Sunday, December 18, 2011

Going to the motherf*king BANK like an ADULT

What's on the table for today?

Old meme but true meme. Allie Brosh has perfectly captured the Grownup Responsibility Spiral I catch myself in all the time - I'm gonna be responsible! I'm going to cook a real dinner every night instead of eating frozen Safeway generic mozzarella sticks and/or two bowls of Raisin Bran! I am going to take a goddamn toothbrush to the goddamn dingy bathroom grout! That pile of clothes in the bedroom? Gone! I am a fucking ADULT here.

And it's worse now that I'm going to be a mom. Mom = competent grownup. It is known. One of the reasons I am having the Wee Baby Seamus in the first place is so I have an incentive to get my shit together. The trouble is, now I have to get my shit together. And I don't think I'm quite ready to get it up to mom standards. Sitcom-dad standards, sure. I can cook dinner, half-assedly wipe down the bathroom sink and remember to put my socks in the hamper most of the time, but dusting? People actually DUST? Oh god, I have to remember to run the dishwasher EVERY DAY? Right now Max handles most of the housework with no complaint because he is the Felix to my Oscar, but I'm already starting to feel terrible that I'm "letting" my husband do the work I should be doing because I'm The Mom. If Dad has to do the work then Mom has failed.

That's how it worked when I was growing up. I've seen what it did to my mom, who is a world-class martyr, and the guilt trips she's laid on me over the years are nothing compared to what she does to herself. On that path lies danger. I must avoid it.

So last night I avoided it. I played Skyrim for... eight hours? Holy fuck! In the process I also ate way too much blackberry-chocolate-swirl ice cream and finished it off with brie and crackers. I think. I came out of my usual RPG coma at 2:30 am with a dirty ice cream spoon and brie rinds and half a box of crackers in front of me, so I am pretty sure that's what I ate. It's all a blur. A vast, sweeping, gorgeously mountainous blur full of badly rendered facial features. God, that font they use for all the lore! Not that I mind vast quantities of lore - that's a plus in a game - but I'm sitting there on the couch squinting at the TV trying to read pages and pages of lore that's aimed at people who've played all the Elder Scrolls games already (I haven't) and trying to decipher the olde-timey-high-fantasy font. You can tell which system an RPG is meant to be played on by the size and font the lore is done in, and very clearly I'm supposed to be on a PC.

This is the downward-turning part of the grownup achievement spiral, where you just get overwhelmed by All The Things and give up. On this path lies danger as well. I should get out of bed and go do things. But I'm soooo pregnant and tired and my feet hurt! Pregnant ladies should not have to do things! They are delicate flowers and getting out of bed is too much for them! Other insidious benevolent-sexist tropes! Waaah!

I better stop blogging and get on with All The Things before I turn into Phyllis Schlafly.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

So much for that writing career

NaNoWriMo, alternately savior and scourge of my pop-fiction-writing dreams, is more than halfway done, and I have given up utterly. This is not unusual. What IS unusual is that last year I "won," by which is meant writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and while it was disjointed and the characters were flat, it had a coherent plot and some decent pathos and I don't cringe rereading it, which is definitely something. After one serious and countless halfhearted attempts, all failures, I was galvanized. I can do this, I thought. Maybe someday I could even make money off it. Should I get my MFA? Holy crap, this thing is in sight for once! 

This year? We've got a hell of a lot of house rearrangement to handle, due to our joint packrat tendencies, before the Wee Baby Seamus (his latest nickname - Link didn't stick) makes his appearance. Every weekend is taken up with it. Also? New job stress. What the hell am I doing taking a new job six months pregnant? I'm a contract employee, a high-paid glorified temp, and I have to go where the work is, and this is where the work is till I'm due. Shorter commute, too, which is going to start mattering really soon.

Because the exhaustion is starting to set in. I'm already having trouble with stairs. I was warned about that. They told me, dog.

Yeah, old memes are just about where my level of creativity is at with all this going on, so NaNo is by the wayside, and while it's definitely more of a forfeit than an outright failure, it still feels like failure. Writers write, so I am not a writer. I do not write like a motherfucker. This thing I have wanted to do all my life, it's a half-assed pipe dream. "You can do it!" trumpet the NaNo emails that keep appearing in my inbox. "You should really be at 33,000 words right now," they add. Thank you! Thank you for showing me that my utter incompetence can be quantitatively measured! Now I'm going to go count the excess calories I ate today and stand on the scale and think about how specific my failure THERE is! Goddamn it, I hate numbers sometimes.

And then I get another email from NaNo begging for donations and I feel better about not buying into their program this year. Somewhere along the line the founder decided that they needed to be a nonprofit with a year-round staff, despite the fact that they only run two programs a year and all they really seem to do is run the website, get some famous writers to do "pep talks," print out some materials for classrooms and sell T-shirts. Hell, I get more harassing "give us money" emails from them - not just in November, but year-round - than I do from the ACTUAL charities I donate to. Do I need to send them money just to make me feel bad for not meeting a goal? No. I am already on my own case about very nearly everything. I don't need a personal trainer to make me loathe myself. I can do that just fine already.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A perfect storm of fart noises forever

Oh dear god.

It's a boy.

We weren't even supposed to find out. It just so happened that I'd put off the NT ultrasound (part of the overly-elaborate process of genetic testing that has been giving me anxiety attacks lately - I am so used to my body failing me at every turn, I expected something to be drastically wrong, but apparently everything's fine? I'm confused) till after my recent trip back to the husband's and my Rust Belt hometown. Just got back, got the scan, and there it was, dancing around on the screen like a twitchy little monkey doll. Oh man!

And the tech casually says, "So are you planning to find out what the gender is?"

Of course we are. My entire family made it clear that if I don't they'll never forgive me. Heaven forbid you have to buy things with cute bunnies and duckies and monkeys on them instead of "Daddy's Little MVP" and "Born to Shop." Gotta get those gender norms ironed out early! (With the ladies doing the ironing thereof, of course.) But mostly we are just curious. "Yeah?" I said, skeptical. "Aren't we not supposed to be able to see anything yet?"

So she points to this little weird dangly thing and grins and holy shit that's a penis. It's a boy! It's a goddamned little teeny awesome BOY. Unless that was an intestine. We won't know for sure till the next ultrasound in six weeks. But wow, sure looks like it.

What am I going to do now?

Despite logically knowing there's a 50/50 chance it would occur, I never planned for having a boy. I have spent my whole adult life planning on how I'm going to raise my daughter differently from how my mom raised me. When she'll be allowed to wear makeup (when she starts getting zits and needs concealer), how late she can stay out (way later than I ever could), can she be friends with people with divorced parents (I wasn't allowed to), what activities I'd encourage her to do (mostly theater - I was a band kid, but my husband is far too hilarously charismatic to waste his genes on an introvert's extracurricular.) I had this picture in my head of this girl with a wicked grin and red hair like my husband's, goofing off in the back of the class and still getting perfect grades, starring in all the musicals, stopping off at Second City before making it big Fey-and-Poehler-style. Or if she absolutely MUST go instrumental, then Interlochen. Or maybe MIT, if she hits that crucial liberal-arts-vs.-science decision point that I hit in mid/late high school and decides to make the RIGHT career choice for her financial future rather than the one I made.

The only plans I ever had for a boy were giving him the annual stern talking-to re: consent and condoms once he hit dating age and trying to keep him from saying "gay" and "retarded."

Which is good. It's very good! Because having preconceived notions of who your kid is going to be and how they are going to become it is what fucked ME up. (That and biochemistry. It'll getcha!) I fell way short of Perfect Daughter, despite being the one my friends' parents held up as "why can't you be more like," because my mom was devastated to have raised a nerd. She hid my computer games and my fantasy novels. "Stop reading and go watch TV" was a common refrain. It just was not on her radar that her daughter would be strange. With my luck I'd have an attractive, cheerful, popular, uncomplicated jock for a daughter, and as I took her homecoming-queen pictures and regarded the wall of softball trophies I would silently think what did I do wrong? Because it all comes down to expecting your same-sex child to be YOU, distilled and improved, and wanting them to do all the things you ever wanted to do. And no one ever is, and no one ever does.

I don't have a picture in my mind's eye of what my son will look like at 20, how he'll wear his hair when he's 14, what his favorite books will be when he's 5. I have made no specific plans for his wardrobe or college major. You know what this means? It means the chain of mother/daughter angst and unfulfilled expectations is broken! No more failed cloning attempts! Evil Beans is a blank slate. And I intend to give him some crayons, step back and let him go to town. This is going to be so much fun.

Except now my husband is going to see it as his solemn sacred duty to teach his son how to work the word "booger" and at least one fart noise into every sentence for the rest of his life.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Women of Science Fiction Book Club: Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Finally! I have been waiting for this one to come up on the list for months now. Lois McMaster Bujold is one of my absolute all-time favorite authors, and best of all she's someone who makes me want to write. Bujold's writing is smart, warm, chatty, quick, and above all readable, much more so than I expect from a repeat award winner. (Does it say something about me, or about book awards in general, that when I hear a book has won an award I steel myself for impenetrability?) She so clearly adores science fiction, fantasy, romance, and all their best-loved tropes - her books' best-known Big Damn Hero, Miles Vorkosigan, is a gleeful mix of trope adherence and trope subversion - and she is not picky about the genre elements she commandeers. For example, my favorite of hers, A Civil Campaign, is a military space opera Regency romance political farce. Yes, it works. It works gloriously. Bujold is the writer I should have been reading since I first picked up a Dragonlance book/turned on Star Trek: The Next Generation in my impressionable preteen years and thought "This is so awesome but it would be better with better writing and more women in it." If I can someday muster a tenth of the character development and sheer enjoyability of her work I'll be happy.

Anyway. Cordelia's Honor! It's actually two books, Shards of Honor and Barrayar, set maybe a month apart but written years apart. Shards of Honor immediately introduces Our Heroine, Cordelia Naismith, space captain and scientist. Who is then captured by the enemy commander, one Aral Vorkosigan, and yes, he's kind of noble and broody, how did you guess? And he's not really the bad guy. The situation is more complex than one would originally think, and oh, he has a dark past! You know right where this book is going from the very beginning - as I mentioned above, "trope" is not a dirty word for Bujold - but it's an enjoyable ride, especially with Cordelia as our POV character. She's practical, caring, and brave without crossing into Mary Sue territory as too many lady captains in space operas tend to do; she never shrinks from what needs to be done, even if her opinion of "what needs to be done" differs vastly from that of the people around her, such as her captor and later husband, whose harsh militaristic culture clashes with the more, shall we say, Starfleet attitude of Cordelia's homeworld. Needless to say, Cordelia's move to the backwards sexist military monarchy of Barrayar is a move she makes because she's centered enough to know the culture can't change her. Instead, she intends to change it.

Then, Barrayar. I have to say, I love Barrayar - the book and also the planet, the aforementioned backwards society being made up of people just doing the best they can with what they're given. Often I wonder what makes writers of science fiction decide to write a sexist future - hundreds of years, thousands even, and you want that to be one of the things we keep? The Golden Age writers, alas, thought that was right and proper. Bujold, on the other hand, is doing one of the things science fiction is actually for, which is using a potential future to criticize the current status quo. (And she doesn't seem to get any enjoyment out of writing misogyny, unlike George R.R. Martin, who, while obviously intending to use a misogynist fantasy world to critique the status quo, often comes off as feeding women to the wolves - literally, on occasion - just for shock-and-horror value. By the way, despite this, A Dance with Dragons got really good about 2/3 of the way through. Digression!)

I will say something right now: I would not be pregnant at this moment if it weren't for Barrayar. That's not an exaggeration. I read this book two years ago and was immediately struck with something I hadn't seen before: a pregnant POV heroine, cheerfully regarding the whole process as a weird and fascinating endeavor. Cordelia would be perfectly willing to offload her protobaby to a uterine replicator as one does on Beta Colony, but medical science on Barrayar has not quite gotten there yet, so she makes the best of the biological method. She's a little scared, somewhat unnerved by her body doing something so bizarre as building another human being in it, but she's also very excited - without being changed at all from the person we were reading about a book ago. Let me repeat: YOU NEVER SEE THIS. Pregnant women, if you ever see them anywhere in the media at all, are either placid baby-drunk Madonnas of the Precious Moments school or hormone-crazed harpies lumbering around a desert island shrieking "MAAH BAAYBEEEE". They're barely human. They do not in any way go about their business in a perfectly normal fashion, except maybe peeing more often, and they especially do not get to be POV characters, much less awesome POV characters. It was the first hint I'd had that maybe being pregnant/a mom would not warp me beyond all human recognition.

And then there's the bit with the poison gas and the uterine replicator that, frankly, made me wonder if Bujold was trying to make an anti-abortion point. Cordelia is poisoned during an attempt on her husband's life; she recovers, but the baby will die unless they do an experimental treatment that would, unfortunately, kill her, and at the very least the baby's going to come out of it with deformed bones. Luckily they have one of those uterine replicators sitting around after all, and at great risk to herself and with great opposition from her father-in-law (who refuses to let a cripple be Count Vorkosigan - there's huge anti-disability stigma on Barrayar, due to prior use of mutagens as biological weapons), she has the kid switched over and starts treatment. She nearly dies during the removal process. At the time this struck me as a Twilight-esque the-baby-at-all-costs message, but upon reread, it does not come across that way. The combination of factors involved - her husband's reproductive capacity may have been damaged by the poison, they're rich, the uterine replicator is RIGHT THERE, her father-in-law is such an ass that to NOT defy him would be unthinkable, and mostly that Cordelia is from a highly technological society and is used to science being able to solve medical problems - influence her decision, and then there's her decision itself: she's not choosing to save the baby because she thinks it's the empirical 100 percent correct and right thing to do in all cases. She just WANTS to. Right then, in that situation, with those factors, she wants to, and that's all that matters. It's a choice message. I approve of choice messages.

Or am I just construing it that way because that way I can keep loving the book as much as I do?

Because I do love the book. I love the universe Bujold creates, whether she's working in fantasy or science fiction. The best way I can describe it is that there's always a note of hope running through everything. There are tragedies and atrocities galore (the end of Mirror Dance, for example, is pure nightmare fuel) and no character gets out unscathed, but wounds heal, memories fade, and people go on with their lives, weary, wiser and glad to be alive. That's what makes Bujold's work comfort reading for me.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

All hail the space marine beauty queen

Ah well. BlondeFemShep won. Inevitable! Can't say I'm not disappointed, but hey, at least we get FemShep on the box. I also really hope they don't do what I've heard some buzz about - namely, changing the character's movements to be more "feminine" a la Dragon Age 2.  Let me tell you, mincing hip-swinging Ladyhawke bugged me to no end, especially since my preferred Hawke is a greatsword-wielding tank and realistically it'd impossible to mince in heavy armor. One thing I appreciate about FemShep is that she strides around with the same no-nonsense space-taking-up swagger as DudeShep. Do not take that away from me, Bioware! I want my hard-drinking terribly-dancing gender-norm-ignoring lady space marine in a future where none of that even matters anymore! Please don't cave to the beauty police any more than you already have!

Considering that, as I mentioned, the game in the Bioware box is always vastly superior to the game ON the Bioware box, I'm thinking they'll keep FemShep's movements as is, especially with the (unsurprisingly hostile, alas) backlash against BlondeShep. But you never know. EA Marketing is a harsh mistress.

But there is an upside! And it's a selfish upside for me in particular. Because this means WIGLESS COSPLAY. Even better than Starbuck because I won't have to cut my hair and my preferred Shepard hanging-around-the-Normandy uniform has sleeves to hide my insufficiently military biceps. Oh man! I wonder if my husband's cosplay-obsessed friend would work on commission. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

You can fight like a krogan, run like a leopard/but you'll never be better than Commander Shepard

Goddamn you, Comic-Con. I get myself all psyched up for some crazy awesome announcement re: the Mass Effect movie (and I am SO EXCITED - I am not one of those fans who is terrified they'll mess it up, because even if they do it still means MORE MASS EFFECT.) And they give us this. Sigh. Maybe next year?
But more exciting things re: Mass Effect 3! They are letting the fans vote on which version of Femshep gets in the marketing materials/on the Collector's Edition box (which I have already preordered the shit right out of, of course.) Six Femsheps, all of 'em grim, sultry and movie-hot. Which, I'll admit, I am a tad disappoint, because I kind of like default game Femshep with her ordinary-looking face and awkward haircut - do you think the galaxy's most kickass space marine is going to waste time on hair and makeup? Hell no! She's got people to kill and places to blow up! But, I guess, you gotta glam it up for the box art. At least she's in full armor.

The trouble with letting fans vote on things, though, is that a lot of fans are morons and what they want isn't good for the franchise. See the "straight guys don't even want the possibility of gay romance in their games" thread over at the Bioware forums re: Dragon Age 2. The proper response is the smackdown the lead writer immediately laid, one of the few times I've seen someone in gaming ever even own up to the concept of privilege, much less having it. Magnificent. This is why I buy everything they make and the T-shirts too. And while the way they're doing it isn't my favorite, I'm glad they at least have decided to give Femshep a marketing presence, because the trouble with Bioware's marketing has always been that the game as portrayed on the box is significantly worse than the game that's actually IN the box. Generic white dude space marine/sexy chick/weird alien, pose as a team. Do you want to play that? I don't want to play that. It's probably a standard military sci-fi FPS with a grim greyish color scheme, weak writing, boring aliens and a story mode that's been half-assed in favor of multiplayer. If I hadn't stumbled into Mass Effect via fellow Dragon Age fans gushing over it I would never have found out how awesome it was.

Ahem. My point! My point is that catering to the majority fanbase can go wrong. Like right now it is going wrong, because the top-rated Shepard is the blonde one. Really, really blonde. Samus Aran blonde. And even as someone who is significantly blonde, and who made my Dragon Age character look just like me for kicks and it was a ton of fun - for God's sake, does every woman in every freakin' medium have to be blonde ALL THE TIME? Even in the future? Is the tyranny of hair dye (because blonde is not that common a hair color IRL - if you want to know how many natural blonde women there are, count the blond men. Surprising!) going to continue for another few hundred years? Is the epitome of beauty still going to be "as white as you can possibly get without being an albino"? Is that the future you want to spend upwards of 40 hours of gametime, perhaps several times over, wallowing in? Not me. I would rather hang out in a future where Shepard is not white (see proposed Femshep #4, my personal favorite) and nobody gives a damn. See Lesley Kinzel's most awesome argument re: this. Or at least is a short-haired redhead like my own personal Femshep (coincidentally illustrated by Bill Mudron in this nifty poster I need to buy.) Not the same damn hot-blonde-chick stereotype we see everywhere else all the goddamned time. Have some imagination, people!

I'm buying the Collector's Edition no matter which Femshep is on it, of course. And I know it's going to be Dudeshep in the movie, alas, because to get Femshep right they'd have to cast Jennifer Hale and I don't think she does live-action work. If it absolutely HAS to be Dudeshep I am rooting for Matthew Fox. ("Tali! We have to go back!") Not only has he already played a guy named Sheppard but he's got the correct sort of bland-yet-tough earnestness you want from a Paragon Shep, and we already know he can rock a buzz cut.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Frank Miller's Lord of the Rings

A Dance with Dragons actually exists and has been published and I am reading it! What's next, the Arrested Development movie gets made? I'm getting a kick out of it so far, but it hasn't really caught fire yet - although even if it doesn't, I'm satisfied. I do love the whole A Song of Ice and Fire series - it has all the things I want in my high-end pulp fantasy. Maps in the front, elaborate family trees in the back, dragons, knights, political plotting during which everyone in the book simultaneously stabs each other in the back, descriptions of feasts, etc. that go on for thousands upon thousands of pages. Doorstop fantasy at its finest. I love me some wizards and shit.

I'd planned to write a longer post earlier re: A Game of Thrones on HBO, but I've only watched the first two episodes so far, so that's coming later. I do HAVE the whole season, I just ended up working long hours and when I got home I could really only spare half an hour for television before bed, so we ended up watching all of Parks and Recreation instead. Okay, that's not the whole reason - the other part was that I was a little taken aback by the pornitude. Now ASOIAF is chock-full of sex sex sex anyway - I have to say that's part of what I like about the "dark fantasy" aspect of it, showcasing how lust and greed can drive the fates of nations - so I thought I was prepared. But apparently some people at HBO had the following conversation:

Writer: So, in the first book we have whores, incest, rape, whores, forced child marriage, a lesbian scene, public ritual sex and whores.
HBO executive: More whores.
Writer: I already said -
HBO executive: MORE WHORES.
Other HBO executive: And make sure they're naked!

Also I really wasn't impressed with the kid they got for Jon Snow, and while "Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister" are the five words that guaranteed I would watch the hell out of this show, some review somewhere pointed out that his accent is super cheesy and now I can't unhear it. But I really do need to watch the rest. Otherwise the show we're working on at the moment is House and the last thing I need to do right now is think about how many undiagnosable diseases I might have right now. Pregnancy is one of the times in one's life where one is actively encouraged to be a hypochondriac, and I do not need that, I really don't.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Naming your future supervillain

I have just been amusing myself over at Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing, and I know what I'm naming the kid (tentatively referred to right now as Evil Beans, from a Jezebel comment re: what you would have to eat regularly to mistake a baby kicking you in the ribcage for indigestion) if it's a girl: Tierranney. It looks like a typically goofy fake-Celtic baby name, and then you pronounce it. It would be especially hilarious if she got a postgraduate degree and became Doctor Tierranney. Or went into academia and was Professor Tierranney. And the usual "and now the President of the United States, (firstname) (lastname)" baby name acceptability formula works too. What rules the free world? Tierranney! And of course she will find a place in her cabinet for her sister Hegemonie.

I am sorely tempted. Granted, my husband is sorely tempted to name a boy Guybrush, and that's not going to happen, so alas, poor Evil Beans is going to have to take over the world with a less perfectly appropriate first name.

The iPhone app I'm using to obsessively track everything about this pregnancy has a list of the current top thousand baby names, and just wow. I thought Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing represented outliers. Apparently not. Each one of the names below has at least 300 kids in the US who were named it last year. In some cases significantly more. I do not understand the thought processes that lead to certain names taking hold of the mass subconscious so that even parents who think they're original are compelled to use them, but the swarms of  Jennys in my grade school class are proof that it happens.

Today's selections: Boys.

#674: Alexzander (pick one weird letter and stick with it, people)
#583: Armani (will get a job in tech and spend his life in ratty jeans and video-game T-shirts)
#978: Bridger (for a minute there I thought it said "Badger" - which is pretty cool if you want your kid to grow up to be an Old West outlaw)
#631: Cannon (naming your children after artillery is so Palinesque)
#766: Dax (yeah, I liked Deep Space Nine too)
#670: Draven (walks the night...)
#736: Gauge (now I can see "Gage", but "Gauge"? And his brothers Jack and Tire Iron)
#859: German (is probably not actually. Part of the "I've never been there but it's such a nice name" trend: see also London, Ireland, Asia.)
#471: Gunner (not "Gunnar", Gunner. As in one who shoots guns. This is my friend's dad's hunting dog's name. That's much more appropriate.)
#154: Jaxon (sound the klaxon! It's Jaxon! I actually think this one is kind of cute.)
#500: Kale (is not as tasty as the health nuts would have us believe, and I have been known to eat raw mustard greens)
#883: Leonidas (TONIGHT WE DINE IN HELL!!!!)
#939: Lyric (nouns as first names are goofy sometimes but generally I approve - but "Lyric" is a little celebrity-baby for me. Says "My dad was totally in a band in college.")
#511: Maverick (it will always be 2008 for this kid)
#704: Messiah (doomed to feel like an underachiever forever)
#780: Raiden (FATALITY!!!)
#804: Ronin (and his brother Shinobi - they like to go out back and throw the ol' ninja star around)
#719: Sincere (has no choice but to grow up to be a con man)
#465: Talon (yes, you consider yourself kind of a badass, we get it )

And my absolute favorite: #628, Xzavier. An X is cool, a Z is cooler - put them together and TRIPLE WORD SCORE!

Friday, July 1, 2011

O Canada!

On this Canada Day, let's all raise a Labatt to our friendly neighbors to the north, home of awesome things including socialized healthcare, the fun side of Niagara Falls, and of course Bioware.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cravings goddamnit

I wasn't even trying to be cute. I was walking around the grocery store at lunch, scanning for things I could stand to eat, and something fruity and fat-free but not TOO fruity = gummi bears, and something salty and creamy and tangy = Purple Haze chevre. It didn't even occur to me how cliched I was being till I was making up the cheese plate.

So yeah. Gummi bears and goat cheese are the new pickles and ice cream.

Friday, June 24, 2011

how is babby formed

Yep! Still pregnant.

I'm not really into it (yet, at least.) It is freaking me out, I'm bloated, I'm queasy - it's like I have a gastrointestinal parasite that also makes my boobs hurt. My mother will not stop calling and every time she does I feel sucked down into the femininity void where you are expected to use phrases like "bless your heart" and "precious little angel," which I can ordinarily only tolerate when they're used as veiled insults in the Southern fashion. Reading the Internet is no better. I am very glad I spent very little time TTC with my DH before I got a BFP so that I never need to see/use those twee acronyms ever, ever again.

Twee. That's the problem. Everything about pregnancy is so charmingly self-consciously childlike, feminine and adorable that it makes me want to find one of those Hallmarks that sell Precious Moments figurines and burn it to the ground. But I digress.

The main reason I am ambivalent and tense about this pregnancy is that I have had a few symptoms that could indicate I may not hang on to it for long. I am either on my way to miscarriage or one of those weird women you see on "I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant!" who have their periods in a normal-ish way and then, whoops! Baby! How the hell did that happen? The doctors (to whom I've run in wild panic twice so far - I can't go my whole first trimester like this!) seem to think I'm okay, pending my next ultrasound in two weeks. We shall see. In any case I am living in fear (because the prospect of miscarrying a wanted child, no matter how early, I am learning, is very disturbing) and trying really, really hard not to get my hopes up. Or get attached, at all. Which is why the precious baby huggy lumpkins shit that my mom wants to foist on me makes me want to barf. Then again, a lot of things make me want to barf right now, including car rides, my coworker's deodorant and basil pesto.

(This has not stopped me for thinking up names. In keeping with the Y-abuse that must apparently take place when you name a girl (Madysyn? Really?), I'm thinking Ysabel Syzygy Myrycle, Ys for short, and my husband insists on Link Batman Optimus Prime for a boy.) 

But yeah, more people know than probably should, thanks to my husband's big mouth, and if I can't pull this off I'm going to have to deal with some of the most awkwardly expressed condolences ever.

You may be picking up that I'm terrible at grief. So terrible that I need to plan for it ahead of time even when things could very well be perfectly fine. Wow, this entry got depressing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The thin blue line

Holy fucking shit.

I'm pregnant.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bridesmaids Revisited

(because sometimes puns are hard to resist, overdone as they may be)

So I really got a kick out of Superbad, problematic though it and the rest of the Apatow oeuvre may be. And at the end there's this scene where the boys, still hung over and embarrassed from their One Crazy Night, go to the mall and run into their counterpart girls from the Big Party, who are likewise hung over and embarrassed. The thought I immediately had was: what did they do? I'm sure it was hilarious,  but no one ever makes One Crazy Night movies about girls. PLEASE SOMEONE MAKE A MOVIE ABOUT WHAT THE GIRLS DID. 

Well, apparently they are doing that sort of thing now! And people are going to see it! Which bodes well for movies about women doing hilarious things, and not rom-com funny (which usually just means the female lead is adorably klutzy) - legitimately funny. And Bridesmaids is legitimately hilarious. Like, inviting my girlfriends over for dinner and afterwards we're like "What do you wanna do?" "I don't know, what do YOU want to do?" and someone says "Let's watch Bridesmaids again" and this happens five times in a row. That funny. I'm very glad that the movie that is apparently making a stand for the woman-centric broad comedy is this good.

So why is it so good? It's actually not a huge movie - not a lot of locations or characters or outrageous events a la Hangover (which actually I haven't seen - yes, my cave is very comfortable, why do you ask?), no special effects, no overly elaborate gag setups, no huge stars, and the centerpiece is actually a bittersweet story about BFFs growing apart - but not only does that allow for subtle humor in addition to the broad stuff, but the ordinariness of the story makes it easy for the intended audience (say what you like, ads, this is a chick flick - a little more on that below) to identify.

Because every woman over 25 has likely been in that wedding party. The nature of wedding parties demands it. Especially if you didn't come from money but then went to college, and then there's the cross-class awkwardness between old friends and new friends that this movie captures perfectly. (Also the one-thin-bridesmaid and one-fat-bridesmaid constant - and, alas, the movie accurately portrays that most brides only listen to the thin bridesmaid when picking the dresses.)

Also captured perfectly: the escalating nature of wedding planning, that chiffon maelstrom that starts out so innocently and the next thing you know you are screaming "What do you MEAN the napkins are cornflower blue instead of baby blue?!?" at some poor slob of a vendor over the phone. The absurd prissiness of wedding dress salons, possibly the worst place in the world to have diarrhea and as much as I'm not fond of poop gags, that one was brilliant.

But really, the five best things about the movie are:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Women of Science Fiction Book Club: Mappa Mundi by Justina Robson

I'm doing the Women of Science Fiction Book Club over at Dreams and Speculation, and Mappa Mundi is the first book I've been able to finish and comment on due to my work schedule. (I am so disappointed I missed out on The Dispossessed! I get downright lyrical about the works of Ursula K. LeGuin.) Here is a mini-review:

Mappa Mundi is a thoughtful technothriller, heavy on the techno, biotech to be specific. Medical nanites are a thing, and they are able to change and induce growth in neurons, useful for the brain-damaged... meanwhile, a coalition of scientists funded by some mysterious dude is developing a "mappa mundi," a full map of the brain and, by extrapolation, the mind. Mix the two and you have either an awesome medical and metaphysical development or weaponized mind control, depending on who you're working for. It's a little confusing, not that Robson goes into huge amounts of technical details - the infodumps are very high-level, suitable for consumption by a reasonably sophisticated reader of thrillers.

Because this is totally a thriller. I didn't expect it - I thought the club was focusing on straight-up 100 percent sci-fi-genred stuff, and the "Legends" part at the beginning, vignettes of defining moments from the lives of some of the main characters, was very evocative and hinted at a book heavy on character development.

Monday, May 23, 2011

We've both said a lot of things you're going to regret: Motherhood, the monomyth and Portal 2

Sometimes you find a piece of pop culture that hits you right in the mythology. Twilight is like that - despite its mediocrity, something about it just resonates with one's inner 14-year-old girl, and if you happen to also be an outer 14-year-old girl, it's the story of your life. For my dude it's FLCL, which I found to be well animated but kind of a mess, but which speaks to him on some young-boy-coming-of-age everything-represents-a-penis emotional level I can't comprehend.

For me it's Portal.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Now panic and freak out

What to Expect When You're Expecting is, it turns out, just as alarmist and passive-aggressive as I'd heard. I'm not even pregnant (yet) and it's making me freak the fuck out. It is, however, improved considerably when you imagine it being read aloud by GlaDOS.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's just something that feels snide about the cutesy parenthetical comments, like this bit in Chapter 1: "You'll only need two protein servings, three calcium servings and no more than six whole-grain servings daily until you conceive - plus you won't have to start adding those extra calories (and if you need to lose some weight preconception, you might need to cut some calories out.)"

Also that jumpsuit is very unflattering on you. I'm only saying that because I care.

Alarmism from Chapter 4: "There's no evidence that a couple of drinks on a couple of occasions very early in pregnancy...can harm a developing fetus. So you - and all the other moms who didn't get the message right away - can relax. That amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women."

Everything's going to be fine except for that horrible mistake you just made.

Also Chapter 4, on cat safety: "Don't send your feline friends packing. Since you've lived with them for a while, the chances are pretty good that you've already contracted the cat-related disease toxoplasmosis."

Please proceed to quarantine. Don't worry! The decontamination process is less excruciatingly painful than it used to be.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What day is it?

"May the Fourth."

"Well, May the Fourth be with you."

That's from an episode of Count Duckula I saw on Nickelodeon shortly after we got cable in approximately 1989. I immediately sporfled my Tang out my nose and called my best friend, and we have been wishing each other a nerdy May 4 for more than 20 years now.

So, yeah. I was celebrating Star Wars Day before Star Wars Day was cool. I would put a Hipster Ariel here for emphasis except that's so old meme. I'm into this other meme right now. I'd describe it but you probably wouldn't get it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Five Types of Dudes to Back Away From Slowly

You know what I love? Reading bullet-pointed lists of traits I should or should not possess if I am ever to Get a Man. No, really, I love them. I used to love them because I was a teenage girl mired in self-loathing and desperate for advice on how to get boys to like me (advice to younger self: the answer is "go to college"). Now I love them because, like any self-respecting citizen of the Internet, I revel in reading things that induce delicious, delicious rage.

Some of that rage is at myself, because I used to read lists such as this, admonishing that guys didn't like brainy mouthy know-it-alls, and dumbed myself down considerably in the presence of dudes in whom I was interested (or in whom I thought I should be interested, which, I learned later, are two completely different things.) Unfortunately for me, it worked. Because the dudes you get when you downplay your intelligence and humor and general awesomeness are not the kind of dudes you want to get.

So, I present to you examples of some of these guys, encountered in the field: Five Types of Dudes to Back Away From Slowly.

1) The Power Tripper

He's charismatic, he's gentlemanly, and he's at least two inches taller than you (in heels) (you are wearing the heels, not him). He's also generous - he never lets you pay, he takes you to great restaurants where he pulls your chair out and informs the waiter what the lady will have, and if you stick around a future of small velvet boxes with something tasteful in them is almost assured. But alas, you're not imagining that dirty look he gives you every time you're out with his friends and you crack a joke, or express expertise, or even just try to join in the conversation. Did he throw a fit when you announced you were going back for your MBA? Does he make "make me a sandwich" jokes at inappropriate times in front of inappropriate people? (For me, any time is an inappropriate time for a sandwich joke, but you may be more tolerant.) You, my friend, have got a Power Tripper.

The Power Tripper will treat you right, so long as "right" means "like it's 1959." Alas, too many girls are raised (I was) to mistake this for the right kind of right, then get confused when this ideal manly man is actually a petulant insecure asshole. And he's more sinister than your standard one-upping competitive jerk, because his identity as A Man depends on you as A Woman being lesser than and dependent upon him, and if he senses you're not, the foundations of his whole world are a-tremble and he must put you in your place. This is why you need to watch out for unwanted physicality - picking you up and carrying you around when you've specifically told him not to, tickle fights that go well past you telling him to stop. Very bad signs. Very bad signs in any guy at any time, actually.

You can tell a Power Tripper apart from a standard-issue chivalrous generous guy by offering to pay. If he says "No, I really want to take you out tonight, you get the next one," you're good. If he gets indignant and red in the face and demands to know what kind of namby-pamby you take him for, you have your answer. Stick with him and keep your mouth shut and your bikini line waxed and you could be on the fast track to Trophy Wife Gated Community, if you're into that sort of thing, but keep in mind what happened to Betty Draper. You want to spend the best years of your life lonely and frustrated in your housedress shooting pigeons in the backyard?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How are you holding up?

Because I'm a potato.

Portal 2 is the most awesome game with the most awesome quotes. I'm not just saying that. It's in its file. 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I am a Vulcan. I am a Vulcan!

Internet dude (it's always a dude): Here are some statements. I am making them using dry intellectual language and declarative sentences, so I am logical. Therefore, this offensive conclusion I just made is the correct one.

Internet veteran: Oh, not these logic assholes again.

Person with a dog in this fight: Fuck you. That's not true and you know it!

ID: Of course it's true. I made statements in a logical manner, which means they are facts, whereas you used profanity and an exclamation point, which means you are overemotional and therefore incorrect.

IV: (sighs) Facts? Really? Links, please.

PWDIF: Damn right I'm emotional. Here is a personal account of how some douchecanoe who held that same opinion you're spouting fucked up my life and/or the lives of people I care about.

ID: Anecdote =/= data. I will not deign to respond to you. And I don't need links. My statements are pretentiously worded so they are facts. Did you not get that?

IV: Links or it didn't happen.

ID: Fine. Here is a link to a pretentiously worded opinion article and/or blog post by a pretentious dude I agree with. Also here is a half-assed study from a dubious source that's only tangentially related to my point.

IV: Well, then, it's good that I have this blog post that summarizes the issue and provides multiple links to multiple well-designed legitimate published studies that refute your point.

ID:. That blog post is biased and all the studies listed on it are biased and unscientific. All the journalst that published those studies are biased and unscientific. Everyone who disagrees with me is biased and unscientific. I am not biased. I am perfectly logical. Perfectly logical. Perfectly logical.

PWDIF: Yeah, that's what Spock used to repeat to himself to keep from totally flipping out.

ID: You're not a straight white male nerd! Only straight white male nerds can talk about Star Trek! Everyone who's not a straight white male nerd is irrational and everything they say is wrong because they speak colloquially and use exclamation points and sometimes call on people to have empathy, which is an emotion, so I do not have it and no one else should either! Ayn Rand! Meritocracy! Survival of the fittest!

IV: I am picking up some punctuational drama happening here.

ID: I! Do! Not! Use! Exclamation! Points! And here is a long angry rant to prove it! Except it's not angry, it's calm and logical, you're just too stupid to see that! And now I have talked the most, so I win!

IV: Suuuure. (Backs away slowly)


If "logic" means "using rules of thinking to proceed from a premise to a conclusion", these dudes are logical, sure - their premise is flawed, their rules are flawed, and their conclusions are therefore wrong. Logic only works if your input is valid and your system is valid. Otherwise, garbage in, garbage out.

But to come to a valid conclusion you need the ability to detect, using context, what you can and can't take as a given - the ability to smell smoke, change your methods when necessary, detect problems in the early stages before they blow up in your face, know when to throw everything out and start over. You can't rule out sources of context like emotion and personal experience that are an intrinsic and essential part of how human beings make judgments.

The highest faculty of the human mind isn't logic. It's reason. Logic is just a component of reason. If you act like it's the end-all and be-all, you're being the program, not the programmer. Even Spock figured that out in the end.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The examined life, or youngish woman talking about herself

So pushing two years after that last post, and guess what jeans I am wearing today? That are way more comfortable than I thought they were and look great with boots?

Don't laugh. At least they're pants.

Why start blogging now, after starting this thing with the best of intentions and then not touching it for nearly two years? Truth is, I did start. I just deleted everything I wrote. I'd let it sit there for a day or two, smug in my knowledge that no one would actually read it but they could if they wanted to, and one night I'd wake up in a cold sweat with visions of trolls and anti-trolls dancing in my head and take the post down. (You know the anti-trolls. They're the ones who start their comments with "HOW DARE YOU." The ones who are so painfully earnest, so enragedly dedicated in their defense of a perfectly valid point, that they don't realize they've become what they hate. I, of course, have never done this, and anyone who disagrees is a heartless monster who deserves what they get.)

Meanwhile, everyone around me is oversharing - my husband's video game blog, my best friend's Facebook obsession, my twentysomething coworkers tweeting what they had for lunch, as if they won't be able to digest it until everyone is aware that they ate it. I cringe from this stuff. I'm an introvert, almost painfully so, and I live in fear of a reputation economy like in Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, because if how much people like you determines your worth, I will be living penniless in an unfurnished cell and even the elevators won't stop for me. And it's not that I'm not likable. I'm pretty cool when I'm not on my guard - I'm just on my guard all the time. Because I believe, deep down, that no one wants to hear what I have to say.

Well, fuck that. I have needs, too. I want in on the overshare. Perhaps it'll help me barrel past this social anxiety. (See? Already oversharing! Whee! I've been wearing these pants for two days and I'm gonna wear them tomorrow too! All I have on my iPod is synthpop and the Indigo Girls! This is fun!)

So you're gonna read my blog and you're gonna like it. Because it's the Internet and even the shittiest piece of puerile crap has people who think it's great. Case in point: