Happy Father’s Day

To my dearest love,

It’s not easy to write blog posts one-handed, on the phone, in the dark while our hellion has a death grip on my arm but… This is my last chance to write this message in secret.

One unexpected thing about parenthood is how much more sensitive it has made me to the plight of suffering children. The news, always a source of horror and disappointment in humanity, now has an even deeper layer of poignancy for me when I read about the cruelties visited upon children and sometimes their parents. My mind involuntarily places me in their shoes and I’m frightened, but I take comfort in knowing you’ll always be here for me and Vale.

 

I wish I had another surprise for you to open since you already know about the botanical gardens, but I’m excited to stop and she’ll the roses together many times in the coming year.

I love you so much!

“Jen N”

Strange Feelings While Checking Out At Wal-Mart

I went to Wal-Mart the other day to buy Valentine’s Day cards for Vale to take to daycare, even though she has no idea what’s going on and no teeth with which to eat candy (haha! all for me, then!) I was standing at the self check-out kiosk, scanning items, and debating between the hologram dinosaur Valentine cards versus Peppa the Pig (I have no idea who the hell Peppa is). As I scanned body wash and York Peppermint Patties I also wondered whether these days it is considered negligent to give candy to classmates on Valentine’s Day, as opposed to organic, non-GMO fruit or some shit. I pushed these concerns aside with some thoughts of back in my day! and Fuck it! Candy is awesome. Be a little festive for Christ’s sake! But my fears would later be confirmed when I saw a friend’s Instagram of the tangerines she had wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow a-la-Pinterest, for her son’s classmates.

As I internally railed against non-GMO, grass-fed, gluten-free, vegan fruits, I was only vaguely aware of an infant crying in a carrier a few kiosks away. The crying baby briefly triggered my recall of a time I was excited to make it all the way through a shopping trip with a happy Vale when she started fussing right as I pulled up to the check-out line; I sympathized with the poor mother.

Right when I decided on Peppa Pig, the woman in the kiosk next to me angrily muttered, “You know, that baby has been crying for two hours.” My first thought was, as to both the mother with the crying baby and the woman currently addressing me, who spends two hours at Wal-Mart? I responded generically, “Oh, that sucks,” assuming she was complaining about the noise, and also internally questioned, Wal-Mart is pretty damn spacious. Couldn’t you have like, moved three aisles away? Who stalks someone in Wal-Mart for two hours? But then she added, “Seriously, two hours. Screaming. Don’t you think the baby might be hungry or something? Ugh!”

Much to my surprise, the word, “hungry,” evoked in me a sudden, foreign, and involuntary feeling of deep sadness for the baby, and for a few seconds I felt quite horrible. I know of women who can pinpoint the exact moment they truly felt like a mother. I wouldn’t go as far to say this was my moment, because I don’t really ever have defining moments of that sort. Perhaps my emotions are so dulled, or my tendency to ruminate is so acute, that I let such moments pass for months before realizing their significance. In any event, for me, life is a series of small incidents melting together on a spectrum of experience; there are no “aha!” moments I can identify, in which I suddenly realize something profound. But still, I felt unexpectedly unsettled, as if an unfamiliar chamber of my heart had been revealed.

Never Fuck Men Who Are Anti-Abortion

The Brisbane Times reports a Catholic school teacher threatened  to send an email to the staff and parents of the school at which he worked with a colleague if the colleague went through with a planned abortion. He has been charged with 3 counts of rape for threatening to release explicit videos and mar the reputation of a colleague if she refused to continue in a relationship and have sex with him. The man, who remains anonymous (but shouldn’t – the media should let us know who this vile mother fucker is) pleaded not guilty and claimed he took these measures as a “last resort” to prevent the woman from “murdering” his child.

And this is why women should never, ever, ever have sex with men who are anti-abortion.

Men who are against abortion think of women as less than human, because they value clumps of unconscious cells over the mind, desires, preferences, and bodily integrity of full-grown human women. These are the types of men who would sooner sentence 9-year-olds and 11 year-olds to a lifetime of depression, anxiety, and irreparable health consequences than permit her to abort a fetus created out of rape.

Most people do not value the preferences and needs of plants, snails, chickens, or goats, all constituting one form of biological life or another, over the lives and happiness of other people. Essentially then, men of this ilk who have sex with women are comparable to men who engage in bestiality. They have sex with creatures they perceive to be subhuman, over whom they believe they have intellectual and physical dominion, because it is more comfortable and convenient for their insecure egos. To these men, women are human-like, but are primarily vessels for propagation of a man’s DNA. Therefore, when faced with a situation in which the subhuman creature does not yield and succumb to this caveman’s expectations or desires, these primitive men may resort to threats, extortion, and/or violence to get their way in the name of “morality.”

It’s not that these men respect “life” in general. These same men are not using extortion, violence, and laws to prevent people from killing goats or pigs for food, or hunting bears and elephants for sport, all of which have more mental capacity and consciousness than many early stage fetuses. They are not bombing in vitro fertilization clinics to protest the countless fertilized eggs idly sitting around, or even being destroyed in medical laboratories.

Rather, the highly selective concern for “life” is limited to clumps of cells that reside in women’s bodies, and their insistence on using violence, force, and threats in furtherance of propagation of that “life” is limited to coercing women into spreading genes. Disingenuously, the only time such a clump of cells matters, is when the burden, inconvenience, or threat to life and limb must be borne by a human woman. This convenient concern for otherwise indistinguishable cells is without any ostensible or reasonable basis compared to concern for the lives of lions, tigers, baboons, or zygotes in petri dishes, and can only be explained by misogyny.

These men believe that just as a pig or cow on a farm has no inherent right to determine the terms or circumstances of reproduction, neither do women. It is the farmer who has the right to decide whether and when to increase the size of his stock for the good of the herd, and it is men and/or society who have the right to tell women whether and when to reproduce for the collective good of the (human) farm.

Certainly, if one does choose to have sex with such a base man of this mentality, resulting in pregnancy, abortions can be procured in secret, but why even accord such a disgusting person the privilege to begin with? There is no reason on earth to ever fuck someone who first and foremost, does not even recognize a woman’s fundamental humanity and right to self-determination.

Thus, unless one is completely comfortable with fucking a man who fucks donkeys and sheep, one should be just as uneasy as fucking a man who is against abortion. Because to that kind of man, you are the donkey.

The Post Office by Charles Bukowski

I recently read The Post Office by Charles Bukowski, and I haven’t decided whether it is an ingenious work of dark comedy or an over-hyped hipster anthem (like Kerouac’s On The Road – don’t kill me).

The Post Office is narrated by Henry Chinaski, a drunk degenerate who works at the United States Postal Service as a carrier. He is constantly hungover at work, gambles too much in his spare time, dates flaky women, and spends the rest of his time drinking. His efforts in his employment as a mail carrier are characterized by his insistence on undertaking the bare minimum work and pushing the patience of his supervisors to the limit without getting fired.

He marries a wealthy woman 13 years younger at one point, but she divorces him because he is not enough of a gentleman, and released her parakeets into the wild because they were making too much noise and disrupted his sleep. He then knocks up an aging hippie, and is largely ambivalent when she leaves him and takes their child away to New Mexico. Chinaski is sometimes an abominable human being; in other instances one senses he is somewhat redeemable.

The books is humorous at times, and a bit dark when it comes to the obvious ennui and monotony of postal work and the people who endure it for decades. I enjoyed it, but did not find it particularly enlightening or compelling. The language is raw and mostly transparent, and I guess there was nothing in particularly that gripped me. I kept wondering where this whole thing was going, and never figured it out.

“Suddenly I had to sit down and shit. It was a good hot one.”

Notably, Bukowski was investigated and harassed by the FBI, possibly in connection with some of the revelations contained in this novel.  According to Bukowski.net, “In 1968 various branches of the U.S. government performed an investigation into the background of civil servant Charles Bukowski…Apparently the FBI and the Postal Service took offense to some of his writing…and had their ‘informants’ report Bukowski to higher-ups in the post office.”

Surely, Bukowski did the United States Postal Service no favors, and provided a special insight into the nonsensical bureaucracy and incompetence involved (those are some of the funniest parts). Even so, I don’t think the book remotely did such an injustice to warrant an FBI investigation, so I guess it just goes to show the FBI has always been full of a bunch of paranoid, meddling assholes.

So the guy shows up hungover at work constantly. But so did I, when I was 19 years old, as opposed to 36. At least he had his wrinkled carrier uniform on; I showed up at work hungover in the dress I wore out the night before. Perhaps this book is a glimpse of how my life would be at age 40 had I not abandoned my hedonistic ways.

Preggo Complaints

I am making this list because I have read from more than one source that evolution is such that a woman conveniently forgets the discomforts of pregnancy and labor, because if she didn’t, she’d be less inclined to reproduce quite as frequently. This is concerning because I believe in making informed decisions, and if my own experiences and recollections are going to be erased, it seems I would not be making as informed of a decision as is ideal the next time around. I’m only coming up on week 20 here though, so surely this is not a comprehensive description and there will be more to come.

Peeing

I previously erroneously assumed that peeing at all hours of the night was only a thing once your belly was quite large and the uterus began to push on the bladder. I was disappointed to learn that waking up 2+ times a night begins almost immediately, because your body is in the process of creating more blood and fluids, and your kidneys are working in overdrive! This was certainly a surprise to me. The good news: It only lasted for 4 months, and for the last couple of weeks, I have been sleeping straight through the night again. Whew. I know, enjoy it while I can.

Bad Sleep

I am a champion sleeper when not pregnant. I have the ability to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, and very few things can disrupt my sleep, including earthquakes, doors slamming, or my cats meowing for food. Sometimes, a cat has to give me a pretty good chomp on the hand to wake me up, and even then, I fall back asleep easily. It is only upon hearing one of my cats chew off a piece of our bed frame in hunger that I have felt guilty enough to come to consciousness (this has happened before). However, pregnancy has changed this. Obviously, waking up to go pee is partially to blame, but there are other contributors, like hormones, probably. I found that I often could not fall asleep, and/or would wake up earlier than I wanted even if I was extremely tired. Or, I would wake up to pee for the second or third time, and then not be able to fall back asleep for 3 hours. The good news: The body pillow really helped. In the last couple of weeks, I haven’t needed it, but I did find it of immediate use when I first got it.

Nausea

Mine wasn’t even that bad, and part of me thinks I don’t even have a right to complain. But it still sort of sucks and even though I did not throw up, for several hours a day, I would feel carsick. Foods I usually loved sounded disgusting. The only things that sounded remotely appetizing were gummy bears and white bread (super healthy). There are still foods I don’t want to eat now because I ate them while nauseous and they continue to seem unpleasant, two months later. The good news: I thought forgoing beer would be difficult, but it turns out the idea of beer is rather vile when you feel constantly carsick.

Fatigue

Even when I did sleep enough, there were 3 weeks where it was really difficult to get through the work day. Every advice column says to be liberal with naps and to take them as needed, but this simply isn’t realistic. First of all, I have always abhorred naps. I am not able to cut them off at 30 minutes to an hour, and I wake up 3 hours later in a dazed, foul, mood, feeling like I’ve wasted my life. This meme accurately captures my feeling about naps:

That being the case, I’d theoretically be open to naps under these new circumstances, but honestly, who takes naps at work? I have a nice private office, but there’s no couch, and I’m not going to sprawl out in the office lobby sofa to snooze for 20 minutes while everyone else goes about their business. That is not comfortable, and I probably would not be able to fall asleep under those circumstances anyway.

By the time I got home, getting the motivation to work out was pretty much a fantastical notion. I just wanted to sprawl on the couch and do nothing. A sedentary activity like reading was tolerable, but sometimes I would fall asleep while reading. This was the time I really needed a nap, after slogging through the work day, but does it really make sense to take a nap at 6:00 p.m., wake up at 7:00 p.m., then go to bed two hours later? Because that’s about how late I was able to stay up regardless of how much sleep I was getting, so why waste one more hour of the day being unconscious?

Overall, I really felt like I needed 10 hours of sleep a night to sort of feel normal the next day, get through work, and not need to go to bed at 8:00 p.m. Even when I did get enough sleep though, I lacked energy overall and could not do the things I wanted to do, or enjoy things I normally enjoy. Everything seemed like a monumental task, even activities I usually like. Fatigue cast a bland, dull pall over the luster of life. Everything was tiring, boring, or too much. I ended up watching a lot of telly, and then hating myself for it, because I hate telly and felt like a waste of life. Good times. The good news: This was only really bad for like 2-3 weeks and in this time, I tore through My Man Jeeves; Right Ho, Jeeves; Rebecca; and Expecting Better (a highly recommended read for preggos).

Exercise

Within 3 weeks of finding out I was pregnant, I felt like I aged 10 years. Hills I previously sprinted with regularity had me huffing and puffing. I could not even finish running up one particularly steep hill I used to jog frequently with no problem (had been doing it for 3+ years). The boring, 20-minute jog we usually do became too much, and I had to stop and walk in the middle. This was very frustrating, as it felt like I was working out 3-4 times a week only to increasingly grow out of shape.

Getting Fat

This needs no explanation. You can’t control it. You’re supposed to gain weight, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. I crave foods I don’t normally crave, and am open to ingesting all kinds of desserts I never touched before. I rarely used to buy ice cream. If I did, it would be a small container once, at most twice a year, and it was exclusively Haagen Dazs’s rum raisin. But when I was about 10 weeks pregnant, we were at CVS with a friend picking up pain medications after his vasectomy (isn’t the juxtaposition beautiful?), and I suddenly wanted cookies and cream ice cream. Really weird. I thought my weight gain would be slower, having cut out approximately 1,000 calories in beer a week, but I was sorely mistaken. There were weekends where I probably ingested more calories in sugar and desserts than any thing else. A new and unwelcome phenomenon.

Itching

This does not seem to be a common complaint, as far as I can tell, and maybe it was exacerbated with the dry winter weather, but I itch all over.  I have read it is caused by stretching skin, but I find myself frequently scratching my belly and boobs like a monkey. Super attractive and fun.

Angst

I have not felt this angsty since  I was 19. I cannot pinpoint it as anything other than a generalized feeling without a specific rational basis. I feel the need to write and vent a lot, as evidenced by my frequent, rambling, posts beginning March 17.

Fear

I’ve been quite honest with people who ask me about my thoughts, and have offered that I feel fearful. I’ve been reassured that I will make a “great” parent. While I’m not sure about “great” (though I’ll surely try), I do figure I am reasonably competent and responsible enough to you know, not totally ruin or kill a human being. That’s not really what I’m worried about.

I’ve never been anyone but me, and never lived a life for anyone but chiefly myself; quite frankly, I’ve been quite content this way, and now it all feels like it is coming to an end in some ways. My freedom will be significantly diminished, friendships and relationships are prone to change, and priorities will undoubtedly shift. Although I’m getting used to the idea, in the first month, I felt very much like I’d leaped off of a cliff without looking below.

My mother was a published author before I was born. Fuck. Is there some – or a lot of shit I gotta get done in the next 5 months? Goddamn.