10 September 2012

Fashion, friends, and food poisoning

1) So Mimi is nine and starting fourth grade and she doesn't give a crap about her clothes. By which I mean she has certain items of clothing she likes, and some she doesn't, but she has no sense of whether things match or if she is wearing two different socks or whatever. I admire this about her but also, I'm worried that she's getting to the age where people start to notice this stuff. I clearly remember getting teased in fourth grade because I was the same way and this one time I had on pants that were totally too short. Some girl laughed because I was wearing "floods" and I didn't even know what that MEANT. 

So I guess I'm debating whether and how to bring this up with her. 
I know she'll get teased eventually because most of us do, and I don't want to make her self-conscious when she isn't, but I don't really want her to get teased if it's something I can help with. 

2) I'm now friends with my ex-husband on facebook. It seemed kind of silly to keep sending him pictures that I'd already posted and since we do things together with the girls so often, and for the most part get along, it just seemed pointless not to be. Of course this means I will have to be more careful about filtering posts but I should do that anyway.

3) I got food poisoning of some sort last week. I know this because I ended up at the doc on Friday after some, uh, slightly worrying symptoms. I was feeling a little better and had a table at Bookfest yesterday, which went really well, but I also ate a sandwich for lunch while I was there and apparently that was a mistake because last night I had massive nausea and ick again. 

Also due to being ill I wasn't as prepared for Bookfest as I would have liked and nearly sold out. But the good thing is that gives me a great idea of what will go over well when I do Liberty Local at the end of October. I need to get crocheting. The Oods in particular were a big hit. Also the tiny cell phone charms. 

04 September 2012

Summer's end

Tomorrow is the first day of school, so Saturday was zoo day. The girls have been asking to go all summer so we finally arranged it -- we being their dad and me. Yes, I spent all day at the zoo with my ex-husband and our children. And it actually wasn't bad. We get along well, relatively speaking, and doing an outing like this is a lot easier now than when we were married and I was trying to make everything go perfectly all the time because I knew it wasn't perfect at all. 

So then today as a last hurrah I took the girls out for ice cream for breakfast. My friend Magda had the original idea and brought her two boys, and my sister brought her two boys. We went to the neighborhood ice cream/doughnut/dairy shop, and for 20 or 30 minutes the three adults were inside while all the kids were outside. They were directly outside the window where we sat, but for people walking their dogs or babies, it looked rather like vagabond children decided to wander down for ice cream at 9:30 in the morning. 

Tonight we went to my sister's new place for dinner with her and the boys, and Boo had an ear of corn, two spoonfuls of taco meat, and two pieces of apple pie. She wanted more pie but I refused on the grounds that I actually wanted her to sleep tonight. Mimi had a spoonful of taco meat, three sweet potato fries, and half a bag of Funyons. Obviously today was not a day for worrying about what they were putting in their mouths. 

Kids are fast asleep with clothes laid out and lunches packed (I'm organized at least one day of the year) and I'm contemplating tomorrow. I traditionally take a vacation day on the first day of school, and tomorrow is no exception. Nominally it's because I like to drop the girls off for their first day of the year and pick them up at the end of the day, whch is true. Also, however, there's all that time in between that I am COMPLETELY BY MYSELF. Granted, tomorrow I need to finish an article and do laundry and deal with the disaster that is my house, but I can do it without children following me around telling me they are bored and asking what there is to eat.        
In other news, I have a table this Sunday at the Kerrytown BookFest, which I highly recommend for anyone who likes books, geeky stuff, crafts, etc. I'll have crocheted amigurumi keychains, backpack clips, fascinators, toys, and whatever else I get done. My friend Kate will have also her magnets, prints, and notebooks for sale, and is participating in a panel about the history of Coney Islands in Detroit. So that's cool. You should come. 

Photosets later, on tumblr, and a post about the whole swimming thing.

30 August 2012

Another pointless list post -- now with gifs!

(reposted from Jen Unexpected)
It’s 9:50 pm on a Wednesday night. I’m sitting in a Denny’s with a Coke and a plate that held apple pie 10 minutes ago listening to the elderly couple behind me bicker good-naturedly about whether or not their pancake puppies contain white chocolate chips. I left my house so that I could write this article about the current state of same-sex marriage in this country without distractions. Hah.
Instead I am scrolling through my tumblr dash looking for paralympics gifs and posts, flipping over to Ctwitter every four minutes, and coming up with stuff I want to do instead of what I am doing about every seconds. 
What I NEED to be doing:

Things I want to do instead of write this article, in no particular order, for my own reference next time I am sitting around wasting time on the internet and should be doing something freaking productive already:

  • Make a post compiling the best tweets of the past week or two from my twitter stream, because my twitter friends are hella funny. 
  • Similarly compile and post the hysterical things my children have said lately, because they are also very very funny. 
  • Work on the landing page for my new website. 
  • Make some new CABD posts. 
  • Work on any of the photobooks for the past several years that I am half-assedly trying to put together before my Picaboo groupon expires (I’ve got like four more months, but still).
  • Fume about the RNC, the GOP, and the blatant use of transparent falsehoods in the presidential campaign.
  • Watch the Paralympics opening ceremony
  • Go home and settle in to crochet some more geeky amigurumi to sell at Kerrytown Bookfest on September 9. 
  • Sleep. 
This will be me tomorrow at work:

09 July 2012

Diving in

When last we spoke I went on at some length about this whole swimming thing. Since I've failed to post anything here between now and then -- although I have been busy elsewhere -- I thought it was time for an update.

We haven't started formal swimming lessons yet. Already by the end of May the classes that worked with our schedules were full for the first summer sessions. We're looking at end of July. In the meantime, we've been to various pools around town a few times, and things are going, well, swimmingly.

Mimi started out clinging to me or our friend Kate, whose apartment complex pool we've visited a couple of times. It's a perfect pool for the kids -- not busy, not huge, and the deepest point is five feet. And gradually, with the realization that she was not in fact drowning  -- and the fact that she was being shown up by her five-year-old sister, who splashes around in her floaty yelling "look at me! I'm in the deep end! I can do it by myself!" -- Mimi has lost much of her fear.

There was a lot of this the first time we went, over Memorial Day weekend. And I'll admit I spent a lot of time sitting on the side of the pool "getting used to it," as I told the girls, myself. Eventually Mimi got in and let Kate tow her across the pool and back, and proclaimed that it wasn't so bad. 
We went back this past Saturday. The girls were impressed that I hopped right in -- well, the water wasn't nearly as cold this time, and it was about a hundred degrees, so that does make a difference -- and they both got in readily. Mimi did spend the first five minutes or so clinging to my neck. Then she let me disentangle her and take her by the hands to tow her around. I gradually let go of her hands and before she knew it she was floating all on her own. Well, with the floaty, but that's a minor point. 

I practiced too -- I managed to float on my back all the way across the pool, and do a modified doggy paddle back. I even put my head underwater for a few seconds, because watching Mimi be brave made me feel a little ridiculous about freaking out for getting water up my nose. I didn't enjoy it, but I did it.

And then, almost before I knew it:
Yup. That's my girl who a month ago was terrified of water, happily ducking her head under. She did it about fourteen more times, and once she did it, Boo had to try it too. Boo wasn't as enthusiastic about it, but she wasn't squeamish, either. They paddled around underwater, poking each other and coming up spluttering, for a good twenty minutes.

So Mimi is now Boss of the Pool, and has happily declared that when she takes swimming lessons it will be awesome because she ALREADY KNOWS HOW TO PUT HER HEAD UNDER and maybe she'll even be a swimming racer someday! (We watched some of the Olympic trials.) 

25 May 2012

Just keep swimming

I made a deal with Mimi last night. If she will take swim classes this summer, I will too.

Here's the thing: I do not like the water. I mean, I like water, in general. I like taking long hot baths. I like looking at lakes. I like sitting by the pool. I don't really like being IN the water so much. Because I never learned to swim.

It wasn't totally for lack of trying. My mom took me when I was little -- I was a goldfish, or a tadpole, or something. And then when I was in maybe 5th or 6th grade, my mom signed me up for swim lessons at the local high school pool, and the swim teacher was this absolutely terrifying man who taught 6th grade at my elementary school, and I just remember him yelling at me because I didn't want to do something called the "dead man's float." (Which seems sensible, because why would I WANT to do something called that?) I didn't like it. I tried to get out of it. I told lies to the instructor, that my mom would let me sit it out if I paid her back for the money spend on the lesson. No one believed me, of course. I was terrified.

I made it through that course and even the required dead man's float test, but I don't know that I voluntarily ever got in a swimming pool again. Then in high school we had to take swimming as one of our P.E. requirements. That sucked, too. My class was divided into people who knew how to swim and people who didn't; the kids who did went down to the deep end and worked with the gym teacher on jumping off the diving board and learning new stroked. The kids who didn't? We stood around in the shallow end holding kickboards, feeling idiotic.

And after that, I never HAD to get in a pool again, until the summer Mimi was three and I was pregnant and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to take her to toddler swim lessons. I spent those standing the shallow end with her clinging to me like a baby monkey, refusing to let the instructor pry her legs from around my waist long enough to teach her to kick. Since a year earlier she'd screamed when we tried to put her in two inches of water in the bathtub, I actually considered this progress. We did a beach vacation that year too, up near Traverse City, and I think that was the last time either of us were at an actual beach.

Then I broke my foot (yes, at seven months pregnant) and Mimi's dad finished out the swim class with her. And I think that's the last time Mimi and a pool had any formal interaction. Boo was born in September; I had massive PPD and was back at work in six weeks and my marriage was dying and I was dealing with a newborn and a three-and-a-half year old who was having SERIOUS adjustment issues to having a baby sister, and a 13-year-old stepson who, ditto times two. Extracurricular activities rather fell by the wayside for a bit.

A year and a half later we moved to a house less than ten minutes walk from a community pool, and talked enthusiastically about how we'd spend the summer teaching the girls to swim etc. But the marriage was in its death throes and the soon-to-be-ex lost his job, and things really weren't going well at all. And after that, somehow, we just never got around to hitting the pool.

Last summer, at the new house, the girls set up their kiddie pool and the sprinkler in the backyard and were happy with that, although Boo mentioned learning to swim a couple of times. I didn't want to discourage her, but I also didn't really want to be the one to take her. And Mimi didn't want anything to do with the idea. Near the end of the August last year we accompanied friends to a local water park, and I realized how much of my trepidation I'd unwittingly passed on to Mimi when she backed out of the "Lazy River" tubing ride, which was something even I enjoyed. And she wouldn't go in the water without me, while Boo would have dived in and not looked back, despite her lack of actual swimming ability.

I put off thinking about this for most of the fall and winter, and now suddenly spring has morphed into summer as it tends to do in Michigan, and people are buying pool passes and talking about beach trips and making summer plans, and I realized I have to do something about this. So last night I brought up the idea of doing swimming lessons.

Mimi immediately buried her head under a pillow, as she does when she doesn't want to talk about something.


We talked about why not -- this is what therapy has done for this kid, she DOES eventually take her head out from under the pillow, with some encouragement, and use her words -- and she said she was scared. And that she was worried about going under the water. And that she would sink. So I told her that I was scared of the water too, and that I wished I had learned to swim. That I didn't want her and her sister to be afraid of the water like I was, and that it was really smart to learn to swim because then you can go in pools and lakes and boats without being scared. That it makes you safer -- she interrupted, at this point, that "then you can just swim to the shore if you're in a boat and it sinks, instead of waiting for someone to come rescue you," which, HI MISSION ACCOMPLISHED as far as indoctrinating the "learn to rescue yourself" lesson -- and she said that yes, she does want to learn to swim, but she's still scared.

So I said, "A lot of times bravery is being scared but doing something anyway." And we talked about examples of that. Learning to ride a bike. Taking a shower by herself (this was a recent accomplishment, and a Very Big Deal). Playing on the soccer team. I told Mimi she is the bravest person I know, who has done the scariest thing of anyone I have ever met, and she looked at me like I had no idea what I was talking about.

"Mimi, you got on an airplane with two people you had just met, who you were still a little scared of, and came to a different country where the language was different and the food was different and the people even looked different, and you let us be your family and take care of you."

She started to laugh. "But I was a BABY! I didn't know any better!"

And that made me laugh, too, but I pointed out that made it even braver, because we couldn't even explain to her what was going on, that she was two years old and that she could have decided not to love us but she did. She started to cry, and I started to cry, and she said, "Well, at least these are the kind of happy tears. It's not really SOBBING. That's when you're like ah, ah, ah, and your face is ALL WET." Heh.

So THEN we calmed down, and she said she was still scared of swimming, and suddenly this was about a lot more than heading down to the pool, so before I even thought about it, I said, "look, if you will learn to swim this summer, so will I." And her jaw totally dropped open, and I thought, oh, SHIT. And she hugged me, and told me SHE was proud of ME and that I was the bravest person she knows.

So, it looks like I'm learning to swim.

07 May 2012

Frightfully busy

The last few weeks have been just a little busy. I fully acknowledge that I've been losing what little cool I had left on a semi-regular basis since early April, and I sincerely hope that now I will start to pull it together a little bit. I've weathered spring break, three craft shows, and the start of Mimi's soccer season, with only the rest of soccer, the end of the school year, Boo's gymnastics extravaganza, a weekend trip to NYC and a week-long trip to California to go before the end of June.

Oh, is that all?

Mimi's soccer team is the third-grade-girls' powerhouse, undefeated after four games. I feel a little sad for the teams that have to play them, to be honest. They've shut out two of their last three opponents. I know they are old enough to deal with losing and all, but I still find myself wanting them to at least score one time. This is why I am not a very good soccer mom. No competitiveness whatsoever.
Mimi in action
I had three spring craft shows in quick succession, all of which were mildly successful although not quite as much as I'd hoped. I have a lot of idea about how to fix the problems I discovered, however -- at least the ones within my control; being tucked in a back corner behind a large display of carved wood items at the last show was not within my control, and definitely hurt my sales. These things happen. 

I came up with some new items, as per usual with some suggestions by the lovely Kate of Chicaloo Photography. I'm always looking for new ideas, even though I have more than I could ever finish already in my head -- after all, I want to make what people actually want. So if you have any flashes of "someone should crochet THIS!" brilliance, do let me know.

I started making smaller octopi, and added keychain findings to make them useful. If you happen to really need an octopus keychain -- I mean, who doesn't -- the first one is listed in my etsy store here. I added mini coffee cups, strawberries, and ice cream cones for the most recent show, and they proved quite popular -- particularly among middle-school girls, unsurprisingly.

I made Captain Picard ("make it sew!" Hah. Groan.) quite by accident. And then I made a Viking, because, why not. 

A lot of people commented on my fried egg headbands, but sadly no one purchased any. Cowards. 

Everyone who picks up the ice cream cone pretends to lick it. Without exception. 

This is me. This is my table, and my sign, and my craft goods. And my boobs. 

What else? Going to work, hauling kids to soccer and gymnastics practice, the occasional date or social outing. It's been a mostly rainy, dreary spring ever since that one spectacular sunny week we had in March, and that has kept me feeling kind of blah. I haven't had much time to myself, and that hasn't helped. I keep hoping that the sun will come out and things will start looking up. It's not bad, right now, it just could be better. 

Oh, and I started a new tumblr. Meet Cute Animals. Bad Dates. I needed to do something with all the horrific online dating profiles I run across.

19 April 2012

The world doesn't hate you. Don't hate the world.

Dear daughters,

This is you being awesome
The world does not hate you.   

Look, everything in that post is true. The world is unfair. People can be horrible. A whole lot of the world, in general, thinks that being a girl is pretty much the worst thing you can be. So I'm not writing this to criticize the parent who wrote the above, or argue with anything she said. I admire her passion and her principles. I love that she teaches her daughter to go out every day and show the world how awesome she is. I like big chunks of that post, and the first time I read it, I thought "right on! Fuck 'em all!"

But I kept seeing it posted on facebook, by a lot of different moms. And I thought about it. It occurred to me I would express the same basic ideas rather differently, and I want to tell you why.

Granted, sometimes I want to say "fuck 'em." I have said it. When I get sick and tired of "girly" being used as an insult. When I get fed up with the "girl toys" and "boy toys" aisles at the big-box stores, or when I am frustrated because I have spent untold hours looking for appropriate Halloween costumes for your age. (This, by the way? NOT appropriate.) When I think about a culture that tells us motherhood is the most noble thing we can be, then doesn't support parents or families or children after they leave the womb, unless they fit into certain very specific, very gendered boxes.

You are 5 and 9 years old, respectively, and I shouldn't have to special order and pay $30 each for a pair of shorts that reach mid-thigh and don't have words written across your butts, or go to three or four stores in search of sandals in a size one that don't have heels. That makes me feel ill. A lot.

I could write several posts ranting about how utterly broken gender culture is in this country, about the messages we send little boys and little girls -- and big boys and big girls -- that can screw us all up for life. But that's not what I want to tell you about. You will find that out soon enough. And when you do, you will, I hope, be horrified, and refuse to buy into the conventional wisdom that your looks and your weight are your only source of self-worth, or lack thereof.

What I want to tell you, instead, is that the world loves you. I want you to wake up each morning knowing that you are utterly awesome, and that other people are too, and the world is a freaking fantastic place.

You will, of course, learn that there are people who treat other people badly because of things they have no control over: gender, sexual preference, appearance. There are people who are just bullies. There are people who want to make sure you stay in what they think is your place. You both have already started to learn that lesson, and there's no help for it. But you also know -- and I never want you to forget -- that there are completely wonderful people in the world, as well. Who help other people just because they can. Who give up their own comfort to make things a little bit more comfortable for someone else. Who will go out of their way to make your day a little bit brighter, for no reason other than that you both live on the same planet and it feels good to make someone else smile.

I'm not saying you have to be one of those people. Lord knows I'm not, not very often. I don't have that much energy and frankly I don't have that much self-sacrifice in me right now. But I want you to know they are out there. They might not outnumber the haters, but they are out there, and they love you.

And I'm not saying give up, accept unfairness and stereotypes and do nothing to change them. You can fight them, without hating the world that brought them into being. That world brought you into being, too.

Here's the other extremely important thing: you have nothing to prove to anyone. You go out and be awesome, because you ARE awesome, but if you don't want to be the one who proves that a girl can [fill in the blank] just as good, or better than, a boy, you don't have to. You didn't choose to be female, and you don't have anything to prove just by virtue of your sex.

You know that it's ok to like trucks, and motorcycles, and the color pink, and sparkly nail polish, and princesses and Transformers, whether you are a boy or a girl. You already know you can grow up to be anything you want to be. As long as you don't forget that you have a zillion choices, you don't have to be the one who makes the most radical choice. Someone will, eventually. If it's you, because that's what you want, fantastic. But if what you really want is to be a yoga instructor or a parent who stays home or an English teacher, then that's what you should do, instead. Don't do anything just to prove the haters wrong. Do what makes you happy.

Don't let people make you feel bad because you like to wear makeup or cry at sappy movies or collect Barbie dolls. And don't let people make you feel bad because you hate makeup and would rather sleep an extra 15 minutes, because you chop all your hair off and wear black nail polish, or because you would rather learn to rebuild an engine than sew a straight seam. Don't feel bad for wanting to get married and have children. Don't feel bad if you don't. Both are perfectly fine, valid choices. Frankly, just about anything you choose is just freaking fine, if you are choosing it because it's what you want. Not because you want to either a) conform or b) rebel just for the sake of fitting in or sticking out.

What I'm saying is, in my long-winded, god-mom-get-an-editor way, is don't go out every day thinking the world hates you for being a girl. Or for being anything that you are. Please don't. Because that will make you hate the world. You will grow bitter and angry, and you will do things just to spite the anonymous "them" who you think are telling you who you should be. Feel free to ignore "them" and do whatever you want, obviously, but don't do things just to spite "them." They don't actually care what you do. They only even exist because we give them any power to have any effect on us.

Look, I'm no Pollyanna. I know that political machinations will continue to make the world a difficult place for women. I know that some people will look at you and think "she's just a girl, what does she know?" I know that some people will judge you on the size of your breasts, not the size of your heart or your intellect. Someone someday will see you in a short skirt, or in sweatpants, and decide they know something about you because of your clothing choices. I know that at some point in the next 10 (20, 30) years, you will feel bad about yourself because of the way you look.

You know what? I'm almost 40. I'm divorced, renting a tiny house, driving a 12-year-old car, working in an underpaid, female-dominated field. This is not what I expected my life would be at this point. And still? I'm pretty sure that the world is an amazing, beautiful place. I don't feel it every minute of every day. Of course not. But on the whole. And I know that unless I let politicians, marketers, misogynists, and oversexed frat boys make me jaded and bitter, then I still win.

I want you to win, too. I want you to be awesome. Not to show anybody anything or teach anyone a lesson or to get back and anyone who said something hateful or mean or ignorant. But just because you are both amazing, wonderful, strong, loving, beautiful human beings. And I never want that to change.

This is you being awesome, too.

13 April 2012

It's About Choice

Oh yay, it's the Mommy Wars redux! This time with added false Republican vs. Democrat dichotomy!

To recap, in case you hadn't heard: a Democratic strategist I never heard of before, named Hilary Rosen, is taking some heat because she said of Mitt Romney, in a CNN interview, “Guess what, his wife has actually never worked a day in her life. She’s never dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing.”

What Rosen was saying, I believe, is the arguably true statement that Ann Romney, married for most of her adult life to a very rich man, doesn't exactly have experience with the pressing financial problems of parenting that many of us do. Instead the media picked up "Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life" and ran with the "stay-at-home moms don't really work, according to top Democratic strategist" angle.

So Hilary Rosen had to issue an apology, saying that as a mother, she knows “raising children is the hardest job there is.” OF COURSE SHE DOES. Any mother who is raising her children and doing even a half-ass job knows that parenting is a shit-ton of work. I sincerely doubt Rosen meant to argue that Ann Romney didn't work hard and likely do a fine job of raising her five sons.

Obama campaign advisers were quick to distance themselves from Rosen, of course, calling her comments "inappropriate" and "wrong." I would say, however, that they weren't wrong. Ok, fine, "never worked a day" was a cheap shot. But is it wrong to say that Ann Romney has "never dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of women in this country are facing?" I don't think that's wrong at all. I think it's spot on.

There's also the argument that, as President Obama said when he got dragged into this manufactured controversy, "I don’t have a lot of patience for commentary about the spouses of political candidates." Well, fine, but that's a little unrealistic. Ann Romney has been active in her husband's campaign, and Mitt Romney brought her into it when he said she was his "top adviser on women's issues." Since women are a pretty damn big part of the electorate, Romney's position on women's issues is important. And if his top advisor on women's issues has little experience with the type of issues most women are facing -- well, I think that's fair game for the Dems.

So when Ann Romney says on Twitter that she "made a choice to stay home and raise five boys," I can't imagine any mother -- up to and including Hilary Rosen -- who would argue that was not hard work. The point both the Romney and Obama campaigns, as well as the media in general, missed, or chose not to address, is that Rosen wasn't criticizing Ann Romney's choice to stay home. She was criticizing the Romney campaign's portrait of her as an expert on the economic issues facing women.

Ann Romney told Fox that her "career choice was to be a mother" and "we need to respect choices that women make." Again, true. And again, beside the point. Some will disagree, but again, I don't think Rosen was disrespecting Romney's choice to stay home. She was pointing up that unlike a lot of us, Ann Romney had the means to MAKE a choice.

See, however the campaigns want to frame it, this isn't WOHM-vs-SAHM. It's Ann Romney, or her advisors and strategists, pretending she can relate to any mom, working or not, who has ever had to prioritize buying groceries over paying the electric bill, or feel ashamed that her child is going to school in outgrown hand-me-downs, or who has to explain to her third-grader that he can't go on the field trip because Mom doesn't have the ten bucks to send to school that day. It's any politician, parent or not, thinking they know how that feels if they haven't been there. Don't tell me you understand me because you're a mother and so am I. It's not that easy.

The media might want to cast this as a working-outside-the-home versus a stay-at-home debate, but the truth is, most moms I know fought that war a long time ago and have achieved, if not peace, then some kind of wary d├ętente with it. Most of us are working outside the home, or working at home, or not working at a job we get paid for at all, with the knowledge that we are doing what we need to do for our families.

We might have "chosen" to work because even though our spouses make decent money, we find it fulfilling to go somewhere people are wearing shoes and having conversations with multisyllabic words. Or we might be working because kids do, after all, need to eat and wear clothes and have somewhere to sleep. We might be staying home because we can't imagine missing out on a moment of our progeny's childhood -- or maybe it's because we know that whatever we might make at a paid job wouldn't cover what it would cost to keep said progeny in halfway decent daycare.

I'd wager that among the moms I know, most of us have a lot more in common with each other, whether we work outside the home or not, than any of us do with Ann Romney, or Michelle Obama for that matter. What I would really like is for politicians to stop creating fake media wars that distract us from actual problems, and get back to work making this country a place where more of us actually have the choices they all take for granted.

26 March 2012


(Copied over and expanded on from tumblr.)


Luna Lovegood?!?!?!? That little heifer looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
But of course, the rule applies. Pale skin equals innocence.

I found the above-linked blog through an article in Jezebel, and browsed through, appropriately horrified by the racism (as well as massive reading-comprehension fails) so nonchalantly displayed all over twitter. And I admired the author of this blog for calling people out on their horrific attitudes. Then I got to this post, where that same author who is outing people as racists displays a casual, hurtful attitude by calling someone — I’m guessing the actress who plays Luna Lovegood, who just had the misfortune of being mentioned by a random person on twitter — a heifer? 
Since this tumblr doesn’t have comments enabled, I clicked the “ask me” button and submitted the following question: 

I was directed to this blog via coverage in jezebel and admired you for calling out racism on twitter. Then I got to the post where you call “Luna Lovegood” — I’m assuming the reference is to the actor who played Luna in the HP movies, since you talk about her “looks” — a “heifer.” How can you speak out against racism then be that cruel about someone else’s appearance? The comment was rude, inaccurate, and obnoxious, and it make me take the rest of your blog less seriously. 
hungergamestweets: Luna Lovegood?!?!?!? That little heifer looks like Casper the Friendly Ghost.
But of course, the rule applies. Pale skin equals innocence.
I found the above-linked blog through an article in Jezebel, and browsed through, appropriately horrified by the racism (as well as massive reading-comprehension fails) so nonchalantly displayed all over twitter. And I admired the author of this blog for calling people out on their horrific attitudes. Then I got to this post, where that same author who is outing people as racists displays a casual, hurtful attitude by calling someone — I’m guessing the actress who plays Luna Lovegood, who just had the misfortune of being mentioned by a random person on twitter — a heifer

Granted, I'm a little cranky today and I have a massive headache. But -- and correct me if I'm wrong, please -- isn't this a little, I don't know, HYPOCRITICAL? Now I'm not saying calling someone a heifer is comparable to calling someone a nigger. (That was painful to type out, but I did it, because that's the point, right?) But you can't call people out on a public platform for being racist and then turn around and use derogatory language about someone completely unrelated to the topic at hand, who did absolutely nothing to warrant the insult. Not to mention, if Evanna Lynch, the lovely, seemingly average-sized actress who plays Luna Lovegood is your idea of a heifer, I think you have been brainwashed by Hollywood and the fashion industry as to what people really look like. (And I won't even get started on that topic, or we will be here all day. And well into tomorrow.)
Since this tumblr doesn’t have comments enabled, I clicked the “ask me” button and submitted the following question: 
I was directed to this blog via coverage in jezebel and admired you for calling out racism on twitter. Then I got to the post where you call “Luna Lovegood” — I’m assuming the reference is to the actor who played Luna in the HP movies, since you talk about her “looks” — a “heifer.” How can you speak out against racism then be that cruel about someone else’s appearance? The comment was rude, inaccurate, and obnoxious, and it makes me take your blog as a whole far less seriously.
I'll let you know if I get a response.

UPDATE, 3/30:
Although the author of this tumblr, who now has been freaking interviewed by the New Yorker, has not responded to my email either directly or on the blog, he has removed the "heifer" comment from the post linked above. Good call, dude, but I'd prefer you own up and apologize. I have major problems with him getting attention and interviews for being horrified and outraged and willing to call out racists, while harboring other hurtful (if more socially acceptable) stereotypes. 

He apologized, publicly, on the blog. Which I very much appreciate, although as I said in a tweet to his twitter feed, he doesn’t owe *me* an apology. And that’s why I’m glad he had the nerve to post a public apology, because when something blows up temporarily like this tumblr did, the responsibility not to be  massive hypocrit is toward your audience as a whole. 
He also says he didn’t mean it in a “sizeist” way, which, ok, but you’d never call someone a heifer as a term of endearment, either. I’m guessing he was upset about the content of the original tweet and used hurtful language unthinkingly, misdirecting his anger at an innocent party. I think this just points out that we all have a responsibility to be careful about language, whether we think anyone is reading what we put out here on the internet, or not. 

23 March 2012

In which I ramble somewhat incoherently

What kind of effed-up world do we live in where people are telling us that we should be more scared of a kid in a hoodie than a maniac with a gun? Where "slut" is apparently a perfectly acceptable thing to call a woman who happens to enjoy sex, and people in long-term loving relationships are told they are what's wrong with America? Where people just go on shooting rampages because they are mentally or emotionally crippled from seeing their friends blown up or because they are indoctrinated by a certain worldview that says some people don't even count? Where if you don't agree with someone you don't ignore them them or sit down and listen to there side but instead call them every filthy thing you can think of because it's all anonymous on the internet? How did this happen?

I cannot stop thinking about the completely and utterly arsed-up state of the world and hoping that at least we are starting some kind of resistance and change by talking and protesting and making ourselves heard, which is easier than ever because hey, retweet, and I've done my part. But then I become paralyzed by my inability to comprehend and articulate how truly horrific it is that someone just shoots a child, here or in France or in Afghanistan, and I just want to protect my children from ever finding out about any of it; and then I think that if I do, I'm part of the problem because they need to grow up and be the people who make this sort of thing stop.

And if my kids are going to change the world they have to eventually become aware that not every child grows up happy and healthy with their only concerns about why we don't have their favorite Pop-tart flavor and how unfair it is that Alyssa got her ears pierced at NINE and why do I have to wait until I'm TWELVE. But how do I tell them that, and when?

Not right now, obviously. I'm not going to sit my kids down like that dumbass in the Kony video who is explaining, unprompted, to his 5-year-old about a crazed madman who kidnaps children and makes them kill other people, showing him pictures of "the bad guy," like, thanks, Dad, when I wake up screaming for weeks I hope you are there to reassure me that no one is going to come kidnap me out of my bed and make me shoot you. But I will always tell my kids the truth when they ask.

And maybe they won't want to change the world, but dammit, I hope that they do, even though I'm sorry that we've screwed it up enough that they need to change it. I hope that we are doing something right now, between the Occupy movement and marriage equality finally being a thing that can really happen and people sending knitted lady parts to their congresspersons and people speaking up, finally, about how shitty it is that we have so much and do so freaking little, but there will be so much more they will have to do.

There are things we can do but I am starting to think that the best thing we can do, in this generation and the one just behind us, is to try and raise fewer assholes, racists, misogynists, and xenophobes, and more people who speak up and speak out and are willing to listen, not just talk.

Don't pretend to your kid that skin color doesn't matter and we're all the same inside, because it's not true; don't let them think that civil rights and the feminist movement are just something in history class because if recent events prove anything, it's that it's not enough that our great-great-grandmothers got the vote; we have to keep protesting and talking and working to protect what they put themselves on the line for. It's not over.

I don't know the point of what I'm typing here, I'm just typing because the first line of this started out as a Facebook status, like "I'm so horrified about the state of the world right now that I just want to lock my children inside forever," but then I couldn't stop typing so I just kept going. It's Friday and I've had less than five hours of sleep for the last four nights in a row and that's probably a big part of the reason I can't actually formulate a constructive and supported argument or opinion, but am just typing until it seems like a good place to stop, but really, world, cut it out.

Stop being assholes to each other. I want my children to grow up and I want them to see the beautiful parts of the world and not have to deal with this shit. So stop it. Is that really so much to ask?

20 March 2012

The walls go all the way to the floor, and some days that's all you can hope for

First day at Disneyworld: "Mom, today is going to be the BEST day. As long as I don't fall down."
Oh, Boo. My funny, frustrating youngest child. This morning she had a meltdown when I told her to stop threatening to poop on her sister and get dressed; I had to drag her out the door and into school, 10 minutes late, and she was fighting me every step of the way. Stubborn. So, so stubborn, so determined to show me that I can't make her do anything she doesn't want to do.

14 March 2012

Waiting Game

(I imagine I'd be surprised at how many people feel this way, too, about their own lives, and this sounds more like some faux-introspective college journal entry than I intended it to. But, it's true, even if it's not original.)

When I think back on my life, it hurts me to think about how much time I've wasted, just waiting for something to happen. I'm good at waiting. I'm good at pretending, even to myself, that I'm living, when I'm really just waiting.

I spent most of high school waiting to go to college, so that my real life could start. I knew I was waiting. High school sucked; there seemed little reason to try and make something better of it.

I spent most of college waiting to graduate, so that my real life could start. College wasn't what I expected, and I didn't know how to make it better, and I was scared to try.

01 March 2012

Extremely Local Politics

On Tuesdays, Boo has gymnastics. (Wednesdays Mimi has soccer, Thursdays we all have therapy. It's always something.) After gymnastics, because Tuesdays are also "kids-eat-free" days at several area restaurants, we usually go out to eat. This past Tuesday, though, I can only assume the kids were a little burned out on eating at sit-down restaurants after last week and requested McDonald's. I was too tired to argue the point, and also did not want to MAKE dinner, so we went to McDonald's.

Yesterday was also Michigan's Republican primary, and the giant flat-screen tv in the McD's dining room was tuned to CNN. The girls were paying no attention until they saw a map of Michigan appear, at which point they were all "hey! That's us! What is up with that?"

This is how I ended up explaining democracy (the Cliff notes version) over a Filet-o'-Fish.

I should have just shown them "America Rocks" instead.

28 February 2012

Now For Something Completely Different

Last week I took my kids to Walt Disney World. The Happiest Place on Earth (tm). We were accompanied by my mom and dad, because I might be foolish enough to take my kids to Disney but I'm not fool enough to try to do it by myself.

I used a chunk of last year's tax refund to fund this trip. I'm only sharing this information because the fact that I have struggled financially before and since my divorce is no secret, and I heartily dislike when people question my actions on the basis of "can you really afford that?" because they think they know what my situation is. The information anyone has out there in cyberland about my finances is limited and incomplete, and all you really need to know is that I am able to pay my bills these days, so no worries. I've never taken my kids on vacation before, and this was an opportunity I may not have again for a long time, so I took it. Irresponsible, a little, maybe, but worth it.

17 February 2012

Why I'm Pro-Choice

(copied over from my tumblr.)

I made a comment on a friend’s Facebook post today that I am going to expand on here, because I have so much more to say. This post is emotional and more confrontational than I normally get, and if it offends you — well, it does. I’m not going to apologize for that. I do welcome honest and respectful discussion of differences. I don’t allow personal attacks.