when the status quo frustrates.

This reminds me so much of my dad.

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

‘Conan’ painting by late Pa. artist goes for $1.5M.

When my mom and I first moved in with my dad, I was eight years old but already showing signs of the sf-fantasy geek I would develop into–he had a lot of posters up in his bachelor’s pad, and this was indeed one of them.

Some other examples of my dad’s wall deco below the fold–Frazetta and Vallejo dominated:

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Sobering Realization.

Friday, May 14th, 2010

My older son is an adult.

(Rinse, repeat.)

No, no, no!–it can’t be!–

To give me credit, I’m not utterly blown away by this because it smacks me upside the head with my own advancing age and/or mortality. I still feel like a teenaged twit half the time, probably because I specialize in having an unsettled life. No, that’s not it–

He became a legal adult a few months ago, but it didn’t really hit me then. He sure didn’t look any different the day after his eighteenth birthday. A few months before that, he’d acquired his first real girlfriend, and navigating those waters (specifically, those sexually active waters) was a bit stressful, but not that big a deal. Well, not after I acquired some comfort level about his contraceptive responsibility, anyway.

His high school graduation ceremony approacheth! Nope, that still didn’t send me over the edge…I’m actually looking forward to it, except for the part where I have to hang out with my ex-mother-in-law. I haven’t even seen the woman since 1998. While I was divorcing my sons’ dad, one of the few comforting realizations I had in conjunction with that whole mess was that I was never, ever going to have to deal with her again. (The currently-high-school-graduating culprit was only eight years old at the time his father and I were separating, so I must’ve blocked this eventuality out.) Gah. How do you talk to your ex-mother-in-law, the one who probably threw a party when you vacated her son’s life ten years ago..? Maybe I can come up with a strategic need to go to the bathroom if it looks like we have to stand within ten feet of each other at any point.

No, what really did it was finding out he’s considering enlisting the Air Force. As in, he’s already talked to a recruiter. Twice. This week! Now, if he is going to enlist, the Air Force is definitely the place to do it–buncha wusses, hardly any Iraq or Afghanistan casualties, lots of technical training schools–but still. Eeek!

The worst part about the whole thing is this:

I have officially run out of chances to raise him right.

Yep, I have. Whatever I’ve done over the past eighteen years, that’s it. No going back. No redos. No changing my whole strategy of childrearing. No getting to be a better mom. The mom I was is now the mom that I will always have been. And I’m really, really afraid I didn’t do a good enough job.

I must go wallow now in my combined feelings of guilt and impending doom…be back later.

Restavec

Monday, February 1st, 2010


An interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.

A restavec (or restavek; from the French reste avec, “one who stays with”) is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. (wikipedia)

I came across this article today, about a 9-year-old restavec named Sende Sencil.

Beaming, and in clean clothes for the first time since the earthquake, Sende, who was thought to be an orphan, returned to the hospital’s tents with the doctors.

As they walked, a man approached them on the street and reached out to grab Sende.

“I’m looking for her. She’s my family,” the doctors remember the man saying in broken English. “I’m taking her home.”

Pediatricians Tina Rezaiyan and Liz Hines, had been looking forward to the day when Sende’s parents might come to claim her, but this was not what they’d anticipated.

“She was trembling and hiding behind us. She was so scared of him,” said Hines, a second-year pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Flashback to 1982: Walking home from school with my best friend, Sheila.* We’d been best friends since the first grade; we walked home from school every day together, hand in hand–though not that day, because one of her arms was in a cast and she needed the other one to carry her books. My eight-year-old self didn’t even notice the cast; it had been there for a few weeks, it was part of the scenery. Only my thirty-six-year-old self stares at it, remembering how Sheila got it.

“So can you spend the night tonight?” Sheila asked me.

I could, and I did, though even my eight-year-old self dreaded it a little. Not a lot, because Sheila was there and she was my best friend and we always had such fun–putting her mom’s 45s on the plastic record player upstairs and setting it on “78″–who needed an actual Alvin & The Chipmunks record when you had a stack of 45s and a record player with a “78″ setting? And eight-year-olds think that what they see and live is the way it is for everybody–they don’t resist the system because they aren’t even aware that there is one. But the night Sheila’s stepdad broke her arm was still fairly fresh in my memory, and I had no cozy feeling that I was entirely safe from him either–he’d hurt me before too, though nowhere near to the degree he hurt Sheila.

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So Why Did I Have Kids, Anyway?

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

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So you really want one of these?

It’s a question I try not to examine too closely, frankly. The reason for that is, well, I have them already–I’ve had them for my entire adult life, really. The time to question my decision to have them at all has long since passed, I think.

But sometimes I’ll come across an article like this one–I try not to wince at the tone they inevitably sport, a combination of defensiveness and superiority–and I’ll find myself musing a bit on my own embedded and irrevocable parental status.

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Two Family Stories, and a Health Care Question

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

Every once in awhile, I post that I don’t understand our conservative brethren- the people on the other end of the political divide one way or another. Sometime they scare me, but a lot of the time, they just cause massive amounts of cognitive dissonance. These are my friends, my family. They are generally good people, generally intelligent; but yet they seem to be so indifferent to actively hateful towards people who they don’t personally know.
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Make Your Case

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

I’m Agnostic, and have been for quite some time. I don’t think that God exists, but I’d be willing to look at any new evidence.

Right now I’m reading “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement” by Katherine Joyce, and I keep running into a problem- I cannot understand these people at all. I can understand them as well as I understand gyroscopes: I can describe to you what they are going to do, but for the life of you I can’t wrap my mind why.

For those of you who don’t know “Quiverfull” is a blanket term regarding people who are believers in a Biblical Patriarchy (women submit to their husbands or fathers- and I do mean “submit”), and more importantly, who are staunchly anti-birth control; no condoms, no pills, no sterilization, no rhythm method, nothing but “God’s Will”. The phrase comes from Psalm 127:5 “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them(children). They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Quiverfull people believe that they are in a cultural war with liberal secularists, and they intended to win through demographics alone. They believe that these roles and behaviors are “god’s will” and that they are on the side of righteousness. Frequently, they are into seriously modest dress and homeschooling.

I keep running into the same problem with these beliefs- I don’t understand why they would want to worship this god. I’m fairly anti-authoritarian: I want to choose which authority I follow, and at the end of the day I think I am ultimately responsible for any action I take, whether or not someone in power over me told me to do it or not. I don’t want to risk my health and my life. I am drawn towards debate, and I am occasionally smarter than my husband. These proscribed roles, in other words, would make me MISERABLE (and my husband miserable too). So, if the Quiverfull people are correct, and there is a god, and he made me the exact opposite of what I’m supposed to be (indeed, a lot of Quiverfull talk about how women have an inherently rebellious nature because of Eve), which sounds like a recipe for misery, then god’s a dick. Why should I worship a dick? The general answer of “because of heaven and hell” is 100% unsatisfying to me- I’m supposed to toady up to a bully just to avoid getting beat up? That’s not moral- that’s cowardly.

So, this post is for any lurking Quiverfulls. Heck, if you’re just a person who thinks god cares more about what we do with our genitals than whether or not we hurt people, you can post too. I’ll leave off the “prove that god even exists part”- for this exercise I’ll just go with it for now. I need support for “if god exists, why should we worship him?” Make your case.

EDIT: Like all things I want to know, I had to search google to see if it had any knowledge. The first website had a post that made exactly zero sense to me, but the answer was

We worship Him because He commands it. We worship Him because He alone deserves it, knowing what He is and what He does. We worship Him because without so doing we cannot rise to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

So…yeah, worship a bully because a bully says so? Even though he’s a bully? And I don’t want to be a bully?

I really wish I knew someone in real life who held these views and would talk to me. I’m missing something important here- something that’d snap it into place.

Divorce

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Anybody remember back in November, when I announced I was getting married?

I bet you can guess what this blog is about…oh no! you may cry. Or you may laugh, given that all my sarcastic predictions of “looking for my next ex-husband” have indeed come to pass–only seven months after our marriage.

I thought about not mentioning it here–I mean, who really wants to read about my personal life, especially when it’s a trainwreck..? But then, I thought, eventually everybody IS going to know and this will totally spare me having to repeat it multiple times to multiple people–whoever doesn’t read this, if in future they ask me Hey, aren’t you married..? I can just hand ‘em the url and move on with my life.

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Why I’m Really Sorry To Hear You’re Having a Girl

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Seriously, I do not understand these type of women. It’s like they were never girls themselves, they have such a horror of them–I would really understand a man writing some crap like this much better, because at least one could stretch one’s imagination to encompass the idea that females might seem like a dreaded alien species to a man. It’s really hard to understand why a female might seem like one to another female.

Let the pukefest begin!

Why I didn’t want a girl
by some twit named Amy Wilson

In an elevator, in line at the grocery store, waiting for the bus, it always goes like this: Strangers’ eyes zero in on my belly first. Then they dart furtively to my face, as if to make sure I’m not a mutant, just visibly pregnant.

After this, they ask, “Is this your first?”

“My third,” I answer. “I have two boys at home.”

And for the kicker, they unfailingly give me a sideways grin, and say: “Going for your girl?”

“Nooo, just going for a baby,” I reply, gritting my teeth a little. “Another boy would be fine with us.”

I know these people are just making conversation. But this constant assumption leaves me a little offended. What’s wrong with boys? Why wouldn’t I want another one? It bothers me that people assume I feel incomplete without a daughter, let alone that it’s my motivation for being pregnant with a third child in the first place.

In spite of the ick-inspiring title, you see that the article itself didn’t start out too badly. I have two boys myself, and I’m quite happy with them–as I’ve told them several times in the past, if I could have gone back in time and picked my two babies out of a designer baby catalogue, I’d have picked exactly them, down to the last little detail. (It’s true, I swear. They’re so awesome. Excuse me while I go goo over their pictures for a sec–okay, back on task!) I would be annoyed if people harassed me about one of ‘em not being a girl. (It hasn’t happened, to be honest. But it would be annoying if it ever did.)

But yeah, anybody that whipped up that title can’t possibly continue down such a reasonable path.

To these people, I say, “I actually hope it’s another boy. I like boys better.”

She seriously likes some people better than others based solely on gender, without having any other information about them. She specifically applies this to her own children. Gahhh!

And lest you think she’s exaggerating a wee trifle–oh, no. She’s not, and she’s quite happy to tell you why.

I love what I have, and I have what I love: boys. I understand them. I understand the clothes, the toys, and the Matchbox-car skids on my wallpaper.

Not that having two boys is easy — their physical interaction can be, shall we say, overwhelming. But I love even that, because when I say I am the mother of two boys less than two years apart, I get a respectful nod or even a big thumbs-up for having that much testosterone in my daily life.

The night we found out I was pregnant again, my husband, David, said, “Odds are it’s another boy. How do you feel about that?”

I thought for a moment, and answered honestly, “I feel good about that.” He patted my hand. “That’s how I feel, too,” he replied, and we both drifted off to sleep. It was more than good; we were relieved.

Girls’ clothes–ugh! Clearly wildly different from boys’ clothes, so different that it would take seriously thought and practice to even get the little bitch dressed at all that first time. Girls’ toys–ugh! SO different from boys’ toys that never the twain shall meet, much less overlap in the slightest, especially in babyhood–doesn’t everyone know that’s the case, huh? And baby girls don’t destroy wallpaper and she loves her destroyed wallpap–yeah, I know, at this point I was so weirded out I almost quit reading any further. The question begins to arise…has the author ever been around, on the most casual basis, anything other than a male child? Was the author herself actually a male child…? Given that she is pregnant as an adult, it seems unlikely, but it would help explain her bizarre, fantastic ideas about female children.

Then, two weeks later, I called to schedule my next appointment. “Hi, Amy! Your amnio looked great, and it’s a girl! How nice for you,” the receptionist blurted.

For a moment I didn’t know what she was talking about. Then I realized what she had just revealed and I almost dropped the phone. “Wha-what? ” I said. The receptionist heard the bewilderment in my voice. “You knew, right?” she said. “The doctor told me you knew.”

“I didn’t know,” I said, my head spinning. “I’m sorry…I’ll have to call back.”

I sat there in a daze. This child I was just starting to feel stir inside me was a girl? I waited for the excitement to wash over me. It didn’t come. Not only was I not thrilled — I was disappointed.

Mostly, I just hope her daughter never stumbles across this, and wow, do I already feel sorry for that poor kid. And I only got sorrier–

I could handle boys, with their cut-and-dried needs, but girls were so much more complicated. Girls have elaborate hairstyling requirements. They whine and mope, manipulate and triangulate. How was I going to deal with that?

Girls don’t have hairstyle requirements any more than boys do, not for more than a decade really, unless you deliberately choose to inject them into your girl’s life and you don’t even get the option to do that til they’ve actually grown some hair to style, which takes a couple of years after birth. And I’m sorry, I can’t swallow the notion that her sons did not regularly whine, mope, and manipulate as babies, toddlers and small children. Whining, moping and manipulating are what babies and kids do, regardless of gender. Let me repeat–I am the mother of two of that glorious Y-marked gender–and I had a sister who was younger than me–and I’ve babysat enough kids to fill up a small school–yes, all kids, even the Sacred Male brand! whine. And mope. And manipulate. All the time. Is she even raising her own current kids..? Are they drugged to the gills or something?

My sons sneer at all things princess, and so do I. We love to pore over the Birthday Express catalog so the boys can plan the themes of their parties through 2013. My role in this is to gasp, “Oh, I think you should have a pink-poodle party!” “YUCK!! That’s for GIRLS!!” they shriek, and I laugh along with them. What will I do when I have someone who wants a pink-poodle party?

…having already had two children, I’ve learned that you can’t control their hardwiring. If she wants to be a princess, that’s what she’ll be.

Was your misogyny hardwired, lady? Was your sons’ misogyny hardwired, or have you spent years gleefully teaching it to them? What a way to bond with your sons–to put down your own gender! Or have you made it clear that MAMA is special, not like all those other disgusting, creepy females? And yes, I agree–what will you do when your daughter is born, since you’ve taught your sons so thoroughly to despise girls..? God, your poor, poor, poor daughter.

I was hoping that my husband’s reaction to the news would make me feel better about all of this. When I got him alone, I told him that the receptionist had screwed up, and that I knew. He hid his face in his hands. “Well, don’t tell me!” he said. “I don’t want to know!”

That was four months ago. I’ve got three weeks left, and two of my closest friends know I’m having a girl, but my husband still doesn’t.

“Will you be happy either way?” I ask David. “Of course, honey,” he says, and I can tell by his voice he thinks I’m carrying the third boy he wants more anyway. “Three sons would be amazing.”

It’s enough to make you want to cry for that poor little girl. That poor, despised, unwanted little girl–already.

My best friend took her father out to dinner for Father’s Day a few years ago. She’s the fourth of four girls, and of five children–her parents had her brother about five years after she was born. Her father was reminiscing about the past with her, and mentioned in passing that he and my friend’s mother had never really intended to have five children–they had originally meant to only have two. My friend knew this already–it was a long-standing family joke. However, she wasn’t too prepared for what followed:

“Yeah, but we didn’t,” her father commented. “If I could go back and only pick two of you–well, I’d pick my son, of course–I don’t know which of you girls I’d choose.”

My friend was in her early thirties when she got to hear this, but it still made her cry after she got home. But who cares–? She was probably just using her tears to whine, mope and manipulate–! Or at least practice those feminine techniques, since her father wasn’t around to see her tears.

One of my friends who knows the secret thinks a girl will be great for me. “You deserve a girl!” she said, after watching me separate my two fighting boys. “Just think, she’ll be quiet. Calm. Easy.” It’s true: Even inside me, she’s different. When my boys would kick, I’d press against their little feet, and they’d kick back, harder. This baby? If she kicks and I press back, she goes completely still.

Oh, well, that’s all there is to it then! The fact that my older son, as a fetus, was quiet and lazy in utero must have meant that he was really a female fetus. And when my sister and I used to regularly duke it out? Clearly we were really boys! That goes double for my best friend and her three sisters, who spent a large portion of their childhood in intersibling brawls complete with screaming, limbs and handy objects flying. How we all magically managed to change gender once these behaviors ended has got to be the medical mystery of the century.

Maybe this broad is just so stupid that her daughter won’t take her mother’s inanity and senseless cruelty to heart, realizing early on that one must always consider the source. Unfortunately, that isn’t usually how it works out with kids. I wish she’d been sterilized after kid no. 2, and I’m really sorry that she’s even raising the boys she has–they’re either going to grow up to be flaming sexist assholes or they’re going to have a rough row to hoe weeding that bullshit out of themselves as adults. Most of all, I’m sorry I ever stumbled across this article at all.

My Opinion

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Which I have been resisting giving for a while now, but really, at this point, I figure I may as well express myself to the limits of my interest, which I admit are pretty narrow. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for this.

Equivalent in interest generation, inducement of feelings of eeuuugh, and a strenuous and powerful wish that any minors involved in the situation do not end up messed up in the head as a result for life, but conscious that unless actual minor neglect or abuse occurs, it’s really none of my fucking business in either a moral or a legal sense:


Nadya Suleman, eight days before giving birth to the last eight of her fourteen kids. (hat tip)

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Michelle Duggar, just after giving birth to her eighteenth child.


The Enigma, born Paul Lawrence, a sideshow performer who has undergone extensive body modification including horn implants, ear reshaping, multiple body piercings, and a full-body jigsaw-puzzle tattoo.

I doubt the mental health status and pecuniary and attention-seeking motives of the principals are much different, either. There. Now I never have to think about it again.

Watching “Religulous” Over The Holidays: Part Two

Saturday, December 27th, 2008


“Cathedral,” live, by Crosby, Stills and Nash. I first heard it as a little girl–my dad loved this song. It seems appropos.

As I said in Part One, while I enjoyed the movie, I didn’t find that it rocked my world in a significant way for the most part. However, there were two statements that Bill Maher made, both near the end of the movie, that did perk up my “thought-inducing” antennae.

ONLY MILD SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD.

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It’s always good to know that I’m not the only one thinking about S-E-X

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Hugo has a post up about sex education in colleges and Amanda has another about something called a “Pirelli calendar,” which involves what I have come over the years to recognize as “bullshit sexual buzzwords:” “glamour photography,” “artistic nudes” and “pushing the boundaries of (fill in the blank).” That last one, especially–”pushing the boundaries” tends to mean “I’m gonna to do something disgusting and/or retarded and then I’m gonna say it’s A-R-T and if you don’t get its A-R-T-N-E-S-S, then I suggest you strive harder to be worthy of your amazing new clothes, Ms. Emperor!” Reminds me of the brouhaha over the broad who videotaped her menstrual clots at Yale not too long ago. Such pioneers!

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That Time of Year Again

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

This is not exactly a unique observation, but every year the Christmas season seems to be upon us sooner and sooner. Back in Halloween I want to be focusing on ghouls and goblins, not tinsel and Santa Claus. But, unfortunately, the pleasant aspects of Christmas (the feeling of good-will, the push towards charity, et cetera) are not the ones that are pushing into Halloween; it is the unpleasant aspects that keep creeping onto perfectly legitimate holidays and strangling them.

Unpleasant aspect number one: The rampant commercialism. Sooner and sooner, the pressure on FINDING the PERFECT gift for your friends and loved ones from advertisements starts. The heavy implication of these ads are that you don’t really love your loved ones unless you get them the latest, most expensive, shiniest new gadget or bauble. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love giving gifts. I love the moment with my closest friends and family when their face lights up because I got them just what they wanted, or needed. And that’s why I work on some of the gifts months in advance: handmade gifts (that are within my limited available skill set) that my friends will actually appreciate take a long time to make. But, I somehow don’t get that same feeling when all I do is drive to the store and get some sort of weird do-dad that will just take up space and I’ll have to fight a bunch of people-driven mobs to get it (and don’t have the money to get it in the first place).

Unpleasant aspects number two: This has been a problem for awhile now, but now that Hubby and I are married, it’s put into even sharper relief: where are we going to spend Christmas? The various families all want us at their houses*, which are functionally on the other end of the country. The worst part of all of this? I don’t want to go to ANY of the family for Christmas; because by some sort of unspoken contract that I was not a party to, we are only allowed to talk about: the weather, sports, new births, new relationships (on a very shallow level, and no talking about heartbreak), new jobs and food. Oh, and I’m no longer allowed to talk about the weather because I keep using meteorological terms and I brought up global warming once. I’m also forbidden from talking about, in no particular order: politics, books, movies, social movements, college, and the biggest one: religion. Which brings us to…

Unpleasant aspect number three: The annual argument that I go to church with the family on Christmas. Now, I’m a mushy agnostic: I think there might be an omnipotent being that has some sort of designs on humanity, but I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest it. I don’t think the Christian idea of a god exist (since such a being is logically impossible); and don’t put much stock into the Bible as a literal word, but all-in-all, you can believe whatever nonsensical thing you want to believe. The first year of college, I came home and told my parents flat-out that I was not going to church. Last year, in order to keep the peace with my new in-laws, I went to church with them on Christmas. I told myself that it’s because I missed the music,** but in the end I caved because I didn’t want Hubby to get into a verbal altercation on my behalf.*** But, no one respects my desire to not go to church; so every year is another argument about me going to pretend to be religious. And I do mean pretend: my dad told me one year I should just tell mom that I’m believed in Jesus because it would make my mom happy. But, I just can’t see lying about this to my family (and the rest of the church); it would be disrespectful to myself, and to every Christian.

I guess that I don’t like Christmas because it just brings to head all of the problems that I continue to have with my families and our various worldview; and is super expensive. Any one else have this problem with your family? What are some of your strategies for the holiday season?

*I never understand this: every year I either end up offending someone through my liberal hippie-ness, or I end up contributing next to nothing to the conversation while I die a little inside, but I still keep getting invited back, and if I don’t come, they always get upset. It’s very, very weird.

**Which is demi-true: I do like hymns and enjoy singing. There is just something so life-affirming and joyful about traditional religious music. But, it’s always soul-killing to listen to Midwestern Lutheran churches: the only people who would sing “Stand Up for Jesus” unironically while sitting down, who can sing “Hallelujah” like they’re reciting the tax code, and can sing maybe three notes convincingly.

***Not that it really mattered: I refused to say the Lord’s Prayer or take communion and that caused a tense conversation between Hubby and parents, and dirty looks my way. I guess they wanted me to lie about my beliefs? I’m a heathen, and that seems disrespectful to Christianity to partake in rituals that you don’t believe do anything.