Wednesday, October 22, 2014

fox force five

The children are out with their grandparents, but it's taken me so long to downgrade our house from Hair-Pit Of Hell to just General Health Hazard that I don't have much time left for writing (besides which the sieve inside my skull has leaked much of what I was trying to collect in there during the week. It's actually very sad living like this. I don't so much mind being permanently confused as to the day of the week, but forgetting everything else leaves me with only reactions and feelings, and I wasn't short on those anyway. I feel like an idiot).

1. After reading Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things a little while ago, I realised I really like Agony Aunts; at least ones like her. When I try to think of how best to describe Cheryl Strayed, I just come up with 'cool', which isn't overly enlightening. I guess what I mean is that she's authentic and kind and strong, and on the side of fairness and love and self-belief and all of that good stuff that we all need in our lives. She hasn't had an easy life, and she's been privy to some really hard lives, but she's come through the darkest times with this grace that I appreciate, and an extra sense; the kind of grace where she is patient and merciful, and a sense which makes me feel as if things that look opaque to others are translucent or even transparent to her. And she swears, lots. I found myself challenging things about the way I think and feel and approach things while I read the book, and realised how many excuses I accept from myself instead of really growing, just because it's easy, or, even worse, because of my worm. Right now I'm reading Anne Lamott's journal of the first year of her son's life, Operating Instructions, and she talks about this worm inside her which feeds on bad stuff - hearing gossip, or unfortunate things that have happened to people she doesn't much like (or kind of likes), and that type of thing, and how it gets stronger when she feeds it. I have one of those worms. She also quotes one of her friends, who says her mind is a bad neighbourhood, which she shouldn't go into alone. I'm afraid my mind is a bit like that too. The worm and the bad neighbourhood mean that I keep things that make me unhappy in there, so that I can go in and feel bad sometimes - bad and isolated. I used to do it much more than I do now, and use those things to get angry at people, one in particular, and myself, but now, when I venture in there, I just use them to feel bad about myself. It's strange, when I consciously try to work through my issues, and improve myself, to realise/admit that I've been squirrelling these things away to hurt myself with - I don't know if a person who doesn't do that type of thing can understand it. But I don't want to do that anymore; at least, I don't think I do. Either way, I don't think a person with a baby should indulge that type of self-destructive behaviour. So I'm trying to face those things, beginning with admitting what I'm doing when I go to that bad neighbourhood alone. It is kind of a shameful thing; like hate-looking at people's facebook profiles, and it will take some work. But anyway, it was Tiny Beautiful Things that started this new wave of trying to make myself better and healthier, and now I have a love for Cheryl Strayed, and a new appreciation for Real Agony Aunts. They have something to say to all of us, whether or not we identify with the person asking for help. I recently found a new one called Ask Polly, which I also like (so far); that was really what 1. was supposed to be; just - read this. Jeez, it's no wonder every conversation I have with anyone about anything takes a long time.

2. I had a smear test last week, and it was great, so now I'm telling everyone I know to make sure they're up to date, and that if they haven't been so great in the past, that there are some things they can ask for to make them better, which are: i) you don't have to lie on your back! It's just as easy for the person taking it for you to lie on your side and curl up in the foetal position. If you still do it on your back, like I did, you still know you had a choice! ii) you can insert the speculum yourself! This was so great; the nurse just lubricated it, and I got to put it in, which was much better than lying back and waiting. The nurse pointed out that it's much less likely to be painful that way, because if it starts to hurt you can just stop and adjust. Also, doing it myself meant I didn't feel like I was just having something done to me - big difference. iii) a bit of conversation first! My nurse and I talked and laughed for ages (so long, in fact, that a half hour appointment ended up being an hour and a half; we're both talkers) so I was all comfortable when pants off time came around. One of the things we talked about was smear tests, how people feel about them, and her own experiences of them, which also helped immensely. Final notes: a) speculums are now plastic, and not those awful metal contraptions. b) nurses are better than doctors when it comes to things like smears. They just are. c) if you feel weird because you have thrush or something, just say it. They don't care.

(It's now hours since the little woman and furry man came back; they haven't run away with your grandparents, in case you were worried.)

3. So as I said, I'm reading Operating Instructions. I might be being hard on it, I dunno, because although I'm enjoying it and finding it helpful, I don't feel like I'm completely on Anne's team yet. (Wondering if it's the font used? Hoping it's not the Christianity...) Anyway, I'm particularly enjoying the bits where she has had a bad night or a bad day, and says things like the baby's no good. (And not because of my worm. I might not fully be on her team yet, but I still want Anne to win.) Sometimes, when Maybellene is making those loud "IIIIIIIIII" noises in her sleep, and rooting around for my nipple and then immediately pulling off (which doesn't always hurt, but after just having put her back on for the tenth time in as many minutes, is very, very annoying), I really really want to put her outside the door, close it, put a pillow over my head, and go back to sleep. Sometimes I would like to throw her on the floor. The thing is, I don't actually want to do either of those things, or any of the other things I occasionally think might be preferable to what's happening, and I never would. But it helps to say it, and to feel like that's okay. Anne makes me feel like not only am I not horrible, I am normal, or, at least, not alone. Even if it's just the two of us, I am not the only one who thinks mean thoughts about my baby sometimes. I was talking about it with Vincent's Mum and Dad this morning, and we all agreed that we wish people would be more open about these things. Because yesterday, during the bit at SPACE (our play-group thing; I believe it's an acronym but I have no idea what it stands for) when we go around and say what kind of week we've had etc, I said sometimes I would like to throw M on the floor, and nobody agreed. A couple of people laughed, but most had these weird expressions like "did you just say that?", and I couldn't tell if it was the saying it that was the weird thing, or the feeling it (similar reaction last term when I described my pulled-on nipples as telescopes), and I felt... I'm not sure. When I told him later, Vincent said disappointed, and I think that's it. Maybe the others don't ever feel that way (although when I was talking to my friend a little later, she brought it up and said "yes!"); it's possible, and if not, then whatever. But if they do sometimes feel that way, their reactions seem kind of mean, and counter-productive, We all know how judgemental people are towards parents, but the group is a safe place where we can be honest, and where we must be honest. I suppose it's a good reminder that if we want authenticity, we have to make people feel safe, and, I guess, be willing to put it out there first. Like that episode of Newlyweds, when Jessica Simpson and Nick's friends' mean wives were going to a day spa, and Jessica said something about getting her moustache waxed, and the others were all like "huh, I don't need that, ugh, etc" about it. She was very embarrassed, but my sister and I both decided then that idiotic statements aside, she was all right.

4. Best comment on instagram in the last month: [to James K. Lowe, boyfriend of Lorde] "When you hold Lorde's hand, hold it tight. You are holding my life in your hand." I fucking love adolescent girls (I'm not being sarcastic and dismissive, by the way). I fucking love them.

5. Summer reading. Amy Poehler's book, Yes Please!, has just come out, as has Lena Dunham's Not That Kind Of Girl (to much more fanfare). I still haven't read Bossypants, so that's going in there too. It feels really good to be thinking about summer reading, as if that's the most pressing thing in my life. I've been watching this video a bit, and imagining what M's first summer is going to look like, and the imagining is making me nostalgic already, and very glad it hasn't begun and I am still having to dress her in several layers of wool before going out walking. It's also making me wish I didn't drink so much milo/eat so much chocolate/do all the things Gemma Ward doesn't and not do all then things Gemma does so that I might look a little more like this when summer comes... I guess I'll just focus on my baby, and hope everyone in our vicinity does the same. (Also, I know it's gross that this is advertising, and I've long thought Country Road's adult clothes are not very well-made, but I have to admit that many of my favourite things of M's, including the little chambray romper I bought her for summer and can't wait to see on her with nothing else underneath it but a nappy, are from Country Road. They do really nice kids' stuff! Okay, sorry. It's not like our summer is going to look anything like this, anyway. We are not Country Road people. I just like stuff that has new mothers and their babies in it, okay! And yes, I might have thought about what this one-piece might look like on my bum, but it's not like I'm actually going to get it! Sheesh.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

don't worry, baby

Sometimes when I can't sleep, I lie in the dark listening to Vincent and Maybellene breathing, and smile. I become really conscious of my heart, and how it feels like it's full of mulled wine or something, and then I feel the warm liquid gradually spreading through my body until my cheeks are flushed and I feel stupidly happy, being in bed with the two people I love more than I love my own life. I feel like I'm being hugged from all sides, even though Vincent is on the other side of the bed and the little person between us is on top of the duvet and swaddled, and so, so secure.

Sometimes on these nights, I think about a time a few years ago when I couldn't sleep and I would lie in the dark and cry. I would look at the light from the moon coming in the gaps between the wooden venetians hitting the white walls of the bedroom, and feel the water leaking from my eyes on its own; trying to keep very quiet so I wouldn't wake the person beside me. I don't know when I've felt more alone than I did on those nights. I thought I must be crazy. I remember the line "I'm empty and aching and I don't know why" looping through my head, and then feeling phony because it wasn't my line, and because I probably did know why I was empty and aching, but I was too scared to admit it, so instead of thinking, I'd just let the words turn over in my head, and feel empty and aching, and sad and stuck. During the day things didn't look so bad; I could fight, or drink, or just pretend - so well that I didn't really know I was pretending, most of the time. (I am that good at pretending.)

I feel sorry for that girl, crying silently in bed. She really did think she was crazy, but sometimes she thought it was the fault of the person beside her that she felt so lonely, when the truth was neither of those things. She was just a big chicken, who thought she was much more grown up than she was. She had made people feel as if she didn't need their advice, so they didn't try to give it to her, even though they all knew she shouldn't be in that bed in that bedroom. I don't really know why she was so afraid; she knew herself, and even if her self-esteem was pretty low, it probably wasn't much different from anyone else her age, and she had enough bravado, or at least access to enough alcohol, to free herself, freeing the sleeping person in the bed at the same time.

Sometimes I think about the things I will tell Maybellene; little phrases that, if we were in a book, she would grow up to quote, saying "Mum always said...". One of the most important of those things is not to let being scared stop her from doing things. There's so much out there that I want her to see and do; so many things I wanted to see and do but was too afraid to reach for... Not that I regret those nights too much. If I hadn't stuck them out, maybe I wouldn't have found Vincent, and I wouldn't be having these happy nights now.

Anyway, I don't think of a song when I'm lying in bed smiling; I just bask. But if I did sing a song in my head, it might be this:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

rants in my pants

I know it's not the nicest way to re-enter a room. And the news isn't even really "new" anymore, because the only time I get to spend on the laptop is to work, so these things have been milling around in my head for a couple of weeks now; possibly even longer (I have completely lost my grip on time beyond hours; the calendar I can see on the wall now attests to that fact - it says 'September'). Nevertheless, these things are still pissing me off, and will continue to hog valuable memory if I don't get them out, so here we are.

1. I had finally come around to Taylor Swift. Quotes like her preference to not wear the pants in a relationship (when will that nonsensical phrase die?) and her disdain for feminism, combined with her awful music, had finally given way to the fact that she seems like a fairly nice person who is a beacon to the bullied... And then she says, in response to Emma Watson's recent speech about equality of the sexes, that hmm maybe she is a feminist; she didn't really get what it meant when she said she doesn't see things as "guys vs girls" (that's kind of the problem, TayTay), and if only there had been someone to explain feminism to her when she was a twelve-year-old girl. What the fuck, man? You had the fucking INTERNET when you were twelve. The INTERNET. Not just a dictionary, like we had when I was twelve, which caused even more confusion about sexual practices and body parts and probably explains a lot of things about me; the internet. Maybe (thankfully) there was no urban dictionary to really break it down (as racistly/sexistly possible), but still - if you had typed in feminism, you would have found a pretty simple explanation of its essence. And you're friends with Lena Dunham and Lorde (sweet Lorde). Come the fuck on. But anyway. Taylor, like Beyonce, is now a feminist. She could be a useful feminist role model in some ways, I guess; she's been in a considerable number of high-profile of relationships which don't seem to have been used by media to define or label (read: punish) her, which young girls need to see (although this is likely a "reward" for otherwise being unthreatening and conservative). However, I'm not comfortable/a bit pissed off with this new thing of formerly really anti-feminist famous women "becoming" feminists so publicly. There is a lot of confusion about what feminism is; demonstrated by Taylor's admission that she didn't know what it meant until recently. This confusion isn't going to be helped any by ignorant people, particularly young girls and boys, hearing Beyonce and Taylor are feminists, and then seeing the inconsistencies in their work (see Destiny's Child Cater 2 U, and TSwizzle's Romeo & Juliet - from early in their careers, yep, but go on to watch Beyonce's solo videos, and Taylor's response to the joke made about her by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler at the Oscars a few years ago). Yep, people can change, and that's brilliant. But there has to be a clear, unequivocal change. He seems batshit, but that guy who used to play Jake in Two And A Half Men knew about that; he got religion and totally denounced the show. Dave Dobbyn, now a Christian, doesn't play certain songs from his back-catalogue which extol the virtues of things with which he's no longer comfortable. I think, for these artists to avoid damaging the cause, which is already so misunderstood and maligned, they have to address where they stand in relation to what they have done and said before (I'll concede that Taylor has begun this by acknowledging she didn't really know what feminism was, even though it still irks me), and why, in Beyonce's case in particular, they chose to reject the label for so long (for which I don't entirely blame them, but think should be explained).

Dammit, I lost my train of thought. Just - people should feel comfortable saying they're feminists (though, to me, it's worth a lot more to claim something when it's not easy). And feminists are a diverse group who don't necessarily agree on everything (porn, for example, or name-changes after marriage). But feminism is a precious thing, and attitudes towards it are precarious. Let's not fuck it up.

2. Marianne Faithfull. Full disclosure: I already detested the idiot. But her comments about modern pop artists being "rubbishy sluts" incensed me. Firstly (and thankfully), the story died because she is so irrelevant; in fact, the headline was probably the only way to make people take notice of the fact she has a new album coming out. But what the fuck? This is a female artist who not only knows what the music industry is like, but has played that game; how many of us only know her because of how often she expounds on her past relationships with members of The Rolling Stones (excellent taste in men by the way; gotta love a man who "trades" women - DICK)? Fucking hypocrite. Secondly: HATE THE GAME. Yep, artists like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna piss me the fuck off too (though not as much as the Selena Gomezes), and whatever misguided rubbish they spout about doing things on their terms and how they're actually empowering women makes me want to ram the tv with the car, and yep, they do have a choice and god I wish they would use the power they do have and change things (and maybe I should cut TS and Bey a little more slack - but when you know better, you do better!). But they are symptoms of a bigger problem - a huge one, in fact, called PATRIARCHY. I'm pretty sure, despite the drugs, Marianne Faithfull knows something about that. And she's old! Why in heavens name would she think it's okay to call women "rubbishy sluts"? Apart from it just being a bullshit thing to do, isn't a slut a person who has lots of sexual partners? Who in the industry is known to have had more than Mick Jagger?! If she's so free and progressive, why would she use "slut" as a derogatory term?

I'm all riled up again, and I think this may be one of the most poorly-argued and badly-written posts in the history of this blog, but I feel GREAT. I have fucking missed this blog, and what it makes me think, and how it makes me feel. I don't know if anyone even reads it anymore, but I don't mind starting again. Reunited and it feels SO GOOD.

Back as soon as I can, even if it means sneakily writing on the toilet.

Monday, December 9, 2013

(just slipping in quietly)

Can we just pretend it hasn't been a month and a half? If you read the Dogtown blog, you'll know that the shop has been taking all of my (limited) energy; when we get home in the evening all I can do is flop on the couch and wait to be fed, and I spend at least one full day of the weekend in bed, napping and reading. One of the aspects of parenting that pregnancy is really preparing me for is being tired all the time (and I'm aware that I don't even really know what tired means yet), and that means I have to be really selective about how I expend the resources I have. It's actually quite fucking boring; picking having a shower over going for a drive.

Anyway, it's just over two weeks until Christmas, and just under two weeks until we get to Auckland. I can't wait for either; talking and reading about Auckland makes me so eager to get there and hug the city (or its representatives; look out council workers, homeless people, and people of Asian, African, or Polynesian descent - I am coming for YOU), and Christmas means being with my family for several weeks, and eating a shitload of food and listening to carols incessantly. I'm both nervous and excited to see how much I manage to eat without putting room/time aside for alcohol. It could be amazing. It could be UGLY.

I also think it's time to get away from Dunedin for a bit, even though that means being away from our house, and Joe, and Vincent's parents. I feel like I have more love for the city than it has for me at the moment. We went to a Christmas market on Saturday and came across two stalls selling Golly dolls - one devoted to them, and it made me feel a bit sick and very ashamed. Racism exists everywhere but it doesn't make it feel any less awful when you come across it, particularly in such a setting; with school choirs performing, and Santa walking around giving out lollies. A week ago, Vincent and I passed a group of anti-abortion protesters outside the hospital; almost ten of them (most being men), holding up hateful signs accusing women who undergo terminations as murderers, and it was clear that nothing either of us said made a difference to them - in fact, they seemed to derive pleasure from it, even my obvious pain; smiling, and chanting prayers. This happens everywhere too; both Vincent and I have had run-ins with men in Auckland doing the same thing, but never had I seen so many, and never right outside the hospital doors. I've always felt strongly about anti-abortion protesting (I won't call them pro-life; they're pro- one kind of life, but completely disregard the lives and rights of women) but never more so than now, when I have a baby inside me. Pregnancy is hard - no doubt about it. I've come to realise what a personal experience it is, and that it must differ for every person who goes through it, but I can't believe that it's ever easy. For me, it's as easy as it could be; I'm thirty, in a relationship that defines the words stable and loving, I'm healthy, I have my own house, and I have family and friends to support me. And yet it's still hard. If any of those things were removed, I don't know how I would handle this; even if I had all of them but was five years younger. No-one, and especially no fucking man, has the right to tell me or any woman who finds out she's pregnant what we should do, or that her decision not to continue her pregnancy is wrong. After taking an applied ethics paper at uni, I realised I'm not clear on where I believe life begins, and I understand how some people feel about a foetus, but when it comes to the foetus in someone else's body, it is none of anyone else's business.

I sound angry, but I'm not; not at this moment, anyway. I feel displaced. I haven't found my people down here yet, and I'm starting to realise that I need friends here - having wonderful friends in Auckland isn't enough. I need to know that there are people like me and Vincent down here; our age, with similar interests and values, who want this place to be what we want it to be.

Anyway. In an hour we'll go to Vincent's Mum & Dad's and eat vegetarian lasagna and ice-cream and strawberries from the garden, and we'll talk about politics and people, and I'll feel better - as far as friends go, we couldn't find better ones down here than they are to us. In two weeks, we'll be in my city, either at our friends' house, or at my parents', or at one of our favourite bars in the city, where I won't even care that there won't be alcohol in my drink and that I'll be twice the size of every other woman there. 

And then, after a time, I think I'll miss here. And then I'll realise it's home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

the actual deal with pregnancy

Since first learning about him, I've always thought Descartes was an idiot. Mind/body dualism made no sense to me; who I am is so much about lived experience - lived experience is how I understand feminism, and the experience of ethnic minorities and the LGBTQ community. It's how I make sense of the world, and where I fit (or don't fit) in it.

Then I got pregnant. And my body began to change. Fast. And all of a sudden, there was a gap between my mind and my body, and I started to feel like a crazy person, without cohesion, unable to make any sense of myself. In my mind, I'm still me; the same me I've fought to be since I was listening to Channel Z in the dark until midnight. But my body is someone else's; I wake up sore from someone else's movement, and my stomach and boobs get bigger with someone else's growth. I feel like they don't belong to me anymore, but I have to carry them around and be judged by them; defined by them. People who don't know who I am look at me and see a pregnant woman; that's all I am. And my dissatisfaction; my desire to be seen as me first, makes me feel like a bad mother.

I've been trying to figure out if this is what a feminist pregnancy is, or if this is anti-feminist pregnancy and all about feeling sexually invisible and undesirable, and really, I don't know. Maybe it's both. I do know that I want to be pregnant, and that I want my daughter to have a completely open-ended future, and that I will fight to the death for her to have it. I know it's a privilege to be a parent, and I'm pretty sure it's going to be a particular privilege to be her parent. But I don't want to be defined by her; especially not by her not as an individual but just as something that came out of me. I realise now that as much as I love my relationships; being Vincent's wife, my sisters' sister, my parents' daughter etc, that I've never felt defined by them, or ever wanted to be. Being a parent; more specifically, a mother, threatens to define me. As far as I can tell, the women around me accept that, or welcome it (unless they just don't think about it), and it makes me feel separate from them, and think I'm doing this wrong. But I don't feel entirely wrong. I feel like being a separate person, undefined by my reproductive choices, is a fair thing to want. And I feel angry that I didn't know it might feel like this. Pregnancy is an incredibly personal experience, and one that must be different for every person. But I can't believe that there aren't more women who have been through it who haven't felt this way, and if there were, that they didn't say anything about it. In all of the conversations I've had about pregnancy, I've found one woman - one, who is struggling to reconcile head with her changing body. And I've been too afraid of being judged to say to the rest that I resent some of this; that I hate not being me, and that I want to do it all differently.

I don't know if this even makes sense; it's come out weird because I feel it so strongly, and because just saying it feels like an act of defiance. In the same way that it feels like a betrayal of my daughter in what she might see as the role of a traditional mother, it also feels also feels like I'm protecting her and her right to be herself, independent of anyone, including me. My feelings are about me - I'm not pretending they're about anyone else, but my right to feel them go so much further than me, and the best idea I have of things going further than myself right now is my daughter, in my uterus right now. My emotional state makes it hard to think about what I want for her for too long because the waterworks start, and it makes me feel guilty because I can't bond with her in the state she is now and I don't really know why; people always say a woman becomes a mother when she becomes pregnant and a man a father when the baby is born, but it's not true for me - I'm just an incubator who feeds her and carries her around and tries to bond with an idea I have of her, which is her in a few years, not her now, and I try to pretend she's strong and defiant in there and doesn't need me to be all maternal but I can't help feeling like she's on her own and vulnerable because I'm thinking of her as an idea and not what she is. But I know I want complete freedom for her, including gender fluidity, and the chance to be whatever she wants.

I'm going to end on a rant so I don't feel so sad. Since being pregnant, I've noticed more and more that people are using sex and gender interchangeably; from the research I've done, it seems to be an American thing, like saying disoriented instead of disorientated. Except that it's really different. I'm so tempted to be an asshole when people talk about a gender scan, and ask them what the machine looks like, and how sad I think it is that even babies in utero are subject to social construction. The reason it bothers me so much is because understanding feminism and LGBTQ rights depend on the distinction between the two. Sex refers to the junk a person is born with. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles conferred on the sexes, or a person's personal experience of their sex. When we use the two interchangeably, we make sex seem like a biological destiny that determines who we are and what we are able to be like. I completely reject this for myself, and the thought of my daughter having this foisted upon her makes me want to go off into the Amazon rainforest right now.

It's so much more comfortable being a cockhole than an isolated mind with a baby on board.

Friday, October 11, 2013

don't judge me

1. I'm almost certain people aren't judging my food choices, but I can't help feeling like they are. I bought a coffee for my mother-in-law yesterday, and because I didn't want the person behind the counter to think I'm drinking coffee during pregnancy, I got a drink for myself, even though I didn't actually want it. Today I got a burger from a takeaway bar (I feel like I'm going to be stoned for just writing that), and I felt like people were watching and disapproving the way we all did when those photos of Catherine Zeta-Jones, smoking when she was about to pop, came out. The thing is, I actually eat pretty healthily but no-one ever believes me - which is can be hilarious and frustrating, like when my Dad gave me a lecture about my health and diet and then served up dinner; a (yum) seafood curry and rice with NO vegetables in it. Since being pregnant, I've eaten even better, but no-one ever sees it, and then when I'm sitting here eating Doritos (which have never tasted so good), I feel as if someone's going to bust down the door and say "do you know what's IN that?!". So: I am eating lots and lots of vegetables. At least two servings of fruit. Tons of other good stuff. And I am also eating lollies (a little dollar bag from the dairy every other day). And Doritos. And today I ate a pineapple burger from the takeaway bar. So.

2. I'm watching X Factor. I watched it last night. I will probably watch it next Thursday and Friday too.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

then/now

I wish I was the kind of person who does those visualising exercises to help clarify where she would like to be in however many years time, and that sort of thing. Not that I don't like seeing life unfold as if it's just happening and not the result of a million little choices and chances; I just think it would be interesting to see what kind of person I was to want whatever I thought I wanted, and how much of a fortunate failure I might be. What I'm really saying is, this time last year I don't think I had much of an idea that right now I would be sitting in a deck-chair pretending to be a pregnant Sophia Loren (I really just mean that I'm barefoot with sunglasses and an off-the-shoulder top, and that I bothered to fix my hair - okay, I bothered to fix the front and sides, which I thought was normal until my sister told me otherwise) in the afternoon sun, watching Joe bask and eat his paws, waiting for Jimmy to come home with the dinner his Mum is making for us, with a faint smell of cat shit riding the breeze (Joe chased a cat into the shed earlier, and it seems the cat may have shat itself while waiting to make its esacpe, which it finally did about ten minutes ago, two hours after Joe chased it in. Cat lovers may not enjoy this story, but I think the whole episode was hilarious, and life and tv being as they are, you have to get your kicks where you can).

I remember the feeling of being young so clearly. Jimmy played a quintessentially '90s sounding song the other day, and the feelings of being an adolescent came flooding back with it; those of longing, and desperation for life to start. That was the last time I think I visualised my future; but it was never a specific place, or situation. It was always a vague sense of glamour (HA HA) and ALWAYS dominated by Shakespearean romance, although rather than being an active participant, I always seemed to cast myself as an object of loving obsession. I shudder at the patriarchal traditions associated with weddings, but I should be more forgiving; though a feminist now, the time when my mind was most romantically active, all I dreamt of was the male gaze.

The male gaze is not a problem for the pregnant woman, except in that the fact it isn't a problem is, really, a problem. When you become pregnant, you start to become invisible; like you're being benched for a while. I've been watching Sex And The City when Miranda's pregnant with Brady, and being benched when you're single and really not wanting to be benched looks like a fucking pain. The general perception of pregnant women is so incompatible with the tidal wave of hormones and blood booming around her body. They dance around the subject politely and allude to it as delicately as possible on pregnancy websites, and it does no-one any favours. I think the real reason women used to go into confinement was because the men they were tied to lacked the time, energy, will or ability to have sex with them when the women wanted it, and times were such that no-one questioned them when they said it was for decency and health. Foiled by men AGAIN.

On Sex And The City, I've just had epiphany after epiphany while watching. I wrote a long post about what I realised about singles and couples and how much sex they have and why they sleep with the people they sleep with, but didn't publish because I'm not sure if it's a revelation or just crazy-talk. In any case, I think I know now why single people sometimes sleep with idiots, and it makes sense. (I'm still confused as to why people who are usually in relationships do it.) I also think I realise now how much more sex people in relationships probably have than most single people (that might sound obvious, but I truly assumed that most single people were having maybe less weekday sex, but just as regular weekend sex, just with lots more people. Generally speaking, I now believe that to be untrue. I think my views were swayed by how much sex my best single girlfriends have - more than other singles - and how desirable I think they are. If that makes sense.) Anyway, it's all kind of information I could have used yesterday. I'm afraid now that I was one of those awful smug-marrieds at Magda & Jeremy's house, who thinks their mostly coupled experience is the norm. Now I realise if there's going to be any kind of norm, it should be that of a single person, because that's how we all start out, and while some people have never been in a relationship, no-one in the world has not been single.

Now I think I was best not to publish the last epiphany, because that one looks like a huge, ridiculous generalisation - I know some people don't care at all about sex. However, it is what I learnt from Sex And The City, so it sticks until I learn something different from Girls. (I'm joking. Mostly.) Watching has also been making me really miss my girlfriends, and cocktails (which, with the exception of Tom Collins, I haven't drunk regularly for years... mmm, Tom Collins), and cafe breakfasts, and being bothered getting dressed up, and a relatively flat stomach. Those were the DAYS.

Now I'm sitting on a deckchair in the evening sun with an empty bag of Doritos and a glass of water that was mine until Joe started lapping from it, having only brushed my teeth (since getting up) two hours ago. Two of my best friends turn thirty tomorrow. I'm not wishing to go back in time (although that would be fun), though I'm thinking of ("some", crucially) of it wistfully. But I am really looking forward to when we're together again, maybe in our mid-thirties, like the SATC girls, with all of the knowledge and epiphanies that will make us better people and better friends (I had more to learn than any of them), drinking cocktails made with less and better alcohol than we used to use, dressed in more and looking a million times better for it, and hopefully not having to put fingers down each others' throats at any point during the night.

I really want to post THIS version of THIS song but record companies blah blah blah so...