What Mommies Do

14 December 2001

The other day, Mark had the stunning realization that his entire family can now vote. (His youngest brother has been eighteen for awhile now, but it evidently took awhile to kick in.) This is just not the sort of realization only children have. I pointed that out to Mark, and he said, "Yes, but my voting block is twice the size of yours." I said, "Do even your parents vote as a block?" He laughed and said no, and I thought, ah, they don't do it the traditional way, either, as my parents don't.

Huh? So I poked at my subconscious: what traditional way? And the answer that came back was: the woman decides on politics and tells the man how to vote. Ridiculous, I know. I poked at my subconscious: anything else men don't do? Yes, it said, daily finances and plumbing. Those are Mommy Jobs.

I don't consciously believe that, but it does make me wonder what my kids will end up thinking Mommies Do. Whether physics, for example, will be feminine in their heads. Society at large has some impact, but the particulars matter a lot -- what Mommy Does, what Grandma Does, and so on. Me, I had a lot of grandmas. And you didn't want to mess with any of them, especially not Grandma. So I'd free associate "Grandma" with "kicks butt," among other things. "Cookie-baking," sure, but also "force of will." And so on.

I finished the rewrite of "Shylock's Pound" last night and packaged it up to send off. This particular editor, from the looks of his homepage, is not very squickable. That's good. There are parts of the story that are uckier than "Butterhead." Not my usual sort of thing, but it's good to write not my usual sort of thing from time to time.

I finished Wrapt in Crystal yesterday and read Selected Short Stories by Robert Walser, recommended by Zak. Meh. Lacked some of the nastiness that shows up in Kafka but also much of the power. They don't compare that well, from the short story collection; there's a reason Kafka is famous and Walser is obscure. Perhaps one of the novels would change my mind; perhaps not. Then I started Wild Swans by Jung Chang. Oh my. Good book. It's the true story of three generations of Chinese women, starting with the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. Very, very good. Even if you have no interest in Chinese history, this book is so well done it's worth reading. (It was one of Timprov's favorites, so I got it from the library; sadly, that means I can't lend it.)

Oh, hey, speaking of lending, anybody in the Bay Area got a lot of T.H. Huxley lying around? I want to read some to get in the right mindset to write a short story that popped into my head last night. Aldous will not do -- it has to be T.H. No interchanging of Huxleys! And do any of you post-colonialism scholars out there (not that I had anyone in mind...) or competent amateurs have any recommendations for books on India just after the British left? Thanks so much. I don't think that most of my stories require very much research, but there are several that bring the average way up. The Not The Moose Book, "The Empty Place," "The Last Egg," and so on...but those are some of my favorites, so I kind of perk up at a research-heavy topic. Anyway, let me know what you know.

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