#WeekendCoffeeShare: Flooding, Facebook, and First Days

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If we were having coffee, I would first apologize profusely for my absence last weekend! I honestly forgot what day it was until sometime late Sunday afternoon, at which point it was far too late to write and publish a link-up. That’s honestly never happened before–well, the forgetting to post part, not so much the forgetting what day it is part, because that’s definitely happened before. But in all fairness, the last few weeks have been a doozy.

I keep making plans that get knocked down a bit as things change. I finished the summer semester in a whirlwind of grading and interviewing, and I found out about the job that next week. I wanted to spend my small break between summer semester ending and work on the fall semester beginning as a jump-start on some writing, but…Last week was bound up in working on syllabi for the semester, because (as always) I decided at the last moment that I wanted to change around the assignments for my courses.

And then large portions of the city flooded as we went into last weekend, and all thoughts of other things went out the window. We are fortunate in that we are in one of the more elevated portions of the city, so we only had a bit of flooding–the water was up to the edge of the sidewalk at its highest point. But much of the city was underwater there for a while, with some areas flooding as much as they did during Katrina. And even though the water has receded, there are still warnings and things are still in an upheaval, as we’re still getting some rain each day and now the Sewage & Water Board have admitted that 8 of the pumps weren’t working during the storm. Oy.

So, needless to say, last week’s plans for writing went out the window. I didn’t manage the coffee post and certainly not any other writing, but I’m here now!

*****

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I deactivated my Facebook account yesterday.

If you know me and how much I social media, that’s probably a shock. For those of you who aren’t aware, though…Facebook and I have been good buddies for a while. I use it to keep up with old friends–being an extreme introvert (and a busy person), the social interaction there is easier for to manage on a consistent basis than phone calls or coffee dates. I also use it to procrastinate, though. I spend time and energy writing Facebook posts that may be entertaining and thought provoking–or even just silly–and that time and energy could be better spent writing something that I post here or as a guest on another site.

The bigger issue, though, bigger even than how much time I spend crafting posts that could be netting my own site views instead of adding to Facebook’s views, is the relationship that has developed between Facebook and my life outside of it. They bleed into one another, and not always in good ways. For one thing, if I’m in a manic or irritated mood, I am much quicker to engage in debate on FB and far less nice when I do so. I have little patience, and I’ve both said some unpleasant things and had lots of unpleasant things said to me–and of course when that happens, my mood plummets. I’ve noticed myself feeling keyed up during arguments with others online and spending far too much time and energy in those debates. When it comes down to it, they’re not productive (mind you, I am not saying that I don’t think dialogue on social media can affect change; I think it can, but there is a point at which the debate becomes counter-productive), and they are stressful.

So I spent the last few days blasting out my contact info to friends who I want to keep in touch with, and I started getting rid of the account by increments. I changed all my linked accounts, and then I deleted the app from my phone. (I subsequently tried to check it on my phone about 3 times in an hour, but hey, who’s counting?) Yesterday I officially deactivated the account. And although I did spend part of the afternoon looking at Twitter and Instagram, I get an entirely different feeling from them (because I have cultivated happy feeds) and spend far less time on them than I ever did on Facebook.

Now if I can just keep it that way…

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the Little Jedi and I both start school this week. I spent all of this week in a flurry of activity preparing for that, so I haven’t written much, but hopefully I can get myself back to some sort of regular schedule once we both get settled in. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were full of faculty meetings for me, Thursday was mostly spent helping students with registration, and yesterday we carted school supplies up the 3 flights of stairs to the kiddo’s classroom and my office things up the flight of stairs to my new office.

The coming week will be full of things for us to do as we fall into the routine for a new semester. I’m teaching more classes than I’ve ever taught before, but for the first time I am a full-time instructor with my own office in which to work. Little Jedi is going into the 3rd grade, and it looks as though his classes are going to change quite a bit. With Sam working mostly from home now, all of our routines are changed from the way they looked last year, so it will be an adjustment!

*****

If we were having coffee, I would ask how you are, what you have been up to! And I’d promise to answer comments this weekend and to pop by for coffee and a chat with you, as I’ve felt terrible about missing you guys the last few weeks! ‚̧

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Late, and I Have News to Share

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If we were having coffee, I would apologize for missing you yesterday. I just couldn’t get myself together to finish the posting in time, unfortunately–But I’m here now! I’ll leave the link-up open until Monday afternoon so that everyone has a bit longer to add their posts to the linky. ūüôā

If we were having coffee, I would also tell you that I have big news! My interviews went really well, and I accepted a full-time teaching position at the college where I’ve been an adjunct for the past year. It’s really exciting for me, and it came at just the right time. I’ve been feeling really discouraged for the past few months, especially in regards to my career and finances. Leaving grad school a few years ago before I totally finished my PhD was the right decision for me, but it also threw me into a tailspin. It’s taken me a while to recover, and I’ve had a series of part time jobs that have been fun and that have also been good learning opportunities, but that haven’t been ideal as far as advancing my career or keeping us financially stable. I’ll be able to do both of those things now, and it’s a major relief.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve spent the past week hanging out with the Little Jedi and Doing Nothing quite a lot. Since this was our last full week together before he heads back to his dad’s and then back to school when he is home again, we wanted to spend the week together. And we did–he had a friend over and visited a friend for a day or so, and the rest of the time we spent together just playing games, watching movies, and being together. All things considered (since I had the second interview this week and found out about getting the position), it was a nice way to spend a week. Sometimes I find myself disappointed that he doesn’t want to *do* more–I offered to take him to a movie or the library or the aquarium, all of which he said no to–but if he’s happy just hanging out, then I suppose I am, too.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m almost out of steam, so I would like to see what is up with you! ‚̧

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am a Wee Lazy

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If we were having coffee, I would invite you in and say hello. I’m probably still yawning and stretching, and the coffee might not actually be made. Perhaps we’ll walk just down the street to Congregation, the little coffee place on the corner, or perhaps we’ll just stay in here where it’s cool and I’ll hop up to make some coffee. Today I’m being a¬†wee extraordinarily lazy, because this week has been a doozy. (Does anyone actually say doozy anymore?–Besides me, I mean.)

I would tell you that this week I finished up the summer semester, grading essays and averaging grades and getting everything in juuust before they were due. I generally try to finish things up at least a day or two in advance, but this time I had lots of trouble getting that done. Little Jedi is back from his dad’s house for the last 2 weeks of July, so I’ve been trying to spend time with him. I also had an interview for full-time teaching that took place halfway through the week, and the preparation and nervousness from that took up quite a bit of my time. (Side note: Not sure if I’ll have the job yet, but I do know that I have a second interview!) And there’s been a fair amount of family stuff going on that has made me both anxious and angry…Things that I’m not ready to talk about here (and may or may not ever be) but that have drained me of energy in all kinds of ways.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Little Jedi and I only get this week and next week together out of the whole year. It’s weird, but it’s true. He spends a lot of time with his dad’s family and with my parents–and that’s well and good in the sense that he has lots of people to care about him, but it makes life a little¬†lot more complicated. It’s difficult to plan anything as a family, and it’s frustrating because the other parts of his family don’t really recognize that.¬†During much of the year he is in school, obviously, and during the summer he spends 2 weeks of each month with his dad. Throughout most of the year he’s with his dad every other weekend, and during his Mardi Gras break and spring break he was gone to visit grandparents this year. Sometimes it feels as though he needs his own social calendar, and Sam and I get railroaded into having almost no family time.

So we’ve spent this week mostly hanging out at home, because that’s what he’s wanted to do. We’ve played video games and read and watched YouTube, and he’s had some time to play with his friend and for them to have a sleepover (or two!). On tomorrow, we’re going to the theater to see¬†Kiki’s Delivery Service,¬†and next week I think we’re going to make our way to the aquarium and insectarium and library. In short, we’re going to enjoy our city and one another, because we don’t actually get a lot of free time together to do that.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would ask what you have going on, what your week has been like. So link up your posts below, and don’t forget to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and here on WordPress!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Behind on Literally Everything

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If we were having coffee, I would first apologize for being late…Oops! Generally, I am an on-time sort of person, but today I only had about a million things to do before getting the coffee share going. I definitely meant to work on all of this yesterday, but yesterday turned out to be a Bad Writing Day. I think we all have those days…When the words just won’t show up, no matter how long you look at the blinking cursor or the empty page, and nothing seems to happen quite the way you want it.

Aside from the Bad Writing Day this week, though, the week was a really good one. I finished teaching my summer class, and there are only the final essays to grade in the coming week. Sam was able to work from home this week, so we were able to spend quite a lot of time together, which was far scarcer with his last job.

And on Wednesday night, I was able to attend a book-event for Roxane Gay’s¬†Hunger with my dearest friend, something I’ve been looking forward to for a few months now. She’s one of my favorite current feminist writers, and it was really fantastic to be able to listen to her talk about her writing, pop culture, and her own personal story. She was first interviewed by a local writer on-stage, and afterward the audience was given a chance to ask questions. I had a hundred questions, of course, but I was much too anxious to stand and ask any of them. The questions from other attendees were wonderful though, and led to fun tangents about Lena Dunham, Batman, and avocados (cue collective gasps of horror when Roxane Gay mentioned they were her favorite food, then laughter when the room full of people realized how many other people had the same pearl-clutching reaction to this in a night that included frank conversation about body image, rape, and misogyny.)

I’d read the book before attending, mostly because I saw a copy in the library and couldn’t resist picking it up before attending the event. But now have my own personalized copy of¬†Hunger, and it’s pretty much my favorite possession at this moment.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would try to fill you in on the months that we haven’t talked as much as we once did. The break from grinding out the coffee share each week was a good one, and it was good for me to step away for a little while. I’ve been able to redirect my attention, which had been waning, and now I feel really great about diving back into the community. But of course lots has happened since February!

I would tell you that I chopped quite a lot of my hair off and re-added my pink streak a few weeks ago. I cut about 8 inches of hair, and it was amazing how much lighter I felt—both literally and metaphorically. I have tended to hide behind my hair for quite a long time, and now it’s far too short to hide me. The pink has faded, and the cut is a bit shaggy (oy, short hair takes so much maintenance), so I need to take myself back to the salon. But I think I’m keeping this cut for a while.

In the months that we haven’t talked regularly, I’ve also been super-delighted to welcome a new wee addition to our family, a new little niece. She’s a beautiful little creature, and we’ve been over a few times to visit since she was born. Little Jedi doesn’t particularly like to hold her (she’s wiggly, mom!), but he loves to sit next to her and chatter and to just watch her. The kiddo hasn’t been around a lot of babies, but he does quite love them. I, of course, find all of this amusing and adorable.

We’ve also taken the kiddos to lots of things–well maybe not Baby Fett yet, though I have high hopes that she and her parents will be joining us for things in the future–but Little Jedi and my dearest friends’ kiddos have spent a lot of time hanging out together. We took them to Star Wars Day at the aquarium and free comic book day at our local shop, and they were together so much during Little Jedi’s part of the summer here that they just “switched” houses from day-to-day at one point. It’s difficult to express just how wonderful it is to live in the same city as my childhood friend, to have our children hang out together the way we once did.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would ask how your week has been and what you might get up to in the coming week. I’d remind you to add your link below and to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress so we can all find each other! ‚̧

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I am Back Again

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If we were having coffee, I would welcome you back.

I would tell you that I’m glad to have the coffee share returning to Part-Time Monster. It was nice to have a break, and Emily at Nerd in the Brain has been a fantastic host for the last few months. I have missed the community, though. It’s been quite a while since we last had coffee together, and only about half a million things have happened since then…And few of them were the writing that I’d intended to do. I’ve been quiet of late, both because I’ve had trouble motivating myself to write and because I’ve just had so many other things going on that it’s been difficult to find the energy to write. But I’m back now, and the coffee share is returning home, and I’m learning to be tougher on myself so that I can meet my writing goals.

I’ve also been trying some new types of writing and new activities–some with more success than others. I recently read Lynda Barry’s¬†Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental¬†Professor, and I’ve also got a few other creativity-oriented books on my TBR list. Barry’s book was really fascinating from a visual and a cognitive perspective: her book looks like a composition notebook, and in it she has collected notes, syllabi, lesson plans, and drawings from her classes. I’ve been using some of her exercises to help me begin to journal again, hoping that handwriting and coloring and drawing will facilitate my creativity and put some fun back into the idea of writing every day, which is a habit I am trying desperately to get back to. I’ve also created a FB group of some friends and former classmates who want to work on being more productive, and we have weekly check-ins with one another and often commiserate. It helps, especially now that I’m several years out of grad school, which was a very productive time for me from a writing perspective because I was constantly surrounded by discussions about writing–what it means, how to do it better, how to teach it, etc.

*****

If we were having coffee, you’d probably hear a fair amount of whinging from me. Life has gotten a bit complicated, what with the kiddo gone quite a bit of the summer and attempting to juggle his schedule and my own schedule plus Sam’s schedule, too. And if that weren’t enough, there’s my ever-present battle with my allergies. Despite taking a nasal spray and an antihistamine daily, I’m *still* sniffling, and the sniffling/sneezing gets my asthma going. ¬†Despite my whinging, though, life is actually pretty swell. It’s looking up, and finally I can start seeing my way through some of the obstacles I’ve encountered over the last few years in my writing and personal lives.

******

And if we were having coffee, I’d stop now and listen to you, dear hearts, you who I have missed so much recent. Welcome back–we’ll be here next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-station.

Feminist Friday: Seduce the Playboy: On Overcoming Homonormativity in Yuri!!! on Ice

Editor’s Note: Today’s Feminist Friday post comes from L.M. of The Lobster Dance and¬†I’ll Make It Myself, who I’m very happy to have here with us to chat during Pride Month. In zir discussion of ¬†Yuri!!! on Ice, L.M. shines a light on the ways that homonorativity has dictated media representation of relationships between queer characters and shares the joy of a work that overcomes this by representing a relationship between genderfluid characters.


Screen Shot 2017-01-08 at 11.37.43 PM

Screenshot of Viktor hugging Yuuri before a performance, saying ‚ÄúI love pork cutlet bowls.‚ÄĚ

Or, why Yuri!!! on Ice hops off the relationship escalator, disrupts homonormativity, and I CLOSE MY EYES AND TELL MYSELF THAT MY DREAMS WILL COME TRUE

Mild spoilers throughout up to episode 4, major spoiler at end.
[Read more…]

How Being a Picky Eater Feeds My Anxiety

Confession time:¬†I’m a picky eater.

…And I don’t just mean that there are a few thing that I don’t like or that I’m a little bit picky. I mean I’m a really, really picky eater, and there are lots of things that I just don’t like. I don’t like peas or beans or tomatoes or sushi or eggs cooked any way except scrambled. I hate steamed vegetables. Mushrooms make me shudder.

This is not new. I’ve always been a picky eater–there are photos of little baby me, spitting out mashed peas and carrots and making weird faces at tomatoes. Occasionally someone could convince me that a food I didn’t eat was something that I actually did eat (family legend has it that as a toddler I ate fried fish because I was told it was fried hot dogs) ¬†in an effort to get me to broaden my horizons, but that was not an oft-tried or oft-successful tactic. For a long time I wouldn’t eat things that were “delicious” because my brother told me that peas were delicious, and I hated them so very much that I was convinced that the word “delicious” meant “horrible” instead.

At some point, my mother and father stopped fighting with me about what I was going to eat for dinner, because they had already raised two children, one of them also a picky eater. They also seemed to recognize that I would’ve gone hungry rather than eat something I didn’t like. I know this is true because I had an aunt who wouldn’t let us have a snack later unless we finished all the dinner on our plates. At her house, I would sometimes go hungry because I would not eat what was on my plate.

And here’s the thing…I wasn’t, and I am not, just being a brat. The truth is far more complicated, and it has had a profound affect on my life–my relationships with other people and my relationship with food, hence my relationship with my own body.

You see, certain textures of food actually make me feel ill, physically ill. Like those peas and beans I mentioned? The texture of a bite of peas or beans triggers my gag reflex. I don’t necessarily understand how or why, but that tends to make them difficult to even begin to like. So, while I hear a lot about things that are an “acquired taste,” I’ve never really known what that was like from an eating perspective. It’s pretty difficult to learn to like something that makes you feel like you just might vomit every time you take a bite.

And boy is that a load off my chest to admit…Because I’ve been made fun of for it almost all of my life, and I really and truthfully wish that my relationship with food were different. My picky eating has caused arguments and sadness and endless amounts of frustration and anxiety. Because even though my parents weren’t hard on me about how I was eating, other people in my life haven’t always quite as kind.

And you should know that here in the deepest parts of the American South, food is a way of life. There was food at church, food at my grandmother’s house, food at family reunions and backyard barbecues. There were family dinners and breakfasts and brunches. So. Many Brunches. Everyone here loves a potluck, tables piled high with casseroles and cooked vegetables and meat….And when I sat down with a plate that had a few pieces of turkey, a buttered roll, and a bit of macaroni and cheese but nothing else, there were always snarky comments and laughter. Every time we sat down together to eat, comments were made about what I was eating, about what I was not eating. And while I desperately wanted those comments to go away, I found them preferable to the kinds of embarrassment I might suffer if one of those foods actually¬†did¬†make me sick.

So I started to work around having to eat with other people, trying to control as much of the environment as I could. I was lucky enough to like a few basic things–chicken and burgers, french fries and chips–that could be found at most any restaurant in some shape or fashion and that were often on the pot luck table. If I couldn’t control the menu or was going to a place that might not have anything I would eat, I’d often eat a bit beforehand (not enough to be full, so that I could be polite and eat at least a small something). Alternately, I would arrange to arrive once everyone had eaten or find a reason to leave before food was served. This way, I didn’t have to deal with rude comments or nosy people. I could, instead, focus on having fun with the people I was spending time with.

I became The Girl Who Never Ate or The Girl Who Ate Like a Bird. All of this was even more darkly comic because I am a chubby girl–even at my lightest, I was still a solid size 8/10 with curves, so there were always smug looks and occasional derisive laughter with those comments about what was on my plate.

Over the years, my relationship with food, with eating, created a spiral of frustration and sadness and fear. As a teen and young adult, especially, my food issues wreaked havoc on my physical and mental health. Food became something secret. It became something I was ashamed of, a bad habit. I ate alone, and I ate too much. ¬†I ate things that were bad for me–because the unfortunate truth was that many of the healthiest foods were the foods that created the most anxiety, the textures I disliked and dreaded the most. ¬†I gained weight, packing on about 75 pounds in my 8 years of college/grad school. The weight gain made me feel worse about my body, worse about food and more self-conscious about eating unhealthy foods in front of other people. This level of discomfort with food and with my own body were a kind of self-perpetuating cycle, feeding my depression and anxiety disorder. I’d feel anxious about going out and eating with other people, then my self-isolation would add to my depression.

I’ve been trying, since I first understood the nature of my disordered eating (because that’s what it is, really and truthfully) to expand my palate. This is difficult because there are emotional, psychological, and physical components to my relationship to food. In addition to being aware of the texture issues I have with some foods, I know now that, at least in part part, I have been mimicking my mother, who was constantly trying to lose weight and who had a tendency to try to hide when she ate junk food. But I now I do eat a lot of foods that I would not have eaten when I was younger, and I eat with other people more often.

I recognize that I have created a situation in which food, already culturally symbolic in so many ways, is personally symbolic. Most importantly, perhaps, I have learned to be patient with myself and to ignore snarky comments from people who cannot possibly understand how and why I am being brave when I nibble a slice of tomato.

Why I Have to Look away from The Handmaid’s Tale Sometimes, and Why That’s a Good Thing

Last week, as I was watching “A Woman’s Place,” the sixth episode of Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s¬†The Handmaid’s Tale, I was struck with a realization: I had not watched a single episode of the show without flipping through the social media feeds on my phone or my laptop simultaneously. So I started to think about why…Why might I might be avoiding focusing myself entirely on this show, a show that I gave high praise to and found fascinating for so very many reasons?

The answer was deceptively simple: I was, in fact, avoiding focusing myself entire on this show in order to avoid the trauma of doing so. As a woman, the show terrified me. So I did what I do when I need a distraction…I pulled up a social media feed that I could passively scroll through or easily put aside while I was watching, redirecting my attention when my psyche could not (would not) devote itself to the images on the screen.

I promptly expressed this opinion on Facebook with a short status update, written while I was watching that sixth episode. And then something happened. Other people (mostly, though not entirely, women) start expressing similar opinions. They also had a difficult time watching the show, and some of them felt unable to watch at all. It turns out, there were quite a lot of us who agreed that the show is well done, the story well plotted, but perhaps so well plotted and shown at such a frightening moment in American history (though not just American, I’m reminded, as I see the news of the Manchester attack, so obviously an attack on girls) that to actively watch the show is to feel an open wound be poked and prodded for approximately an hour at a time.

To watch¬†The Handmaid’s Tale, we must confront our current situation, must confront past atrocities, too. Although in some ways the premise of HT is speculative fiction, casting forward and asking “what if” questions, in other ways the work is a reflection of past horrors. Atwood has said as much:

I made a rule for myself: I would not include anything that human beings had not already done in some other place or time, or for which the technology did not already exist. I did not wish to be accused of dark, twisted inventions, or of misrepresenting the human potential for deplorable behaviour. The group-activated hangings, the tearing apart of human beings, the clothing specific to castes and classes, the forced childbearing and the appropriation of the results, the children stolen by regimes and placed for upbringing with high-ranking officials, the forbidding of literacy, the denial of property rights: all had precedents.

To watch¬†The Handmaid’s Tale, I must confront a world in which all of these things have happened, are happening, will happen.

And maybe it’s selfish, maybe it’s just human, I don’t know…It’s most certainly¬†indicative of my position of privilege and my position in history that I don’t regularly worry about these things…But as I watch,¬†I do wonder. I wonder what I would do if it were my child torn away from me; if it were my husband shot by police, presumed dead; what if it were my body forced to endure the cold, casual rapes of the Ceremony and bear children in a world where most births result in death.

In Gilead, there is only room for the white and the privileged, the¬†able-bodied. I’m inclined to also attribute the overwhelming whiteness of the community to this kind of thinking as well, but as Angelica Jade Bastien points out in an excellent piece for Vulture, it’s a bit difficult to say if this is intentional or just a result of the “colorblind casting of the show.” In a more concrete way, we are assured of that differences are not welcome in Gilead when Ofglen is caught in a same-sex relationship. She is called a “gender traitor” and forced to watch as her lover is executed, then sent to be tortured. Ofglen isn’t executed because, as a childbearer, she is too valuable to execute. We are again assured of Gilead’s low-tolerance for differences during the banquet scene in “A Woman’s Place.” Serena Joy forces Aunt Lydia to send home the girls who bear obvious marks of their punishments, the “bruised apples,” refusing them admission to the party in order to preserve the appearance that the handmaids don’t mind being treated like walking wombs.

And that is a difficult thing to focus my attention on. My medical history of severe preeclampsia, delivery by C-section at 32 weeks, makes it likely that any pregnancy would involve similar issues. At a time when maternal deaths in the U.S. are on the rise and healthcare is becoming more and more difficult for women to access, the idea of another pregnancy is, frankly, terrifying. My first pregnancy could’ve easily resulted in my death or the death of my child. Almost did, in fact. The specialist I was sent to in my 30th week not only did not send me to the hospital when he found that my diastolic BP was over 200, but he did not even report this to my OB. When I tested positive for protein in my urine and told her what my BP had been, she had me go directly to the hospital, where a group of nurses hovered over me and pumped me full of magnesium sulfate, administering steroid shots that would develop my child’s lungs enough for him to breathe without assistance when he was born almost a full 8 weeks before he was supposed to be.

In a place like Gilead, where medical care is next to nonexistent, my child and I would not have lived. In this world, as it exists, if I did not have access to the medical care that I was given, my son and I would have died. As it was, we were lucky enough to have a good doctor and for me to have good insurance that covered almost all of my birth expenses, leaving us with less than 2K to pay off from my hospital stay and surgery. The bills for my son, who spent 5 weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, would have been astronomical, but we were lucky that he was eligible for assistance. One set of parents were not so lucky–they had¬†been billed for hundreds of thousands in medical bills for the one of their twins that had died shortly after delivery and were caring for the twin who clung to life. Another baby, almost ready to go home one day, was back on a ventilator the next day. Those were days of tiny triumphs and gaping sadness, the NICU a place that was all at once beautiful, fragile, resilient, clinical, and strange. And that NICU was a place that would not exist in Gilead.

There is no room for the fragile in Gilead, no room for those who need a little help. No room for difference, either. There’s no room for art or books or magazines or medicine or technology.¬†Offred’s claustrophobic world, her vision literally limited by her bonnet, metaphorically by the strict parameters governing where she can go and when, those things leave no room for what does not fit the status quo. It is this claustrophobia, this insistence on woman as womb that is perhaps the core of the issue, the reason I cannot focus my entire self on the entire show. But this is indicative of something the show is doing right rather than something it is doing wrong. I¬†should¬†be frightened of that, and I am.

 

For Towel Day, a Fun Animated Clip of Douglas Adams on the Invention of the Book

Happy Towel Day! Here’s hoping you’re having a good one. I’m finally getting back down to some writing again—I had a bit of a hold-up this week¬†but am getting back on track! Anyway, here’s a bit of fun for you,¬†Douglas Adams on the invention of the book with animation by Gavin Edwards. ¬†The animation is fantastic, ¬†and Douglas Adams (a proponent of technology and among the first hypertext and transmedia experimental writers) is charming, funny,¬†and quite prophetic about how we would come to use e-books.

 
I’ll be back tomorrow with a new feminist Friday post, and keep your eyes open for some more guest posts in that series in the coming weeks. I’ll also be writing about some of these other books I’ve been reading and shows I’ve been watching. In the meantime, always remember your towel!

 

The Monster Returns.

Hello darlings.

It’s been a while, far longer than I would have liked for it to be. That is, I didn’t intend for there to be a radio silence over the past few months, nor did I intend to still have comments from January that are unanswered.

But life…Got in the way. The combination of emotional and psychological circumstances of the last few months built up and led to a kind of writing paralysis.¬†I didn’t respond to comments, didn’t write, didn’t actually do much looking at this spot at all. I thought about it—Oh I thought about it often, feeling guilty about the back-log and wishing that I could get myself back into the habit of writing…But also not knowing what to say.

In a world where everything feels constantly on the brink of destruction, I thought, how could I, why would I, be self-indulgent enough to think that my writing, my tiny blog, mattered? Why would pop culture commentary and talk of mental illness and anecdotes about parenting actually matter? Instead of creating, I immersed myself in the writing of others. I gobbled up book after book, comic after comic, show after show. I engaged in online debate via social media channels, but I didn’t write, not really.

Mostly, I just lost myself. I let the words of others wash over me, let them frighten and amuse and bolster me. I let them heal me.

And I suppose that this wealth of things I’ve read and watched over the last few months is what¬†has finally led me to wanting to write again. I’ve remembered that creating something matters…Whether the thing is a fiction or a nonfiction, a representation or a reality, creation matters. As I watch Get Out¬†and¬†Kubo and the Two Strings,¬†American Gods and The Handmaid’s Tale, as I read It and The Secret Loves of Geek Girls and Monstress, Saga¬†and¬†Rat Queens¬†and¬†The Girl Who Drank the Moon, I can only be reminded just how very much our pop culture matters. The stories we tell are are important, and we absolutely should talk about them, hold them up and decide how they complicate, reflect, and refract our cultural narratives.

I’ve read smart writings about many of the works I’ve immersed myself in, writings that critique the presentation of the subjects and the subjects themselves. I’m fascinated by finding out what other people think about things, what they see that I don’t see. At some point, because I wasn’t an academic, I stopped being the person who wrote those things. But now I think that maybe being an academic doesn’t have all that much to do with whether or not you’re a doctor or currently taking classes in an organized and recognized institution. Maybe it’s more about using academic methods and applying them…Researching and hypothesizing and writing, creating arguments and supporting them with evidence.

Either way, it’s time for me to start again–about pop culture and about my illness and just about life in general. Because what I’ve found is that I need to write. I¬†need¬†to talk about my own experiences and to keep allowing others to use this space in the same way. I have to talk about my mental illnesses…A probable diagnosis of biploar type 2, definite diagnoses of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. I also have to talk about the difficult things–old traumas and new, the current political situation as well as current literature, film, and TV. I need to talk, and this is the best place to talk.

And so the Monster returns.