Monthly Archives: March 2011

20 weeks

***EDIT:  Trigger warning may apply for those of you who are pregnant.  Big, big apologies if anyone had a bad reaction to either the post or the story linked below.  It was very insensitive of me to post this without thinking of those of you who are currently in the middle of a pregnancy.***

The whole propaganda campaign about so-called late term abortion has always seemed like a red herring to me.  All the handwringing about the supposed killing of viable fetuses is just so much bullshit.  Late term abortion is about tragedy.  A sick fetus.  A sick mother.  Terrible choices, the end of the road.  Sorrow.

No one goes through months and months of pregnancy then just up and changes her (flighty, unreasonable, feeeemale) mind and decides oops, she’d rather not be a mommy after all.  It. Just. Doesn’t. Happen.

This is what late term abortion means.  And all those bullshit anti-science shortsighted discriminatory sexist garbage fuckwad privileged assholes in state legislatures pushing for bans on abortion after 20 weeks, or after the heartbeat can be detected, or after whatever magical developmentally meaningless milestone they pick out of a fucking hat, are CHOOSING mothers’ continued suffering plus dead fetuses (for emphasis:  THEY ARE NOT SAVING BABIES) over basic medical care for expectant mothers.

(h/t to Shakesville for sharing Anonymous’ story this week)



I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but my dad lives in Tokyo.  Every time I get an email from him that he’s still OK, I calm down a little.  But then I just look at Yahoo or CNN or the New York Times….

And start freaking out all over again.

I don’t know how to feel.  My dad and his wife are OK … is it monstrous for me to feel relieved that he’s OK when SIX THOUSAND PEOPLE ARE DEAD?  I mean, have you seen these pictures?

My dad says he thinks the press are being irresponsible in the coverage of the nuclear situation.  He thinks they’re choosing sensationalism over fact in a deliberate antinuclear political strategy.   But it is clearly a very, very serious situation.  It’s hard to know what to believe, but I do know my dad is working with his company to supply equipment to the salvage operations that are going on.

I haven’t given any money.  Have you?  I am thinking about how best to deploy my pathetically small contribution.  Amnesty International is my usual go-to, but I haven’t heard anything (thank god) about any human rights issues happening due to this disaster.  Maybe the Red Cross.  I have heard that when a crisis catches global attention, organizations like the Red Cross actually have a hard time continuing to care for people in other places because so much funding is coming in for the current crisis, no one gives for the benefit of other people who are suffering for other reasons.

one year?

Hey, I just noticed.  I’ve been here a year.  Go figure.

My first post.

(It shows up second as you scroll through the archives because I hadn’t figured out how to set my time zone yet; the post that shows up first was actually written third.)

so close he can taste it

My husband is almost done with his degree.  He is putting the finishing touches on his dissertation (which is a large-scale musical composition) and has to turn in the finished score on Friday.  He’s wheeling and dealing with his committee to try to find a defense date when they’ll all be in town.  He’s got a performance for the dissertation already lined up and has to have the score and parts to the conductor by the end of the month.  Last week he bought his cap and gown and hood for commencement.

He’s just got to hold on for a few more weeks….

He can DO IT.

troubles with god

Oh lordy, trouble so hard

Don’t nobody know my troubles but God

Don’t nobody know my troubles but God

So many people love this song.  It’s a connection with God — life has troubles, and no one can really walk in your shoes, but God can understand, and know, and love you anyway, and there’s always that promise of the next life and Christina Ricci with the wind machine blowing her hair around.

I love this song too, but when I hear it I feel very conflicted.  For years I misheard the lyrics.  I thought it was

Oh lordy, trouble so hard

Don’t nobody know my troubles with God

Don’t nobody know my troubles with God

It’s a tiny change, and now that I know what the words really are I don’t know how I ever heard it that way (the diction really is quite clear), but I liked the song better when I thought it was about a conflict with God.  I thought it was anger disguised as lament.  I thought the singer was feeling the tragedies of life, and carrying that conflict through to the God (or the perception of God) that could allow earthquakes, hurricanes, Holocausts.  The “don’t nobody know” felt terribly lonely, like the singer was carrying around all of that torment and anger without sharing it, and finally letting it out in this song that’s stylistically reminiscent of a type of religious song — for a final bit of irony.

Yeah, I know, project much?

I’ve written before about my own troubles with God (parts 1, 2, 3, 4), or rather, with religion.  Since the fall I’ve been taking classes at the local Buddhist center.  It’s a jump from reading books to actual human participation and it hasn’t been easy for me.  Living as I do in the great American Heartland, there are not a lot of choices for would-be Buddhists in my city.  There is a Unitarian church that hosts a Korean Zen group, and there is a Tibetan Buddhist center, which is where I’ve been taking classes.  Out in the suburbs a group of Lao Buddhists are trying to build a center but are experiencing what can only be described as discrimination (their plans are being held up in zoning meetings for things that are rubber-stamped for churches).

I am finding myself very resistant to a lot of things that go on at the Buddhist center.  If I replace my (long-forgotten) rosary with a mala, for instance, am I engaging in a spiritual practice, or in religious tourism?  And what right do I have, as a member of a dominant culture, to appropriate (colonize?) another culture’s belief system, given the history of the past few centuries?

I know it’s a super-duper cliche:  middle-class overeducated whiny liberal American turns to the Mysteries of the East to find meaning in her wasteland of a materially-comfortable life.

Is that what I’m doing? I hope not.  Then again, my whole life is a liberal cliche.  Do I

  • Get my panties in a knot about locally-raised food?  Check.
  • Live in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in a decayed urban core?  Check.
  • Pontificate earnestly about public transportation?  Check.
  • Spend $10 for a pound of coffee in the hope that the Latin American workers who picked it got a fair wage?  Check.
  • Work at a nonprofit?  Check.
  • Consider myself culturally aware because I lived abroad for two years?  Check.

I’m a freaking parody of myself.  I’m only two steps away from drum circles, dreadlocks, and lots and lots of pot.

This is why I’m suspicious of my own motives when it comes to my interest in Buddhism.  Maybe I should just keep my troubles with God to myself for the time being out of respect for this very old, very developed tradition.



When I met my husband I was a virgin.  Sort of.  With an asterisk.  I was raised Catholic, making me a firm believer in the Gospel of Everything-But.  If it couldn’t make you pregnant, you probably weren’t going to Hell.  Or something.  (SPOILER ALERT:  apparently nothing can actually make me pregnant, but I didn’t know that as a teenager so it seemed like a good rule of…not thumb, exactly…)  By the time I met my husband I had pretty much jettisoned the strictly Catholic version of morality, but I still hadn’t done the deed.  I had boyfriends in high school and college, but I guess I wasn’t serious about any of them because I just never felt ready.  Luckily for me, I dated a string of very nice, very sensitive boys who (mostly) didn’t push me farther than I wanted to go.

Then I graduated college and moved to a new town to start my master’s degree.  I literally ran off with the first guy I met, ending things with my college boyfriend over the phone* less than a week after my husband barged into my School of Music practice room.

The first time we had sex we started by going to the grocery store.  Never one to plan ahead, he didn’t have any condoms at his apartment.  We bought the extra-strength, double-spermicide version.  Because, you know, you can’t be too careful.  (SPOILER ALERT:  We were being too careful.)  After a few months we had a highlarious condom-related mishap.  There was panic, and counting of cycle days, and a couple of weeks later a pregnancy test.  (SPOILER ALERT:  I didn’t get pregnant.)

I went to see a gynecologist so that I could get on the Pill.  Before they would let me see the doctor I had to sit through a video that explained my “options” as well as laying out once and for all exactly which sex acts could lead to pregnancy.  (SPOILER ALERT:  the video was wrong.  It’s none.)  I learned the word “outercourse,” which I still use sometimes because I think it’s funny.  “Hey honey, do you want to have outercourse tonight?”  My husband’s sense of humor, alas, is not as highly evolved as mine.  He doesn’t think outercourse is funny at all.  Ridiculous condescending video aside, I walked out of the doctor’s office with a prescription.

Three months later I was back in the office.  The hormones made me batshit.  I tried another type of pill, which worked better for me and which I stayed on for several years.  Unfortunately my cycles got weirder and weirder over time, and I finally stopped taking it after spotting for a full month.

We started using condoms again, and after a while we switched to the sponge.  (Yes, that sponge.)  My RE told me that the fact I didn’t get pregnant while using it should have been a clue that we were infertile.  How was I supposed to know?  As far as I was concerned it worked like a charm!  Unfortunately I’m the only person in the history of the world not to get pregnant while using the sponge, and they pulled it back off the market.  We scrupulously used condoms for a while longer, and then we started TTC.

All that contraception, all those years, all that care and safety.  We thought we were being responsible.  We thought we were making good choices.  As it turned out, our bodies were choosing for us and all the condoms, the pills, the sponges, were just toys.**  Useless things that gave us the illusion we were in control.  And it makes it that much harder, even as we approach three years of barrenness, to accept that we don’t have any control at all over this.  Things like charting, and the monthly Cervical Mucus Watch, and precisely timed intercourse, and even my surgery, are starting to feel like just more playing at having control.  I have now been taking folic acid for almost as long as I was taking birth control pills.  With just as much effect.  I sometimes wonder why I continue to take it — I mean, just whose neural tube defects am I hoping to prevent?

But admitting to that loss of control is a scary thing.  If I’m not in control of this process, who is?  The Roman Catholic God I no longer believe in, who would send me to hell both for my “responsible” contraception and for the IVF I may have someday?  Some other force in the universe?  Nothing at all?

*Yeah, it was a douchey thing to do, but he was 5,000 miles away.  If I’d waited to do it in person I might still be dating him….

**And not the fun kind.