Kristin and I have this acquaintance that we adore. We call her (S) an acquaintance because we met her through her sister and when our friendship with her sister went south in a VERY bad way, it grew awkward to maintain a friendship with S. We didn't see her for months, and then we and some friends went to the Olive Garden and unknowingly sat at her table (she's a waitperson) and she gave us huge hugs and told us that just because we weren't friends with her sister anymore that didn't mean we couldn't be friends with her. Still, she was busy and is very close to her family, so a friendship in the real world just didn't work out. To make up for that, Kristin and I went to the Olive Garden waaaaaaaaaaay too much and insisted that we would only sit at S's table. We tipped her big (and she brought us free food) and we would gossip and chat and tell each other funny stories as she took care of her other tables.
A few months after Kristin got pregnant, S quit the Olive Garden and went to work at Fiddler's Elbow. We went there a few times, but S usually worked the busy shifts and we couldn't get anywhere near her and it was noisy and crowded and besides the food sucked. We gave her our numbers, but couldn't get hers cause she was moving and such, and decided not to return to Fiddler's Elbow. We hoped she'd call us when she got a phone and an address. We heard from her once while we were very sick and couldn't really do anything with her, and then that was it. We lost touch. We missed her and wished she could see the baby, but didn't really know how to find her without braving Fiddler's Elbow or her sister, and neither seemed like a good idea.
Last night our friends N & A decided to take us out to dinner for watching their dog for 10 days while they were in Hawaii right after the baby was born. Now, this was not a big deal. Their dog has been friends with our dog for years -- since he lived with 2 other friends of ours -- and though there are dominance maneuvers and struggles (like siblings) they all get along great, plus Aussie is really a great house dog. But they seemed to think that this was a huge favor on our parts and decided to take us out to dinner to thank us. We decided that we'd like to go to The Melting Pot.
Kristin and I have never been to the Melting Pot but have always wanted to go. So, we got a babysitter (how nice to eat with both hands for a change) and all 4 of us drove up together. We got in, sat down and started looking at the menu when our waitperson came up, plopped our fondue pot on the table, took a look at us and screamed: oh my god what are you two doing here? (or something to that effect, I was so stunned my note-taking abilities were temporarily disabled) I looked over and saw this woman with yellow-streaked bright red hair and glasses and didn't recognize her and then suddenly she was giving a bemused Kristin a hug and it hit me -- it's S. S is our waitperson. We, unknowingly, were seated at S's table. It felt like a movie moment. In all the booths in all the restauraunts in all the cities of the Salt Lake Valley, we sat in hers. It was wonderful. We didn't get much of a chance to catch up with her -- we were being treated after all, and our hosts don't know her and it was only polite that we pay attention to the people wining and dining us rather than talk about and to S over and over and over again. Still, we did talk to her some and give her our information again. She'd lost her phone and all our numbers. Hopefully we won't lose track of her again, especially since The Melting Pot isn't especially child or tight-budget friendly. Though I'm beginning to think that it doesn't really matter if we lose touch with her again since it seems fated that we know her for some strange reason. Either that or she's stalking me in an extraordinarily clever way...
I love reconnecting with lost ones. Do any of you have any stories of wondrously strange remeetings you'd like to share?
IT WAS DIFFICULT SWALLOWING AND SMILING
AT THE SAME TIME
She was teaching me to make
I already knew how to make terrible enchiladas
but didn’t say so. She was too excited
to share. I paid attention
while she crushed tomatoes,
warmed white flour tortillas,
disregarded spices. I grated mild cheddar
and decided her performance
in bed that afternoon must have something to do
with her attitude toward cayenne.
While dipping those flour tortillas
into a watery sauce and rolling them
around “refritos” and hamburger,
she told me how her mother
had never cooked and how she herself was proud
to be such a good cook when without looking
at me she says please don’t
be offended. I have to tell you
your naked breasts reminded me so forcibly
of my mother and that’s something I need
to work through. It’s just that they’re so
lumpy and too doughy to handle,
and I’m worried about smothering.
I’m sure you understand.
She dumped the cheese into the pan
and thrust the whole mess into the oven.
After dinner I cleaned up,
scraping glops of enchilada
into the garbage. They hid
the scrap of paper scrawled with her
phone number. She may not have said
that entire speech,
exactly, but that’s what I learned.
mine. They're big. Yessiree, I've got casabas. Now that I have to get dressed presentably in real clothes every day, they're causing me problems. From the omnipresent pokey-nipple-in-an-always-cold-office problem (where at least onlookers know they are only dealing with 2 breasts in their face), to the tri-breast look caused by wearing certain underwires under certain shirts, and (my personal favorite) the quadra boob -- where the bovine meets the breast in an awesome display of mammalian tissue -- look! you can almost see them multiply right before your eyes! But today these are not my problems. My problem is that to avoid these other problems, I pulled out the big gun this morning. I pulled out the Brunhilde Bra
(it doesn't look this innocuous in the size I need it in) I call it the Brunhild Bra not because that's its name, but because I can stop bullets with this thing. Paint this thing silver and I can be a prop in an opera. Give me a battle ax and I will be your Valkyrie, I already have the breast plate for the role. And, like armor, this hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. I've got chafing, I've got rubbing, I've got permanent grooves worn into my shoulders and sides. But, I've got none of the more embarrasing problems listed above; and, as an additional bonus my breasts don't move. What's not to love?
Still, I was reading A Little Pregnant and Julie's description of her first shopping trip to buy bras since Charlie was born. And I was inspired. If wacoals could work for she-who-supposedly-is-magnificently-racked then maybe they would work for me as well. I now work mere feet from Nordstroms, so this afternoon when the work got boring and the pain got too noticable, I headed down for a little break. I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone: buy some breast petals to combate the pokey nipple problem and get myself a more comfortable bra.
Well, the sales woman took one look at me and said "my, we do need help, don't we?" and ushered me into a fitting room. "Do you know what size you need, dear?"
"I think a Q? Do you have one of those? Cause this size P is killing me!"
"Oh dear, well let's measure you shall we? Ooooh, been a bit of a time since you've been acquainted with a razor, hasn't it? Well, never you mind, dear, I'll fight my way through the underbrush, don't mind me. Um, you don't happen to know if there's been any wild boars found in there recently do you?"
So she measured, tentatively pronounced me a DDD and goes off to find bras to fit. I, who am amazed at the whole thought of measuring, "what, you measure? and it tells you your size? your real size? Just like that? And I've shrunk? How great is that!" wait to see what she brings me. And, oh what a treasure trove of loveliness. Bras that don't have underwires that reach to the chin, bras that make that sexy heart-shape, bras with only two hooks. I am ecstatic. She says these will fit! I reach with trembling fingers for the bra with only two hooks and fasten it around my chest. So far, so good. Then I pull the straps up over my arms and tuck my breasts into the cups. Then I look down and see six, count 'em s-i-x 6 breasts starting at me: 2 in the cups, 2 above the cups, and 2 little shy ones just peeking from out of the sides. My heart makes friends with my navel. And with trembling hands (this time from a different reason) I peel the bra back off. The bra lady lied to me!
So, she tried stuffing me into the other bras, pulling my bra tissue this way and that like they were taffy, but in the end she was forced to admit that my breasts are too big for her to handle. But, she assured me that they're getting bigger cup sizes in for the big fitting extravaganza next week. So she made me an appointment, sold me breast petals, and then I slowly moo'd my way out of the store.
Do you think I jogged back to my office so that I could burn off calories so that one day, I too, could wear a bra that has only 2 hooks? Not a chance. To cheer myself up, I stopped at Mrs. Smith's and bought myself some peanut butter dream bar happiness.
No disrespect meant to Kristin, but I have to say that I am totally in love with this new singer Antje Duvucot. I listen to this folk radio station out of Boston WUMB and they don't really talk alot, and I have to keep the volume down in the office so no one will hear it, so I don't really catch the words anyway, just the beat and the high notes. Yeah, it sucks. Anyway, when I hear a song that catches my attention, I jot down the time and the date so I can check the station's archives and see who it was. I write down the name on a post it note and stick it in my pencil drawer. Today I noticed that I had 6 post its with the name Antje Duvucot written on them, so I decided to google her.
Oh. My. God.
And now the world is different.
As soon as I get a paycheck that isn't already spent, I WILL be ordering both of her CD's. In the meantime, I'll just keep on like this afternoon, playing her little teaser snippets over and over and over...
Seriously, check her out. If you like thoughtful lyrics and a transcendant voice (and who doesn't) then you too will become Duvucot devotees.
Kristin's mom was visiting for most of last week. On her last night in town, she wanted to go to Sizzler, so we obliged. When she got up for her third trip to the buffet, she grabbed her hip and I heard her mutter something about an avocado in her pocket. I said to Kristin:
"Did she just say she forgot about the avocado in her pocket?"
"Yeah. She must have forgotten about it for a minute."
"Why does she have an avocado in her pocket?"
"She stole it from the buffet."
"You mean she stole one of the decorative avocados from the borders of the buffet? The decorative ones? The ones only there for decoration? Are they real?"
"Yeah, I guess they are. She says they are, anyway. I guess she wanted one for later."
"I don't know why. She just put it in her pocket."
The next morning Kristin took her to the airport early while I watched Julia. When I went to the kitchen, I saw, sitting on the counter, an avocado.
How sweet, I guess she stole it for us.
Looks like we'll be having ourselves some deluxe salads tonight.
Clumps of red leaves are spreading across the mountains' flanks like a rash.
Over at For the Byrds, Amanda began a discussion about the way she feels when someone asks her if she’s married. The problem is that they’re not asking if she’s married to her same-sex partner, but rather assuming that she’s straight and available for hitting on. Rather than clog up her comment box, I thought I’d reply to her here.
Yes, this has happened to me. Yes, I feel awkward when asked. No matter how many times I’ve done it, it’s always a bit stressful to come out of the closet. Even though I live my life as openly and uncloseted as I can, I can never be out enough. I pass as straight most of the time, and there’s nothing I can do about that. I can’t control others’ assumptions. And when they ask me, and I reply that I am partnered with a woman, sometimes, no matter how nicely I put it, the listener assumes that I am being hostile, or pushing a point, or too in-your-face. The very real possibility of getting a hostile response to my polite answer to an impolite social question makes me (at certain times and in certain situations) reluctant to answer that question. Makes me wonder how I can avoid having the question asked. Because no matter how casually thrown out the question is, no matter how impolite, no matter the circumstance, the question and the answer is always political. It is a political issue that people assume they can ask personal questions about a woman’s relationship status no matter what context in which they know her. The correction of assumed heterosexuality is a political matter. The making visible of yourself as a queer person in a loving relationship is a political matter. I try to live up to my political ideals, so I try not to allow the questioner assume that I am married to a man, or that my partner and I are not mere roommates or friends; but it is just so damn tiring to push the issue, to reveal myself again and again to people who don’t matter to me.
But sometimes it’s funny.
About a year ago Kristin and I decided to try a new Indian restaurant. The place was practically empty. There was one other party in the place. We were seated and made our selections. There seemed to be only 2 wait staff for the dining room: the man that took our order, and the man who brought it out. The man who took our order was very terse, as if he had so many, many customers that he barely had time for us. And it’s true that at that very moment the party of 6 was wanting their check so they could leave. I ordered Saag Paneer and Kristin ordered Chicken Tikka or Chicken Tandoori, or Lamb Vinadaloo, this part isn’t really important. I’ll just say (for completion) that we both had naan and drank water. Oh, and we ordered veggie samosas. That part is important. That’s where the strangeness starts.
The guy that brought out our samosas was, as far as we could see, the only other staff in the restaurant. The party of 6 left. We were alone in the restaurant besides the 2 wait staff and whatever managers and cooks were hiding behind the revolving door, if any. So, ok, back to the samosa guy. He brought the samosas and chutneys and left without saying a word. As we were eating them, we kept turning around to find him staring at us. Then, when he came to fill our water glasses, he asked us (in very broken and heavily accented English – I say this not to imply anything about him, but to let you all know how difficult he was to understand at times) if we had husbands. After a moment of figuring out what he had said, I said no. He went away. When he came to take the plates away he asked us if we worked together. I said no. He went away. Then he brought out my saag paneer. While he was placing my plate on the table he asked us if we were friends. Kristin said no, she said that we were family. He went away. He came back with Kristin’s dish (why he didn’t bring this all out all at once I have no idea) and asked us if we were mother and daughter. At first I though he had said “mad at her.” I thought that was a strange question, something that really didn’t deserve an answer, but I went ahead and answered no. After all, he still hadn’t brought out the naan, and what’s the good of saag paneer without naan? He went away. Kristin and I looked at each other and realized that he hadn’t said “mad at her” he had said mother and daughter. This upset me cause I’m pretty sure that he had gestured toward me with the mother part and gestured toward Kristin with the daughter part, and while I’m older than her, I’m only two years older than her, and I don’t think I look THAT bad. Then he came out with the naan and asked me if I was her Aunt. I said no! She’s my partner! He went away. We started eating. Kristin was laughing and teasing me about robbing the cradle. I drained my goblet. Unfortunately that meant that the guy had a reason to come back. He asked if we lived together, I said yes. He looked at Kristin and asked her if she is married. She said that yes, she is married to me. He looked at me again and said you are married? I said yes. He said, “You are married to each other?” I nodded. He looked back at Kristin and she nodded. He looked back at me. He looked at my breasts (I guess confirming that I am a girl). Comprehension began to dawn. He asked one more time if we are married to each other and when I repeated that we are he said (and this is a direct quote) “Oh, she gives you fever?” I, just glad that he had finally gotten it, said only yes. He looked at the two of us again and left. Kristin hadn’t understood what he said, she had heard, “she does you favors” which is quite bad enough and she couldn’t understand why I had said yes to that. I explained and she started laughing.
Now I was feeling pretty uncomfortable and shell-shocked and, frankly, offended that someone thought I could be old enough to be Kristin’s mother. Kristin, on the other hand, was flattered to be thought of as so much younger than me and thought the whole conversation was funny. I wanted to leave immediately, but she wasn’t ready to go yet and she bribed me into staying a bit longer by telling me that I could order my favorite dessert, gulab jamun. So, when the guy came back, we told him that I wanted gulab jamun and Kristin wanted kheer (I think it’s called kheer, I swear to god, we have ordered so many different versions of rice pudding for her that I forget which name goes with which cuisine). He went away without speaking. When he came back with our desserts, we could tell immediately who he liked better. Kristin’s glass of kheer was nearly overflowing (at other restaurants it’s served in the same glass, but the glass is only half full) while I was only given 2 gulab jamuns. And they were cold. Standard is three served hot. I pouted while eating my cold and gritty dessert while Kristin slowly savored her extra portion of sweetness. Finally, our too-busy-for-us-server appeared with our check and we left.
Though at the time I was not amused, and I was even more not amused when Kristin recounted the story for all of our acquaintances – playing up the part where she was the beautiful, young nymph being taken advantage of by the old hag – now I gleefully tell the story: “And then he said, ‘Oh, she gives you fever’ ha ha ha ha ha” But just because it’s funny doesn’t invalidate the fact that we were constantly interrupted – indeed, practically held hostage – by one man’s assumptions and sense that he had the right to question us about our relationship. We weren’t holding hands, we weren’t playing footsie, and we weren’t discussing our sex life. We were simply two young women (or one young woman, one old letch) out to dinner without a man. And that, apparently, made us fair game.
I discovered today that I did not graduate in August as I should have.
Now that my head is starting to clear from the turmoil of the birth, I recalled an email message I received at the end of July from R, the incompetent Graduate Program Assistant at my University. It was a bulk email, sent to many students, telling us that she had received notice from the graduate school saying that we were missing paperwork for graduation. She wanted us to tell her if we had thought we were graduating and when and how far along we were and what paperwork we were missing. Let me just say that that is her job. Her job is to maintain our records and transmit them to the proper authorities (among a very few other things, such as maintaining the records for applicants to the graduate program). Still, it's my degree, so I shot back a very polite email telling her that I had thought to graduate in May, but had had problems with my thesis and so was now set to graduate in August. I asked her to let me know what paperwork I was missing and how I could rectify the situation to keep me on track to graduate. I didn't hear back from her. Then I found out that I was out of a job, that the non-profit I had given my heart and soul to was going to go out of business, and Kristin's pregnancy got exponentially more difficult than it had been. I had other things on my mind, and when I thought about it at all, I thought that R must have gotten her shit together and decided to do her job and that she must not have needed anything from me to keep me on track to graduate. I don't know why I thought that. It must have been the sleep deprivation.
So, this morning I decided to check and see if I had, indeed, graduated. Imagine my upset to discover that I have not. The information I could gather on the university website said that I needed to update my application to graduate and pay $10 to reactivate my file. I couldn't remember ever having applied to graduate before, but I had gotten a bit behind with the disagreement over format with the thesis office, so I thought I'd done some self-sabotage again. The problem, as far as I could see, is that I have a full-time job now, and in order to go to campus and navigate the bureaucracy I would need to take some time off, and I'd need to do this soon so that I could at least graduate this year, and I don't have any leave or sick time saved up to use to take off. I decided to call and see if I could do the form on-line or mail it in or something. Only to find out that that information only applies to undergraduates. Graduate student graduation is completely a thing of the graduating department. When the department sends all the forms in, the student graduates. And my department, specifically R, hadn't sent the forms in. Suddenly the impact of that little email she sent me sank in. They weren't giving her notice so she could let the students know we had fucked up our graduation by not turning in forms; they had been giving her notice that she had fucked up our graduation by not turning in our forms.
So, I sent her (again) a very polite email inquiring as to the status of my forms. She replied that I was missing the report of my final exam and had my committee waived the requirement? I replied that as an MFA my final exam was my defense (something she should know) and that my committee had signed my Final Exam Report at the same time as they signed Approval of the Final Reading form immediately after my defense and that the chair of my committee had, himself, taken the forms to her right that minute. I went on to tell her (very sweetly) that since she hadn't infomed me that I was missing the Final Reading form, I assumed that she had received the forms, but that I had kept a copy for my own files (thank God, since I certainly don't have time to track my committee down and gather signatures -- that would take even more time than navigating academic bureaucracy) and I could fax it to her this evening. She replied that ha ha, hadn't we lost my paperwork once already last spring? I wrote back that if my paperwork had been misplaced last spring I certainly hadn't been informed of the fact. She ended the email repartee by letting me know that once I get that copy of the form to her she will "zoom it through the hoops" so that hopefully I can graduate in December.
Now I realize that it's my degree and so no one will care about it the way that I do. I should have been more insistent during the summer, but then, I'm not the one receiving notices from the Graduation Office about the status of my file. I'm not the one who is supposed to be collecting and forwarding my paperwork, and I'm not even the one who can find out what paperwork I am missing. All I can do is trust that she's doing her job, and try to remind her of her responsibilities when it seem like it isn't.
This isn't the first time her incompetence has affected me. Last winter I applied for the PhD program in our department. When the time came for us to hear our results, I never received a rejection letter. For 2 months I waited for word. Everytime I asked about it, I was told that the responses had been mailed. I started thinking that I had been put on a mailing list. Other friends in the program started trying to find out what was going on on my behalf. Finally, there appeared PhD applicants in our classes. They had been accepted into the program and were touring the University to try to decide if they were going to attend. Finally, I went to the Director of the Graduate Program and found out that he had been under the impression that I had received my rejection letter 2 months prior. R had lost my letter. I finally got notice of my rejection via email.
So here I am. You know, I applied for a job at the Utah Museum of Natural History over the summer. I kicked ass at the interviews. They were looking for someone with an advanced degree. I told them I was not yet graduated but that I had completed all my requirements and would be issued a diploma in August. Then suddenly they stopped considering me. I was confused. Now I wonder if they looked up my status and saw that I was not listed as graduating. I wonder if R cost me what would have been pretty darn close to a dream job (if I couldn't work at the non-profit where I had been). I don't think I'll ever know. Not that I could do anything if I did. It's not like they're going to fire the person they hired instead of me. All I can do is fume, and post angry rants, and make a voodoo doll and fill it with pins.
Oh, and I can write very eloquent and angry (and rhyming) letters to the Director of the Graduate Program, the Chair of the English Deptartment, the Dean of the Graduate School, the Dean of Students, the Dean of the College of Humanities, and the President of the Fucking University. So there!
1) Do not tolerate squatter squash.
2) Potatoes don't like pumpkins.
3) The fruit known as "cucumber" that can be found growing on the vine of the same name is only a myth. Everyone knows cucumber vines are merely decorative ground cover.
4) Don't even think of planting more than 3 squash plants (including pumpkin)-- and you only need 1 of each type. Don't you go picking out 3 different kinds of heirloom squash and then think that you should plant 2 of each, and that this year you'll be careful with spacing and planning so they won't take everything over, you know that never works...
5) Separate the tomatoes that are green when ripe from the tomatoes that are other colors when ripe -- and then clearly label them as Green Tomatoes so that you will never have another year where you miss out on their succulent sweetness when you refuse to pick them because, gosh darn it, they aren't red yet.
6) If you want to harvest any corn at all, do not allow Oliver to "lose" his radio fence collar. No matter what he says, he simply will not leave the plants alone once they get big enough to look like sticks to chew.
7) Slug-O does a pretty good job of killing snails and slugs, but in order for it to be most effective, you do have to apply it to the sluggy areas. Setting the bottle near the garden is simply not good enough.
8) Give up on beans... just give up, ok?
9) Potatoes need water, too.
10) Fertilizer. More does not equal better.
Yesterday, our friends Christine and Ely agreed to watch Julia for a few hours in the afternoon so that Kristin and I could get some very-much-needed-sleep. We were a bit nervous because we hadn't yet left her with anyone and we'd had some very rough days with her having extreme reflux and crying fits (why we needed the nap, actually) but we were determined not to be over-protective, over-anxious new parents in this instance at least, so we managed not to give too much advice and instructions and just to leave.
We drove home, feeling very strange that we had no baby with us. We climbed into bed and started spooning and that's when it physically hit me -- Kristin and I hadn't cuddled together for a month (Julia's one month today!). Yes, we had all cuddled (after a manner) as a family, but Kristin and I hadn't actually spooned (our favorite sleeping position) since the baby was born. Why? well, our bed is 4.5 feet off the ground, an impressive platform bed that we made out of kitchen cabinets. Beautiful and excellent for storage in our small master bedroom, but not very practicle for pregnant women and babies. We''re so afraid of Julia falling off (and we do co-sleep, we have to, maybe I'll post on that a bit later) that we always sleep with her in the middle, between us. So, though we have been conscious of the fact that we haven't cuddled as a couple, it didn't strike us how much we miss it until we got the opportunity to do it again. And I'm just talking about cuddling here, we miss the other, too, but it's not like I'm going to talk about THAT on this blog. So thank you, Ely and Christine, for giving us the chance for 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but also for giving us an opportunity for some simple reconnection.
Ely and Christine also gave me an unexpected gift. When we arrived to pick Julia up, she was fussing. Christine told us that she'd been an angel the whole time, getting a little fussy at feedings and then starting to fuss for serious about 15 minutes before we arrived. I was very relieved, because as I stated above (and may blog about later today) we've had some rough days. So, Kristin and I walked in, and Ely was holding the baby and bouncing with her, and he seemed to really want to keep holding her, so we didn't want to take her from him, and then Christine suggested to him that maybe we wanted to hold our baby. She was still crying, and he turned to me, and held her out and I said, "oh, what's the matter." and she opened her eyes wide and stopped crying immediately and was happy as a clam. The gift -- now I know for sure that she knows me, and prefers me. And that pretty much made my day.
Or commented as much or as fully on others' blogs...
1) I have to get up at 6 am in order to get completely dressed (yes, even bra and socks and jewelry) and catch the train for my new job.
2) I get home at 5 and must must must hold my baby for long snuggling minutes
3) I am paranoid that the IT guy at work is sitting in his office monitoring my computer screen
4) When I do have a free moment at work (away from all the very important filing and sorting and telephone answering that I do) I am feverishly working on perfecting my manuscript
5) Though I am capable of typing with one hand, I'm slow at it and it frustrates me
6) Kristin and I are trying to catch up on Queer as Folk season 4 while we're feeding the beautiful bottomless pit that is our baby
7) I am spending what miniscule free time I have trying to wrap up the non-profit I used to work for in a pretty red bow so it will be ready to come out and play as soon as we find money for it. This involves math.
8) And spreadsheets.
9) Julia hates math and spreadsheets. She refuses to stop wriggling long enough for me to do them one-handed.
10) Currently, I have baby vomit running down inside my collar and between my breasts. This is not comfortable, and I think I will stop posting now and shower.
Way back in July when I started this blog, I had the thought that it would be semi-anonymous. That I would use my name and not have a problem with readers knowing that I live in Salt Lake City (since, after all, you need to know I live in Utah in order to get a lot of what I’m talking about) but that I would not let anyone who knows me in real life know that I have this blog or give them the address. I figured that the chances of someone who actually knows me finding this blog on their own were slim to none. So, my second post was a very personal and political one. In fact, so far it’s the only overtly political post on this blog, an amazing fact when you consider that I am a very outspoken and active the-personal-is-political person. In this post, I link a conversation I had with my brothers to a heinous crime that I had read about. I was NOT saying that I thought my brothers were the same as that murderer. I was pointing out that there were theoretical and rhetorical path between the sentiments expressed by them and the actions of that monster. The point of my post was that homophobia is subtle and insidious and can be found even in the coolest and most understanding families (and people), not that I think that my brothers would want to kill my baby. Let me repeat that: I do not think that my brothers are like the murderer that killed his 3 year old to keep him from being gay, I was only saying that the underlying thought beneath the conversation they had with me contains an ideological first step on a slippery slope that expresses its nadir in the form of monstrosities and NOT that I think my brothers are monsters.
After I wrote that post, I felt better about both the article and the conversation. I forgot about it and moved on to blog the funny, frustrating, and ultimately-of-little-social-importance (except, of course, for the birth of my daughter) moments of my life. Meanwhile, it became apparent to me that letting some friends know about the blog would be a good way to keep them caught up on the movements of my life without having to write the same email over and over again. They could read my posts and I could spend my email time asking about them and getting filled in on their lives. Plus, I can’t keep a secret to save my life. An effective spy I would not make. That’s where the trouble began. One of the friends to whom I gave the blog address read the post mentioned above and decided to tell my brothers about it. My brothers got very worked up over what this person told them. The story spread throughout my family and the small community of my brothers’ and my mutual friends. Anger, miscommunication, and hurt feelings ensued… all without my knowing about it. This has simmered for weeks, and now will take longer to work out. I will, of course, apologize for their hurt feelings. But I don’t think I’ll be removing the post. Why, you ask? Because I meant what I said, even if I didn’t mean for it to be taken the way it was. And I don’t think I was being petty or small when I wrote it, because if I felt I had been petty or small then I would remove it even if I did feel it was true. Finally, I don’t want to start second guessing what I write for fear it will upset my family, but more on that a little further down. First:
If you come to my blog, and you read something that offends or hurts you or that you feel would offend or hurt someone you know, please comment, email, or call me and let me know. Most likely I hadn’t meant to offend and will apologize and clarify. Please don’t release bombs without making certain you have the story and the intention correct. If you can’t bother to talk to me first, then at least don’t spread the negativity.
This issue has me thinking about more than a rogue blog post. Though the blog post is important because I’m using this blog to start to organize my thoughts and memories into something I could use to write a book of something… non-fiction, short stories, poetry, I’m not certain yet. But that post represents more than a fleeting bad day or a transient fear. It represents an obsession of mine – the rampant, and acceptable, homophobia that is attached to almost anything associated with children. The fragile straightness of children is used to justify every piece of anti-gay legislation, every moment of state-sanctioned hate towards LGBTQ people. Think about it. If you can find an instance of political anti-gay rhetoric that does not involve protecting children, let me know so I can revise my theory. So, though that post itself will not be in a book I write, the feelings and thoughts contained within it will. The fact that I can find traces of that rhetoric in my family is hurtful to me and the family I’m creating. The fact that I pointed it out (particularly in such a public forum) is hurtful to them, especially since they’ve come so far in such a short time (I do not want to discount that, they have been wonderful, I don’t have the family horror stories that so many of my friends have). How do I balance this and keep my voice? What sort of responsibility do I have for their feelings?
Complicating the dilemma of balance, responsibility, and voice is the fact that I consider myself to be primarily a confessional poet. Sort of. As much as I am any kind of poet. I take intimate, often painful, sometimes piercingly beautiful and private material from my life, shape it and broadcast it to the world. Or it will be broadcast to the world when I get around to getting more than just a couple poems published. But I don’t live in a vacuum. These moments involve others as well. And then the age-old question rises up: when you use your life to fuel your art, what responsibility do you have to the feelings and privacy of the ones who share that life? Should I run everything I write by them all to get clearance? Should I say fuck them all and write whatever the hell I want? Should I write only what I feel is true and large and respectful and then stick to my guns regardless of possible hurt feelings? That’s what I’ve done in the past, but I’ve never had this problem with my family before. Usually it’s a friend who complains that I’ve made them out to look like a terrible cook or a horribly insensitive lover. Of course, the reason my family hasn’t complained yet about my writing is that I generally take care that they don’t read what I write. But as I get things published, I won’t be able to control who sees what. So, that last option is the one I’m going to continue to use to try to guide myself with, but what do others think? Are there options I have not considered? Has anyone else run into this problem, either in the blogosphere or in their own non-blog writings? Does everyone hate me? Cause, you know, I, like most poets, write in order to get people to love, admire and worship me. If that’s not happening, then I need to rethink my motives or my method.
PS – Despite this situation, I still think that in general it was a good idea to let some friends know this address, just in case you’re one of my friends and wondering if I’m still happy to have you reading, I am, just keep paragraph #3 in mind…
Remember what I wrote late last night? Well, this morning I woke up at 7:05 (I thought the alarm clock was turned on, but it wasn’t hey—I haven’t had to use it for about 5 years) and my train leaves at 7:35 – and it’s a 10-15 minute drive to the station. No time to shower, so I threw a headband on my skanky, unwashed, hair (the grease makes the gray shine like diamond starbeams—blinding all who look upon me with the naked eye) and grabbed the first coordinated outfit that came to hand: pale khaki slacks and a light lime green sweater set. Let me repeat that, it’s important. Pale khaki slacks. Practically white. Can you guess what I forgot to grab in my panicked rush out the door? Looks like I’m going to Martha it again, because the dispenser is still empty, I don’t have time on my lunch to track some down, and I don’t want to make my seriously sleep-deprived wife drive all the way downtown with the baby to bring me some. I’ll be sitting up straight and walking smart, today, you betcha.
Addendum (look at me with the fancy lawyer talk)
I think I may have mowed over a few octogenarians walking with blind, pregnant women carrying premature twins… but I did make it on the train.
Or, The jist of my luck these days.
I started my period. Which makes this a 20 day cycle. Sucky in and of itself because my periods are painful and heavy (something, of course, all of you were dying to know) but also sucky because I'm going to get pregnant next, and although that's a bit of a way out (like, say, a year) it's still bad news that my cycles are getting wackier.
Anyway. Like I was saying.
I escaped from my desk at my new (read: sucky) job and the rigorous demands of the nothing I have to do to go to the bathroom. And that's when I realized that IT had started. There is a dispenser in the bathroom, but I am so broke right now that I don't have quarter (turns out that the dispenser is free, but that's a moot point since I've discovered that it's also empty) and I was not about to go begging a quarter off my new lawyer office mates. So, I had brought in my makeup bag and I dejectedly began digging through it in the hope that there was a lone, lorn tampon hiding in there. Oh My God! There was the most bedraggled tampon hiding at the very bottom. I anxiously opened the packaging, praying that the inside was still pristine. It was! Eureka, I was saved. I finished unwrapping it and moved to insert it and in my joy my hand shook and I dropped it in the toilet that I hadn't yet flushed. Not that I could have used it if the water were clean since a tampon, by its very nature, absorbs liquids on contact, but the fact that the bowl was, ahem, not clean (though not too, too dirty, if you catch my drift) just added insult to injury. And I did it all myself.
I was forced to Martha Stewart it and make my own from scratch, and that puts a whole new perspective on getting your panties in a wad.
So, last night I was feeding Julia. Ok, actually, it was this morning. Early. Anyway, we think she's been developing GER (gastro-esomthingorother-reflux) so I was holding her at an incline and trying to get her to fall into the deep sleep where it is possible to trick her into thinking that I'm still holding her where in reality I am really putting her in her little co-sleeper and just leaving my hand on her tummy. I was reading as I was doing this because I needed to do something to keep myself awake. Anyway, I was reading this really funny section in Laurie Notaro's book "I Love Everyone and Other Atrocious Lies" and giggling to myself when I noticed the baby making a strange sound. I looked down and saw this huge grin on her REM-sleeping face and realized that she was giggling, too. She stopped giggling and smiling and then did it all over again. Then she Linda Blair'd all over me. So, I know what you all are thinking... "That wasn't a grin, that was gas!" Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. But how do you explain the giggling? Don't tell me it was the demon that had temporarily inhabited her body to force it to purge, exorcist style, all over my pajamas, cause we all know that demons don't giggle. They're more of a maniac cackle kind of being, don't you think?
3) wash my hands
4) read while eating
5) make a bottle starting with a dirty bottle and powder
6) clean the house
7) hand grate cheese
9) fend off 2 exuberant dogs
10) replace a carburetor (not really, but I'm certain I could if I had to)
11) set up the Baby Einstein play mat
12) fumble for the digital camera and take really blurry close-ups
one thing I haven't figured out how to do with only one hand...
Tyupe withpout typos.
Here is another cute picture because I still haven't figured out how to stick pictures in the sidebar without first putting them in a post.
Kristin's x-sister-in-law finally emailed to let us know that she and Kristin's niece are ok and in Florida. We don't know where in Florida as her email was very brief and the number she left is not working. But at least they're ok and out of the New Orleans area. She didn't mention her youngest daughter, but we're hoping that's just because she didn't think we would be so concerned about her daughter who is not our niece. She is wrong about that, so we're hoping to hear back and hear that everyone is fine not just our niece.
Here's hoping for many more happy endings for many more worried families.
"Wow, her hair is sooo soft."
"Yeah, it's really soft."
"It feels like something I've felt before."
"I know. Me too. I think there's a word for it."
"Ummm." (thinking hard) "Satin?"
"Yeah, that's right! Satin. Her hair feels like satin."
"That's what I thought, too!"
"I'm so glad we figured out what her hair feels like."
I don't feel that my goddess demands it. However, there are times when one can do nothing else. We have family who were unable to get out of the New Orleans area. Last we heard they had taken shelter in a brick house 3 blocks from the ocean in Bay St. Louis. We realize that they could be fine, just unable to contact anyone. But everyday it seems the news from that area just gets worse. Guns being stolen, law enforcement and military and evacuation personnel being shot at. The dead left to rot, crowded in with the living. Busses that are supposed to come, but arrive late or not at all. Food and water locked away, and the people who break in to distribute them labeled looters (I make a difference between breaking into food and water stores to distribute them to the hungry and thirsting, and people breaking in to stores and storage for personal gain or personal stockpiling) President Bush shipping in National Guardsmen from other areas around the country. Yet, 6,000 National Guardsmen originally from that area are in Iraq! 6,000 men and their equipment were diverted from their posts -- from what they signed on for -- to go fight in a foreign country that is not and never was going to attack us. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I always assumed that the NATIONAL Guard was to defend our NATION. Defense, not offense. Our nation, not other nations. They should have been left here to serve their country on their country's soil. And now when we need them the most, they aren't here. They could have been mobilized and on the job days ago whereas now the people in the New Orleans area have to wait while reserves come in from other areas of the country.
You know, the Tsunami was a much bigger disaster, with no advance warning, in countries with far fewer resources, and yet the organization and relief efforts there were so much more efficient than what we've got going on down in New Orleans. And I keep thinking: the biggest damage, the most devastating thing wasn't the storm itself, but the levees that broke. What if the paranoia of our leaders had manifested itself there? Government officials are likening this to 9/11. What if it really HAD been a terrorist act? What if the levees had been blown up instead of destroyed by the storm? I'm not suggesting that I think that they were, but this certainly demonstates how even with our paranoia, an entirely new government department completely devoted to "homeland security", and the big talk of our government officials, we are still completely unprepared for major disasters and/or terrorist acts. I am ashamed and frightened and desperately worried about the people down there.
If any of my posts in the next few days seem flippant. It's because I'm trying to distract myself.