Archive for October, 2012

it’s complicated

Yeah, so I kind of dropped the ball there in terms of updates. A lot happened. A lot happened, most of which I will have to gloss over here. Combots was super awesome, and my mother-in-law revealed a hitherto unsuspected bloodlust in rooting for the giant killer robots. I harvested tomatos from our garden and I snuggled with Tiger Lily the pony at the school fundraiser. I got an extremely welcome phone call out of the blue. I ran a party for a dozen seven year olds, and I even baked a cake, and it was delicious, but seriously: giving a major keynote is a lot less stressful. Also incredibly stressful: a fundraising deadline for my beloved nonprofit, the Ada Initiative. Once again we hit our goal, but once again we were saved at the last possible minute by extraordinary acts of kindness.

Sunday night I called Kay and Kelso to make sure they knew where their nearest hurricane evacuation shelter was (they didn’t) and that they had a go bag packed (nope.) Kay and I were laughing our heads off over the phone: “This is a matter of life and death, missy!” Then when Sandy fell on lower Manhattan like an asteroid, a building around the corner from their apartment collapsed, and it didn’t seem so funny any more. They’re fine but have no power or cell service.

All this and two tragic, heart-hollowing, impossible-to-make-sense-of deaths in our extended circle, and I volunteered for another nonprofit because look at all this free time I have, and something about our metropolitan area sportsball team, and Jackson and Bella are shiny ponies and I had a big breakthrough with Jackson on Sunday, finding my balance so I could sit his bucks and send him forward again as soon as his hoofs hit the ground, and he was perplexed into obedience, and I am haunted by images of the evacuation of the medical center in New York, and Claire started a new swimming class and her glossy head looked like a seal’s in the pool, both awesomely fierce and terrifyingly fragile, and if anything is the message of the tumultuous last ten days, ten days that were like a roller coaster that has been swept out to sea, it is this: that in the end there is only love, nothing else, only love.

san francisco weather

It was hot and humid last night. Even so the morning went well and we were all bundled into the car in good time. At the Cortland and Mission lights, Jeremy said:

“I didn’t sleep well.”

“Me neither,” I said.

“Me neither,” said Claire.

“Neither did I,” said Julia.

I was dumbstruck. It was such a quotidian thing and yet it was the first time I had really felt the four of us as a family, individual people all living in the same house, sharing the same weather. I can’t put it into words.

adorable wrangling

This weekend, Jeremy’s mother is arriving but Jeremy will be spending the entire weekend wrangling adorable killer robots. That’s okay; I will take Jan with me to the girls’ piano, wushu, riding and swimming lessons, and to Najah’s birthday party. That’s assuming I finish the huge work deadline I am currently avoiding by writing this. Next weekend is not so bad – just a garden work day, school Fall Fun Festival and Julia’s birthday party, plus all the usual lessons, but at least I will have Jeremy around to help.

Sigh! I do love my wildly busy life. The girls and I have been doing a lot of cooking and drawing and reading. Julia has hugely enjoyed the beginning of piano and practices every day. Fourth grade at school comes with a choice of flute, violin or something else and Claire chose violin, which in practice means that she is trying to reproduce Zoe Keating songs at one-quarter scale. I am more than fine with that.

I am reading the Jenny Linsky stories with Jules and the Swallows and Amazon series with Claire. Jules is enormous fun to read with: every plot twist is a total shock to her. Claire likes to crochet or cross-stitch while I read, but will occasionally nudge me to ask a question or make an observation that makes it clear she has been hanging on every word. Curling up with them to read, usually with the cat walking over the mountain range of our knees, is the best part of every day.

like fule i say

DSC_2028 by Goop on the lens
DSC_2028, a photo by Goop on the lens on Flickr.

Ignore the poo.

judging by the evidence j just uploaded to flickr

DSC_1667 by Goop on the lens
DSC_1667, a photo by Goop on the lens on Flickr.

I seem to have spent the entire summer grinning like fule.

how should a girl be

In an otherwise creepy and depressing thread, I found this wonderful comment:

A girl needs to learn how to perform “what boys like” in order to attract and keep boys’ attention, and boys take it for granted girls will be doing this, that girls exist as objects for their attention to pick and choose from (this is why many guys, especially young ones, feel perfectly at home evaluating women, any woman at all, with “I’d hit it” or not – we are surprised at their presumption, but from their POV that is their role as selector). Boys and girls (and men and women) will “punish” girls who aren’t trying to fulfill their given role.

This was such a strong pressure in my adolescence that specific instances of gender-enforcement stand out in my memory: Christine saying “It’s past time you started shaving your legs”; Aaron and his friends forming the Itty Bitty Titty Committee to give marks out of ten for our bust sizes; Cameron saying “I wish you hadn’t cut your hair; your long hair was the good kind, with curls.” And many more. Women were the biggest enforcers. Jan, the minister’s wife, was the worst. Anne Summers wrote a book I still haven’t finished, about women in early colonial Sydney, called Damned Whores and God’s Police. Those were our only options. Jan was God’s chief of police.

Girlness was a performance judged by a panel of assholes. I sucked at it, which turned out to be my salvation. Being a horsy girl was a recognized loophole on the tomboy spectrum (although, again, Claudia, when we were all of ten: “You can’t just talk about horses all the time, you know.” HAHAHA SUCK IT.) The panel of assholes still in full flight in Australia, by the way, where the gendered slurs against our Prime Minister boggle the mind. (Anne Summers, on point again.) But whenever I get to bitching about this on IM, Liz sensibly points out: “It’s not Australia. It’s the patriarchy.”

Argh! I have daughters. I drag them along to barns and science museums and give them math books and read Swallows and Amazons to them at bedtime so that they can have Mary King and Limor Fried and Fan Chung and Nancy Blackett as alternative role models to Jan-the-minister’s-wife. But they’ll need the hearts and stomachs of concrete elephants all the same.

And still. More vividly than I remember all the putdowns, I remember the day I realized I was a free agent, and could exercise a choice. I want that for everyone.

an insight

An old buddy is Facebooking about his mountain biking adventures on the same Ku-ring-gai Chase trails Alfie and I knew so well: the Perimeter Trail, the Long Trail, the Cooyong-Neverfail Trail. I got to remembering what it felt like to let Alfie go. He was blindingly fast well into his twenties. He outran a 3yo QH filly once, I remember, my grand old Arabian king. Yet I don’t ever remember being afraid sitting on his back. I held the rein like a gossamer thread.

I realized in my body, in a way that’s hard to put into words, that I need to find that same feeling of openness when I point Bella and Jackson at fences: the same light contact, the same absolute lack of fear.

salome is teaching riding

IMG_20120929_125536.jpg by yatima
IMG_20120929_125536.jpg, a photo by yatima on Flickr.

This is Claire on a Welsh cob and I am pretty sure I daydreamed the whole thing.