Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

this is the first time i’ve read this book in more than 20 years. when i first read it, it seemed pretty impossible (well, to a young teenager, probably true). i’ve read a lot of post-apocalyptic YA. i mean, a LOT. and none have kept me up at night like this literary classic did. there was always the hope in the other books that something would make it right – fix the atrocities that were happening. but even the “historical notes” at the end of this didn’t make up for the societal idiocy that is gilead. and reading it? i could see it how something like that could happen in an “advanced” country.

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i’m a state worker. i belong to a union. contrary to popular belief, i do work a lot. that said, the republican-controlled state legislature decided to put language in the MN state agencies funding bill to cripple bargaining rights for wages and health insurance.

i’ve worked in private sector and now in a unionized environment. at my current job, i know i’m getting a fair, equal wage (you can actually go online and look me up – go ahead). my health bennies are pretty awesome. and guess what? i actually am a full union member. after seeing what happened at roch comm and tech after the new president came in and tried to clean house, i consider it a small price to pay for the knowledge that the union has my back if i’m ever unfairly let go.

and after five years, i’m actually pretty proud to work for the state of MN. and i’m proud to be a union member. now, if i were to go back to the private sector, i’m not going to cry about it; i work hard and i do good work, so i know that any job i hold is because i’m good at it. but after seeing 8 rounds of layoffs at my last private-sector job, i can easily say that i will take my union state job over that. 

i wrote to the governor to ask him to veto that bill. gov. dayton is a pretty pro-worker governor, so i’m fairly confident that it won’t pass. and after seeing five emails come through about this, i’m sure state workers all over are calling and emailing him to get rid of that bill. to all anti-union people, i get it. you think your employer does a fine job, and it’s probably so. but are you willing to quit when it’s not doing so fine? that’s what unions help with. i am still ambivalent about unions in general, but i’m glad i have one. 

ho there, garden

i got so much done this weekend; it was pretty unbelievable and bodes well for the upcoming summer of 3-day weekends. today i planted my tomatoes, peppers, and onions. the 10-day forecast looks frost-free, and after memorial day, it’s pretty much a done deal for planting. so in they went! still gotta plant some cukes, green beans, more basil, and my pie pumpkins. as for the other stuff i’ve planted, the only thing that’s come up so far is my peas, and that was weeks ago. not sure what’s going on!

anyway, that aside, today i spent some time tearing up the brush in the yard. O.M.G. what a complete mess. there is a vine of some sort that is crawling up the trees, and i spent a good part of the day tearing some down. nate and i took two truckloads of brush to the compost site. i still have to check out the vine to see if it’s actually harmful to the trees, but it definitely doesn’t look good, so i’ll take it down if i can. 

meanwhile, it’s been rainy and gross, but memorial day weekend is looking better and better, so maybe i’ll get out on my paddleboard again (yay!).

power

this past weekend i visiting melissa in her new house in rinkadink north dakota. traveling more south of fargo and little more west was a different experience; there are more hills, a little more softness to the landscape. it made me want to head a little more south and little more west and go to the black hills or head just west and go to mandan. 

when i visit melissa, i have conversations that i don’t have with anyone else, save for something similar with my brother on the philosophical level. one thing we talked about, which i’d never really considered before (and probably should have) is the idea of women being more powerful than men. i’ve thought about that over the past couple days. 

the gist of it: men don’t want to control and conquer what is already weaker than them. now i’m not sure i 100% can get behind this idea; i think men wan to control and conquer what threatens them as well as what is more powerful than them. but i am open to the idea that women are more powerful than men.

but what is that power? if it is what i think it is, sexuality, therein lies a problem. why is sexuality such a means of power for men? why is the mere presence of a woman, or being alone with any women a la mike pence, such a hard thing (heh) for men to deal with? why did paul/augustine/other church dudes hold women in such disregard? 

if being in the same space as a woman brings on sexual thoughts that a man can’t control, that’s the dude’s fault, not the woman’s. and thinking about a woman in an impure context is going to bring about eternal damnation, right?

so, because men can’t control their sexual thoughts, then perhaps the next best thing is to control the thing that is causing such angst in the moral life. lovely.

what is the real problem here? maybe it’s time to take a look at why a species that is, at its core, sexual, promiscuous, and polygamous, holds beliefs that having sexual thoughts, a completely natural human thing, is bad. 

on an aside, i was listening to a ted radio hour on mpr today and heard a portion of this guy’s ted talk. now i’m going to read his book!

update update

well hi there! long time, no see. 

i ran another half marathon with liz, and i think our downfall was not remember to take some ibuprofin beforehand. we were not happy people crossing that finish line. also, liz was not ready as far as prepping, and she was mid-cold. lots of things working against us this year!

garden has been straightened out and some plantings are in. i’m trying some soap and bone meal to keep away the deer – we’ll see if it works. i’ve got asparagus planted, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, spinach, peas, and kolrabi. gotta wait a couple weeks for the tomatoes and peppers! it might get chilly at night for a couple more weeks! 

also, i <3 spring! i’m amazed at what’s popping up in the flowerbeds at my house. 

this blog thing is really waning and i’m sorry 🙁 gotta get in the habit of doing it, i guess!

flip phone update

i think my regression experiment is over. my awesome motorola razr is unable to find a signal.

which is ok, i guess. i’m going to continue to work on leaving my phone in another room and also looking at the internet less (it doesn’t do much when i look at my laptop instead of my phone).

i’m a much less angry person now than i was when i started this project. that’s probably a result of a few things:

  1. i’ve curated my facebook and twitter feeds to be less news and more other stuff i’m interested in: books, cats, yoga, running, gardens, weird facts, etc.
  2. i’ve been trying to let the news roll off my back. i’m not ignoring it, but i’m not actively dwelling on it, for the most part. i’ve been trying to do something positive to counteract the negative. DT defunds conservation efforts? well, i guess i’m donating more money to the minnesota dnr. (on a related note, i feel like this is what republicans would prefer – private donations to causes – but i don’t foresee my taxes going down to counter my donations. grr.)
  3. i’ve been trying to be more meditative. i subscribed to headspace for a while and learned how to move anxiety out. also, yoga definitely helps. 

back to my iphone 5 for now. having emojis back will be nice! also being able to see people’s pictures they send via text message. i am going to try to keep the apps to a minimum like i currently have. 

if it comes to a point where i start getting ragey again, it might be time to deactivate some social accounts.

goodbye, razr. if everyone still used flip phones, i’d definitely get you fixed. i’m kind of sad my experiment fizzled out, but i’m impressed it lasted for four months or so…

tomorrow: a running update.

wow

i don’t think i’ve gone this long without blogging since i started my blog. has my creative blogging mantra run out? am i just burnt out on writing? do i just want to lie on the couch and do nothing when i get home?

(it’s #3.)

so i have a piece of dirt churned up and ready for a garden. i even bought a deer fence to keep out those pesky animals. 

i ran another half marathon, which SUUU-UCKED this year for some reason. although i feel a lot better the day after for some reason. added about 20 minutes onto the overall time from last year. BUT the course was really nice and the swag was nice. AND there was food and drink at the end. 

i think my max mileage is 8 miles though. i really don’t want to do another half marathon because at 8 miles of running, i just feel like my life has gone wrong somehow. then around mile 10 i just step into a “well, this is my life now” attitude and run as slowly as possible until the end. so i guess this summer i’m going to be working on speed versus distance. i don’t have a fancy 10-minute-mile goal like liz, but if i can get under 12 pretty regularly, i’ll be happy. 

work has been significantly less stressful, which is really nice. after commencement, it’ll calm down even more, and i’ll almost be zenned out at work. for reference, we had two major projects in the past 6 months (eorientation creation and a complete website migration), my coworker quit, leaving me as a department of one, and i haven’t even been there a year yet :/ we hired me a coworker though, and the two projects are done. maybe i’ll be able to finally get down to some of the work i was actually hired to do! now i have to decide if i’m going to work 4 10-hour days this summer so i have 3-day weekends. hmmmm!! also, with my overtime, i think i’m going to buy a paddleboard!!! WOO.

on an unrelated note, sometimes i hear loons from my backyard. <3

adirondackloons

omgarden

1. last weekend i found a tiller on craigslist, so i bought that baby. $100 for a $300 tiller. not too shabby.

2. we’re ready to get the garden bed torn up! (or “tore” up as the local yokels say). friday, a guy i work with is coming over with his tractor and getting a 36’x18′ piece of yard tilled up so the grass will die. then he’ll come back and roll it all out. 

2.5. speaking of tilling, i dug up a little piece of dirt to see what we’re working with, and omgarden, it’s beautiful. no clay, a little sandy, grass roots not too deep. throw some compost in that bad boy, and that’ll just be fantastic.

3. meanwhile, i’m going through some brush around the house, and there are these vines all over the place. it’s very weird. they crawl up the trees and i’m assuming try to choke out the trees. so i’m going to have to do some research on that and figure out how to get them to stop propagating. 

4. meanwhile, peppers, brussels sprouts, and tomatoes are starting to grow. i’ve got to get them out in the coldish garage to start hardening up. 

so, i guess i’ll leave you with an april haiku:

greenery almost
longer sun, warmer days, but
april has an R

top ten running things to think about

so we know starting running is hard. 

here’s 10 things to think about when you’re starting running, or even if you’re a seasoned runner, i guess, and need a refresher? 

  1. shoes: always always get good shoes. spend the cash. your feet will thank you. your ankles will thank you. your knees will thank you. your hips will thank you. your brain will thank you because it isn’t thinking about how awful all those things are feeling. 
  2. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: regarding shoes. i have flat feet. and heel spurs. and plantar fasciitis. three-ish years ago i decided to go see a podiatrist. until that point, i’d been wearing walk-fit inserts in my shoes, which were doing ok, but the foot wasn’t 100%. first the podiatrist gave me custom inserts, which had NO arch support. went back, and he gave me a cortisone shot, which lasted maybe 6 months when i started getting weird shooting pains down my foot that turned my second toe numb. went back, got a second cortisone shot, which helped for about 2 weeks, then my foot was just a mess. the shot had obliterated my heel’s fat pad. finally saw a podiatrist again up here in STC, who sent me to physical therapy. 11 sessions later, my foot is about 80% to capacity (and feeling sooo much better in the mornings). but i was still getting those shooting pains to the numb toe. WHAT THE HECK, FOOT. i tried different shoes, different lacing, different socks, etc. nothing. finally, i went back to the walk-fit insert. HALLELUJAH. no more shooting pains. we’re back to square one, but that’s ok.
  3. underwear: hefty in the ladies department? get a good bra. yes, you’ll spend more on it than you would on a $10 sports bra at walmart, but it will support the ladies, and you won’t have to worry about things bouncing around and causing pain. also, GET A FITTING.
  4. speed: this isn’t a land race! unless you’re training to win the boston marathon, there’s no reason to kill yourself. the only person you’re in a competition with is yourself, so take it slow and easy. you can add speed, but do so gradually. i feel like this is half the reason people quit: you try to run so fast right out of the gate, that there’s no way it can be enjoyable. really, slow down. you’ll be able to run farther distances, too, before you pass out.
  5. stretch!: stretch out a little bit before running, but not too much. then stretch a ton after running. i make the mistake of forgetting to stretch after races, and then i can’t move for the next three days. 
  6. your toes: you will get callouses, blisters, broken nails. keep your nails trimmed short. make sure your shoes’ toeboxes are wide enough. if you feel something rubbing your toe in your sock while you’re out on a run, stop and get it out of there! you’re just inviting a blister. one time i was out and felt a piece of dirt/sand between my toes and didn’t think it would be a big deal. i had to wear a huge bandaid on my toe for the next two weeks til the blister subsided.
  7. the suck: some days it will suck. huge suck. other days it will be fantabulous. persevere through the suck and enjoy the crap out of the awesome days. 
  8. the fat girl: if you were like me and 260 lbs. when you start running, there is a phobia of people watching you jiggle around the track. when i started, i went to the track at 10 p.m. to decrease the amount of people who saw me. now i don’t care who sees me, but i certainly don’t make eye contact with anyone driving past me. i haven’t gotten any catcalls, so i think i’m in a weird sweet spot where i’m not skinny enough for guys to yell things at me but not fat enough for the same guys to yell different things at me. 
  9. wave: while drivers are usually jerks, other runners, walkers, and bikers aren’t, for the most part. pass someone on the trail? wave! even if you see someone across the street puffing away like you are, do the runner’s wave: left hand up and a really breathy hi.
  10. for heaven’s sake, keep it up!: like i said before, the only person you are really in competition with is yourself. running is not a team sport (well, most of the time not a team sport). YOU have to want this. YOU are doing this for YOU. you’re gonna hate it sometimes and question why you keep dragging out those shoes. but then you’re plodding along and get to kick your way through a big pile of leaves in the fall. or you run past a giant lilac bush in the spring. or you see a fantastic sunset. or it’s the perfect temperature and humidity for a run. or you get a personal best time. (usually those last two happen on the same day.) but really the best part to keep it up is because you know you’re doing something halfway decent for yourself, and at the end of the day, sitting on your couch eating that slice of chocolate mousse pie, you know you’ve earned it.

it’s starting…

i’ve got sweet peppers popping up, some brussels sprouts, and i just put tomato seeds in my dirt the other day! i’m hoping to get a guy in here to dig up a piece of ground for me, otherwise i’ll be renting a sodcutter and ruining my shoulders for a couple day this spring. 

march is such a blah month for me. not as blah as february, but it’s such a swing month. last week it was -10 overnight, and then 60 on saturday. come on! and usually it’s muddy and slushy and gross, but we didn’t have a ton of snow this winter, so i feel like that bullet was dodged (though it will probably have an effect on my gardening this summer unless april showers get all up in this business). 

i’m really looking forward to my garden this summer. it’s gonna be huge, in the sun, sans black walnut trees, and right out my back door. AND with my fancy pants new shed, i’ll have plenty of space to put my gardening junk. 

OH. and here’s the best thing i found out a couple weeks ago when i perused the property: i think have RASPBERRIES. 😮 

it’s the little things.