Radical Self-Love: the feels.

I have feelings about this.

In this society, loving yourself is a radical act (for a woman).

I don’t have to have a flat tummy in order to love my body!  Rubens would love me.

The Three Graces

I used to have hangups, for a long long time, about not having a body that is sexy.  You know who to blame.  (#2 notes that, according to some popular science studies she’s read and chosen to believe, men either prefer meaty, or they really don’t care one way or the other.  I would be seriously surprised if #1′s SO didn’t find #1 incredibly sexy.  And that’s the only person who matters in a monogamous relationship.)  Shout out to my partner for always saying nice things about my body!

Now I’m too old for self-loathing or really any other shame.  I’m ready to change my mind.

I am thinking, NOT: “I am awesome anyway,” but rather: “I am awesome, yeah I am!”

I don’t have to have my stuff together in order to be awesome.  I am awesome independently of my career.

Also, this blog post resonated with me.  Don’t forget that The F-Off Fairy can help you, too!

#2 had a brief bout with imposter syndrome in grad school.  She didn’t like it.  Yay for therapy and for being unapologetically awesome.  I have occasionally wondered if it’s better to err on the side of Dunning-Kruger or the side of imposter syndrome and refer myself to the literature on how over-confidence helps people get ahead.  So I figure there’s no need to check my ego, thank you very much.  I probably deserve to have a much bigger one, what with being female and having society against me and all.  I credit my mother for my healthy self-esteem.  I would also credit my awesomeness, but I know plenty of people at least equally awesome who do not have the self-esteems they deserve.  For them, I blame the patriarchy.  (Also with weight I focus on health rather than body image, and with make-up and hair, I find that ‘frumpy’ helps people take me more seriously in my specific profession.  Also I am incredibly lazy.)

#1 again:  I decided to feel sorry for people who fat-shame (Mom…), rather than angry at them, because their words are a reflection of feeling terrifyingly out-of-control when someone’s body appears to be out of control.  Don’t contradict me on this point, I’m just sayin’.

Various messages are coming from the universe that it’s time to be done with the emotional drain of not thinking I’m awesome.

(#2:  SRSLY.  Because why think sucky things that aren’t true when you can think awesome things that are?)

Tell us in the comments what is totally awesome about you!

Fractions and bases

So, we’ve been enjoying Hard Math for Elementary School (for somewhat complex definitions of “enjoying” that involve both frustration and eventual pride).

Today DC1 said, “Different bases is just like fractions.”  Explaining a little more, ze noted that when you’re doing fractions with a denominator of 8, the numerator works just like when you’re counting in base 8.

By golly, I thought, ze’s right!

In base 8 you count, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 11..

When you’re counting eighths, it’s 1/8, 2/8…7/8, 1, 1 and 1/8.

Adding works the same way too… 2 + 7 in base 8 is 11.  2/8 + 7/8 is 1 and 1/8.

Multiplying won’t be the same because we tend to cancel things out on the bottom, but in a world where we didn’t do that and we didn’t allow improper fractions, I think it would be the same.  So it could be the same.

Anyhow, that’s super cool.  Yay DC1!  And yay math!

A budding feminist spec fic reader

A boy who is turning 12 years old wants to read sci fi and fantasy with strong females.  We have suggestions, of course.

Ursula K. LeGuin is probably the textbook choice, along with contemporary writer Andre Norton.  These strong women both address feminist themes through science fiction, though in different ways.

Ann McCaffrey is often suggested because she’s a woman who writes science fiction and therefore must be feminist.  Turns out that’s not true.  She’s a VERY BAD CHOICE as she promotes rape culture.  (Third book, protagonist rapes his girlfriend, and makes everything ok by helping her clean afterward.  No. No. No. No.  I stopped reading her after that book, but I am told that her later books have similar or worse issues with rape.)  (Thanks to #2′s warning, #1 hasn’t read that series, but I haven’t found anything problematic in the McCaffrey I have read.  #2 notes that’s probably because McCaffrey coauthors with actual feminists in many of her other series.)

I keep meaning to read C. J. Cherryh‘s  Pride of Chanur series.

Elizabeth Moon.

Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett are excellent choices, together or separately (try The Wee Free Men).

Brian Sanderson’s Mistborn series is fantastic.  The Hunger GamesOctavia Butler.

Tamora Pierce in general and in specific, though #2 has a bit of a problem with the fourth book in her first series… the main character has a lot of messed up sex, and by messed up, she means messed up in terms of power differentials.  The sex is not really consensual given the power differences in one “relationship” and the age differences in the other.  (#1 missed that series.  The Pierce I have read has been fantastic!)  Holly Lisle probably has too much sex for a 12-year old.  Pre-read Diplomacy of Wolves to see if your kid is old enough for it.

Robin McKinley (her lighter stuff… Deerskin [a retelling of Donkeyskin] is feminist, and amazingly good, but it contains rather violent incest… Sunshine has happy sex in it IIRC, but is definitely more YA than Junior). The Blue Sword was the first grown-up fantasy book I ever read (fourth grade assigned reading, I LOVED Mrs. A.) and it got me hooked on the entire genre.

Patricia C. Wrede, particularly the first two books in the Dragon series (Dealing with Dragons is the start).  The third and fourth books leave the protagonist somewhat helpless until a boy grows up to save the day.

Carolyn Stevermer, both with and without Patricia Wrede.

Joan Aiken’s Dido Twite series: first is The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Martha Wells.

Margaret Ball.

Nina Kiriki Hoffman.  Though she does address some adult themes, they always have happened off-stage before the book starts.  The characters heal during the book.

For hard sci-fi, you could start the Honor Harrington series with On Basilisk Station by David Weber. Jane Yolen’s graphic novel Foiled is a must (the sequel is Curses! Foiled Again). Anything by Susan Cooper, though #2 notes that The Dark is Rising has a stereotypical female character, the stereotypical “male” action coming from the boys.

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger (her other series is for adults, but this one is YA with no sex).  IT IS ADDICTING.  I WANT MORE MORE MORE.

You could try Diane Duane’s series starting with So You Want to Be a Wizard. Everything by Diana Wynne Jones is very excellent, though her last book has an inappropriate sexual relationship thrown in as an afterthought.  A 12 year old might not notice it. (#1 didn’t.)

The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman.  Only sort of fantasy, but has sequels if you like it.

The Blossom Culp series by Richard Peck (time travel, ghosts, etc. put this fully into spec fic!)

Lloyd Alexander’s Vesper Holly series, starting with The Illyrian Adventure (spec fic in the sense that Indiana Jones is spec fic).

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.  (Sure, this is historical, but… you could pretend it’s fantasy.)

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde (the sequel, The Song of the Quarkbeast, is out now).

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is excellent (though somewhat hardcore, violence-wise). It has sequels but I never read them.

Other good YA stuff is by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (any of it).

I can go on if you want… but I would need to check DC’s bookshelves for all my old YA books.  (I’m totally going to read hir The Real Me at some point, though that is not science fiction or fantasy at all.)

Chime in, readers!

A review of this library that you might not even know is here

There is kind of a “stealth” library really near where I live.  It is part of the county system, not the city system, so I didn’t know about it until I walked in looking for a place to work on my laptop.   It looks like a secret from the parking lot.

It turns out to be a pretty good place to work if I’m feeling done with the coffee shop for the day.

It’s quiet, with just enough noise to not be creepy.  It has lots of places to sit, including this:

bookcase fakeout

Facilities include study rooms, a computer room, and a surprisingly decent collection of graphic novels.  I started a new series while I was there, and I’m planning to go back for 2 more.

Near a sofa is a vase with some yarn and a pair of knitting needles in it.

In the back is a huge classroom with kid- and adult-sized chairs.  I don’t know what classes are held there.

It has carrells, an enclosed children’s room where they can make some noise, and a “Christmas tree” made out of old encyclopedia volumes (it was summer when I went).

If you get bored you can wander around and look at all the pocket pets they have distributed throughout the library in little cages: tiny tree frogs, a guinea pig, gerbil, bearded dragon, gecko, dove, koi.

As you may be gathering, it’s much bigger than it looks from the outside, as well as having good a/c and wireless access.  On the somewhat sad side, there are surprisingly fewer books than I think it needs (the shelves are not full and there is room for a lot more of them).

There are some “honor books” by the front that you can take without checking out and return whenever.  I haven’t checked out their bookstore yet.

It’s really doing a pretty decent job overall!  It sort of looks like they have not grown into their huge space yet, though they have been there at least 3 years.

This review does you no good, Grumpeteers, but it amuses us.  #2 adds:  What do you like about your favorite library?  What would your dream library have?

Read these! Read these!

What have we been reading lately (that we loved)? Click the titles to see the descriptions on amazon.

The Incrementalists, by Steven Brust and Skyler White.  It reminds me of Kage Baker’s Company series, and of Charles Stross, and both of those are good things.  Not that wonderful on representations of women, but worth it nonetheless.

The Unquiet Bones: The First Chronicle of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon. Looked interesting from the description, and I already like the Father Cadfael series.  I’m glad I started this series, and I’m several books in by now.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist.  It’s sweet and somewhat peaceful until it gets darker and darker… Would make for a great discussion of utopia/dystopia.  If you’d like to see a female protagonist over the age of 40, pick this one up!  Passes the Bechdel test.

Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen.  A bickering couple arrives for their couples counseling… to find their therapist gnawing on the previous client.  The initial premise got me, and it turned out to be delightful and surprisingly moving. I will probably read the sequel.

Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake, a cool guy. Strange, wondrous, interesting.

The Lab Rat Chronicles: A Neuroscientist Reveals Life Lessons from the Planet’s Most Successful Mammals by Kelly Lambert — Makes a great gift for whoever likes nonfiction.  Fascinating! After the first few chapters I didn’t expect too much, but I actually learned a lot of cool things.

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg is amazeballs.  I read it in one sitting, staying up way too late. Read this! It packs an emotional punch but is also funny (especially the parents) and sweet.

#2 has been slowly rereading Georgette Heyers that we’ve already talked about here the first and second time she read through them!  Poor #2.  Maybe she’ll get some brain power back over Christmas break.

What have you been reading lately?

Ten Books By Which Ye Shall Know Me

… As of this moment.

I was re-reading The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction and the author was talking about how you would know him by the books he re-reads.

This list is based on number of re-reads, not on anything else (quality, influence, etc.).  It was hard to make!  It is in no particular order.

1.  Dune – Frank Herbert (SciFi) (my cover is cooler than this, though)

2.  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte (Classic, Gothic)

3.  Arrows of the Queen – Mercedes Lackey (Fantasy)

4.  Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader – Anne Fadiman (Essays)

5.  Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott (Advice)

6.  Gaudy Night – Dorothy L. Sayers (Mystery)

7.  The Initiate Brother – Sean Russell (Fantasy)

8.  Going Postal – Terry Pratchett (Fantasy)

9.  A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer (Fantasy)

10.  The Blue Sword – Robin McKinley (Fantasy)

The runner-up list had even more fantasy on it!

Does #2 have a list?

[No, but if she did it wouldn't include Dune, or Mercedes Lackey.  I'll have to check out Sean Russell-- hadn't heard of him.]  I can make an off-the-top-of-my-head list that isn’t well thought out.  Rereads are heavily populated by classics and children’s fiction.

1.  Frederica by Georgette Heyer

2.  Jane Eyre

3.  Pride and Prejudice, though honestly I haven’t been able to read it again since I took a class on Austen in college.  I think I have it memorized.

4.  Captain Blood by Raphael Sabatini (Free on kindle!  Also the movie is wonderful.)

5.  Anne of Windy Poplars (also Anne of Green Gables)

6.  A College of Magics – Caroline Stevermer, though it bugs me that my copy is still at my parents’

7.  Witch Week and The Lives of Christopher Chant (and many others, but especially the entire Chrestomanci series) by Diana Wynne Jones

8.  The Thread that Binds the Bones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman (though A Fistful of Sky is close)

9.  Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin

10.  Spindle’s End edges out Hero and the Crown or Blue Sword for the Robin McKinley spot.  Because I’m older now.

What are your rereads?  What books should we know you by?

What are we reading with pleasure and happiness?

Patty in the city: had to interlibrary loan this one. A fun confection.

Discount Armageddon :  Excellent.  My favorites are the mice.

Also excellent is the sequel, Midnight Blue Light Special. Again, mice! (read it.)

Finally got my hands on Gunnerkrigg Court Vol 2.  Well worth it!  And it’s awesome to read through again knowing what I know now… adds new depth and meaning to some of the scenes.  These are such handsome books.  It seems like the first printing had some flaws and wasn’t as nice quality as Vol 1 or Vol 3, but the current batch is lovely (and seems only to be available from amazon).  Aaaannnnd Volume 4, just out now! The art keeps being great.



Reread Daddy Long Legs, caught some of the political commentary hidden in there this time around.

Reread Dear Enemy, picked up all the eugenics I’d missed the first time around… (must not have looked very hard, or have been very young…)

Tempest Rising.  It was ok. (#2 really likes this series)

Nice Girls Don’t [do stuff] vampire books — Enjoyable popcorn!


All Spell Breaks Loose, by Lisa Shearin– finally a conclusion to the series!  As a whole, I think the series should have had a book or two fewer, but the end book went a bit quickly.  A satisfying read.

Gave Candice Hern a second chance (with $2.99 kindle books).  She’s no Georgette Heyer, but I enjoyed  A Proper Companion and A Change of Heart.

#2′s been reading up a storm lately.  Particularly recommended:

The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. If you like Stross’s Laundry Files books, you’ll like this, and vice versa.

The Killing Moon, by N. K. Jemisin.  Really, really good.  Can’t wait to read the next one. (Update: It was good too!)

ZOMG N. K. Jemisin is such an amazing writer. Read her!

I am Not a Serial Killer by (Dan Wells)

The Battle of Blood and Ink

What have you been reading lately?

Ms. Linken-McLoverton

This is seriously the best idea that anyone has ever had: Privacy PopTent
for your bed.

BuzzFeed brings us 17 problems only book lovers will understand.

Planting our Pennies talks about stretching her boundaries and adorable tiny baby turtles.

Surviving academia talks about the benefits of daycare.

Chacha discusses self-publishing.

Not of general interest finds that sometimes charts and lists don’t work.

This page explains why we can’t get amazon affiliates links to work on our blog.

Ann Friedman discusses men and women and empire building.

this is weird

kawaii baby griffin is scared to fly; also funny: Mutual startlement

more grammar fun from the oatmeal.  Do it for the steeds.

I am very glad that my mom has confidence in me.  I can’t imagine how crushing it would be to have her tell me I couldn’t handle both work and kids.

What now’s partner got the job she wanted!

We were an editor’s pick in this week’s carnival of personal finance!

The National Zoo is Amazing.

I WENT TO THE ZOO


I saw little otters! Lots and lots of them. They looked at me and made squeaks!

(Asian small-clawed otters)

I saw a well-trained elephant who wandered over to a drain in his exhibit and peed straight into it.  (I do not know if they trained him specifically to do that, or he learned it himself)

Also I saw a panda eat bamboo for breakfast, a cheetah gazing longingly at the zebras in the next enclosure (really, zoo designers?), a red panda asleep in a tree, an octopus getting fed, and some assorted other animals.

Going very early in the morning is definitely the right way to go!  I got there as the exhibits were opening and the animals just coming out; low crowds, good views.  As I was leaving, the hordes of schoolchildren increased.

 OH! and the orangutans climbed across the people-walkway on their high-rope walkway thing it was so cool!
it was this: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ThinkTank/OLine/
O
ne of them stopped in the middle and contemplatively gazed at the people, resting his chin on his elbow, just staring at us as we stared at him. (Or her?).  It was super. The website says “if they poop on you from overhead, staff is prepared to help you clean up.”

The one that looked at us was probably Bonnie: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Primates/MeetPrimates/MeetOrangs/default.cfm

Also I saw a huge-ass Komodo dragon, just sittin’.
I accidentally walked past the spider exhibit and DID NOT LIKE.  Giant bird-eating tarantula: NOoooo!

Then I went back again later:
I saw teeny tiny titi monkeys, and spectacled bear cubs! baby ones!

And some different otters, a wallaby, those rare Przwalski horses, sleepy lions,
orangs on the o-line again; this time, Batang, wacky freshwater stingrays, lemurs chillin, turtles.

Also, the nat’l zoo is supremely well-designed. It’s nicer for people than any other zoo I’ve been to (and presumably for the animals as well).  Also I forgot that it’s FREE so you can just wander on in there.  There are concessions, but they seem less obnoxious than other zoos I’ve been to. And they have shower-mister things where you can press a button and get sprayed with water. Whee.

What’s your favorite zoo?  What do you like about zoos?

Money can’t buy me love

But it sure can make our lives easier!

Remember what, 13 years ago?

We were about to move to a new city (well, technically we were about to drive to Canada, but in a few weeks it would be a new city).  We had about 4K total to our name, much of it saved up from my work-study jobs in college.  When we got to the city, we slept on the floor of a friend from college at night and searched for housing during the day.  We ended up in a tiny 10×10 apartment.  We had to borrow money from my parents to put down a deposit.  We walked everywhere because we couldn’t afford the 70 cents to take the subway until school started and we got our subway passes along with our stipends.  We bought used kitchen equipment for $20 and a terrible desk for $10 from some people who were leaving, and a new futon for $120 and a paste-board dresser for $80.  As the pastor who married us suggested, we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

We bought an overpriced bed with that first stipend (after paying my parents back), and a Le Creuset pot.  I remember calling my dad before making the purchase because he’s the most skin-flinty person I know.  He argued that we spend more time on the mattress than any other place and it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.  Also Le Creuset pots last forever.  In retrospect, we should have tried to bargain the guy down on the mattresses, but it did last 10 years without problem (although the salesman swore it would be good for 15).  We had to put that purchase on three different credit cards because we didn’t have enough of a line of credit to put it on one.  The guys at the shop said they broke up purchases like that all the time.

We ate mostly vegetarian and lots of cheap starches.  We’d go to the open air market once a week and stock up on veggies, and then we’d rush home to process them before they went bad.  Soon after school started, we got an offer to move to student housing– a two room 10×30 apartment for the same price.  We jumped at the chance and broke our lease.  We didn’t lose all of our deposit though because our old place filled up very soon after we left.  After a year we had enough saved to pay for car insurance, and we retrieved my car from my sister, complete with shiny new dents.  (That a lot of random people in the city wanted us to know they could fix whenever they saw us in a parking lot.)

After two years there, we moved to be RAs.  Our apartment was still two rooms, but smaller, and we shared a kitchen with the students.  Saving 20K/year on rent, we were able to save quite a bit of money.  We bought a video projector which we still have.  I can’t believe we just had to get a new bulb for it.  We’re growing older, my beautiful love.

After two years of that, we realized we’d need more time to finish our dissertations, and left the students.  We had a hard time deciding between a smaller apartment and greater savings or a bigger apartment and finally having some space to ourselves, maybe getting a cat.  One of your labmates told us her apartment building had two openings, and we visited, and we picked a large apartment.  It was expensive and falling apart, but oh, in such a lovely neighborhood.  And the kitchen was tiny and awful, so we had a granite-top bureau made to extend the kitchen space to our dining room.  We also impulse-bought an expensive butcher block that we don’t need and has been a pain to move, and a lovely dining room table.  Our dining room here looks a lot like our dining room there, though we no longer use the butcher block except to hold our knives.  We traveled out to the suburbs and bought a living room set and felt a little bit like grown-ups.

Before we even moved in, we drove out to a no-kill shelter and got our kitties.  The baby who had had babies, so tiny and yellow who became my best friend when I gave her chicken and who cleaned up to a lovely lively white and black cutie within a few days of not being surrounded by scary big cats.  The big kitty who loved on you just the right amount at the shelter and has the same heart condition as your grandma.   They’re currently reminding you of their presence through generous gifts of cat-hair, just as they have every summer.

An increase in income and change in location meant we could upscale our food choices.  Whole foods, Trader Joe’s… but we still walked to the local grocery too.  The walk to WF was nicer.  Heck, our entire neighborhood was lovely.  What a change from our first 4 years.  The radiator may not always have worked correctly and might have been prone to flooding, and the water from the pipes might sometimes have been dangerous, but we still loved that apartment.

And then with one thing and another we got jobs and with the money we’d saved we had a housing down-payment equivalent to what we’d need if we were paying on mortgage what we’d paid on rent.  Silly us, we thought we’d need a house this big.  But it’s a lovely house.  And somehow right at the top of our price range… the most expensive place we looked at.

When we first got here, after the downpayment and expected and unexpected fees and emergency expenses, we couldn’t afford to buy a w/d, or rather, we could get cheap ones, but we wanted nice ones.  So you took our laundry to the local laundromat/pub.  (Why don’t more towns have that combination?)  We were about to get new furniture when our planned second car purchase got pushed up by an F150′s sudden stop.  And then suddenly we had a baby and money and no time to get more furniture.  But we didn’t need it– toys from your parents and children’s books from mine ended up filling every available space.

We finished furnishing the house right before going on sabbatical.  Pardon, Faculty Development Leave.  We don’t have sabbaticals.  People suggested putting pictures on the wall so the place didn’t seem so bare.  So we did, from one of those cheap home furnishings places.  I’m not sure if it helped.  We split that living room set across the two living rooms.  Eventually we rented the place out, even though it was furnished.

We’d saved a year’s spending to go on that faculty development leave, and we enjoyed it to the fullest extent.  I wonder if we’ll have another year like that again.  In the end, we still had money leftover and made a pretty big dent in our mortgage when we got back.  You tried out the self-employment lifestyle that year and liked it, even though your company didn’t bring in very much.  But we didn’t mind.  Your business partners though, their wives didn’t make quite as much as yours, and they didn’t like each other as much as they both liked you.  And so the experiment ended and we went home to our regular jobs.

Back at home you toyed with keeping your job, maybe going into administration.  But your heart wasn’t in it.  So we started thinking about what we could do to make you happy with your career.  And we unexpectedly needed to start DC1 in private school.  And DC2 came along.  And now you’ve been self-employed for a month or so.

And here we are today.  Still working things out.  Happy that we saved so much so that we can have the freedom to try new things.  That we can spend on what’s important.  That we can not worry so much about so many things that aren’t important when you have money but are terrifying when you don’t.

I love you so much.  I hope that we have decades and decades more of saving and spending and living and loving together.  Life without you would be nowhere near as rich.

Related:  A year ago today.

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