Monday, August 29, 2011

Reaching out

This weekend was one of the lower points of parenthood. My husband has thrown his back out and rather then help with the baby has become another person to tend to. On top of that we both came down with some kind of 24 hour stomach bug that the baby had on Thursday. Baby bounced back in like 6 hours, we were not so lucky. But I am choosing not to dwell on this spectacular poopy weekend.

Instead I want to write about what it feels like when ever the baby needs something... a diaper change, food, a nap, etc and she crawls to me and reaches up for me. I can't really communicate fully the sweetness of this experience. The way it makes me feel when this adorable tiny person trusts me, and only me, to fix what is wrong for them. When I have the power to makes things less scary just with my touch. To be someone's safe harbor, to be someone's home, to be trusted so fully and completely is a feeling that no words can describe.

Maybe because I have never had this feeling about my mother, who has always been unpredictably mean, I didn't really realize that this would be part of my role as mother. I wasn't expecting this, the gentle sweet joy of little chubby arms reaching up to me for comfort.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The 'Help"

I read 'The Help' recently and found it really disappointing. I would not really recommend the book to people and don't plan on seeing the movie, which it seems is even more annoying than the book. Here are my problems with the book...

  1. It was badly written, I didn't like the style of prose
  2. It ended really abruptly
  3. I found the main character immensely annoying
  4. It made me uncomfortable about how it presented the relationships between the main character and the black maids but I couldn't quite put my finger on why

Then Cloud linked to this post by Dr. Bernestine Singley about what it was like to be the help in 'the help' which is awesome, you should totally read it, and all the comments. It is a very mature conversation happening with lots of interesting links. But Dr. Singley very succinctly summarizes and puts into clear prose where my vague feelings of uncomfortableness were coming from. This led me to a tangent of sorts on the issue.

I have encountered quite a few people that think it is inappropriate that I pay someone to clean my house twice a month. I am perplexed by the idea that employing household help is wrong on principal. (Live-in help I do find a bit weird though and need to think about some more). I personally don't think there is anything wrong with paying someone a proper salary to do a defined set of household tasks while treating them with respect. In fact, I don't think I could work outside the home and maintain a family if I didn't do so.

There seems to be this belief that household work (usually defined as women's work) is demeaning by definition and I think we need to make the distinction between the work itself and the way people who are doing the work are treated. I don't think that cleaning toilets or doing laundry or taking care of someone else's children is inherently demeaning work. Anymore so then mowing someone's lawn or taking care of their gardens is. I think the way that domestic workers have been treated, and continue to be treated in the majority of situations, is what is demeaning and explotative and wrong.

Anyway, it made me realize how much of the shame/guilt/wrongness of hiring household help is centered around the de-valueing of women's work. After all, as my husband said, working men don't experience all this drama over hiring a gardner. It is not as if they are somehow a bad person for asking someone to do the tasks that they don't have the time or desire to do.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Food vs Me

I am a fat lady. I have always been fat as an adult but having a baby has made me really really fat. Nice people tell me that I am not fat but what they really mean is that I am not the negative things associated with the word fat, like lazy, or dirty, or stupid. I am well kept, put together, intelligent fat woman. But I am still fat.

I do not wish to be fat, I hate being fat, but for a long time I have been fat. I have had a horrible unhealthy relationship with food. I have a tendency to binge eat when stressed. I will eat whole boxes of crackers or 8 bananas or the stereotypically carton of ice cream. I have, on occasion, tried unsuccessfully to become anorexic but thankfully have a really weak gag reflex and couldn't make myself vomit. If I am not paying attention when I eat, I will, without fail, dramatically overeat until I feel ill. For most of my life when I had something to celebrate I would do it with food, when I had a bad day I would treat myself to happiness with food. I can not resist free food, if someone brings in candy I will not just have a piece, but ten. If someone brings in cookies I will have five, never one. Food has been for a long time both my enemy and my friend. In the past when I have tried to diet or exercise it makes me think about food more and my weight more which depresses me and leads to further binge eating and weight gain. Oh the irony.

The weird thing is that my self-esteem and my waistline have had an inverse relationship. When I was a child, teenager, young adult I was slightly overweight (at most). But I felt horrible, I hated myself, I believed everyone found me disgusting, that no one would love me ever, that no one would hire me or want to work with me because I was fat, and so forth.

As I have gotten older and fatter, I am more confident and happy and optimistic about my life. Which is kind of bizarre situation isn't it? There is obviously a lot of shit there to unpack. Shit I need to unpack if my current 532 attempt at getting healthy is going to stick. The thing is I really don't want to examine my relationship with food too closely, its painful, its hard to admit that I can't seem to control certain behaviors even when I know they are bad for me. No one likes admitting that they are weak, least of all someone like me who is strong and in control in every other way. I succeed and conquer almost every other thing I have ever tried in my life but food... oh food... it thwarts me every time.

I say food, and not exercise, because I have always been an active person and my relationship with exercise is pretty normal. When I have the money for a gym membership and free time I go. I ride my bike to work most days, I go for walks, I like to hike, etc. Obviously for weight loss I need to up my energy expenditure but this is not the problem area. This I can do and be okay with. I don't love the gym but I can get my ass there when I am not a sleep deprived zombie new parent.

Which brings me to why I am trying once again to get healthy, I am a parent. I may manage to lose weight, I may not, but what I really really don't want to do is pass on my extremely unhealthy relationship with food to my daughter. I don't want to burden her with my shit. So what is my shit exactly? Where does it come from? I can for the most part trace it back to my own mother, which makes me part of scary cycle, one I want to break forever. I don't want to do to her what mother did to me. And least you think I am parent-blaming to excuse my behavior let me tell you a few stories...

My mother always bought clothes for me a size too small so I would be uncomfortable and encouraged to lose weight. I was placed on my first diet by mother when I was six. I can not remember a family meal as a child where I was served the same food as the rest of my family. I often left the dinner table hungry and would sneak food late at night after everyone was asleep. My mother would always point out obese people to me and say if you don't stop eating like a pig you are going to look like that person some day and no one will ever love you. Seriously, she said this EVERY time she saw a fat person. My second grade teacher was a really large woman and every time she picked me up from school she would say this.

My mother would say things like "you would be so pretty if only you lost some weight" to me regularly when I was in elementary school. She told me that my father was ashamed to come to teacher/parent night for me because I was so fat (this was a lie). She used to offer me money to lose weight. She would pinch my stomach and ask me why I wasn't more ashamed to look this way. When I was sixteen she offered to pay for lap band surgery because no one would ever respect a woman professionally who was fat and she wanted to see me succeed in life (for perspective at the time I was 5' 8" and 155 lbs). She would say really super manipulative things like "I only say these things to you because I love you, all your friends think the same thing, but they don't love you enough to say it." And of course my favorite, "someday you will have kids and you will understand". She recently tried to convince me to stop feeding my 10 month old daughter formula and instead switch to skim milk so she doesn't get fat like me.

The sad irony of all this is that I wasn't fat when she was doing all this, I was very healthy normal weight for my height, but that wasn't good enough for her, she wanted me to be THIN damn it! Of course that never happened and once I left home I became clinically overweight, I think in part to spite her. My mother's insidious comments just stayed in my head, my unhealthy bizarre relationship with food had been forged and took on a life of it's own, and I have attempted to break the pattern over and over again with incremental successes at best. Oh the power that we mothers have. Even just typing all this out makes me want to go get a candy bar to soothe myself.


So I am trying once again to change how I think and interact with food, I am trying to unpack and put away the weird emotional baggage that goes along with the simple act of eating. But I have a long way to go. Getting healthy and losing weight, at least for me, is about a whole lot more then just calories in and calories out.

Monday, August 15, 2011

K - awesome!

Alright people I failed at the F32 thing so I am going big or I might be going home (well teaching or industry probably).

But really the news is I have been cleared by my P.I. to give chase to a K award.

This along with a paper, review, and pilot experiments for the K award is what I am working on.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

I will not fix your problems for you for free

I recently signed up for an internet service, I don't want to go into details cause it is kind of personal. Anyway, their interface totally sucks ass! Which considering that I am paying $40/month for it is rather ridiculous. So after attempting to use the interface for about 20 minutes to no avail I sent the following email to their customer service:

I just signed up and your website totally sucks. I am connected over a stable ethernet connection and your interface window crashes every time I search for a *blank* or try to enter one. If this is the level of service I can expect I will be canceling tomorrow.

I received the following email back:

Dear PQA,

We appreciate your patience while we work to find the cause of the problem you are experiencing. Would you mind answering the questions below so that we may help you to resolve this issue?

1. What error messages you receive, if any? Can you paste them into this message?

2. On what page or step in the process do you get them? What did you click on to get the message? If you were using the blank program, what did you enter?

3. If you use Windows with IE8 or higher, have you tried using the Compatibility View button?

4. Do you have a Mac or a PC?

5. What operating system you are using (Windows XP, etc)

6. What browser are you using? (Chrome/IE/Firefox)

7. What version of the browser is it? (Under Help/About)

8. Are you accessing the Internet on your work or home computer?

9. Does your office network or home computer have a firewall?

10. Do you have Zone Alarm, Zone Alarm Pro, Norton Internet Security, or any other similar computer protection software on your computer?

Your response to this e-mail will surely help us get a better understanding of the problem you are experiencing.

Here is the thing, I am PAYING for this service and they want me to spend time helping them de-bug it. To that I say F-U! If I am paying you, I am NOT going to spend time helping you fix the broken service that I am paying for. I reported the bug, for that you should be grateful, beyond that... hells to the NO! So I sent this email in response:

To whom it may concern:

I am happy to answer your questions. I estimate it will take at least 30-45 minutes to do so, as I currently make $20/hr I estimate doing so will cost me $10-20. Once you refund this money to me, I will happy to help you solve the problems with YOUR service. However, seeing as I am the one paying you for the service I feel no obligation to help you fix the bugs in your system.


Too snarky?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Religious nerds are the worst!

Best line in the whole thing.... the end result is little to no premarital sex (hee!). Also I tots love Settlers of Catan and wish I had people/time to play it more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Baby vectors

I present to you an image of the movement vectors of babies in the infant room of my daycare for a period of ~10 minutes. 

The mini-me is the dotted line in case you couldn't tell, and she actually crawled over a couple of sleeping babies as well. Why yes, she is rather hyper, thanks for noticing. I can't even imagine what is going to happen once she starts walking.

How do lab people perceive each other?

hat tip to pharyngula

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saris, spanx, and lab coats

We went to an Indian wedding this Sunday and I was in shiny heaven. All those beautiful colorful saris with all kinds of rhinestones, gold, and shiny on them. It was so pretty to behold.
What was really impressive to me was how comfortable the outfits looked. I have seen saris before but there was something about seeing 100 different kinds of saris all at once that left an impression on me. Saris do not appear to be clothing that requires one to wear torture devices underneath, like spanx. I think if a dress is so unflattering that even super-fit thin people need to wear "flesh compression devices" underneath, then this is some badly designed shit, isn't it?

Side note: I just went to the spanx website and WTF is up with this shit for pregnant women??? 

Are you fucking kidding me! Ugh.

Anyway, all this shiny has made me look seriously into buying a bedazzler for my lab coat. Not sure what will happen to the dazzles once my lab coat is professionally laundered but if I go through with it you can be sure I will be posting pictures!