my week in objects (mostly).

August 12, 2016

five little things that made my week.

1. this guitar.guitar_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_2577

{and lots of tiny finger strums.}

2. these paint cards.
{well, actually they kind of bummed me out. picking a paint color is hard. yes, i just wrote color.}

3. these bench legs.bench_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_2588

{and starting a long-overdue project.}

4. this “black-out” curtain.curtain_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_2592

{because sometimes the third time is the charm.}

5. this tape.tape_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_2596

{because i unearthed it this week and it was just what i needed to wrap up a care package.}

other things: 

a tribute to the flaneuse.

i just had this thing for old things as a kid.”

thank god for this response.

i have v. complicated feelings about this.

on the edge of wild—almost haphazard.”

love the fig.

the costs of $3.50 a bottle.

subjectivity captured on a page.”

on creativity.

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  • Reply Mary Kate August 12, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    I am so happy it’s fig season!

    That man’s apartment is amazing. Apparently I need to take up chain-smoking.

    I am a flaneuse, forever and always.

    Thanks for the links, as always

  • Reply Sara August 12, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Would you share more info about your blackout curtains. Did you make them? I’ve been wanting to make some myself but am not sure what type of fabric will work. Any leads on simple curtain rods are appreciated too. Thanks!

    • Reply Erin Boyle August 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Will put together a post one what we used! (V. simple!)

  • Reply KB August 12, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    Firstly, Congrats!
    Also, would love to hear details on the blackout curtain. Have been trying to figure out a semi nontoxic solution for my toddlers room for a year to no avail!

    • Reply Erin Boyle August 12, 2016 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you! Will put together a little post on the curtain! Coming soon…

  • Reply Jodi August 12, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    I also have very complicated feelings about that piece. While I certainly wouldn’t deny the author her experience of birth and how her experience shaped her current views, it feels like in expressing her view she is attempting to strip me of the meaning of my own births — because I did find my second labor to be deeply transformative and empowering. “Empowering” in a non-political, non-moral, deeply personal way.
    I’d be so curious to hear how you found it conflicting.

    • Reply Kim R August 12, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      I completely agree with you. I was going to comment the same, but probably in a less articulate way.

    • Reply MissEm August 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

      I thought the same, and have other gestating (ha) thoughts about the article – but a fascinating piece that asks good questions, regardless. One question I had in response to the author’s argument is why empowerment = moral. Seems to me that empowerment is more about personal narrative and maybe archetypal narrative than a moral statement. Isn’t empowerment itself amoral and dependent on context and how it’s used for any moral conclusions?

    • Reply Rachel August 13, 2016 at 10:46 am

      Very interesting read. (And congratulations Erin!) I’m pregnant now with my second girl due in January. I value all mothers thoughts on this, I certainly don’t know what in the hell I’m talking about. And the author seems very lucky to have had these modern interventions. I haven’t tried to put a moral judgement on birth. Birth is just… normal. And taking away the normalcy of birth is frightening to me. What is left out of this article is the complications that arise from an epidural and pitocin, what one can mean the other too, and that they counter each other. And where is the line drawn? Scheduled (non medically necessary) cesareans then seem normal too under this logic. Why feel anything at all? But the truth is our bodies are more complicated than that. Babies, as we now are learning more about, benefit greatly from that trip through that beautiful, bacteria rich vaginal canal. And mothers do as well. hormones release on queue to start the bonding/attachment/breastfeeding process. This is the normal. During my first (also complicated) birth 2 years ago, my focus was on my baby and her needs. Every (sometimes frighting) decision was based on how it was going to affect her. Birth wasn’t about me, for the first real time in my life, it was all about someone else.

  • Reply A August 12, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I loved that article. “Fuck empowerment! Children are little death machines, they rip through your body. They chew on you. They are animals. We are animals, left bloody and with vulnerable bellies sliced after a good fight.”

    • Reply Emily August 15, 2016 at 9:43 am

      I loved it too – I had the hippiest of hippy-dippy home births for my first baby’s birth, and it took me completely off guard with how hard, painful, and insane it felt. I love my midwife, and she did an excellent job, but I didn’t come out of it feeling empowered (I came out thinking oh my, how on earth do people DO this AGAIN?!). It didn’t feel like I was in charge of the process at all, just that my body was taking over entirely. I had that feeling even more so for my second, who came 9 weeks early in a lightening fast, fairly terrifying birth in the triage room at the hospital, followed by 5 weeks in the NICU. More on the monstrous side of things, for sure – the empowerment there came from learning how to be a parent to my tiny baby while in such a surreal environment.

  • Reply Molly August 12, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    Thanks for sharing the Hairpin article! As a midwifery student, I find myself often trying to reconcile the increasing (sometimes insidious) social pressures placed on women to be empowered by their birth with my hope to make it a positive experience. So complex, but I love that people are starting more nuanced discussions around childbearing.

  • Reply Rhian August 12, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    I like Jodi’s sensitive reply. Thanks for the link — very absorbing to read. My labour was frightening, unplanned etc etc (a bit like the article’s first birth) and ended up in an emergency caesarean, but – you know – it passes and it’s okay. Just wanted to say that despite that, and the fact that I had a funny reaction to the epidural that made me go all flappy like an out of control seal (!) it was still an astonishing, wonderful experience — not least because, miraculously (it felt like to me), when we got to recovery my husband (for whom I think it was all a bit more stressful — after being incredible during the whole thing, the poor man was sobbing in recovery) placed our daughter on my chest and she was a) lovely and b) knew what she was doing. She found my breast, latched and in that moment all the flapping and all the madness literally dissolved away (a hormone thing?). I know it doesn’t happen for everyone, but breast feeding turned out to be completely trouble-free for us despite the inauspicious start (other challenges, yes, of course (babies!) but boobs all good). In fact, she’s only just now decided, herself, that she’s moving on at 21 months. It’s been lovely! So just wanted to say that if anyone reading this ends up having a c-section, it doesn’t mark the end of the remarkable power of mothers and babies. Not at all! Congratulations on your pregnancy Erin and good luck! X

  • Reply Sam August 12, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Oh my goodness, I love the Monstrous Births article, thank you so much for sharing. I too would love to hear more about your thoughts on it. I completely agree with her main point (as I interpret it to be) that we shouldn’t moralize birth. I love and appreciate that she notes the misogyny of the “only thing that matters is a healthy baby!” mantra. My daughter is 5 weeks old so this is fresh in my mind. I had both the outcome (relatively healthy baby and mother, we both had minor complications but ended up fine) and labor (unmedicated) I wanted, but the whole experience was just so insane and so much more painful than anything I could have imagined or prepared for. I definitely only made it through unmedicated thanks to hiring the right doula and delivering at a midwife staffed hospital birth center – I didn’t mentally get myself through labor (I begged for an epidural from 2cm on) but rather hired the right professionals and communicated my preferences clearly ahead of time. I am totally at peace with the outcome but feel humbled and grateful rather than empowered. I think women are tough and birth is crazy. I also think women have different goals, priorities and preferences (of course) and all are valid.

    I work in health care quality, and I find that applying the same standard to birth as we should for regular care – fully informed consent, respectful providers (who are partners with you, not experts to whom you submit), evidenced based care and the patient as the ultimate decision maker – lifts all this morality and conflict away. You decide an unmedicated birth is best for you and baby? Fine – your provider tells you the benefits, risks and you make your decision and carry on. You want an epidural/ C-section/any variation – same deal. The empowerment comes in making the decision and having your decision respected, not in the method by which you deliver your baby. Thank you again for sharing such a great article!!!

    • Reply MissEm August 13, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Such good points! I wonder if we should put the birth discussion in terms of narrative, not morality. I don’t like how the author seems to strip away the potency and legitimacy of narrative in birth, even while I think she asks good questions and makes some good points. There’s this quote in the book The Voyage of the Dawn at reader – one of the characters says that in our world a star is a ball of gas, etc, and another character replies, even in your world that’s not what a star is, only what it’s made of. I fear that if we strip away narrative and aesthetics (monstrous and elegant, both) from birth, we’ll be left only with the basics of what it’s made of, and that seems really hollow and deflating to me.

      • Reply Jodi August 14, 2016 at 4:33 am

        Missem, this is such a beautiful observation and comment, articulated so well. I agree that idea of “narrative” is more relevant and useful than “morality.” Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply Barbara August 12, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    You have the best and most thoughtful links on the web. Also, I’m feeling particularly moody today, so I’d go with one of the blues as far as paint goes. Funny too, because I always used to be a gray person!

  • Reply Mun August 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    So good to be clicking on links again after not having wifi for a few days ;P

  • Reply Kate S August 12, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    I would love to know more about the guitar! Is it a child’s guitar? My son REALLY got into one that his cousin had, and we’re researching what to get him for Christmas… Thanks!

  • Reply Helen August 13, 2016 at 3:21 am

    This is not the most eloquent (or classy) piece- but it came out shortly after “goody bags for others on the plane” started showing up on Pinterest and I remember reading it and laughing in a way I needed to- I was a new mom, about to fly and suddenly was being bombarded with this idea I needed to make 200 apology bags for my baby. This was just what I had needed at the time- (my favorite might be the “worlds smallest violin” Hope you don’t mind me sharing:

  • Reply Heather August 13, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    The birth piece was really engaging. I think everyone should be free to interpret their birth experience as they wish. However, I well-remember finding it helpful in labor to have read Ina May Gaskin’s books in preparation, which promote an empowering approach to birth. That’s what got me through and gave me mental strength for the task, quieting my fears. Also, I did feel empowered by my two natural births—not in the sense that my experience was better than anyone else’s or more morally significant, but in the personal sense that I did something really hard and that made me feel strong. Lastly, I think approaching birth with the mindset that children are “death machines” and thinking of them in terms of an enemy can’t possibly help anyone who is going into labor! For me, meditating on the fact that I would soon see my sweet baby’s face was so helpful. Thank you for sharing the thought-provoking article.

  • Reply Erin Boyle August 14, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Agreed with lots of the comments here and really feeling unprepared to put terribly cogent thoughts together on my feelings. I really enjoyed the piece because I think it’s very true that births are often much more raw, chaotic, confusing, and indeed painful than birthing mothers expect. (As the author writes, births often—usually!— indeed include “grisly, frightening, and astonishing stuff.”) And because certainly, we should all be allowed to express the truths of our individual experiences. No one should be made to feel like they have birthed “wrong.” But I also feel like the author denies women who *have* felt a sense of empowerment or strength or, even, normalcy in their births the legitimacy of those experiences. Mostly, I think we’re painfully divorced from the birth process in our culture and so both extremes—births that end in lots of necessary medical intervention and births that go off without incident—seem foreign and unexpected. I suppose I feel like the existence of one kind of experience can’t negate the experience of another.

    • Reply Jodi August 15, 2016 at 3:24 am

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Erin. I think the tension that you name here is fairly common in parenting/mothering in the US: everything is either/or. I feel like moms have to choose between false dichotomies , both in making decisions about parenting, and in telling their stories about parenting (how often do you heard about moms who both breastfeed AND supplement with formula? How often do you hear about parents who cosleep but also let their babies cry a bit to try to settle themselves? etc.). Nuance is just not part of the game, which is unfortunate.

    • Reply Heather August 15, 2016 at 2:08 pm

      Well put, Erin!

  • Reply Nicole Brant August 14, 2016 at 10:53 pm

    I don’t envy your having to choose a paint color. It is so surprisingly difficult. Especially for someone like me, who hates to paint and agonizes over getting it right the first time so I don’t have to do it again! Are you painting the whole apartment or just one area/room?

  • Reply Sarah August 15, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I thought the wine article was really interesting as I often wonder how stores can make a profit off something that costs the consumer so little. Living in Canada, it’s impossible to find wines priced that low even from our own wineries and I live in Ontario where there are a few different wine regions so it’s not like import taxes and shipping factor into the equation. When I visit the US, it’s fun to try the cheapest wine I can find to see if it’s actually drinkable!

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