Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


7 Comments

An ode to crap dads

I know, I know. I think I might actually be moving forward, nearly eight years after D-day. No posts for well over a month.

Jesus. Is that some kind of record? The eight year thing.

But anyhoo. I’m back. Just popped in to say hey, and spread my joy ;-).

Update: I have had a pretty intense month, I guess. Firstly, my blogging friend, and maybe yours, CrazyKat, came Down Under with her husband, BE. They’re still here actually, but cruising around our isles at the moment. I had the pleasure of their company for four whole days. How lucky am I? Just before they arrived, my sister-in-law (ex) was driving my nieces to school one morning, and tragically had a head-on with a truck, and sadly she did not survive, but was taken to the nearest large city and kept on life support for 36 hours, as she was an organ donor. My two little nieces are relatively unscathed, but their father, my brother (the one I don’t get on with) flew from the other side of the world, where he lives with his new wife, immediately. He has promised the girls’ grandparents that he will not take the girls out of the country. This means he has effectively ended his marriage, as his wife refuses to move here. (We’ll see. Her bottom line constantly shifts!) So, he is at my father’s house, on the job hunt at present.

The week after that sadness, another niece was getting married, in a neighbouring country. My eldest, S, and I flew over, and stayed at my lovely sister, E’s house. So did my Dad.

Now. About my Dad. He’s is a bit special. To say the least. He is depressing and depressed, revels in playing the pathetic old man lately (even though he is a perfectly healthy and capable 73 year old) and loves to speak without engaging his brain. Ugh. Mostly it was okay, but S and I escaped a few times without him, as sometimes I just wanna punch him!

I will illustrate with a couple of gems from the four days we had together – three of which we mostly escaped his special kind of … stupid.

We were at the wedding, and in Australia, gay marriage is still not legal. So, they went through the traditional vows, about the legal status of marriage as between a man and a woman, and then my niece and her new husband added that they couldn’t wait until marriage was a right for all. Love is love. So, at the reception, the table seating goes – sister, me, daughter, two friends of E’s, uncle (my mother’s brother), and his lovely wife, then Dad. My GAY Dad pipes up with, “I don’t agree with gay marriage anyway.” FML. I just stared at him, full in the eye, mine about rolling back in my damn head, and said, “well, don’t worry, no one anywhere in the world has made it compulsory, yet, Dad.” My aunt about pissed her pants, and said, “what about people who have been committed to each other for maybe 30 or 40 years, and their significant other is not allowed in a hospital room, to make health/funeral decisions/say goodbye, etc, and their parents, who may have not spoken to their son or daughter all those years can do that, and cut the most important person in that person’s life off? What about those cases, for a start?” Dad: “Oh, I hadn’t really thought about that.”

SHIIIIIIIIT!!! Special.

Then  another day, we are discussing whether the little girls who just lost their mother had gone back to school yet? It was two weeks since their Mum had died. Um, Dad: ” Oh, I has, but H, not yet, she has a large gash on her forehead which is quite deep and unsightly, and you know, she’s a girl.” SMH! S and I looked at each other, and I said, “um, what? WTF does that matter? The kid is 11 years old, and who cares if she’s girl, boy, trans, horned, or whatever-the-fuck-else?” He replied with, “oh you know, girls, they care what they look like.” I looked directly at him and said, “hmmm, so no one else does? And that is what being a girl means? Looks? Get in the real world, Dad. It only matters to the people who think that way, and those like you that perpetuate her value as being equated with her looks, FFS.” He looked mildly offended and I don’t think he got it. See, special!

Exhibit number three: Dad is discussing (inappropriately) the state of my brother’s marriage, when he casually mentions that my (newer) sister-in-law currently weighs over 100kgs. (She was a gorgeous, slightly curvaceous, but I would estimate no more than 60-65ish kg girl when I last saw her a couple of years ago.) I turned to him and said, “ah, what? How do you know that? And, more importantly, why are you mentioning it? That is not something that your son should be discussing with you, and it is certainly not something you should be sharing with me. Besides which, why are you sharing that? Why is it important to you both?” Fucking special. Especially since my sister’s younger daughter is anorexic, and has been dangerously ill for the past few years, was refused treatment from every centre in her state as she was “too thin” – it is a scary condition, really scary. (She is a slightly healthier weight, and I mean only slightly, at the moment, she has done a lot of work, knows she is very ill, but was still talking about how she needed to lose weight for the wedding, as she was a bridesmaid – you would lose her if she turned sideways. Seriously, and dangerously thin.) What. The. Actual. FUUUUUUUUUUCK?!

Just like the kind of crap that is normalised, like the lyrics to so many songs, I refuse to post the song itself, but how internalised are lyrics like these?  John Mayer’s Daughters:

I know a girl
She puts the colour inside of my world
But she’s just like a maze
Where all of the walls all continually change
And I’ve done all I can
To stand on her steps with my heart in my hands
Now I’m starting to see
Maybe it’s got nothing to do with me

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Oh, you see that skin?
It’s the same she’s been standing in
Since the day she saw him walking away
Now she’s left
Cleaning up the mess he made

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too

Boys, you can break
You find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without the warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and the weight of her world

So fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too [3x]

There were also discussions about racism, my brothers had recently pulled Dad up about some language he was using. So, the whole visit with my Aussie family (who were not involved in these exchanges) – with my bigoted gay Dad, lol –  was full of these clangers, I mostly bit my tongue, for the sake of calm, but I was bloody glad to be heading home. My take home message was this. I had a fucking fantastic Mum. I never saw how fucked up and gendered my upbringing was. I mostly felt I was treated on an equal basis to my two younger brothers, and I didn’t even know that Dad was quite such a fucktard really!

Good job, Mum xxx

It still leaves me completely gobsmacked that these attitudes are so prevalent, but yeah, what do we see, hear, experience? Lily said it well a few years back with these observations:

The Fear

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and fuckloads of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find themAnd I’ll take my clothes off and it will be shameless
‘Cause everyone knows that’s how you get famous.

[Pre-chorus:]
I’ll look at the sun and I’ll look in the mirror
I’m on the right track, yeah I’m on to a winner.

[Chorus:]
I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
And I don’t know how I’m meant to feel anymore
And when do you think it will all become clear?
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the fear

Life’s about film stars and less about mothers
It’s all about fast cars and cussing each other
But it doesn’t matter cause I’m packing plastic
And that’s what makes my life so fucking fantastic

And I am a weapon of massive consumption
And it’s not my fault it’s how I’m programmed to function

[Pre-chorus]

[Chorus]

Forget about guns and forget ammunition
‘Cause I’m killing them all on my own little mission
Now I’m not a saint but I’m not a sinner
Now everything’s cool as long as I’m getting thinner

[Chorus]


16 Comments

“So, what is your thesis on?”

Well, hmmm.

Yes, this semester has seen me embark on my Masters thesis. I went to a workshop the other day to help prepare for a possible tilt at my uni’s heats of the Masters version of 3MT (3 Minute Thesis – a competition that has traditionally been run for PhD candidates.) I can’t compete, because I am taking D (youngest daughter) and Frenchie (exchange student living with us) to Wellington for a long weekend, and the heats are one of the days I am away. To say I am relieved is a bit of an understatement! I am not good at public speaking, and as you all know, I am also not good at keeping things brief! But, I thought I would go along to learn a bit more about it, and push my boundaries. I will need to hone these skills as I progress through my thesis, and beyond. First question as I sat beside a Masters candidate (in German) was, “so, what faculty and department are you from?” And second question was, “so, what is your thesis topic?” Hmmm. I don’t have a title. And I barely have a long synopsis. So, I stuttered through a brief outline, and the reply, “how is THAT Geography?”

PMSL.

It is a common reaction. I am a human geographer, and even fellow grad students, from the same faculty don’t get it. But I will try to outline it here.

pray the gay

I am interested in what happens when we label people. And people don’t fit in those boxes. Or do for a while, then outgrow them. Or someone tries to “re-pot” them in another box that is uncomfortable, and is a bad fit.

That kind of thing.

So, my original proposal was to do with what happens when plural, or fluid sexualities unfold in a previously imagined “hetero” monogamous long-term relationship? Kind of a bit autobiographical (my parents) as in, a look at betrayal, and hegemonic ideas about what marriage and monogamy look like in Western contexts. I wanted to see what happens when we look further down the line from some of the literature on “falling in love and committing to one person of the opposite sex.” And the spatial and material arrangements of that. As in, does it mean automatic separation, or can the space be (re)configured somehow? What about when there IS separation, and children are perhaps involved, and the experience of both them and either one or the other, or both parents confronting “matter out of place” in a sense – in that maybe some familiar objects are relocated, maybe in mum’s new house, and it feels disconcerting (or whatever?) This seemed like a way of unpacking what society says about romantic relationships, and challenging it in a bounded framework of sexuality. I then thought, geographically, about space and place, and thought, “yay, I can use some of my existing online networks, to drum up interest in participation.”

Go me!

But last Friday, I had a meeting – only my second, I am only in my third week of this – with my senior supervisor (I have two, and love them both!) She has pointed me in a slightly different direction. She now has me reading the literature and unpacking spaces of home, love, intimacy and kinship. And here’s the kicker. She wants me to ground it (as after all, it is a one year project, not a PhD) in a specific geographical context, eg, my local region.

At first, I was a little taken aback. Oh no! How will I recruit participants? This is a little personally exposing, a bit “close to home” – good ol’ geography! But, I am open to it, I get what she is suggesting, and I agree. Start at the beginning. Start at how we conceptualise love. Then watch it implode, lol.

So, in order to try to make sense of how to approach this, I am reading like a madwoman, and I thought a brief post here might help me start to play with the working title, and start to arrange some order of approach. At the moment, it is all swirling around in there in a big tornado of thought, with no sequence. I am not a particularly orderly person, so it’s like herding cats. And I know my working title is nowhere near what I want it to be, and it needs to be far snappier, but I will record it here to put a peg in the ground. A marker of the origins of this thesis. I do it very nervously, as it is so far from what I need it to be yet, and I am struggling with the idea of a “fixed” sexual identity versus a fluid one – and how to incorporate that properly in the title without contradicting myself with, “okay, so one of these people has a static sexual identity, but that is not the case for everyone….”

sigh

Queering long-term ‘heterosexual’ romantic relationships: querying the effects of a romantic partner’s fluid sexualities on constructions of monogamous love in (insert geographical region(s) here.)

Aaaargh, I HATE it!

(Press publish, ewwwwwwwwww)