brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I had surgery on my butt in August and I’m going to tell you ALL ABOUT IT in a series of posts because apparently what I do on the internet is talk about my ass. Which has resulted in a bunch of really interesting twitter bots following me. Lord help me when I try to get a job and they do a google search on me or something. Anyway. Pilonidal Cysts.

I have a cystic skin condition unrelated to Pilonidal Disease, so when I had gross oozing, bleeding, swelling, and pain at the base of my tailbone/ass I assumed it was just my skin being awful and trying to kill me. I’ve lived with this for LITERALLY twenty years. TWO DECADES. I was aware of what Pilonidal Cysts are, but what are the chances that I’d have hidradenitis suppurativa AND pilonidal disease? IT IS TO LAUGH. Of COURSE I’d have both! I mentioned my butt issues to my general practitioner who said “Hm, that sounds like a pilonidal cyst, pull your pants down” and I did and mooned her and she said “yup that’s a Pilonidal Cyst here’s a referral to a surgeon.”

I foolishly assumed the surgeon could like… lance it in his office and that’d be it. OH LOR. NO. It involves actual knock-you-out surgery and I’m going to talk about that in a later post. But right now I’m going to talk about what a pilonidal cyst is.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about Pilonidal Cysts/Pilonidal Disease and what causes it. The general idea most people have of Pilonidal Disease is that it’s caused by fat hairy gross dudes who sit around too much in a slouched position while playing computer games and jerking off. It’s OBVIOUSLY caused by ingrown hairs, poor hygiene, improper seating posture, etc.

Actually, according to my surgeon, it’s not! It is, I believe, related to Spina Bifida. When the fetus is forming you have the neural tube that eventually closes to form the spinal column. Sometimes it doesn’t close completely and a little pocket or closed tube is formed. Either you’re born with it or you’re not. If you’re born with it, either a hair grows into it or not. If a hair grows into it, either it gets infected or it doesn’t. If it gets infected either it comes to a head on its own and drains (like mine did, continuously for twenty years) or it just swells up and is horrific. It’s entirely chance. There’s nothing a person can do to cause or prevent it. Lancing, antibiotics, etc don’t really affect it. Even if you can get it into remission, it’ll come back. The surgeon I saw stressed that it’s something he sees all the time in men, in women, in thin people, in fat people, in hairy people, in not hairy people, in active people, in sedentary people. It’s just a thing that happens. And it can be treated.

The surgeon I saw removes the entire Pilonidal Sinus in out patient surgery and then stitches it all up. He does not pack the surgical site unless the stitches fail, which I appreciate, as I didn’t want to deal with packing. It took me about 3 weeks before I could sit again (I basically spent two weeks doing nothing but lying in bed, which actually is awful.) In my next post I’ll talk about how to prepare for surgery, and what happened with my surgery.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I’ve had a large number of miscarriages since having Nikola (and some prior to him), which is one of the more frustrating forms of infertility. I can GET pregnant, obviously. I can’t STAY pregnant. Is it hormonal? Chromosomal? Something else? Who can say! Investigative tests can be really expensive and often don’t reveal anything anyway. I’m 36 and the age gap between Nikola and any hypothetical siblings is only increasing, and I made the decision recently to let go of the dream of a larger family, of another baby, of a sibling for Nikola.

It’s both sad and a relief.

I’ve never been a fan of infants, although I adore toddlers and get a big kick out of little kids.

Niko was out of school for almost two weeks due to a series of serious illnesses. Last Friday was his first day back in a while, and a gorgeous day to boot. After school let out I let him run around on the playground for over an hour. One of his friends kept touching base with his mom and baby sister. One heart melting moment included him touching foreheads with the giggling girl and exchanging smooches. All I could think of was how much I wanted that for my family, for Nikola. It was this sour, painful moment. But it passed quickly.

More than that brief pain, I mostly felt sympathy for the woman, juggling an early toddler who wasn’t quite walking and wanted to crawl around an unsuitable area (a paved surface covered in dirt, grit, broken glass, etc or a grassy area that was mostly mud and dog poop– thanks dog owners who bring their dogs onto school property where kids play and run and let your dogs crap there and don’t clean it up! Awesome!) and be anywhere but in her mom’s arms. And as much as I’d like another kid in my life, a sibling for Nikola, I am so so glad I don’t have to deal with a baby.

I’ve started thinking about the expenses of another kid, and how we’re able to give Niko more… more books, more toys, more museum memberships, mini boxes of cereal and juice boxes and other tiny little indulgent luxuries.

I’m starting to not just adjust to having only one child, but to prefer it.

(Having made this decision, of course, my period was then over a week late. Thanks body! You suck!)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Nikola, almost six, is an only child who never attended day care or much in the way of play groups. Pre-Kindergarten and its broad swath of germs and viruses hit him hard. Kindergarten is hitting him less hard, but that’s like saying getting struck down by a golf cart is better than being flattened by a fast moving freight train. You’re still on the ground counting your bones and wondering what hit you.

Niko has a gross cold that leaves him snotty (although he’s finally figuring out how to blow his nose) and with a nasty cough. I kept him home from school yesterday because the cough was disrupting his sleep and he was on edge and poorly. Then last night his cough progressed to triggering vomiting. Thankfully he knew what was up and called me in to help him and we kept the mess pretty contained, at least physically. But he doesn’t enjoy vomiting, or coughing excessively, or feeling out of control, especially at 1:30 in the morning. I mean, who does? So the coughing till he pukes events usually progress to crying till he coughs more and then pukes again. One of my mom jobs is to calm him down when he gets worked up (even when he’s healthy, as he has asthma) because crying can lead to coughing can lead to grossness.

I cleaned up the puke, got him calmed down, helped him blow his nose and drink some water, cranked up his humidifier, fluffed his pillows, and did everything else I could to help him sleep comfortably. I gave him the last of the liquid benedryl we have on hand because it can shrink swelling in nasal passages and dry up postnasal drip, helping ease coughing and make breathing easier. He declined the codeine cough syrup we have for him (it tastes like fire) but if he’s coughing this much again tonight I’m going to insist he take it. But other than that, there’s nothing I can do. I mean, I can sit up on the couch with him, supporting his body so he’s not lying down, and hope that helps his cough. I can push fluids into him during the day, and feed him chicken soup. I can take him to the doctor (where they’ll say “yup, that’s a cold, keep him hydrated. that’ll be $25 please.”). But I can’t really make him better.

Most cold remedies don’t work any better than a placebo, while also having some pretty severe side effects, especially for children. There’s nothing I can give Niko to make him all better. If I could pull the sickness out of his body and endure it myself I would. All I can do is try to make him comfortable and be thankful this isn’t Pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough for the whooping sound of the coughs, or 100 day cough because of how long the illness usually lasts (10 weeks or longer, ie, over 2 1/2 months), is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It causes coughing so extreme that people wit it vomit, can break ribs, or become utterly exhausted. After coughing they can pass out; during coughing they can wet themselves, tear open arteries, burst capillaries in their eyes, or develop hernias. Infants don’t always develop the cough, sometimes they just stop breathing. Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and seizures. Despite the fact that a Pertussis vaccine was developed in the 1940s and has been proved resoundingly effective and safe, people are still rejecting it out of fear and misinformation. And so a disease that could be completely eradicated in the USA has pockets where it lives and strikes those most vulnerable to it, hospitalizing many of them and killing some of them.

Nikola will be sick for a week or two. He’ll probably miss 4-5 days of school (a school week). He’ll be gross and miserable and he’ll probably get this one or two more times this school year, and hopefully will get it less often next year. We’ll continue to treat him kindly and gently and help him use his inhaler so he can breathe better. He’ll be miserable and I’ll be miserable and I’ll lie awake at night listening to him cough and worrying, and listening to him NOT cough and worrying about THAT.

But it’s not Pertussis, at least.

That’s something.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Rich, well-dressed, fancy-car-owning, connected, white-identifying virgin Elliot Rodger described himself as a nice guy and a gentleman, and was furious with women for “rejecting” him.

He left behind an online presence like a pustulant rash, documenting his interactions with women and how they made him cry simply by existing. He describes himself as a “nice guy” and a “gentleman” while insulting -and physically assaulting- women. At one point he, in a car, smiled at two women waiting to cross the street. When they didn’t smile back, perhaps not even seeing him, he circled around and threw his coffee at them, lamenting online that it wasn’t hot enough to burn them badly. That’s the action of a nice guy and gentleman, right?

In his many, many brain leavings online he does not talk about actually approaching women. All that rejection he faced? He never asked any question, he never put himself out there. He decided to punish women for not reading his mind, for not sensing his interest, for not flocking to him and being the sexual prizes he felt he deserved. He murdered women because women did not attach themselves to his dick, unasked.

He wrote many, many times and made many videos about how much he hated women, and Black men, and Asian men. He was deeply misogynist, and deeply racist as well. He described himself as “a nice guy” but nothing in his writings, nothing in his representations of himself, can be identified as actually NICE.

There’s an awful lot of guys who identify themselves as “nice guys” with nothing backing that up. And like Rodger, they lash out at women and try to punish them for any perceived failing. They call women sluts, all women, define them as such and deride them as such… then seek to punish them when those “sluts” exercise control over their sexuality and refuse to have sex with them. There’s a lot of comments -a LOT- supporting Rodger and claiming that if some woman, some sacrificial virgin, had just TAKEN ONE FOR THE TEAM, then Rodger wouldn’t have been forced to become a spree killer. There are comments literally saying that women need to pay for their lives with sex, that a woman who does not have sex with a man deserves to be murdered.

But rape culture doesn’t exist, right?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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  • Despite their claims to the contrary, flossing with floss works better than using an oral irrigator (waterpik etc). It cleans your teeth better, leaves your gums healthier.
  • At-home dental products that make claims about reducing tartar mean reducing tartar of the future. They can prevent it from getting worse. They can’t do anything about existing tartar.
  • If you go ten years between teeth cleanings it’ll take more than one visit to get your super gross teeth clean. Take some ibuprofen before going in.
  • Your head has a lot of empty space in it. Not YOUR head specifically. All heads. This can make infections hard to spot. So much empty space.
  • If you have an amazon.com gift card you cannot use it on amazon.ca.
  • You cannot buy an amazon.com gift card and sent it to someone to use on amazon.ca. They are totally separate entities.
  • Shipping to Canada from the USA is pretty expensive.
  • Shopping for a new television is dizzying and terrifying.
  • Pervasive motor sounds thrumming through your home at night are ominous and hard to track down. Is it a generator? Somebody’s AC condenser (switching on in 50* weather)? Attempted communication from Beyond The Veil? Hard to tell.
  • Sometimes kids get convinced squirrels are venomous and there’s really nothing you can do to convince them otherwise.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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A few weeks ago I felt a little weird in my face area before bed. I checked myself in the mirror and my face was blotchy and swollen. I generally felt unwell and had been battling a cold so assumed it was a sinus infection. I complained about it a lot, took ibuprofin, and drank a lot of water and it passed. In retrospect, though, I think it was hives.

Last Thursday I noticed a rash on my stomach. It was faint pink and vaguely itchy. I assumed it was dry skin or possibly that I’d gotten bleach cleaning spray on my skin through my shirt while cleaning the kitchen, but it got darker and itchier and spread. Also the backs of my knees really itched, but I assumed it was just eczema. Today, one week later, it’s covering my body from the tops of my thighs to my throat/neck, and snaking its way down my arms to the insides of my elbows.

I look kind of like a mottled pink and white cheetah or something, all blotches and roseates. My soft organic cotton t-shirts feel like fine grit sandpaper on my shoulders and back. I suddenly find myself scratching fervently at various places, scratching hard enough and long enough that while I haven’t broken the skin and am not bleeding, its moist and slightly weeping. I sit on my hands to keep from scratching myself raw, and suddenly find myself scratching my butt/hips/thighs. I fold my hands together, fingers twined, and suddenly realize I have welts on my wrists and am scratching them.

I’ve been taking benedryl, which does nothing much to alleviate the itching or hives.

My big fear is that I’ve developed an allergy to one of two things:

1) Some super common food that I eat all the time like eggs or butter or wheat or coffee that will be hard for me to avoid
or
2) zinc, which I take as a supplement to address a skin condition I have (hidradenitis suppurativa) that causes me to randomly and spontaneously break out in abscesses that take f o r e v e r to heal. The zinc doesn’t CURE the skin condition, mind you. It just puts it more or less into remission until you stop taking the zinc and then it gets as bad as ever.

I have an appointment with a doctor for Tuesday. I’d been meaning to make one for a while so I could get a physical and generally get checked out, but I wanted to get new glasses ($200-400) and get my teeth taken care of (god knows how much) first.

I’m pretty nervous about seeing the doctor because I’ve had some really horrific and abusive medical experiences in the past, and the fact that I’m fat does not help at all. We’ve had insurance in place for a while now… about a month?… but I’ve held off going in to get my asthma and PCOS evaluated– as well as starting documenting my skin condition for future disability claims*– because of the incredibly negative experiences I’ve had.

(* this skin condition never gets better. There’s no treatment for it that heals it, the best you can hope for is to keep it from getting worse. It’s very common for treatments that HAD been working to suddenly stop working. It’s intensely painful and can and does affect mobility. It’s one of (the?) only skin conditions one can get SSDI for, a process that’s intensely difficult to do. I fully expect to be in increasing pain from this and potentially require a number of surgeries that remove areas of skin and under lying tissue. The fact that I’m a stay at home parent and spend most of my day in yoga pants or pyjama pants is AMAZING for my skin, as clothing that causes friction also leads to increased instances of abscesses. Yet it’s very difficult to work a job where you’re in soft, unstructured clothing all day.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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(content note: discussion of body hate, disordered eating, mental health issues, harassment, etc)

What is a microagression?

A microagression is a small, non-physical act that takes a negative, hostile, insulting, etc stance toward people of lower status. The term was originally used to refer to issues of race but is also sometimes used to describe similar actions with regards to gender and gender expression, class, ability status, etc.

On December 11th, Melissa McEwan started the hashtag #fatmicroaggressions on twitter “because I was having a moment of fedupedness with people pretending that fat people’s lived experiences are not spoken about, not known.”

I started college in 1997 when I was 18 and already pretty solidly in the grips of an eating disorder. If you’d asked me about it, I would have talked about diets and willpower and how unbelievably fat I was. At the time, I was still able to shop in “normal” clothing stores and wasn’t unbelievably fat. But adults had treated me, since childhood, as a massive disgusting fatbag one snack away from imploding from my own fatness. Didn’t I know how disgusting I was? Didn’t I know how cute I’d be if I’d only lose some weight? I look back at photos of myself as a kid, and sometimes I was a little chubby and sometimes I was skinny, but I wasn’t a fat kid. But adults around me were super quick to enforce the idea that I was a fat kid and fat kids were fundamentally worth less than non-fat kids. I think a lot of that was in reaction to the fact that my mom is fat… that they were trying to stage some sort of intervention to prevent me from going down the same (constantly dieting, constantly hungry, constantly hating herself) path she was on. And I internalized that. I took it as a given that I didn’t deserve clothing that fit properly or looked good, that I didn’t deserve to sit on the nice furniture for fear of breaking it, that I didn’t deserve people to treat me well, that I shouldn’t expect to ever find a husband or have kids (neither of which I was interested in at the time) unless I was willing to be strong and use my willpower to lose weight and get skinny. Because I was just lazy and indolent, that’s all, and all I needed to do was pay attention and count calories and measure things and work out and walk just a little bit and not so fucking much.

I stopped doing ballet (and tap and jazz) because my instructor told me I’d never be able to go en pointe, I was too fat. Too bad I don’t live in Russia or I could have joined Big Ballet, made up of dancers who weigh 220 lbs and up. I stopped doing tumbling/gymnastics because the instructor refused to help me get into positions she helped the other kids get into, and responded to my complaints of physical bullying (shoves, pokes, punches, and pinches of my little tummy) with an admonition to lose some weight (I was under ten years old). My pediatrician dismissed my mom’s concerns over my recurring ear infections, bronchitis (2-3x a year), and strep throat and advised her to put me on a diet. (When I turned 20 I got a new doctor who immediately had my tonsils removed. In the ensuing 14 years I’ve had bronchitis maybe 3 times total instead of 2-3 times a year. She also, worried about my weight, put me on an anti-depressant because it tended to suppress the appetite. She completely missed the part where I was incapacitated by Depression and Anxiety, but boy did she see my stomach and decide losing weight would do the trick. She missed the obvious signs of PCOS, too.)

By my senior year of high school, I was subsisting primarily on heavily caffeinated diet sodas. They were calorie free and filled me up sloshily and gave me energy which I needed because I was taking in so few calories. They also gave me horrible headaches thanks to the artificial sweeteners, but it was worth it, because no calories! I counted calories to the extreme, measuring out teaspoons of peanut butter for sandwiches and making hot cocoa with half the amount of the mix recommended. And when I was too hungry to keep doing it, when I’d been fasting for three or four days, I’d go on a binge and eat until I hurt while hating myself the entire time. I had excruciating nightmares for years about eating, would wake up racked with guilt from eating in dreams.

At some point in college I encountered the Venus of Willendorf and, possibly somehow through that, Marilyn Wann’s website Fat!So? which was a life changer. They both started me thinking in a very fundamentally different way about my body and my place in the world. I later discovered Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size (HAES) and Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose and other blogs from the fatosphere.

I’m a lot healthier– and a lot fatter– now than I used to be. I rarely have my blood sugar drop so low I get shakey and nearly pass out. I haven’t fasted or binged in a long time. Keeping a food log can trigger incredibly unhealthy mindsets and behavior in me, but I can keep one if I need to (for instance, to be sure I’m taking in enough calories in a day). I still deal with stress by losing any inclination to eat, and sometimes realize that it’s almost bedtime and I’ve literally eaten nothing that day. I still have deep rooted problems, physical and mental, from the way people have treated me and my body for daring to exist as a fat person.

And I encounter similar problems pretty much every single day, people pre-judging me and my worth based on my size.

When I was pregnant, my first OB-GYN did not have a scale that went above 250 lbs. In order to weigh in, I had to leave his office, walk into a different office of a different doctor, and ask to use THEIR scale. I’ve had doctors fret that I was too heavy for their exam tables (I’m not). I’ve had medical staff refuse to use a larger sized blood pressure cuff (which skews my BP reading, making it register as abnormally high) or insist on using a thigh cuff (which is too big, and also gives a false reading… this time of too low). I’ve had many medical staff offer me exam gowns that were ridiculously small, because they simply don’t stock plus size gowns. When I had just delivered my child via C-Section, which is major abdominal surgery, and was still unable to feel anything from my chest down, I was expected to self-transfer from a gurney to a bed because the nurses didn’t want to touch my fat body. When I accidentally soiled myself (again, just had major abdominal surgery, had no sensation below the chest) they refused to clean me up and I lay there caked in feces for over an hour. When they DID clean me, they did an incredibly poor job. The morning nurse assumed I was simply incontinent and had regular bowel leakage because that’s just how fat people are. Medications, including birth control, are not tested on people over a certain size, resulting in fat people routinely being given the wrong dose of medication.

Every day that I leave my house I know I am going to be judged harshly by people. They are going to pull faces if I sit near them on the bus or train. They are going to be extra angry if I’m too slow crossing the street. People who see me with my kid assume I’m his aunt or nanny and not his mom. I know for a fact that I’m statistically likely to receive inferior medical care, that if I need an EMT they might stand around mocking my size instead of assisting me, or might post photos of me and insults to twitter or facebook. If I go into a grocery store, someone would feel it well within their rights to take photos of me and post them online with insults. In fact, there’s websites devoted to mocking people my size. People feel it acceptable and normal to casually insult me simply for existing, to judge me and find me wanting based solely on what they see.

I’m not going to pull that ridiculous “last acceptable prejudice” card or claim that anti-fat bias is somehow unique in the world of hatred and -isms. I’m also aware that as a white woman who usually doesn’t look obviously disabled I don’t get slammed with as much bias as other fat people in the world.

But still.

Every day I wake up and go out into a world that’s full of assholes. Every day I wake up and brace myself for absolute strangers to attack and deride me. Every day that I post something online i wait for the “lol ur fat” responses to roll in– and they frequently do.

So Melissa McEwan started this hashtag and people started posting under it. And some of it’s petty little shit like cashiers side-eying their Halloween Candy purchases and some of it’s bigger stuff like being denied birth control or having eating disorders and other medical issues go undiagnosed/untreated. And some people responded with WELL THAT ISN’T REALLY MICRO NOW IS IT.

I have 2 responses to that.

1) When you deal with toxic bullshit every single day, what should be a huge instance of hate and bias kind of sinks into a background noise. Pretty much every very fat person I know has had their medical concerns dismissed because they’re fat and “they just need to lose weight.” So on the one hand, that is (or should be) a huge fucking issue. On the other hand, it’s incredibly common. Almost every fat person I know dreads having to find a new doctor (or A doctor if they haven’t got one) because it means you’re probably going to have to shop around extensively just to find a person who treats you like a human being and not a gross sack of lipids. So a lot of the things mentioned under the hashtag? Are super huge things and not micro at all. But you know what? Those things are so common, so ubiquitous, and so many people feel they are deserved, that they just… lie there. Accepted. Acceptable.

2) It’s rare for the voices of fat people to be centered, to be heard, to be granted legitimacy. So fat folks see these kind of thing, and on twitter there’s very little barrier to entry, and suddenly… they’re entered into a conversation with other people who have Been There, who have Experienced That, who have Survived That, who Know How It Is. And the dam breaks. And all this fear and resentment and anger comes pouring out. Yes, there’s a difference between that woman on the bus who got up huffily after you sat down because your thigh touched hers and she didn’t want your gross fat cooties and the time you went to the doctor and he dismissed your questions about MS and advised you to eat more kale and lose weight, but at the same time, those exist on a spectrum of hate that affects all fat people and both are equally acceptable ways to react to fat people: with disgust, with anger that they exist, with dismissal. Just go away and don’t come back until you’re skinny.

The trolls, of course, have come out.

It’s easy to lose weight, they say. You’re just making excuses, they say. One asshole, whose entire account seemed to have been created solely to seek out and harass people who’d participated in the hash tag, tried to dismiss some of my claims. MAYBE THEY JUST SECRETLY HATE YOU.

Look.

Darling.

Sweet troll.

Precious little one.

It’s not a fucking secret.

It is socially acceptable and valid to hate people, to treat them as less than human, to consider them both worth less than thinner humans and also to consider them worthless.

That’s not a secret at all.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I’m a white woman, and I wear yoga pants. I don’t actually do yoga, but I wear the pants. Sure, sure, I try to explain it away as a medical need. I have a skin condition and if I wear certain fabrics or things that are tight or rub I form abscesses. I’m not joking, btw, this is a real thing that really happens and the best part about being a Stay At Home Parent is wearing pyjama pants more than I wear “real” pants. Oh, and the whole seeing my child grow up first hand thing. But mainly doing something simple (wear soft, loose, cotton pants) that reduces the amount of searing pain and risk of infection in my life.

Anyway.

I’m a white woman, and I wear yoga pants, and I love a lot of things that white women in yoga pants love. Nutella? I’m down! Salted caramel? Put it in my mouth. Wreaths? Bitch please, I love wreaths. Fall? I could write sestinas to the glory of fall, mainly because it’s a welcome break from summers so hot I pray for death and winters so cold I pray for death. Yay fall! Crisp leaves! A snap to the air! Apples! A reasonable electric/gas bill from not having to cool/heat the air! Decorative gourds! Halloween! Etc.

But do you know what one big white woman in yoga pants thing I don’t love?

Pumpkin spice.

Pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice cookies, pumpkin spice bread, pumpkin spice M&Ms, pumpkin spice caramel filled chocolate truffles, pumpkin spice candles and air fresheners and scented oils.

I like pumpkin pie alright and I make a pumpkin cheese cake that’s so good I will fight someone over it.

But regular old pumpkin spice whatevers?

Pretty gross, and make me kind of gag.

I got a pumpkin spice donut and ate it only out of a sense of obligation and a desire to not waste a dollar. It was pretty icky.

I think part of it might be the seasoning mix. Too much allspice, maybe? Cheap ginger? My own pumpkin spice mixture includes fresh grated nutmeg and cardamom.

Or it might be that pumpkin spice things tend to be cloyingly sweet.

And also they just taste gross.

But thanks to PEER PRESSURE I keep trying the FOOD OF MY PEOPLE and it keeps grossing me out, man.

I also don’t like mayonnaise, or cream-cheese-based dips.

I may have to turn in my white-woman-in-yoga-pants card.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Are you tired of hearing about my jacked up knee yet? HA HA SUCKERS! I’m here to talk about it SOME MORE.

Nesko stopped at Walgreen’s last night and picked me up a cane and it is black and has a stylin’ orange-y copper band just below the handle, and I am able to walk around with it, albeit slowly.

The problem with me and canes… or me and crutches… is that I start feeling “normal” and get over confident and move to fast and over balance and then windmill my arms around and either twist my knee/ankle/other anatomy up or just plain fall down. No lie, I had a nurse bust up laughing at me once when she watched me flail my way across the room on crutches. I just pick up speed, ok?!?

So I’m moving around the apartment with greater ease than before, although I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, slow down, go slower, take my time.

I wish I’d gotten this cane days ago.

It’s good I have it now, though, because I am having… tummy troubles.

I was feeling pretty confident that I’d be able to take Niko to school on Monday and then I remembered that Monday is Labor Day and he has it off. So it looks like I’ll be super ready to start taking him again on Tuesday. I’ve felt super weird about someone else handling the duty, on top of feeling weird that strangers are with my kid for 2 1/2 hours a day and I have no idea what’s going on during that time. So it’ll be nice to get a little more in the loop, you know?

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to put my left foot flat on the floor and walk around slowly but stylishly.

Laterz.

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ha ha, ow

Thursday, 29 August 2013 12:20
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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In 2003 or 2004, I forget exactly when but it’s when I was still working at the bakery, Nesko had the day off. He drove me into work at super early in the morning. We were stopped at a red light, a woman in little shorts jogging slowly across the cross walk in front of us, when a guy in a pick up truck slammed into us from behind. We jerked forward a bit, and my left knee hit the front dashboard. I’m super anal about showing up to schedule shifts, so after exchanging insurance info Nesko dropped me off at the bakery and I worked a full shift. THEN we went to the ER (and filed an accident report). The docs gave us both pain killers and muscle relaxers for neck and back pain, but I didn’t mention anything about my knee. However, I’ve had pain in that knee ever since, pretty consistently. It’s like a grinding feeling. I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s something… bone chips?… floating around and grinding against things.

Niko’s started preschool and it’s 4 blocks (half a mile) away. On his second day of school, we meandered over there and got him settled in his classroom, and then I headed back home. About a block away I started fretting to myself about how my knee was hurting worse and worse and that my right hip was starting to hurt because I was walking a bit funny, almost limping. I turned into the alley behind our building as a bit of a short cut. I was within sight of our back fence, about two buildings down, when suddenly I felt a snap and my knee was replaced with searing, blinding pain. I staggered to the side, unable to support my weight, and then managed to hop over and lean against somebody’s garage door, gasping and cussing.

It was pretty awful.

I managed to hop, hobble, and lurch to our fence, where I found an old fence post and used that as a sort of crutch thing to get me up to the house. I dragged myself up the back stairs. I’ve been in pain ever since.

Fortunately, my plan of staying off it as much as possible is paying off. Every day it’s hurting less. It hurts less this afternoon than it did in the middle of the night when I woke up to pee, which hurt less than it did that evening before going to bed, etc. I’m healing. And I’m super lucky that our house mate has been able to take Niko to school and pick him up again, letting me just sit around and convalesce.

I don’t have insurance, or I’d have called 911 right there in the alley and had an ambulance come get me. I don’t have insurance, but will be covered in November through Nesko’s new job. All I need is for my body to hold on for 3 more months. But stuff keeps blowing up and costing money and time and etc. Come on, body! Hold it together!

In retrospect, I think I stepped funny and sprained my knee. It feels a lot like what happened years and years ago when I stepped awkwardly off a ledge I didn’t know was there and felt a similar snap in my ankle. It wasn’t broken, just badly sprained, and time and coddling did most of the healing. I’m hoping that’s what’ll happen with my knee, but plan on going out and picking up a cane or something this weekend. And my knee’s just moved higher on my “get this checked out ASAP” list. Sorry, funny looking mole! You’re not causing me pain so you’re getting downgraded!

I’ve noticed that my knee’s been hurting a lot more since my whole face swelled up from my teeth going bad. It’s like I get a little inflammation somewhere and then my whole body goes to hell, everything swelling and hurting and acting up. If I could trade this fleshy shell in for something cybernetic I absolutely would.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Last night I had a nightmare.

This is nothing new or unusual for me. I’m a very active and vivid dreamer who routinely sees in color and can taste, smell, hear, feel, etc everything that’s happening. I can feel the change in texture of a painted iron fence, from smooth paint to rough rust spot. I can feel the dry heat of the sun on my head and back and the cool lapping of lake water on my legs, complete with the feel of rounded pebbles under my feet, toes digging in and gripping them. I once had a very pleasant dream where I was just sitting in a field of tall waving grass, dry and golden, rattling seed pods, while the sun set. The sky was brilliant colors, the air cooled, the stars slowly came out. It was peaceful.

But most of my dreams are pretty awful.

They’re complex, with convoluted plot lines. I have a lot of anxiety dreams about being lost, losing something, having to find someone or something. I’m never where I need to be. Sometimes I can read in dreams, and I have read the most amazing stories and histories. Other times words and letters are a shifting jumble and I need to read them and I can’t make sense of them. I frequently have dreams about needing to call someone and being unable to work the phone, tension and anxiety mounting as various things go wrong.

On top of that, I also have nightmares. Often. Frequently. Several times a week. Sometimes several times a night.

I’m chased through dark woods by slavering beasts who want to rip me apart. I’m traveling through ruined cities, looking for supplies and evading bad guys who want to kill me. I’m hiding someplace small and dark hiding from something lurking right outside, waiting, being absolutely silent. I’m on the run from people, from things, who want to torture and kill me. There are spiders on me. There’s something under my skin. My spouse/parent/child is possessed by a ghost/demon and nobody knows but me and I have to fix the problem before it kills me. Something or someone is trying to smother me and I can’t breathe.

I live with terror.

And that terror usually involves bodily harm- protracted bodily harm.

I mentioned that I can feel things? Cool water and round stones and breezes and grass? That I can feel the soft flutter of a cotton skirt against my bare legs, or the tickle of a dry leaf falling and brushing my cheek? I can feel pain, too.

I lie with chronic insomnia. I have a hard time falling asleep and I have a hard time staying asleep. If something (or someone) wakes me up, it can literally take hours for me to get back to sleep. I’m tired all the time, I enjoy lounging in bed, but I hate sleeping. I need to sleep, but I hate it. I wake up exhausted, often no more rested than when I lay down, and frequently more emotionally drained. I realized when I was in high school that I had a lot of delaying tactics around going to sleep and wondered if it was because of my dreams, and I think that’s true. There’s 6-10 hours a night where I’m not in control and horrors come out and play, and that is very stressful.

Sometimes I realize I’m dreaming, and I try to take control and direct things. Sometimes that works and I can change things or switch to a different dream. Once, while having an anxiety dream, I got very frustrated and exclaimed that this was JUST LIKE an anxiety dream and I was OUT OF HERE and I literally walked away and into a different dream. But other times I freak out and think “Oh, this is JUST LIKE a dream” but then lose that thread.

The first time I went on Wellbutrin I started seeing results very quickly. One result was that I got tired and went to sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. I stopped taking Wellbutrin for reasons I can’t remember, but took a generic form years later that sadly did not have the same effect.

I don’t know why my brain goes into overdrive while I sleep. It’s not related to physical activity or what I eat or if I’m depressed or what I’ve been watching or reading or anything. It just… bam.

Bam.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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When I was in 1st grade my mom realized from something I said that I’d been stuck in Special Ed classes. They hadn’t discussed it with my parents or anything, as far as I can tell they didn’t actually test me other than the Kindergarten teacher gave me some smudgy photocopies of what I think was the Porteus Maze Test. I’d actually been doing mazes for a year or so and didn’t like them. They didn’t make SENSE to me. If I could see the entire picture, why did I need to stumble through the pathways? If I were IN a maze, I could just climb up onto the wall and walk along it, skipping the blundering about portion. So I used to “solve” mazes by just drawing a straight line from the start to the end, a sort of “fuck you” to mazes in general. When I entered Kindergarten, I was reading at a 3rd grade level, writing, and doing addition and subtraction. Class time was taken up with identifying the Alphabet… a letter a day. I was bored out of my mind, and over thought things. FOR INSTANCE, we covered what patterns were. So XCXCXC is a pattern. MVDMVDMVD is a pattern. They’re things that repeat. I claimed that ICLGTWVD was a potential pattern… all you had to do was repeat, just because you didn’t SEE something didn’t mean it didn’t EXIST, all things have the POTENTIAL to be patterns. Soon after that I started my Special Ed career.

My mom found out and raised hell.

I was forced to read out loud to several different teachers to prove my skills, and I was given some placement exams or something and they talked about skipping me a few grades which was ridiculous… I was in no way emotionally ready to skip a few grades. I wound up visiting the Principal regularly (weekly? daily?) to read to him privately which filled me with terror although I can’t say why. Nor can I say why he wanted to meet with me privately.

Anyway, I wound up starting 2nd grade at a different school, making the jump from public school to private… to a small Catholic school.

Kindergarten and First Grade I took the bus to and from school. It was free, part of having a public education. But private school? You have to pay extra for the bus. So my mom dutifully dropped me off on the first day of school.

It was a really weird experience, starting school in a uniform, a tiny class full of people who’d known each other since they were born, whose parents had all gone to school together and attended Mass together. They sang hymns in class that I was unfamiliar with despite attending CCD regularly and Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation… hymns I never encountered anywhere else… and I never learned the lyrics to them. I was really far behind the rest of the class thanks to spending a full school year doing nothing but glue cotton balls to construction paper and sort tiles by color and pet fluffy bunnies. I was overwhelmed and awkward and the nun who taught religion class (and English also? She taught us a lot but I don’t remember exactly what) was very physical and would snatch people by the hair, would lock them in the dark cloak room.

And at the end of the day I stood in the parking lot and waited for my mom to come get me.

She didn’t.

Our school calendar was way off when compared with public school. We started school earlier in the year, earlier in the day, and ended earlier in the day. I think we ended later in the year though… we had more holidays than public school did or something. But we got out about half an hour or 45 minutes or something before public school. I waited and waited and waited and finally, at home, my mom looked up and saw the bright yellow buses dropping off the neighborhood kids and didn’t see me and remembered that she was supposed to pick me up from school.

So she piled my brothers in the car or dropped them off with a baby sitter or whatever, I don’t remember, and went to get me.

At that point I was pretty convinced nobody would ever come get me and I would die there alone. I was kind of a morbid kid.

But looking back on it, it’s really weird that no teachers or staff or anybody noticed me.

As it turned out at that school, the staff managed to not see a lot of stuff where I was concerned.

(this post brought to you by the fact that my kid is starting school at the end of the month.)

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I was watching ABC news this morning and crying at the weather report when they did a feature on the Special Olympics. The host was an older Deaf woman who spoke verbally and used ASL. A bunch of Special Olympics participants where shown, they answered some question. The entire segment was captioned, although it took a while to kick in. As soon as the segment ended the closed captioning also ended. It made it really clear who ABC considers their target audience: people who don’t need captioning. It felt like there was an assumption that someone who was Deaf/Hard Of Hearing would zip in solely for the segment, then bop back out again.

It reminded me of retailers who balk at ADA compliance and complain that they shouldn’t have to drop a bunch of cash on making their places of business accessible since they don’t HAVE any customers who use wheelchairs/assistive devices.

Which kind of proves the point, you know?

Disabled people exist. They consume media and eat at restaurants and take vacations and stay in hotels and use sidewalks and public transit and drive and buy clothing and books and groceries… or they try to. And most able bodied people give pretty much zero thought to making things… media, locations, businesses, tax-funded public streets and schools, hotels, etc… accessible to disabled people. And then they are shocked!! and surprised!! that disabled people exist. And meanwhile, they’re missing out on the money that disabled people have to spend on goods and services because they’re using businesses/locations/media providers that serve their needs.

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Gender and Hair

Monday, 15 July 2013 17:34
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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If you follow me on twitter (and why wouldn’t you follow me on twitter?), then you probably already know that I buzzed most of my hair. I left the fringe but the rest is about 1/2 an inch long, very Riot Grrl I guess, pretty dated maybe, but oh my gosssshhhhh I’m so much cooler than I used to be. Hair is hot and hair is heavy and now when there’s a breeze it goes straight to my scalp and neck instead of getting lost in my hair first. It’s pretty awesome.

I’ve spent most of my life with very long hair. I cut it around my senior year of high school and since then have been going back and forth, growing my hair to its longest length (waist length) and then cutting it relatively short again… usually chin length or so.

I was what some people would term a tender headed child. I had long, very fine, very dry, hair and it snarled and knotted constantly. Combing/brushing it was constant agony. Keeping my hair in braids or buns might have helped, but very fine dry hair is also slippery and it would escape. Detangling spray would also help but I don’t think it existed then. So I complained a whole bunch and my mom finally gave in and cut off all my hair.

She might have been pregnant at the time. I’m unsure of the timeline. But I know she stopped hand crafting delicate little girl gowns out of satin and lace, complete with frilly aprons and bloomers, around the time my brother was born. And I started wearing hand me down clothing from my older male cousins. With very short hair.

It.

Was.

Awesome.

Unisex clothing was very much a thing in the early 80s (I was born in 1979), and it wasn’t as uncommon then for little girls to wear clothing that wasn’t pink and plastered with butterflies. But the combo of “obviously” little boy clothing (including a totally bitchin’ pair of yellow canvas shorts with a million loops and tabs and a clip on compass that I called my safari shorts) and short hair meant that suddenly strangers treated me very, very differently.

Suddenly I was “sport” and “tiger” and strange adult men would comment on how big, strong, brave, handsome I was. They’d ruffle my hair and give me candy. People don’t frown and narrow their eyes or make comments when I scrambled around and climbed on things and yelled.

It was amazing.

Eventually my hair grew out again and my mom forbade me cutting it again and I was encouraged both explicitly and implicitly to be more feminine. To dress a certain way, and act a certain way, and talk a certain way, and maintain certain interests while dropping others, and to wear my hair long.

My hair’s short again, shorter than it’s been since that very first hair cut, and I adore it. I probably won’t keep it this short forever– I get bored and like to change things up– but I’ll be keeping it for a while. It feels very liberating.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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There’s a Jenny Craig ad featuring a woman sobbing because she realized there were no photos of her and her infant daughter, but now she’s lost a bunch of weight she can take SO MANY PHOTOS and REALLY LIVE HER LIFE.

This commercial makes me so, so angry.

Look.

There is nothing preventing you from taking photos of your fat ass, or living your life, but you. I super hate the societal message that women who are fat should hide away and never be seen, should exist in a state of shame, should do everything they can to reduce their physical bodies to an acceptable size. It leads to ill health both physical and mental, and it leads to people putting their lives on hold, waiting forever for the magic moment when they’re slim enough, when they’re good enough, when they’re deserving enough, to actually live.

Get out there and live.

Bust out the camera and take photos of yourself, have family and friends photograph you.

Then look at the photos.

You may hate the way you look, but seriously, the more you look at them the more used you get to them, and the more you’ll get to like them. Pretty soon you’ll stop focusing on your belly or thighs or double chin or weird hair or the way your shirt bunched up or your crooked teeth or your zits or whatever the problems are. You’ll just see you. And you’ll see you having fun and doing things and being with people you love.

I have very few photos of my mom, because she spends most of her time hiding from the camera “feeling fat.” Looking through family photo albums there’s a weird sense that she doesn’t exist. When she is photographed, she’s usually hiding behind someone or something, or half out of the photo, or something like that. One of my favorite photos of her is her on the stairs with a terrible haircut, a perm that went awry. My dad took it to document her awful hair, and she’s laughing, and you can see her brilliant smile and sense of humor and how gorgeous and full of life she is. Another snapshot is her on the day she graduated from college, holding her diploma triumphantly, in her weird hippy shirt and her hair longer than she usually wore it. She’s so alive, so present. Her favorite photo of herself, one that she carried around in her wallet for years (and might still have), is her standing in the sunlight in cut off jean shorts. She’s at her slimmest, and she keeps it to remind herself of how perfect she was then. She was taking prescription amphetamines and spending time she normally would have been sleeping running on treadmills to use up the excess energy. She was also in her 20s and hadn’t had kids yet. But oh, how she clings to that photo. It’s like something out of the long-running (now ended) syndicated comic “Cathy.” I mean, at one point, Cathy pulls out a photo of herself at her slimmest and compares her current fat self to it.

There’s a quote I ran across once and now I can’t find it again. I don’t know if it’s from a story, a blog post, a song lyric, or what. “We were young and beautiful and didn’t even know it.”

We’re all young and beautiful, and we don’t realize it, don’t recognize it. Especially those of us raised female. We worry about our fat and our breasts and hips being too large or not large enough. We fret over our skin and hair and posture. We’re perfect, but convinced we are imperfect and those imperfections make us unlovable. And we get older and bigger and more wrinkled and our hair thins and we lament our lost pasts. Why didn’t we take more photos? Why didn’t we run around enjoying our bodies? Why did we spend so much time hating ourselves? But we’re still unkind to our bodies, still viewing them with suspicions, still expecting perfection and disappointed in the reality. We had from the camera, too fat, too wrinkled, too female.

And our family looks through photo albums and we’re not present, we’ve made ourselves invisible.

It’s easy to pick up a camera and take on photo taking duties. It’s a service. It’s part of the emotional heavy lifting that’s expected of women. But it’s also an excuse. If you’re handling the photos nobody else has to. If you’re the only photographer, it’s an easy out, an easy excuse to not be in the photographs yourself.

Please stop doing this.

Take photographs of yourself, let others take photos of you. Leave a record of your life, be present in your life. Just live. Stop thinking about your body and live, exist. Give yourself permission to exist and take up space. Stop being afraid of not being perfect, not being good enough. Stand in front of the camera and just be.

When Niko was an infant, my sister-in-law snapped of photo of me sacked out on the couch holding him. I hated the photo when I first saw it, the first tens of times I saw it. I’m so fat. Look at my chins. Look at that huge mole. Ugh, my hair. Ugh, my hairy arms. Ugh, my crooked glasses. But the more I saw it the more used to it I got. Yes, I’m fat. That’s how my body is. I’m fat and I’m hairy and that’s just me, it’s how I am. And look at me, there with my baby, relaxed and happy and both of us safe and comfortable and asleep. It’s an intimate moment, a photo of us just being together and loving each other. I love that photo now, and Niko loves to look at it.

You are who you are. Please, please, stop putting your life on hold until you’re a better version of yourself. Start your life now and actually live it.

And take some photos.

You’ll appreciate it later.

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Nutella

Sunday, 24 March 2013 11:22
brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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The first time I had Nutella was in 1993. My mom’s best friend had moved to Australia a few years earlier and super expensive trans-atlantic phone calls once a year and letters written in cramped writing on both sides of onion skin paper and sent airmail just weren’t enough. So she used my graduating from 8th grade as an excuse to fly the both of us out to visit them. Happy graduation, let’s go to Oz! I’m not complaining, mind. It was an incredible trip. I fell in love hard with Melbourne, and it’s the one place in my life I’ve ever felt homesick for, which is weird considering I was only there for about 3 weeks. But man, I loved it so much. We stayed with our family friends and I tried Nutella for the first time. We’d been sending them care packages for years of stuff like graham crackers and Oreos and Captain Crunch and some other stuff they couldn’t get over there (coffee that wasn’t instant? lasagne noodles that you had to boil first? I forget what else.) and they’d send us Vegemite. After our return they sent Nutella as well, something you couldn’t get (or couldn’t get easily?) in the States.

OF COURSE I shared this with my friends.

They thought I was crazy.

Putting CHOCOLATE on BREAD? How ridiculous is that! No wonder you’re such a fat fatty! These FOOLS who enjoyed chocolate chip cookies, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate croissants, white and yellow cake with chocolate frosting, pound cake with chocolate ganache, chocolate bread pudding, etc could not FATHOM putting CHOCOLATE (and hazelnut) on BREAD. Ewwww, gross! I made them eat it, because that’s the kind of friend I am, and they all saw how amazing it was and liked it. And for years, Nutella was a staple in my cupboard.

Now it’s super popular and you can pick it up in almost every grocery store and there’s weird ads for it on television and in magazines where it sounds like it’s health food (it’s chocolate, people. chocolate. tasty, not healthy.) and there’s a million recipes and memes about Nutella online. You can find it pretty much everywhere… except my kitchen.

Why?

Because of Nesko.

I married a man who’s allergic to hazelnut. He’s also allergic to chestnuts and brazil nuts.

How allergic is he? I’ll tell you. Years ago, I worked at Fannie May and part of the job requirement was to be familiar with the product. I was sampling the new deluxe truffles (which were INCREDIBLE) and one of them was a hazelnut mousse filling (AMAZING). HOURS after I tried one single truffle with hazelnut Nesko came in to buy some Advent calendars for his cousin’s kids and I gave him a little kiss and his lips started tingling and got a little swollen.

Despite his allergic reactions (swelling, vomiting when he eats chestnuts) he continues to eat stuff with hazelnuts in it unless I remind him not to. His reasoning is that the allergic reaction isn’t THAT bad and hazelnuts taste good. My reasoning is that each exposure ups the chance his allergy will get worse, so stop making bad decisions you fool. So we don’t keep Nutella in the house.

Recently, some peanut butter companies have tried to jump on the Nutella bandwagon and put out their own chocolate spreads. Every time I see them I scrutinize them for hazelnut. Peanuts, after all, are tasty and they are peanut butter companies. Wouldn’t it make sense for them to use peanuts instead of hazelnuts in their java chocolate caramel whatever spreads? But no, they all cram hazelnuts in there.

Then I found these little single-serve packs by Jif. They’re one of the

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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February is my birth month. I’m turning 34 this year, on the 25th.

I’m very comfortable with my 30s, but lately I’ve been really feeling every year. Add this to my clinical Depression and Anxiety Disorder and this rough winter (I suspect that, like a lot of people, I have SAD which is… really aptly named) and I’m having a lot of trouble taking care of myself lately. So this month I’m investing time and effort in self-care. A lot of it is really ridiculous stuff that most people don’t have trouble with, like remembering to take my supplements to help with my pernicious anemia and skin condition (they’re just pills! once a day! why can’t I consistently take them?) and putting athelete’s foot ointment on my toenails and feet twice a day. And then I get all frustrated at myself because really! This is baby stuff! How can I call myself an adult if I can’t manage to do this?

So I’m trying really hard to do that basic stuff, to take basic care of myself, because I deserve it and also my family deserves it, because I function better when I’m taking care of myself.

I’m also trying to work out more, especially doing exercises for my back. Because I feel better and function better when I’m not in pain.

The days are already getting longer and I’ve noticed my mood and energy improving. Hopefully this continues.

I spend a lot of my life feeling less than functional, less than. I really don’t like it, but it’s hard to scrape together the energy and will out of the dregs of exhaustion to make changes, to take control. It’s so much easier to just lie back and float, to spend as much time asleep as I can.

I’m also thinking of what I want to do for my birthday (and Niko’s birthday after). Right now, I’m tentatively planning on pizza and watching “John Dies at The End.”

You know, one year, I’d love to rent a theater and show a movie, have all my friends come and enjoy.

What would your awesome party entail?

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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I want you to imagine something.

You meet this person. You hit it off. You spend a lot of time hanging out. You discuss your favorite shows and politics, they’re always really complimentary, you go out drinking together. You get sick and they come by armed with Sweet And Sour Soup and you chill and watch tv together. When you go places, you drive in your car. You help them carry stuff home from IKEA in your car, you help them move with your car. You like and trust them. You’re friends.

Then you loan your car to someone, and they find out and flip out at you.

Don’t you realize that THEY wanted to borrow your car? How DARE you loan your car to someone else when they’ve wanted to borrow your car this entire time! How disrespectful are you? Just loaning your car to everyone around except for them. Unless you loan your car to them RIGHT NOW and let them drive it ALL THE TIME, they are leaving your life forever and telling everyone what a shitheel you are. OBVIOUSLY they only wanted to hang out with you because you have a car. Why else would anyone voluntarily spend time with you?

This is what complaining about “the friendzone” is like, this idea that women owe men sex/romance and that’s the only reason a man would want to be friends with a woman. It’s harmful and reductive, saying that the only value a woman has is in her willingness to date/fuck a dude. It’s immensely disrespectful. And it’s a super common complaint.

How dare that woman I’m friends with date someone who isn’t me. I used to hang out with this bitch all the time and talk about comic books but she wouldn’t date me so whatever. “friendzoned.” I didn’t go to that woman’s Doctor Who party because she already has a boyfriend so what’s the point, I won’t be able to bag her.

This attitude reduces women to nothing more than an accessory that provides a (sexual) service and it’s gross and wrong. It states that women aren’t deserving of having and sharing their opinions, talents, skills, hobbies, creativity etc the same way that men are. Women’s friendship isn’t prized. There is only one thing about them that has value.

Two guys can get together and talk about football or Marvel comics or science fiction or cars and be friends and that’s fine, that’s good and normal. But if a guy and a girl do the same and she doesn’t put out she’s a bad person because her friendship, her emotional connection, her very SELF is not valuable.

And that’s so fucked up.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

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Like most people, I was leery of the idea of “The Hobbit” being split into 3 movies. Of the four Middle Earth novels, it’s the shortest and simplest (not saying it’s simplistic or anything, just the simplest). The other three novels got a movie each, why split “The Hobbit” up so much?

Part of this is because a LOT of material was left out of the LotR movies, and part of this is because the movie of “The Hobbit” has extra material that Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth.

I could tell when the additional material was inserted. It felt like someone pried apart moments in the text and jammed the new material in. I don’t know if someone who wasn’t as familiar with “The Hobbit” would notice, though. I also thought every fight scene could be at the very least halved, if not reduced by 2/3s.

I really liked the songs in the movie. I know some people hate them and mock them, but I really loved them and I wonder if the people who disliked them aren’t as familiar with the source material. Songs and poems are pretty big deals in the books, but aren’t really a common feature of most current movies except as background music or montage music. But listening to the Dwarves singing in Bilbo Baggins’ Hobbit Hole threw me right back to childhood and my mom reading the book to me, singing the songs.

Gandalf is a different Gandalf than in the LotR movies. He’s shiftier, dirtier, less imposing, with less renown. It’s easy to dismiss him as some weirdo human in a funky hat, with his wandering ways and filthy fingernails. Saruman pops up and mansplains… wizardsplains?… stuff, dismissing the ominous portents Gandalf is piecing together. And they ARE ominous, a lovely and creepy fortelling of what will take place during LotR. It’s a great, low key performance where he seems all rational and wise, but his eyes are shifty and of course we know better.

Andy Serkis as Gollum was, of course, incredible. I was a little disappointed that some of the Riddle Game was cut but I think only hard core Tolkien fans will even notice, let alone care. And Martin Freeman, of course, was excellent as Bilbo Baggins. I was a little worried I’d only be able to see him as John Watson, but he became Bilbo very thoroughly (and fussily).

I do want to note that as was the case with the LotR movies, the cast is inordinately white. Yes, Tolkien was writing about the coal miners and weavers that he knew in the English Countryside when he crafted his novels, but in the year 2012 there is no reason for everyone to be white. Couldn’t there be Hobbits, Dwarves, Elves portrayed by actors who were Black, Asian, Hispanic, or (especially given the filming location) Maori? It’s lazy and cowardly casting to rely solely on white actors. Additionally, the Big Bad is entirely white. In the source material, he isn’t described. I had a sneaking suspicion that he was painted white to try and avoid a repeat of allegations that plagued the LotR movies, about the bad guys being too reminiscent of Africans (dark skin, dredlocks, face and body paint), especially as he was marked with ritual scarring.

Also, we saw the 2D normal FPS version, and I and the two people I saw it with both felt that some scenes, especially when the camera was moving quickly, was blurry. Not motion-blurry but weirdly out of focus blurry.

In all, though, I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next two movies. While I don’t think I’ll see this movie again in the theater, unless it’s at a cheap 2nd run place, we’re ultimately going to add it to our LotR collection.

And now I’m going to compose fanfic in my head of Bilbo Baggins in a frumpy sweater holding a pot of jam and blogging about Sauron, the World’s Only Consulting Dragon. BRB.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

For those of you who don’t know me very well, I have some Hoarding tendencies.

I put “hoarding” with a capital H because it’s not just that I like getting stuff and keeping it near me. I feel safer and more complete when I’m surrounded by crap. This is an issue, I know. It’s especially an issue because we don’t have a huge amount of space, and all this crap collects dust and takes up real estate both physical and mental. Over the past few years, I’ve been paring down on a lot of our crap, which is often a challenge, because Nesko and I are both collectors and are both also completionists.

We also have smart phones that we can read electronic versions of books on, and a hard drive that can hold a lot of electronic books.

So I’ve been purging lately. I currently have 5 cloth grocery sacks full of books that I’m taking to the community center to donate for their next book drive. I sorted through my unmentionables and tossed out a bag full of underpants and pyjamas and socks that are unpleasant. I’m going to rifle through our closet again and toss things. I’m ordering CD/DVD wallets into which all of our CDs, DVDs, and game discs and booklets will be inserted, and all our jewel cases are going OUT THE DOOR.

And then there’s the garbage. Do I really need a giant teetering stack of small cardboard boxes? No. A garbage fall full of plastic grocery sacks? No. Stacks of grocery receipts from ten years ago? No. Homework from when I was in high school? No. So that’s going out the door, too. I managed to harvest a big bag of paper recycling just from my desk top. There are only so many used envelopes I need for note taking, you know?

It’s hard, physically and emotionally, but it’s also liberating.

 

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