Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Missing my friend, and otherwise just rambling.

Who's going to follow a blogger who only posts once in a few months or so?

Laughing at myself, I sit here wondering what to write. I'll probably just copy (again) my eulogy for my dear friend who died just Friday past. I can't seem to post it enough. I want everyone to read it and wonder why this amazing friend wasn't in their life too.

So often I find myself fighting jealousy. I wish I could be the one to travel abroad to visit friends every few years, whose children were so well behaved they are never even tempted to yell or scream at them, whose homes and brains are neat and uncluttered. I guess I have my friends for other people to envy me for. I have some of the best and finest friends a person could ever want. Including in-laws and steps. The very people who are classically and stereotypically the most awful in any person's life, and I am blessed with the nicest ones anyone could hope for. Hee. I guess I am very lucky. I'll bask in the envy. (just kidding, really I am not into being envied! I've been there - it's no fun! People are MEAN to you when they envy you! Yuck!)

Anyway, now for that eulogy. Just to give you an idea of the kind of friends I have, here's one of the finest gems. (the font is huge because I needed to be able to read it through tears)


Jack Young was one of a few people I considered my "best friends". I can't believe he's gone. He was one of the first people I opened my big fat mouth to about converting to Catholicism, but only after he told me he was Catholic. That was where our friendship turned from 'good Convention friends' to 'best friends'. He understood when I talked about things that fit under that category in the Creed about "things unseen". Very few people get that, other than the sort of New Age thinkers, and even they don't get it in the same way. We understood each-other's worries about something-or-other we had said or done affecting another person's soul.

We comforted each other about Apocalyptic thoughts, and often gave each other a long-distance headslap.

We had a LOT of fun together. My first memories of Jack are from RiverCon's ConSuite, sitting around throwing bad puns, and playing "whose Line Is It Anyway" style games with found objects, dragging dear Hal Clement along in our antics. He told some of the most amazing stories of the early conventions, conversations with such lofty names as Asimov and Heinlein. His puns were among the most delightfully awful your ears could ever be subjected to.

Once, during a game of Euchre in RiverCon's ConSuite, his ace was trumped by some lowly card, and he said to his assailant in a nasty growl, "you Cur!" I, of course, complimented his zinger by holding my nose and running from the room. We would have wheelchair speed-trials, and even though I felt awful after he took a nasty spill when I didn't see a bump in the sidewalk, he begged me not to call our antics to a halt. Like a resilient child (which he was only in spirit, not in body) that was just a badge of honor to him. He still loved playing "Jedi Wheelchair".

He delighted us all with his vocal talent at our "J.R.R. Tolkien's Eleventy-First Birthday" party back in 2003, reading the part of Bilbo Baggins, opposite our friend Jeff French's Gandalf and dear Dave Blanton's Smaug. They harmonized so well together, no one will ever read those parts the same way, at least to me. I know, of course, that this is only the tip of his theatrical iceberg. But like Frodo, I only knew Uncle Bilbo after most of his adventures were behind him. In a way I am very jealous of those of you who knew him so much longer than I did, who knew him back in his heyday. Ten years seems like a long time, until something like this happens, and you wish you had had decades more.

He kind of reflected Bilbo in a number of ways. He told stories of the grand adventures he had had, but would (sometimes sadly, sometimes thankfully!) never have again. He was sorry for his part in any negative legacies his generation may have left to those that follow. He carried a heavy weight on his soul sometimes, and kept a positive attitude in the face of terrifying thoughts about the influence of the "Dark One" on the world. There are few people outside of monasteries who are so concerned with such matters. So caring and yet slow to judge. A beautiful soul indeed.

While soaking my husband's shoulder for a half hour straight, I started chuckling at the same time. I had this picture in my head, of Jack sitting in a chair, having drinks with Asimov, Heinlein and all their cronies, laughing, telling stories, and groaning at puns.

I have another picture of him in my head, sitting on the edge of his seat, listening to C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, and J. R. R. Tolkien talk about ideas beyond human perception.

There was a resolve in my mind, about never going to a convention held on Easter.

It wouldn't be proper to be partying on the few days before Easter Day; that is a time for reflection, penance, contemplation of the Lord, and the great love He showed us by what He went through to repair the Fall and save us from ourselves. I never thought anything would draw me to a convention at that time. But this might. Think about it. Like his predecessor and best friend Judi, Jack was a convention fixture. The con won't quite be the same without him. There are many many many fen who will NOT be partying quite so hard with him not there. The proper contemplation may be achieved without a stretch. The Triduum might just be a functionable mindset even at Con.

Then there's Easter Sunday. Celebration. Happiness. Light at the end of the tunnel. That works, too. Jack was SO much fun, one can't be sad for long when thinking of him. And I am certain, from the bottom of my feet to the barette on top of my head, that he is happier now than he ever was here on earth. He's having a party. We can celebrate his life and the joy he was to have around. We can tell funny stories about him and throw the worst puns in the history of ConGlomeration in his honor. So strangely enough, Jack's death might be the one and only event that would drag me to a convention on Easter Weekend.

For now, I must stand at the shore and wave fondly as he sails off to the Undying Lands. I will never forget him as I continue my own adventures here on this side of the sea.

Farewell, dear Uncle Bilbo. I'll miss you until the ships come for me, too.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

You never write, you never call....

Don't worry about your poor neglected readers. All two of them. Juuuuust let them waste away worrying - oh, wait, that's my Grandma Voice. I don't want to do that - I"m not a Grandma!

I know I never write in here.

It's not that life isn't strange enough.

It's usually that either I just can't think of the right words to describe the day, or I'm too embarrassed by my own shortcomings to write about my day. Or by the time I have any freedom to play on the computer, the point of whatever I might say is moot anyway. I usually write about what causes strong reactions in me. I write when I feel I have something to say, and I really haven't had much to say.

:chuckle: My life is completely "off-topic". Should that be filed under "MLIA" or "FML"?? ;p

I will say this: I'm thankful that we seem to be having a "real" Fall. The weather is fine and mild, and dry. The extended dryness is great for playing outdoors with the children, but not so great for the grass, trees, animals.... But I guess there has to be *some* sort of balance. If it weren't a drought it'd be a flood, right? That would be much worse.

I titled the blog "Ramblings of an Acrophile" and now you see why. :laughs at self:

Friday, August 6, 2010

A young troll who might not be a troll...

This young man (he's a high school student) posted the following to Facebook. I think perhaps that we need to stop just reacting to our potential "trolls" and figure out who's a troll and who's not. If this young'un really is just ignorant, then we could turn him around and see him become a wonderful force for good, and maybe even a great and supportive daddy someday. But not if we attack him. Read on....

Chris Woodside You are correct in saying that Breastfeading is a normal thing and is not obsene. However, it is something that should be kept private. I dont think Facebook should remove any pictures of this becuause of the first ammendment, however, I do believe it is inapropriate..why would you WANT to put pictures of you breastfea...ding children on facebook, it is a normal thing that should be kept in the privacy of ones home.

Sex is a normal thing that happens in other species but you dont see people having sex in public. or posting pictures of them having sex on facebook (at least not without getting them taken down.)

See MoreWednesday at 10:44pm · · · Fla
    • Alison Kennedy Oh wow we have another one - any takers or do we let the troll slink away back under their bridge?
      Wednesday at 10:46pm · · 1 personLoading... ·
    • Jamie Greenfield MacKenzie should we tell people they can't post pics of bottle feeding? Feeding is feeding, and it is in NO way in the same category as sex. I can't believe anyone would even compare feeding a baby to having sex!
      Wednesday at 10:51pm · · 3 people3 people like this. ·
    • Alison Kennedy I think it is better than the comparisons to waste elimination at least - two people are involved in both instances. :P
      Wednesday at 10:55pm · ·
    • Jamie Greenfield MacKenzie haha! obviously Chris wasn't breastfed.. his IQ would be higher if he had been ;)
      Wednesday at 10:56pm · ·
    • Deanna Millman
      Breastfeeding is not the same as sex, otherwise why would a child be involved? What better way to encourage breastfeeding than making it more visible?
      Due in a few weeks with number 1, can't wait to BF whenever babe gets hungry... not just ...when I'm at home. See More
      Wednesday at 11:00pm · ·
    • Alison Kennedy Awesome Deanna - I do so wish I'd had this site when my first was born. I probably would have gone much longer than 9 months and never introduced formula!
      Wednesday at 11:02pm · · 2 people2 people like this. ·
    • Jamie Greenfield MacKenzie my son is 16 months and we are still going strong :)
      Wednesday at 11:05pm · ·
    • Chris Woodside
      this is almost a bad of a habit as smoking...becuase the baby gets addicted to it and it becomes difficult to wean them off when they get old enough. And it is similar to sex becuase it is something in nature that does involve a child (one ...makes a child the other feeds a child), and it is something that is private between a man and wife (no out of wedlock sex) and between a mom and the child.....anyone who does it in public is just being rude to others. The last thing I want to see when I am in a nice restaurant or even a fast food one like mcdonalds is for someone to pull out a boob. See More
      Wednesday at 11:08pm · ·
    • Chris Woodside would you like it if we were at a park on i made love with my wife right there. Why? its should be happy we are expressing love in public
      Wednesday at 11:14pm · ·
    • Chris Woodside whats the matter no argument?
      Wednesday at 11:18pm · ·
    • Jamie Greenfield MacKenzie its hard to argue with something that doesn't make sense. Maybe you should join a page on FB about sex... you seem very focused on it. Good night :)
      Wednesday at 11:20pm · ·

(snipped out all the in-betweens... most were very flippant and derogatory to our potential "troll")
  • 18 hours ago · ·
  • Suvannah Dawn Nichol-Ruddock DONT FEED THE TROLLS..
    18 hours ago · · 2 peopleLoading... ·
  • Tanya Watson What a fucktard. I wish his mother didn't feed him anything at birth!
    8 hours ago · ·
  • Nicole Beck way to live up to the stereotype that teenage boys are stupid! Now go earn yourself a Darwin Award. No breeding for you- granted I think the only way you would knock something up would be the freak happening of you impregnating the sock under your bed. I think his mommy doesn't love him- how can a crackwhore love? So he has to lash out at smart womenfolk >:D
    7 hours ago · ·
  • Robi Leigh I'm getting sick of being ordered not to feed the trolls. What, am I not allowed to have a little fun with a complete jackass? Don't want to see it, don't look. (Get the irony?)
    4 hours ago · ·
  • Hayley Mosteller Breastfeeding is not sexual.
    about an hour ago · ·
  • Mi-jo Sayegh I don't think he is an actual troll,I think he means it , ''trolls'' simply state a comment that is opposite of what a group stands for for a reaction, whether they believe it or not, his profile is not fake and I think he means what he says
    28 minutes ago · ·
  • Hayley Mosteller Then he needs to get educated. We should refer him to Nursing Freedom and Code Name: Mama so he can read up on the subject. There are lots of resources out there for educating yourself. But seriously, young man, if you are looking for just a fight, don't go there. if you really are just that ignorant, then cure the ignorance. Read. Read well.
    11 minutes ago · · 1 personLoading... ·
  • Hayley Mosteller
    Perhaps, if you are on your school's debate team, a good challenge for you would be to debate on the side of the mother/baby nursing pair for their freedom to nurse wherever, whenever, and however they need to. The two resources I cited have wonderful links to legislations for every state, regarding protections of the nursing pair. They also have many great links to information on the health benefits of nursing, as well as the psychological benefits of nursing in public. You could do great things by debating on the side opposite of the one your initial reaction would dictate. This is learning how to learn. Learning how to think. Learning how to advocate. This is a skill that will last you a lifetime, and information that will serve you infinitely well if you should ever become a father. Your future babies will reap inestimable benefit from your educating yourself right now.See More
    4 minutes ago · ·

Friday, July 9, 2010

Nursing Mama Mermaid

My friend Kara suggested that this sculpture in Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, which depicts a mama mermaid nursing her baby, should go on tour. Well, I agree. The tour starts here. :) Here's where I got the image, to give credit where credit is due (and their image is bigger, too. For some reason Blogger thought this was "large"). Here is a link to the artist's site, also to give credit where credit is due. Brava, Ms. Asawa!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Nursing In Public Leaflet

I wrote up a little handout in Word, but even with instructions from the Help menu I couldn't make it work. Here is the text, so you can copy it into Word or PageMaker or some other program of your liking. I used Word, and made three columns with lines in between so I could cut the columns into small leaflets I could hand to people. That way, if someone decides to get in my face about nursing in public ever again, or just looks confused, I can just hand it to them and they can read it on their own. Or more likely throw it away, but who knows. I live in Ohio, so I've copied the Ohio legislation reference from's list. You can click here to go and find your own state's legislation reference and replace the text appropriately. Some states have more protections than others.

I'm not copyrighting this, because I want people to use it! If you refer to it elsewhere, do me the courtesy of linking here to let people read it here. You can copy it, customize it, use it. Just please, please don't say it's mine if you've changed it significantly. I don't want to be blamed for another person's hostile verbiage, nor do I deserve the credit if somebody makes it into a journalistic masterpiece. That said, have at.

Ohio State Law Protects Breastfeeding!
ORC Ann. 3781.55 (Lexis 2009) entitles a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother otherwise is permitted.

What do you want your children to learn about the purpose of the human breast?
Women and girls display their breasts as "toys" by the use of revealing clothing, and the breast is sexualized in the media and in society. If these displays are accepted by society, then should the breast's primary natural function deserve less respect? Think about what you want your children to learn about respect for the female body and the act of feeding a baby.

Please don't be scared by mothers and babies nursing in public!
There are two basic rules: Don't Stare, and Don't Distract The Baby. You can make eye contact with most mamas, smile, say "hello". We will not slap you if your eye wanders down. That is natural. As long as you have the common decency not to let it linger there, most mamas will not mind. Just don't stare, and there is usually no issue. We nursing mamas want you to relax around us. There's nothing to be scared of. We're just feeding our babies.

Thank you for your understanding.
Most of us are happy to educate. Don't be afraid to ask a question.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Can Educating the Public be Gentle?

Recently I've seen, and participated in, quite a few discussions on the issue of breastfeeding in public. There seems to be a tendency for nursing mothers (which I am) to get quite bent-out-of-shape (justifiably) when people show disdain for this practice. I am wondering: can we educate the public, help them to feel more comfortable with public nursing, without a "revolution"? Without all the anger and attitude? Can we be gentle about it? I think the answer may be "sometimes, perhaps."

Many people seem to be fine with mamas nursing in public as long as they are doing so "discreetly". I recently read a great article regarding the issues with the definition of "discreet". Even my own mother criticizes nursing mamas who don't cover up "adequately", saying she doesn't want to see too much. What's "adequately"? And does the person sitting next to you, Mom, define "adequately" the same way? What if that person thought your definition of "adequately" was way too revealing?

Once, when my first daughter was an infant (she's 4 now), we went to the local science center for a special exhibit. My husband took the stroller (and diaper bag and "hooter hider") one way, and I took the baby, worn in a front-carrier, another way. Sure enough, she needed to nurse. I had no idea where he was, so of course, I just nursed her there in the front carrier, while walking around the exhibit. There was very little skin showing; baby's head was hiding most of that, and the carrier even helped a little with visual obfuscation. A woman walked up to me, with her two tweens in tow, and said "Could you cover up with something?" I was so astonished I just said "Well, my husband has my cover, and I'm not showing much at all." She said "I see, but there are children here and they don't need to see that." I just walked away, trying to pick up my jaw. As usually happens in my life, I thought of what I **should** have said, ten minutes later, after she was gone and the point had fallen flat anyway. What I should have said was this: "Excuse me, but with all the teenagers in this world who wear shirts that flaunt their breasts as toys, you want me to hide using mine for their natural purpose? Lady, just *what* do you want your children to *learn* about what breasts are *for*!?!?!" My good friend, who had breastfed two children of her own, said "Yes, you should have said that!" I have subsequently said something similar in a less heated way to a less heated confronter.

On the flipside, I have a good friend who was uncomfortable with being in my presence while I was nursing, and it hit me that maybe he was just **afraid** of offending *me* and so didn't know what to do, say, refrain from, where to look, or if he should just leave the room. He would avert his eyes, bury his face in his laptop, etc., every time I nursed the baby at the table in our game group meetings. I asked him, point-blank, "Are you afraid because you don't know what you're supposed to do?" and he answered "Yes, that pretty much sums it up." So I told him "There are two basic rules. Don't stare, and don't distract the baby. Other than that, you can converse with me just as any other time. Make eye contact with me, and the other people at the table, and your materials. I'm not going to slap you if your eye wanders down. That's perfectly natural! All I ask is the common decency of not letting it linger there too long. As long as you're not *staring* there is not an issue. At all. So relax, OK?" Things were much better after that.

It occurred to me that he's certainly not the only one who might just be terrified that some mama is going to slap him silly for whatever reaction he has.

Unfortunately, our society has so sexualized the breast that it can't quite take seeing it used in any other way. People know how they're supposed to react when the breast is displayed sexually. Whether that reaction is good, bad or indifferent, people know that ogling, shying away, or rolling their eyes in disgust are acceptable reactions to the sexually displayed breast. Nursing breasts are a relatively new thing in our modern American society. They are becoming more common, more accepted, but still a little scary. Scary? Scary, because people don't know what they're supposed to do.

It took a long time for people to realize that handicapped people just need to be treated like people, and that you don't have to look away from a person in a wheelchair; it's not rude to look if you're not staring. People in the presence of a nursing mother feel similar fear and confusion; they are in similar uncharted territory.

It is my opinion that obnoxious confrontation toward breastfeeding must be met boldly and firmly. It is also my opinion that people who are simply afraid of what to do must be handled as gently as possible, educated, and brought into an understanding in order to conquer that fear. You do not handle a person who is afraid of spiders with ridicule and a bucket of spiders poured over his head; you educate him. You take him to see the Bug Guy at the science museum to see how he handles the spiders and doesn't get bitten. You explain to him that spiders eat things far yuckier than themselves. Maybe he won't get over that fear anytime soon, but he might at least be able to see a spider without recoiling and fleeing or stomping it flat.

That's not to say we shouldn't defend ourselves when we are verbally or socially assaulted. Far from it. But revolution cannot be our only manner. We must know when to gently educate. Remember the old axiom about coins having two sides?

Perhaps if we are as gentle as possible with those who fear us, we will eventually normalize nursing in public. Less and less people will fear us, and therefore more and more will begin to understand. More and more tolerant ones will begin to outnumber the ones who deserve the figurative kick-in-the-head.