Archive for August, 2009

also blogging at geekfeminism

Check out my writeup of last night’s PTA meeting :)

this and that, life and death, pride and falls

R: “I find myself unexpectedly very sad about Ted Kennedy.”

J: “Yeah, me too.”


Claire clocked heads with a kindergartener today and came away with a black eye and some shallow cuts. She spent the afternoon at my office and we wandered over to AG Ferrari for lunch.

R: “That’s the earthquake memorial.”

C, remembering earlier conversations: “Your grandmother was born three days after the Great Earthquake! I bet her mother was glad she wasn’t in San Francisco. Your grandmother’s mother is my great, great… wait, let me gather my greats.”


R (as I finish recounting this to Jeremy): “And then I exploded. All over Third Street. A fine red mist.”

(A clarification: I exploded with pride in my daughter, who gathers her greats; and not, as my father assumed, in a temper tantrum.)

seriously, people, how could this happen?

First day of school

Originally uploaded by yatima

don’t fear the claire

She knows wushu. Her bit starts at 2:27. (You can glimpse me at 0:20, dying of pride.)

sundays have been good to me lately

Brunch at my lovely Mission Beach Cafe with Peter the Rocket Scientist, discussing Lee Smolin’s book The Trouble With Physics. Off to Dolores Park to see an all-women, feminist production of The Taming of the Shrew. I love San Francisco. Home, where Salome and Milo and later Kathy and Martha dropped by. Children playing sweetly. Roast chicken with caramelized carrots and ultralocavore salad – lettuce from the Prospect Street garden. Nerdcore dinner party with three of my favourite nerdcore guests, Danny and Liz and Ada.

Me: “Of course I went to Trinity, which is older than some Oxford colleges.”

Danny: “It’s not as old as mine.”

Me: “I can’t win here, can I?”

Danny: “It’s like some dark side of me takes over.”


Julia, from the bathroom: “Fire! Fire!”

Me, skeptically: “The bath is on fire?”

Danny: “Fire in the hold!”

Me: “Fire in the hold? Fire in the hole?”

Liz: “Yeah, fire in the hole.”

Me: “What did they teach you at Oxford?”

Danny, loftily: “Nothing practical.”

When Ada and Claire got out of the bath, Ada had anointed Claire queen, and kept accidently-on-purpose pretend-peeing on her and saying “Oops! Sorry, your majesty!”

“Well,” I said, “trouble is her middle name. What did you expect?”

“Trouble,” said Danny darkly: “not treason.”

it’s called entity contact, okay?

Jeremy: “So Jimmy Neutron’s parents are going to Burning Duck.”

Rachel: “Our generation? SO OVER.”

J: “Cat? Why are you snappy?”

R: “She needs to go to Burning Cat. And take catnip.”

J: “And there would be laser pointer art. Hey I could do that… Maker project… and choreograph the cats…”

R: “Bebe might have epiphanies on the catnip. She might come to realize there are better ways to express her anger than biting.”

J: “She might start insisting that the catnip comes from outer space.”

R: “I? Am going to kick your ass. Albeit v e r y s l o w l y.”

J (fleeing in slow motion): “It’s okay. Bebe doesn’t even know what redwoods are.”


I had an unexpected week off work. The last time this happened, in the year 2000, I made a godawful mess of it. Couldn’t fill my days, felt useless, cried. It is a measure of how completely different my life is now that this has been one of my best weeks ever. One of the best parts was the fact that I got off my butt and organized riding lessons every other day.

I thought I might blog after each one, but it’s Friday and I haven’t done so. There were bloggable things after each. On Sunday Erin got me riding Seth, the huge dapple-grey Warmblood gelding, in a firm but kind contact with lots of leg. He came through and round and soft and the rest of the lesson gave me everything I asked with the barest hint of an aid. On Monday I was on Bella and tried to ride the same way, but Bella is an adorable little chestnut mare made of cotton candy and moonbeams, and when I used a Seth-strength leg on her she bounded away from me as if she had been stung by a bee. I had to ride whisper-soft through the serpentines and changes, so I did.

Wednesday I rode with Colin and Toni, the barn owners, both Grand Prix riders and very very tough, though nice and fair. They stake out each end of the arena and they both correct you as you ride past, so there is nowhere to flop around and catch your breath. Brutal. The other riders were very good so lesson was very advanced: like an ordinary tough lesson for me, but with no stirrups, meaning everything depended on the correctness and strength of my seat, which is neither very correct nor very strong right now. But Bella, who is the world’s most generous and forgiving horse, kept letting me have lead changes and lovely jump spots entirely free gratis and for nothing. We ended by jumping the wall with two poles stacked on it. Easily the biggest thing I’ve jumped at Mcintosh.

Today I was on Bella again, and again, the best moment was the last line. I lifted up my eyes to the hills, whence cometh my help, and suddenly the little mare was in a steady even rhythm and with the bottom of my eyes I could see the three strides into the fence, and the exact spot where Bella would take off. So I moved with her, balanced over the fence, then sat down and collected her and changed canter leads.

Okay, so maybe I did have a lot to write about. It’s been hard to write about it, though, partly because I have so many other projects on – writing grants for Claire’s school, working on Geek Feminism with Skud and Liz and Sumana and the others. But mostly because I’ve been riding reasonably well all week, and what I feel is this brilliant happy afterglow, and happiness is less conducive to blogging than to staring into space with a vacant grin. At home in my body. All that hard work and discipline and concentration for those few seconds when you are riding a thousand-pound Thoroughbred through the air.

The little side-pleasures, too: being out of doors in gorgeous Northern California August weather. Cool breezes in the plane trees. Bella’s irresistible copper coat, like close-grained satin under your hand.

well, and so (bukes)

Joining the 50 Books by People of Color community on LJ was an excellent and mind-opening experience for me, but it mopped up a lot of book review energy that would otherwise have been squirted out here. I’ve fallen off the POC horse but it’s been remarkable, in the last few weeks, just how rarely I read books by straight white men: if my authors aren’t POC, or women, or gay, they’re nearly always writing about women or gay men. (Or, *cough* horses. Hey, look over there! ->)

Case in point: Nigel Nicolson’s book about his mother, Vita Sackville-West, and her affair with Violet Trefusis. The account of their six weeks in Paris is so painful to read now: Vita’s innocent pleasure in passing as a man, Harold and Denys’s swashbuckling flight to Amiens to rescue their wives from each other. It is impossible, at this distance, to comprehend fully why the menfolk couldn’t just leave the lovers alone. The thought that only eighty – hell, only fifty years later, Violet and Vita would have gone _unremarked_; that Del Martin would be born three months later and would eventually _marry_ her beloved Phyllis Lyon – well, let’s just say it’s a good argument for inventing time machines, and an even better argument for not being a judgmental bigot. What kind of person opposes love? It’s not like there’s too much of it!

What else? Bill Steinkraus’s Reflections on Riding and Jumping may be one of the best things ever written about horses. Susan Nusser’s In Service To The Horse captures something of how fragile and amazing horses are, not to mention their grooms. Carrie Tiffany’s Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living gave off an Australian Royal Ag Show, CSIRO vibe that rang profoundly true. Jeremy was less impressed, but I thought Shelter, about an artificially intelligent house on the Filbert Stairs in a near-future San Francisco, was one of the best science fiction books I’ve read all year. So was China Mountain Zhang, which I read immediately after. Both took my own obsessive preoccupations – working and raising children – and treated them as matter for serious discussion, which was – not flattering, what am I trying to say – it was a relief. I’m tired of alternately insisting that the things I think about are incredibly important, and silently fearing that maybe they aren’t. (They are.) I am reading my way through the rest of McHugh and Palwick, and like them both very much.

There’s more! But I will blog again!

this week in mansplanation

(For those of you just tuning in, the story so far.)

Since Skud’s excellent OSCON keynote, there’s been a fair bit of discussion on the lists and boards and Intarwebs and stuff. Geekgrrls and fellow travelers have done sterling work here, but I want to call out some extra-spesh contributions from the dudes who turn up to Mansplain.

Women, you see, don’t really understand feminism until we have it explained to us by some dude.

First of all, let’s get some historical, biological, political and social context here.

Yes, let’s!

There are a great many debates in feminist circles about this very topic.

…you mean, like this one RIGHT HERE? Who’da thunk.

I would be remiss if I failed to add my all-time great mansplanations:

  1. Glenn Richardson of SUDS, in the Holmes Building circa 1990, who when I said something about wanting to study “mankind” corrected me: “You mean humanity.” Oh, that’s right! I’m not part of mankind, am I?
  2. Perfectly nice fellow with whom I shared a taxi to JFK on December 7, 2006. I said I doubted Hillary would get elected because the country wasn’t ready for a woman, and he said “I didn’t even take that into account! I guess I’m a better feminist than you are.”

Thanks, mansplainers! We could do it without you!

the best day ever

Bagel with cream cheese and lox at Nervous Dog. Spectacular amazing ride on Seth at the barn. Driving home at the exact moment Jeremy and Jan and the girls walked home. Out again for lunch at Mission Pie and a quiet hour in the library. Home to pick up the family again. Cocktails and fried chicken at Front Porch. Ice cream for the girls at Mitchell’s. Finishing the ice cream on the stoop, at sunset, while admiring the lobelia and poppies and roses and jacaranda and bougainvillea.

And so to bed.