My Irrational Fears

Last Sunday, all three kids and I got stuck in an elevator on the empty campus of our local community college. Even though we were stuck for at most a few minutes, I had to seriously refrain from freaking out in front of the kids. If I had snacks or water with me, I would’ve been a little more OK. But I didn’t. All I could think of was my kids and I being stuck in the elevator for hours and them starving and crying and me having to breastfeed all THREE of them. As it was, the elevator got unstuck and we exited. No harm, no foul.

However, my brief stint in the elevator caused one of my big irrational fears to resurface. I’ve already told you about my fear of being murdered and Cookie Monster or the other kids turning into Dexter. This one crops up every time I am sleep training my kids. The elevator incident reminds me of the Korean American family that got stuck in the snow on a mountain pass coming back to the Bay Area from Oregon. The husband left the car after a few days to go find help. He got lost and died of exposure. The wife survived and fed her two daughters (aged 7 months and 4 years) by breastfeeding them until they were found. Even that was barely enough.

Ever since that story, I have stashed tons of water and snacks in my minivan – along with a first aid kit, multiple blankets, toys, diapers, and a travel potty. I am terrified of being stuck in the snow or a desert or ANYWHERE without access to food or water. In light of that, I am glad that I have been pretty much lactating almost the entire time for the last four years. If we run out of food or water, at least I can breastfeed my children. Thank goodness the body knows to make milk at the expense of everything else. I don’t care if I end up a desiccated husk as long as my kids are more alive than I am.

Keep in mind that we are NEVER anywhere near mountains, snow, or the desert. Maybe, on the yearly trip to LA we go through the grapevine and are in the fake mountain pass, but seriously, SO many people drive by there on an hourly basis that it would be impossible to be stuck long enough for me to have to resort to breastfeeding my entire family. But as Hapa Papa likes to say about me, I never let the facts get in the way of a good story. And in this case, the story is the unlikely scenario of death by exposure and starvation whilst getting our asses kicked by Mother Nature.

I’m also sure that Hapa Papa and I would argue about whether or not he should stay with the family or leave to find help. And I am sadly positive that he would likely die should he attempt to leave. (I know, I know. I am completely insane and morbid and just really messed up in the head.) This is why all my children will be forced into either the Boy or Girl Scouts. SOMEONE in my family is going to know how to start a fire, tie some knots, know which berries to eat and which to avoid, and have some USEFUL SKILLS so that we can survive a natural disaster or the impending zombie apocalypse (and it sure isn’t going to be me).

Of course, we should be prepared anyway. I have my two week survival kit of dried/dehydrated foods, first aid, and water purifying tablets. I need to remember to have extra water in the house, too. But I figure it will likely be in my minivan so it should be ok. Unless of course, the zombie apocalypse happens when Hapa Papa takes my car out for an errand. Shoot. I better buy some water for the house.

Whenever I get in this fearful frame of mind, I start scouring the internet and Amazon for things to buy JUST IN CASE. I deeply consider buying straws that can purify water and filter out 99% of contaminants and seed vaults. I curse my town for making it very difficult for me to raise chickens. (We’re allowed to. However the coop has to be twenty feet from every dwelling wall and/or fence. Since our lots are so small, it is physically impossible to have one – unless, of course, we put the coop in the fifth dimension.) Since we can’t raise chickens, I’m pretty sure we can’t raise goats. I am concerned we don’t have any pets because then what would we do for meat? I briefly consider buying shot guns (only to freak out even more about gunshot wounds and my kids killing themselves or their friends or each other accidentally).

I realize there is a very thin line between preppers and super granola-organic people. I find myself mentally crossing that line.

I freak out that my mother lives 6.7 miles away from me and works 4.7 miles away from me. I freak out even more that Hapa Papa works 44.2 miles away. If there is some type of breakdown in social order and for some reason, no one can drive, it will take forever for Hapa Papa to walk home. OMG, he would surely die. Because of looters and a general lacking in sense of direction. Hopefully, he will be smart enough to walk the freeways. But he’s a nice man and I don’t know if he could survive. I calculate that if he doesn’t immediately head for home (thereby taking advantage of the slim window before all hell breaks loose), I may never see him again. Is that cruel to think so little of his survival skills?

I think of my friend and how her husband said that if they and their two small children were being chased by zombies, he would grab the children and leave her behind because there would be no way she could carry both kids and run away fast enough. As a result, her biggest contribution would be to slow the zombies down. As much as I deplore his lack of chivalry, he makes a certain kind of brutal sense. I despair because I have THREE children. OMG, I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH ARMS!!

I have to stop this line of thinking right this instant because even as I’m writing this, mocking myself, I feel the rising panic and tears stabbing at my throat and OMG WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!

Now that I’ve walked away from this post and surfed the web, browsed Facebook, grabbed a drink and some snacks, I’ve calmed down enough to return. Seriously, I had to take a ten minute break.

Please tell me that I’m not the only one who thinks this way. I know the Mormons are supposed to keep a year’s supply of food and necessities in their house. They are some smart people.

In closing, allow me to quote the famed philosopher, Xzibit. “In God we trust but just in case keep it loaded and locked.” (Foundation)

Wavering Between Choice and Life

Trigger Warning: Abortion, rape, incest

Comment Warning: My comment policy will be vigorously enforced. Any comment (on FB or otherwise) that smells even remotely of shaming, name-calling, abuse, general asshattery, (on either side of the discussion) will be swiftly and unapologetically deleted without regret. I am also completely uninterested in any type of propaganda for or against abortion. The comments that seem to be a giant cut and paste of the same, tired rhetoric on either side will be promptly removed.

I don’t care about your right to free speech if it means you taking a big, fat shit on my blog or FB (let alone insulting my friends and readers who run the gamut in terms of what they believe or do). This is your only warning. Be a grown up and act like one. Otherwise, I will be forced to treat you like a child and put you in time out. (I’m really, really good at that.)

Until I had children, I was mostly pro-choice. I say mostly because I didn’t think abortion was right, per se, but I didn’t think it was my business to tell a person she could or couldn’t have one. I considered it a lot like divorce – not ideal, but sometimes necessary. And better to err on the side of caution for a current life (in terms of safety and access to abortions) than to side predominantly with a possible life. This was a complicated knot that I tied up for myself since I also believed that life begins at conception. But it’s hard to think of a bunch of cells as a life so it was easier to think that abortion was just that – removing a mass of cells.

Then, I got pregnant and gave birth to a human.

Keep in mind, I was a science major. It’s not like I was unfamiliar with what occurred when a baby was forming. But every week, the book would tell me what size fruit my baby was, what was being knit together out of this mass of cells, that the baby was now capable of smiling, or burping, or kicking. I mean, holy fuck! I don’t care that they call it a fetus – it was a BABY. Growing INSIDE of me.

And then, when Cookie Monster was born and became the most perfect human I have ever loved or seen (until I laid eyes on my other two children), some invisible line was crossed and a switch was flipped inside of me. (Not that I realized it at the time.) I could no longer think that abortion was just removing a bunch of cells – like a tumor. Conception resulted in a perfect tiny PERSON.

Of course, when I actually thought about it, (I blame reading articles on abortion-related topics such as the Komen PR disaster, not funding Planned Parenthood, many legislative changes in the law, etc.) I became more and more aware of my changing opinion. Plus, I also knew more and more women who really WANTED to get pregnant but just couldn’t conceive, or couldn’t stay pregnant. That knowledge, coupled with my own bias towards the greatness of my own children, only deepened my conflict.

After all, just because someone CAN’T get/stay pregnant doesn’t mean someone ELSE has to stay pregnant. Just because I had highly desired pregnancies with zero health-related issues for both myself and my progeny which resulted in two awesome little boys and an awesome little girl, doesn’t mean that every one else is in that situation. I am in a very privileged position to have a baby; I am married, financially stable, living in a great area, have easy access to birth control and health services, and have the emotional and financial means to have and raise a child with a high probability of success. In fact, I can do so multiple times without great effect on my lifestyle or spending habits.

It is very easy for me to say that abortion is a horrible thing when I have never been poor, alone, on drugs, abandoned, raped, etc. It is all fine and well for me to tell a person, “Hey, you do know what makes babies, right? SEX. So if you have sex, you should be prepared to bring a life into the world. If you find yourself pregnant after having sex, you really shouldn’t be surprised. Deal with the consequences of your actions!”

But not everyone is in my position. And yes, just because a person isn’t in my privileged position, doesn’t mean that abortion is automatically acceptable and right, but it certainly makes it a decision that is fraught with more peril, with harder hitting consequences than it would if it were me.

I know several women who have had abortions. Once, when I was in my twenties and thought I perhaps might be pregnant, (although truly, I would have had a better chance of winning the lottery since I was on birth control and I didn’t actually have sex with the person – the mind can truly be boggling and lacking sense sometimes) I seriously considered abortion as well. I doubt that most of the women who do end up getting abortions do so nonchalantly. I am sure, to this day, it is a decision that has greatly affected them and the trajectory of their lives.

Here then, is the heart of my conflict. I really don’t like either side’s rhetoric or reasoning. Let’s start with the Pro-Lifers. (Sweeping generalizations are about to follow. I mean, SWEEPING. You have been duly warned.) Also, I totally know that I am oversimplifying the arguments. Please do not give me “lessons” in the comments.

If I had to generalize and stereotype a Pro-Life person, they would most likely be white, male, Christian/evangelical, Republican (because of course, all Christians are Republican – but that is another topic altogether), and believe in the “sanctity of life.” And because they are more likely to be Republican, they will likely also be against welfare, government assistance to the poor (eg: food stamps, free lunches, early intervention programs), pro-prisons, harsh sentences, pro-guns, and pro-death sentence. Also, they are likely to support abortion ONLY if the mother’s life is in danger, or in cases of rape or incest/abuse as a compromise and because geez, if they don’t support it in these cases, that’s just SQUICKY and cruel.

But here’s the thing. How dare a person tell another person that she should have a baby when they cut off any support that may be necessary in the first place for a woman to successfully raise a child? How dare a person say they believe in the sanctity of life when it only applies to an unborn child – but not the life and quality of life this child will have when they are born? (And how dare they assume that if it’s such a problem for the mother to raise the child, the best alternative is adoption?) How dare a person say they believe in the sanctity of life when they are for capital punishment? Or allow an abortion if the father of the unborn child is a rapist or abuser? How are these lives any less precious or alive?

Now, if I had to generalize and stereotype a Pro-Choice person, they would also most likely be white, female, Democrat, liberal, and support government assistance, etc. You know, the opposite of what I just sweepingly generalized about Pro-Lifers. They will likely say that it is a woman’s body and therefore her choice. That life doesn’t necessarily begin at conception and that late-term abortions may or may not be acceptable (depending on how palatable they want to make abortion).

But I have beef with that also. If life doesn’t begin at conception, when does it begin? At what week would be randomly deemed appropriate? Because if we want to be intellectually honest, if it doesn’t begin at conception, why do we bother saving babies that are born early? Like, really, really, really premature? Is the fetus only a baby and worth saving if it is WANTED by the mother? Otherwise, then it’s not alive? What if only the father wants the baby? Is it still a baby? Half a baby? But fathers don’t matter because it’s not their body – even though half their DNA is at stake.

I know. I’m being an ass and perhaps, purposely obtuse to both sides. But both sides really aggravate me. There are human lives (both grown and growing) at stake. Who do we value more? Who do we disenfranchise? What does that say about us as a people and culture? And what does it say about us when most conversations around this topic devolve into name-calling and meaningless propaganda?

I don’t have any answers. (I mean, really. If I did, don’t you think I would’ve made a bjillion dollars off of it by now?) Because this is a human, fallen situation, there really are no happy endings that tie up all the loose ends. We are only left with imperfect solutions and broken people on both sides – who all need compassion, understanding, and love.

Gah, I have now ventured into cliché and a Hallmark greeting card. I apologize.

I still have no idea what I think is right. I am just supremely grateful (and cowardly in this sense) that I don’t have to be in the position to make real life applications on this subject.

Make of that what you will.

Embarrassing Confession

As much as I would like to think I am a progressive person and would just naturally know injustice when I see it, I really don’t think that is so. Since Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman case have been in the news recently, I’ll use that as an example.

Here’s my horrible confession: the MAIN reason I feel so strongly about the injustice against Trayvon Martin is because I have one really, really, really good black male friend. Like so good, I consider him to be family. Of course, it’s not the ONLY reason I am angry and sad about the verdict, but when I’m honest with myself, it is the primary reason.

Why? Because all I can think about is, “What if this happened to my friend, PH? What if this happened to his future sons (who I will consider my nephews)?” I’ll tell you what. I would be devastated. Hateful. Full of Hulk Smash. Because racism would have killed someone I consider family.

That is the crux of my confession: that I am only this angry when someone connected to ME is hurt. Yes, even in all my profession of enlightenment, blah blah blah, it boils down to selfishness – YOU FUCK WITH MINE, I WILL FUCK YOU UP.

But this post isn’t about unpacking why I (and really, most humans) tend to defend and pick up causes that affect us personally. This is, strangely enough, turning into a post about why it’s important for us to have close friends who are very different from us. I don’t mean friends in the sense that you have black co-workers or know a gay person or have an atheist neighbor. I mean DEEP friendships where you know the other person almost as well as yourself. Where you consider them a part of you and if they are absent, you miss them like an arm or a leg.

And perhaps, now that I think about it,  it isn’t even necessary to have super deep friendships. It is often enough to have friendships where at the very least, you are aware of their pain and the issues that affect them and their lives. What I mean is, regardless of the depth of friendship, you have to be able to see them as a person – an individual. And when you hear of the injustices enacted against them (and everyone, regardless of race, sex, orientation, religion, etc. experiences injustice – they just may vary in severity and frequency), you feel as if it happened to you.

Ironically, it is because of Facebook that I feel as if I identify more and more with folks who are different than I am. Not because Facebook is the place where people are Real, but because a few brave friends are honest on that forum – and I admire them and respect them all the more for it. I freely confess that prior to seeing some very personal posts on Facebook, I only read about certain issues on blogs. Though the injustices bothered me, it didn’t really affect me.

But now, because I have friends on Facebook who share about the prejudices they face living in a poly family, or being LDS and deeply religious, or choosing not to have children, or being gay, I CARE. I care now, because when I see these issues at play in society at large, I no longer think of the oppressed as a mass of faceless people. I see them as my friends. By name. Who I know and care about.

That is why it is important to have REAL friends who are completely different than you. Groups become individuals. And granted, these individual friends do not owe you anything and are not by default, a spokesperson of any sort to you. But it makes it easier to identify and humanize groups who are almost alien to you and your core beliefs.

Come to think of it, until recently, I have tried to make my Facebook page as controversy free and inoffensive as possible. Mostly because I hate arguing “facts” (I am terrible at remembering facts and details that back up my arguments) and having people think negatively of me. (It may come as a shock to some of you since I seem as if I say whatever is on my mind. But that’s because most of that stuff, I don’t care about. I have relatively little shame in many areas.) I don’t think I want that anymore.

Facebook friends, you’ve been warned.

Asiana Prank

I know I’m a bit late to this, but I wanted to add my voice to the fray. To recap, KTVU, a local Bay Area news station (confirmed by the NTSB), read on-air, the supposed names of the Asiana flight crew to be the following:

Captain Sum Ting Wong
Wi Tu Lo
Ho Lee Fuk
Bang Ding Ow

Ok. I admit. I totally laughed out loud at the “Ho Lee Fuk” entry. Why? Because it’s funny. I know. It’s stupid and racist and the “foreign names are funny” trope really isn’t that funny to the millions of kids who have been teased because their names sound “funny.” I totally agree. However, a lot of things you know are wrong, but your gut reaction is still to laugh in a “so wrong it’s funny” kind of way. I don’t think that makes you a bad person. (Of course, it’s pretty handy, my self-absolution, but I digress.)

I get it. It’s a prank – and pranks and often comedy, are often very wrong.

However, what I find most racist and unacceptable isn’t the prank itself. It’s the fact that no one read these obviously fake names and thought, “Oh, that can’t be right!”

Even if the NTSB confirmed the information, the names originated from somewhere – and we fail to understand how those obviously phony names could escape detection before appearing on the broadcast.

– Asian American Journalists Association

I get that “foreign names are funny because they’re foreign” thing and that foreign names look weird in American spellings. But you have to be two kinds of stupid to think for even a second that those submitted names are real. And not just two kinds of stupid – racist. Racist for not thinking and blindly just going, “Oh, foreign Asian name.”

I am butchering the explanation. You’ll have to go to a real anti-racist site to get a good explanation of why it’s racist. I will just get on the professional news organization and NTSB’s cases for being Too Fucking Stupid To Live (TFSTL).