The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander. A study on how the disenfranchisement of minority males in America is being achieved via the "War on Drugs", with its harsh mandatory sentencing and the fact that anyone convicted of a felony then loses the right to vote, apply for public housing, etc. Alexander is smart and relatively articulate, but I feel like this book was about a third longer than it needed to be. She repeats herself a lot, as if she didn't trust her reader to go along with the argument. It got kind of dry.
Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon. I don't want to say, "This book is for dudes," because that's offensive and no doubt thousands of women loved this book, but... this book was kind of for dudes. And I say that as someone who LOVED Kavalier and Clay despite having zero interest in comic books. But this book? I was only interested in one of the six or seven plot lines, and even that one (about midwives) was irritating due to the two women being undeveloped and hence undifferentiated (they are different races and one is pregnant, but their dialogue, motivations, and status as Supporter of Male Character are virtually identical) as characters. I didn't care about the teenage obsession plot, or the blaxploitation kung fu movie plot, or the record store plot (oh LORD, the monologues about jazz), or the endless pages full of pop-culture references. What Chabon has done here - and he's pretty upfront about it - is written a book for Quentin Tarantino. I do not feel that Tarantino and I overlap much, as target audiences go, and I have to admit that I skimmed the last fifth of this book in a big way. That said, the man can write.
In life-news: I'm twenty-four weeks pregnant (oh my GOD this is really happening). The baby's kicking away in there at regularly-scheduled intervals, or when something exciting like a loud noise or a Christmas cookie occurs. Berowne, the other night, pulled out his harmonica, and at the first two notes the baby clearly woke up from a sound sleep the way that anyone would if woken from a sound sleep by a harmonica. "WHAT WHAT HOLY COW WHAT??" I don't think I've ever felt her kick that hard before. It was hilarious.
(I had really good intentions about remaining scientifically clinical about it Not Being a Baby Yet. I was going to keep saying "fetus" and "it", because women being overly cutesy about their pregnancies = bleeaargh. The "it" was impossible to maintain once we knew the sex, which we did at about fourteen weeks thanks to the awesome new blood tests; and once I felt kicking I found myself using the word "baby", and by now it's totally She, the Baby, and I'm running into the bathroom while Berowne is showering to tell him, "Oh man, she's bouncing!" and it's all ganging as agley as best-laid schemes aft do.)
We had a lovely quiet Christmas, just us and the dogs, and opened lots of baby-related presents and went for a walk in the freezing cold and ate delicious food (I married a fearsome cook) and generally enjoyed ourselves.
Unfortunately, I continue to have anxiety around being lectured at the doctor's about my weight gain. This anxiety is completely unfounded because neither the OB, nor the midwife, nor any of the nurses, have said one word about that weight gain; this is all coming from that one nutritionist and the internet, saying that the maximum a woman should gain during pregnancy is thirty-five pounds and almost all of that should happen in the last trimester. According to things like the Mayo Clinic website, I should only have gained fifteen pounds, tops, by now; I've gained roughly twenty-five. And because the Mayo Clinic website clearly knows me and my body and my health very well, my feelings of shame are completely justified. Or something.
There's no reason to worry. The weight is all where it should be - belly and, ahem, bosom -; no swelling in my face or hands or ankles; no expansion, even, in my thighs, which is where excess weight always hits me first. My skinny jeans - until they reach the belly - fit exactly as they did before. I feel grand and the baby is obviously active as anything. I only gained two pounds my first trimester, and then the second trimester, when one has the appetite of a post-hibernation bear anyway, corresponded with the holidays and a vacation to a place with the world's tastiest restaurants (yes, I've been to Paris - very yummy, but no Santa Fe). So I'm sure everything is fine, but I'm also cringing at the thought of a) not being perfect and b) not being perfect in a weight-related way. And I'm boring everyone to tears with my whining about it. I promise I'll stop in 2014! or at least regain a sense of humor about it. It's just, well, I believe I should either be perfect or the kind of awesomely imperfect free spirit who can laugh off expectations. Instead I am the kind of person who was never really designed to be perfect (a hard worker, yes; fairly intelligent, yes; naturally perfect and gifted? oh no) but is also incapable of shrugging off a random authority figure telling me I have failed at an arbitrary measure. Turns out this is an un-fun combination.
(The nutritionist wanted me to shame myself into cheese limits ["this is all the cheese I am allowed today," I'm supposed to tell myself, sternly, while preparing my post-work snack]. A CHEESE LIMIT. I ASK YOU. And as if I will EVER go back to the mental processes of, say, 1996, when I was convinced that if I were a better person I wouldn't need calories to survive and that all the bad things that happened to me were 100% deserved because I was a disgusting flab-pig with no self-control and I "allowed" myself something I shouldn't have. Puh-lease!)
Okay, I really will stop now. Stay warm, everyone! Enjoy the hell out of your cheese!