Sunday, January 22, 2017

This week I'm seeing why I tend to read less these. It's a combination of ambitious (for me) reading plus getting overwhelmed by life and kids.

A weird thing happened when I got pregnant and had Molly: I lost a lot of my interest in romance novels. There was no conscious thought process involved, I have no good reason for it, I just find I don't care as much about romantic stories. The romances I've read in the past year or so have been parts of a series where I already knew the characters and wanted to see what happened, more than I wanted to vicariously experience the romantic tension and falling in love. Saying this, I may dip in again sometime soon and see if that's changed, but man, isn't that a weird, possibly hormonal, reaction?

When I (mostly) stopped reading romance novels, my go to quick and satisfying read was gone. Romance novels were books I'd pick up at moments like this (it's early morning, my kids both have screens). While I love the biography of Montaigne I'm reading and I'm getting a lot from the book on ADD, I don't have it in me to focus on either of those while interrupted by various cereal and yogurt requests and "oh god don't jump off of the back of the couch" moments. Those aren't grab a page or two here and there books. They take longer, I read them in actual quiet moments in bigger chunks.

Now, I do read other things, and there have been books in the past year or so that I would be reading right now. It's mostly science fiction and fantasy. I'm just slower to start them, because it takes a little bit more of an effort, both in the choosing and the getting into the story. Right now, I'm also reading through Y: The Last Man, but graphic novels are also something I don't tend to pick up when I'm hanging out with the kids.

It seems to me that I need to be quicker to choose my next fiction read if I want to be reading more. I think I'll do that this morning, but first I need to put a game disc in and probably play babies with my toddler for a while because she's done with her screen.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

One of the random mental things I do sometimes is consider what things I really ought to do every day. It's one of the ways I grapple with feeling overwhelmed--I think, okay, leaving aside all else and ignoring what will happen on auto-pilot, what should happen every day. Here's my list:

1. Dirty laundry consolidated, washed if there's enough for a load, and put away.
2. Kitchen cleaned.
3. Work email answered.
4. A few specific work tasks that I won't list.
5. Litter boxes clean.
6. Exercise of some sort.
7. Pick up the living room and kitchen areas.
8. Bed made.
9. Plan and cook dinner (with planning done at some point before, say, 5 PM).

Of these, I tend to get the kitchen and litter clean most days, I make my bed before I get into it at night, and I always get through at least some portion of work email (though it's been a while since I got through it all in one day). I plan and cook dinner more often than not (but go through bad streaks), and I rarely stay that on top of laundry, though I wish. Exercise is another thing that happens in streaks of good and bad, and I tend to be consistent within a streak (I know if I get started, I can stick with it for a while, but I get into ruts). I tend to pick up the living room unless work is really busy/overwhelming or I have to run a lot of errands.

Frankly, I am better at this sort of every day thing than I am at projects, which is a result of having a pretty standard ADD brain that likes everything broken down into manageable chunks (break the projects into chunks, yes, I know, but projects are finite and, er, let's not even get into this digression today). This is probably why I think about things this way. In my ideal world, I'd add these things to my list:

10. Read something challenging for 30 minutes a day.
11. Write for 30 minutes a day.
12. Clean the house/work on house projects for 30 minutes beyond the basics in the first list.

My actual job obviously plays into this, but we're talking ideal world, and work projects tend to be a different beast than other parts of life, with external, other people focused motivation that works differently than whatever drives all the rest.

I have a REALLY hard time with those last three things (10-12), and in the long term I'd want to spend more time than that on the first two. Once in a while, I'll take a shot at adding them in to my life, but it always kind of peters out, and I know that it's because that stuff is based almost purely on internal motivation. Everything on that first list has strong external motivation for me. Numbers 10 and 11 are about me and my own personal development, and number 12 is about a larger kind of satisfaction with my own house (and seeking a sort of smooth running that I feel we lack). Those things are harder to wrap myself around, and they always have been, but oh they lurk.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How about an update?


The Librarians is an utter delight. I'm at the end of the second season, and there were Doctor Who references, and it's all about narrative and stories, and it's cheesy good fun.

Supergirl is also a delight, a nice antidote to the current political climate.


Y: The Last Man. I'm still not sure about this. It's weirdly sexist in places, but it's beginning to acknowledge that the characters are flawed, and it's developing layers, and I'm going to keep going with it for a while. I like that it's a slow build.

Scattered. This is a book about ADD written from an attachment theory perspective. I went into it looking for advice for myself, and I'm finding that it's got me thinking a lot about how much my parenting matters to my kids--not so much the overarching theories and goals, but the moment to moment warmth and kindness. There was a lot of neurophysiology stuff that, I admit, blew past me, but now we're getting into parent-child relationships and how they're shaped by circumstance and I do find it interesting.

How to Live. This is a biography of Montaigne structured as a series of answers to the question "How to live?" I'm loving it but it's making me mad at myself for not remembering books very well. I should be taking notes (hence this little bit of writing, probably). Right now, I'm at the part about Montaigne's travels, and it makes me want to read his secretary's journal of some of their journeying, even if it is in part about poop and kidney stones. It's also making me interested in philosophy again (I almost had enough courses for a minor in philosophy in college), and I've enrolled in a coursera intro to philosophy course. This book is very, very well written, extremely compelling for the material. I'm about 2/3 through it right now.

That's it right now. I'm trying to read a lot more than I have been, because I swear, not reading feels like leaving a part of myself lying by the side of the road.

Social Media

Still I waffle. Still I log into Facebook and Twitter over and over, and still I feel like it's either a waste of my time or a complete overload of information. I think a lot about how I kind of hate being instantly accessible, and being on social media means that any piece of information someone drops goes right into my face. With text and such, I also feel like I'm supposed to respond quickly (and I get so irritated about this expectation), and that's even worse, but Facebook and Twitter are a kind of instant accessibility, a way that I am confronted with everyone's thoughts. Even though I can choose what to follow, it often feels like way too much for me.

So I experiment here, for now. I'm a little bit at sea with my writing, whether it's journaling or other stuff, so this is me throwing things at the wall to see what etc.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Check in at the end of 2016

This has been a shitty year in many ways, but this month I've found myself reflecting on how my own mental health is so much better right now than it was a year ago. I still grapple with some anger, resentment, and loneliness that resulted from what really must have been intense (and externally exacerbated) post-partum depression, a time when I also felt like nobody was there for me. But, let's be clear, last December I cried at least once a day, and this December I think I've cried once. I'm doing alright. It's a huge relief; I can't be the only person who feels like they're going to be depressed and anxious forever when in the throes of it.

This week off from work, with the kids and Melissa home, has been a good one. I've read a lot. However, I've also realized that I didn't read many books last year. I'm not even sure I hit 20. Who even am I? I am determined to read more, which is not a resolution, but a "oh my god what the hell." This week, I read the first volume of Y The Last Man which, enh. I read Carrie Brownstein's Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, which was good, but I am still thinking about some of it. I'm almost through the first volume of Bitch Planet, and I am going to keep reading the whole series if only because of the scene with Penelope and the mirror that shows her as her ideal self, which brought fierce, intense joy to me. The rest of it is perfect, too, but oh that scene.

I have had a lot of energy around the house. I've finally cleaned out the utility room. I've replaced almost all of the handles and knobs in the kitchen. I cleaned out several drawers and cabinets; my kitchen is happier and easier to use. And I've been cooking a lot, far more than usual. It's all grounding me, making me feel more like this is MY house. I do this thing where I feel like I have to respect past owners, kind of self-efface, not respect my choices enough. Just as an example, this week (after four years here) I took off the "meat" and "dairy" stickers from when the previous owners, who must have kept kosher, lived here. I did this with the garden in the last house we lived in; I never felt comfortable making decisions there that didn't respect the work of the person who built the garden, all while my lack of investment in the thing was contributing to (though not creating) neglect. This yard is more of a blank slate, happily, and I am planning, planning, planning, and hoping this energy and investment holds up. I feel more free about this stuff than I have in a long time. Maybe it's brain chemistry. Maybe it's consistently getting more sleep. Or maybe it's that my toddler is over two and will play by herself for more than a minute at a time. Possibly it's all of that.

I'm feeling fairly done with Facebook these days, which is why I'm posting here. I'm trying not to be too judgey and cranky about it, but I have all of these feelings about fake news, real news and how I'm confronted by it, and how things get passed around over there and, also, about connections with people and the value I place on them. I've always said that I can't hate Facebook because of how it lets me stay in touch with so many people I'd lose otherwise, but I don't know. Are facile, shallow connections worth it when I'm not willing to put in the effort for more? Or is it keeping a tenuous thread between me and some other person so when I am willing to put in the effort, it's still reasonable? There's also how stung I've been to see people that I thought loved me vote for things that are actively damaging to my rights.

I don't know. In any case, here's a blog post. Hello, end of 2016.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On small southern towns

I know you, Southern Small Town. I KNOW you. I see you posting nasty things about transgendered people molesting children while you dither about how you know Uncle Joe touched cousin Jill's little girl inappropriately but nobody talks about it and the little girl seems fine these days so maybe it's okay to invite Uncle Joe to Thanksgiving anyway. I know you and your conspiracy of silence around rape, around sexual abuse, around mental illness, around every goddamned thing that's ugly. I KNOW YOU.

You know it, too. You know that it's not transgendered people in bathrooms molesting your children. You know goddamned well that the super butch "macho" guy standing at the door or the slick dude at church is more likely to do shit like that--to molest, to hit, to lie about it--than the transperson in the bathroom. Because, like I said, I know you. I know you're not stupid, despite what mass media would have me believe. Because I grew up there, too. I know how strong you are, I know how blisteringly smart you are or can be (some of y'all are stupid, but that's your own fault, and there's stupid in cities, too).

I also know how afraid you are. I know how, in a small town, you can't put your foot down without risking losing your whole social network. I know how important it is for you to conform--to post about Jesus, to post about how Obama is ruining the nation, to post about transfolks being dangerous--because it's always safer to be conservative in a small town like where you live. I KNOW YOU. I see you. I know that if you lose your friends, life will be miserable. I know. You can't just go out and get new ones, in a small town, not easily.

I'm still appalled at your utter failure of compassion, though. I am constantly horrified. I left my small southern town for some very good reasons, but I am still shocked, I still thought better of you, I really did. I am stunned that you can think about someone who feels wrong in their body, who goes through something that I have to imagine is difficult and terrifying, this transition from man to woman or woman to man, and think "what a horror show" rather than that poor person, who had to deal with that. Who had to risk their whole social world (where's your compassion for that?) so they could be true to themselves, so they could live out this life, this only life we get, as happily as possible. The more I think about this, the more horrified I am, the more I start thinking nasty things about what's made you this way. What is WRONG with you?

I see you. I know you. Be better, goddamn it.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

I’m irritated this morning about, like, life. How do I describe this?

I’m annoyed that the lotion in the bathroom at work says “stress relief” on it, as if some lavender scent will relieve stress in any real way, and more than that I’m annoyed at all of the products that are supposed to help us cope with this life, right, where most of us are not really following dreams and are instead getting through days and weeks. I’ve long been annoyed at beauty products (she says, with make-up on her face, mind you, let me not pretend I’m immune), but today I’m annoyed at all of it. All of the soporific nonsense, from homeopathic idiocy to McDonald’s, all of it designed to calm us and soothe us and prevent us from thinking too much about what’s real and what matters the most.

I’m annoyed at myself, for letting so much time trickle past me while I do things like look at Facebook and not things that I’ve deemed important to my happiness and to having this short life contain something that I feel is worthwhile.

I’m annoyed at the shortness of life, and at everyone who’s ever tried to claim that our lives “burn bright” or “mean more” because we’re not immortal. I love some Doctor Who, but shit, give me a long life and let me see if it’s actually tedious, because I don’t believe it for a second.

I’m annoyed at myself for my distance from people that I love, at how I don’t work harder to connect. On the one hand, fucking Facebook surely doesn’t seem like the answer, but on the other, when I turn off Facebook I feel more alone. I don’t think social media is entirely pointless and empty, but it’s not the same as sitting down with someone, sharing a drink, writing a letter. I’ve felt isolated a lot in the past year.

I’m just irritated, feeling some kind of weird itch I can’t scratch, and what I have to do right now is get some work done, work I feel disconnected from, and here I go, without any kind of conclusion for you. Escaping isn’t right, but carving out meaning in all of this isn’t easy. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


"Iron Man is our goal keeper."

Henry’s favorite thing to do right now is to hit a pitched beach ball with a plastic bat. Here, he missed the ball and it went down the steps.

“Mama, you scored a goal!”

“How many points do I have?”


“How many points do you have?”

“One hundred!”


Henry loves word play right now.

“Iron Man, Iron Man, gently neighborhood Iron Man. Spider hat, spider hat, gently neighborhood spider hat.”


Together, with Henry on a slight delay: “Spiderman, Spiderman, friendly neighborhood Spiderman. Is he strong? Well, listen bud, he’s got radioactive blood.”


“Mama, let’s sit and have our snack. Can I sit on your lap? Can you check your phone and see how much time we have left?”