La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for March 2013

My name is Mama. I am about to turn 41. I am menopausal.

Yes, friends. Ladyparts hilarity has ensued since my Blood Clot Incident of 2013. Namely, no estrogen allowed! You may likely know that chemotherapy (much like the GOP’s friend legitimate rape) “shuts that whole thing down” as regards the baby making. So you take estrogen in whatever form to avoid early menopause. All fine and good when you are 34 years old and fresh off a transplant. This practice, however, can cause blood clots and other types of cancer in The Olds, which apparently I now number myself among. So in light of the fact that my clot was such a mystery and surprise, they took me off the pill the morning after. (Ha! See what I did there?)

Anyhoo, going cold turkey on estrogen has been a RIDE, y’all, but not all bad. I assumed I’d wake up and suddenly look like Geraldine Ferraro. Hasn’t yet happened. No Phyllis Diller either, although I wouldn’t say no to morphing into that aging hag Nigella Lawson. I have not yet purchased any inspirational books about what I shall do now that I am barren, nor have I opened a reiki studio that promises empowerment and nourishment for the senior soul, although I always–at any age–reserve the right to Jazzercise. So that’s all good.

I have, however, been SWEATING LIKE A FAT KID. In 30 second bursts throughout the day and night. Followed by 30 seconds of freezing. Then back to normal for an hour or so until…holy crap! What’s the g*ddamned temperature in this dump?! Unbutton shirt. Fan myself. Oh. It’s gone. Freeze for half a minute. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Yes, it’s a different kind of hot flash than I used to deliver in my twenties. But it’s all good as long as you insist you are “glistening” rather than schvitzing.

You see, the upside to going cold turkey on estrogen is the total skip over that pesky perimenopause, the lengthy years-long dialing down process of becoming a Foxy Silver Hair. In my case it was 10 Days To Sweaty Town, with a stop for a snack in Dry Skinville. Which luckily coincided with me getting a teeny tiny free sample of SK-II Cellumination, the ludicrously expensive product shilled by the luminous and perhaps soon-to-be-menopausal Cate Blanchett. Which was AMAZING. Ah. Maze. Balls. Like butter. Like nubile, fresh, young butter. I shed a tear when my sample was empty.
cellumination

I therefore call upon the good people at SK-II to send me more. For free. Because I just mentioned you (and the reproductive state of your spokesmodel!) on my blog which boasts literally tens of readers!! I just earned that sh*t. Recognize.

So quality creams rule the day. Gotta maintain my limited collagen supplies now, darlings. I now dress for sweaty success at all times. But mostly I’m kind of psyched to get this out of the way. So that when my friends are 50 and just beginning their pause, my reiki studio with organic juice cleanses and healing crystals will be fully open for business. Senior citizen discounts, ladies!

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In case you haven’t heard, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week that impact the future of gay marriage (or, as I like to call it, “marriage”).

I view this as The Great American Gut Check. Are we the nation we say we are? Are gay Americans really Americans deserving of protection under the same 14th amendment that protects the rest of us? Do we trot out our Constitution and Bill of Rights only when it suits us? Or do the ideals enshrined in those documents live and breathe within us and through us?

In short:
JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Outside of the marriage context, can you think of any other rational basis, reason, for a state using sexual orientation as a factor in denying homosexuals benefits or imposing burdens on them? Is there any other rational decision making that the government could make, denying them a job, not granting them benefits of some sort? Any other decision?

CHARLES COOPER: Your Honor, I cannot. I do not have any—anything to offer you—

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: Alright.

CHARLES COOPER: —in that regard. It’s marriage—

JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR: If that is true, then why aren’t they a class? If they’re a class that makes any other discrimination improper, irrational, then why aren’t we treating them as a class for this one benefit? Are you saying that the interest of marriage is so much more compelling than any other interests the state could have?

BLAM. Drop the mic. Gays for the win.

I used to believe that people of good faith could disagree on this issue. But now I don’t. Not in 2013 America. In your church, go on with your bad selves marrying only your “kind.” Your church’s beliefs ain’t my business. Just as my civil government’s policies ain’t your church’s business. Who The State chooses to marry impacts your religion and your marriage not one bit. If your institution is indeed so “sacred” and eternal and divinely-ordained, then surely it will survive a few fabulous gay weddings, no?

So, enough already. Enough “evolving” on the issue. Enough stalling. Enough anything that impedes our nation doing what is just and right. Get on the right side of history, morality and equality.

It’s time.

Rape Culture

Posted on: March 18, 2013

Something unpleasant just has to be said: we live in a rape culture. A culture that condones and encourages rape.

Yeah I said it.

Think I’m being dramatic? Consider the following:

In Steubenville, OH two boys were convicted of the rape and photographing of an unconscious drunk 16 year old girl. A girl they carried from party to party for the purpose of raping. The media coverage that followed the conviction focused almost exclusively on these “promising young men” who would now have to “live with” a sex offender label for the rest of their lives. Minimal mention of the victim and what she will be living with.

That is a rape culture.

CNN’s Candy Crowley and her colleagues went so far as to say how “difficult” it was to watch the “promising” boys be sentenced then break down crying. Without mentioning that they were convicted of rape because they committed rape, and if they hadn’t wanted to be convicted of rape they perhaps should not have committed rape. Also no mention of how convicted rapists still get to be considered anything other than pieces of shit.

Mourning the lost potential of two rapists who are still considered “promising.”

That is a rape culture.

The ongoing narrative that the girl’s drunken stupor makes her complicit in her own rape and humiliation.

That is a rape culture.

The defense’s monstrous argument that her inability to deny consent to sex was prima facie consent. She didn’t and couldn’t say no, so obviously these upstanding young men were entirely entitled to violate her.

That is a rape culture.

The most damning evidence? That we live in a society that would rather make women fit a camel through the eye of a needle (don’t go here at night, don’t wear that outfit, don’t travel alone, don’t be sexual, don’t drink alcohol, don’t leave the house with a vagina) rather than taking the one simple, irrefutably effective step to end rape at once and for all time:

Teach men not to rape.

Update: absolutely fabulous blog post on just this topic: rape prevention for men. Read it now. http://canyourelate.org/2011/05/24/rape-prevention-tips/

This month will mark the 8th anniversary of us becoming a family with Bambina. It will also mark fabulous year number 3 with Baby Sister. Two blessed events within five days of each other! Plus of course the five intervening years… We are ludicrously happy, exceedingly blessed and just plain happy to be doing our thing as a little 4-person family.

As much as we feel like just any other regular ol’ family, I do understand that we are not at first glance so average. So I thought I might revisit an old topic in honor of my girls: how to support and lift up adoptive families. So here we go!

1. Resist the urge to tell any children involved “how lucky” they are. Don’t make references to winning lotteries or hitting jackpots. These are real words that have been spoken to my children. Please don’t. We are all lucky to have each other, no question. But you forget that every happy adoption is born from loss. My children have lost much to become my children. Their home culture, their language, their uncomplicated racial identity, their birth families–especially their mothers, their knowledge of their ancestors. It’s all gone, most or all of it never to be found. This will be a loss they will grieve. A loss they are not “lucky” to experience. Call us blessed. Call us happy. Just please don’t make them have to smile and nod as you call them lucky.

2. The corollary to the constant “lucky” comments is the suggestion that my kids should be grateful. For me, for America, for everything they have. Well, sure they should. But no more than your kids should be too. My kids are not charity cases. We didn’t build our family through adoption because we are super nice generous people doing the Lord’s work. We did it because we wanted a family, just like you did. There was zero philanthropy involved in our decision to adopt. Trust me. My kids are just regular kids. Ingrate or angel, depending on the day. They owe me nothing. Beyond a retirement villa in Cabo, of course.

3. Back in college I was that annoying liberal girl who felt compelled to discuss racism and sexism and the entire panoply of issues surrounding racism and sexism with every Black person or feminist I could find. Lab partner who happens to be Black? Oh yeah. We are talking about race. Classmate who is feminist, perhaps lesbian? Believe that we are talking about sexism, girl. I must have been absolutely excruciating to know and work with because I turned every conversation about the cafeteria lunch menu, Pearl Jam’s new album, or President GHW Bush into an exegesis on race or sex. Good lord, I was tiresome. And clueless. And, looking back, hurtful. Because how reductive is it to another human to constantly need to discuss his blackness or her gayness or whatever when you could be discussing something else? Which brings us to the present day. Believe it or not, we go ENTIRE HOURS AND DAYS without thinking “hey, look at our awesome adopted kids! They were adopted! Check them out! Adopted and all!” So don’t feel like you need to raise it every. single. time. you see us. Really. It’s cool. We get it. You have noticed our kids are not our biological kids. You are full of thoughts and feelings about adoption, China, international adoption. I’m totally happy to talk about it all. Just not every time we get together. In front of the kids. At your convenience. Not because we are ashamed or mad or sad about adoption, but because we are so much more than the details of how we came to be a family, and frankly, so much more interesting. Has Bambina shown you her feral warrior cat impersonation? Has Baby Sister counted to “thirtyonehundredfiveteentwo” for you yet? No? See? You are missing out on the good stuff!

4. There are so many Dont’s involved in helping adoptive families that sometimes it can seem like we are, as a group, hypersensitive and overly critical. So here is the one big DO, friends, that will earn you my everlasting gratitude:

Explain adoption to YOUR kids.

Bambina frequently gets barraged by questions from kids at school. I work hard to prepare her for these questions, but she is only 8 years old and really shouldn’t be given the responsibility for educating other kids about an adult topic. But, reality being what it is, we devised a 4-point plan to break down the burden:

You can answer the question if you want to.
You can deflect the question. “Oh, let’s go play on the swings instead of talking about all that.”
You can answer it with humor “My mom IS my real mom. She’s not made out of plastic!” Bambina came up with that one herself.
You can challenge the question and its premise. “Why do you ask why my Chinese mother didn’t want me? How do you know she didn’t want me?”

In talking to Bambina about her classmates’ curiosity, it became clear that most of the kids were not in reality asking about Bambina. They were asking about themselves. They were trying to figure out how and when adoption happens so they can assess if it can happen to them. Their questions illustrate their confusion about adoption and the circumstances surrounding it.

So. If every person reading this took a moment to just raise the topic of adoption randomly and casually with their kids, to talk about it like its no big deal, and in so doing normalize it, you would be doing more than your part to lift up families and kids like mine. Two benefits will immediately result: it will set your kids’ minds at ease vis a vis your family –and perhaps prevent them from having to seek the answers to Big Questions from my already overtaxed 8 year old.

Tell them that when a baby is born a few different things can happen. In most cases, like yours, the baby stays forever with the lady who gave birth to her. This is their family, like yours, and families are forever. In other cases, sometimes the baby becomes part of a new forever family. All of the reasons a baby might be adopted by a family are grown-up reasons that have nothing to do with the baby. The baby or child does not do anything to cause this to happen. That new family with the new baby is forever, just like yours is forever. By the way, sometimes kids who were adopted (ps…the past tense is the correct one) want to talk about it and sometimes they don’t, so definitely let your friend decide that.

Say whatever version of this works for a family like yours. And, just like that, you have supported a family like ours. On behalf of my girls, I thank you.