Sunday, July 10, 2011

Moments of Intersection

Every now and then the path we're on intersects with another's. For that period of time we overlap, even twist and parallel. It's exciting and new and enlightening. People say that everything happens for a reason. I think most people want to believe in god's plan or some sort of Jungian synchronicity. (Need a moment to Google that? Go ahead. I'll wait.) As an atheist I don't buy into either notion. The idea that a person or object has entered my life for the sole purpose of enlightening me in one way or another is  absurd to me. I do, however believe when we're fortunate to intersect our path with another's, it's crucial to cherish and learn what we can.

Everything in life is a learning opportunity. When we fail to cherish those that come in to our lives, even briefly, we miss a chance to learn something about ourselves and the world around us. You meet amazing people everyday but perhaps don't realize it. It isn't god's plan that I've met some really amazing people over the past few weeks. The difference is I've taken time to notice them. No one is manipulating our reality to make sure people touch us & teach us. You just have to be willing to learn. When it's time for our paths to veer off in separate directions, take comfort in knowing you've grown as a person and are a little wiser for having the experience. 

I empower myself by believing in myself and taking note of the world around me. This is beautiful. This is real. I don't need someone else to tell me so.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Evolution through Marriage

I've made it a point to not talk about my husband in these posts until now for different reasons. The most important reason is that he didn't sign up for this, and I believe that it is never one's place to speak on behalf of their significant other (or any other for that matter.) But this is one I have to share. And if he finds out and kills me later or makes me delete this, well at least you got to read it. Tell my son mommy loved him.

My husband and I have long been on opposite ends of the political spectrum. There was a time, long before we were together that our opinions could be easily predicted. It didn't take much to guess where we stood on issues like gun control and the environment which typically split right down the liberal v. conservative camps. We're passionate people to say the least so some find it odd that a far left liberal, socialist sympathizer (that would be me) and a republican would have ever given each other the time of day. Well folks, someone has got to sleep with the enemy for intel. Why not take one for the team? I'm joking of course. The truth is that aside from politics we have a lot in common. Our compassion for people, our respect for conviction, our similar backgrounds, all shaped us into people with core values that we did find on the same page.

Once we were together election years were intensely quiet in our house. We knew where we stood, but politics weren't important enough to either one of us to create a riff. We've been together now for 13yrs. Lately I've become inspired to get more involved or at least educated about grass roots politics. Becoming a parent has invoked a different passion for it. I was always concerned with activism and participating in the voice of the people, but back then it was more about principle. Now I'm a parent and feel I have a vested interest in the world around me and my family. The politics of the Obama administration and the age of the Tea Party have made for some interesting debates. We've found ourselves changing the channel to avoid getting riled up over discord outside our home. He believes "it's just politics" which isn't something worth a fight. I don't think it's worth an argument either, but I have a hard time being dismissive about it. I admit I was starting to wonder in the back of my mind if this was going to evolve into an issue between us. Then it happened. An epiphany.

We happened to catch a news story about some graduate students at UC Irvine who were arrested for being disruptive during a speech given by an Israeli ambassador. The fascist pigs - er, officers - interviewed stated that the students were impeding on the 1st Amendment right of the Israeli. *GASP* As my fists clenched and my blood began to boil, I bit my tongue. Then to my unbelievable delight hubby blurts out "That's bullshit! Those are good kids!" He went on a rant of his own about how wrong it was to silence intelligent, passionate youth who see something wrong with the the world and want to change it. I stared at him, then giggled and wipe a pretend tear of pride from my eye. In that moment we realized how much we've influenced each other, and have evolved over time.

Not only does he feel for the voice of the youth, but yours truly allows firearms in the house. Yup. It goes both ways. While hubby recycles, I tag along with my brother to the gun range. (well OK that happened only once, but excuse me I'm trying to paint a picture here!) It could be argued by both sides that we've "gotten soft." (I'm aware that "gotten" isn't a word but I'm using it anyways. My apologies.) Maybe we're just all confused, fucked up people now. Meh...who cares. We've been together so long that we can't help but look through the prism from the other's perspective. When you're with someone for that long, you don't just look through the prism once. You look again and again and sometimes maybe you forget which angle you started from but it doesn't matter because what you see feels right. Next thing you're both looking though it together from completely different angles yet somehow seeing the same thing. This goes far beyond politics. It's with everything. It certainly doesn't mean that we've adopted all of each other's sentiments. Of course not. That would be boring!

I suppose this wasn't really a rant. In fact, I kinda did a 180 and got all mushy on y'all. I've already used "gotten" and "kinda" so why not a "y'all" - don't worry, I won't resort to "ain't." That's where I draw the line.

Here's an update on those Muslim students, if you're interested. Graduate students and professors from other UC campuses have chosen to stand in solidarity with them. Fuckin' beautiful, like the voice of the people should be.

Peace. Love. and yadda yadda yadda...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

To breed or not to breed...

It used to be that girls were conditioned to understand that one day they would grow up to be mommies. Our generation however has been the first to really challenge that paradigm. No doubt that between the sexual revolution of the generation before us, and advances in medicine, we've been given a unique opportunity to truly take control of our reproductive destiny. I have a number of friends in their thirties who have no desire to procreate. I'll try to refrain from lumping men into this mix, as it's far more difficult for me to speculate as to what goes into a man's take on the subject. I know as a woman, I struggled for quite a while with whether or not having children was the right choice for me. What I find interesting, is that there appears to be different trends between theists and atheists. I'm aware I'm generalizing here, but from what I've seen, theists believe that all children are gifts from god. While some family planning may take place, it's generally a do I take the pill or don't I, and if the choice is to not take the pill, then it's "in god's hands." I'm not passing judgment, I'm just observing that there doesn't appear to be much more to the decision than that. I find it odd that so much is just left to chance when we have so much in this world to take into account.

For me, I caught the mommy bug in my late 20s. It was a difficult decision to make considering my medical history. It took about 2yrs to get everything in order between getting on the insulin pump, getting my diabetes on track, undergoing fertility treatments, etc. After enduring two miscarriages, it was a challenge to myself and to science to see if we could make this happen. And we did. Now our son is 19 months old, and we're faced with the decision again. This time, I know it can be done and I know what I'd be getting into so those factors are accounted for. The other piece to this - which was there before but is far more apparent now - is social responsibility.

Is it socially responsible to continue reproducing in an already over-populated world? As an atheist, I reject any and all ideas about some "master plan" bestowed upon us by the heavens. I do not believe that jeebus is coming so everything we do is all good because all will be forgiven and rectified blah blah blah...So with that taken off the table, I'm left to actually be accountable for what I decide. The simple answer is no, it isn't responsible. Too many are breeding already and given the overwhelming lack of responsible humans and rapidly depleting resources on this planet, adding more people to the mix doesn't seem like the right thing to do. On the other hand, there is also a massive imbalance of earth-conscious vs. willfully blind citizens of this planet that it could also be argued that I have duty to breed more socially responsible individuals to oh yes, bring balance to the force. To one extreme we have the Quiverfull Movement, those like the Duggars with 20 kids and counting to breed soldiers for jeebus. But where's our movement? Why aren't atheists and other free thinkers as inclined to breed with reckless abandon? Oh right. Because it's reckless. Answered my own question...duh. Seriously though, do we have a duty to change the world through our offspring? I would think so. (I know you hear Whitney Houston singing in your head right now *I believe the children are the future...*) My fellow leftists often comment that we need to make this planet a better place for our children and their children. True statement. But how can we accomplish that if we aren't breeding?

I don't really believe that having one more kid is somehow going to alter the outcome of the universe or tip the scales toward the left as if my spawn could magically change the world. This has just been on my mind. I'm getting older, as is my son, so I owe it to him to think about this long and hard and decide soon. I just might take one for the team - just one more time.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Heathen Cub

I was interviewed not too long ago by a sociologist who was doing a study on atheists in organized groups. She wanted to know my back story, what groups I belonged to, why I wanted to belong to them, and how that impacted my life. She is an atheist herself, so I trusted the questions were sincere and not some guised attempt at luring me back to "the other side." We had a very candid, personal conversation that in turn brought things to the surface for me in a way that I hadn't bothered seeing before.

I've been an atheist for many years - 17 years actually, and while this is a core part of who I am I never felt compelled to seek out others like me until I was pregnant. Motherhood (well Parenthood - let's not leave out the daddies) has a strange way of making the dormant part of ourselves come bubbling to the surface for scrutiny and evaluation. I wasn't doubting my atheism by any means, but rather thinking about how I would raise my son and as a Free Thinker how I would encourage him to seek his own truth through study and critical thinking. I had a rough pregnancy. We battled fertility to begin with and when I finally was pregnant it just got brutal. I had morning sickness until the day I delivered, vomiting sometimes 10 times a day, scares of pre-eclampsia which had me hospitalized more than once, oh and did I mention I'm a Type 1 diabetic on an insulin pump? So of course, the believers in my life were lighting candles and saying prayers throughout it all and while I found this a sweet gesture, it wasn't actually helping anything.

I think for even those closest to me, the thought was  that experiencing all this hardship would actually make me spiritual. My water even broke 7 weeks early. My son's heartbeat began to drop and wouldn't come back up. They had attempted to stop my labor but couldn't. Due to the dropping heartbeat they had to do an emergency c-section. By the time I was in the operating room there wasn't enough time to numb me so they had to knock me out. Then they couldn't get me intubated so I coded on the table. Nurses were screaming for a crash cart and my poor husband sat completely uninformed in the next room waiting for someone to tell him what the hell was going on. My son was born with no heartbeat. The neonatal specialist in the room revived him and off he went to the NICU while they got me stabilized and off to the grown-up ICU. 18 months later we're both doing great.

So...was this divine intervention? Absolutely not. It was medical intervention. Good old fashioned science equipped me to struggle with and conquer my diabetes and other medical issues during pregnancy so this boy could stay in the womb long enough to survive when he made his early debut. My husband and I had to be an advocate for our little fetus and discussed putting me off work with our doctors as early as 5 weeks into the pregnancy so that I could make taking care of myself a full-time job until showtime. I've had people ask me how it is that I don't consider this a miracle. While I sometimes refer to my boy as our miracle baby, I don't literally mean he is some sort of gift handed to me by a mythological character. I know that is offensive to some, but frankly it's offensive to give credit to anyone but me, my husband and our medical team for our awesome outcome. I choose deliberately and wholeheartedly to reject the idea of a higher power, as I know there is no power greater than the belief in oneself. I had two miscarriages before having my son. No great nor evil power is to blame for that. Those losses are what made me buckle down and believe in myself strongly enough to make sure this one made it. And he did. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"Been around the world and found that only stupid people are breeding..."

I am fully aware that there are many people out there in the world, even in my own life, who are far more intelligent than I. I make no claims to being uber genius or intellectually superior to others. I want to make this clear up front, because I'm about to spout off about stupid people. What has inspired this latest rant is a post in a mommy board I belong to. Women were boasting about their 18 month olds' vocabulary. I can understand knowing the number of words your child can say if the number is around 10 or less. But these women were chiming in with 80! 100! My baby is up to 1000 words! Seriously? Come on. Who the hell keeps count after 3? You madam, are either full of shit, completely delusional, or just plain stupid. While I often refer to my son as "our little genius," I of course say it with tongue-in-cheek. I know he's average. I most certainly do not keep a running tally of all the words he has said. I don't believe this has any relevance to his intellect. What is far more important is his ability and attempts to communicate. What is both hilarious and infuriating is that these parents who claim to raise "super babies" are the same morons who get in fist fights at Little League games and think Disneyland is some special right of passage.

Is it really fair to dismiss these people as stupid? I think so. But maybe it isn't entirely their fault. We live in an age where hyperbole is not just accepted, but expected. As is lazy thinking. Adding to the hot mess, is that our culture has become so competitive with everything, our reputations especially, that we seem to be plagued by regular folks trying to bedazzle their personas both online and in real life.

While it can be entertaining at times, it makes breeding all the more complicated. Well, not the breeding part. The child rearing part. I don't want my son to be a lazy thinker. How do I provide balance when he's surrounded by people who focus on bullshit rather than critical thinking and being genuine? Parenting is challenging enough. Now I have to put up with other parents who fill their children full of audacious over-confidence and equip my son to hold his own without falling into the same delusional path.

I'm not better than these people. You may even find typographical errors and misspelled words in my writing. Why? Because I'm not that smart and sometimes forget to use the freakin spell check. I'm no genius, but I do make an attempt to be self-aware. It shouldn't be asking too much for others to follow suit. It's OK though. My baby can still kick your baby's ass.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Caught the Dragon

The one thing I didn't anticipate after just a few posts, is the flood of thoughts and theories suddenly racing through my crazed, disorganized mind and the resulting need to jot it all down like a panicked fiend. The fucked up thing about wanting a fix, is the connect never seems to sync with daily crap. So here I am, twitching with delight that I'm finally sitting down at my keyboard.

I'm trying desperately to stick to a topic or 3 so I don't lose you. But then again, this isn't about you, is it? I know I tend to drop quite a few "F" bombs and while my potty mouth is something I'm working on in real life, I find it cathartic to just be myself here. If people are turned off by my salty language (love that cliche), tough shit. Go away then. I suppose I should change my settings on Blogger to that "18 & over" warning but it's not like I'm posting dirty pictures or anything. Yes, I've thought of starting a swear jar, but who carries that kind of change on them?

Funny, when I don't have the time to write, er blog, I'm bursting with things to say. Now that I have some quiet time I'm at a loss. Back in the day, I just kept a little notebook in my backpack or scribbled on a napkin so I could come back to the thought later. It just doesn't work out that way anymore. Besides, ever try scribbling on a baby wipe? Lack of little notebooks isn't the problem either. I've got plenty of those if I could just remember where the hell in this cluttered mess I put them. The problem is that it just isn't reflex anymore. I know, we change as we get older blah blah blah...but you know what? It still blows. It blows that the things that made us swoon, that invoked some sense of passion, compassion, whatever - just something - somehow drifts off into an abyss of routine and obligation. We become convinced that it's some sign of maturity but deep down we know it's a goddamn lie to help us rationalize why we've sold out. So what now? Can't go back, can we? Can't just buy back in after selling out. That would really make us tools!

If you're still with me on this bullshit rant, I love you. I love you for indulging me in my nothingness, for validating my need to purge whatever the hell is brewing up here, even when there isn't much. Now the sound of a whiny, tired toddler beckon me. Good night.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ignorance was Bliss

I'm half asleep at Noon on a Saturday. Not good. In all fairness, I was up quite late and up quite early and the nasty coffee from Jack in the Box is not doing my drowsiness a lick of good. Since I'm feeling useless right now, I figured I'd show up here. There have been some great articles and posts lately about politics that have really got me thinking. I'm not thinking so much about where I stand, but about how the hell I got to the ignorant state I find myself in. The much younger me, made a constant, conscious effort to educate myself and stay abreast of what was happening in the world. More importantly, I sought out people and sources of information that helped me connect the dots of how all these things happening in the world ultimately impacted me, us. Then somewhere along the way I strayed. I drifted away from this avid pursuit of knowledge and that drift eventually led to committing the ultimate intellectual crime: I stuck my head in the sand. On purpose.

Ignorance is bliss. Isn't it? I suppose if I were shallow or so consumed in day-to-day nonsense I could live with that. Is that how I strayed? I could say it was because I decided to try being a hum-drum suburban wife who no longer cared to focus on the troubles of the world. But if you know me, you're laughing and crinkling your eyebrows. You know that's just not me. The truth is it all started with my battle with drug addiction. (yes! we get to talk about drugs and not mommy stuff! woo hoo!)

I'm not going to go back to the beginning and get into how it all started, because quite frankly this isn't some thank-the-lord-I'm-sober-now testimonial. I've been thinking long and hard about how I got so far away from the political and intellectual realm I once relished in. Every spin I put on it, all leads me back to the same conclusion. The deeper down the rabbit hole I chased the high, the further I was running away from myself without even realizing it. I can't tell you what made me stop running. There was no intervention. There were a hand full of friends that made their comments, but no one dragged my ass to rehab and told me to wake up.  Believe it or not, I simply woke up. I got tired of feeling sick. I got tired of never feeling high enough. I was just fucking tired. I called, on my own accord, the local chemical dependency center and told them I needed to talk to someone. They had me come down and meet with a tool, er I mean nurse, who asked me all sorts of personal, intrusive questions. I knew it was coming, the question that was going to make or break this deal, wait for it..."What religion are you?"

"None. I'm an atheist."

Nurse: *pause*

I asked him if the only way to go through the program was to bring Jeebus into it. He said no, they've just found that people are more successful in the program when they believe in a "higher power." Words cannot adequately expressed how livid that made me. Needless to say, I never went back. I'm not just an atheist, I'm an Existentialist. You can't look me in the eye and tell me that there is any power greater than the belief in one's Self. I found it shameful on their part that rather than teaching people to find it within themselves to be strong, they put it on something else. It was infuriating.

I knew that being in a dark place didn't mean I had to surrender my convictions to find my own light. If they couldn't help me, fuck them. I'd do it on my own. And I did. No, it wasn't done all neat and tidy in 6wks like the canned salvation most rehab programs promise. It took a long, long time to be truly freed of those demons. It was this struggle that consumed every bit of my intellect, my spirit, my physical energy. And it was ugly. Between battling my demons and trying to function in society, I was tapped out. There was nothing left to give to political activism, so it pained me to even read about it. I knew there was nothing I could contribute, so it was better to just not know. A funny thing happens when you alienate yourself. Your reality changes. What is "real" is limited to what you perceive and if you're limiting what you're allowed to perceive, it inevitably warps what is real.

Fast forward several years, and I found myself married and wanting kids. It wasn't until we finally got pregnant that I found myself interested in the world again. Perhaps it's a maternal, animal instinct to inspect the world around you for the well-being of your cub. Or maybe I've finally found the peace I struggled so hard to find for so long, that I'm ready again. Look out, folks. Revolution is coming, and she's wearing a papoose.