Five minutes of appreciation

1. I am the current chair of a local professional development group, and it has been an absolute pleasure. We’ve just wrapped up a search for new members of our steering committee, and at every step, my colleagues on the committee have proved themselves to be thoughtful, generous, and engaged. I don’t know how I happened into such a wonderful bunch of colleagues, but Library UX Chicago, you guys are the absolute best.

2. My Brain Pickings book club is also the best. We met today to discuss our most recent book, but were interrupted in the middle of a really personal conversation about how reading about death has informed the ways we are choosing to live our lives right now. It takes vulnerability and openness to return to that conversation and go even deeper. I am so grateful for these friends – long-time and new-to-me – and our ongoing engagement with books and each other.

3. I am also extremely grateful for a number of thoughtful colleagues (local and distributed) who regularly challenge and support me in all facets of my life. Whether it’s texting about data points during a meeting or inviting me to a running group or sharing very personal beliefs or talking about why goat pupils are unsettling or just bringing donuts – I can’t believe how lucky I am to be surrounded by such fantastic people. If you’re wondering if I’m talking about you, I probably am. Thank YOU for the gift of you.

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#MeToo

For all the times my friends and I signaled to each other that a dude was getting too close in a club, that we needed help at a party or an out in a bar.

For the necessity of the late night check in to make sure that everyone made it home safe and with the right people (or without the wrong ones). For the mornings after, making sure that everyone was still OK with the previous night’s happenings (because it’s OK to not be OK, even if you thought you were in the moment).

For all of the unwanted comments about my body in all kinds of situations. For having to harden up and play deaf in order to run in my neighborhood in the clothing in which I felt comfortable.

For the unwanted exposure. For the furtive grope. Both addressed in strong enough terms that they never happened again.

For all the sex I had, in relationships and out of them, where I didn’t want to go along with it but didn’t know how to get out of it.

For the med student who didn’t do anything inappropriate, but whose specific phrasing made me want to stop doing the best job I’ve ever had. I went home and cried in a very hot bath and emailed my boss because our job was primarily to teach the students technique and secondarily how to treat patients with respect and compassion, and this one did well at the former but not the latter.

For every single fucking comment that has ever been made about my breasts. Yes, I have them. Yes, they are big, or at least they were. They serve a purpose. Right now, that’s feeding my child. Feeding my child is not about you or my breasts or my body. It’s about feeding my child.

For the relationships in which my body and my sexuality were treated as performative and property. Where I felt I had to be a specific kind of physical and sexual creature to be valued. And for the harm that caused to people I care about.

For the jerks driving by on Western Ave when my heart was full after a late night walk with someone new. My skirt may have been short, but that’s no excuse for honking and hollering. My body is not for you.

For having spent years clawing back my self image and hating to feel like covering up was necessary. Fuck you for making me feel like I am worth anything less than I am because my body is or isn’t what you think it should be.

Listen to women when they tell you these stories. Believe them. If you don’t, you’re part of the problem.

Ends and Beginnings

Out of nowhere, the three year old has abruptly started losing interest in nursing. I knew this would happen eventually – and he is right on track  – but he’s been so committed to it for so long that it was easy to forget that it would actually happen.

We night-weaned back in June. I went away for a few days, and when I came back, we decided that the night time nursing was done. It wasn’t hard. We were all ready. We get better sleep. It’s the best. Should we have done it earlier? Probably, but there were always excuses. I can’t regret what felt like a good choice, even if it wasn’t the best choice.

I’ve talked to lots of friends as their kids weaned. They talked about losing interest, getting distracted, nursing for short periods of time – or of just being done one day, with no warning. I knew materially what to expect, but I didn’t know what it would feel like, not really.

Three years and one month is a very long time. I feel extremely fortunate. So many friends have had a hard time of it, needed to stop before they wanted to, struggled with the realization that it just wasn’t going to work. It hasn’t always been easy, but compared to many, it has been effortless.

There have been windows of time when I felt like I was ready to be done, where the physical contact was just too much, where my nipples hurt, where I was just over being pawed at all the time. But there have never been windows of time when it felt like he was ready to be done – not until now, when there are as many nights that he doesn’t want milk as there are nights when he does, when I’ll ask and he’ll say “no, stories!” and snuggle up with his papa, leaving me to sit on the couch sort of blankly staring at my phone instead of holding my kid close.

He’s three. I knew this was coming. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a little wrecked by it.

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Here and there

There are a number of things I want to write about here. I should really keep a list in my Get To Work Book rather than leaving all of the tabs open in my browser so that I remember whatever it is whenever I have time to get to writing about it.

A few years ago, I tried to get myself to write more regularly by setting an intention: I would set a timer on my phone for five minutes and just write. Editing could come later. The important thing was starting. That is what I’m doing right now. We’ll see how well it works this time around.

Last week I started a mindfulness class. It’s actually intended for students, but no one objected when I registered, or when I RSVP’d with my clearly-not-a-student signature, so even though I feel conspicuous in the space, those feelings are all on me. We closed our eyes and the instructor led us through a mindfulness exercise. We learned to belly breathe – familiar from voice lessons decades ago – as well as a technique whose real name I can’t remember because the instructor made us laugh by calling it chaos breathing. She had us turn and face the wall so that we didn’t laugh at ourselves or others as we bounced up and down, flapping our arms like chickens. She closed the class with a guided meditation, breathing our breath into our feet, feeling them heavy against the floor. I had the sensation of my distractions unfurling like a coiled ribbon, then gathering back in on themselves. I needed this.

These days I am thinking about emotional labor, and minimalism, and why we don’t listen to women. I’ll talk about all of these things later. I promise.