Sunday, October 26, 2008

When I was pregnant with Lula, after I'd had the ultrasound and knew she was a girl, I told anyone who asked that I was having neither a boy nor a girl but a tomboy. I did this because I was a tomboy when I was young and it was always something to be proud of. Being a tomboy, to me, meant being strong. It meant being tough and being able to walk around with your shirt off.

So, when I knew I had a little girl growing inside me, I hoped that she too would be a girl-boy, a special, personalized mix of the better and more interesting qualities of each gender, and when she was born and old enough to specify her choice of clothing it became clear that I got what I asked for.

Lula has displayed such a strong desire to be a boy, NOT a GIRL, that I've wondered, half seriously, if I jinxed myself. I say "jinxed" because it's such a constant part of her personality that it's caused extremely annoying problems on a daily basis (especially regarding the clothes she will and won't wear) and it's led me to worry about problems down the road.

Ultimately, I worry that Lula will grow up not fully appreciating herself. I worry that she's not getting positive reinforcement as a female--that all the kid's movies, with their quick-witted, daring, and tough-talking male leads, are making it very clear that this society is more interested in men, and if you want to be at the top, you'd better be able to hang with the boys. Or even better, you'd better be one of the boys.

I can't help wonder what the implications are for a society whose kids' clothing and toys are based so much on the supposed/exaggerated differences between boys and girls. As more children grow up believing the other sex is inherently different, what's it going to lead to? What, for that matter, has it already led to?

I remind Lula as often as I can that she's a girl: she's a strong, smart, funny, loving, girl; she's a loved girl. And, by playing dumb, I do my part to outsmart the system: "What do you mean, you see boy clothes down that aisle? I don't see any. Nope, no boy clothes--just some gray and brown clothes with trucks and lizards on them. Nothing particularly boyish, though, that I can see. Just clothes..."


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joedy and I are realizing we're not very stoked on Ventura. This isn't really a surprise, because we knew V-town would pale in comparison to Santa Barbara in many ways, but it still is kind of unsettling--I mean, we just moved here.

Neither of us care for the big-box/franchise stores that are everywhere and the general lack of aesthetics and greenery. It's often very windy and there are too many cars. We like the downtown and the parks we've been to, but you have to drive on the freeway to get there, and then you run the risk of getting shot by a white guy with a tattoo on his neck (my personal fear).

We miss the feeling of community we had in SB. After living there twelve years, we got to know a lot of people and could count on seeing familiar faces at Arigato or The Paradise Cafe; Jose Luis, the manager of Carlito's, would always give us hugs and treat us like old friends. And then there are our real friends, too, whom we rarely see even though we're just 30 miles away.

It's not disappointing to not like Ventura, because we moved here knowing we'd feel this way. We didn't move here thinking we'd want to stay very long--in fact, we hoped we would find it unpleasant, because that would give us more motivation to make the "big move," the big move out of the country, hopefully, that we've been talking about so long and that has been put off partly because Santa Barbara, with its relentless charm, sucks you in and doesn't let you go.

We hoped being in Ventura would stir things up, make us try harder to fulfill the dream of living somewhere different: in a place, preferably, where people are less gun-happy, less frighteningly religious, and less money-driven. A place where more value is placed on living than on working, and where the importance of nature is a given, not subject to debate. A place where the general mode of thought is "we're in this together," not "you're in this alone."

For a long time we thought about moving to France, where one of the main attractions was being close to my family. Moving to France, though, is not something you can just do, especially if you're not a French citizen. Unless you're independently wealthy, you need to find a job there, and even that doesn't guarantee long-term staying rights. The best thing, of course, is to marry a French person, and for a while Joedy and I considered that, but neither of us really felt like entering the dating scene again.

When France seemed too unrealistic, we started thinking about other places we'd like to live. After we visited and lengthily debated the merits of Puerto Rico, Joedy went on a surf trip to Costa Rica. It was his third time there, and he came back raving about the people, the affordability, the beauty, and what seemed to him a unique perspective on life. It was like going back in time, he said, while remaining in the modern world. There was a strong feeling of "work to live" and of community; the people were as friendly and warm as the Puerto Ricans we'd met; love of nature was an obvious and unifying force. He woke up to monkeys shrieking in the jungle, he ate fish caught from the warm blue ocean, and he noticed that everyone seemed pretty relaxed and happy. Even the federale who demanded Joedy's wallet insisted on giving all his money back.

We've done a lot of research on Costa Rica and it seems pretty great. It has a high literacy rate, it got rid of its army and all its guns--yes, I said all its guns--years ago, it has a good healthcare system, and it has gobs of flora and fauna. And if you're not Costa Rican but you have a baby there, you can become Costa Rican.

It sounds perfect, but of course you have to figure out the work thing, too. We know what we'd like to do--start a children's library--but there are so many hurdles. Where do we start?

In Ventura, apparently, in October 2008.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Dumpty, that is. As in, one whose main body area is in the shape of an oversized egg, with arms and legs sticking out of it. And with something like a head stuck on top, although the head doesn't always work very well--most of the time, it's just there for effect.

Humpty's head isn't working well tonight because Humpty fell yesterday. He fell off a wall and crashed to the floor in his boss's office. He lay there, writhing and crying like a baby, for what seemed like a very long time.

His boss saw him cry, a lot. It was embarrassing. Humpty flailed around for some of his broken pieces and tried to put them back together, but all he really wanted to do was get the hell out of his boss's office. He didn't have much dignity left, so he stuck the pieces together any old way and left looking and feeling all mismatched.

When work was over Humpty went to McDonald's and ate an order of medium fries with four packets of salt. Then he drove home. He took a shower and waxed 2/3 of his legs (he left the tops of the thighs for later). He went to bed. He wrote in his blog until very late. He posted the entry and then changed his mind because it was a stupid, depressing entry. After sleeping for 3 hours he woke up feeling very unhappy about having to go to work in 4 hours. The thought of having to get up and go to work made him want to cry, and he did. He cried a lot, way more than he had in his boss's office; he completely lost control of himself. The cat meowed in its obnoxious way and Humpty screamed at it to shut up.

Humpty's husband was concerned. He got his cell phone and tried to show Humpty its calendar, explaining that with strategically placed vacations the time until maternity leave wouldn't seem long at all. But Humpty didn't want to hear it; Humpty just wanted to cry.

Humpty's pieces are still a little mismatched and his head still hurts. But he's in bed and he feels loved by his loved ones, and he knows he's not going to be Humpty forever.