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A Day Without A Woman

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Today is International Women’s Day, and it’s also #DayWithoutAWoman, which is kind of a followup to the Women’s March and #ADayWithoutImmigrants.

To support A Day Without A Woman, we’re supposed to wear red and not do any shopping, except at women-owned businesses. Ideally all women are supposed to take the entire day off from all paid and unpaid labor.

Taking the day off from all paid and unpaid labor is a tall order. It’s been the cause of a lot of conversation over the last couple weeks – both with my coworkers, and with friends who have kids. As far as work goes, tonight is the first preview of our next show, plus my boss is out of the office all week, so it feels like a bad time to just take a day off. As for kids, I might consider it if they were at daycare or school (although both of those are run by women, so that would feel weird). But they’re with Drew’s parents today, so it also feels wrong to drop them off, and then go home and watch TV.

I realize that inconvenience is a part of the point of this day. Ideally all the schools would shut down because all the teachers are women, and the substitutes are all women, and so kids would have to stay home, but moms would all be going to hang out with their women friends and patronize women-owned businesses, so the fathers would have to work it out. I guess.

But the issue here is that I just don’t think that, for the most part, women are willing to commit to inconveniencing a bunch of other people – especially when it seems like kids and other women are going to be hit hard. Like we all stood around in circles saying “Well, this really isn’t the best day for it” and then in the very next breath “AND I KNOW THAT’S THE POINT BUT STILL.”

Additionally…I wish there was a very specific and quantifiable thing that this day was about. In Lysistrata, the women were very specifically saying “Stop this war.” (They were also really only inconveniencing the men.) There was an achievable outcome. But raising awareness for women’s rights, while vital (especially right now), feels like too vague a cause. And saying it’s just for one day basically just means that whatever I don’t buy today, or get done today, I’ll shop for or do tomorrow.

I’m so conflicted. I mean, I’m going to work. But I feel guilty about it. I’m wearing red. But I should be doing more. I’m patronizing my favorite woman-owned business at lunchtime. But I wish I could speak more eloquently and persuasively so that I could really make a case for the importance of women’s rights, and to the point of this day.

I fear that we, as women, won’t be able to create the kind of impact necessary with this type of protest. And I fear that men (particularly those in power) will read that as weakness or passivity, and not as the responsibility and love that it really represents.

I’m tired of all the happy men who rule the world
They grow—of that I’m sure
They grow—but don’t mature
I’d like the chance to hide in that world
I’m listening as these men who aren’t quite men yet,
but aren’t boys
Make noise and throw their knives
Their toys are people’s lives
They fight too hard and play too rough
They sometimes love but not enough
My heart will beat at will, but still…

-“Trina’s Song,” Falsettos, William Finn

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Sleep Talking 35: Cookie Stick

Drew: You ate the whole stick.
Me: What stick?
Drew: The cookie stick.
Me: A stick of cookies?
Drew: Yes.
Me: No I didn’t.
Drew: You did.
Me: No, you ate some of it too.
Drew [indignant af]: No I did not!! [rolls over huffily and starts snoring]

Time: 9:55pm.

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89th Annual Academy Awards

Here are my definitely ranked Best Picture nominees for this year’s Oscars, from best to still-really-good.

Arrival
Fences
Manchester by the Sea
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight
Hidden Figures
Lion
Hacksaw Ridge

For me, this was a really strong season. I know the point is that these are all great movies, but this was a particularly good batch. Hacksaw Ridge was the only one that I thought was blech. Lion was good but hard to watch – and I felt like it didn’t quite live up to the way it was sold to me. But it was heartwrenching. Hidden Figures was a look into a true story that I’m so happy to have seen, but I felt at times that it was a more cheery look at the time period than is quite realistic.

Moonlight was a beautiful story, and well-told, but I didn’t have quite the emotional connection with it that others have. La La Land has been talked about so much that I don’t know what I could possibly add to the conversation. Hell or High Water really surprised me – it was not remotely what I expected, and I was way more engaged than I thought I would be.

Manchester by the Sea was funnier than I thought it would be at the same time that it was devastating. I don’t think I ever need to see it again, but it was one of my favorite things I saw this year. The script for Fences blew me away when I first saw it, not to mention the acting, and I was rapt. When I sat down to watch Arrival, I thought it was an alien movie…and I was so wrong. I loved every moment of Arrival.

There it is – the extremely official ranking. Don’t even bother watching tomorrow night – I’m right.

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TV of the 70s and 80s

Attention must be paid to how crazy and awesome and bizarre the internet is.

This afternoon I was thinking about this cartoon I watched a million times as a kid. I couldn’t remember the name of it, or the characters’ names, or really the plot. (Good comprehension, right?) I know there was a girl, a parrot, a large scary bird I thought was called a cockatrice, and I thought the parrot had parcels and that was a thing. I was pretty sure it was taped off of tv, like so many of our movies were.

I kind of thought James Earl Jones might possibly be the narrator. So I googled “James Earl Jones narr” and it autofilled “narrator pbs” and I thought, yeah, that sounds right. Turns out James Earl Jones hosted a PBS show called Long Ago and Far Away, from 1989-1993. Golden years, seriously. Here’s the man himself, on a set that is so achingly familiar to me, even if this is only episode of this show I ever saw, and I haven’t thought about it in probably 15 years.

jej

The episode in question is called “The Talking Parcel,” based on a book by Gerald Durrell. It features the characters I remember, and is available for viewing on youtube. It’s trippy for several reasons: the familiarity of the animation, the 80s style of the animation, and the speed with which I went from vague memory to watching it. Under two minutes.

I just wanted to point this out, that the world is impressive and the internet is magical, even if it seems sometimes like it’s going to be our downfall. Even if this isn’t useful information to anyone. It was just a pleasant Tuesday night diversion.

We had a LOT of things taped off of tv. Now I wonder if I could find some more of them. I know a bunch of stuff is available on youtube: The Mouse and His Child (from the 70s…talk about trippy animated films…), Rupert and the Frog Song (1984…and I just realized it’s written and produced by Paul McCartney! weird!), and Halloween is Grinch Night (1977). It’s funny that we watched all these things that were super scary to me then, but now I worry about my 4 year old watching Dumbledore die in a clean, bloodless, slow motion fall.

There is one more little cartoon I haven’t yet been able to find. I’m not really sure how to search for it. It’s pretty questionable, and by questionable I mean racist, so my googling hasn’t returned anything useful. I’m going to keep trying though. It’s important to rebuild your childhood tv memories. Even if you can never show them to your own children.

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Master

Today I completed my Master’s in Creative Writing: Fiction. It’s been a 26-month journey that I started when I had only one kid and no idea if there would be another. It was the weirdest kind of impulse buy, when your best friend tells you she’s starting an online Master’s program and you should do it too, so you look online and realize it starts in a week and you have to apply now if you’re going to do it, and so you just kind of…do it.

My first class was just a basic English studies class, where our textbook was about grammar and style, and I wrote my final paper on the works of Ira Levin. I took a Literary Theory class that I slogged through, where I had to reread Heart of Darkness (better than I remembered), among other things. I doubled up on several terms, taking two classes at a time: mashing up a Lit class where I had to write papers and an English class where I could write stories.

I took a class on Victorian Literature, which changed my entire perspective on how to write academic papers, thanks to an incredible professor who held us to super high standards and inspired me to try to impress her. That was an exhausting 10 weeks, but in the end I wrote a 15-page paper about Jekyll and Hyde and how it was a commentary by Robert Louis Stevenson on the Victorian perspective on motherhood.

I took a poetry class (where I felt like the only person in the class who had ever studied poetry before…), and I wrote some bad poems. Oh well. I lost a couple days of that class to being in the hospital for a few days when H was born, and honestly the last couple weeks were pretty phoned in, what with having a newborn.

I took a class on Contemporary Publishing, where I learned a lot about the modern world of publishing and all the options that are out there. In the class we created all the little things you need to query out your book to agents or publishers – hopefully setting me up for success in 2017.

For the last few months I’ve been working on my thesis: a collection of short stories taking place in the Bay Area. I would say it’s now 75% of the way ready to start sending out.

Today is the last day of the program, but I turned in my final (final for school, at least) thesis last Sunday. And I turned in my thesis reflection paper last Thursday. So today is officially the last day, but there was no big “Hit send – it’s done now” moment today.

Which is probably indicative of the entire process of writing. You write it, you send it in, and while you’re waiting to hear back, you reread it, and you change some more things. If the internet serves me right, it was Leonardo da Vinci who said “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

The only thing I would change is to replace the word “abandoned” with the word “released.”

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Susceptible Me

I was going to call this “The post I couldn’t write without crying and throwing up” but that felt way too alarmist.

What happened is, a couple weeks ago, my right eye was feeling really irritated. I took my contacts out but it was really still bugging me, like there was something in it. I asked Drew to look but he didn’t see anything. The next day, I wore my contacts but it bothered me off and on all day. By the end of the day I thought I should call the eye doctor.

WebMD told me I probably had a scratched cornea, which makes sense. B is into roughhousing, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he had hit me in the eye, and H is into naming body parts, and when she points to your eye, she like…REALLY points to your eye. So I wore my glasses to work, and I called the eye doctor to make an appointment for that afternoon.

Driving was rough. It was bright outside, and it felt like everything caused my eye to flood with tears. I tried to wear my sunglasses over my regular glasses. How do glasses-wearing people do this? I was getting really worried that something was wrong. I thought I might end up going blind. I can’t go blind. I wouldn’t be able to read. I know there’s Braille, but do you really think I could figure that out? I gave up on Duolingo Spanish after like a month, and I took that in college.

It was bugging me all day, and I knew the more I thought about it the worse I got. Just like the more I thought about having to go to an eye doctor and hold that eye open so they could look into it…just the thought of it now is making me teary. I think I have really sensitive eyes.

I made it through the day, and then drove up to the appointment. (Actually, I drove to Daly City, walked into the office, and the guy said, “Um, I think you’re supposed to be at the office in Burlingame.” Luckily I had time to get there. But wow.) I saw a new doctor (who I actually loved, and will keep as my regular doctor now) and she asked me to describe what was happening. When I told her, she said, “Is this like the last time you were in, when they pulled a wild eyelash?”

“What?” I said. I had zero recollection of this.

She showed me my chart. Hmm. Well, the last time I was in I was 9 months pregnant with H, so really, anything could have happened and I could have forgotten it.

She checked my eye. “Yup, two wild eyelashes.” She pulled them with tweezers under the microscope. Talk about nervewracking. Then she checked the other eye. “Nothing here, but this guy is growing that way…I can just pull it now so you’re not back in here in three months.” Yes please.

I felt almost immediately better. She gave me some eyedrops because my cornea looked a little irritated, but she seemed very unconcerned about it. She told me to not wear contacts for a week. (I lasted 24 hours.)

As I parked at home, I hoped that the kids had been nice for Drew, because if he’d been having a hellish evening, there was no way I could announce it was just my eyelashes being erratic. I’d have to say I had some kind of medical condition. Luckily, everything was fine. He kindly didn’t laugh at me.

This whole situation made me realize how susceptible I am…the mere suggestion that something was wrong with my eye made me shut down. Suddenly I could think of nothing else. I thought for sure it was seeping blood. Or was infected with mites. Or had fallen out. I know it’s all in my head, but it’s crazy how just because you know that, doesn’t mean you can do anything to change it.

A similar thing happened at work this week. I was exhausted, hadn’t eaten anything nutritious all day, and around 11am a slight headache turned into a splitting headache. I took tylenol but it was becoming all I could think about, and then there was nothing I could do. It expanded into nausea, which I knew was also psychosomatic, but I actually had to throw up in order to convince my stomach the problem was taken care of, and then I had to just get my mind off the headache to make it go away.

Eyeballs and headaches and nausea, oh my.

And in writing about all three of these things, I find myself feeling vaguely queasy and itchy-eyed. Susceptibility is a killer. I’d better not ever volunteer to be hypnotized.

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Kids Say

My children have been saying some pretty awesome things lately, and I’m assuming that you want to hear about them.

First of all, there’s this little “survey” going around on Facebook, and you’re supposed to ask your kid all this stuff about himself, and then write down his answers. In the past when I’ve tried to do this, B has answered a couple questions, then just started saying “I don’t know,” then gotten annoyed with me and left. But this weekend, we were sitting in a drive through, and I just started asking him, and he just…kept answering!

What’s your name? B
How old are you? 4
When is your birthday? I don’t know, I had a birthday, my 4th one.
How old is daddy? 41
How old is mommy? 32
What’s your favorite color? Blue
What’s your favorite food? Orange. Apricot.
Who’s your best friend? Ummmm…YOU are my best friend!
What’s your favorite movie? Aladdin
What’s your favorite song? The one we were singing…”Lava”
Where is the place that you need to go? Wednesday
What’s your favorite animal? Ummmm…a pony.
What are you scared of? Darth Vader.
What makes you happy? Daddy!

So cute, right?

He also has this obsession with villains in movies, so we’ve been talking a lot about “good guys” versus “bad guys,” and now he knows that bad guys are bad because they’re the ones that want all the power. I think that’s a pretty fair statement to make, and I’m comfortable with him saying that.

On the other hand, he said the other day, “Remember when Micah was going around punching everyone in the face?” And we said, Um, no. And he said, “Micah was punching everyone in the face, but you can’t do that.” And Drew said, Did you say, Micah, don’t do that! And he said, “No Daddy…because I was doing a puzzle.” So we have to talk some more about being an #upstander.

On science:
“Daddy…why does food turn into poop?”

He also is READING, like, actually recognizing some words and sounding out other words, and it’s CRAZY, and he sits on the couch and reads books out loud, and it’s SO WEIRD. And also, in the last like two weeks, he’s suddenly amazing at puzzles. Like, in the past, I’ve never seen him complete a puzzle by himself, but apparently he’s been practicing at school and at his grandparents’  house, because now he’s a whiz at puzzles. I love it.

Meanwhile, here’s what Baby H says:
Hi
Bye
Dada
Mama
B
Baby
Hot
Bath
Book
No

Also, she nods her head yes when she means yes. B never did that…he shook his head for yes and no for the longest time. It’s so weird to have a conversation with her, like, “Do you want strawberries?” No. “Do you want oranges then?” Yes. “Do you want toast?” Yes. Wow.

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