na foine ting

Thursday, June 16, 2005
An excerpt. Yes, I do enjoy this. Even this shitty, difficult part.


I thought if I quit fire I would never again see a rig pass by without regret. Over time, I realized it wasn't true. I would get a surge of something like affection, when I saw an engine, a wave of anger, a sense of identification, and at core, a deep and real understanding of what goes on.

On the way home from the rink in the truck, G was on a “why” track.

“Why do the boys play hockey?”

“Because they love it, honey.”

“Why do they love it?”

I sat for a moment in silence. I thought of the players on the ice, dug in, determined, humbled by the process, hitting barriers and pushing past, or failing, to challenge them again. “Because of all the places to be, it's where they want to be the most,” I said at last.


It was too complicated, that final answer. Because it makes us better people, I wanted to tell him. Because it pushes us to the absolute edge limit of who we are. Because it is the symbol by which we define ourselves.

But because, ultimately, “It makes them happy, baby.” Beginning to realize that wherever that is, when we find it, is where we should be.

Friday, June 10, 2005
Gaiman posted this Bookslut interview with Jon Scieszka, and while obviously I agree with most of it in principle, I had some issues with it too.

There's an odd kind of tone to the piece, where in saying that guys relate to guy things and other guys, and so we should make guy reading available, there's an odd kind of reverse dismissal of women, women's influence on boys' reading, and the influence of the kind of writing he's (I think kind of dangerously) suggesting is somehow more "female oriented" becase it's about communication and feelings.

Right, right, I know. It's true, and it *is* about gender, and I'm not yet enough of a neonazi feminista lesbian to insist that there is no gender, and that if we say boys like action and girls like communication, that it's sexist.

Well, or not exactly. Maybe I am saying that a little.

Gavin's reading has recently taken off. From being pushed to help read a word or two of his stories at bedtime ("mom, will you just read the rest to me?") to suddenly suggesting he read both bedtime stories to us himself. When Lili's fussy, he goes and gets a book and lays down on his belly next to her and reads to her. His recent choices have been THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR, and one of the "Magic Bus" books.

I'm pretty sure that one of the single strongest influences on Gavin's reading right now is that fucking Star Wars Knights of the Sith X-box game. We buckled and let him play it, and after a while I realized words from the game were creeping into his vocabulary. He's not reading all the text--there's a damn lot of text--but I think he's been scanning it for familiar words (and that list is growing in leaps and bounds), and he absolutely has to read all of the supplies and weapons list, so suddenly he's able to read words like double bladed lightsaber, and mine disabler or whatever.

And the fact that the video game has shoved his reading into such huge forward progress seems to prove Scieszka's point.

Except for one thing. Gavin watches women play the X-box, not men. He watches his aunt and his mama Becca play Star Wars, avidly, and jumps around on the couch and hollers "yeah! Get it! use the bazooka!" or whatever while they frag and kick ass.

When he patterned by sitting down and reading the text of a video game, he wasn't patterning after men, he was patterning after women. We play a lot of video games. We're all Star Wars freaks, and now so is he. We can all recite the original Star Wars movie verbatim. And now Gavin can too.

When Gavin was three, we read him THE HOBBIT cover to cover. My choice, because he was into knights and swords, and I figured we could gloss some of the talky parts and get right to the meat: the sword swinging and monsters and stuff. My choice. But his choice to keep reading each time, all the way through.

He loved it. He still talks about it, even now. I tried him on The Chronicles of Prydain. No go.

We were sitting in the truck the other day, and I had Linkin Park "Meteora" on. After a song or two, I turned the volume down. "Hey, Gavin," I said. "What do you think of this music?" I figured it was rockin' and loud and the themes were pretty snarly and violent. I figured it'd be right up his alley.

He looked at me in the rear view mirror. "I don't like it very much."

"No? Not your cup of tea?" I asked him. Then, the ultimate test: "why not?"

He thought for a moment. My five year old shrugged. "It's a little too chaotic," he said.

"What would you prefer?" I asked him. This is the beauty of a six-CD changer. I also was curious, if given his absolute choice of music, what he'd choose.

"I'm in the mood for freedom fighter music right now," he said.

"Pogues?" I made the mistake of talking about the IRA one day in conjunction with some Black 47 lryics, and it's been kind of downhill as far as that goes ever since. Gavin's a huge fan of Irish music, and has been since he was a baby. Just one of those things.

"Yeah, Pogues is good."

Gavin likes the Pogues. He likes the Pogues, Koko Taylor (Hound Dog is a real favorite), and is very very fond of the Hans Zimmer "King Arthur" soundtrack, which unfortuantely he and I have been banned frrom playing without headphones because apparently when I first got it we overplayed it. A bit.

He is not, apparently, very fond of Linkin Park. Not a big Rush fan either.

Last night, I'd had a fuck of a writing day, and was feeling brain dead and weepy, about the way I have every day this week. So I invited Gavin to come and watch 'Singin' in the Rain' with me. He did. We curled up on the couch together, and screeched with laughter at "Make 'em Laugh" and "Good Mornin'," and held our breaths during "Singin' in the Rain." Gavin's favorite, all time favorite number is "Moses Supposes," though. I'm pretty fond of it too. When we got to the avant garde dance sequence, both of us got restless. Usually I'm careful not to prejudge things for him, but it slipped out. Gavin was squirming too. "This is kind of boring," I said.

Gavin nodded, although he hadn't complained himself. So I fast forwarded to another scene. Sometimes I'm in the mood for the avant garde romantic dance sequence. More often, I'm not.

You could argue that I'm somehow more of a male role model for him than a female one, in my tastes, habits, and so on. I think that's very slippery ground to get on. And really not the case.

I was raised to read whatever the hell I wanted to. In the third world, we read whatever we got. I was reading my dad's Ben Bova when I was nine in Ghana, along with the Famous Five books, and the Hardy Boys. I was reading Helen Cresswell's Bagthorpe series. I was reading Tove Jansson.

I was reading--devouring--those awesome Ladybird biographies. Richard the Lionheart. Joan of Arc.

When I could get them (which was rarely), I read comics. I read Cricket and National Geographic's World and Ranger Rick magazine.

Gavin's reading patterns seem to follow Becca and my habits: he reads everything he can get his hands on.

Three women in his household; five if you count the baby and the cat. He's surrounded by, educated by and patterning after predominantly women.

I don't think this way he's fallen into reading is a fluke. And despite the fact that he'll sit and watch "Singin' in the Rain" with me with real enthusiasm, I don't think that he's in any immediate danger of turning into a fag or a girl. And not, as is kind of implied--and the other thing that irritated me a bit about the interview--that either are a step down from being a boy. Not that being a fag or a girl is a bad thing.

Scieszka's absolutely right, of course. I'm not saying he isn't. I'm saying we have to be careful not to throw the baby out with the gender bathwater, that's all. Women can have a positive influence on a boy's reading without somehow consciously working outside their own supposed gender preferences.

Some women have to. I acknowledge that. Our household is different than the world at large, I know it's the case.

But we're here, we exist, and we're not the only ones who are like this. Some of us don't have to say "what would boys like?" and step outside some kind of mental box to do it. Some of us don't have to hand the role modeling over to men.

Women can be perfectly effective at being a positive influence on a boy's reading without changing anything about how they approach it at all.

That's the thing.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


I just chose "revert to saved version" and lost about 1200 words.



aw shit honey.
you poor thing.

I'm starting to see the wisdom of paper drafts.

I'd lol but it seem inopportune at the moment.

which raises the question... is it wordcount if it's off in space somewhere, or does it have to actually be saved on my hard drive?

I can't belive you got 1200 words done already this morning!

well, I didn't.


It's one of those hand clapping in the forest things. Or one tree or whatever the fuck.

I appreciate your ability to laugh in the face of... well nothing I guess.

fucking hell. LOL

*L* Better get back to work you have a lot of word count to make up.

you suck.

Sunday, June 05, 2005
Over at Lorraine a'Malena, there's some discussion about the size of clothes, and sizes available, and how clothing is very often not sized to real people, or the people who'll really be really wearing it, but some ideal of that person.

This made me think of both fire and hockey, and the clothing for both, and how that's all gone in the past.

I dropped by fire administration on Friday to give back the turnouts that have been hanging around the garage for a few years now. For a while I couldn't give them up. Too symbolic.

Like talking to T on the phone the other night. Who said he can't imagine being anything other than a firefighter. Like he doesn't have worth unless he's that thing.

Like somehow I had more worth with a smelly yellow turnout jacket in my garage.

Proof of what? Proof of fucking what? That's what I want to know.

The OES officer was at the front desk when I walked in, and so was the Pub Ed officer. They both watched me walk in. I could tell the Pub Ed officer at least recognized me.

They were talking about staffing an event with volunteers. I recognized the conversation without hearing all of it.

The Pub Ed officer looked over at me.

"Do you have a couple of hours this weekend? You're a volunteer, right?"

For a while I just stood there. Grinning. Like I'd never fucking left.

Finally I chuckled. "Not for three years now."

"Oh," he said. We walked out to my truck. "So where did you get hired?" he asked me. It was a compliment. To assume I was full time paid, now.

"I didn't. I quit," I said, without any of the regret, hesitation or shame I thought I might have. If anything, I was finding something about all this funny. "Just decided I wasn't cut out for it. Didn't want it that badly. I play hockey now instead."

He was quiet while I opened up the Escape and he got the turnout bag out.

"I can carry those in if you want," I said, and he looked at me then, really looked at me. I was offering that old respect. Taking my place, that lower status. I'm supplicant. I'll do the grunt work.

He shook his head. "I've got it," he said, shouldering the red bag. He stood and looked for a minute at my hockey sticks, which I keep in the back of my car. "You should be careful," he told me.

"Hockey's really dangerous," he said.

I stood there.

I stood there and stared at him. I stood there and stared at him in utter disbelief that those words just came out of his mouth.

I wondered if he thought about it. Who I was, how we knew each other, and the assumption he made walking out to the truck.

And what, given all that, what he just said meant.

"I've been playing for three years and I haven't been hurt yet," I told him. Almost gently. Reassuring. With a laugh, with a smile. Since he was genuinely, if so very ironically, concerned.

"Well," he said, "just be careful. We've got two firefighters right now down with hockey related injuries."

"I will," I said seriously. "I will."

He told me to take care, and I told him likewise.

I drove away realizing I was right.

I'd never belonged there, though I could have.

And I laughed all the way home.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

High Thin Wire is updated. Thanks to everyone for pushing.

With the lag, readership has dropped to pretty much zip, so if you enjoy it, spread the word.

Feel free to use the button I use, to the right.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005
I'm being laid off.

I've known for a month, and it was a choice between this or commute up to the city, and I chose this, so it's really not that bad.

What's most interesting is that in the past, it's taken several boxes to get me out of an office. I mean, like five or six.

Today, I packed up all my shit in half a box. There was even room for my three orchids and a jacket in there.

I can't decide what this means. If it means I need to inhabit my space less, if I'm tidier, or maybe just that I've realized these jobs are never permanent for me, and have gotten to the point where I'm honest about that and treat them that way.

Regardless, I'm done.

I mean, not just with this job.

I think, if I can possibly avoid it, this is the last job like this I'll ever have.

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