Adventures of Week 20

On Tuesday, we got to see our little fetus again!  I had been looking forward to this visit for several weeks, which is awesome and crazy because it’s only the second time I’ve ever actually looked forward to having an ultrasound.

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B and I got to the doctor’s office right on time, and I was gulping water in the car on the way.  I’ve been able to perfect the art of making sure my bladder is juuust full enough by the time I’m called in for the procedure.  If I’m too full too early, then I have to pee or risk soaking my socks.  If I’m not full enough (not usually my problem) then they yell at me and make me wait.  And I don’t like to be yelled at.

We sat down in the waiting room and one of my first thoughts was: Yessss!  No blood draws today!

Which was quickly followed by:  Frick!  No blood draws means no snacks!

I turned to Brian.  “Do you think they’ll give us snacks if we ask?”

“Somehow I doubt it.”

“Well, they really should provide snacks.  Maybe I’ll write it on a comment card.”

“You do that.”

The ultrasound tech came out to get us and brought us into the exam room.

“Hi, my name is Li-”

“WE DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE SEX!”  I blurted out.  I was terrified that the surprise would be spoiled for us.

She laughed.  “Well ok then, I’ll tell you when to close your eyes.  You sure you don’t want it in an envelope for one of those gender reveal parties?”

“NO!  NO SEX!”  …and it’s impossible for our baby to have a gender identity at this point in development.  Yarg.  I cringe when I hear people use the term gender when they really mean sex, especially when it’s a medical professional.  I bit my tongue.

The experience of this ultrasound was pretty awe-inspiring.  I especially loved getting to see the interaction between me and the baby – when the baby pushed on my bladder, I could both feel it (very much so) and see the corresponding movement on the screen.  And when the tech pushed on my tummy and we saw my baby get jostled around and get all annoyed – precious.  This isn’t the first time you’re going to get annoyed by me, Little Duck.  I’m still trying to wrap my brain and emotions around the concept (that I understand intellectually just fine) that I am growing an independent being – something that moves of free will and can affect me, and me fe.  Blows my mindgrapes.

I was also fascinated by the physical development of my little duck.  We got to see all four chambers of the heart in motion, and when the tech zoomed in and slowed the picture, we could see the freaking valves!  I never knew heart valves could be so freaking cute!!  We saw the aorta, the stomach filled with fluid, all the little toe bones, and individual structures in the brain.  All this made me want to go and take an anatomy class, or at the very least, to look up brain development in my old psych books, which was the part I struggled through in my undergraduate career.

Overall, the human body amazes me.

Everything looked normal (and cute).  The only thing of note is that my placenta seems to be attached very close to my birth canal – to the tune of within 1cm.  I’m told that, as my uterus grows, that the placenta will creep farther away from the birth canal, hopefully enough so that I can plan on a vaginal birth.  Looks like I’ll have to have another ultrasound later on to check on the status of this situation.

After the ultrasound adventure, I wiped off all the goo as best I could (it never all really comes off entirely), and we went to see our midwife.

Where are all the snacks?!

She ignored my unvoiced thoughts and confirmed that everything looks normal and we got to hear the lovely whoosh, whoosh of my baby’s four chamber heart, complete with valves.  I expressed random concerns, mostly about being uncomfortable because I’m pregnant.  As before, her responses were varied versions of take Tylenol, power through it, nothing we can do.

Again – awesome.

“So, did you find out what you’re having?!” My midwife asked.

Uh…a baby!  Is what I wish I had said, because I cringe at that question, as if a penis or a vagina is the single most defining factor of what makes up a human being.

Deep breath.  “No, we don’t want to know the sex.”

“Oh, ok!  Well I might go and peek at the gender after you leave.”

Cringe.  Bite tongue.

The end of the visit was a bit sad – we had to say goodbye to our midwife because our medical insurance is set to change on April 1 (if everything goes well….please, everything go well).  At least we knew from the beginning that this would be happening, so we were well prepared for it.

So, I’m glad I got to see you again, Little Duck.  Feel free to keep kicking, but please aim clear of my bladder.

I’m tying the knot- pour me a shot!

Hello Psychos!

I am so blessed.

I haven’t updated about the wedding planning process in a bit, and today I plan to remedy that.

Since I last updated, I have been thrown two beautiful, delicious bridal showers and last weekend I was thrown one saucy bachelorette party!  I am incredibly thankful and lucky to be surrounded by such swell people.

When I sat and thought about it, the tradition of bachelor/ette parties is quite amusing, especially in Brian’s and my case since we’ve been in a monogamous relationship for almost 10 years now.  It’s a tradition like this that reminds me how much we’ve already been living the married life, and now we just get to throw a massive party to officially celebrate.

All the same, we didn’t pass up the opportunity to experience the traditional debauchery with our gender segregated peer groups!

How does one create the perfect bachelorette party, you ask?  Based on my recent hands-on research, I have arrived at the optimal recipe.

1. Bling

Ladies need the accessories on any normal day.  Brides need flashing signs saying I’M THE BRIDE!  THIS IS MY DAY!  NO ONE NEEDS ATTENTION MORE THAN I DO RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT!

My bling came in the form of a stately white hat, complete with a veil, a sparkly sash like I just won beat up Miss America, and a classy plastic shot glass necklace.  No one was going to ignore me if they could help it.

We also made use of props to enhance the experience.

2. Pleasures of the flesh

Some brides-to-be need to get some nasty out of their systems by admiring glistening pee-pees flying about under pulsating lights.  That’s cool, I get it.  I watched Magic Mike with Depends on to get my fix.

As for me, I am saving myself for Shirtless Ryan Gosling, so instead, my ladies spoiled me with a full body massage (given to me by the masseuse.  phrasing.), and I nearly cried on the table I was so overcome with stress leaving my body.  Seriously, I wanted to cut off this lady’s hands and take them home with me, they were so magical.  They totally would have fit in my purse.

After I spent about 10 minutes drying my tears and wiping the goo off my body (phrasing?), we progressed to the third stage of bachelorette-ing.

3. Gastrointestinal delights

My ladies and I then went to a leisurely late lunch where I stuffed my face with carbs and then had some gelato so delicious I cried some more for good measure.

The melted gelato is mixed with my tears.

We were generally obnoxious in this slightly fancy pants restaurant, being loud and getting up to take pictures.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to apologize to the poor, shy bus boy who had the misfortune of having to deliver appetizers to our table.  I know some good therapists, kid.  Call me.

4. Booze

No bachelorette party is complete without making a complete fool of yourself under the influence.  Not one.  You wanna fight about it?!

My ladies knew of this hecka rad speakeasy, that actually used to be a real speakeasy, and you needed a password and everything.  We felt special and smug.

We were led inside to this smallish room lined with books on one side and very furry red velvet wallpaper on the other.  Wobbly 20s clarinet music wafted through the stale air.  At first, it was so dark before my eyes had time to adjust that I probably looked drunk just stumbling around for a place to stash my jacket.  The irony of having tons of real books (we checked) but not enough light with which to read them was not lost on us, in case you were wondering.

My people kept me well watered that night.  At least, I assume the drinks that magically kept appearing before me had more to do with my friends and less to do with magic…even though it felt like I was in the restricted section at Hogwarts.

Now, careful when mixing ingredients 3 and 4, because you don’t want to be reacquainted with all the carbs, gelato, and lobster rolls; those trysts were meant to be one night stands, not rageful ex-lovers returning to throw rocks at your window.

A random brass band played the Wedding March in my honor. Bonus!

Needless to say, I had a blast and now (after some recovery time including moaning the obligatory I’m never drinking again…) it’s full steam ahead to the Big Day!

Ride the healing train to sexytown

Good news, psychos.

I wrote a post for The Official How To Blog when I was feeling rather saucy.  I’ve since completely forgotten what I wrote, and therefore I take no responsibility.

People tell me the post is about how to find a therapist who won’t bend you over his knee and give you firm, swift swats to the rump in an attempt to re-create childhood trauma.  My hope is that you find this post mildly useful and a moderately good substitute for sobbing into your mint chocolate chip.  Ride the healing train here.

In other news, I’m sure you’ve all already read this compelling article about how Ryan Gosling is taking a break from acting.  I know, I know…I too was ready to start looking for a non-crazy therapist and had even clicked on my own how-to guest post before I began to read between the lines……the reason he’s taking a break from acting is because he’ll be too busy getting online married to me and being my online shirtless husband!!

The proof is in what he doesn’t say:

“I’ve been doing (acting) it too much. [And I need to focus on doing Lyssapants instead.]   I think it’s good for me to take a break and reassess [Lyssa's hot bod] why I’m doing it [because she's amazingly hot] and how I’m doing it [long and hard]. And I think this [online marrying the pants off her] is probably a good way to learn about that. I need a break from myself as much as I imagine the audience does [so that Lyssa can have my photoshopped abs all to herself].”

And the world makes sense again.

A Dangerous Method

I finally watched A Dangerous Method – a little movie about psychoanalyst  Karl Jung and how he helped contribute to the growing study of talk therapy towards the beginning of the 1900s.  Spoiler alert for anyone who doesn’t want details of this movie revealed to them.

The movie opens with a crazy lady being brought against her will in a carriage to this beautiful compound where Jung does his experimental work.  Now, when I say crazy, I mean fucking bitch-be-cool crazy.  This crazy Russian lady and real person, Sabina Spielrein, is played very hauntingly and skillfully by Keira Knightly.

Jung immediately takes a liking to this woman and tells his wife that he wants to begin his experimental treatment on her – psychoanalysis.

He sets up two chairs facing the same direction, has her sit in the front one, and he explains that he’s going to ask her questions while sitting in the chair behind her, so as not to distract her, even though all it does is freak her out at first.

These scenes of talk therapy were fascinating to me, because the woman presented as a person who had been terrorized as a child and was now suffering from severe PTSD, and she was hysterical to boot.  Her lower jaw jutted out, her body jerked and shuddered, and her uterus was clearly stuck in her madulla ablongotta.  I had her diagnosed after a few short minutes. *wipes dust from hands*

She confessed to being beaten by her father.  Made sense.  The kicker was that she confessed to being sexually excited by it, even at the early age of four.  (Is this even possible?, you ask.  In Crazytown, Switzerland in the time of the Great Chauvinists of Yore, they left no O-face unturned, I say.)

Enter Jung’s friend and mentor, the father of psychoanalysis everyone loves to hate: (Viggo Mortenson as) Sigmund Freud.  Based on one story involving Patient Crazypants and feces that I will not go into detail about (you’re welcome), he diagnosed her as being stuck in the anal stage of development (sound familiar?) and prescribed some good, old fashioned raunchy S&M sexytimes with her therapist.

To further make his point, Freud referred a client to Jung, and this client (also a therapist himself, pictured rubbing blow on his gums before strolling into an appointment) spends his therapy hour talking about how freeing it is to have sex with his clients and how Jung should do it too.  All the cool therapists were doing it, apparently.  Pun intended.

“I think that Freud’s obsession with sex probably has a great deal to do with the fact that he never gets any.”

Sidenote:  I went to a Jungian therapy training about a year ago, and people still worship this guy.  They still have yearly trainings pilgrimages to his chateau in Switzerland where they have orgies in padded rooms filled with cigar smoke in his honor.

In addition to the fact that I am insanely jealous that these Jungian therapists somehow make enough money to go to the Swiss Alps once a year, I like this guy’s ideas.  The dude made sense to me, for the most part.

As I sat watching, I liked this portrayal of Jung, too.  He was smart and dedicated to his work and to this exciting, emerging field.  He was painted as this logical, scrupulous scholar and clinician who wanted to make a difference in the world, one crazy lady at a time and I was like, YES!  He helped to create my destiny, you guys.  This was turning into a spiritual experience for me.

And then Jung caves and decides to not only bang his sexy, miraculously cured patient, but to flog her with a paddle.  Hard.  I felt like I was watching the movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey already, minus the butt plugs (thankfully).  Along with Jung’s dignity went most of my admiration and respect for this movie representation of him, right down the toilet.

What Jung did maintain in this movie was a healthy skepticism of Freud’s obsession with everything sexual.  In this portrayal, Freud saw most normal problems in sexual terms, interpreting everything as such.  Sure, we’re sexual beings, but that doesn’t mean everything has to be conceptualized through that lens.  In this space, Jung and I continued to jive.  And I guess I should give him props that he did eventually regain his senses and broke things off with his Russian mistress.

The one thing missing from this movie was more cocaine.  I thought I read somewhere that Jung and Freud had a few gentlemanly get togethers that included cigars, brandy, and doing enough lines to kill a small horse.
Now that’s a movie I’d like to see.

Therapists do it on the couch

…and I did it!!

On an office chair.  Staring at a computer screen.  I lasted for almost two hours, and I double clicked a mouse a few times.

And actually, besides being very tired and $100 poorer afterward, this therapist licensing exam had little to do with sexy times.  Unless you also stay up late studying therapeutic techniques in order to have better success during sexy times.  In which case I pity you.  Go get some sleep.

But I digress from the real issue – which is, as soon as the paperwork and my check goes through, I WILL BE A LICENSED THERAPIST!!!

How cool is that, you ask rhetorically?  Pretty damn cool, I answer needlessly.  Except that “therapist” can be broken down into “the rapist,” and the work that I do is often with rape survivors.  I’ve always hated that.  Thanks a lot, SNL.

In other news, the letters after my name will soon be MFT, which Brian lovingly says stands for Mutha Fuckin’ Therapist.  I foresee this going on my business cards.

The exam I took today was the second and final exam of the licensing process to become a Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California.  At least this exam was half as long as the first (the first being a grueling four hours long), but the questions on this one were far more complicated and confusing.  If there’s one thing I hate, it’s an exam that makes me second guess myself, and there was a lot of that going on today.  But neverfear, for I persevered and I emerged triumphant!

Speaking of triumphant, the weather today in the area was awesomely correlated to my day.  I woke up nervously to overcast skies that quickly gave way to pouring rain (which is pretty rare for this area in the summer).  I drove to the exam in that rain, where my anxiety reached its peak.  When I emerged from the testing facility all smiles, the rain had stopped, the clouds had parted, the sun was shining, and I swear I could hear angels singing along with my joy.

Speaking of joy, this is what it looks like:

I’d like to thank all of my professors, clinical supervisors, coworkers, and my clients past and present for helping me to learn and grow and make mistakes.  And I’d like to thank my friends and family for listening to me vent about the former, but also for supporting me no matter what.

Also, one of my supervisors once said that significant others of people going through the therapy licensing process should get their own special award of recognition, and I wholeheartedly agree.  It must suck to watch me learn all these new therapy techniques and then cower in fear as I unleash them on the relationship.  Thanks for sticking with me through this whole thing, B.  You’re kind of awesome.

And now on to more important things: I have to figure out how I want to change the tagline of this blog, for the “almost” is no longer needed.  Winning suggestions get a cookie.

Spell check doesn’t know how to spell ‘mammaries.’ True story.

Two Time Magazine employees are having a conversation at the water cooler.  In their doubled-up paper cups is wine, straight from the cardboard box in the fridge down the hall.

Time Maggy:  So, I have this great cover story on attachment parenting that people find controversial.  What should we put on the cover?

Time Zany:  How about a nice white woman lovingly holding an attractive, blue-eyed baby.  That sounds lovely, don’t you think?

Maggy:  Not nearly shocking enough.  I want this cover to say, “I’m a smug, trendy, extreme parent.  I parent better than all y’all and I am all up in your face about it.”

Zany: Hmm… how about sexy, pouty chimps doing that social grooming thing.  We could put them in bikinis.  I guess we’d have to wax their legs, though.

Maggy:  No way America is ready for that amount of leg hair, so true.  But seriously, we need to think of something over the top.

Zany:  Well, breastfeeding is over the top.  I mean, I lose my lunch every time some crazy mom decides to use her mammaries  the way they were intended.

Maggy:  You mean displaying them prominently in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition?

Zany:  Bizactly.  And at Time we have to compete with that shit.

Maggy:  I’ve got it!  We’ll compete by showing one of the most natural, loving acts known to mammals in an unsmiling, hands-on-hips, no-nonsense kinda controversial way.

Zany:  And to make our audience even more uncomfortable, which means they’ll just have to buy the issue, we’ll replace the baby with a full-grown man.  On a stool.

Maggy:  Stay right there.  I’ll get the stool.

One of my mom friends suggested I write my reactions and opinions to this Time cover story making waves in the media.  She said that she’s interested in hearing the point of view of non-moms (or momily-challenged, if you prefer), and I thought that was an interesting idea.

First of all, I think they did a great job of taking a controversial photo that we all agree was meant to get attention and sell magazines.  Bravo.

What I find ironic about the photo is that it’s supposedly supposed to portray attachment parenting, and yet, I see emotionless faces.  Sure, they are literally attached at the boob, but they aren’t even looking at each other.  The kid is awkwardly standing (and I don’t know about you, but I don’t know ANY moms who prefer to breastfeed while both parties are standing up) and the mom looks more focused on challenging other moms out there and less focused on her kid…which I thought was the whole point of attachment parenting.

Shame on you, Time Magazine for the not-so-subtle mom blaming going on here.

Before talking about the parenting method itself -  full disclosure – I am not a mom.  I do have my own mom.  I also have some training in a certain variety of attachment parenting meant to be used with kids who have witnessed or been the direct victims of sexual and/or domestic abuse.  I have taught parenting classes to moms using these techniques.  This is not the same attachment parenting that is described in the Time article, but of course my training and experience is going to flavor my opinions.

I am a big fan of not going to extremes.  Being an attachment mom purist does not sound like fun to me.  I can’t imagine quitting my job to spend 24/7 raising kids, having them sleep next to me every night, having them in a sling every second.  For one thing, (according to the Time article) this method seems way too sexist in that it seems to assume that only mom can provide the great, nurturing parenting.  Dads are encouraged to help out by doing the dishes so mom can focus more fully on breastfeeding.  While that may work for some people, I don’t see that working for me.  I envision my future co-parenting life to be as balanced as possible, given work schedules and biology.  And that’s another issue – what happens if a kid is being raised by two dads?

Do I imagine using a sling with my kids?  Yup, sometimes.  Do I want and plan to be able to breastfeed?  Yes.  Do I consider the possibility of co-sleeping?  Perhaps.  Do I also imagine date nights away from the kids?  You bet.  Do I envision handing the kids to dad so I can go on a drunken bender?  Oui, oui.

To be fair, I really don’t know what it will be like or how I will feel once I have kids.  But I do know myself and I know my values.  And for me, it’s all about balance and flexibility.  I don’t like any rigid set of rules I’d have to follow.  I don’t like the mom blaming that results from not following said rules.  I say do what works for your family, and you let me do what works for mine.

And now for a rant on the problems our culture has with breastfeeding that were so beautifully triggered by the above Time cover photo.  First of all, it drives me insane when people sexualize the act of breastfeeding.  I don’t care what you say, Freud!  It is not obscene and it is not a sexual act.  It is nurturing, it is bonding, it is a woman using a part of her body the only way it was naturally intended to be used – to feed her frickin baby.

Somewhere along the line, our culture sexualized the breast and that got all entangled with breastfeeding.  Somehow, we’re more comfortable seeing breasts doing nothing but being hung out, pushed up, and squeezed together all over the place than we are seeing a breast feeding a kid.

What bothers me the most is when people who are uncomfortable being around breastfeeding moms try to make their discomfort the breastfeeding mom’s problem by saying that mom needs to cover up or go away or whatever.  It is my view that this is not the mom’s problem.  If you’re uncomfortable, I urge you to take a moment to wonder why and to find another way to manage your feelings other than mom blaming.

As for me and future parenting styles, all I can hope for is that my kids stay off the crack on weekdays.

Ok, Mr. Limbaugh. You’ve gone too far.

Ok, Mr. Limbaugh.  You have pissed me off from time to time, but this time certainly takes the cake.  The following is the best (best meaning bestly matches how I think and feel) article (it’s an opinion piece) I have found so far on the topic of this whole Limbaugh-Fluke shitstorm that has erupted from the debates on whether religious organizations should be mandated to provide free contraceptives to women.

I’ll give you time to read this, then get sufficiently mad, then go scream into a pillow, then punch the pillow while imagining it is Rush’s face, and then come back. 

Done?  Not yet?

Good.

Cuz I’m not done being mad yet either.

First, women weren’t even invited to speak on this topic.  And then, one gets invited, speaks, and is promptly blasted by Limbaugh as a slut and a prostitute.

What year do we live in again?!  Maybe this is the world’s way of making sure that I don’t take all the successes of the women’s movement for granted, because this backlash has sure got me worried (and mad. don’t forget mad).

I am loving all the bills being proposed that shine light on just how prejudiced and sexist it is to block women’s access to basic healthcare.  I firmly believe that if men were the ones able to carry and bear children that we would not be having these debates.  Debates like these would be considered absurd.  And guess what?  They are.

I was lucky that my doctors at Boston College – a Catholic university – prescribed me birth control to prevent future ovarian growths. Others are not so lucky. And Rush – I don’t know if you have sisters or – god forbid – daughters, but at the very least I know you have a mother. Clean up your act. Your disrespect for women has NO PLACE in this world.  Not in 2012, and not ever.

Do people not get that if you take rights away from women that you end up hurting everyone?  Preventative healthcare saves lives, saves money, and it is a basic human right.  Last time I checked, women make up more than half of the human race.

The other key piece I don’t understand is why Republicans want the government’s hand out of business, out of healthcare, out of the environment, out of food regulation, but when it comes to women wanting to make decisions about their bodies, Republicans want regulation all over the place.

 

Now there is a call to urge the sponsors of Rush’s show to pull their ads to show that they don’t stand for his hate speech.  Quicken Loans, Sleep Number Bed, and Sleep Train have already pulled their ads. Sweet!

Sorry about this post jumping around a lot…this kindof happens when I am mad and hyped up on coffee and cocaine.  Maybe just coffee.

Now, if I was mean, I would go look up how old Mr. Limbaugh is and then start a countdown clock to the average age of death in the US.  But I won’t do that.  I’ll just keep being mad and speak out until this shit gets the stink taken out of it.

Kicking Ass and Taking Names (in more ways than one)

Since the boyman has been hunkered down in his hole working on his thesis, the two of us haven’t been to many (any) movies recently. So now that he’s all good and gradumacated (pause for applause), we’re going hog wild!!

Basically, we struck a deal. I love women kicking ass and taking names, and Brian loves history and war where men are kicking ass and taking names. This means we went to go see Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and War Horse.

SPOILER ALERT! I reference a few details of these movies, but I don’t spoil any endings. Hopefully you’ve either already seen these movies cuz you’re superfly, or you don’t care about them being minorly spoiled because, hey, it’s better than getting your toes gnawed off by a rabid clown.

TRIGGER ALERT as I reference events of sexual violence.

Both of these movies are about wild, spirited creatures who are being controlled by others more privileged than they are. Both of these movies involve intense violence, perseverance, devotion, and justice. It’s very possible that this is where the similarities end, although if I was in a pinch I could probably drag this on for a few more paragraphs.

Have you ever wanted to watch a movie so moving, so beautifully stunning, so captivating, but still have that constant reminder that you’re in a movie theater surrounded by cranky old people??! Then see War Horse!

I don’t understand why older folks feel it’s ok to talk through movies while at the theater. Do they even realize they are doing it? Do they realize it and not give a fuck? It was all I could do not to turn around and ironically ask them if their parents had ever taught them any manners.

Not only did these cranky-pants folks comment throughout the movie, the things they said were in no way contributing to the richness of the entertainment (although, now that I think about it, unless you’re at Rocky Horror, commenting at the screen will in no way improve the experience). The asinine comments can be placed neatly into 3 categories. Some examples:

1. My personal life and hopes and dreams should be heard by everyone

“My arm hurts…it’s been hurting me all day.”
If you keep talking, more than just your arm will hurt, sister.

“This movie has been everything I had hoped for.”
That’s nice, lady. I had hoped for a movie free of bitching and moaning, but I guess we can’t both have what we want now can we?

2. Captain Obvious to the rescue!

“Whoa, there’s the horse!”

“Ooh, he’ll be competition!”

“Oh look, they’re in love!”

Let’s see if I understand. Either you don’t quite get what’s going on and you’re attempting to confirm your current comprehension level by indirectly asking for input from your fellow moviegoers, or you very much do understand and you are selflessly translating the difficult content so that those around you can catch up. Either that or you have no filter and can’t keep your trap shut. Not sure, though.

3. Maybe if I yell loud enough, Spielberg will hear me

“No, don’t kill him!”

“He’s not dead, he just needs medicine!”

Ok, so that last one was from Lord of the Rings, but still, I admire your sentiment and I actually agree with you that the horse still had more life left in him, but hows about we give the cute horse our moral support in controlled, mature silence?

[Edit: contrary to popular belief, these last two statements do not give away the ending of the movie.  It's the kind of movie where you're left guessing til the end.]

Bottom line is that if people want to talk during a movie, then STAY THE FUCK HOME and wait for Netflix.

So I guess that was my review for War Horse. I recommend it, especially if you like horses or war. And the story is an Odyssey story, in that it follows the horse through the war and through various owners, places, and predicaments. My only caution is if you have this rare disease where you’ll die from overactive tear ducts, then don’t see it. And also, if you’re like me and you can’t stand to see animals in pain, then there will be one heart-wrenching scene where you’ll have to look away while your body is heaving with sobs. Needless to say, I felt very cleansed and vulnerable in the aftermath. My therapist would be proud.

————————

Now for Dragon Tattoo.

I read the books, saw the Swedish movies, and now I am licking my chops for the American versions.  I am a huge stickler for staying true to books in the movie versions, and any significant deviation from the original plot warrants a strongly worded letter in my book.

I thought Noomi Rapace’s Swedish performance as Lisbeth in the original movies was pretty well done, and I was skeptical that any second attempt could improve on the character, especially when left in the hands of Americans.  David Fincher  and Rooney Mara did not disappoint!  In fact, I thought that Lisbeth was indeed made much more three-dimensional, we could see a few more layers to her, and there was even some time devoted to giving a peek into her traumatic past, tidbits of the story yet to unfold.  Yes, Lisbeth sometimes chooses violence, but she does so only when she’s provoked and only when she sees no other option.  When we see Lisbeth mugged on the subway, she first hesitates and then runs after the guy and fights only to get her bag back and then runs away.  After her escape, we see her heave a sigh of relief and not one of satisfaction.

In my personal opinion, Lisbeth suffers from severe PTSD (post traumatic stress). The books describe her ability to cut herself off from all emotion and often stare back blankly when she chooses not to answer a question (that choice is yet another way she is able to fight back against her imposed narrative of being victimized and having power taken away from her).  I feel that this vital piece of Lisbeth’s behavior hasn’t been expressed fully enough in either movie version.  The American version did a slightly better job in that Lisbeth avoids eye contact and physical proximity, but the Swedish movies had Lisbeth responding with too many quips, too normal, too wordy, too talkative.  I wish some director out there would have the balls to put that gut-wrenching silence up on screen.  Let her eyes and that defiant silence do the talking.

I very much preferred Daniel Craig as Blomkvist to the actor in the Swedish version for the same reason as Mara – Craig was more human, more 3D.  In this version, Blomkvist was warmer, sweeter and less stoic than in the Swedish version.  He was also a bit more passive and humble.  His reaction when Lisbeth first comes on to him in her no-nonsense fashion was endearing, with his wide-eyed, stammering, chivalrous concern.  And plus, Daniel Craig is an awesome piece of ass to look at.  Thank you, casting director!

Another concern going into this movie was how Americans might portray the rape and sex scenes.  On one hand, I appreciate Europeans being able to portray sex and sexual violence with more transparency, rawness, and in graphic detail.  The books were certainly in graphic detail, and so there’s that part of me that wants the movie versions told as closely to the book as possible.  The American scenes were not as graphic as the Swedish ones, and maybe it was because I have already seen the Swedish scenes that I didn’t feel like anything was lacking from the American scenes.  The fear and pain and anger were all still there.

In closing, an ode to Lisbeth.  I fucking love Lisbeth Salander. She is a tortured soul who doesn’t play the victim.  She uses violence only when she doesn’t see any other options, but when she does use violence it’s with awesome warpaint that would scare the shit out of Hitler, let alone pathetic rapist pigs.  She’s not a maneater or oppositional-defiant in a negative clinical sense.  She’s not empowered by the violence she inflicts, she merely wants to level the playing field that has been tipped against her favor even before she was born.  People like me relish watching her take her power back from her abusers in any creative way she can think of, like tattooing their heinous acts on their chests.  She does the things that I sometimes wish I could do and she says the things I sometimes wish I could say.  She doesn’t abide by gender norms or sexual norms, she does what she wants, when she wants, and basically just asks people to leave her the hell alone.  My inner angsty-feminist teenager squeals with pleasure when Lisbeth comes on the screen.

Genderbending is fun for everyone!

Ladies.....

I hate it whenever someone puts me in a box.

It’s usually pretty dark in there and my claustrophobia starts to kick in right quick.  If I am lucky, someone poked some air holes in there pre-melissa-insertion.

So when I say “puts me in a box,” I usually mean “makes assumptions about me” or “has rigid expectations of me.”  When this happens, The Melissa gets quite angry and ranty, and few topics get my goat worse than when it comes to gender issues and the like.

To be clear, let’s define the word “gender.”  Here I will be using the feminist theory definition of gender as a social construction apart from biological sex.  Even though it is pretty commonly accepted, the terms sex and gender are not synonymous.  Sex refers to a person’s anatomy, chromosomes, etc.  Gender refers to the social roles and behaviors we perform.  Sex is a physical state while gender is a mental one.  An easy and fun way to remember this is that ‘sex is between your legs and gender is between your ears.’  Teehee!

While gender often matches a person’s sex (a biological man often plays the social roles of a male), it does not have to, and is so much more complicated and dynamic than the rigid binary boxes society has created for sex and gender.  In actuality, both sex and gender (as well as sexual orientation, but that’s a whole other post) exist on more of a spectrum with there being lots of shades of gray in between.  For the time being I wanna focus on gender and all the awesome variations and shades of gray.

Gender is something that we do.  Gender is performed, gender is behavior and a way we express ourselves in the world.  The most obvious way that we do gender is by how we visually present our bodies with clothing, hair (or lack of hair), nails, makeup (or lack of), accessories, etc.  This past week I wore a tie to work.  I have worn ties a few times before, but last week I wore my own tie – pretty purple paisleys.  I got a variety of reactions, from non-reactions to giggling to compliments to asking me what the tie was for.  I think it’s fair to say that most of those reactions imply that me -a lady- wearing a tie -male clothing- does not match the binary categories.  To be fair, if I had walked into work wearing a prom dress (a matching sex/gender combo), I might still have gotten the same reactions just because of the variable (in a long list of possible variables) of the office dress code.

I am dapper

I was also invited to a mustache party (nothing kinky, I swear), where mustaches were mandatory, regardless of gender.  What a hoot!  Both my partner and I were sans mustaches, so I drew one on each of us using my black and brown eyeliners.  How’s THAT for genderbending – I used a traditionally-marketed-to-female-gendered product to paint a bio-male thingy on my bio-female face.  Woot.

I find it interesting to see how I feel when I test the boundaries of traditional gender categories, depending on what I am doing and how public it is.  One of my clinical supervisors encourages us to identify what ways we defy gender norms without even thinking about it – by being ourselves – since who fits into the categories 100% of the time?  Answer: no one.

As a lady-person, I get to have lots more safe space in which to play with genderbending than men do, and I think that sucks.  We live in a world where I can wear a tie to work and just get some giggles, but if my partner wore a dress to work, he would have much bigger, more serious consequences.  That’s called a double standard and I hate it, hate it.  What are people doing to defy these stupid, stupid rules??!  I want to hear them!

No wonder we genderize things – our use of language demands it so!  We have three singular pronouns we use: he, she, and it. We lack any mainstream way of referring to a person whose gender is unknown or outside the binary without dehumanizing that person by saying “it.”  How horrible is that?  It may not sound like much of a crisis, but I definitely think it informs, fuels, and traps us in these harmful, restricting binaries.  On a sidenote – did you know that we have actually do have gender-neutral pronouns?  That’s pretty effing awesome!  No more using “they” as an awkward singular in term papers.

People get sooooo uncomfortable when they can’t put people/things/COLORS into gender categories.  Why is this?  Animals and human babies are a good example for this, since they don’t have gender.  They simply don’t got it.  Animals act instinctively based on their biological sex and that’s it, while humans develop gender gradually as their brain and social skills/world develops.  But when we get them as pets and baby humans, we assign them a gender using names and colored collars (you know, baby collars.  all the cool moms are doing it).  Without these names and collars, we don’t know what pronoun to use and people. go. nuts.  If a person doesn’t know a baby/animal’s gender, they usually either ask or refer to it as masculine.  Have you or anyone you know been scared that someone would mistake your baby/cat/lizard for the wrong gender?  Has anyone mistaken the gender?  Did you correct phe? (<—-gender neutral pronoun! How useful!)  Why or why not?  Why is it important to us that we project gender onto our things?  I find the discomfort around this subject absolutely fascinating, and I draw attention to it so that maybe others might get curious about why going against the traditional grain gets us so uncomfortable.

That reminds me, I was wrapping xmas presents yesterday, and my frugal self has two kinds of wrapping paper: a light blue one that says “Happy Holidays” so it can be used for xmas and Hanukkah, and one with assorted yellow and pink stripes to use for all occasions.  As I was making decisions about what to wrap in what, I realized I was choosing to wrap presents intended for males in the blue-based paper and females with the pink paper.  This will not do.  Buuut, my gut reaction to thinking about wrapping against gender norms made me uncomfortable.  My actual thought was more about me not wanting to offend any of my male family members (take note that I had no worries about offending the females with this arrangement).  Oh dear me.  The solution?  I said ‘fuck it’ and did it opposite.  Now, don’t give me a Nobel Peace Prize.  All I am saying is that the simplest damned things like this crop up all the time, and collectively, they mean something.  Stop and think about what they might mean.

Ways I defy gender norms by crawling out of my box:

  • I hate cooking, I am not good at it, and I don’t wanna cook for you or anyone else.  So there.
  • I wear ties.  With gusto.
  • I wrapped xmas presents in paper with pink stripes that are intended for men.

How do you crawl out of your box? (the assumption I am making here is that everyone defies gender norms. booyah.)

For additional reading, check out this awesome blog post about one teacher working to abolish gender binaries by educating her students!!  Makes me so excited about life!