Monthly Archives: May 2012

One Game at a Time?

I hate to pack. I am about to take a trip. Before I leave for a trip, I think, I tweet, I blog: I do anything to avoid packing. I don’t know why I hate it so. But I do. I really, really do.

So, I have avoided the X-Men series. Why? Well, to be honest, I HATE the idea of an ex-Holocaust victim as an arch-villan. I don’t know Magneto’s complicated backstory.

But, I was doing anything to avoid packing my suitcase and so after watching GOT, Girls and Veep (all while doing and folding many loads of laundry, I’d like to add) I began watching X-Men Master Class, set in the 1940s and 1960s. I love James MacAvoy, I NOW love Michael Fassbender and I was intrigued by the plot: Magneto seeks vengence upon his N.azi tormentor, and the killer of his mother. And then, as an ex-N.azi pulled his knife, I SUDDENLY REMEMBERED.

I was in a European country (I will not name it not, other than to say it was not Germany) perusing an open-air market. At first I was charmed by the art (a distinctive, lovely style and the beautiful people selling it: in fact, I bought a pretty painting) but then I noticed the memorabilia others were selling. How do I put this in this day and age? It was N.azi memorabilia. This was in 2005.

I am a blonde-haired blue-eyed woman who is of Scandinavian and English heritage, so I think the dealers were maybe more open to me, although I can’t prove that.

What I saw: passports from N.azi Germany, SS badges, plates with the horrible marks, glasses with horrible marks. Worst of all were the knives: weapons with that dreaded mark, knives saying in German terrible things. Iron things. Cold things. Deadly things.

I don’t understand the world. I never will.

I recently saw Fiddler on the Roof, the movie, for the first time. It was funny, wonderful and horrific. The pogroms, the discrimination.

What do I tell my children about this hate? I don’t know. So far, they know the story of Purim, and they worry about Hamen. As really, everyone should.

In Game of Thrones, one of the main characters, a strategist really, finds out about a distant, although very real threat. He says: “One game at a time.”

And I guess, in the end, this is what we can do and must do. No matter what our worries (environmental catastrophe, cancer, terrorism) we can only battle what we know is coming.

And what is coming?

An ugly attack on health coverage, unless you are rich. Intolerance of those who are infertile.

These are the issues that matter most to me. And so, they are the “knives” I will focus upon.

One game at a time. One game at a time.

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Filed under Fear, Infertility

On Mommy Wars…

This about sums up the first year…

I think the “Mom Enough” controversy pretty much paused with a truce, with everyone raising the white flag and calling for peace on all sides. Including me.

Now there has been a minor eruption over a parenting philosophy which, correct me if I’m wrong, seems to have caught on with a significant portion of the Parenting After Infertility crowd? I had never heard of “Natural Parenting” before, and suddenly the term was everywhere.

Specifically, this graphic was everywhere. I’m not going to comment on the graphic, as I think others have covered it in detail.

Like for others, the term “Natural Parents” immediately stuck in my craw. By calling your philosophy “Natural,” you are by implication saying that other parenting philosophies are “unnatural.” But, I wanted to go over and review the blog on its merits and see what the fuss was all about.

What immediately struck me is that many “Natural” parents who’ve posted on the blog feel persecuted and underground. Which, that’s rough, and I feel for you. Where I live is probably one of the only areas in the world where attachment parenting (breastfeeding, midwives, babywearing, extended breastfeeding) is mainstream and “mainstream parenting” (strollers, disposable diapers, bottle feeding) is not mainstream at all. (See also: Park Slope, the Upper West Side, Berkeley, Notting Hill, and probably other areas with a strong liberal political bent.) I have to admit that “pottying”, ie: potty training your infants, hasn’t caught on yet here. But I’m sure that it’s just a matter of time.

The “Natural Parenting” blog has a much more pleasant tone than I was expecting. Mostly, if I can simplify, the tenor seems to be attachment parenting is the ideal but if you try your best, no judgments. Am I right about this?

Attachment Parenting isn’t about ‘shoulds.’ It’s about connecting with and loving your baby. There are some practices that foster those connections, and some of those practices, though intuitive, aren’t mainstream. Therein lies the problem, and a harvest-ready field for media looking to stay alive with stories.

OK. I mostly get this.

Here’s what I don’t like:

I have a dream that one day, babies will be birthed in peace, and spend their first hours in the arms of their loving, capable mother. One day, we will respect the birthing mother, and remember that birth is normal, and has been the primary exit route of people for millennia.

I have a dream that one day, mothers will have the resources and support they need to nurse their babies for as long as they both desire. I have a dream that one day, Americans will see breasts as primarily life-giving and nourishing.

I have a dream that babies are carried instead of pushed, cuddled instead of prodded to be independent. One day, we will redefine spoiling as dying from disuse, rather than strengthening from love and closeness.

I have a dream that one day babies will sleep safely, close to their mother, as her breath regulates baby’s temperature and heart rate, ensuring his survival. One day, we will move beyond scare tactics and onto education.

I have a dream that we will relearn the lost art of gently responding to our baby’s elimination cues. One day, diapers will be optional.

Yeah, I DON’T like this. It strongly implies that there is one way that ALL babies should be birthed and parented (with co-sleeping and babywearing) and to do otherwise is bad for a child. (I don’t like the phrase: “ensuring his survival.” Talk about scare tactics…) Am I wrong? Did you pick up that tone, too, or not?

And ultimately, “Mommy Wars” are caused by those who feel their way is best and that everyone else should adopt their ways. The media helps to fan the flames, sure, but ultimately it’s doctors pushing C-sections, hospitals not allowing midwife care, or someone who says she has a dream of babies being carried not pushed.

We ALL need to be careful about the language we use, and I don’t want to single out this particular site as a main culprit: they are just suddenly ubiquitous, so a lot of people are looking at them. On another front, this book is inflammatory as hell.

Is it possible to remove judgmental language from parenting advice altogether? Or are we doomed to conflict with one another? And feel free to call me on any judgmental language I have ever used about parenting, too.

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Filed under Parenting After IF

For the Love of the Blog, Part Two

I had to share this photo of Darcy, who met his hero Chris Berman. It pretty much made his year. As some wag on Facebook commented, “He seems really engaged.” Heh.

Big round of applause for WordPress: they are listening to us about the commenting! Check it out. Thank you, WordPress. I am impressed. Please add your problems commenting to the thread: they are checking.

I wanted to share Part Two of blog posts which moved me.

From Part One:

Today I was thinking how grateful I am to many bloggers for hitting that “publish now” button. Some of the posts that reverberate in my mind were famous, most weren’t. Some got hundreds of comments but most didn’t. What I realized is that validation, something discussed a lot recently in the blogosphere, isn’t just about the immediate impact of that first rush of page views and comments. It’s also the aftermath, the possibility to move someone even years later, to some emotion.

So without further ado, Part Two.

Apartment Therapy (Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan): Melting the Walls & Opening Up to Love Weekend Meditation. An unexpectedly moving post about walls, physical and otherwise, from a home decor writer. “Unlike in our real house, when we melt our own walls we do not discover that our roof falls in. On the contrary, our entire being opens up to the world again, and the sun comes streaming in.” Love.

Breed ‘Em And Weep: The Big Why. Vivid description of what it’s like to suffer from Bipolar Disorder.

Clay Baboons: “What Not to Say to Someone With an Uncooperative Uterus“. ZOMG: the funny! The wavy frowny line cracks me up, every time. Plus, educational!

Family Building With a Twist: An Open Letter to My Son’s Preschool Teachers. So honest and moving….

Hyperbole and a Half: Depression. Whoa.

Lainey: Yes, I read Lainey 🙂 This was a fascinating look at the way celebrities have influenced mothering and this year’s “mother’s day on steroids.”

Live From the 205: Bookworm. A grandfather imparts a love of reading, via the same leather-bound gold-leafed books my dad gave me, and his granddaughter remembers.

Love That Max: The disturbing results of a quest to educate people not to use the word “retard.”

Miss OhKay: An education about the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Miss E was adopted from. Chilling, informative, unfathomable.

Once a Mother: Tending to Our Wounds tells the story of the “towel baby” and strongly and unforgettably makes the point how important it is to grieve and express yourself.

Pioneer Woman: Ten Important Things I’ve Learned About Blogging. This post is pretty much my blogging manifesto.

Shifty Shadow: The Garden. Achingly poignant analogy about loss.

Suburban Homestead: The Secret Society. Beautifully written piece about, well, you have to read it to find out!

Truth and Cake: What Did You Give Up, To Get What You Got? Tremendous, provoking post about why society expects us to “have it all.”

I hope you enjoy this reading material. I feel like blogging has kind of slowed down in general. Do you agree? Is it the summer doldrums?

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Filed under Blogging, writing

My Article for BlogHer: Is WordPress Scaring Your Commenters Away?

I wrote an article for BlogHer today inspired by Stumbling Gracefully, about how difficult WordPress is making commenting.

Have you noticed a drop-off in comments since the changes WordPress has made?

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Filed under writing

Thank You For The Blog Posts: Part One

I have an almost total recall for prose which has moved me in some emotional way, whether to tears, laughter, greater empathy or just awe. Am I alone? I often muse upon old posts I read months ago as well as ones I have read today. This is what is so strange and powerful about the written (or typed) word to me: the lasting impact someone can make when one hits the publish button.

Today I was thinking how grateful I am to many bloggers for hitting that “publish now” button. Some of the posts that reverberate in my mind were famous, most weren’t. Some got hundreds of comments (one got thousands) but most didn’t. But what I realized is that validation, something discussed a lot recently in the blogosphere, isn’t just about the immediate impact of that first rush of page views and comments. It’s also the aftermath, the possibility to move someone even years later, to some emotion.

So I’d like to single out these particular posts, some of which are days, months and years old (one is over a decade old), and these particular writers for their work. Thank you for your posts, which had a lasting impact on me. They have changed me or shaped me in some way, or in many cases, provided a much needed laugh. Which may sound trivial but I assure you it’s not: laughter makes my life much better and richer. Some of the writers I know personally, but most of them I do not.

In Alphabetical Order (There are more, but here is Part One):

a little pregnant: In the midst of my pregnancy problems in 2010, I frantically googled “gestational sac small” and came across this post, which both prepared me for the worst and also made me feel less alone. I consumed Julie’s whole blog that day and also discovered Stirrup Queens.

Amalah: “This Mortal Coil” Because nothing is more funny than an oven fire, an inconveniently located fuse box and running into a wall facefirst, right? In Amalah’s hands, a proctology exam would be hysterical. Maybe? Probably.

Ayelet Waldman’s Bad Mother Blog: The only blog I read until 2010, and I didn’t even know it was a blog. I love this post, about how reviews and book signings totally suck for authors.

Bereaved and Blessed: “Gatekeepers” A moving and life-affirming post which asks her viewers two questions: “How are you feeling?” “What are you doing tomorrow?” based on a local hero, Kevin Briggs, who has kept 200 people from jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. I think everyone in Marin County unfortunately could name someone they know or know of who has jumped, so this was very meaningful to me personally.

Bodega Bliss: A pregnancy announcement with a twist: Courtney decides to embrace only the joy in her good news, and enjoy every single day. If you know Courtney’s struggle, you know how extraordinary this is, and how extraordinary she is.

Bloggess: “And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles.” The post which changed the way we all look at big metal chickens. Forever.

Bloodsigns: “The Oleander & the Groves” Haunting, brilliant: about how the very landscape we are in brings about layers of emotions and memories. God, I wish I could write like this.

Dragondreamer’s Lair: In WTF news, I will NEVER forget Kristin’s post about the car decorated with what appears to be…Louis Vuitton stickers? I have no words. Still.

Elphaba: My so-called life: The Sims and their ridiculously easy time with pregnancy causes much jealousy. Funny, funny stuff.

Flotsam: Even thinking about this post, about how the main theme of her decor is “whimsy,” makes me chortle. Alexa Stevenson takes us on a photo tour of her house and the highlights are “elderly, stiffened washclothes” “cat hair tumbleweeds” and “rug last washed during previous administration.” Rad.

Half-Baked Life: God sent Justine down from Heaven to teach us all how to make these chocolate peanut butter pillows.

Infertility Voice: Keiko’s post about how her dad covered 9/11 as a photojournalist was fascinating not just because I am also a daughter of a journalist, but because I loved her dad’s story: unfiltered and honest. The unpublished photo he took of Ground Zero is stunning.

Kir’s Corner: Perspective. I think this post sums up the complicated emotions of parenting after infertility so, so well. This is exactly how I feel, but am unable to articulate.

Life From Here: The most amazing, breathtaking conclusion to a pregnancy and birth story with more twists and turns than a Hitchcock movie. Masterfully told.

Marwil: “Never is a long time” Short. Sad. Sweet.

Maybe Baby: Love > sadness. A mother goes to visit the trees she has planted in memory of her twin daughters with a friend. I had to catch my breath after reading this.

Mommy Odyssey: Mo’s sense of humor is on full display, here, in this post about how her 34 day cycle nearly broke her brain. I laughed so hard, and keep returning to the post to see “ZOMG Teh Drama!” kitten picture, again.

Not a Fertile Myrtle: In honor of 9/11, Suzy decides to challenge herself to be kind to strangers. Her post really made me look at that event differently, and ever since I read that post I have also tried to be more kind to and mindful of strangers.

Road Less Travelled: I will never, ever forget the story of Loribeth’s Christmas Party From Hell. Seriously! The insensitivity, it boggles the mind 😦

Smartness: “Sh*t Uncle Paul Says.” Oh my Lordy, teh hilarity. I love Kymberli’s description of Uncle Paul, who she meets for the first time at a family funeral. “Paul looked around at everyone exchanging greetings. He heaved a dramatic sigh and lit a cigarette. ‘Come on, let’s get this funeral on the road. I have compassion, but I don’t have patience.’ Then he gave two snaps up and a little ‘mmmhmmm’ neck roll.”

Stirrup Queens: Mel is hella funny. I know that’s maybe not what she’s known for (and obviously I could go on and on about inspiring things she’s written), but this, about a flakey tooth fairy made me laugh so hard I startled people at Jamba Juice. Close second: the vomit circle of hell, featuring really annoying little ponies. “Mr. Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiskers!”

Stumbling Gracefully: “Miscarriages Are Real Losses.” No one could read this and not understand the absolute devastation that a miscarriage causes. Esperanza brilliantly intersperses a clinical voice explaining what a miscarriage is with journal entries of how she felt. “Tell them that, even if you can’t comprehend what they’re going through, you accept it and everything that comes with it; that you acknowledge their loss as significant and real. Because it is.” Amazing.

Tomato Nation: For Thou Art With Us. Yet another account of 9/11, but this one from an eyewitness to the twin towers falling. The eyewitness is a pop culture writer (and she’s not a blogger but has a website) I’ve long admired, Sarah Bunting. Every year I reread her story and it always crushes me on many levels: the mundane (her shoes were too tight that day), the extraordinary, the unimaginable (the piece of burned shirt cuff that lands on her as she’s watching the towers on fire), the hellish, the terrifying, the unexpected friendship: all these elements intertwine to create such an enduring and horrifying tale. It amazes me still that such a writer was there in the epicenter of it all, and was able to tell the story.

Write Mind, Open Heart: The Meadow. Incredible.

As a humble reader, I just wanted to thank you one and all. Your writing has meant a lot to me.

Am I alone? Do you remember posts long after they have been published? Or do they fade away like fog on a San Francisco afternoon after you’ve read them? If you do have posts which you remember long after they were written, please feel free to share them in the comments. I would love to read them.

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Filed under writing