(lest anyone be confused or think my image of farm life is overly idyllic, I grew up on a farm, and I’m very aware of the implications. This isn’t just romanticism. Although there’s a little of that, too, allowed by distance)

I just want to have a farm, with a big kitchen garden/kitchen greenhouse, and chickens and bees and sheep and pigs (but not a million of those, just a dozen or so), and not have to have any other jobs except running the farm.

Why is that so much to ask, I say? 

Also, the most recent episode of The Longest Shortest Time has Ina May Gaskin on it, talking to several women who felt guilt and failure about not having had the natural birth they planned for, and whether and why the natural birth movement leads some people to feel that way. 

The question came up along the lines of “there are people who would never refuse pain medication at the dentist who don’t understand why anyone would refuse it in labor,” and Ina May’s response really hit home for me, both as a birth professional and a person: “People have different fears.”

I think that’s so key to so many of the conversations around birth, frankly, especially if you’re trying to convince someone of anything on the grounds of “safety.” What feels safe to one person might feel extremely dangerous to another, and that’s not just about perception—it’s about the fact that we aren’t all afraid of the same things, or comforted by the same things, or sharing the same idea of safety. For some people, the loss of autonomy would genuinely be a greater risk for them than the loss of life. It would destroy them, break them to pieces they know they won’t be able to pick up again. Those people are going to make a different choice than someone for whom that’s a worry but not something they think will have a permanent impact on their ability to live well.

I have a massive side-eye for anyone who is prescriptive about birth, from either side of the spectrum. Of course there are circumstances where I’m going to lean in one direction or another personally, and there are circumstances that are outside of my scope to support professionally, but I can’t decide for you what’s right for you to do, because I don’t live in your head and I don’t know what your greatest risk looks like. 

Anyway, just thinking things. 

Yesterday, I was listening to the RadioLab episode ‘60 Words,’ which is about the sentence in the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force in 2001 that reads, “…the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

They go on about how that’s influenced the ongoing war on terror and the political and social climate both in the US and globally, and it’s a really good, thought-provoking episode, but what it led me to was this:

My life would be so immeasurably different without 9/11 in my history. Absolutely fundamentally different. Before it, I differed from many of my peers in ideology, but it didn’t really come up that often, so it wasn’t something that ostracized me on a regular basis. After, because I was anti-war and aware of the rest of the world and liberal, I lost most of the connections I had to anyone. 

If not for 9/11, I might have stayed. I might have gone to a different school, gone back home, stayed there. I might not have, too, but who knows? Things would certainly have taken a different path for me if I weren’t forced into being constantly oppositional.

I mean, I can’t say which things would or wouldn’t have happened, obviously, but I know it set me on a trajectory I wouldn’t have been on otherwise. And that’s a big, overwhelming thought. 

For everyone whose argument against a living wage or mandatory leave or employer-managed health insurance or whatever is “but then prices would go up!”

So much hunger, so much nausea whenever I move.

Sad puppy is still sad. Going on 11 hours now.

Even an adult dog shouldn’t be left alone for eleven hours. Don’t do that to your puppy.

Maybe they had an emergency. I know things happen, and sometimes you get stuck. It’s the first day it’s happened. But the puppy was also relatively new this weekend, and that’s giving me 99 reasons to not be generous with the benefit of the doubt.

Things #10

Since we moved into this apartment in April 2012, we’ve been meaning to visit the Unitarian church that’s about a 20-minute walk from here. Even when we lived in our old place, I was researching it and reading sermons and following their social media. But we haven’t gone.

Similarly, last spring I discovered that there’s a farmer’s market likewise nearby, and we’ve gone a few times, but not nearly as often as we’d like, because it’s really a great little market and it’s the kind of thing we want to integrate more into our lives.

The biggest reason for this, of course, is me: either I’m feeling agoraphobic, or I hit the morning and the idea of going out is quickly brushed under the idea of sleeping for another hour. I’ve recently come to realize the two aren’t entirely unrelated; that sometimes I get afraid to do things because I’m worried I won’t have had enough sleep, and I’m worried about being too tired to enjoy things properly. It’s another manifestation of one of my primary flawed thought processes: I worry that something will ruin it, so I don’t try.

But now, we have an increased need to get involved in our community, to find more of our people, and to feel like we’re part of this place. It’s a continuous struggle for me to feel invested in Toronto, because neither of us likes living here very much and we’re planning to leave as soon as we can, but for now and for the foreseeable future, we’re here. This is the place we need to be, and we need to be in it.

We’re working on a few other things, too, all related to our being. We’re trying to reduce the amount of time we spend futzing on our gadgets or the internet just because we’re bored. We’re trying to reduce our multitasking, especially for entertainment but really altogether (no e-mail is so important that it can’t wait an hour). 

The hope is that we’ll be able to be a bit more present, both in our lives and in our neighborhoods. I don’t know how it’s going to go; the goals are lofty. But we’ve got a plan in place to try to make them habits, and we have high hopes.

Update: sad neighbor puppy has stopped crying, whether because its people came home (4 hours) or because it wore itself out, I’m not sure. I’m guessing the latter based on the way the crying waned, but hopefully it’s asleep now, at least, and will be better after a nap.

Updated update: puppy has woken back up even more terrified and screamy than before.

I’m far from a perfect dog owner. My dogs are less than perfectly prepared for greeting strange people and dogs, for one thing (mostly because frankly, so am I). But we do try, andwe work really hard with them to correct or modify the behaviors we can change, and we also take care of their basic needs, including their need for interaction and attention. On days when weather or other circumstances don’t allow for walks, they get good sessions of brain work, because they’re hounds, and a bored hound is a destructive and noisy hound. 

I don’t criticize people for poorly-mannered or poorly-behaved dogs. I know there’s only so much you can do to control another creature through training. I do, however, criticize people who don’t take the steps to mitigate those things with the tools available (like effing leashes) and who don’t take care of their dogs. They’re not toys; they take work. You can’t always make them into perfectly behaved little robots, any more than you can do that with a child. But you can minimize their impact on others, and you can give them the attention and affection they need to be healthy.