wherein i ruminate on my utter lack of athletic prowess

You know that awkward girl at school who was always picked last in the "choose your teammates" lineup. That was me.

You know that girl who during baseball or (in my school) rounders, was stuck far out in left-field so she could do no harm, but who, very occasionally, would find that hard weapon of a ball barrelling towards her and flail across the field to the sound of "GETTIT GETTIT GETTIT!!!!!" only to recoil in horror once the ball go into her general physical vicinity. That was me.

This is all by way of saying that though I might "exercise" as a form of self-flaggellation (intended to beat the wobbly flesh into some sort of submission) I am more than bereft in the athleticism department. To say the very least. Unless you consider knowing how to clomp up and down on a step for an hour in a Y group class. Then, m'peeps, I ROCK.

Which is why it is a true testament to how truly powerful the lurve of my Stitch N' Bitch friends must be, because (as I reported a few weeks back) because of them I managed to find myself registered as a runner in a 5K race last weekend for the local women's shelter (and I use term "runner" here in a very loose fashion). My own hubs also enrolled as an honorary "sharp chick with pointy sticks" team-member (because he can actually really run, you see) and we brought along the jogging stroller, the 3yr old, and the dog. Because life's much too simple otherwise.

And it was chucking it down with rain, I can tell you. But did that allay the team spirit?? NO! Apparently a whole lot of shrieking and manical laughing, groping of the University mascot, along with the wearing of sexy team t-shirts and knitted headbands (I shit you not. I know.) wins you BEST TEAM SPIRIT AWARD!!!

HEY! and that's not the only award I won that day. I won LAST PLACED IN MY AGE GROUP. Chew on that, suckers. This is an award you can only achieve if you enroll as a runner, start off at a nice pace for the first, oh, 200 yards, then take a "walking break" while chatting with your team member (who is being nice and keeping apace with the pregnant lady). You discuss hearing some report that proves that "some people are not physically designed for running" as you watch your other team-members quickly blaze a nice trail ahead of you. Pepper your effort with a few sporadic bursts of running ("let's just try and keep up with that really old man ahead, K?) and a few whining sessions (all on my part) about one's "hip-flexors" hurting and how "I'm SOOO wet" and "your legs are longer than mine, WAAAHHHH" and you got yourself LAST PLACE. You can live the dream too. I promise.

Team Stitch N' Bitch, I salute you. And thanks for not picking me last.


"could do better if she applied herself"

"could do better if she applied herself"--the recurrent theme on my term report cards from school. along with, "has a tendency to distract others with chatter" and "can be a bit of a fuss-pot..."

this is all by way of saying that i am about to post something flimsy. you will note a trend in this blog, dear readers, whereby in moments when i can't summon up the creative energy to write about something at any length, i will fall back on my old mainstay "being english..." the rhubarb post below--that was a prime example.

and i must confess to being a little sheepish about this, because although i am happy to exploit the "limey tart" aspect of my identity at times, the last thing i want to be is that pretentious b'yatch who insists on her britishness as a means to lord it over everyone. and for this reason, though i did once say "tom-AH-to" i now say "tom-AY-to."

i had an interesting schitzophrenic experience this weekend.

people often to say to me "joy, don't you find it ironic that MADONNA moved from michigan, acquired a fake british accent, and lives in a country manor house like Lady Muck, and YOU moved from england to michigan, and now saying "trash can" and "dumbfuck" and "freakin' asshole" with the best of michiganians. yes. it's uncanny, i know.

anyway, i watched her being interviewed on Parkinson this weekend on BBC America, and DEAR LORD that woman has got the most off-putting accent i have ever heard these days. i mean she's only lived there for about 5 or 6 years right? how could she have possibly have assimilated in that time? and more disturbing, i felt myself bristle when she bashed michigan.... and this, of course, means that i am assimilated as a midwesterner. and i am cool with that. but please, people who know me, if i start to pull fake british shit for effect too much--please bludgeon me.

having said that, i now invite you to view brit comic/drag queen Eddie Izzard pontificate on the american usage of the term "Awesome" or as my young english relatives would imitate it "Orrr-some"

(click on "Awesome" on this page)

Update: I feel must acknowledge the fair words of my cousin Ele (anon in comments) and give props to Madonna for infusing us with (at times) much-needed infectious pop. I do indeed like to groove down a little to many a Maddona tune, and if you check out my "about me" ramblings, Madonna, in her own warped way had something to do with my feminist leanings in the early nineties. (please do not judge me--judge early nineties "I'm, like, in charge of my sexuality" new-wave postfeminism, k?) Now my cousin, at the same tender age, can also celebrate Madonna, or at least the notion that you can gyrate in a leotard and aviators at 40+ and not "look like a tit..." It makes me feel all fuzzy inside

Oh, and thanks for OUTING me Ele (tsk).



why the rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb on the comments?

RHUBARB n. 1. Nonsense or noise spoken by a person [mainly ME]. The origin of this term comes from the stage. People in crowd scenes who are to make "crowd noises" might say, "RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB...". This is exactly the background sound one hears in the houses of Parliament. Whether the other MPs agree or disagree with the speaker of the moment, one hears a rumble which sounds remarkably like "RHUBARB, RHUBARB, RHUBARB ...". I'm told the reason for such Parliamentary grunting is because the MPs are not allowed to clap or boo.
*definition courtesy of world's most questionable online dictionary...

am toying with rhubarb theme across the board. no more citrus. just rhubarb. and custard.

man, i am on fire.

* i mean, it does not even provide a definition of "the dog's bollocks". now there's a blog theme if ever i sniffed one.


Highly Subjective Diatribe against Dr. Sears. Enjoy!

What a fabulous week it has been for feminist bloggy types like me. Mom 101 's meditation of the "f" word and her own feminist upbringing triggered a new round of dialogue over our feminist (or lackthereof) ways. Mrs Fortune picked up the torch, and offered her own perspective on why we still very much need feminism, and Kristen's post on the "sacrificial mother" syndrome (for me) resonated sharply in terms of this larger debate about feminism, mothering, and the cultural messages we are bombarded with.

And so this leads me to my topic. Why Dr. Sears is Evil Incarnate....

Ok, Ok, let me tone that down a bit. Let's instead call this a story of a recovering practitioner of attachment parenting. (And let me make my first disclaimer here--I am not against attachment parenting at all. I am against the notion that non-attachment parenting=bad parenting, or "detached" parenting. Some of my best friends practice techniques in attachment parenting, and all that... And I am sure with numero duo, I will be digging out the old baby sling)

I've been toying with a post on Dr. Sears and parenting manuals in general for a while now. For several reasons, I have been reticent about this one. While I might be able to have a bit of a bash at Dr. Spock or even What to Expect in the First Year without many repercussions, Dr. Sears instills much stronger emotions in people. His Baby Book (and numerous range of other "Books" on topics from Discipline to Christian Parenting) is less a reference guide to dealing with this new floppy human (green poo? see page 321) and more an ideological doctrine that outlines the values and attitudes you need to be a good parent. If Dr. Spock is the google of parenting manuals, Dr. Sears is the ideologue.

And let's face it, when you find yourself sitting at 3am in the morning with a wailing child who refuses to sleep/eat/calm down, what newbie parent is not desperate for some kind of cosmic guide telling us what the effing hell to do... Give us a leader, pleeeeease.

My first exposure to Sears came when I was newly pregnant with numero uno, chatting with a friend who had just given birth to one of the most mellow, sunshiney, pro-sleep children I have ever encountered (that's what my baby will be like). We were discussing a mutual aquaintance of ours who (gasp) was "ferberizing" her 5 month old. We both sympathized with that pooooor little thing who was abandoned to a scary crib and left to cry herself to sleep. Such abuse, such selfishness. In Dr. Sears terms, this was a child being forced into a situation of learned helplessness... Never mind that her mother was holding down a full-time job while racing to complete her PhD. She made her choices....

Fast forward several months, clasping my perpetually inconsolable baby, eternally hooked up to one of the hospital's most industrial high octane breast pumps (to aid my "low production") my "nursing station" surrounded by every single manual for parents you could get a hold of. My mother kept saying to me, in a light tone "darling, it's all very well, but he's not read any of these books."

Each time she said it, I became more deeply irritated and resolved to stick with the books. She was nineteen when she had me, but I was of a different generation all together, dammit. I was an academic and this meant I did research. I had read books, and I knew what I was supposed to do...

I think my mother looked at her psychotic daughter, who was alternatively pawing crazed through books, pacing up and down with a screaming charge in a Sears baby-sling, strung up to a supplementary nursing system, or sobbing over having to mix a precious ounce of breastmilk with poison formula, and thought "dear god, she is so toast..."

According to Sears, I was "blessed with a high needs baby" (for let us eschew value-laden terms like "fussy" or "colick" as they breed low self-esteem). He had a name for it, which meant there must be a prescription for dealing with said child, right? RIGHT?? And we tried everything in the long litany of tips Sears offered for dealing with such a child... Co-"sleeping" worked at first, because it meant I could lie down for a while--even if I was awake. This was preferable to the rocker, which was beginning to feel like it was welded to my behind. I even managed to figure out side-boob breastfeeding for a while. Nursing down never worked, mainly because breastfeeding my son was less a relaxing, soothing experience, and more like wrestling a small monkey who swiftly drained the boobies like count lacula and then looked up with an expression of "what next?" before going off into wails again. I wore my son as much as possible, even though he omitted bloodchilling yells, convinced that eventually the sling will induce the womb-like calm that he innately yearned. The list is endless, and anyone who is reading this who has had a colicky child might well be nodding right now.

When I went back to work, I was confronted with a whole new level of guilt. According to Sears, "The most important contributor to a baby's physical, emotional, and intellectual development is the responsiveness of the mother to the cues of her infant...." The effects of mother-baby separation "lessens the benefits of mother-infant attachment"

Cripes.... How selfish can I be? Although, I will tell you, at this stage of parenting I was beginning to get just a little sick of Sears. His anecdotes about how he and Martha brought their two month old to a black-tie formal affair in "a fashionable sling" began to induce much eye-rolling, as did the reassurance that I could potentially "work and wear"--bring baby to work, safely ensconced a sling. Yeah. Right.

What I was beginning to resent was not so much the litany of anecdotal advice--because aren't we all just fonts of that in the end?--but the way that this advice was presented to me as some kind of tested out methodology--something I should adhere to to fulfill my role as an "attached" parent. Anything that separated me from my child--working, having an evening out, taking a shower--this all put me dangerously close to becoming a detached (read, BAD) parent.

Other stuff began to piss me off too. For instance, Sears' colonization of certain terminology--"attachment" being the primary. Being "attached" to one's child, within this ethos, requires consistent and almost perpetual physical attachment--normally of mother-to-child, but this can be another caregiver (who, Sears reminds us, is merely a mother-surrogate). To sever this physical bond, and even worse, to do something as phillistine as the Cry-it-Out method, this was to induce "learned helplessness" in one's child. These terms come across as if they are tested medical or psychological concepts (especially when sleep-deprived beyond all sense). But, if you begin to delve into any of the critique of Sears that is out there, you soon realize that they are not. These are bolded terms that Sears uses (brilliantly) to endow his slew of anecdotal evidence with a hue of medical or scientific veracity. But you swiftly learn that one ideologue's "learned helplessness" is another mother's "learned independence" (or, in my case, ticket to sanity). Look for any research, studies, or experiments to back up Sears' unique claims about the developmental stages of infancy, and there are none. Zilch.

And then there's Sears' fondness for invoking "Africa" as a place where child-rearing was much more "natural" and unpolluted than in the West. After meeting two women from Zambia at a conference who carried their infant in slings (that colorfully "matched their native dress"--how charming!) Sears and Martha understood what innate mothering must look like, for, after all, "women in their culture don't have the benefits of books and studies about mothering hormones..." (Uhm, HELLO! You met these women at a fucking CONFERENCE. Or did you think that they just happened their way into your presence after leaving the mudhut for a long journey to the water well?).

Cynthia Eller (an author I shall be forever indebted to for making me feel vindicated about my feelings for Sears) also comments on this proclivity of Sears to invoke Africa and Asia as a place where mothering is more intuitive, where babies never cry, never forced to sleep in a "cage" (crib) are always worn, and who feed easily and lustily on demand. Eller states, that

"There's only one problem with this Sears-styled utopia: it doesn't exist. I've read a lot of ethnographies of tribal people and I can tell you that the whole babies-who-don't-cry thing just isn't true. Some anthropologists visiting some tribal groups say that the babies in these groups don't cry. But as often as not, somewhere later in their monograph they'll make a passing reference to a screaming baby keeping the whole village up all night. (Seems they've bought into the same myths the rest of us have, and try not to let the evidence get in their way.)"

And so, uhm, I can guess you can safely say that I am a little over Dr. Sears. And, of course, this story does have a happy ending. The screaming ball of terror who exited my womb over three years ago, well at five months he was sleeping for a grand total of twenty minutes at a time. His face was ridden in scratches, self-inflicted, which I have read in some actual supported research is a prime sign of sleep deprivation. And so one day we laid him down, clean, fed, and highly tired and crabby in his crib, and let him get on with it. I say "we"--my husband had to do it, as I agonized and gnashed my teeth. I was still in the ideological clutches of Sears, I had a nasty feeling that we were doing something deeply wrong.

I won't say it was a cakewalk--we had several weeks of agonizing sleep and naptimes as we tried to establish come kind of schedule. But after the first night he slept for solid chunks for 2-4 hours, the eternally crabby, "walk me around incessantly NOW," creature we had known was transformed into a smiling, giggling and far more engaged little being. The difference was quite amazing. By nine months he was sleeping from 6:30pm until 7 in the morning--we were gobsmacked. Clearly this kid was a sleeper. Who knew??? Three years on, there is not one hint of the colicky manic little dude that sent my husband and I reeling. Instead we have the most gorgeous, sweet-natured, and funny little guys around (no, seriously, he is the MOST. 'k?) Why, only last night did he ask us who "King Blind" was. (after 1 spousal unit accused another, in a muttered undertone, of being "fucking blind." Uh, yes. Time to clean it up. We know.)

So now I sit here with a new little shrimp in my belly, and while I in no way feel like I have it all figured out, I sure as shit will not be the psychotic baby-manual reference librarian I was before. And if I am--Permission to shoot? Granted.


and this is why i need to make the "follow-up" appointment at the hair salon

if yoko ono....

and carrot top....

were to sire a love child (and let's just ruminate on that one for a bit shall we?).

gingajoy would be her name. and lo, her hair would be big, unruly, and carrot-ono like in its bushy bigness. and not in a wow, "i have untamed luxuriant preraphaelite locks right now," but in a "i can't even drag a comb through this matted orangey fuzz right now..." there is only so much "for dry, color treated, frizzed out and a bit stringy" hair restorative product one can buy.

this is what happens when i decide to "grow my hair out." this is, i must remember, simply code for "i do intend to go to the salon for 6-9 months because i am too lazy." whereupon i see a photograph of myself and realize that the long and flowing locks i yearn for are in fact beginning to look dangerously mennenite. and stringy.


our ecumenical weekend

It's Monday morning, and I am eyeing the lurid colored eggs that are nestled in my lunchbox and wondering if it's too early to plough into lunch. For some reason hard boiled eggs are hitting the spot right now in this somewhat nauseous journey of the first trimester. What good timing! Our fridge is now crammed with the things (next to the lard). Enough for the whole week! And my coworkers get to enjoy the sulphurous fumes as I peel the buggers and eat 'em whole.
(but not before dabbing them liberally into the ziplock of salt I so cleverly have stored in my desk draw).

It was definitely an interesting weekend. A veritable smorisborg of pagan/jewish/christian ritualistic tradition, where Elijah got down with the Easter Bunny, and the Wise Child got hopped up on Cheeps. Saturday night we went over to our neighbors' for their yearly Passover tradition (sensibly downloaded from the internet as the 30 minute Seder--5 kids under 6. Enough said). The ritual begins with a caveat from our hosts--that this tradition is approached with irony and a certain degree of irreverence. Despite the caveat, there's a whole lot of hebrew being spoken from memory (very impressive to goyim like me) and we do make it through the meat and potatoes of the ritual, and the story does get retold with respect.

Eventually. Interspersed with "Hey, Elijah drank my wine!" and "The Ten Commandments was deeply homoerotic, y'know." "That was Spartacus, dumbass!" and "By now we are on the fourth glass of wine..Drink Up!" Oh, and halfway through the eating of the bitter herbs, I had to hightail it to the backyard to rehide all the easter eggs my three year old had prematurely hunted and brought to me for safety (asking me to keep all 30 eggs safe from the other children). Towards the end of the evening, the addition of the Harry Potter on t.v. meant that the Occult was also safely represented. It was a full and culturally rich evening. And I got to eat as many boiled eggs in saltwater as I wanted. With a spoon.

The next day, the Jews schlepp on over to our hourse, where"Easter" is represented. This definitely seems less a chance to celebrate the rich tradition of christian holiday than an opportunity to feed the hangover garnered from staying out late and drinking with Elijah. Ham on Matzo is food for the soul in that regard. Chocolate bunnies aren't bad either, apparently.

Of course, I wouldn't know, being knocked up and sensible and all THAT. So, to compensate I spent a good deal of my time goading our guests about how I was completely and utterly sober and hangover free, and how I am just so sad that people feel the need to indulge to such levels, especially during these family times. To which I was informed that I was "a Mean Non-Drunk..."

Screw them... (she said, bitterly)


upon being a pathological liar and eater of saturated fat...

let me tell you a series of disturbing, but interconnected stories....

1. When I was sixteen on vacation in France with my parents, in very broken french I told the man hiring out Windsurfers at a lake that "mais oui, indeed I could windsurf/surf-de-vent." [Translate "I've seen people do it, so, like, how hard can it possibly be???"] Going out on the lake was relatively simple--because the wind was behind me. Yeah, I can stand on a board with a sail and be taken off by the wind/current. What skill! Then comes the small task of turning the thing around and heading back to the beach. One hour later, many increasingly dramatic attempts to heave the sail out of the water, and ever deepening plunges into the water.."can't. hold. on. much. longer. so. weak. so. very. very. weak. save. me. please... someone. gasp...."--i am finally rescued by a bemused and hairy french couple in a pedalo.

2. And so you'd think I'd learn. But no. Fast forward to my first spring break in the U.S. and a road tour to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Asked by my friend, "Can you ski, Joy?" I reply "Yes! Bit rusty though!" [Translate: "Not. At. All. Unless you count skidding across the cow field on a pair of men's cross-country skis at the age of eleven..."] We arrive for our first day and mutually agree to forgo the green slopes--let's go straight for the blue! Up. Up. Up. Up. Up. (gulp) Up. in the gondola. I look so the part in my ski-suit. Surely I must be able to ski! Off the top, spiralling out of control, into skis, into hunky ski instructors, somehow find my way to the slope, and find only way to stop and avoid certain death is to throw myself bodily into the side of the mountain. After about 10 minutes, I am found clinging onto a tree trunk for dear life, muttering "can't ski, y'see, can't ski... so sorry, so sorry..." I got a stern talking to by the rescue man on the snow-mobile, I can tell you, and it was HI-larious being the only person to go on the down-gondola and see all the crowds of people and their small children in the up-gondola waving and pointing to you from across the valley...

3. As a child I was a pathological liar about certain things (you can see a pattern emerge, can't you?) and managed to weave an extremely elaborate yarn about being an actor on my favorite television program of the time--Robin of Sherwood. I played Robin and Marion's adopted daughter, you see. I have memories of reciting my "lines" and showing my merry-men moves to my admiring audience. Oh, and when i say "child," I think I was about fourteen.

4. As a small child I never once made it to a school christmas party. These were held on the last day of term at my Church of England school, and I would always bring a plate of fairy cakes to share. The problem was, each year I would become so utterly over-excited by the whole prospect of the afternoon shin-dig, that by lunch I was holed up in the girl's loos chucking up for England. My mummy's feet would appear under the door, "time to go home, love," and I would sob and wail my way through the corridors, wearing my paper crown, and looking in sorrow at the long tables of crackers, tinsel, cakes, and jelly.... And when I say I never made it once, I really mean it. Never. Once.

5. But funnily enough, I have not puked once since I was eleven, having developed a pathological fear of it (hmm, never saw a connection before now). And there have been times when I would have liked to have been able to purge, let me tell you. For instance, when I had a brief but near-deadly dalliance with Pernod and Black during my teen years, and then the three horrendous weeks of salmonella in 1997 (nope, I did not even puke with salmonella. and who puts raw egg into mashed potatoes anyway??)

6. See that?

It is delicious lard. Gently nestled next to the LIGHT sour cream in my refridgerator. Had enough now???

So, according to MOM 101, if one eradicates the "meme-iness" from one's meme post, one allays chances of one's reader coming across one's post and saying "oh fuckety fuck, not another goddamn meme..." so i have edited this entry to trick any new readers into thinking that this is a real post.

you're welcome

SO! Sunshine Scribe , who, writes the "Chronicles of a mother, partner, friend and ever-evolving woman who is finally learning to bask in the sun..." and yet managed to play a series of whorish characters in high school productions, well, she tagged me for this little lady "Six things about me you didn't need to know." And in turn, I have to tag SIX mofo people! Coz it's all about the SIX, y'see.

ok, so now for the tagging. let me see.

--weaker vessel (so she is not forced once more into auto-erotic memification, or "tagging herself" sad wench that she is)
--zelda (because, thanks to you I got caught up in lost-blogging today, so it's payback time)
--neva (or at least, 6 things about sophie;-)
--sherriff (yes YOU sherriff)
--elizabeth (because I know where you live...)
--mega mom (too bad if you've been tagged for it before, baby. my clammy hands are on you too)

i have super-exciting news!!!!

Oh m'god, you guys!!!! I couldn't, like, WAIT to tell you, but I have finally finished the tote bag you were ALL so wondering about. So you can quit bugging me now, 'K??

isn't that GREAT????!!!!!

here it is. definitive proof that if i am going to buy a fucking sewing machine, i am damn well going to use it. who knows how long it will now languish, but i have USED it dammit.

oh, that part where i said "finished..." well, if a totebag with pinned on handles counts as "finished" then there you have it... done.

oh, and if you were wondering where i got the fabric, try a streetseller in Accra, Ghana, baby. that's right, not only am i showing off about my seamstress skills. i am tossing in an offhand comment about my days traveling west africa.

i will now depart to be insufferable elsewhere...


today is a day of shattered dreams...

Once upon a time, when I spent even more inordinate times watching television during my "college years," I was more than enamored with a little show called Northern Exposure.

I was even more than a little enamored of a said character in northern exposure, "Chris in the morning..." (no, not Holling, you pervs). This crush continued well on into my courtship to now-husband who understood that John Corbett, like Jon Stewart, was a case where the "step down [1]" policy could occur legitimately within a marriage. (see footnote)

This morning, upon browsing motherhood uncensored, I discovered that the author and I shared that fondness for the John Corbett--even though she, being of a more tender age, sees Chris first and foremost as Aidan from Sex in the City, sweet young thing that she is...

and here it was that I learned a disturbing truth. John Corbett is DATING BO DEREK.

On one level i want to applaud this in a "you go Demi" kind of way (and who wants to be Barbara Hershey right now? ME! ME!) but with Bo, I draw the line. It's got something to do with knowing that every inch of her is plastic--remodeled from headlights to chassy by her first plastic surgeon husband. And it might also have something to do with jealousy. Come to think of it, I think our Johnny has got a thing for plastic chicks. Has anyone SEEN what Maggie (John's ex, Janine Turner) has done to herself lately?? (two words: trout mouth...) And the itchy eye syndrome ads. poor, poor, Maggie...

I also learn, as I "research" this claim about Bo further (i.e. scour for incriminating photos because I don't have a job or anything) that John ALSO DATED VANNA WHITE.

and, worse still--he has an ALBUM... take a look (shield your eyes) and a listen (plug your ears, believe me. do it.) http://www.johncorbettband.com/

and then the nail in the coffin courtesy of go fug yourself....

It is done...

Sayounara, John, Sayounara. It's been a long and rocky road, I missed you in the mid-to-late nineties, and you nearly got me back with that sappy shite, My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which, though sickly, I gorge myself upon). But it is time for us to part ways. Like Jude Law, you have disappointed me mightily. And I didn't even have to see pictures of your manhood to seal the deal...

[1]. note on "the stepdown." a term introduced to me by friend Jen, it refers to shared agreement between spouses/partners that if a certain film star/celebrity magically shows up and demands your spouse immediately, one "steps down..." who knew there was a name for it? anyone else got one of these perverted and sad interesting contracts going on?


crazy, hip, blogging mommy (who needs her mouth washed out with soap?)

hmmm. have just signed up onto CrazyHipBlogMammas (because i am joiner you see). in rules and guidelines, they say that "profanity" is allowed, but "if every other word is an expletive, this might not be the ring for you." i completely understand.

as of now, my application is "pending approval."

hmmm. do i fall under that "profanity" definition? fuck dear oh dear me. i simply don't know. i do so loves the swear words. (and here in michigan i can apparently get away with saying the most appalling things because my profanity is gently flowered with a british accent--a "cor blimey, let's put the kettle on an 'ave a cuppa tea shall we darlin'?" screeching type of accent, but british nonetheless).

yes, i am a shameless whore bad lady. i suppose, like history, those crazy hip bloggy mommas will be the judge.

awwwww.... thanks folks

first of all, let me say a massive thanks for all the sweet messages that greeted my post yesterday. you guys, seriously... (dabs eyes, wipes nose on sleeve).

so yup, we're nine (or is it ten, or eleven?) weeks in... and herein lies the first stark contrast between pregnancy #1 , and #2.

preg 1: "so, how many weeks are you?":

"6 weeks, 4 days, depending on when you begin counting. ha! right now it has a tail, ears, and webbed hands and feet. by next week it will have genitalia. it's brain cells are expanding at a rate of.....hey, want to see a picture? [pause] hang on, let me pull up babycenter.com. ain't it cute, in a shrimp-like, lima bean kind of way? hand me my carbonated water with fennel
extract, will you?"

and so and so forth...

preg 2: "so, how many weeks are you?":

"whah? oh. yeah. uhm [mentally calculates, comes up short]. about 9 or 10 weeks i think. yeah, thassright. i must remember to update my babycenter profile. hand me my cappucino, would you?"

of course, i am being a touch disingenuous, but there really is a marked difference. for instance, i was convinced that in the first pregnancy i was just as SICK as SICK could be, and lost 12 lbs to prove it (don't worry, i hastily piled on SIXTY in my second two trimesters--Can anyone say "hey, i feel GOOD. Gimme a bacon sammich. ASAP!").

question--am i more or less sick now? i think less, but this might be less a physical thing than the inability to wallow in it as i did before (how many times could i have googled "morning sickness" for chrissakes?) a 3yr old, a full time job, and a better perspective of what is in store forces one to suck it up, i think. i've not even cracked open a pregnancy book, and dr. sears and i parted ways when numero uno was about 5 months (that's for another post--but i'll warn ya--it's a rant).

and of course, i am strong. so very, very strong...


featuring weekend highlights!!!

on friday i was tired, i was spent, i was lazy.
what's my excuse now? read on, and see if you can guess.

friday evening:
--garlic bread
--spy kids 2
--no fucking wine
--"watch" Foul Play with hubs
--piss and moan about Foul Play


--Y cardio buffet: "hip hop dance (for white middle class mommy types)"
--prolongued period pondering previous hour and excising it from memory bank
--shower. bathing suit.
--request gods "kill me now"
--Y pool. children. fun. nausea.
--toy store
--naptime. (not for me)
--make a goddam tote bag with this ethnic fabric if it kills me
--omit reading of "fusible interfacing" instructions
--ruin iron
--make totebag (rock.)
--observe husband attempt to use iron
--google "iron + fusible interfacing"
--crack open the lighter-fluid (go on, google it)
--friend's kid's b-day party
--no. fucking. wine...
--watch first twenty minutes of The Aristocrats
--swimming-in-poo references do not help with my EXTREME EFFING NAUSEA
--watch husband troop to bar where he can drink alcohol.
--turn of The Aristocrats
--no fucking wine

--Ice Age 2
--mini-easter eggs
--naptime (not for me)
--whirl electric sander wildly on garden fence
--wonder if teeth will ever stop chattering
--elect to wear protective mask when job is 99% complete
--hack up lung
--push son around neighborhood on bike
--push son around neighborhood in toy car
--push son around neighborhood on bike
--introduce notion of pedalling
--i'm just going to close my eyes a sec...
--cup of tea
--west wing ("yay for jimmy!" followed by "i am so fucking depressed this is not real...")

if you've not guessed by now, let me add that one piece of this story involves me standing panting talking to a neighbor (having shoved the toy car several blocks). a neighbor who knows me not from adam:

--me: "those are lovely dogs"
--him: "yes, they're brothers"
--me (to son): "stop touching their tails, sweetie" (read: "stop touching their butts")
--me: "how nice, this little one will have a little brother or sister soon won't you darling?"
--neighbor: "ooh, you're pregnant? congratulations! (read: "why are you telling me, like, now? I do not know you...")
--me: "yes, yes I am" (read: "I am not fat--this is a preg paunch, ok?")

and so there you have it. i have a preg paunch, i am confronting my own alcoholism, and have such self esteem issues i feel the need to blurt to complete strangers that i am "with child" so they do not judge my paunchiness.

and yes, i feel nauseaus

and yes, i am super, super pleased:)

nuff said (oooh. you guys are so in for it...)


it's friday. i am spent. i am lazy.

humph. too much to do round these here work place. and for some reason, zilch ability to pontificate. zero, nada, nuttin.'

anyone fancy popping over to france, and partaking in some of this with me? it is friday after all....

yes, british-thirtysomething-woman who resorts to Ab Fab references in times of desperation.

big fucking shocker, i know...


april is the cruellest month...

April. How do you taunt me? Let me count the ways... (o.k. i will quit with the weak literary allusions now. maybe.)
But Michigan april, you do so taunt me with your fickle ways. In my homeland, April is defined by sunshine and showers. Everything is burst into bloom, and the daffodils are moving over for the first glimpse of summer perennials. Yes, it rains, but it is a lovely soft rain that makes the fields and lawn a verdent green. There, I fling open the door, wearing only a simple shift of white linen and a large straw hat. I stride into the garden, the birdsong glorious, and church bells chiming, in my arm is a basket containing pruners and other simple gardening tools.... and... and...

Over here, let's just say April is defined by sunshine, showers, balmy evening barbeques, gardening AND snow-storms, scraping off the car, and scrabbling to dig your kid's snow suit out of storage (you stupid naive woman, you). Last night's weather forecast told me to expect "scattered sprinkles" and now I sit and watch neighbors stroll by with t-shirts on (though, IMHO, they are tempting fate. assholes).

But here is how April taunts me the most. And this machination comes in the form of a little publication that slips into my mailbox this time of year. The Direct Gardening Plant catalog.... I realize that my relationship to this magazine bears a striking similarity to that between me and knitting, sewing, and cooking. All of which i could not give half a toss about in my youthful days, in spite of (no, probably because of) my mother's supreme adeptness in all these areas. (remind me to tell you how my mother "did" my wedding one day). But now, for some (perhaps genetically programmed) reason, I find myself lured to the siren call of all these things. With varying degrees of success.

beware the direct gardening plant catalog, for it bears false hopes and false truths...

We bought our house three summers ago, and finally I had a garden that was *my* responsibility. My husband developed a disarming awareness of the lawn (which included an overzealous bout of fertilizing one summer, that i won't go into here) and I, in turn, was reponsible for the flowerbeds and potted plants that I just knew would be overflowing english cottage-style by, say, mid-July. The previous owners had obviously subcribed to the catalog and bought many of their products. As I poured through its pages I found bargains I simply could not believe. This being one of them, "a three season garden which begins blooming in the spring, continues throughout the summer and into the fall. It features ten old-fashioned favorites to add beauty to your landscape for many years."

They had me at the "old fashioned!" Along with that fact that I would get something like 40 plants, all perennials, for $39.95. Sign me up!!! Let the bucolic, bumblebee droning, pims-sipping times roll!

So, I ordered these plants and many, many more online. And wait eagerly for their arrival in May. I'm thinking "wow, that's a whole lot of plants they're going to be delivering me. I'd better hope I'm in to assist with the unload..." In my mind, a modest truck or van would be stopping outside the house, a kind old driver would open up the back, "we bought your plants, missus, and you got yourself some real beauties here," and lo and behold, it was crammed with all glory of color and foliage. Neighbors have to assist as we carry armfuls and armfuls off fragrant plants into my garden, which is prepped and manured in anticipation (and, of course, I am wearing a simple linen shift, a straw hat, and some elegant gardening gloves). It suddenly becomes a community event, as we all pitch in to make a garden, then sit dirty but tired with a nice glass of crisp pinot grigio.

OK. I am now making myself nauseas now.

So, of course, those of you with half a clue know how this story really went. One decidedly icy afternoon in early May come home to find a small black plastic sack on the back porch. I peer inside to find about 50 ziplock baggies of FREAKING ROOTS. Not even in pots, but suspended in dormant animation in carefully labelled baggies. 12 peonies in one baggie, 6 hollyhocks in another, and so forth. Dried up, dormant roots. That needed planting within one week. Forgive me, but I found it very hard to get excited about planting these here roots. So, did I plant them in a week? Did I fuck.. (Well except for a few hollyhocks, which, did you know, are bloody BI-Annual, and which, did you know, means they only bloom every TWO years? And these emeged last year, raggedy and bug-ridden, to remind me of my folly).

And so, yes, this pretty much sums me up as an instant gratification kind of gal. Each year I start out with such high hopes for this increasingly tattered yard of mine. (last year--started out well, then got a puppy and had a dissertation to complete. Who has time to water???)

But this year, yard, you shall become a garden. It might just kill me, but if I can cajole the old man into some sort of inbuilt sprinkler system, it might just do the trick...

Wish me well, comrades. Wish me well.


getting all feminist on your ass

Sweetney is on a feminist rampage at her place (or rather, a "WTF Feminism?" rampage). And quite right too. I've responded ad nauseum over there, but i'll use this post to pimp one of the best known secrets out there. Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers. In their own words "We couldn't cupcake-decorate our way out of a paperbag" but they do offer amazingly well written features, articles, and short stories on the subject of motherhood (and fatherhood)--warts, politics, and all.

This article about the women's movement (or lackthereof?) "Say You Want A Revolution?" is most definitely worth a read.
(whether you've got a uterus, offspring, or not...)


wherein a slim blue book makes me ponder my entire life plan...

So, last week, along with all the brown paper packages wrapped up in string that arrived at casa-ginga last week, another compact parcel arrived—this one containing a certain missive I wrote, revised, wrote, revised, defended, revised, and submitted last year. My dissertation, all bound up like an honest-to-goodness book. For those of you who have spared yourself the trauma intellectual pursuit of an advanced degree, one of the lovely things about submitting that mother is that you get to pay a not small chunk of cash to have the thing bound so that it might languish in research library basements across the nation, nay the world. And if you’re like me, you might have a husband who is actually proud of your achievement, and who insists on ordering a copy for home and for one’s Mum and Dad.

So there it is, a (disconcertingly) slim volume, clad in blue, library-book style, sitting on the sideboard and taunting me with its presence. You sense a little ambivalence on my part in terms of all this, don’t you? Well what better place than this blog for me to try and undo all this for myself, and for YOU, my lucky, lucky audience! You in for a treat as Joy tries to figure out how she feels about the fact that she can barely stand to glance inside the pages of this, her life’s work (blegh).

Well, the first part is easy. My doctoral career can easily be read as a life lesson in “how not to pursue a doctoral degree, unless one has some serious masochistic tendencies, and then by all mean have at.” The plan is as follows:

1. Upon nearing completion of one version of your dissertation, and even receiving a fellowship to get done and get the hell out of dodge:
a. On the advice of your main advisor, bring in another co-advisor whose own work is very close to yours.
b. At request of new advisor, begin a whole new research trajectory, and ostensibly, a new dissertation.
c. Get pregnant
d. Take on a full time job in an academic field that is rewarding but not in any way related to your dissertation
e. All of the above [CHECK]

There’s a lot more to this plan. In addition to all of the above, you need to make sure that the two advisors who so adored one another the year before they wanted to share you, but who now hate one another with a passion that is both deep and vile. This means arranging meetings where the two will not have to be in the same room, and where you have to try and please both at once (and yes, I could have saved myself a lot of grief if I had dropped one, but the idea of that sort of confrontation when I was in the middle of this was enough to make me recoil into the fetal position).

One plus of this is that during the defense of your dissertation, your two advisors might well be too busy taking pot-shots at one another to really put you through the ringer.

(Sigh) there is so much more to this story, not least the part where it gets to be a success-story (because in so many ways, it really is—and I will tell that story one day, hopefully). But my aversion to the blue book that has made it way to my house tells me that I am not quite managing to see it in this way yet. And a lot of this fear stems not from what happened with my advisors, although that was flippin’ bad enough, but a myriad of other angsts yet to be tapped into.

First, it is a reminder that if I want to do something with this career, and get a tenure-tracked job as a professor, then I need to actually do something with it. Like, for instance, get portions of it published. That’s the normal plan for these things, right? This means revisiting, rewriting, and living with the words I wrote what seems like years ago. Words I don't even recognize any more (having excised the whole experience from my memory). This also means making a conscious effort to move on, consider upheaving my family, and leaving a place I have come to love (even while I hanker for something new professionally, or living up to some ideal potential).

And I realize, this is not so much a fear of moving on than a fear of failing to do so. Of throwing my life’s plan into the promise of that blue book and realizing that I come up empty. Far better to not even try, right?

And so what might be the steady stream of rationalization kicks in… I currently have a job at the same university that I graduated from (and this in-and-of itself can make you feel quite insecure at times--the eternal graduate student, and all that) and I earn a good chunk more than an Associate Prof would (boo-ya b’yatches!) and get to travel and work with extraordinary people. And even though I manage a lot of projects, I also get paid to think, which ain’t too shabby. I love my neighborhood (one of those transitional, gentrified pockets with old homes, rainbow flags, and a vocally liberal mindset) and I am continuously amazed at how you can live in one area for so long and continue to meet creative, hilarious, and irreverent people just like you to hang out with on a Saturday night.

So yes, these are rationalizations, but also pretty fucking good reasons to say “life is not so bad, so shut yer whinging.” And maybe, maybe I am putting too much onus on that blue book (I am an English Ph.D., after all, and so I like me a bit of totem and taboo now and then) and this is really not that big a deal. And I can work on publishing parts of it, or other research I am working on, and also grapple with that smaller demon of what feels like eternal procrastination. To use Annie Lamott’s phrase (one that is well-worn by me) to stop thinking big picture so much, and paralyzing myself in the process and get back to the quieter task of putting the puppy back on the paper…

“Try looking at your mind as a wayward puppy that you are trying to paper train. You don’t drop-kick a puppy into the neighbor’s yard every time it piddles on the floor. You just keep bringing it back to the newspaper.”

I like the idea that my mind is a urinating puppy that just needs a little training, have to say. And with that, I will scootch off to the newspaper and get going on some of that there life’s work I keep deferring.