I’ve been poorly

30 12 2007

Sorry for the vast desert of posting, ya’ll. I’ve been stressed out and sick, but I’m not going to fall back on that excuse anymore. I’ve also suffered from a serious case of outrage fatigue. So many stories in the past few months to break your heart and stomp all over the pieces – how do you choose which ones to talk about? How do you not talk about them ALL because they’re all worthy? I suspect this is the baby blogger’s dilemma, no? I’m also fixing to register moshpitmom.com, so expect a location change in the next couple of days. It’s the end of the year, and while there are things coming up in the next few months that are scary as hell, I actually feel pretty hopeful, and ready to tackle it all. Let’s do it together, shall we? Safety in numbers, and all that.


Mourning a passage

12 08 2007

My daughter was five years old when Bush first won the presidency. At 12, she’s been politically aware for at least 5 years or so, capable of hearing what’s on the news and asking questions about what it means. She’s had the gamut of civics classes, she reads news online, she has a pretty darn good idea what’s going on in the world. She and I talk about issues constantly.

She’s also brilliant – a person of effortless intelligence, vision, and cleverness. She has a fantastic artistic eye. She wants to design theatre productions for a living.

Her plans? How will she enrich this country? She won’t. She cannot wait to graduate high school, leave for design school in Europe, and never come back. She refuses to have a damn thing to do with this place, ever again. And the scariest part? N’s not the only one. There are a lot of kids in her magnet program – and these are among the best and brightest kids – who feel the same. Many of her friends are also planning an exodus.

And ultimately, how can I blame her? I try to tell her that the United States used to have some measure of honor, of respect, of ethics. That the ideals we were founded upon, sullied as they are, are worth fighting for. But all she’s seen is the neocon machinations of BushRoveCheney, Inc. It’s made a 12 year old deeply cynical. Hell, it’s made a generation of kids her age deeply cynical.

The Boomers are retiring, the Gen X’ers like me are too few and too overburdened by debt and the crushing stagnation of economic growth and too downtrodden by these years of constant erosion of everything this country stands for. Who’s going to be running the show? In twenty years or so? The kids not smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing and get out. And that’s a sad, sad thought.

So thanks a lot, powers that be. Thanks a fucking lot.

Nearly loved to death

11 08 2007

On June 12, 2007, two supposedly responsible adults tied a 15 year old girl behind a van and dragged her down the road on her stomach. Miraculously, she didn’t die. What did she do to deserve this treatment? She wasn’t running along with the rest of her boot camp class.

Yeah, that’s right ‘boot camp’. The girl was enrolled in Love Demonstrated Ministries Christian Boot Camp.  When she fell behind her group during the run, Stephanie Bassitt was instructed by Charles Eugene Flowers to run beside her. When she still wouldn’t keep up, Bassitt held her down, Flowers tied her wrists, and then she was dragged on her stomach behind the van no fewer than three times.

The chilling thing about this is how long it’s been in coming. A  1998 article describes a typical day at Love Demonstrated Ministries’ camp:

“They didn’t know that by 5 a.m., their young hearts would be racing from pre-dawn calisthenics; that their biceps would bulk up from hitting the ground and doing 50 every time they messed up; that being a leader would mean taking the heat for those out of line; and that aching muscles and tired bones would yearn for lights out at 11 p.m.”

The girl interviewed in the 1998 article seems to have been thoroughly brainwashed.  She ‘gave attitude’ and didn’t like to study. Now she’s a compliant little sheep. I’m sure everyone thinks she’s a banner success. And not all of the kids at Love Demonstrated Ministries camp are there at their parents or their own behest. Some are ordered there by juvenile courts. A clear violation of the separation of church and state? If only.

The 1998 article is heartbreaking in so many ways. It tells of a 13 year old girl who completed the camp and came home to her old room, where she’d written and decorated her walls with marker and lipstick and crayon, and asked to paint over it all in purple and pink. This same girl, Racheal, was at home with just her dad and two younger siblings. No one ever thought maybe at 13 she was chafing at having to cook and clean and raise two younger kids. No one thought maybe she needed help and hope, not to be beaten down by a boot camp. No, she came back compliant, ready to paint her life according to the colors her father deemed suitable – purple and pink, just like a good little girl.

That’s just one of the stories in the 1998 article. Read the whole thing. Every one of their ‘success stories’ made me so utterly, ineffably sad. Sure, I know there are kids out there who need tough love. But a 14 year old girl bounced around the foster system for years? No, she just needs LOVE. The real deal. Not this bullying for Jesus bullshit.

There’s a charming whiff of pedo to all this too, as you might expect from a christer organization like this. The article goes on rather graphically about young girls with their tee shirts soaked through with sweat, an ex-Air Force middle aged man standing over them screaming at them for more, more, more. It turns my stomach, thinking of so many young, vulnerable, troubled girls in the hands of these people.

It was just a matter of time before there was an incident like this. What would have happened had that van dragged the girl over a sharp rock? What if it had bounced her head hard enough off the pavement? She’d be dead right now, her brains and guts all over a San Antonio suburb street. But by god, it’d be her own fault for not just shutting the fuck up and running, right?

u cannot has cheezburger

25 06 2007

One more thing to blame on mothers: if you ate a lot of beef when you were pregnant, your son might, maybe, some day grow up to have a low sperm count. Oh, pay no mind to the fact that these yahoos polled 387 dudes, found 51 whose mothers fit the criteria on beef eating, and of THOSE 51, 18% had lower sperm counts. None of them were actually infertile or required assistance conceiving, mind you. But despite this fact, the researcher “cannot advise women on how much beef is safe to eat during pregnancy”. This is effed up on so many levels.

One – these men actually went back and had their mothers fill out a questionnaire about their prenatal diets, some of whom were born in the mf’ing 1940s. I don’t know about other women, but I only remember the biggies – with my daughter, I ate a ton of sushi (now on the THOU SHALT NOT list for mothers) and with my son it was, actually, hamburgers I craved. Now, we’re not talking more than 1 a day, or even 1 a day. But if you asked me to recall the particulars of my day to day prenatal diet, about the only thing you’ll hear is a horror story about trying to keep my requisite daily glasses of milk down. I just don’t remember the details. And that was only 12 and 7 years ago, respectively. Will I be able to answer those questions when the boychild is in his 30s and can’t knock up his wife and so blames my hamburger craving? Heck no.

Two – enough with the mother-shaming, you jerks. Seriously, enough is enough. I have absolutely lost all track of what all isn’t safe to do, eat, have, wear, think, own, drink, or smoke while you’re knocked up. It seems that as long as they can keep on adding to that list, every single time a woman has a baby with some sickness or disorder, they can turn around and point their fingers at the mother, who had that one piece of salmon nigiri at 4 months gestation or that half glass of wine on her birthday at 7 months or went to listen to her favorite band and breathed a little secondhand smoke at 8 months and they can blame her.

That’s really it, though, isn’t it? You keep wrapping these cocoons around women, infantalizing them, shaming them, playing on a mother’s natural feelings of responsibility and love, and using that guilt to exert more and more control over their lives. And not just when they’re pregnant, either. No, now you’re ‘pre-pregnant’ from the first damn day you bleed till well after you’re too old to. And because we love the baybeez so damn much, we’ll protect them from your womanly stupidity and cluelessness by prosecuting pregnant women for having a drink, smoking a cigarette, or who knows what the hell next.

If my son ever whines to me that he has low sperm count because I craved burgers when he was in me, I swear to god that boy will receive a whack upside the head with whatever blunt object is nearest. Preferably a shoe, so I can have a proper Irish mother tantrum.

The most offensive thing about this mother-shaming attitude is how much it cheapens what mothers do, reducing all that love, pain, and self-sacrifice down to a checklist. Down to some commandments issued from on high. Thou shalt not enjoy your cup of coffee, your sushi lunch, the air you breathe, the animals you keep, the pastimes you love. How long until they’re strapping you down to a hospital bed so you can incubate safely?

Now I can rest easy

11 06 2007
You Are 100% Feminist

You are a total feminist. This doesn’t mean you’re a man hater (in fact, you may be a man).
You just think that men and women should be treated equally. It’s a simple idea but somehow complicated for the world to put into action.

Are You a Feminist?

Whew, and here I was so worried I might be just a little bit of a misogynist.

Nickolodeon morality

10 06 2007

I see a lot of kids’ shows. No really, a lot. My daughter’s more then Disney Channel type (when she’s not watching trashy TV like The Pussycat Dolls, ew), but my son, also known as the clinging tick, watches Nickolodeon. Which means I watch a lot of Nickolodeon. Last night, he was watching a Nick original movie (not so original, if you ask me) and they used Smashmouth’s ‘Walking on the Sun’ as a backing track for a montage scene.

You, being familiar with this song, might think immediately that maybe it’s not the most tasteful choice for a tweener movie. I mean, really it talks about smoking dope and dead babies! It’s especially not so appropriate used for a cheerful montage. Did that stop Nick? Oh hell no! They chose to just mask out the words altogether whenever they sing about toking. But the part about a baby’s life being revoked? STILL IN. So, let’s get this straight – toking bad, dead babies A-OK. Right! Gotcha!

I’ve given up on Hollywood ever actually listening to the lyrics of music they use (between Semi-Charmed Life being used to promote a little kid’s movie and Lust for Life selling cruises and  Blister in the Sun used to sell MF’ing CHICKEN SANDWICHES) but I think that sort of encapsulates everything – drug use bad, violence okay.

I’m the last person you’ll ever hear bleating about THE CHILDREEEEEEEN. I don’t think my son noticed the words to the song at all. I wouldn’t turn it off the radio. Our current in-car listening is My Chemical Romance, alternating with Blue October. We are not prudes. But if you’re going to be hijacking songs for kids’ movies and then altering them to the point of meaninglessness, how about you go ahead and just, I dunno, use another song?

On weight

10 06 2007

I’m not skinny. I keep thinking I’m not ‘fat’, because I can still wear clothes bought in ‘normal’ stores, and I don’t ever think ‘gee, I’d like to do X but I’m not physically able to because of my weight’. I do whatever I please, from hiking to swimming to hoisting heavy stuff. But the thing is, I AM. I’m fat. When I was a teenager, I was borderline anorexic, going for days with so many knots in my stomach that I could only eat salad and drink diet coke. I was never ‘skinny’ – I think my lowest weight once I reached full growth was 120 pounds, which meant a size 9. And that was in starvation mode. When I reached maturity in my early 20s I started birth control pills. Then, over a period of six months or so, while being vegetarian and going to the uni gym about 4 times a week, I gained 60 pounds that I have never ever lost.

I have a hard time with self image. My friends are used to how vehemently anti-photo I am – my outsides as captured on film never ever match my insides, and it hurts. For the longest time, I thought the answer was just to starve myself. To keep starving myself. I could never do it though. The only time I ever lost weight was when I was at my most depressed, most miserable after I had my son. I struggle every day to love myself as I am, because I’m not lazy. I do not have high blood pressure. I do not have bad cholesterol. I am nowhere near diabetic. I am active. I work SO HARD to keep my home and raise my kids and further my career, but I feel that I will never ever be good enough.

What’s awful is the hypocrisy. I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in a restaurant eating something, and have some muscular, mesomorph looking person get up and walk past me and give me a LOOK. You know the look. What stings? The fact that they’ve just gotten up from eating the same. damn. thing. Exactly what I ate. Maybe more. They might be going home to veg on the couch instead of going on a hike like me. Or going home to clean house or walk the dog. Or play with the kids. But I’m the fat, disgusting pig who dared to eat something.

Or, just maybe, I might be going home to curl up on the couch myself and read a book and take a break for a little while, but that’s not okay for me. In any case, going out to eat, alone because dating is something else I can’t handle at all, is like running a gauntlet. I do it, because I am stubborn that way, but it seems like nearly every time  there’s some kind of LOOK.

I once had a GYN tell me that I had severe endometriosis because I wasn’t ‘exercising regularly’. I asked him how I could do that, when I woke up at 5 already for work every day, got my daughter to daycare, worked till 5, picked her up, and then cooked, cleaned, took care of her, etc till she went to bed, and then I followed, and was only making 20K a year – hardly enough for a gym membership. He told me ‘get up at 4 and run’. He wouldn’t help me at all beyond that. Get up at 4. (For the record, he was a flabby old white dude.)

I will never be thin. It’s just as simple as that. Not ever. I had a stupid crush on a gorgeous guy (who turned out to be gay – the ONE time my gaydar fails me!) and thought hey, if I only eat 1,000 calories a day, I’ll lose weight fast! He might like me! I stayed with that for about a month and a half, lost 10 lbs of water the first week, then nothing at all thereafter. Then I said ‘fuck it’ and he turned out to be gay anyway. It seemed like fate. That was the last time I tried dieting.

That was less than a year ago, and I feel like some kind of junkie trying to let go of the needle, you know? Every. single. time. I eat something ‘bad’ I feel guilty and wrong. But dieting just doesn’t work for me. Neither does consistent exercise. I just am what I am.  And that’s the hardest thing of all to accept.