Archive for June, 2009

New Writing Time

June 30, 2009

Some work-in-progress. Trying to get back on the wagon here. I’ve got a new writing time from 8-9:30 every night. Let’s try it on for size.

I’ve tried starting this particular story several times, but this is the first opening I’ve written where the setting feels right and the main character isn’t a total asshole.

—————-
Yousra had always feared the bodies. Not the ones she killed, no, but the ones out on the hill that the heroes had left to the dung beetles and markflies. The children she killed were marked for death from birth – deformed children, dumb and blind, their twisted bodies already rotten and gangrenous in the womb. Those were the bodies she was tasked with gutting and burning before dawn. Some wombs drew up the pollution of the world, condensed it, spat it back out. That offal was hers.

But the bodies on the hill were men, just men. Tawny and smooth-featured, they were beautiful, all of them… The heroes skinned them from claws to tail and left them to die in the sun. A reminder to others of what waited for them beyond the thorny fence of the village. Some nights, before the double dawn, Yousra would climb up on the hill amid the babies’ ashes and listen to the men scream from beyond the thorn fence.

Most days, she merely did her duty and came home. Burned her clothes. Washed her hair in her mothers’ blood. Then she slept the peculiar sleep of the priests, the sleep-that-was-not. Her body remained alert while she dreamed, and dreamed, and dreamed. Sometimes she remembered the conversations she had with those who visited while she slept, but more often – especially now – she remembered little more than the dreaming.

So when Ashet, the priest from the neighboring village, greeted her that day and said they had an appointment, she followed after him willingly, blindly. She pulled on a fresh robe of hemp and thorns and tied her machete at her hip. She had never done much more with the machete than murder the village’s mewling monsters and cut back weeds, but the weight of it comforted her. A silly thing, to fear another priest enough to wear her machete. What did she have to fear, from a priest? They were not heroes. She knew that well enough. But she also knew that as things got worse, the people were becoming more desperate. Just three days before, a woman burned her husbands and herself. She had run out beyond the thorn fence, covered in flaming pitch, and died screaming and clawing at the earth.

Yousra and Ashet walked to the edge of the village, side by side. She nearly took his hand. It would have been polite. But instead, they strolled along the thorn fence a hands’ length apart. Above them, the heroes’ ships roared across the purple sky, so high up they were merely silver thrushes.

The big amber leaves of the walking trees shivered as they passed. Every year, the trees grew a new root, pulled up the old, and slowly crept out past the thorn fence. Another three or four years and half their flock would have escaped the thorn fence. Half the flock gone over into the wastelands, the unprotected lands, would leave their fields with barely enough shelter from the ravages of the autumn winds. Ten years more, and the fields would simply blow away.

“Have you thought much upon my offer?” Ashet asked.

Yousra had to think long and hard about that. What was the last offer he’d put to her?

“The marriage?” she said, because in her mind, all of his requests – for milking ale, more time at the village school, a day with her lending library – blurred together into one long litany of need, a black hole of desires she had no interest in filling.

“Marriage is an outdated notion,” he said. “We make families from the dust out here, or no families at all. My brother is anxious to meet with you. I believe the three of us will be a fine fit.”

A fine fit, three to a bed. Yousra had never wanted more than two husbands. She was not greedy. A man to work the fields and bring in income, and a man to raise her babies and keep her house. But there were fewer and fewer women now, and she had to think of the others first. If she wanted to be headwoman someday, she must do what was right for the village, not her comfort. Was it fair to expect her sisters to marry three brothers, while she took only two?

“I’m thinking on it,” she said, which was a polite way to refuse. He knew that as well as she, but he persisted.

“It would be a good life, Yousra. My brother has a fine farm in –”

“I’ve seen his farm,” Yousra said. She’d tended every farm for thirty kilometers in every direction. Every farm left within the thorn fence. Fewer every year, as the wasteland encroached. “I delivered his wife’s babies. All of them.”

“Yes,” Ashet said, and his expression darkened. He fell silent.

Yousra tried to remember the wife, but could recall nothing of her but the sour smell of milk and wine gone to vinegar. Yousra had delivered her twins – two sets of them – all monsters. The woman killed herself not long after. She was not the first. Would not be the last. A waste and a terror, to lose so many women to pollution and madness.

“Is it the labor you fear?” Ashet asked.

Yousra looked at him sideways, then turned away, to look out past the fence. Out on the dry, desiccated land, the skeleton of a thorn tree marked the horizon. In her youth, the tree marked the beginning of her mother’s starch farm. Three hundred acres of soy, yams, and grizzled water pears. Waves and waves of it, all through the growing season. Now… just death. Barren and diseased, like Yousra’s people. She absently touched the machete at her hip, thought of the dead woman.

“I don’t fear birth. I fear that marriages and more children won’t be what saves us.”

Ashet smiled. “It’s the only thing that can.”

“Is it? To continue with a way of life that’s dying? When a man comes to you with a rotten wound, do you tell him to continue with his work?”

“We aren’t rotten.”

“Aren’t we?” She pointed out beyond the skeletal tree. “My mothers are buried out there. Their bodies ate them from the inside, long before the heroes came. Something rotten has been planted here, and we must cut it out.”

Ashet sighed. He pulled his hands behind his back, paused. “Marry us, Yousra. There is still happiness to be had here.”

“Happiness, yes,” Yousra said, but she was not looking at him. She was looking out at the tree. “But not a future.”

On "Promoting" Obesity

June 30, 2009

Isn’t there some inherent sexism in focusing on the weight of a woman who is making a living because of her singing and songwriting skills? Does every Jack Black interview have to include “relevant” information about his weight? Seth Rogen became a star without a svelte physique. No one cared if we posted about those guys without mentioning their weight, but women must be small and tiny and delicate and therefore feminine, right? And let’s not pretend this is a health issue: We see images of stars smoking and drinking and frighteningly thin, and never get emails about how we’re “promoting” those unhealthy lifestyles.

Tofu Shirataki

June 29, 2009

Low carb pasta (no, really!). A blend of yam and tofu that… tastes like noodles! For serious!

I ate a huge plate of this last night that only cost me 25 carbs. HUGE PLATE. It was excellent!

Right after we took our first bite, J. insisted that he’s been itching to make me a threeway… (I knew it).

What about low-carb chili, you ask? That’s why Skyline chili was invented.

Halva: Fudge for Diabetics

June 29, 2009

2.5 carbs a serving. No joke! It is tasty and delicious!

This was a totally random find at Jungle Jim’s yesterday.

Eating well gets easier and easier as I expand my shopping range.

Team

June 27, 2009

J is a full-time student now, which means he has a flexible schedule and a bit more time around the house than I do. It means that when I come home from work, he’s just come in from working out in the yard, swept the whole house, finished up the dishes, and is usually cooking dinner (I cook on Fri, Sat, Sun, and Thurs is usually a leftover day. He cooks Mon, Tues, Weds).

I clean the bathroom once a week, help with yardwork when I get the chance (generally maintaining my flower beds, sweeping, collecting yard waste), and we generally share dishes and meal cleanup.

We each do our own laundry. Once a week, I also wash the sheets. We take turns taking out trash as it piles up around the house. It’s fun to see who gets to it first.

Strangely enough, the only part of this we had the conversation about was laundry. I said I’d prefer to keep it separate, since I still had a weird laundry aversion from my first relationship, where I did… well, every fucking thing. Including his laundry (this would be the relationship that woke me up to feminism. If that was what a het relationship was, I wanted no part in it).

We didn’t split costs down the middle, though. We sat down and based our portion of expenses on what each of us brought in. I bring in 2/3 the money, I pay 2/3 the bills. J. still isn’t thrilled about this, but I reminded him that if our positions were reversed, he’d have done the same. In time, what we’re each bringing in will change considerably, and we can budget accordingly.

I really like this. Every bit of it. For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m in a truly equal partnership. I don’t feel like I’m the one always picking up after somebody. I don’t feel like I’ve got four jobs. I feel like I’m with somebody who’s got my back. I feel totally supported.

It’s odd to me that in many relationships (het or not, but particularly het), the more-messy partner doesn’t get how much of a burden that daily chores put on the person who ends up doing them. If you actually share? My god, it’s amazing. It really is. All of a sudden you have energy to do things, you’re a lot more interested in sex. You’re a lot less stressed. And – this is the big one – you don’t you resent your partner.

And that’s the big part of it that people don’t get, I think. If you’re a woman and you’re doing more than 50% of the housework, chances are you’re going to resent your husband. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. But the irritation wears you down over time. For me, that kind of irritation is just unbearable. I can’t stand it. Some people can let it grind away, and then they fight over it periodically, but for me… yeah.

The sheer inequality in the amount of work we did in my first relationship drove me over the edge. I was working 6 days a week, going to school, writing, doing the laundry, doing the dishes, cooking, cleaning… I was exhausted. All the time. And I thought that’s just how it was, and I was the problem because I just didn’t “get it.” I just needed to buckle down and accept it.

But doing that… it was sacrificing some core piece of myself. Housework is a symbol. Your participation – or not – signals how truly egalitarian you believe your relationship to be (I really think this).

And I’m sure I’ll get all sorts of people who say, “Oh no, it’s not like that!” but it is (I also, of course, know many instances where partners pick up the slack because their spouse isn’t physically capable of doing the work – because of illness or constant travel. That’s obviously not what I’m talking about here. If J. or I get sick, our responsibilites will adjust accordingly).

There’s just so much bound up in the “woman doing all the housework” thing. It feels so much like institutionalized slavery. This strange, nebulous expectation that so many of us hold ourselves to. I never wanted a husband. I wanted a partner. I wanted somebody who would stand next to me. Not run out in front of me screaming at me to catch up or stand behind me with a whip urging me on. I wanted a buddy. A friend. A companion.

I got that.

And yes, partnership is about a lot more than housework. But how much of your own weight you’re willing to pull for your team says a lot about how you regard your teammate.

I like my team.

Motivation!

June 27, 2009

I could use some!

Also, another air conditioner!

Why I Still Love My IUD

June 26, 2009

One word:

Libido.

Today’s Stats

June 26, 2009

Today is hotter than hell. I plan to spend the rest of the evening reading in the bedroom where the box air conditioner resides. I should prob’ly start tracking my wordcount here too. Need to get back on the writing bandwagon.

Hot hot hot!

15 min free weights this morning
10 min bike ride to work
10 min bike ride home
20 min on the elliptical
10 min Wii Fit

Hot Eats

Breakfast: Egg mixed with spinach, tomato, & cheese
Snack: 2 tbs peanut butter mixed with 1/4 cup peanuts
Lunch: Spaghetti squash spaghetti and 1/2 cup pecans
Snack: 2 string cheese
Dinner: Chix strips, spinach salad, and peas
Snack: Perhaps a choc covered banana later?

Hot Sugar

Breakfast: 91
Snack: 157
Lunch: 129
Post lunch: 101
Dinner: 89
Post-dinner: 137

Huzzah!

The Money Shuffle

June 25, 2009

Nobody’s immune to it, and I’ve been hearing more and more about it as those of us who had contracts, savings, and other reserves and fall-backs slowly eat through them.

Things aren’t so bad here at Hacienda Dayton, but a judder of nervousness just went round the house this evening when we realized we were very nearly just shy of being able to pay rent on time next week.

J. is now going to school full time, relying on grants and student loans – all of which have been delayed until next week (the quarter started two weeks ago). We’ve been getting by on my salary and his savings for the last month. I also had $300 in savings, $150 of which we burned through yesterday for a mini-celebration celebrating good things that needed to be celebrated, and which we didn’t expect would suddenly mean so much.

A little creative (read: groceries on the credit card) accounting (I get paid Thursday), solved the rent issue, but it was a good reminder that now that he’s in school and I’m the sole breadwinner, we need to tighten things up around here… especially with how wacky student loan payouts are (nearly as bad as book check payouts, and on the same bizarre “we’re not giving it all to you at once!” sort of schedule – like they’ll blow it all on twizzlers and coffee if given a lump sum).

I got the crazy news at work last month that all raises had been suspended and they’d put a hiring freeze in effect (for reasons various and sundry which I won’t relate here, but suffice to say, we’d done very, very well last year and this came as a big shock to all of us. Turns out it doesn’t matter how well you do if your lending bank tightens its standards because of Great Depression madness). We’re not anticipating layoffs right now, but we won’t know for sure until mid-July. We’ve had to dump some core outside help my dept. was getting, tho, and it’s meant a bigger workload with no raise (and I already bust my ass at work), which was a big morale buster for me.

In any case, the “what about rent?” fiasco reminded me of just how tenuous our position is, and how much it relies on my continued steady employment (and a late – as usual – book check which I should have signed the paperwork for by now). I don’t think we’ll have to cancel our August and September vacations, but I was conscious when I put together the September package that I wouldn’t have to pay for it until August, so we still have time to back out (i.e. it’s not paid yet, just booked and a small down payment made).

Overall, we’re going to be a little more frugal, going forward. I’ll be going through the budget again tonight and seeing how much of the “fun” bucket can be deferred to the “savings” bucket. With just one of us employed, that savings bucket is going to be more and more crucial going forward.

There’s a big neighborhood yard sale this weekend that J. is going to make possible by cashing in his petty change jar so we can free up a few dollars for deals.

We’ve been living very well. I just got a cold reminder of how tenuous that wellness really is.

Today’s Stats

June 24, 2009

Again, pardon the lists while I get back on track:

Hot rides:

Today was an “off” day for me, fitness-wise

15 min free weights this morning
10 min bike ride to work
10 min bike ride home
40 min Wii Fit

Hot eats:

Breakfast: Egg mixed with spinach, tomato, & cheese
Snack: 2 tbs peanut butter mixed with 1/4 cup peanuts
Lunch: Rueban sandwich and cabbage coleslaw (srsly un-low-carb)
Snack: 2 string cheese
Dinner: Chix strips, spinach salad, and low carb tortilla chips w/hummus
Snack: Half cup blueberries with whipped cream

I should also start listing my “sugar correction” snacks for when I get low. Had a serious low last night of 43 and again after work today (34).

Hot sugar:
Not bothering to post my sugar lows. Been having a lot the last couple of days – due to Wii Fit and new PDM settings. Better than the highs I was having before I finally refined the settings.

Breakfast: 138
Snack: 132
Lunch: 120
Post lunch: 245 (yeah, that rueban was a killer)
Dinner: 91
Post-dinner: 79