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.