May

I took the kids to see our friends a few towns away today, and it was balm for my soul. My friend Brittany said that she would like to read my parenting book with chapters such as “I don’t accept the premise,” “benevolent neglect,” and “the apocalypse, but happy.” The kids played beautifully together, and getting time with friends was so much needed.

I like to tell Britt that when I visit her, it’s like tuning into my favorite series, with well established characters and there’s always something new happening that I hadn’t seen on any previous episode. The new old tradition this time was Opening Day, apparently it’s a huge tradition for their family and I’ve known Britt and Jay for like 17 or 18 years and this is the first it’s come up. I love it.

Grant with his “very best friend” Killian.
Eleanor and Willow decorated the entrance to Fairy Land.
Grant gave Kills a flower.
It’s important to me that everyone sees this photo of Brittany. It tells you everything.
They have 19 chickens and this is the one I had to shoo out of my car.

40 by 40

Here are 40 things that have helped me be who I happen to be today, on the 40th anniversary of my glorious entrance to the world! They may have limited efficacy for you, but you are most welcome to try to absorb some of this hard-won wisdom! We’ll start with the absolutely most important stuff.

Fashion

  1. Have at least two types of outfits you can rely on. For me, outfit 1 is leggings and a shirt, and outfit 2 is a dress. I can figure these out reliably, and put them onto me with a high degree of success every single time.
  2. Statement pieces are great. You should have some. At least one should be despised by your partner, for fun.
  3. Shoes, man. You know? Good shoes, preferably.
  4. All underpants are period underpants if you don’t track. Who cares.
  5. Dry clean only? I don’t think so.

Hair

  1. It’ll grow back!
  2. Make the time to have two regrettable haircuts. One will happen without your realization, but the second one… you’ll know. And you’ll do it anyway! It’s called being brave. It’s empowering to take risks, and not all of them will pay off. Luxuriate in the low stakes wrong steps. Learn from it.
  3. The way you washed your hair as a child doesn’t necessarily translate into how you’re supposed to wash your hair as an adult. Figure it out, you absolute grownup.
  4. You don’t have to remove any hair you don’t want to.
  5. You don’t have to keep any hair you don’t want to. Choose for yourself.

Womanly Wiles

  1. You don’t have to be ashamed of having a period. If you don’t have periods, you don’t have to try to make people who do have them ashamed. You can hate it, love it, feel indifferent, or anything in between, but shame ain’t on the list.
  2. You don’t have to smile at people to be a good person.
  3. Intersectional feminism is powerful, and be wary of people who refuse to understand this. Human rights matter to every person. I think I came to this later than I should have, so also help people who seem open to it to understand. Let others explain when you’re too tired, but keep coming back.
  4. It’s normal to consider building a house of candy in the woods in order to “get away from it all” (but beware, it might attract unwanted children).
  5. Nevertheless, keep talking because you’ll get interrupted a lot. A lot a lot.

Kids and Pets

  1. Definitely have some, or don’t. Up to you!
  2. See also: Plants.
  3. See also: Pants.
  4. You have an infinite amount of affection and love to give out; you can’t use it up. You can decide where to invest it.
  5. We have 3 cats and 2 guinea pigs (furry potatoes, as the kids call them), and I recommend both animal types very highly. (And 3 kids. I don’t recommend them, have them if you want. I love ours without reservation and consider myself the luckiest, but if you don’t already want them, do NOT have them.)

Social Time

  1. Happiness looks so, so good on you. I hope you get an immoderate amount of happiness in your life.
  2. “The way we’ve always done it” is actually pretty terrible. Question tradition.
  3. Change is uncomfortable and hard, and we need to do it anyway.
  4. Social debt is akin to technical debt. The decisions we make today socially (as a society) will be the thorn in the side of us and our babies in one month, 3 years, 100 years.
  5. You don’t get to the end of improving society. It takes practice, and figuring out pretty fast when you get it wrong.

Marriage

  1. It’s hard and easy. It’s fun and frustrating. See the kids and pets section.
  2. Marriage should be available to any people who want to shack up, as long as they all can genuinely consent. It’s tax breaks and reputation, and that’s it; let’s not put it on some pedestal. (…)
  3. But let’s respect the people who want it, whatever their reasons.
  4. Long-term partnership is as much about you as it is about them. And it means you both change and grow, and you ideally do it together. Make sure you’re not the only one changing, make sure they’re not the only one growing.
  5. Having a legally-recognized partner is the tits, and I really didn’t recognize the privilege of it for a long time! I’m sorry friends!

Career

  1. You start it when you start it. You’re not a bad person if you change your mind.
  2. You can be strategic and genuine.
  3. Hold those strong opinions but accept that you’re going to be wrong, and revisit as needed. Be right and wrong with generosity.
  4. Get comfortable with change and discomfort and you’ll weather a lot.
  5. If people say they want feedback, believe them. Give it even if it’s scary, and especially if it’s critical. They might not hear it otherwise (and even if you’re sure they will, reach out).

Around 25 on this list I really realized how many 40 individual items is. It’s… too many. But it also doesn’t scratch the surface. There’s too much to be boiled down, and most of it is worthless. But only because individual experience is exactly that: individual. We can’t carbon copy experience and make it meaningful without reducing it to platitudes that are so general as to be meaningless. My life is really meaningful to me, and to maybe 4 other people, and then just a little tiny bit less meaningful to an additional 20 (but still, really impactful), and then a little bit less meaningful to a further 150, etc etc etc ad infinitum. And that’s totally fine. I’m not one of the ones who will change the world in a way with incessant reverberation, but I will matter because I’m a human, and I’m lucky to have a strong social structure that protects and elevates me. It’s a massive privilege, and entering my fifth decade (as people at work were so cheerful to tell me) I am in a position to elevate others as well. My resolutions for my fifth decade are that I will do more that’s actionable for the people who need it. I want to mentor women at work more actively (I mean, if they want it); I want to speak more around career advice and my non-conventional path; I want to help people in my ittybitty community and show my kids what that looks like. I want to give more than I take. I want to stop apologizing for the space I take up. I’m absolutely thrilled to be where I am today; I can’t believe how lucky I am. I want more people to have what I have in the way that matters for them.

Bee!!

During my first call of the day I heard what I thought was a motorcycle outside (or at least a moped), but it actually turned out to be my new best friend, Giant Bee!

He has been falling out of the skylights quite a bit and landed in my hair only once (I forgive him!!), and Stark is hunting him, so I may have to figure out a way to take him outside.

I also have no idea where he came from. I’m in the attic and there aren’t any open windows. He just appeared, fully formed. So he’s probably a sign, sent from Our Lady, Carrie Fisher (or Bea Arthur). Now to figure out what it all means. 🤔🐝

Eleanor’s poetry

Eleanor writes and recites poetry a lot lately, and if you’ve been following along she’s quite good. She remembers ones she writes at school and will recite them when we get home.

This one she dashed off this evening.

I look at you, and you wink at me.

Flying high in the sky so very free!

Finding you in the constellations,

Gathered up in twinkly stations!

Up so high in the black sky,

You have the fun power to fly!

How I wish I could join you,

Coming out in the sky so blue!

Performance Evaluation Time

Hi Darth, hi, yep, come on in and sit down. Do you go by Darth, or Anaki… oh, it’s Lord? Vader? Ok. No, that’s fine. Is that an ancestral landholding, or … oh it’s just something Palpatine said? Ok. Yeah, haha, we don’t argue with him, huh? Haha, anyway, let’s get started.

I’ve been pulling together feedback from your peers and … what’s that? You don’t recognize anyone as your peer? Let’s come back to that in a moment, it sort of relates to some feedback I’ve gotten. Uh, well, let’s assume that the feedback I’ve gotten is legitimate. No, no one else is a self-styled lord. At the risk of exposing people’s anonymity, I feel compelled to tell you that it’s a collection of station commanders, moffs, grand moffs, admirals, generals, and so on. I don’t think, if he were still alive, Wilhuff would appreciate being called a fool, and besides, that’s really neither here nor there; we’re talking about your performance today.

So the peer … ok, fine, the feedback from others within the organization that I’ve gotten is quite mixed, frankly. People do tend to appreciate that you are decisive and that you roll up your sleeves and get things done! You have a specific vision for the future, and you really are consistent when communicating that vision to others. That’s a great thing in a manager, ah right um, in a lord. All hands on the same laser button, and all that! Broadly, you’re pretty popular among the clone troops. That could relate back to your history working on the front lines with them, um, before the big messy time. Whatever the reason, it’s a definite plus. It’s really among management where the feedback, no I am going to insist on calling it feedback not “incorrect opinions,” I really must insist. Anyway, the feedback from the people in mid-to-upper management is really quite mixed.

The folks who don’t need to wear armor to work everyday can sometimes feel very threatened by you. Well, I think it’s a direct result of you occasionally (and unpredictably) using the Force to strangle people. No, I am not suggested that if you do it on a predictable schedule that people will like you more. If anything, that will turn more people against you, popularity-wise. You’re really only hurting yourself, haha excuse the pun, because when you lash out like that, the officers don’t want to follow your vision.

Another thing that’s come up a lot is your insistence on bringing your religion to work. It’s not so much that you practice your religion at work, that would be ok, it’s really how you go about using it as a weapon. Ah, yes, uh, yes, like this. Please put me down, yes, right now. Ahem. I’m reluctant to do so, but I have to continue in the same vein briefly. Some of the officers found it disappointing that you refused to attend the vigil for the people we lost on the Death Star; it didn’t seem to be an issue with religious conflict so much as … spite. Some questions have arisen around you being the sole survivor, and your convenient decision to board a TIE fighter minutes before the explosion, though I assure you it doesn’t feel convenient for me in this moment, haha. Further, no you’re doing it again, yes I can feel you constricting my airway, please stop. Yep, that’s…yes, better. Ahem, so. Further, I know some people have been talking about the fact that your son was the one who blew up our little station, and they’re drawing a pretty damning line to the fact that you are the sole survivor… you can see how people would talk. NO I WILL NOT TELL YOU WHO PUT ME DOWN. DOWN NOW!

Let’s move on from the peer feedback, we’ve got kind of a lot to get through and I’d like to live to see tomorrow, haha. No, no, just a little joke. Let’s look at the impact your work has had on our organization. The whole Hoth invasion seems like it was poorly conceived. I take no pleasure in telling you that some people are calling it a fiasco. The cost of having the clone snowtrooper outfits manufactured was astronomical, haha, a little space joke, but seriously, it was really expensive. It was way, way outside of budget. Did you get the memo from accounting about any expenditures over 250,000 units? It would probably save us all a lot of grief if you would read those, actually. They’re not peons, they’re financial experts, with experience maintaining a budget for a multi-system empire. Anyway, the snowtrooper helmets alone came in at a whopping 16 billion — with a b — units. Yes, I do see that you highlighted the cost savings we reap for having every clone have the exact same measurements. You know we’re going to have to start bringing in non-clones for trooper work, right? It’s sort of an administrative nightmare, but needs must. So we sunk a lot into the costuming and dare I say theatre? of the Hoth invasion OK OK SORRY THEATRE WAS A POOR CHOICE. Ahem. We put in a lot of money and had to move quite a lot of equipment to Hoth, and frankly, most of it was destroyed. And again, I truly regret having to mention this again, but your son once again escaped with his entire organization. It feels sometimes that your heart isn’t really in recruiting him to our team. AGHHHH MGHHF. You really need to control yourself!

One last thing to get through here and we can both walk away whole, haha, no I really am nervous actually. It’s the deal with Lando Calrissian, and the bounty hunter contracts you put through. I don’t think you’ve taken into account the new process we have for these. We would like you to have HR run a background check on anyone from the outer rim, just as a matter of procedure. Historically, the type of people who come from the outer rim just aren’t reliable. NOT YOU, THAT WASN’T A VEILED INSULT, OH GOD PUT ME DOWN! Ahem. So, ahem. Uh, anyway, that isn’t my opinion, that’s a statistical fact PUT YOUR HAND DOWN, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Just please loop HR in on any bounty hunter contracts going forward, as a courtesy. Uh and about the Calrissian deal, it’s not really structurally sound? Yeah, so I think what we’d like to see is if you could go back to him and renegotiate? We tend to like deals where we get everything and the other party doesn’t get anything at the end. I mean, let them live! Of course, haha, we’re not monsters.

Um, well, that’s about it. I have kind of a lot more, haha, but I can see there’s really no point in dredging through this, and I have 6 more reviews to give today. They won’t get done if I die mysteriously! Haha, no I want to live, thank you.