Monthly Archives: June 2017

Selfishness as radical praxis

I found out today that one of my good friends (well former good friends, if we’re being perfectly honest) has quit her job to stay home with her little son permanently. My first reaction was to despair for her. I immediately thought that her husband must have somehow strong armed her into it. He decided that his precious son needs this woman there permanently at his beck and call and so he guilted his lovely wife into giving up her career and sacrificing herself at the altar of motherhood.

When I pointed out that she had left (we got the news in a staff news letter) to some of my other colleagues, my single co worker looked a little crest fallen (“I know. I think she left ages ago though” *sigh*), but my other colleague, who has two kids said something that actually brought bile to my throat. She said “Yeah I feel kind of guilty. Maybe I should quit and stay home with my kids too.” This is a woman who is half way through her PhD, has a number of research projects going at work currently and made us start a podcast. The idea that she could decide that staying home and being a permanent nanny and leave all of that behind is just so galling to me.

I considered saying this to her but held my tongue and came to bitch about it here instead. This is in large part because every time I bring up feminism someone will say the dreaded “c” word – Choice. I hate it. It’s like they’re completely incapable of critical thinking skills. Just because you choose to do something doesn’t make it right or good and it certainly doesn’t make it feminist.

Now I can hear what you’re about to say: “But Natalie, we can’t all live our lives by very strict radical feminist principles. You make non-feminist decisions everyday. Those shoes you wore today for instance, which hurt your feet. There’s make up on your face. None of these are feminist choices, and yet you made them and you suffer the consequences” and i would agree with you. 100%. Not everything I do is feminist. and not every decision i make is feminist. But I would argue that wearing heels and make up is a hell of a lot  less serious than giving up your career.

She has given up her career and her independence so that she can become the embodiment of everything I hate about being a woman: someone subordinate to her husband and children. Now you can argue that being a homemaker is not subordinate, but i see your argument and I raise you a: We live in a capitalist society and money really is power. If you live in a house and you don’t pay the rent, and you don’t buy the groceries, and you have no disposable income of your own, then you have given up your power. You are at the mercy of whoever is paying the rent and keeping you in house and home.

More on this later. I’ve reached my 500 word limit. Damn.


Sitting on the dock of the bay…

So I’m at work. For what reason, I don’t know. I don’t have anything to do today, so I’m basically here waiting for someone to tell me what to do for next semester. I suppose I could start planning lessons and that, but what if they decide to change the syllabus and I’ve spent all that time working for nothing? I looked at the overview for the semester and it all looks quite interesting. I’m not super worried about it. But here I am, at work with nothing to do.

I’ve been reading American Gods. I want to read it before I watch the show. I don’t want to go in and then read the book. I prefer it the other way around. The main character is a man who spent three years in prison and was about to go back to his life with his wife whom he loves very much, when she died in a car crash and he got sucked into some supernatural drama featuring Odin and some other old gods.

The whole book is very surreal so far and a lot of strange things have happened, but the parts that are actually the most moving and difficult for me to read are the parts featuring his dead wife, who shows up every now and then to save him from danger. Before she died she had cheated on him with his friend and then the two of them had died in the accident together. And I get the impression I’m supposed to feel sorry for him because the love of his life has died and his life is in chaos.

But honestly, the only thing I feel is jealous. I miss that feeling. That safe loved feeling of being with someone and being absolutely sure that they love you and you love them and you’re just together. And that’s just the truth. It must be nice to have someone who’s just there for you and just loves you no matter what. I don’t think I’ll ever have that feeling again. All my exes have moved on and gotten married and had children, or at the very least gotten into serious relationships.

And here I am. Alone and in Suzhou. And honestly, when I think about it, I probably prefer it this way. I don’t think I do well in relationships. But it still kind of hurts you know? Why doesn’t anyone love me? Why doesn’t anyone want me? Someone once said that the un-examined life isn’t worth living, but I would argue that the unwitnessed life is even less worth living. With no one there to just pay attention to things you do and encourage you and wish you luck and listen to you bitch about a bad day at work, what’s the point?

This is the total antithesis of everything I really believe, but I’m feeling lonely. Also this went in a totally different direction from where I started out meaning to go. But maybe I can write that blog tomorrow.

Goodbye for now, sportsfans!

The road to hell 

…is paved with good intentions. Is a saying I never really understood but it seems apt at this juncture. This was supposed to be a blog for my writing, but it’s turned into yet another whiny personal blog. As though we didn’t already have enough of those. 

I just finished writing exams for this ill conceived master degree I decided to do last year. And I have to tell you,sports fans, I am not feeling good about them.  To be fair, I think I did well on the stats yesterday. But I’ve been wrong about this kind of thing before. Today’s Practical epidemiology was a nightmare of epic proportions. I totally fucked up at least three questions and it was purely because I had no fucking idea what they were even asking. 

This is because I somehow let six months go by without picking up a book and then crammed two entire shyly uses into 6 weeks. I’m a fucking idiot. If I fail it will be just desserts. I don’t deserve to pass. I didn’t do the work. I mean I did a lot of work in the last six weeks, but I should have been a good student all year and been much more familiar with the material . But I didn’t. 

I did what I always do. Which is to wait until it’s almost too late and then cram and then obviously I can blame the inevitable bad marks on that and not face the fact that perhaps I’m just not cut out for this path I’ve chosen for myself .

This is all very dramatic and when I get my results in a couple of months and they’re fine I’m going to forget feeling of abject failure on this beautiful summer afternoon in Shanghai.

But for now, I’m exhausted. I need a break. I should go back to Suzhou.