Monday, November 23, 2015

odd expressions

Bought a farm: purchased land, probably with a barn
Bought the farm: died

Even: equal in length, or a multiple of two
Even odds: fifty/fifty chance (this one at least kind of makes sense, but try saying it to your average non-native English speaker and they will give you the same blank look they gave me)

Kool-aid: a strange synthetic sugary drink
To drink the kool-aid: to be thoroughly brainwashed to a dangerous degree
(WARNING: this is a horrible and deeply disturbing story involving a lot of death)

Back of a truck: the farthest part of the vehicle from the cab
Fell of the back of a truck: was stolen and is being resold, possibly by the mafia

Turkey: a delicious bird that I will be eating this week
Cold turkey: to quit something suddenly and without transition

Bless your heart: usually means 'You are completely useless and/or deluded.'

What's your favorite strange and incomprehensible idiom?

Friday, November 13, 2015

Extremely Brief Thoughts on Identity

The other day I was thinking of my (8% of a) job and how I define myself.  Who am I anyways?  Who will I be once I'm not tied to the baby so closely?  Who do I want to be?  How can I make this happen?

But I think I'm struggling with secondary definitions of my identity.  If someone asks me 'Who are you?' I would immediately say 'I'm a scientist.'*  Before everything else in my life, I define myself by my relationship with science.  I know exactly who I am.

Second place might be Parent. Then Jew. Gardener. Knitter.  Jam maker. Professor/teacher is somewhere way down the list after Vacuumer and Weeder.  Some day I need to think about why this is.  I don't know how all the pieces fit together (frequently, it seems, the answer is 'badly'.)

What's your answer for 'I'm a ___________'?

* Actually I am extremely literal minded and would probably give my name. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

What To Do.

Lately, while nursing the baby (ENDLESSLY) I've been reading Captain Awkward and, aside from giving me a Serious Complex about my parenting (am I that toxic parent? will this be my children in twenty years?  then I stopped reading it) it's reinforced to me: boundaries and choices are about limits and acceptable consequences.

So I keep thinking of things to write about and then realizing I need to be honest with myself and then I will no longer have Questions other than, am I actually willing to do X?  (Probably not.)

How do I respond to my crazy sister's crazy message "I haven't been stabbed!  I don't know if you were worrying!"?  (Don't respond.  You can only think of snarky or too-honest things like "YOU DON'T SAY" and "You're an idiot, don't talk to me until you grow up some OH WAIT you weren't talking to me anyways.")

Why am I depressed?  (Pain.  Fatigue due to not being able to sleep due to pain.  Loneliness due to no energy to do stuff due to pain.  Plus a screaming, horrible four year old who deliberately wets his pants. Next stops: ENT, then M&M bribes.)

Why am I not losing the last of the baby weight?  (Chocolate plus the previous.)

Am I a terrible parent?  (Sometimes.  Sometimes every parent is a terrible parent.)

Am I mediocre at every single thing I do?  (Quite possibly.  There's room for improvement.)

Is my job meaningful at all, or am I babysitting college students?  (Yes.)

Will Bug ever stop whining about his homework?  (Probably not.  My response, by the way, is to tell him that his homework is his problem and if he doesn't want to do it he can write a note to his teacher, but I won't force him.  Because I WON'T.

Would 10% more disposable income allow me to buy my way out of  some things?  (YES.  ALL THE YES.)

Will this all get better some day?  (Some day.)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Thanksgiving Rebels

While Babycakes is nursing, I usually read things on the Internet.  Since I'm not a big fan of nonfiction (life is depressing enough) I usually read fiction, or recipe blogs.

My parents did a family Thanksgiving for many years, featuring turkey, smoked corned beef, smoked salmon, and grilled tofu; pig-sausage-containing and vegetarian baked dressing; candied sweet potatoes with and without marshmallows; five kinds of pie; mom's famous rye sourdough; shredded cranberry/apple salad; and freshly prepared horseradish.  And, in later years, green beans and salad in response to Dr. S's plaintive "This is all delicious, but is there something green to eat?" Also a couple special things for our friend with Celiac Disease who always comes.  Bless their hearts for accommodating all of us difficult weirdos.

BUT!  I'm tired of baked turkey.  Time for a revolution!

Readers, I have now decided that what I truly want for Thanksgiving is turkey sausage (possibly sausage gravy and biscuits).  Heresy, I know!

I'm also thinking of brussels sprouts baked until crispy (or, if I have a stove again by then,* sauteed with mustard and wine until crispy), a reprise of the chestnut/cornbread dressing,** and pumpkin custard.  Pie crust is too much work and I don't like it anyways.  Maybe an encore performance of Chocolate Pie For My Sister's Wedding. Possibly something with cranberries but not cranberry sauce because I'm tired of it.

Any suggestions for things that taste of Thanksgiving but aren't a million hours of work, or boring?

*Stovetop bit the dust three weeks ago.  ETA: two more weeks. You can cook a surprisingly large array of things in the oven.  Reminds me of the year I spent in France where I had only a skillet.  Skillet cookies!

** Which I made last year and it was SOOOO GOOOOD.  My uncle has a chestnut tree and he brings me chestnuts every year.  I KNOW.  Having decent family support is amazing.  My dad is coming down next week to watch the kids while I go get my ears fixed, too.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

1000 Posts, and a Baby

This is my 1000th post (not counting ones I later took down for Reasons).  When I started writing, I was a very unhappy grad student (do they come in another variety? - yes, I know they do, but rarely at SnootyU sciences, I assure you), newly married, and living somewhere I hated.  Now I have three children, a part-time job which is actually pretty great, a nice house that I could stand to clean more often (HA, HA), and am living in a place that makes my top-five US destinations (in no small part because we're close to my parents).

I still need to write about my cognitive dissonance about THREE CHILDREN, but here is a cute baby (for a couple days at least, after which, poof).  She is adorable.  I love the pink clothes with ruffles (gender stereotyping BLAH BLAH whatever, I want cute things with ruffles.  And pants, so she can play/crawl).   I love the magical eating-everything baby age and the little coos and how she tries to babble at us.  I love that she puts herself to sleep with a stuffed mousie and I can sleep at night.  And most especially, I love leaving her with someone else once a week so I can go work and be an adult with an identity outside my children, and I love how happy she is to see me when I get back (three whole hours later).

What's good right now with you?

Friday, October 23, 2015

On Sisters

A couple months ago, my blog email got pitched by my middle sister for her K*ckst*rter project.  So, you know, maybe I shouldn't write things about them that I'm not willing to say in person (likely a good principle in general, no?).

So here are many FEEEEEELINGS, written as if my sisters might actually read this.  If you don't want to read about feelings, here is a bunny.  

To my middle sister,

It's really painful for me to have any kind of conversation with you.  I'm fine talking about gardens or kid swim lessons or whatever, but right now  I'm still having some health problems; chronic severe pain is very tiring and I am really overwhelmed just keeping everyone alive and supplied with clean underwear.   Also, baby.  And that said, if it were really a priority in my life I would  make the time, wouldn't I?

Here's why I don't,* and I quote Captain Awkward:
 "(whatever the hell is going on) prevents them from seeing themselves as the bad guy in any situation and their highly selective memories will remember everything you did wrong with complete clarity while deleting their own bad behavior entirely from the record. You come ready to finally hash out all The Stuff and they act like The Stuff literally never happened and that you are crazy/too sensitive/vindictive/evil/petty/unreliable for thinking that it did.
  I tried to bring up the (eight) Bad First Marriage years- specifically, the deeply offensive weekly screeds about Consumerist America Is So Terrible And You're All Racists, You Don't Get To Criticize Israel's Apartheid Because You Don't Live Here (did this apply in South Africa?) Also Arabs Are Evil, Vote Likkud, vs. your three suitcases of shopping this time (and marching in the Pride parade), and your response was literally 'I like stuff.'

I don't want you to be sorry you lived those years.  I would like you to understand that those years were deeply hurtful, and I didn't much like you then.  I don't want to have an intimate relationship with someone who won't own- or even acknowledge- the pain her choices caused, because I believe it will merely happen again.  I'm sure you were hurt too.  The difference is you were actively being a jackass, and I was not engaging.

To my youngest sister,

Let's recap: you made you own legitimate adult choice to move to another country.  Great!  You're an adult.  You do your thing!

But when you're making a choice, sometimes a consequence is that people are unhappy about it.  I'm not asking you to make choices based on MY feelings.  I'm saying 'I didn't tell you myself  (and had Mom tell you) because I really care about you and didn't want to ruin our relationship' has the opposite effect.  I'm saying that avoiding having any contact with me for nine months says 'I don't trust you to behave like a rational person', 'I am unable to hear your thoughts', and 'I cannot treat you with the respect for YOUR opinions and feelings that I want you to have for MY opinions and feelings.'  I'm telling you that the way you acted, shenanigans with Craziest Unmedicated Cousin** included, is actually a great way to torpedo a relationship.

(I will refrain from commenting on your 'special bond' with Craziest Cousin, or your dramatical llama-ing over how You! Date! Women!  Except when you don't!  [I object to the drama, not to fluid expressions of gender and sexuality.])

Which is all fine. You're an adult!  You do your thing!

But which is also not any kind of relationship. It is you treating me as if I were an irrational, slightly crazy stranger.  Based entirely on how I left you a message 'Could we talk about this some time?'***, let me add, not on me ACTING like a crazy person.

If you want to pretend everything's peachy.... see above.  That is not within my current capacity.  Right now you're not hearing from me because I have nothing nice to say, every mention of you makes me sad and angry, and despite near-overwhelming temptation, I am resisting the urge to have our mother tell you I'm not talking to you.

To both of you,

 For me, the combination of choosing to live so far away, and the way you've both chosen to (not) deal with it, says you don't have a meaningful place in my life. I also want to protect my children from your Israel Is Great propaganda, and I don't trust you to keep it out of your interactions with them.  I don't want to pretend everything's peachy when I'm full of a complex mixture of sadness, anger, and resentment. 

Another fine piece of advice: 
Accept that you won’t really get answers or resolution for the past. You make your own closure. She doesn’t have any to offer. Focus on what you have in common now.
I'm not sure we have much in common now.  I don't know how to rebuild and I don't particularly want to rebuild.  

(Out of scope but also My Feelings: S2's present spouse being a jerk to me and my relatives; the morality of moving to an apartheid state to just... live there; Drama Terrorism Llama I Can't Even; etc.)

Anyone with helpful suggestions is welcome to offer them in comments.  I will delete however I damn well feel like it; reminder that anonymous comments will always be deleted.  Not up for discussion: Israel as a racist occupier, whether moving to Israel is a fantastic choice, or why my cousin is so crazy.  Up for discussion: boundaries, dealing with people in denial/whitewashing/gaslighting the past, how much energy to put into this.  'None' is an okay answer.

*My family members have never been what I would characterize as abusive towards each other, some teenage meanness aside.  Not, like, psychologically damaging meanness.  Just.... teenagers are jerks and we were all once teenagers. "You're fat!" "Yeah?  Well, your violin sounds like a cat being tortured!!"  "Girls!  Cut it out!"
**Who skipped Sister 2's wedding to go on vacation in Canada, giving me some wicked Schadenfreude about how S2, who didn't come to MY wedding, was pissed about Crazy Cousin and CC's intolerable not-fiancée.
*** Yep.  That was the whole message.

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Free Lunch

Last week, a friend asked me what I thought of herbal remedies. (She probably regretted it almost instantly.)

While others have done an excellent job summarizing evidence, and lack thereof, about herbs, I want to reiterate what I told my friend, because I think it's the most overlooked point about 'using plants like out bloodletting ancestors who  frequently died in childbirth and of common infections':  any dose of something large enough to have an effect is a dose large enough to have a side effect.  If herbs work, it's because there's a real, bioactive component.  We call those drugs.