Well, there was the bit that you missed where I distracted him with the cuddly monkey then I said “play time’s over” and I hit him in the head with the peace lily.

Friday linkage (my apologies I missed last week)! Short, but sweet:

Got Milk? Got Misogyny at Soc Images. The PMS thing is such crap. I’ve been pretty good at ignoring it much of my life. I find it terrifically interesting our culture holds that normal biological or physical processes of women are inherently flawed, scary, silly, unmentionable, gross – or all the above. I’m pretty much done with that, how ’bout you?

Oh and speaking on that – Tami Harris has some choice words on a few recent commercials which are almost unbelievable even as experienced by my tired-out leathery-psyche of anti-kyriarchal cynicism. Just: wow.

An Apology To Parents at PickleMeThis – now admittedly these sentiments seem like only the beginning of a greater understanding of adultism and attendant misogyny, but heck, it’s a good beginning. This entry seems a lot better off than I was for many years. I wish this person well and hope others find the words helpful.

This is over a year old; but I hadn’t shared it yet. You can read the text here. It’s well worth it.

New WA DUI law in effect. Anyone have any opinions? (Um, “Don’t Drink & Drive” not worth the effort to type it, so don’t, or your ass is modded).

I was also thinking – tangentially so – of my favorite film scenes involving drinking. I came up with a few. On the humor scale: Cary Grant in the beginning(ish) of North by Northwest comes to mind, as does Will Ferrell’s turn in Old School (the latter film I don’t exactly reccommend, although Juliette Lewis’ “I’m sooorrrrry” while blowing cigarette smoke is also choice!). On the awesome-in-a-drama/realistic way I’d cite the entire performance of Ray Milland in The Lost Weekend (as I believe I’ve mentioned before), Paul Giamatti’s work in Sideways, and the family dinner scene in Half Nelson which makes me grit my teeth, it’s so perfect.

Teh Awesome: from one of my favorite thrillers. I would love to sponsor this one at the 7th Street!

Make: How-To: A Custom Pair of Tap Pants at CRAFT. I only own one dress but I’d like to own more. Why not have some funderwear for underneath? Instead of my usual cotton.

Make: Buttermilk Potato Salad by Martha Stewart. I made this for this week’s Conch and it was delicious!

Finally: “Red Light Bulb” by Madeline:

To set budding more, / And still more, later flowers for the bees…

So Phoenix decided a while back she wanted to see a doctor to talk about the small bumps developing in her chest. I’d told her it was likely normal breast development (we’ve talked with both kids about puberty, tons – as according to their interest), but she still wanted to enlist the care of a doctor. I asked her if she wanted to see her pediatrician or if she’d like to see a gynecologist. After a short discussion she decided on the latter. We proceeded to the day steadily and she looked forward – in her typical sedate way – to the appointment.

You can imagine how finicky and cautious these physicians are with young girls – probably not to scare them. And I respect that, although in our household this stuff is pretty matter-of-fact – and my daughter has not been sexually abused – so the treatment was a bit odd. During the entirety of the examination another employee, a woman, was in attendance. The physician (a good doctor; my own) introduced himself and shook hands with the patient. He then spoke directly to her and asked her why she was there.

“I have two bumps in my chest, and I’d like to know if they’re normal.” Phoenix was a slim little reed in the smallest gown they had, a soft lavender one.

“You’re quite a nine year old,” he said. He asked a few questions and eventually proceeded to an exam – asking her before touching her. You would have thought my daughter was made out of glass, they were so scrupulously careful – but not tentative. They also treated the whole business with seriousness. It was good stuff and I felt a bit… I don’t know, weepy or something.

“No cycles yet, mom?” he asks (this time, to me). “No,” I say.

After a very gentle exam he closes up the robe. “Breast buds,” the practitioner practically mouths at me, with an almost secretive air.

To my daughter, he says, “Your boobies* are coming in. Do you know about periods?” She nods. He continues, “It means in a few years, maybe one or two, you might start your period.”

“This is already happening – at nine?” my daughter asks immediately. The conversation goes from there.

But it suddenly pops in my head this physician has interpreted my relative silence (as my daughter has handled the entire thing just fine), and perhaps common prejudices associated with the knowledge we homeschool (why does he know this? ’cause get what just about every grownup asks every kid upon meeting them? Yeah. What grade they’re in.) I am suddenly wondering if the physician and his assistant think I’m a uber-faith-based homeschooler shelterin’ mama bringing her daughter in with these shameful dirtypillows and we don’t talk narthin’ ’bout periods neither. I mean don’t even think I’m weird for perceiving this. The number one question I get from strangers, regarding homeschooling, revolves around Christinaity – and “sheltered” children (in fact I fielded this exact double-pronged question again, not an hour later, in another setting entirely!).

I am silently mirthful on this thought. “No sir,” I want to say. “You perceive incorrectly. I’m actually a feminazgul radical unschooler whose kids probably know way too much about how the world works, like on the way here we were belting out Carrie Underwood’s ‘Before He Cheats’* – and actually we do say words like ‘breasts’ in our house, I’m sure since you have a medical degree you’ve heard the term.”  I am seriously not giving the guy a hard time, really, he did very well (and the whole thing was a hundred percent more awesome than how my parents introduced me to this stuff, which was… oh wait, they didn’t. Assery.). It was just funny.

The physician asks my daughter to call him, or “tell mom”, if anything comes up. He also explains periods in the most euphemistic way but – again, really, it’s fine. I mean think about it, all his caution, he probably wouldn’t want to offend a family who didn’t want to or hadn’t yet discussed this stuff with their kid(s). He’s in a delicate position.

Well anyway, Phoenix was a very proud young lady when we left. Believe it or not, I think she had actually been a tiny bit nervous. Not enough to disrupt her but just – a bit. I was touched. She is one of the most self-possessed kids about stuff like this.

Oh and by the way. We waited an hour between when we got there and when we were seen. Phoenix spied the exam table (she’s seen many such, of course), and asked:

Like A Giant Clam, Waiting To Snap You Up

“What does ‘the Ritter’ do?” She even put “the Ritter” in “air dick quotes” and used a low, serious, voice. Man we started laughing and then we couldn’t stop making jokes. She made the creepy light “eye” look at me. I joked it was like a giant clam that if you sat on it, would snap shut. When the doctor came in, as it happened, the assistant asked Phoenix to sit on THE RITTER (not calling it by its monstrous name of course) and the doctor hurriedly interjected with, “No no, it’s okay, she can stay in her seat.” When he left I leaned over and said to Phoenie in sotto voce, “They hadn’t fed it and they knew it was hungry”. We dissolved into paroxysms.

Seriously, most fun I’ve had in a gynecologist’s.

I should mention some rather awesome stuff happened today. Someone donated to the blog (thank you so, so much J.!) and it was the exact fund I needed to secure a bill that came in today. The landlord sent a crew over to build not only a fence, but fix our outlets – and we now have sink water pressure in the kitchen. This latter, if you’ve been to my house, you know has been a long time coming and has been a comically, I do mean comically small trickle of water since we moved in like a year and a half ago. There was some other really awesome stuff but I’m almost flopping around on the keyboard, I’m so tired. Just: a good day.

And yeah, my daughter is growing up.

As for Nels. He continues to grow tall and impossibly thinner. None of his pants fit because they’re all falling off. Seriously, I would be worried if he didn’t seem so full of energy, eat so well, and deliver “stools… gigantic and [with] no more odor than a hot biscuit.”

And so it goes. #familylife

* “boobies”? Just… No.

** When we sing along we don’t say the phrases “tramp” and “white trash”. But we’re cool with the rest of it. Just so you know.

you wanna be in the show / c’mon let it go!

That’s right! It’s Friday (the 13th; & also Stevie Wonder’s birthday), and I have a fresh steamed batch of link awesomeness. Pour your favorite beverage and let’s get going!

Ethics and health: Factory farms the only way to ‘feed the world’? Not so, argues Science paper by Tom Philpot

Teen Moms Look for Support, But Find Only Shame by the wonderful Miriam Zoila Pérez at Colorlines:

“Advocates like Bayetti Flores think that focusing narrowly on [teen] preventing pregnancy doesn’t address the root cause of these disparities, many of which exist among communities of similar socioeconomic status regardless of age of parenting. Instead, she argues, it turns a societal issue into an individual problem, where the blame for negative outcomes gets transferred onto the individual girls themselves—most frequently girls of color. Despite the fact that there are more white teen parents than teen parents of color overall, Latinas and African Americans are often the target of prevention programs because of the higher incidence of teen pregnancy and parenting within the communities.”

“That data can be picked apart pretty easily,” says [Verónica Bayetti Flores of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health]. “If you look at those negative outcomes in terms of socioeconomic indicators, I think you’d see similar trends. It’s trying to place the blame on something that is more a symptom than a cause.”

And from a year ago: author Hilary Mantel ruffles feathers regarding the same subject (thanks, reader Amy for sending this link on).

And listen: I’m a fair-minded and judicious moderator, methinks. But I was a pregnant teen, and I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and going over bone-deep hurts, and I’d encourage people to read the articles and really consider what kind of statement they want to make – if they make one at all (it’s really okay not to, you know).

Why do Girls Feel More Depressed after First Time Sex? from Rachel Rabbit White. Well one reason is, we usually have some pretty inept lovers and have been entirely too pressured about the whole business. This is a great, thoughtful piece, and I encourage anyone to read it if you plan on further interacting with the human race.

In both the No-Shit-Really? and also the I-Want-To-Cry-Because-The-Status-Quo-Sucks category (in other words, people are now shying away from “dieting” and calling the same behaviors, “lifestyle choices” etc.), we have: Dieting Linked To Eating Disorders at Medical Health News. Thanks reader Jeanne for sharing this through Google Reader.

“Constant dieting in a bid to improve appearance and reach what is perceived as a ‘socially acceptable’ low weight can cause an obsession with weight and an increased likelihood of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. ”


Film: How to Die in Oregon. I will definitely be seeing this. Even watching the brief promo vid brought up a lot of emotions regarding the hospice and dying care of my father, which I was so intimately involved with.

Lovable Local Cop Tells Other Cops How to Be More Lovable at The Stranger (also shared by Jeanne). “It doesn’t matter which population we’re dealing with, it takes multiple contacts to build trust,” Gracy explains. “But every positive encounter helps build our good reputation.”

“Women bare real pregnant and post-pregnancy bellies to show hypocrisy of glossy media images”. No photoshop, surgery, smoke and mirrors, “flattering” lighting, etc. I seriously want to give each of these women a high-five, or a fist-bump, or buy ’em a coffee or tea or margarita. Great project (related: thisisawoman.com).

Local: Child Luring Incident Reported in Aberdeen. Sounds like those two girls handled things well.

Malls Across America; a great slideshow from 1989. Be sure to read the artist’s commentary, too!

Crafters: you can knit “The Dude”, inspired by a new-classic film I can’t get enough of! (and not just because of how many “fuck” words are in it).

Make: I was complimented on my rhubarb pie this week (and ’tis the season!). I followed this recipe.

And finally – this? Is so, incredibly, simply, beautiful.

social butterflies

Today Nels asked to come along on my lunch date with three grown-lady girlfriends; about halfway through our car trip to Montesano he changed his mind because he felt bad and his stomach hurt. The poor little guy – he hasn’t been feeling well. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned he has been sick – his tonsils swollen and infected with white patches, his skin quality poor and his manner listless. He is eating less than usual (and maybe it’s my imagination but he also looks thinner than usual, which is rather thin indeed) and although he has not once complained of throat pain it is clear he is Not Quite Right.

Here is an indicator of my friends’ caliber – instead of awkwardly ignoring his quiet crying in the backseat of the car and/or waiting for it to be over they immediately offered to turn around and bring us home (yes, despite being hungry and On Our Way for a lunch date). I told them we could stick it out and I resolved (internally) to give Nels a lot of TLC while we were at the venue – as he really wanted Me and the comfort I could afford.

Nels asked me to hold him almost the entire time we were at the restaurant (which has delicious fare but is rather slow for service and food delivery). He was mostly a tuft of blonde hair on my shoulder. He was too ill-feeling even to play his laptop – and that tells you something. I ordered for us (out of five people who placed orders, it was mother-with-child – the only kid in the restaurant – who had her order botched thricely. I’m trying not to read into it but… interesting) and after his ham sandwich he felt a bit better. I had a delicious coffee, salad, and sandwich. Soon my son, wan and suppressed a bit, was talking about his favorite subjects, currently including Pink Pamfer and the cool cat’s hijinx. On the car ride back he sat quietly, a far cry from his usual talkative self.

I felt glad for the experience and grateful for my growth as a parent. I thought of the many ways I would have handled his experiences and feelings in the past, including sending him out to the car/removing him to lecture him, apologizing for his behavior to my friends (his “behavior”? Being sick? Yeah.), feeling irritated I couldn’t have a “nice” lunch date (where my child behaved like a grownup or oversized doll and sat with hands in lap), etc. I felt glad for my presence and my ability to be present for both my adult friendships and my son who needed me. I gave myself credit that really, I juggle these kinds of things often, gladly, and with much aplomb.

Not only did I handle the needs of my son well but the entire table was all the more relaxed and civil and enjoyed themselves for it. A far cry from the many times in the past Ralph and I have taken the “mommy/daddy in charge” route which has proved awkward for the other adults at the table (especially non-parents). I suppose most of us are like dogs, smelling fear/anger and responding in kind. I suppose it’s nice to have someone who knows what to do.

I don’t mean to make this a bigger incident than it was – it probably was only a blip on the screen to the other grownups there. Nels was sad and sick, that’s all. I feel sorrowful I’ve at other times in my life had fewer resources and less wisdom to give my kids what they’ve needed… and glad I am in a better place today.

On our trip back my friends (driving us) were sweet enough to readily agree, despite (rare) bad traffic, to swing through Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat which included fresh-frozen strawberries. “This helps,” Nels said, and seemed to cheer up incrementally. My children are rarely ill and when they are it’s like the most fragile but amazing little thing, an oddity, a gift almost in that we can provide care simply be administering small but essential kindnesses.

The whole experience, though not without it”s little fraughts (especially the bad – for Hoquiam – traffic) was a pleasant one indeed.

Home. A bit of writing. A swim date for Phoenix and her girlfriend. A date for Ralph and I. Back to a calm and intimate house, a little guy who needs a little more love. I’ll be happier when he’s mended.

of love and churlishness

Today we had a concrete mission: visiting the North Beach PAWS, looking for adoptable animals (check out Marty, THAT MOTHERFUCKING NORWEGIAN FOREST CAT).  My girl Jasmine was interested in a dog – and found one, but was ultimately offended and felt herself rebuffed by the Dog Adoption Beaurocrat who grudgingly “allowed” Jasmine the option to take home an animal, but – in Jasmine’s view – was a bit unfair, exacting, and pushy – by the end demanding that my friend adopt her preferred animal today, on the spot, or by not doing so she’d prove she didn’t want the animal at all.  So, I wasn’t there for that part – I was busy catting (more below, and SEE: MARTY), so don’t have a first-hand account of the scenario.

The adoption process at this PAWS is steep. I told J. the Cat Woman my kids were interested in a kitty, and so was I – but my husband was the hard sell.  After escorting the children and I to meet the animals and talking with me a great deal, even knowing an adoption was not imminent, J. brought me downstairs with clipboard and a long form and asked me a series of questions which became increasingly personal: Where do you live?  Do you rent or own?  How long have you had your current pets? Why do you want to adopt a dog / cat?  Will your cat be indoors, or go outdoors?  What veterinarian do you use, and are your shots up to date? What is your philosophy on pet ownership?  You seem a little high-strung, are you sure you don’t need to spend more time centering yourself before owning another animal?  It seems pretty obvious you only want another creature to fill up a hollow, spiritually-devoid Emptiness inside you.  No, really, I mean what makes you think you’re good enough to adopt any of these animals?  Look, I know you think you want to help, but I can see into your soul and you’re simply a sad, pathetic human being, and you should come back when you’re ready, that is, IF you ever really are ready.  Good luck, now.*

The four of us made it out of there eventually – after visiting all twenty-seven felines in person (SEE: MARTY), and it is a credit to my children’s hunger level they did not request a trip to the beach.  We ordered food at the Pub, but it took so long getting there we had to have it packed up, and drive home or else miss Jasmine’s work shift.  Cue:

My daughter has been out of sorts the last couple days; prone to being upset, short-tempered, unsatisfied.  What was fun was that when I was growing up, from the time I was age eight or so, whenever I got pissed off enough to express myself as such my mom would follow me and speak timidly through my (locked) door something like: “Kelly, you might be experiencing feelings and emotions because you’re going to get your period soon.”  Right, because first of all, don’t say “period”, kthx. And more relevant: it is so fun to be told your Very Self is just sort of silly and crazy because you have wacky lady parts!  Please, anyone reading, do me a huge favor and do not imply that when a woman is angry or has a strong, outspoken opinion this is because she has some kind of monthly craziness! Oh and incidentally, I did not start menstruating until age fourteen, which means, essentially, my blowups were diminished and tossed out as “hormonal” for oh, many, many years. Nicely done! (P.S. my dad and brother’s techniques for dealing with me my whole life: ignore in any way that I am, in fact, female).

So anyway, my daughter has been pissed at us lately, here and there, but I’m a smart woman and I know that it’s important she knows it’s OK to be pissed, even if it’s inconvenient for us at times.  I gave her a little talk the other day about good, healthy, normal feelings of irrational Hate.  I said, “You know, I used to just hate my mom, for no reason.  I’d look at her and just loathe her.  And if you feel that way about me sometimes, it’s okay.”  And Sophie was quiet.  And I could tell what I said meant a lot to her.

So today, as we sat down to dinner, she was kind of short and rude and angry with her brother, and we were all very patient with her. Then suddenly she burst into tears and said, “Mom, I’m sorry for my actions!  I’m so sorry for the mean things I’ve been saying!” and cried in such an open, vulnerable way, and put her arms around me.  I held her close, and I told her it was okay, and that I accepted her apology.  And I was glad that in that moment the apology came one hundred percent from her, because she felt bad, not because she knew I was mad or disapproving (I wasn’t).  Then I said, “You stay by me, okay?” and she nodded, tears streaming, and I kept my arm around her and rubbed her back.  And with her little black t-shirt and jeans and her blunt-cut dark blue haircut she looked so very, very much like the young woman she will become, not a little girl at all.  I thought of how so many people make it sound like teenagers are full of vitriol and laziness and entitled behavior and spite, and I wondered if in any way we could avoid that path by making so damned sure we remain open and loving to one another when things go hard.

If there’s one thing we Hogabooms do okay, it’s fighting, and then apologizing, and getting on with the loving.

* Seriously? I recognize a good shelter when I see one: this is a No Kill shelter, hosts two free neuter/spay clinics a year, charges fees that help run things properly, and is obviously a passionate and hard-working enterprise.  I unreservedly recommend adopting from their facilities, that is if you can stand the Penance Stare of the attendant administrators.