Books & Mugs Newsletter: Issue 2.

What I’m Currently Reading

“Reproductive Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know” by Rickie Solinger. Are you angry? Because I sure as hell am. This was published in 2013, so it’s definitely missing a bit from the most recent crazy, but the questions posed are still insightful. Such as “What basic reproductive restrictions have been placed on women with disabilities in the past and today?” and “How do policies such as day-care funding and family leave shape women’s reproductive decisions?” You know, the things we should be talking about and actively taking into account as we go about legislating bodies.

What I Should Be Reading

“Man Fast” by Natasha Scripture. It’s the perfect light, travel-y summer read, and I really should be finishing it soon—I’m interviewing the author this coming week for Big Cabbage Radio. But oof, I get goosebumps. In a good way. It’s like reading a weirdly mixed up parallel version of my life. She’s half Indian and even had an Irish boyfriend named Niall. My intrigued eyebrow can’t get any closer to my hairline. This memoir spans the globe and has enough intelligent self-reflection to make us want to think about our own lives. It keeps good company with “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Wild.” 

What I Want to Be Reading

“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This was my book club’s pick for last month. Which I didn’t read, because I was caught up reading a murder mystery that I’ll mention in the next newsletter. The praise in our meeting was enough to get me to start. So far, I’ve read it in the bathtub (I think the second bath I’ve had since baby #2 was born) and in my Mother’s Day gift; a hammock hanging under the heavy cream blossom laden boughs of our bird cherry tree. Not my normal reading spots, but that’s what kind of tone this book sets out to evoke: sumptuously rooted. The natural world, indigenous wisdom, and prose that reads like poetry. My soul feels healthier from having read each page.

Books & Mugs: First Issue.

What I’m Currently Reading

“Rich People Problems” by Kevin Kwan. This is the final installment of the “Crazy Rich Asians” trilogy. If you don’t like snide footnotes, I’m not sure we can be friends. I devoured the first two installments over the course of a few days. This one, I’m dragging through a bit, only because I read ahead, which I swear I never do, and now I’m a little lackluster about finishing. These books are full of snarky characters and absurd (at least to non-crazy-rich people) situations. I knew close to nothing about Singapore and very little about Hong Kong before picking this series up. Now, I still know very little, but I’m hungry for more Asian-centered stories. These books are refreshing in their lack of white people. I try to read a diverse range of authors and perspectives, but honestly, sometimes I’m lazy and it takes effort to find stories not defined by Western (namely: white) standards. Thanks to everyone who made this series a bestseller. I hope the buzzing popularity shows how much we crave/need these voices and these stories. I consider this a popcorn–maybe popcorn dusted with chili–book: addicting. Speaking of food, I’m always hungry after reading this one. Kwan has a knack for describing delicious things that I can’t find in small town Alaska. 

 

What I Should Be Reading

“Making Space for Indigenous Feminism” edited by Joyce Green. Because, come on, everyone should read this one. This is a compilation of articles written by Indigenous feminists and allies. I picked this up during Women’s History Month. Indigenous feminism is truly intersectional. These articles are accessible and straightforward. Here’s a taste:

“The relationship between Native and white women cannot be unidirectional. The Canadian or international women’s movements cannot define all the terms nor expect Indigenous women to assume dominant cultures as their own, even if we share common interests around gender oppression. Native women’s cultures challenge state and mainstream cultural systems, as does the history of colonialism. White women must do some consciousness-raising about the quality of life and nature of political and intellectual colonialism in our country” (LaRocque, 140). 

Wha-bam. This was written by a Canadian, but the call to action is just as imperative here in Alaska, and I’m pretty damn sure applies to the rest of the world. 

 

What I Want to Be Reading

“Mead: The Libations, Legends, and Lore of History’s Oldest Drink” by Fred Minnick. I grabbed this one in a moment of nostalgia. It had intentions of becoming a Christmas present, but I kept it for myself. Going to university in Boulder, CO included a lot of friend’s home brew experiments. Mead, fruit wines, sake. Never actually beer. Because: Naropa. So, mead. I did a tour of one of the modest mead breweries (I think they’re still called a brewery even though there’s no beer) in Boulder. The mead was smooth and nuanced and crisp. Refreshing. Have I mentioned that I’ve been a) pregnant b) trying to get pregnant or c) nursing for the past four-ish years? I’m kinda missing an adult beverage evening. I even have lofty thoughts of eventually brewing myself some mead, because why buy it when you can spend more and wait a ridiculously long time to make it yourself? This covers brewing recipes and the history of mead. Learn some interesting facts to share with the friends you’ll eventually serve your delicious home brewed mead. And maybe consider inviting me over as one of those friends. 

He’s not My Son, I’m His Momma.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal January 31, 2018

A few months ago, I dropped off my son at daycare for the first time.

He was excited by all the new toys and playmates, while I frantically tried to hold onto my hot tears until I stumbled out the door.

Nothing really prepares us for the shocking separation between a momma and newly independent child. It’s heartbreaking, exhilarating, and traumatic all rolled into one great big pile of sleepless nights, changing roles, and soggy tissues.

I also learned a painful lesson in ownership. My son isn’t mine.

Biologically yes. My body grew his sturdy frame and beautiful eyes. And I most definitely gave birth to him.

By creating prolonged physical space between us for the first time, we both learned (well, I relearned) that we are both functioning individuals on our own. Radical! Often this is shocking for new moms. We know it intellectually, but it’s incredibly easy to let our sense of self be defined by parenthood.

Our language feels so woefully inadequate to describe our deepest bonds—what we say aloud creates the relationships that we live.

Too often, we parents approach parenthood with ownership. My child, my daughter, my son, without ever analyzing the power dynamics, expectations, and relationships we create with our words.

I don’t feel pride in saying my son, I feel pride in being his Momma. This slight shift of perspective can fundamentally change how we approach parenthood and hopefully how our children grow into independent…

Read the full article here.

Feminists Don’t Do This.

Originally featured on Elephant Journal August 21, 2017

When I run into former colleagues, I dread the inevitable question, “So where are you working these days?”

I take a deep breath, lengthen my spine, and with defiance and a touch of embarrassment, I respond that I’m currently staying at home with our little one—and that I unabashedly love it.

Their eyes always widen and I imagine the internal judgment. The same judgement that I used to give, unsolicited, to those I knew who gave up their jobs when a little one came along.

To begin, let me apologize to all the women I judged for not being working moms. And the ones I judged for working too hard. Being a parent is a radical choice. We try to make decisions that benefit not only our children, but ourselves.

We’re all just trying to get along in this messy, imperfect life. 

People who know me well are unsurprised to hear how judgmental I can be. Until recently, my Myers-Briggs personality rated incredibly high on the judge-y scale. I grew up with a very clear sense of right and wrong, and little tolerance for what I perceived as wrong.

This translated into my personal expectation of feminism.

Of course I’ll be a working mom. Of course I’ll juggle all the things and be all the people. Of course. Of course. Of course.

Parenthood kicks ass—both in the “yay I totally dig being a parent” and the “my ass is being kicked” varieties.

Becoming a parent not only reaffirmed my commitment to reproductive justice, equality, and access for all, it forced me to re-evaluate my assumptions about what it means to be a feminist.

And the conclusion I came to?

Choice.

Feminism is choice. It’s the choice to be the best that we can be in the circumstances we find ourselves. It’s the choice to determine our own destiny. To be, to do, to create a life that is authentic and true. When we are able to make the decisions that are best for us…

Read the full article here.