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dylpickled


Love.

And the things that get in its way.


(no subject)
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dylpickled
My daughter's not a big cuddler. She's also a slow waker, though, and today when she woke up from her nap (with a roar of indignation that sleep had won yet again), I took her out of the wrap I'd been carrying her around in on my back, and she curled up into my chest to feel safe as she slowly reacquainted herself with the world again.

I've seen my son cry, pause to smile, and cry again. I get at least five gummy eye-crinkling head-tossing-in-total-abandon smiles a day directed at me, and then there's the ones he doles out to everyone else around. The gales of giggles I was getting out of him while talking to him after his bath today were new, though.

I think I've said before that I used to be fearless because I didn't have anything to lose. So yeah... I'm freakin terrified now.

(no subject)
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dylpickled
I like that my husband has now just kind of independently decided that it's his job to make sure I am fed. The kitchen is basically his domain at this point. Also, if we're honest, he's doing the vast majority of the cleaning/domestic chores at the moment. I kinda just live here. No wonder the old guys were so pissed off by second-wave feminism, being a 60's husband is a pretty sweet deal!

In my defense, I do happen to be pregnant with twins and trying finish a thesis in literally the next two weeks. I am BUSY and TIRED.

Still, you hear all this indulgent "oh men are so domestically helpless" talk from married women sometimes, and I'm just like, huh. Mine seems to handle himself just fine. I haven't had to ask him to do things or explain to him how to do things or stuff like that. Maybe you just married a dumb one.

American Myths
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dylpickled
So the typical stereotype is that Americans are both dumb and litigious. I think we all know that. Europeans in particular enjoy their superior rationality, and therefore also enjoy telling anecdotes about this supposed American propensity. But these are rarely true. Two examples:

Kinder Surprise eggs are banned in the US, which Europeans take as a sign of our deep fear of choking hazards and litigation. In reality, here's why: there's an FDA law from 1938 on the books that bans the inclusion of any non-digestible substance in an edible product. If you know anything about the time period before we regulated food production, you know this is a VERY good law. But it happens to be broad enough to include Kinder Surprise eggs, so from the time they were invented in the 70's, they've never been legal for import. This law has been varyingly interpreted over times - customs didn't really use to care, but now, probably actually because of people bringing attention to the product, they're pickier. So yeah, it's just a really old bureaucratic gap that no one's cared enough to close. You know where they DID pursue a campaign to ban those eggs as a choking hazard? Britain.

You ever heard the case about the woman who earned an insane amount of money from McDonald's because she spilled her hot coffee on herself? That's supposed to be Exhibit A about dumb Americans and the legal system. But here's what actually happened: McDonald's did market research which suggested that regardless of the actual taste of the coffee, the hotter it was, the better it was perceived to be. So they heated their coffee at insane levels, obviously far above what you could consume for a while, so that you would drink it at the hottest tolerable temperature and presumably find it to be the best taste. Thing is, that's really not a good idea. McDonald's employees were getting second and third degree burns from the tiniest bit of sloshed coffee. And this was happening regularly, and McDonald's management was getting told about it, so they talked about it... and decided it was worth it. They would go ahead and mandate that temperature in all their employee manuals, etc., and they would just deal with the fact that some people, primarily employees, were burned badly every year, and they would give them some sort of hush-up payout when they did got hurt which would be peanuts to them (but worth silence to someone working minimum wage). That's fucked up. So eventually, this little old lady customer did spill her coffee on herself, and she was burned very badly, but the difference was that she did not take the immediate payoff and instead her case was used as a figurehead for about 10 years' worth of similar complaints. McDonald's was found guilty, and her crazy million-dollar payoff? It was not to pay for her medical bills, and in fact did not reach her in the end at all. The amount was what's called "punitive damages" - it was assigned purely as a symbolic punishment for McDonald's to pay. It was deliberately calculated to represent two days' worth of McDonald's coffee revenues. So that's the real story: a corporation disregarded something it knew was hurting its workers as well as some customers for around ten years, and eventually an individual case was pushed through to highlight the problem, for which the corporation was fined. It's actually a perfectly reasonable example of how the legal system is supposed to work.

I really do like Europe, and in some ways it is a nicer place to live than America, certainly. But there is definitely a weird bitter streak in them that reminds me a lot of guys who fear women. You know, they're so used to being dominant in politics, culture, etc. that the slightest little crack in that domination makes them really nasty and contemptuous. Well, Europe used to be that dominant. They ruled large parts of the world and defined how civilized a place was by "how much is it like us". That was a huge part of their self-conception: we're the best so we're dominant, and we're dominant because we're the best. Just like ideas about masculinity vs. femininity in the past. But they've lost a good chunk of that power, and now America has it. And what do you do if you've built your identity on your dominance, and then you're NOT so dominant? That's going to cause a serious re-think of your identity, and just like some guys, they resent it. So I think a lot of the European reflexive dismissal of Americans is basically just the international version of the male chauvinist's "Get in the kitchen and make me a sandwich!"

(no subject)
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dylpickled
New theory on feelings and truth:

If something seems like it's fated and perfect and everything is falling into place, if you know something just because you "feel it" - you're lying to yourself. You've left something out. Nothing fits that perfectly unless you trim it down to fantasy size.

But if you have to keep trying to prove yourself wrong about something, if you want to walk away and keep on circling back, if sometimes you don't feel a damn thing and other times you're not sure you want to, but you just can't laugh it off or let it go - you've stumbled on something true.

Details
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dylpickled
1 - Everyone groping for their coats, end of the night/well into the morning, my friend's voice blurry, warm and sweet with alcohol and leftover emotion from all the troubles he's just spent three hours or so telling me, and now he suddenly offers, "Tell me what's going on with you. Tell me," and I laugh, shake my head and insist on a hug instead.

2 - Mid-game, swooping down on the children with a growl and listening to them shriek in terror-tinged delight.

3 - I pick up my two-year-old niece and carry her to the dinner table, joking that she's so hungry she's trying to eat me. She leans over and deliberately gets a mouthful of my sleeve at the shoulder, bites down hard on the fabric and pulls her mouth away until it snaps back out of her teeth with a pop, then gives me a silent look which says, plain as day, "Yeah, I just did that. Don't try me."

Un-Settle
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dylpickled
It's so interesting. As people who insisted they would never settle down start to do just that, they've started to bug me and Mike, once by far the most domestic pair of our friends, as to why we don't FURTHER settle. And meanwhile, our (spontaneous, driving home several hours after midnight) new year's resolution was to take more risks. Mike, who is mildly afraid of heights, currently has a scab on his hand from where he scraped it rock-climbing. I have been through five hair colors this year (pink, orange, purple, blonde, brown), and whenever I get around to it, it's gonna go (natural-ish) red next. We're not settling down further right now. We're not settling for anything. As usual, the detours have so much more to offer than the beaten path. And as unnerving as that can be, it's exciting too. We get to explore together.

Recently I told Mike my old metaphor about fairy tales - how I am not a princess and he is no prince - that we are the witch and the woodcutter, every now and then running across the charmed sons and cursed daughters who will end up in the castle, moving the plot along a little for them, then returning quietly to our own mysterious lives in a hut in the woods. He looked up from what he was doing, surprised, and said, "I LOVE that idea."

Cute Thing That Happened
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dylpickled
The five-year-old likes it when I am over and her brother has a friend over, because that means she has a playmate. Not that she won't play with them, but, as she wryly commented to me, "I could do without the screeching." Seven-year-old boys can get LOUD.

But see, since they are seven - eight soon! - they're mature now. They're not babies; they're tough guys! And that means it's not so cool to play with the babysitter anymore. Especially not in front of your friends. Especially not when said friend probably also wouldn't like to be reminded that he used to play with the babysitter too. And that he was scared of her zombie impression. Ah, how different things were when THEY were the five-year-olds. :)

So anyway, we were playing a board game Kathi's currently obsessed with when Leo busts in, friend trailing at his heels, and just holds up this robot dog toy I already knew he got for Christmas. And I was like, oh, hey, its eyes move, etc. - assorted taking-an-interest comments - and then, need apparently fulfilled, off Leo went again, friend still trailing like, "What was that all about?"

Translation: Leo loves loves loves his stuff. He's the only kid I've ever known who like, really does appreciate his toys and knows exactly what and where they are and tries to take care of them. He has a new "coolest possession ever" and he's proud and he has to show it to me - albeit silently and with a facial expression of "yeah, it's no big deal". Awwwww!

Things that made me laugh:
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dylpickled
"I don't want any of your American threesomes!"

"That's it, I'm going to quote some poetry at you." "Oh nooo!"

"...serious touching..." with accompanying stone-faced rubbing of arm

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
"This shirt is too tight." "Baby, when it comes to you there's no such thing as too tight."

It's so adorable how my husband still gets a little shy when I openly check him out. I do it every damn day. It's been over a decade. And what does he expect? He's been on a mild athletic kick, and because his body is absurdly quick to do so, is just automatically building muscle as a result. He's excellent ogling material.

(no subject)
eh?
dylpickled
There's this movement, a gesture. I could recognize it anywhere, and when I see it, I know - this is a person with an unusual brain. It's a little hop and a loose shake of the hands - looks like you're fluttering them like wings. And that's what it feels like, too. That person is flying.

It's called stimming. Self-stimulation, although that kinda makes it sound like masturbation. Or stereotyped behaviors, I think the DSM calls it? Or whatever else you want to call it. My family called it buzzing. That was a great word for it, that electric zzzzzzip you feel. Or do you ever? I do. I can have a shot of joy anytime I want it. Temporary, but permanent, because it's always with me. A drug built into my brain, my hands. Nothing feels like that.

Nobody outside of my family has seen me do that since I was like, maybe eight? Most people who can learn very quickly NOT to, not in public, cause it stresses the people who can't out. But nobody ever quits. I haven't. Crushed down, secretive, no wings for me anymore, I just rub my hands together, but I do it. I can still take flight.

This is crazy typical for the autism spectrum, but it crops up outside of it sometimes. ADD or ADHD, sensory processing disorder and related issues, and the odd OCD person. These are all things that happen to be kind of related - you'll find that some of them are more likely to emerge in the same person, or that there are similar issues, etc. In my case there's obviously a VERY genetic component - of the ten members of my immediate family, five have official psychiatric diagnoses of related conditions, while two more have some really telling tendencies in that direction but were never severe enough to get taken to the shrinks about it. Three of us stim. If you go by IQ, we're those people that are weird smart. Most of us fall above 130, the highest level of classification, "very superior", which is the topmost 2-3% of the population. "Stupid", in our family, is testing in the high 120's, at which you are a mere high "superior" and have to share space with the top 6-7% of the population. But that doesn't necessarily translate into real-world competence. I am the only one of the five with a diagnosis who has neither failed out of nor come close to failing out of school. We are also avoidant as fuck and share a family habit dropping off the planet when we get stressed. Like half my conversations with my family start with note-comparing on who's currently incommunicado and why. I have the feeling that if eugenics were being practiced, we would be eliminated from the gene pool.

And that would certainly be a shame. Because yes, sometimes it is a pain in the goddamn ass to have a brain that's a little different, when you feel like everybody else is on the same highway, reaching the same conclusions by easy stages, and you've got to take seven damn detours on back roads to get to the same place. There is anxiety, frustration and shame built into being wired differently. But then again, who says it's any better to be average? I doubt anyone really has it easy, even inside a neurotypical head. And what people who have never taken the detours don't understand is how much wonder and joy are also involved. In noticing the details of life, in thinking differently in general, but also definitely in stimming. I read other people's reports of their experiences with it once and it was interesting, because everyone, from a variety of official diagnoses and with different specific ways to get themselves there, was describing it in the same words: excitement and calm all at once, delight, release. Taking flight. Nobody at all was interested in getting rid of it. From the sound of it, what some people are looking for in some drugs or in meditation is what I can have in literally about one second, the time it takes to bring my hands up. Not bad.

I met this kid yesterday, and there was nothing about him that would have immediately told me he was different. The first time he did it, I didn't think anything of it. But then he did that gesture again, in exactly the kind of context in which one would stim, and I was like, ohhhh, okay. I recognize this. And you know, the first time I saw my kid brother stim it was like a dagger to the heart - I was like, oh shit kid, you're in for a rough time. But I was a lot younger then. This time around I just kind of thought, huh. Well, good luck, kid. You might have your issues but you're gonna have your benefits too. You should be fine.

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