Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Members of Lesbaru Nation Since 2013

After three good years car free, we bought a car!  We're a little less bohemian, a little more boushy, and it feels amazing.  I guess we should have a picture with us in it to show that I'm not just taking pictures of random cars and passing them off as my own, but that was more than I can manage.  You can see the cool blue temporary water supply hose.  We have both running water and a car, it's a good life.

Monday, August 26, 2013

This one's for you Mr. Thicke

Strangely, these cards are courtesy of my Father in Law, who was given a stack of them by a feminist friend some decades ago.  I guess he never got around to handing them out.

This weekend I got around to watching the video for "Blurred Lines" (explicit version).  It was almost like Thicke took a Women Studies 101 class, read a little feminist theory, and then set out employ every concept and action critiqued by feminist theorists.  Also, I hear he stole that song from Marvin Gaye.

I guess everyone but me has been busy making a "Blurred Lines' parody video.  I wouldn't call this queer burlesque version a parody, but maybe it will help clear your mind after watching the original.  And if you want to be disturbed all over again, you can watch this (clean) version done by kid performers.  B and I are probably on the fairly permissive side when it comes to toddlers and media, I don't expect that we will change that much as LB gets older (and, yes, this will likely lead to some uncomfortable parent conferences).  But, I think we might need to have a rule that LB can't perform the "clean" version of any song unless we're willing to listen to her sing the explicit version all the way through at least once.  Cee Lo Green's "Fuck You" would probably get green lighted, "Blurred Lines" would certainly not (and neither would Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night," partying until you black out set to an uptempo beat-not cool my young friends).

Sunday, August 25, 2013

While Mommy's Away

Not pictured: night wakeups, nebs, puking, blueberry covered face, general destruction.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More than a Dream: March on Washington Resources

I'm wishing I was in D.C. for all the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington festivities, although I don't know if I would have braved the train trip from Baltimore to DC alone with LB.  I have a love hate relationship with the March.  It is such a cool and moving historical event.  So why hate?  King's "I Have a Dream" speech (with a little Rosa Parks feet were tired thrown in) is the sum total of instruction in African American history for many kids and youth in this country.  And by the time those young people show up in my classroom, they're pissed, and rightly so, that no one bothered to talk to them about the richness and complexity of the Black freedom struggle.  [So here's a little Robert F. Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Baker, Malcolm X, Bob Moses, and a lot of Black Panther coverage.]

I've listened to this Footage of Mahalia Jackson singing "How I Got Over" at The March about ten times, and LB has been dancing to it.  And a version with better audio quality here.

Cool footage from the National Archives, which includes Odetta's performance. (This is a restored copy of the documentary The March produced in 1963, and it includes King's speech.)

King's full speech,  and why it's hard to find free full video.

Eyes on the Prize, March on Washington clip from youtube.

NPR has had some great coverage of the anniversary, including this nice piece about Bayard Rustin.

They could have developed it more, but I still like this piece from The Root on fashions of the March.

The NYTimes has made their original coverage available here, as well as some lovely photos, and memories from attendees.

Planning documents from 1963 for "How to Organize a March" via Slate.

Bob Dylan performing here. This is a fun clip because Dylan looks like what my mom would call "a hood," and the audience is milling around and looking bored until Joan Baez and Len Chandler jump in for "Keep Your Eyes on the Prize."

Lesson plans from PBS.

And of course, to keep it kind of gay, netflix has a good documentary, Brother Outsider, about Bayard Rustin, March organizer who was pushed out of a public role in the Movement both because he was gay and because of his long leftist political ties. You can read a piece on Rustin here at Buzzfeed, and here's Rustin debating Malcolm X (Rustin first appears at about 1.15).  (Rustin was a committed pacifist who had gone to jail for refusing to serve during WWII.)

I'm hoping there will be some TV coverage as well. LB got sick as soon as B left for the weekend, so I need to get off the blogs and hold my sick girl.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Report from the Annals of Stubborn and Manipulative Children

LB's speech therapist C goes to visit her a daycare once a week, even though the hunch at this point is no speech issues, just some mix of sensory/processing/social stuff that sounds like total bullshit until it's your kid.  I like C a lot, she's calm and seems eminently sensible.  Today she called after her visit with LB to tell me that she had attempted to do some more formal testing with LB, and LB had refused any part of it, even with the best and most creative efforts of C and the daycare staff. And then she asked me if LB has trouble drinking from a sippy cup!  Which really, if my almost three year old had trouble drinking from a sippy, I would probably mention it to her speech therapist.  But no, she has absolutely no issues, at home that is.  Apparently at school she feigns an inability to drink to the degree that they have her wear a bib!  And, of course, give her lots of attention.  C astute observation was that maybe LB likes getting attention for being a baby.  At her beloved old daycare, LB was always "Baby LB," and everyone fawned over her.  Add to that the fact that she is tiny (and cute), and she's now the oldest in her class by a ridiculous number of months, and I think we have a well-developed get-attention-by-acting-like-a-baby strategy going on.

So next week, another crack at the speech testing at our house, and maybe we can figure out if she is processing really slow, or she's amazingly stubborn, or something in between.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Talking about Terrible Things (with young people)

I read this post, "When do we teach our kids about hate," over at VillageQ with interest.  Historical hate is pretty much my bread and butter.  Today I spent a couple hours researching the derivation of an antiquated used racial slur.  And as a teacher, a big part of my job has been introducing students to terrible events in history.

So maybe I should be pro-"teach all the hate and teach it now."  I remember as a little girl growing up in New Hampshire, meeting another little (brown) girl on the beach and playing with her.  She told me that she was afraid of the Ku Klux Klan, who were bad men who would come out of the woods.  I wasn't afraid because that had no meaning for me.  So there's the problem of telling children things that will make them afraid.  In some situations fear can be protective, but if your children aren't in danger, perhaps they can be spared that fear.

But as we teach our children only the fears closest to them, fear becomes an unequal burden.  Some children need to know that when you hear a loud noise you hit the floor, and others don't.  Some children need to hear that "sometimes people don't like people who are different and want to hurt them," while for other children that lesson feels as irrelevant as the Klan was to my eight-year-old self.

The fear issue is a big one, but, for me, I think the larger issue is one of honesty.  I'm all for honesty, but I don't think honesty means telling kids a lot at a young age, rather I think it requires waiting for a pretty high level of emotional and intellectual maturity before discussing really difficult topics.  When we try to explain terrible things to young people who aren't able to comprehend them, our instincts to remove the brutality and despair are so strong that we end up telling a dishonest version.  Or we tell a story that kids can understand in the way that they would understand a horror movie, but not on a deeper level.

I suppose there are people who teach college courses without crying.  I am not one of them.  And I'm not alone.  I've been in a lot of classrooms with crying professors, and I think for many of us that is a deliberate vulnerability among those who teach difficult subjects.  If you can look at the photos from Without Sanctuary, or watch children being deliberately attacked with police dogs without crying maybe you're not fully understanding that this is what real people chose to do to other real people.  That's a devastating lesson.  It may never be fully understandable, but to even begin to comprehend requires some time on this earth.

And having said that, sometimes life catches us and we have to have conversations our kids aren't ready for.  I can understand why a black parent in Chicago in 1955 would send her child to view the body of Emmett Till.  The horror of that viewing was burned into the minds of a generation, and they turned it into action.  I'm more likely to have to explain to LB why there are small children holding "God hates fags!" signs.  Hopefully by the time she can read I'll have a better answer than "haters gonna hate."

Monday, August 19, 2013

One Day at a Time

I don't think I realized how much stress I was holding in my body as I job searched.  Now it seems to be working its way out.  My mood is considerably better, but my neck and shoulders feel terrible.  I'm trying to get motivated to clean and organize before the new job begins, while I also finish up my freelance research on "a series of most unfortunate, obscure, and ominously depressing topics."  My big nod to increased efficiency is setting up a Bloglovin account.  It is efficient, but strangely alienating.  Something about having new posts pop into my feed, rather than searching them out feels much less intimate (and I mean that in the least creepy way possible).

In other emotional worlds of the internets news, I feel blocked in my blog writing because I'm trying to write a few posts that I feel I should write, rather my usual stuff I think is cool/free association.  A big reason for this blog was to have a place to write with minimal external pressure, but then in life there is always external pressure (otherwise I'd be writing in a pleather diary with a tiny key).

Anyway.  Projects!  I cleaned the Dora kitchen!  This Dora kitchen was a generous gift at a time when LB was no longer content to sit her her jumpy containment device in the kitchen, and I was desperate for something entertaining that would keep her out from underfoot.  The kitchen fit the bill.  However, it also represents the moment when my aesthetic vision of parenting died.  Play kitchens made from blonde wood with shiny red accents?  Not for us.  Also not for us, wool diaper covers, etsy wooden toys, and a variety of other simple and beautiful things.  I won't lie.  I covet.  But, I can also see that the people who have those things spend more money, choose more carefully, cull more thoroughly, and generally work harder at leading a life of beautiful simplicity than I ever will.  And then there's the whole issue of ending up like Tasha Tudor.  So, I will be thankful for the garish, plastic Dora kitchen that has more crevices than anything belonging to a child should have.  Yesterday I hauled Dora out into the yard and hosed her down, and now she looks lovely and clean, with a little help from a small child.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A City that Works

Providence, Rhode Island is one.

I came home yesterday with a shrieking LB, turned on the tap, and nothing happened.  I left a message for B cursing several governmental systems and higher powers, and then I called the number on the Providence Water website.  It was 6:00pm, and someone answered the damn phone.  I couldn't believe that a real person picked up the phone after 4:47pm.  And he was very nice and said he would send someone out to investigate.  A half hour later, there was a water investigator banging on my door.  He proceeded to fix the problem (involving the temporary water bypass system that was installed in our neighborhood and the hose to our house not been hooked up).  I was shocked, happy shocked!

Let me just tell you that in Baltimore, the water people probably wouldn't even bother to lie to you and tell you someone would be right out, but if they did, "a half hour" would mean "lady, just stop whining about your goddamn water, nobody cares."  (The only governmental efficiency I ever encountered in Baltimore was at the Board of Elections.) However, in Baltimore your ex-con neighbor would most definitely offer to run his garden hose through your kitchen window for the duration.  In Baltimore, civic breakdown leads to communitarianism by necessity, in Providence I don't need neighbors, I've got the employees of the water department looking out for me.

In other excellent urban news, our daycare is becoming a CSA pickup site.  How amazing is that?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Preeclampsia Links

Today someone found this blog while searching, "I'm not gay, I just really like rainbows."  Well, all the best to you my non-gay, rainbow loving friend.  Mostly people who come through searching are searching preeclampsia related topics.  Some of those searches are sad like the "when can I see my baby after mag sulfate." (Dear medical professionals, please seek to reunite mother and baby as soon as possible!)  Some sound suspiciously like med and nursing students searches: "what to check for before administering mag."  (Should you people be reading on PubMed and not here?)

From XOJane
"It happened to me: I had pre-eclampsia during pregnancy."
Straightforward discussion of one woman's experience with preeclampsia.  Worth a read.

From Midwife 1010
Okay information, except for the suggestion that dietary choices can prevent or slow preeclampsia.  I see too many women, particularly on natural birth boards, holding out hope that they can cure their preeclampsia with food or herbs as their condition deteriorates.

From Mamalicious in the City
"The Brewer's Diet: Have Some Steak with that Seizure"
This friend speaks my mind.

From BMJ
"Magnesium Sulfate and Preeclampsia"
What my non-medically-trained self got from this article is that mag sulfate works well to prevent seizures in women with preeclampsia, but as with so many medical treatments, it may be overused for women with mild preeclampsia in the US.  In England they use mag less frequently, and they don't have women seizing all over the place.  Mag sulfate sucks, and defensive medicine sucks, but seizures, stroke, potential injury and death would be worse, and the treatment itself isn't without risk.  I guess those are the hard choices of potential over-treatment.  (I hope you med students are paying attention!)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Some Movies My Parents Should Regret Showing a Young Child

From our friends at Common Sense Media: "40+ Movies You (Might) Regret Showing Your Kids."

Considering that I grew up in the days before VCRs, I watched a lot of movies as a kid.  There were a couple theaters near us that showed non-disney kids' movies.  I remember seeing The Phantom Tollbooth, an animated version of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and several version of Alice in Wonderland in the theater.  The week before Easter, The Secret Garden would always play at the second-run move place.  My parents both loved movies, my mom would watch anything, and my dad liked the most slapstick of slapstick comedies.  In addition to all the eminently respectable children's films I saw, here's my personal list of inappropriate movies I watched as a child:

Star Wars 
I saw this movie at a drive in when I was about 6, and Darth Vader haunted me for YEARS.  No really a film for the very young and sensitive, even if they beg like crazy, and you're pretty sure they'll fall asleep in the back seat before the feature starts anyway.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Growing, up my dad worked nights and weekends, so my mom would take me to see whatever was out.  I saw this fine film when I was 10.  Now, for a teen, this might be a good cautionary tale (because it's really freaking depressing), or a discussion starter, but for a 10 year old, just not really appropriate.  

 The cheap movie theater in town made it cheaper for my parents to spend a dollar on a child admission and fifty cents for some m&ms, than to pay a babysitter a dollar an hour.  The scene I remember most is the one where Coco gets hooked up with the sleazy director and cries as she takes off her top.  I didn't understand why she just didn't leave, which I guess is a good reaction for an eight year old.

My Dinner with Andre
It is possible to traumatize a child through sheer boredom.  I've seen a good number of art house films in my day, but I'll never trust an art house film, thanks to this one (and also Naked Lunch, which I watched as an adult, mostly with my eyes closed).

Watching Karen Silkwood sobbing as she's being decontaminated has to be right up there with seeing ET's body in terms of movie traumas.  I would like to see this film again as an adult, and, Cher's turn as an unhappy lesbian.  I remember hearing an interview with Cher in which she said she cried when the director told her she would not be allowed to wear makeup in the film.  I guess there are worse things than taking your 11 year old to see Silkwood, but it's just a waste to take a kid to see a kind of scary film they won't understand.

Fannie and Alexander
For some reason I really, really wanted to see this movie when I was 12, and convinced my mom to drop a friend and I off at a showing at the local university.  The result is one of my life rules: I shall never take anyone under sixteen to an Ingmar Bergman filmI've seen this film again as an adult, and it is truly creepy and terrifying.  I may have actually gotten sick from fear the first time I saw it, or maybe not, but it was not an appropriate choice for a (sensitive) 12 year old. 

My father can't abide any kind of media in which animals are hurt or killed, so that was one traumatic genre I managed to avoid.  I walked in on poor LB at her grandparents house watching Finding Nemo (never seen it myself because I don't like computer animation).  So scary, so sad, I can't believe that's a kids' movie.  The Common Sense Media lists include some movies that use the word "shit."  Personally, I would take profanity over abandonment any day, but maybe that's just me.

(And now I'm remembering that B watched The Exorcist with her Dad when she was 9, or something crazy like that, so I guess it could've been worse.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hearts in Oregon, Jobs in Providence

JOBS I said, jobs plural, as in, I am now employed on a permanent basis in the city where I live.  I got a job with a little non-profit that does great work.  It's going to be challenging, and, hopefully, fun, and hopefully I have a good five year plan worked out.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Working Vacation

For me, hopefully three phone interviews in addition to a few thousand words written, for LB swimming and watering.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"hello, hello, hello, how low"

B and I are living the suburban youth I never had.  Cruising the mean streets in a borrowed escalade, listening to Nirvana, and Macklemore, and whatever else they play out here on the radio. 

So far we've hit two donut shops (Tonalli's and Annie's), gone to Uptown Market and Mcmenamins for drinks, eaten at Burgerville (in addition to the poached chicken place) and gone to see Stories We Tell, the Sarah Polley documentary.  I also ate some fish tacos at the amazing suburban farmer's market, and bought berries, and kimchi, and salmon jerky.  Yesterday my father-in-law smoked twelve pounds of beef brisket, and I think the eating is about to commence.

I was telling B, as we cruised that Portland has a Chicago's worth of stuff packed into a small city.  It's overwhelming.  I also don't understand how Portland supports all these businesses.  Do people here have the money to eat out all the time, and go to artisanal cider bars?  (Okay, so just checked and the median household income in Portland is about $13,000 higher than Providence, RI and about $10,000 more than Baltimore, MD.  I guess that extra money supports a lot of microbreweries and food carts.)

Still, despite the fact that Portland, OR is living the dream, I still feel East Coast, even if that means more Dunkin' Donuts and fewer fresh blackberries.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Fosters vs. Orange is the New Black

I'm watching both thanks to the luxuries of cheap cable and a Netflix subscription.  If you haven't heard, the moms on the The Fosters are lesbians raising a multiracial, bio, adoptive, and foster family.  For a cop and a charter school principal they live in a really nice house.  There's plenty of scandal, but no more than on 7th HeavenThe Fosters is like a nice, pretty girl your mom sets you up with.  She's got a car and a nice place, but she just can't make you feel anything.

And then, there's Orange is the New Black.  I've cringed through a good portion of this show, mostly because the caricatures of race and class, not because of the sex (even that one scene).  Also I really want to brush Natasha Lyonne's hair (in a non-sexual way).  But, this show is the girl with trashy blown-out tattoos, who doesn't have her shit together, who you find strangely irresistible.  It really does show the fluid and complicated nature of sexuality (here I considered musing about the parallels between women's colleges and women's prisons, but decided against it) , and it makes you care about the characters (Tasha! Poussey! Burset!  Diaz! and, of course, Alex's voice, which in itself is a major reason to watch the show).

On one internet board I read, someone commented that she'd never thought about what prison was like before watching OITNB.  I suspect the show should not be confused with something called reality, but if it makes people pay attention to mass incarceration, that's not a bad thing.  Maybe prison shows will be the new house flipping or cupcakes, and then, when we dismantle the carceral state we can move on to something else (reality shows about North Korea, and non-sad shows with cute animals are at the top of my list).

In my unofficial survey of lesbian I know (many of whom are also moms), people who know about The Fosters are glad it's on (but what they really want is gay families on PBS Kids), and some are watching it, but everyone is watching Orange is the New Black, and then watching it again.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lying with Pictures

So well behaved, so happy, such a good traveler.  Until she wasn't.  Overall, I'd give her a C for effort.  As shown in these pictures, she had some good moments, but that didn't really make me feel better about the extended period of physically restraining a toddler who was hitting, kicking, and screaming "NOOOOO!"

In happier news, we traveled to this:

According to B. this pictures shows (only) the (amazing) selection of bombers at the local supermarket, which makes her "happy and sad at the same time."  First stop today, Nong's Khao Man Gai.  The plan: eat and drink to failure.