Wednesday, March 29, 2006

hast forgotten the daddy blog?

Sorry about that title - someone pointed out the Chaucerian blog to me, and I've been yea, lo verily reading my tushie off. Fun, in an overeducated, barely humorous kind of way. (God, woman, forget the blogs and get some sleep!)

Anyway, wanted to stick my head in the door. My mood has improved dramatically since I embraced not reading newspapers, though it alarmed a neurologist last week when I couldn't tell her anything about current events. It's a lifestyle choice, darlin'. And possibly necessary for emotional health. Kadima, anyone? Oy.

All is well here, as we slowly grope our way towards general familial health. We had a scare last week when my post-surgery, sinus-infected, painkiller infused body decided to take a short operational reboot, a procedure that somehow involved me ending up on the kitchen floor, mildly incoherent. A funky EKG and a wildly unecessary CT scan later, I was sent home on antibiotics (for the sinus infection) and told to be a good girl and get some rest. I tried not to laugh.

In the meantime, I'm powering up the drill to install the childgate (the baby is sooo close to crawling!), planning my next article, stopping at the hospital to visit my friend and her daughter and looking forward to the weekend's hemophilia conference!! where we will stay at a real hotel with a real pool with real chlorine in the water. I might even wear the overpriced nursing bathing suit I bought. Maybe. If I can manage to get it on and get out of the hotel room without looking in a mirror. (A bathing suit is the ultimate sartorial leveller. Trust me.) I did get the boys some matching swim shorts....but I swear, it's only because my eldest really, really, really wanted them to have the same thing. Honest.

Okay, off to bed. But first, my customary tidbit: Smart Ass graph, courtesy of the Daddy Blog. For those of you who always wanted to have your social interactions reduced to a science, here it is. Sort of. And it's true about the episiotomy.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

when the fog lifts

Today, I looked at the baby, up and rocking gently back and forth while on fours, and thought, hmm. Must put up that childgate.

I strongly suspect that this was the first completely coherent thought I've had since Sunday.

Don't get me wrong - I've actually enjoyed some of my incoherence, as it has been borne on a lovely drug induced cloud. And it was kicked off by that rarest of moments in the mama world: a date!

Yup, me and the mister abandoned our children on Sunday (who ran off into the Bodhi Juju's arms with nary a backwards glance, thankeeverymuch) and off we went for vegan food (hey, if I ain't getting eggs and dairy, then, well, he's too polite to have any either) and candlestick bowling. It was fun! 'Oh, no,' says my honey, 'we've played two games! We must stop now or our shoulders will be sore tomorrow.' 'Pish tush,' said I (weel, not really, but I wish I had - how often can a girl say 'pish tush' these days? It's a good fun quote.), 'We lift 16-32 pounds regularly. A wee 8 pound ball won't hurt us.' And, lo, it was so.

But the next day, the viral invasion had begun. One by one, we succumbed to fever, sniffles and a truly nasty cough that shakes the roof of your head. Gives the whole 'huff and puff until it all falls down' a whole new and nastily realistic twist. And on Tuesday, clutching my tissues and determined not to betray any signs of weakness (and having already wailed to and been reassured by the ob/gyn), I and my viral-heavy family staggered into the pre-op waiting room at the hospital where our baby was born. It was there that I was to undergo the lesser known final stage of pregnancy, labor and delivery: the six month post-partum mop-up procedure, courtesy of a resident's screw-up.

I remember kissing my boys goodbye, being handed a glamorous shower cap by the anasthesiologist, and riding off into the OR. There, I scooted myself onto the table, trying to ignore the nurse whose job it was to babble at me reassuringly until I passed out. Eventually, it occurred to everyone that I seemed remarkably conscious. (This had occurred to me, too.) 'So, are you feeling the effect of the medication?' the anasthesiologist asked. 'Not really,' I said. 'Feel free to give me more - and don't skimp. I've got two kids and could really use a nap.' He grinned, and the next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room and being told by an overly chipper nurse that I was about to get out of bed. Umm, right.

The nice young resident du jour, Dr 'call me Jen,' had offered me my pick of pain-killers: Tylenol with codeine, Percoset (oxycodone), and perhaps some triple-strength ibuprofen? When I got home that night, I felt wonderful - even slightly float-y. I made dinner, put on a load of laundry, and hummed quietly around the house, knowing that I was blessed with my mother as backup...up, could collapse any time, but was just going to do one more thing oh my did I feel fine why did they think I'd need such strong drugs when I (crunch, thump).

I woke up the next day with a better understanding of the implications of the surgery, minor though it was, a serious disinclination to sit down, a strong appreciation for the Mater, who drove hours to reach us, and a thought: pain and the anxiety about pain can affect a person's recovery. But by offering such strong painkillers, was there not also a risk that I'd create or enhance the feeling of pain, if only by anticipating it? We know from the gateway theory of pain that the psychological state of a patient can physically enlarge or reduce the amount of pain experienced, so what does the doctor's prescription tell me here?

Frankly, I'm inclined to accept Dr. Call Me Jen's decision to go for the big guns. Americans expect pain-free lives, or as close to pain-free as they can get it. Therefore, when we experience some pain, it looms large - and we feel it accordingly. Call Me Jen needs to prescribe just in case, or for the most likely patient. Fair enough. But ya gotta wonder: is this why so many women get epidurals? I've had childbirth with and without the epidural, and the difference between the two was purely psychological. Still, without the endorphins of childbirth egging me on, I'm inclined to be rather wimpy about this. Especially when I have to periodically stop to rescue my newly mobile baby person, who seems to have a knack for wedging himself under the futon, the cabinet...who knew we had such dust bunnies?

courtesy of the rounding cousin...a fairy tale of caffeine and sandwiches!

Friday, March 17, 2006

a pause for perspective

This past week, I've felt overwhelmed, harried, delighted and restful, all by turns. And on a day that threatened to outweigh the joyous with the stressful, I took a break from my box of tissues to discover this bit of news:

the daughter of a friend and the sister of a child with a bleeding disorder, was just diagnosed with leukemia.

This is a child whose parents already have their hands full, and who have managed a bleeding disorder with grace and humour. I am sure that there is no one who deserves this less (who deserves cancer?). Perhaps there is no one better prepared for this. Either way, today I will pause and set my self-centered self aside and try to avoid shouting and snapping at the universe that alotted this disease to this particular child, and this particular family. Instead, this is a time for yes, grief, but also acceptance, for hope and prayer and to join the rest of the hemo-mamas and -papas in standing ready to help.

Phooey. (several nasty comments suppressed here)

I just wish I could shake the image of my friend's daughter, who could neither defeat nor co-exist with her leukemia. Instead, my head is playing the mental tape of her burial and her father's wrenching eulogy. Okay. Enough wallowing. Time to go to Trader Joe's and pick up a care package. I'm thinking chocolate, fruit and bubble bath. Maybe a toy for the little girl (baby, really). But no flowers, as they're banned from the ward. Will a gift make it all better? My cynical self snorts and reminds me that the package will make me feel better, and marginally less helpless. Because in the end, isn't it really all about me?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

six month roundup!

Well, it's been a busy month for us at chez Mama. We had many family happies: three birthdays (happy happy to SIL-ly, the inestimable Bobby-Su, and Unca M) and one engagement! Huzzah, and pass the bubbly. I also welcomed my family to this blog. They responded...silently. (hey, you people, stop lurking and use the comment feature already! This is not just a top-down experience, it's a conversation. Yeesh.) And I invited Matt James, host of the City Gardener to come and fix our garden woes on his swing through the US of A. He also responded...silently. Oh, well. And we finally, finally agreed to talk to the Make-A-Wish people, who responded enthusiastically to our somewhat doubtful selves. Yikes.

Here's what's been going on:

The Eldest:
We saw a range of behaviors from him this month, some of them alarming. To our horror, we actually had the Return of the Tantrum, to which I responded appropriately by fleeing the house to go to a set of lectures on parenting. (Yes, Brave Sir Robin am I.) We also saw the ugly side of competitiveness, when I was shoved aside on the stairs so that he could get to the bottom first. As I was carrying the babe at the time, this was a rather alarming moment. Competition had begun as a motivator (can you get dressed before the baby?) but had become instead a driving force that he couldn't escape, reducing him to tears at the idea of not being first. We shifted parental tactics and happily, the end of the month brought a shift back to the child we know. Today I watched him play games where his toys cooperate, rather than compete. I breathed a sigh of relief. Pedestrian traffic may now resume on the stairs...

His love for writing persists, and he's now alternating between asking us to spell out words for him and writing letters - and asking us what word he's written. I think this is a scribal form of the gobbledy-gobbledy my youngest brother and I used to speak to each other. Hmm. Scribal. Maybe he's taking after his father? I've retreated from trying to read books to him, as he now wants to read them to me. It's a power issue that I've no interest in pursuing, as the basic idea is clearly lodged in place: books good, reading good. Fine. He came home tonight from a story-reading at magid's house, which he pronounced to be "perfect." Yup, happy Mama-moment for me! Thanks, magid. Followed by a sheepishly happy Mama-moment plus religiously awkward Mama-moment, when he triumphantly wrote 'SOY' on his easel. On the sabbath. Yup, that was tricky.

We introduced him to the rock climbing area at our local childrens museum, and I watched him negotiate carefully between his interest in climbing and his anxieties about height. He set his own pace, and climbed about five feet up, at which point he'd wiggle over to a walkway/slide, and get off. Repeat ad infinitum. If I needed a reminder that sometimes I should just let the boy be the boy, well, there it was. Kid's got it sorted. And you should see him ride that tricycle! He's in love, and is surprisedly complaining of tired muscles. Um, right.

Finally, he's reinvoked some long standing plans for his future. About a year ago he began talking about marrying a certain lady, Spring. We know two Springs, one of which is his aunt, and it took us some time to figure out which he intended to marry. It's the other one, apparently. A couple of days ago, he laid out his master plan:
1. he'd draw Spring a picture.
2. Spring would marry him.
3. Spring's husband, J, would marry someone else.
I thought #3 was brilliant, since J would marry someone already married to a J. This is extremely tidy, as by conflating J and J, we'd save much time and effort - and free up Spring. This has all the feel of those sliding tile puzzles, in which you must push the pieces around until everything slides into order.

The Baby:
His eczema has receded amazingly since we identified the egg allergy, although he's still somewhat scaly around the ears and sundry other spots. (Ears??? why ears?) He's sitting up rather sturdily right now, and has replaced the tripod with a hands-free approach, allowing him to do more than stare determinedly at his toes. With this has come a greater accuracy with his grasping, and he surprises me sometimes by grabbing slim edges of things, like a wire drawer in our pantry. This is actually getting tricky at dinner prep time, when I often wear him in a sling while putting food together with his big brother's help. Leaving him on the floor only invokes his wrath, as he senses that something interesting is happening, and demands to be included. Clearly, this is going to need some rethinking. (Suggestions, anyone?)

He's making some fascinating sounds, coos, gurgles, squeaks and squeals. And he's making them rhythmically, as if they are a language, complete with sentence structure. My eldest and I were hanging out on the bed today with the babes when he began to hold forth. I looked at my older son and said, 'Hmm. Sounds like he has something to say' The child agreed, but wondered as to what. We decided that perhaps we should learn to speak the baby's dialect, since obviously he was too little to speak our own.

Finally, the babes has now happily entered into that game so beloved of his father: eat the baby. He holds up a plump little hand, cueing me to exclaim, 'hand!' and kiss, nibble and generally growl over. The baby laughs uproariously, and pulls the hand away. I look sad, say 'no hand,' and he shoves the hand back into my face. I'm rather fond of this little hand, and have a tendency to measure my sons by their hands while we nurse. The oddity of my demanding eldest, whose hand would stroke me gently while we nursed, a gentle, rhythmic caress that began when he was only days old. Or the grasping, determined hand of my mellower younger son, reminding me that his needs should not be overlooked, for all that he might be more patient about expressing them. Hmm. Point taken.

As for the Mama and the Papa, well, it's been busy. And good! Lots of loving, looking after each other, even managing the odd conversation about things other than children. My partner headed off to the ballgame on Sunday, he had a hockey game a couple of weeks ago, and has been walking steadily in his catharctic, bean counting kind of way. (See here for his description.) I check in with him from time to time (man are we wildly overdue for a date!), but he seems grounded, happy. Meanwhile, I've been having fun, learning about breast biosynchrony (it's a wild, wild, kanga world), getting responses to my latest article, transcribing my grandmother's diary (an achingly slow process), and helping edit the narrative of a man with hemophilia, HIV and hep C. And that's just the stuff not on the back burners. Overwhelmed by the egg and dairy free diet, plus a casual comment about my avoiding the Big Eight (argh!), I rediscovered the fleeting pleasures of retail therapy. But after a few tense sentences with my partner, I rediscovered the lesser pleasure of making the mortgage payment. And I'm currently wrist deep in gardening porn, as I plot out an impossible strategy for our garden this year. This year very well might be the year when I take on the awful side walkway. Or not.

Matt James, where are you?

And that's the six month mark, folks. Feel free to play the Looney Tunes 'th-th-that's all, folks!' as you navigate away from this page, because it's 10 pm and I'm d-d-done for the night.

a semi-participatory Purim

Well, I hope you all had a happy and somewhat silly Purim! The baby was the sweetest little cow, and very much enjoyed chewing on his costume's horns. His big brother was first a fireman and then a small boy much in love with his new bike helmet, complete with knee and elbow pads. I was, as per instructions, a princess and occasional chew-toy. And my partner was a man wearing an extremely silly hat, if with four spirit soothing tickets to the Celtics in his pocket.

Megilla reading was great, and I'm not just saying that because my partner read parts of one and all of the second, blitz reading (27 minutes!). And as per custom, we gave out gifts of food (mishloach manot) that included some amazing spice cookies. And, as per custom, members of our community gave gifts of food to us. And here the great silence falls. Um, thanks for your bag with the peanuts/dairy/unknown scary ingredient treats. Please pay no attention while I stash it behind this potted plant/give it to this other person/blatantly toss it in the trash. Kudos to Spring and co, whose mishloach manot included fruit, drink and a recipe. And of course, a happy arm wave to magid, whose mishloach manot included rolls that made my eldest stop cold and say, 'I just want to say again how yummy this bread is!' And indeed it was.

But how strange, how estranging it was to be so central to this community's practice and yet so distanced from them, as per the holiday's culinary coin of the realm. Again, I'm reminded as to the role that food plays in establishing a community: the sacred altar variant that we make with our ritual meals on the sabbath, holidays, the gathering place, secular or religious, that a set table offers, the place where we share food and self. Thankfully, Purim distills this down to a baggie or tricorne plate, and the potluck triumph of the ritual meal does soothe some of the surprise of the mishloach manot.

That's it from me tonight - tomorrow is Thursday, when I try to find the wakefulness, peace of mind and speed with which to get a teeny needle into a teenier vein (yes, he's four, no, his veins don't care how old he is), and still get everybody out the door in time for school. Um, right. At the very least I'll try and get the job done before my partner blows a small gasket. Good thing the man doesn't own a watch...

Nonetheless, for your entertainment, here's some of the not so latest news in the formula/mama milk wars: annexing food allergies! A few years ago, an article in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that kids had a pattern of developing first allergies to dairy (dairy formula), then soy (they were switched to soy formula) and finally cross-reacting to peanuts (like soy, peanut is a legume). Nursing mothers like myself, parenting a baby with a dairy allergy, are now urged to remove the allergens from our diet and to continue breastfeeding. If we don't, the baby will be given an 'elemental' formula, rather than a soy-based one. And this is deemed a far, far lesser choice, as it lacks breastmilk's protective qualities for the sensitive (and in this case, ridiculously sensitive) baby GI tract. So when a formula showed up that promised to protect against food allergies, it seemed just too good to be true. Any guesses as to what happened next?

On that note, I give you the following. As reported by Baby Milk Action, courtesy of La Grandmere. (Do consider the source, please!)
For three consecutive nights this week, Canadian TV has been featuring an exposé of Canadian scientist, Dr Ranjit Chandra, whose falsified research was used by Nestle to promote its infant formulas. Dr Chandra has now fled from Canada to Switzerland. For full stories with links to broadcasts:

In the late 1980s, Nestlé launched an infant formula that the company claimed could "reduce your child's risk of developing allergies." Since that time, INFACT Canada, supported by Baby Milk Action and other IBFAN groups, has questioned the validity of the research by Dr. Chandra, who Nestlé paid to conduct studies to justify its claims. Much of Dr Chandra’s work has now come under intense scrutiny for academic fraud and at least one of his studies has been completely discredited. According to a documentary aired by CBC last night, it now appears that the Nestlé study was never even conducted and Chandra could not produce the raw data when challenged.Over the past two decades, Nestlé has successfully created a market for millions of tins of formula, and EU legislation has been altered, the whole basison the basis on this evidently falsified science. As a consequence, parents the world over have been duped into exposing their children to the risks of formula feeding.

Repeated studies (see have shown that artificial feeding actually increases the risk of allergies. Given the company's widely documented disregard for infant health, it remains to be seen if Nestlé will now apologise and retract its bogus claims and cease its aggressive promotion of these products and the misleading use of the term “Hypoallergenic”. In July 2004 Baby Milk Action reported Nestlé to the Advertising Standards Authority because of its misleading and aggressive marketing of hypoallergenic formulas in the UK: The ASA refused to investigate on the grounds that the publishers and health workers should be able to judge whether claims were correct or not.For the text and video clips of the programmes broadcast on Jan 31st and tonight (Feb 1) follow these leads:
Video clips are available for Part 1, and Part 2 at their respective links:
Part 1
Part 2,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

and now for something slightly different

When did this blog get to be so depressing? So serious? I will now invoke the Python-esque spirit, and call for something completely different. Or at least somewhat different. I give you: dream guilt.

In a rather memorable conversation, I once told my partner that woman is not a light switch. (His response was that, from all the evidence, man is - but that's a blog of a rather different color.) However, when it comes to guilt, you can flick a mama on and off like one.

It's easy to invoke mama guilt. 'Oh, isn't it a bit cold to not be wearing mittens?' 'Oh, dear - you do know that juice causes cavities, right? And that juice is one cause of childhood obesity?' 'You did ----- to/with/against/horrible thing here your child?' (fill in activity as desireed, supply relevant tone of voice). Drive by mommying is all too easy, and water does not always roll off a duck's back. My favorite was a bit of advice from my brother about getting my son to sleep through the night. He actually knew better than to offer the advice - he even prefaced the discussion by apologizing for making the suggestion. But when the opportunity appears, it's almost impossible to resist. Or to run away fast enough.

Dream guilt, however, is a whole new level for me. Here's how it happened:
I dreamt that I was looking at a slice of pie. Generally speaking, I'm not a pie kind of girl, but in this dream I craved the pie. I needed the pie. The pie was going to complete me, make me thin and with the kind of cheekbones I've quietly envied. With this pie, my tummy would magically get the idea. I wanted to eat it. But the pie contained egg. In my dream, I was still myself, nursing my egg allergic baby. If I ate the pie, then the egg protein would turn up in my milk, causing an allergic reaction. I knew this, and still I craved it. Finally, I picked it up and ate it feeling awful all the while.

Oy. I woke up and explained to my partner that clearly, I was needing mouth-happy foods. So I handed him the baby and headed off to the local Bread and Wallet, in search of vegan foods that would be high in philosophical cojones and very very bad for me. One container of vegan shortbread later (no, I don't recommend the experience), my mouth wasn't so much happy as wrestled back into line, and I'd had a long, harsh talk with my subconscious.

The next time my stomach and tastebuds have a list of demands for me, they can damned well deliver it directly and leave my psyche out of it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

the past and the future

Tonight, I sat at the dinner table with a baby on my lap and his older brother to my left. As we ate our fish chowder (thanks, Magid! great recipe), I had one of those moments in which your perspective is replaced by a different one. With my altered eyes, I realized that I was being flanked by a small version of my mother-in-law and my uncle. (But which one?) I looked at the frizzing red hair, the high cheekbones under dark, straight hair, and felt suddenly as if I were playing hostess to my elders, rather than simply feeding my offspring. The weight of possibility pressed on me: who are these boys?

It is the fallacy of parenthood to try and predetermine their children, or at least to pretend that we know them. 'Oh, he's going to be an engineer,' we say as we watch little Tommy build blocks. 'Yes, he looks just like his father,' we enthuse, as if the resemblance to an adult gives us a pigeonhole for the child, or a way to define, even understand them. We try on these definitions, applying one concept after another, as if to hide from the reality that clothed in our child's skin is a person we haven't quite met yet.

Parents of a newborn are slightly less enamored of this illusion, though they might need it most. Not yet able to smile or communicate in much of anything short of wail/absence-of-wail, newborns are semi-alien creatures. A parent soldiers through the brutal sleep deprivation, the endless feedings, bouyed up by the pheromone-inspired love, an instinct for possession, affection, and the knowledge of better days ahead, when contentedness in the moment is lost. A toddler is more easily adapted to explanations: 'he's tired,' 'he has his mother's temper,' 'he has his father's ears,' 'it's a phase.' How often do we resist the urge to apply our facile interpretation of the child and to actually listen? I know that I regularly fail to do so, but that when I try, I am often surprised.

So there I sat, entertaining my elders, when my mother-in-law redux turned to me and said, 'I know a poem. Corn, pea, crust. Do you like my rhyme?' 'Oh, yes,' I lied happily, having rediscovered my little boy.

Coda: tonight's slippery vision might have been caused by this milestone: tonight we gave my four year old a dinner knife. He's tried using a plastic knife on two occasions, and I felt it was worth the experiment to give him proper cutlery. He dissected his cauliflower with tremendous enthusiasm, occasionally pausing to eat the fragments of his handiwork.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

when opportunity explodes, a buddhist answers

The headlines today were typically awful, making me grateful once again that our budgetary measures included cancelling our subscription to the local paper. Hate-motivated explosion here, threatening starvation there, Darfur, Darfur, Darfur. And of course, the articles about the torture and death of Ilan Halimi in France, an oh-so racially/religiously calm country to begin with. Ay, yai, yai. On days like today, my choice is to read and wallow in the hate and violence that seems to overwhelm us (can it be true, or is this a media-constructed perspective? Oh, please, don't let it be true), or I can keep my head down and rush past the newspaper stand to my Aztec hot cocoa.

Mostly, I want - I insist on - living in my small world, with my small joys and problems. My children can't eat at a restaurant (see this link), I worry about protecting one from a school bully (upcoming post, I promise), I worry about protecting the other from his own fingernails. Woe, woe, woe are we, eh? Um, no. This diagnosis, that diagnosis, the one learns to write, the other to sit up and grasp at toys. Ya know what? It's foolishly head in the sand of me, but I'll stick with my little world, thank you very much.

But from time to time I actually have to stand in line while waiting for my cocoa, and then my eye wanders. I look, I read, and I flinch. But what really boils my blood is this, smug response to the situation, courtesy of the tricycle blogger. I'm nearly willing to forgive the first three-quarters of the post on the strength of the conclusion:
Buddhism, like Islam, becomes another weapon in the struggle against "others;" it becomes a site of expression for rage as well as forgiveness, hatred as well as hope, righteous "self-defense" as well as peace. It both forms cherished self-identities and proclaims the absence of self; it creates nations and breaks individuals of their obsessions with external references. Did we expect otherwise?

So, who am I mad at - the tricycle blogger, or the truth? There is no absolute good out there, just versions of good practiced by flawed people. And frightening versions of something, practiced by those who see philosophy, faith, a truth as a weapon. Ai. On nights like this, I miss my grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who embodied for me a certain peace and centeredness that I find, fleetingly, in my yoga practice. On good days. When my children aren't using me as a human jungle gym. (Plank pose offers all sorts of possibilities, while downward facing dog is great for swinging over and below the mama...)

Sigh. I firmly believe that my sons will shape their own tomorrows. And that given this belief, it's my rather frightening task to shape them, to guide them and give them the tools with which to choose. Hopefully, they'll choose to be good people, and to care for the world around them. But when one single human with a bagful of explosives can shatter that world into horrible blood and tissue, it does shake my faith in the effect that a single good spirit can bring. Today, I think that good is outmaneuvered by evil. But, my head's going back in the sand, and I refuse to do other than continue what I've begun.

Good might be less explosively effective, but this mama's as stubborn as her newly crawling eldest was - the irresistable force of hate may yet yield to the pursuit of a human, flawed good. Or not. But on this point, I refuse to speculate further. Sand, where the hell is my sand??

Saturday, March 04, 2006

hmm. So that's what's on his mind!

Just found Neil Gaiman's blog, and whaddaya know, the man's reading about ma time period! See it here. Part of me wants to say, gee, man you've only touched the fringes of the oddities of the Middle Ages. But the other part is sitting down and saying, hmm. He makes a good point here:
The idea of a god of love whose first action, before becoming incarnate, was to cleanse by "exterminating" an indeterminate number of people for having sex with people of the wrong gender, is one I find remarkably disturbing, although it gives a very immediate picture of a specific mindset, not always medieval, just as the Grimm's tales in which Jews are laughingly killed set the stage somehow for the horrors of Nazi Germany.

Exactly the thoughtfulness I'd want to see from this particular author.

Note: Neil Gaiman is an author whose graphic novels (graphic in the sense that they are visual, not that they are nasty) I've taught in some of my courses. He's a refuser of boundaries, of pigeonholes, not to mention a rather good writer. It was also his movie, MirrorMask, which my partner and I were kicked out of. We'd gone to the theatre with a then month and a half-old baby, who obligingly requested to nurse during the opening sequence. Unfortunately, the baby enjoyed the experience so much that he began making pleasure sounds which were strongly reminiscient of a door hinge in need of oil. These sounds escalated, becoming somewhat loud, at which point we took our abashed selves out of the movie theatre, without having had a chance to see what would happen to the heroine's mother, and would the circus stay together?

Luckily, the nice people running the place gave us a refund, which we spent on some really excellent sushi - at a place that is very baby-friendly.