DEAR ABBY: I am a 29-year-old single mother of two small children. My 5-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I'm the only one in my family who has been trained in his care, so I understand the importance of a healthy diet, proper insulin dosage, checking his blood sugar, etc., and that unless his diabetes is properly managed, it could lead to serious health issues -- even death.
I have explained these things to my mother and attempted to train her several times, yet she continues to do things she shouldn't be doing. She stops by my house almost every night with "treats" like candy, ice cream, chocolate bars, doughnuts, etc. When I get upset about it, she'll casually reply, "Oh, whatever. If you dose him for the carbs in it, he's fine," which is not the case. Yes, he can have a treat now and then, but overall, he needs to stay away from that stuff.
It is extremely frustrating that she refuses to listen to me and continues to disrespect my wishes. I don't know what else to do. We have fought repeatedly over this, and she keeps telling me I'm "overreacting." I'm terrified my son will have permanent damage because of this. How do I get her to stop and listen to me? -- FRUSTRATED IN WISCONSIN
DEAR FRUSTRATED: You have allowed your son's medical condition to become a power struggle between you and your mother. Schedule an appointment with your son's pediatrician so your mother can have the facts of life explained to her. If that doesn't help her to accept reality, then understand that she can't be trusted. Do not allow her to drop by with goodies, and supervise any contact he has with her. It is your job to protect your little boy, even from your obtuse mother, if necessary.
It is a response to Lovecraft, but Kirkus describes it as "essentially a story about identity, found families, wrapped in a cozy mystery. With magic. And monsters. Except the monsters are not exactly who you expect them to be."
EXCEL SAGA. "Look at us! Look at how funny we are! Yes, the entire cast are assholes, the second-hand embarrassment is so thick you could cut it with a butter-knife, and you're kind of hoping for a TPK just so it'll end, but it's super funny, we promise!" I watched it for Blogathon six years ago and got through one episode before I just couldn't any more.
(There are plenty of popular anime that just...don't interest me. I've never seen any of ATTACK ON TITAN or FAIRY TAIL, for example. But I don't hate them.)
• What are you reading?
Notes from a Feminist Killjoy, by Erin Wunker. It's a bits-and-pieces book, but all the bits are in conversation with other writers, and with reality; even its bittyness recalls how Tillie Olsen would carry a sentence in her mind, polishing it in scraps of time between interruptions, through a day of women's work, a day of no peace, no privacy, no silence, no solitude.
When I started this book, I wanted to write something unimpeachable. Something so clear and objective, it could be a little dictionary or translation phrase book for how to speak a feminist language and live a feminist life. I wanted what many other writers -- the many-gendered mothers of my heart -- had already written. I wanted A Room of One's Own, Sister Outsider, Willful Subjects, Islands of Decolonial Love. I wanted Feminism is for Everybody and The Dream of a Common Language. I wanted No Language is Neutral.
I wanted books that had already been written by people whose experiences of moving through the world are different -- often radically so -- from mine.
I got stuck.
I read some more.
I remembered that I tell my students that reading and writing are attempts at joining conversations, making new ones, and, sometimes, shifting the direction of discourse.
I sat down at my typewriter again.
• What did you recently finish reading?
George & Lizzie, by Nancy Pearl.
Lizzie agreed. "I remember reading a novel in which one of the characters, a college professor, was writing a book on the influence of Emily Dickinson on Shakespeare and how his colleagues always misheard it and thought it was the other way around. I wish I could remember the title, because talking about it now makes me want to read it again. It's so interesting to think about. Do you think we read Shakespeare differently because of Dickinson's poems?"
I remember reading that too! It was by David Lodge, I think Changing Places? I read it about the same age Lizzie did. Not at the same time: I'm maybe ten years older than Lizzie. But, like Lizzie, I grew up in Michigan and went to UM and struggled with depression most of my life and, as a young woman, tried to claim my sexuality in ways that were bad for me and for the people I interacted with. Lizzie feels real to me, is what I'm saying, and I'm okay with the fact that the people around her are kind of one-note because the problem this book is about is: if you can't stop being sad about your shitty childhood even though your life is no longer shitty, if you can't stop punishing yourself for bad choices that you made long ago, if you can't stop trying to change something that happened long ago and wasn't in your control even then. . . then how do you stop?
[Lizzie says] "They're your thoughts, right? How can you not think them?"
Marla struggled to answer. "I don't know, but people do it. I think I let go of things, or at least try to. You have to, really, otherwise you're weighted down with all those cumulative bad memories. James and I used to talk about that baby missing from our lives, whether it was a boy or a girl, whether we could find out who adopted it, whether we'd ever forgive our parents, why we didn't just say 'Screw you' to them back then and get married after I got pregnant. I mean, you know, it was so present. It was always there in our lives. But if we kept that up there'd be no place for anything else. And now we just acknowledge all that awful stuff happened, that maybe we made the wrong decision, that we were just kids. We were just kids. You have to forgive yourself eventually, right?"
Lizzie's husband George got famous by explaining that, while pain is inevitable, suffering is optional, but his explanation doesn't work for Lizzie. George doesn't seem to understand that, for some people, that's liberating, but for others, it says that your suffering was your choice and therefore your fault. I'd offer Lizzie Season of Mists, because "you don't have to stay anywhere forever" worked for me, but how a story works depends as much on the reader as on the story.
Which is not to say that we shouldn't do our best to write good stories. This one has a stupid editing oversight that dumped me right out:
[Marla:]"I love you Lizzie, and always will. And I will always, always, keep your secrets. But this, what this means to you and George, is an important secret. It's not the equivalent of a little white lie. It'd be like me not telling James about the abortion."
[Lizzie:]"But James knew about the abortion, he was with you when you had it."
"Don't be deliberately naive, it doesn't become you. You know what I mean: some other James I was involved with."
What abortion, I wondered? Was there an abortion as well as a baby given up for adoption? When?
No, it must have been changed from an abortion to an adoption at some point. Which was a good change: it's believable that Marla would find it harder to move on with her life after carrying the baby for nine months, while knowing that there was a person out there that she felt responsible for but had no ability to protect. But leaving evidence of the change in the story made me notice how flat all the other characters are, how they are the way they are in order to serve Lizzie's story.
• What do you think you’ll read next?
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories, by H.P. Lovecraft.
However you took part in #otwdonate, thank you for getting us started on our next 10 years! We've got some numbers for you about how this membership drive turned out: https://goo.gl/SMZamk
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I have some thoughts:
1. Marine biology is low risk of misuse by supervillains? Come on! Sharks!
3. I wouldn't put linguistics that low for supervillain risk, assuming the validity of the strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. (Yes, everything I knew about Sapir-Whorf did come from that one Delany book.)
4. But then, he put palaeontology low as well, and. Well. Do that right/wrong enough and you get both microbiology (bubonic plague! anthrax!) AND ornithology (dinosaurs!)
5. HE LEFT OUT ECONOMICS. And poli-sci (between history and sociology?) but imo economics is WAY scarier from both a supervillain and accidental escape perspective.
6. Really, isn't any discipline high supervillain risk if the supervillain has the right mental attitude?
7. If prosthetics is high supervillain risk/low escape risk, and dentistry is low supervillain risk/low escape risk, are dentures high or low supervillain risk?
Beatrice, being pounced on, responded to this by playing soccer.
Most recent: YURI!!! ON ICE, as already discussed.
This is the drawback of staying firmly around the edges of anime fandom qua such - I'm not always sure which anime are popular in a wide sense, and which in a small sense. For example, I also love INITIAL D in all its Very 90s Anime glory, in which everyone mysteriously listens to Eurobeat and the only official relationship that will ever go anywhere is Takumi/driving (okay, also Any Other Main Character/driving). I didn't even drive myself when I first saw it.
Well, there's the obvious, high-level answer of 'good art and good writing.' The more personal answer...I do like the art to be beautiful, but I also have a loose definition of 'beautiful.' I'm generally more interested in good characters than in a complicated plot, but really I just want the characters to feel real, not cardboard images tossing the Idiot Ball back and forth. Also I am a firm proponent of 'Real does not have to equal Grimdark,' so there's that too.
Finally, though - it comes down to it being the right story at the right time for you. And that's nearly impossible to call ahead of time.
Oh dear lord yes. Several. Some of them with extreme prejudice. Why wouldn't I?
If you want actual reasons, they vary:
* Sometimes a particular character pings me the wrong way - see previous post on characters I hate for two examples. (To be fair, both of those were 'didn't even finish the first episode' reactions, which I don't think technically counts as dropping a series, because I hadn't even properly picked it up.)
* Sometimes I get into a series for X (a character, a plot point, a tonal feel), and then the series stops using X - see RE-KAN, which I burbled about here. Halfway through the season it developed something pretending to be a plot, and lost the sweet fluffiness I loved.
* Sometimes I think a series is going to be one thing, and then I watch a second episode and it's not - or I watch a second episode, and the things that irritated me in the first episode have only gotten worse, while the things I liked have gotten fewer. Example this time is AIRMASTER - bad fight choreography, insufficient girl love, I tapped out.
(And then, of course, there are lots and lots of series that I mean to go back to, but haven't yet. This is why my Crunchyroll queue is so long. :wince:)