Turning 40

Jan. 20th, 2011 02:13 pm
mordwen: (Default)
I turn 40 in two days. Needless to say, I've been pondering my life so far. I can't say that I have no regrets (on the contrary, I have many) and I'm certainly not where I thought I would be at this point in many ways (I have no long-term job, I live in a small apartment with no outside space at all instead of on a commune somewhere, my relationship is not exactly smooth right now).

All that said, I wanted to stop and celebrate some of my achievements so far and open the space for some dreams. )

Life begins at 40, right?
mordwen: (Default)
I recently posted about moving to Dreamhost for my longer blogging. At the same time, I have to be honest and say that a lot of my current "community" interaction occurs on Facebook and Twitter, if only because that's the easiest to update when you're a parent reading microblogs on an iPhone while you breastfeed a toddler in the dark. Go figure.

I'm very aware that I haven't been updating any of my blogs (Gluten Savvy, Modern Mama, Rosanne's Lounge, this journal) in part due to time, in part due to mechanism (the iPhone text input is unwieldy for long form; the iPad blogging tools I've found so far are counter-intuitive and difficult). There's another issue: I've been loading my video onto vimeo and my photos onto Facebook, rather than into my own space where I'd ideally like them. Why? Again, it's interface. Vimeo embeds with a click. My own video doesn't. The Facebook Exporter for iPhoto automatically resizing my images and gives me a tagging mechanism, instead of requiring me to export all those images to the correct size, then upload and place, then tag.

And then there's connection. My own blogs have lagged to some extent where Facebook and Dreamhost have succeeded because of interaction and commentary. There is a community here, a following, an audience that has, if not expectations of me, then at least appreciation. I am very challenged by the privacy implications of most of these services and always have been. Even when I was just on LJ, I hosted the images myself and embedded them from my own server. 

I also like the degree of control Dreamhost/LJ and Facebook give me in terms of reader access. WordPress blogs (which is the platform for my other blogs) have privacy plugins which I use to password protect some posts, but I haven't really had the opportunity to experiment with setting read privileges by group because I don't have the audience — and because while people are automatically members of Dreamhost/LJ/Facebook/Twitter, they are less likely to subscribe to a standalone journal in order to read protected entries unless they are very close friends with a high motivation or your content is extremely desirable — as all the large media organisations have discovered. And I still want to protect at least some of my content, due to stalkers, my daughter's privacy, or boring stuff like bitching about my life to which only my nearest and dearest should be subjected. 

I'm really waiting for Diaspora, to be honest, but it's not here yet.

So, having said all that... you can read how the trip went elsewhere; the photos are on Facebook; the videos are on Vimeo; and I'm working on writing up the restaurant reviews for Gluten Savvy and the Modern Mama post about Harper's hearing...

The question I have for you all is this: what is your current blogging/microblogging balance and what are your key concerns about it? 
mordwen: (Default)

We're hosting a pumpkin carving at Doug's sister's place in Cupertino on Saturday from around 2pm till around 7pm (may go later, depends on toddler). We are hoping to have at least three toddlers (Harper, Annika and Laurel) but more children would be welcome and of course, adults are most welcome too. 

 

Then we're trick or treating with Annika, Lars and Natasha...

 

I'd rather not post the address here, so please email me on mordwen@gmail.com if you'd like to join us on Saturday and I'll send it to you.

 

Love to see you! 

mordwen: (Default)
I realise I have made a public post for a while and last night's partay at joedecker's made me realise I need to change that. If you're one of the people I gave my LJ name to, hi, welcome... and uh... I mostly post via Dreamwidth now, although I always mirror to LJ and until today I allowed comments here.

I'm changing that today because my paid account at LJ is about to expire and I don't want to give them money or watch their ads, for a variety of long and involved reasons.

I'll keep cross-posting because I recognise that content is part of what makes community and a lot of my community is still over on LJ.

Not that I have time to write posts much. I've been on "holidays" for three weeks and haven't written a thing here, even locked. I have written four-line updates on my phone while breastfeeding in the dark and posted them to Facebook... 

I also still have another DW account that I might friend some select people with. You'll know it's me from the same icon.

As for the trip... well, maybe that's another post, actually. A friends-locked one, because, sadly, the days when I could write personal public posts are long gone. 
mordwen: (Default)
Yesterday morning we went out for New Year's Day brunch and the fancy café brought us the most stylish high chair I've ever seen. I've added it to Harper's wishlist for her birthday (hint, hint). Have a look: HandySitt chair. Maybe this can be your replacement chair, Beth?
mordwen: (Default)

It's been a while since I've posted and I wasn't in a terrific headspace when I did...

Some of you know about my tradition of choosing a word for the year...

Last year, I wrote:

My word for this year is "open": opening physically to give birth, opening emotionally to love this new addition to our family, being open to change, being open to challenge.

I think I've done pretty well with that, although I didn't open physically to give birth very well (in the end, there was a scalpel involved) but I think I succeeded on all the others. Certainly it's been a tumultuous year of change and challenge, and of love and laughter as well. Harper has turned out to be an absolute delight. Doug, I think, would also say she's a handful and he could probably do with a year of better health and more energy to devote to himself as well as to the family.

Last night at the Prodigal Sons and Daughters' picnic, I was chatting with Julian, who I used to live with and with whom I had a fairly fraught relationship. We discussed meds and moods and how we've grown. He observed that I seem to have everything going for me right now and to a great extent that's true: I have a wonderful partner in Doug, and Harper is absolutely the child I dreamed of. I have friends and work and food on the table. I live in a terrific city that I adore. I have my challenges still: I put my foot in it often enough, sometimes badly, and the most recent person I've upset is one of my sisters (I've apologised profusely; now I wait). But my complaints are mostly minor niggles: that we're not at Woodford for New Year this year; that the work I'm doing is not yet the Dream Job.

I think this year my word is "empathy". I think that the issues that I have had towards the end of this year have mostly been a failure of empathy. I like that it's about feeling, and not a conscious thing. I can get the words right as much as I like, but like smiling on the phone, unless the expression is coming from a place of genuine care and understanding, the tone will still be wrong and maybe the words, no matter how innocent, will still be the wrong ones for the situation or will come out tinged with some negative air that I didn't consciously intend.

What's your word?

mordwen: (feeding)
There are many things I want to be writing about (the disgusting pro-rape culture at one of Sydney University's colleges, how Twitter and journalism intersect — specifically, the Trafigura case and the shootings at Fort Hood) but I don't have time. You go read. In the meantime, I bring you our adorable daughter, standing (bracing herself against my calves) and bashing blocks together.

If you don't already know the password for these videos, comment with your email address and I'll send it to you if you're not a crazy stalker.


mordwen: (Default)
People keep asking me how I am and I keep answering that I'm tired. It's true, but for some reason, I never get around to saying the rest of what's going on, which is that I am growing as a person in ways I never imagined but had an inkling might be possible or that I sensed on the horizon the way you can smell the aroma of a fantastic restaurant around the corner that you've never been to — you've no idea what it will look like, or who will be there, or whether you'll like it, but you know the food smells like something you'd like in your life.

Yesterday, we went to our storage unit and selected a large quantity of items we'll be selling at the Northcote high school car boot sale next Sunday (9am till 3pm, come along and say "I admit I'm a geek" to us and we'll give you a special LJ-reader discount). Last Sunday, I went around the house doing the same thing. I'm a pack rat: voluntarily discarding things to make space in my life, not for the new, but simply to have room, to have space, is unheard of. I'm even getting rid of the black octagonal crockery set I've had since my 21st birthday (and I have tons of the stuff -- it was an eight-piece set with matching wine glasses, cheese platter, salad bowls, the lot). It is too hard to keep clean and shatters into tiny shards that are too dangerous for a baby. In its place for now is a simple 16-piece set of hand-painted bright rainbow crockery, sturdy and fun.

I'm learning... )
I'm learning to treasure the moments of silence with our arms around each other, becoming a family.

mordwen: (Default)
I wish I'd been able to birth at home. I still feel like I should have fought harder to do so. I didn't because my doctor suggested it was a bad idea for a first time mum at 38 and because I broke my back three years ago. If I'd had the cash to pay for the midwives without blinking and if I'd been even three years younger, I would have fought for it.

As it turned out, I think going to the birth centre, which was my compromise, was a very bad idea and what landed me in the hospital and then having a C-section. I was the classic cascade of interventions and I don't believe they were necessary. There's a chance they were -- a small chance. If something had gone seriously wrong, we could have got from here to the hospital in 12 minutes. As it was, my "emergency" C-section was delayed two hours while other, more urgent cases were taken care of. Mine was not an emergency until *after* they doped me up with Fentanyl and caused problems for Harper. Before the drug, she was doing fine.

In countries like the Netherlands, home birth is the standard and hospital births are unusual. Their neonatal and maternal death rate is one of the world's lowest. If I'd been at home, my "I don't think I can do another seven hours of this!" would have been met with encouraging, "Yes, you can!" not "Let's get you drugs".[1]

Anyway, you may not know that home birth is about to be functionally illegal in Australia. You may not know that there is a rally of women and children tomorrow morning in Canberra and that many of my friends will be there. I wish that I could have been there. If it had been on a weekend or I hadn't just started a job, I imagine I would have been there.

What you are doing is incredibly important, my friends. Birthing is one of the most fundamental acts of a woman's life, if she chooses to experience it. And although some of us don't get to have the full experience for whatever reason and may mourn it, it's up to us and our partners to choose how we birth. Birthing is not a disease that needs medicalising. For most women and most babies, it's something that can be safely done at home with a midwife. What's more, C-sections have a *higher* rate of maternal death than home birth.[2] Babies die. There are still births in hospitals too. And when that happens, it's absolutely tragic. Taking birth out of the home and into the operating theatre does NOT solve that problem.

Australian parents should have the right to choose a safe, natural birth in their homes. Come on, Minister Roxon. Put aside your own fears and prejudices and listen to the science.


[1] I do understand that everyone in my birth team was under a bunch of stress and little sleep. This is not a criticism of anyone. Those of you who've read my birth story know that the evil bitch hospital midwife Melissa is who we blame.
[2] Really recent research: "Outcomes of planned homebirth with registered midwife versus planned hospital birth with midwife or physician", "Planned homebirth attended by a registered midwife was associated with very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and other adverse perinatal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physician" http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/rapidpdf/cmaj.081869
mordwen: (enquiring minds)
ganked from qamar:

...scientists dressed newborns in gender-neutral clothes and misled adults about their sex. The adults described the "boys" (actually girls) as angry or distressed more often than did adults who thought they were observing girls, and described the "girls" (actually boys) as happy and socially engaged more than adults who knew the babies were boys. Dozens of such disguised-gender experiments have shown that adults perceive baby boys and girls differently, seeing identical behavior through a gender-tinted lens.

In another study, mothers estimated how steep a slope their 11-month-olds could crawl down. Moms of boys got it right to within one degree; moms of girls underestimated what their daughters could do by nine degrees, even though there are no differences in the motor skills of infant boys and girls. But that prejudice may cause parents to unconsciously limit their daughter's physical activity.

How we perceive children—sociable or remote, physically bold or reticent—shapes how we treat them and therefore what experiences we give them. Since life leaves footprints on the very structure and function of the brain, these various experiences produce sex differences in adult behavior and brains—the result not of innate and inborn nature but of nurture...

...For her new book, Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps—And What We Can Do About It, [Lise] Eliot immersed herself in hundreds of scientific papers (her bibliography runs 46 pages). Marching through the claims like Sherman through Georgia, she explains that assertions of innate sex differences in the brain are either "blatantly false," "cherry-picked from single studies," or "extrapolated from rodent research" without being confirmed in people.

For instance, the idea that the band of fibers connecting the right and left brain is larger in women, supposedly supporting their more "holistic" thinking, is based on a single 1982 study of only 14 brains. Fifty other studies, taken together, found no such sex difference—not in adults, not in newborns. Other baseless claims: that women are hard-wired to read faces and tone of voice, to defuse conflict, and to form deep friendships; and that "girls' brains are wired for communication and boys' for aggression." Eliot's inescapable conclusion: there is "little solid evidence of sex differences in children's brains."


Link

There will be a Modern Mama post on this very soon...
mordwen: (Default)
Yesterday was a glimpse of another life. I'm not sure whether it's because Doug is not the cultural dilettante that I am or whether we have been hibernating for the winter, but while Mum and my Aunty Joan were in town, I took the day off work and Had Adventures. In the morning, we went to listen to p_cat's partner, Kent MacCarter, read from his superb new book of poems, In the Hungry Middle of Here, at the Melbourne Writers Festival. There are phrases in those poems that are cool water sluicing down my spine. I read the book on the train to work today and had to stop from exclaiming aloud, reading a couple two and three times to savour nuances, and -- greatest tribute -- felt the stirrings of phrasing for myself. Haven't had time to note it (need an iPhone or a notebook!) -- my sentence this morning was "Swanston Street is thronged with 8am schoolchildren scoffing greasy breakfasts".

Then, because it too was free, we went downstairs to the Len Lye exhibition at ACMI. I had never heard of Lye but knew it would be good, and it didn't disappoint -- persistence of vision sculptures and ochre-toned paintings, meditative and delightful.

Then lunch at Movida, that superb haven. Braised rabbit in honey and almonds, portobello mushrooms in sherry vinegar, garlic and prawn tortilla.

In the afternoon, we went to Fairground Child and bought a birthday present for my niece and then I left the others to return home while I went and networked at the Australian Centre for Human Rights Education, ending up in a spirited discussion about ethnicity and sexuality, group rights and individual rights, with the director of the Centre and the Victorian branch manager for Amnesty.

Most of this was with Harper in her little Ergo carrier, snug on my front. There is so much that is free in Melbourne, so much to learn and experience. We are so blessed. I'm looking forward to taking Harper to things like the Moomba Carnival too.

Of course, it's only now that Harper is this age that I feel confident going out for a whole day like that, and now I'm back at work, which either means we do this on weekends or I choose 9-day fortnights.

In other news, Harper is cutting her first tooth! And has just woken up, so I'll be off. Y'all tell me about your adventures y'hear?

mordwen: (Default)
Doug and I went to the markets today and discovered an awesome company called Rewine. Like Swords, you bring your bottle back and get a discount. Unlike Swords, who take the bottle and commercially wash it, refill it and reseal it, Rewine just fills up our clean, empty bottle from enormous wooden barrels of wine in front of your eyes in the market. Everything is on taste, so you can sample before you buy. They have at least one organic red and one organic white on tap at any one time. We bought a (non-organic) tokay and a red.

That's not the science bit though. My lovely second cousin Jo bought us gorgeous silver port goblets as a wedding present. They've tarnished somewhat and we wanted to bring them out to sample the tokay. We don't have any silver polish. Doug used his mad google skillz and found a recipe on the interwebs for removing silver tarnish. Take equal parts bicarb soda (I believe you Americans call this baking soda) and salt, and pour into steaming hot water. Lie one sheet of aluminium foil in the basin and set the silver items onto the foil. Leave for up to five minutes. The tarnish will simply slough off. We lifted the goblets out and wiped them with a soft cloth and they're as shiny as new. There's a slighty odd-smelling gas that's given off as you do it.

We chatted about what the chemical reaction is for a while but we really don't remember enough to work out what's going on here.
ETA: found it! )
mordwen: (activist)
This morning, at Flinders Street station, a young woman pushed a card and some chocolate at me, hoping to promote a shiny new web site.

The address read whatwouldyouliketochange.com.au. Intriguing. I asked whether this was corporate or non-government or what and she said corporate but didn't know any more.

She pointed me to the people outside the turnstiles who were filming vox pops and a guy who was obviously the team leader. I asked him and discovered that this is an exercise by PriceWaterhouseCooper to garner the opinion of Australians... why? To help their clients market to us better.

I'm torn between being outraged and being cynically unsurprised (after all, it wasn't that long ago that the girlfriend of a good friend said, "I totally support your idealism so long as you're comfortable with the idea that people like me will try to monetise you."[1])

I talked to him for a short while about greenwash and how little faith I have that any of their clients will actually change their ways, but rather will work out how to convince us that they've changed their ways. Westpac's recent advertising comes to mind. BP is the famous case study. Shell. Desperate attempts to regain ethical ground in the aftermath of damaging campaigns about, oh, you know, funding uranium mines and sending the army in to kill indigenous people.

There are videos of the vox pops on the site and it's a brilliant idea. I'm just sad that it's for such a shallow purpose and that those who might get excited about it and *do* something might waste their tiny token effort for the year on this, get a big dose of feelgood about their conspicious compassion and then go back to being do-nothing couch potatoes.

Sigh. When did I grow up and can I go back to being a young, passionate teenager please?

[1] Yes, she actually used that word. [2]
[2] No, amazingly, I didn't thump her.
mordwen: (Default)
If [livejournal.com profile] daisynerd is right about coworkers making a job enjoyable, this City of Melbourne contract just got easier. Over the partition from me is [personal profile] narrelle (yes, we've already friended each other, which should tell you something about how quickly we got to geeking). She's the author of a vampire novel, is a guest at Continuum this weekend and is as bemused about the shocking writing on Torchwood (while enjoying the Jack/Ianto and Jack/Spike kissing as much as I do).

Whether we get any work done remains to be seen.
mordwen: (python kiss)
Living with a baby means doing everything else in snatches. You grab snatches of intimacy with your partner — shoulder touches and brief kisses in hallways as you pass, one on the way to a nappy change, the other to sort out the growing pile of dishes. You grab snatches of social life, furtive Facebook checking from a mobile phone while lying in the dark feeding the baby, coffee with an interstate or international visitor juggled in with tummy time. You struggle with snatches of work: blog updates, designing people's web sites in tiny increments, problem solving in segmented blocks. And then there's the somnolent necessities: snatches of bill payment and tax calculating and grocery shopping.

So, if you want to know what I've been up to, you can read our sleep woes over at [livejournal.com profile] attachedparents , my post on clothes at Modern Mama and you can see Harper photos on Facebook. You can see my experiments with a new logo for Heliotrope over there, and I've been working on a client site and answering new client enquiries, but there's nothing to show yet, and I've been applying for jobs and finally got a three-month contract with the City of Melbourne working on their corporate site. All of this means I have not written down any of the poetry in my head, and this post has been about two weeks in the making. Ah well.

Snatches of love. Snatches of a life.
mordwen: (Default)
Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Christina. She was as smart as she was brave and as brave as she was beautiful and she was very, very beautiful. She had long golden hair and she always wore green. She kept one plait in her hair as long as she could and never, ever cut it. It almost reached the ground and it had a bell in it for cats to play with. She loved animals and plants above all else and her favourite thing was to go skipping through meadows, picking daisies and then taking them home to cut them up and look at them under a scanning electron microscope with gold leaf. She had lots of friends, and even some people she loved, but she was still looking for something.

One day, a tall, dark, handsome man from a faraway land wrote her a letter. He was very, very tall, a little bit dark, and very handsome. More importantly, though, he was kind and funny and brave and he liked cats. He played saxophone and although he didn't live *in* a castle, he lived in a little town where they had a castle, and really, what more can you ask for these days?

After a little while of gently falling in love, Christina made a very big hard decision to go and live in the faraway land with the tall man (whose name was Niels) and all of her friends were very, very sad and very, very happy all at the same time. (At this point in the story, you may have to forgive any typos, because your narrator is having difficulty seeing the screen.)

After a while, they knew they had done The Right Thing, mostly because their pusska was very, very happy, and things like that are Signs. So, they bought a house of their very own on the edge of a forest, and Christina was the happiest she'd ever been. There were squirrels in the back yard, and birds that came to sing to her, and in winter there was snow on the trees and in summer there was laughing and market-days and when it rained, there was Mah-Jong.

Of course, no fairytale is complete without a wedding, so finally, when they didn't think it could get any more perfect, they decided to get married. People came from all corners of the earth to the wedding, and there was a little bit of crying and a lot of grinning and there was cake. I wish I could finish this tale in the Ukrainian way, and tell you that I know all this because I was there and I drank honey-wine; it flowed over my beard, but didn't get into my mouth. That's not true, though, and not just because I don't have a beard. I was on the other side of the world, making this present for the happy couple and may they live joyously from this day for the rest of their lives.

[I love you, 'stina. So happy for you both. Really wish I could have been there. Congratulations again! I couldn't have hoped for a better partner for my best friend. He's awesome.]
mordwen: (Default)
For those who haven't seen this segment on the Gruen Transfer, go and watch it first. Be warned, it's offensive and designed to be. (For overseas readers, the Gruen Transfer is a TV show analysing advertising with competitors creating ads for outrageous briefs.)

The discussion following this segment is terrific: robust, serious and exactly what is needed about these issues. At first I thought the issues were too complicated for me to distil into a post but I've just realised something vital. The first three jokes in the ad -- about blacks, gays and Jews respectively -- centre on the habit racists/homophobes/anti-Semitics have of murdering those they despise: they refer to historical events, sterilisation and forced abortion; 'poofter bashings' that lead to death; concentration camps. The fat chick joke -- the ad aims to end shape discrimination by equating it with other forms of discrimination -- centres on someone not sleeping with her, which is very different from kiling her.

The ad not only fails to make its point because its viewers are either too shocked by the first jokes to make the needed connection or so prejudiced their views are simply reinforced but also because the equation is not actually made in the ad. Fat jokes are NOT equivalent to the other jokes because they do not call for the extermination of the target. Shape discrimination is enormously problematic and has similar emotional impact on the recipient; it may even be more isolating because there is no equivalent community to turn to as a haven in the way that blacks/gays/Jews have insular communities where they can reinforce positive psychological tropes; but it is not the same thing and I don't think this ad works for all these reasons.
mordwen: (Default)
Not a lot of time to sit and write and yet tons of time sitting.

I feel like we are getting on top of this crazy journey... although change is a constant, so it's more that I am learning to flow with the changes.

The money from the video competition prize came through and I hope to go shopping for a new camera soon. I got a call from the people who run Moving Melbourne, where they make posters of art and poetry for trains, saying that "Rapunzel Goes Exploring" has been selected for this season's posters. I am thinking about what work I might do and how much work I want to do soon. I am exploring social networks and playing Lexulous on Facebook. I am thinking about communities and parenting and what it means. I am thinking about what other blogs I could write. I am singing "Que Sera, Sera" and Don McLean's "Babylon" to Harper (I like how the minor notes sound).

I am folding washing and washing dishes and cooking meals, sometimes while a little girl sleeps and sometimes while she is watching me from a bouncinette. I am watching The Wire and Rome and Dollhouse and Grey's Anatomy and loving all of it. I have been tidying our room and I am giving away things on Freecycle slowly, piece by piece.

My good friend Matt has been staying here with his new girlfriend. It's been wonderful to see him and have intense chats about altruism and feminism and parenting. We had dinner with [livejournal.com profile] derigueur and [livejournal.com profile] emilyjane on Friday night and it was a wonderful night of wine and laughter and food and dicussion and Scrabble.

Life is good.

mordwen: (activist)
It's official...


Please spread the word. The message is important!

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mordwen

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