martedì, marzo 14, 2017

My independence seems to vanish in the haze

Using that fucking beast of a cargo bike daily has given me some weird Greek mythology monster body, whereby I have the flapping belly of a woman who gave birth three months ago perched on top of the ass and legs of a goddamn Thundercat.

Speaking of things that are a little complicated but make my life easier, we're hiring help. A cleaner and a babysitter for some of my work hours. The cleaner is self-explanatory, and the older I get the more I think it's both insane and socially irresponsible to not hire people to clean your house if you can afford it. She's a retired nurse from Bulgaria. The cost of living isn't insane here, but it's not retired-Bulgarian-nurse-pension sane. Also kind of awesome to have someone in the house who can give emergency medical aid, even if it's just for three hours a week.

For the babysitter - well. Godzilla we made it to almost a year without help with his care while I was working, but . . .  it's not only a question of there being two of them now and that being more tiring (though it is) or of the F-word now working full time instead of part time (though it is); it's also a question of personality. Godzilla was, I realize now, a super chill baby. In retrospect the occasional shocked looks I'd get from parents with older children when I'd just put him down for a nap when he seemed a little cranky, or put him down for the night when we were at someone's house for dinner, and continue with whatever I was doing or saying - now I understand them. I always assumed the default for babies was super chill, like Godzilla. It isn't.

Because the Monkey King is a sweet, laughing, happy thing - if you are holding him, staring at him, and playing with him. He is a lovely sleeper - if you sleep with him. You may notice that is not fully compatible with working, even working from home. . . and so, help. I met a very nice seeming Italian lady today who can take the lion's share of the job, and who actually wants to work on the books, which is great, since childcare costs are tax deductible here (they weren't in Oz), which will make me feel better financially about having to get care in for the Monkey King nine full months earlier than I did with Godzilla, if not emotionally.

But there's the blessing of the second child . . . I think you're a lot more forgiving of your own shortfalls, even if they still feel like shortfalls, because you get that no matter how you handle parenting situations you're always going to be second-guessing yourself anyways.

Also, a few years of this mothering stuff has demonstrated to me that the proverb about how "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy" is one of the truer ones out there, along with "when the elephants fight, the ants get squashed" and "live hoping, die shitting". I can't be a good mother when I'm stressed and tired. I snap. Like all stressed and tired people. I actually told Godzilla to shut up yesterday. I wasn't even that mad. He was sitting in front of me in the cargo bike, making a really irritating shrieking noise in the Monkey King's face that I'd asked him to stop making earlier that day, and suddenly there it was: "Godzilla, shut UP!" And you know, a day later, mostly what I feel about that is glad that he shut up, because it was a really irritating noise.  

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

孙悟空

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

And

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.