Out of Context

Yesterday, while walking back from Qdoba with my big ol' belly, I ran into one of the librarians who said,

"You're not allowed here. You're out of context!"

Sure am I, 'mom.' :)

Lately I've been interviewed a lot for student projects. The most recent one was a project on pregnant bodies in public spaces. The project was based on the assumption that pregnant bodies were 'public property.' This assumption stems from the reaction of the general public to a pregnant woman. Complete strangers will touch your belly, give you unsolicited advice, and generally make sure you are taking care of yourself.

Now, if you look at this reaction from a very political stand point, you would come to the conclusion that the pregnant woman is 'public property.' And while you can argue that every person is a political entity, that isn't how we, as individuals, react to the world around us.

When someone sees a pregnant belly they know that a new, unique individual is growing inside. The urge to touch the belly isn't about controlling the pregnant woman, but about confirming what they already know to be true: a new person is growing in there.

Plus there’s great excitement in the chance of feeling fetal movement from the outside; the confirmation of suspicion. Even so, the vast majority of people will ask before they touch. Some will reach out and let their hand hover until they receive permission and will be disappointed, but not upset if permission is denied. Of the many people who have touched my belly, only three people have not asked permission.

So what about all the advice? Again, the advice isn’t about controlling the pregnant woman. It’s about lending a hand. Much of the unsolicited advice is well meaning. It’s just someone trying to help out. And it isn’t as common or as embarrassing as some stories out there would lead you to believe. When it does happen, all it requires is a smile and a thank you. You’ve done your good deed for the day. The person offering the advice was only trying to be helpful, even if the advice was crazy or contradictory to your doctor's orders.

And all those questions about whether or not you're taking care of yourself! They aren't as common as you would be led to believe. The first thing one person will ask another in a basic greeting is how they're doing, whether that person is having a baby or not. (My friend Sam has the best reply to these sorts of questions: "Fair to partly cloudy." This has led to a wide variety of weather metaphors used at work.)

So have I run into anyone trying to ‘control’ my pregnant body? Thankfully, no. Of course, that can’t be said for everyone. There are women who have to deal with well intentioned comments that they are wasting their youth. Or vicious comments that they are ‘polluting’ the world by giving birth. I have a friend who was physically pushed by someone trying to make a statement about pregnancy. How cowardly is that?

Which beings me back to context. I work at a university. Even as little as five years ago, a baby bump was verboten. The librarian in question had her youngest child during those days and many of the older faculty members are of the opinion that pregnancy is out of context on a university campus. That hasn't stopped the younger members of campus faculty, staff, and students from having children and being proud of their pregnant bodies and children. Even an overcast day threatening torrents of rain will seen couples and their children all over campus and especially at the Alumni Center (because that's where the duckies live!).

Pregnancy and motherhood does something for women, something I wasn’t a part of even with my miscarriage. It makes us part of a larger sorority. It’s a secret club the childless will never be a part of or understand. My pregnancy has highlighted that for a lot of my coworkers, who feel like they are privy to a larger conspiracy of love but can't enter into it on their own. Plenty of them are fine just the way they are, being of an older persuasion. But the younger ones are rethinking their assumptions about everything from marriage to parenthood.

The clarion call of being 'traditional' and opting for marriage and parenthood is seeping back into the culture. And not a moment too soon. It's time that we force the world to make room for us instead of making room for it. On a campus full of context, its a radical step. And that's why we stay in academia long after graduation. We want to be radical. Context, here we come!

A Horrible Discovery!

So I have that itch.

That Castlevania itch.

So I pop Symphony of the Night into the PS2 and switch the new flat screen tv to the game console and...


So, my husband, always to the rescue, started testing all our games and we found that our PSX games will not play with the new tv. Apparently, the lack of a digital signal will keep me from my sweet, sweet Symphony of the Night. Julia is already lamenting the loss of Vagrant Story, which she was in the mood to play again.

All of this has come after we tossed out the clunker, which was still in good working order, to make more room in storage. Oh well. I know someone in my complex has taken it in and is loving it better than I ever had.

They may even be playing Castlevania right now.

So last night, in the middle of the night, I popped Castlevania into the PSP and started hacking my way through the castle.

Since Castlevania is my crack of choice, I have already loaded Harmony of Disonance into the DS, fully charged it, and tossed it into the hospital bag. I figure HoD, with two castles worth of butt-kicking action, will keep me sufficiently distracted during labor. And it seems some how appropriate that a Castlevania whore would give birth while playing Castlevania. Of course, when I get to the giving birth point, I'll have put the game down. It's really hard to push when your in the middle of a boss fight.



I liked the movie better than the novel.


When I say this, a lot of people assume that I am somehow betraying the entire concept and Alan Moore. I'm not. The movie really brings to life Moore's opus in a way I was totally unprepared for and I now have a greater understanding of the work as a whole.

Billy Crudup's portrayal of Dr. Manhattan brought the character to life. He was always lifeless to me in the novel. He was an extraordinary person in extraordinary circumstances and felt no compulsion to do anything about it. Everything was so tiny and insignificant to him that his change of heart didn't feel right in the novel. It still didn't feel right in the movie, but it was a definite leg up.

Jackie Haley's Rorschach was not only spot on, it was legendary. Matthew Goode's Veidt was also spot on, despite my misgivings from seeing him in the movie posters and stills. He didn't look right (a bit too skinny, ya know?), until you saw him on screen. Ozymandias indeed!

Two things that surprised me:

1. I was uncomfortable with Dr. Manhattan's nudity.

Now, I'm no prude. It's not like I've never seen a naked man before and it isn't like it bothered me when I read the novel. (Hell, I'm a fan of Bastard!!, and Darsh spends more time naked than not.) But I was put off by it none the less.

I think it had less to do with nudity so much as it was male nudity. The female body has long been seen as a work of art, but it's very hard to make the male body a work of art. Michelangelo's David is a singular work because it makes the male body a work of art.

I think it may also have been about expectations. We expect someone who is nude to act a certain way. I'm not sure how I was expecting Dr. Manhattan to act, but it wasn't the way he did. Is this a bad thing? No! Like I said above, Billy Crudup really brought the character to life for me and in the end, it doesn't really matter if he was clothed or not.

2. I was uncomfortable with the violence.

I know: "Wah! Get over it!" Right?

I am no stranger to violence in movies and the novel never hid the horrors of violence. But this, I believe, is a sign of my being a parent. Things I took in stride now bother me a great deal.

Does this mean the movie should have been less violent? No! I instead take this as a sign that I am not desensitized to the horrors portrayed on the screen and that's a good thing. If the violence bothered you, good! It should have. That's part of the point.

My rating for the movie: Win!


flOwing into sleep

Despite the official move, people keep coming here to the tune of 40 a week. Not too shabby, huh?

FlOw is one of my favorite games to relax with and I downloaded it to my PSP a while ago for constant fun. Lately, I've been using it to help me get to sleep. I've been developing the typical sleeping problems associated with pregnancy and found that a half hour of flOw will knock me out like a light.

The link above takes you to the original flOw. I recommend giving it a shot and seeing what you think. The online version is easier to control than the PSP, but you also have more room. Put on the headphones and veg out for a while.