Enjoy a Blessed Christmas and Hannukah! Blogging will resume in earnest on 2 January, 2006. Until then, enjoy your tribe.
Archive for December, 2005
I’ve been caught up in my own reality for more than a week, so the case of Emma Alvey, the recently deceased baby in Spring Hill, flew under my radar. After Brittney mentioned it again this morning I read myself up on the issue. There is not a single person in that scenario for whom I don’t feel extreme amounts of pity. A couple wanted a baby and went through the long process of adopting a daughter from China. Eight months later, that little girl is dead from a cranial bleed. Early news reports imply the mother’s culpability in the situation. Friends have come forward in the media to proclaim the innocence of the very nice lady and to offer exonerating hypotheses. All the friends seem universally agreed that people who wanted a baby as badly as Jennifer and Phillip Alvey would do no harm to the child.
I don’t know the Alveys. I can’t make any claims to presume their actions or motivations. I do know my fair gaggle of infertile couples, though, and feel that it is safe to say that yes, many times people who want a baby will harm it. There are many kinds of infertile people, just as there are many kinds of happily reproductive families. There is, however, a special breed of Childless–The Professional Martyr. I try to only write about my circumstances when they inform the subject at hand. I realize that I talk about it more than most, but try to do so only when and if it is pertinent to the conversation. My lack of children is as much a part of me as children are to parents, and a dating life is to a single person. So I talk about it when it comes up in conversation. This conversation is about those folks who become their infertility, who allow themselves to be consumed by their desire for a baby and allow a baby to become some sort of trophy for a game well-played.
I’ve led Bible studies for infertile women, met them in UseNet groups, seen them in chat rooms. The older you get without a baby, the larger your circle of infertile friends, as you all flock together by default. Everyone else gets knocked up and moves on to play groups, PTAs and college savings accounts. You can spend your evenings as you choose. If you’re lucky you only feel the stabs at Christmas, Halloween and the occasional baby shower. It’s sort of like a cruise ship, where you focus on all the good stuff and try to ignore that you are adrift. There is a small subset, though, that can’t find contentment and doesn’t necessarily want to. These are the people who spend three or four years buying pregnancy tests in bulk and wailing at every negative pee. They’ll nail down everyone in their life with very public grief, holding funerals for failed attempts at In Vitro fertilization and naming every pregnancy that fails. [If you think I'm kidding, peruse alt.infertility for five minutes.] When these folks make the decision to adopt, they make a very public drama out of every step of red tape. Having a support group through a very stressful time–buying a house, adopting a baby, changing a job–is necessary. Telling your waiter at Casa Fiesta that you’re stressed because you’re adopting a baby from Guatemala is histrionic. Somewhere along the line the experience becomes less about a call to parenthood and very much more about being the fragile one in the spotlight. The one who can manipulate every social situation and exert a passive-aggressive control. When you spend a decade as everyone’s top prayer request, as the woman treated with kid(less) gloves, you can get used to it. You can like it. What happens when Baby shows up? Congratulations, you’ve got what you wanted. Your prayers are answered. Now we’re all paying attention to Susie, whose been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Oh, and all your infertile friends on the S.S. EPTNEG don’t want to hear it. They won’t even read your posts when you put “BM” in the title–it’s worse that poop, it’s “baby mentioned.” So the drama is over, you’re not the prom queen and you’ve got this stinking, wailing oh-so-human-of-beings totally dependant on YOU. Oh, did I mention that Babies always always always get the spotlight? So, yeah. Crossing the finish line holds a distinct lack of charm for some who found the race so enchanting. Would they hurt a child? In a heartbeat. That child who represents the end of their drama. When you wake up and realize that Baby means Person and people are complicated, the dream dies and an anger from the deepest part of your brain rises up. It happens all the time.
We were once told by a friend that we “could always buy a baby”. When I stop wanting to be a parent, and start thinking of a child as a purchase, I know that I’ve lost that part of me that deserves to be a mother.
Aunt B. started it. She blogged about what Tim has been saying since Sunday. King Kong had a lukewarm reception. I’m not surprised. I posted this in the comments over at B’s, but feel that I need to go on record. So I copied my comments here. Because I’m that kind of a lazy jerk today.
I really was iffy on the movie. Connie Lane saw it early at Harry Knowles’ Butt Numb A Thon. She had me thinking that I wanted to see it after all. But I’ve lost the yen, I think. And here’s why.
[insert recycled comment]
It’s not the ape that gets me. In fact, I’m a big fan of monkeys, with 5 on my desk and a life size one in the spare bedroom–which sounds kinkier than it really is.
The story has flat out never appealed to me. Why?
1. I first saw the stupid version with Jessica Lange. It was a bad, horrible, nogood, awful piece of dung.
2. You KNOW that Kong dies in the end. I don’t want to spend chunks of my time growing attached to someone I know is doomed. I already have dogs and a husband that will all die. That thought sickens me. Why pay someone to rub my nose in the fleetingness of loving animals?!?
3. When I was a little kid these friends of mine had a poster with Kong on top of the Empire State building swatting at the planes. That poster scared and confused me. To this day, the idea of the movie scares and confuses me.
4. If I hear that “Lo, the beast….” poetry thing one more time, I’ll stab someone in the ear. I’m not beautiful. I’m nice enough looking, but I just know in my heart of hearts that the monkey would take one look at my average-looking but well padded ass and say “huh. appetizers.” I’d be gone. I fail to feel sorry for a monkey who won’t eat a woman just cause she looks good. The monkey is symbolic of all the a*((^^&^**(&^ in the world who don’t date “nice” girls, but only want to objectify the pretty ones.
5. What the hell is the point of the monkey being in love with the woman? She can’t have sex with him. He could maybe use her to pick his nose, but that’s it.
6. Jack Black’s character seems annoying in the previews. Jack Black is someone well suited for exactly one roll. That of Jack Black. Watching him play NotJackBlack holds no appeal for me.
I have loved Peter Jackson since his much underappreciated The Frighteners and I feel like I owe him attendence to this movie. But I just can’t bring myself to go. I know I lose major geek points. But there it is.
I spent the weekend laying (lying?) around on the couch or sitting at my desk. What social obligations I was able to maintain were done so under the haze of pain medication and with the everperesent groin-stabbing little elves carving at my guts with dull spoons.
Tim, on the other hand, achieved his yearlong goal. Sunday afternoon he hit 4,000 miles for the year. Yes. My husband has ridden his bike 4,000 miles in the year 2005. That’s the equivalent of a drive from here to Ojibway, Manitoba. Okay. No it isn’t. I made that up, because I went looking for stats on the ‘net, and the only thing I found for “4,000 Miles” was some very confusing lyrics by Blackalicious. Frankly, those lyrics kinda scare me a little bit.
Even if the homey got the shot
Then there still be the bump knockin in your trunk
Get ya out your slump rockin it straight off the top
I’m cockin it like ingredients thrown hap-hazardly inside a
With a magic sock schnapps a big ass book and some vodka
And pass it my way cause im a real big talker
I really have no idea what they’re trying to say. I guess I have no idea what I’m trying to say, either. Except, of course,
I come from a big family of big people who are big talkers. There’s little I enjoy more than sitting around a table with other folks and talking. I spent my formative years with two brothers and a sister, so I even enjoy it if we disagree on an issue. Unless that issue is whether I was the one who wrecked dad’s car. Last night was undoubtedly one of the more fun evenings I’ve had lately. We ruminated on Iraq, discussed the nature of God in the lives of everyday people and tried to figure out who did the best cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Everyone watched as I decided that the Egg Nog Chai at Starbucks is a decidedly unpleasant concoction. We talked about inclusiveness, liberalism and kindness. John and I agree that Hugh Grant’s portrayal of the Prime Minister sullies an otherwise wonderful film (Love Actually.) Since we kept getting sidetracked I never got to tell John that the other part of the movie I don’t like is the Laura Linney storyline. Sharon, the book you NEED to read is Helen Fielding’s Cause Celebe. In case we wore you out to the point of forgetting.
The moveable feast spontaneously relocated to the sushi bar, although regrettably without Kerry Woo. In another “small world” coincidence, Kerry is close friends with one of the Coble family close friends, so that was a treat. Everyone patiently listened to me ramble about my as-yet-uncompleted book which actually helps me toward completing it. So blame them.
I really enjoyed it, and am much looking forward to a repeat engagement.
Eventual Narnia Spoilers
Connie Lane saw The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe last weekend. Her short commentary brings up one of the most debated parts of the series. I’ve read many position papers on the matter, heard speakers hash it out and know many women who loathe C.S. Lewis because of it. Neil Gaiman wrote a beautiful story about the matter from Susan’s point of view called “The Problem of Susan” which is excellent, even though I disagree with his critique.
Susan Pevensie doesn’t go to heaven because she wears nylons and lipstick.
When I was in high school this started to bother me, because I HAD to wear nylons and lipstick as part of the dress code for my Christian school. I even argued the point with my Bible teacher, who plainly thought I was nuts. Somehow “Mr. Imhof, C.S. Lewis says the Dress Code will keep me out of heaven, so I’m wearing pants tomorrow” didn’t work like I planned.
I’ve since read the majority (if not all…but there’s always an article or paper that slips through the cracks) of Lewis’ works. I figure that gives as good a window into the mind of the man as anyone can hope. What constantly comes through to me is his love of Christianity and its compassion for humans in spite of imperfection. What is also very apparent is his love for the fantastic and the childlike willingness to accept it.
When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.
That’s one of the more readily famous Lewis quotes, and one which is handy for throwing my mother when she tires of our Lord Of The Rings marathons. But I also side with those in the Susan Debate who think that it elucidates Lewis’ intentions toward poor maligned Ms. Pevensie. It isn’t her female sexuality that leaves her out of the full experience of Heaven, but her inability to continue in the faith of a child.
Whatever the reasoning behind it, I still stand firm in my utter hatred of nylons and lipstick. They’re just darned uncomfortable.
I started this post about six different times, with various opening sentences, but none of them seemed to provide adequate coverage for my theme. So I’ll just jump right into it and omit the background. The short form is that I love the Space Program and almost anything related to it. (Yes, I drink Tang.) I could, and probably will, write much longer lovescreeds to NASA, Test Pilots, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo. But since it’s December, it’s time for my annual viewing of From The Earth To The Moon. I am addicted to these DVDs, and watch them several times throughout the year, but I always make it a point to watch them now.
Almost everywhere you look, men are buffoons. On TV shows they are idiots who can only make it through the day because they’ve somehow entrapped a smart hot chick. In movies they are idiots who don’t realize that the smart hot chick is the girl for them. They apparently can only dress themselves if they’re homosexual–or have a gay man’s help. My personal theory is that we are so used to seeing men portrayed as lackwits that even when they aren’t as stupid as we think, people project lowered expectations on them without question. (Case in point: President Bush)
The Holy Trinity of Space Movies [The Right Stuff; From The Earth To The Moon; Apollo 13] tells a different story. It shows men as they were, as they should be and as (I believe) most of them still are. Men driven by curiosity–by the simple question “Can we do this?”–who set goals and achieve them. I admit that I’m a sucker for slide rules, pocket protectors and black-rimmed glasses. I grew up in a city full of actuaries and engineers, so my template was set pretty early. To me there’s nothing sexier than a man at the top of his form. For many women that’s embodied by a cowboy. For me it’s a man who can sit around a table with other men and crunch numbers, find solutions and put hunks of metal into space. FtETtM has several episodes, but my favourite, without question, is Spider. A full hour of the engineering process for the Lunar Module from conception to delivery, it showcases the marvels that men can accomplish. It’s a happy thing in a misandrous world.
To shorten the veeery loooong story of touring Northern Indiana car dealerships in single-digit weather, allow me to simply say that she got right up to the point of signing for a new car when the finance guy intervened. Since Miss Bee was paying with credit union loan, the dealership saw its fat nut of interest disappear and wasn’t willing to meet her price. Seeing as she was there with Dad (the tough law guy); Tom and Chad (the Queer Eyes for The Straight Girl Who Goes Car Shopping) and Dave (Captain Argument), she had all the forces of intimidation at hand. Just goes to show you…never send the rest of the lot to do the Katherinian Business. As they were all trying to cure their nasal frostbite, I looked up the car she wanted on Carmax.com. There it was, with $2500 knocked off the dealer’s price, and $502 less than the price she was trying to get the dealer to give her. It was used—with a grand total of 680 miles on it. Hello! Someone else ate the initial depreciation!
Miss Bee paid a $150 transfer fee to bring the car from NC, which was then applied to the total price. Last night she and The Clan drove to Indianapolis to pick up the new baby. I lived vicariously through the magic of cellphones, but insisted she name it. All things in my world–animate and inanimate–have names. Cars must be named with the letters A-Z in the order of purchase. (Your first car is an “A” name, etc.) I’m forcing my poor younger sister to adhere to my odd personal culture. How nice for her.
The car’s official name is Athena. In my sister’s words, it is because the car is beautiful, blue like the Greek flag and she likes the name “Athena.” I of course insisted that it also because she made a wise purchase and the actual car sprang fully-formed from my head. And I’m kinda like Zeus. Except I’m not a god and I’ve never turned into a bird to rape some poor girl.
It just now occurs to me to feel sorry for my family members.
“Get me the wooden spoon.”
Those were words to die by in our house when I was a kid. If you heard them, that meant the next thing you’d hear would be the sound of a spoon cracking against your skinny kid-butt. (Ah. Life’s irony is that I didn’t have a fat arse until well past the time I outgrew spankings.) Around six or seven, you knew the rules. Some things got you a time-out before the days when the trendy parents called them that. In my house it was called “Sit on the kitchen chair until you hear the timer buzz.” I like that better than Time-Out, actually. One sounds like a break in a busy, fun game, accompanied by Gatorade and spirited hugging. The other is definitely a punishment for some stupid thing your dumb six-year-old self did. Sassing back, slapping your stupid brother Dave (who had it coming for being a big smelly stupidhead), running in the house when you’d already been told to stop–that all got the SOTKCUYHTTB or the dreaded Wooden Spoon. I knew we were stepping up in the world when the phrase later became “Bring Me The Ping-Pong Paddle”. I also knew why we didn’t get the pinball machine. You can’t smack someone with those flipper-things.
It may sound like my parents were cruel, but they weren’t. They knew life was hard and that actions had consequences. With four kids, you learned as much from your siblings’ punishments as your own, and I doubt any of us were spanked more than five times, ever. It was the threat of it as much as the stinging thwack that kept us unruly bastiges in line. You knew the Spoon was waiting if you didn’t stop pulling your sister’s hair in the backseat.
There is much handwringing today about Tookie Williams being killed by the State of California. I don’t know much about Tookie Williams, but I do know that he spoke English. I’m pretty sure he watched television. I’m darned sure that he knew what a 187 is. And what the penalty is for that crime. Yet he decided he’d take someone’s life. I’d really like to be mad at the State for sullying the hands of its citizens with ritualized murder. I’d like to wring my hands in despair about how sad it is for us to sink to Tookie’s level. I’d like to kvetch about how much money the execution costs the State, and fantasize about China–where they bill your family for the bullet. But I’m not. Anyone knows that the penalty for ending a person’s life can be death.
We don’t keep the Death Penalty a huge secret. It’s always there, like the wooden spoon in my mother’s kitchen. You don’t want it used on your butt, then don’t earn it.