Wednesday, October 15, 2014

don't worry, baby

Sometimes when I can't sleep, I lie in the dark listening to Vincent and Maybellene breathing, and smile. I become really conscious of my heart, and how it feels like it's full of mulled wine or something, and then I feel the warm liquid gradually spreading through my body until my cheeks are flushed and I feel stupidly happy, being in bed with the two people I love more than I love my own life. I feel like I'm being hugged from all sides, even though Vincent is on the other side of the bed and the little person between us is on top of the duvet and swaddled, and so, so secure.

Sometimes on these nights, I think about a time a few years ago when I couldn't sleep and I would lie in the dark and cry. I would look at the light from the moon coming in the gaps between the wooden venetians hitting the white walls of the bedroom, and feel the water leaking from my eyes on its own; trying to keep very quiet so I wouldn't wake the person beside me. I don't know when I've felt more alone than I did on those nights. I thought I must be crazy. I remember the line "I'm empty and aching and I don't know why" looping through my head, and then feeling phony because it wasn't my line, and because I probably did know why I was empty and aching, but I was too scared to admit it, so instead of thinking, I'd just let the words turn over in my head, and feel empty and aching, and sad and stuck. During the day things didn't look so bad; I could fight, or drink, or just pretend - so well that I didn't really know I was pretending, most of the time. (I am that good at pretending.)

I feel sorry for that girl, crying silently in bed. She really did think she was crazy, but sometimes she thought it was the fault of the person beside her that she felt so lonely, when the truth was neither of those things. She was just a big chicken, who thought she was much more grown up than she was. She had made people feel as if she didn't need their advice, so they didn't try to give it to her, even though they all knew she shouldn't be in that bed in that bedroom. I don't really know why she was so afraid; she knew herself, and even if her self-esteem was pretty low, it probably wasn't much different from anyone else her age, and she had enough bravado, or at least access to enough alcohol, to free herself, freeing the sleeping person in the bed at the same time.

Sometimes I think about the things I will tell Maybellene; little phrases that, if we were in a book, she would grow up to quote, saying "Mum always said...". One of the most important of those things is not to let being scared stop her from doing things. There's so much out there that I want her to see and do; so many things I wanted to see and do but was too afraid to reach for... Not that I regret those nights too much. If I hadn't stuck them out, maybe I wouldn't have found Vincent, and I wouldn't be having these happy nights now.

Anyway, I don't think of a song when I'm lying in bed smiling; I just bask. But if I did sing a song in my head, it might be this:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

rants in my pants

I know it's not the nicest way to re-enter a room. And the news isn't even really "new" anymore, because the only time I get to spend on the laptop is to work, so these things have been milling around in my head for a couple of weeks now; possibly even longer (I have completely lost my grip on time beyond hours; the calendar I can see on the wall now attests to that fact - it says 'September'). Nevertheless, these things are still pissing me off, and will continue to hog valuable memory if I don't get them out, so here we are.

1. I had finally come around to Taylor Swift. Quotes like her preference to not wear the pants in a relationship (when will that nonsensical phrase die?) and her disdain for feminism, combined with her awful music, had finally given way to the fact that she seems like a fairly nice person who is a beacon to the bullied... And then she says, in response to Emma Watson's recent speech about equality of the sexes, that hmm maybe she is a feminist; she didn't really get what it meant when she said she doesn't see things as "guys vs girls" (that's kind of the problem, TayTay), and if only there had been someone to explain feminism to her when she was a twelve-year-old girl. What the fuck, man? You had the fucking INTERNET when you were twelve. The INTERNET. Not just a dictionary, like we had when I was twelve, which caused even more confusion about sexual practices and body parts and probably explains a lot of things about me; the internet. Maybe (thankfully) there was no urban dictionary to really break it down (as racistly/sexistly possible), but still - if you had typed in feminism, you would have found a pretty simple explanation of its essence. And you're friends with Lena Dunham and Lorde (sweet Lorde). Come the fuck on. But anyway. Taylor, like Beyonce, is now a feminist. She could be a useful feminist role model in some ways, I guess; she's been in a considerable number of high-profile of relationships which don't seem to have been used by media to define or label (read: punish) her, which young girls need to see (although this is likely a "reward" for otherwise being unthreatening and conservative). However, I'm not comfortable/a bit pissed off with this new thing of formerly really anti-feminist famous women "becoming" feminists so publicly. There is a lot of confusion about what feminism is; demonstrated by Taylor's admission that she didn't know what it meant until recently. This confusion isn't going to be helped any by ignorant people, particularly young girls and boys, hearing Beyonce and Taylor are feminists, and then seeing the inconsistencies in their work (see Destiny's Child Cater 2 U, and TSwizzle's Romeo & Juliet - from early in their careers, yep, but go on to watch Beyonce's solo videos, and Taylor's response to the joke made about her by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Oscars a few years ago). Yep, people can change, and that's brilliant. But there has to be a clear, unequivocal change. He seems batshit, but that guy who used to play Jake in Two And A Half Men knew about that; he got religion and totally denounced the show. Dave Dobbyn, now a Christian, doesn't play certain songs from his back-catalogue which extol the virtues of things with which he's no longer comfortable. I think, for these artists to avoid damaging the cause, which is already so misunderstood and maligned, they have to address where they stand in relation to what they have done and said before (I'll concede that Taylor has begun this by acknowledging she didn't really know what feminism was, even though it still irks me), and why, in Beyonce's case in particular, they chose to reject the label for so long (for which I don't entirely blame them, but think should be explained).

Dammit, I lost my train of thought. Just - people should feel comfortable saying they're feminists (though, to me, it's worth a lot more to claim something when it's not easy). And feminists are a diverse group who don't necessarily agree on everything (porn, for example, or name-changes after marriage). But feminism is a precious thing, and attitudes towards it are precarious. Let's not fuck it up.

2. Marianne Faithfull. Full disclosure: I already detested the idiot. But her comments about modern pop artists being "rubbishy sluts" incensed me. Firstly (and thankfully), the story died because she is so irrelevant; in fact, the headline was probably the only way to make people take notice of the fact she has a new album coming out. But what the fuck? This is a female artist who not only knows what the music industry is like, but has played that game; how many of us only know her because of how often she expounds on her past relationships with members of The Rolling Stones (excellent taste in men by the way; gotta love a man who "trades" women - DICK)? Fucking hypocrite. Secondly: HATE THE GAME. Yep, artists like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna piss me the fuck off too (though not as much as the Selena Gomezes), and whatever misguided rubbish they spout about doing things on their terms and how they're actually empowering women makes me want to ram the tv with the car, and yep, they do have a choice and god I wish they would use the power they do have and change things (and maybe I should cut TS and Bey a little more slack - but when you know better, you do better!). But they are symptoms of a bigger problem - a huge one, in fact, called PATRIARCHY. I'm pretty sure, despite the drugs, Marianne Faithfull knows something about that. And she's old! Why in heavens name would she think it's okay to call women "rubbishy sluts"? Apart from it just being a bullshit thing to do, isn't a slut a person who has lots of sexual partners? Who in the industry is known to have had more than Mick Jagger?! If she's so free and progressive, why would she use "slut" as a derogatory term?

I'm all riled up again, and I think this may be one of the most poorly-argued and badly-written posts in the history of this blog, but I feel GREAT. I have fucking missed this blog, and what it makes me think, and how it makes me feel. I don't know if anyone even reads it anymore, but I don't mind starting again. Reunited and it feels SO GOOD.

Back as soon as I can, even if it means sneakily writing on the toilet.

Monday, December 9, 2013

(just slipping in quietly)

Can we just pretend it hasn't been a month and a half? If you read the Dogtown blog, you'll know that the shop has been taking all of my (limited) energy; when we get home in the evening all I can do is flop on the couch and wait to be fed, and I spend at least one full day of the weekend in bed, napping and reading. One of the aspects of parenting that pregnancy is really preparing me for is being tired all the time (and I'm aware that I don't even really know what tired means yet), and that means I have to be really selective about how I expend the resources I have. It's actually quite fucking boring; picking having a shower over going for a drive.

Anyway, it's just over two weeks until Christmas, and just under two weeks until we get to Auckland. I can't wait for either; talking and reading about Auckland makes me so eager to get there and hug the city (or its representatives; look out council workers, homeless people, and people of Asian, African, or Polynesian descent - I am coming for YOU), and Christmas means being with my family for several weeks, and eating a shitload of food and listening to carols incessantly. I'm both nervous and excited to see how much I manage to eat without putting room/time aside for alcohol. It could be amazing. It could be UGLY.

I also think it's time to get away from Dunedin for a bit, even though that means being away from our house, and Joe, and Vincent's parents. I feel like I have more love for the city than it has for me at the moment. We went to a Christmas market on Saturday and came across two stalls selling Golly dolls - one devoted to them, and it made me feel a bit sick and very ashamed. Racism exists everywhere but it doesn't make it feel any less awful when you come across it, particularly in such a setting; with school choirs performing, and Santa walking around giving out lollies. A week ago, Vincent and I passed a group of anti-abortion protesters outside the hospital; almost ten of them (most being men), holding up hateful signs accusing women who undergo terminations as murderers, and it was clear that nothing either of us said made a difference to them - in fact, they seemed to derive pleasure from it, even my obvious pain; smiling, and chanting prayers. This happens everywhere too; both Vincent and I have had run-ins with men in Auckland doing the same thing, but never had I seen so many, and never right outside the hospital doors. I've always felt strongly about anti-abortion protesting (I won't call them pro-life; they're pro- one kind of life, but completely disregard the lives and rights of women) but never more so than now, when I have a baby inside me. Pregnancy is hard - no doubt about it. I've come to realise what a personal experience it is, and that it must differ for every person who goes through it, but I can't believe that it's ever easy. For me, it's as easy as it could be; I'm thirty, in a relationship that defines the words stable and loving, I'm healthy, I have my own house, and I have family and friends to support me. And yet it's still hard. If any of those things were removed, I don't know how I would handle this; even if I had all of them but was five years younger. No-one, and especially no fucking man, has the right to tell me or any woman who finds out she's pregnant what we should do, or that her decision not to continue her pregnancy is wrong. After taking an applied ethics paper at uni, I realised I'm not clear on where I believe life begins, and I understand how some people feel about a foetus, but when it comes to the foetus in someone else's body, it is none of anyone else's business.

I sound angry, but I'm not; not at this moment, anyway. I feel displaced. I haven't found my people down here yet, and I'm starting to realise that I need friends here - having wonderful friends in Auckland isn't enough. I need to know that there are people like me and Vincent down here; our age, with similar interests and values, who want this place to be what we want it to be.

Anyway. In an hour we'll go to Vincent's Mum & Dad's and eat vegetarian lasagna and ice-cream and strawberries from the garden, and we'll talk about politics and people, and I'll feel better - as far as friends go, we couldn't find better ones down here than they are to us. In two weeks, we'll be in my city, either at our friends' house, or at my parents', or at one of our favourite bars in the city, where I won't even care that there won't be alcohol in my drink and that I'll be twice the size of every other woman there. 

And then, after a time, I think I'll miss here. And then I'll realise it's home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

the actual deal with pregnancy

Since first learning about him, I've always thought Descartes was an idiot. Mind/body dualism made no sense to me; who I am is so much about lived experience - lived experience is how I understand feminism, and the experience of ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community. It's how I make sense of the world, and where I fit (or don't fit) in it.

Then I got pregnant. And my body began to change. Fast. And all of a sudden, there was a gap between my mind and my body, and I started to feel like a crazy person, without cohesion, unable to make any sense of myself. In my mind, I'm still me; the same me I've fought to be since I was listening to Channel Z in the dark until midnight. But my body is someone else's; I wake up sore from someone else's movement, and my stomach and boobs get bigger with someone else's growth. I feel like they don't belong to me anymore, but I have to carry them around and be judged by them; defined by them. People who don't know who I am look at me and see a pregnant woman; that's all I am. And my dissatisfaction; my desire to be seen as me first, makes me feel like a bad mother.

I've been trying to figure out if this is what a feminist pregnancy is, or if this is anti-feminist pregnancy and all about feeling sexually invisible and undesirable, and really, I don't know. Maybe it's both. I do know that I want to be pregnant, and that I want my daughter to have a completely open-ended future, and that I will fight to the death for her to have it. I know it's a privilege to be a parent, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a particular privilege to be her parent. But I don't want to be defined by her; especially not by her not as an individual but just as something that came out of me. I realise now that as much as I love my relationships; being Vincent's wife, my sisters' sister, my parents' daughter etc, that I've never felt defined by them, or ever wanted to be. Being a parent; more specifically, a mother, threatens to define me. As far as I can tell, the women around me accept that, or welcome it (unless they just don't think about it), and it makes me feel separate from them, and think I'm doing this wrong. But I don't feel entirely wrong. I feel like being a separate person, undefined by my reproductive choices, is a fair thing to want. And I feel angry that I didn't know it might feel like this. Pregnancy is an incredibly personal experience, and one that must be different for every person. But I can't believe that there aren't more women who have been through it who haven't felt this way, and if there were, that they didn't say anything about it. In all of the conversations I've had about pregnancy, I've found one woman - one, who is struggling to reconcile head with her changing body. And I've been too afraid of being judged to say to the rest that I resent some of this; that I hate not being me, and that I want to do it all differently.

I don't know if this even makes sense; it's come out weird because I feel it so strongly, and because just saying it feels like an act of defiance. In the same way that it feels like a betrayal of my daughter in what she might see as the role of a traditional mother, it also feels also feels like I'm protecting her and her right to be herself, independent of anyone, including me. My feelings are about me - I'm not pretending they're about anyone else, but my right to feel them go so much further than me, and the best idea I have of things going further than myself right now is my daughter, in my uterus right now. My emotional state makes it hard to think about what I want for her for too long because the waterworks start, and it makes me feel guilty because I can't bond with her in the state she is now and I don't really know why; people always say a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant and a man a father when the baby is born, but it's not true for me - I'm just an incubator who feeds her and carries her around and tries to bond with an idea I have of her, which is her in a few years, not her now, and I try to pretend she's strong and defiant in there and doesn't need me to be all maternal but I can't help feeling like she's on her own and vulnerable because I'm thinking of her as an idea and not what she is. But I know I want complete freedom for her, including gender fluidity, and the chance to be whatever she wants.

I'm going to end on a rant so I don't feel so sad. Since being pregnant, I've noticed more and more that people are using sex and gender interchangeably; from the research I've done, it seems to be an American thing, like saying disoriented instead of disorientated. Except that it's really different. I'm so tempted to be an asshole when people talk about a gender scan, and ask them what the machine looks like, and how sad I think it is that even babies in utero are subject to social construction. The reason it bothers me so much is because understanding feminism and LGBTQ rights depend on the distinction between the two. Sex refers to the junk a person is born with. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles conferred on the sexes, or a person's personal experience of their sex. When we use the two interchangeably, we make sex seem like a biological destiny that determines who we are and what we are able to be like. I completely reject this for myself, and the thought of my daughter having this foisted upon her makes me want to go off into the Amazon rainforest right now.

It's so much more comfortable being a cockhole than an isolated mind with a baby on board.

Friday, October 11, 2013

don't judge me

1. I'm almost certain people aren't judging my food choices, but I can't help feeling like they are. I bought a coffee for my mother-in-law yesterday, and because I didn't want the person behind the counter to think I'm drinking coffee during pregnancy, I got a drink for myself, even though I didn't actually want it. Today I got a burger from a takeaway bar (I feel like I'm going to be stoned for just writing that), and I felt like people were watching and disapproving the way we all did when those photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones, smoking when she was about to pop, came out. The thing is, I actually eat pretty healthily but no-one ever believes me - which is can be hilarious and frustrating, like when my Dad gave me a lecture about my health and diet and then served up dinner; a (yum) seafood curry and rice with NO vegetables in it. Since being pregnant, I've eaten even better, but no-one ever sees it, and then when I'm sitting here eating Doritos (which have never tasted so good), I feel as if someone's going to bust down the door and say "do you know what's IN that?!". So: I am eating lots and lots of vegetables. At least two servings of fruit. Tons of other good stuff. And I am also eating lollies (a little dollar bag from the dairy every other day). And Doritos. And today I ate a pineapple burger from the takeaway bar. So.

2. I'm watching X Factor. I watched it last night. I will probably watch it next Thursday and Friday too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

then/now

I wish I was the kind of person who does those visualising exercises to help clarify where she would like to be in however many years time, and that sort of thing. Not that I don't like seeing life unfold as if it's just happening and not the result of a million little choices and chances; I just think it would be interesting to see what kind of person I was to want whatever I thought I wanted, and how much of a fortunate failure I might be. What I'm really saying is, this time last year I don't think I had much of an idea that right now I would be sitting in a deck-chair pretending to be a pregnant Sophia Loren (I really just mean that I'm barefoot with sunglasses and an off-the-shoulder top, and that I bothered to fix my hair - okay, I bothered to fix the front and sides, which I thought was normal until my sister told me otherwise) in the afternoon sun, watching Joe bask and eat his paws, waiting for Jimmy to come home with the dinner his Mum is making for us, with a faint smell of cat shit riding the breeze (Joe chased a cat into the shed earlier, and it seems the cat may have shat itself while waiting to make its esacpe, which it finally did about ten minutes ago, two hours after Joe chased it in. Cat lovers may not enjoy this story, but I think the whole episode was hilarious, and life and tv being as they are, you have to get your kicks where you can).

I remember the feeling of being young so clearly. Jimmy played a quintessentially '90s sounding song the other day, and the feelings of being an adolescent came flooding back with it; those of longing, and desperation for life to start. That was the last time I think I visualised my future; but it was never a specific place, or situation. It was always a vague sense of glamour (HA HA) and ALWAYS dominated by Shakespearean romance, although rather than being an active participant, I always seemed to cast myself as an object of loving obsession. I shudder at the patriarchal traditions associated with weddings, but I should be more forgiving; though a feminist now, the time when my mind was most romantically active, all I dreamt of was the male gaze.

The male gaze is not a problem for the pregnant woman, except in that the fact it isn't a problem is, really, a problem. When you become pregnant, you start to become invisible; like you're being benched for a while. I've been watching Sex And The City when Miranda's pregnant with Brady, and being benched when you're single and really not wanting to be benched looks like a fucking pain. The general perception of pregnant women is so incompatible with the tidal wave of hormones and blood booming around her body. They dance around the subject politely and allude to it as delicately as possible on pregnancy websites, and it does no-one any favours. I think the real reason women used to go into confinement was because the men they were tied to lacked the time, energy, will or ability to have sex with them when the women wanted it, and times were such that no-one questioned them when they said it was for decency and health. Foiled by men AGAIN.

On Sex And The City, I've just had epiphany after epiphany while watching. I wrote a long post about what I realised about singles and couples and how much sex they have and why they sleep with the people they sleep with, but didn't publish because I'm not sure if it's a revelation or just crazy-talk. In any case, I think I know now why single people sometimes sleep with idiots, and it makes sense. (I'm still confused as to why people who are usually in relationships do it.) I also think I realise now how much more sex people in relationships probably have than most single people (that might sound obvious, but I truly assumed that most single people were having maybe less weekday sex, but just as regular weekend sex, just with lots more people. Generally speaking, I now believe that to be untrue. I think my views were swayed by how much sex my best single girlfriends have - more than other singles - and how desirable I think they are. If that makes sense.) Anyway, it's all kind of information I could have used yesterday. I'm afraid now that I was one of those awful smug-marrieds at Magda & Jeremy's house, who thinks their mostly coupled experience is the norm. Now I realise if there's going to be any kind of norm, it should be that of a single person, because that's how we all start out, and while some people have never been in a relationship, no-one in the world has not been single.

Now I think I was best not to publish the last epiphany, because that one looks like a huge, ridiculous generalisation - I know some people don't care at all about sex. However, it is what I learnt from Sex And The City, so it sticks until I learn something different from Girls. (I'm joking. Mostly.) Watching has also been making me really miss my girlfriends, and cocktails (which, with the exception of Tom Collins, I haven't drunk regularly for years... mmm, Tom Collins), and cafe breakfasts, and being bothered getting dressed up, and a relatively flat stomach. Those were the DAYS.

Now I'm sitting on a deckchair in the evening sun with an empty bag of Doritos and a glass of water that was mine until Joe started lapping from it, having only brushed my teeth (since getting up) two hours ago. Two of my best friends turn thirty tomorrow. I'm not wishing to go back in time (although that would be fun), though I'm thinking of ("some", crucially) of it wistfully. But I am really looking forward to when we're together again, maybe in our mid-thirties, like the SATC girls, with all of the knowledge and epiphanies that will make us better people and better friends (I had more to learn than any of them), drinking cocktails made with less and better alcohol than we used to use, dressed in more and looking a million times better for it, and hopefully not having to put fingers down each others' throats at any point during the night.

I really want to post THIS version of THIS song but record companies blah blah blah so...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

where we're at

The other day, we discovered a talent we didn't know I had. I am awesome at Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Except, the way we play doesn't end with Kevin Bacon; Vincent names two actors, and I try to link them in as few steps as possible (and never more than six). It makes me feel like my freakish propensity to remember actors' names and from whence I know them is actually very important and could one day win me a million dollars, or a car, or something.

I know it's been quiet around here. I've found life a bit overwhelming lately, and I think I've been avoiding coming here in particular because this is a place where I really think about things, and while that's how I like to live - an examined life - there are times when it's all I can do to just to shower and change my top.

In two words: I'm pregnant.

I'm happy about it; immensely happy, actually. But I'm also shit-scared, and I'm tired all the time, and I feel so responsible, but not responsible full-stop; responsible for. I realise that's how a lot of people live their lives; kids who are their family's big hope, guide-dogs. Parents. But for much of my life, the goal was independence; limited responsibility to, and responsibility for myself only. Now everything I do affects someone else, and by extension, someone else too. Sometimes it paralyses me, and then sometimes I wonder if it's a crutch and if I was already paralysed but now have something I can point to.

Now that I'm here, I realise I need to keep coming back. Before this happened, but after we'd decided we wanted it to, I had begun writing a book about it. Since it happened, I haven't been able to write a thing, and I don't really know why. Do you ever feel as if everything is happening, and nothing is happening? That's how I feel, right now.