August 12, 2011

Because this is the Internet, let’s just say I have a lot of mental anguish, and I’ll keep the details to myself.

Because I am a woman with a currently-functioning reproductive system, I also have monthly cycles. Y’know, I get my period.

The Common Wisdom holds that women get emotional right around That Time of the Month, which is a bad thing. I’m a bit of a late bloomer in understanding my personal cycles because I went through a period in my early 20s when I only had one cycle over the course of three years. That was due to two pregnancies plus two bouts of on-demand nursing (the natural birth control!) The Extreme Feminist in me, however, has never held truck with the idea that women being more emotional at certain times in their cycle is a bad thing. For a while I didn’t even believe that really happened, and I thought that it was possibly a cultural construction. I still don’t know about that.

But really, how many times have you heard someone say, “Oh that it explains it, her period just started.” How many times have you said it? How many times have you heard it crudely and disparagingly stated on television?

But back to mental anguish.

Some days my mental anguish gets really bad. I don’t necessarily control when those days are. I try to be aware and prevent things from getting too bad. That’s the best I can do right now. I do pay attention to the calendar, though, and I can’t find a pattern to suggest that the bad days happen with greater frequency when my period is about to start. Some months, my period starts, and I think, “Hmmm, I was feeling totally fine this last week. No bad days at all.” Other months, my period starts, and I think, “Oh, that explains it, my period just started.” That’s a pretty dismissive statement I make to myself about real events in my life.

I tend to think my body chemistry and my monthly cycles do affect the way I feel. I’m sure there are a lot of smart science people figuring this out at the molecular level.

Regardless of the observations on my own cycles of reproductive health and mental anguish, I want to ask why is it OK to dismiss the way a woman feels because it’s due to her period? This American culture seems to think that it’s OK. Does being on one’s period make a woman’s responses and behavior less real or important? It’s called biochemistry, and it’s real.

I believe the English-speaking Internet world has reached the point where it is nearly impossible to register a new blog name.

In the last month I have tried on more than one occasion to start a new blog to be used for a specific purpose. I spent an hour one night typing different combinations of words into a webform at, denied every time. “Sorry, this blog address is not available.”

A few days later and another blogging platform: “This URL is already taken.”

This name is already in use. This name is already in use. This name is already in use.

After weeks of musing, I came up with what I believed to be a clever, unusual play on words that would be descriptive of the project.

This name is already in use. This URL is already taken. Sorry, this blog address is not available.

There are a million people out there coming up with the same clever, unusual plays on words that I am.

Been Down So Long

July 11, 2011

(In which I loosely construct paragraphs that are thinly related to each other but that all together have something to do with a feeling I wish to express this evening.)

Poverty comes in many forms. Some are more dire than others. Years ago I was a daily reader and contributor to an online message board for parents that leaned toward the radical, politically speaking. It was a fascinating experience, to be a part of that, and some of the strongest convictions I have were nurtured there.

One of the most profound things I read on that message board was a quietly held belief that it is not constructive to battle over what group of people is most discriminated against. I have read, in other places, political commentaries on the lack of cohesiveness in the American Left that claim different groups within the Left have a tendency to value their own interests to the detriment of others. This tendency, it is claimed, leads to fragmentation with people working against each other rather than with each other.

Anti-consumer groups can work with environmentalist groups, who can work with women’s rights groups, who can work with immigrants’ rights groups, who can work with anti-death-penalty groups, who can work with ….well, yes, and so on. I believe this to be true.

But back to poverty. I understand that when I say “I’m poor,” it is not the same as being poor in Afghanistan or poor and Black. The fact that other groups or individuals are MORE poor in ways I cannot fathom doesn’t take away from the fact that I am poor and that my poverty is not fair or right or good. Nobody, in this world of plenty, should have to be poor. And yet most of the world’s people are.

I’ve fronted pretty well, and I’ve passed as a Middle-Class American for years at a time. It took me a lot of living to realize I wasn’t middle-class and never have been. I suspect a lot of poor people don’t realize they aren’t middle-class. I suspect there isn’t much of a middle-class left in the U.S.A., and that is a shameful thing.

In the grand scheme of things, I have some things going for me: I’m White, heterosexual, from California. I was smart enough to do well in school, and my parents cared for me deeply and did not harm me. I have an imagination and a lot of dreams. Some of those things matter even though they shouldn’t, in this culture of mine. I’ve visited many kinds of poverty – I’ve been welfare poor, solid job but deeply in debt poor, grad student poor, recently divorced poor. I’ve managed through it, but it gets old after a while.

I’ve been falling down particularly hard the past three years, and just when I think I’ve made the right step to start standing up again, things get even harder, money gets tighter, the future gets scarier.

I have now reached the lowest point in my ability to Keep It Together thus far. Money’s not just tight, it doesn’t exist. The scary future isn’t two or three or seven months away, it was last month. I didn’t think it would go this deep, I’d fall this far. Of course I still have dreams. I’ll be fulfilled and secure, someday. I’m still alive. But right now, all I can do is laugh. I used to work in a used bookstore when I was in college, and one of the titles of the paperback books that often came in and out of the store has stuck with me, Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me. It’s by Richard FariƱa, who died two days after the book was published. I tried to read the book once, but the masculine 1960s counter-cultural vibe I perceived was boring and obvious to 19 year old me. I don’t know what the book is about, but the title is really superb, don’t you think?

Well I’ve reached that Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me point. I really don’t know how I’m going to make it, but I have to, so I shall. And I’m going to laugh with every step, up or down. Because now it’s just absurd.

damned patriarchy

June 4, 2007

It makes me pretty sad sometimes to look at my delightful, strong, lovely, amazing daughters with a joy for life and a natural state of happiness and realize our society is set up to take all that away from them before they reach adulthood.

I wish they’d never have to feel the fear that comes with walking down a street, even a well-lit street, alone. Etc.

I’m feeling incoherent due to reading a pretty awful recent news story.

oh my goodness, no

February 21, 2007

If one is going to wear stirrup pants – and one really shouldn’t, as those should have been laid to rest forever about 1985 or so – one should actually wear the stirrups over one’s foot, I would think, rather than allowing the stirrups to dangle halfway up one’s calves.

This ongoing resurgence in 1980s fashion has finally allowed me to feel like an old lady, complaining about what “the kids” are wearing these days.


December 26, 2006

To relate all the interesting bits about Christmas this year, I should just send you over to Maria’s journal, since we were at her house on Christmas Eve, and she captured the best parts, for example, the ham flying off of Tallulah’s fork onto my breast. I had told that girl many times to be careful about waving her fork around when she’s got ham on it, but she was excited, and so the ham finally did fly off. Directly onto my black-clad breast. Which aroused a few moments of amusing, be-careful-where-you-put-your-ham banter around the table.

The children greatly enjoyed their presents, and they got a number of good-quality, interesting stuff this year. But other than their joy (which is precious to me) not much else about this time of year is causing much happiness in me. To quote one Sufjan Stevens, “that was the worst Christmas ever.”

Here’s hoping 2007 is a good year. Though I know it’s going to be tough. I think I’m actually going to make a few very well thought out resolutions this year.

and the rain came down

November 22, 2006

I was in the main library on campus yesterday for the final orientation in a long series of orientations when a fire alarm began to ring out in the building. All the staff members began orderly filing out, past the students who looked up, unmoving, from their laptops and books. A voice came over the PA – “Attention please, this is not a drill.” So we all huddled outside in the cold morning, and I noticed FLURRIES OF SNOW falling from the sky, trace amounts really, like delicate breaths of snowflakes coming down. It was lovely.

And then later in the morning it started raining. And it continued raining. All day, and night. And into this morning. This is my least favorite weather type. Cold rain. It requires so much extra wardrobe planning in the morning to make the trek to and from the bus stops as waterproof as possible. Despite the fact that galoshes are quite the trendy item this year (and last), they are indispensable – campus is riddled with puddles – so I purchased a pair recently. And then there will be flats in a plastic bag to change into at work because I can’t stomp around in boots all day at work. And then nylon knee socks so that they will dry quickly once I get to work. And then legwarmers over the knee socks because nylon doesn’t do much in the way of warmth. And then wool skirt and sweater for their warmth despite getting wet. And then wool overcoat, mittens, scarf, hat. And umbrella.

Hello winter.