???

As I near the end of pregnancy, I feel the old doubts of having children surfacing. I’ve spent the last several months treating this entire experience like an important project, with plans, research, classes, books, etc., so I thought I’d resolved such anxieties, but I suppose that is not the case after all. One would think the last 7 months of preparation would have served as a gradual transition, but it seems the impending due date only highlights the severity and certainty of this decision.

I used to be utterly freaked out by the idea of giving birth; that’s still somewhat the case but infinitely overshadowed by the fear that I won’t enjoy being a mother. I’ve had to make many lifestyle changes and compromises since December 23, 2016 but of course none of it can compare to what lies ahead. It seems like having to rebuild an entire life from scratch (mine).

I think my husband and I have built a special life together. I don’t mean “special” in the sense that we’re particularly unique, interesting, or superior compared to others, but 12 years together necessarily results in something irreplaceable and I could easily live another 12 years like this, or the rest of my life.

We met on a rainy night in February painted by the haze of alcohol. The friend who introduced us accidentally set something on fire at a party, after which we quickly made our departure, and I was so drunk I spelled my own name wrong when I entered it into my husband’s cell phone. We didn’t start dating until a year and a half later, because only Fools Rush In.

When I first moved in with him, the living arrangements could best be described as a small fraternity house nestled in the heart of suburbia, inhabited by gamblers and students who drank too much, joined by unruly dogs, and then our equally recalcitrant cat.

During my first year of law school, my husband quit his engineering job and became a professional poker player, so the summer after my first year, we leased our room in the house, and left the country for two and a half months. We rented an apartment in the suburbs of Barcelona, and he funded our trip with poker while I promised to undertake some domestic tasks while he worked. The “tasks” were an adventure in and of themselves, as I enjoyed every moment of Barcelona, including regularly walking 25 minutes to the grocery store (we did not have a car), where I could buy unfamiliar foods and practice Spanish. We fell in love with the city, but moved on to Prague, Milan, Rome, Tuscany, and Yellowstone National Park the rest of the summer.

For the duration of law school, I packed all my classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays so I could have 4-day weekends every weekend, and there were many trips to Vegas with free hotels, compliments of my husband’s card-counting days. When I unexpectedly was notified I was the recipient of a $32,000 merit scholarship I hadn’t applied for, we took tequila shots all night at a bar in Cardiff-by-the-Sea that now longer exists, and I jumped into the ocean with all my clothes on.

Eventually, we moved into a two-bedroom apartment by ourselves, in a neighborhood characterized by beach bums, dirty hippies, quirky stores, and drug use. Our complex was built in the 1970’s, and rumor has it the communal hot tub was built of an epic size because the complex used to be a swinger’s colony. The neighborhood has since gentrified and I miss some of its formerly bummy, disheveled, and unpretentious elements.

After I took the bar exam, we celebrated with an Asia trip to Taiwan and Thailand. We scootered through the canyons of Taroko Gorge and indulged in decadence on Thai beaches. In the first couple of years after I started working, we traveled to Kauai and hiked Mt. Whitney with his family, and I started paying down substantial amounts of law school debt.

We got married in 2013, 2 weeks after our 8-year anniversary in a ceremony officiated by a dear friend. We wrote our own vows and exchanged them in the glow of the southern Californian sun, and at the reception, through a series of small mishaps, many guests got unbelievably drunk. Two weeks later, we honeymooned in Bali, Macau, and Taiwan.

In 2014, we went to Colombia, where we ate ceviche on Cartagena beaches, hiked a beautiful national park, and walked the romantic alleys of Santa Marta at dusk. I took a picture outside the former residence of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and constantly had a Colombian beer in hand to counter the Caribbean heat. We spent one night in some of the worst accommodations I have ever experienced, and when I was awoken at 4 a.m. to roosters, cats, and dogs brawling in the streets amid human yells, 90 degree heat/90 percent humidity with a broken fan, and a broken bed, there was nothing to do but laugh at the outrageousness of the situation.

In 2016, we picked Vietnam over Greece and had a dream vacation at beach side resorts, daily all-you-can-eat buffets of Vietnamese breakfasts, luxurious city hotels, lush jungle retreats, and scooter rides in Saigon, Hue, Hanoi, and the Vietnamese countrysides. We took the longest cable car ride to the highest peak in Indochina and enjoyed the view as lone passengers in a car designed for 30 people with a 360-degree view of the valleys, rice terraces, and mountains of Sapa.

We drink, cook, hike, exercise, and laugh together. We’ve taken painting classes, dance classes, and played on a soccer team. We own a house and a condo together, refurbish old furniture sometimes, save for early retirement, and spoil our cats. We are very different in some ways and have been at each other’s throats yet are fundamentally so well-suited for each other that if I weren’t an atheist I’d chalk this up to fate.

Our years together have not been extraordinary in and of themselves (plenty of people hike, drink, and travel), but for me, the last 12 years has been characterized by little pieces of magic here and there, and everywhere.

When I was little, I was prone to impractical daydreaming. I would daydream of being a rock star or sprouting wings and flying, for instance. On the other hand I rarely contemplated much in detail about the specifics of my future life. My eleven-year-old self didn’t care to think about what kind of career, husband, house, kids she’d have, or vacations she’d take, beyond assuming that there would eventually be a job, a dude, and an abode in the mix on an abstract level, because that’s what adults do.

So what I mean by “special” is, it’s special to me, and if my eleven-year-old self was given a glimpse into this future, she’d be pretty damn smug and content, implausible fantasies of growing wings and flying across oceans aside.

Having a kid is supposed to be the “next” step, a higher level or deeper stage, but sometimes it feels more like we’re tearing parts of a great creation down and rebuilding it to be something completely different and unfamiliar.

So, what will the next 12 years be like? Stay tuned…

 

DON’T DO IT

The taco belongs in a mouth! It won’t always make it into a mouth, but it’s best not to broadcast any evidence of taco waste!

I hereby give permission for anyone to slap me if I share pictures on social media of my child covered in food. Seriously, this is weird and gross. The pasta sauce all over the eyebrows and face is as attractive on your child as it is on you. Please, no. Also, while your kid is rubbing noodles in her hair, smearing chocolate everywhere but in her mouth, and flinging taco bits across your kitchen, there are starving children in third world countries.

Maybe I’ll change my feelings when I become a mother, but irrespective of how I feel, I will NOT ALLOW MYSELF TO DO THIS. I would never post a picture of myself covered from head to toe in chocolate because it is messy and unattractive. Regardless of how cute or “funny” I might think my child is, I’ll try to remember that to others, she likely looks messy and unattractive covered in food. If anyone catches me sharing pictures of my child covered in food, it means my body has been overtaken by the body snatchers and I am signalling for help.

Did You Buy _______ Yet?

No, but I do have a big jar of coconut oil in the kitchen pantry, so I’m good. Twitter tells me coconut oil is the solution to all life’s problems, and since I already own a big jar of it, I’ll bite.

I’m completely serious. I’ve already acquired way more baby shit than I intended. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow we have like 5 different sleeping arrangements for Fetus, including a co-sleeper, a crib, a cradle, a folding Rock ‘n Play, and a swing. Granted, she is expected to grow out of the co-sleeper and cradle within a few months, but still. Five. Sleeping. Arrangements. How does sleeping get this complicated? Why are babies so hard? Aghghghghghgh.

I’ve also been advised I really need a baby wipe warmer, nipple cream, some sort of diaper rash prevention cream (as opposed to Desitin, which treats the rash once it occurs), a bottle warmer, a changing table, among others items I have avoided buying thus far. With the exception of the changing table, a lot of these don’t take much physical space, especially compared to the 5 different sleeping products/devices, but they take up mental space and create psychological clutter for me so I am avoiding them for as long as possible.

According to Google, coconut oil can suffice both as nipple cream and diaper rash prevention, so I’m going to do just that unless/until it proves to be an embarrassing hippie failure.

Beef Noodle Soup for the Soul

I was driving back from a deposition in Newport Beach yesterday, and once I was on the 405, realized it was only the briefest of detours to go to a Taiwanese restaurant off of Jeffrey in Irvine. Beef noodle soup sang out to my soul (or was it Fetus craving something?) and I exited Jeffrey to stop for lunch at A&J Restaurant (半畝園).

I don’t bullshit myself; A&J does not have amazing beef noodle soup and cannot compare to Taiwan, but it absolutely satisfies the craving and it is not possible to eat here and leave unhappy. I have consistently ordered beef noodle soup with the wide noodles, half tendon, half meat every time I come here for the last 19 years, but there are other great things on the menu as well including the green onion pancakes (蔥油餅) and some other carb-loaded fried dough, the name of which I do not know in English (抓餅). One of these days I want to bring husband here for a traditional Taiwanese breakfast/brunch for soy milk soup accompanied with some other fried dough dish (油條). Noodles, fried dough, more fried dough… this is how Asians get the diabeetus.

This place has been around for a long time; it’s been there since probably well before my family moved to Irvine in 1998, and as far as I can tell has employed the exact same personnel since at least then. We used to come here all the time when I was in high school, and it appears that almost 20 years later, with the exception of maybe one extra person, it’s the exact same ladies who seat you and serve you. I don’t know their names, but I know them by face, and I suspect the one random Hispanic lady who’s still there has a decent command of Mandarin by now. I was last here just about a year ago, and one of the waitresses recognized me, commenting that I used to go there all the time with my family. She asked, “Didn’t you used to have a little brother? Where’s he?” I responded that my “little” brother is now 26 and living in New York City, and we laughed about how much time had passed.

After lunch, I spoiled myself some more by walking into Sunmerry bakery for unearned treats (unjust desserts?). Had a pineapple bun and bought two Portuguese style egg tarts for dessert after dinner. I ate the pineapple bun while sitting in traffic on the way back to San Diego and saved the egg tarts for after our carne asado burrito dinner. It was a decadent day, as far as food goes.

But MuH CLotHeS

At week 35, finding clothes to wear is a constant pain in the ass because I’m outgrowing stuff on a weekly basis, but I’m still trying to avoid maternity clothes by making use of empire waist dresses I already own. I actually wore the tribal print dress below to a wedding in 2015. The extremely high slits had to be adjusted with a quick needle and thread job, but it did just fine for our baby shower (at week 33). The yellow dress (week 32) is actually something I took from a friend some 7+ years ago when she was cleaning out her closet. Hey, sometimes it pays to hoard stuff.

I also picked up some cheap ass leggings in larger sizes Wal-Mart for $3.99 a pair (see above) and also am still squeezing some final usage out of my regular skinny jeans with the help of a belly band (at week 35, this really is probably the last time I can do this). But… I did cave and bought a maternity dress from H&M. It was leopard print and I could not resist.

 

Week 35 Workouts

Exercising has become a constantly evolving project. I tried doing my regular hill sprinting (6 times) around 30 weeks or so and wasn’t feeling so hot. I felt stiff, crampy, and achy and laid off sprints altogether for about a month. However, I decided to see if I could work them back in and am currently alternating 3 hill sprints with 3 sets of 12-15 squat jumps and a couple of Yoga stretches for a quick workout.

Hiking has become increasingly challenging. In the first couple of trimesters, the cardio aspect was harder, but in the third trimester, I basically have to pee constantly on hikes and really start to wither in the summer heat. I’m still hiking… it’s just a lot less pleasant. We did a 4-mile hike last weekend during which I had to pee twice, thought I was going to melt, and then needed a nap afterwards.

The hill I used to jog is still in the repertoire, but I started walking it twice instead, except for this past weekend, when it was too hot and I walked it once and did three sets of squat jumps instead of the second round. The squat jumps are my all-purpose filler to replace anything I can’t do  comfortably, but those (and squats in general) are starting to be a bit hard on the knees, so we’ll see how long I can keep those up.

I’m still working in some stairs by the beach every week or so. As with the hill, I can’t jog them any more, but I go up two steps at a time and do 8 sets while enjoying the lovely ocean view. Unfortunately, with the increasingly warmer weather, there is more foot traffic at the beach and on the stairs, but for now, this is a pretty reliable workout.

Up until week 34 I was doing one day of weights a week, including some butt lifts, squats with 20 pound weights, wall sits, triceps dips, biceps curls, and shoulder lifts. Weights didn’t happen week 34 just because I was busy doing other stuff, but hopefully not too much has changed in a week and a half and I can resume it as usual this week.

I am doing prenatal yoga once a week, which is still pretty gentle, but as I am able to do less, I might start going twice a week. I still suspect Yoga is the reason my hips are bothering me less in my sleep and is responsible for at least some degree of overall well-being.

Lunch Break at the Public Library

I was feeling uncomfortable yesterday (heavy and stiff), and decided to go on a short walk to the public library during lunch break. It was less than a 10 minute walk, but the steep hill was no joke. However, it was worth it. The library near my office sits on top of a small hill and has a great ocean view. I have not frequented libraries in some time, and was surprised to find the parking lot completely packed. I browsed the bookstore and found some neat children’s books for 50 cents (pictured above).

In addition to the ones pictured, I got another Magic School Bus book; a short story about Helen Keller and the power of determination; a book called Big Al about a big, ugly fish who wants friends; and The Gingerbread Man. I thought Meet Samantha of the American Girl series was a particularly good deal, though many years will pass before Fetus can read it (or the Beatles/Bob Dylan biographies for that matter). I had described the American Girl series to my husband previously and indicated that while the historical fiction stories were fun, the dolls marketed alongside these books were unreasonably expensive. I remember them being approximately $80 when was a kid; Samantha as an example, is now $115.00. This price includes one paperback book, and of course, there are plenty of other doll accessories dolls sold separately. A hairbrush for Samantha costs $8.00, which is probably twice the price of what I pay for my hairbrush. Jesus.

Husband had the foresight to flip to the back of Meet Samantha and suggest we rip out the form requesting monthly American Girl catalogs to head off any future pleas for absurdly priced dolls and accompanying accessories. I could not have been more in agreement.

I also found a little treat for myself, also for 50 cents:

This is an exceedingly nerdy book about Mozart’s operas, which frankly, reads a bit like a textbook at times. It analyzes the music, plot, and history behind Mozart’s 5 most famous operas. I’ve read the first 30 pages so far, and it’s interesting, but a bit dense, and I probably won’t get around to finishing it. At the very least, I’ll have to pay a bit more attention to some of his operas. I have not heard of The Abduction From the Seraglio at all, so maybe it’s time to check that out.

#TBT When I Got My $200 Wedding Dress From China

It’s wedding season and I love weddings, though I continue to be shocked at the rising cost of weddings. According to theKnot.com, the national average is $35,259 as of 2016. I always look back at our wedding fondly and am particularly pleased with the $200 custom tailored dress I ordered from Dressilyme.com. Say all you want about cheap Chinese crap, but this was the best decision ever, and I got a brand new, custom made, high-quality, wedding dress for less than $200:

I started off dress shopping with a really low budget, as I really was not keen on spending even close to $1,000 (approximately the average, according to Cosmo, or more like $1,500 according to the Knot). I looked for deals at David’s Bridal, but wasn’t wowed by anything. I browsed and tried on a couple of used dresses from Craigslist searches. However, even some of the used dresses were absurdly expensive in my opinion, in the $400-$600 range. Look, I get that you paid $2,000 for it, only wore it once, and think that $600 for your dream dress is a steal, but in the end, it’s still $600 for a used dress.

Rather displeased with my options, I took to the internet and took the plunge, despite some mixed reviews for Dressilyme.com. Most people had good experiences, though there were definitely several horror stories.

The process was easy: I browsed the stock photos on their website, picked a dress I liked, measured myself, sent them the measurements, and received exactly what I ordered by mail probably 6 weeks later. They basically replicated a designer dress to the T and charged a fraction of the price. The dress was folded into an absurdly small package and shipped to me in a nondescript box, but the wrinkles were easily taken care of with a steamer.

I did end up paying around $150 for alterations, but this was not due to any incompetence or lack of skill on their part; I decided I wanted the dress to be tighter, and additionally, had ordered the dress in too long a length because I did not know what height my heels would be. They did not skimp on material or attention to detail, and all five layers of the dress had to be hemmed, which obviously increased the cost of tailoring. Part of the tailoring cost also included having it bustled, which would be an additional cost whether I ordered my dress from China or not.

I did not have a boutique shopping experience, or get a champagne toast when I found “the one,” but for me, it brought me much more glee to employ the services of the internet to find the dress I wanted and have it travel to me from thousands of miles away without even coming close to breaking the bank. No one would know my dress was shipped from a factory in China, except that I enjoyed gloating about it.

 

Libertarians Who Think Women Are More Prone to Socialism Are Fucking Idiots

Idiotic misogynists, to be precise.

If people harboring such sexist opinions took just two seconds to think about history and everything that is completely obvious to any non-comatose human, they would instantly conclude there is absolutely no credibility to the claim women prefer big government, authoritarianism, socialism, or collectivism, when compared to men.

Let us start by reviewing the entire concept of government, shall we? Last I checked, governments all over the world, for most of human history, have been instigated, operated, and perpetuated disproportionately by men. Kings, emperors, lords, monarchs, and other rulers of all sorts have almost exclusively been men, with exceptions being in the minority. Generals, armies, conquerors, and marauders throughout all of human history have also mostly been people with penises. Thus, it’s safe to say men pretty much fucking invented the concept of government-related war and violence.

In the United States, women did not even have any uniform right to vote until 1920, much less have any power in government. We all know voting is useless anyways, so to ignore all of American (and human) history and claim women are prone to favor government and are somehow more responsible for irreparably contributing to its current gargantuan form is a special kind of unprecedented absurdity.

Next, let us review some of the worst (big) government leaders in the history of mankind:

  • Genghis Khan
  • Hitler
  • Kim Il Sung
  • Mao
  • Pol Pot
  • Stalin

This list is not comprehensive by any means, but when worst dictators and bloodiest leaders come to mind, NO women make the cut. You can google some more “worst dictator” lists here, here, and here, and if you undertake a simple CTRL+F function, you will observe that the word “she” does not appear on any of these lists. This is not to say there are none (e.g. here), but this point cannot be subject to any kind of serious debate.

It is also indisputable men have and continue to fill the ranks of the biggest, most violent, statist institutions in the world, i.e. the police and the military. The military and the police are the backbone of any government operation, as they wield the force to do the government’s bidding. Without military and police to forcibly subjugate people into succumbing to a government’s will, laws and regulations are completely meaningless. What is the percentage of women who occupy these professions? They are clearly in the minority in the United States, and I’d venture to guess a vast minority when taking the rest of the world into account. While women (unfortunately) increasingly seek employment in these fields, for most of history, these jobs were occupied by men. 

Even today, when women have made great strides and progress against sexism in the United States, as of 2016, women make up only 19 percent of all members of Congress, and less than 25 percent of all state legislators. They constitute 6 of the nation’s 50 governors (see here). Worldwide, women are also the minority when it comes to government power and control. If women “love big government,” they sure have a funny way of showing it, and if men love limited government, their actions sure as fuck aren’t in accordance with that professed affinity.

Any intellectually honest libertarian recognizes there is hardly any difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to big government. The parties differ only on petty issues when it comes to spending. When Democrats and Republicans alike favor huge budgets, huge government programs, a bloated military, and endless war, there is absolutely no merit to the claim that because women are more liberal, that they are more statist than men. So the fact women tend to lean Democrat and support liberal social policies speaks very little to the issue, as men in equal proportion favor other types of equally costly big-government programs. To claim women significantly embrace statism more than men is to ignore most of human history and use a shamelessly selective attention to facts to arrive at a misogynistic conclusion.

Libertarians often point to the disproportionate numbers of liberatarian men and cite the dearth of women in the libertarian movement as evidence women prefer statism. This is nonsense. The vast majority of Americans identify as Democrats or Republicans. How many libertarian anarchists do you personally know? It would be generous to suggest they might constitute 1 percent of the American population. To argue that because women constitute a disproportionately small pie of this 1 percent means women as a whole are more “socialist” and “love big government” is to embrace a stupidity beyond comprehension.

Put another way, a Pew poll has found that 15 percent of men identify with limited-government views, compared with 7 percent of women. In other words, 85 percent of men are statists, and 93 percent of women are statists; thus, the ostensible argument is that although men are overwhelmingly statist, because they are a few paltry percentage points less likely to be statist, they are prone to freedom, while women are prone to big government.  Are you really that stupid, or do you just hate women because you’ve lived in your mother’s basement too long, don’t get any pussy, and need someone to blame for your fragile ego?

Yes, shockingly, it is true that if one discards all data points indicating men are also statists in high percentages, one could indeed selectively conclude women are less libertarian. In fact, it is a universal truth that if one eliminates all the data serving as evidence against their argument, the remaining data will support their hypothesis. Who knew?! To limit the sample size to the small percentage of libertarians, and ignore the many (majority of) men who are statist in order to insist on the twisted conclusion that women particularly love  and support statism means only this: you’re really good at mental gymnastics and are a total embarrassment to humanity.

Obviously, libertarianism is about individualism, and there should be no blame game as to which arbitrary collective is more “responsible” for socialism, but if we’re going to play this game, let’s play it fairly. Putting aside political preferences, and returning to the more probative evidence, because fuck the preferences – the irrefutable truth throughout history demonstrates men are government. Who the fuck really cares if women like government more if men are the ones who invented it, and continue to operate, control, and perpetuate it in much higher proportions than women? For anyone to argue that women’s insignificantly slight preference for government (if it exists at all) somehow proves a gender disparity in attitudes toward government only reveals the depths of their delusion and idiocy.