(no subject)

June 23rd, 2017 20:51
halley: (Default)
[personal profile] halley posting in [community profile] lj_refugees

I hope it's alright for me to post this here.

Road trip

June 23rd, 2017 17:26
mildred_of_midgard: (Aragorn)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
My best friend and I have a road trip planned for the second half of September! Sadly, he will not be moving in with me this year, because of the illness and death of a close friend of his that caused his dissertation to be delayed, yea unto the fifteenth year.

But! At least the road trip is happening. We're not going to have as much time as I'd hoped, but it should be good nonetheless. If he can get a couple days off work, we should be able to extend the trip until we have about as much time as we had last time.

We leave the 15th, and return either the 24th or 26th, depending on whether he can find someone to cover for him. I have offered to comp him for lost income (ah, the beauties of a tech job).

We are not going anywhere exciting. The goal is to check off the remaining continental states we haven't been to, aka the boring ones (sorry not sorry).

For him, lucky bastard, this is just Arkansas and North Dakota.

For me, this is Arkansas and North Dakota AND ALSO *deep breath* South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. And DC, the only vaguely interesting place we're going.

My family's rules for states (or countries) visited have always been: flyovers don't count, but any on-the-ground technicalities count! My mom putting one hand/foot in each of the states at the Four Corners counts. My dad's 15 minutes in the Detroit airport count. Layovers where you don't get off the plane count! My friend's and my 15 minutes in a car passing through the tiny southwest corner of Montana between Idaho and Wyoming on the way to Yellowstone counts.

So we will be doing a lot of border-tagging. If we pass the "Welcome To" sign, it counts!

Here are our current plans, assuming he gets the time off work.

I fly to meet him in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he will have been visiting family. We rent a car and head off into the sunset.

We pass through SC, AL, and MI on the way to Louisiana. We were going to visit New Orleans, but given that he's already been there and the main attraction for me was seafood, and given how tight on time we are, we're planning to bow to my shrimp allergy and give it a pass, which will buy us another day or so for the rest of the trip. So we'll just tag the LA border and head up to Little Rock, where he wants to visit the Clinton Presidential Library.

Then the scenic route through the Ozarks, and a lot of weaving across the borders to check off midwestern states for me. I was going to just do this for North Dakota, but he wants to visit Bonanzaville ("a pioneer village with 12 acres, 43 historic buildings, 400,000 artifacts, and millions of memories. Bonanzaville is operated by the Cass County Historical Society, with a mission to collect, display and interpret artifacts relevant to the history and cultural heritage of the Red River Valley.")

Then we detour to Wisconsin, because his family has a timeshare near a lake there, and he coauthored a volume on the local history of the lake and the surrounding community, which delayed his dissertation by at least three years ago, and he wants to show me the area. I imagine it will be scenic, am hoping for good hiking, and will try not to get eaten by bears.

Depending on how we're doing on time, maybe a quick visit to Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthplace, in WI not far from his lake. If we don't have time, though, I don't mind, as the only place she lived I really wanted to see was De Smet, and we did the tour there on the big cross-country road trip.

Then south, to catch Kentucky and WV on the way to DC. We'll actually spend a day or two in DC visiting museums, and then we'll check off my remaining eastern seaboard states on the way back to Boston, where he will catch a plane back to LA.

Stay tuned for any impromptu detours and sightseeing we come up with along the way! (Last time, it was the fortuitous* realization that Niagara Falls was totally on our route.)

* And I do mean "by chance"--we passed a sign for a Niagara Cave in Minnesota that made me decide to look up exactly where Niagara Falls was, on the suspicion that it was near our route, and it turned out we were passing through Buffalo, so we gave it a visit.

Religion and sexuality

June 23rd, 2017 15:12
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
Recently two special interest groups I'm second degree connected to have been involved in scandals around religious attitudes to homosexuality.

The leader of a tiny UK political party, the Liberal Democrats, resigned because
To be a political leader - especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 - and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me.
And a tiny UK Jewish denomination, Orthodox-aligned Sephardim, are up in arms because R' Joseph Dweck taught something about homosexuality in Rabbinic sources and commented
I genuinely believe that the entire revolution of…homosexuality…I don’t think it is stable and well…but I think the revolution is a fantastic development for humanity.


This stuff is minor on the scale of things, but the media love the narrative of gay rights versus religious traditionalism. Anyway lots of my friends are religious Jews or Christians who are also gay or supportive of gay people and other gender and sexual minorities. So lots of my circle are exercised about one or both of the incidents.

opinions )

Flavour combination weirdness

June 21st, 2017 11:37
steorra: Rabbit with a pancake on its head (random weirdness)
[personal profile] steorra
I was eating 'Honey Dijon' flavour Kettle Chips while waiting for my baked beans concoction lunch to heat. I took my lunch out of the microwave, stirred it, and licked the spoon. I tasted a hint of ... gingerbread. Gingerbread? Gingerbread.

Weird.

Reading Wednesday and music meme

June 21st, 2017 18:06
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Not reading much or posting much at the moment because [personal profile] cjwatson is visiting and I'm mainly paying attention to him. I'll update here later in the week, probably.

Currently reading: Nearly finished: Too like the lightning by Ada Palmer. I'm really enjoying the resolution of the political intrigue plot, but I'm a bit annoyed by the sophomoric speculation on the philosophical implications of sadism.

Up next: All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders.


Music meme day 8 of 30

A song about drugs or alcohol

Two from opposite ends of the spectrum: my ex-gf used to sing me this ridiculously soppy song, Kisses sweeter than wine by Jimmie Rogers. Which is really only tangentially about alcohol but it's connected to happy memories for me. And I couldn't leave out the most explicitly druggy song in my collection, Heroin, she said by WOLFSHEIM.

two videos )

FMK #15: LGBT& Content

June 20th, 2017 23:03
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Last week's F winner was Journey to the Center of the Earth! K was Malevil, which means another giant tome I no longer have to shelve, yay.

I am still behind on reviewing stuff because I had Six Wakes and All Systems Red and A Close and Common Orbit all in at the library, plus All The Sedoretu, and sometimes you just have to priortize?

But in honor of the Tiptree anthology I picked up for the sedoretu story in it (and Pride), this week's theme is LGBT& content! (Most of these are Tiptree or Gaylactic Spectrum finalists, in fact.)
How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll! Bear, Chabon, Doran, Gerrold, Lackey, Monette, Orlando & Rebelka, Scott, St. Clair )

more sedoretu

June 20th, 2017 19:02
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
So instead of an FMK review this week you get more talking about sedoretu (not the moiety post yet, that's coming. Probably.)

The opinions on the poll about bookmarking were interestingly split - pretty consistently 2-1 in favor of bookmarking, but the anti-bookmarking people seem to feel more strongly about it. I guess the only solution is for more people to start adding stuff to that collection so mine don't stand out as much!

I also finally read Another Story, or, a Fisherman of the Inland Sea, which is the first and longest of Le Guin's O stories. Or possibly I had already read it and then blocked it out. I am... not sure how I feel about it? It is definitely the most SF-based of them, with quantum physics and interplanetary travel and so on (and probably the most useful for people who want to think about sedoretu in the context of a much larger and more cosmopolitan society than we see in either "Mountain Ways" or "Unchosen Love".)

blehhhhh )

Anyway, I still really really like the worldbuilding!

I have managed to narrow it down to ten prompts in the Sedoretu fest that I probably *could* write. (As opposed to the ones I most want to see written, which includes many that I am definitely not the person to write.) They all have pros and cons, which I shall now ramble about here:

Discworld, HP, Sagas, O, LM, Nimona, SW:TFA, Barrayar )

...this is weirdly stressful compared to a prompt meme community where I can just blather on in comments without committing to anything until somebody else either writes the thing or I know exactly what I am doing

Transitive adjective: 'certain'

June 19th, 2017 20:52
steorra: Restaurant sign that says Palatal (palatal)
[personal profile] steorra
I just noticed another example of a transitive adjective:

'But I'm not really certain the cause.'
(Comments, here.)

It feels pretty natural to me. I wouldn't be surprised if I use it that way.

(no subject)

June 16th, 2017 14:12
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
You can still add prompts to the Sedoretu fic fest! Well, I can't, because I might have hit the prompting limit already, but you can!

If you're new here and have never heard of Sedoretu, it's a concept from stories by Ursula le Guin set on the planet O. Marriages there are four people: two men and two women; with four sexual relationships: two m/f, one m/m, and one f/f; and two non-sexual ships, the other m/f pairs. (There is more to it than that in canon, but that's what makes it really fun to play with as a fandom poly AU concept.)

There are currently 132 prompts in 75 fandoms for the fest, plus several for "any fandom"/"original work", so there is probably at least something you know, and if not you should add it. (Or 137 fandoms if you count all of the Old Norse sagas as their own fandoms, and can I say that I feel like the fact that Old Norse Sagas are the now third most popular fandom in the fest is a dagger aimed directly at me? It's not my fault that Njal's Saga is basically set on O already! I was only trying to taunt the mod a little bit!)

(In other news, we watched the documentary Hvellir last night, about people trying to stop dams on the Laxá,and it is very good, and quotes Njal's Saga, and also only in Iceland would a bunch of protesters trying to destroy a dam just go grab the dynamite that the dam developers had left in small unattended caches all over the protesters' land. And not consider this a particularly noteworthy part of the story.)

So I keep wanting to kudos prompts and accidentally almost claiming them, argh, I wish there was a way to feedback prompts without having to go on and write the darn things. :/ Unfortunately, writing any of the many ones I really want to read would require a ton of canon review that I don't want to commit to. (Although, tbf, anything other than "one of my recent fmk reads" would require a ton of canon review at this point...) Let's face it I will probably just end up writing for Gisli's Saga since at least it's relatively short (and also basically set on O already, fair.)

(I feel like there is probably a reason Le Guin decided to set her stories about four-person marriages and complicated kin relationships among sheep farmers and fishermen in decentralized farmsteads on marginal land.)

(although I want to make the post about the real life basis of moiety a separate post.)

So instead of reviewing canon I have just been reading all the sedoretu stories in fandoms I am at least somewhat interested in. And I have been rec-bookmarking a lot of them to the sedoretu collection linked to the fest. But I am running up against the fact that some of them... are not the quality that I would normally put my rec-heart on, even by my relatively lax standards. So here is a poll for the room: if somebody is going through and bookmarking all of the stories on ::theme:: to a collection,

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 27


Is it better (by whatever definition of 'better') to:

View Answers

Bookmark the less-good ones to the collection but as Not A Rec
18 (66.7%)

Don't bookmark them at all
9 (33.3%)

(no subject)

June 15th, 2017 07:07
steorra: Restaurant sign that says Palatal (palatal)
[personal profile] steorra
Here's a bit of twisted grammar that just formed itself in my head:

"...because of people to get explained that to by, she's one of the best"

(It works even worse in writing when there's no intonation to go with it.)

I don't know why it didn't come out as "...because of people to get that explained to you by, she's one of the best", which seems obviously better.

Music meme day 7 of 30

June 15th, 2017 12:46
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
A song to drive to. I don't drive, and most of the drivers I'm frequently a passenger with don't listen to music while they're driving, or just listen to the radio rather than deliberately chosen stuff. What I most associate with driving is that when we were children we used to go on long drives to go on holiday, usually to Wales, sometimes to the north of France by ferry, and that was the only time we were allowed music in the car. We only had a few tapes, so what I most associate with driving is several Flanders and Swann albums. Probably my favourite is Misalliance: video embed, actually audio only )
Particularly because it manages to find some really brilliant rhymes for honeysuckle: We'd better start saving - many a mickle mak's a muckle / and run away for a honeymoon, and hope that our luck'll / take a turn for the better, said the bindweed to the honeysuckle.

Also because it works as a straight love story about anthromorphized plants, and also as a joke about political polarization which feels surprisingly current for a song written in the 1950s: Deprived of that freedom for which we must fight / to veer to the left or to veer to the right. A lot of F&S stuff has been thoroughly suck-fairied, because a key part of their humour is about men hilariously tricking women into surprise!sex, but I always liked the stuff that was dated because it referred to celebrities from well before I was born, because my Dad would carefully explain the obscure references to us.

Reading Wednesday 14/06

June 14th, 2017 20:20
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: Some interesting bits and bobs about gender and sexuality:
  • Me and my penis by Laura Dodsworth and Simon Hattenstone. It's mostly an interview and excerpts from a book where Dodsworth photographed 100 men. In each photo, you see penis and testicles, belly, hands and thighs [...] then [I] spent 30 to 60 minutes interviewing them. The article is illustrated with photos from the book so it's not very SFW. Honestly the penis thing is a bit of a gimmick, I'm mostly interested in people talking about some everyday aspect of their lives, and of course the Guardian article has picked some of the most dramatic subjects, an elderly man, a disabled man, a trans man etc.

  • [community profile] queerparenting linked me to Inside the struggle queer, Indigenous couples must overcome to start a family by Steph Wechsler. It's specifically about First Nations Canadians and the issues they face accessing assisted fertility services, and includes the quote Fertility is where eggs and sperm come together, and it’s embedded with heterosexist and heterocentric assumptions. Which reminded me of something a new colleague pointed out regarding teaching medical students about human reproduction (for various reasons I ended up in charge of that bit of the course):

  • The Egg and the Sperm: How Science Has Constructed a Romance Based on Stereotypical Male-Female Roles, by Emily Martin. This is apparently a classic of medical anthropology, and it's really old but a lot of what it says is still true, even in our cutting edge modern course which tries pretty hard to be non-sexist. Basically Martin points out how supposedly scientific discussion of the biology of reproduction is absolutely chock full of sexist assumptions, which apply even to gametes, let alone the humans who make the gametes and gestate the babies. Also really charmingly written and much more accessible than I'd expect from academic anthropology papers.

    The link I've given is a PDF hosted at Stanford, which I'm not entirely sure is compliant with how JSTOR wish their material to be used; if you are picky about things like that, you can read the article via JSTOR's online only system if you register with them.


Currently reading: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. About halfway through, still enjoying it in many ways. It's definitely original and thought-provoking, but also continues to be somewhat annoying with the narrator rabbiting on about his opinions about gender and race, most of which are pretty uncool. I think it would be possible to have a main character with regressive views without constantly shoving his opinions in the reader's face. The other thing I'm struggling with a bit is that it's clearly a far-future book, with lots of tech that doesn't have any real science explanation, but there are also some elements of the book which are considered to be "magical" from the characters' point of view, and the distinction between two categories of impossible stuff seems arbitrary.

In spite of those quibbles I'm quite caught up in the plot and also really interested in the cultural world-building and generally enjoying the novel. Presently I rate it below Ninefox gambit but that is far from calling it bad.

Up next: Still thinking of All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders, if nothing else jumps out and grabs me before I get to the end of TLTL.

FMK #14: SF in Translation

June 13th, 2017 18:29
melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
[personal profile] melannen
Hi all! I am back. I did not get my birthday candle wish of having a different president when I got back to the USA, but at least Theresa May is in deep hot water now, so I guess you all did what you could.

The FMK #13 winner is Discount Armageddon, pulling ahead at the last minute in a very close race! The loser was Pawn of Prophecy, in a not-very-close race, although Man-Kzin Wars put up a good fight.

I brought Rocket Ship Galileo and Tarnsman of Gor with me on the trip as two K winners that I couldn't bear dumping without Having Read. I... am about 30% through Tarnsman of Gor; so far it is not bad enough to make me hate-read it or throw it at the wall, but also not particularly compelling a read. I still want to Have Read it though, I think.

Rocket Ship Galileo is going to be K for Keep, I am afraid. I tried! But Jews vs. Moon Nazis! )

Anyway, in honor of my international travel, today's theme is SF In Translation.

How FMK works, short version: I am trying to clear out my unreads. So there is a poll, in which you get to pick F, M, or K. F means I should spend a night of wild passion with the book ASAP, and then decide whether to keep it or not. M means I should continue to commit to a long-term relationship of sharing my bedroom with it. K means it should go away immediately. Anyone can vote, you don't have to actually know anything about the books.

I pick a winner on Friday night (although won't actually close the poll, people can still vote,) and report results/ post the new poll on the following Tuesday, and write a response to the F winner sometime in the next week.

Link to long version of explanation (on first poll)

Poll: Allende, Chang, Chessex, Enjoe, Gakov, Hugo, Lem, Merle, Nomura, Ogawa, Strugatsky, Verne )
mildred_of_midgard: my great-grandmother (mildred)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
Since there has been some interest expressed in my dysfunctional childhood, here's a summary! Because I am bad at summaries, it's 6,000 words long. (No obligation to read, now or ever.) I've put most of it behind cuts because long-time readers will be familiar with it (although some of it will be new).

The major parental dysfunctions I grew up with were:

1. Rules, rules, and more rules.
2. Isolation and over-protection.
3. Emotional abuse consisting largely of being yelled at, guilt-tripped, and called selfish.
4. Oh, and excessive responsibility for my brother, which I tend to forget was not normal.

Punishments were pretty mild, there was no physical or sexual abuse or addiction (as they would constantly point out when we complained).

But oh, man, those rules. Cults have fewer rules. Actually, I've had people ask if my parents were in a cult! And I have to say no, it was all anxiety disorders.

My dad was later, when I was in college, diagnosed with OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. My mother has lower anxiety levels, and hers have flown under the radar and not been diagnosed. The thing is that due to the lack of diagnosis, she absolutely believes her thinking is rational, her fears are justified, and she's doing the right thing by passing on her knowledge of the world to you, her children.

This is how it affected us kids.

My mom 100% ran the household, but my dad would throw in extra rules. Sometimes we could get her to override his rules, but he had no authority to override hers. They would frequently stand in the background and not say anything when the other one was having a go at us.

Particularly because of the OCD, my dad had more arbitrary rules. My mom had more catastrophic thinking behind her rules.

Rules, so many rules. All the rules. )

I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles )

Emotional abuse )

He ain't heavy, he's my brother. )

So yeah, that's my childhood dysfunction. My parents did a lot of things right. Some of them probably contributed to me being emotionally invincible. These were not those things.

A brief overview of my sibling line-up:

Me: the oldest, overachiever.

Liz (2 years younger): 18 out of 20 items on the Hare psychopathy checklist. Munchausen's. Pathological liar. Popped out 4 kids from age 16-21 that I feel sorry for. I realize personality disorders are controversial and I generally don't attribute them to people, but man I know her better than anyone in the world does (I'm convinced), and something ain't right there.

Oddly enough, despite many attempts, I have not been able to link any of our dysfunctional childhood to her issues. I've studied a lot of psychology and childhood trauma and have been able to link a lot of issues my siblings and I had to our childhood! But I just can't get these ones to line up. And believe me, I've tried.

Her life just doesn't seem to contain any of the usual triggers that lead to issues like hers.

Trigger warnings for speculative and historical (ancient Roman) discussion of sexual abuse of minors )

So unless I suddenly have some epiphany, all I can figure is that my sister was born that way.

Jeanie (4 years younger): The only normal one of us. Died age 9 of some spontaneous liver condition that came up out of the blue and was never explained.

Daniel (8 years younger): Low-functioning autistic.

Matthew (15 years younger): Low-functioning autistic.

I am thus now speaking to *no* one in my family. My parents because I am so *done* with the emotional manipulation, and they're so pissed off about me calling Adult Protective Services that they cut me off, my brothers because they can't communicate, my one sister because she's dead, my other sister because she's a psychopath, her children because I'd have to interact with the psychopath (I'm sorry, niblings, I feel for you but I can't help you), my grandmother and uncle because they stopped speaking to our whole family when I was thirteen because my mother called them on their emotionally abusive treatment of us kids (which lasted like 5 days while my sister was dying in the hospital before my mother found out and forbade them to ever be alone with us kids again), and my grandfather...a little less clearly, but we were never close, and he enabled a lot of abuse of his children, and I don't have any incentive to form a relationship where we never had one before. Presumably he will die of old age without any more interactions with me.

And my dad's parents (one of whom is long dead) were never really in the picture. And his brother, who's autistic and disabled and living at home, and while he's slightly less low-functioning than my brothers (e.g. he can sprinkle salt on his own food but needs his mother to tell him when to stop), I don't think I've ever had a conversation with him, and I'm not sure he's verbal enough to have conversations (his care, coming in the 70s and with a family that was deeply in denial, has been a lot worse than my brothers'--maybe he had more potential to lead an improved life with good treatment).

This leaves a friend I met in grad school, who turned out through the application of genealogies and the merging of family trees, to be my ninth cousin, with a recent common ancestor in the 17th century, as the only member of my birth family I'm speaking to!

Music meme: day 6 of 30

June 12th, 2017 15:35
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
A song that makes you want to dance. I'm not much of a dancer, really. What gets me on the dancefloor is old skool goth stuff that I'm nostalgic about, stuff that's mostly beat rather than rhythm that makes me feel not self conscious if I just jump about and headbang in a not really coordinated way. Or I'll sometimes do folk dancing; most of the Scottish dance music I know is tunes rather than songs, though I have been known to dance Israeli folk stuff that more commonly has songs to go with it, eg Od lo ahavti dai ['I haven't loved enough yet'].

So I've picked a song that is quite bouncy and has lyrics which are about wanting to dance: Because it's not love (but it's still a feeling) by The Pipettes. I think it's [personal profile] blue_mai who got me into this band.

video embed )

I had a weekend full of extrovert delights, a day with [personal profile] jack and an evening with [personal profile] doseybat and [personal profile] pplfichi and an extra bonus [personal profile] ewt, when we talked and talked and were surprised to find it was after midnight. And had a long phonecall with my mother who's more of a morning person than most of my friends, and then [personal profile] cjwatson joined us for dim sum at my perennial favourite Joy King Lau, and lots lots lots more talking until it was time to go back to Keele.
mildred_of_midgard: (bowiesmirk)
[personal profile] mildred_of_midgard
Summer has come to Boston, and as I sit here eating my favorite flavor of ice cream, mint, I can never eat it without remembering how hard I had to fight to be allowed to try it in the first place.

We didn't have a ton of money growing up, and I certainly agree we had to be frugal, but we had enough money that we should have had enough to eat at all times. The fact that we didn't was because my parents had weird priorities, and you can click the tag if you're interested in the details.

Suffice to say, they chose food as an area to cut corners in their frugality endeavors. I had more toys than I knew what to do with, more toys than I wanted, but I would have liked less obsessing around food. (This was not a weight thing, oddly enough. Perhaps uniquely in America, my parents' obsession around food was not driven by weight conformity, ethical concerns, fad diets, or even really health.)

They didn't even do the world's best job of minimizing food costs, as they would repeatedly point out to us when we complained. ("At least you didn't grow up eating rice and beans every day. You got lots of sugary foods.") They picked some fairly arbitrary parameters and counted pennies within those parameters, but they could have saved a lot of pennies by removing those parameters, if frugality was their only goal.

Anyway, one of the ways in which they cut corners on food was discouraging us from trying new things, on the grounds that we might not like them and then the money they spent on the food would be wasted. (Oddly enough, this did not translate to only feeding us things we liked; in fact, sometimes they fed us things we didn't like specifically so that we would eat less.)

Okay, I'm trying to start the mint ice cream story here, but the parentheticals are making me realize how much my parents' attitude toward food really, really made no sense. I mean, it's not like I didn't know this at the time, I complained a lot, but it's sinking in that just trying to explain it to people with real-world expectations requires several parentheticals that don't even begin to cover what I grew up with.

Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up:

My parents had undiagnosed anxiety disorders, okay? Different anxiety disorders. Which manifested as oftentimes less-than-rational rules and constraints. And sometimes we kids got the intersection, and sometimes we got the union, of the sets of constraints.

Anyway. "Don't try new things, unless your parents have already decided *they* like the thing, in which case that's what's for dinner, whether you like it or not," was one of the guidelines.

For birthdays, we uniformly had Neapolitan ice cream, because that satisfied the chocolate (my mom and sisters), strawberry (me), and vanilla (Dad) lovers, as well as the "I'll eat anything" crowd (my brothers). And chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, or spice cake, as chosen by the person whose birthday it was.

Cut to my seventeenth birthday. I am tired of Neapolitan ice cream at six birthdays a year for the last ten years, and I'm not a huge fan of cake either. Being old enough to be slightly less anxious than at younger ages, I want to try something new! I wander around the grocery store with my parents, totally dissatisfied with the familiar options they're trying to present me with, until I settle on cheesecake, which I've had once before, maybe, and which they reluctantly accept, and mint ice cream, which no one in the family has ever had or possibly even heard of (I certainly hadn't).

"Are you sure you're going to eat this? What if you don't like it?"

"I can't promise I'll like it, but it's what I want to try."

"Maybe we should get the Neapolitan instead. I don't want this to go to waste."

"But it's my birthday, and I'm tired of Neapolitan, and I want to try something new."

"You like strawberry ice cream. We can just get that if you want."

"But I want something different."

"Let's do the rest of our shopping and let you think about it."

Later, back in the frozen section...

"So how about Neapolitan?"

"I want to try mint!"

"Are you SURE this isn't going to go to waste?"

"We have six people in the family. Daniel eats anything. *Someone* will like it, surely."

"This had BETTER not sit in the freezer for months, or we're never letting you pick the ice cream again."

"I promise it won't sit in the freezer for months!" I was initially reluctant to make confident predictions about the future, but this was the only way I was going to get my ice cream. I figured I could force myself to eat some if everyone hated it, and I figured the odds were pretty good someone wouldn't.

So I got the ice cream.

My parents at least have the grace and sense of humor to laugh when they tell the story of how it went faster than any ice cream in the history of family birthdays. Everybody liked it, and some of us loved it. There were no leftovers; it didn't even last out the day. My brother Daniel (who is low-functioning autistic and not constrained by table manners) was so excited he was wiping the plate with the palm of his hand so he could get every last drop, while my mother hurried to serve seconds (and thirds), and shaking his head in excitement from side to side so that his hair flew out in every direction.

I still see Daniel in my mind's eye every time I taste mint ice cream.

But with a background like that, do you know how hard it was for me to try new things when I started to have my own money? I was probably almost 30 before I could walk into a random restaurant without agonizing, long after I could afford to do so. I was probably almost 30 when I started trying new foods at the grocery store without agonizing. Before that, I'd try them very slowly, one at a time, over the years. I probably still don't do either nearly as much as I would without this background.

To this day, I don't know whether to be more amazed that I had to fight so hard to try mint ice cream, or amazed that I actually did instead of caving to pressure, because, yes, I was definitely afraid of trying new things.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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