Category Archives: Rants

On Birthdays


I don’t like a lot of things other people love. I don’t like Christmas. I don’t like drinking. I don’t like loud, raucous parties or Game of Thrones (books, I haven’t seen the series) or M&Ms. I’m not interested in rock concerts, even for my favorite bands. Okay, maybe the Beatles, but only because it’d be a miracle since half of them are dead. I don’t care for fast food or Starbucks and I flat out HATED Hawaii.

And I’m not a fan of my birthday.

Hold on, you say. Join the club! Nobody likes their birthday after 21. Anyone saying otherwise is lying. And women aren’t even allowed to have birthdays after 29!

And, yeah, that’s all pretty true. But there’s still a weird pressure? expectation? implied societal contract? that I should at least enjoy my birthday. I should skip work, stuff myself with cake, buy myself presents, or do whatever it takes to fill that void.

What void? It’s the space that exists between everyone’s normal day and what makes it your special day. It’s the absense of change between yesterday you and one-year-older you.

As a kid, your birthday is a big deal. Or, well, it can be. Cake, presents, maybe a party. Maybe a party no one shows up for. Maybe not the presents you wanted or no presents at all. Maybe burnt cake or “the year Mom became a Vegan” cake. I can’t remember most of my birthdays as a child. I’ve seen a few pictures of the early ones. Regardless, I know what it’s supposed to feel like. I started remembering my birthdays because they stopped living up to that gut feeling.

That’s not to say I had an awful childhood or anything. Far from it. I had great birthdays, with slumber parties and pizzas and all manner of fun all the way through high school and then well into my 20s.

But you wake up the next day and think, so this is 16? 18? 25? 34? Doesn’t feel any different. I look back on some of my more recent parties and it looks like I was trying to capture that essence of BIG CHANGE that came with blowing out those candles.

I mean, it’s a lot harder to get that rush as an adult. Turning 10 is a big deal, but turning 34? I keep having to do the Math to remember my age. And that’s not an “I’m so old I can’t remember” thing. It’s a “this number has little to no significance in my day-to-day life” thing.

Plus, parties are so difficult now. It wasn’t so bad in our 20s, since most of our friends were also in their 20s and eager for weekend shenanigans. Now? Friends we’ve known for over a decade can’t find the time for lunch or miss our son’s birthday because their kids have competitions or games. Adults are busy. Adults with kids need sitters and 6 months notice just for brunch.

But listen, I could go on about how birthdays are always lacking. Even if all my Facebook friends and family post on my page, a sulky part of me will wonder why I didn’t get more calls or texts (which, yes, is super dumb and petty, but try explaining that to my Id). Or more birthday cards. My husband has an unparalleled record for amazing gifts, but somehow the fact that my family typically doesn’t go in for birthday gifts will still bother me. This is despite knowing that there are 5 adult kids in my family, plus 3 spouses, 1 girlfriend, and now 5 grandbabies, which is just a TON of people to keep track of let alone afford cards/gifts for. It’s actually kind of nice that there isn’t that pressure to get something for everyone for every occasion because when I do manage to get bday cards sent, I feel like a superstar and not like it’s some obligatory thing.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to go all negative about this so I hope you stuck with me through the moping. I wanted to approach this year a little differently to maybe alleviate that inexplicable post-bday let-down.

First, to address that lack of BIG CHANGE between 33 and 34. Let’s be honest, in the grand scheme of your life not a lot changes over a year. You, as a person, are pretty much set by the time 30 hits. But on the other hand, so much can change for you. This time last year, I had a newborn and I was clinging to sanity like Gandalf hanging off the bridge in Khazad-Dum. Did I let go to go fight the Balrog? No, because I stayed sane and didn’t have time for smoting my enemies and getting reborn with new threads. Now, I have a toddler who is mobile (understatement) and a daily/nightly challenge. Am I the same mother I was last year? HA, no. I am a little bit more confident even if I am still vastly intimidated by the tasks that lie ahead (17 more years of them, yikes).

And last year, I was still trying to integrate Mom into my personality. I recently saw a meme about how having kids doesn’t make the person you used to be disappear or some shite.

My friend (mother of 6) who posted it was pissed and at first I didn’t get why. It seemed like the normal inspirational drivel I usually scroll on by, but I’m new to the whole Mom game still and there was some context I wasn’t privy to. Anyway, the woman I was 2 years ago, before I was even pregnant, is kind of a stranger to me now. Weird, right? I mean, she’s still there, utterly confused by how difficult it is for me to get a pedicure on a whim. But I can’t seem to see her as me anymore? And I don’t want to go back to being her. I sometimes wish I could, on bad days or long nights. Just, not really. If I could get a full night’s sleep, crochet all day and still get my happy boy, that’s the deal I’d take. So yes, that person matters, but only because I couldn’t exist now without her. There’s no going back to her. No giving up Momming to indulge the illusion. Having a kid changes you because you must or they die.

Good grief, this is getting all over the place. This year qualifies as a BIG CHANGE year for me, but every year can do that if you just tally up all the little ways you have grown, whether emotional or psychological, or whatever. Every moment you are alive is BIG.

As for the gifts and cake and filling that void, well, I have a cupboard full of chocolate. My hubby got me the writing seminar with Neil Gaiman (SQUEE). My good friend is making me a super cool bag. My boy now plays by himself during the day so I can get crochet done again. And the universe has been plentiful with blessings.

To wit:

Tim Curry narrates the audiobooks for Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

2 of my good friends just had healthy babies, one on Buddy Boy’s birthday.

I am alive and in shape (round is a shape, I checked).

I have a decent, caring husband who does dishes and vacuums and folds laundry and plays with his son.

Our tax refund is enough to pay for a flight home this summer so our boy can meet all his cousins and aunties and uncles.

Captain Marvel was pretty great.

I could go on. And so could you. The world is filled with awful, more every day. Take time to remember the good if you can. It won’t fix anything, but it can make things bearable for a time.

Now go forth and enjoy my birthday!

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It’s the Little Things


Nothing is ever gained by reading the comments.

I’d like that inscribed my gravestone. Or on the plaque marking the tree growing out of my remains.

It never fails. Read an inspiring article or personal account or harrowing experience, maybe something I relate to on a deeply personal level. Feel validated or vindicated. This person gets it. I’m not alone in this thought or philosophy or experience. Just don’t read the comments.

Don’t do it.

You’ll regret it.

Well, the ones I can see are all positive so maybe I’ll just scroll down a little…

Damnit. I hate people.

It’s not just the Trolls. Those are easy to pick out. Look at me! Making libtards/snowflakes/sjws/whatever fight me in the comments is the only way my tiny dick gets hard. NOT ALL MEN! WHOO!

The non sequiturs are annoying. I didn’t read the post, but I fully agree/disagree for a long paragraph that has nothing to do with anything. Please validate me because the cats don’t cuddle me as much as I thought they would.

It’s tragic that you lost your baby months before it was born, but we prayed really hard and our friend’s daughter didn’t have a Down Syndrome baby so it’s a good thing they didn’t abort.

The “I support you but not how you express yourself/protest” comments.

The “that’s not how I handled a dissimilar situation” comments.

The “My story is so much worse, let me prove it” comments.

I think, after much consideration, the worst comments are Dismissives.

Yes, it is awful that some stranger harassed you on the subway and women face this blatant disrespect EVERY DAY, but get over it because there are starving children in China. I hope you’re happy that we don’t live in a country were female genitals are ritually mutilated and you’re allowed to leave your house without a male escort.

I’m sorry that your rapist went unpunished, but there is an island of trash in the Pacific and 16 species of bee went extinct in the last ten minutes. So, you know, get over it.

Ok, yes. There are a lot of problems in the world, but how exactly does pointing that out help? Does snidely tacking on #firstworldproblems when people are harassed or bullied or triggered make anything better?

It’s such a little issue in the grand scheme of things, why did you waste the time to complain?

Well I say, eff that jazz. When you’re hurting, you may think it helps to remember that others have it worse. Well, it doesn’t. Your pain is unique to you, there’s no scale you have to measure up to before you qualify to feel pain or anger or fear. “You must be this traumatized to ride the Shitty Life Roller Coaster.” Bull. Shit.

We are all trying to get by. I’m trying to save the planet by ditching straws and buying package-free products and recycling bottles and paper scraps even though I know I can never make up for the sheer magnitude of 100 years of industrial waste. And everything I do to help the environment is usually just as bad as not helping. (Like buying a hybrid or electric car to reduce my carbon footprint only to find that building and shipping that car caused so much pollution that I’d have to drive it for 1000 years just to break even.)

I’m hoping to raise my son to treat all people with respect, even while judges refuse to hold grown men accountable for raping preteens because they took money from him so they were the aggressors. And women saying it’s better to thank a catcaller because ignoring them can cause escalation from friendly flirtation to murder, even though catcalling is totally harmless. And people are more pissed off about aborting dead babies and kneeling athletes than black kids being shot for wearing hoodies.

How am I supposed to protect my son from toxic masculinity if you think it’s what bought him his freedom? How do I explain Conversion Therapy and 22 veteran suicides a day? How much damage will I have to undo when you tell him that boys don’t cry? Don’t be a pussy. That’s gay. Man up. Remember, son, your problems are insignificant, so stop bitching and go chop some wood and threaten to rape a girl because she’s playing a video game.

How about instead of telling a girl that a random stranger yelling that he’d totally fuck her is a compliment, we tell boys that catcalls are a threat? And asking for a hug is a subtle way of reminding women that if you wanted to, you could rape her behind a dumpster and leave her for dead because you have great swim times.

To return to my point, it is an ugly world out there. But we aren’t going to fix it by pointing at the ugly and yelling at people to get over their issues. If we don’t fix the little problems, we’re screwed.

To quote the late great, Aretha Franklin: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

That means you don’t treat people like things. Even if you disagree with their politics. Even if you feel attracted to them. Even if you can’t see their faces. Stop responding to criticism with insults. Stop adding to their suffering to make yourself feel more important or righteous. Stop blaming victims for their abuse. Just stop being assholes. Don’t be a pretentious twat waffle. Why is that so hard?

Maybe if we start respecting people again, we can start respecting other things.

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No Buts: How to be an Ally


I’ve had a red letter week for trolling. First, I managed to shame my own mother into taking down a blog post just because she happened to touch on a personal failing I’m sensitive about. Sorry, again, Mom.

Second, I had my first unfriending. Or she blocked me. Not really sure which. I’m strangely proud of this last accomplishment. I mean, I’m a narcissist. Everyone must like me or else what’s the point. And yet here I am, not mired in self-doubt or anxiety.

Let’s set the stage, shall we? Scrolling through the Facebook yesterday, I saw a post from a college friend stating an unpopular opinion about a subject I’m heavily vested in. And she ended her post with the warning that arguing with her was pointless since it wouldn’t change her mind.

Now, I don’t normally engage in debates on social media. When someone challenges the world like that they aren’t looking for debate. They’re looking for validation. You can bury them in facts all day and they’ll cling to their opinion because it’s a matter of pride. I’m well aware of the pointlessness of such discussions. But the entire post raised my hackles.

Ok, says I, I’ll just comment my experience and go.

Long story short, I tried and failed to either stay out of it or make any dent in her view. As was bound to happen. My experience didn’t matter to her because she wasn’t talking about me specifically. Nor did my expertise on the subject since she just latched on to the information she already knew. In the end it was agree to disagree and that’s the end of it.

Except of course that wasn’t the end of it. I was PISSED. I did my best to remain polite, keep things civil, but the things she said in her OP, responding to my comments, and to other comments just kept circling around in my head until I knew a blog had to happen so I could exorcise the demon. I was going to take her post, break it down point by point and get to the root of what bothered me so much about it.

She took down the post first. Followed it up with a thanks for the lolz, y’all didn’t change my mind even though I read and fully understood all your arguments, and clearly you dissenters just didn’t understand what I meant.

Guys. This is me. LIVID. A: I don’t have the OP or my comments so I can’t fix this bug in my brain. B: She impugned my reading comprehension. (Not by name, but she grouped everyone who disagreed with her into the category of deliberately misunderstanding her.) C: She dismissed everything people had been trying to tell her because she’s entitled to her own opinion and they just didn’t get it. Lolz.

LIVID. So, like the mature adult I am, I posted on my page a crude, boiled down summary of her OP, quoting her out of context and as best I could from memory, and included her inference that my reading comprehension was to blame. Then I tagged my former English professors and some people who had classes with me. I didn’t mention her name or tag her or anything. Still a dick move, I admit that.

Let me tell you, the responses were quite gratifying. Even when she popped up and called me a liar for misrepresenting her. Of course, no one would have known I was talking about her if she hadn’t said anything. And sadly, her response only made her look worse to an audience I had already biased against her. The best response would have been to share her original post and leave it at that or just PM me. Sadly, she did neither and was ridiculed by my well-meaning and frightfully educated friends.

And I bet you’re DYING to know what we were arguing about. I’m not going to tell you. Because this is a post about How to be an Ally and if I tell you the inciting incident, we’ll end up debating it. Or the rage will take over.

How to be an Ally.

What is an Ally? Well, that’s simply someone who supports a cause even if they aren’t directly impacted by it. Straight people advocating for LGBT+ rights. White people supporting the Civil Rights Movement. Men supporting women’s rights. Cat people donating to dog shelters.

Now this young woman claimed to be supportive of a cause. Except she stated point blank there was no reason to demonstrate or protest for the cause since she had never witnessed the type of discrimination that was being protested. Strike one. Then she casually dismissed the struggles of the people affected by said discrimination (so casually she didn’t even realize she’d done it). Strike two. Then she made her support conditional on said people adhering to her standards of morality and common sense. Strike three.

Not. An. Ally.

Rule #1: If you want to be an Ally, don’t add a caveat to your support. Read this very carefully.

I’m all for (insert social movement here), but only if they all wear orange socks on Tuesdays.

That sounds ridiculous, yes? Well so does telling someone you support them but only so long as you can dictate the means by which they advocate for themselves. “I just don’t like how they’re protesting” is essentially “my comfort is more important than those people.” Not “their cause.” PEOPLE. Dismissing the validity of a movement should be conditional on the issues, not how attention is brought to them.

Rule #2: No Modest Proposals. Some of you may remember a post I did on the little word “just.” It’s an insidious modifier which manages to transform Herculean tasks into mere trifles. “If they would just (insert seemingly simple solution to complex issue) I would support them. It’s not that hard.” Here’s a famous satirical example: if the Irish just ate their babies, they wouldn’t be starving. Congrats, you’re blaming the victim for being abused. How very noble of you. You’re also claiming that you know better than they do what they’re fighting for and how they should go about it.

Let’s be clear, any form of protest is met with the same arguments as stated above. Non-violent protesters are tazed, maced, and run over by cars, despite claims that non-violence is the only path to social reform. Ah, well, they must have been doing it wrong, eh? Bottom line: it isn’t the form of protest that bothers those people. They just need the excuse to dismiss the issue because it makes them uncomfortable to question the status quo. And, yeah, that’s pretty harsh. But so is telling a mother her child was probably shot dead for a reason. Conditional support is not support.

Which takes us to the most disturbing part of the OP. The cause is bs, there is no need to “normalize” because it is already normal.

Rule #3: Don’t claim the cause you support is made up.

I have not personally experienced racism, so we live in a post-racial society.

I’ve never met an anti-vaxxer, so the world-wide rise in deadly diseases is probably a fluke.

I’ve never been to China so it doesn’t exist.

Not experiencing discrimination does not mean it doesn’t happen. Just means it doesn’t happen to you. And it’s incredibly insulting to say, especially if you will never have to deal with that discrimination being directed at you. It speaks to a wealth of ignorance on the subject. Imagine having a white person say that racism is a myth and explaining quite calmly that if black people just followed the law, they wouldn’t get gunned down in the street. Oh, wait. I was going for hyperbole and completely missed the mark.

Okay, I don’t suffer from seasonal allergies, but my husband does. Honestly, though, why does he need allergy meds? Why can’t he just stay inside? There’s no point in him going out there to prove it’s an issue. He’s just breaking out in hives to get attention. Nobody’s making him leave the house.

Furthermore, just because you aren’t against a cause doesn’t mean no one is. No, maybe you haven’t personally lynched anyone lately. Guess that means the KKK is totally irradicated. Your support doesn’t magically mean that the struggle is over and overt claims of that kind tell those people you “support” two things. First, you don’t actually know anything about what they’re advocating for. Second, they should be grateful you are gracing them with your approbation at all since it saves them from needing to advocate further for their rights. I’ve never pushed you into traffic. You’re welcome.

Hmmm. Thanks, but no thanks.

To reiterate, don’t use social media to undermine the cause. Don’t blast away on Facebook about how supportive you are unless you actually mean it. And don’t dismiss a cause as bs just because you disagree with the form of protest. Is anyone making you go around with your boobs exposed to protest discrimination against breastfeeding mothers and the sexualization of feeding infants? No? Do you have a neck with functioning vertebrae? Good. Use it to turn your head away like a mature adult.

Breastfeeding in public is the tip of the excruciating iceberg for some mothers in their struggle feed their children in a society that actively encourages them to quit. They fight through latch issues, engorgement, tongue/lip ties, mastitus, nursing strikes, chafed/cracked nipples, biting, yeast infections, under-supply, allergies, and a million other exhausting, painful, and often terrifying circumstances. And that’s just the physical obstacles to simply nursing, without counting the added strain of months of sleep deprivation and wildly fluctuating hormones. If they have 9-5 jobs, they drag pumps to work and diligently pump every 2 hours because if they don’t they risk drying up, even though it’s probably hurting their career. They lecture child care facilities on pace feeding and dispute policies restricting breast milk to babies under a year old. They spend hours crying over their child because it shouldn’t be this hard. They argue with doctors who tell them to switch to formula because it’s easier than diagnosing a problem. They argue with family and friends who tell them that’s it’s weird and gross. And they listen to moronic people who have never done it tell them how to breastfeed. Just use a cover? I’m sorry, my son isn’t an effing doll. He doesn’t like being covered and I can either feed him or worry about your delicate sensibilities. Guess which one is my priority.

Your misguided and ignorant judgment of nursing mothers is repulsive and I’ll ask you to keep your juvenile opinions where they belong: with the rest of the trash.

Oops, I guess I let slip the inciting incident. Probably best that she blocked me.

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On Raising Babies


What is it like, having a baby?

Well, the actual having part has been documented quite thoroughly, from the making to the birthing (though the accuracy is quite lacking if you ask me).  And there are any number of humorous RomComs and straight comedies about adults coming face to face with infants as a reality (oh, a grown man has to change a diaper, how hilariously unexpected!!!).  Besides Hollywood’s take, there is the experience that most of the planet has first hand.  I guess it’s kind of expected that the knowing comes with the experience.  Or something.

Forgive me if I’m sounding a bit spacey.  I haven’t slept for more than 2 hrs straight in nearly 4 months.  No amount of napping seems to make up for that.

Anyway, I finally found the correct metaphor for how it feels with my son on a day to day basis.  It’s very much like running a race.  Actually, it’s like running 3 races.

Everyday, from the time my husband goes to work at around 7 or 8 until he gets home at 5:30 or 6, I run a marathon.  But it’s a cross country marathon where the terrain changes daily and I’m not sure about the route or how long the race will last.  It’s broken up into segments by feedings (still every 2 hrs) and diaper changes, but that’s pretty much my day.  When he’s not eating, he’s either napping (on me) or playing or fussing.  The fussing intensity varies, but in the last few weeks he’s started to fuss when he’s tired and needs a nap.  He will cry for a while, I don’t know how long really, while we walk him around the house and sing or shush.  Then he will fall asleep for an indeterminate amount of time.  That is what he is doing now, which is why I have the time to write.  If it’s almost feeding time and he gets that nap fuss going, we’ll try to distract him with play until it’s time to eat because nursing usually puts him down.  But if we feed him early he just gets pissed off.

When Buddy gets home, the race becomes a relay where we pass him off to each other for various reasons.  “Take him, I need a shower.”  “Give him so you can wash dishes.”  “I can’t take the crying, you’re it.”  And back and forth as we do chores or recharge.  This is also the main race during the weekends, though I guess that’s more of a co-race situation since we tend to spend as much time doing stuff together with him as apart.  The most romantic thing Buddy has done since Buddy Boy was born was offer to take him to the commissary without me.  I hadn’t gotten to sleep until 4am for no reason and he wanted to let me nap without someone kicking me every few minutes.  I ended up dream-feeding (feeding him while both of us doze) the boy for a few extra hours and we went to the commissary together, but it was still most sweet.

Which takes us to the last race: sprints.  Or what most people casually call running errands.  We aren’t really racing against time or anything, but it does feel like we are carrying a time bomb in the stroller.  Like I said, he eats every 2 hours.  So at most we have an hour and a half to run errands before he starts fussing for feeding.  Sometimes we can push this further because he tends to sleep in the car.  But there’s no way to know if he’s actually going to sleep or if he’s going to stubbornly stay awake.  Even if he’s not crying, he’s still not getting a nap that he might need.  And once he’s out of the car, it’s a gamble as to whether he’ll stay asleep or wake up.  Most recently he’s been waking up as soon as we leave the car, which means it really is a race to see how much we can get done before he goes NOPE to the whole experience.  So we no longer spend whole Saturdays running all over creation, browsing and window shopping, etc.  My errand running is brutally efficient so I can get him back home to eat.

You may wonder why I don’t do longer trips and just feed in public.  I have a few reasons, actually.  For practical reasons, I like to split my errands up into multiple days because if I don’t get out of the house every day, I go a little bonkers.  Another reason is that it is such a time suck.  He takes 30 minutes to feed, if he feels like it.  If he is hot, uncomfortable, or ornery, it takes longer and is no guarantee that he will stop fussing and let me finish shopping.  So I go through all the effort and just end up spending more time doing errands rather than getting home where I can feed him in comfort.  The second is that it is ungainly/difficult.  I never realized how un-sitting friendly everywhere is.  I personally don’t want to stand in the middle of an aisle trying to hold up a squirming bowling ball for 30 minutes.  Because, yes he squirms and he weighs the same as a bowling ball.  A very large, squishy bowling ball.  It’s bad enough if I do find a nice place to sit because then I have to handle a crying baby on my lap while I try to un-holster a boob, get my nipple shield on (I have flat nipples so we need the help for latching), and get him positioned, all why holding on to a bare modicum of decency under a cover-up so some stranger doesn’t get a free shot of my nipple.  And then it’s not like he just goes all comatose once he’s on there.  He squirms and kicks and twitches his head around and cries, I have to adjust him and the shield and hope that he settles, but not so much so that he falls asleep before he’s done eating because then he’ll just wake up 15 min later crying because he’s still hungry and I’m STILL not done in Target.  All while people watch and judge me.

If I’m worried about decency, why not feed him in the privacy of a bathroom?  I’m so glad you asked.  First, I’m not worried about covering up that much.  Covering up is an inconvenience that I will do if I feel like it.  My modesty will extend only to where it is convenient.  So if I can’t get him to latch or if it is making him too hot or if I just don’t feel like it, the cover is going to stay in the bag and you’ll just have to deal with it.  Once he’s latched, there isn’t much to see anyway since I use the 2-shirt method (tank top pulled down under a t-shirt pulled up).  Second, bathrooms are GROSS.  Public bathrooms, private bathrooms, doesn’t matter.  They’re gross.  I have fed my son in a bathroom a couple of times, once because there was simply no place to sit in the store and again in the family bathroom which I mistakenly thought might have a seat in it.  Both times were awful.  I gotta ask the people who suggest bathrooms as feeding places whether they have ever been in a public bathroom before.  I mean, none of the toilets have lids, for starters.  That means there’s no place to sit.  I might have been able to feed standing when he was really little, but Buddy Boy is well over 15 lbs now and I’m a tiny weak person.  I’ve been in a splint for tendinitis in my right thumb because of picking him up repeatedly.  He is, what some nice lady phrased, a pork chop.  No lids on toilets also means that when they flush, all the stuff in the water becomes a lovely mist that covers up to 10 feet of the surrounding area.  So, yeah, gross effing germs on EVERYTHING.

I want a little privacy so you all don’t stare at me while he whines and struggles and in general is a little butt-face while I’m trying to provide him with life-giving sustenance.  I don’t get that privacy when I go out into the wide world because breastfeeding friendly spaces are simply not a priority.  That’s fine.  That just means I sprint through my errands.

There you have it, the three modes I travel in now.  The problems I tend to face stem from me forgetting what race I’m in.  I forget that in a relay, I can pass the torch when I get tired.  Or I get to the middle of the afternoon and realize I’ve been sprinting instead of pacing myself and the next hour or two before Buddy gets home is going to be rough.  Or we get stuck at every stoplight on the drive home while Buddy Boy cries inconsolably because we treated errands like a marathon.  I suppose the hardest adjustment we’ve had to make is accepting that it will be a continuous race for YEARS.  There’s no actual breaks, no time to waste.  We can’t just blow off a Saturday and be lazy because that was the ONLY chance we had to get the lawn done.  Or fold the laundry.  Or whatever.  If I can’t sleep at night, I feed my boy and then do some chores.  That might be at 2:00am.  But then I can spend most of the morning just feeding him in bed while we both finish sleeping.  We are tired in bone and body.   But I’m frankly not as tired as I expected to be.  Well, not physically tired.

I am frequently emotionally tired, psychologically tired, just tired.  I get tired of being a mother, being the soul provider all day long, being the responsible one.  I get tired of not knowing why he’s crying without guessing.  I get tired of not doing what I want to do whenever I want to do it (to include eating and peeing).  I get tired of waiting to see what he’s going to do, what his mood is, what he feels up to.  So I pass him off to my loving husband for a little bit, sometimes as little as 10 minutes is enough.  I do my pumping or read a chapter of Harry Potter and I can retake the mantle of Mommy.

It’s funny how often in the first 3 months I lost my temper.  Found myself yelling profanities at my son because I just snapped.  He needed a fresh diaper when I thought he was still hungry.  Or he couldn’t get settled on the boob, either because he was too tired or just not hungry enough, and I just wanted him to eat and go to sleep.  Not really funny HAHA, but funny.  Because one second I would be furious, to the point where I’d have to put him down IMMEDIATELY and the next second I’d be holding him determined to figure out what he needed.  I felt very Jekyll and Hyde.  I still get frustrated now, it never goes away.  My fuse is very short.  That doesn’t stop me wanting to hold him, cuddle him, make him smile.

What I’m trying to say is it’s not all kitties and rainbows and humorously messy diapers.  It’s good days and bad days and just days.  And we go one day at a time.  Honestly, what other choice do we have?

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Dear Maternity Retailers


This is an important message for retailers that sell maternity products.

WHAT THE EFF IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?

Here’s the thing.  Pregnancy is a temporary condition, okay?  I know you’re selling “specialty products” which means you should be able to ask more.  And if what you sold was worth the price you charged, I would be on board 100%.  But quite frankly, a majority of your crap is not worth the price and you are all severely lacking in products that I considered no-brainers despite this being my first rodeo.

If you look on Pinterest, you will find an incredible collection of useful blogs built upon DIY pregnancy projects.  Why?  Because no one wants to spend $40 on an infinity scarf/nursing cover when literally 5 min on a sewing machine with scrap jersey knit gives you the same results.  And is there anything worse than shelling out a ton of money (more than $20) on jeans that you KNOW will only be worn while pregnant?  I won’t deny that my maternity jeans were the most comfortable to wear the last 2 months and made me feel the most normal.  A giant jersey band holding your pants up will do that for you.  However, if they hadn’t been a gift from my most generous and considerate MIL, I would not have bothered getting a pair.  One pair, on sale, cost $20.  And at the thrift store, I bought 4 pairs of jeans for $5 a pop in larger sizes that were easily adapted to maternity use via elastic hair bands at the buttons and a belly band ($9 at Target) to cover my sins.  No, it wasn’t ideal.  Yes, I did have to spend an inordinate amount of time pulling up my pants and adjusting the belly band to cover up the fact that I hadn’t done up a zipper in 4 months.  But with the looming costs of actually having a baby resting firmly in the back of my head, 4 pairs of jeans for the price of 1 was easy Math.  Also, those thrift store jeans had pockets.  The maternity jeans, for reasons I can’t begin to fathom, had NO FRONT POCKETS.

I have seen jeans with false back pockets.  Even the cutest pair, regardless of how well it fits, will hit the reject pile for false back pockets.  False front pockets are simply an insult.

I don’t know if retailers actually look at social media or if they just dump their ads and run, but if they did they might notice that the entirety of the female population WANTS POCKETS.  In pants, in dresses, in leggings, in bras.  EVERYWHERE.  Now, I know what you’re thinking, retailers.  “If we give them pockets, they won’t buy purses!”  WRONG, MOFO.  We love our purses.  We will never stop buying purses.  You never know when you’re going to need a book, a back-up book, three skeins of yarn, 4 tampons, an inflatable pillow, and a screwdriver.  YOU JUST DON’T KNOW.  Unless cargo pants come back into style, your purse revenues are safe.  You know what I do know for sure?  There is no place for keys in a purse.  Outside pockets, inside pockets, hanging off a bejeweled hook, they always end up in a black hole somewhere just out of reach, especially if it is dark, cold, and I’m alone in parking lot trying to get into my car.  Also, purses are not affixed to our persons.  I have work keys.  When I don’t have pockets, I have to put those keys in my purse.  And every time I had to open a cabinet at work, I would drag myself up, waddle over to the cabinet, remember that my keys were in my purse on the ground, waddle back, *deep breath* BEND OVER *groan, retrieve purse, retrieve keys, forget what I was going to the cabinet for, realize it didn’t matter since I had to pee and the bathroom is at the other end of the store, speed waddle to the bathroom, and sit on the toilet for five minutes reassessing my life choices.  Why would you add extra stress to someone already struggling under emotional, psychological, hormonal, and physical distress?  HOW COULD YOU BE SO RECKLESS?!?

My point is, all it takes to be a hero is pockets.

Here are some things I was baffled by in the maternity departments/stores.

Maternity Skinny Jeans.  I get skinny jeans, in theory.  They don’t really work for me, but clearly lots of people dig them and I’m not here to judge.  Skinny jeans when I am feeling like a manatee already, I don’t know.

Maternity Holey Jeans.  This is actually just a pet peeve of mine with all jeans.  I do not want jeans that have been artificially worn thin.  If my jeans have holes in them, I want them to be made by years of wear and tear, not for aesthetics.  And considering how much some retailers charge for this particular fashion choice, I feel like I’m being charged twice as much for denim that will only last half as long.

Body-Shaping Hosiery. Because Gawd FORBID I walk around growing a human being and have any sign of jiggly thighs.  Now, some of that hosiery claims to have built-in belly support, which is admittedly very important for most kinds of pregnancy.  I carried high, so the I didn’t need the support belts or anything similar to protect my lower back.  It was my ribs that suffered and strangely enough, none of the “support” apparel focus on controlling the boobs (more on this later).

Lacey Nursing Bras. Again, I don’t get lacey bras to begin with.  Adding lingerie touches to a bra and charging $40 for it without also offering ANY kind of economic alternative for the person who can’t afford to drop 3 bills to replace at least a week’s worth of normal bras with nipple accessible bras, well that’s just a bit cruel.  And I guarantee that my little guys couldn’t give two figs about how cute/sexy my bra is as long as it gives him access to the almighty boob.

Here are some things I think should be sold in maternity departments/stores.

Compression Socks.  Poor circulation is a common problem in the 3rd trimester: ankles and feet swollen and sore so that walking around feels like strolling on bruises.  You look down at your feet and despite having them elevated for hours they still look like someone attached a bicycle pump to your heel and didn’t turn off the air.  It is uncomfortable and worrying to look at.  So why is it in a store dedicated to pregnancy apparel, with it’s plethora of cute dresses and lacy nursing bras I couldn’t find a single pair of compression socks?  I had to get mine from Walgreens.  They are functional, but ugly and make me wary of getting too close to any of the many retirement communities around here just in case someone tries to pick me up.  Would cute compression socks be weird?  Weirder than skinny maternity jeans?

Bra/Underwear Subscriptions.  Within the first month of pregnancy, I had out-grown my bras.  So I bought some larger conventional bras that seemed supportive enough and didn’t have under wires, as I was already dealing with rib discomfort.  Then I grew out of those.  And the next set.  I eventually switched to sports bras, first mediums, then larges.  The same thing happened with underwear, by the way. I stocked up on one size larger and then barely a week later had to stock the next size up.   And I don’t know about everyone else, but I can’t just buy 2 bras.  I’m proud that I limited myself to a dozen sports bras (6 med, 6 lg) since I normally prefer at least enough undergarments for 2 weeks.  And that’s just the regular bras.  You can’t buy nursing bras before your milk comes in.  That would be stupid.  Not to mention how much of a jinx that would feel.  There is no stage of pregnancy wherein you are “in the clear.”  Bad stuff happens and I certainly didn’t want to tempt fate by stocking up on nursing bras, even if I could predict how big the boobs would get.  What I didn’t see in any maternity store was 10-packs of sleeping bras, sports bras, extra elastic underwear, or any kind of economic option so that I didn’t feel like I was stealing from my unborn child just to relieve chronic pain and the inevitable expansion of my booty.  If we can’t offer mega packs of underwear that can be guiltlessly bought and discarded during pregnancy, how about a subscription so I can exchange bras as the mams grow?

Breast Support.  And if we’re going to offer “shapewear” for my thighs and belly, how about something for breasts that isn’t focused on making them look sexier.  I don’t care if your product makes them look perkier or pushes them into unnatural shapes.  I wanted a product that was supportive enough that I could sleep on my side (as is medically recommended) without feeling like I was detaching a rib from my spine.  I did try sleeping with sports bras and the elastic band around my rib cage actually exacerbated the problem.  This product, if it existed, would ideally be tank-top-shaped with support bands running around the sides of the breasts, along the sides of the ribs and under the belly.  Or something.  I’m not an expert.

So to recap, how about instead of only offering cute products, we look at the practical side of pregnancy.  Because I guarantee I’m not the only woman who saw the impending costs of a newborn and started looking immediately on how she could curtail her spending by hitting thrift stores and making her own “maternity” clothing.  I actually swore I wouldn’t be wasting any money on “maternity” clothes and the only exception was the bulk purchases of cheap maternity tanks from Target that are longer than my normal camis and will be used until they fall completely apart, pregger or not. I mean, it’s great that you all want to gouge customers for impractical vanity products, but could you maybe consider that you could make a killing selling products specifically created to alleviate the discomfort of pregnancy?  You know, besides the $60 body pillows and serious looking belly support braces?

Any other practical suggestions from my pregger peeps?

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Platypus Update: Week 38 + 3 days


Well, it’s been a while.  I hope none of you were worried.  The fact is, I didn’t have much to add that was new and I didn’t want to turn my blog into a COMPLAIN DRAIN.

I am now, officially, in the “any day now” stage.  They guestimate a due date based on the date of your last period and adjust it if necessary when you get your first ultrasound based on the size of the fetus.  But really, the due date is just the middle of a 4 week time period where baby can just decide it’s ready and only 5% of births happen on their due date (like my sister > don’t you feel special?).

I get asked a lot if I’m done.  Which is a silly question, to be honest.  Obviously I’m not done because I still have a person in me.  Am I done wanting to be pregnant?  Well, yeah.  But that’s been true since August.  I never wanted to be pregnant.  I wanted to have a baby.  You don’t want to go to culinary school, but you do because you want to be a chef.  You don’t want to take a driver’s test, but you do because you want your license.  Make sense?  Am I ready to be done?  Well, yes.  HOWEVER, I am not done.

This has to do with muscle failure.  When I first joined the Army, I could almost do 5 push-ups.  On my first PT test, I did 13, the minimum to pass.  On the second PT test, they made it abundantly clear that the goal was to do better than last time, so I managed 14 push-ups.  I still got smoked because one rep is not exactly improvement.  Before my last PT test, my DS explained the mentality behind muscle failure.  If you go in with a number in your head, there is little chance you will exceed that number.  Your brain will tell your body to quit once it hits that number and it will.  So for my last PT test, instead of thinking that I only needed 13 or only needed to do better than 13, I went in thinking the number 42 as that is the maximum goal for 18 yo females.  I did 27.  No, I didn’t hit my goal number, but I nearly doubled what I had done just a month before without changing my exercise regimen at all.  Thereafter, I had a sequence in my head (20, 10, 5, 5, 2) and the number 42 in big bold type when I got down on that mat.  And it worked.

So right now I have a date in my head.  It’s my due date, but with sort of a fuzzy caveat that any day the week after is fine.  Because I don’t want my brain to tell me I’m at muscle failure just because I’ve hit a randomly chosen goal.  Muscle failure at this point would be VERY BAD.  It would mean giving up on caring about what I eat or whether or not I get anything done during the day.  It would mean staying in bed all day and getting depressed and anxious and frustrated.  These are not things I want to do.  They are added stressors on a body and mind already pretty stressed.

Therefore, I am continuing to put in my 12 hrs a week at my job.  It’s not a hard job and it gets me out of the house.  And I’m still going to most of my yarn groups (3 times a week) and I am planning lessons with students through next week.  I am tired, yes, and I am ambling much slower these days because everything is uncomfortable and I get winded if I forget that my normal walking pace was normal 40 lbs ago.  I am also wearing very sexy compression socks on a daily basis to keep my toes from going all piggy (I’ve started avoiding retirement communities so I don’t get catcalled).  I almost got stuck behind the washing machine door this morning and rolling off the couch makes me feel more and more like a beached whale every day.  None of my rings fit.  My ankles and wrists are stiff and sore.  And I am peeing EVEN MORE FREQUENTLY, if you can believe it, since Platypus has started moving south.  On the plus side, this means my rib discomfort, while still apt to flair up, isn’t a constant nagging irritation and I’ve even been able to stand lying on my side for short intervals!

But I am not done.  I won’t be done until he is because I simply can’t allow my brain to tell my body to give up.  And I really hope he sticks to his due date because St. Patty’s Day is an awesome birthday.

If you’re wondering about that whole “nesting” thing that’s supposed to be happening, I get about 30 min of hyper-productiveness followed by 2 hrs of naptime.  And my nesting is not the “scrub everything to within an inch of its life” kind.  Mine is checking and rechecking packing lists, reading all the packets and guidelines I got from my Prenatal Group Classes, organizing boxes of baby clothes, sending out thank you cards, and (last weekend) making 2 months worth of crockpot freezer meals in an afternoon.  Otherwise, I’m just restless, which is another reason to keep working.  Sitting at home for days at a time makes me edgy and, surprisingly, crochet isn’t cutting it for keeping me chill.

Notes on things not to say to pregnant women (most of these you probably know):

Wow, you look about done!  (What the eff is that supposed to mean? My belly button is still an innie, thank you very much.)

Are you having twins?  (Even if you are joking, I will stab you in the neck.)

Here’s a horrible story I heard from a friend of mine about her delivery.  (I have heard all the horror stories.  I requested all the stories because I wanted to know what I was getting into.  You, stranger, are not going to shock me or scare me or whatever.  Frankly, I’m bored because this isn’t even in the top ten of awful I’ve heard.  I will take firsthand accounts, though.  All info is useful, even if it’s just confirming that I’m better off already.)

Should you be eating/drinking that? (I haven’t actually heard this one.  Which is also why I’m not in prison for murder right now.)

Are you ready?  (No.  Is anyone?)

Pretty much the best policy is to tell me I’m beautiful and give me cookies.  Oh, and know that pregnancy rage is a real beast which can attack at any time.  I have no power over this.

If you are anywhere near a pregnant woman right now, tell her she’s beautiful and give her a box of GS cookies.  I guarantee that she needs it.

 

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Platypus Update – 30 wks


You may be wondering why you haven’t heard from me.  Or you may not.  I’ve been rather dreading this post.

“But why?” you ask.  Am I not enjoying the beauty and majesty of this little miracle?  Am I not daily struck with awe that there is a future person growing fingernails and eyelashes and a central nervous system out of nothing but the supplies my own body provides?  Do I not stare in wonder at the mirror as my body changes to envelop this magical being?  Am I not suffused in that mystical glow of motherhood?

Well, duh.  Of course.  Except for the glow.  The glow is a fracking lie and I’ll fight anyone who says differently.

Now some of that joy and awe and wonder comes in the form of “my belly button looks weird” and “why are you kicking my bladder, I just peed” and “OH MY GAWD, MY STOMACH IS MOVING ON ITS OWN, I’M HAVING AN ALIEN.”  I promise you that I do just lay here with hands on stomach, constantly feeling that little pressure that could be a back or a foot or a hand.  I smile at funny hiccups and wake someone up on purpose just so I can feel that bizarre little squirm that reminds me of indigestion, but without the dread.  I mean, the dread is there, just for completely different reasons.

However, I told myself I would record honestly.  Not for your sake or the sake of future mothers or the sake of my child getting thoroughly embarrassed when I share these posts with prom dates.  I told myself that I wouldn’t allow selective memory to turn this experience into a glowy, fru-fru, fantasy, which ignores how much it can utterly suck.  That way, if we decide to do this again I can go in with the knowledge of exactly how much it sucked the first time.  The problem is in order for this to work, I have to share everything publicly.  Why?  Well, a private diary would accomplish the same thing as far as recording the events, I suppose.  But sharing the experience publicly is healthier for me emotionally.  And, yes, of course I tell people at work and prenatal group and Buddy all about everything (poor traumatized Buddy).  I just tend to temper some of my accounts, as we all do, so as not to sound whiney.

And I want to be clear before I start into the actual whining that I am in no way ungrateful that I am in the position to whine.  I am eminently aware that this is a miracle not granted to all, that it isn’t some kind of automatic privilege/penance for having a uterus, and that some people would kill to be in my position.  Countless women have been killed by my position.  Others live with a misplaced feeling of failure because their bodies will not accommodate their desire to be in my position.  Others have every right to despise me for having the option to simply get pregnant without any to-do and then have the nerve to complain that it isn’t all puppies and chocolate.

But it isn’t all puppies and chocolate.  It’s reality and it sucks.

There is no way to be comfortable.  Not sitting, not laying down, definitely not standing.  Back in October (4 months), I started experiencing pain in my ribs from standing.  At first it was standing for a few hours.  I would start to feel discomfort under my breasts, right where the band of my bra sits.  I tried changing bras a few times.  I tried belly support bands.  I tried Icy Hot and (doctor approved) pain killers.  Nothing would relieve it until it was a lovely white-hot brand of pain across my front and gradually leeching to my sides and back.  Now, I can stand for 5-10 minutes before it starts.  It isn’t just when standing, either.  If I sit or lay the wrong way (there is only one right way, btw), the pain is there.  And it hurts, it really does.  It feels like my inflamed gall bladder is being forced through my sternum, like my ribs are trying to secede from my spine, like my kid is claustrophobic and is pushing the walls out just to breath.  Even if the active pain isn’t going on, I can run my hands over the front of my ribs and they feel bruised.

Now, before you hit me with advice to try this remedy or that, or to tell my doctor or whatever, just slow your roll.  This is not a request for help.  I have talked to my midwife and nurse and they assure me that neither my gall bladder nor any other internal organs are trying to Xenomorph their way out of my sternum.  (If it was a problem with my gall bladder, there would be other rather obvious symptoms.)  This is just part of being pregnant.  My body is expanding to make space for a person and support system and it does that by forcing everything out of the way.  My ribs are simply in the way.  As for remedies, I have a microwavable sock filled with rice that helps a little.  Sometimes, I lay flat on my back to relieve the pressure, but that is not recommended for a few reasons (primarily the weight of my uterus possibly cutting off circulation to the rest of me, etc).  Besides, it hurts my back.

Yes, because if my front doesn’t hurt my back does.  And frequently they hurt together.  I spent part of my Christmas break sequestered in the guest bedroom of the In-Laws because I couldn’t get comfortable anywhere else.  If I did hang out in the living room, which features beautiful recliners and lots of pillows, by the end of the day I’d be wincing from every sudden movement.  Believe me, I tried.  So I stayed in the bedroom in my one (temporarily) comfortable position and tried to assure everyone that I was fine.  Seriously.  I’m fine.  I feel bad that I can’t socialize except at meals and for causing any undo concern for my welfare.  This is, apparently, part of the pregger cross I bear.

And it is definitely the worst part.  It makes life difficult.  There’s no such thing as leisurely wandering a store for an hour, pausing to contemplate labels or price tags or wait for someone to move from in front of the lemons.  The longer I’m in there, the more pain I’m in until I’m getting weird looks from people because I am sitting on the floor in the baking aisle to relieve it.  I suppose this is good training for when I’m trying to run errands with a baby/toddler/teenager, not that I’m dreading that at all.

And yes, you may poo-poo me for being bummed that shopping is a race rather than a meander.  You would be right, I suppose.  However, the other major issue is that I’ve had to give up working the floor in my retail job.  I still have my office work, but that is only 12 hours a week.  I know, I should be happy that I’m not pressing my nose to the grindstone for these last few weeks, that I have the option to relax a little, that I don’t live in a 3rd World Country where women work in the rice fields until the drop the baby in the patties.  But I am deeply selfish.  I don’t like losing the pay.  You see, babies are expensive.  And while Buddy has a stable job and good pay, that extra 13% I bring to the financials is a nice cushion for the disasters that are sure to come.

And having to tell my boss that I can’t do it anymore hurt my pride more than I care to admit.  So, hey, if you see me at work and you wonder why I’m not racing to the register to check you out, why I instead point to the call button that everyone walks by rather than to scan your stuff real quick, it’s because real quick hurts.  I pushed through it for the holidays, even bringing in a stool for the last week or so, but now I’m done with standing.  I’m sorry if that is inconvenient for you, but if you insist on making the pregnant woman ring you out to save you 5 min (especially the pregnant woman who isn’t wearing the standard uniform of salespersons, i.e. a bright green apron), then you can bet I have a very special set of vocabulary set aside for you in my head.

As I said, that is the worst of it.  I can’t work the floor.  Running quick errands is an endurance trial.  There is no way to be comfortable.  And I can’t sleep on my side, despite that being the recommended sleeping position and totally normal for me before I started growing a person.  I sleep sitting at a decline or half on my side with a pillow at my back.  Or I don’t sleep.

And in case you were wondering, I am aware that it’s only going to get worse.  I know that when there’s nothing else to say or when you’re speaking out of experience that this phrase is going to come up.  It is obviously only going to get worse.  For the next 18 years or more.  For the rest of my life perhaps.  But definitely for the next 10 weeks.  I wish there was something to be done or said.  Mostly though, I wish I could stop hearing this phrase.  Which means I should probably stop complaining as it does nobody no good.

My belly button looks weird.  Not in the “button popped, turkey is done” way (yet).  But some of it is seeing the light of day for the first time ever so I have an expanding circle of pale skin right in the middle of my freakish belly.  We don’t measure my growth by scale or tape measurer.  We measure by how shallow my belly button is.

I get nose bleeds more frequently now, too.  I know I’m not drinking enough water, despite having to pee every couple of hours.  Still.  I had to pause my yoga this morning for 10 min while I waited one out.  It was gross.  And I’ll continue to have intermittent nose bleeds for the next few days or so, mostly just a little red when I blow my nose, rarely a full on “grab the Kleenex and start making nose plugs until it stops.”  This is also normal.

And I need to blow my nose frequently because my compromised immune system has been fighting some cold or another for the last 6 months.  To the lady who came in on Black Friday and admitted to just recovering from bronchitis, I hope your cat gets into your craft room and marks all of your fabric and yarn, then yacks 16 hairballs on your sewing machine.

I wake up to pee at 4 in the morning.  Or rather, I wake up at 4 in the morning and then go to pee because I’m awake now so I might as well.  If my bladder does ever get full, it’s too late and I’m going to wet myself.  Thankfully, the bladder is a regular punching bag so it never has a chance to fill before someone thinks maybe 2 Tbs is too much to be carrying.

Amazingly, I haven’t had an uptick in migraines.  Which will change now that I’ve jinxed myself.

Also surprising, I haven’t really been making baby stuff.  My yarn groups have asked me what I’ve made so far and all I can say is that I made a shawl in Nov that will make a nice cover-up.  Yesterday I started making a floor mat for the nursery, but only because I ran out of yarn for the capelet and shirt projects I had started and I have to wait for more yarn to arrive.  And I made a bunch of little red newborn hats, but those were to donate to hospitals over the holidays.  My nesting instinct is not to make a bunch of cute stuff.  It’s to troll thrift stores for cheap onesies and make lists for what we still have to do.

Shout out to Buddy for putting up with this particular branch of my crazy.  We’ve been talking about big projects that we want to finish before the ARRIVAL, like bringing in pros to fix the back yard (clear the woods some, build a patio/deck, build a storage shed, etc).  And recently, the big nag in the back of my mind has been getting the nursery set up.  Even though the little bugger is going to be in our room for the first few months and it’s not like Platypus is even going to care if we get around to painting the walls.  Buddy has the entire nursery planned out in his head and on graph paper.  But I need concrete plans so I make lists.  What’s the first step?  What next?  And after that?  Have you ever built cabinets before?  No?  Well, I have total faith in you.  (He’s taking a cabinet-building class the end of this month which just sounds awesome and I wish I could take it with him.)

The office is now nearly empty except for the litter box.  (If you were planning on using our guest room when you come to visit, it is currently packed with the office.)  We have spent the last week of his block leave purging like crazy.  Usually, we go through a purge period when prepping for a move since that happens every 3 years or less.  We have been in this house for 5 1/2 years now.  We have accumulated a lot of stuff.  And since space is becoming more of a premium, we’re deciding that maybe I don’t need all these sketch books from 7th grade.  And it’s about time we got those watercolor post cards I got in Korea framed.  And while we’re at it, the big wedding collage has been sitting on cardboard for 4 years.  And this box is still sealed with packing tape from the last move.

Actually, we’re entering into year 2 of the GREAT PURGE.  We just have a much more pressing motivator than we’ve had in a while.

Now the only thing we really have to watch out for is the “while we’re at it” mentality.  Since we’re ripping out the old closet and putting in built-ins, we might as well put up display cabinets for the Legos and a kitty highway around the ceiling while we’re at it.  Since we’re doing some demo, why don’t we replace the vanities in the half-bath and guest bath while we’re at it?  Maybe we should go ahead and rip up this sh*tty carpet and put down hardwood.  You know, while we’re at it.  Let’s fix all the little annoying things about the house that we’ve been putting off WHILE WE’RE AT IT.  Oh, gawd, someone hide the sledge hammer from me.  We only have 10 weeks.

WE ONLY HAVE 10 WEEKS.  If that.

Only 2 1/2 more months to become a grown-up for real.

 

 

 

 

Crap.

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Platypus Update: It’s probably the Hormones, Right?


Depending on what I’m wearing, I get the unsolicited question, “How far along are you?”

Now, among people in the know, this does not faze me.  Nor does it bother me when strangers ask if I brought up the topic that I am pregnant.  However, if I have given no indication that I am pregnant (as far as I know), I have to fight the irrational response to be offended by the question.

Girls, you know why.

See, last year, I had an apron that was adorable but had the unintended side-effect of making me look preggers, especially to people who worked with me.  In such cases, the tentative question are you?  would sneak in and ruin my day.  What?  How could you think that?  I mean, I have a bit of a pudge, but that’s mostly the pocket of the apron and the fact that I have a high waistline.  Right?

Logically, I should never have felt offended by the question since it was never meant to offend.  Honestly, I should give mad props to anyone brave enough to pose the question even to someone they know because we have ALL felt mortified by the insinuation that we look so out of shape we must be harboring a human parasite in our wombs.  That kind of misunderstanding is hurtful for everyone.

And now that I am harboring said parasite, I have to turn off the part of my brain that’s all EFF YOU FOR THINKING I LOOK PREGNANT SINCE WE ALL KNOW THAT’S A HUGE INSULT TO A WOMAN.  Isn’t it weird how brains work?  I’ve been pregnant for 5 months now and I’m still in denial.

For instance, I had my second prenatal group meeting a couple weeks ago, which involved a brief check-up (blood pressure, weight, etc.) with the nurse and midwife.  An insidious part of my brain kept insisting that this is all a ruse and that when they went to listen to the heartbeat, it wouldn’t be there.  The universe is playing a massive trick on me.  My boobs are huge and I haven’t needed a tampon in nearly half a year, and yet…

I don’t look pregnant enough.  I haven’t felt it moving much.  I mean, a few butterflies, but that could just be indigestion.  I’m acting on faith that there is something in there that I can’t see or really feel, hanging out, sucking my energy and eating my food so that I feel like I’m always hungry and I absolutely can’t risk real hunger SINCE I WILL PROCEED TO EAT EVERYTHING.  I have to trust that there is a reason I can’t sleep comfortably, can’t stand for more than 30 min without my ribs hurting from holding up my boobs (did I mention they’re HUGE?!?), can’t go an hour without peeing, and can’t decide if what I’m feeling is my normal reaction to a situation or some over-blown hormone-induced response.

I spent the last two days trying to find a boob solution.  You ladies who have bazungas know what I’m talking about.  Finding a bra that fits is only half the battle.  It has to have enough support and has to be comfortable regardless of what you’re doing.  And it has to keep the ladies in check.  Bras are the bane of our existence and when we find one that works, we do NOT deviate.  However, my bras stop fitting month 1.

Things that I didn’t expect to happen the first trimester: frequent urination, mood swings, and bazungas.  Why is it that only thing I expected (morning sickness) wasn’t as bad as I thought while also being worse in unexpected ways?  Who called it “morning” sickness?  Was it a man?  I bet it was a man.

Did I mention that right before we found out about platypus I had just bought several new conventional and sports bras since it was time to replace my stock?  I bet I didn’t.  In June, I bought new bras bc reasons.  In July, they stopped fitting.  Ugh.  August, I went out and got a few more that offered more coverage, avoiding the nursing bras like the plague.  In October, they got bigger.  Now the problem isn’t the embarrassment of spilling out.  It’s the fact that part of my job involves being on my feet for 4 to 6 hours.  Which recently has started causing pain and not where I expected.

It feels like someone has taken rib-spreaders to my side, especially my right side right underneath my right boob.  And I LOVE how inadequate the solutions are for this problem.  Apparently, all I can do is buy more GORAM bras.

If you enter the lingerie department of any major store, you will find all kinds of solutions for hiding your tummy or back or thighs.  Because that’s what really matters to a woman: stuffing everything into an appeasing spandex shape underneath their business skirt or LBD.  What you won’t find is a section for “My boobs are temporarily too big and I just need a tank top that will help reign them in for the next few months until they stabilize enough for me to shell out money on nursing bras – also, it needs to be comfortable enough that I can sleep in it without cramping because this problem doesn’t seem to go away just because I’m not vertical.”  Seriously, that’s all I want.

What I don’t want is to spend hundreds of dollars repurchasing undergarments for the next 5 months.  Bras are expensive and I already have a whiny panic in the back of my head about all the stuff we have to buy for the human being we’re going to be putting up with for the next 18 years.  This is not when I want to be frivolously spending money on myself just because the industry thinks it’s more important to put my girls on display than to have them cinched in and supported.  I swear, if they focused more on back support than tummy control, well, they’d lose money because I wouldn’t have to keep buying more bras.

In the interim, I bought six new cheap sports bras to sleep in.  And I might start doubling up my camisoles.  Thank goodness it’s starting to cool off around here.

Okay, enough boob ranting.

Here’s something uncomfortable I don’t really want to put out there, but I’m going to or it will continue to scare me.

I don’t want to buy anything for platypus.  Earlier I said that I’m in denial still, which is very true.  I look at me in the mirror, I run my hand over my belly that won’t let me suck in my gut, I wonder if that was Platypus or just my imagination.  The topic comes up every day and it still doesn’t feel real.  Which might explain why I haven’t filled out the baby registry or done serious research on cribs and strollers.  It doesn’t, though.

The thought that makes me avoid making direct eye contact with the baby department is a nugget of paranoid fear.  Preparing for this baby is tempting Fate.  Picking out names, painting the nursery, fawning over baby clothes, all these acts are simply begging the universe to change its mind about this baby actually happening.  It doesn’t matter that I just heard its heartbeat a few weeks ago and next week we’re having the second sonogram.  If I make any decisions on the assumption that this is reality, the universe will kill my baby.

Okay, that’s the extreme dark end of the spectrum of this paranoia, I promise.

How about, if I commit to this then the joke will be up and it will all turn out to be some freakish mistake.  All the piss tests and blood tests and machines and symptoms will turn out to be a fluke.  And it’s too late for me to be okay about that because I picked out a breast pump system so I’m invested in this being real.

And I’m scared about it being real.  This is normal, I know.  So normal, in fact, that most of you will say that me not being scared about my first kid would be disconcerting.

What I’m trying to say, badly, is that there are so many things that can go wrong and I’m not sure I can handle it so I’m trying not to get attached to Platypus in order to protect myself.  And don’t say that nothing is going to go wrong.  It doesn’t have to be with this pregnancy or with its childhood or teenage years or adult life or even directly to Platypus.  Things go wrong because that is life.  And knowing that means I will fail this kid somehow.  I won’t respond the right way, say the right thing, make the right decision, whatever.  I will not be able to protect my kid from the world and I know, I know, I shouldn’t want to.  And I know that I have no control over whatever is going to happen and no amount of unhealthy denial about reality is going to change that fact.

So this is definitely the hormones talking.  That’s got to be it.  I’m going to eat some pudding, good night.

 

Stage: 21 weeks (2nd Trimester)

Weight: 145-ish

Boobs: More than a handful, according to Buddy

Mood: Not that great, a complete 180 from yesterday

 

Post Script:

Periodically, we hold little potlucks at work where people leave food in the break room that we shove into our faces during our 15 min breaks.  The last couple of days, the boss decided to do our Holiday potluck since the actual holidays are a freaking nightmare.  They also decided to have a mini-baby shower for me for lots of reasons, including Halloween being my favorite holiday and the other pregnant girl is further along than me (she actually quit right after they decided to do the baby shower, but they chose to do it anyway).

I got some wonderful gifts, all very practical and adorable and I don’t feel worthy of having such considerate and talented people to work with.  And it’s definitely the hormones that are making me tear up right now.

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Where’s My Rage Now?


Wow, 2 posts in such a short time?  We should have a huge emotional upheaval every weekend.

Last week I was filled with rage over protest that has almost zero impact on me personally.  I’m white, not traditionally patriotic, progressive, and I don’t even like professional sports.  And yet I spent an entire day trying to get out the fury that flared up like a bad case of indigestion.  I sequestered myself in the kitchen for hours and still ended up spending a late even pouring out all the bitter bile that had accumulated just so that I could sleep.

The last few days, what with there being a significantly more horrific event and flare-up of biased political arguments, you’d think the anger would be back with a vengeance.

I wish it was.  Honestly, I do.  Because anger, rage, hatred, all these things fill me with power, passion, and purpose, like a true Sith.  Dark, depressive sadness just makes me numb and helpless.

It didn’t become long before this became a “thoughts and prayers” event.  I do hope that everyone who is posting about thoughts and prayers is actually sending them and not just checking some easy task off to assuage their guilt at doing absolutely nothing else.  I hope that those praying for the lost, the survivors, and the families are doing so in earnest.  I hope it isn’t just a meme to be shared and forgotten once a new inspirational quote strikes your fancy.

I have seen a few different “causes” for this incident.  Obviously, the snowflakes are calling for more gun control, because that’s the obvious response to a gun-made massacre.  The response, in case you were wondering, sounds like this:

HOLY F*CKING CHR*ST, HOW DOES ONE MAN OWN 42 GUNS AND MASSACRE 59 PEOPLE LIKE HE’S IN A G*DDAMN STALLONE MOVIE?!?  HOW THE F*CK DOES THIS HAPPEN?  WHY THE F*CK DO WE KEEP LETTING THIS HAPPEN?  F*CK GUNS.

Sorry.  That’s kind of how it feels.  Followed by:

WHY IS NO ONE LISTENING?  HOW CAN WE LOOK AT THE STATISTICS AND STILL PANDER TO GUN LOBBYISTS AND THE NRA?

Have I mentioned lately that I’m a veteran?  I suppose you might think I grew up in the kind of household that encourages that kind of career choice.  I do have an uncle who joined the service during Vietnam (to avoid the Draft, partly).  However, my mother had an extreme distaste for guns.  Like, not just “No Fake Guns that look like Real Guns” type of mentality.  Zero toy guns.  No Nerf guns.  No squirt guns.  Nothing.  Guns were not toys in my childhood, despite having 3 brothers.  Also no candy cigarettes, but that’s because my mom knows exactly why such things exist and she wasn’t having it.

My folks spent their formative years in the 60s, in the middle of the first major American conflict filmed in color.  Imagine that.  She was not exactly pleased when I was lured in by a recruiter with the bait of college money.  She never said anything to discourage me, but when I think of how she raised me to believe in non-violence and the sanctity of human life, I can’t but wonder at how blind I was to how much of a betrayal a military career might have felt to her.  I mean, not a year before, I had professed that I certainly wouldn’t join an organization that brought about human death, even if I was not the one pulling the trigger.  Turns out teenage me is a hypocrite with beliefs built on the sturdy foundation of butter sitting out on the counter.

Even walking around Iraq with a M-4 on my back, I still didn’t believe that if the situation arose I would be capable of purposely taking a human life.  This may or may not surprise my Battle Buddies.  I was grateful to be the driver of my group because it meant that I wasn’t expected to shoot anyone.  I was expected to get us the eff out of a bad situation.  So what was my plan if I did end up in a situation that required some “action” on my part?  Protect my friends.  I couldn’t justify taking a life for the sake of my own, but I just easily accept taking a life to protect my people.  Because they were, and still are, my people.

I still don’t like guns.  I don’t actually understand the sentiment.  It’s like liking pencils.  They’re tools.  Maybe it’s a girl thing, but I never enjoyed firing weapons.  I wasn’t bad at it, as long as my sights got zeroed properly and/or I had all the parts for the laser sight I got on deployment (that’s a fun story).  I mean, we all have days where we zero in 9 and then get 11/40 on the first firing order, right?  Or the time I had to explain to a MSG that he was firing at my target.  Three times.  Or the first time I had to do the prone-supported position outside of a foxhole and found out that my ammo pouches made me feel like an effing see-saw.  Or how my BQ ended up going to the CQM range 3 times in Kuwait in 140 degree heat.  Got to see a lot of brass burns during that particular exercise.  Or when they added the kneeling position and we kind of had to figure it out because they didn’t send anyone to actually teach anyone the proper form.  Or the time we set the mountain on fire with tracer rounds at the 50-Cal range.  Or how I couldn’t even charge the 50-Cal.  Or the Mk-19.  Did I mention the Mk-19 range where we were delayed for 2 hours because some scientists were talking to endangered birds behind the range?  We saw whales that day.  It was the first time I wore a flak jacket.  I didn’t even have the plates in and I felt like I couldn’t breath.  Which is funny because by the end of deployment I felt naked when I wore the vest without the plates on the way home.

Apparently, there is a type of person who gets off on firing weapons.  There was a lot of boner talk at the 50-Cal range.  All you do is get behind the rifle and push down a butterfly button with your thumb.  Oh, yeah.  That’s hot.  Granted, you do the same thing with a Mk-19, but it’s shooting grenades so the boom is a tad more thrilling.  Still.

Why is it a fun activity to go to a firing range?  The women’s group at my church in Alabama used to do that.  I just don’t get it.  Going to the range was always a hassle.  It took all day, the weather was always horrendous, and a lot of it was just sitting around waiting for your turn.  And there were days where you were spot on and days you couldn’t hit the side of a barn.  You didn’t even get the same weapon every time, so it’s not like you built up a report with the thing.  And afterwards, you have to clean the weapon.  Sometimes for hours depending on how effing detail-oriented the armorer was.  I didn’t even go to the range with my Reserve unit, but everyone was cleaning weapons so I had to.  And when I finished in 30 mins, I got a dirty look from an E-7 because everyone else was still cleaning theirs so why was I just sitting around?  I cleaned 4 weapons that day.  I’ll admit that the task can be very therapeutic for someone like me.  It’s still galling to have to do it when you didn’t even fire that day.

So no, I don’t like guns.  [Note on terminology: I have never fired a “gun.”  At Basic, it was explained that we dealt in “weapons.”  Guns were for civilians.  There was extremely strict protocols for dealing with weapons.  They were either pointed at the ground, in the air, or up-and-downrange, never at a person.  They were to be treated at all times as if they were live.  And pointing even an unloaded weapon at a DS was the only grounds on which said DS was allowed to lay a hand on you.  That hand would be fist-shaped and aimed at your head.]  Just as I don’t like cars or computers or phones or power tools.  I use or have used all of those things and they are pretty essential to my daily life in some cases.  But liking them doesn’t make any sense.

I personally don’t understand wanting a gun.  I have a lot of very handy knives which will chop onions quite fine as well as hamstring a midnight burglar.  I guess I’ve always been a bit more hands on with my weapons, personally.  I don’t carry a pocket knife around anymore, but that’s mostly because I had to keep throwing them out at very tall points of interest.  I certainly prefer knives in a Zompac situation, if only because guns make a lot of noise and run out of ammo as soon as you’re cornered by all the zombies you attracted with all that noise.  Also, I don’t hunt.  I think if I ever took up the hobby I would prefer bow-hunting to a rifle, but I’m a romantic.

Owning a hunting rifle makes sense, especially if you hunt (obviously).  Just like I crochet and therefore have quite a selection of crochet hooks.  Owning a hand gun, well, I have a bit of a problem with that.  It is a weapon specifically designed to kill people.  They aren’t good for much else.  You could, I suppose, say the same thing for things like M-16s and AK-47s and M60s and M249s.  But those are specifically designed for warzones.  Yes, they are supposed to kill people.  They’re also supposed to kill cars, trucks, and even tanks in some cases.  They are not ideal for popping the intruder in the middle of the night.  I know my husband wants a gun at some point.  He also wants a safe to keep it in because he’s not especially dumb.  He respects the danger and power of weapons, just like I do.

Now, I’ve heard a few interesting things over the last few days.  There has been a great deal of the typical “more gun control vs. you can pry my gun from my cold, dead hands” argument.  Lots of statistics showing how the US is obliterating the rest of the world in the “Who can kill more of its own people with guns” game.  People fairly pointing out that it’s really gun-related suicides that give us the edge in that particular game (unless we’re just counting the sheer number of mass shootings in the US compared to other nations).  People also pointing out that a person bent on evil will commit it, whether it is with guns modified with kits or pipe bombs or knives or anthrax.  And, of course, pointing out that none of the restrictions anti-gun people want put in place would have stopped what happened in Vegas.  I’ve also seen that it is the Godlessness of this country that leads to such atrocities.  That I cannot comment on.

There is also utter bewilderment.  Here’s a guy who didn’t fit anyone’s profile.  Not a white male in his 20s.  Not a turban-wearing jihadist.  Not a hyped-up black druggie.  There is nothing about this guy that screams psycho-mass-murderer exact the extreme collection of guns.  And having guns is just the American way, right?

Ah, here’s the rage.  See, the 2nd Amendment gives you the right to own a weapon.  That’s it.  Now, we can argue the intent of the Founders all we want.  It doesn’t matter what they meant, especially when gun sales spike after every mass shooting and that’s just good effing business.  The propaganda being plugged directly into your brain is that it’s your right and no one can take it away from you.  And that is exactly correct, believe it or not.  It doesn’t matter that the Founders couldn’t possibly imagine the destructive power a single semi-automatic weapon could have on a crowd of unsuspecting civilians.  It matters even less that the Founders were laying the foundation to never need a standing army because if everyone can have a gun, then everyone can be the army (militia ringing any bells?) at need.  Well, we have a standing army which is a huge suck on the budget every year because of bureaucracy and inefficiency and clinging to obsolete weaponry because it’s historic or tradition or whatever.  We also have the set-in-the-bones believe that guns = personal defense.  Taking away your guns is just the government’s way to keep you docile.  Or it will just make an easier job for criminals because criminals don’t get guns legally anyway, right?  Granted, taking your guns away might also prevent you from being shot dead by your toddler or keep your depressed teenager from blowing his brains out or keep you from accidentally shooting someone because you have no respect for guns.  Because they are toys and it is your right to have one, neener neener.

By the way, when people bring up the extremely harsh anti-gun regulations employed in Australia after their mass shooting in 1996 (and how it was the last they’ve seen), nobody says anything about how the government “took” anyone’s guns.  They didn’t.  It was entirely voluntary.  You turn in your gun and the government paid you for it.  That won’t work here because the government gets a lot of money from gun companies and they certainly aren’t going to turn around and spend that money buying back guns from hard working citizens in order to destroy them.  That’s just not how it works in this country.

The government CAN’T take your stupid guns.  It won’t even try.  It would rather take a moment of silence for 26 elementary school kids than even consider trying to take your guns.  So rest easy on that score.

There isn’t a solution for this problem.  At least, not an American solution.  We don’t respect guns because they’re toys and proof of manhood and essential for personal protection.  They’re a right that we take advantage of forgetting why it’s a right, just like we forget why church and state are separated.  And how freedom of religion and speech and press is there to protect you from legal government persecution, which is why there was such an extreme response to a high-ranking government official implying that a civilian organization should persecute protesters.  Government officials don’t get freedom of speech.

Before I leave you, I thought I’d provide another list of people who can STFU about this issue:

People who own guns but have never been trained in the proper use of them.

People who profit from the sale of guns.

People who state that victims “deserved it.” Period.

Idiots who think that if only they’d had their gun, all of this could have been averted.  No.  One shooter is bad enough.  Two shooters only ever compound a situation.

People who say you don’t need a gun or whatever.  You don’t decide what people need.

People who think that this is an easy fix.  If only we just did this, we would never have this problem again.  Don’t underestimate the depth of evil human beings are capable of achieving.

People who think the problem isn’t guns so we should just do nothing.  The problem isn’t just guns.  There is much we should be doing.  Maybe not having a cult of gun ownership and comprehensive care programs set up for the mentally ill?  Just to start?

 

I made pumpkin oatmeal cookies today.  Half the batch got butterscotch chips.  The other half got chopped up candied ginger.  If you want some, you know where I live.

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I hate Football.


I’d like to start this by saying I got home and spent 7 hours in my kitchen trying to calm down.  I roasted sliced yellow and zucchini squash.  I made a stock out of shrimp tails.  I baked bacon.  I made gumbo (because why else would I make shrimp stock).  I listened to Pandora loudly.  And when my husband got home from work (early because power went out at work), I still ended up crying on his shoulder.

I am about to say a lot of things.  I’m trying to exorcise feelings that I’ve been bottling.  You may not like what I have to say.  You can disagree with me.  You can call me whatever you like.  You can blame it on pregnancy hormones or just being a chick or being a liberal snowflake or whatever.  You can unfollow me.  I don’t care.  My chest hurts, I still feel like crying, and I am terrified that I have to bring up a child in this daily apocalypse.  Stop reading whenever you like.  See if I freaking care.

Hi.  My name is Jo.  I’m an Army combat veteran.  I took an oath a while ago to protect and uphold the Constitution.  I deployed to a war zone.  I was indoctrinated into a cult of patriotism.  When I was growing up, I was given a test on the Pledge of Allegiance to make sure I understood what I was saying when I faced the flag in the morning.  I was also raised to stand for the Anthem with my hand over my heart.  Well, in public anyways.

I do not like professional sports, football most of all.  I find that athletes, like most celebrities, are overpaid and celebrated far more than they should be.  I believe that a proper society would celebrate those who contribute positively to that society.  Nurses, school teachers, soldiers, police, fire fighters, artists, and blue collar workers.  The worship given to athletes is wholly disproportionate to their actual contribution.  We shower them with scholarships for schools they aren’t learning from and drown them in sponsorships because they have good hand eye coordination and can hit people really hard, especially after drinking this electrolyte drink and wearing these $200 sneakers.  Some of you may think you know where this is going.  Some of you are wrong.

I have never in my life been proud of an NFL player.  Until one of them started a protest.

Don’t stop reading yet.

You see, most professional athletes make headlines for beating their wives.  Or abandoning their teams.  Or getting arrested for dog fighting.  Or rape.  Or drug abuse.  Or gangs violence.  DUIs.  Prostitutes.  Steroids.  And what’s funny is that those headlines are barely headlines.  They’re expected to a degree.  And fans will go out of their way to pardon these players, make up a million excuses for them and be ready to fight anyone who says anything against the character of the person whose name is on the back of their over-priced “authentic” jersey.  Those players are heavily fined and suspended.  They’re traded to other teams sometimes.  However, in general, their behavior causes very little long-term damage to them.  They may not be on a Wheaties box, but they won’t be shunned by society.  Some of them won’t even lose their jobs, despite videos posted publicly of them punching fiancées in the face or actually jail time.

People lose jobs for being convicted of crimes.  Some of them lose their whole futures because an ounce of marijuana makes them a felon for the rest of their lives. People even lose their jobs for posting things on social media.  Yet some of the most infamous criminals in the limelight get it written off because, again, they can throw a ball or hit someone really hard.

And then there are politicians, who can get away with all of these offenses, put a flag pin on their lapel, get re-elected, and then get pulled into another “scandal.”  It’s “scandal” because that’s what we call it when a person who has called for tougher illegal drug regulations gets caught with cocaine.  Or when an outspoken opponent to same-sex marriage gets caught not only in an affair, but in a homosexual extramarital relationship.

Let’s talk about patriotism.  I hear the phrase “that’s how I was raised” quite frequently.  I was raised to respect the flag.  I was raised speaking the Pledge every day in school.  I was raised to stand for the anthem.  However, I am not a blind patriot.  I hate this country sometimes.  I hate how broken it is.  I hate how ashamed it makes me.  If I say the Pledge, it’s because I am a citizen of this nation and I believe that we should pledge allegiance to the unity of a republic as a goal and a promise that I will be there for my neighbors.  Because I choose to, not because my peers pressure me into it.  I acknowledge that the pledge was altered in the 50s because jingoists were scared the Reds were infiltrating our Democracy and we know how much those Pinko Commie bastards, like Demons, can’t say the words “under God” without bursting into flames.

I hate that people call America a Christian nation.  Maybe if we acted like it, even a little, sure.  But there is a reason we separated church and state.  The state corrupts the faith.  Theocracy is not faith.   If you want more Christian ideals enforced by the government, better not turn your nose up at welfare, public works, and “free” healthcare.  We as Christians are called to help those who need us, the sick, the impoverished, the sinners.  That is how we become Christ-like.  There is no way mandated charity qualifies as Christianity.

Mandated is a good word, you know.  Also indoctrination.  Ever been indoctrinated?  I have.  In 9 weeks I went from a scared 18 yr old girl who hated guns and couldn’t stomach the idea of taking a single human life to being a “killer.”  I was going to be in forever, this was going to be my career, and I was better than all those pansy civilians who stayed home.  This lasted all of 2 hours after I got out of Basic.  But some of it sticks.  Like, I will stand to attention when the Army song comes on.  I won’t sing the stupid words any more, but I won’t sit through it, either.  That’s not because I like the song or am super proud of my service.  The fact is, I earned the right to stand.  You didn’t.  I do not like seeing civilians in military attire of any sort, even spouses and kids.  I do not like seeing the flag used in propaganda ads political campaigns or plastered all over clothing.  I do not like seeing a flag flying that is ripped or one flying at night without a light on it.  I do not like the Confederate Flag.  I do not like when civilians get upset about someone “disrespecting the military” with a peaceful protest.  I do not like when my military friends have the same reaction.  Because free speech is part of the constitution I swore to protect.  Disrespect is spitting on soldiers when they come back from Vietnam and calling them baby killers.  Disrespect is allowing the VA to become so corrupt an ineffectual that veterans die befor they can get treatment.  Disrespect is parading soldiers about like little puppets to show everyone how patriotic you are, you who have never served a day in your life.

And speaking of civilians, I despise the fact that the people who tell the military what to do and how to do it, the people who send my friends to die, are privileged civilians with absolutely zero military experience.

I don’t like that a draft-dodger is tweeting threats about the leader of a sovereign nation.  How dare he?  How dare call a POW a loser, congratulate a purple heart recipient, take two days to condemn violent protesters, call peaceful protesters “sons of bitches,” threaten the medical coverage of veterans and military families, and claim that he knows ISIS better than the Generals?  And then he just nonchalantly tweets an act of war that could get my friends killed?  Not my friends here, you understand.  My friends stationed in South Korea.  You know, the country that is DEFINITELY within rocket range of nuclear weapons.  The soldiers who will be first if that runty little psycho decides to test America’s tough guy stance?

But hey, like I’ve been seeing on the Facebook, this isn’t about him.  It’s about one player disrespecting the military and the flag and the anthem.  Or it was.  Up until that effing mook decided to make it about him by calling for a non-government entity to punish protesters.  Way to make it worse, idiot.

You do not have to like what has been going on the last year with these protests.  Or any protest, for that matter.  I don’t recall any protest in history that had the goal of making everyone happy.  Sit-ins and hunger strikes and effing Buddhists lighting themselves on fire, these are not supposed to be a delightful romp.  You protest to draw attention, not to blend in.  Again, Christians, let’s look to our model, shall we?  Jesus broke the law.  Repeatedly.  Publicly.  On purpose.  And they nailed him to an effing tree.  (Oh, please don’t go and say that I’m making these protesters “Christ-like.”  That is not the point here.)

A lot of people seem to be upset by the manner of protest.  Which is interesting because that would be the bloody point, wouldn’t it?  It is supposed to upset you.  Now, I’ll admit that it is slightly more blatant than, say, sitting at a lunch counter or trying to go to school.  Imagine how bad sh*t was that it was so easy to piss people off.  Sitting in the wrong seat got you arrested.  Using the wrong water fountain got you beaten.  Looking at the wrong woman got you lynched.

Oh, but thank goodness that’s all behind us, right?  No one’s getting shot in the street for being unarmed.  Or for reaching for their wallet.  Or for being 12-years-old and brandishing a toy gun.

Oh, but they were criminals.  Right?  They deserved to be gunned down because they made the wrong choice.

NO.  NOBODY DESERVES THAT.  WTF, PEOPLE?

We have a legal system for a reason.  It’s to lock up minorities by the millions.  The system is broken.  Our prisons are being run by private companies.  Did you know that?  That they get money the more people are jammed into their facilities and therefore like to lobby for laws that will pack their cells?  That they could give 2 sh*ts about due process or rehabilitating prisoners into useful members of society so long as they get paid?  There are more people in prison than there are people in the entire state of Nebraska.  Which I will have you know has way more people than Montana.

Oh, but let’s focus on these over-paid, prissy athletes “disrespecting” the flag/anthem/military.  Name three careers available to minorities that will make them rich.  Athletics is one.  Acting is another.  Music is another.  How many CEOs are minorities?  Can you name 10 famous minority millionaires who aren’t athletes, actors, or musicians?  5?  Anyone besides Ben Carson, Al Sharpton, and Obama?  Do you realize that for a lot of minority kids, athletics is the only way they can afford college?  Do you think all those rich whiney babies started out rich?  Are you aware that at the end of the day, regardless of their paycheck, they are still minorities?

They are called privileged.  Because they are rich.  But they are rich because they are lucky.  They had a specific skillset that got them out of their underprivileged schools, out of the cycle of violence and poverty faced by many people in their neighborhoods.  But for the grace of God, they could have been murdered in the street just by living on that street.  That’s why they care.  That’s why they protest.  Because we still have a big issue with race in this country.  And they have to protest because people don’t listen to the poor.  Remember?  The 99% getting mocked for having iPhones and having the luxury to protest while everyone else had to go to work?  All the while, the 1% worked tirelessly to turn the poor against each other so they could continue to be the 1%.  The “thugs” leading protests in Ferguson and Cleveland and Chicago?  Well, now the thugs are your former heroes, the guys on your fantasy football leagues whose names are hanging in your closet with your other sports paraphernalia.   And they aren’t rioting.  They’re kneeling.  The nerve, right?

Now, let’s make this perfectly clear.  In 2009, the DOD paid the NFL to do more patriotic displays.  Remember that word mandated?  Before 2009, you didn’t see the players until they ran onto the field, after some clown butchered the anthem.  Then it became mandatory for them to show their patriotism.  You know what mandatory means, right?  That’s when you are forced to do something even if you don’t want to.  In the Army, we have stuff that is required by regulation, but we voluntarily gave up a lot of our civil rights.  So, you know, we accept that mandatory is part of the job.  Ever hear the phrase mandatory fun?  That’s when there’s a “fun” event that the commander has decided is mandatory because otherwise no one would show up.  There’s also the word “voluntold.”  That’s when they ask for volunteers by making a list of who’s going to volunteer.  Get it?  It’s like making people swear allegiance to the current ruler or swear fealty to the state religion.  With the prospect of being burnt alive if you refuse.  But, you know, probably not so extreme.

Mandating patriotism is sick.  End of storyMandated patriotism is a lot like mandated religion.  It isn’t real.  And it is anti-American.  Imagine sending your kid to a school that requires them to pray to Mecca 5 times a day.  Or they have to have a bar mitzvah before they graduate 6th grade.  Or they have to write a paper on how glorious the beloved leader is.  Every day.  Or else they get shot.  In the head.

If you aren’t frightened by the images of blank-eyed children swearing by rote to something they don’t understand, you aren’t paying attention.  That’s what mandated patriotism is.

But there has to be a better way/time.  Actually, no.  The protest is working, to a degree.  We are effing talking about it.  Even more so since some moron made them martyrs and therefore multiplied the participants exponentially in one day.  Instead of a few kneeling, entire teams either knelt or locked arms to state plainly that they will not be threatened into silence.  Some people are still blindly sharing memes and dismissing this as a publicity stunt.  “They don’t know what they’re protesting.  They just want attention.  They are disrespectful.”  Well, they do know what they’re protesting (police brutality and systemized racism), they already have attention (duh, millionaires on TV every week), and disrespectful?  Kneeling?

Okay, lighting the flag on fire.  Yes.  Blatantly using the anthem to show off your mediocre voice.  Yes.  Claiming that 26,000 unreported military rapes are just what happens when you put men and women together.  Yes.  Kneeling?  No.

Are they protesting the flag?  No.  Are they protesting the anthem?  No (but you do know why we don’t sing the other verses, right?).  Are they protesting the military.  No.  They are protesting police brutality and systemized racism.  And they are doing it in a public way to draw attention to the cause.  Does that make sense?  You don’t like when they kneel?  “Can’t they kneel some other time, some other place?”  Why?  So you don’t have to see it?  The Anthem is the best time to do it because it draws the most attention.  Again, that’s the fracking point.  Do I like that?  No.  Do I have to?  No.

And they aren’t just kneeling, you know.  Some of them are putting their (considerable) money where their mouths are.  Many players participate in community projects working with underprivileged kids and donate to charitable causes related to these issues.  But are they supposed to enforce internal police investigations?  Change legislation to increase funding to schools and conflict management training for officers?  Are they supposed to show up to every traffic stop to make sure that no one gets shot for smelling like pot?  Or protect nurses from being arrested for doing their jobs?  Or investigate every instance of police brutality and ensure that the officers are reprimanded accordingly?

Well?

They’re effing football players.  You know?  Modern day gladiators who get paid to get brain damage.  But isn’t it amazing what buffoons in helmets can do when they act together for a cause.

You want to stand, do it.  You want to kneel, fine.  There isn’t a law to enforce either because then it wouldn’t be patriotism.  It’d be fascism.  I swore to protect your rights and that includes your right to sit.

When the leader of the free world demands that free speech should be punished, we have a much bigger problem.

As a last note, the following people can STFU about this issue (especially as it concerns “respecting the military”):

Draft Dodgers

Anyone who has ever worn the flag as an article of clothing (see the flag code)

Anyone who has ever flown the Confederate Flag (cuz that’s called treason)

Anyone who refers to POWs as losers, soldiers as rapists, or in any way uses the military as some kind of pawn in their campaign

Anyone who believes that people who don’t prove their patriotism through meaningless acts should be shot (see fascism)

People who don’t stand with their hand over their heart every time they hear the Anthem, even when they are home alone or when it plays at 8:00 every morning on the base loud speaker or when they are getting their concessions before the game starts because the line was so freaking long and you don’t want to miss the kick o

 

Remember kids, we aren’t North Korea.  We don’t have a gulag for political dissenters.  We don’t have death camps for those who look different from us (anymore).  We don’t mandate patriotism.  If you have a problem with the protest, do something about it.  Either close your eyes to the whole thing (boycott or whatever) or look for ways you can make a change so that they don’t need to protest any more.

 

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