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Infertility and the Handmaid’s Tale

No spoilers unless you haven’t read the book.  In which case, sure, there are spoilers.  But really, you haven’t read the book AND you’re worried about Handmaid’s Tale spoilers?

We’re making our way through Hulu’s new Handmaid’s Tale series.  There have been small changes from the book to the screen, the most notable being the age of the wives.

The wives in the book are middle-aged to older women.  Serena Joy walks with a cane.  Offred grows up seeing her on television.  The commander is an older man, grey-haired.

But in the series, both are still in prime, baby-making years.  The wife is blond.  The commander young.  Their handmaid is their peer; not a much younger woman.  Offred is considered fertile because she had a child at one point.  Their places could have been reversed if the wife had been capable of bearing children.  If she had married a different man.

Which is what makes the theme of infertility that much more heartbreaking.

Infertility was part of the book, but it was always with the thought that the wives were past the age of possible fertility.  The sting of their inability to reproduce was still there, but it was muted from living with it for years.

On the screen, infertility becomes part of the current moment.  The wife is infertile, her handmaid is not.

The first episode contains the familiar Ceremony Day scene; Offred lying between the wife’s legs.  In the book, Serena Joy comes off as crotchety, kicking Offred out of the bedroom, almost as if she’s annoyed by the drama, a woman who was okay being child-free who now needs to participate in this government-sanctioned charade.  Whereas on the screen, it is a heartbreaking moment.  The wife is fighting back tears as she snarls at Offred to leave, and it is clear that jealousy — not indignation — is driving the words to come out of her mouth.

It made me side with the wife.

Because her tears felt so familiar, even if my own (and your own) tears have come from different situations.  No, I’ve never had to lie on a bed with another woman between my legs, but I have had to lie on a table while a doctor completed the task.  I know how family building feels when it doesn’t look anything like the family building fantasies of a childhood mind.

I identified more with the wife than with Offred.  Don’t get me wrong; I felt gutted for Offred, but my allegiance was with the wife who had to endure the monthly reminder — like all of us — that she couldn’t reproduce on her own.

I wonder if the shift in age is due to some horrible Hollywood bias against older women or something more heartfelt. Perhaps Margaret Atwood absorbed stories of infertility — knowingly or unknowingly — over the years, she tweaked this detail from page to screen to convey the emotional side of infertility for everyone who watched.

April 30, 2017   No Comments

644th Friday Blog Roundup

Josh and I decided (well, really, I decided and told Josh) that we were going to become members of Mason Jar Nation.  We were going to Pinterest-up our breakfast and lunch within an inch of its life and eat everything out of glass containers.  When we first proposed it to the kids, they mocked the idea.  But the ChickieNob has since switched sides and joined Mason Jar Nation (which is like Tiny House Nation, except with lunch in a jar), leaving her brother alone in Sandwichland.

Every week, we decide on a single salad and then make dozens of copies in the mason jars.  In the morning, you just grab a jar and go.  The whole meal is inside the jar, like this:

Salad (from bottom to top): peanut dressing, edamame, noodles, red and yellow pepper, cucumbers, and crunchy noodles

When you’re ready to eat, you just mix it all up.  Nothing gets soggy because the dressing is at the bottom and a nonabsorbent protein is layered on top of the dressing.

We also make refrigerator oats, but those are gross-looking while delicious-tasting, so no pictures.

Even more joyful is making up songs about being part of Mason Jar Nation and singing them to Linus.  He cannot become a member because his head would likely get trapped in the jar, but we involve him by giving him bits of vegetables while we chop.

Year of the mason jar.  Best meal plan ever.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

The Road Less Travelled has a post about the “he needs a cousin (brother, sister, etc)!” chant with a twist: People are talking about a dog.  But the post calls into question why we say these things, and how it sounds to the person on the receiving end.  She writes, “‘Now where have I heard THIS before?’  I thought, rolling my eyes and biting my cybertongue before typing out a light-hearted response along the lines that Puppy seems to be enjoying having all the attention to himself, thankyouverymuch.”  I think I like Cristy’s comment best: “It’s always interesting how fast others are to saddle someone with responsibility.”

It is NIAW this week, and I’ve seen many fewer posts than in past years.  Infertilityhonesty has been doing a series all week.  In one, she writes about eight ways you can support a person with infertility.  A great post to share as a link on social media, hint hint hint.

Lastly, Bent Not Broken has a post about the grief she feels this spring in particular, a time when she imagined she would be ensconced in soccer season, not missing children who aren’t here.  It’s a beautiful, brief post.

The roundup to the Roundup: Mason jar lunches.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between April 21st and 28th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

April 28, 2017   4 Comments

Blogger Continuation

I am smitten (fine, while I’ll admit that I was looking for a reason to use the word “smitten” this morning, I actually am a little in love with this book) with Matthew Quick’s book, Every Exquisite Thing.  There have been three times (so far) that I’ve underlined something, wanting to discuss it with another person.  Which is why I’m dumping it on you.

Welcome to my own private book club.

And, no, you don’t have to have read the book to participate.  This first thought ties into reading blogs, and since you are currently reading a blog post, I’m going to assume you may have some thoughts on this.

Shall we begin?

The main character — Nanette — is having coffee with the author of her favourite book.  She wants to know what happens with the main character in his book (yes, it’s a book inside a book), and the author admits that he doesn’t know what happens to this person he created because the story is over even if the character technically (at least, the reader assumes) lives on. This part of the conversation begins on page 17:

“See that nice woman who served us our coffee?”

I looked back over my shoulder at the tall cashier with the brown ponytail and the permanent smile on her face, and I nodded.

“Her name is Ruth,” Booker said. “Ever see her before?”

Kids my age never came into this coffee shop, so I said, “No.”

“Maybe you won’t ever see her again.”

“So?”

“You only got to see five minutes of Ruth’s story. And that’s just the way it is. But Ruth, well, she goes on now whether you’re looking or not. She does all sorts of things that some people see and some don’t. But your version of Ruth’s story will be the five minutes you spent buying coffee from her. That’s just the way it is.”

In other words, we jump into a story, we remain with the character/person for a little bit, and then we jump out, each continuing but not knowing anything more about the other person.

We accept that reality in life; why aren’t we satisfied with the idea that stories end when it comes to books?  Why do we keep imagining the characters continuing, either producing fan fiction, or in some cases, books like The Cursed Child?

So, yes, I have those questions but it made me think about returning to old posts on my blog and looking at the comment section.  So many people there; some of them prolific bloggers several years ago, now somewhere else, their story continuing without my knowledge.  Some of them were people I corresponded with weekly.  Saw face-to-face when we were in the same space.

And now our stories have drifted apart because they stopped telling theirs on their blog.  Maybe they still read over here but have stopped commenting.  Maybe we’re still connected on other forms of social media so I get glimpses into their story, but more often than not, they’ve disappeared from my world even though they continue to exist in their own world.

There are stories I miss a lot because I liked the main character: the blogger.  I’m sure you miss them, too, since we all read the same people.  And it is strange to think that one day I will become like those characters and drift away because I stop writing my story.  (I have no plans on this front; I’m just stating this because it’s a likely scenario at some point in the distant future.)

Do you miss old bloggers?  Do you miss knowing the continuation of their story?

April 26, 2017   12 Comments

Should You Tell People About Your Infertility?

Sheryl Sandburg is an eloquent woman.  I haven’t read her new book, Option B, but I’ve been drawn to all the articles about it (and added the book to my TBR pile) because I think she is excellent at articulating thoughts about loss.  While her book is about death — specifically her partner’s death — many of the thoughts are applicable to any kind of grief, including infertility.

Especially the idea of kicking the elephant out of the room.

Which means telling people about your infertility.

People magazine writes,

Sandberg writes that the loneliness she felt after the loss of her husband was compounded by some interactions with friends and coworkers, who, not knowing exactly how to support her, either said nothing or said things that made her feel more isolated.

While death is obvious, infertility isn’t really as hidden as we’d like to think.  Assumptions are made when you’re in a certain stage of life, and while these assumptions suck and I wish they didn’t happen (not least of which since having a child should be a decision, not an assumption), they are following you around like an elephant.  Sandberg’s advice is to acknowledge the elephant:

And when they asked “How are you?,” she writes, “I started responding more frankly. ‘I’m not fine, and it’s nice to be able to be honest with you about that.’ ”

“I finally figured out that since the elephant was following me around, I could take the first step in acknowledging its existence.

I tried to imagine how that would change all conversations; if the problem was acknowledged and firm boundaries were set for the conversation.  Would it guide comfort?  Would it guide support?  Sure, there would still be terrible advice given out, but that could be honestly and kindly dealt with as well because the tone was set at the beginning of the interaction.  Telling, in this Sandbergian way, feels like control.  It feels like a way to guide yourself to the support you need while heading off some of the more hurtful interactions.

Maybe.

The other thing I loved was her advice (by way of her rabbi) of leaning into the suck; of not being surprised when you’re in a moment of grief.

“If you’re facing loss or adversity, the first thing [you have to do is] lean in to the suck. This is gonna suck,” she tells PEOPLE of her rabbi’s counsel.

“It gave me the understanding that, this is going to be terrible, and I stopped fighting the terrible moments because I knew they would happen. And when I stopped fighting them — ‘Oh my God, I’m heartbroken, and I’m upset that I’m heartbroken’ — they actually passed more quickly.”

I sort of love that idea of knowing that — without a doubt — this is going to suck.  And then allowing yourself to feel that and move through it vs. fight against it and try to convince yourself that you should be okay.  Just lean into it.

Has anyone else read the book?  Have it on their TBR pile?

April 25, 2017   14 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 139: Wind Phones

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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Atlas Obscura had a post about wind phones: disconnected phones set up in Japan so people could call their lost loved ones.  The article begins:

When Itaru Sasaki lost his cousin in 2010, he decided to build a glass-paneled phone booth in his hilltop garden with a disconnected rotary phone inside for communicating with his lost relative, to help him deal with his grief.

I clearly found the idea touching, but I also found it strangely comforting.  Yes, I know it’s a disconnected phone and that I could just speak my words into thin air, but there is something about holding a tangible object as you speak.  I would do anything to get to speak to my grandmother again, to feel like I’m communicating with her even if I don’t get an answer.

Who would you call on the wind phone?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

1. Mali (No Kidding) 8. Tanvi Mehta 15. Jenn P
2. Mali (A Separate Life) 9. Isabelle 16. Chandra Lynn (Pics and Posts)
3. Middle Girl 10. the OCD infertile 17. Loribeth (The road Less Travelled)
4. Traci York, Writer 11. 6 Years of T& U! 18. Corinne Rodrigues
5. Raven 12. Journeywoman 19. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal)
6. Turia 13. Mary Francis 20. Different Shores
7. Jess 14. Counting Pink Lines

April 24, 2017   21 Comments

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