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4 kittens

Due to the loss of generality

Posted on 2017.09.24 at 22:57
I found myself in conversation with three other moms, at a birthday party. One said, "I tried to go to a PTA meeting, but I felt really awkward and not like those other moms."

I knew what she meant! It's easy to feel awkward and terribly uncomfortable around PTA moms!

Another mom nodded. "I don't even feel like a mother," she said.  I was less sure what she meant. She continued, "I'm an adult with a kid. Just one kid. We don't do things like have a bedtime routine." The other chimed in, "I can't do mornings! We're late like every day, and we live five minutes from school. Or bedtimes! I'm dropping f-bombs every night! The rest of the time everything's totally fine and no big deal!"

The other moms nodded. One of them observed, "We each just have one kid! There's only three kids between the three of us. It's not like the whole mother routine."

They looked at me. "We have four kids," I admitted, "and a killer bedtime routine!" (I wish I'd said that. I actually just said, "We have four kids, and a bedtime routine.") I shrugged sheepishly like, Ya got me!

It's funny that I was The Establishment in contrast to this newfound camraderie that I had thought I shared for a millisecond. I am totally comfortable with the label mother. We are regimented within an inch of our lives. It's not just a bedtime routine, and a morning routine, and I blog on Sunday nights, and we do bills on Monday nights, and Tuesdays are my planning meetings, and Friday is for hockey, and...and...we just run a tight ship.  This isn't even getting into kid activities.

(At the same time, I see the appeal and romanticism by flying by the seat of your pants, you and your kid, taking each day as it comes. Not seeing yourself as a mother, but just a person raising this kid who you love a lot.)

I exited the conversation to call my brother for his birthday, who wowed me with his crackpot theories of Bitcoin and Elon Musk. I was entertained but I might not park any large sums of money with him any time soon.


Don't park under this tree, folks! What is that?

A whole lot of grackle shit is what that is. Park under this tree instead:

Those two trees were maybe fifteen feet apart. That's what being a grackle roosting tree will do to you: utter shitstorm.


A bat totally dive bombed Hawaii around sunset one evening, swooping out from under our house. We were all unsure if it was a giant moth or a bat, as we watched it beat erratically up and away. But it was a bat.

When the adrenaline cooled: how could bats not be under our house in these inviting rafters?  I would like to welcome them and have them eat our mosquitoes, but I'm also slightly spooked by rabies stories.


Students say the darndest things.


On Thursday I hosted a big social luncheon for math majors and faculty to mingle. On the one hand, it was totally one of these Woman in the Department assuming the emotional labor and doing the woman's work to bring people together. Homecooked chili, brewing all morning in the crockpot, smelling good and waiting for students to ladle it up. On the other hand, I was sort of doing it in order to prove the chair wrong - when I proposed a big group lunch, he maintained that it would have to be a big expensive thing and wasn't worth doing.  I could have just agreed with him that it'd be too expensive and not bothered, but instead I had to prove him wrong, that it could be done on the cheap.

I really don't like doing this sort of thing at all. I don't feel like getting to work early to chop green peppers. Chili in a crockpot, with fritos and shredded cheese. There was sudoku and some math puzzles, and mechanical pencils as prizes. I don't like event planning or being a host, or making smalltalk. I like teaching class where there is a topic that I care about, and I'm in control. Our secretary did a ton of work, and one colleague also helped, but there was no buy-in throughout the department.

Leading up to it, I kind of wanted it to fail dramatically.  If no one showed up, I could sulk about my lack of support and I'd never feel obligated to do it again. Win-win!  However, it was immensely successful. We ran out of chili in the first fifteen minutes. There was a big turnout, students solved the problems and had a good time and  everyone said nice things afterwards. Damn it.

Hawaii is drawing these princesses lately. I like her little goat feet.


At Open House, Pokey's teacher raved on and on about him. How quickly he's grasping her spanish. How he translates for the class more often than the native spanish speakers do. (That surely speaks to our Geebie sense of participation entitlement more than anything else.) At any rate, she seems to really get him. She lets him be her helper, and has good strategies in place for when he loses his shit.

"He always participates and wants to answer," she said, which is exactly how I was in school. "So I tell him that we need to give other students a chance to answer, as well. Then after they give the right answer, I call on Pokey and let him also answer. That seems to make him happy!"   (That cracks me up.)

Later, I felt a little bad for Hawaii when her teacher did not rave at length about her, in kind. Hawaii's teacher seems to be a free-wheeling hippie, who perceives us as being, well, straight-laced establishment types. I got the sense that raving is just not her style.

More importantly: I am NOT a straight-laced establishment type. Okay a little, c/f above. A British bank is run with precision; a Geebie household requires nothing less.


"Hi, I am the cat girl from cat tales."  I'm not sure what Cat Tales are specifically, but I like Pokey's illustration.


Ace was telling me how they put on upbeat music at daycare when it's time to wake up from your nap. How strange and intimate to sleep next to people in the middle of the day. I can't imagine feeling relaxed enough next to my colleagues to fall asleep.  (Lies: I fall asleep during meetings all the time. But somehow stretching out with your snuggle on a mat seems different.)

Ace has been on a tear of quotable lines lately:
- "When I grow up, I want to be a mom. Just like you," Ace told me, "Except with no husband and no kids. Just me in a big house."  I can't wait to crash her pad.

- "What do you get when you cross a sun with a crocodile?" said Ace.
 "A sun dial?" Pokey guessed.
"What? No! A croco-sun!" exclaimed Ace.

There were a few other jokes - What do you call a giraffe with one leg? A two-headed thing! (Because the one leg looks like his other neck and head.) - and - What do you call a flamingo with no legs? A fish! - both of debatable merit.

Pokey has entered the realm of smart alec jokes, like:
"What's the difference between a dog and a cat?"
"Don't you KNOW? They're totally different!"
It's only now, writing it out, that I realize I should have responded, "You're the one who brought it up!" but eh, maybe that horse is too dead to beat.

Artwork by Ace.


Next Sunday is my first tattoo session. A few weeks ago, I emailed the tattoo artist and asked her about her ideas. She replied that it was too soon, she'd start working on it a few days before our session, and that we'd spend the first hour planning and making sure we had it right.

When I met her, back in July, she very clearly stated that we'd be collaborating back and forth over the next few months. However, I had the wisdom to have smart tattooed friends who told me, "ha. Don't count on it. They all save everything until the last minute." Given how flaky the tattoo artists have been so far this year, I took it to heart, and was not expecting anything, and ta-da, nothing has happened.

Perhaps next week I'll have ink permanently englossed in my bod! I really like this artist, but I also have very low expectations that it will actually come to pass.


Rascal draws. I see a big abstract nose in the middle of this. Like a nose with angel wings.


There were assorted paper cuts this week:  I found out the City Council had more or less scoffed at the amendments I'd proposed for the new land development code. I went and watched the video. It was one of those council meetings where no one is in attendance and they have let their guard down and are just being casual, and they were pretty fucking rude and dismissive of my amendments, which I still think are good amendments. The problem is that my amendments are not on anyone's radar, and I did not actively promote and make a fight out of them. I just proposed them. But it was still demoralizing to see them get squelched like that.

I found out that I can't get rid of the advertisements on my LiveJournal blog, if you're not logged in and viewing on a mobile device, even though I have a paid account. It's been bothering me, and I finally emailed them. They told me that LJ was sold to some Russian company who changed the policy a few months ago.  Jerks.



Here's a new milestone: weekends are more relaxing than the work week.  For years now, Monday was sort of a relief. I could go to work, sit at my computer, and be in control of where I put my attention. Sit in silence. It felt like a break from the weekend. But the weekends are now much easier than they used to be. Parenting by myself doesn't require a pep talk and preparation anymore. I'm sad about weekends ending, the way I used to be, back a long time ago. It's a pleasure.

We're 1/3 of the way done parenting. There are 24 years between Hawaii's birth and Rascal's graduation from high school, and we're 8 years done.  The diaper, baby, toddler years are all behind us.  It feels bittersweet.


(Anonymous) at 2017-09-25 15:00 (UTC) (Link)
I really don't like doing this sort of thing at all.

Argh. I totally emphasize. I get so mad when male colleagues are like 'Oh, I don't like doing that stuff. I just worry about work...' Yeah, I'd like to just think about that stuff to (i.e. the reason I'm in this field) but I know we are not just brains in vats and there isn't enough diversity and if I don't do it, who will?

And so I'm head of the diversity committee and I resent it so much.

heebie_geebie at 2017-10-02 03:17 (UTC) (Link)
I got so fed up with soft structural feminism this week that I had a bit of a meltdown over it. Just feeling like my male colleagues have a smoother path, do a worse job, and get more awards and recognition for it. I ended up venting to a senior colleague in a nearby department and it was a big relief to just vomit all over her desk. She was very validating and shared some of her own horror stories.
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