Posted by: bestoffair | August 18, 2010

Science catches up with uncommon sense

See here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/aug/15/girls-boys-think-same-way

Yes, it’s just one small group of scientists, pushing and shoving against a rabble who remain deeply invested in the Status Quo.

But still.

I love having these studies to gently push back to people who tell me their children do/don’t do xyz, as opposed to friends’ children, because they’re boys.  I finally feel supported in my time-to-time requests and reminders to people to try to use non-gendered language (when, for example, expressing the notion that, “All men say shitty things from time to time, so women who love them just have to deal with that.”  Actually, scratch that example.  Too much there to try to unpack in one short post).

Let’s have more!

Posted by: bestoffair | August 18, 2010

Constriction

I think I try hard to maintain friendships, but it’s a two-way street.  And I know I don’t spend as much time on friendships as I used to.  I never wanted to be a person who got married/paired up and then stopped seeing friends, and I don’t think I am.  Several friends have told me that Husband and I are the most same-after-marriage as before-marriage people they know.  I see that as a compliment, and a testament to Husband’s sunny, low-maintenance disposition and my (legendary) stubbornness, which makes me stick with the promise to myself that things would be the same.

So I try.

Yet I find that my close friends, the ones I feel most comfortable calling up to see what they are doing with a fair expectation that they will want to hang out, usually number around 4.  They are not always the same people.  That group morphs and changes over the course of time, but always 4.  Is it marriage?  Is it the damn house we bought that eats up all our free time?  Is it my and Husband’s life choices, which enable me to not work a normal 40 hour a week job?

I think it’s all of the above.  Plus more.  I have been able to maintain friendships with some friends who have had children, but with others I haven’t been able to, for example.  I don’t think any one person makes a conscious effort to restrict her circle of friends, but each of us tries a little bit less hard and ties streeeeetch and become attenuated.

This loss of a big group of friends, a tribe, is something that I miss.  I wouldn’t give up the nest, the den, the home-y cave feeling I have with Husband and dogs, but I wish it didn’t come at the expense of that wider, laughing, bickering, and fun circle.

Posted by: bestoffair | August 17, 2010

Signing up on Elance

I think this site is wonderful.  It seems like they have thought of a lot of the challenges a freelancer would face and have addressed them.  The thing that I am finding challenging is that it’s so friggin complicated!  They have an Elance University, which is definitely helpful, and they make each provider take a test to see if she understands how some aspects of Elance are supposed to work.  I learned a lot from that test.  BUT.  I’m a smarty.  I swear.  And it’s unfortunate that this is one of those disorienting sites where each time you click a link it takes you to a different screen (Denver building permits webpage, anyone?) which may or may not have the same links or even the same overlay as the page that got you there.  I’m getting whiplash trying to navigate it.

In the meantime, I am hopeful that this is a good step for me and that I will find some good work through this.  Crossed fingers!

Posted by: bestoffair | August 17, 2010

Black wool coat! Like a grownup!

Bought one today – on sale, predictably, since it is August.  It’s an extra large, but the only thing extra large about it is the arms.  I shall have to make friends with an alterations lady…

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/magazine/10psyche-t.html?pagewanted=all

Posted by: bestoffair | March 24, 2010

Picture on the blog theme, 1491

I’m really enjoying the picture at the top of the theme that I chose for the blog.  This picture is what I imagine (with NO basis whatsoever) that Andean farms looked like in or before Inka times.  Why am I thinking about Inka times?  I am reading a book about it!

I enjoy reading two things – popular fiction, whether it is geared toward a female audience or a general one, and nonfiction, most especially these days about pre-Columbian American civilization.  The other book I loved along the same vein was A Voyage Long and Strange.  Oh, the current book I’m referring to is 1491.  Hearts and loves it.

I volunteer (or did volunteer until the great ACL tear) at the Science and History Museum.  We have a dinosaur exhibit – actually a prehistory exhibit – that goes all the way up to the Ice Age and prehistoric man.  This is my favorite section to work.  It is interesting to see how many things I “learned” in school that have either been disproven by new research or were never based in any sort of reality to begin with!  And kids are still being taught this shit!*

Not to get all epistemological (why does that have to sound like “episiotomy?”) but how do we know what we “know” now is right and what we “knew” before was wrong?  Evidence, I guess, and that is why I just adore 1491.  In very few cases does Mann state with certainty, “This is what happened.”  He does often say, “This is what could have happened.”  And the could-haves have some great logical emotional truth (or truthiness) to them.

While it would be nice to know what life was like in pre-columbian America, Mann’s great contribution is that he suggests different ways of interpreting the same material, or, in many cases, brings up other information that has been ignored or suppressed for whatever reason by historians.  (I just read a discussion on <a href=”http://www.historiann.com/”>Historiann</a&gt; grumping about this same thing – about how American historians would have lots more material to work with if they would learn Spanish or learn French to look at records other than the same tired mid-Atlantic ones.  You know, because Boston is where America (the European one) started.)  In other words, it makes more sense to me to suggest that the people here were not lazy and not ignorant, and that they had produced societies of reasonable complexity which were decimated by disease even before Europeans got to them than to say that an entire continent’s worth of people were all worthless and dumb.  It makes no sense to me that people – PEOPLE – would not have evolved past the most rudimentary hunter-gatherer societies in 12,000 years.  (Incidentally, white – or other color, but mostly white – assholes who complain about Native American communities asserting their rights that these “Injuns have only been here 10,000 years anyway.”  Yes.  I heard someone say this once with not a trace of irony.)

Being taught about American history in this way, and truly the clash of civilizations being reduced to a milquetoast version of what must have happened, has never sat well with me.  Thank you, Mann, for giving me an explanation that truly makes sense to me.

* Will expound on said shit later.  This is a book review, fools.

Posted by: bestoffair | March 22, 2010

An Unquiet Mind

An Unquiet Mind by Kay Jamison

This is not a book report.  Nor is it really a book review; I’m just fascinated by this woman’s story and work.  Plus, she’s a damn good writer.

A friend recommended this book to me and said that Jamison’s descriptions of mania gave her (friend) language to be able to communicate with her therapist.  Jamison’s descriptions of her mental states were as good as I’ve ever seen, but even so they’re unsatisfying.  I’ve never had a full-blown mania, but her descriptions of depression weren’t exact.  Language (at least English) just didn’t evolve with mental states in mind.  There are no words for most of it beyond the rudimentary ideas of “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “bored,” and words of that ilk to express feelings of those complexities.  Throwing adjectives and impressions around is, I suppose, the best we can do.

Then I start to wonder if the lack of language contributes to the continued lack of understanding by laypeople about mood disorders and the unwillingness that a lot of mood disordered people have to coming to terms with the fact that they have a mood disorder.  I suppose it’s actually a chicken and egg thing where, for a long time, there was no acknowledgement of mood disorders (or moods outside a norm) and so there was no language.  Since there was no language to name these abnormalities, they couldn’t exist.  And round and round we go.

I want to name them.  Names provide a legitimacy that mere descriptions don’t.  The need to describe something underscores how alien it is because what are you doing other than putting something unfamiliar in terms of the familiar?  However, having each mood disordered person name her own, idiosyncratic perception of a mental state is not helpful.  The people who should name are the people who treat mood disorders because they see what’s consistent throughout the myriad ways to experience a mood.  Names in the collective consciousness would allow people to talk more effectively about their own and others’ mood disorders.  Names would legitimize what people feel and perceive.

Another thing that struck me was something she alluded to (but didn’t follow up on) about the possible evolutionary role of bipolar disorder.  She talked about her decision to either get therapy or get a horse when she was in college.  She chose to get a horse and the one she got was a handful.  Riding him took her entire concentration and she thought her life was in mortal danger when she rode.  She said, “whenever I rode him I was generally too terrified to be depressed, and when I was manic I had no judgment anyway.”  This makes me wonder whether, in a hunter-gatherer society or a community of the apes we descended from, there was any such thing as mood disorders.  Did these traits, in the presence of mortal danger, provide an evolutionary advantage – quick thinking, fast connections, ability to function with little rest – that allowed the individual and the rest of the group to survive when they otherwise might not have?

Further, did the presence of mortal danger actually prevent these traits from getting out of hand?  I might be misunderstanding the current thinking about bipolar disorder.  That being said – my understanding is that the more times you have an episode of either mania or depression, the more likely you are to have a recurrence.  And, the further you go “out of plumb” one time, the further you will go next time because the episodes get worse.  And, with a lot of bipolar people, hypomania or mania precedes a crash, and the crash is commensurate with the severity of the mania.  So, if the presence of mortal danger meant you didn’t become depressed because you were too scared to, did it mean that you didn’t become manic either?

I will, in true bipolar form, leave this thought unfinished and may or may not return to it some other time.

Posted by: bestoffair | March 6, 2010

Ode to My Favorite Cheese

Morbier au lait cru,

I love the stinkiness of you.

So happily my eyes do flash

When I see your moldy vein of ash.

Made of leftover curd

From another cheese, or so I’ve heard,

I love to eat you! It’s so fun

To taste the rennet on my tongue.

Your creamy texture pairs so well

With a cracker. And the smell -

It drives my husband to try to find

The creature that has up and died!

O Morbier, you are a cheese

That can ever the gourmet please.

You will forever have a place,

For as long as I have a face.

Posted by: bestoffair | March 3, 2010

Deformed

Can we all agree that Bumpits look stupid?  Do we really need bustles for our heads?

Posted by: bestoffair | February 27, 2010

Men are Socialized on Mars, Women are Socialized on Venus

My husband, the most wonderful and caring man in the entire world, and I had a fight last night.  He wasn’t expecting it.  Oh no.  He thought he was just expressing his disappointment with having gained three pounds and his wish to eat healthier.  I tried – o how I tried – to shut down this line of convo before it got out of hand, but one of his worst (and best) qualities is that he does not let me sulk and so fight we did.

You see, I am normally in charge of meals at our house.  However, I just had ACL reconstruction a few weeks back.  I thought, especially with the surgeon’s instructions that I was supposed to eat very healthily (the way we normally do when I cook, focusing on whole grains and vegetables), that Husband would step up and figure shit out for just a few weeks.  He did not.  The couple of times he cooked anything, it was after I begged him to and, indeed, found recipes.  He tried to be a good caretaker.  He did try.  But somehow all that men seem to pick up about caretaking is the right words to say.  They don’t learn the actions associated with good caretaking.  (Note that, in the four weeks until I was mobile enough to deal with this on my own, the floors got cleaned one time – when my friend came over and felt sorry for me because I had to sit on that nasty floor to do my therapy exercises.)  I told him I’d been longing for a wife the past few weeks, not to be gay with but to take care of me.

It is still very hard for me to be on my feet for a long time.  Cooking requires being on your feet a lot.  So does grocery shopping.  I can go to the smallest grocery store, but I can’t wander.  I have to get right down to business and even then, by the end of the excursion, I am hurting.  This is now, 6 weeks after surgery.  Husband protested that, with a list, he would have been thrilled to go to the store at any point.  I had to break it to him that with the residual effects from the pain pills, I was in no position to figure out what I needed for a good 2-3 weeks postop, let alone give him explicit instructions.  Had the positions been reversed, I would have seen that he was incapacitated and taken care of it.

So why the fight?  We’ve been eating VERY unhealthily for the past few weeks, since surgery.  I have not had a choice.  Some days I would eat all three meals from fast food places, simply because they had drive throughs and it was easier for me to get to the car and drive there than it was to figure out assembling a meal for myself out of the meager ingredients in our kitchen.  I have not had a choice about eating healthily because at this point I have had very little ability to take care of myself.  Husband has had a choice.  He did not wish to exercise it and is now abdicating the responsibility of his choices – to me!

And so we fought.  We raged.  He understood why I was upset.  It made him sad because he thought he was trying to take care of me.  I told him I don’t blame him (I truly don’t), that I blame our patriarchal society.

We kissed and made up, and will eat healthily moving forward, as long as he can deal with figuring out meals, etc.

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