martedì, luglio 12, 2016

How's this for a positive affirmation, asshole

I am not responsible, and will not pretend to be, try to be, or allow myself to feel to be responsible for the idiocy or duplicity of my elders.

I am not responsible, and will not pretend to be, try to be, or allow myself to feel to be responsible for the idiocy or duplicity of my elders.

I am not responsible, and will not pretend to be, try to be, or allow myself to feel to be responsible for the idiocy or duplicity of my elders.

I am not responsible, and will not pretend to be, try to be, or allow myself to feel to be responsible for the idiocy or duplicity of my elders.

I am not responsible, and will not pretend to be, try to be, or allow myself to feel to be responsible for the idiocy or duplicity of my elders.

Repeat as needed.

I'm in Canada, and I really, really, really want to go home. 

mercoledì, luglio 06, 2016


I'm having a hard time not blaming the British working class for what has happened there with the vote, even though it's effectively victim-blaming as they'll be the ones most screwed by it.

I understand people are angry, marginalised, hopeless, and feel profoundly stuck - but goddamn it, every leading political voice calling for a Leave vote belonged to some piece of soulless public school vermin from the oligarchy that has been the British working class's natural enemy since the Normans ponced over from France, and they fell for it because, I don't know, darkies and Poles?

Whatever. Besides Scotland and Ireland, may they be operating separately soon, let the fucker burn. It'll make for cheaper vacations when I take the kid(s) to the fossil beaches in the south and northeast.

sabato, giugno 25, 2016

International pain and gain

Big week, in Shanghai and now Tokyo.

It's the first time I've been away from Godzilla and I was wondering what to expect there. It turns out that I was dreadfully sad to leave him and then pretty much okay, and he was very happy to say goodbye while he played with his cousin and then dreadfully sad every time he saw me on Skype. All the maternal worry and guilt I was worrying about feeling didn't get felt, though that might have been different if I wasn't getting frequent reports of what a great time he's having in Canada, or if what I was doing here wasn't important for A) work and B) me.

Shanghai was a conference, a more or less mandatory one, and Tokyo has been a rather personal form of mizuko kuyo for the baby that died in December, who was due to be born yesterday or the day before. I visited some jizo shrines and decided to create one myself in my home; it was very moving to visit them, but I couldn't bear the idea of a little statue representing my child in a place I'll only ever be able to visit again a few times in my life. So many of the little jizo statues I saw were totally untended. And of course the Zojo-ji temple was crawling with tourists ignoring instructions about where not to walk and not to take photographs - walking along the rows and rows of jizo statues click-clicking away. Considering my dream funeral is getting chopped into pieces and fed to birds, such a cold and public thing wasn't the memorial I wanted for my child.

And there's another thing, which is that as far as I can tell the mizuko kuyo ceremony is weirdly wrapped up with guilt over terminating pregnancies, which happens a lot here. Birth control pills were illegal until 1999, the range available now is small, and sometimes doctors refuse to prescribe them. And like everywhere, men are fucking assholes about wearing condoms. Meanwhile, abortion up to five months is legal, readily available, and not socially stigmatized. But of course lots of the women who get them feel awful, and get scared over stories about angry or despairing ghost babies, and pay for the mizuko kuyo ceremony. There are accusations that the temples are taking advantage of emotionally vulnerable women; accusations I was willing to overlook because the ceremony seems like such a beautiful, necessary idea, until I asked at the temple about the price of the ceremony, which was about Euro 9,000.

And at that point, or rather price, it struck me: yes, mizuko kuyo is a beautiful idea. Yes, women need to be able to access some sort of formalized emotional release over losing or terminating a potential child. And yes, this is a fucking scam to extort women who are feeling guilty or scared. There's something reassuring about travelling and learning about other religions and realizing that scammy bullshit isn't limited to the religion I was raised in.

Anyways. I spent yesterday mostly in contemplation of what happened and was very moved by the shrine visits, moved to tears, but it was a form of what happened already a month and a half ago, when I had the eleven/twelve week checkup for the baby I'm pregnant with now, and overheard what I wasn't supposed to overhear about another woman's loss. The walls holding my pain in and other people's pain out coming crashing down again. Not a great feeling, but the right one.

Otherwise, Tokyo is pretty awesome. Post-Brexit I'm tempted to just stay. 

venerdì, giugno 03, 2016

The Conversation

I feel good about it, because it took a year and a half, but finally the Conversation was had the other night.



"Have you noticed . . . how ugly German children are?"

"It's not just the children. There are a lot of plain-looking people here."

"There's about three cute children at Godzilla's kindergarten, and he's one of them."


"I don't get it. The kids are all cute in the Netherlands and Belgium, and mostly in France, and in Italy."

"Well, I can't explain it. Germans just sort of look like that."

"I mean there are ugly people everywhere, like there are some Italians who are like monster bog people, and you don't see a lot of super-ugly people here like that, but . . ."

"They don't look good."

"No." Pause. "Remember that Nosferatu-looking kid at Godzilla's old daycare? The one who looked 500 years old?"

"I'll never forget. Starting straight into the darkest places of your soul."

"I miss that kid."

mercoledì, maggio 11, 2016

Well, that was a strange day.

I went to see my gynecologist this afternoon, and given this was around, by our estimates, 11 weeks - which is the age where the last fetus died - I was feeling odd in the lead-up. Nerves, I guess. So far as I feel nerves, which when it doesn't come to public speaking just comes out as a sort of carefully suspended existential numbness.

And, lately, the manic and somehow comforting repetition of a strange version I'd recently read in some weird corner of the internet of the five remembrances (a skittled version of this, and yes, it is striking me that my brain is insisting on a version which doesn't mention being the heir of my actions; maybe I'm not ready for that yet):

I will lose my youth, my health, my loved ones, all I hold dear, and finally life itself, by the very nature of being human. 

So I went in, and waited. Then peeing in the cup, seeing that my blood pressure has climbed back up to the dizzy heights it hit when I was pregnant with Godzilla - fine, I thought, finally a problem I reckon I know how to manage - and then getting vaginally wanded by the gynecologist.

Almost as soon as the stick went in, she got this fucking look on her face. German words tell you everything; German faces tell you nothing. The last gynecologist, as soon as he got a look at the fetus that had died, hardly changed expression at all and immediately said "it's not okay"; I knew, immediately, it was dead. This one said nothing and just got a look on her face like she'd been expecting chocolate and got lemony dogshit. I waited.

"It's so big," she said.

Fuck, I thought, in a mighty rush of relief and annoyance with the inscrutability of German Resting Face. "Is it okay?"

"Oh yes. Moving around a lot, good heartbeat. But I think we need to revise the due date," she said, looking about as perturbed by that as the last gynecologist had looked at having to tell me my baby was dead.

Fucking Germany, I love you, you socially retarded ass of a country.

The baby looks beautiful. It has toes, and it was darting around as far as it could, already being big enough to seem a bit crowded.

So she reckoned I was at week 12, and we chatted about how useful testing would be for Down's Syndrome. I was of the mind that though I'd decided not to terminate the pregnancy in any case it would be good to know how it was going to come out; she was of the opinion that if I was determined not to get an abortion I might as well not bother with the tests, since the range of health issues and abilities or lack thereof in Down's kids was so huge that even a sure positive wasn't going to usefully prepare me for what would come out.


This is May, in case you haven't noticed. Which in Europe is almost as useless a month for trying to get things done in as August, because of all the holidays. The French know it and admit it with all sorts of sayings and proverbs. Le mois de mai, on se rigolait. En mai fais ce qu'il te plait. Putain, abruti parasseux, fais pas comme c'est le mois de mai.  Germans don't have a proverb about how little they work in May, but they don't work that much in May. They really don't work that much at all, I'm realizing. This place is at least as half-assed as Italy. It's just better organized about it. Which I appreciate.

And on top of May being rotten with holidays, my new gynecologist is going on holiday the week before I go to Canada, and on top of that, it's a busy practice; I guess this city is full of women who'd rather see a lady gynecologist, and there aren't enough of them. Which is a long way to say that the clerk and I were having a hard time finding an appointment.

Finally, she decided that I'd better see the other gynecologist at the practice. She told that gynecologist's assistant, who was passing, to ask the other gynecologist to call her and check in that that was okay. The other gynecologist was seeing a different woman - one, I realized later, who had come into the practice at the same time as me, and who I had waved ahead of me at the desk because she looked so wiped out.

The clerk and I waited, and waited, and the other gynecologist's assistant came back out, looking perturbed, but her being German, for all I knew she could have been planning her fucking wedding dinner or something.

"What gives?" asked the clerk who was helping me. "Why hasn't the doctor called back?"

The assistant looked at me, and said something about her being busy.

"Busy with what?" asked my clerk, annoyed.

"The kid -" she said, and I saw her mime out of the corner of my eye - she held her hand over her stomach, and made a quick crossing motion, which in its eloquence was about as good as this. And it hit me about as profoundly as it had when I looked up the ASL for "miscarriage" in a crossover moment of mourning and interest in gestural language back in January. "Now do you understand?" she asked my clerk roughly.

I think I made some sort of sound; at any rate, they saw that I had seen. It was a very odd moment, and got a little odder. The clerk asked me to call in the morning to make the appointment, since the doctor couldn't talk then, and at that moment the other gynecologist called her to tell her she couldn't talk then, and then I remembered my old gynecologist making an almost exactly similar call to his front desk while he was in the middle of explaining the death of my baby to me.

So, I left. Muttering something about how I was sorry about the other lady's situation. And I left, and nearly burst into tears.

To suddenly realize that a woman, in the next room maybe ten feet from where I had been lying down with an ultrasound wand up my twat and being reassured over what had been my uttermost fear that morning, was living that nightmare I lived four or five months ago - this emotion, if it even is an emotion and not something bigger than an emotion, is a whole new emotion to me.

As far as I understand, there is no word for it. It's like some wall came tumbling down between me and the universe. A wall that kept my pain in, and other people's pain out.

And as I stood at the tram stop, and looked at all the babies and little kids there in their prams with their mothers hovering over them - all these little babies and little kids who hadn't died on a crowded tram stop of people who hadn't died - all that pain and all those beautiful creature and all the ways that we were all still alive and how utterly random it was that we had ever existed at all - something fundamental and unnameable about existence as a shared or at least universal experience came crashing in on me in a way that was beyond pleasant or unpleasant.

All it's left me with at this point is the conviction that we have to be kind to each other.