June 22nd, 2008

Go here. Keep your fork, there’s pie.

Change, of course.

May 3rd, 2008

I am giving some serious thought to ending this run of my blogging life, if only because it covers such a huge chunk of time (as my Diaryland diary, since ’99, as Grabapple, since 2002) and because it’s just become unwieldy. I’m thinking I’d like a new blog look, new title, new everything. But I haven’t decided what that will be.

I have gone from wanting to be an editor, pursuing that dream, and finding out I couldn’t make enough cash at it, to having a kid, dealing with the life -changing, horrifying, radicalizing birth trauma that is so common in the American system, and wanting to become a midwife, to…wherever I am now.

I don’t know anymore about midwifery, is what I’m trying to say, not because I’m not capable of it (I have enough confidence to think I am) but because it’s just too painful. Nathan is my one and only birth, and will stay so…you don’t know how hard that is for me to write…and for better or worse, I don’t know that I can do birth work for other women if that is my only experience. I don’t really know what “healing” from what happened looks like for me. And while I have always felt that fighting for change in the way birthing women are treated is a big part of that, that’s not precisely what being a midwife is. Midwives serve women who birth, first and foremost, and they have to be able to put aside their own resentments, obsessions, and hurts to do that. I don’t know if I can.

I worry about my own jealousy and resentment of the women I would be serving, about my own un-healed pain; I worry about money, about insurance, about being strong enough for that grind of working for myself. I worry that the business of midwifery in the U.S. is changing to a model that mandates a nursing degree, and that I just don’t have the patience and strength to go through all that, especially to have to work so much inside an industry that I still find so hostile.

I am not strong, not really. I crouch down and endure, but I don’t change myself easily, and I don’t heal quickly from deep hurts. I have been greatly helped by therapy, but it’s not a quick fix, it’s not really a “fix” at all, it’s not supposed to be. It is a safety rail that holds you up, but it doesn’t take away the void that you happen to be looking into.

I have, for the moment, no real plans for my life, the way I always thought I should. I have always believed in having capital-G Goals for my life, but none of mine have come to fruition, for reasons mostly beyond my control.

So I am experimenting with having only small-g goals: some stability, some small rewards to myself, some break from drama. It is not an easy trade-off. It is hard not to think that my existence lacks much in the way of meaning, that I’m just marking time. On my darker days, I think maybe we all are.

But I can’t do anything about that, and it does me no good to be in that place, so I don’t stay there. I just go forward, in the blankness, and wait for something to turn up, and try not to think that it never will.

This post turned out much darker than I planned, and I don’t want that to be my last entry on a blog that has been a joy and a lifesaver to write, so I won’t. That’s a small-g goal I can keep, at least.

Vacation from the Blogcation: my kid is TALKING, OMG! edition

April 12th, 2008

We should have known when he stopped sleeping through the night for a week or so. The baby books warn you that sudden sleeplessness is either illness or growing of new skills. Kind of like when the lady in Species would go to sleep and wake up 10 years older. But not so prone to killing people.

Anyway. My often-silent boy of few words talks now. He says hi, bye, please, thank you, and people’s names. He repeats things (time to find more cursing euphemisms, Mom and Dad). He struggles to use words instead of gestures or simple shrieking to request things, or even just to hold conversations that only he understands. (Judging by the laughter, these are apparently hilarious, we’re just not getting the jokes.) He experiments with sentences; “Geen mee go. Red mee shop.” at the stoplights. He prompts us to run through Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See, which we’ve memorized, an 8 millionth time.

Other new skills; “running”, colors, some counting in English and Spanish, sliding by himself, making Playdoh snakes, brushing his teeth, and climbing/falling out of his crib and giving his parents a heart attack. Making kissing noises when we talk about one little girl in his preschool class.

Like crawling, like walking, with speaking he has waited until almost the last minute, almost the point at which dr.’s start recommending a therapist, to suddenly jump into his new skills. And it’s a pattern I recognize, the way I learn, which is a long curve of nothing much with suddenly waking up one day going Oh, now I get it. I am doing that at my job right now, actually; I have had spectacular screwups and a lot of general confusion long enough that I sensed my boss being concerned, but now, I am starting to feel some competence kick in.

The kicker, of course (Nathan, not my boss) was when he told me “I duv yuu.” Not that he necessarily has much inkling what it means, but Lord, just melt me with the heat of your cuteness, why don’t you? He is a relentless cuddler, a bit of a clingy monkey, especially to his dad, and a real pest to older boys, whom he adores. At the bookstore today, he grabbed a manga book from a stack next to a preteen boy that was reading them, and elbowed practically into the boys’ face to show HE could read too, by golly! The kid was peeved, and I apologized and tried not to laugh. It’s a long way until Nathan is a sullen preteen rolling his eyes at the toddlers, but it’s getting shorter all the time. Which makes me not get so anxious about my son still being uninsterested in eating with utensils or potty training. All I have to do is keep an eye out for the next set of sleepless nights.


March 7th, 2008

Do you know I have been writing this blog, in one form or another, nearly 10 freakin’ years?

And I’m TIRED.

Anyway, being tired, and being snowed in with Life, and needing a change, I am taking a Blogcation until…um…huh. How about June? That sounds about right. When it’ s warm again, I will have more material, and we’ll be moved out of our sad little rent house to a hopefully less-sad little rent house. Baby steps.

Good news is, I got a raise and a bonus today. Raises me from Taco Cabana to…hmm. Chili’s level, maybe.

Anyway, read my ever-excellent blogroll or just hang out with your own selves till June. See you then.

Cries from Belly of the Beast

February 27th, 2008

During my semester abroad sophomore year, I knew a guy named Amos* who it was impossible to hate. He was a hard-drinking, partying sardonic type, smart but mostly funny in an extremely bitter way that I’ve always found attractive. We all partied because we were all giddy at being legal and away from home, and because English beer was actually tasty. (some of it…). But Amos got a little drunk every day, and blind-drunk at least once a week. During a school-sponsored boat tour, he got so out of control that the bobbies were called and he was escorted off the boat to dry out. When he went with a bunch of others to Amsterdam during fall break for the obvious reasons, he apparently narrowly escaped a knife fight. None of which seemed to faze him.

A few years ago, my school’s alumni magazine came my way, and I was surprised to see that Amos had become an insurance underwriter.

As you may know, I work for a Giant Insurance Company (That You’ve Heard Of), in the marketing department. And I had forgotten all about Amos until a week or so ago when I had to talk to a guy in our underwriting department. GICTYHO is so big that I barely know the people on my floor, much less the ones across the complex, so I had never met any of the people I emailed all day. I hardly ever call people, because I hate talking on the phone, and because I am paranoid about getting things in writing when it comes to work. Anyway, I had to call Underwriter Guy to demand he send me something, and instead of being a gruff, actuarial sort, he sounded…friendly. Goofy, eager, and most sad, desperate to talk to someone. I could not get him off the phone, without finally pulling the “wellthanksgottagobye” routine.

Huh, I thought. Weird.

And then today, with a different Underwriter Guy…same thing. Desperate attempts to spin out small talk into smaller talk, anything to keep me from hanging up. And while I do, indeed, have a sexy voice, that wasn’t it. They weren’t asking me for my cell number. They just didn’t want to be alone.

And now I have this vision of the underwriting department as some dim hellish place where no one talks to anyone and life is grim beyond description. So much so that talking to a gruff writer from Marketing is like manna from heaven. And I thought of poor Amos, and realized that he’d either found another job by now, or drunk himself to death.

Been a while

February 15th, 2008


…and I’ve been the bad absent blogger. I think it’s just that a lot of what’s in my head hasn’t been post-able. We’ve been sick, we’ve been busy, blah blah boring cakes. February is like that though…a long blah month with Valentine’s Day a sort of forced-happy-but-not-really holiday in the middle. Never cared for Valentine’s all that much; I like chocolate, but not creme-filled, and I’m not a huge fan of roses, and pink and lacy isn’t ever me. So we mostly didn’t do much, except Matt did make me a hysterically funny homemade card, which helped.

Nathan is out of all things 2T entirely, and a lot of the 3T shirts. At 27 months old. Yikes. But he is still so cute, as you can see from his photo above. (No, I didn’t take that, wish I did; we hired a professional.) I’ve taught him how to do some dancing, or at least rapid stomping to music, which is of course adorable. Then tonight I grabbed his hands to make him dance *with* me, and he just thought that was hilarious. Two people dancing! Holding hands! Whatever will she think of next, that wacky mama! He laughed so hard he stopped dancing and fell to the floor, hanging from my arms, and of course, that was funny too.

As for me, I’m busy at work and still talking to my therapist, and that’s all I know. I’m pretty depressed at the moment for reasons too complicated to describe, but at least I know I’m trying. For February, that’s usually the best I can do.

When purity is not enough

February 6th, 2008

Are women insane?

I ask because if you think about the question of abortion, eventually you have to confront this question too. You have to confront the inexplicable, overwhelmingly documented willingness of women to hurt themselves to escape an unwanted pregnancy.

At least you do if you are privileged or naive enough to not be able to imagine the fear and desperation that led to this:

The first month of my internship was spent on Ward 41, the septic obstetrics ward. Yes, it’s hard to believe now, but in those days, they had one ward dedicated exclusively to septic complications of pregnancy.

About 90% of the patients were there with complications of septic abortion. The ward had about 40 beds, in addition to extra beds which lined the halls. Each day we admitted between 10-30 septic abortion patients. We had about one death a month, usually from septic shock associated with hemorrhage.

I will never forget the 17-year-old girl lying on a stretcher with 6 feet of small bowel protruding from her vagina. She survived.

I will never forget the jaundiced woman in liver and kidney failure, in septic shock, with very severe anemia, whose life we were unable to save.

This is an account by a man who became, and remains, a Canadian abortion provider. He saw this nightmare of suffering and decided to do what he could to make it stop. Those who disagree with him have twice made violent attempts on his life, and yet he continues to provide abortions.

Is he a monster? I can’t believe so. Do I want the septic obstetrics ward to exist again? No. If we ban abortion, will it? I think the answer is pretty unequivocally yes.

Do I still feel uneasy about abortion? Yes.

Which is why I’m pro-choice.

When I was vehemntly (though never violently) anti-abortion/pro-life (pick your tag), I could not understand the women in those wards, or the ones who used bleach and coathangers and mangled themselves so horribly. Why not just have the baby? Give it up for adoption?

But then, I have never lived in a family that believed in honor killings. I was not alive at a time when women who were labeled “promiscuous” were sometimes locked up in asylums. Even if I had gotten pregnant, there was little risk of my being shipped off to a “home” to give birth among strangers and then give up my child forever, no matter what I wanted. I was not a woman who already had other children and who worried about feeding another. I am white; if I wanted to give up a baby, it would probably find a home, so long as it was healthy. Were I black or hispanic, it could be trickier. Were my child disabled, trickier still.

Do you know that in an abusive relationship, one of the most common precipitating events for a man to murder a woman is her pregnancy? Or that conversely, surveys of teenage girls in relationships found that some of their boyfriends attempted to control and impregnate them by throwing away their birth control pills?

When I was younger, I did not think about the fact that the history of our civilization is one in which women have mostly been property, not people. And so women’s bodies, even now, remain a battleground. The ability to reproduce is power, and there are still those who think it’s a power women cannot be trusted to administer properly.

And so the battle over abortion is really about power, down at the root, not about stopping a practice that may be inhumane to later-term fetuses. Even I got sucked in to the idea that “conception=person” an idea that does not survive even the smallest bit of thought. An 8-cell blastocyst is genetically unique, yes, but it’s not a person. A woman’s own body rejects multiple embryos before and after implantation, often before she knows she is pregnant. That does not make her body a murderer. That doesn’t make every period a crime scene.

Later-term abortions are more troubling, because we don’t really know where or how to draw the line. They are also more rare (about 1.4% per the CDC), and much more likely to be the result of actual medical problems with the fetus.

I know from my own experience talking to other women that most women seeking abortions want to do so as soon as possible, before they show, before they begin feeling any investment in the fetus. Third trimester women are not lining up for the procedure willy-nilly, if for no other reason than that if you’ve gone through the first two trimesters, you’ve already suffered whatever backlash you’re going to suffer, and giving birth in itself is probably small potatoes. Even if you have a medical emergency, you’re much more likely to get a c/section than any kind of termination at that stage.

I am troubled by the idea of an abortion that takes place when a fetus might feel pain. As of now, the American Medical Association maintains that the nerve and brain structure to feel pain is not in place until the 39th week, which is at term. But still, like a lot of people, I don’t want to be party to any kind of inhumane death of another person.

And so, I’m pro-choice.

But wait!

Oh yes. Because the supreme ironic failure of the pro-life movement is this; countries with easy access to abortion do not have higher rates of abortion than those where it is illegal. What does go down, dramatically, when abortion is outlawed? Women’s safety. Illegal abortions are incredibly dangerous. But women seek them out anyway. Are they insane? Or perhaps, are they driven by the need to save their own life or their children’s lives, or simply to exercise some control over their own bodies?

I don’t believe the organized pro-life forces actually care about real women and children. Otherwise, why would they have also been anti-contraception, anti-pro-child legislation (medical care, daycare, aid for the poor) that enables women to raise children? They cannot even support treatments like Plan B (which prevents an embryo from implanting) or RU-486 (which facilitate very early non-surgical abortion), despite the fact that they are much less ethically dicey than surgical abortions. Because that would mean returning to women some form of control over their own sexual and reproductive decisions. It would mean trusting women, even supporting them, even valuing them. And the pro-life movement doesn’t value them. It doesn’t care if they end up back in the septic ward, if their already-born kids end up orphaned on the street. It doesn’t care. Its attitudes are shaped by ancient religious hangups that have no more relevance for American government than rules about meat on Fridays, no matter how many nicey-nice words it uses. And women die as a result.

To the younger me, the pro-life position (minus the anti-contraception bit) was more “pure” more clear-cut, and therefore better. But human life is none of those things. An ideological purity that causes massive suffering, abortion septic wards, and more abortions is not a better system than a realistic, nuanced, approach that reduces suffering, reduces the need for abortions, and gives women the dignity and power over their own bodies that they deserve.

Toddler vocabulary update

January 26th, 2008


Courtesy chippenziedeutch via Flickr Creative Commons license. Not our baby, but cute, no?

Colors: lello, red, boo, geen.

Food: onj, cacker, nomnom* (any tasty food), meeyuk (milk), momaar (more milk, or just more), shee-shee (cheese)

Things: buk (book), pane or ehpane (airplane), fy (fly), A-A-A (ABCs), moon, star, bat (bath), dog or wuff wuff, sock, shoo shoo (shoes), zzzzz (zipper)

Cuteness set to: MAXIMUM

*yes we use too much LOLspeak around the house.

I like my therapist

January 17th, 2008

…and think it’s hilarious that I can say “my therapist.” So very not me, as I usually think of myself. But you know, the crazy comes to us all, eventually.

I can see that I have a lot of work ahead, but while scared at having to face unflattering truths about myself, I am also ready to try this new psychotherapy whatsit out.

Anyway, my therapist is an older Jewish lady, not From Here, but been here a while. I don’t know much of her story (that would require her getting a word in edgewise) but that’s fine. She and I are good, after one visit. Ask me again in three months, and we’ll see.

I had a lot of other stuff I was going to say, but you know…I’ll save it for the lady who’s paid to listen to it. My little favor to the Internets. Plus, I have a feeling anything I think I know now about my True Self will look stupid after a while, so…it’ll keep.

The rest of my life is bad and good. My stepfather is back in the hospital after his heart surgery; heart is fine, lungs are acting up and he’s not doing so hot. Good thoughts are welcome. He’s a sweet, loving husband to my mom, and I’d really like him to stick around and be well.

Nathan continues to be hella cute, but also hella two, and it’s like having a tiny semi-mute teenager in the house. You never know what mood you’re going to get. His smiles still make you forgive him, though. And he is actually pretty sweet-tempered compared to a lot of the little monsters I see out there. So far.

The hot button

January 9th, 2008


image courtesy Feministe

What is it? No really, what IS it that freaks people out about Hillary Clinton? I have yet to hear a coherent explanation that makes the outsize fear she causes among certain people understandable. Except for the most obvious one.

Other bloggers have covered this thoroughly, and I have to say, I hope the next time some douche pinches a woman’s cheek or rubs her shoulders in a pathetic ape-man dominance display, she punches him on his stupid smirky mouth. Enough of this bullshit.

Whatever it is that makes Chris Matthews and his ilk lose their marbles in the presence (or at the mere mention) of a woman with any power whatsoever, it also seems to have infected a few posters in this Metafilter thread. A relatively mundane post about a new magazine for Canadian teens that proudly proclaims feminism, acceptance for LGBT teens and people of color, among others, brought out some astonishing responses:

I looked briefly. It seems to be a tool for turning teenage girls into feminists. There is a proper place for self-empowerment and gender equality, but the world already has far too many feminists…

I find the site to be pretty disappointing. A typical inbred cookie-cutter liberal/feminist blog, with no indication of any appeal to real living teen girls as opposed to ideological fantasy teen girls. They should focus less on The Message and more on presentation.

my use of feminist is as follows: A female who believes that an imbalance exists in every area of life between men and women. Never content with any concession from any male, she believes fairness means imparting special priveleges to women to decide what is or is not proper, regardless of circumstances. She will accuse essentially any man who challenges this belief of being sexist, pedophilia inclined, porn addicted, power hungry, or some combination thereof without ever allowing herself the realization that such a worldview is essentially sexist in the opposite direction.

I’m sure yours differs. I no longer care. I’ve defined my terms.

Yeah. In their concern-trolly attempt to tell girls how to be feminist, so long as “feminist” is defined as “not too uppity”, such posters emphasize just why teenage girls might need a magazine that isn’t about clothes, shoes, and man-pleasin’. Sheesh.

Shameless does look like a good magazine, by the way. I may order a subscription. First the Canucks give us Degrassi, now this! Bless ‘em.