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You can have some food, but not the computer
Not the computer, just some food
For though you're cuter
Than the computer
You cannot eat it; that is just rude.

You can have a toy, but not the computer
Not the computer, just a toy.
For though you're cuter
Than the computer
Teething on a laptop won't bring you joy.

You can have a book...'d rather read this, just take a look.

You can have a hug... can't keep you all warm and snug.

You can have my love, but not the computer
Not the computer, but my love
Because you're cuter
Than the computer
You're my favorite little cub!

They seem... unconvinced. Maybe I should try foxxerel rather than doggerel?
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It just occurred to me that if you belong to a non-Hell believing religion, you could still say "gods (or God) dam it." As in, "I would like you to make this annoying thing stop flowing."

Not eternal torment, just... for fuck's sake, quit it.


Reading: The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Harvey Karp.
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I love America. I love the landscapes, and the food, and the music, and the cities. And the people, even the ones who want me dead, or at least my marriage dissolved.

And also, my country was founded on genocide and slavery. And then the people who profited from those things came up with dehumanizing philosophies to justify them, and those philosophies were written into our laws and our religions and are still there now.

I have been fighting those philosophies for my whole life, and as I get older, I just fight harder. And in this, I am joining a line of heroes going back to the country’s founding and before, who have been fighting—and sometimes winning—all along. They are my proud heritage, and none of us would have to do this if the country weren’t so fucked up in the first place.

One of the founding documents of our country says that all men—men—are created equal. The other says that some men are only worth 3/5ths of other men.

I would not be alive if this country did not exist to give refuge to my ancestors. This country would not exist if millions of people had not been killed and tortured. I am not sorry to be alive.

It’s complicated.

It's home.

So I’m gonna take today to honor that complicatedness. I’m gonna eat some veggie burgers and corn-on-the-cob, and spend time with friends and family, and watch my baby’s very first fireworks. And I’m gonna call the president of the United States and tell him he’s being a shithead and to not take away people’s healthcare. And maybe then listen to Hamilton.

Let’s keep enjoying the good things about America, and let’s keep fighting the bad things. Let’s see what we can do to make this country the place it pretends to be—the place it wishes it were. Let’s celebrate, and rest, and resist.

It’s the patriotic thing to do.
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So, I was talking to [personal profile] rushthatspeaks the other day about how everything the Republicans are doing makes much more sense if you assume their fathers beat them as children.
Read more... )
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So I have been... not exactly enjoying Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi, but getting a lot out of it.

One thing that has become clear is that a big chunk of American history looks like this:

White People: *do appalling things to Black people*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God, this thing we've done is unforgivable.

Less Philosophical-Type White People: Oh, come on. How can something this profitable be wrong?

Black People: Hey, cut that out.


Less Philosophical-Type White People: Shit.

White People: *do MORE appalling things to Black people to try to reduce their power and ability to take revenge*

Philosophical-Type White People: Oh God...

Lather, rinse, repeat.

It's not funny, but it is kind of amazing how early this showed up-- both the stereotype of the Angry Black Person and the alternate stereotype of the Supernaturally Loving and Forgiving Black Person-- the White people's fear and hope in the face of White guilt. None of which considers the possibility that Black people might possibly have some priority other than White people, that Black people might be more interested in living their lives, recovering from trauma, and, I don't know, writing books and petting dogs and taking long thoughtful walks on a cloudy day.

White Americans have never been good at not centering ourselves in the narrative. But this particular manifestation is particularly ugly, because real people get hurt for the sake of protection from figments of projected guilt. And... gods damn it.

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I'd been getting a bit frustrated with how little I seemed to have to say to my Senators about the godawful politics, because Warren and Markey are both very strong Democrats who were generally already doing what I would ask them to do.

But then I came across a blog post talking about the vote-a-rama. This would give us a tactic to take to prevent (or at least delay) the passage of the horrifying AHCA, even though Senate Republicans are planning to use reconciliation to only need 51 votes.

So I wrote the following:

Dear Senator Warren,

I am writing to ask you to personally propose 100 amendments during the vote-a-rama phase of the reconciliation process of the AHCA, if Senate Republicans do indeed try to pass it using reconciliation. The AHCA is an abomination which would cost MILLIONS of American lives if it were put into law-- we won't know exactly how many millions if Senate Republicans manage to push through their version of the bill before the CBO report on it comes out.

We may not yet have enough votes to defeat it, but I want you to make them work for it. I want you to propose amendments so that Republican Senators will have to admit to EVERY SINGLE callous and life-destroying element of the bill. I want you to make sure that we have soundbites of them showing how little they care about their constituents, which we can use against them in 2018. I want you to make them say out loud how many Americans they're willing to kill for the sake of corporate profits.

This will be grueling and exhausting, but I believe that nevertheless, you will persist.


If nothing else, delay should give people in red states more time to work on their Senators, and more time for the CBO report to come out showing just how bad the bill is. You can contact your Senators here.

Let's see what we can do.

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So, a thing I've been working on lately is switching my thinking from "some people are better than others due to inherent things about them" (e.g. intelligence, race, gender, education, attractiveness, etc) to "people take good and bad actions." It is remarkably difficult, despite the fact that I've WANTED to think this way my entire life, and often believed I basically was. But so much of our culture is based on ranking-- "I don't have to feel bad about myself, because at least I'm better than THAT person." It's hard to notice all the times I do it, and hard to break out of when I do.

Anyone have thoughts about how to shift mindsets?
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Hey, folks. Does anyone have good advice on how to maintain friendships as an adult?

Because, like, I feel like I never see anyone outside of my immediate family anymore. And I am very lucky that immediate family includes not just my wife and baby, but also our other partners and Fox's grandmothers, so it's not like it's just the three of us all the time. We're a three-parent family and I've got a basic pack of like eight people, which I love and am really grateful for.

But... I spent my childhood with almost no friends, being bullied a lot. And then I went to college, and suddenly I could make friends! Lots of friends! It was amazing. And then, (after a few depressed and lonely years immediately after college) I moved into a collective household with college friends, and we were social enough to draw lots of awesome new people. And even after we moved to Texas with the core of that household, and then moved back, we were still involved with a creative project with most of those people, which meant that I was seeing friends multiple times a week.

But then the creative project ended, and so did my relationship with the people in that collective household outside of Lila. And I was pretty shaken up about that (even though it was my decision), and I spent about a year mourning (and working on my career, and trying to get pregnant), and saw very little of anyone else. And then I was pregnant, and then I had a very small baby, and was therefore exhausted. I kept seeing friends occasionally, from time to time, but though I missed them, I really didn't initiate. And I think that people, noting that I had been turning down invitations for, like, three years solid, stopped inviting me to things as much. Which is reasonable.

But now I have more energy, and I am lonely as hell. Or... not lonely, exactly, because I spend almost no time actually alone. But I miss the friends I used to spend time with. I want to know what's going on with them, and get their read on what's going on with me, and just generally leave my house and get out in the world and do things together.

But there are obstacles. One is that a baby (even as chill and portable a baby as this one) and running a small business do take a bunch of time and energy. One is that I now work evenings and Saturdays, which may change in the fall, but is pretty inconvenient now. One is that I'm not sure how to regularly see people when we're not doing some kind of structured activity together. One is that I haven't really figured out how to use social media to stay in touch with people, rather than just having a vague sense of their lives going by.

And one is the very old fear that nobody wants to play with me. Which you would think that the past twenty years would have talked me out of, but here we are.

I'm... working on it? I do host a monthly political-action party for people I don't see often, and those have been fun. But that leaves the other thirty-odd days when I don't have much contact with anyone outside my pack except for occasional "liking" them on Twitter and Tumblr and very occasionally Facebook. I don't want to just like people online. I want to like them in person. Or at very least, find a way to have more substantial online conversations despite the fact that I may at any moment need to jump up midcomment to stop someone from putting their hand in the humidifier. It's not a matter of meeting people-- I know which people I want to do things with. I just need to actually do the things.


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Okay, this one I'm not even torn about, I'm just mad.

Munch, by Matthew Van Fleet, is a cute, funny board book with a simple premise: animals have mouths, and do different things with them!

For the most part, these things are value neutral. The mouths nibble, laugh, sing, etc.

For the most part, the animals are animals-- human sorts of facial expressions, but no clothing or other identifying markers, including any signs of gender.

Except for the hippo, who is wearing a pink-and-red bow. What does she do with her mouth? "Some mouths don't know when to shut-- blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!"


Why is patriarchy so fucking insidious and omnipresent? How am I supposed to protect my child from this when it's bloody everywhere?

I'm not supposed to protect my child from this; I'm supposed to give them tools so they can recognize it and fight it on their own.


For the moment, at least, my mom suggested, and [personal profile] sovay concurred, that a little judicious application of white-out and a grey marker should fix the problem. Fox can recognize and fight sexism on their own when they can, you know, talk.




May. 19th, 2017 07:12 am
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So, who else spent yesterday constantly refreshing Twitter and the Associated Press with a mix of excitement and dread?

Mostly excitement, for me-- I mean, I have spent the last three decades hearing that the American government is based on "a series of checks and balances" to keep things from ever getting too dire. They are very dire now indeed, but if those checks are starting to get their balancing on, that would be pretty great.

Otherwise, I get to come to terms with the notion that the entire country is run primarily by racist, sexist oligarchs who would do anything to preserve their power, and that only outright revolution will actually stop them.

It's just... I cannot get used to how many different genres the next few years could be. And how rapidly it goes back and forth, which one is most likely.

I like the one where this is all the lead-up to the rise of the diverse and rainbow-strewn socialist utopia, but while I'll keep working for that one, I'm not holding my breath.


Reading: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, Ibram X. Kendi
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So, I was delighted to find this book in the box that [Unknown site tag] very kindly sent to Fox. I remembered loving it as a kid, and thought it would be great to read it to my own kid.

And then I read it. And... um.

The Monster at the End of This Book is a Sesame Street book starring "your lovable, furry old pal Grover," who is horrified to read the title and realize that there is, indeed, a monster (!) at the end of the book. Being terrified of monsters, Grover begs you not to turn any pages, to avoid getting to the end of the book. When you insist on turning page after page, he tries new and more elaborate ways to stop you-- asking, pleading, building bigger and bigger walls, eventually just begging. You turn the penultimate page anyway, and it turns out that the monster at the end of the book is-- Grover himself! Not scary at all! "And you were so frightened," Grover mocks you. And then, on the very last page, he mutters quietly, "Oh, I am so embarrassed."

So, on the one hand, this book is so fun. You, the parent, get to read the Grover voice, which is expressive as only a Muppet can be. For a kid, it's your very first meta-- the character on the page is aware of you, looking right at you, talking to you! You get to affect what happens to them! And you are very strong-- strong enough to knock down a brick wall, strong enough to overcome everything the character is trying to do to stop you.

On the other hand, I've spent the past decade or so thinking a lot about consent. And rape culture. And gaslighting. And... wow, this book sure does have all those things in them, and not in the way I'd like.

I feel a little ridiculous bringing this up. It's just a kid's book, there's nothing sexual about it. I had it read to me (many, many times), and I don't go around raping people.

And yet, I know that for all my conscious political convictions, my unconscious is soaking in the background radiation of sexism, racism, and everything else that I've been absorbing from the culture around me for decades. Fox will get a big dose of that from the real world no matter what we do (their doctor and nurse both love them, but: their doctor is male, and White; their nurse is female, and Black, and guess who's in charge?), but we could try to minimize it.

The toughest part is that I actually think the boundary-smashing is a big part of what makes the book so fun for kids. Kids spend their whole lives with powerful adults telling them "no," putting boundaries around what they can do. Kids rarely have their own "no" listened to. And in many ways, this is a good thing-- no, they really should not get to run in the street. Yes, they do need to go to bed when they're tired. And a good parent will try not to say "no" excessively, and will try to compromise with kids in the details surrounding what the kid has to do for their (and our) health and wellbeing. But still: kids run into a lot of boundaries they can't get around. It's liberating, awesome fun to, for once, get to tear those boundaries into a million pieces-- and have it turn out to be okay in the end. A more collaborative kind of meta might be amusing, but it wouldn't have the kind of visceral delight that you get from making Grover (who is, let's not forget, voiced by your parent, the person who usually has such firm no's) wail about you overcoming his every obstacle.

I'm not sure what to do about this. I want to teach Fox to enjoy problematic media, because everything is problematic. It's just-- that enjoyment will involve conversations about the thing-- why it's fun, what the problems are. I've got a while to figure it out with this book, because Fox doesn't speak in words yet.* What they're getting from the book now is probably "colors! Maybe those are images of real things (?) And Mom's voice is doing funny things. Also, I can whack this thing and make a noise, and I can 'turn' the 'pages,' whoa."

But I'm not sure what to say when I do. "Wow, I'm glad that this book is just pretend?" That sort of messes up the meta. I don't want to reinforce the moral the book seems to have-- "See, he turned out to like it in the end! That makes it okay that you did what he didn't want!"

...except that that is also something that happens to kids a lot. I mean, a famous story in my family is "Gaudior and the French Toast." As a child, I utterly refused to eat French Toast. I insisted that it was Disgusting! and Terrible! and I would Never, Ever, Ever do it! My mother, noting that I had never tasted French Toast, suggested I try a bite. I tried a bite. It was delicious. I loved French Toast.

A major difference here, of course, is that issues with consent for adults revolve around person A forcing person B into something for the benefit of A. With kids, at least in theory, person A is forcing person B into something for the benefit of B. Kids, we figure, don't know what's good for them. That's why kids can't consent to sex: their consent or lack thereof is based on insufficient knowledge of the world, so it's meaningless.

But you can't raise someone for eighteen years with the message that their consent or the lack thereof is meaningless, and then expect them to understand that consent is very important the instant we consider them legally old enough to have sex. "Kids' consent doesn't matter" segues neatly into "my consent never matters" for girls, and "being an adult means you can force other people instead of them forcing you" for boys. Neither of which is a reasonable message, but you see where they get it from.

I don't have good answers for this one, and Fox is now up from their nap. To be continued, I suppose.


*They have one word: "hey!" or "hi!" meaning "pay attention to me!" I don't think that's so much understanding that words have meaning as knowing that people react to them making that sound, and they like when people react.
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So, I've heard that as a six-month-old, Fox (not their IRL name) should recognize their name. The difficulty with this is: here are the things that we call our baby:

Little Cub
Little Cubling
Little Cublet
Smol One
Little Smol
Little Fox
Little Sea-Eyed Fox
Little Ocean-Eyed Fox
Hey, there.

So, they are basically doomed.

OTOH, they don't know my name either, as I don't go around referring to myself as "Mommy" in the third person, and everyone else calls me by my given name. They are making a valiant effort at naming [personal profile] rushthatspeaks as "Dadadadadadada," so we'll go with that.


(Oh, and, because I haven't posted in basically ever: does anyone not want to see kid posts? Should I set up a filter?)
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Hey, so-- I have not written much anywhere since Fox was born. But I am getting better at typing one-handed/at naptime, and I've written a few Tumblr posts that are actually long and substantive. Would people be interested in my reposting them here?
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There's a certain amount of irony to the fact that when I accidentally went over to my LJ friends-list, the first several entries there were from the (predominantly Russian) "abandoned places" community.
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Oh, what a great idea!

(sorry for the lack of html, I've got a baby bottle in the other hand. Grin.)
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Hi, folks! I wouldn't say I'm back, per se, but... a lot of people are really sad about what's going on on LJ, and as I said to [personal profile] sovay, it's reminding me rather a lot of the time when our ancestors were also forced to flee their homes in Russia.

So I thought it would be nice to come through and say hi as the community is hopefully reconstructing itself in this new land of opportunity and more transparent terms of service.


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Hi, folks. I think it's time to call it: I'm not really using livejournal/dreamwidth much these days.

This is bittersweet, because lj was the first place online where I found a home. I got my journal in 2002, so it's been almost 15 years. I've made friends here, heard great stories, figured out a lot about myself and the world. But I haven't made an entry in almost four months, and that was just to wish my wife a happy birthday.

I think there are a few reasons for my absence. One is that I've been really enjoying tumblr ( I'm taking pride in curating a positivity blog, a place where people can enjoy spending time. I'm also finding it incredibly helpful for self-care on rough days.

Because the other reason I'm not here: I think doing therapy full-time is actually using most of my writing brain. I spend up to eight hours every day thinking hard about feelings, motivations, change, ongoing story, and how to put those things into words that will communicate the ideas most clearly and empathetically. When I get home, I'm tired. My wordcount is way down for writing fiction, and while I do keep writing it, it's so much slower than it used to be. I think I just don't have many words left to introspect and report here. (It's worth noting that I've been planning to make this entry for months, but only doing it now when I've been on vacation for five days.)

So I'm not journalling, and I don't want to just gradually dwindle and disappear. I want to say a proper goodbye. This is not to say that I'm not going to be reading other people's journals, because I really enjoy those. (Though if something happens that you really want to be SURE I know about, please feel free to tweet at me (gaudiorrr) or email! And Tumblr and Twitter will be an excellent way to keep track of what I'm up to) But I think that there may be a long time before I make another entry, and I wanted to say thank you all, so much, for the years I've spent here.

Thank you. This has been a wonderful place to be.

Take care,
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Happy birthday best wife! May you have a year of reading and cooking and love and friendship and joy and calm relaxation and good health and editing and career success and good books and good stories and good movies and good conversations and cute cats and dog-sized dogs and tasty food and interesting travel and slugs and cities and parenting and hope and health and fun and dignity.

Always dignity.

Love you.
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My body is not wrong or broken. My body is mine. Unique.

I can fight it to try to make it act like someone else's. Or I can learn it-- what it needs, what it feels, what it wants, how it moves. What it can do.

One of those choices feels a lot better than the other.


Reading: Ms. Marvel vol 1-3
gaudior: (drive!)

In the Pit, specifically. Speakers, music, and barbecue!
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