giovedì, febbraio 23, 2017

Non-Messiah awakened to vacuity

I read a comment years ago somewhere or other, somewhere I haven't been able to find again, by somebody's son who happened to be Jewish - that's all I remember about him - that Jewish sons and mothers had weird tension with each other and existence because of the possibility that the son could be the Messiah and the mum could be, I guess, Messiah's Mum. Which must be a helluva letdown every time the son hasn't been the Messiah.

Anyways, that's interesting to me because as far as comparisons to the Messiah go, it's mostly the Catholic mums I know holding their babies who go in hard for Madonna and Child archetype stuff. I guess we don't have tension over how our sons might be the Messiah so much as about a thousand years of expensive, beautiful and ubiquitous iconography forcing us to look at ourselves that way. I certainly thought about it a lot when Godzilla was a baby. All those lovely sleepy hot subtropical afternoons, holding him and nursing and watching David Attenborough documentaries; a fat calm little baby with a steady and warm blessing sort of gaze, and me able to shower occasionally. It was positively Michaelangeloesque.

Well, I guess there's a good reason that God made Jesus the oldest, because fuck me if there's been a single Michaelangeloesque moment since the Monkey King was born. Not once have I felt like I was channeling the Madonna. And not once has the Monkey King seemed Jesus-y. Not ONE TIME.

And that's not only because the house is now a zoo and Jesus is more manger-y. It's also because as gorgeous as the Monkey King is - and he is actually really, objectively, a crazy gorgeous baby - he would be a fucking terrible model for someone looking to paint a nativity scene. The second those eyes are open, he is ALL MONKEY KING. He sings, he dances, he tries to talk, he follows everybody with those eyes, seeking contact; he mimes chewing when we sit down to eat. When he was a month old or so, I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at him; he was glaring at me with a perfect crescent frown on his perfect little face, and as I looked into his eyes, the frown drained away and his eyes gently closed.

There is no time for the sort of calm, universal objectivity of blessing. He is . . . too much of a monkey. Not too much of a monkey for me . . . but too much of a monkey to accord with all those calm, blessing sorts of archetypes.

Of course Godzilla played and made eye contact too - he wasn't a sleepy baby - but this new kid is not quite three months, and he's already a kid. Not a baby. It's like he's just skipped that. I've had sleepy imaginings of him pulling a Hercules and strangling serpents if they venture too close to his bed. 

mercoledì, febbraio 01, 2017


I'm fine. I am more than fine. I'm the mother to the hairy little Monkey King as well as Godzilla. I am the mother of a brood.

Well, two isn't really a brood, but you know, it's totally different from one. More exhausting. More consuming. More beautiful. More existentially worrying and fulfilling. More frustrating. More logistically challenging. It changes my view of what I want from my life and death. It changes things almost as much as going from none to one. And having a sense - a pretty fucking strong sense given the health and financial challenges around another pregnancy - that the Monkey King is going to be our last kid; that gives a different rhythm to life. Now for the rest of my life, which until its end is part of the rest of our lives.

Thank god I have a cargo bike with a baby seat insert or I'd be fucked instead of thrilled. 

venerdì, novembre 11, 2016

All our flesh was like a veil

There are some male artists who, as a woman and a feminist, I love. Not because of any feminist championing or thinking they've done or feminist content to their work. I don't fangirl; I spend a fair amount of energy trying to avoid knowing what my favourite artists think of things (and it does take effort these days) because I just want to enjoy them without having to face the fact that they're potentially unpleasant people.* But because of the interest that they show in women - in their situations and in their stories. And even when they're totally wrong-headed and totally off-base to me, and even when they're not terrifically great artists, there's something in me as a reader or spectator or listener that's satisfied by their reaching to understand or communicate that experience. There's not a lot. There's:

Jarvis Cocker
Tom Waits
Pedro Almodovar
Rainer Fassbinder
Thomas Hardy


Leonard Cohen. Especially Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen, most of all.

A bit different from the others, actually. Those other guys on my list - they struggled, sometimes with a striking lack of success and sometimes with seamless grace - to get into the heads of their women. But for his part, Cohen never once pretended he wasn't miles deep up his own ass. Meanwhile, from that vantage point looked at his women with such clarity about where he was looking from and what he could see from there.

And then - there was the fact of him being the best poet. Not just of my list of men that I like who had some time for women. He was just the best poet.

Leonard Cohen ☆ Last Year's Man from Sighting Leonard's Longing on Vimeo.

So my heart is breaking today. I guess it's a good break; I have so much admiration for his work, and so much joy for him that it continued right up until his death, without a break in quality. Despite trying not to fangirl I do know something about his work habits and the grind he poured into it, and I'm so glad for him that was sustainable until the end, and I'm glad for him and for us, who can enjoy his work, that he lived for so long to make so much of it, though I personally could have used a couple more novels.

His fairly notorious Buddhism helps too. They're just better at all this dying shit. I know I went over this when Carmen died a few weeks back, but I still get mad at how shitty Christianity is about death, scripturally and culturally. About that matter-of-fact inanity go-to comfort even non-practicing Christians fall back on - "they're in a better place now, they're at peace now, rest in peace" BLAH FUCKING BLAH HOW IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP THE ONES WITHOUT THEM NOW? I keep thinking of the comfort I was given by my closest Buddhist friend (not practicing - culturally, the same way I'm culturally Catholic) when my grandmother died - "of course, it's very sad, but that's what happens when you get older; everything falls away and you have to let go." In the same sympathetic but matter-of-fact way Christians try to comfort you with all that "peace and better place" dipshit shit. Except, after I picked up my dipshit Judeo-Christian jaw - fancy that, someone daring to tell a person in mourning that things suck and the losses are just going to keep coming -  it actually worked.

It sucks to lose him. It would have sucked to lose him 20 years from now, when he would have been the same age as my grandmother, who also sucked to lose.

* Leonard Cohen was an accessible person, though. Friends in Montreal would see him around; he was a bit of a park-bench-sitter, apparently. And a story got passed on to me once about an acquaintance-twice-removed having a night with him whose morning went like this:

 Acquaintance-twice-removed: (waking up as a fully-dressed Cohen is walking to the door): You're leaving? Just like that?

Cohen: Gotta go, baby. Rambling man. (Goes.)

giovedì, novembre 10, 2016

Attention website crashers

We don't fucking want you.

Stay home and put out your fucking trash fire. We have enough problems in Canada without importing you and yours, including the integration of more Syrian refugees in our tiny-by-population country than your enormous-by-population country has accepted (and that sickening parsimony, that should have had you out on the streets, was under the Democratic presidency you've been crying over).

The opposition to Trump and his supporters from Clinton on down has been based largely on contempt, and you know what, I feel contempt too. I don't understand how so many people have been culturally suicidal enough to have bought into a version of fascism that's even dumber than the 1930s version because the man at the head of it is a transparent rich-boy kleptocrat.

But now your shitty country is stuck with him, and it’s your job to figure out why 60 million of the people you live with thought the rich-boy kleptocrat was a good choice, and to figure out how to live with those people as your peers. And your job to figure out why other white people stayed home in droves this year when the stakes were so obviously high for their brown and black co-citizens. And your job to make sure your rich-boy kleptocrat ends up on the same figurative meathook that all fascist demagogues were born to end up on.

The 30s versions weren’t rich-boy kleptocrats, for all the other horrible things they were. They enacted policies that benefitted many of their fellow citizens, and enjoyed wild personal popularity for years and years. If you do your job right instead of whining and trying to run off to Canada, your new set of cunts will figuratively end up on their meathooks much faster and with much less chance to do horrible human damage. Not only because Trump won’t even cosmetically attempt the social improvement measures old school fascists used since he’ll be so busy asset-stripping, but also because history has taught you what to expect.

Or should fucking have taught you. But I’ve spent way too much time socializing with Clinton supporters over the last few months to have any fucking confidence at all that their grasp of history is any better than the jag-offs who just voted in the rich-boy kleptocrat. All I heard was name-calling and a baffling pretence that more of the same, in the shape of another Clinton presidency, was going to be good for people.

 Well, stay home, and do better. We don’t want you.

mercoledì, ottobre 19, 2016

Oversharing, on purpose

A person who's very close to me and who I love very much and who had been trying very, very hard to have a baby for many years just miscarried. She had made it to where I made it last year, and my miscarriage was detected the same way hers just was - 12 week scan, whoops sorry, I know you still feel pregnant, but there's no more baby there, diagnosis missed abortion.

But since she's in Australia, they just let her body get rid of it itself, instead of the curettage my gynecologist immediately packed me off to here. It's the second time I've heard that being standard in Australia, that they wait for the mother's body to do it itself when there's a missed abortion around that time, or at least that they don't rush to book in the curettage and the result is the mother's body doing it itself. And there's a rationale behind that. It makes uterine scarring a little less likely than it would be if you got a curettage from a doctor who wasn't competent, and I guess Australia is a pretty litigious society where the general assumption is that people aren't competent (and frankly, in the short time we were there, I did meet a fair few incompetent doctors).

And as the F-word cynically pointed out, it's probably cheaper on average to not intervene, which would make non-intervention more likely in a public health system like Oz, and an intervention more likely in an insurance-based system like the one here.

But - damn. It makes me realise - I had a really good miscarriage. Once you're on the level of discussing something as awful as miscarrying, that seems like an absurd or even offensive thing to believe. But there are good and bad ways of dying and there are good and bad ways of miscarrying, and maybe if we talked about both things a little bit more we'd be better at them.

 So. Here's me. 

Losing my baby was really emotional terrible. The physical process of the loss was NOT terrible. The missed abortion was picked up in the morning, and I spent that afternoon being upset at home and then processing through all the requisite checks and interviews at the nearest hospital. Because of the hours I spent being upset at home, there wasn't time to have the curettage the same day as the detection. But I was seen quickly by the gynecologists, who were kind and sympathetic, and gave me the choice of whether or not to watch the screen while they were checking the fetus for any unexpected signs of life. I went back to the hospital the morning after the missed abortion was detected for the curettage. All through this process, all I felt was pregnant. Still sick in the mornings, still tired, still that general physical sensation of the first trimester - and that's it. I lay in bed for a couple of hours waiting for the initial drugs to start the sloughing process while I thought about what had happened and said goodbye to the poor little body inside me, and then I went under sedation like I was slipping into some satin sheets. I woke up fantastically refreshed as my system flooded itself with whatever hormones you get flooded with when you're not pregnant anymore. I wasn't euphoric or anything, but I was in a really terrific physical mood, like when you've had a big sleep after an active day and you want to eat a couple of steaks for breakfast.

That's it. It took me a long time to not be terribly sad all the time, and I still am some of the time, and I'll always be more fearful and sad than I was before losing the baby. And I don't know what different emotional states I'd be dealing with if I didn't already have a living child, and if I didn't manage to get and stay pregnant again soon after the miscarriage. And I think I'll probably lose my mind permanently if anything happens to the baby I'm carrying now, which is almost full-term.

But as far as my physical experience of miscarriage goes, what happened above was it. I didn't even see any blood, except for a tiny bit after taking the sloughing drugs and before going into the operating theatre. I contrast that with what my friends in Australia told me about their experiences with nature being allowed to take its course after the missed abortion was detected at the 12 week scan. It hurt, terribly. It hemorrhaged, awfully. I think ultimately both of them ended up spending a lot more time in hospital than the eight-odd hours I was in for my checks, interview, and curettage, so if there is a money-factor in this sort of decision-making, it was a pretty false economy (though they were seen to mostly by nurses while I was seen to by nurses, an anaesthetist, and some gynecologists so the staff/specialist spend was certainly higher). And the process, in both their cases, lasted a week or more.

Do women who face this understand there are other choices that are or aren't being made for them? I'm sure they don't. I didn't. I was resentful when I researched it afterward that I'd been packed off for a curettage without any other option being presented, because I was scared of scarring and risks for future pregnancies. But then hearing how things went for my Australian friends . . . they certainly got scarred, if not physically; the whole process was simply much, much more traumatic for them, so much so that I can't understand their experiences, even though our tragedies were all the same. 

These are things we need to be able to talk about, as women. Not just because miscarriage is shitty and it helps to talk about shitty things or whatever the fuck, but because it's a matter of agency. Of control of our own bodies. I don't know why things are different here from Australia, but I'm pretty fucking sure it's not because of what women want here versus what they want in Australia.