Get Clucky!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Ambivalent Much?

Yesterday, I bought shoes. Buying shoes is a hard thing for me, so I note this accomplishment with some pride.

I did not use to have a hard time buying shoes. But at my weird semi-professional, semi-adult place of life, shoes can be hard. The classy professional lady shoes do not suit me, neither do the chunky college-girl shoes from days of yore. The shoes that are marketed towards me--the shoe equivalent of the jetta, the mini, the subaru outback--I cannot afford, because despite the fact that I am supposed to be in my prime-purchasing years, and would like to dress as such, I cannot because I am not really a grown-up, I am a grad student. And despite my distinguished, thirty-ish age, you aren't trusted with a grown-up salary when really you are still in the kid-land of graduate school.

Which means, if you read between the lines here, that shoes are hard because they make me feel all confused about my major life choices. I mean, it sucks to be a graduate student when you are trying to be an adult, when by all accounts you should be an adult--you have gray hairs, wrinkles, a mortgage for christ's sake--but you're only allowed to -be- an adult once a week or so when meeting with students, and then only in a mirage-like way because in about a year your student will be gainfully employed by deloitte and touche while you are still working on dissertation chapter three, still not able to buy the shoes you want. Maybe your student will buy them for you? Probably not.

Anyway, so add on to all this confusion the idea of getting pregnant, and things get much weirder. Because one thing about being a mom is that you are definitely on the other side of some generational line. But another thing about being a mom (actually, my last post made me think of this) is that being a mom is often sort of infantilizing, too, because you are precluded from lots of adult things like having control over your own schedule, and--if you're not careful--like having a job, a salary, and a place to go in the mornings.

And that means that maybe being a mom is sort of similar to being a grad student, in that it is intellectually and emotionally rewarding but still a little demeaning and socially weird.

This is all speculative. I don't know much yet about being a mom.

But I do know that the shoes I bought are very satisfying. They are Kangaroos, like I had when I was eight, with a little zipper on the side and everything. Also, they are pink.

Pink shoes are, it seems, all the rage, and it's awfully pleasing that for once I can afford something that is sort of fashionable.

As to what this particular shoe choice says about my relationship to myself as a once-and-future adult? Let's not go there, eh?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

coffee shop moms

Here's what I love: being at a coffee shop where there is a cool urban mom giving her cool urban kinder little nibbles of whatever, let's say scones, while she sits wearing cool urban sneakers and reading the paper.

Here's what I hate: being at a coffee shop where there is a cool urban mom, distracting me from my very important real work with various and sundry images of cool urban motherhood.

Really, I have such mixed feelings about the coffee shop moms.* I am sure one day I shall be one, with some level of cool. But I guess that's what's scary, because I both totally identify with them and see them as absolutely foreign creatures. It's like how before I was married but just heading towards marriage, I would meet women my age who introduced me to their "husbands," and I would think secretly to myself, "oh, you have a husband, how brave of you not to be embarrassed about that." Because being married seemed so weird and, I don't know, not old exactly but definitely domesticated, and settled and sedated. And to be a wife, and a husband-haver...that was truly bizarre.

So anyway, I'm a grad student; sitting at coffee shops in the morning is a big part of what I do. It's also a big part of what moms do. But rather than making me feel closer to the idea of myself as a mom, sitting at a coffe shop with the CSM's just makes me feel so weirdly vexed.

-----

*NB: I only have mixed feelings about the cool laid-back sneaker-wearing moms. The kind of CSM who does her make up, puts on stacked-heeled loafers, and ties baby in bows for the coffee shop--her, I straight up hate. I mean, who does she think she is? Is she confusing my coffee shop with a society luncheon? I mean really, lady, let's keep the fashion bar -low- here. Jesus.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

things i have been doing instead of blogging

1: the our bodies our selves thing at WACF

dude, I totally love Our Bodies, Our Selves. You all should have been there.

2: Going to Iowa City to see Greg Brown

Returning to your college town is fun but awkward, because you remember it--but it doesn't remember you.

3: Playing Soccer

I am not EVEN kidding. I played soccer, sort of for real, with refs and everything.

Everything I know about soccer, I learned two hours before the game from my downstairs neighbor. He also lent me some shin guards. He is twelve.

4: Sending flowers to my cousin, who is also twelve and plays soccer

But that's not why I sent flowers. I sent flowers because he was staring in the local production of _Oliver!_. How cool is that?

5: Applying for a job

It would be serving as a teaching assistant in gender studies next year. I won't get it, b/c I'm not in Gender Studies, but it was fun to pretend. Even sort of fun to spend a stressed out day preparing for the interview (which was Monday morning) which I only learned about upon returning home, still hung over, from Iowa city on Saturday afternoon.

The interview did go really well, though. I talked about the _Our Bodies, Ourselves_ things.

6: Being terrified that I owed the university $3,552 for reasons that are only sort of my fault.

But fortunately, I don't. I hope.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Younger Girl and the City

I was talking to a "boss" of mine today about his three-year-old's upcoming birthday party, which shall (get this) have a Where the Wild Things Are theme. TOO MUCH FUN! What could be a better party? It turns out that WTWFA is the three-year-old's new favorite book, mostly because she loves to ventriloquize the part where Max (remember Max?) tells all the gnashing, roaring Wild Things to "BE STILL!"

And that is an awesome thing for an almost three year old girly to love to say; almost as good as what is evidently her other favorite line: "LET THE WILD RUMPUS START!"

Anyway, boss-man and I had a long talk about the management of boss-daughter's party, because although he liked the idea of having face-painting at the party he had never actually painted a face before. And since I've done the kids-at-summer-camp rounds, I am ALL OVER THAT. So I was able to reccommend a few strategies: do they want to take up all the time face-painting? Do they have a hand-washing strategy? Would they rather just make masks out of brown paper backs (less glam, but a little more hands on for the kids)? Will they then have a dramatic reinactment of the story? If so, will the other small party-guests be okay with boss-daughter being the one who says, of course, "BE STILL!"? They might prefer to say that themselves.

Anyway, I found this all very intriguing and exciting and my enthusiasm made me think I might be okay with this mom-business afterall. I need more arts and crafts in my life, I really do.

***

In passing, did you know that they are making a movie of WTWTA? And that Spike Jonze is directing? And that Dave Eggers is writing the screen play?

This is all at once very thrilling and very worrisome: thrilling because at the point at which Dave Eggers and Spike Jonze are making kid movies, thenI know the world is really cueing me to have the kids who will go to those movies; worrisome because, despite my great thankfulness for McSweeney's, I don't actually trust Egger's narrative prowess more than I could...throw it. Or whatever. I mean, dude's witty and all, but that doesn't mean he can come up with a fucking PLOT.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Girl and the City

Today I got to go downtown to play—er, work. Right. But anyway, after I did my token few hours of reading, I found myself strolling up Michigan Avenue. The sun was out in a hazy sort of way, and the whole city looked perfectly like a matte print photograph. I was wearing my favorite skirt and my favorite zippy shoes, and then the new Sleater-Kinney song “Modern Girl” came up on my ipod’s randomizer, and—friends, let me tell you, for a minute there life seemed almost too good to be true. It was so cinematic that I almost started my Carrie Bradshaw-esque voiceover: “Sometimes in life, everything lines up so perfectly that…”

Anyway, it was a good day. And I thought to myself: why would I give up this great transition time in life to be a mom? I mean, moms are awesome, but they have a different relation to city-girl-ness. Or at least, in my imagination, when I am a mom, Iwill have a different relation to city-girl-ness. I imagine that I will feel on the other side of the girl-woman transition…but I guess I don’t know for sure.

So, that’s worth thinking about, when and if my ovaries give me the option of actually getting pregnant.

But then I remembered that Corin Tucker is a mom as well as a city-girl. I mean, grrl. Plus, she’s, like, a rock star! So I shant worry my pretty girl-ish head too much just yet, eh?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

97.9

That was my bbt this morning. Which is high! Higher than it's been all week! And I thought to my self...surely I'm ovulating??

And then I remembered: nope. Not ovulating. Just...hungover.

Plus it was fucking hot in our bedroom.

***

Heard last night over too many glasses of wine before dinner, which started too late:

"Oh, you know that girl...she was so-and-so's rubby bitch."

NB: "Rubby Bitch."

Messing about in boats

The rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his fore-paw as the Mole stepped gingerly down and, to his surprise, found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat.

“This has been a wonderful day!” said he, as the Rat shoved off and took the sculls again. “Do you know, I’ve never been in a boat before in all my life.”

“What?” cried the Rat, open-mouthed. “Never been in a – you never—well, I—what have you been doing, then?”

“Is it so nice as all that?” asked the Mole shyly.

“Nice? It’s the only thing,” said the Water Rat solemnly, as he leant forward for his stroke. “Believe me, my friend, there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing,” he went on dreamily: “messing—about—in—boats; messing—“

“Look ahead, Rat!” cried Mole suddenly.

It was too late. The boat struck the bank full tilt. The Rat lay on his back at the bottom of the boat, his heels in the air.
“—about in boats,” he went on, picking himself up with a pleasant laugh. “Look here! If you’ve really nothing else on this morning, supposing we drop down the river together and have a long day of it?”

The mole waggled his toes from sheer happiness, spread his chest with a sigh and leaned back blissfully into the soft cushions. “What a day I’m having!” He said. “Let us start at once!”


--this passage from _The Wind in the Willows_ brought to you by the onset of spring.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I think it's just what I (just what I) needed*

Yay! What I just found is just what I needed.

I would like to say that it was my tremendous googling prowess that led me, at long last, to this discovery…but it was not. Instead, after months of searching the internet for this very site, all it really took was a two minute conversation with Linda, the Women and Children First lady.

Thank you, women and children first lady!
----

*that song was playing at the coffee shop I stopped by this morning, and I realized I am still not bored with how much it rules.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Britney's pregnant. Deeply pregnant.

Okay, so picture this: I’m sitting in Starbucks (it’s an ugly picture, I know) trying to write an application essay on why I want to teach in the gender studies dept. next year—and it is not going well . So I’m sitting there, struggling, thinking about gender when—what should I see?

A tabloid headline screaming the news of the day: BRITNEY’S PREGNANT.

My responses to this news are various: I’m sympathetic (poor kid) I’m irritated (poor non-pregnant me), and I’m bitchily anticipatory (can you imagine the fashion?). But here’s what really gets my gender theory goat:

The fact that she thinks being pregnant makes her DEEP.

You wanna know how I know she thinks it makes her deep? Go check her website. Go log in, as I’m sure thousands of young girls* will today, and be forced to watch a horrible flash web site load slowly, oh so slowly. And what does this website display but all sorts of crazy “fantasy art” featuring a range of goddess mother imagery including but not limited to: moons going through their cycles, bubbles floating away like sperm-laden eggs, ripening flowers, goddesses blessing the fertile moon (it’s unclear from the symbology if Britney is the moon or the goddess…), Britney in some sort of tribal turban, and, of course, balloons—because when there’s a baby, there always has to be balloons.

There is no stork; yet.

And I just want to say: oh, Britney, you sad little lady. I mean, I am all glad and stuff that you feel like you are moving into a womanly and deeply symbolic phase of your life, and I guess I would rather have you be projecting pro-goddess-woman imagery to all your little fans* than some freakish Christian shwag. But really, I think it’s so lame for her to think, or her to project the illusion that she thinks, that pregnant time is “fantasy” time? I mean, what does all that mean to her? Does she not see that to try and make pregnancy into both “fantasy” and “deep reality” at the same time might not quite work? Especially if she also wants to include, as the final image in this curious montage, a photo of herself showing off her perfect, girlish cleavage?

I guess what I mean is—you can’t have it all. Babies may give you the feeling that you’re a more vital part of life’s rich pageant, but they also give you responsibility by the shitload, literally. And they also are not good for your boobs.

And I think it sucks that so many people, clearly Britney among them, want to believe that having a baby will put them in the register of deep meaning were they don’t have to think about the real and the personal—they just get to coast on through, showing pictures of balloons and goddesses, assured that they are doing something Very Important.

What they are really doing by shifting their own experiences into archetypal ones is avoiding the real, hard work—not of figuring out symbols, but of figuring out themselves.

I think one small index of this difference can be find in surfing the internet for pregnancy blogs—what you’ll find over and over is that the blogs of women who are actually pregnant are full of stupid storks and clichés, while the blogs of women who aren’t or can’t get pregnant are full of careful, genuine, soul-searching and humor. Which is ironic, because it’s that sort of soul-searching that, it seems to me, will ultimately make you a good parent.

I hope the girlies checking out Britney’s site, even as we speak, think about that.

Anyway, so that is the gender trouble that I’m thinking about today. Lest I seem too judgmental, lets all carefully notice my subtext: how dare Britney claim that she is deep? I am the deep one. Yep. Me!

--

*Young girls like, um, me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

97.5

97.5. What's that? Ah--that's what my body basal temperature was this morning. What that means, exactly, I am still a little fuzzy on. But this weekend I spend a lot of time sneakily peaking into a friend of a friend's copy of this book and I am all very excited about all the many many fascinating things it has told me. Once I am done with my work for the day, I plan on going out and buying it, and then I can report back more details--but I loved the idea of taking my temperature because it gives me something to DO while I sit around, waiting for an egg to emerge.

Anyway, here's what's most exciting about this book, at least preliminarily: because it helps you keep track of a series of functions that indicate fertility, it can teach you to know when you are fertile and when you are not. Now, for me, there have been no times of being fertile in a very long time. So I feel like I should be able to do things one wouldn't want to do when trying to get pregnant, like drink excessively and, also, roll around with my husband any time I damn well want to, without fear of repercussion. But since I could technically become pregnant at any time (who knows when I'll start ovulating?) I've been wary of doing both those things. Well, I mean, at least wary of doing both at once. I suppose the rolling around wouldn't really be a problem if I lived a good and pure lifestyle that would never endanger un tender little bebe. But, um...because I don't live quite that life style, since I've been off the pill I've felt like I needed to give up either unhealthy behaviors, or spontaneous rolling around. And that just sucks. I mean, won't have enough of self-censorship when/if un bebe is actually here?

So I love the idea of keeping track of things so that I can be as unhealthy as I want until the eggsesses emerge.

But of course, there's a catch. Turns out it's totally hard to chart your cycle until you, duh, have one. So until I get my period (and even good Toni at TCOYF doesn't have much to say about that, except that I should just be patient, already) it will be hard to know what my body does when I get one. So charting might not work well for me, just yet.

But, ever optimistic, I stuck a thermomenter in my mouth this morning before pressing snooze the first time on the alarm. And that's very pleasing.


***

PS: I just want to emphsize again how much this book has rocked my world, even though I already new the basics of what it would say--that if I wanted to keep track of my ferility I needed to do stuff like take my temp, check my fluids, etc. What is best about this book, for me, is that it made all of those things seem totally normal. And I realized that even I, who am pretty gung-ho about body awareness, had been a little skeeved out by the idea of cervical mucus. And the author is all like, what's the big deal already? Would it make you feel better to call it "cervical fluid"? Okay, so call it cerivical fluid. Whatever--you know you touch them all the time anyway. So just pay attention, right?

And it just made me realize: feminism is the radical notion that fluids are normal.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Ambivalence about Andrea

I didn't know until just now that Andrea Dworkin died. This is funny, because this is a weekend I actually had time to be quite leisurely about the news, and read a couple papers thoroughly. And I had no idea.

It's a weird feeling, to find this out third hand--sort of like learning from a friend that a girl you hated in high school died, and you didn't even know.

That would be a bad analogy except that Andrea Dworkin was a girl--a woman--I hated in high school, and in college...and still, I guess. In fact, my undergraduate honors thesis was for the most part a sixty-page anti-Andrea rant (it was less anti-Andrea than it was pro-Susie Bright, but the two sort of go together). Dworkin, to my mind, was so wrong that she was dangerous. Not only was she in bed with all the wrong people, but she had the nerve to criticize everyone else for being in bed, and talking about it, at all.

I can't say that, now that she has died, I feel more warmly towards her, or more ready to say positive things about her.

But I will say that I am always glad to share my world with people who want women--and the complicated, risky world of women's sexuality--to be at the cultural center stage. Although she and I would never have agreed about the status of the obscene, we did have some similar ideas of what should be on scene.

And also--every time I get angry, get crazy angry, about the dangerous ways men appropriate women's sexuality for their own ends, I think of her. And it is always good to remember that someone with whom you disagree so virulently can feel passionate, feel angry, about the same things as you.

So although I didn't agree with her on anything, she was important enough to me (as an adversary if as nothing else) that I'm quite surprised I didn't know about her death until two days later. It's sad to think that the loss of one of America's most publicly, importantly angry women doesn't count as significant news.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

The personal politics of new-wifey

So, my Uncle is getting remarried. He got divorced just about the time I broke up with my long-term college boyfriend, and started dating new-wife about the same time I started dating B, so we have had weirdly parallel lives for the last five years or so. I’m glad he’s marrying someone with whom he is really compatible and who is a nice woman who loves him.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, as though it wasn’t already weird enough to be at the “same” dating phase of life as your uncle who is twenty years older than you, good old Unc has decided to make it weirder for me because:

a.) new-wife is much closer to my age than to his

and, as though that weren’t already enough to make me feel all squirmy and uncomfortable in relation to him/them/my family when its gathered together, the extra special weirdness is that

b.) new-wife HAS MY SAME NAME.

So the niche I had filled in my extended family—ie, the young professional woman embarking on adult life—is now also filled by her.

And this really sucks for me. It sucks for me personally because now I have to compete with new-wife for my space in the family, because I can be neither an adult or a child in the same way that I was before. This isn’t her fault, and I admit that partly it is just my own competitiveness and neuroses that make this so frustrating.

But it sucks for me politically, because I am SO BOTHERED by this intergenerational relationship. And this is her/their fault. It makes me like my family less, that this is happening in it. I try not to map my political standards inappropriately onto the relational decisions of others (as conservatives do, troublingly, all the time), but at the very least it makes me feel that in my family, which usually is so liberal and great, there is this weird other value system—one in which wealthy older men find much younger new-wives who give up their otherwise successful careers to accommodate them—is taking root. And I don’t know how not to judge that, or how to, in good faith both to family and to politics, express or not that judgment.

I have just received their wedding invitation, and this is what motivated my post today. You will not, perhaps, be surprised to hear that new-wife has sent my invitation to Mr. And Mrs. B’s Last Name. She did!

As though it weren’t irritating enough that new-wife has taken my name—she has gotten it wrong.

So irksome. Everybody get excited for what’s going to happen when new-wife and I have babies at the same time! Yay!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

An exam of memory lane

I just checked out this blog, and happily found a long discussion of the always fabulous Emma Goldman. The blog also mentions the Iowa City Emma Goldman Clinic, which is a fantastic women’s healthcare office. The IC EGC was very very good to me for the traumatic two months of my sophomore year in college when I thought I was pregnant (I didn’t know yet that I just have really reticent eggs and the least little bit of stress sends them scurrying off-stage into their ovarian wings). Anyway, I got pregnancy tests there every week for about a month—they never made me feel badly and were really sympathetic to the weirdness of the situation.

Anyway, thinking of the Emma Goldman clinic sent me reminiscing. Here are some of my more vivid ob-gyn experiences: it seems, given all the ranting I’ve been doing about shoddy health care, to fill in some details of my own experiences, good and bad.

1: Fuzzy-Mustache Man
That is not how one should have to describe one’s first gynecologist. Really. But it is true. My first poke n’ prod was administered by a man, and a fuzzy-mustache man he was. Also, he was wearing a bow tie. Also, I had been reading a book before he came into the room and he was very excited to see what I was reading. So, my very first time in the stirrups I had to talk not about varicose veins and birth control, which is what I wanted to talk about in my timid way, but Heilbroner's book The Worldly Philosophers. You know, because globalization and economic theory are so directly related to my cervical heath that I’d want to talk about those issues during my Very First Pelvic Exam.

2: It’s like getting your wisdom teeth out, but it’s my cervix
A couple of years ago I had a very irregular pap smear, and had to have a whole series of unpleasant procedures to determine that—guess what?—nothing had been wrong to start with. But anyway, during the most nasty of these procedures, which—and I am not kidding here—involved an electrified wire and my cervix spending way too much time together, the doctor and the nurse had a protracted conversation about their recent and horrible encounters with very bad dentists, and how they hated feeling so helpless and poked and prodded. During this conversation, my vagina dentata smirked with irony.

3: My cervix holds up half the sky
Because I’m a grad student, until recently I had to go to student health, where I was regularly confused with incompetent eighteen year olds (not that eighteen year olds are necessarily incompetent, it’s just that this student health office believes they are). It was terribly demeaning, especially since you were constantly under the threat of being stuck in a mandatory birth-control information meeting with Your Students. Awful. Anyway, I had this weird exam there from a nurse wearing a beaded American-Flag pin stuck right between her boobs who was very glad to hear that I had “good wholesome, American, middle-class values.” I have no idea what those were, or why she thought I had them. But then, from this inauspiciously neocon beginning, there was a sudden turn towards gyno-consciousness raising when she laid me on a table, on the ceiling above which she had taped a “women hold up half the sky” poster, and started saying things like, “what I healthy pink cervix! O, lovely! Very healthy, very pink!”

4: Healthcare for all cervixes
My ob-gyn in college, unlike this Chicagoan student health bitches, was FANTASTIC. She totally solved the awkward what-to-talk-about-while-I’m-taking-a-core-sample-of-your-cervix problem by being awesome: during university vacations she worked in Nicaragua doing free medical work, particularly cervical-cancer prevention stuff. Talking about this was –so—the perfect middle road between talking about economic theory, on the one hand, and my lovely pink cervix on the other.

Not that I’m opposed to talking about my cervix, natch. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little distance from the prodding.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

I Love Naomi as a Hot Mama: But...

I can imagine a very good, very scary, very provocative movie about any of these topic: bad mothers, bad children, bad child care, bad doctors, bad wild animals. Most particularly, I can imagine a great scary movie about this topic: bad anxiety about reproduction.

I would like to see any of those movies. But I am sad to report that while The Ring Two tries to be all of them, it in fact follows through on none of its interesting topics in any interesting sort of way. It was not even, after the first little bit, very scary (I say this having literally jumped out of my chair five minutes in; it was embarassing). So don’t go. Most particularly, don’t go if you are already thinking about how very very compelling and scary reproduction is, even when it doesn’t involve weird long-haired spawn of satan girls. All the movie will make you realize is how “scary” or “alien” or “other” or whatever your own reproductive system is by comparison.

Most particularly, this is what I found irksome about the movie: I was all curled up in a ball for the movie (I mean, it wasn’t that scary, but it was still scary) and so, walking out, had weird muscle cramps in my stomach…which were not, just in case any one was wondering, menstrual cramps. Nope. My own ovaries are still more scary to me than Naomi Watts’.

Our Bodies, Our Bookstore

Today I popped in to the fabulous Women and Children First and learned that NOT ONLY is there a new edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, but they (that is, WACF) are hosting a party with some of the editors, etc, on April 20th. If you live in Chicago, you should most definitely attend.

Evidently there will also be a "discussion" of some sort about women's health issues. This is what I would like to discuss: how can I find a nice, local, non-patronizing general practitioner? I pretty much like my ob-gyn, but I need a physical and I don't know how to find a GP. There should be some helpful index we can all refer to when looking for such people: universities put faculty evalutions online so students can choose selectively; I don't know why women shouldn't have the same resources when looking for healthcare.

Someone should start that, already. Ready, go!