On Wednesday night, X watched Kit while J and I had a date. Tonight J watched Kit while X and I had a date. I'll do the same for them next Wednesday. This is yet another reason to be grateful to be in a three-parent household.
We all seem to be "hooray, a few hours off from babycare" parents rather than "miss the baby even if just for a few hours" parents. I'm relieved that there's no mismatch there; it would be very awkward if one of us was trying to talk about work or movies or whatever while the other one pined and tried to log into the babycam from their phone. We all love Kit and love spending time with Kit and also are very glad to get breaks.
J and I went to Dassara Ramen for our date, a favorite of ours. They had their wonderful lamb ramen on the menu, so of course I got that, and we split an order of shishito peppers that made us miss Japan. We mostly talked about J's work and workplace stuff, and my theories about how there should be way more film and television adaptations of romance novels. The night was drizzly and cool, and we walked up Smith to Fulton and then over to Nevins to get the subway home. I got dairy-free ice cream at the vegan juice bar around the corner--there are two kinds of Brooklyn vegan juice bars, the hipster kind and the Rastafarian kind, and this one is the Rasta kind, so the ice cream came in a plastic half-pint deli container but only cost $4--and then we snuggled and smooched for a good long while. It was really really nice.
X and I trekked into Manhattan to go to Senza Gluten, since all the Brooklyn GF restaurants we might want to go to are actually less convenient to get to. X had their first postpartum beer, a bitter-sharp IPA that made me make the sucked-a-lemon face. We joked a lot with the server, who was so nice that X left them a thank-you note. I had lamb again, come to think of it, in a ragù over cavatelli. We walked up to Union Square in the bitter cold. In the station, we tipped some human-statue buskers who repaid us with some very talented dancing; we just missed our train while watching them, but that was fine because we were enjoying being together. Down on the platform we kept having tender sincere moments interrupted by blaring announcements, but that's what we get for having tender sincere moments on a subway platform. It was really really nice.
When I was growing up in a family of four, it often split into factions: two against two, or three against one. I don't ever want my family to be that way. But I love that we can divide and reunite, in all our various configurations, because all of our twosomes deserve time together.
When you have a baby (or are about to have a baby and are reading up on babies), you start to see the word "colic" everywhere. It's rarely defined but always made out as something dreadful, or at least extremely unpleasant--and worse, it's portrayed as incurable and inescapable. Some babies are just "colicky" and nothing can be done about it.
This turns out to be not at all true. As far as I can tell from doing a whole lot of reading on the topic, there seem to be two kinds of colic: indigestion, and emotional meltdowns. Kit's had both, and we were able to identify them pretty quickly and treat them pretty straightforwardly. Kit is a very easy-going and good-natured kid, so that may be a factor, but hopefully this info will still be useful for other parents whose babies are not quite so chill.
1) Indigestion. "Our baby screams a lot and arches in pain when fed breast milk or standard formula," we said. "Well, some babies are colicky after feeding," our pediatrician said. Aha!
, we thought. "Colicky" means "is upset about digestion pain".
And indeed, when we stopped feeding Kit breast milk and regular formula and started using a super-digestible formula (from Honest Co.
, and we recommend it very highly--Kit spits it up even less than the supposedly ultra-gentle Similac Alimentum, and it's half the price), and made sure not to feed Kit more than their tiny stomach could hold, the colic went away. Kit still fusses a bit about 10 minutes after eating, and then farts a couple of times and settles right down. If we give a teaspoon or two of Colic-Ease
every day, there's no fussing at all.
The pediatrician pointed out that since Kit wasn't vomiting up the meals, we could keep feeding breast milk (and the immunity benefits thereof) as long as we had a high tolerance for the screaming, until Kit got to be about three months old and the stomach developed enough to be able to digest the milk more easily. He did this in a very neutral way, which I appreciated--matter-of-fact, not pushing us one direction or the other. X and I stared at him with identical expressions of horror. It's not the screaming itself, but the idea of causing our child preventable pain, several times a day, for months. We considered dosing Kit with antacids, but our pediatrician shares our hesitation to put a very young baby on daily medication when there are non-medical options to pursue. So we switched to formula with some wistfulness but no regrets. That said, even if you're very dedicated to exclusively breastfeeding, there are ways of treating indigestion-type colic, and anyone (especially anyone not your doctor) who tells you that it's full-stop untreatable is probably wrong--any given attack of indigestion colic may just have to run its course, but a lot of those attacks can be prevented. Kit's always been an expert belcher and farter, so gas build-up isn't an issue, but if it were we could use simethicone drops and the Windi
. Some babies have allergies to things the breastfeeding parent is eating, and a change in diet can help. There are lots of things to try.
2) Emotional meltdowns. T. Berry Brazelton defines this type of colic very clearly in his Touchpoints: Birth to Three
, which is an excellent book that I think all new parents should keep on hand. Brazelton identifies it as coming from overstimulation during the day, which is why it reliably occurs in the evening. Since it doesn't have a physical cause, physical treatments (feeding, changing, gas drops, etc.) don't work, and soothing techniques like swaddling and pacifiers are of limited use. other_alice
pointed me to a site about "the PURPLE crying period"
, which looks like much the same thing.
Brazelton advises making sure there are no physical problems to address and then leaving the baby alone in the crib to scream out their feelings, self-soothe, decompress, and sleep without further stimulation; in his experience, this can reduce the average duration of a colic attack by half. The "PURPLE crying period" site mentions a study
in which babies cried less if their parents carried them around more often, as part of everyday life, rather than only picking them up when they were crying. So as with many things, the appropriate approach depends on you and your baby and your parenting style.
On Tuesday night, Kit had an emotional meltdown colic attack. It was pretty awful. But I realized that it reminded me of panic attacks, and then I knew what to do, because I have had many panic attacks and gotten pretty good at dealing with them. I held Kit gently and warmly, turned the lights down (installing dimmable LED bulbs and a dimmer switch in the baby's room is one of the best decisions I've ever made), rocked slowly in the rocking chair, and murmured quiet soothing things in a voice full of sympathy. I didn't try to offer a pacifier or stop Kit from screaming or thrashing, though I did loosely confine Kit's arms to keep either of us from getting punched in the face (and because Kit seems to find that sort of swaddling-by-hand very soothing, despite not liking actual swaddles). After a few minutes, the screaming and thrashing stopped and the baby fell asleep. Maybe ten minutes later, the cycle repeated once. And... that was that. All better. Pretty much the same thing happened when X was watching Kit Wednesday night while J and I were on our date night, and X did similar things and they were similarly effective. The key was that we both understood what it was like to feel overwhelmed and need to flail and yell, so we could stay calm and supportive while Kit vented. And we both know that while panic attacks feel
like they're going to last forever, they do eventually end, and then everything is okay for at least a little while; so we could hold on to that knowledge instead of falling into our own panic and ending up trapped with the baby in a feedback loop of distress.
Apparently some colic attacks can last for hours. We're very lucky not to have seen that yet. At that point I probably would put the baby in the crib just to give myself a break from being up close with the screaming for all that time. But I'm hoping that gentle soothing and sincere sympathy will be enough to help Kit escape the multi-hour misery cycle.
Obviously this is all our personal experience; I'm not prescribing anything. Do what's best for you and your child. Just remember, this too shall pass--possibly with some gas. :)
Inspired by yhlee
's post here
, ten things that make me happy:
* Cuddling the baby. Which I am doing right now. (After every feeding we need to prop Kit up for better digestion, and the easiest way to do that is in one's lap, so I have developed a way of arranging pillow and legs and baby and table and laptop such that I can type while Kit snoozes.) Having the baby in my lap makes the world infinitely better. I don't even know why. I mean, yes, oxytocin, but that's not all there is to it. It's just warm and cozy and wonderful.
* How well the three of us work together as parents. I'm especially glad that we've been making time for family snuggles, even when we're all so tired that we can barely stay awake to enjoy them. This week we start having date nights again, which is such an amazing thought I don't even know what to do with it.
* The warm welcome back I got from my colleagues and reviewers when I returned to work. It's so nice to be appreciated.
* Cooking, and homemade food. This weekend J and I made pot roast and roast beef, and X and I baked bread in the bread machine (such magic!). Fresh bread with homemade pot roast gravy, oh YES.
* Thoughtful family members who give us wonderfully appropriate baby gifts.
* Delightful friends. Today we introduced Kit to vschanoes
and her son and godchildren, and spent a lovely few hours hanging out at their house. I can't wait for the babies to get old enough to properly enjoy spending time together.
* Getting the dermatologist's approval to take baths, now that my lipoma removal incision has fully healed up. I CAN TAKE A BATH. I just need to find the time. Maybe this weekend.
* I got to read books for fun while I was on leave! That was great! I'd missed just reading for fun. I mostly reread old favorites, with one new-to-me book for variety.
* I bought sleeping caps from headcovers.com and now my head isn't cold at night.
* The heartstopping adorableness
of Kit yawning, and the little squeaking noise at the end of the yawn. Someday I will get video of this but of course it's hard to anticipate. It's just devastating
If you decide to make your own post of ten things that make you happy, leave me a link. :)
- thinking about:
behavior.parenting, body.health, body.skin, experiences.reading, experiences.surgery, experiences.work, food, food.baking, food.baking.bread, food.cooking, food.cooking.beef, people.family, people.friends, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, stuff.clothes
linked to this news story titled "Ted Cruz Challenges Donald Trump to a Duel"
and suggested it should lead to a Hamilton
earworm, so this is all her fault.
(TTTO "Ten Duel Commandments"
Number one! The challenge: demand he go on Fox
If he agrees, no need for further talks
Number two! If he won't, grab a mic, take the stage
Imply he wouldn't dare to stand and face your rage
Number three! Have your PR people meet on Skype
Figure out if one-on-one debates are worth the hype
This is commonplace, 'specially with right-wingers
Most disputes end with a friendly dinner
Number four! If they don't reach a peace, that's all right
Time to book a slot on a talk show tonight
You tell the host some jokes, you treat him with civility
He joins you in dismissing your opponent's viability
Five! Debate before the caucus is convened
Pick a big arena where you'll make a scene
Number six! Leave a note for your electoral committee
Dress up pretty, practice sounding confident and witty
Seven! Tug your tie. Ready for the moment
Of adrenaline when you finally face your opponent
Number eight! Your last chance to negotiate
Call the other guy, say you want to set the record straight
Are we on, Don?
Can we agree that the conclusion is foregone?
The Iowans deserve to hear your words, Don.
With that woman in charge—the ditzy blonde? I'm gone.
Hang on, you're dissing blonde women? That's not even sexist so much as gratuitous.
Okay, so we're doing this.
Number nine! Look him in the eye, make your points by rote
Wait for citizens to cast their votes
One two three four
Five six seven eight nine
Ten o'clock news REPORT--
Back in May 2014, I was having a very hard time around baby things, and certain no one would ever see me as a "real" parent. I wrote about it a little bit here
. To counter this feeling, X and I went shopping for baby clothes. We got some pretty random stuff in random sizes--whatever looked cute. We got some frilly things and some butch things. We got a little stuffed dragon to guard the hoard. (We named him Beauregard.) We tucked the clothes away under X's desk.
Today I put one of those outfits on Kit, and X took photos of us together. (If you follow subtlekid
, you can see them at http://pic.twitter.com/EECFpN0qcV
. One of them also became the userpic on this entry.) They are pretty terrific photos, even if the outfit is still a wee bit big for the baby. :) But I've waited nearly two years for this and didn't want to wait any longer.Dear past me: I feel entirely like a real parent, and no one gets to tell me I'm not one. It'll all be okay. I promise.
I can't wait until Kit is old enough to play with Beauregard, and learn how he kept our dreams safe until they came true.
Ninety minutes of today was spent on an unpleasant phone call, but the rest of it was pretty terrific.
* I got a whole six and a half hours of sleep! Such luxury!
* When I got up, X had been dealing with a very hands-on baby for several hours and desperately needed a break, so I took baby duty for a while. The baby was super awake and alert! I don't get to see that at night. I opened the curtains and Kit got to wave at some sunbeams and practice hand-mouth coordination. It was really nice.
* X had a headache yesterday that persisted into today, and I asked them to check in with the OB about it. The nurse asked them to get their blood pressure checked at the pharmacy nearby, which they did and it was fine, and they had no other worrisome symptoms, so the doctor said to just take Tylenol and keep drinking lots of water. Such a nice change from being told to go to the ER "just in case".
* I had a very enjoyable therping session (via phone) where I mostly ended up talking about favorite books from my childhood and the ways in which they were formative.
* J made steak and French fries for dinner. When it was ready, the baby had just finished eating and fallen asleep, so we brought the cradle out to the dining room and had a proper homemade family dinner, all four of us (though Kit slept through it). It was so, so wonderful.
* After the unpleasant phone call, X and J gave me lots of hugs and talked about cheering things.
* I got to Skype with miriamreads
for the first time since the baby was born. There was much squeeing. It was excellent.
* Tonight I've fed the baby twice with almost no spitting up. Right now I'm in the rocking chair in the baby's room; Kit's snoring and Sam is snuggled very snugly against my left side.
What was lovely about your day today?
Last night and this morning, X and I independently noticed that Kit has leveled up in eating: gulping less, eating more slowly, taking longer pauses between bursts of sucking, pausing for several minutes after an ounce or so. I'm gobsmacked. We didn't teach the baby anything! The baby just figured it out! I didn't know they could do
Today was a BIG ADVENTURE. The newborn hearing screening they did at the hospital was inconclusive, so we took Kit into Manhattan to have it redone. X also needed to go by their office and drop off paperwork, and then had an OB checkup--all within the same neighborhood--so we took the opportunity to show Kit off to X's coworkers and the OB. Our baby is an awesome New York baby
, wow. Slept on the subway, even when it was noisy (we're looking into getting baby-size noise-canceling headphones
); drank cold formula happily, with nary a dribble; was wide-eyed and calm as X's colleagues crowded around the stroller (I've never seen so many young men clamoring to hang out with a baby!); cheerfully tolerated a diaper change in a public restroom; blithely ignored the below-freezing temperatures and the noise of Broadway; and passed the hearing screening, too. I was expecting overwhelmed overstimulated crankiness when we got home, but nope, Kit just alternated between eating and sleeping for a few hours and then woke up burbly and fine.
No one slept last night and we are all tired-anxious-cranky. I actually fell asleep sitting up, which I never
do. But our baby is great and that is a great thing.
Our demon troll baby turned two weeks old on Monday. How time flies!
Kit has been having some issues with reflux. Our wonderful pediatrician recommended a super-gentle extra-hydrolyzed formula and it's working pretty well so far: still some spitting up, but much less arched-back screaming. We're also under instructions not to feed the baby too much or too frequently. This is awkward because the baby wants to eat basically all the time. I am rapidly becoming an expert in pacifier deployment. Fortunately pacifier + rocking cradle or cuddling = soothed baby at least 50% of the time, and I will totally take those odds right now.
Yesterday flailing little Kit was OUTRAGED that I DARED to offer a pacifier, spat it out repeatedly, then sucked three times on my pinky finger and fell completely asleep. This sort of thing is where we get the nickname "demon troll baby", which we use with all affection. The three of us don't have many personality traits in common, but a delight in trollery is one of them, and we were pretty much resigned to being trolled by our baby from day one.
Today I learned the difference between the reflux yell and the tension release yell:
R: *tries pacifier, pinky finger, holding, rocking, tummy rub, diaper change, everything*
R: Do you need me to just be present and witness your cry of outrage?
K: WAA*falls asleep, sleeps deeply for an hour and a half*
Kit's weight gain has been good and diapers are being dirtied at the expected pace, so at least we don't have to worry that the reflux is getting in the way of nutrition or hydration. I asked whether we should do weigh-ins at home if the reflux continues, and Dr. A said "Not every day or you'll flip out every time the baby happens to lose an ounce!". I am deeply glad we have a doctor who understands new parent anxiety and is sympathetic and helpful without being patronizing.
(I noticed that the doctor and his staff all seem to use "he" for all the babies, as what amounts to a gender-neutral pronoun--it's clearly used in the sense of "with the diaper on I can't tell the gender and it's not relevant anyway". I don't think I've encountered that before.)
J went back to work yesterday. X is barely even taking ibuprofen for what remains of the C-section pain, and is able to bend down well enough to load the dishwasher and feed the cats. I read a collection of three stories by Tanya Huff, set in her Quarters universe
, and started rereading Five Children and It
--the first fiction I've read since Kit was born. We're all getting a pretty surprising amount of sleep given that we're new parents; yay for taking shifts. Slowly life returns to normal.
Return of the granddaughter of the next generation of the five questions meme! From ivy
:1. Is being a parent roughly like you thought it was going to be?
I had no idea what to expect of this stage of parenthood, but some part of me was stubbornly certain that it was going to be just like our life only with a baby in it, no matter how many people told me that babies change everything. And as it turns out, our life is just like our life only with a baby in it. We haven't suddenly become different people. We haven't lost our other interests or our needs or our quirks and foibles. We're still us, caring for a baby in our own inimitable fashion.
I'm still shaky on identifying as "a parent" but that's gradually coming along.2. What is the best thing you've read lately? What made it so good?T. Berry Brazelton's Touchpoints: Birth to Three
(revised edition) is an extremely soothing and reassuring book about early child development. I read each chapter as we approach the stage it discusses, so that I don't overwhelm myself with info that I can't use yet. The chapter on babies two to three weeks old says things like "it takes work and time to bond (form attachment) with the baby, so don't worry if it doesn't happen right away" and "this is what an overstimulated baby looks like; if you see this then it's time to leave them alone for 10 to 15 minutes to recover". It's the antidote to scaremongering Dr. Google. Reading it is like breathing a giant sigh of relief.3. What artist or spokesperson would you give a wider audience, if you could?
The most obscure brilliant artist I know is photographer Zoée Nuage
, whose images of gender ambiguity and transition changed my life. I'd love to see those photos reach more people who are just starting to have thoughts about their own genders. Somewhat to my surprise, Zoée has moved on from photography and is now making needle-felted jewelry
that's tiny and beautiful.
Less obscure but also brilliant is Thích Nhất Hạnh
. I recommend his writings on mindfulness in daily life to anyone who's ever been stymied by the (false) notion that meditation and mindfulness require a rigorous practice of setting time aside for sitting still in a quiet room. I genuinely feel like the world would be a much better place if everyone attempted some sort of mindfulness practice--we don't all have to be Zen masters, but paying a little more attention and moving a little more slowly goes a long, long way.4. What are your thoughts about education for kids? Do you have a preferred method of schooling?
I'm firmly in the "whatever's best for that particular child" camp. Some kids need a lot of socializing and others need time alone. Some need to be self-directed and others need structure and coaching. Some learn by listening and some by doing. What matters is that they get lots of options and opportunities to find what works for them, the support and attention they need from compassionate instructors, consistent rules and discipline without punishment, and a safe, encouraging space in which to learn.5. If your whole household could be instantly and collectively fluent in another language, which one would you pick? Why that one?
I wouldn't dream of picking unilaterally--that's a decision we should all make together. And if "collectively" means the baby learns it too, that's a different decision from the three adults picking a language in which to discuss things that we don't want Kit to know about. :)
My personal suggestion would be Japanese, since becoming fluent in it the hard way is really super hard, and it's genuinely useful for us (J's stepfather is Japanese and we love traveling in Japan).
If you want five questions from me, leave a comment, and I will do my best to think of something to ask beyond "Can you come over and watch the baby?". :)
Today: a day without crying or panic attacks! Therefore a good day!
I did feel one anxiety wave hitting me late this evening, but it was clearly caused by hunger and I was already in the process of making food, so I finished cooking (without injuring myself!) and ate a great deal of food and asked X to bring me taurine, and 20 minutes later I was fine. I feel this somehow balances out my panic of... yesterday? the day before? It all blurs a bit.
Today is the first day without any "firsts" to note in the baby book. Kit continues to be Kit, and doing all the expected baby things. We're still learning how to deal with the eager gulping feedings that lead to spit-ups and discomfort. Dr. Brazelton recommends letting the baby recline at 30 degrees for 20 minutes after eating and before burping, so that the burp doesn't bring milk up with it; I'll try that at the next feeding.
I'm the on-call babyminder for the next four hours. I should probably spend them sleeping in my bed with the baby monitor on, rather than sleeping in the baby's room, but I can't quite bring myself to take that step yet. It requires trusting the monitor app, which is sound-activated, and it's never let us down but I'm nervous anyway. On Monday J will go to his office and get all the packages that have been piling up there, including a tablet stand that will let us set up the tablet right over the crib to give video as well as more sensitive audio than it currently gets from a few feet away. That should help. If it doesn't, I'll switch from the sound-activated monitor to Skype or something.
Today was a milestone day for the baby in several ways:
1) The umbilical stump fell off. X and J each independently said, "You're not going to keep that and put it in the baby book, are you?" I may have been somewhat obsessively updating the baby book. (I did not keep it, or even take a picture of it.) Kit's navel looks fine and healthy. Yay for our lovely healthy baby.
2) Kit managed to spit up through the nose as I was in the middle of changing a diaper. This was quite alarming for several reasons. First, I thought the sudden sneezing and drippiness was the first sign of a cold, and freaked out at the thought of our 10-day-old baby being ill and having trouble breathing. Second, babies generally breathe through the nose; Kit was very agitated at not being able to do this, and began screaming. Fortunately I had stocked our medicine cabinet with a Nosefrida nasal aspirator, and I kept a handle on myself long enough to direct X to grab it for me so I could suck out the milk-snot. J called the pediatrician, who said to clear out the nose with a couple of drops of saline solution and more aspiration, so we did that--I'd also stocked the medicine cabinet with saline and told X exactly where it was--and once it became clear that the nose wasn't runny and it was just a onetime thing, I handed the baby to someone and went off to sob.
I am very embarrassed that I reacted that way. I'm generally calm in a crisis. I keep reminding myself that I did all the right things and that I was able to identify the tools to use and tell people where to find them and make use of them. I didn't let the panic get in the way of responding quickly and correctly. And I know it's normal for new parents to be easily agitated about anything that might be the slightest bit wrong with the baby, especially when we're underfed/underslept. But still, I panicked, and I don't like that I panicked.
3) Kit drank four ounces of milk in one go. Turns out this is way too much for a ten-day-old baby. To my surprise, it all stayed down, but I spent about an hour doing tummy rubs and bicycle legs and diaper changes while Kit flailed around and strained and looked very uncomfortable. Poor wee thing. I finally induced sleep with a lightly swaddling sleep sack--it's warm enough in here that Kit was just wearing a shirt and a diaper, but apparently the baby has already formed the impression that that is daytime clothing and nighttime requires pajamas--and a bit of pacifier-sucking. (Apparently bedtime pacifier use significantly reduces SIDS risk
, including for low-risk babies. I'd been avoiding it because weaning babies off of a pacifier can be very difficult, but I shall avoid it no more. Kit has literally zero identifiable risk factors for SIDS, which is a very reassuring thing to know, but why take chances?)
Lesson learned: if Kit chugs three ounces and claims to want more, give a pacifier instead and wait for digestion to happen. Everyone will be happier.
Yay, finally a dream that's not about the baby or pregnancy or labor!
I dreamed it was nighttime and I was roaming the streets of SoHo. I ended up hanging out with a Chasidic guy who was sleeping rough. We wandered past art galleries and talked about art. Suddenly he realized he was about to miss his chance to charge his phone at a truck that provided mobile phone charging services for homeless people. (Is this a thing? I want it to be a thing.) As we ran off to find the truck before they left, he was explaining to me why it was okay to charge his phone there even though it was Shabbat--I think it was because the phone was so important for his survival.
So far so good. Kit's out of the precautionary NICU and done with the precautionary antibiotics (there was no actual infection, yay); they're eating and sleeping and making messes and having loud opinions like a champ. X's bandage was taken off today (a day late, and the OB had a look in his eye that suggested yesterday's PA was going to receive a serious talking-to for not doing it yesterday), and the C-section incision looks great. With sufficient pain medication, they were able to walk down the hall to the shower and even stand while showering. The one-flight walkup at our place is going to be a challenge, but then they can just stay home for a couple of weeks while they recover.
J and I are trading nights at home, so we alternate being well-rested. Tomorrow everyone will be home and everything will be great.
Updates continue to be mostly on Twitter. Sorry, non-Twitter folks.
I really want separate pronouns for "gender unknown" and "this person explicitly identifies as nonbinary". Using "they" for Kit is the least bad option but I don't want to imply that we're putting a nonbinary identity on them, especially in the context of using the same pronoun for me and X. We're just keeping their gender private until they figure out what it is and decide to be public about it.
I need to update my tags and userpic keywords. Tomorrow, maybe.
X's water broke and they went into labor at 5:15 a.m. Eleven hours later, we're at the hospital, epidural's in, they're napping and waiting for the pitocin to work its magic. Everything's going swimmingly. :D Updates are happening on Twitter for the most part but I will try to update here too when I can. Assume no news is good news.
21:49: So far so good. :)
00:28: 6 cm dilated, 80% effaced, baby's head at position 0. Epidurals are amazing and the nurse anesthetist is going to get the world's biggest fruit basket.
01:12: X is, miraculously, asleep. J and I are also going to nap while the fabulous doula beetiger
08:21: Habemus babby! Born by C-section. Baby is in the NICU as a standard precaution; X is being stitched up and should be out shortly. We are all extremely tired.
As mentioned here
, I recently read Thích Nhất Hạnh's The Miracle of Mindfulness
(which had a very gratifying focus on mindfulness in daily life; for a taste of that, see this shorter piece by Nhất Hạnh
). One of the things he suggests is taking a mindfulness sabbath every week--you do your ordinary daily things, but you do them at about a third your usual speed, with full attention to the thing you're doing in the moment that you're doing it. I like that idea so much better than a day of rest in the traditional Jewish mode, and have been thinking about implementing it in some way.
I tried it yesterday (beginning with lighting candles on Friday at sunset, which was very pleasant in the winter dark) and only sort of managed it. At one point on Saturday night I realized it was dark out and that meant Shabbat was over and I didn't have to be mindful anymore. Then I thought that was a sort of silly way to look at it, and did my best to be very present with whatever I did next (washing my hands, I think). If it were easy, I wouldn't have to make a practice of it.
One place where it was very effective was doing work on Friday evening. I was proofing my pages for the week, which I usually get very distracted from and take ages to do because of the distractions. But I focused on it not in a furrowed-brow kind of way but in a presence and mindfulness kind of way, and it went very quickly and painlessly. Unfortunately I have not yet managed to apply that to the work that I'm currently procrastinating on by writing this, because in order to be present with the work, I have to actually start doing the work, and I don' wanna. But once I actually start it, I will hopefully stay focused despite being incredibly tired, and it will go quickly and then I can sleep.
Today I was taking my meditation walk in the park, and caught myself getting distracted, and thought, "Be here now." And then I thought, "I am
here now," in the sense of, why do I need to instruct myself to be here now? I don't need to actively try to be here now; I'm already here now. I just need to stop being anywhere else (in the mind-wandering sense), and then being here now is the thing that's left. That little moment of enlightenment lasted maybe twenty seconds, but it was a really good twenty seconds. I am here now. No effort needed.
I dreamed that J and I went to a gay bathhouse and hung out in a hot tub with a bunch of writers we know. Some actors who had recently played Doctor Who showed up, including Matt Smith and David Tennant. ( It didn't go the way you might expect )
Yes, I'm bummed that it didn't turn into a sex dream involving David Tennant. (Couldn't care less about Matt Smith, personally.)
New userpic of virtual Sam from Neko Atsume (Cat Collector), which has been making me very happy lately. Virtual Sam and virtual Alex are amazingly like their real-life selves. Virtual Sophie is from an alternate universe where she allows herself to be happy around other cats. They are all extremely adorable.
The subject line should be read to the tune of "Besame Mucho". Each time I get a new cat I hear mew-sic divine! My brain does these things to me, and therefore I share them with you.
The other day I mentioned taking walks while listening to Headspace meditations, and the friend I was talking with was puzzled because those are intended for sitting meditation. There is certainly much to be said for sitting meditation, and Headspace has taught me how to appreciate and enjoy it, but walking meditation just feels perfectly designed for me. Sitting meditation feels like using weight machines instead of free weights; it builds capability and endurance, but only in very specific ways that aren't necessarily broadly applicable. Walking mindfully feels like much better practice for moving mindfully through the rest of my life. And I'm always happiest while walking, through a park or through my city.
How to adapt one to the other: Whenever the guiding narration says to rest my focus on the rhythm of the breath, I rest my focus on the rhythm of walking instead. That's it! The rest of the practice is entirely the same.
I've been doing Headspace Pro recently, which is unthemed and includes long periods of silence. Nearly every afternoon, ideally after eating lunch and before the sun gets too low, I go to the little park down the street and walk for 20 minutes or so, very lightly guided by the minimal narration, experiencing the park and the change of seasons and the people and animals that pass by. It's just lovely. I dropped the practice in the summer, because I don't need a reason to get out and walk--I do plenty of it without even trying--and my schedule is often so packed that it's hard to find even 15 or 20 minutes for myself. I expect I'll drop it again next summer for much the same reasons. But I'm so glad to have it for the fall and winter and spring, and I hope to bring FutureKid along with me on many future walks (without headphones in, obvs).
Today I started reading Thích Nhất Hạnh's The Miracle of Mindfulness
. I was looking for his book on walking meditation and couldn't find it, but this was sitting right there (we actually owned two copies). It feels like something I would have nodded along with in the past, but not really viscerally understood. Now that I have an actual meditation practice to link it to, I think I'll get more out of it. In the meantime, it's just enjoyable to read. And it feels so validating to read things like this that both echo my experience and provide gentle direction:
When you are walking along a path leading into a village, you can practice mindfulness. Walking along a dirt path, surrounded by patches of green grass, if you practice mindfulness you will experience that path, the path leading into the village. You practice by keeping this one thought alive: "I'm walking along the path leading into the village." Whether it's sunny or rainy, whether the path is dry or wet, you keep that one thought, but not just repeating it like a machine, over and over again. Machine thinking is the opposite of mindfulness. If we're really engaged in mindfulness while walking along the path to the village, then we will consider the act of each step we take as an infinite wonder, and a joy will open our hearts like a flower, enabling us to enter the world of reality.
I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth.
In real life, the other day, I woke up too tired to go to a planned lunch with a friend, so I emailed her to cancel and went back to sleep. Then I dreamed that we had lunch and I bored her so much that she fell asleep!
I also had another weird pregnancy dream last night. We had done IVF and picked out the embryo we wanted, but X wasn't able to carry the baby for whatever reason, so we regretfully put our frozen embryo in an envelope and tacked it to a bulletin board in hopes that someone who wanted a baby would find it and be able to use it. A little while later I realized that the embryo would probably thaw out before someone came along to take it and I got very distressed. We got back in the car and started the long drive back to where the bulletin board was in hopes that we could retrieve the embryo in time. Then I woke up.
Clearly I have been thinking a lot about what to do with the embryos we don't plan to use; I don't think the bulletin board route is the way to go, though.
I left this as a comment elsejournal, about helping kids to deal with anxiety, and figured it might be useful to a wider audience. This particular analogy helps me a great deal with understanding my own anxiety and finding healthy ways to deal with it.
There are two kinds of anxiety: the solid kind and the liquid kind. The solid kind comes from one-time things you can point to and wrestle with, like a deadline for turning in homework. That kind can generally be worked around with a little bit of attention to practicalities. "I'm worried that I won't get my homework done on time." "Okay, how can we make sure you have the time and tools you need to do your homework well and efficiently?" And some explicit practice trusting yourself and recalling your past similar successes can be useful too.
But the liquid kind comes from global, environmental, persistent things: brain chemistry, ongoing physical pain or disability, a life full of uncertainty, other people around you behaving in harmful or erratic ways. It's incredibly hard to look at those things head-on because they're so big and pervasive, so we try to bottle the anxiety up in the shape of something we understand. "I'm anxious that no one likes me" or "I'm anxious that I'll fail all my classes and be a miserable failing failure" or "I'm anxious that everyone I love will die" are bottles for liquid anxiety. And you can't address that anxiety by trying to address the bottle--saying "Of course people like you, you are very successful at many things, we will all live a good long time" will bounce off the bottle and never get through to the anxiety inside. You have to pour the anxiety out of the bottle, a little bit at a time if you can't manage more, and treat it as its own thing.
In the moment, you can say, "I'm so sorry you feel scared. It's hard to feel scared. Anytime you feel scared, I will do everything I can to help you feel safe." Or maybe, "Sometimes I feel scared too. Let's hug each other and promise to help each other through scary times." You can also practice large-scale calm, meditation, compassion, patience. But the bigger, harder, most absolutely necessary work is figuring out that persistent source of fear and fixing it as much as it can be fixed.
It's apparently Clovember, so here, have photos of me on Saturday
Both days: Hat by Goorin Bros., shirt by Arrow (their boys' 16 and 18 fit me perfectly and are readily available on eBay), shiny captoe shoes by Hunter's Bay (men's 5.5, bought at Payless for $20!), barely visible reversible belt by Calvin Klein.
Saturday details: It's hard to tell in the hotel room light, but the hat is blue cotton, the pinstripes on the shirt are blue, and the sweater (a French Toast boys' school uniform piece, bought during last year's back-to-school sales) is navy. Jeans are Old Navy men's slim fit. I'm wearing a magnetic pin
(an Australian Aboriginal design) instead of a tie, my new favorite thing. My default earrings with hats are tiny opaque stone spheres that I got in various colors from desayunoencama
's father's jewelry warehouse; the ones I'm wearing there are a lovely cloudy swirly blue, agate or something similar.
Sunday details: The tie is a boys' zipper tie by Signature; tying ties is fun, but nothing beats zipper ties for a) convenience and b) being the right length for my torso. USB watch chain and antique pen nib fob by Wyrding Studios
(note that nearly any pendant in the store can be turned into a watch fob upon request). Charcoal vest (no label) and wool blazer (Talbot's) are from thrift stores. Trousers are Old Navy men's black khakis, heavy cotton because it was really too cold for my thin polyester dress pants. The lapel pin is my World Fantasy Award nominee pin, inverted as a distress call; it was the only way I could bear to wear Lovecraft's face. I made the earrings, which are simple stacks of five cubes of some sort of copper-colored opaque stone--jasper, maybe? I like the way they echo the copper hatband. This is basically as steampunk as I get.
I love having excuses to dress up. I should really do it more often even when I don't have an excuse. :)
Everyone is completely fine.( A fun trip to the ER )
I should probably eat something--I've barely eaten anything at all today--and then go try to sleep some more. If I'm lucky this whole thing will have reset my sleep schedule back to where it should be. Not the way I would have chosen to do that, but I'll take what I can get.
- thinking about:
behavior.love, behavior.parenting, body.body clock, body.sleep, events.cons, events.cons.world fantasy, experiences.disaster, experiences.kindness, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina
Here's our inventory of baby clothes acquired thus far. Parents, how insufficient is this? :) I'm including the stuff for bigger kids for the sake of completion, but mostly I want to make sure we're stocked up on newborn/0-3 things and 3-6 things. Our baby's weight is at something like 70th percentile right now, so I expect them to size out of newborn clothes pretty quickly; we're also planning to try cloth diapering, which may mean getting leggings a size larger than we otherwise would. We have a washing machine, and I already do laundry several times a week (three adults generate a lot of laundry), if that helps with estimating how much we need to have in stock; I don't plan to let pee-soaked things sit around. Fortunate we're getting the diapers from a service and don't have to factor those into the washload.( It seems like a lot but isn't really )
I am deeply indebted to vschanoes
, and d_aulnoy
(and their babies, who conveniently predate ours by six to twelve months) for the many many hand-me-downs they have already given us and will undoubtedly provide more of in the near future. We also received many baby shower gifts of nice neutral white, gray, beige, and yellow baby clothes. Meanwhile, when X and I go out and buy baby clothes, we go straight for the gendered things, e.g., the button-down shirt and sparkly purple shoes, which I bet will look awesome together. It's nice to have options.
Here it is mid-October already. The time, it does fly.
This is what we've done so far in October:( Long list is long )
Not included on there is all of us having day jobs (including big projects/crunch time on all fronts), date nights, hobbies, chores, constantly working on being a better family (improving conflict resolution, practicing asking for things we want and need, supporting one another through our various anxieties around pregnancy and birth and parenthood), etc. Fortunately the list for the second half of October is slightly less daunting.
is on my lower back, about 5 cm by 2.5 cm, and totally benign. It's been there for years and years. I wouldn't even bother having it removed except that it does get a very little bit bigger every year and is starting to occasionally ache a little, which means I'm going to have to have it out eventually. Better to do that now while it's moderate-size (which means a quicker procedure and faster healing) and while I'm not picking up a baby all the time (stitches on my lower back = no lifting heavy things for a couple of weeks). So there will probably be an outpatient procedure for that sometime in November, whee.
On the hobby front, I've been obsessing over annotating the Hamilton lyrics on Genius
; just putting the subject line on this post reminded me of an annotation I'd wanted to make and suddenly it's half an hour later. (I've so far resisted the siren song of annotating every TMBG song ever, because a) I do not have time and b) no, really, I don't have time. I permitted myself to mark up "Vestibule"
and that is it.) (For now.) I've also been growing some nice virtual succulent gardens in Viridi
I finally finished knitting a pair of baby booties, and I'd like to try making a blanket or sleep sack next. The booties were pretty tough on my arms but I'm hoping working with larger needles will be easier. Now I just have to survive the rampant gendering in the comments of every single Ravelry pattern for babies. THE BABY DOES NOT CARE WHAT COLOR THE SLEEP SACK IS. Anyway, this looks cute
and I might try to make it, maybe using this technique
for ribbing to see whether it makes me hate ribbing any less.
I've turned in my Best Books list for 2015, which in theory means I can read for fun now, but I have no idea what I actually want to read. Maybe I'll reread some old favorites.
It's very firmly fall now. Right now it's 40F outside. Inside, the heat's come on, but I haven't put plastic over my window or taken out my air conditioner yet, so there's still a bit of a draft in my room. The cats think this is the best weather ever, and have been super cuddly. Sam keeps walking all over me. Alex usually avoids X's bed, which is Sophie's territory, but the other day X woke up from a nap to find all three cats hanging out on the bed together (though all carefully positioned at the maximum possible distance from one another). Even the usually aloof Sophie sat on J tonight while X and J and I were cuddling! We were all completely astonished.
Our early wintergift to ourselves was heaps of warm clothing from L.L. Bean: robes, slippers, flannel shirts, insulating undershirts, a fits-over-the-bump winter coat for X, all that lovely stuff. I got a Black Watch plaid flannel nightshirt that goes down to my knees and it's the best thing ever. I think I'm going to snuggle up in it and go get lots of good sleep.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, body, body.health, body.skin, experiences.books, experiences.reading, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, experiences.theatre, experiences.theatre.hamilton, experiences.work, food, food.cooking, people.cats, people.josh, people.kit, people.xtina, places.home, projects.crafts, projects.crafts.knitting, stuff.books, stuff.clothes
Today I:( did a lot )
I'm making this post because I still feel like I didn't get enough done today, and X suggested I write it all out to prove to myself that I did. I guess the real problem is that there's still so much to do. We have a plan for doing it, and that helps a ton, but the bulk of it won't be done
for another few weeks.
J was an absolute hero today. In addition to making the pot roast and doing all the dinner cleanup so I could rest my arm, he hauled book boxes out of the baby's room and into his room, moved all the flatpacked pieces of baby furniture into the baby's room so our library/hallway no longer looks like an IKEA warehouse, and took two more boxes of giveaway books down to the curb. I'm hoping that having the furniture out of sight will help keep it out of mind until friends descend upon us on the 25th for moving and building things. Having it heaped in the library was definitely stressing us all out.
Hopefully my arm will be better tomorrow and I can do laundry. That always makes me feel calmer. Who knows why.
- thinking about:
behavior.accomplishments, behavior.domesticity, body.arms, body.hands, experiences.driving, experiences.housework, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.restlessness, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, places.home, stuff
Today the three of us got up at what X calls "fuck o'what in the morning" and endured a seven-hour advanced child care and infant/child CPR and first aid course. We are now all certificated for the next two years. Maybe when the cert is up we'll hire someone to do a CPR training party for us and our local child-having and child-caring friends. (Thanks for the idea, and_rayna
Major props to X for doing the course while six months pregnant. They needed help getting down on the floor with the CPR dummies and getting back up again after, but they did those chest compressions like a champ.
Today would have been my grandfather's 100th birthday. I think he would have been very proud of how I chose to spend it.
I took Celebrex before and after the class, and brought an instant ice pack that I slapped on my right arm the instant the class was done. Real ice followed when we got home. Thanks to these precautions, my arm is only in moderate agony. Chest compressions are hard work
. I have been forbidden from doing laundry tonight; I hope I'll be able to do some tomorrow. Mostly I need socks and underwear, which are easy to load into the machine and don't require folding, so I think I should be able to manage that.
Right now, maybe another round of ice on both arms--I always forget that my left arm gets just as inflamed but is quieter about it--and then a whole lot of healing sleep.
Right now, our fourth room is our guest room. We have a big pull-out couch in there, and a couple of bookcases that are currently full of kids' books.
Somehow, we need to turn it into the baby's room. That means we need to get bookcases out of J's room and the guest room, get the couch out of the guest room and put it in J's room, build a crib and changing table and rocking chair and kid-size cabinet/closet, and move some of the bookcases back in.
J is able-bodied and fairly strong. R is somewhat able-bodied and not terribly strong. X is quite pregnant. This is more than we can really do on our own.
So! If you're available to come to our apartment (in Brooklyn, very near the Utica Ave stop on the 3/4) and help us move heavy things around on Sunday October 25 between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., we would greatly appreciate the help. We will gladly pay you in delicious food and drinks, free books, and even bookcases if you'd like them. The books and bookcases are perfectly good; we just don't have room for the latter, so we're divesting ourselves of the former (and replacing them in digital).
If you're not up for lifting heavy things, come over anyway! You can keep us company, cheer us on, entertain us, go out for more chips, or just take books away. It'll be a fun little low-key party.
Usual apartment warnings apply: we have three cats (who will be shut away for the duration of the movinatin'), and we're up one fairly steep flight of stairs.
Please comment or email and let us know if you'll be joining us!
Today, after months of planning and stress, we spent three hours surrounded by friends and family at what was unquestionably the best baby shower of all time. We are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives. <3 <3 <3( Party report )
J's uncle took a great picture of the three of us:
Yes, X's belly has a name tag.
After the party, J and X and J's mom went home, and I went to a TMBG concert, because I have interesting priorities. It was an Apollo 18
show! How could I pass that up? ( Show report )
The show ended in time for me to catch the totality of the lunar eclipse, which was very cool. And then I came home and smooched my beloveds and patted my cat and drank some water and left the heaps of gifts and cards to deal with tomorrow.
A couple of weeks ago I went to see Hamilton
. It was extraordinary. And the ways that it was extraordinary were themselves extraordinary.
My thoughts on the show will necessarily be a bit disjointed because the show itself is made up of so many things. As one writeup noted, it's got about 150% more songs than your typical musical. The sheer volume of musical numbers, and musical styles, is overwhelming. And every single thing the show does, it does well
But it has to, because it is the embodiment of needing to be twice as good to get half as far.
Even before we reached the theme of Hamilton writing like he's running out of time, I wondered whether Lin-Manuel Miranda was pouring all these songs into one show because he thought it was his last chance, or because he simply has an inexhaustible fount of songs in him. But it's so clearly not his last chance, and he himself is not writing like he's running out of time. He's writing like he has to make up for lost and stolen time. He's writing for everyone whose voice was (and is) suppressed, and filling the stage with people of color in recognition of every brilliant talent who was (and is) shut out of conventional Broadway casting calls.
It also gives a significant amount of time to Eliza Hamilton's side of things. The show ends with her narrating the fifty years she spent actively telling and preserving her husband's story and other stories, in addition to founding an orphanage and campaigning against slavery. She declares "I put myself back in the narrative" and asks who will tell her story. Hamilton's death doesn't end the show. Eliza's does, literally--her last gasp is the last sound before the lights go out. This is an unsubtle glove in the face of everyone who's ever thought that only men's stories were important enough to make musicals out of.
I tweeted about it
somewhat. And I'm annotating the hell out of it on Genius
. And I really really want to sit down and talk with people about it. And I want to see it again. I'm almost never enthralled by live theater; the last show that left me feeling like this was Rent
. (Lin-Manuel Miranda has written about how much Rent meant to him.
I'm not surprised.) There's some part of me that wants to be at the ticket lottery
every day until I get to go again. And then again.Hamilton
had actual tears running down my face. That's only happened to at two other shows: Rent
. But Rent
are basically designed to emotionally destroy you (or me, anyway). Hamilton
isn't. It's the full story of a person's life, with all its ups and downs and failures and successes and sorrows and joys. It's the whole thing. I left the theater feeling not crushed but quietly uplifted.
You can listen to the entire cast recording here
. It's tremendous, even without the visual dimension. Set aside a couple of hours and some tissues for it. And if you get a chance to go, go.
(If you do see it in person, a tip: The intermission lines for the bathrooms are impossible. Grab your ticket stub, run next door to the Marriott, go up the escalator one flight, and use the bathrooms there. No lines! A moment of peace and quiet! You'll be back in your seat just before the end of intermission.)
The U.K. has an awesome shop that sells plus-size pregnancy coats that turn into parent-and-baby coats
. Super adorable! Perfect for our January baby!
Inconveniently, they don't ship to the U.S.
Conveniently, a friend is about to visit from London, so we ordered the coat to be shipped to him in time for him to put it in his luggage.
Inconveniently, the package was delayed and it won't arrive at his place until after he's already here.
If you're coming from London to the U.S. in October and are willing to be a coat courier, or if you know someone else who fits that description, please let me know. London to N.Y.C. would be ideal, but shipping from anywhere in the U.S. is still probably going to be cheaper than shipping across the Atlantic. We will gladly trade you books and/or feed you.
Wednesdays are often slow work days, and today was especially so. That suited me fine. I don't fast or take time off work for Yom Kippur, but I try to observe it as a quiet, low-key day.
So after I finished my work, I put on sunscreen and took my laptop out to Prospect Park. I had a picnic lunch, honoring my grandmother's scandalous custom. Then I opened up Scrivener and reread everything I'd written so far, and decided to tackle the scene where Nathaniel comes out to Algernon as trans.
Whoof, that was a hard one. Usually I can write 1500 words or so in a couple of hours. Today I wrote just over 800 words in two hours before J met me for dinner, and then another couple hundred just now to wrap it up. I know I can fix a lot in revisions, but this scene is so important to get right, because of how it influences their relationship development and their own individual stories. J and I talked it out a bit and he reminded me of the importance of maintaining dramatic tension, which is good, because of course I personally don't want to leave Nathaniel hanging for a minute
, but it is kind of important for the book's arc--and for character accuracy and historical authenticity--if Algernon isn't perfectly understanding and cool with it from moment one. So I wrote the ending I wanted the scene to have, and then I cut that ending and put it in a separate file to attach to a later scene where Algernon (spoilers) decides he really doesn't mind if his boyfriend is a somewhat unusual boy. Poor Nathaniel, and the poor reader, will just have to endure the wait for that scene. (Fortunately there are plenty of other things that can happen in the meantime.)( A snippet )
I'm looking for an exercise buddy who's also doing exercises at home and wants to hang out over Skype or Google Hangouts while we work out together. Not a lot of conversation, just keeping each other company. I can't think of any other way to motivate myself to do my PT exercises, which I really need to do.
I'll be exercising at about 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Mondays and Fridays, for half an hour to an hour. If you're interested, leave a comment with your Skype handle or Gchat address. All comments are screened.
All bodies welcome, all exercises welcome. My only rule is no vocally deprecating oneself or others. Expressing frustration: sure! Calling yourself a wimp because you're doing light exercises, or putting down your body: not out loud, please.
I did my week of not reading Twitter, with the exception of my mentions and the very small group of people I follow from my private account. It was awesome.
In fact, it was so awesome that I locked my main Twitter account.
Everyone who was following me still has access to my tweets. If I post something, people see it and respond. But I don't get followed by spammers, and I don't get trolled, and I don't hover over my RT and fave counts, and people can't embed my tweets in their blog posts and articles. It's everything I like about Twitter without everything I don't like. It's perfect
With 5300+ followers, I still think of it as public; of course anything I tweet can be screenshotted and passed around, and I have no idea who many of those followers even are. But I can still relax and unwind a little. I also took my professional affiliation out of my bio. That account is just for me now. In theory it always was, but in practice it was very hard to separate personal and professional. Locking it makes that separation clear.
I'm still not reading most of Twitter. (I glimpse it occasionally via my phone's Twitter app, because Tweetdeck on Chrome for Android is deadly slow and checking my mentions on the app is much faster.) I know there are things I'm missing. For example, I didn't hear about Ferguson Is the Future
until after the fact, and it sounds incredible. But even if I had heard about it well in advance, I wouldn't have been able to go. So I mostly don't feel bad about missing the news and gossip, because I wouldn't be able to do much with it anyway. And when I'm itching for a conversation, I start one.
I am sad about missing milestones in my friends' lives. But there's no way to filter Twitter for only those things, unfortunately, and I can't really expect people to remember to tell me everything individually in addition to broadcasting it. I guess I'll just have a lot of catching up to do once I'm ready to be social again.
What I'm doing with all this free time and brainspace:
Catching up on work. I'm taking a week off from work in October, which means I need to start working ahead now. And our annual Best Books feature is coming up alarmingly soon.
Reading books! I read a book last week and another one last night and another one tonight. I don't think I read three books in the entire month of August. It feels so wonderful to be gulping down books again.
Thinking a lot about my own book, and tentatively moving toward working on it again. I figured out how it ends! That was a huge relief, and knowing the ending removes a lot of my hesitation and anxiety around the actual writing.
Snuggling with J and X and X's belly (there are very definitely 3.5 of us now). Doing relationship maintenance, and savoring our last months of adults-only time. Getting the house ready for the baby. Being cozily domestic.
Cooking. It's cooking weather and I can't wait to cook up lots of soups and stews to freeze for January, when we'll have a tiny baby and be too exhausted to safely handle knives or fire.
Walking all over the city, loving the cool breezes. (Autumn at last, at last.) Going to PT. Trying to get back in the exercise groove.
Spending time with family and close friends. It's the high holidays and there's a baby shower coming up and J's mother is in town and lots of other people are visiting in the next few weeks. I don't lack for socialness right now, which makes it much easier to step away from social media.
I might even start knitting again. Today at work I spotted a book of one-skein knitting projects for babies. It literally had not occurred to me until that moment that the entire vast realm of cute baby knitting projects is open to me now. So that could be a huge timesink if I let it. I'm very tempted to let it.
There are definitely times when I feel like I ought to feel guilty for the way I'm using Twitter now. It's arguably very selfish of me to tweet things and hope for replies while not even reading most other people. But I don't feel guilty at all about this generally being a very inward-facing time for me. Everyone needs to focus on self and/or home sometimes. I'll come back when the pendulum swings the other way. By then some folks may have unfollowed me or otherwise moved on; that happens. And other folks will say "welcome back!" and pick up where we left off; that happens too. It's all fine.
- thinking about:
body.exercise, experiences.reading, experiences.work, food, food.cooking, mind.wiring, people, people.groups, people.groups.twitter, people.kit, places.home, projects.crafts, projects.crafts.knitting, words.books.valour advances, words.writing
Thus ends my lengthy streak of TMBG subject lines, but this Tom Lehrer quote is too perfect to resist.
I haven't cried since Saturday afternoon, so I think the PMS is finally gone. In its wake I've been astonishingly productive and contented. All the parts of my brain that were hormonally offline have come back with a vengeance.
Dishwasher filled, run, emptied, refilled, run again. A load of laundry done. Work to-do list complete. Baby shower prep complete. Work inbox zero. Personal inbox 1, and that 1 is a chatty email from mrissa
. Writing to her is my reward for getting everything else done.
When my OCD gets wound up, I have this feeling like if I just do enough things then I will reach a mythical state where everything is done and I can relax. Tonight I feel like I've actually attained something like that state. It's wonderful. I could list all the remaining undone things... but I won't, because none of them need to be done tonight, and that's enough for me. I have regained my ability to set them aside, to boomerang them out of my mental inbox (how fucking great is Boomerang for Gmail
, by the way? I don't know how I lived without it) and trust that I'll remember them when the time is right. Hello, brain, I missed you. Welcome back.
I really want to savor this moment, when the house is clean and my belly is full of good homemade food and the work is done and everyone is sleeping and soon I will be too. This is a good place to be.
Yesterday was a wonderful wonderful day and I only cried once (though that once was not very much fun). Today was a wonderful wonderful day and I didn't cry at all
. I think my hormones are finally fucking off and leaving me in peace. I swear my PMS has been way worse since X got pregnant. They're offgassing hormones or something.
I got the crying over with early in the day yesterday, so X and I had most of the afternoon and the entire evening to spend on more enjoyable pursuits. (J was upstate visiting his mother.) X took a two-hour nap. I took a long soothing shower, got dressed, started a load of laundry, decided what to make for dinner, shopped, and cooked
. I also pasteurized a jarful of honey for X, using my awesome ThermoClamp
thermometer holder. It was cool enough in our kitchen that when X woke up they came out to hang out at the table and keep me company while I was cooking. HELLO AUTUMN I MISSED YOU.
I made a very mild coconut curry
that we both really liked, so that's a new thing on the list of known-good meals, which is always nice. I did the dishes and then we snuggled up and watched The Aristocats
, because we noticed that Alex had struck a pose that was 100% pure O'Malley, and once we identified it we agreed that watching the movie was required. If you want to know what Alex is like, just watch O'Malley strut around while singing about how great he is. All the body language is exactly the same.
After that, X went to bed, and I did... something. Read a book, maybe? Or maybe that was Friday. I can't even remember now. Anyway, I toddled off to bed around 4 with earplugs in.
I slept a full 7.5 hours, the longest sleep I've had in ages, and didn't remember my dreams at all. X and I had a leisurely early afternoon at home and then went out and got haircuts. On the train we read a couple of RIE parenting books and talked about the parts we liked and didn't; I think there's enough useful stuff in there to be worth inflicting on J so we can all discuss together.
Our barber has been on vacation for five weeks, so we had gotten very shaggy. It feels so good to be shorn again, especially on a gloriously breezy day. We exclaimed constantly about the weather. It was cool and cloudy and just perfect. We got rained on slightly, but didn't mind at all.
We decided to walk up to Bed Bath & Beyond, and on the way we passed the new outpost of Dylan's Candy Bar at Union Square. Half an hour and a shocking amount of money later, we staggered out, clutching sticks of rock candy and mentally apologizing to our dentists. That place is dangerous
. I'm pretty sure we should not ever bring our child there. (We probably will anyway.)
We eventually made it up to BB&B and got the one thing we were shopping for and the inevitable dozen other things we realized we needed. About halfway through, X started getting tired and achy, so they sat in the cafe while I went through the checkout line. By the time I was done, they were ready to go home, but I could feel my blood sugar crashing post–rock candy, so we ducked into a nearby Pain Quotidien and had a lovely quiet early dinner, aided by a charming but slightly addled (or bored) server named Titus who said things like "I hope I've been able to serve your needs" and "I can acquiesce that for you".
J texted that he had arrived at Penn Station just as we were finishing up, and we hoped we'd run into him on the 3 train, but we got home just a few minutes ahead of him. He heated up and ate some leftovers while we put away the things we'd bought, and then we all snuggled up together like it was going out of style. With the window open just a crack, my room was almost too cold. It was marvelous.
X and J went to bed; I did dishes and got some work done and snuggled Sam. I snacked on baguette with butter and honey, my own private little Rosh Hashanah observance. Eventually I had to close my window--it's all the way down to 59 degrees outside. Today might have been the last shorts-wearing day of the year. I've kind of forgotten what it's like to wear layers and have my legs covered, but if the weather stays like this I'll remember pretty quickly.
More like this, please. Lots more. Lots and lots and lots. May this be the beginning of a sweet, sweet new year.
- thinking about:
behavior.love, body.hair, body.reproductive system, body.sleep, events.holidays, events.holidays.rosh hashanah, experiences.joy, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, experiences.weather, food, food.cooking, food.cooking.curry, food.cooking.curry.coconut, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.cats, people.josh, people.xtina
Today was September 11th. Every year is different and this year I was purely avoidant. I scrolled quickly through LJ and DW, and continued to live in my mentions on Twitter. (I am loving living in my mentions and might never go back to big Twitter. It's so peaceful and quiet.) When I put away the dinner leftovers I wrote "9/10" on the lid. I left my annual comment for fimbrethil
and otherwise I tried to just have a quiet day.
My pursuit of peace was greatly aided by yesterday's giant storms, which swept summer away and brought autumn in. A/C off, window open, glorious soothing breeze all day. Sam has been very snuggly over the last couple of days, I think because of the cooler weather. Hello, autumn. I missed you so much.
X and J have likewise been very snuggly, and the three of us have been having some really nice family cuddle time. We're doing our last big relationship maintenance/upgrade push before the baby comes and we have to put that all on hold for a while, so there's been a lot of processing and serious talking and emotional vulnerability and like that, but we're all handling it pretty well, I think--other than my hormone-induced daily sobbing fits of the past week, which have sort of put a crimp in my active listening--and I love that through it all we're just being so good to one another and to ourselves. My family is the best.
=====( A very peculiar nightmare )
- thinking about:
behavior.love, body.reproductive system, events.anniversaries, experiences.9-11, experiences.marriage, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.autumn, experiences.seasons.summer, experiences.weather, experiences.weather.rain, mind.dreamtime, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.groups, people.groups.twitter, people.helen, people.josh, people.kit, people.liam, people.xtina
I'm going off public Twitter for a week. I'm PMSing like whoa, August was even more stressful and unpleasant than Augusts usually are, and the thought of being on social media with the upcoming anniversary is just more than I can deal with.
I'll still be posting, and reading replies, but no home stream, no faves, no RTs. Poof, gone. It feels good.
I'm playing Viridi
, insofar as one plays it. Mostly that means "singing" to my plants (click on a plant and zoom in to focus on it, and the program will sing to it and improve its mood). It's soothing. Soothing things are nice.
Things I could do instead of Twitter:
* snuggle my partners
* knit, in small doses (arms have been feeling good but don't want to jinx it)
* cross-stitch, in small doses
* do my PT exercises
old family photographs
interesting bits of my baby book
* do housework
* get ahead on work
* watch a movie
- thinking about:
behavior.self-care, body.reproductive system, experiences.seasons, experiences.seasons.summer, mind.feelings, mind.feelings.overwhelmed, mind.wiring, mind.wiring.anxiety, people.groups, people.groups.twitter, stuff.games, stuff.games.video games
I felt fidgety tonight, so I sat down and scanned in FutureKid's sonograms. Then, since I had the scanner set up, I scanned some old photos from my mother's side of the family. I never quite noticed before, but most of the photos of my grandmother from the 1980s (the last decade of her life) show her with an expression that I can only characterize, in the modern idiom, as "no fucks to give"
. I guess I take after her. :)
The photos were in one of the two storage bins I brought home from a recent trip to the house of a friend who's been holding on to a lot of my mom's things, since she doesn't have space for them. I had no idea what was in the bins; they were just labeled "Rose". Turns out they contain heaps of photos, my baby book, my birth certificate (not the original but a certified copy), an autobiography I wrote when I was 10 (screamingly hilarious), more photos, copies of the book in which my first published story appeared, a blank notebook that my mother and I doodled in when I was maybe two years old, a comic strip I drew in first grade, a binder of photos of my grandparents' house, even more photos... I only managed to get the binder and a handful of the other pics scanned in. It's time-consuming. I scan as PDFs so I can leave notes on the image with info about the print photo, like a good archivist.( Grandparents and melancholy )( Young Rose and hilarity )
Some ignorant person wrote a piece for Wired
about the Hugos that included the following:Since 1953, to be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future. Past winners of the rocket-shaped trophy—nominated and voted on by fans—include people like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Robert A. Heinlein. In other words: the Gods of the genre.
But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships.
This is wrong. I went on a long Twitter rant
about how wrong it is. (Thanks to tehawesomersace
for Storifying it.) Specifically, it erases the marginalized people who were writing and reading SF/F from the very beginning of the genre--including erasing Arthur C. Clarke's homosexuality--and thereby erases the active and passive oppression that kept many of those people marginalized. The idea that SF has "expanded" in "recent years" is false and extremely damaging.
Among the many responses to my rant was this from adamndsmith
:Genuine question: In your op, what's the best way to fight whitewash? Education on minority history? More critical editing/editors?
I replied:It needs to be fought on multiple fronts. Most important is a self-check step by both editor and publisher. "Whose story am I telling here? Whose story am I not telling? Why am I not telling that story?" You train yourself into it, like "what's wrong with this picture" games.
For example, look at the 1960 Hugos shortlist. You have to train yourself to look at that and see what's missing: the minority writers, the minority content. Maybe it's hard to see until you compare it with the 2013 shortlist. And then you have to be careful not to draw the wrong conclusion (that no great work was being created by minorities). That process of self-education is the only defense against bigoted enculturation.
Adam emailed me some follow-up questions, asking how someone outside the field could know to look for the missing history. My response was that there's always
missing history. And since I was already feeling wordy, I provided a case study, which I'm replicating here in case anyone else might find it useful to have an example of how to apply general missing-history-finding techniques to an unfamiliar community or context.
( Tiny skateboards )
A couple of footnotes to this:
1) I'm not perfect, and I'm sure I'm missing obvious questions that could be asked about minority and marginalized people in the fingerboarding community. (EDIT: For example, as seyren
points out in comments, I didn't think of looking at ability/disability, which is often an overlooked axis of oppression.) I threw this together in under 15 minutes. It's just meant as a starting point, as an example of how to begin to look at a completely unfamiliar group through the lens of "which stories aren't being told?", and as an illustration of how easy it is to find the traces of missing history once you get in the mindset of looking for them.
2) I owe a tremendous debt to all the minority and marginalized people in and outside of SF/F who've taken the time to educate me and others on how to look for what's missing in mainstream narratives, especially karnythia
, and the late and greatly lamented delux_vivens
. Self-education is obviously critical, both because we learn best and most thoroughly when we put things in our own words, and because leaning on marginalized people and asking them to pour their hard-earned knowledge into you is exploitative. But there are some generous folks out there who have spent a lot of their time handing out free clues on the internet, and I'm extremely grateful for the clues they've handed me.
World Fantasy update (following part one
and part two
of a discussion of the con's financial costs):
I decided to buy a membership. If I change my mind later I can always get a refund.
On August 3 I emailed the conchair and the registrar to say I would be buying my membership, and I sent the membership fee to the convention's PayPal address.
On August 10 I emailed the conchair and the registrar asking for confirmation that they had received my payment.
On August 14 (today) I emailed again:Hi Joseph,
I'm starting to get concerned. I sent you a significant amount of money, which was definitely taken from my bank account by PayPal. I haven't heard from you and my name doesn't appear on the WFC site list of members. Can you please confirm that you received my payment and that I'm getting a membership?
I'm glad I checked the site because I saw that banquet tickets had gone on sale. My primary reason for purchasing a membership was to have access to purchasing a banquet ticket. However, the ticket sale page doesn't say anything about being required to be a member in order to get a ticket for the banquet. I have purchased a banquet ticket. If a membership is not required for this, then please refund my membership.
In late July, I'd had a back-and-forth email convo with the conchair over several days; during that time, my emails were answered very promptly. Now that I've sent them $327 of my hard-earned dollars, they're incommunicado. This is... a bad look.
The membership list on the site hasn't been updated since July 30.
Has anyone else had similar issues with being offered a waitlist membership, buying it, and then not getting confirmation? Has anyone heard from the WFC chair or registrar in the past two weeks? Has Albany been suffering from a massive power and internet outage and I missed the news?
Remember how I started writing a novel and then the whole pregnancy thing happened and I kind of dropped it for a while? I'd like to get back to it, but it's hard to regain my momentum.
A technique I've seen for getting past a writing block is to write fanfic of your own characters--it feels less serious, and you can play around and get to know them a bit without being constrained by your plot outline.
To that end, I would really appreciate it if you could toss a fanfic prompt or two my way. Obviously you haven't read the canon, because it doesn't exist yet. :) And I'm not quite certain enough of my outline to share it. But here's jacket copy of a sort:Nathaniel Axton is in a bit of a bind. The printing shop he works for, Carroll & Co., is losing money hand over fist. Everyone expects him to marry the shop's owner, Eliza Carroll, but he's mostly interested in men, and she's mostly interested in printing salacious Sapphist poems to sell to her bluestocking friends. Cautious Nathaniel isn't sure the potential profits are worth the risk to the shop's reputation--or the chance that someone will discover that he too was once a bluestocking.
Sir Algernon Smythe enjoyed his years in Canada, hiking through the woods by day and fooling around with his fellow explorers by night. Then his father summons him back to London to start building the family fortune. Algernon hopes to marry Sarah Silverthorne, the daughter of a well-known and wealthy adventurer. But she's looking for someone to build a home with, not another man who will abandon her for years at a time. And Algernon soon realizes a wife isn't what he wants at all.
When Algernon strolls into Carroll & Co. and locks eyes with Nathaniel, both men are smitten. When Sarah approaches Eliza about publishing a book of poetry, sparks fly. Can the four lovebirds find a way to make all their dreams come true?
And ( here's the backstory of the protagonists. )
And to refresh your memories, a bit of Nathaniel and Eliza at work
and Algernon's grand entrance
Is that enough to inspire a prompt or two? Perhaps? Help me out here, folks; I'm really struggling to get anything like back in the groove.
EDIT: No AUs, please, but I'm willing to introduce speculative elements.