Nerd Rage: It’s Not Just for Men Anymore

ImageThere are moments in life that get under your skin, and leave you altered. Sometimes, if we are lucky, these moments catch us unawares, and open our eyes to an entirely new perspective, a reality outside of our own personal sphere that broadens our horizons immeasurably. But, all too often, they open our eyes to the smallness in our world. The intentional, or unintentional marginalizing and belittling of…the je ne se qua, the evasive, and illusive, it that makes you feel uncomfortable, annoyed, or downright angry, but does so in a way that flippantly and blithely evades an explanation of those feelings on your part: The subversive, frequently unintentional, and almost always endemic snub. This is a brief discussion of two such experiences in my life, one that took place almost three decades ago, and one, much more recent that it has taken me months to sort through…t0 discover the ness of my discontent. It all began when I was seven years old…

In 1985, Robert Ballard (yes, that guy that Jack is always talking about on 30 Rock) and the Woods Hole expedition discovered the resting place of the Titanic. For the average seven year old kids in Memphis, Tennessee, this was probably a blip on their radar of “aw, COOL!” things that happened that year. For me, it was transformative. To this day, I cannot quite explain the whys or wherefores. I have vivid recall of watching the film taken by ARGO, the unmanned sub that reached the ship itself. I obsessed over Titanic. I left no stones unturned. I read whatever I could get my hands on, and when I had exhausted that subject I moved on to, The Hindenburg, Jack the Ripper, The Triangle Factory fire (and other historic tragedies), and then Shakespeare, who opened the door for me to the world of English, then European history, which lead to the study of religions, which lead to Eastern religion, which led to the occult, which brought us right back around to more history, all the while also discovering, through these same avenues, Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle, Ursula K. LeGuin, Peirs Anthony, and Joseph Campbell (I have The Power of Myth all but memorized) who gave me Star Wars, Indiana Jones… and so on and so forth and a full run on sentence’s worth…of how the very essence of the ness that is me came in to being…While I was never discouraged in my nerdiness, I was also not particularly encouraged either. I didn’t have a geek role model or someone to impress. It was mine alone. It was all there waiting, just for me, and it was amazing. I remember feeling a thing my seven year old brain had no words for; the immensity, the hugeness of the event, the tragedy out of the past, and the sheer joy in the voices of the scientists as they viewed, for the first time the necrotic, rusty, majesty that was the living thing that had once been The Titanic. That is the moment when I officially became a nerd.

It was undoubtedly a formative experience, and a moment of the horizon broadening kind.  I have mostly reveled in my small geeky world, and been very lucky to be surrounded by my fellows, who support me. Since becoming the mother of two girls, however, I have become painfully aware of a trend in the language and assumptions of the still male dominated kingdom of the dorks. This was the cause of moment number two. I am not using proper names in this telling, because I don’t want these guys getting any flak. I am 99.9% sure that everything I am about to relate was unintentional…which is exactly the point. It is indicative of a much larger issue that is so ingrained we don’t even notice it half the time. (Unless you are me, and it gets under your skin. AKA…you nerd-out over it.)

One of my friends writes for an “all things geek,” kind of website. Sometimes they answer reader questions. Being a nerd/geek girl, and knowing it is an all male write staff, I wrote in and asked them to give voice to the pervasive idea that geek girls are somehow less than, fakes, or not worthy of the “geek,” moniker. The response was very candid, and honest. The writer (not my friend) very pointedly said that men can be jerks, and geek world is often viewed as a “boys’ club.” He also freely admitted that he thinks that point of view is silly…but then he concluded by saying, “Being beat by a girl (even as an adult man) is the worst feeling…” I really wanted to be okay of his answer. It was full of mea culpa-ing, and the attempt to blame it all on guys being jerks, but that last bit left a bitter taste in my mouth. When my husband read it, he was also a bit off-put by the seeming contrast. So we both posted responses in the comment section. We made very similar points, we both addressed the fact that the author stated being beat by a girl was the worst feeling, we both spoke with passion…

In defense of the author, he did, at least respond, however, he chose to very pointedly (whether it was intentional or not) respond only to my husband. While this was happening, the friend who writes for the site was messaging me and asking questions because he quickly realized it (women in geek culture) was a bigger issue that needed to be discussed. I had high hopes, but one thing or another happened, and the article was never written. (Because, c’mon…would you want to tackle that subject?) Then, last night, the same friend messaged me with another geek culture question. He is writing a piece on what it is like to be married to a nerd, and he wondered if I would answer some questions for him…but he only sent those questions to me, and not to my husband…the accidental implications were not lost on me. Again, I want to stress that this guy is a wonderful human being. The fact that he probably didn’t even think about it doesn’t make him a jerk. It makes him normal. That is the problem. We still live in a world where, when someone says, “doctor,” “scientist,” or “geek,” even the most outspokenly feminist of us likely pictures a man first. It’s BS, and it’s something no one wants to admit, but it is also true. Honestly, had the other two incidents with the other writer not already occurred, this probably would have passed me by unnoticed. Instead, it hit me like a ton of bricks. “Oh my gods, it is 2013, and I am still being defined by my menfolk!”

I think that this issue certainly goes beyond geek/nerd culture, but it manifested in my world in this form, and so…I was a nerd long before the opposite sex began having an influence on my likes and dislikes. A seven year old girl obsessively reading about bog bodies in the corner of the library is, trust me, not doing it to attract male attention. Neither did I have a strong paternal or fraternal influence that can be held responsible. My fathers were more or less absent, and my older brother was a cool kid. (Oh, MAN was he cool.) I was always the dorky little sister, and I was mostly fine with that. I think there is an assumption, perpetuated by ALL OF THE SHOWS that women marry in to their geekery. Whether it is sports, Star Wars, Trekkies, or science, it seems implied that we fall in love with a geek, in spite of those things, roll our eyes at their quirks, and grudgingly become involved because it is something our fella cares about. This, in my case, in most cases, could not be further from the truth. (Also, heads up to you man-nerds, we often fall for you because of and not in spite of, so don’t closet your geek in carbonite.) My husband is a big ole geek, undoubtedly, but I out nerd him by a ratio of 3:1, and I am proud of that, dammit. I am no more or less defined by his interests than he is by mine. There is, to be fair, the occasional lady-nerd who hides her inclinations because it is not what is expected of a girl, and then lets her geek flag fly once her nerd of the soul is obtained. (Which is yet another facet of the same issue…) To her, to all of you I say, “Stop it!”

Listen, nerds, this is a classic case of friendly fire. We are on the same team, in the same bunker, I jump, you jump, etc.. Maybe if we can stop all the sniping, and be more aware of our own assumptions and limitations, we can build something amazing and have a real, sustainable effect on the communal consciousness of future generations. (Cause, that’s not too much to ask, right?) According to a number of modern scholars, meekness is defined as, “an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are wisely seen by the individual as only part of a larger picture.” Sound like anyone you know? May The Force be with us, friends, and may the geeks inherit the earth.

Five and Fighting: The Gender Politics of Kindergarten

tumblr_m68dxddxw51qjyc47o1_5001My daughter is five years old. My bright, amazing, wonderful, smart, talented, loving, and challenging girl is five. I thought that I had years, three at the least, five at best, before I had to really worry about gender politics and autonomy. Funny, because now I am realizing that I have been worrying since the moment that the ultrasound tech typed our chosen girl’s name on the screen. I guess I was just ready for allowing my daughter to pick her own toys and interests. I was willing to accept her pink walls and love of princesses right along with her fascination with maps, bugs, and living things. I was all about my husband having tea parties one minute, and introducing her to Mario Galaxy the next. I was ready for us, for me, for her…I was not prepared for the rest of the world.
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We are now a member of the Los Angeles Doula Collective!

The LA Doula Collective is a group of diverse women seeking to serve families through pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. Each of our doulas owns her own business, yet we support each other by providing backup services and referrals. We offer individualized support to our clientele, with a wide variety of services, including: labor doula support, postpartum doula support, placenta encapsulation, Hypnobabies, newborn care specialist services, night time support, meal preparation, photography, reiki, massage and more.

We will be announcing various Meet the Doulas nights, as well as classes and special events, on our Events page.

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Click here to find your perfect Doula! www.ladoulacollective.com

Creating A New Definition Of “Accomplished”

The other day I was watching old episodes of Criminal Minds and one of the characters, Spencer Reid, noted that he had just turned 27 and had doctorates in Mathematics, Engineering, and Chemistry along with BAs in Psychology and Sociology as well as worked for the FBI saving lives as a member of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. I just turned 27 in March and haven’t done any of those things. A feeling of failure washed over me, a feeling I feel every year around this time.

Every since I graduated from college, birthdays have always brought me down. They are a yearly reminder of all the things I thought I would do with my life. All the things I failed to accomplish. In high school I was so sure I’d be ‘someone’. I planned to have my first book written by 22, be a successful lawyer slash doctor slash dancer slash actor slash whatever else I was interested in at 16. But I haven’t done any of those things.

But this year was the first year that the feeling of failure didn’t last long. I realized that I am someone. I may not be famous and I may not have done all the things my 16 year old self imagined, but I have become someone I’m really happy with. I’m Mom and Wife, two of the most important titles I could have. I’m Teacher and have had the opportunity to help some of the most amazing students. This year I realized I needed to change my definition of accomplished.

How do you define accomplished?

In Defense of Love: A Straight, Urban Housewife’s Views on DOMA.

ImageI wrote this blog a while ago and never published it, because I try to avoid being political…mostly, but in light of today’s historic DOMA ruling, I am going to go ahead and say it, loud and proud as an ally…I love you. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care who you love, or what consenting adult you choose to have sex with. I don’t care if you’re a sequin loving man who dances with abandon on a google eyed float in a speedo at Pride Fest, or a corporate lawyeress (that’s the correct term, right?) with a loving wife at home. I love you if you’re a housewife with two kids and a doting husband, and I love (but not in that way) your husband too. I don’t really give a damn what you do in your bedroom, as long as you first do no harm. I care about love. And love is what won today.
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Out of the Box Collective

The Mission of Out of the Box Collective is to deliver the Food Revolution to our customer’s table by using their food dollars to support a collective of local farmers, ranchers, vintners and artisans who are stewards of the land. In exchange, our customers enjoy the freshest, most nutrient-dense, delicious food available, paired with seasonal meal plans and recipes.Image

To help make eating healthy easier, Out of the Box Collective delivers both set and customizable Boxes of local foods from all the food groups, and accompany them with custom-written meal plans and recipes using everything in the box. We provide local produce, grassfed meats, nuts/dried fruits, pulses/grains, Regional Specialties, CA cheese, fair trade pantry items and are about to add organic, locally made baby and toddler food, also created with local ingredients.  We make eating local, fresh food easy for your family.

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http://www.outoftheboxcollective.com

The Cost of Hiring a Doula

MotherWit-Pic3The cost of having a doula depends largely on her experience, what state you are located in and what services are included. Typically Doulas charge around $800-$1200 for full Doula services. Many Doulas-in-Training look to attend births for free or low cost in order to get their hours for their certification. This is also an option for families seeking Doula support who may not be able to afford it.
On average, Doulas try to book 2-3 births a month so that client births do not overlap.  In the event that two clients DO go into labor at the same time, most Doulas have at least one backup, if not two, to cover one of the births so that the family still receives the support they need.

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Breastfeeding Twins

It can take some time to get the hang of breastfeeding one baby, but what about two? Common questions for breastfeeding moms of twins include:

  • Will I produce enough milk?
  • Will I have time to breastfeeding two babies?
  • Can I breastfeed both babies at the same time?
  • Which positions can I use?

Before you get overwhelmed with all of the what-ifs, remember that having the right guidance and support can make all the difference.  Here is a helpful guide when breastfeeding more than one baby.
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The Amazing Un-rivalry of Wonder Woman and Pixie Puff

ImageMy girls, the aforementioned Wonder Woman, and Pixie Puff are two and four and a half years old. (The names were chosen by the aforementioned WW, to whom that “half” has become very important.) When searching for new blog topics, a friend suggested that I write about sibling rivalry. I normally think about the blogs that I am going to write for a while before I actually sit down at the keyboard. This one took longer than most. Here’s why…

As I am typing they are standing in a hug and watching Super Why together. PP just said, “La Loo” (Love you) to WW, and WW responded, “Sister HUG!” I am not even kidding. This is happening. Really. Now they are in the kitchen playing ring around the rosy, and making each other laugh. Seriously. In this respect my parenting life is charmed. That’s not to say that they don’t occasionally get in fights over toys, or disagree about what to do, but in terms of competing with one another for parental affection, or just in general…it doesn’t happen. My only other experience with sibling rivalry was with my older brother growing up, and that was very different. I don’t know about rivalry per se, but I am pretty sure that if he could have literally sold me to gypsies, he would have, and gladly. (PS…he grew into a lovely person, and now we are good friends, so there is hope, even in the worst of cases!!) That lead me to wonder, is it nature, or nurture? What did we do differently?

The first bit is definitely nature. WW is an incredibly smart, perceptive, and emotional little lady. But, on the nurture side, we have always treated her as such. We believe wholeheartedly in our home in the power of language, and that arming children with the ability to communicate their wants and needs is paramount to a building a happy home. There are some words that are the only word for a given situation or emotion, and we knew that WW was capable of learning and understanding the meaning of those words. Because she is so sensitive, one of the first big words we taught her was, “overwhelmed.” It is a good one for kids to know, because there is no other word for that feeling, and pre-schoolers, especially bright ones, will feel it often. We also taught her from very early on (this is where having a Buddhist for a mommy comes in handy) how to be mindful, aware, and accepting of her feelings, even the, “negative,” ones. We have explained that all of her feelings are important, and valid, and that they should all be treated as a vital part of her. It is never our feelings that our “bad,” but we can choose to express those feelings in a harmful unproductive way, or in a way that helps to change the situation and make it better for everyone involved. You may think that sounds like a lot for a kid. You may be rolling your eyes and thinking, “jeez, my two/three/four year old would never respond to that.” But at those ages the language and emotional centers of the brain are sponges. They will pick up what you lay down, so why not lay down the foundation of healthy communication regarding difficult emotional situations? You just have to trust yourself, and them. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. And your child having the ability to come to a parent and say, “I am feeling overwhelmed and lonely because I feel like (sister/brother) is getting all of your attention,” will go a long way towards curbing tantrums, outbursts, and rage towards a new sibling.

Nature, again, PP was born a (mostly) calm and laid back little thing. We called her, “everybody’s baby,” for the longest time because she just loves people. She has a temper that has begun to manifest since she has turned two, but once again, we are teaching her to use words to express herself. So we are very lucky to be blessed with two generally lovely girls. Beyond that, though, we also make sure that they know how blessed we feel.

When I was pregnant with PP, we began a propaganda campaign with WW centered around the idea that as my belly grew, so did mommy and daddy’s hearts, so that we would always have enough love for both of our girls. (Thanks to my amazing cousin for that imagery!) We made it clear from day one that WW was important, loved, wanted, and special. Heck, we say those exact words to her on a semi-regular basis. We are also incredibly honest with both of our girls regarding our own feelings. (When they understand what overwhelmed means, they can empathize (another word we taught) when a parent says that they feel overwhelmed.) We tell them when we need space (Me/Myself time ala Frances the Badger) and we respect when they need space. Similarly, we ask for cuddles and snuggles. We initiate sometimes, because it is important that they know that those things are just as important and special to us as to them. Think of it this way: In your romantic relationship, if you are the only one initiating affection, wouldn’t you feel unloved and unimportant? All relationships are give and take. And you often end up getting what you give. (Karma: If you plant a mango seed…you get a mango tree.) We have always tried very hard to make our family life, our relationships, inclusive. We have individual mommy/daddy dates with the girls, we tag team bedtimes, we talk to them like valid members of our household and let them have a say in decisions from what to eat for dinner, to what color mommy should dye her hair.

In short, we try not to give them any reason to be rivals. They know that they are different people, but equally important in our eyes. They know that when WW is getting a hug, PP will get one next, and vice versa. They know that they are important, loved, wanted, and special, and more importantly, they feel that way about each other. “She’s your sister, and a sister is a special thing.” I’m not entirely sure how much of it is nature, and how much is nurture. I don’t know if it is just the luck of the gene pool, or if we have just happened upon some magic rival-less formula to parenting, but I know it is working for us. My daughters may not eat anything that I put in front of them. Ever. But hey, at least they will be united in their stubborn refusal of broccoli. It’s all about the little victories, really.

Baby’s First Three Months

So you’ve waited nine long months of carrying your child. You’ve enjoyed their little kicks, watched them on the sonogram screen and finally, you’ve endured hours of labor. They’re finally here, and everyone couldn’t be happier! images (48)But now that the pregnancy is over, what are some of the milestones that you can expect from your little one? When will you see the first smile, or when can you expect your tiny tot to roll over? Not all babies will progress at the exact same rates, but this is a handy timetable to learn what you can expect your child to learn within the first three months of their life!

Month 1
When your baby is first born, you may certainly feel like it is just a constant cycle of feeding and changing your child. Your infant isn’t able to hold their head up at first, as their necks aren’t strong enough to support their heads just yet. But soon enough, your little one will be able to lift their head when they are lying on their tummies! Within the first month, you will also begin to notice that your child will be able to track your voice when they hear you, and sometimes may even be able to look around and follow the sound of your voice! You may even wake up one day and peek in the crib to see your child smiling up at you. While not all children can do this within the first month, some can. Remember, each baby learns and progresses differently, all at their own rate.
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