Archive for the ‘ whatever ’ Category

A Room of One’s Own

The below text was written for a class on British Literature, focusing on Virgina Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”.

Lately, I feel like I’ve been living the reality that Woolf describes regarding women and fiction – obligations from being a woman, a mom, an aunt, etc, have to be juggled with my schoolwork, my job, my social life, any an personal or free time. It’s overwhelming. And then, I have to decide, what do I prioritize? If women lack the education to write poetry, as Woolf says, should I then prioritize education? But what do I take from? Do I stop performing the  “duties” of my gender? (This is actually what I did—I consider myself non-binary in the first place, the “performance” of femininity never sat well with me, neither did masculinity. Supportive spouses are great.) Does my education suffer because of other things required of me? (If you look at my post history, you’d probably see that I don’t often get time to post, or even to think of what to post beforehand. Full time jobs are pretty much necessary for middle class parents of any gender.) Do I stop working, or take time off, in order to make time for other things? But then how would I get my “£500 a year” to afford life?  The mental labor necessary for finding time, the freedom to be able to write, and to write something that requires as intensive scrutiny as poetry, is still not afforded to women (or even men) at the present time. Prose and poetry are still something afforded to people who have an abundance of personal time, or to people who are willing to sacrifice necessities to make time.

When I write for myself, and not for class, I often write fiction that comes quickly to the page because I rarely have time to return to it. It is primarily my thoughts without influence from others (though I am enby, I am still conditioned to have feminine thoughts: passive, introspective, etc). My concern is to get it on the page as quickly as possible, and not to make sure that I’m going to be reviewed positively. Even now, as I write this, my concern is to get my thoughts on the page clearly, but not perfectly, because I simply lack the time to review. I don’t lack the education (I will be graduating next semester with two degrees), but I do lack the freedom.

Fiction written for the purpose of a career—which at Woolf’s time was a male position, required that the writing fit what was expected and what would receive good marks from critics, publishers, readers. Bad prose meant no pay. Poetry that fits in with the traditional poetry that is lauded and expected of “great” poets requires review after review to make sure that it adheres to the criteria by which it will be judged. Bad verse meant no pay. What woman then had time for that? What middle class or working class person now has time for that? Of course the structure of the written word was male by default, because only men could write. No man would look at literature and say “this is male” because there was no other thing to compare it to. It was “good literature” or it was “bad literature”. What was good was decided by men. Anything that differed was bad. A woman writing as she knew to write or to speak (with other women via letters or in person) would be judged as a “bad writer” not because she was a woman, but because she didn’t match the definition of “good”. (This, of course, did not stop misogynists defining all women’s writing as bad just because it came from a woman.) If a woman doesn’t have access to the education or freedom to learn what is good, as I’m sure all the male critics and writers had time to learn, how was she expected to meet their standards? This was part of Woolf’s point as well—the criteria for “good literature” could never be met by someone who was outright denied from being able to learn the criteria, There needed to be an understanding that literature from different sources needed to have different criteria. This is why we have genres. This is why we have women’s literature classes. (And this is why people who cry out “why don’t we have a straight pride month?” and “why don’t we have a white history month? need  to shut. up.)

Ware poetry was written by men simply because women were not enlisted. Women were not officers. Women didn’t need to convince anyone to join a horrific situation by instituting some sort of “honor” for dying. They didn’t need to convince others to be martyrs in their stead. They didn’t need to convince the general populace that young men were being tortured and dying fruitless deaths for their “king and country” in order to keep morale up and keep people from questioning what was actually happening. Women weren’t there to experience the horrors of being in trenches as rats ate the man you talked to just yesterday, or having to delouse, or having to run over a still-living (but dying horrifically) teenager with your artillery. No woman had to lose her limbs and be sent back home to be ignored but still need constant care. No woman had to do this, and it is not women’s fault that it was only men. This is again the experience and education that is denied to women, as Woolf had explained previously, that keeps them from writing poetry acceptable by men. 

I’ve read “The Wasteland” now for three different classes, and each time, my appreciation for it changes. The amount of time Eliot had to have spent revising it to be as it was published is something not a lot of people at the time could have pulled off. In Dr. Jeffer’s British Modernisms class, I wrote essays on “Easter 1916” and read history on why and how Yeats came to write it. Both of these poems, I believe, could have been written by a woman at the time, and I don’t find the voice to be distinctly male. Neither of them are pro-war, or really glorify the violence associated with “honor” that is expected of men. If they are male voices, it falls to the “male default” that happened to be the standard criteria for “good literature”. 

I’ve written over a thousand words now—far more than I expected, but they feel necessary. 

ART – “Baby James Franco”

ink on paper – 2018

For the last three years or so I’ve been going to a weekly trivia at The Side Quest. At some point early on, I started drawing things (usually related to the team names we chose) for the host of the quiz. Each one of them kept the drawings (as far as I know) and took them with them as they moved on. The newest quizmaster was previously the scorekeeper, so he was aware of this tradition. He’d also earned himself the nickname of “Baby James Franco”.

This is the first drawing he’s received as quizmaster!

ART – Hearts

watercolor – 10×7 in – 2018

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

I don’t know why I painted hearts. Jonas says they are a normal heart and a cool heart. I forgot to take a picture of the final shading but it’s not too much different.

ENG 363 – “The Argonauts”

I’m stuck on one line Maggie Nelson wrote on page 37.

I cannot hold my baby at the same time as I write.”

This is something that I feared when I became pregnant, when I decided I wanted to have children. I wanted more than one before I had one; but having one has made me realize that, mentally, I cannot handle more than one. And I think it is because of this sentiment I share with Nelson.

I cannot be a proper mother while being myself.

Nelson references her quote of D. W. Winnicott that echoes how I felt with “I had nearly four decades to become myself before experimenting with my obliteration.”

I don’t think I had that. I think I was still striving to find who I was before I had my child, while I was pregnant, and even after he was born.

Women struggle with identity in ways that men will not understand. We have feminists telling us to be ourselves, to make our own decisions, to do what we will, to find our own truth of life. We have the patriarchy telling us to be good and start a family while we can, before complications arise from age, before whatever. Before we’re whole. Be a mother before you’re human.

That’s what I struggled with. Be interesting to a partner so that you can get a partner, continue to be interesting to that partner so you can have a child, then be a mom. I think we’ve go too many moms and not enough human mothers. Maybe this is why we’ve got so many depressed women, so many self-medicating under the guise of “wine mom”. The hidden alcoholics.

But why judge those that are mothers? There are plenty of moms out there that found their identity in being mom.There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is if they were never given an option to be anything other than mothers.

While I struggle with my identity and with the outside judgments that come from picking an identity, I still am “Mom” My twitch stream is named “Your Mom Plays Games.” Jonas calls me “mom” and I prefer it even though I despise what society associates with the word. I don’t like the other moms on my street sometimes because of how they define “mom” and thus define me. I’m not 100% dead to the world except for caring for my child. I’m not that mom. I can’t be. I’m a human mother. I’m a human. I can hold my child. I can write.

ENG 350 – “I’m With The Bears”

While I plan to finish the entirety of I’m With the Bears shortly, I am still on a deadline because this is for a class.

I spent yesterday at a relative’s house for a family reunion, in the 94°F (34.4C) heat (“feels like: 100°F” (37.7C) says the weather channel) when outside, in something significantly cooler but still warm indoors. Air conditioners that once made the interiors of houses comfortable can only manage “better than outside” in the summers now. Living in a house without central air has gotten me used to sitting in a room that runs around 80°F (26.6C) as the tiny, single-room AC unit in the window struggles to counter the increasing summer temps.

It was James’s side of the family, so the reminiscing was not for me. I hung around with those that married in and we discussed things. The conversation was usually about jobs, status of vehicles, the temperature outside. We talked about how hot it is, how it used to not be that hot, but there was no discussion deeper than that. This wasn’t the time or place for it. It was too hot.

My job as an energy engineer/analyst/manager for retail corporations fits snugly into this changing climate. My goal is to save them money by running the AC efficiently. Making stores comfortable so people buy things. On the surface we can tell people that we’re trying to be more environmentally friendly, but it’s all about money.

Reading global warming related literature for the last six weeks has got me questioning a few things about myself and my career. Am I helping (by cutting electric/gas/water usage for corporations)? Am I hurting (by making these corporations have a sustainable business that ultimately harms the world)? Should I care about the bigger picture or am I just trying to get by? So many of these novels address and pity those just trying to survive. We’re just one of the masses, dependent on the corporations and the government to keep the world safe for us. We treat them all as too big to fail. And then they do.

The perfect ending to this book was Atwood’s contribution, Time Capsule Found on the Dead Planet, in which all the problems of the world are simplified to their core. All nuance of the questions I ask myself are lost the death of the world. What is the point of even questioning what I’m doing if the world is to end? But of course, the point of this collection of stories, as with all dystopic literature, is to hopefully scare people away from the inevitable. “If you don’t care now, here is what will happen!” is sometimes the hamfisted message beat into us from environmentally conscious media. I still remember the shows I was inundated with as a child that desired to make the new generation aware of what was going on. We noticed, but everything else got in the way.

The small scale of the story in The Tamarisk Hunter is a great counter to The Water Knife‘s epic adventure. Everything Lolo did to keep himself where he was mattered so little – he thought he’d be caught and killed for his water related crimes, but in the end they just told him he’s not needed anymore. Those in power don’t need those not, and they can end you in ways you didn’t think possible.

Diary of an Interesting Year is a bit like Future Home of the Living God in that it’s written from a single point of view, and one that is of a normal person being affected by the collapsing, panicked government. Unlike Future Home it doesn’t bank on some dodgy sci-fi to explain why they’re running or why pregnancy is horrible. For Cedar, pregnancy becomes a duty, for the author of the Diary, it’s a terrible burden that could lead to death she’s quickly done with. Women become commodities to the strong men.

It’s 83°F (28.3C) in this room.

ART – “Emma”

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

Just like the previously posted Emmett statue, I made a statue of Emma, my father-in-law’s & step-mother-in-law’s pupper. She was a chocolate lab.

ART – “Emmett”

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

Ceramic – 4x4x3 inches – 2013

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

Back in 2013 I took my first (and last) ceramics class. I felt like I needed more than one semester to be able to figure out a pottery wheel, but I also knew they were forcing the ceramics professor to retire. Out of the 10 or so students in the class, I was the only degree-seeking one (and thus the only one paying full tuition). This was apparently normal for the class—the Project 60 students constantly re-enrolled for the class to get free use of the studio and kilns. Project 60 is one of many programs in the state that allows those over the age of 60 to attend state colleges for nearly free (only pay lab fees) as long as they aren’t working for a degree (otherwise they have to pay). Since the school wasn’t making money off his class, they encouraged him to retire. I’m not thrilled about them forcing people out in that way, but I can understand their point. While there is no ceramics specific class anymore, there is still a sculpture class which includes ceramics.

But anyway, I didn’t get the hang of the pottery wheel so I mostly made statues or figurines. This here is my Emmett pupper, which sits on my husband’s desk at work. Emmett is our ancient Shiba Inu, who we adopted when he was full grown and feral, so we don’t know how old he actually is. We’re estimating 14-16 at this time.

ART – “Nott the Brave”

Watercolor – 10×7 inches – 2018

More art I’ve neglected to upload. I plan to start putting stuff up daily or something close to that. I’ve also made a givinggrid donation page to help me pay for tuition. There are custom art rewards!

After an episode of Critical Role wherein Nott expressed she’s like a mother to Caleb, I envisioned her having the “LET ME SPEAK TO YOUR MANAGER” haircut.

ENG 350 – “The Water Knife”

Last Christmas, I think it was, I bought a copy of Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Water Knife for my brother in law (it was on his wishlist) and didn’t bother to peek inside. I know now that if I would have, I would have ended up giving him a used copy.

I often wonder how I got into the business of energy management—it was completely by accident, I swear. I got into tech support for the company’s lighting and HVAC controls systems, learning much of not only the workings of the hardware and software, but also of the strategies. I’m interested and invested in all sorts of resource management as well. My career requires that I find ways for retail corporations to save money on utilities, but the way to do that is to use less. Less electricity. Less gas. Less water.

It seems like the main characters of this novel each also got into caring about water management by accident as well. A hardened criminal recruited from prison by a corporate mastermind. A “wet” (newbie) reporter trying to shout out the truth to people who don’t want to listen to it. A refugee just trying to get out of her shitty life.

Though the novel follows a fairly formulaic story telling process, the characters are still interesting and their motives are more than just a stereotype. Bacigalupi builds a world based around water scarcity that is based on real issues affecting the American southwest today (and has been for more than a century and a half, really) and takes it to a dramatic extreme with political and corporate espionage, shadow ops, and people who got in deeper than they wanted and now they’re all in danger.

Highly recommended, and would love to see a movie.

ENG 363 – “The Rules Do Not Apply”

I will admit, I did not read the whole of The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy. I have been busy at work, getting back into the swing of things after being off for a week recovering from surgery. I skimmed the book, found a few short chapters that struck my interest, then ended up going back to find out who people were and what was going on. I was mainly interested in how Levy spoke on her miscarriage.

Miscarriage and infertility affect the majority of women, but seemingly are never really discussed. By discussing it emotionally, viscerally, socially … Levy is making a big feminist move. It’s a thing that can only happen to people with uteruses but no one talks about it because it’s a “women’s problem”.

I have my own issues with infertility that I haven’t really discussed, even with those closest to me. I usually just give them a run down version – physically incapable, my meds prevent me, something like that. I’m 35 now with a 9 year old, and I’ve not “given up” on trying to have a kid, I’ve realized that I don’t actually want another kid. I didn’t really want a second but convinced myself that I did because my spouse did. I’d have to get off my meds in order to attempt again, and we tried. I can’t handle my mental issues without my medication. We discussed this  between ourselves and both agree that we’d rather I be a human being than a baby factory.

I’ve had friends deal with miscarriages, and it’s a difficult feeling to know you’ve done everything right and it still goes wrong. I think that’s part of what Levy means with the rules not applying – you follow all the rules to do what you want, and it still goes wrong. Most rules are just best guesses anyway. I’m reminded of a great quote from Star Trek: The Next Generation from Picard that stuck with me for a long time: “It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness; that is life.