilarious at my age.

Get off my lawn.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A book you love and one you didn't

Told you guys I'd start screwing this challenge up eventually. Heh. This is why I started early. *high five self*

Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.


There are so many books that I love, and this prompt wants me to choose just one. Really? A more interesting question would have been which books changed my life....now, that is something I could have written quite a bit about. 

I have written a little bit in the past about some of the books I love, so I will sit here with this for a moment and try and decide which other I should include here. 

Tick tock.

It's like asking me which kid is my favorite.

Dante's Inferno. Dark, yes?

Dark and delicious, full of intricate descriptions meant to stimulate the senses and recoil you in horror. 

I love it and have loved it since the first moments I spent with it in high school. If you haven't read it before, I encourage you to do so. The book is the first in the three part Divine Comedy, this one focused on journeying through the 9 rings of hell. If you haven't read it, I don't want to spoil much for you by talking about it. If you have read it, you already know just what I mean. On the off chance you read it and hated it, I'm going to guess you read it as an assigned text in school. Re-read it as an adult voluntarily...I promise your relationship with it will change.

As for a book I didn't love. Well. 

I've been trying to finish Unbroken for months now. It is literally sitting on my nightstand taunting me. I really wanted to love it. I'm still trying to love it. 

I don't love it.

Unfortunately, I felt exactly the same way about the film. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the bad information edition

Hey look, it's Tuesday and I'm actually writing this on time.

Don't get used to it.

I haven't actually been watching much of the news for the last few days because the kids are on spring break this week. We're headed to the botanical gardens and art museum today once they can all pry themselves from their beds.

Anyhow, it's time to get angry.


The Gap Kids Ad
If you haven't seen it yet, go look. I'll wait.

Within seconds of seeing it, I saw the problem. One little girl, used as an emotionless prop, while the others around her demonstrate their abilities and joy. It isn't just an issue of race, but that's certainly a part of the criticism of the shot.

Queue the people saying that it's a cute picture and everyone is just overreacting, political correctness is going to ruin our world......5, 4, 3, 2....

Here's the thing, though. It isn't.

Advertising is something we all have to live with being thrown at us from all angles in this society. We know that advertising is already damaging in a multitude of ways to impressionable young girls especially, ones who are already being taught that the only acceptable forms for them to take as humans are thin, usually blonde, pretty, cis and straight.

Grown women and men rage about the messages being sent to them fairly often. This one is aimed at a much younger audience. And really, what does it say to you when you look at it?

Strip away all your defenses, all the canned arguments you use to convince yourself that things are fine and innocuous, all the assumptions you make about the people who take ads like this one personally, and just stare at the image for a little while.

Now imagine you're a little girl doing it.

We can do better.

Crowdsourcing everything
Awesomely Luvvie wrote a fantastic piece on crowdsourcing yesterday, one that hits just about every point of contention I have with this trend. You can read it here if you are interested.

Her name speaks the truth - she really is awesome.

In addition to all the things she mentions, I wanted to talk about two aspects. The first, the fact that people in this country shouldn't be forced to crowdfund anything related to medical care in the first place. The good old U.S. of A., where we claim to be the greatest nation in the land, but even people WITH insurance are hosting these crowdfunding things to try and pay for hospital stays, not to mention the impossible position of anyone without insurance.

It really shouldn't be like this. No one should be forced to choose between death and debt.

The other issue that I have, beyond the questionable nature of so many of these fundraising endeavors, is that people shouldn't have to out themselves for the medical conditions they are dealing with and ask other people for money to pay for things that should be covered. Health privacy is tossed right out the door when someone needs help, and that's pretty messed up.

Only those well insured with enough cash to fill in the gaps are entitled to privacy anymore.

The pathetic state of postpartum care
In my 13 years as a doula, this is something I've not seen improve in any way, shape or form. In many ways, it's actually gotten worse. The internet and its know-it-all shame-everyone ways make everything worse.

Our system really and truly only cares about the pregnancy as a fictional separate entity, then about the newborn after delivery.

The mother, merely a vessel.

Sounds harsh, right?

Well, it is.

While they are pregnant, women are given care almost to the extremes - so long as we're only talking about the "best thing for the baby" and the physical things we can objectively evaluate, as if there is such a thing as "only one best thing for the baby" and only the physical things we can objectively evaluate matter.

Neither is true.

This fallacy that doctor always knows best and that maternal instincts are silly things we should brush aside is deeply rooted in a movement that has placed almost all the trust about pregnancy in the hands of (largely) men with no basis in evidence. Hospital births, the lithomy position, the idea that anything beyond 40 weeks is dangerously overdue, the idea that inductions are acceptable at the will of whoever when there is no medical indication, the idea that women can't trust their bodies at all and that they need someone to tell them what is proper....it's damaging. And now, it's the "norm". Study the history of maternity care just a little in this country and you'll understand what I mean.

In the current political climate especially, the constant focus is on the baby. The mother's well being a distant second, usually just a mere afterthought. Once the baby is here, the baby is quite literally all that matters. How much is baby eating, wetting, pooping, sleeping, gaining? Is baby hitting milestones? Does baby have all the immunizations? Does baby have everything they could possibly need?

Mom? One postpartum appointment at 6 weeks out to make sure that her physical being has mostly healed.

One.

By then, she's been required to care for this infant around the clock for 6 weeks, told by all the well meaning people in the world about everything she is doing wrong. She's doubted her abilities, she's lost a decent amount of blood, she hasn't slept much. She may have gone to hell and back in her head a few times by 6 weeks. Post partum anxiety and depression, if present, showed up a long time before that 6 week check up. By now, they've moved in and decided to stay.

All anyone on the outside cares about is when she'll get her body back.

No one cares about her mental health, her emotional well being, the fact that having a newborn is one of the most isolating experiences in life, and that we leave new mothers to figure all this out alone. The village doesn't exist for most women, and the medical community certainly isn't a guaranteed part of it.

So, to all the new mothers in my life: I'm calling and texting and emailing you periodically for a reason. It's not to be nosy. It's not to intrude. I'm checking on you just in case no one else is.

We absolutely have to do better.

I feel like I'm saying that a lot lately.

Sigh.

Speaking of postpartum care, let's talk about bad information
It amazes me sometimes how much information is disseminated to new parents with little or no basis in facts. Our society is a bizarre one to say the least when it comes to the expectations we place on babies.

Yeah, you read that right. On babies.

Not necessarily on the parents.

On the babies.

We say that "good" babies are the ones who sleep, who don't cry...ignoring the fact that all babies cry and it's absolutely normal for a baby to have day and night confused for weeks after birth. Babies sleep as much as 20 hours a day, just not in the chunks we want them to - that doesn't mean they don't sleep, they just sleep in the way babies sleep.

We believe that it's super important to push babies to be on schedules, to hit milestones exactly as dictated. We're told that cosleeping is dangerous when the truth is that a breastfeeding mother who is otherwise healthy and unmedicated can (and some would argue should) cosleep to foster the nursing relationship, which is actually protective against SIDS in those circumstances, not another risk factor.

Babies are supposed to wake at night to feed. Nighttime milk has a significantly higher fat content, entirely different in makeup than daytime milk.

I could make a laundry list of things new parents are told, rules they are given, guidelines they're supposed to adhere to, almost none of them with any basis in evidence.

New parents of the world - none of the experts are experts on your baby. None of the experts live in your house. None of the experts are raising this particular child. None of the experts know the skills and the deficiencies you bring to the table, none of them know the individual needs of this exact baby. None of them know about your history or mental health.

Follow your instincts first.

The smile and nod at whatever people tell you. Just smile and nod.

(I actually did that just yesterday as I was being lectured about cosleeping and extended nursing....you'd think I'd come with a warning sign by now...)

Monday, April 4, 2016

What tattoos you have and if they have meaning

This is day 7. I think. Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.


This prompt wants me to write about my tattoos and tell you if they mean anything. I currently only have one tattoo. I debated having ink done for several years before I finally went through with it. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't just being immature and impulsive, that it was something I would never regret. 

I chose a four leaf clover as an homage to my Irish heritage. 

I have plans to get several additional tattoos. I want a Wonder Woman symbol to remind myself that I am a badass, a semicolon to represent all of my struggles, a purple butterfly for my parents and something (not sure what yet) about my kids.

Someday.

What about you? Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you?

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Someone who fascinates you and why

Day 6 of the writing challenge and I haven't quit yet. Woo.

Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.


Unlike yesterday's question, I like this one. I like it a lot. I especially like it because I knew who I'd be writing about instantly.

My daughter.

There are moments when I stare at her, wondering, questioning. I don't understand how her mind operates, I don't get what makes her tick. I don't know why she does the things she does. I don't.

There are times when I've joked about wishing that I could shrink myself down, crawl into her ear and take a look around in her head. I wonder what it is like in there.

She fascinates me completely and entirely because I don't understand her. I never have. I probably never really will. 

Fortunately, all I need to do is ask my husband.

He gets her.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A place you would live, but have never visited

Day 5. What?

This is a strange question.

Hi. Here's the list.  Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.


I don't know that I'd live anywhere without having been there first. This is an odd question. For the sake of being cooperative and following instructions, I'll give it a shot though.

I've never been to Chicago (I know....I know.....), but I'd live there. I mean, this question assumes that I'd have some compelling reason to move there and the financial means to do so. 

I guess technically I have been to Chicago, but only to the airport. That doesn't count, does it?

I have to pick somewhere, so I might as well pick a place where some of my favorite online people live. 

I don't like this question. 

Next.

Friday, April 1, 2016

10 Interesting Facts About Me

Day 4 of this writing challenge.  Here's the list: The Writer Circle's 30 day writing challenge.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I detest numbered lists, so there's that. Maybe that's the first interesting fact about me. Heh. See what I just did right there?


I guess we'll start with #2 then, since I'm claiming that one for my first answer.

2. I nearly died of food poisoning as an infant. 
3. That might be why I have so many weird food quirks, like the need to smell everything before I eat it.
4. I can juggle.
5. I cannot whistle.
6. I was named after a character on a television show.
7. I was a curator in a science museum in junior high school.
8. I was kicked out of Catholic school in 4th grade.
9. My allergies are so bad that I lose my sense of smell for months at a time.
10. I was on a television quiz show in elementary school and now read quizzes to bars full of drunk people because it's the circle of life. 

Your turn. What are 10 interesting things about you?

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