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These are difficult questions for me to consider. I am proud of being a mother. I love my two children. I love them so much that it hurts to look at them and I am pretty sure they are the best, smartest, scrappiest, funniest boys in the world, and having them changed my life. My life before children was selfish and bland, all feelings and no grit, just a drifting miasma of mood. To go back to living like that seems like hell. I get annoyed when women’s magazines try to edit my motherhood out of my work. I get depressed when they won’t run a piece unless I take out any mention of my having children. I firmly believe that having children has made me smarter and better and more interesting, and fuck you to any women’s mag that doesn’t think so too.

And yet, I am profoundly unfree.

I have a ten-month-old and a three-and-a-half-year-old. The three-and-a-half-year-old goes to preschool for a good portion of the day, but the preschool isn’t state-sponsored, so it eats our entire childcare budget. That means I am home with the ten-month-old full time. This is a luxury. Many women would kill to stay at home with their babies. I am fully aware of this. I try to write when the baby is asleep. He sleeps for about two hours in the morning. Otherwise, throughout the day I do housework, cook, try not to go insane. My husband leaves at five in the morning and gets home at eight in the evening most days, so I am short on adult conversation or help. There is a deep, almost suffocating solitude to my days, and yet there is also the California ocean, the flowers, the breeze. It is lovely; it is intolerable; it is both.

I am tethered by many things: the baby’s nursing schedule, the three-year-old’s attention span. To read an adult book is out of the question. To sit quietly for a moment with no one touching me is out of the question. To poop alone is out of the question. Showering is something I have to ask my husband for time to do each night. A lot of nights I am too tired to even think about showering and I just go to bed dirty. I do not brush my hair every day because what does it matter if my hair is brushed? It is possible I am clinically depressed. It is also possible that taking care of small children is just really hard, and in the last six months we have had a move across country, a baby in the hospital for a week, and my new book come out. Maybe I am just frazzled and it will get better on its own. Or maybe it won’t.

From Rufi Thorpe’s “Mother, Writer, Monster, Maid” in Vela.

It is With a Heavy Heart That I Announce Am Having My Parents Pick Me Up Early From This Sleepover at The Onion.

 

See here. I’m one of the speakers but the loads more too…

Have you got your membership for the networking day yet? It’s just $80/45 for a whole day of feminist speakers – with 14 sessions to choose from.

We’re going to be chatting about everything from politics to fiction, decommodifying feminism to building your feminist community, genre to the politics of personal writing, publishing to mothering from the fringes, and so much more. Don’t miss out.

On the regular reset

When did two drinks a week become 14? A few things happened between then and now. These days I’m a parent of two young children, whose acute dependency upon me makes socializing around a glass of wine or beer at a friend’s toy-filled house often the best choice. I live in California, where wine is available on tap, and sold in nearly every neighborhood grocery store. I can afford a few bottles in the house, whereas before I’d run out to buy one only before a party or dinner. Heck, I’m a writer.

I live at the place where these circles meet: I am the Venn diagram of drinking as habitual and easy entertainment.

You might say, “Why worry?” Much of the epidemiological research out there is pretty decisive on the benefits of moderate drinking, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends a daily limit of one drink for women and two for men, says that recent research on health benefits is inconclusive.

Here’s the thing: At this middle stage of my life, I can easily make out the slippery slope where two a day becomes three; when you split a bottle of wine and open another; when you go out for a special event and three drinks doesn’t do much because you’ve built up a tolerance and it takes four or even five drinks to achieve a celebratory state of inebriation. Perhaps I think more about these borderlands because though my husband is also a moderate drinker, he has a strong family history of alcoholism. For him, the slippery slope is more like a cliff.

But my inquiry is not about the descent into addiction. It’s an attempt to investigate more deeply the middle ground between the poles of addiction and abstinence, at a time when our culture is sending out dueling messages.

From Bonnie Tsui’s very nicely observed “Drinking by Numbers” in The New York Times. 

“What we find is you actually look at the world slightly differently, because you’re looking for things you want to capture, that you may want to hang onto,” Diehl explained of the study’s results. “That gets people more engaged in the experience, and they tend to enjoy it more.”

From Megan Garber’s “The joy of Instagram” in The Atlantic.

 

Another day, another solemn prime ministerial hypocrisy: climate change and the Reef, Centennial Parklands and trees, Orlando and homophobia, Indigenous recognition. It can’t be easy. All this hypocrisy takes its toll. In a trajectory of doom that is positively Shakespearean, Malcolm Turnbull seems emptier and drier with each appearance. The man who had everything (but wanted more) is already a husk of his former self. Where will it end?

I thought the problem might be wealth. Extreme riches do seem to make blindingly bad political leaders – Ceaucescu, Berlusconi, Trump. But why was unclear, until Margaret Atwood gave me a clue. Wealth isn’t really wealth. It’s really debt.

Everything we have, from jobs to bodies to microchips, we take from the earth. But – and here’s the thing – it’s not a gift, it’s a loan. Everything must be repaid. The ancients knew this, constantly making downpayments via death and sacrifice. But for us – more inclined to sacrifice nature than sacrifice to her – the bigger the pile, the greater the debt. So I wondered whether that was making Malcolm wimpy; massive wealth, massive debt.

Wonderful analysis from Elizabeth Farrelly in The Sydney Morning Herald with “The great tragedy of Malcolm Turnbull”.

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