Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas! I'm Making a New Phillip! You're Welcome, World.

I'm knocked up. I found out a few days ago. I'm due August 29th.

I know what you're thinking. "Whoa. August 29th. That's kinda far away.....aren't you gonna wait until you're out of the 'danger zone' before you tell people?"

Well, first of all, because I have the lupus, there isn't going to be an "out of the danger zone". This baby could go at any time. I have accepted that, and so should you. But please put on your Positive Pete hats and stop focusing on my baby's death. I want only positive energy focused me and Fred/Elle during this special time in our lives. (Yes, Fred Felix or Elle Luna. I was going to go with Hank, but my father in law pointed out that there is a famous baseball player named "Hammer Hank" and I don't want people to think I named little Hank Hammer after a baseball player for some reason.)

Besides, I don't really get why pregnant women think that telling people they've had a miscarriage would be so terrible. Are they afraid that that they'll be put in the stocks, called bad mothers, or blamed? Do they feel that people knowing about the miscarriage would in some way be worse than actually having the miscarriage? That's ridiculous. The whole point in having friends and family is so they can help you through sad times like miscarriages.

Everyone knows that miscarriages are God's abortions - all it means is your baby couldn't hang. No one is going to blame you, unless you were doing something really idiotic that caused the miscarriage, like drunkenly jumping on a trampoline with a coat hanger hanging out of your vagina. Promise #1: I won't do that. And let's face it, if my baby can't withstand the warm, loving, nutritious environment provided by my cushy womb, then there's no way it will ever be able to withstand my personality.

So, since I found out that I'm pregnant, all I think about is being pregnant. It's kind of a big deal to me. And so I've decided that now is the time for me to get my ducks in a row and make plans for my future, as a mother and as a person. Here are a list of promises I intend to keep.

Promises to my baby:

1) I promise that I will never, ever post a picture of your sonogram on the internet, or show a picture of your sonogram to a person who does not specifically ask to see it. Let's be honest. Those things are not cute. No one wants to see a picture of my insides, and you will look like a monster. I won't let people think you are a monster, Fred. I'll make sure no ones sees you until you're born and human looking.

2) I promise that you will have all of the opportunities. Dear little Elle, as your Tiger Mother, I promise you that your life will be full of language lessons, cello/violin/piano lessons, archery and krava maga lessons and reading and art. I haven't decided which specific lessons you will be focusing on, because I want to take into account your personal preferences and abilities. I'm not going to be irrational about it and try to force you to be a concert violinist if you're totally tone deaf. But I'm going to push you to try all kinds of things and have all kinds of experiences until you find your special talent. And then I'm going to be a nightmare of pushiness, making sure that you are the absolute best at what you do. No amount of Phillip's money will be spared in our quest for your greatness.

3) I promise not to dress you in outfits that have precious sayings on them like "If mom says no, ask daddy" or "spoiled rotten". You are not a poster board for my, or anyone else's, lame sense of humor. You are also not a poster board for my taste in music or my political views, so you won't be wearing any of those shirts either.

4) I promise to teach you work. Probably the most important thing my parents taught me is to work long and hard. I will teach you the same by forcing you to do manual labor and also volunteer work. You will already be inheriting an "overwork" gene from your father. From me, you will be inheriting throwback lazy French girl genes - genes that will always be telling you that you should just picket these unfair labor practices, go home, drink some good wine and write some meandering existential play or something. My parents, who are both extremely hard workers, rooted out this tendency in me. Left to my own devices, I would do basically nothing but write and eat and read and sleep. Because of my upbringing, I do other things as well. I will make sure you are brought up to not be a lazy asshole either.

I don't know which gene will express itself in you. Either way, I will make sure that you know how to work. In an age when Americans are becoming progressively more lazy and entitled, you will be King Fred, the Hardest Worker of Them All. You will become valedictorian, graduate top of your class in college, and then get all of the promotions.

5) I promise to acknowledge it if you aren't very smart. I promise that if you turn out to be stupid I will still love you and support you. I won't try to force you to be something you're not, making you go to college and insisting that you could do better if you just applied yourself more. If you're not smart, you're not smart. We can live with that, as long as you're a good person.

But let's get serious. You're going to be smart.

6) I promise to be the very best mother I can be.

7) I promise not to tell embarrassing stories about you. If I wouldn't want it said about me in public, I won't say it about you in public. Manners.

8) I promise that I will not tell young shop clerks to "never have kids" while you're standing right there. I will try not to be one of those mothers who constantly bitches and moans about motherhood.

Promises to Phillip:

1) I promise that I will not sacrifice being your wife for being a "mommy". I will never forget that without you, I wouldn't be a mother. I will not stop having conversations with you. I will not become one of those women who totally gives up on her appearance because she's a mother and now thinks herself above such things. I promise to be there for you as a person, not just as the mother of your child. You will not be put at the bottom of my list of priorities, ever.

2) I promise that if you ever EVER call me "Mom" or "Mommy" we will never have sex again.

Promises to Myself:

1) I promise myself that I will give myself lipo next December as a Christmas present.

2) I promise that I will not beat myself up for eating. I have to eat. I have to eat. I have to eat. It's really hard to reprogram myself, since for the better part of my life I have been secretly convinced that eating is not necessary, but rather something I do because I'm weak and can't control myself.

3) I promise to not let any pictures of my swollen belly make their way onto Facebook. I don't need any permanent reminders of that look.

4) I promise to maintain an identity separate from that of "mommy". If you ask me what kinds of movies I like and I reply "Well, we've been watching a lot of Dora the Explorer" you have permission to shoot me in the face, since I'm no longer a "person", evidently, rather I am just a shadowy extension of my child. Unhealthy.

Promises to You:

1) I promise to never change my Facebook profile picture to that of my baby. It's freaking confusing.

2) I promise to do my very best to raise a child who will be an asset to the world, and better than everyone else. I want you to like my child because she's so wonderful and helpful and kind. I want her to be a force for good in the world. I want your lives to be better for having known her.
I promise to try to make that happen.

3) If I have a child who is a psychopath, I promise to not stay in denial about that fact. I promise to do whatever is necessary to prevent her from skinning your cats alive or whatever. Phillip will stay in denial, and he will say I'm being needlessly harsh and suspicious, because Phillip only sees the good in people, and I'm sure our child will be no exception to this. If our kid is a true psychopath, I won't listen to Phillip. I'll handle the situation as best I can. I promise.

4) If my child ever destroys your property, either on purpose or on accident, I will pay for all damages. You don't need to sue me or get all angry - I'll pay for it. I'm sorry. I promise.

5) I promise that if my child has a speech impediment, I'll get that shit fixed.

In sum, my goal is to make my baby better than everyone else. I don't know that it's a realistic goal, but I have to try. I'm totally frightened that I'll be a bad mother. But I'm also totally hopeful that I'll be able conquer my less attractive personality traits and summon my more attractive ones in the service of my new goal - making a good and interesting person.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

In Which I Explain Some Things About Gun Control

In the wake of the Connecticut shootings there has been a lot of fighting about guns and gun rights and gun control, as there always is when there is a shooting. It's sad that tragedies such as this make people get so hateful and angry with one another, when they should be devoting their efforts to helping the families affected and coming up with positive solutions. But human nature being what it is, there will always be people who react in irrational ways to such horrific news. My goal in this post is to help each side understand the other a bit better, because I think I understand both sides of the argument as well as a person can. Please note, I am aware that there are exceptions to the groups of people I'm discussing - I am speaking in generalities. Also, I'm not going to get into my own opinions about guns, which you probably already know anyway. That's not my point here. I just want both sides to understand each other a little bit better.

A typical gun rights advocate is poor and from a rural area. She probably was raised using guns for hunting and learning basic self defense. Everyone she knows has a gun or has at least shot a gun a few times, so to her, guns are no big deal - they're just tools like any other tool. She probably has a lower level of education than would be desired, either because she couldn't afford it, or was simply never made aware of what opportunities existed for her. She has probably suffered a disproportionate amount of shit in her life - it's part of being poor. She probably has relatives in jail or prison. She probably has had to go without food and/or electricity for periods of time. She has probably been the victim of a crime, perhaps a violent crime. She doesn't travel much. She likely comes from a dysfunctional, broken family with members who have drug problems, drinking problems, mental illnesses and violent tendencies. The family members are almost without exception very poor. They are no help to her in a crisis. She has to rely on herself for everything.

A typical gun control advocate is from the suburbs or the city. She probably came from a middle class or upper middle class family. Maybe she has shot a gun, but she certainly doesn't own one, and her parents probably didn't either. She might even be afraid of guns. She may have had some things go wrong in her life - for instance, her parents maybe had a messy divorce, or she had a family member die - but she hasn't experienced the deep, systematic fucking that our gun rights advocate has. She is well educated and probably has at least a BA. She has probably seen some poor people when she did her study abroad in Brazil, but she has never been truly poor herself. When things go wrong in her life, they tend to work out in the end, because she has a network of friends and family members to help her, and she has the financial resources to take care of herself in times of trouble. She has probably not had serious trouble with the law, and she may not even know anyone personally who is imprisoned. If she has been the victim of a crime, it was probably vandalism, or someone breaking into her car and stealing from her. She was able to replace anything that needed replacing.

So, those are our two "types" of people. I know there are exceptions. Hear me out.

So, when a shooting situation happens like the one in Connecticut, the gun rights advocate will immediately go on the defensive, shouting "You can't take away my guns! I have rights! SECOND AMENDMENT MOTHERFUCKERS!" And the gun control advocates will shout "How could you be so insensitive at a time like this? Those guns are what killed all of those babies! If it weren't for those guns you love so much, this would never have happened. DIE REDNECK SCUM!"

But that's because they aren't understanding each other.

Here's what the gun rights advocate really is thinking:
Life is unfair. Life will systematically fuck you. At any time, a violent criminal could sneak into your house, kill your entire family and take away everything you love in life. And you have precious little to begin with. At any time, the government could start rounding us up and putting us in concentration camps. At any time, things can go horribly wrong. Without guns, you have no way to defend yourself agains these kinds of things. You are helpless against the shit that life constantly throws at you.

The motivation for the gun rights advocate isn't simply redneckitude, or the need to feel macho with a big shiny gun. It's fear. And to the gun rights advocate, this is a justified, rational fear. Everything in her experience has taught her that bad things can and do happen, and when they do, everything falls apart. So when you talk about taking away her guns, you aren't just talking about taking away a dangerous toy that she likes to play with. You're talking about taking away her safety, her security, and by extension, everyone and everything she loves.

That is why the gun rights advocates get so crazy and defensive when gun control is discussed.

Now, here is what the gun control advocate is really thinking:
When violence happens, it always seems to be done by guns. Guns are far more deadly than knives or chainsaws or other weapons, and there is no reason for people to have them. Yes, perhaps there are some rednecks in the woods who use them to hunt, and gun control advocates may or may not be ok with that. But they see no reason whatsoever for a person to have non-hunting guns, since those are designed for the sole purpose of killing people. Killing people is a bad thing to do.

To the gun control advocate, the world is a more or less safe place. If there is a problem, the police can be called, and the police will protect you. There is no need to protect yourself in a civilized society; that's why we pay taxes - so others can do it for us. They don't believe that the government will turn against us and round us up and put us in concentration camps - there is no evidence to support that the government is planning any such thing, and their experiences tell them that the government is good and helpful. They probably had good, decent parents as well, so their experiences with authority have been largely positive. They have no reason to believe that life will fuck them - it hasn't fucked them in the past, who why should it in the future? To them, the worries of the gun rights advocate seem silly, irrational and paranoid. In fact, to them, those worries sound fake - like lame excuses that rednecks come up with so that they can keep their big, powerful guns and feel like manly men. They believe that gun control will end - or at least reduce - deadly violence. Why would any rational person be against reducing deadly violence?

And that is why gun control advocates get so angry when gun control laws are not passed.

In sum, a gun rights advocate honestly believes that the world is a dangerous place, and that guns are necessary for self protection. They do not trust the police or other government agencies to help them - those agencies have not helped them in the past, and they have no reason to expect that they will in the future. A gun control advocate honestly believes in the social safety net - consisting of both government agencies and their friends and family members - it has never let them down before, and they have no reason to believe that it will in the future. A gun control advocate sees no reason to have guns - they see them as dangerous tools of destruction. A gun rights advocate sees them as useful tools that they can use to defend and feed their families.

Who is correct? We have all heard the arguments for and against gun control, so I see no reason to rehash them here. It won't do any good anyway. The type of person you are - the way you were raised, and the way you see the world - is what informs your opinions on gun control, and no amount of statistics or rhetoric or shouting will change your mind. You would have to change your entire worldview in order to change your mind on gun control, which is what makes these debates so hard and heated.

So there's my two cents. I hope I have summed up both sides of the argument adequately - if you feel I haven't, I apologize. I tried to keep my own opinions out of it, though I may have failed slightly - again, I apologize if I came across opinionated - my goal was to explain the opposing sides to each other, not to proselytize.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hippie Food Experience

I'm no stranger to hippie food.  As a former vegan, former vegetarian, former college student, yoga instructor and Southern California resident, it's inevitable that hippie food is a regular part of my life
So today when I was looking for something to eat for dinner, I did not flinch when I came across Earthly Juices, a juice bar/raw vegan restaurant in Tustin

The menu looked pretty good, and the place was open, so I went inside.  And sat there for like five minutes, because no one was there.  After waiting for these few minutes I started shouting " IS ANYONE HERE?"  Because that's how I get when I'm hungry.  Well, out came the woman who worked there.  She took a phone call, and chatted about pickle jars for like five more minutes.  I took this time to look at the books there (Hippie food establishments always have libraries.  It's the law.) which inlcuded books about how to like, heal your cancer by sitting on the ground and stuff.  You know what I mean.  Anyway, the woman, who had a glazed, tired, but not stoned look about her, finally asked if she could help me.  

I saw that they had gluten free pancakes on the menu, which was exciting!  I asked if they served breakfast all day.  She said "Do you want pancakes?"  "Yes, I would love pancakes!  Do you do breakfast all day?" I repeated.  "Well....I pretty much just do pancakes on Saturdays" she replied.

I laughed, because this struck me as a weird response.  She said "Well....I could make up the parfait and stuff, if you want".

"No, no, that's fine" I chuckled.  "It's a Saturday thing.  I get it".  I wondered what a parfait had to do with it, and shook my head.  Hippie food.

I asked if the desserts in the dessert case were gluten free.  She covered up her face with her hand and made a sound.  Because she was inexplicably covering her face with her hand, I could not interpret the sound.  "Pardon?" I asked.  She removed her hand and made the sound again, which I could now read as "Mmm hmmm" or "yes" in laymans terms.

I asked how long it would take to get a raw portobello burger.  She said no time at all.  So I ordered that.  She said "OK.  But.  Let me just wash my hands" and turned around, presumably to wash her hands.  And as she left, I could not help but notice that she was wearing no panties of any kind, and her pants were far, far too low for that.  I am not accustomed to seeing so much ass crack from a food server/cook, and it threw me for a few moments.

Well she made my "sandwich" and it was the hugest thing I had ever seen.  It was like 8 inches high, literally.  She looked at me as she finished it and proclaimed "It's so big!"

"Yeah, I have no hope of getting that in my mouth" I said.

"Well, we can cut it" she said.  I was relieved, and also intrigued.  I was certain that I was about to see some super chef  cutting skills, as she whittled my sandwich down the size of a sandwich from the size of a lunchbox.  The she took the knife and cut my sandwich in half, lengthwise.

I smacked my head with my hands and shrilled "That's not going to help!" as I dissolved into giggles.

She took this moment to take a phone call again, and put my giant, head sized sandwich into a cardboard container, along with my kale salad. 

When I tried to eat the sandwich, I found that it was slippery beyond belief; totally covered in some kind of sauce and juices.  There was no possible way to eat it as a sandwich.  I took a fork and knife to it and decided it was a salad.

And after all that, it was actually pretty delicious.

So here's my review:  Go to Earthly Juices if you want something healthy and relatively tasty.  Ambiance and customer service are entertaining and....."behemian" shall we say.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Nice Guy's Lament, Deconstructed

I have a song on my ipod called " I Said These Are Lonely Days" by Greg Ashley.  And I think this song perfectly sums up the Nice Guys' Lament.  Before I get started though, I would like to point out that I am IN NO WAY talking crap about the song itself.  I love this song.  It's pleasing to the ear, fun to sing, and I really like Mr. Ashley's unusual voice.   I'm only criticizing the sentiments portrayed by the lyrics.  So, here is my take on those lyrics, and why Mr. Ashly will be alone forever unless he changes his mentality.

Well these are lonely days, and it's not gettin any better soon.  Because I ain't changed.  And I have no intentions to.

Well, even aside from the obvious grammatical problems, these are sad lyrics indeed.  If you're lonely, and you acknowledge that you're lonely because of your refusal to change (as opposed to being stranded on a deserted island or something), then maybe your should consider changing.  Just a thought.

Women talk so sadly when they speak of the men in their lives.  So why do all these girls continue with worthless guys?

Well, first of all, no one goes on and on about their men when their men are behaving well.  It's not interesting.  I used to talk crap about my job all the time when I worked for the Bad Lady at The Bad Place.  But now that I'm a yoga instructor, I don't talk much about my job, because no one wants to hear me say "Things are great!  I have no complaints!"  How boring would that conversation be?

Well, it's the same with relationships.  Especially since you've already stated that you're lonely.  Your female friend doesn't want to bore you with her happy stories or rub her happy relationship in your lonely face.  But if things aren't going so well, if they've had a fight or whatever, then she is comfortable telling you all about it.  See how that works?

Plus, who says these guys are worthless?  You?  Just because he had a fight with your friend, that doesn't mean he's worthless.

Hey when you wake up in the morning  - take a look around and it is storming- know that no one loves you like I do.

And how do you love her, Mr. Ashley?  Based on the lyrics in this song, I would describe your love as timid, weak, and dickless.  No woman has use for that kind of love.  What good is your love if it's secretive and does no good for her or you?  Any smart girl would spit on your "love".  What if she was in a dangerous situation, and she needed the man she loved to rescue her, or help her in some way?  Are you going to handle the situation?  Probably not.  Because you're weak.

While you play your games and chase after men with good lines - I'll just sit at home and wait for another try.

Umm, you mean she goes for guys who can be bothered to make the effort of pursuing her?  That silly ho!

  You admit that you just sit at home and wait around while she's out with this guy.  The implication being that she should somehow magically know that you're "waiting for another try"?  It doesn't sound like you tried much in the first place.  I guess writing this song is a good start, if you're looking for pity sex, but if you want this girl to respect and admire and love you, you need to step it up a bit.  

Now I'm stuck at home with box wine and magazines, while you've gone out with him to break up all of my dreams.

Why are you stuck at home?  Go out with some other girl!  Or go out with  your friends!  Or better yet, go out and find this girl, grab her hand and announce that you're taking her out on a date.  As long as you do this an a NICE way (not physically aggressively) with humor and confidence, it will probably work.  And then actually take her out on the date.  Is she out with the other guy?  So what?  "Out on a date" is not married.  Guess what girls like?  Confident men who take charge of the situation.  Guess what they don't like?  Sad, smelly guys who sit at home with porn, drinking boxed wine like trailer trash.  

Plus, I doubt she's doing this with the intention of "breaking up all of your dreams".  She probably is just going out with a guy who has actually expressed interest in her.  Which you have not done.

Hey if you call me in the morning, and try to tell me bout it with no warning - know that I won't listen, 'cause you're dumb.

Why is she dumb?  For neglecting to swoon over you?  What's to swoon over, exactly?  It sounds like all you like to do is sit at home and feel sorry for yourself.  The guy she was out with probably at least has a job or a hobby or ambitions, and he probably took her out to do some kind of activity like bowling or dining or something.  The alternative was to sit at home with you while you read your "magazines".  So why is she dumb, exactly?  

Your love is not worth anything.  The whole "If I love you, what business it is of  yours?" thing is funny and sweet when it's in a novel, but in real life, it translates to laziness or cowardice or both.  
If you love her, but all you do with that love is make self pitying songs with it, it is useless, and the girl is smart and prudent to disregard it.  She can do better.  But it sounds like you're a good friend, listening to her problems and such, so it makes sense to keep you in the friend zone.  Which is where you will stay, since you "have no intentions" to change.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Dana Hammer Political Party

It's time for a new political party.  Democrats want to mother you and make sure you eat your vegetables, republicans want to punish you for having sex, and third parties want to establish communes and protect us from alien invasions.  Libertarians are pretty cool, but they take it to excess and sometimes get a little nutty.  So here is my proposal for an efficient, streamlined political party. It goes like this:

The government should provide the following services: education, roads and infrastructure, security and health care.  In my estimation, if you are educated, healthy, safe, and you can get from place to place, there is no reason why you shouldn't be able to take care of yourself and pull yourself up by your bootstraps.  Here are the details.

  Education should be free, all the way from preschool to college.  However, college should not be open to everyone.  Only those who have at least a C average in high school and can pass a placement test of some kind will be admitted.  If you can't pass the test or maintain decent grades, then you can go to trade school, which would also be free.  Also, if you are in college and you drop below a C average, you have to pay for school out of your own pocket.  The government shouldn't have to fork out money for you to slack off and be lazy.

Roads and Infrastructure
I'm aware that private enterprise could technically do this, but it's honestly more efficient for freeways and such to be centrally governed and maintained.  If roads and infrastructure were all run privately, by little fifedoms, it would slow down shipping and transportation, which is bad for the economy.  I also believe that subways and busses should be provided free of charge, or at a heavily subsidized rate, so anyone can use them.

We need a military and police force.  I'm not a total hippie.  That being said, we could easily cut back on military spending and we would still have a kick ass military.  And under the rules of the Dana Hammer party, prostitution and drugs would be legal, since the goverment is not there to enforce moral order, so we would not need to spend as much money on the police force.  The remaining police would have their time freed up to deal with dangerous people like murderers and rapists, and they wouldn't have to waste their time with the 17 year old suburban kids dealing dime bags out of their garages.  So we would have an awesome military, a police force that actually arrests bad guys, and lots of extra money to spend on education and -

Health Care
  I know this is a controversial one.  I know that the government messes things up and wastes money and covers things in a million miles of red tape and beaurocracy.  That being said, the best healthcare I ever had was when I had free healthcare when I was poor.  It was easy and efficient.  And as much as it pains me, I have to say that this is where the libertarians get it wrong.  The thing is, if you're poor, I believe that it's your responsibility to remedy that situation.  You aren't owed a handout by the government or anyone else.  But, you can't pull yourself up by your own bootstraps if you're dealing with a chronic illness and you can't get it treated.  Cancer lady can't hold down a job, and neither can paranoid schizophrenic who can't afford meds.  So I believe that all healthcare should be free, including mental health care.  Included in health care would be disability payments.  If you are genuinely disabled, you get a check every month for as long as you are disabled. This would be enough money for you to meet all your basic needs, not just a paltry $100 per month or whatever. But you have to be actually disabled, not just like, fat or short or whatever.    Agents would check on you periodically to make sure you're not faking.  Birth control would, of course, be covered.  So would "alternative" health care such as chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc.

Now you're wondering where all the money is going to come for this.  Well, as I said, we would be cutting back on military and police spending, while still maintaining a reasonable level of security and safety for the citizens of the United States.  But, we would also no longer fund museums, social security, welfare, food stamps, WIC, government bailouts, parks and wildlife preserves, or anything outside of the four basics I have outlined.

I am NOT saying that there should be no safety net for the poor and elderly.  I am NOT saying that there should be no more museums or parks or welfare.  I'm saying that those things should be PRIVATELY funded.  That way we an afford the necesities: education, safety, roads and infrastructure and health care.  We only have a limited amount of money in this country, unfortunately, and I'm not someone who believes that we should simply take all the rich peoples' money.  Of course, they should have to pay their fair share of taxes just like everybody else, but I don't think that equal redistribution of wealth is a good solution for obvious reasons.  My point is, the money we have needs to be spent in the most efficient way possible, so the most people benefit, and the greatest good can be done.  Plus, if you are educated, healthy, safe, and you can get from place to place easily, then I think the need for welfare programs will be greatly reduced, since there's really no reason why you can't take care of yourself in that case.  

Parks, museums, food etc, are all easily and efficiently provided by private charities and individuals.  The government doesn't NEED to provide them.  We've all been to the food bank and we've all been to private museums and they function just fine.  

Anyway, that's the Dana Hammer political platform.  

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Dream Polygamous Marriage

You are probably all familiar with my stance on polygamy, but just in case you aren't, I'll restate it for the record.  I think it should be legal.  I have always thought that it was weird that polygamy is illegal, but cheating on your spouse isn't, because really it's the same thing, except with polygamy everyone is ok with it.  I don't support the creepy kind of polygamy where child brides are forced into unions with old men, but as long as everyone is consenting adults more power to them I say.  It's not how I would choose to live, but I don't care of others do.

But the other day I was thinking....you know, it might be nice to have a second wife.  You know, someone who would clean my house and make sure there's a nice hot meal on the table when I come home.  She would be really sweet and kind and ugly, and she would take care of all the crap that neither Phillip or I wants to do.  Phillip would not be allowed to like her, or have sex with her, or interact with her except to give her orders.  But she and I would be friends and would hang out and talk while I ate the gluten free cookies she would bake for me.  She would frump around the house in her hideous floral print dress with her hair in a French braid, and I would have lots of time freed up to get my hair done and work out so I'd be super skinny and hot.  Phil and I would go for walks in the evening together, making fun of my sister wife because she believes that no one has ever landed on the moon, while she stayed at home to do the dinner dishes.  

I guess really what I'm looking for is a servant.  But those are expensive.  I don't want a slave because that's immoral, and I have no interest in exploiting or abusing someone, or controlling her life or "owning" her.  What I want is someone who will live at my house voluntarily and do chores and not sleep with my husband, but who is free to leave at any time.  I won't tell her how to live her life or anything; she can have boyfriends and stuff, and if she decides she hates being my sister wife she's free to go find somewhere else to live.  She would be free to make use of anything in the house, eat whatever, etc. and of course she would live with us for free.  

Is this an actual arrangement?  Do people agree to this kind of thing?  I'm aware that it's a weird request, but there's got to be someone out there who would agree to it.  Right? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bad Advice

The world is full of bad and misleading advice.  I think I've written one of these before, but I can't help myself.  I hate trite statements and slogans so very, very much.

1) Live each day as if it were your last.

I'm guessing there are a lot of homeless people who took this advice to heart.  Because if it were actually your last day on earth, and you knew this, you would be pretty freaking reckless.  For instance, I would spend all my money on breakable glass and explosives, and then I would smash and burn things.  I would eat obscene amounts of hollandaise sauce and popcorn with extra movie butter stuff and I would hook myself up to a bourbon IV.  Actually, no, I would just drink the bourbon.  But you see what I'm getting at here.  If I lived like that every day, I would die in some painful, premature fashion, or I would be locked in a mental institution, or jail.

I wonder if hollandaise sauce would be good ON popcorn with movie butter.....

2) You can do anything you set your mind to/where there's a will there's a way.

Well, not always.  I'm guessing this sentiment originated in a time long ago, when people's goals were more modest.  You know, back when people weren't all that aware of the world outside their villages, and their big dreams were to have husbands who didn't beat them.  Because, yes, that is a realistic dream for most of us.  But you can't do anything you set your mind to.  You just can't.

For instance, I would love to have a magic carpet.  It is one of my fondest and dearest desires.  My mind is set on it, and has been as long as I can remember.  My will is strong.  But it doesn't matter.  I suppose I could learn about science and mechanics and try to invent a carpet-like structure that would levitate and carry me about.  But it wouldn't be magical.  I will never be sitting on an Oriental rug and suddenly feel myself lift off the earth, soaring through the air like an owl, no matter how much I wish for it or try to make it happen with my mind.  Not that I've tried that.

But let's pick a goal that is grounded in our current reality.  Let's say that my dream is to play professional basketball.  Professional basketball is an actual job, and actual people do this every day. But that doesn't mean I can do it.  I can't.  I'm not even 5 feet tall.  I'm slow and have bad aim and bad eyesight and I hate sweating and I think basketball shoes are ugly.  These obstacles are not surmountable.  I can not be a professional basketball player, not even in a special needs team.  (Is there a special needs basketball league?  I don't know.  Probably.)

3) Don't judge a book by its cover.

I judge books by their covers all the time, and it never leads me astray.  If a book has pictures of cannons and men on horses on the front, I'm not going to like that book.  If a book is pink and has cartoon like drawings on the front, I know I'm not going to get a serious, thought provoking read out of it.  If a book has pictures of a beach and wicker furniture on it, it's going to be a woman-centered book, probably about several generations of women interacting in some ordinary but dramatized fashion.  What I'm saying is, you can judge books by their covers, reliably.

But people often use this statement metaphorically; meaning don't judge people by their appearances. This is a bit more tricky.  Obviously I don't think you should judge people by their skin or hair color, or by their physical limitations.  But there are parts of the "cover" that can be reliably read.  The parts of the cover that can be read are the ones that are CHOSEN.

For instance, tattoos and piercings can give you an indicator of someone's character.  Where are their tattoos? What are their tattoos?  How many?    I know, I know "you shouldn't judge someone just because they have tattoos!".  You're not listening.  I'm not judging someone negatively simply because they have tattoos.  I'm simply listening to what that person is telling me about herself.  She got those tattoos for a reason; they mean something to her.  Any time you decorate your body, you are making a statement about yourself; you are presenting an aspect of  your personality for others to see.  I'm just going with it.

Clothing choices also say a lot about an adult.  This doesn't count for children, since their clothes are often determined by their parents and environments, and may have no relation to their own characters.  But adults are responsible for dressing themselves, and their clothes tell you what they value.  Do they value quality over quantity?  Are they willing to forgo comfort in order to obtain a good result?  Do they value comfort above all else? Are they lazy?  Are they engaged in activities that require certain types of clothes, for instance uniforms or swimsuits?  Do they see themselves as sexy?  As frumpy?  Do they want your to respect them?  Fear them?  Do they want you to think they are above such petty concerns as fashion? It's all there on their bodies.

3) Always be yourself/Don't worry what others think of you.

This is only good advice if you are  good person, who is likeable to others.  Not everyone is good or likeable.  If you are not a good person, and no one likes you,  you should probably try to change yourself, or be like someone who is better than you.

Take myself for example.  I am a good person, and I am likeable once you get to know me, though most people take a while to warm to me.  Acquaired taste and all that.  But if I were myself all the time no one would like me.  Because if I were myself all the time you would hear me say things like "That's boring.  Let's talk about something else now".  And "Wow,  you're acting like a douchebag".  And "I already know this, because I'm really smart.  But it's fine, we'll talk more about it since you're just learning this in  your remedial studies class down at Sylvan".  And "When you talk little particles of saliva keep spraying on me and I find it repellant.  This is seriously so gross.   I need to go wash myself.  And you need to learn to talk in a more sanitary way".

Because I'm not always a nice person.  I am a GOOD person, in that I want the best for people, and I have a kind and loving heart, and I want to help everyone and end all suffering..  But I'm not necessarily NICE - I often am judgmental and arrogant.  BUT, I know that this is an awful, terrible part of my personaility, and it needs to be repressed at all costs.  I would NEVER say any of these things to someone directly in real life, because it's mean and snotty and I KNOW that.  So I repress myself, at the expense of "being myself".  Because that's what grown-ups do.

And it's actually very important to care what others think of you.  I don't mean for petty reasons.  I mean, if someone hates you because you wear a parka or something, you don't need to worry about that, because it's silly.  But if someone hates you because she thinks you're a child molester, maybe you should address that.  Because that's the kind of opinion that matters.  And if you don't think it does, I bet you'll change your mind once you can't get a job, or when the villagers come to your  house with torches and you turn into Freddy Kruger.  Humans are social animals, and having an accepted place in society is important, whether you choose to acknowledge the fact or not.  I'm not saying you have to make everyone like you - that's not possible.  Some people are impossible to please, and have irrational prejudices.  And some personalities just don't "gel" for whatever reason.  But this doesn't mean you should have a "fuck the world, I'll do whatever I want" attitude.  That attitude is juvenile and unrealistic.  You have to get along with others.  I'm not saying you have to kiss ass, or compromise your values to fit in, or anything like that.  I'm just saying it's stupid to say "don't worry what others think about you".  Because it does matter.

4) When someone puts you down, it's because she's unhappy with herself.

No.   That's not true.  Perhaps it's true sometimes, but it's also possible that she genuinely disapproves of you, or your life choices.  I can think of lots of times I've disapproved of someone and stated that fact, and it had nothing to do with my feelings about my own choices or life situation.  Believe me, it's totally possible, and in fact probable, that whoever is putting you down honestly means it. I can't think of a single time when I've dealt with unhappiness by putting someone else down - that would only make me feel worse and would not solve the problem.  I just don't think that's the way most people behave.
  Whether that person is right or not is another matter.  The person putting you down is not necessarily correct, and you don't have to take it seriously.  But your shouldn't dismiss it as unhappiness on the critical person's part.  Because it just doesn't seem like a good reason to critcize  you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Really? That's What Makes You Beautiful?

Today I heard this song that I hated. The lyrics went like this: "You don't know you're beautiful. That's what makes you beautiful". Over and over again. I'm not sure who the recording artist is or what the name of the song is (I'm guessing it's "That's What Makes You Beautiful" or something equally inane), but if I find out I will make a conscious effort to never buy any music by that person/group. Because those lyrics disgust me. Here's why.

First of all, beautiful girls know that they're beautiful. Because contrary to popular opinion, beautiful girls are not all idiots.  They know that they are beautiful because they can tell by how they are treated by the world, and they have eyes in their heads and are surrounded by mirrors and cameras and the like, just like everybody else. Now, they may not ADMIT to knowing that they are beautiful. But that's a societal constraint, and has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. Our society expects women to be modest and self deprecating, and encourages women to view themselves with a certain amount of self loathing, so it would be social suicide in many circles for a woman to readily declare herself to be knowingly beautiful, on the outside. For crying out loud, you even hear supermodels complain about how "gangly" and "awkward" they are, when you know, they're obviously supermodels. It's not a job you go into if you actually are or think you are ugly.

The only exception I can think of is female R&B recording artists, many of whom have managed to step outside this societal constraint. There may be other pockets of resistance, but I'm not aware of them

But let's say that the woman in this song is some kind of rare mutation. Maybe she's blind, so she really doesn't know for sure if she's beautiful. Or maybe she has body dysmorphic disorder or something. WHY IS THE "NOT KNOWING" THE IMPORTANT FACTOR HERE? WHY IS THAT WHAT MAKES HER BEAUTIFUL?

Is the recording artist saying that a woman who acknowledges and celebrates her beauty is somehow less beautiful than the one who despises herself like a good girl? Why is being unaware of reality, and ignorant of your appearance appealing? Does this man perhaps want a woman with low self esteem, so he can be assured that she will never leave him for a man who writes better music? Does he feel intimidated by a woman who loves herself and is confident?

I think a lot of this mentality hearkens back to the notion that spending time on your looks, or caring about how you look somehow makes you shallow and stupid. Therefore the ideal woman is so pure and modest and self-effacing that she will literally have no idea that she is beautiful, because her mind and spirit are above such trivial things as "appearance" and "looks" and "beauty".

But guess what? No one is above it. No one is immune to beauty. As Palaniuk says "Beauty is power like money is power like a gun is power". Expecting women to be above and outside the influence of beauty is unrealistic and stupid. And trying to put women in these little boxes of false modesty - or perhaps real self hatred - is unhealty and wrong.

And so I say to you, Mr. Recording Artist - Grow a pair. If you can't handle a strong woman who is aware of her power and comfortable in her own skin, and you prefer a shrinking violet who needs YOU to tell her she's pretty, then you will get EXACTLY what you ask for. Which is a woman who needs you to tell her she's pretty - a lot. She will get clingy, and need reassurance from you - a lot. She will get jealous if you smile too much at the waitress. She will follow you home from work to make sure you're not stopping off at some other chick's house. She will cry and be insecure and needy - all the days of your life together. And you will get tired of her and dump her, and then bitch about how all women are crazy and psycho. And that will be the story of your love life.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LDS Poshumous Baptisms - Wait! Just Hear Me Out, OK?

Recently I was reading an article about Elie Weisel, the author of "Night". He is a writer who I greatly admire. In this article, he was upset because the LDS church engages in posthumous baptisms of Holocaust survivors. And I have trouble understanding why this upsets him so much.

But before I start, let me tell you where I stand on the LDS church, so you know I'm not coming from a place of overt bias.

I am not a member of the LDS church. I know quite a bit about them however, both because that's the kind of stuff I like to research because I'm a giant nerd, and because in high school I considered dumping my boyfriend to go out with a LDS boy I had a crush on named Andy. I started learning a little about his religion so I knew what I was getting myself into, but then he told me I looked like a whore in my shiny white boots and my crush abruptly ended.

Anyway, after learning about the religion, I have to say that I disagree with many of the conclusions to which they have come. But, I think they also do a lot of things right. Most of the LDS members I have met have been extremely good, kind people. Some of them take the whole "wholesome-good-cheer" thing to excess, and it can be a bit....unsettling...but I believe that no religion that is wrong through and through could produce so many genuinely nice people. Like most religions, they've got some things right, and they've got some things wrong. That is what I'm saying here.

OK, back to the point. The way the posthumous baptism works is this:

A person dies who is not a member of the LDS church. However, this was a good person - someone who the LDS church would not like to see burn in Hell. Like most religious sects, the LDS church believes that if you are not a member of their church, you will go to Hell. So to remedy this situation, the LDS church will baptise the unsaved soul AFTER she has died. I don't know the specifics of the ritual, but basically they pray to God asking him to give Dead Person X the option to claim herself to be a member of the LDS church when she gets to the afterlife reckoning. It's the LDS equivalent of a Get Out Of Jail Free card. For instance, if I died, and LDS did a posthumous baptism on me, and God was about to send me to Hell for being Episcopalian, I could say "WAIT! The LDS church prayed for me! Let me into Heaven!" and God would be cool with that.

Why would anyone object to such a thing? Here are the reasons I can think of:

1)People believe that the LDS church is evil, wrong, and a morally corrupt cult. Therefore baptising someone into that church against her will is also morally corrupt.

My response:
The LDS church doing a baptism on you without your knowledge, after you're dead, has absolutely no affect on how you lived your life; nor does it actually change your religious affiliation. It's really not any different than Catholics who pray for the souls in Purgatory.

Perhaps people are concerned that being baptised LDS after they are dead would affect their chances of receiving salvation in the afterlife. But seriously? Can you imagine if God were like that?

"Well, human. I see you lived your life according to Correct Religious Sect, and were a morally upstanding, kind person in life. However, the LDS church baptised you without your knowledge, after you were dead. And as you know the LDS church is an evil cult. So, to Hell you go."

If God were like that I would immediately convert to Satanism, because let's face it. If I were to get into Heaven and meet God face to face, and he pulled that shenanigans, I would argue with him. Yes. God and I would have words. And then I would be sent to Hell anyway, so I might as well get in good with Satan as soon as possible to ensure a better Hellacious spot.

2)People are atheists and would not like to be affiliated with any religious organization.

My response:
Again, their baptising you after you are dead makes no obligation upon you. You don't have to start attending church services or anything like that. You will know, and everyone who knew you will know, that you were not a member of the LDS church. And since you're an atheist, you aren't concerned with the baptism affecting your chances of getting into Heaven anyway, so just suck it up. Remember Christopher Hitchens? You know, the guy who wrote "GOD IS NOT GREAT"? Even he, when dying of cancer, stated that he didn't mind if religious people prayed for him in his time of need, because he didn't wish to be "churlish about it", and he accepted with placidity their good wishes and good intentions.

3) People believe it is disrespectful to baptise someone into a religion that they did not subscribe to; particularly in the case of Holocaust victims who died specifically for their practiced religion.

My response:
This is slightly more understandable. But only slightly. Again, posthumous baptisms do not change history. They do not actually alter the religious preference of the person being baptised. All it is supposed to do is give the dead person the OPTION of changing their religious preference after they die, if they want to. Again, think of the Catholics praying for the souls in Purgatory.

I think in this case, the worst LDS could be accused of is like, name calling. "The LDS church called me an LDS member! But I wasn't! I was a Buddhist! Those bastards!" Calm down, OK? They're trying to do nice thing. Yeah, it might be a little weird, and maybe not 100% logical, but it's not hurting you, you know? It doesn't take away from the life you lived, or change the person you were, or alter anything about you in any way.

Let's say I were to be burned at the stake for being an Episcopalian. I don't know why that would happen, but let's just say it did. I died for my religion, a beautiful fiery martyr singing praises to the Lord, and I wouldn't have had it any other way. Now let's say that the LDS church baptised me after my death, so I could choose LDS as my religion if I chose to do so. That wouldn't bother me in the slightest. Though I may not agree with all of their religious tenets, and I am perfectly content with my own religious preference, I certainly wouldn't spurn their goodwill toward me. If anything I would be touched that they cared.

So anyway, that's my take on the subject. Please don't set my house on fire.

Monday, June 18, 2012

If You Follow These Rules...

The world is full of health advice, and as a thinking person who cares about her health, I always try to pay attention to new health warnings, dietary rules, and guidelines for better health. Fortunately, the medical community - including doctors, nutritionists, holistic health practitioners and scientists - have made it incredibly easy to maintain your health with simple lifestyle changes. So I have compiled the following list of rules and placed them all in one place, here for your convenience. You're welcome.

You should drink as much water as you possibly can. Your body is 196% water, and you need to drink water at all times, preferably via a precious water bottle that you carry with you always.

The water you drink is full of dangerous chemicals and toxins, and drinking it is probably what is making you sick.

Melons must only be eaten by themselves. Otherwise, the melon juice will rot and ferment in your guts.

Meat is horrible and must be avoided at all costs.

Meat is good for you. Our ancestors ate lots of meat, and probably lived in a state of ketosis. You should eat meat too. For the protein and iron.

Meat is only good for you if it's free range and organic. You should hunt your own meat if you can. Eat the organs too.

Fish is the best thing ever, and you should eat many servings of it, as often as you can. The fish oils will prevent you from getting sick.

Fish is full of mercury and other harmful chemicals and should never be eaten, especially if you're pregnant.

Eggs are one of the most nutritionally complete foods in the world. You can live entirely on eggs and orange juice.

Eggs are horrible for you because they are full of cholesterol, which will kill you.

Egg whites are good for you, but egg yolks will kill you.

Potatoes are the devil, full of carbs.

Potatoes are nutritional powerhouses. With the skin, they have more vitamin C than oranges!

You should never eat potatoes, eggplant, or tomatoes, because they are in the nightshade family and will give you MS.

Pasteurized dairy will give you MS. Pasteurized dairy will kill you.

All dairy will kill you, especially the non-organic kind.

Eat yogurt every day. Yogurt is the best thing you can eat, because of the calcium, protein and probiotics.

Jogging is good excercise. Our ancestors ran a lot, and so it's good for you.

Jogging is bad for you, because it destroys your joints.

Butter is bad for your because it's fatterning and full of dairy.

Margarine is good for you because it's not as bad as butter.

Margarine is the worst thing you can eat, because it's full of chemicals and trans fats.

A diet that is low in fat is the best, because it reduces your risk of heart disease, and keeps your weight low.

A diet that is high in fat is totally fine. Fat doesn't make you fat. Sugar makes you fat.

Sugar should not even be called a food it is so bad for you. Never eat sugar. Ever.

Sugar is a natural food and is fine in moderation.

A glass of wine every day is good for you. As long as it's red wine.

Don't drink alcohol. It's bad for your liver and kidneys, and can lead to alcoholism.

Drink teas, especially green teas. They have good antioxidants, which prevent cancer.

Don't drink caffeine. It is too stimulating to the nervous system, and can be addictive.

Never drink water with ice in it. It slows down digestion.

Drinking water with ice in it is a great idea, because your body actually burns calories drinking it, because the water has to be warmed by your body in order to absorb it.

Drink a glass of water with food to aid in digestion, and to prevent you from overeating.

Never drink anything with food. Only drink before or after a meal. That way you can digest your food properly.

Eat 3 square meals a day, and don't snack between meals.

Eat many small meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar balanced and to keep your metabolism firing.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eat a big breakfast every day.

You don't need to eat breakfast unless you're doing manual labor. Otherwise, breakfast should consist of fruit juice or a piece of fruit.

It's best to do juice fasts frequently. This gives your body time to heal itself, because it's getting ample nutrition without having to expend energy on digestion.

Never deprive yourself of food, because that will make your body think it's starving, and your metabolism will slow.

80% of what you eat should be raw.

50% of what you eat should be raw.

Don't eat raw vegetables, because they are difficult for your body to digest.

Soy is good for you. Not only is it a healthier alternative to meat (for instance, tofu, tempeh, etc., is better for you than pork chops) if you eat 6 grams or more per day of soy protein, it reduces your risk of dying.

Soy is not suitable food for humans. There are too many estrogens in soy, which are harmful, especially for men.

Peanut butter is a good vegetarian source of protein and fats.

Peanut butter contains molds and sugar and fat and will probably kill you.

Stress is bad for you. You should eliminate stress in your life as much as you can.

Hard work is good for you. Make sure you work hard, every day.

Only eat organic, locally grown produce.

Eat a wide variety of foods!

You need large amounts of protein to build and maintain muscle.

Too much protein is bad for you. Ketosis is bad, because it is hard on your kidneys and makes your breath stink.

Dairy is good for you, because the calcium strengthens your bones.

Dairy leaches calcium from your bones. That's why the countries that consume the most dairy have the most fractures and osteoporosis.

You need 20 minutes of exercise 3 times per week to maintain health.

You need to take a 30 minute walk every day to maintain health.

You need to do an hour each day, 6 days per week, of intense excercise such as weight lifting or high intensity cardio, to maintain health.

You need to wear protective footwear anytime you exercise, for safety reasons.

You should do all excercise barefoot.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by vaccines.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by environmental toxins.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by poor diet.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by stress.

Autoimmune diseases are psychosomatic, caused by self hatred.

Autoimmune diseases are caused by a lack of vitamin D.

You should not go out in the sun, because it will give you skin cancer, and make your autoimmune disease flare.

You should go out in the sun, because autoimmune diseases are caused by a lack of vitamin D.

You should take a vitamin D3 supplement.

You need to take a wide variety of dietary supplements and vitamins for optimal health.

You don't need to take vitamins, just eat a healthy, clean diet.

Gluten will kill you.

Grains are bad for you, since the human body is designed to live on a hunter-gatherer diet.

Whole grains are good for you, because they are good for your heart, low fat, and contain fiber.

Rice is bad for you because it is a grain.

Brown rice is good for you. You should eat a lot of brown rice, since it has a low glycemic index and lots of fiber.

Brown rice is only acceptable if it's organic, and then should only be consumed in small doses.

Goat's milk is easier for the human body to digest. Try to eat goat milk instead of cow milk.

Unpasteurized dairy is bad for you and will kill your babies.

Unpasteurized dairy is good for you and is why the French don't die.

Nuts are a good source of fat and protein, and are an ideal snack.

Nuts are bad for you because they are high in fat, and are difficult to digest. They will also give you the gout.

Getting pregnant will make your autoimmune disease go into remission.

Getting pregant will kill your baby and you because you have an autoimmune disease.

Carrots are good for your eyes. Eat lots of carrots!

Eating too many carrots will make you turn orange.

Canned tomatoes will kill you.

Popcorn is a great snack, because it's fast and low calorie, as long as you con't drench it in butter or caramel or whatever.

Popcorn will kill you. Don't eat popcorn, especially the kind in the bag.

Oats are meant for horses. Don't eat oats.

Oats are good for you because they lower your cholesterol and such.

High cholesterol will kill you. Don't eat foods with high cholesterol.

Cholesterol will kill you, but it has nothing to do with what you eat. Cholesterol is produced naturally by your own body, and if it's high, it's because of genetics.

Cholesterol levels have no bearing on your health whatsoever. Don't waste your time worrying about cholesterol.

High fructose corn syrup will kill you.

High fructose corn syrup is not that bad for you. Just go ahead and eat it.

Soda is bad for you. It will give you diabetes and psychologial problems.

If you have an upset stomach, drink Sprite or Ginger Ale!

Onions and garlic are bad for you. They are not allowed in Ayurvedic cuisine.

Onions and garlic are good for you, and you should eat as much of them as you can.

Vaccines are the devil and cause all kinds of medical and emotional problems.

Vaccines have saved mankind from numerous plagues and are to be given to everyone, all the time, always.

Let's get healthy!!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Setting Babies On Fire

It makes me sad that fire retardant baby clothes exist. I don't mean fire retardant childrens' clothes- children run about and get into all kinds of mischief that could burn them. But infants can't get into any mischief, or any dangerous situations, unless they are placed there by someone else. Infants can move their arms and legs and heads, and they can roll a little, but that's it. How are these infants being set on fire? Here are the only ways I can imagine:

1) You set your baby on top of the kitchen stove, while it is on.....for some reason.

2) You set your baby so close to a burning fireplace that sparks are landing on the baby, or the baby can flail into it.

3) You are a firefighter and you thought it would be a good idea to bring your baby with you into a burning building for "take your daughter to work" day.

4) You fell asleep while holding both your baby and a lit cigarette.

5) You, or someone else, deliberately set the baby on fire. In this case, flame retardant clothing won't help, since the murderer would just remove the clothes.

6) Your house is on fire and your baby burns to death. Though in house fires, it's usually the smoke that kills, not the flames. Anyway, flame retardant clothes would not be helpful in this situation.

7) Your baby has been tried as a witch and found guilty.

Seriously? No. Your baby is not going to catch on fire unless you are basically TRYING to set it on fire. You would have to be negligent to the point of insanity for your infant to catch fire. People are so freaking paranoid.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Story From Each Country

Todos Santos, Mexico: I am protected by a number of elderly people.

In Mexico, Phillip decided to do the zip line. I declined, because the Medical Condition Which Shall Not Be Discussed prevents me from hiking uphill for 3 hours under the Mexican sun. Instead I opted to take a tour of Todos Santos, Mexico, which is a little artsy town, and the home of the ACTUAL Hotel California. (It truly is a lovely place.)

From minute one of the tour, a flock of elderly people decided that I needed protection and care. First, an elderly gentleman was concerned about my lack of sunblock (I forgot to bring some). I shrugged it off, since I planned mostly to see art galleries, which would be shaded. But then another elderly couple got wind of the fact that I didn't have sunblock with me and forced the bus driver to stop at a "pharmacia" so I could purchase sunblock. I dutifully got off the bus and purchased my sunblock, and returned to the shining happy faces of the old people who now nodded at me with approval.

At lunch, a different old lady sitting next to me asked what I planned to do in town during our free time. I said I was just going to walk around and explore. She told me that it was not safe for me to walk around alone, and that I would be going shopping with her and her husband. I obeyed.

When I mentioned at lunch that I was allergic to gluten, everyone at the table became immediately concerned, asking the waiter all kinds of questions about the food in Spanish. (In retrospect, I probably should have learned how to say "allergic to gluten" in Spanish, but hindsight, you know....)

The town itself was cute, with good food and lots of artsy shops. But what I remember most is how strange it was to have so many people concern themselves with my welfare.

El Baul, Guatemala: The Museum Trip That Almost Wasn't

I was super excited to see the El Baul Archaeological Site in Guatemala. Ancient Mayan Ruins! Yes please! I was basically Indiana Jones. So we signed up with a tour company and off we went.

We were escorted in a van. Not like, a nice tourist group van, but just a regular van. Which was odd for me. But then once we started to see Guatemala, I understood. It is literally the poorest place I have ever been. It makes
Tijuana look like a decadent shrine to luxury and excess. Everywhere there are shacks made out of...whatever...and cows with their bones jutting out from starvation and fruit stands that sit in front of rotting piles of garbage, manned by small children who should be in school, but aren't. That being said, the landscape was beautiful; all tropical and green. There weren't a lot of cars; people mostly walked or rode scooters or bikes.

I was pretty freaking excited to get to the Mayan Ruins museum. It's located on a plantation. The plantation was interesting, and kind of cute, with rows of huts leading up to a large, liveable looking house. There are maybe 15 families who live there. They have their own little church, their own soccer teams, and it seems to be a nice little community. The tourguide explained that the families were allowed to live there for free, in exchange for working on the farm.

Oh....so like sharecropping......k.....

Anyway, the museum is located in this plantation, since the ruins were found in the ground there on the farm. It was about a two hour drive to get there from where we started. And when we arrived we were told that we couldn't go to the museum because the owner was gone, and no one knew where the key was. K.... So we drove back into town and ate at a heavily locked restaurant - we had to get out and knock so they would open the gate- and waited an hour or so. THEN we were able to see the museum because the owner had returned. It was extremely hot inside - no air conditioning - but the artifacts were remarkable.

They even had a fully intact Mayan King Throne.

I wanted to sit on that throne. I bided my time until everyone was looking at knives or something. Then I bolted. I jumped up on the platform, skirted around glass cases and plunked myself down on the throne. I am a Mayan Queen Indiana Jones.

Leon, Nicaragua: We Befriend A Sandanista

Leon is a very cool town; very colorful and gritty. Super hot, but worth it. We were on a guided tour of the Cathedral there, which is AMAZING - it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it's stunning in every way. But after a while, Phil and I got bored and decided to leave the tour and explore on our own a bit. While wondering around, we found a little place called "Museum of the Revolution". The name was in Spanish, but I got the jist. Phil and I decided to go in; after all it was only 2 dollars.

We were greeted by a man about two inches taller than me, who was to be our tourguide. He didn't speak a word of English. The entire tour was conducted in Spanish. Fortunately, I'm pretty good with languages, so by this time (day 4) I had picked up enough to kind of understand him, a little, and Phil took 3 years of Spanish in high school, and he suddenly remembered a lot of it, which was very useful. The tourguided had himself been aligned with the Sandanistas, and still has shrapnel in his head from a bombing. He made me touch his head. Yep. That's shrapnel. He was in some of the newspaper articles we were shown. He gave us a number of weapons and let us play with them. After the tour of the museum, which was small, our tourguide took us up on the roof. I didn't know that's where we were going, I was just following him up the stairs. The roof was made of tin, and was very rusted, and had holes in it. Super safe. But our guide just pulled me up onto the roof, PHil following behind. The guide helpfully navigated me over the holes.

The view was amazing.

Panama City, Panama: Childcare Is Different In Different Places

Phil and I were exploring Panama City on our own one night at around 9pm. We rounded a corner and heard LOUD techno music. Obviously there was a rave going on or something. We kept walking toward the music to see what was going on, and it let us to....a playground. It looked like a regular elementary school, with a fenced in play area, and it was filled with kids around ages 6-10. They were running and dancing and leaping all over the place! It was pandemonium, but they looked like they were having a blast. Phil and I stood watching, amazed. In the States, little kids don't have nighttime raves at their elementary schools. If someone tried it in the States, someone would lose her job. We started to take pictures, but then realized we looked creepy taking pictures of dancing children, so we just left.

Also, Panama is beautiful. I could live in Panama. No question.

Isla de Corazon, Ecuador: I Make A Scene and Ruin Everyone's Fun

First of all, we spent three days in Ecuador and I just want to say that overall, it is a wonderful place filled with wonderful people and perfectly filling breakfasts. I don't want to negatively affect your perception of Ecuador, based on the story I am about to share. It was just one place.

We took a boat to Isla de Corazon, which is a little fishing community. They have recently started doing tourism to supplement their fishing incomes. With good reason! Their island is lovely, and there were so many birds flying around that the sky looked dirty with them. So many that they provided shade from the sun. So many birds that I actually started to get a little frightened because that many animals swarming around is always a little unsettling. But it was a really cool experience. When we got to the island, there were grass huts and hammocks and little kids swimming and it was very idyllic and awesome.

And then I saw it.

There was a dog with the most mangled leg I had ever seen. It jutted out from his body at an odd angle, and then at a couple other odd angles, all jagged. Part of it looked like raw meat, inflamed and angry and festering.

I ran to the tourguide and said "Someone needs to help that dog! It's been injured!" She looked around, and saw the dog. She found the owner and talked to him in Spanish. The owner told us that the dog had been hit by a car. TWO YEARS AGO. He laughed as he told this story, as if it were an amusing anecdote. "Two years ago?!!!"I shouted. "That is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE". I could hear my voice getting shrill, and I could see people staring at me, but I didn't care. I was enraged. I ran over to the dog. "Come here injured dog" I cooed. "You're coming home with me". I beckoned with my hands, calling in a soft, friendly voice. Phil came up behind me, put his hand on my shoulder and led me away, saying "We can't take the dog, honey".

"Well I can't just leave him here!" I said, now in full on shrieking mode. Phil tried to soothe me saying that I can't steal the dog, because I'll get locked up in Ecuadorian prison. "Why? They obviously don't give a shit about it. They'd probably be glad to see it go!" Phil murmered something about different cultures and different priorities, and I stalked off, angry. The tourguide and the rest of the group were clustered around a table, drinking mimosas and beer. She came up to me and offered me a mimosa.

"No!" I snapped, and went to the boat, where I sulked for the remainder of the tour. The tourguide and others came up to me later and said things like "Not to excuse it, but these people are very poor" and "NOt to excuse it, but blah blah, excuses excuses".

Here's my take on it. If you don't have the money for the vet, don't have a dog. Or if you don't have the molney for a vet, and for some reason you have to have a dog, and it becomes severely injured and can barely walk because it's in so much pain, you are NOT too poor to do this Mice and Men style. Put it out of it's misery. Man up.

If you're ever in Ecuador, have their breakfast! It's these wonderful huge balls made of plantains, stuffed with cheese. I had that with eggs and orange juice and it was great! I wish I had some now.

Overall impressions:

This was a fantastic trip! I recommend that you go to all of these countries, especially Panama! And don't be afraid to explore on your own there! If I could do it all over, I would try to learn Spanish before I went, but I managed OK with the little Spanish I learned. There was a lot of fascinating wildlife like monkeys and toucans and crocodiles - just out in nature - which was really cool to see. Wonderful trip!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

health update

Hello. I get asked questions about my health a lot. I hate talking about my medical problems, but I appreciate everyone's concern. Truly. So here, in concise form, is an explanation of what is going on with me and my traitorous body.

I have an autoimmune disease. It's called Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease. Basically, it means that my immune system is attacking my body. It can strike anywhere. It causes me joint and muscle pains, fatigue, weird skin rashes, increased suceptibility to infections and all manner of weird things.

Last year I was having horrifying stomach pains. After seeing several doctors and submitting to frightening medical procedures, it turns out that I am allergic to gluten. I personally believe that this is related to my autoimmune disorder, but I'm not a doctor.

I got an allergy test after that to see if there was anything else I shouldn't be eating. I was told that blood tests for food allergies are not always accurate, but I went ahead with it anyway. I was given a list a mile long of things I shouldn't eat. As of now, I am disregarding everything on the list except wheat, gluten, and flax seeds. Flax seeds make my mouth and throat swell up - not a good sign.

Anyway, now my immune system is attacking my lungs, which is frightening. You may remember I was hospitalized for a few days back in January. It wasn't pneumonia. It was autoimmune interstitial lung disease. My doctors are doing tests - CT scans and such - to determine how to treat me. I guess there is some debate about what type of medication I should be given. While they debate, I am seeing an acupuncturist and a chiropractor to help me manage it. I seem to be getting better. In January, I couldn't even stand without excruciating pain in my lungs. How I managed to work and walk about is beyond me. My only explanation is that after years of forcing myself to keep a calm exterior while suffering through panic attacks, I naturally can keep a calm exterior when unable to breathe, so no one is the wiser. But now I'm able to do all of my basic day-to-day tasks, teach yoga, etc. I just can't do intense cardio or lift heavy things. Zumba seems to be fine; plyometrics does not.

I have resolved to do everything in my power to regain my health. I will pray. I will do whatever the doctors tell me, unless it is stupid. If I have to, I will go Lorenzo's Oil all over this shit. I plan to use force to make my body submit to my will. Because I will not have this shit. I will not have it.

Now let us never speak of it again.