Announcing Pregnancy

Everyone knows the 3-month rule. Due to the higher chance of miscarriage in early pregnancy, many, if not most, like to keep things under wraps until the second trimester. I did not follow this approach for a few reasons, however.

While the risk of miscarriage in known pregnancies is, according to Dr. Google, 10-20 percent in the first 20 weeks, the odds still appeared to be largely in my favor. I also considered the fact there are no known miscarriages in my family and I’m pretty healthy. Whether these are scientifically sound reasons for being optimistic, I can’t say, but that was my thought process.

I balanced these odds with the absolute certainty that within a week or two, I’d find myself at a party, uncharacteristically without an alcoholic drink, and would face questions about being pregnant and have to lie. I knew this with absolute certainty, because there was one occasion on which I attended a baby shower after a night of brewery hopping. As I had indulged sufficiently the night prior, I decided to take it easy on the alcohol at the baby shower. I was one of the earlier guests, and actually did help myself to a mimosa, but after that, I refrained with the exception of a virgin Bloody Mary, which is nice the day after drinking. Also, I hate vodka and love tomato juice, so I always drink Bloody Marys virgin, but I do not do this frequently, so not many people know this.

Subsequently, my husband received several text messages from his friends insisting they “knew” I must be pregnant, because none of the girlfriends or wives saw me imbibe alcohol at the shower, and in fact, saw me order a virgin drink. The texts were so adamant my husband actually called me on the way home from work to ask tentatively, “You’re not pregnant… are you?”

So I had a pretty good idea that any time I’m caught without alcohol, there would be questions. I am not a good liar and I could see myself being really awkward with this. Further, I’d have to make up a lot of lies if I was seeing people or being invited places over the course of 3 months.

Additionally, while you never know until it happens to you, I did not think I’d be the type to be completely devastated if I miscarried. Surely, it would be frustrating, but I suspected I would tell myself it was my body’s way of rejecting an organism not meant to be born, and doubted I would become a total emotional wreck. I balanced the relatively unlikely possibility of having to tell multiple people I miscarried with the absolute certainty of telling many awkward lies, and decided the awkward lies would be worse for me.

We told parents and family almost immediately, followed by close friends. Everyone else, we told if they asked or if it somehow came up. We did not go out of our way to share on social media or make any type of formal announcement. To be honest, for me, the beginning was characterized by a certain level of anxiety, and I didn’t want to feel like I had to put on an act for everyone about how exciting and joyous this all is. Maybe that makes me weird, but it’s the truth, and I was not inclined to put on a fake show. You can fool the world, but you cannot fool yourself, nor should you try to.

[Note: pictured above indeed is our little fetus, not a cat sitting on a plank, however appropriate that might be.]

Preggo Shopping

Over the weekend, I drove down to Pacific Beach to my husband’s cousin Amy’s pad, where she had laid out a beautiful spread of snacks and drinks on her dinner table for a ladies’ day. Her smorgasboard included sweet peppers, a whipped garlic spread, brie, homemade fig jam, plum preserves, baguette slices, tapenade, among other treasures that sang to me. These were paired with champagne and beers for others (so jealous), but Amy was incredibly thoughtful and had a couple of fancy non-alcoholic options for me. After gorging on the snacks, paired with a coconut (mango?) oolong tea, and an elderflower and rose lemonade, we went shopping with a crew of ladies.

The first stop was a store I’ve been to on a couple of prior occasions. Half of it contains normal clothing. The other half is most accurately described as an awesome costume/stripper store, featuring wigs in all colors of the rainbow, garter belts, masks, S&M collars, corsets, animal ears, steampunk goggles, and things normal people do not wear out in public. Every time I am here, I Snapchat a glimpse of this wonderland to my stripper friend. If I lived closer, I’d be here all the time. Being about 5 months pregnant, I briefly felt reminiscent browsing through slinky dresses I could have previously worn. Amy assured me I could buy them anyway because I would eventually fit into them again, but I am vehemently against buying ill-fitting clothes many months in advance (especially considering how fickle I am in my style). However, she did plant a seed in my head, and without much further deliberation promptly decided I could still wear these things if I bought items made of stretchy material, and in the largest size available.

So I left the store with a form-fitting black spandex dress (size L) that was not made for pregnant people and a gray, over-sized, shirt featuring the classy slogan, “ALCOHOL YOU LATER.” Although this may not have been the shirt’s intent, I figured this was entirely appropriate for me, since indeed, I cannot alcohol until many months from now. Additionally, I picked up a black, lacy, billowy dress with spaghetti straps for $5 that seemed perfect for preggos, which is also probably why it was on the sale rack for $5 in a stripper store. I wore the black spandex to the bowling alley with 5-inch wedges the next day, because fuck it. YOLO.

On a side note, in our shopping adventures, I noticed an abundance of choker necklaces, ribbed shirts and dresses, and floral prints. Holy shit, are the 90’s back in? Goddamn I am getting old.

Falling

With dangerous ambivalence they were rampaging the streets

She sees herself everywhere in mirrors, holding rainbow glasses of drinks

Until she finds herself sinking between his sheets

Breathing warmth out of her veins, suspecting that if she blinks

She might erase it all with the pulse of the night and a parting of the lips

When her wings fluttered the hours away in a smoky heaven and she tore shooting stars off the walls

Traced the clouds with her hips, brushed the ether with her fingertips

In smug delight of holding a microcosmos in her pocket, blind to impending falls

So steadily she holds the gaze of his gold-flecked eyes

Carefully one more time traces his ripples and lines

When daylight snakes in the room and the night before is a faded whisper of sighs

And the arrogant sun sings and shines

She can feel her heart starting to creak and bend

And fears with him she’ll meet her end

Sunset Boulevard

It was an aimless time in the rain whiskey burning in the veins and someone whispered please sleep but sleep bribes with the most useless promises and giving in is the most undignified part of the day, when forced ripples of unconsciousness threaten to be continuous so they used small, orange dolls to force wakefulness with a torrent of fire and abandon. Sunset Boulevard would not die so the four of them took a booth at Denny’s and she tugged her hair, sighed, and he turned to look at her, his expression asking what am I doing here but she only smiled, because she did not have the answer. She closed her eyes and thought those liquid-slate eyes are the most fleeting of all, unstoppable, and when she opened her eyes she felt she had miscalculated and was spinning in confusion at her own error. When the sun rose she drove to the airport, crying at the drab hideousness of the 405 and its ceaseless droning, and she did not know why, but her friend, leaning her head against the passenger seat window, was secretly pleased with her tears.

Hangover

drifting in and out of sleep floating through disturbances of phone calls and scrambled details of a faraway night-glory when riddled with shivers she found a warm body, let herself crumble to elusive plans not her own, victim to sloshing in the head, a warm bloody release of the fulfillment. she slept alone above a pool of aquamarine liquid, disconnected from infidelities.

there’s a vague flash of pink, metallic, chipped nailpoish, and bent wings. here’s the skin my flesh and all the youth for you to feast on. she raged and dragged a furor through the bones with a fresh madness and love that has never idled away in a pantry or been stored in a can.

waking up penless and thoughtless, light was starting to claw at the blinds and she was still waiting for unconsciousness and relief from the battle schemes of the day. coffee and spirits have flooded the veins, burst against reason, spun the head with heavy confessions in a rotation of heavenly uncertainties.

an entreating voice is on the phone, asking for warmth, because he is about to leave again, restless to wander while she stews contentedly in suburbia, breathing in a fateful and constant concrete, only half listening because she catches sight of a man on a balcony and trails off to stale thoughts and imagined with him there would be the final reduction of the fatal rush and the pleasure of letting the unknown melt in slate irises, gold-flared in the midday sun, a faithful and eternal reflection of unending sand and flawless sky.

now they suffer the musicless hum of the 405 together and she is reminded they have always been imaginary. you might be remembered best if you finished here violently and grandly and young because continuity threatens to be the most inglorious concession.

Daydream

i daydream about waking up in his apartment between cocoon sheets and quietly folded dreams of the faded night before

and padding down the hallway on his pine wood floors in the morning as a crisp reminder of reality

but he never calls me so

let us stare mindlessly at the yellow roses by the mailbox together until this song runs out

we’ll pick up guitars and play until i am ready for coffee highs and long days

we’ll make our own viscous, blurring nights with liquid destruction in our hands

you can have all my secret fascinations and my immutable kingdom

as long as we can spend all summer on the cafe patio

with old men

cigarettes

and iced tea

Walking

she worked daily to make him but a smear in her thoughts

when she is drinking iced tea

he appears on the patio sometimes, softened by sunlight and appearing innocuous

when the night air is falling and rippling around her vague intent to conquer and

the Los Angeles concrete is fluid, snaking brightly in the dark

her steps are flight and he is not even a stain on her immediacy

only a crimson shadow in her kingdom of vanity, if he is there at all

but in her sleep

she fears he is the colour of her blood.

Alcohol

chasteness chastity celibacy abstinence virtuous reserved

whore

she caught sight of herself in the mirror, presiding over vomit-laced sinks and

briefly searches for the terrible fish in the reaches of the silver pool but is relieved

the bathroom god is merciful when the time pulses slowly, the air moves like waves

he said you smell like cigarettes and boys, what a primitive existence, base and typical

just as you feared

let me live thin during the nights, if it pleases me

on her thigh she notices a bruise, eggplant-coloured and temporary

an accident like Tuesday and his slate-blue eyes

she hates the thickness of heat and how skins cling in damp numbness

these close textures, constant intrusions remind her

she has resigned herself to chasing her second fall

Irvine

i was getting close

content rolling on the counter at the community pool

fleshy limbs on pleasant concrete sipping a milky mixer scrolling down my phone for people to call

boiling alive in the jacuzzi alongside people who might be my neighbors

i can smell the chlorine on my skin when i move and remember

i came home to pound out old furies

to attempt to chat incoherently with immortal lovers

she’s floating next to me, equally bored, suggesting names of acquaintances to rope into drinking with us

some boy who will undoubtedly grope us before the night is over

some old creep who has children our age

then my father calls and says

she is dead

If You Think Intoxicated Sex Is Rape, You’re Probably A Sexist Pig

Rape is a controversial issue, and the definition of “rape” is anything but clear. A reasonable definition for rape necessitates the use of force and/or lack of consent. After all, cajoling someone or playing on their weaknesses to convince them to take some sort of action shouldn’t be criminal, assuming it doesn’t involve injuring any non-consenting third parties.

For example, if a friend purposely drives by an In-N-Out and successfully induces you to break your diet and eat a Double Double, you were not physically violated into eating a burger against your consent. If your buddy convinces you to strip naked and go swim in the ocean against your better judgment, you have not been “forced” to go skinny dipping. If your pal sweet talks you into dropping them off at an airport two hours away against your preference, you have not been “forced” to take them to the airport.

This is because none of these scenarios involved aggression or coercion justifying punishment, and the result does not change if one or both parties were drunk when coming to these decisions. Maybe your friend has taken advantage of your drunken state to talk you into running around naked, eat burgers, or take her to a distant airport the next morning, but it isn’t criminal, because adults are responsible for their actions, even when drunk.

For some, this may seem like common sense; yet, common sense is not always so common. A Slate article recently reported a story wherein a college woman was drunk, but was walking, talking, on multiple occasions fended off friends who attempted to take her home, and told people she was OK three times . After having sex with an equally, if not more inebriated fellow student, she reported him for sexual misconduct. The slate article goes on to explain that universities are “struggling to determine” whether a situation of this type is sexual assault, which frankly, is absurd.  Though all outward appearances, including text message evidence, was consistent with consent, the man was expelled from college.

This is not an isolated sentiment. I attended a freshman orientation program at UCLA in the fall of 2002 that featured a sexual assault presentation embodying a similar philosophy. A speaker stood in front of thousands of impressionable freshman in the incoming class and announced that sex with a drunk woman under any circumstances constituted rape. This appalled me and made me want to vomit in my mouth. I had never been drunk because I was a big nerd in high school, but the idea men were deemed intelligent enough to make decisions when drunk but women were not was just about the most sexist thing I’d heard in quite a while.

The speaker then invited feedback from the audience, at which time, a young man stood up and said, “I 100 percent agree because women are all wonderful princesses and should be treated as such.” At this point, I wanted to vomit not only a little in my mouth; I wanted to spew projectile barf all over this douchebag, the speaker, and humanity. If I had some more balls (ovaries?) at that age, I would have booed or staged a walk-out.

A person does not lose the capacity for volition or consent by being drunk per se, because impaired judgment (caused by drinking or otherwise) in and of itself is not something that should absolve people of personal responsibility. Of course, if a person is unconscious, he/she is physically incapable of any intent or consent, but otherwise, being drunk in and of itself should not negate volition or consent. Accordingly, when an intoxicated individual commits assault (or any other crime) it is no defense to claim he/she was drunk, and therefore not responsible for their actions. On the other hand, if a unconscious person rolls off a bed and hits someone, there clearly is no intent or volition.

Sex and rape are sensitive subjects, but  countless other examples indicate impaired judgment does not and should not negate volition or consent. Stupidity impairs judgment, but unless the victim is literally mentally disabled (or is a child!) it is not a crime to have sex with dumb people. Stress and sleep deprivation impair judgment, but people cannot escape the responsibility of valid contracts by claiming they had a bad day/didn’t get enough sleep and therefore did not truly consent to the terms. Money impairs judgment, but it wouldn’t seem fair to allow someone to claim rape after the fact in such a fashion – “I was impressed with her wealth, which impaired my judgment. If I hadn’t been swayed by money, I wouldn’t have had sex with her, so I was raped.”

People also don’t get out of contracts by claiming drunkenness. Very relevantly, Lucy v. Zehmer was a case wherein a bunch of drunk people were having a grand old time, and one of the drunk people, Zehmer, jotted down on a restaurant receipt, “We hereby agree to sell to W. O. Lucy the Ferguson Farm complete for $50,000.00…” Zehmer later tried to claim he was drunk and didn’t mean it, but the court upheld the contract, finding that the outward appearances pointed to a valid contract, even if Zehmer had imbibed quite a bit of alcohol.

Like with drunkenness, on the extreme end of the spectrum, there may indeed be a complete lack of consent if someone was so anxious as to be mentally ill and incapable of consent, or so tired they were actually unconscious. But until it approaches that point, the mere fact of impaired judgment in and of itself does not negate consent if outward appearances, or objective factors, indicate there was consent.

This is not to say there aren’t areas of gray, as intoxication and unconsciousness span a wide spectrum, and many situations will require a case-by-case determination. However, if someone gets drunk and is convinced into having sex, it is not rape unless there is actually some physical force or objective lack of consent. I.e. As Lucy instructs, the inquiry is not how drunk either party is; the inquiry is whether the outward appearances indicate it was consensual. As consent is not negated by impaired judgment alone, objective factors such as aggression, violence, threats, and refusals by the victim are key to the inquiry. Admittedly, consent can be difficult to define, but instead of attempting to set parameters, people have become hung up on this false belief that drinking alcohol, which is a voluntary act undertaken by adults, somehow negates personal responsibility.

To compare – people who are born stupid cannot escape contractual obligations they have made with smarter people by claiming the smarter person “took advantage” of their lower IQ. Regardless of the intelligence differential, a person attempting to avoid contractual duties is held to the same contractual standards as the rest of society. People born stupid similarly cannot claim rape when a smarter person has sex with them (thereby “taking advantage” of their “impaired judgment”). That being the case, people should not be able to deny responsibility when they make impaired decisions after voluntarily ingesting alcohol.

The fact someone regrets it the next day doesn’t mean he or she objectively refused consent the night before. The fact he/she wouldn’t have consented if sober is also irrelevant (again, see Lucy). People do all kinds of things when drunk that they otherwise wouldn’t do – that’s kind of part of the fun (and danger) of being drunk. Many people regret the frankly horrifying binge-eating they engage in with friends after a hard night drinking, but that in no way means their friends violated them and forced food down their throat.

The use of mundane examples of eating burgers and swimming naked in the ocean was not an accident. Much of this discussion revolves around the widely accepted assumption that sex is this big fucking deal. If sex were seen as an experience similar to burger eating, skinny-dipping, or contract-making, no one would be trying to argue that getting drunk negates volition/consent, or that the end result of drunk people having sex should be a prison sentence. In fact, this discussion likely would never even exist. It is for the very reason that sex is placed on a pedestal that people have found the need to create twisted logic and nonsensical rules when it comes to sex.

The reason it is a big deal is probably because as progressive as people pretend to be, a lot of them are still clinging to antiquated, oppressive, and downright stupid notions of sexuality. Monkeys fuck. Cats and dogs fuck. Goats and donkeys fuck. Cows fuck. Llamas fuck. Bugs fucking fuck. They do it to reproduce and spread genes. But when it comes to human beings, there are all these fucking rules (pun intended), and most of all if you’re a woman.

If you’re a woman and you don’t fuck anyone at all, you’re a boring old prude. If you fuck too young or fuck too many, you’re a fucking slutty whorebag. A slutty whorebag is pretty much the worst thing a woman can be. It’s much worse than being a jerk, a dick, or an annoying person. A slut/whore is like the worst thing ever. You bring shame to your family. Other women hate you. Men fuck you but think you’re disgusting (which makes zero sense by the way – if someone is so repulsive, why in god’s name would you put your dick inside?). You’re pretty much the lowest scum to ever walk the earth, reviled, denigrated, and scorned along with murderers and rapists even though you’ve hurt no one – in fact, just the opposite – you’ve probably made plenty of people quite happy.

People who drink too much or shoot too much heroin “have a problem” and are in need of therapy, sympathy, support, and love, but god forbid you fuck too much – clearly, you are an immoral, soulless, wretch.

Wait, actually, the rules are not that simple. If you fuck a ton, but it’s all the same penis, you are totally cool. However, if there were many different penises involved, then you are a horrible, deranged human being. Well, if there were like 5 penises total, over a period of like 10 years, you are probably good to go. But if it was only 5 penises, but it involved two Eiffel Towers and a one night stand, you might still have a problem. It’s very, very, complicated.

This is not an excuse for false rape accusations, which are unforgivable. However, it does provide context to explain why people come up with absurd ideas like, “drinking alcohol negates consent” and “there is no such thing as consensual drunken sex.” It also isn’t surprising that if society beats into women the idea that only degenerate and terrible women are slutty or aggressive about sex, women who were drunk and made a poor decision  might have this sort of thought process: “Wait, I did what? But I’m not a depraved, abominable person! I wouldn’t have done that normally… I must have been tricked/drugged/raped…”

Slut-shaming causes women and men to make sex a big fucking philosophical/moral deal when it need not be. We are all a bunch of human beings trying to spread our DNA and our petty genes, just like cats, dogs, goats, and fucking bugs. It’s actually quite base and puerile. This is to say nothing of the fact that assuming a man has the capacity to rape when drunk, but women have no capacity for consent when drunk is paternalistic, condescending, and downright insulting to the intelligence of women. We are sentient, adults, not babies or animals. Anyone who supports the infantilization of women through culture or law in this manner is by definition sexist.

So get over it. If you drank too much and fucked some gross dude, own it. Laugh about it the next day, chastise yourself for making a poor choice if you so wish, see a doctor, and get on with it like a man would. Write about it in your journal and make him a fictional character in one of your short stories. It’s a trivial matter in the grand scheme of things, because self-respect doesn’t come from the number of dicks that have or have not been in your vagina.

If you are a man and your sister or daughter got wasted and had sex with someone beneath her, get off your judgey, Victorian, caveman-like high horse and ask yourself whether your dick, or your soul, is so clean and perfect. If you are a woman and think sluts are everywhere around you, try not to be a mega-bitch because it’s none of your fucking business anyways. If someone you know truly is having so much sex with so many people that it’s literally a mental illness or a severe problem (learn about nymphomania symptoms here), then treat them the way you would a person with any other addiction, not like an immoral waste of life.

People get drunk and do stupid shit sometimes, and some people do stupid shit all the time when sober. That’s life, and there isn’t always a rapist involved.