Two random thoughts

…because I am awake at ridiculous o’clock  (thank you, abrupt weather changes, for these fantastic joint aches and this fabulous itch-behind-the-eyes headache-ish thing that cancelled my sleep after only two hours)

AND I’m behind on blogging, so here I am, filling time and space.

Random thing the first: a realization about genderthink

It all started way back when I read Anne Leckie’s Imperial Radch series. It blew my mind in several ways, all excellent and glorious.  The biggest impression it left was the foundational nature of gendering assumptions.  It was HARD wrapping my brain around the default pronoun being she/her. Such a simple concept was far more difficult to process than I anticipated.  WORTH IT, though. Such a good book.

The read cut and polished new facets into my worldview.

Most of my life, when I saw an identifier like, “his cousin,” in a book I was reading, I would assume that cousin was male until given a name or other information that indicated otherwise.  And to be honest, if it was a side character, or a bit player, no such information would ever be offered. So in my mind, all the random NPCs in fiction ended up being male by default.

That doesn’t happen any more. In the last few years my default assumption has changed to female.  I noticed this reading something today where cousins were referenced several times before being gendered. Learning they were boys jarred me right out of the narrative. I had just assumed…a completely opposite assumption than in the past.

A lot of terms do not require or include gender (like cousin, or manager, accountant, neighbor or staffer versus aunt or uncle, ) There’s zero reason to default to a male identity other than cultural expectations. And expectations can change.

I’ve got no conclusion here, it’s just a thing I noticed.

Random idea the second: why isn’t mothering a job?

What would the world be like if we treated mothering as an activity rather than a gender-chained identity?  I fear I’m missing some huge meaningful Spiritual aspect of Motherhood or inadvertently insulting millions by asking that question,  but there it is.

There’s a lot of mystical, magical malarkey associated with being “A MOM” that seems to only apply when the job is done by a FEMALE presenting person. And I don’t think perpetuating those ideas is good or healthy for anyone with a mothering gig.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but mothering is a set of definable actions.**  Mothering is a thing one does. It doesn’t even entirely require a child, although I would submit that is the prime example of it. Strip away the cultural gender baggage, and the whole thing gets much simpler and healthier.

So I’m amusing myself picturing a world where Mother or Mom is a just a job title meaning “person or persons whose social role is primary child nurturer.”  This also creates an opening for Father/Dad to be an action-defined role too. Maybe it becomes the term for the secondary nurturer or nurturers–the one or ones who nurture the primary child nurturer, for example, or contribute to the social unit in other ways.

(I’ll leave details to someone more clever and well-rested than I feel right now.)

This random thought was sparked by reading an article on “stay at home dads” and the different expectations placed on them, and thinking to myself, hang on, how much of this whole problem is the labeling? If their primary job is taking care of the kids, the meals, the wash, the home finances, the scheduling and so on, then they’re doing the mom job, so why aren’t they stay-at-home-moms?

And I suspect the answer is, “That would make too many people feel unmanly.” Which kinda indicates there’s gender-baggage, and that’s why it tickles my imagination to ponder a world where a dude proudly calls himself Mom, and a woman answers to Dad.

ANYway.

Totally random stuff. And that’s all there is, so I’ll wrap it here.  G’night. Or good morning. Whatever.

 

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and here is a random chicken image.

**Yes, any activity or job can also be an identity, but the dangerous nature of tying identity to specific work is a topic for a whole ‘nother post.

 

Five me things in no particular order

Some Twitter list things went around recently (I don’t know what to call a huge cluster of separate retweets-with-comments allowing people to add their takes on a particular theme w/o replying to the original tweet. It isn’t a meme. It isn’t a sub-tweet. I dunno.)

ANYway. The original post started with a New Year’s related appeal for writers to introduce themselves with “5 Things People May Not Know About You.”

I do love a good personal share (WORLD’S SHYEST EXHIBITIONIST HERE, HELLO)  and I loved reading the answers posted by people I follow ( see also: dragon-like data hoarding tendencies) but I didn’t join the fun because:

  1. Interest had died down long before I herded my thoughts into word order, and I am weary of being That Person who awkwardly chimes into a fun song two measures late and off the beat. Same thing happened with another flurry of data posts under the heading “Skills people think I have vs skills I actually have.”
  2. Twitter is ephemeral. If I’m going to the trouble of wordsing, I’d rather chisel them into the walls of this space, which is designed to last a bit longer.  (It isn’t that I imagine my prose is deathless, glorious perfection, just that making & organizing ANY sentences is haaaaard. I like to know they’ll stay where I’ve left them.)

So. Without further ado, more random facts about me you may not know:

  • I didn’t master tying my shoes until I was eight.
  • I can (successfully) bake muffins, breads and several kinds of cookies without consulting recipes or using measuring tools.
  • I first sat cross-legged at the age of fourteen, after lots of exercise to get my hips to loosen up far enough to make it possible.
  • Choosing History or Biology as a college major came down to a literal coin toss.
  • My ability to interpret facial expressions is minimal. Angry, fearful, excited, joyful…all I can say with confidence is “Strong emotion, prolly?” This has made me a highly-motivated student of kinesics & nonverbal communication in general.
  • If I don’t practice whistling daily, I lose all ability within a week & have to re-teach myself from scratch.
  • I can ID a dozen breeds of horse and cow on sight, and far more tropical fish species. Ditto for birds, reptiles, and small mammals.
  • My body is always healing stressed tendons or ligaments somewhere. Always. Evaluating & supporting multiple minor sprains & strains is a daily routine.
  • My favorite color is cobalt blue. But I think everyone knows that one.

Yes, I can count, I know that’s nine, not five, but I was on a roll, so you got them all.  Now I’m feeling self-conscious and figure I’m boring everyone, so I’ll say adieu, and get back to the fiction writing.

Until next time!

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Image by thom kunz from Pixabay

One of my many random quirks

It’s a new calendar year. Why not start a new thing on the blog?

For the next little while, I’ll feature tidbits of personal trivia I have been informed are not as well-known as I imagine them to be. It’s another topic to alternate with book posts, writing rants, media consumption lists, baking recipes, and so on.

My first not-so-major revelation: I am face blind.

Yes, yes, I know lots of people have trouble remembering names, many people are bad with faces, but…have you ever walked right past your parent or your spouse or your best friend of many years because you DID NOT SEE THEM out of context?

I have. Many times. That’s my level of “bad with faces.”

It doesn’t mean I’m people-blind.  I recognize people…mostly. Just not faces. Or voices.  It’s more that I deliberately construct conscious brain imprints of overall person-ness — how you move, speak, dress, etc. I can spot friends across crowded rooms, especially if I’ve made note of what they’re wearing.

But do I spot details like changes in hair color, eyeglasses, makeup, scars, tattoos or “identifying characteristics?” NOPE.  As a kid, I thought the ability to describe and remember other people like characters in books & on TV was a fictional power. And names? Pffft. The label for your gestalt may be stowed away in a totally different mental zone, because I have a WTF brain.

ANYway.

This means if you’re standing still, if I’m not looking for you–and especially if I haven’t seen you recently? My chances of knowing who you are or even SEEING you is 50/50 or worse. The longer it’s been since we last talked, the worse my chances are.

This makes conventions more than moderately terrifying.

Why? In large part because people tend to remember me for some reason. Good friends I see only at cons, wonderful people I met at conventions past–y’all spot me and make a point of saying hello, being the awesome, cool, kind, and wonderful people you are…

…and there I will stand, without the slightest clue who’s talking to me.

I am often forthright, even pre-emptive, about admitting I don’t know who someone is, but not always. Constant confession is emotionally exhausting and jabs a lot of big, red social-interaction buttons that trigger guilt dumps.

And whether I admit it or not, nothing will never erase the unhappy belief that people think I’m lying, that I’m a lazy jerk making excuses for not caring about them enough to remember them. It hurts to not be recognized by someone. I know this. 

I DO LIKE YOU. YOU’RE AWESOME! But I have faulty exterior-recognition software.

Guilty awkwardness is a burden on top of the already-huge stressiness of being at a con. (I love cons. TRULY. I love them. But it’s also true I love many things that aren’t strictly good for me…) 

ANYway.  Let me wrap up with this:

If you don’t see me often, there are a few ways to help avoid instilling quiet panic and deep-seated guilt in me when we meet. I don’t expect people to make the effort, but when it happens, I am FOREVER grateful.

The platinum standard: starts with “Hi, Karen (or Kem, or Kay, or Tigger, or Herkes, I answer to all these)  great to see you again.”

This demonstrates you know me. Then it’s decision tree time.

IF I respond with your name or a personal tidbit that makes it crystal clear I remember who you are, we’re good. My brain has coughed up your imprint in a timely fashion. Yay, brain.

If I DON’T use your name, could you please consider proceeding to something like this: “I’m <your name> we know each other from <place/time> and add something about our prior interaction?

By doing this you:

  • providing release from expectation damps down my guilty adrenaline rush. (adrenaline not being a friend of higher brain function)
  • Offering memory tags right off the mark helps me place you in context, which gets me to the proper brain space where your ID is stored.
  • The more you talk and move, the more data I have available to match to the gestalt of physical characteristics on file.

You can be as simple as, “It’s Felicity. From work? I’m in Accounting? We don’t see each other often.”  Or as complicated as “I’m Gwen. We were table neighbors at XYZCon, and it turned out we went to the same elementary school. We talked about meeting for dinner next con–how are you?”

But even if I appear to be entirely comfortable chatting, if I don’t respond with your name or personal deets, it’s likely I do NOT recognize you at the start of the conversation.

Talking comfortably at length with total strangers is a survival skill I mastered long before I knew face blindness was a thing, not a failure of effort on my part. If we talk long enough, I often…eventually…figure out what our relationship is.

It’s a huge relief when I don’t have to work that strategy or confess to cluelessness, though.

And yes, I do try to do this for others, on the rare occasions I am introducing myself to people I recognize.

Because I never expect anyone to recognize me.

Okay, that’s enough for now. Until later, world!