Thursday, February 25, 2010

So Five Minutes Ago

I’ve decided that I need to take a break from vampire serieses. I’ve been reading through so many of them my brain can’t really process it anymore. First I’ll finish out the series that I’m on. And there are a couple of due-to-be-published titles coming out this year I’ll read. But then that’s it.

Since I’ve read so many of these damn things I’ve inevitably started comparing them all. I think everyone in the world knows about my disdain for Twilight, despite my initial love and addiction. I found that the Sookie Stackhouse series, while enjoyable, wasn’t as good as the television series based upon it. By the end I was reading them more to expand my understanding of True Blood than anything. Anita Blake I initially started reading after stumbling across this webcomic. That sounded too hilarious and titillating to pass up! I haven’t quite finished that series yet but so far it’s the one I like best. Even with all the sex. Or not just because of all the sex?

If these serieses were schools, then Twilight is Junior High, Sookie is High School, and Anita is College.

Anita Blake’s an urban fantasy series. It’s set in St. Louis. Unlike the True Blood-verse, where vamps have just made themselves known, in this universe vamps (and shifters and witches and whatnot) have always been known. Vampires recently were made legal in the US and there’s a big Church of Eternal Life as well as all kinds of strips clubs and other businesses. Anita is a licensed vampire executioner and works with the police department and FBI on all sorts of freaky supernatural monster crime. She’s totally badass. She’s also a zombie animator, a natural talent she’s had since she was little. She works at a business specifically to raise zombies, so lawyers can double check wills or loved ones can say good bye or whatever else may be required.

Awesomely, nearly every title in the series is also the name of a place of business that Anita visits during the course of that book’s case, which makes it a nice shorthand to remember what exactly happened. I can never remember which book is which out of the Sookie Stackhouse titles. This series has a bad rap but I think that’s a little bit unfair. Anita’s powers develop very naturally as a result of the events of each book, her interactions with the bad guys or supes, and are fully explained within the confines of the world that has been built. It just plain makes sense. And besides the preternatural stuff, there’s just so much heart-pounding action!

But nevermind the guns and the gore and the terror. Nearly everyone focuses on the sex so I thought I’d make a little guide. Books 1 through 5, Guilty Pleasures through Bloody Bones, are nearly completely chaste. Book 6, The Killing Dance, has one single sex scene. Book 7, Burnt Offerings, is back to being sex-free. Though Anita is no longer celibate, we just don’t read it on the page. Book 8, Blue Moon, again has one single sex scene. Book 9, Obsidian Butterfly? That’s right, nada. So far, no reason to get bent out of shape. And that’s over half of the currently published titles! Books 10 and 11, Narcissus in Chains and Cerulean Sins, both have a handful of sex scenes. Maybe 3 or 4 each. But again, nothing that I found excessive and certainly nothing outside of the norm established for the characters involved. Then we have book 12, Incubus Dreams. Hooboy. I completely lost track. This one definitely fits the “all sex and no plot” profile. It was kind of a mess. But then along comes book 13, Micah, and it dials everything back down. There’s only one single sex scene and more than that, it’s a return to the “simpler” bad guys of the earlier books, instead of a demi-god or a lunatic shapeshifter. Books 14 and 15, Danse Macabre and The Harlequin, seem to have found their way back to the handful of scenes level, though the former also included group sex instead of just one-on-one. And that’s as far as I’ve read.

I think the reason the dirty stuff doesn’t bother me is that while it may be complicated to explain, the series is truly about Anita’s relationships with her men. There is a lot of introspection and self-analysis going on that fits with all the characters developing in a believable manner. I don’t know that I’d recommend them for everyone I know but I definitely think they’re better than those dismissing the series as smut and nothing else.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Kirk’s taken to making proclamations of “I’m gonna buy you something” to both me and his father. The items he’s going to purchase vary from the simple to the extravagant. It’s very sweet. He totally doesn’t understand money yet. Heh.

Veronica has all but broken the television remote. Every time it’s left in her reach she has chewed it to the point where the buttons simply don’t work anymore. One evening earlier this week she managed to chew it into a feedback loop of scanning for channels!

Kirk is becoming quite the master builder. He loves regular sized Legos the most, though he’ll also use Duplos or bristle blocks or anything else handy. He has created everything from pirate ships to Lightning McQueen to the Incredible Hulk. It’s fabulous to watch his creativity in such a concrete manner.

Ronnie still won’t take steps unless you trick her. If her destination is at standing height then she might step once or twice but usually she’ll just speed-crawl over. The strange thing, however, is that she is now nearly perfectly balanced (relative to a baby learning to walk) and will spend most of her time standing once she’s reached her new location.

I’ve been going through my wardrobe and culling items. I discovered I had a box of goal weight clothes I set aside before Kirk was born. Some of them fit! Our scale has been broken since the clogged toilet disaster so that was an exciting discovery. I’ve also stopped wearing nursing bras exclusively. Boy, I need new bras.

In the ongoing attempt to make sure Kirk has good manners, I’ve been trying to impress upon him the difference between an empty “I’m sorry” to get out of trouble and a truly meaningful apology. I haven’t decided yet if we’re making any progress.

On the topic of manners, what about chivalry? I’m not sure at what point, or even if, I should start with the holding the door for a lady, letting a lady go first, that sort of thing. Respect Your Elders probably needs to come next anyway. We’re still working on Wait Your Turn If Someone Else Is Speaking.

Bundle takes showers with me now. I gave up even trying to keep her out. She loves hanging out and splashing when her brother or her dad is in the bathtub and if I’m in the shower she will lean over the edge to try to play with the water spray. She is just about tall enough to climb in. Rather than fight it, I now let her hang out below me, cheerfully splashing shampoo bubbles and sliding around in the tub.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunday Social

I’ve been feeling very disconnected lately. At the same time, I’ve been going through a self-analytical phase triggered by required career development exercises. On top of this has been all the family drama swirling about for several months. In the midst of it I realized that I need to start going to church.

Now, to those that know me that probably sounds radical. I am an avowed critic of organized religion. I do not believe in Christian dogma. I formally and officially quit the church in 9th grade after getting confirmed just to please my mother. However, there were good elements to churchgoing and that’s what I want to pursue. I need a sense of community. I need a support network. All my closest relationships are online, even with friends that are physically living in town. I go from work to home and don’t see anyone but co-workers and my kids because of the split-shifting Mr. b and I are doing right now. And that’s fine and it’s temporary, but I do need to retain my sanity during this phase of our lives.

I also want Kirk to grow up with the fun of youth group and having “church friends” distinct from “school friends”. He’s getting old enough to Ask Questions and while we can provide plenty of answers, I also want him to have a framework to find his own answers. I want him to gain the tools to live an ethical life and be intellectually curious and open to change and differences.

So this Sunday we went to service at the local Unitarian Universalist society. And it was great. It’s so refreshing to listen to a minister talk about the Bible, MLK Jr, Greek philosophy, Buddhism, and pan-theistic deities, all while making actually funny pop song lyric references. My friend morrigan grew up in this church so of course I was there for lock-ins and stuff but I never actually went to services. Kirk had his naming ceremony at this church but I never actually went to services. Then I discovered that K had started going. Somehow knowing that someone else was going to be there was just the little push I needed.

The look on Kirk’s face when he saw his best friend in the universe at the church Sunday morning was better than priceless. Now I just need to remember that going is part of our new routine each weekend. I’m in the midst of planning out Ronnie’s naming so that will help. And I know that my blue funk won’t last. The world isn’t actually taking me for granted, though it feels that way these days. There’s a lot of potential for change happening in my life right now and once directions are decided, I suspect a feeling of calm will return. Until then, I look forward to another thought provoking Sunday morning.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Three is the new Two?

Last night Mr. b and I talked about vasectomies. He’s apparently been doing some research about them and is not at all encouraged by what he’s read. He doesn’t want one. And honestly, that’s fine. I don’t mind taking the pill. I’ve been on it for nearly 20 years now. I take iron pills every day anyway so it’s not really any big deal to take two pills at night instead of just one. I told him that if we just keep going like we have been, there’s always a chance of an Oops, though we never had so much as a scare before I was off the pill. But more than that, I warned him that I might want to have another kid at some point in the next 7 or so years.

I’m the oldest of three kids so there’s always going to be something in the back of my head that tells me that’s the “right” number of kids to have. When Ronnie was first born I felt very strongly that I was going to want another one. I’m not sure why but now, not nearly as much. Yet it’s not faded completely so I can’t discount the notion that the nagging could resurface someday. Mr. b was quite appalled by the possibility and just went with the idea that he’ll “say no” and that is that. I don’t know that it would be so simple.

Alongside the experience of being one of three is a more primal, genetic, animal, base desire to propagate the species, ensure the continuation of my line, immortality through my progeny. There’s a collective memory of high infant mortality and the need for more hands to help sustain the subsistence. Is that a real issue? We’re probably not going to actually have an apocalypse in my lifetime, much to Mr. b’s despair. And possibly my time in the field – where I excavated infant remains that were in the trash midden, treated with the respect of being put in a nice jar at least – colors my impression of it more than someone that has only academic knowledge of the changes modern health technology has wrought. I feel quite strongly Kirk would not have survived even a century ago. So all of this adds up to something inside me akin to the Royal saying of “an heir and a spare”.

I don’t know how I would go on if I lost one of my kids. But I especially don’t know how I would go on if I lost both of my kids. So having another one I guess would be insurance of a sick sort. But even understanding my psyche in all of this, do I really want to go through it all again? The pregnancy and the birth and the sleepless nights. I don’t know. But I’m not ready to give up the option.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Almost 11 Months

It felt kind of strange to get on the bus this morning and not be carrying my pump. I’ve become so accustomed to having two things with me in the seat; it felt so roomy without it! So far I’m feeling OK. Not too full or too achy, though obviously a little of each. However, I’m sure I’m going to put Veronica straight to the boob the second I get home and get my coat off. I picked Friday to be my first day without pumping knowing the weekend would be right there in case it sucks. But I really don’t want to have to spend money on more milk storage bags and honestly, I don’t think pumping is worth the trouble anymore.

So now that Ronica is on the homestretch of weaning – whether she knows it or not is a different matter – I’m looking forward to seeing how this affects our sleeping patterns. She continues to be extremely difficult to get to bed at night, requiring multiple tries to get her to stay asleep. She continues to wake up between 2am and 4am and sometimes even earlier. (She often wakes up the second her father gets home from school or band practice or work, like she can sense his presence.) I have noticed that she’s less demanding of food when she wakes up and is more interested in being held. But since I’m so used to sleep nursing, I still just give her a boob so I can lay back down. And she still doesn’t really know how to fuss herself to sleep since we don’t leave her in her crib to cry and disturb her brother. I’m hoping that’ll work itself out as she gets older but it’s definitely something I’m wary of.

I think we’ll probably try to find a free or cheap toddler bed before jumping straight to bunk beds for the two of them. My guess is that once she can climb out of bed herself she’ll end up climbing in with her brother, again just needing the comfort of someone next to her in the middle of the night.

Ronnie is still not quite walking. Rather, she can walk and has taken a few steps, but she chooses not to. She is so incredibly fast at crawling that it would be inconvenient to walk instead. She does let go and free stand more and more often so I’m sure she’ll start doing more than just moving between the couch and ottoman before long. She’s learning to get down from the couch feet first and that’s a skill she’ll need for getting out of her bed and invading her brother’s.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


Good science fiction should be thought provoking. You should be presented with ideas that make you really consider the way the world around you works currently. Allegory isn’t necessary but is often useful to use as a prism, to focus on something you might not have noticed around you. Too often today we think science fiction means robots and space and aliens and rockets. Instead, I hold to the old Scientific Romance definition, where you expound and expand upon a technological breakthrough and explore what that would mean for society.

Trouble with Lichen by John Wyndham was one of the most thought provoking books I’ve read in a long time. It took a long, hard look at the ramifications of extreme longevity. Robert A. Heinlein touched on some of those ideas in his Lazarus Long books but Lazarus is primarily an action figure so the same depths are not achieved. I enjoyed the thought experiment of how people really would react when offered the chance to double or treble their lifespan.

There was a feminist aspect to the book, too, which I found fascinating because of several inherent disparities. First of all, it was published in 1960. So even though the female protagonist was rather radical and wanted women to break free of their domestic routines if only they had enough time to live up to their potentials, it was all cast with the pall of the woman being a mere appendage to a man, whether her father or her husband. Like watching original series Star Trek now and being appalled at the sexism while trying to remember that it was actually ground breaking at the time. Another disparity was the fact that the author is a man. I often found myself wondering if he was poking fun or being serious about all the second-gen suffragetting about the place. I have to believe that he thought he was serious. However, I was reminded that in his The Day of the Triffids, which I read six years ago, the independent female character by the end was just happy to have a man. Maybe the fact that it was published almost a decade earlier made the difference? Or maybe Wyndam truly believes that even if a woman is smart and strong she still is “just” a woman. But I’m not offended by that possibility and instead relished the chance to really examine the current state of my gender in society at large.

The narrative started a little slowly but it continued to build and the last forty or fifty pages were definitely exciting. The climax had me tearing up with hope for humanity and righteous pride in womankind. And the twist in the dénouement I didn’t see coming until it was right on top of me.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Back Pack & Baby Toy

I had a burst of creative energy a few weekends ago and put it to good use. Mr. b had a pair of old khakis with the knees torn out that I hemmed into shorts for him. But what to do with the legs? I am too much of a fabric hoarder to just toss them into the rag pile. Instead, I made Kirk a back pack! I had a lot of fun thinking it through. Putting in a circular bottom seemed obvious but coming up with the fold-over button front took me a while.

I think I set the straps a bit too wide but Kirk doesn't seem to mind and I suppose he'll grow into them this way.

There was still a bit of fabric left after that so I decided to make Bundle a chew toy. I deliberated for a while on its shape and size and finally decided to go with a triangular block because it seemed like the easiest for her to grab onto. I added the buttons for her to pick at, hold onto, and crew on. It's "educational" because I did 1, 2, 3 on each side! She loves it and it's always covered with slobber now. Especially on the 2 side. Not sure if it's the red, the style of buttons, or coincedence...