Courtney Milan and friends on twitter recently had a conversation about how at the core of a long-regency romance novel is that people want to be safe and that money is one way to be safe. People want to marry a duke because that is the safest place to be in that time period.
I read a lot of long-regencies. But I’ve also read a lot of mystery novels. What has been interesting to me in my most recent juxtaposition, jumping from one to the other is how all these 1920s-1960s murder mysteries I’ve been binging on c/o Christie and Sayers make it very clear that it is *dangerous* to have money, especially if you are leaving it to other people and not charities. If you have a lot of money you might as well put a target on your back. People will marry you but then *kill* you. They will come to your aid when you are sick, but only until you sign a new will in their favor. Kind hearts and coronets.
I think it is not random that this transition between 19th century and 20th century measures of literary safety happens– the 1920s bring the strong rise of the middle class and forcing minor gentry to work for a living, though I guess the Mapp and Lucia series show that that element of society is still going strong into the 1930s. And of course, Benson makes it clear (much like Jane Austen did before him) that idle hands truly are the devil’s playground and the idle wealthy are a ridiculous drain on society.
But I also want to have a lot of money because it helps me feel safe. And I want to leave money to my children because I want them to be safe. I like being able to escape. But we won’t have enough money to make us worthwhile targets… and I would hope our children wouldn’t want us dead! That’s a good reason for them to have their own income and careers. We spend so much on investing in them so they can take care of themselves. Which is another mistake that those 1920s victims make– they ask their children to live on their expectations rather than training them as solicitors or financiers or what have you. No vocation, idle hands.
Though I guess finance is a bad choice, come to think of it, because a pretty common murder motive is needing funds to cover up embezzlement! So maybe just stick to law. Not medicine because they have too much access to poison.
Agatha Christie seems to be really pro-LGBT, particularly gay men. It’s sometimes a plot point (won’t spoil it, one of her many plays). Reading the mysterious Mr. Quinn it is quite lovely how in the first story she’s pretty clear, though using coded language, that the hero, Mr. Sattherwaite (who I think appears in the occasional Hercule Poirot when HP needs gossip, ah yes, wikipedia says he does) is gay, or possibly asexual (though in later short stories she gives him a failed marriage proposal). In contrast, Sayers seems like a pretty awful homophobe, particularly when it comes to lesbians. She straight up says pretty terrible things. And yet, Sayers seems, on the whole, less anti-Semitic prior to WWII (as noted in an earlier post, Christie seems to realize she shouldn’t be anti-Semitic once the Nazis come into power).
When I was in elementary school, one of the children’s moms came in once a year to teach about Judiasm, usually around Hannukah. I didn’t realize until I was much older that she did this to help combat antisemitism. We also had a disabilities unit in 4th grade where we learned about different kinds of disabilities and how people worked around them and how to treat people we met who had disabilities. People would come in and talk to us about how to treat their seeing eye dogs and so on. The learning specialist talked about how she taught people with dyscalculia to add (which… was how I did adding at the time). It was a really wonderful program and definitely helped me not be a jerk or idiot when meeting new people. I’m not sure we could do that these days because people would be too afraid of making mistakes. And I’m sure there were stupid things we did, but on the whole all those old educational videos from the 1970s and the community volunteers themselves made us less likely to be harmful and more likely to support ADA legislation.
This blog really is a random mix of things. I think that’s more unusual than it used to be? But maybe not.
One of DH’s relative’s “friends” traveled to DC for the coup and stormed the capitol. He was really excited about it and posted pictures and videos all over his social media. Then he came home and found out that everyone he knew IRL was horrified and deleted all his social media and is pretending he didn’t go at all. I hope the FBI finds him.
DH’s relative’s youngest (the only one in college) got an additional bill for $2K for last semester because financial aid was based on the number of people living in the household and so he included his oldest and her kid. But, apparently the oldest got some kind of food assistance last semester (I don’t know if WIC or foodstamps or what) so the school decided she and her kid didn’t count as part of DH’s relative’s household, so they sent a retroactive bill for the difference(!) That seems crazy to me. (We paid it. We don’t know how much this semester is going to cost even though classes start soon.)
Speaking of DH’s relative– he kicked a covid positive mask-denier “We’re all getting it anyway so who cares” off the work site where he was working twice. The first time he threatened to kill the guy (“If you give me covid and my immunocompromised wife dies, I will hunt you down” “That’s not fair, you won’t know it was me”) , which in retrospect, he regrets. The second time he called the guy’s boss and threatened to tell the city. That actually worked. It’s nice when doing the things we tell our kids to do (talk to a responsible adult when someone is being dangerous) actually works.
Speaking of anti-maskers, DH tried to get our car inspection sticker renewed and had to go to three places before he found one where the people were wearing masks (the dealership). Except… after it was done the cashier had her mask around her neck instead of her face. He also went to drop something off at a government office and didn’t realize until he’d left that none of the people working there even had masks. 7 people died yesterday and our ICU has been 130% full for almost a full week now. The students aren’t back yet. DH is shaken. I wonder if I should start doing errands. Maybe DH can do my work instead. I’m not sure what I would have done in the moment, but I definitely would have reminded the cashier to put her mask up (I would have assumed it was an accident). As for the government office, if I’d noticed, I think maybe I would have just left the item we were turning in on the inside of the door.
The library was still quite lovely for curbside, and Target curbside was great. Hopefully he won’t have to do any more errands for a while. I can pick up and drop off library books myself once my school starts since the library is on the way to work. Also I’d completely forgotten that some people don’t wear masks because last week I went for my annual doctor’s visit and everyone at the hospital was masked without a single nose showing. I switched hospital systems and it has made a HUGE difference. Also everyone there was super nice and seemed genuinely happy to be working there, which is also really different.
The bad news though is that I am now obese(!) which I have NEVER been before (BMI exactly 30, but I’ve also gained a lot since my last checkup so it’s been a fast weight gain, which is the least healthy kind). I had my glucose checked but it’s fine. My bad cholesterol is up too– usually it’s nicely in the low to middle healthy range and only my good cholesterol is high. The doctor’s notes say the cholesterol is fine, but the automatic thing says “borderline high”. I’m having a bunch of other weird health problems too which I should probably just give their own post. Pandemic is bad! I’ve told DH he can still make bread but he needs to cut back on the sweets. The children have noticed and have been complaining.
4th graders at our kids’ school do a disability awareness thing, except my middle missed it last year because of covid. Maybe a continuation in some fashion of the one you did as a kid. We didn’t do anything like that when I was growing up. We were just pretty much jerks. My kids’ school is very into social-emotional learning and kindness. My kids roll their eyes but there does seem to be less bullying and meanness than there was in my elementary school. Although I think at the elementary school DH went to in the same town at the same time the kids were a lot nicer.
I’m sorry about your DH’s mask-denier experience. These days I’m pretty much running errands as I normally would, but that’s because where we live everyone is wearing masks and it seems low enough risk. I hope the worst of this is almost over.
I’m beginning to think it might be worth trading lack of snow for the experience of living with people who vote democrat and care about people. After those 7 deaths yesterday, ICU is only at 120% capacity(!)
I love the way that school systems today have taken anti-bullying to heart and it’s ok to tell a teacher if something bad happens instead of getting in trouble for tattling. My kids’ experiences so far have been so much better than my own was. And yet, DC1 did have that extra credit assignment to submit a poem to an ultra-right-wing propaganda website.
Yeah, your comment a few days ago about not being able to do outdoor playdates because others won’t wear masks really struck me. My kids just throw their masks on when they go out to play and so do all the other kids. They don’t even give it a thought. And every parent we interact with in our neighborhood seems to have expectations in the ballpark of ours. I know we’re in a total bubble and maybe it’s not “reality” but I really appreciate it right now.
My so-called blueberry city has plenty of people not wearing masks properly or at all. We’ve got an offsite hospital back-up space at the convention center. As of yesterday, it was staffed for 25 patients, with space for 200 total, but was not yet in use. So things are plenty scary here, too.
I’ve been reading Louis L’amour books lately. He’s on the side of money putting a target on your back. And safety is never guaranteed, but you improve your odds with strength, skills, hard work, and mercy.
In college I had a class where we all had to pretend we had a disability and do two activities. One had to be in public, and we had to make it look like we had the disability. The other could be at home, and we had to simulate what it was like to actually have it. I picked a super easy one–having only one arm, my dominant one. I had this coat (it was winter there) where I could bend my arm at the elbow and stick it in, then button the coat and it looked like I was missing part of my arm.
My public activity was to walk to my travel agent to buy my plane ticket home (ancient times!). On the walk there, pedestrians did double-takes, which I expected. But one then gave me a mean look, as if to say, “How dare you make me imagine the horribly painful thing that must have happened to you!” I actually felt bad. Then at the travel agent, I quickly realized I should have practiced getting my money out with one hand. I apologized, turning red, but the travel agent was perfectly polite.
My other task was to cook dinner. I used the other parts of my body a lot more. I would hold doors open with my hip or head. I would hold a jar between my knees to open it. Basically, all the stuff I do when I wish I had 3 hands, only much more often. And I realized it’s hard to wash the arm you still have and I have no idea how you’d shave that armpit.
We all reported our experiences (a lot of people tried out being blind), so it was a quite educational activity.
I agree that a lot more blogs these days are single-topic. It’s easier to attract an audience–they only have to be interested in one topic to want to read your whole blog. And a lot of the multi-topic people who were just doing it for fun have stopped. I know one who switched to Facebook posts.
I wonder if lots of people who protested the election results have IRL friends to make them want to stop bragging. And if so, I wonder if this just makes them want to hide their true selves, or if it is also causing them to re-think their true selves.
That retro-active college bill is super scary. I wonder if there were any reasonable way for them to have known that some people living in the household wouldn’t count.
“It’s nice when doing the things we tell our kids to do (talk to a responsible adult when someone is being dangerous) actually works.” Yes!
I totally lucked out with my car inspection place. Normally there’s a waiting room in a trailer, but they moved it outside under a canvas roof, with plastic patio chairs six feet apart. (It was super hot when I went.) And the gal taking the money was outside at a podium behind plexiglass wearing a mask properly. I know it’s too far of a commute for y’all! This spot is on the poorer side of town (more land, less money); I wonder if that made it easier for them to adapt?
I went to a government office today to pay my property taxes. Fortunately they have drop boxes outside. I could’ve mailed it in for an extra $1 or used a credit card online for an extra 3%, but it’s in walking distance, so it’s a good excuse for exercise.
My library also has good curbside service. We drive in and call with our library card number (which is way too long), say which spot we’re in (only every other spot has numbers), and open our trunk. (We don’t have that kind of trunk, so we open a back seat window and they toss it in. I’m now realizing we should probably open the whole back seat door for them.)
So glad you have a nicer hospital system now! Too bad that other hospital system is so much worse.
On officially being obese now: you could do what my friend did and use it to get the vaccine quicker, if you want. Best wishes in improving your health again. I agree that it’s good to start fighting that worse cholesterol level now rather than later. And if your husband misses making bread, you probably have neighbors who would enjoy carbo-licious gifts, perhaps even with one end cut off.
I’m now wondering, would you have preferred a separate comment for each topic?
I had the same thought about pretending to have a disability. But I do see how some empathy could be gained from it. I did the SNAP challenge a couple of years ago (lived for a week on only what we’d get through SNAP/WIC benefits) and was struck by how much mental energy was required to figure out what we could eat for that little without going hungry. We didn’t go hungry, but I have a fully stocked kitchen and good cooking skills (didn’t use condiments or pantry staples but I have pots, pans, rice cooker, slow cooker, etc. and didn’t worry about paying the gas or electric bill). It helped me to appreciate the difficulty of providing for your family on that level, even if I only got a tiny glimpse into a small part of the challenges.
I dunno, pretending to be blind is probably nothing like being blind. Trying to navigate in a wheelchair doesn’t seem as problematic because that’s about accessibility and about the wheelchair itself, not pretending to have a disability one doesn’t have. The SNAP challenge also seems less bad, although a lot of people who have done it take away bad lessons “I bought these items in bulk and had no problem” not realizing that people on SNAP can’t do what they did because they don’t have the upfront money, space, or ability to handle losing large amounts of food in case of an infestation or power outage. So I don’t know, I’m not disabled, so my opinion isn’t important on this topic, but it somehow seems demeaning. We saw a number of videos about people with disabilities caused by thalidomide and I think that was better than pretending not to have the use of arms because it was much more realistic about what they could and couldn’t do and what their lives were like (and what a good ADA policy might look like…). Meeting people who are blind makes it clear that their lives are not at all like what normally sighted people walking around with blindfolds on might think they are. People with disabilities aren’t helpless or needing pity, but pretending to have a disability for a short time can make it seem like they are. It’s the difference between believing that people with disabilities need charity vs. need accommodations and protections.
I broke my leg early this year and spent the last 10 months at various levels of not being able to walk. It was awful and for a while not clear that I would fully heal (it seems now that I will – yay!), but the biggest positive thing that I’ve taken from it is a glimpse into how inaccessible things are for people with limited mobility. Even things that are labeled as accessible are really difficult to navigate.
In med school they gave us wheelchairs to use for a day so that we could see how impossible the world was to navigate if you had to use one to get around. It was hard! Also people acted like jackasses and raced them downhill.
I think school is much better at being inclusive now, generally. It was not, at all, for me. Finally in 11th grade we read one book by a woman and one by a black person.
DC1 is reading the one book with any women in it right now. Antigone. None of the others even had female characters, minority characters, or even people whose parents weren’t in the 1% this year. I don’t think they’ve read anything with women or minority authors … ever. Which is bizarre because in middle school when I was growing up we read lots. (High school not so much.)
God, I just calculated my BMI and I am right there with you. I am starting daily weigh ins now. It’s gone too far. I have to weigh my mom daily anyway due to her heart heart condition, so it begins. I set a 1 pound a week goal but even 1/2 is good for me as long as I am going down and not up further.
I also started physical therapy again last week to get my back and hip pain under control…and learned I have degenerative disk disease so the extra weight only exacerbates that issue. I gave myself a pass during lockdown but I think I’ve reached a point that I can’t ignore anymore. It’s tough when you have pain because all you want to do is nothing and it’s the opposite of what you should be doing. Plus the high deductible medical plans drive the wrong behaviors, at least with me.
I really need to see a podiatrist, I think. Maybe I’ll do an open thread one of these weeks, “Middle-aged peeps, complain about your health problems here!” Because I would very much like to go on at LENGTH.
I’m not doing anything organized– I have just told DH no more cakes and cookies except for special occasions, I don’t get seconds just because it tastes good only if I’m hungry, and I’m trying to stop mindlessly snacking, which is hard because most of my breaks involve walking to the kitchen. My herbal tea drinking has gone up. My new (extremely fit) GYN doesn’t seem like the type who would let me on metformin as a weight-loss aid and I have no desire to ttc.
Thanks for the discussion of money/safety. Somehow I grew up really thinking money = target on your back. Like I never wore expensive things, always worried about having a fancy ring, never wanted a fancy phone, etc. That’s fine in that who cares if I have a fancy phone — the cheaper one works well — but it also held me back on some level for going for a career that paid well. I finally started to get over it when I had a kid and kid needed daycare. Daycare is so f(*&ing expensive! So I went out and got a job that paid a lot more so that I wouldn’t be paying 20% of my yearly salary to daycare.
America is such an unfair place. I wish everyone got high quality daycare if desired.
“I also want to have a lot of money because it helps me feel safe. And I want to leave money to my children because I want them to be safe.”
ME TOO. I also want my children to learn of how to make their own financial safety and really hope to make good decisions about how to share that with them.
Random mix of things: Same! It’s more unusual but why I keep coming back. The trend towards making every blog high-traffic and camera ready makes them feel really generic and impersonal.
EW to DH’s relative’s “friends”. I hope someone outs him.
My doc asked me to aim to get back to pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months and I have never in my life had any specific mandate to lose weight and it feels weird. But as weight loss was a side effect of my keto-ish diet, I am likely to have to do a period of no-carb no-sugar foods if breastfeeding alone doesn’t help me gradually get there. *Ketoish would be gradual too.