Wednesday, August 31, 2011

‘Juvenoia,’ Part 1: Why Internet fear is overrated

My pal Kristy posted this article this morning by David Finklehor, the first in a series of posts called 'Juvenoia,' exploring the rhetoric around smalls and internet access. Definitely worth a browse.

‘Juvenoia,’ Part 1: Why Internet fear is overrated

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recently, an ad by local Edmonton hair salon Fluid, has caused a big stir.  Rightfully so, it's pretty effing gross, and clearly misogynist.  Read all about it here, and prepare to be sick to your stomach. 

And here, just in case you didn't think it could possibly get any worse, a caption from the salon's photo shoot depicting the model pre-shoot, reads: "The hottest battered woman I've ever seen". 

And here is another particularly special ad from their "Look Good in all You Do" campaign. 

One hopes, the really, really special people behind this campaign get bitten in the ass by loss of business.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trying to Stretch

I am trying to stretch my brain.

It feels pretty resistant to this new exercise regime. Applications for grad school, for funding on the go, and still I struggle to even articulate the 'what?' of what I want to study, and thinking beyond the 'what?' to the 'why?' and 'who cares?' makes my mind swim and my heart race. I try to read other people's work, try to let it sink in, try to ruminate (and to breath through the massive self-doubt) while simultaneously wrestling, wrangling and running after stray kids and soccer balls. It all just feels so impossible. And if not this, then what? (The one damn question I can't rid my brain of).

What if my brain refuses to stretch? What if it's lost to years of sleep deprivation and backyard tea parties and hunting for ladybugs? I test out the language that used to roll off my tongue and it feels strange and unwieldy. A game of make-believe. Imposter syndrome already, and I haven't even made it inside those walls.

But still, I'm trying to stretch. I guess that's a start.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A useless bits of me post...

Mainly because I have little to say today:

I have a great deal of difficulty sitting with both feet on the ground.  I even drive with one foot up. >Stay-at-home motherhood has killed my love of cooking. The sound of heels clicking against hard floor makes me feel really happy. I am, somewhat masochistically perhaps, attracted to sad music. My favorite flowers are sunflowers. I am almost completely unable to walk by a white, puffy dandelion and not pick it and blow on it. (Yes, to make a wish). I wish that I could speak with the same ease that I write. I sometimes worry that people who read my blog and then meet me in person will be terribly disappointed. I wish I had more art in my life. I just found a red wine I like, which makes me feel oh so sophisticated ;) I can't for the life of me figure out why they can't invent s coffee pot that doesn't fucking drip when you pour it. I'd like to write a book someday. (Me and the rest of the world, I suppose). If I had to pick the Winnie-The-Pooh characters that most described me, I'd say Piglet (chicken shit), Eeyore (moody) and Pooh-Bear (mmmm, honey). I would not say Kanga, though other people might describe me that way. Autumn makes me feel wistful.

Friday, August 26, 2011

From the archives cause I've got nothin' today... Mommy Bloggers on Trial

Recently, mommy bloggers have come under an increasing amount of fire for writing publicly about their lives and their children. It's a discussion I've been keeping an eye on, what with being a mommy blogger of sorts. Some of the more constructive discussions have given me some food for thought, and to this end, I've started using pseudonyms for my tots as well as for L. and I. Of course, not all of the discussions about mommy blogging have been constructive, literally putting mommy-bloggers on trial for their actions. Here is some of what the prosecution has to say on the matter:

First Witness for the Prosecution:

And when uninteresting people try to market themselves as interesting, it's almost painful.

Second witness:

Just because children can't walk, talk, reason and say, "Hey, Mom, cut it out already," doesn't mean that it's okay to write about the most personal details of their existence. I cannot tell you how creeped out I'd be if my own mom had mommy-blogged. I'd be horrified, offended, and I highly doubt that we'd have a good relationship with each other today.

Third Witness:

Could it potentially hurt someone's chances at a job promotion if it was discovered that he/she was treated for behavior problems as a child? Who knows? I'm wondering if there could be future lawsuits brought by kids against their mom for blogging about personal issues involving the child.

It's a pretty air-tight case already, but - the prosecution calls another witness:

And with increasingly technologically-savvy children around, its surely only a matter of times before kids start getting picked on at school because their peers found their mother's blog and now know every little problem you had growing up

And another:

It's interesting parents are so concerned about their RIGHTS to have children, but then treat their children like possessions and deny them their RIGHTS to privacy just because they gave birth to them. That's messed up...

Still more:

It really is like these mommy bloggers see their kids as accessories or pets vs. living, feeling, emotional human beings.

And just when you thought I couldn't possibly get MORE evil (though I'm sure that I probably can):

It would be interesting to see a mommy bloggers response when the kid starts blogging about what a bitch mom is.

And the piece de resistance:

It's bad enough that moms are embarrassing their children on the internet, but what about other safety concerns? It's not like predators aren't out there and where better to look than a mommy blog?

So to recap, then: I am currently on trial for being uninteresting (but pretending otherwise), guaranteeing a horrible future relationship with my progeny, hurting my children's chances of a future career, making them vulnerable to both school bullies AND sexual predators, denying their rights to privacy, treating them like possessions or pets, and last, but certainly not least, being a total and complete bitch.

The prosecution rests its case.

And what do I, being self-represented, have to say in my defense?

(Interestingly, all of the members of the prosecution come from a website called The Childfree Life, which is a venue for folks who belong to the childfree by choice movement. And while I do not begrudge anyone's life choices, and think our societal pressure on folks to have children is fairly ridiculous, I do feel it necessary to point out that some of these folks don't really seem all that keen on parents in general, never mind those that choose to blog (just to use one example - there is a thread on this site discussing whether child free people are more intelligent than parents, which doesn't, you know, make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Just sayin')). Nevertheless, these allegations of the badness of mommy bloggers are everywhere, not just on the aforementioned site (though that site does "discuss" the matter with a great deal more venom than any other I've come across while perusing the 'net and neglecting my children).

All this is discussed in the way of contextualization, not as a defense. My defense is simple. * I don't have one.* I am a Bad Mother. Period. This is not self-denigration. This is simple fact.

We live in a culture where mothering has never been more difficult. Mothering is a full-contact, spectator sport in our culture. There is an increasingly persistent cultural discourse of what a "good mother" is - but it is an ever-shifting, amorphous, impossible to attain ideal. Consequently, we are in an equally constant state of cultural bombardment by "bad mother" fingerpointing. I do not believe it is an exaggeration to say that a mother cannot do anything, make any parenting choice without hearing somewhere that what she is doing to, for, or about her children is wrong. The threat of being called a Bad Mother always looms heavy over our heads. We have reached a point in time in which the judgements are handed down in fevered pitch - in workplaces, in coffee clatches, in living rooms, in the media, across the internet. Everyone wants to play a round of "bad mother" here and there. Hell, even the folks on the childfree by choice website mentioned above want to engage in armchair parenting; proving that just because you don't want to BE a parent, doesn't mean you can't judge them. ***

And so you see, I am guilty. It is not enough to plead that this blog is how I choose to exert some control in how I am watched and judged as a mother. It is not enough to protest that this blog, my writing, is how I am able to continue to struggle to hang on to the pieces of myself in my slippery, clutching hands. It is not enough to explain that this blog is what makes my existence as a queer, feminist, stay-at-home mama visible. It is not enough to point out that as a stay-at-home mama, my children are both the greatest loves of my life and my JOB. It is not enough to swear on my life that this sharing is meant as a way to build community, to commiserate, to celebrate the trials and tribulations of our lives; that is it written for my sanity and thus with my children's best interests at heart.

Because to be a mother in our culture is to accept the plea of guilty. And I feel a certain amount of empowerment in accepting that plea. I may very well never be enough. I may very well be a Bad Mother. But if this is indeed the case, I am a Bad Mother who loves her children more than herself. I am a Bad Mother who very often(but not always) puts herself aside to care for her children's wants and needs and growth. But mostly, I am a Bad Mother who isn't going to be bullied into giving up her blog, her thoughts, and her voice in the world just because someone wants to put her on trial.

Because we live in a culture where motherhood is put on trial for one reason or another daily. So I guess I need the practice.

*** For a particularly interesting discussion of the Bad Mother predicament, check out the essay on the subject in Ayelet Waldeman's recent book, aptly titled Bad Mother.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

a good book to read with the kids when you feel like shit

I Like Myself  I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont is a funny, rhyming book about a little girl who likes herself.  (To get all Sally Field-y, she really, really likes herself!)  Girlio got this for her birthday this year, and she and Boy-o both love hearing it.  And I've found that when one is having a grown-up-sort-of-I-don't-like-myself-kinda-day, this book is quite a refreshing read.  We (the royal WE) spend so much time trying to build up our kidlet's self-esteems and senses of self worth, and so little time focussing on our own.  This is a good kick in the pants that will also make your smalls laugh and feel good.  I particularly enjoy the reminder about loving my 'hippo hips'.  :)  And David Catrow's illustrations are, as per usual, all kinds of awesome.

Beaumont, Karen and David Catrow.  I Like Myself!  Boston: Houghton Miflin Harcourt Publishing, 2004.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hot Sauce Mom Found Fame...

But maybe not quite in the way she was hoping.

One wonders (okay maybe not wonders) about the culpability of Dr. Phil and shows in this ilk, for doing things like saying 'we need to see you mistreating your kid before we put you on the show'.

All in all - one really hopes some new custody arrangements are being sorted out.

What a world.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Oh, how I wish I could write like this....

This Bell Like a Bee Striking

Exactly, thought.  Here she is having a mind.
A moon ghastly light on a person.  To suffer
emotion, throat stiff, child grown.  Larger.
A whole.  Summoned so one can have a look.
Summoned to husband what has happened. 

The light challenged the powers
of feeling:  frightening, exhilarating, surprise,
shame.  It was over.  Plaster and litter alone.
Five acts that had been
over and over.  A strange power of speaking.

Some concern for the half-past.  Ring after ring
like something coming.  It is a thought,
this bell like a bee striking.
The future lies in a patter like wood drummed.
A sensual traffic: what, where, and why.

Three emotions.  Shutters and avenues.
The red burning.  A lizard's color in her eyes.
evening wearing the fringes in the windows.
The light wavering in the darkness streets.
Atoms turned.  Thinking like the pulse -

punctually, noiselessly silk-stockinged.
Ridiculous.  Her mother grown big.
She, like most mothers, a swept shuffle
of traffic and dress and nothing
except the flutter of absolution.

Such are things merged.  The cupboard outline
becomes soft.  A table.  Cigarette smoke.
A baby bright pink.  Daring with being.
That dog.  Lots of coldness.  Yet, some power
to preside in her head, with her shoulders,

through dinner,  A sort of maternal politics,
Her dress disappearing.  Sweeping off for bed
with headaches.  Still, the sun.  The squirrels.
Pebbles to the pebble collection.  She blinks
at the crack of a twig behind the bedroom walls.

- Mary Jo Bang

from Mother:  Women's Studies Quarterly.  Vol 37, # 3/4, Fall/Winter 2009.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Are queers mainstreaming fat phobia?

My mom came out of the closet as a lesbian when I was 13.  And with this, I became immersed in her cool new lesbian world.  It was a pretty awesome world, it seemed to me as a teenager.  Her friends were all hip, and they went dancing and drinking.  And sometimes I got to go hang out and dance at the local dyke bar with them, because my mama was cool like that.  And it seemed to me then, and also now in retrospect, that there was a welcoming of women of all shapes and sizes.  Fat women were everywhere, shaking their gorgeous big booties on the dance floor.  Fat women partnered with other fat women, with skinny women, with in-between women.  I remember it so clearly because I was a teenagers, struggling with my own body size, and being there, with my mama's friends, gave me hope that maybe someone might someday find me beautiful and loveable and sexy too.  (Though granted, at the time, I was thinking about (bio) boys still, which felt like more of a longshot, but I digress).And evenings where I sat quietly at the table listening to their conversations and stories, I don't remember a single one which revolved around moaning about fat thighs or diet woes.  Granted, I'm probably looking back with some pretty rsoe-coloured glasses.  But I really feel like the lesbian scene, or that one at the very least, was a fat-friendly (fat-loving even) place to be.

But when I came into the queer scene on my own, years later, things seemed pretty different.  Sure there were fat lesbians at the bar (me, say?)  But fat hating rhetoric was everywhere.  And I felt just as ugly,just as undesirable, just as invisible there as I did in the straight world.  Then later on, when I came into my queer identity as a femme, I felt fat-phobia even more acutely.  Butches, it seemed to me, were (are) more acceptable and more desirable as fat people than femmes were (are).  I'm not alone in this observation.  Zoe Whittall and Suzy Malik write about the very same thing in "Fat is a Femme-inine Issue," where they write: "[b]eing a fat femme at a dyke bar sometimes makes me feel like a straight girl at a perpetually bad prom" (142).  Um, yeah.  What they said.  Of course fat phobia affects everyone.  Straights, gays, bio and non-bio gender identities, butches, femmes.  But there is a very gendered nature to fat-phobia which seems to  throw itself very differently at people on different ends of the masculine/feminine spectrum.  Whitall and Malik feel the same way, sharing:
The tall skinny butches get to be 'boys.'  They look 15, they act 15, sometimes they fuck 15.  The big butches get to be 'daddies' the steady sturdy sexy symbols of masculine power.   Go through your high-femme social rolodex.  Who are they?  Probably tall, skinny, with some tatoos and a snap to her strut.  She's sex on wheels.  She's power.  She's who I want to be when I throw up my dinner (142).
Ouch.  And yes.  And ouch. (and, um, yes.)  Now, I guess I need to be clear here that I don't have a lot of experience in the gay boy community (back them or now really) and as such, I can't speak to any differences which may have occurred around fat positivity.  I am quite certain from speaking to friends who do have current experience in said community, that for the most part, it isn't highly fat positive (to put it mildly).

Regardless of how the gender lines fall in the queer community, it is crystal clear to me that what one (may have) been a bit of a haven for body positivity (and difference positivity in general) is no longer that haven.  And it seems so terribly sad to me that a commnity which is essentially built on the fact that its members are subject to oppression based on their sexual (and/or gender) otherness would lose its ability to act as spaces which are inclusive of all kinds of other difference(s). 

I often feel defensive when accused of being a 'mainstream' queer because I chose to make babies.  (Actually, defensive is probably a bit of an understatement.  It makes me want to punch people in the nose.  But I'm all bad like that).  I wonder how many of the folks that would call me 'mainstream' make fat jokes, date fat hot chicks/boys, or take fat phobia (and other forms of oppression) to task when they see it in their communities?

'Cause those attitudes... I gotta say, they're pretty fucking mainstream.

a moment

I am alone.  Sitting in my backyard.  The sun is beating down on my bare arms and legs,which are propped up on a deck chair, holding up my laptop.  The breeze is whipping my hair around, and my earrings are making little clinking sounds when they catch a bit of wind.  My favourite music is playing on my iphone.(currently Serena Ryder is crooning in my ear, which is , I will admit, a little bit sexy.  Um, thanks Serena).  A glass of wine sits directly beside me.  I've spilled a bit of it on several of the theory books piled up on the table to my left.  (I'm sure they don't mind). 

I am so blissed out right now.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

sex positivity and motherhood - contested terrain

There is an awesome post about this very topic over at Blue Milk, called 'Too Sexy for Breastfeeding".  It speaks about the experiences of a sex work activist, porn actor and new mama, discusses the slippery terrain of being a sex-positive mama, and definitely deserves a read. 

This is something I've often wanted to address (and have tried to here and there) in my own writing.  Sexuality is a little bit of a hot potato post kidlets - and maybe especially so in my community, where having babies definitely does not make you the hottest chick at the bar, so to speak.  We're still a little leery of those procreating dykes, we are.  Even though it's happening more and more these days, it still confuses my people.  I met someone awhile back at a queer event (no L. not in a pick-me-up-way) who did a visible double-take when I mentioned my kids.  Visible.  And I think it's part 'Whoa! Is she a straight chick?' and part 'Oh hell no, not gonna touch that with a ten-foot-pole'.  It's kind of like hanging out an off limits sign on your chest.  (Which, if it happens to be a breastfeeding chest, loses all its cultural capital as an area of sexual desirability anyways.  Like, overnight.  It's a total drag.) 

Retaining your credability as a sexual being post-parenthood can be tricky.  Not like it disappears in a grand poof or anything like that - but when 'mother' becomes your primary signifier in the world, it's a bit like your ability to be seen as a sexual being in the larger world slips away and is supposed to be replaced by, well, mom-ishness.  You are looked at differently.  Because moms bake cookies.  They drive carpool to school and then soccer practice.  They don't like porn.  They certainly don't make porn.  (Just for the record, mom - I don't make porn - just, you know, making a point).   This is, in part, why I recently posted a blog railing abot being ma'amed.  Nobody ma'amed me pre-kids.  Not ever.  Ma'am is so asexual and so invisible (the latter being a button of particular significance for me).

And if you do choose to present yourself as sexy/sexual post-motherhood, as Blue Milk's post addresses, you are called to the carpet for 'bad mothering,' which is, of course, the worst aspersion you can cast upon a mama.

So what's a hot mama to do?  Give up 'good motherhood' or give up on MILF-dom?  (I use that term mostly jokily because I'm not really a fan on a whole host of levels). 

And why is it exactly that a sex worker can't also be a kick-ass mama?  Why is it that motherhood is supposed superimpose itself on all of the other things that make us mamas, you know, human?

Friday, August 19, 2011

From the Library: Maggie Goes on a Diet & We Search for Fat-Friendly Children's Books | Bitch Media

From the Library: Maggie Goes on a Diet & We Search for Fat-Friendly Children's Books Bitch Media

The above link addresses fat positivity (and lack thereof) in kidlit, and talks about a new pre-teen book coming out called "Maggie Goes on a Diet". (Throwing up a little bit in my mouth, even writing about it). Maggie finds her inner gem, aka 'the hidden thin girl' which is a trope found everyone from television to romance novels (there's a whole new genre of 'fat' romance novels which I find to be all kinds of interesting - but this is a blog topic for another time). Anyhow- this book, and its very existence is both vomitous and rage inducing. Anyhow, the aforementioned post mentions the dearth of fat positive kid's literature, but does point out a book we own, called My Great Big Mamma by Olivier Ka, which, naturally, I own. (I was going to review it too, again, naturally). My review, in a nutshell, is that Ka's book is all kinds of fabulous, and is actually, really fat positive. It follows the story of a young boy who is trying to diet, and the confusion and sadness this causes for her son. Really, it's good. But I refuse to read it to my kids yet, because they haven't ever known a world (yet) in which fatness is bad. And until that world comes knocking at our door (and believe you-me, I will hold that door closed as long as I possibly can), that book is staying in the closet, safe and sound. (Except when I pull it out to read, because it's really quite sweet and lovely.)

A love letter to butches everywhere...

This is the longer form of what I posted on FB yesterday. It appears 500 characters isn't nearly, nearly enough to show my appreciation. I had to take out the wordy, flowery bits, which was highly irritating.  Anyhow - here's the longer form.

To all the beautiful butches of the world:

On International Butch Appreciation Day, I appreciate you.  Really.  A whole lot. I appreciate you putting up with 'Are you sure you're in the right bathroom, Sir?' for the 1000th time, even though it is tiring, exasperating, and so very wrong.  I appreciate your swagger in those jeans, the shine of your belt buckle, the thud and sass of those shitkicker boots, the flick of your Bic, and your willingness to put together my crappy IKEA shit (and, like, read the instructions).  I appreciate your toolbelt (and the way you wear it), your attitude (the tough and the soft of you) and the way you take up space in the world, unapologetic and fierce, in a world that says girls have to be girly and that you are an anomoly.  (You are not an anomoly.)  And I especially, especially appreciate the way you rarely fail to make me all weak in the knees. 

So here's to you, all you gorgeous butches out there. You make the world far a lovelier place to be.



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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Oh afternoon, where art thou?

So far this morning we have: read, watched tv, snacked (twice), run around like crazy fools, had a kitchen dance party, painted pictures, cleaned up from picture painting, showered AND bathed and we are now playing outside.

It is 10:38.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This morning I swept the floors and tidied the main living area. I washed down all six kitchen chairs, which were covered in dried milk and other kid goo. (note to self: black kitchen chairs = bad idea). I undertook the task of collecting all the grownup books strewn around the house and organizing the bookshelf, by genre in case you were wondering.

Jobs = done.

This afternoon sticky hand prints have returned to the kitchen chairs. The tumbleweeds and spare bits of food are doing that all too familiar dance across the floors. And there, piled precariously on the potty in the bathroom, is every single book if feminist theory I own. (Quite an impressive tower really, built by Boy-o during a game of 'postal worker' whilst I was in the shower cleaning up his previous game's mess: a dump truck full of sand that had been unceremoniously deposited on his kid sister's head. Said sand now lives in my bathroom, along with the feminist theory).

Jobs = undone.

Onto dinner, then...

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Only a completely masochistic parent would watch this show.  I did last night, and then lay awake at night for hours, future tripping about how my children's 22 year old no-goodnik (aka broken) boyfriends might be shooting them up with heroin.

Good times.

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More on the business of death...

So we're still stuck on this business of dying. Boy-o keeps asking, in distress, if you can come back after you die. To which I've generally been saying "No, I don't think so," and/or "This is a hard question to answer having never, you know, been dead." But today I did attempt to explain the belief of reincarnation, which I remember having given me some solace in my own childhood death crisis. Anyways, it went like this:

Me:  Well - some folks believe that after you die, you come back as something different.

Boy-o: stares at me with a blank look

Me: Okay - so if I died, I could come back for another life as something totally different, like a butterfly. And when I died as a butterfly, I could come back as an ant. And if someone stepped on me as an ant, I could be a buffalo. And then...

Boy-o: (interrupting and sounding bored and know-it-all ish). Yes, yes.  I see.  So - then the next time you'll come back as a dump truck. I get it.

You heard it here first folks - in my fifth life, I'm coming back as a dump truck.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spectacular fails of the parenting variety

It's funny, because I only got to parent Boy-o for oh, about 10 minutes this weekend.  (Well, after the parenting fail, it turned out to be a bit more like an hour.)  The rest of the time he spent getting spoiled rotten by his grandparents.  At any rate, during those 10 minutes of weekend parenting, I made a spectacular ooops. We were reading his favorite bedtime story, which is a much-too-old-for-him book on space exploration, in which we mostly go from picture to picture, reading the explanatory captions (and talking a lot about Neil Armstrong and what the Earth looks like from space). So - we get to a picture we haven't seen before which looks like an enormous puff of smoke in the air. And the following short conversation ensues:

Boy-o:  What's that?
Me: (scanning the caption about the 1986 Challenger disaster) That's an explosion on a space shuttle.
Boy-o: (lip beginning to quiver) But, but what happened to all of the astronauts?
Me:  (thinking desparately for an out and not thinking nearly quick enough)  Um, they died, honey.

Commencement of grief-stricken, fearful wailing. 

Nice.  Good job, Mama.  The four year old really needed to know the entire Challenger crew got blown to smithereens midair.  Smooth.  Why didn't I think fast enough for a good, you know, lie?  Something like, 'they safely and orderly left the shuttle using important emergency procedures, parachuting through the sky, landing with a plop in the Indian Ocean and getting plucked out of the ocean into the waiting ship by the good folks at NASA?'  No.  Blown to bits is a much, much better idea.

Me: (floundering) Um... that was a really, really long time ago.  Way before you were born.  And space travel is much safer now.  They were still just learning then. (etc. etc.)

But my efforts are to no avail, and the wailing continues.  I give up on talking, grab my shaking kiddo into my lap, and we rock and cuddle and rock some more.  His shaking body does nothing to assuage my guilt, believe-you-me. 

I feel guilty for a couple of reasons.  First, Boy-o is just beginning to ask questions about death and try to figure out what that all means (which is big for anyone).  Second, as a child (and probably still) I was blessed/cursed with an over-ambundance of empathy.  If you were to tell me about something horrible happening, I would spend days, sometimes weeks agonizing over it, thinking about the suffering people, putting myself in their shoes.  (The discovery of the events of the holocaust knocked me on my ass for months. For real.)  And I wonder in my heart of hearts if my Boy-o will (or already does) have the same blessing/curse. 

Anyways, I finally get the sobs to subside and tuck Boy-o into bed.  It's late.  We're both tired.  And just when I think he's finally drifted off, I hear a tiny, trembling voice pipe up and ask: "Mama?  Can people come back after they die?" 

Fuck.  Fuckity, fucking, fuck fuck. Fuck squared.  I'm sooo not ready for this conversation. 

Me:  "Ummmmmm.  Well,I guess some people believe in something called reincarnation, which kinda means people can come back after they die.  Some people believe that people can't come back after they die.  Nobody really knows what happens after we die.  It's pretty scary to think about, huh?" 

More sobs.

Finally the sobs give way to sleep.

But it's gonna come up again.  I best be gettin' ready.

Spectacular parenting fail.


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Monday, August 15, 2011

Fake it til you make it

I currently studiously applying makeup while ignoring my children who are screaming at me and the neighborhood (and possibly the next one over.). In their defense, they are tired after a weekend of possibly too much fun. In any event - the whining, screaming, squabbling of these little loved of mine has worn me down. Down down. It's 1:30 and I'm fresh out. I've tried ignoring. I've tried having a run and letting TV babysit. I've tried walking around singing 'I wanna be sedated' at the top of my lungs. Nothin' doin'. Next, I am tasked with taking the children for groceries and haircuts. I know, right? You totally wish you were me. Anyhoo - I've now moved into fake it til you make it mode. Hair done? Check. Fancy clothes? Check. A little bling? Check. Right shade of lipstick? Check. Heels? Check.

Now - the kids'll probably still make a scene. Like I said, they're tired. But maybe this way, instead of getting the 'that mom didn't raise her kids right' evil eye, someone will think 'look at that poor nanny. Someone oughta give her a raise'.

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All made up

Boy-o has, of late, developed a love of my make-up. 

It started in Winnipeg - came to the bathroom with me in a restaurant and watched intently as I reapplied some lipstick.  He asked for some too.  Why not?  So on it went, and he ran back to the table his Nannie and sister were sitting at, yelling at the top of his lungs that: "Mama shared her lipstick with me!" and freaking out several nearby senior citizens, whose eyes bore holes into my back.  Small price to pay for such a happy child, I'd say.

Since then, he sits transfixed as I open up my 'toolkit' and apply my make-up in the morning - asking questions about various tools of the trade with as much vigour as he asks L. about her hammers and drills and what they do.   Curious about my girlification rituals, the plucking, the shaving, the make-up, the lotion, the hair accessories.  And why not?  These are rituals that for the most part, I love.  And the natural extension of this curiosity has been Boy-o asking to put on make-up too. 

I let him put on powder, blush, or lipstick, but draw the line at eyeliner and mascara.  I'd like to keep his eyeballs where they should be, with vision abilities intact.  This has proved a delightful exercise for both of us.  Boy-o feels so special in his 'prettified' face, pursing his lips and putting a little swagger in his walk.  (I wonder if i do this too?!).  He has told me things like: "Mama, this make-up is making me feel so happy!", and one day at lunchtime, he pretended his broccoli was a brush for applying blush and proceeded to be the 'make-up artist' for himself, his sister and I.  Green blush all around.

For the most part, I am choosing to emphasize to both my tots that things I do in my 'beautification routine' like shaving, tweezing and make-up are grown-up choices.  That some people choose to do these things like mama, and some people choose not to do these things, like mommy.  I refuse to gender these choices.  I refuse to tell Boy-o that make-up is for girls only.  Because I don't believe it is, nor do I believe it should be.  And when the rest of the world parrots this shit back to him, I will repeat what I repeat about so, so many things.  Everyone has different beliefs and makes different choices.  Some people believe that boys shouldn't wear make-up or wear dresses.  Mama and Mommy believe that people need to do what makes them 'happy in their heart.' That difference is what makes us all beautiful.

For now, Boy-o has infomed me that he wouldn't really like to shave his legs.  Particularly since he sees his mama (who is iin all ways clumsy and uncoordinated) cut herself on a regular basis.  The make-up is fun for now.  A special treat for special occasions.   And that's fine with me.  Whatever happens in the future will be up to Boy-o, and his heart.

And the neighbourhood starers? 

They're just going to have to suck it up.

**I am highly aware that this post on the heels of the post about Girlio and femininity rituals seems a bit disjointed.  Yes.  I am a disjointed kinda girl.  Yes, I will fully admit to being more comfortable with my son experienting in my 'feminine' rituals than my daughter.  I could tongue-in-cheekily tell you that I am tying to turn my son gay, mostly because that is how the world outside of my wll insulated existence will read this.  But really, (of course) any person with sense in their head would (and should) read this as a deep-seated desire to let my children be who they will be, free from the societal garbage that insists that there is nothing more for them than princess and power ranger. 

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Girl, conflicted

I am a girly-girl.  This is a not a surprise to anyone who reads this blog from time to time.  I love the pretty stuff.   Big-time love.  Feel prettiest, sexiest, fetchingest, whathaveyou in lacy things, heels, make-up and other sundry variations of girly-girl-ish gear.  But my love of 'the girly' is not without a constant wrestling match between my very entrenched love of the gear and my also very entrenched discomfort with the messaging that girls and women are sold along with the gear.  (You can never be too: thin * docile * silent * pretty * sexy * young * helpless * helpful* sweet * agreeable * etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum).  It's some tricky shit, this loving of prettiness and this hating of the sexist and heteronormative messaging and expectations that tend to get packaged with it in public discourse.

I may or may not have mentioned before that our Girlio is fast showing signs of following in her mama's girly footsteps, at least for the time being.  She chooses dresses over pants every time, drools over my heels (and sometimes destroys them),  has starting trying to put on my make-up (baby drag-queen, ayone?) and attempting (clumsily and dangerously) to use my tweezers.  And though part of me is all 'awwww shucks, my baby's emulating me,' another (much larger) part of me seriously balks at the shoving of dominant versions of femininity at little girls.   I balk at the pinkness of "girl" clothes, despite pink being my favourite colour.  I chose pink as my favourite colour.  She should get to choose too, but the world doesn't seem to want to give her that choice.  I love heels and fancy shoes.  I get seriously pissed off when I try to buy Girlio shoes and all I can find in the toddler 'girl' section is uncomfortable, blingy and often heeled shoes.  FOR TODDLERS!  Seriously. Who dresses their toddler in platform-ish heeled flipflops and little wee heels?  'Cause that's going to be really comfy at the park.  How about some running shoes with the same support and comfort as the shoes in the toddler 'boy' section?  Cause, you know, those toddlers, they like to run and stuff.   I cannot stand the fact that when shopping for simple things, like say t-shirts, it is rather difficult to find one that doesn't say something revolting, like "cutie pie," "pretty," "diva," or something equally vomitous.  (Than goodness for big brother hand-me-downs!).  I hate with a passion that the very first thing people are likely to say about my Girlio is that she is, so "pretty."  She is a beautiful child.  Don't get me wrong.  But she is also insanely clever, a total ham, and pretty fucking feisty.  All of which are perfectly, you know, comment worthy.

I love the fact that Girlio (and Boy-o, naturally) has one butch and one femme parent, and many other people who do not present dominant versions of gender in various ways.  I very much hope that they will grow up knowing that not all women are girly, not all men are boy-y and that there are many, many shades of in-between-ness, all of which are okay.

But I struggle sometimes,with watching Girlio emulate my girlyness and girly rituals.  I wince when she picks up my tweezers and tries to pluck her eyebrows (for reasons other than the fact that she could easily take out an eye!).  I grimace when she gets into my make-up or pretends to shave her legs (not with a razor - nobody call CAS!). 

But in the end, I think (at least I hope) that my struggle will keep me thinking, critical and more aware of the messaging I am passing on about my version(s) of femininity. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tide and 'tomboys' - How do you read it?

Okay. So Tide has a new commercial (actually, this is one of several new ads about 'individualizing' your laundry needs with several different Tide products. I find it bizarre that people are committed enough to the project of clothes laundering to have 'laundry needs' besides put-in-soap-and-turn-machine-on. Anyhoo.) This ad is causing a fair bit of buzz due to its treatment of gender norms.

I think the ad can be read in two basic and opposing ways. #1. The literal read. This is an eye-roll at deviations from strict parameters of femininity and the child's gender presentation is being put-down. #2. The tongue-in-cheek read. This woman is supposed to be presented as over-the-top, rigid and repressed in her hyper-femininity (demonstrated by body language, manner of dress - though I maintain that I would rock that outfit ;) - and surroundings, which include flower window dressings, and a whole lotta pink. It is her gender rigidity that is being critiqued, rather than the child's gender fluidity.

Now, I suspect that Tide is actually attempting to do the latter. Albeit very badly. And if you stop to read the comments underneath the youtube post, you'll see what I mean by badly. The comments are equal parts people angry because they read the message as literal, shaming the child's gender presentation. And equal parts people who have also read the ad as literal, and think the ad is just 'so cute' and don't see a problem with policing children's gender presentation. In this way, it seems that no matter how Tide intended the ad to be read, they get a fail.

Moreover, if Tide did intend the latter, tongue-in-cheek, 'tomboys are ok' reading, because they were trying to be all transgressive, I think they chose the obviously safe route. For young kids, girls displaying stereotypically 'boy' interests and gender presentation is much more accepted than the reverse for boy children. Imagine if they replaced that 'tomboy' child with a boy in a dress, playing with dolls? Would never happen.

Anyhow. That's my take on Tide. How do you read it?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


It's happening almost daily now.  I get ma'amed.  You all probably know what I'm talking about.  At the check out in the grocery store, at the gas station, at the library, and wherever else I happen to be toting around my smalls (though it happens without them around, too, which is really a pisser).  And it kills me.  Really kills me.  Curdles-my-blood-curls-my-toes-fingernails-on-a-chalkboard-visibly-wince-smack-in-the-face kind of kills me.  And it's happening with enough frequency these days to make a girl feel, you know, a bit downtrodden. 

I would one million times rather be called miss or sweetie or toots, little lady or honey, sugar or 'my lover' (but only from someone over 50 and from Newfoundland.  East Coasters will know what I mean, here), than be called ma'am. (And I don't give a rat's ass if this kills my feminist street cred).  Ma'am erases any semblance of hot-stuffness I once (may or may not have) had and replaces it with  I'm-sorry-you're-all-washed-up-and-you've-now-entirely-run-out-of-any-last-vestiges-of-ever-being-cute-sexy-or-otherwise-attractive. Ma'am-ness.  It ain't pretty.  It so ain't pretty.  I spend a considerable amount of time every fucking morning to feel pretty and lovely and NOT look, well, like a ma'am. 

Apparently this is isn't working...

Ma'am I am.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

folk fest favourites #5 - Lyle Lovett

What a voice!

Folk fest Favourites #4 - kd lang

Swoon. That's all I have to say.

flk Fest favourites #3 - Brandi Carlile

Folk fest favourites #2 - Jeremy Fisher

Folk Fest Favourites #1 :Ane Brun

Boy-o and I LOVE to dance to this. He asks for 'the Gecko' song because he thinks they are chanting about a gecko in the background. He also inquired: "What's first position?" Ummmmmm. Great song :)

Folk fest with kids

There was great. And good. And ugly. We knew there probably would be when we decided to try and take our smalls with us for two days, and late nights of Folk Fest. It was their third go at a Folk Fest, but this was definitely the longest stretch with the latest nights. A friend pointed out to me thus weekend that kids and Folk Fest is very romantic, but the romance can wear off as the weekend goes on and the realities of childcare start to grate.  Her children, like mine, are - you know - exuberant (marevllously wild). And she was right, of course.

One's vision of Folk Fest and kids is always fueled by visions of people sitting at workshops with their progeny quietly playing alongside them, and sleepily curled up in blankets on a tarp at mainstage, sweetly nodding off to the sounds of fabulous music drifting up the hill.  But these are not my children. (as an aside - the existence of these children are not a myth - they do exist, but I confess to calling these kids The Children of the Corn. And yeah, I am aware that this is mean. I just don't care all that much. Anyhoo...).

There were some moments of great frustration:

Wanting the smalls to sit still (for just one f*cking second!) so that you can really listen to the music, instead of having 1 1/2 ears directed at the kidlets and 1/2 an ear listening to the music.  Going to the playground when you'd much rather be with friends in the beer tent.  Small moments of terror that you've yet again lost one or the other when someone wanders too far away. Struggling to get the highly excited tots to eat, sit down, sleep on the tarp, stop jumping all over your friends on the tarp.  You know - unfairly wishing they were adults becahse you selfishly want to have some care-free grown-up time.   And then dealing with the fallout frmo having a constantlly stimulating weekend full of late, late nights.  This, friends, is called paying the piper.  And the price is steep.

There were also several (possibly too many to count) wonderful, beautiful and/or charming moments that happen when you have kids at the Folk Fest.
Watching your tots break into spontaneous, full-bodied joyful dancing because they are moved by the music.  Forgeting your fears about looking like and idiot in public and dancing, laughing and cavorting with them.   Having room for them to roam, run, find a pack of other folk festy kids, happily free-range.  Very few moments of having to say: use 'your inside voice'.  Realizing that you can take your kids to the beer tent! (Fun!)  Holding my sweetly sleeping (aka finally passed out) Boy-o while listening to k.d. lang sing 'Hallelujah' under the stars, tears welling up in my eyes, because each of these occurences would be lovely on their own, but together, the moment is almost too beautiful for one heart to bear. Witnessing Girlio stand up and clap with all her might when she hears a particularly good song.  The smiles elicited by other folks tarped nearby when one or both of your kidlets run by, stop and chat, do a funny dance or otherwise entertain.  

And there are a few lasting effects of the kids experiencing Folk Fest that are kinda fun, too.  Like Boy-o now does banter between 'serenading' us with guitar songs, tell jokes and explaining his next number  When asked her favourite part of the festival, Girlio ponders for a few moments and says: "The people."  (Is it possible that this kid is really just two?!)  She has also been asking to go back to the "festibal" so that she can get some more jellybeans (dining on junk being another perk of 'festibal' kid life).

L. and I talked post festival about what our ideal kid-to-festival balance would be.  We want our kids to be able to experience Folk Fest yearly, because it is such a rich experience.  But we also want to have the rewards of being able to take in the sights and sounds of Folk Fest in a less distracted way.  And we've decided that next year, we'd like to take the kids for one day/night, and then have another day/night all to ourselves.  I think that this might be the perfect balance of festibal/festival livin'.  I guess we'll see...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Mantra: I am not domesticated. I am not domesticated. I am not...

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Monday, August 8, 2011

Gender snippets from the bathroom

So, we spent the weekend at a Folk Festival, which was fabulous and fun and exhausting in a we're-carting- our-kids-around-with-us-at-a-music-festival-largely-meant-for-grown-ups kind of way.  (More blog to follow on this topic, in all likelihood).  Anyhow... this folk festival fun included many, many trips to the lovely blue portable potties.   And at one point, a converation between Girlio and I elicited some poorly muffled guffaws from our porta-potty neighbour to the left.  It went something like this:

Girlio:  What's that, Mama?
Me:  That's a urinal, honey.  It's for peeing in.
Girlio (confused):  Mama pee in there?
Me:  No - it's just for people who have a penis.
Girlio:  (very loud and excited as she is very into the idea of having a penis right now)  MAMA HAVE A PENIS!!!   

-enter first badly muffled neighbor guffaw -

Me:  Nope. I don't have a penis.
Girlio:  [Me] have a penis? 
Me:  Um, no, honey.  You have a vagina.  Mama has a vagina.  You and I are girls, so we have vaginas.  (pause for a second).  Although, that's not really a hard and fast rule.  Some girls have penises.  And some boys have vaginas.  (Girlio now looking at me with a very confused expression). 
Me:  We can talk more about that some other time...

-Enter full-on porta-potty neighbour laughter -

Clear as mud.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, August 5, 2011

Oh funny life...

I find it deeply using that the child from down the street that has tried to tell Boy-o that our family is "weird," is currently in my back yard singing "We Are Family," possibly the gayest of all gay anthems...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

We're All Mad Here: Fighting Stigma Through Humor | Bitch Media

We're All Mad Here: Fighting Stigma Through Humor Bitch Media

The second in the Bitch series on mental health and popular culture...

We're All Mad Here: Race, Gender, and Mental Illness in Pop Culture | Bitch Media

We're All Mad Here: Race, Gender, and Mental Illness in Pop Culture Bitch Media

The third in the Bitch series on mental health in pop culture....

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Book Review: Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme

Coyote, Ivan E. and Zena Sharman (Eds).  Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme.  Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2011. 

This collection is, from my (admittedly limited) perspective, a thing of beauty.  Real-life partners (butch and femme respectively, if it matters to ya'll) put together a complex and diverse collection of queer voices to delve into modern (or postmodern:) butch and femme identities.  And it works.  It really works.  The result is an open space of negotiation and dialogue, a place to disclose, divulge, and sometimes even grapple and fumble with what those identities mean alongside the myriad of other identities and social positions and family histories we carry with us. 

There are so many standout essays and stories in the collection that it's difficult for me to pick out a few to tempt you with.   But oh-so-tempting they are.

Belinda Carroll's "A Guide to Getting Laid by a Girl in Lipstick and High Heels" made me laugh my ass off - because as a girl who likes to go out in lipstick and high heels - I know very well what it feels like to be invisible in one's own community and I'm nowhere even near what folks would call 'high femme' (still try being femme-y and throw in a few kids to the mix.  Invisible, friends, is what you get).  Anyways, it is a fabulously tarty read, as Carroll proclaims (making me love, love, love her. A LOT): "What we need, my little tattletale, is a kick in the gaydar.  Just because I wear a dress and more make-up than Hedda Lettuce doesn't mean I can't throw you around and make you call me Daddy.  I have references" (188).  Mmmmhmmm.   So you see why it was love at first read for me? 

Chandra Mayor's "Me, Simone, and Dot," is filled with the gorgeous language Mayor has become known for - intermittently beautiful and biting.  She explores femme identity in relationship to and intermingled with familial experiences of womanhood.  This one is definitely worth the read - especially a particularly funny footnoted sound-off on feminists and potlucks, which is, in a word (hmmm, is it still one word if it's two words hyphenated?) spot-on.

Ivan E. Coyote's two essays were my absolute favourite offerings from the realm of butch, resulting, I'm not too proud to admit, in a very large crush.  (How perfectly 'bored housewife' of me, no?)  In  "A Butch Roadmap," Coyote writes: "I first became something I had no name for in solitude and only later discovered the word for what I was, and realized there were others like me.  So now I am writing myself down, sketching directions so that I can be found, or followed" (93).   What follows is indeed a roadmap, filled with humor, with anger, and with the kindness and bravery it takes to leave such a roadmap for those who might follow this path afterward.  Coyote's second essay, which closes the book, is called "Hats Off."  And it made me cry.  Not just a little.  "Hats Off" is a really touching thankyou, as Coyote puts it: "[t]o all the beautiful, kick-ass, fierce, full-bodied femmes out there" (310).  And then follows with this:
"I know that sometimes you feel like nobody truly sees you.  I want you to know that I see you.  I see you on the street, on the bus, in the gym, in the park.  I don't know why I can tell that you are not straight, but I can.  Maybe it is the way you look at me.  All of my life I have been told that I am ugly, I am less-than, I am not a man, I am unwanted.  Until you came along, I believed them.  Please don't ever stop looking at me the way you do" (310). 
Okay.  Heart.  Mush. Mush. Heart.  Just sayin'.  It gets even better, but you'll have to read it for yourself to see why and how.   

There are so many other gems in this book.  With titles like these: "Futch: Notes From the Borderlands" (that one's for you, Laurie M.!), "Rogue Femininity," "A Dad Called Mom," "FEMME SHARK MANIFESTO!," and "Brother Dog," how could they not be? 

Buy it.  Support Canadian queer writers and get a fucking great read in the process.  Seriously.  How can you go wrong? 

fairy footwear

Boy-o, this morning to Girlio, who was pretending to be a fairy: "Nope!  No way!  You cannot be a fairy.  Because fairies DO NOT WEAR FLIPFLOPS!"

Ahhhh - that's my boy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

lit up

I've been struck lately by the urge to light up.  Cigarettes, not pot (the latter renders me terribly paranoid, if memory serves).  And the other day, whilst out and a wee bit tipsy (if traipsing down the sidewalk in my night-out finery whilst giggling, barefoot, heels in hand, is any indication of my state of sobriety), I succumbed to said urge.   Okay. Yes.  Let's get the disclaimer out of the way, shall we?  Smoking is bad for you, kids.  Bad.  Bad bad.  It's filthy, stinky, like kissing an ashtray, yadda yadda.  Yes, all of these things are true.  It's bad, stinky, just plain gross, etc. not to mention that great, grand and very real evil of BIG TOBACCO, and I sure hope my kids don't fall into it, though between you, me and the lamppost, I'm not stupid enough to believe that they won't. 

So why then, after all these years of not smoking, do I still fall prey to the craving to smoke?  What does smoking mean to me?

Well - for starters - I was never one of those people who thought: "I have to quit this filthy, disgusting habit."  Nope.  I fell more into the: "this fabulous activity that I really love is going to kill me, and that kinda sucks" camp.

And smoking is all self-distructive-y, which tends to work well for me when depressed or unsettled or whatever you want to call it. I don't know what is about sitting all pensive-like with a glass of wine and taking big deep drags of something that could very well kill your ass, but damn if it isn't a satisfying sort of F#ck You to the universe. If you want to know the truth, I'm doing it right now. Yup. True story. It's not going to be an ongoing thing. In fact, the rest of the pack has been deposited in the trash, likely where it should reside. Nevertheless - I do miss smoking.

I miss the ritual of smoking. The anticipation of pleasure. The endless supply of anticipation of pleasure. Because really, what is there not to like about that?! I like the associations of smoking - which harken back to times when I had nights of drunken debauchery and mornings of slow, lazy coffee drinking and paper reading in endless supply. I miss the gestures and physicality of it. I have often been told that I was an intense smoker (but I've also been told that there isn't much I don't do intensely - which is something I've worked pteetty hard on curtailing, because most folks find it shit-scary....anyways - prone to deep inhalation, wild gesticulation, the cigarette becoming a natural (and yet not) extension of my excitedly talking hands.  It was a part performativity, a part smoke-screen (if you'll pardon the pun).  It allowed me to stop and take stock in a heady conversation or debate, it allowed me to express myself in a physical way that doesn't feel as possible without the smoking.

But it was more than that, too. There's something, I don't know, comforting in a historical sense too for me about smoking. I smoked at a time in my life when things were all Summertime and the Livin was Easy. Smoking was about fun, being social, and sex. Yup. Sex. I know everyone wants to get away from that whole smoking is sexy business. And maybe it isn't . But my memories of smoking at ye olde dingy dyke bar, filled with smoky haze were full-on sexy.  Most of us queers did smoke back then, at least in my cohort. And the bar was filled with super butchy girls and drag kings (who sported suppose whether they smoked or not), who had a lighter out for you almost before that cigarette was in hand. And that oh-so-coquette-ish moment of staring up to say thank-you over the red tipped end - it was always, always a charged moment.  Smoking may be gross and unsexy, but the dance that goes along with it?  A seriously fun dance, friends.

Those were the days ;)

Emphasis on were. I"m all grown up now.  The pack, as I mentioned, is sitting in the trash.  The memory lane smoke I started while typing is long since gone, and I'm all done with tha (at least until my next night of drinking - which if my current life is any indication will be awhile ;).  I can't let myself slip into the comfort of smoking, (which, have I mentioned that I still really, really love?), because it's stinky, people feel smoking and smokers are disgusting, and most importantly I have these two amazing little people who ensure that my bouts of self-destructiveness are just that, bouts (no matter how much fantasy and nostalgia they instill). 

We're All Mad Here: Intake Interview | Bitch Media

We're All Mad Here: Intake Interview Bitch Media

Above is the link to the inaugural post of a new blog series taking place oer at Bitch Magazine, looking at the treatment of mental health in popular culture. As someone who has struggled with mental health stuff on and off, since, well, forever - I am so looking forward to this discussion - and thought some of you folks might be as well. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Happy, happy!

I stumbled across some vintage happy housewife-y ads.  I'm certain that this is how happy I look when I am doing laundry and mopping floors and showing my daughter the joys of domestic labour.  And my utter devastation when I discover spotty dishes.  True story.  (It's striking, I think, how little progess such ads have made over the years...The crazily joyful swiffer ad lady comes imemdiately to mind here).

Add caption

Monday, August 1, 2011

blogger = writer?

I had the incredible good fortune a week ago to attend a reading of a fabulous local queer writing group.  After the reading, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I met one of the writers, a poet (a very talented one, even)..  While chatting abot the reading, I mentioned that the evening had been a really nice mix of poetry, prose and spoken word.  She asked me then if I was also a writer, which sort of gave me pause.  I thought for a second, and then said something rambling (why do I ramble so much?) like: "maybe/I don't know/not really/maybe I used to be...but I do have a blog."  She queried something along the lines of: "Why do we lose all the writers to blogs?"  I raised my eyebrow here of course, because why can't bloggers be writers too?, but (before any of my fellow bloggers get their panties in a wad here), I know it wasn't intended to be in any way dismissive, and I certainly didn't take it that way.  Anyhoo - we chatted a bit more and went on our separate ways.

It was an interesting moment, with an interesting person at an interesting event.   The part of the exchange that sticks with me for today's purposes is that it brought up the question for me of what makes a writer?  Is it talent?  The urge to write?  Is it readership?  Publication?  Am I a writer?  I really haven't the foggiest idea. 

What I do know is this:  When people ask me to picture my dream career, I cannot articulate it precisely, but what I picture in my mind is sitting in a room, (yes, of my own) filled with art, stacks upon stacks of books, my laptop.  I also envision time.  Time to think, to observe, reflect, respond. 

I know that my purse is filled with an endless supply of scraps of grocery receipts covered with snippets of half-finished sentences and thoughts that came to me (as they too often do) at moments not conducive to fleshing them out properly.  I know that I have far too few moments actually conducive to fleshing things out properly.

I know that the many ideas, sentences, pieces of inspiration that come to me but are lost in the great juggling act of parenting, loads of laundry, sinks full of dishes and other poorly-done, but nonetheless all-consuming, housewifery is a consistant source of frustration in my life.

I know that I am too often distracted from my children and spouse because I get so easily caught up and completely lost in the ideas that spill into my head.  I'm a heady girl, I am. 

I know that this blog is far too often filled with typos and incomplete ideas because I have neither the time nor space to make it otherwise.  This drives me mad, but right now, there isn't another way. 

I know that I am able to communicate far more passionately and thoughtfully in writing than I am verbally.  I know I often require more time to reflect on and respond to ideas than lots of folks.  This can render me  awkward and stilted in social situations, and in the classroom has often resulted in me being pegged, and sometimes dismissed, as the dumb, quiet girl in the corner. 

I know that the satisifcation I derive from keeping this blog is equal parts connection with myself and connection with others. 

I know that I get a bit surly, twitchy, unsettled when I can't find the time to write, or when I feel I have nothing to say.  And even surlier, twitchier, and more unsettled when I do have something to say and can't reach for the right words and feelings to say it. 

I  know that the thing that makes the idea of pursuing my PhD so exciting for me is the unadulterated satisfaction is get out of reading, researching, ruminating, writing.

Does this blog make me a writer?  I still don't know.  A survivalist, certainly.  A confessor, without a doubt.  An over-sharer, sometimes.  Someone who at times has something to say, definitely.  A stay-at-home mama with an aching need to think, express herself and connect, for sure.

But I think, as I sit here on the couch, propped up on cushions with a cramp in my left side from awkwardly cradling my feverish sleeping toddler in one arm and my laptop in the other, if i could go back in time and answer that question again, it would look more like this:

"Am I a writer?  Maybe someday."

small telling moments,,,

I disovered today that Girlio can name and identify a picture of a violin.  I also discovered that Girlio can neither name, nor identify a picture of a vacuum cleaner.