Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Why NOT To Become A Parent

I always figured that these moments would be the hardest for me. The moments where you can see emotional pain in their eyes. The moments where it is not a physical injury, or something that I could simply fix for her.

The other night the FYO woke up crying in the middle of the night. I rushed in, thinking maybe she had fallen out of bed or something, only to find her sitting up, in tears.

What happened?

Something happened to Grandma and Grandpa!!!

Did you have a bad dream?

Grandma and Grandpa!!!

We got up and went to the bathroom. I tried to reassure her that it was just a bad dream. That it wasn't true. That they were both okay. I didn't ask her to tell me what happened in the dream because I didn't want to reify it in any way.

The next day we were wrestling and tickling each other when BioMom inquired about the dream.

The FYO stopped in her tracks. Sad all over again:

Something ATE them!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Camping with the Family of Four

The FYO and her female FYO Friend got along famously (she is the fourth of the four). They ran and played dolls and explored and ate s'mores and ran s'more. When it was time for bed it was like cutting off a limb, so we let them fall asleep in the same tent.

All was not good, however, when the FYO woke up at some ungodly hour. The same hour that the sun rises. All is silent in the whiskey-tango camping area in the middle of flatland with no natural wonders to speak of. This place exists just for those certain city-dwellers to get out of town. To lite a HUGE bonfire, roast marshmallows, drink beer, and be loud outside. Outside in a place where such behavior is expected. We, fitting right in, had a blast.

THEIR, FYO, more accustomed to the camping, was sleeping soundly in her own tent. As were the other five in the clan.

But ours? Nooooooooooo.

Where's [The other FYO]?

Sleeping. Like you should be.

Is she awake?

No. She's SLEEPING. Go back to sleep!

Can I wake her up?

NO!!!!!! When she wakes up, her mom will send her over here, to you.

A few blessed moments of silence. Then, concerned:

But. What if HER mom is saying that I am sleeping and for HER to wait until I go to get HER to play?



Friday, May 27, 2005

11 Weeks, 5 Days

By this week, the crown-to-rump length of your baby is 1.75 to 2.4 inches. Fetal weight is about 0.3 ounce. Your baby is about the size of a large lime.

Symptoms: nausea still exists. Boobs are painful. Crankiness is at a high level.


The Day

"The Day" is one of those rituals I abhor.

The FYO, adept at reading social cues, has adopted by inviting only BioMom to do "The Day" with her.

Our evening rituals have slowly, over time, grown into a nearly 1/2 hour event (not including bath time if it is bath night). The FYO brushes her teeth, goes to the bathroom etc. Then we read a few books (the number depends on how early we get the party started). Then it is to her room where we sing several versions of "Turla lura lura". This could include "jumping Turla", "swinging-Turla" or whatever she cons us into (which, again, depends on the time, but also on our moods). I hope you're following. Then she gets one last "holding-Turla" where one of us holds her and the other attempts to tickle one or both of us. The person to hold her is decided based on a round of eenie-meenie-miny-mo, which I regularly rig. Anyway, "the day" evolved as another Next Step in the process of leaving her alone in her room. A stalling tactic, if you will.

The FYO is genious. "The Day" began with a simple explanation of what was happening the next day. It evolved (from my perspective) into a daily account of weeks-on-end: Then, the Thursday after The Fourth-of-July, we're going to wake up, brush our teeth, go to the bathroom read a book, watch the weather on the Katie Couric show, eat breakfast, go swimming, have a picnic. . . . etc. You get the idea.

I generally don't respond well to the obvious stalling techniques, but beyond this, I genuinely dislike planning. I, simply, don't want to know what's going on past, say, tomorrow. So I simply refuse.

I suppose that's why I've been outsourced.

They're Just Dying to Get In!

When I was a little kid, I loved to tell that joke about cemetaries.

Of course, given my sad little history involving way too much death for a little kid, it probably wasn't all that funny to any adult within earshot. I'm sure, had they any extra time or cash, they would have checked into a child psychologist.

Anyway, given the holiday, BioMom's parents sent out an email inquiring about a family trip to the cemetary. When BioMom mentioned it to the FYO last night in their nightly "The Day" ritual, she said, unsolicited, Maybe we could see great grandma. Who died a few months ago.

BioMom responded: We could see where they are buried and say a prayer but that we wouldn't see them.

The FYO replied: If we sprinkle water on them, they will come back to life.

I'm imagining sprinkling a little water on my mom's grave and having her not only come back to life but come back 3 sizes bigger than real life like one of those monkeys that grows in water!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Baby Boon

I just finished the book The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless by Elinor Burkett.

It was a great topic, but a crappy read. Basically, I wish I could have written it for her. It was too disorganized and informal to get across the myriad statistics and descriptions of family-friendly policies and bills she had to offer.

Her basic point was how, ultimately, the government is choosing to subsidize one type of family over all of the other versions of family that we, as Americans, create.

She argues for "horizontal equity" in our tax system: The concept is simple: that the tax system should be designed so that taxpayers with the same means--with the same ability to pay--are treated rouhly equally. Or, put another way, people of the same means should make sacrifices that are equally painful.

Of course, this is impossible to do in any exact way. Because we are all different and because we all have different tastes for consumption, we end up having different "abilities to pay." Some have bigger mortgages than others, more children, higher medical expenses and commuting costs or a greater need for nice work clothes.

So, to rectify this, the tax code tries to hold everyone "harmless" from things that would make them less able to pay than others in the same economic position.

The big questions here are:
1) how to level the playing field? and
2) to what degree do we hold people "harmless" for something/everything/anything?

There are simple cases like the guy who gets into a terrible accident and, as a result, faces hue medical bills. The government doesn't reimburse him for his costs, but the IRS lets him account for the accident tax-wise.

Similarly, we all would agree that luxury spending shouldn't be on the list of tax breaks.

But where do we draw the line? And, specifically, where do kids fall in that spectrum?

Burkett never actually uses the words, but what she is hinting at is the degree to which we consider kids either a public good, or having large enough positive externalities to warrent public support.

She quotes two economists from the University of Michigan and authors of Taxing Ourselves, Joel Slemrod and Jon Bakija: Having children is largely a voluntary choice, and may even be viewed as a matter of personal consumption preference from the point of view of the parents. Some adults prefer to save up and spend their money for a round-the-world trip, while others prefer the joy of children with the attendant costs of food, diapers, Nintendo, and possible college. Is it fair to reward adults who prefer to have children, at the expense of adults who prefer other ways of spending their money?

The author concedes that kids aren't like trips around the world and thus, it is fair for parents to get tax deductions. But, she asks, [h]ow many additional tax breaks should the parents receive?

I.e. "family-friendly" policies. Without any organization or direction, Burkett discusses several "family friendly" policies (on-site subsidized childcare for example) and how the childless end up subsidizing families with children in terms of unequal benefits and extra time spent at work doing the job of parents home with ailing children.

One interesting point she brings up is the origin of the family-friendly policies. She claims that opponents to the Equal Pay Act argued for the "family wage." This was, essentially, a higher wage for men because they were presumed to be supporting a family. Ironically, the tables seem to have turned. Those pro EPA-ers now argue for family friendly policies for parents (not just men, but women too) to help take care of their families. Burkett argues that neither arguments are right or fair.

While I have sympathy for her argument (although I waded through 217 pages of bloviation to find it), she ignores one major argument: equality.

Barbara Bergmann (not mentioned in Burkett's book) has been a vocal supporter of universal child care for all families as well as the industrialization of housework (see a forthcoming update of her classic The Economic Emergence of Women). I have come to agree with her that until women are no longer shouldered with the majority of the costs (implicit and explicit) of raising kids as well as domestic chores, they will never be equal in the workplace.

There are arguments to be made that this really isn't a problem. Women make choices to have kids/stay at home with kids/etc. etc. So, maybe it isn't a problem. Inequality is the price that we pay for some differences associated with biology/socialization/preference, and that's o.k.

If you do, however, see it as a problem. Then I think there is room to argue that the government intervene on to accounts: 1) kids are our future and we owe it to them (even if they aren't ours) some investment and 2) because women do the lion's share of this work, we owe it to them to try to level the playing field.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I'll Tell You What Women Want. . .

Yesterday's New York Times column titled "What Women Want" by John Tierney was the most emailed column of the day.

In an experiment in Pittsburgh, two economists paid men and women to add five numbers in their heads. At first they worked individually, doing as many sums as they could in five minutes and receiving 50 cents for each correct answer. Then they competed in four-person tournaments, with the winner getting $2 per correct answer and the losers getting nothing.

On average, the women made as much as the men under either system. But when they were offered a choice for the next round - take the piece rate or compete in a tournament - most women declined to compete, even the ones who had done the best in the earlier rounds. Most men chose the tournament, even the ones who had done the worst.

Muriel Niederle of Stanford and Lise Vesterlund of the University of Pittsburgh concluded that the gender gap isn't due to women's insecurities about their abilities. It is due to different appetites for competition.

"Even in tasks where they do well, women seem to shy away from competition, whereas men seem to enjoy it too much," Professor Niederle said. "The men who weren't good at this task lost a little money by choosing to compete, and the really good women passed up a lot of money by not entering tournaments they would have won."

Tierney provides a Summersesque argument:
You can argue that this difference is due to social influences, although I suspect it's largely innate, a byproduct of evolution and testosterone. Whatever the cause, it helps explain why men set up the traditional corporate ladder as one continual winner-take-all competition - and why that structure no longer makes sense.

So, we are to conclude that the reason women aren't equal is because they don't really want to be equal in the first place.

This, based on one unpublished study of unknown sampling (size and source -- what population was experimented? College students?) with fairly low stakes.

I'll tell you what THIS woman wants: better New York Times columnists! Get rid of John Tierney and David Brooks and hire a couple of women!

The King and the King Revisited

We've established a lovely tradition after swim lessons with some lesbo-mom friends of ours. These friends of ours have two kids, one 6, the other 2, and the SYO has swim lessons at the Y with the FYO. After the lessons, we head across the street for a little coffee snack and some muffins.

Last Saturday, one of the other moms heard the following conversation between the FYO and the SYO while they were playing dolls with the handy chess set:

SYO: Why don't we have the king marry the king?

FYO: It can't happen like that.

Our trusty PC companion intervened in her least-judgmental manner: Of course it can!

The FYO, having been rebuked in this way before, shrugged it off.

What's amazing is that the FYO's REALITY is peppered with kings marrying kings and queens marrying queens. But as soon as she ventures into make-believe-land, such a variation is impossible in her eyes.

I guess that's better than my reality. We can't REALLY get married, so we essentially PRETEND to be married. Just the opposite of the FYO.

Neosporin and Hairspray

We've just recovered from another OH MY GOD, I KILLED THE FETUS! moment.

The other day I was cleaning the bathroom, and, annoyed by BioMom's oversized hairspray bottle, I asked her if she could use the product anyway. Note, my concern was less about the health of the fetus than my mental health in finding a place for all of her acoutrements.

BioMom thought nothing of it until she went to get a haircut and the guy said he didn't put hairspray on pregnant women.


Then, yesterday, BioMom got a bit of a sunburn sitting outside during lunch. She put on some Neosporin last night to sooth the sting.

She woke up this morning in a panic wondering if the drug killed the fetus. . .

That baby'll be fine, but I'll certainly come out with high blood pressure.

11.3 and counting.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

How To Annoy The FYO, Part I

Tonight was the FYO's Montessori Spring Picnic.

It was magical.

Imagine them all singing little choreographed tunes, lots of pot-luck desserts, running around like mad, a break from the rain, and, last but not least, a magician.

Magicians are like kids movies. They are austensibly entertainment for kids, but with the dry humor and adult jokes on the side, its really for us.

The event went a little long and the FYO was dehydrated and exhausted by the time we reached the car to head home.




I know. We'll be home soon and I'll get you a big frosty glass of milk or water.


Count to one hundred and we'll be there.

In French.


You just told me you could!


Meanwhile the car is speeding around the lake toward home.

Okay. One hundred. In English!

One. Two. Three. . . . .

Thirty-one. Thirty-two. . .

Fourty-nine. . .

The car turns onto our street. One block away and I hear her jump from "seventy-nine" to "one hundred!"

You skipped the '80's and the '90s!
The FYO has no idea how near and dear the '80s and '90s are to my heart!! Those are my COLLEGE DAYS for Christ's sake!!! DON'T SKIP OVER MY EFFING COLLEGE DAYS FOR EFF'S SAKE!

No I didn't!!

Yes! You went from seventy-nine to one hundred!! You skipped the eighties and the nineties!


You know what that means, don't you?

I asked as the car approached our house. The house now in full view to the FYO. The house which, in her eyes was spilling over with ice cold milk. Milk flowing out the windows and doors. Over the chimney, onto the roof. Turning the green grass white. . .


I revv up the engine (of the Toyota hybrid. . . i.e. not much of a rev): It means I'm going to have to go around the block while you finish up the eighties and the nineties!!!


And then she turns into a puddle in the back seat.

Am I cruel or what?

What's Up With Huffington?

First the L-Word, now Blosphere?

What next?

Let's Hope I Didn't Start a Trend. . .

Last night I was home alone with the FYO as BioMom was off with the Mind-Body-Ites.

We had a great time. I fixed her favorite meat loaf (referred to as 'hyena loaf' after having seen The Lion King on Tuesday night thanks to tickets provided by grandma and grandpa. I should say that we partially saw the Lion King. The FYO fell asleep at the intermission.) and she actually ate some peas as well. She had a bath, and then watched a taped version of Tuesday night's Idol, while enjoying an ice cream sundae.

I'm still hungry!
[I love this version of manipulation. As if I am somehow STARVING her if I don't giver her more ice cream. Grandma pointed out to me a less sinister interpretation: who wouldn't be hungry for more sundae?]

O.k. have an apple!
Suddenly not so hungry anymore.

We read a book and then it was off to bed for five minutes of timed reading for her.

I was downstairs when I heard the beeper go off and curious to see how it would fall out as I had never actually experienced it alone. BioMom and I are usually off to our next post-FYO-bedtime in some other corner of the house, unawares (and naevely trusting of the post-beeper activity).

Suddenly I hear crying up there. Not I'VE FALLEN AND I CAN'T GET UP! crying. Not I'M ALL ALONE WITH NO MAMA crying. Not even THERE'S A BLOOD SUCKING MONSTER IN MY CLOSET crying.


I decided: What the hell? I'll be the pushover that I usually am not, tonight.

What's wrong, Sweetie?

That (sniffle) story (sniffle) I (sniffle) just (sniffle) read. . . It was (sniffle) SAD!

OKAY... Get down here!
(Meaning off of the top bunk which she only recently has been brave enough to explore).

You can't go to sleep with remnants of a SAD story!!!

So I grabbed another story. I recently found a section in the library devoted to fairy tales from around the world. This has been my saving grace. Now, instead of your horrible Cinderella, etc., I can read about the Cinderella of Egypt, or in last night's case, a little princess in China who, after having been overlooked by her seven brothers and sisters and her Emperor father, went on to save his life and become forever revered. It was lovely and very poetic.

But at the end of it, in a small, scratchy, over-dramatic voice, the FYO said:

But. . . That story was sad too. . . The little princess SHOULD not have been overlooked in the FIRST place.

Meaning: Please read another story!

HFRM#1 and the Due Date

Last night while IMing late with HFRM#1, she revealed exciting news!: her brother and sister-in-law are PG!

Here is a transcript of the IM session:

When is the baby due?


December what?


[I run downstairs to tell BioMom the news.]

BioMom: Why don't you tell her?

Me (thrilled with the permission to spread our own juicy gossip): OKAY!!!

Hummm. Interesting due date. . .

Because it is OURS TOO!!!

Note to self: telling good friends big news via email is not always perceived as positive, however impromptu.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Sweet Smell of Begging in the Morning

Dear Professor Blogauthor,

I spoke to you midway through the semester about my grade in ECO336. I was working hard to bring up my grade from an AB to an A. You told me to keep working and see what happens. I recevied a final grade of AB in the class.

I would like you to consider other factors such as my class attendace, effort, and improvement. I attended class every day this semester, never missing once. I worked hard and put forth my full effort studying and doing all the readings. I have also come a long way in both my critical thinking and writing skills, improving greatly from where I was at the start of the semester.

I would like you to take these factors into consideration to see if it warrants my grade being bumped from an AB to an A. I believe these facotrs in conjuction with my raw score of AB are suffiencient to justify a final grade of A. Thank you for listening to my concerns.

Student X

The Parallel Universe

BioMom and I are living in a parallel universe.

This pregnancy is about 4 days off of the one we experienced last year. The baby is due on December 12th whereas last year the due date was December 8th. So everything we're experiencing now is shifted slightly to the right.

Its like watching a movie on acid.

But its more than that. So many of the same things that happened last year are happening again but, and we're counting on this, they are the negative (or the positive) of last year.

A year ago this weekend was the miscarriage.

It was such a horrible day and left such lasting repercussions on our relationship that we have, consciously or unconsciously avoided some of the things we did that day since then.

It was a rainy day. The start of many (both literally and figuratively). We went to the Farmer's Market with HFRM#1 and got a bunch of annuals for the garden.

We have literally not been back to the Farmer's Market. I can't even remember where we had lunch, but recently BioMom said that wherever it was, it was the first and last time she'd been there.

My brother visited this past week, the same week he visited last year. And on that night last year I got news of a bad pap, which scared the hell out of us. This, too, was rectified this year.

Its supposed to be sunny this weekend. The first sun we will have seen in weeks. So, I am hoping that this, too, is the harbinger of good things to come.

Cousin said it best the other day. She said that the parallel universe is nature's way of helping us to let go of that terrible season more thoroughly. To erase one terrible past and replace it with a better one.

At 10.3, still holding our breaths.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Week 10: No Longer an Amphibian

Your Baby:
This week marks the beginning of the fetal period, which lasts until birth. Your baby's body systems, such as circulatory, nervous, reproductive and digestive, are fully formed during this time. His heart is beating approximately 160-170 beats per minute. Your baby is 27 - 35 mm or 1.06 - 1.38 inches with 1/2 the length being attributed to the head. He weighs between 3 - 4 grams (or less then 1/2 ounce), or 4 paper clips.

Also, your baby will become much more active then before, but unfortunately, still too small for you to notice. He will be moving his arms and legs, which can be seen on an ultrasound. Your baby's joints are fully formed, as are his tiny hands, feet, fingers and toes. At this age, he would be able to grab an object if it were placed in his hand, as he grows more and more sensitive to touch. Your baby's eyes are openly most of the time but the eyelids are beginning to fuse – they will stay that way until you reach approximately 25 to 27 weeks. The external genitalia is beginning to be able to show your baby's sex and both the external ears and upper lip are completely formed now. However, your baby's biggest accomplishment this week is the disappearance of the tail!

Also, your baby is breathing. This breathing activity is noticeable as he "breathes" amniotic fluid. Oh, and he is beginning to urinate as well.

Your Body:

There's some good news this week – your morning sickness may begin to ease and give you some relief. You are still tired, moody and nauseated and, much to your unliking, you may start seeing some blotchiness on your face. These can be attributed to the change in hormones.

This is the week where you may begin to show every so slightly. Your abdomen may begin to pooch out, but it will be more from bowel distension than the uterus. Ready or not, your waistline is slowly disappearing. As your blood volume increases by 40-50 percent, you will begin to notice veins on your breasts, legs and tummy more easily. Don't worry. These usually subside shortly after delivery.

10.1 and Counting

Ten weeks and one day.

Until now I never could have understood what Cousin meant when she told me that time seemed to move backward while she was pregnant. It is like in Ferris Bueller's Day Off when he is watching the clock and waiting for school to get out and the clock actually ticks backwards. . .

We are completely micromanaging this thing. Yesterday, the fools that we are, we headed toward Lake Harriet for a mid-afternoon's picnic. It was a balmy 50 degrees (weather is relative up here in the arctic circle) and we quickly discovered why the park was not overrun by fellow picnikers. It was freezing. The only people outside were MOVING: running, biking, roller-blading, even sailing. . . But they were at least moving.

Anyway, in the middle of our quick lunch, BioMom said she wasn't experiencing any symptoms.

I know this sounds crazy, but we freak out over these little reprieves.

Of course, it was because she was getting some fresh air. And eating. Eating chocolate. But that was besides the point.

I was talking with Cousin about this. Her experience with morning sickness and the worry over miscarriage and she said that she rarely, if ever, worried about it. She never expected to have a miscarriage.

What's sad is that when I told BioMom this, she said, she never expects NOT to have one.

I know we're crazy. And lucky. And delirious. But I just can't wait until 12.6.

The Sash-O-Shame

Archbishop Flynn makes another appearance on this Blog!!!

You gotta love this guy. A real leader. A real foward-thinker in the Church. Check out his weekly column.

Now, check out this article from CNN.com about parishoners wearing rainbow sashes in support of the Catholic GLBT community being refused communion.

A group called the Rainbow Sash Alliance has encouraged supporters to wear the multicolored fabric bands since 2001 on each Pentecost Sunday, the day Catholics believe the Holy Spirit came to give power to Christians soon after Jesus ascended to heaven. But Sunday's service was the first time they had been denied communion at the altar.

Archbishop Harry Flynn told the group earlier this month that they would not receive communion because the sashes had become a protest against church teaching. . . .

Last year, some conservative groups in St. Paul kneeled in church aisles to block sash-wearers from receiving communion.

If these actions aren't just about the most non-Christian actions I have ever seen, I'll eat my rainbow sash! Let's review, Fr. Flynn: "Self-righteousness is destructive and uncharitable."

PC Parents

I was grading over at Starbucks today when I saw a couple of the FYO's old pals and their parents.

In between papers we'd chat and catch up, etc.

On their way out, one mom said she didn't know that I was a teacher. . . What did I teach. . . Where did I teach. . . etc. etc.

When she learned where I taught she said she had just been to a B&B in the area:

Oh. Maybe you know the place. It is called Rainbow Ridge.

The classic heterosexual assumption: all lesbians know all other lesbians.

In this case, it is true. When I got the job, Cousin and I came out to find me a place to live, and we stayed at this particular B&B. Suffice it to say that that was the only time I have ever spent any time with this particular B&B-running couple.

Then, get this. The little girl says:

You look like the girl at the farm!

By this, she means: You look like that lesbian farmer-lady.

The mom, awkwardly:

Yes! She has glasses too!. . . And dark hair. . Yeah. . . Dark. Short. Hair!


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Another FYO Story

I'm taller today
But nobody

Happy Birthday

A Random Walk... Not the blog but the blogger. Let's just say he's in his mid-somethings. . .

Office Politics

We've had some upheaval lately in our usually-peaceful, laissez faire economics department and I've learned, first-hand about a common addage:

The less there is to fight over, the bigger the fight.

Our current department chair is going on leave for a year, leaving the slot open for some sucker to ramp up for a year only to give the position back to its original owner.

Being the least senior person, on top of going up for tenure in the fall, I am in an awkward position. [Think Mike Meyers as the Cat in the Hat when he made a sexual comment about the kids' picture of their mom: "Awkward"].

The two logical stand-in options are currently-published-full-professors, and are adversaries. In private conversations, they have refused to cooperate if the other becomes chair.

One is somewhat of a "good-old-boy" although he might resist that label and all of the misunderstandings that go with it, and, as it turns out, he is relatively innocuous in his good-old-boy-ness.

The other is an 80's-style feminist who, while she has not incorporated the contributions of post-structural feminism and queer theory into her personal politics, she has made large contributions to the campus in terms of work-life policies. I can honestly say that my life is and will be permanently improved because of what she has done for the university.

So, its been a week of politiking.

If I vote for him, I betray her. If I vote for her, I just look like a party-line feminist. And all this for a thankless position with zero-to-negative influence or power and for which the course-load buy-down barely makes up for the opportunity costs associated with the extra administrative tasks.


Wednesday, May 11, 2005

When Students Act Like FYO's

Prof. BlogAuthor-

Just to clarify a question. In class you said the test was on Chapters 6,7,8,9,11,12,13 and that we should focus on the second half. I took that as focus on chapters 9, 11,12,13 but I was talking to another student and he took that as focus on the second half of the semester: meaning everything after the first test (all chapters)?
Which is it?

Thanks, Pushing It

Monday, May 09, 2005

In'sha allah Redux

I am trying to embrace my former student's email. Well, at least the part about what is "god-willing.":

Most people are unable to finish a conversation without using the phrase, "In'sha allah", meaning "God-willing". At first, it was a little odd to hear on airplanes and in cabs because my intended destination was always followed by, "In'sha allah."

In'sha allah, we won't have another miscarriage. It is now, 9 weeks and 1 day and counting. . .

In'sha allah

Check out the email I recently received from my former student travelling in Egypt. It is amazing and extremely insightful. I was so moved by it that I wanted to post it here for all to see.

Asalama Elieukum (God's peace be upon you)

It has been nearly a year, perhaps even longer, since I was last able to visit with many of you. I hope each of you has been well. After eight months in the Middle East, I am finding it necessary to go back on my vow never to write a mass email. I have always been so hesitant to send my thoughts out as if everyone deserved the same general letter. I suppose this email partly symbolizes me waving a white flag, admitting my defeat in a relentless attempt to find time and computer access to write people whom I care about and always intended to keep informed.

So, bear with me. If you are not a fan of mass emails, my apologies. Until now, I have pretty much been on your team. Yet, at this point I see no better forum to share a snapshot of what I am seeing on the other side of the world. Obviously, there is a lot happening. Everything is new. Leaving a strong community and entering a new surrounding has given a new meaning to all the things that I seemed content with in the states. Although the desire to be among that community has never ceased, I have reached a point of contentment and peace each day in a city that never fails to provide me with something new and challenging. I would like to share a few of the things I have picked up.

First, let's be real, when I told some of you that I would be in Egypt this year, you did not need to say much. The look, as to verbalize, "Best of luck skydiving into Iraq" was enough. Admittedly, a part of me started to agree. It seemed easy to connect Egypt to the news in the broader Middle East, overtaken with violence and a misunderstood perspective of Islam. My other view of Egypt came from my university in Cairo. "Welcome to the land of the Pharaohs," they would say, followed by letters which hinted towards me waking up each morning next to the pyramids and hitching a 10 kilometer camel ride in western desert to make my 8am class. Yeah. Not so much.

My perception has changed. To a certain extent, I have changed. It would be difficult to return to the United States without a new understanding of the Egyptian culture.

Who are the Egyptians?
Despite Egypt's location in Africa, hearing people refer to themselves as "Africans," is quite rare. Nor will you hear them claim the title of "Arab," like most other people in the Middle East. Do they accept these titles? Sure. Still, above all, they have always claimed their own, historic title, "Egyptians."

It has a lot to do with their history. I didn't find many Egyptians touring Karank Temple or Valley of the Kings in Luxor, nor do I see them gathering around the many pyramids in Giza (unless, of course, they have something to sell you). Having the world's richest history distinguishes them and their culture from neighboring Arab or African states; the Nile, Paranoiac history, and the Pyramids are still very much a part of who they are. The real trick is comprehending the mix between the longstanding Egyptian culture mixed in with new modern society.

Understanding the world beyond the guidebooks
Becoming familiar with the reputation of the Sudanese refugees, different characteristics of local mosques, and the rhythm of each morning's call to prayer all came very slowly throughout the past year. In fact, there are many things that I am still attempting to figure out.

Other aspects of the culture like male camaraderie are much more apparent. Men holding hands, kissing on the cheek for a common greeting, offering their food to a stranger, sipping tea for hours, and walking arm in arm is a daily occurrence and a sign of friendship among all males. Unfortunately, most of these things would attract second glances in the states.

I have also had a taste of the cultural aspects of the Arab family. Last semester I had dinner at my teacher's house in a suburb of Cairo called, Maadi. In addition to her job as a teacher, she plays the role of matchmaker, creating possible couples for men and women ( I really wish I had time to explain some of the details about marriages…interesting stuff). "Five years ago," she said, "things were much different." According to her, female clothing is becoming more western, women are marrying at a much later age because men are unable to find jobs that can support a family, and the gap between the urban and rural populations is widening at an incredible rate. It did not take long for me to see some of the things she was talking about.

On my teacher's recommendation, I avoided living in a dorm. Instead, I have an apartment in Zamalek, an island in the Nile River located in the northwest side the Cairo. Living in a neighborhood with Egyptian families, my roommates and I have a better opportunity to understand the society. I was taken aback by the traditions throughout Ramadan and am still amazed by how efficiently neighborhoods are turned into parking lots on a daily basis, accommodating the working day in a city of 18 million. Plus, living in an apartment gives me the chance to practice Arabic with the assortment of doorman and random dudes showing up at our door with a reason to fix something in the house. They are actually entertaining.

Perhaps my best glimpse of family life came while traveling through Syria and Lebanon. I sat next to a man named Mohamed and his family of seven who live not too far outside of Damascus. A six-hour bus ride from Allepo gave us a chance to talk about his work in the military and places he recommended to see in Syria. Mohamed and his wife insisted that I stay the night at their house. Admittedly, my stay included a full range of hand motions that I resort to in the absence or attempted explanation of various Arabic vocabulary, but I was thankful to have the opportunity to listening to his perspective on Israel, play with his kids, and share in their meals.

Arriving at school each day places me a different cultural light. The school is one of the best in the Middle East, easily the best in Egypt. The student population is comprised of those who have rich, successful parents and various students from rural areas whom performed far better than their high school classmates. Walking around campus you can start to see the breaking down of the old and the creation of the new, more western cultural. A female classmate sitting on my left wearing the Hijab (a scarf covering a Muslim woman's hair) sporting a pair of skintight jeans and a trendy shirt was difficult concept in itself; but, the paradox continues when I notice a student sitting opposite of me who also wears a Hijab but chooses more traditional, looser fitting clothing without any sign of skin.

Usually, though, when I am on campus, I concentrate on this…

إنظر إلي. أتكلم اللغة العربية
Arabic. In addition to my other classes, I have fifteen hours of Arabic instruction each week - ten hours of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and five hours of Egyptian colloquial Arabic.

In Egypt, approximately half the population is illiterate, making comprehension of the local language invaluable, especially outside of Cairo. MSA is a decent foundation for communicating in most countries, but while traveling overland from Cairo to Morocco (minus Algeria) I learned just how much the language could change. Social classes, people from urban and rural regions, and my Egyptian friends all use varying degrees of pronunciation, greetings, and informal sentence structure.

If you read a book, watch the news, or listen to a speech in Arabic, it is in MSA. It is not fluid like the spoken language - it is standard throughout the entire world. I learn MSA to continue to do things like read the newspaper and listen to the news, hoping to use this in my career. I spend time learning the local language for obvious reasons – say, survival. You will not find anyone using MSA to buy bread. It is not practical, almost border-line ridiculous. It would be similar to a situation in the States if someone were to ask you for directions in strict Shakespearean dialogue. You may understand it because you are educated, but undoubtedly, you would wonder if the individual had some issues.

Perhaps, most importantly, I learn both forms of Arabic to better understand the culture. While sitting with my doorman and his friends speaking Arabic in an ahwa (coffeehouse) while smoking Shisa (a tobacco water pipe), I gain their perspectives on a typical workday, the increasing amount of demonstrations against President Mubarak and the possible succession of his son, mandatory military service requirement, and the recent terrorist attacks in the city.

What I did not expect to gain from Arabic is such a deeper understanding of Islam. It is impossible to learn the language and not see Islam. Simple greetings and farewells all include a reference to their dependence on اللة (God). Most people are unable to finish a conversation without using the phrase, "In'sha allah", meaning "God-willing". At first, it was a little odd to hear on airplanes and in cabs because my intended destination was always followed by, "In'sha allah."

Okay. If you have made it this far, I give you credit. Thank you. Sorry this things is so long. This is my best shot in sharing a small part of this massive experience. My apologies if I have been slow to respond to personal emails Please know that I appreciate them all very much and love hearing news from home. In'sha allah, I will write back soon.

My hope is that you are all doing well in your corners of the world. For those of you in school, best of luck with your finals. Enjoy the summer. I hope to share many more stories with each of you when I return to the States. You are all in my prayers.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

The Tragedy of the Garfield Commons

As it turns out, I am becoming more conservative with age.

I am still a card-carrying Democrat, proud to be living and working in blue states, mind you. And you won't find me complaining about paying my fair share of taxes even if my income were to climb into a higher tax bracket (doubtful). (I am, however, benefitting tax-wise from the lack of legality in my life partnership. Thank god I don't have to pay BioMom's tax bracket!).

So, I should say I am becoming less (ahem) idealistic in my middle-middle age.

Today I had devoted one carefully carved out free hour to trimming the ever- increasing height of our grass. All looked favorable. The rain was holding out, and MP3 player in hand, I was mentally ready for the first mow of the season.

When I approached the first incline, however, I reached for the leaver that engages the automatic back wheels and felt no resistance. Upon investigation, its wire was hanging free, frayed at the ends. It had, apparently, at some previous time, by some previous co-worker-owner, SNAPPED, thereby permenantly disengaging the back wheels.

O.k. so you might ask what's the big deal you wimp!?! So you have to push a little?

You haven't seen our hill.

The incline on our front embankment would make Evan Basso tremble.

The Twin Cities City Pages has voted it the "Second-Best Sledding Site" for 2004 and 2005.

Think San Francisco. Think me mowing with switchbacks. Think Lombard Street.

So, after an hour and a half of sweat and toil, mowing with only my own undeveloped upper-body muscle by carefully balancing the extent to which I can reach halfway down the hill from the top without falling down with the momentum of the mower, and, with a run at it from the curb, push the mower up, I am finished. (With a line of unmowed grass running across the middle of the embankment where the down and the up strokes refused to meet. Think: the original "mow" hawk.).

But finished in more than one sense.

I'm also finished with the collectively owned mower.

The tragedy of the commons didn't mean so much to me in college when my roommate (Cousin) refused to do the dishes and we'd let them pile up to the ceiling, ultimately washing one necessesary dish at a time. But now, the thought of dragging that washed-up lawnboy into the shop (again) for someone else's eff-up, is more than I can take. And, with us having the steepest grade, we're not exactly loaded with bargaining power or the ability to wait out or co-collective members in the "who's taking it to the shop this time" game.

I know what I'm asking for for Father's Day!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Nun Gala

Last night BioMom and I attended a fundraiser organized by her brother-in-law for a group of nuns, one of which is her aunt.

It was altogether fine other than the fact that it was our first 75 degree day and it pained me to not be outside grilling or doing the Tour de Garfield with the FYO.

There were two highlights of the evening.

The first was running into BioMom's octogenarian aunt. We were talking about her recent birthday when I said Was it your fifty-fifth?

In response she cuddled up to me and said So. . . What are you looking for?

Biomom: She DOES like older women!

The second was at the start of the dinner when BioMom's Dad accidently spilled BioMom's champagne all over her lap. That wasn't the funny part. What was hilarious is his (loud) response DURING Arch-Bishop Flynn's before-meal prayer: JESUS CHRIST!!!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Nausea Returns!

YAHOO! On to WEEK 9!!!

Kindergarten Round-Up

Today was Kindergarten Round-Up for the FYO.

It was just darling. You could tell she was apprehensive. Well, especially since one little girl was literally screaming and clinging on to her mother, begging her not to leave her in the room. The FYO's eyes got really big and I tried to reassure her that the girl was having an unusual reaction to the hour of story-telling they were about to experience while the parents were herded into the auditorium for some welcoming comments and coffee snacks.

Sidekick is also going to the same little school so afterwards I took some pictures of both of them in front of the building. While taking the pictures, Sidekick was a girl after my heart in her relentless poke-poke-poking at the FYO's buttons. They were posing on the school's sign and it was the FYO's plan to have each of them at one end, bookmarking the sign. But Sidekick would have nothing of it, preferring to stand NEXT to the FYO rather than OPPOSITE the FYO.

It turns out, the FYO was getting a little taste of her own medicine.

The other night they were playing CandyLand and the FYO was about to win but apparently rigged the deck so that Sidekick would draw the gumdrop guy and basically head back to GO, ensuring the FYO's victory.

Recognizing the problem Sidekick left in a huff and slammed the door of her room. When confronted, the FYO denied it all.

Her first lesson in tit-for-tat.


In response to this comment, here's the article by Salary.com:

Dream Job: Stay-At-Home Mom

So why do thousands of career women nationwide opt to put their careers and salary-earning potential on the back burner to stay home to care for their children?

A Labor of Love
"I had zero experience taking care of children before I had my own," said Laura Mercer, mother of two boys and professional stay-at-home mom outside of Las Vegas, Nev. "Being a career woman most of my adult life, the thought of being a stay-at-home mom didn't even occur to me."

Instead of donning a suit and pumps each morning in pursuit of the corporate American dream, Mercer gets gussied up in kid-proof clothing to confront a very different challenge: maintaining a household and raising two energetic boys. Like most stay-at-home parents, Mercer acts as cook, maid, driver, disciplinarian, and tutor - all without monetary compensation.

So why do thousands of career women nationwide opt to put their careers and salary-earning potential on the back burner to stay home to care for their children? Reasons can range from the exorbitant cost of childcare to deep emotional attachment, but one thing is clear: being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job.
CPA and stay-at-home mother of two Wendy Schulze of suburban Massachusetts had reservations of her own about staying in the workforce. "I looked into day care, but I wasn't comfortable with it," she said. "And with two children, it's really not worth it to put both of them in day care."

Finances aren't the only, or even the biggest, reason for a parent to stay home and care for the children. Kansas City, Mo., stay-at-home mom Tiffany Allshouse was worried about her daughter's most formative years being defined by someone who wasn't family. Neither she nor her husband has relatives in the nearby area to help out. "The thought of a stranger - not Mom or Dad - being her primary caregiver is horrifying to me, even if the day care is the best around," she said.
Perks and bonuses

"She gets up around 6:30 in the morning to have a bottle and a diaper change," said Allshouse of her daughter. "When she's finished, we spend a few minutes just lying there together. I usually try to remember that this is a time I would not have with her if I were working and rushing her off to day care."

Schulze also takes note of the little things when caring for her two children. "I get to see everything, the first step, the first word. We have a lot of fun, we laugh and giggle," she said. "I know that we would still have that if I was working, but I don't know if I would have been the one clapping my hands, telling them 'You can do it!'"

Not only are stay-at-home parents able to spend their days with their little ones, but they usually get some down time to attend to their own needs during naps and play dates. "The spontaneity of the daily schedule can be kind of nice once you get the hang of it. After years of 9-to-5 jobs, it's a nice change of pace," said Erin Livingstone of northern Texas.

All three women are able to pursue hobbies they weren't able to give attention to while working out of the house. "I love to read and have an insatiable appetite for books," said Allshouse. "Staying at home has given me time to read books that I've been wanting to read for years, including classics and current works."
No raises, no sick days, no adult interaction

For all its priceless benefits, being a stay-at-home parent means no salary, unless the homebound parent works out of the home on a part-time or contract basis. "The worst part is the lack of pay," said Livingstone. "And the hours - it certainly isn't a 9-to-5 job. Being on duty - or at least on call - 24 hours a day can really wear you down at times." When she has time to herself, Livingstone keeps current in graphic design, her pre-motherhood profession. She hopes to start working out of her house on a part-time basis in the future.

Mercer, who plans to expand the Web design business she runs out of her home, also pointed out that stay-at-home parents don't get sick days. "Mommies can't get sick because young children still need care." She remembers a particularly nasty flu she contracted when her children were two and four years old. Unable to get out of bed and prepare them breakfast, she asked them to "to go in the kitchen and do their best to get some food because Mommy could not look at food at the moment." When she made it to the kitchen, she discovered a blanket of Cheerios on the kitchen floor, the refrigerator door wide open, and her kids sitting on the floor eating a bowl of strawberries. "I crawled back to bed and they ate a great deal of Cheerios that day," she added.

"I don't have a lot of adult interaction these days," said Schulze, who without hesitation named lack of "adult stimulation" as the worst thing about staying at home. She's made a conscious effort to get involved with activities outside her family life. "I would have probably done these things anyway, but I wouldn't have stressed it as much as I do now."

Returning to the workplace
Allshouse, Livingstone, and Schulze are planning to stay home until their children start school, and then move back into the working world part-time or out of the house. "I might go back earlier but it would greatly depend on what kind of opportunity it was," said Allshouse. "There is really a dearth of part-time work available for moms who want to stay home but still keep their minds and talents engaged in the work force."

Mercer plans on staying home until her children are in college. "I plan on being home for them after school when they are teenagers," she said. "That is when I got into the most trouble growing up, so I want to provide a nice place for my kids and their friends to hang out." She plans on working part-time while her children are in school, but she and her husband want to have at least one parent home for the kids in the afternoon and evening.

In The Price of Motherhood, author Ann Crittenden comments on the professional hits that stay-at-home parents take. According to her, mothers pay too large a lifetime price in lost income and status because of the time and energy they devote to their children. "Raising children may be the most important job in the world," she wrote, "but you can't put it on a resume."

And, the longer moms take before returning to work, the higher the price many of them pay in the long run. After all, nannies and babysitters qualify for Social Security benefits; stay-at-home mothers do not.

What mothers are really worth
"People might think that stay-at-home moms are sitting around eating bon-bons and watching soaps, when in reality, we're working several jobs at once. And, we're doing it 24/7 with no vacation days, holidays or even sick days," said Jen Singer, creator of www.MommaSaid.net, a Forbes Best of the Web site for at-home mothers. Singer added, "many stay-at-home moms are on the job upwards of 100 hours a week. That would be a whole lot of overtime if we got paid."

Stay-at-home mothers wear many hats. They're the family CEO, the day care provider, accountant, chauffeur, counselor, chef, nurse, laundress, entertainer, personal stylist, and educator. Based on a 100-hour work week, Salary.com has estimated that a fair wage for the typical stay-at-home mom would be $131,471 for executing all of her daily tasks.

"Mothers are responsible for the mental and physical well being of the family - putting a price on that isn't easy," said Lena Bottos, compensation market analyst for Salary.com. "But we looked at it as what you would have to pay other people to do the same work if the mom weren't there."

Even if these mothers were getting paid what they'd be worth on the market, Bottos added that they still wouldn't be adequately compensated. "When you take into account that it represents a 100-hour work-week, and doesn't even begin to factor in that they are on call 24 hours a day, it's not so large. Plus, stay-at-home moms get no benefits in terms of pension or 401(k)."

Far-reaching effects
Even though stay-at-home parents aren't included in Department of Labor statistics, their type of "non-wage labor" adds incalculable value to future human capital. Mercer hopes that by staying at home, she'll teach her children to be "responsible and well-mannered" productive members of society.

In the long-term, then, staying at home can benefit families financially and emotionally, and provide a boon to future labor markets. While a stay-at-home parent can't really use her or his experiences as resume fodder, caring for children requires attention to detail, multitasking capabilities, and self-confidence - skills that are necessary in any profession. "After being a stay-at-home mom to two very active, non-sleeping boys, I feel confident that I could take on nuclear engineering or anything else," said Mercer. "It is that challenging, but equally rewarding, too."

While not for everyone, staying at home not only benefits families as a whole, it specifically benefits the mothers who do it. "If I were working, I would be so stressed out with work and everything else that I wouldn't have time to see the little things," Schulze said. "I wouldn't have relaxed as much, or taken the time to stop and smell the flowers. I get to see life through a child's eyes, and I wouldn't have gotten that chance."

So, mommies-to-be, talk it over with your significant other, quit that day job, grab the kids...and dream on!

- Regina O'Brien, Salary.com

Thursday, May 05, 2005


This time around, the whole first trimester finger-on-the-pulse reaction that BioMom and I are having is nearly unbearable for both of us (especially for her). I can hear the anxiety and stress in her voice today reporting that she is not feeling as nauseous as usual. For the second day in a row now she has felt less nauseated, as compared to Monday where she felt the height of nausea. She told me today that she didn't think she'd be able to wait until June 3rd to have a doctor make sure that all is alright, and I can hear her wish from me to reassure her some way. I can't even express how hard this is. Also, even if we had a doctor confirm the fetus' health today, there is no assurance that it will be o.k. tomorrow. Absolutely infuriating.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

End-of-Semester Student Pleading and Threatening

Dr. Blogauthor~

before I come into your office in order to discuss my grade on FWA3, i was curious how much a B- on the paper is actually going to affect my overall grade. if i'm not on a margin somewhere...i wont waste your time.

-Student X

Hi Student X
a) Whatever benefit of the doubt I have room to give, you will get it;

b) I think you deserve at MOST a B- on that paper. Being that I am the Simon Cowell (American Idol) of grading papers, you need to know that I think that even a B- is a gift.

Does this help you weigh your (and my) opportunity cost?


We've Doomed the FYO

Check out this article that links fairy tales to violent relationships.

Fairy tales linked to violent relationships

Fri Apr 22, 7:47 AM ET

LONDON (AFP) - Young girls who enjoy classic romantic fairy tales like "Cinderella" and "Beauty and the Beast" are at greater risk of becoming victims of violent relationships in later life, a British researcher says.

A study of both parents of primary school children and women who have been involved in domestic abuse claims than those who grew up reading fairy tales are likely to be more submissive as adults.

Susan Darker-Smith, a graduate student who wrote the academic paper, said she found many abuse victims identified with characters in famous children's literature and claimed the stories provide "templates" of dominated women.

A more senior academic at the University of Derby said the topic was sure to spark debate but merited further research.

"They believe if their love is strong enough they can change their partner's behaviour," Darker-Smith said. "Girls who have listened to such stories as children tend to become more submissive in their future relationships."

The research, conducted in Leicester in the east of England, is to be presented to the International Congress of Cognitive Therapy in Gothenburg, Sweden, next month.

Her study, entitled "The Tales We Tell Our Children: Overconditioning of Girls to Expect Partners to Change", will be discussed by many of the world's most influential therapists.

Darker-Smith said she believed younger generations exposed to television and other entertainment media may react differently and be less submissive than those weaned solely on literature.

Her work found the most popular bedtime stories for girls were "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel", while boys were more likely to hanker for "Paddington Bear" or "Thomas the Tank Engine".

Darker-Smith, a masters student in cognitive behavioural psychotherapy at the University of Derby, will also submit other abstracts to the conference, examining ideas about anorexia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Michael Townend, senior lecturer in psychotherapy at the university said: "We know that storytelling is an important way that children form beliefs about themselves and relationships."

"Susan's work is an interesting study which is sure to spark debate, but further research is required in this area."

The Cherry Parisite

Pregnant women must write all of the pregnancy calendars on the Internet that describe the size of your growing baby and uterus in terms of food items. I can't wait until week 12 when it'll be the size of a pickle and some ice cream!

Week 6: Your baby's length is now about 3 to 5 millimeters -- about the size of a peppercorn!

Week 7: A BB pellet.

Week 8: Your baby is now 10 to 13 millimeters long -- about the size of a cherry. From another book: A pinto bean!

Week 9: Your uterus is about the size of a grapefruit!

Week 10: The baby weighs close to 0.18 ounces and is the size of a small plum.

Week 11: Your baby is about the size of a large lime!

Week 12: No reference, but the size doubled in the past 3 weeks.

Week 13: Its about the size of a peach.

Week 14: Your baby is the size of your fist. [Does that mean its getting smaller?]

Week 15: Softball!

Today BioMom had her usual mid-week parananoia attack. Before I get a bunch of emails berating me for not giving her enough love and support, note that I am just documenting my subjective experience and not judging her. I know that she is jacked up with hormones and I am doing my best to reassure her, or at the very least to point her toward someone who can reassure her. And not the ultrasound machine.

I lost a pound! I'm not feeling any nausea. I was sad yesterday just like I was sad when I had miscarried!!!

Please let the next four weeks pass quickly!


I was at dinner with a history professor and his wife last night and a discussion we were having on student papers confirmed my theory that students have no comprehention of the importance of historical specificity in their writing.

Specifically, we laughed at the ubiquitous use of the term "nowadays". Usually, it is used as a climactic point in the paper emphasizing (usually) the negative associated with all time prior to the unspecified "nowadays" and the optimistic future associated with all time post "nowadays".

Even more disturbing is that it seems like the relevant time period for prior to "nowadays" extends [only!] "10-15 years" as in,

"Women used to stay at home with their kids and had little opportunity in the labor market. But nowadays, they have lots of opportunities and the wage gap is falling [its only $0.77!!!]."



"Women used to do the majority of the domestic labor but nowadays husbands are helping out [this is after reporting like a 1/2 hour increase among men over the last 30 years]."


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

New Blog

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

The Externalities of Pregnancy

Your nauseating hCG levels are at their peak this week. The good news is that starting next week, as your hormone levels stabilize, you'll start feeling a lot better. The bad news is that this week is probably going to be rough. If you're throwing up a lot, drink plenty of water to keep yourself from dehydrating. Your uterus has doubled in size and is now about the size of a tennis ball. The area under your navel is definitely firmer than usual. Most women report being uninterested in sex at this stage, though some women also report being more interested than usual.

You may begin to notice changes in your hair and skin. Your hair might feel thick and lustrous-or greasy, thin, and limp. Resist the urge to try to dye, perm, or highlight your hair-it may not take to the chemicals evenly. Do switch your shampoo and conditioner to suit your new hair texture.

Monday, May 02, 2005

8.1: Week 8 Day 1

Cousin called yesterday. She is the only one that knows at this point.

She said: Where are you guys? How are you? I worry about you if I haven't heard from you in a couple of days!

So sweet.

I know I sound like a baby. Especially to all those women trying to get to this stage at all, but it is totally nervewracking.

I called BioMom from Walgreens today. The Dr. told her to eat more calcium as the parasite is sucking the life out of her bones. Anyway, she was feeling terrible--worse than ever. Which is great news. But then she said she was also dizzy. I resisted the urge to run to my computer, pull up Google, and type in "pregnancy and dizziness."

No. I just waited until I got home to neurotically search all of the unpublished and unverified information at my fingertips to fuel my hypertension!!

Here's the results. . . Another bullet dodged (seriously! it feels like that!):

Dizziness or feeling faint is a normal symptom during pregnancy. It is more common in the first trimester, but it may also be prevalent throughout your pregnancy.
What causes dizziness during pregnancy?

The main cause of dizziness in pregnancy is due to the rising hormones that cause your blood vessels to relax and widen. This helps increase the blood flow to your baby, but it slows the return of the blood in the veins to you. This causes your blood pressure to be lower than usual which can reduce the blood flow to your brain temporarily causing dizziness.

Dizziness is also caused by low blood sugar levels which may occur as your body adapts to changes in your metabolism. Women who are anemic or who have varicose veins may be more susceptible to dizziness than others.

Dizziness may be caused in your second trimester because your growing uterus may be putting pressure on blood vessels.

Dizziness may occur later in your pregnancy when you lie on your back allowing the weight of the baby to press on your vena cava (a large vein that carries blood from your lower body to your heart.)
What remedies exist for preventing dizziness during pregnancy?

There are a number of things you can do to reduce the amount of dizziness you may experience. Here are some helpful suggestions for reducing dizziness during pregnancy:

* Avoid standing for long periods. If you must stand, make sure that you keep your feet moving to help increase circulation.
* Get up slowly from either sitting or lying down. (This can be very more important when you are getting out of the bath.)
* Eat regularly. Avoid long periods between meals; it is better to snack throughout the day.
* Avoid hot baths or showers.
* Avoid lying on your back once you reach the middle of your second trimester.
* Wear loose comfortable clothing to avoid restricting circulation.

What do I do if I feel faint during pregnancy?

There are a few things you can do to help relieve the feeling that you are going to faint. It is common to faint during pregnancy, so be cautious. Here are some helpful suggestions:

* Avoid getting up quick from sitting or lying down positions. This is a common reason for dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting.
* If you feel faint, try the following things:
o sit or lie down and lower your head
o take deep breaths
o loosen any tight clothing
o open windows and move towards circulating air
o have something to eat

When to contact your physician because of dizziness during pregnancy:

You should contact your doctor immediately if your dizziness is accompanied by vaginal bleeding and/or pain in your abdomen. This could be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy, a low-lying placenta, or a placental abruption.

You should also contact your doctor immediately if you have persistent dizziness or dizziness accompanied by blurred vision, headaches, or palpitations; this may be a symptom of severe anemia or some other illness which could have a negative affect on your pregnancy.

Timing Is Everything

Recently, the FYO has been trying on some humor. But her timing is WAY off.

The obvious favorite path to what she hopes is a good laugh is the trusty "April-Fool's Joke." Such repartee requires a specific sort of delivery, I've learned, to be understood as the wisecrack it was intended to be.

For example:

Ridiculous statement. Pause. Then, the recognizable singsongy "APRIL" pause followed by the two-syllabled "FOO-HOOLS!" and usually an inspiring laugh by the comedienne.

The FYO doesn't yet have the pattern down so when the "Ridiculous Statement" is made and not followed relatively immediately by the above-stated pattern, I often don't recognize it as such.

Yesterday the FYO and BioMom and I went to the highly pagan May Day festival in the Powderhorn Neighborhood in Minneapolis. We parked near a make-shift bar-b-que at a student-type house with a bunch of kids hanging out outside. It looked (and smelled) like a blast.

The FYO: I want to move HERE!

Me: Yeah. It DOES look fun, doesn't it. Said while drooling.


Neither Science Nor Art?

In the article "The X Factor: Is the Art Market Rational or Biased" Sunday's New York Times, Greg Allen describes the disparity between sale prices for art done by men versus art done by women.

Out of the 861 works for sale at next week's contemporary art auctions at Christies, Sotheby's and Phillips de Pury & Co, only 13 percent are by female artists and of the 61 pieces that have been assigned an estimated price of at least $1 million, only 6 percent are by women.

According to Irving Sandler, an art historian: When you're talking about the market, there may be a glass ceiling. It's not as if women aren't recognized; they are. But look at your top auction people, and there is a vast discrepancy between what men get and what the women get.

So, the question is, why?

According to conventional wisdom, the value of an artist's work increases when she has shows in prestigious museums. But as Mark Fletcher, a private art adviser who has dealt in work by both [Damien Hirst (think tiger shark in formaldehyde) and Rachel Whiteread (think fiberglass, rubber mattresses) both Y.B.A.'s or "Young British Artists." As an aside, BioMom and I got to see a great exhibition of the YBA's at London's Saatchi Gallery last summer. The exhibitions included the floating shark as well as a room filled to its mid-point in oil. Now THAT's art!], said, "Whiteread has an extraordinary, esteemed museum exhibition and patronage history, but it's Hirst, which has little such institutional support, which does extremely well in the marketplace."

Art defies a head-on comparison. Forget apples and oranges; how does one judge the value of Ms. Whiteread's cast fiberglass and rubber mattress relative to Mr. Hirst's deteriorating shark? . . The contemporary art market has at least one frustratingly simple answer: price. And from that perspective, the comparison is unmistakable: art made by women is regarded less highly than art made by men.

The problem, of course, started long before the current boom in the art market, with its dizzying seven-figure prices. Through the middle of the last century, many galleries simply refused to show the work of female artists; others reportedly had quotas. . . "Until about 25 years ago, women just weren't shown that much."

Like other disciplines, some women who refused to network in the male-dominated culture chose to withdraw from the market. They just left because they just didn't want to have that kind of life or being that kind of situation. Note, this is at least part of an explanation for the relative dearth of women in full-professor positions and in the upper echelons of law firms.

Such obstacles slowed or prevented women from establishing a strong base of collectors.

In 1972, the feminist art historian Linda Nochlin published an influential essay that linked women's lack of parity in the art world with the biases women faced in the culture at large. Since then, each successive generation of female artists has found the playing field a bit more level.

And, naturally, there are the skeptics. Those women who lived through the patriarchy and succeeded and, therefore, deny any possibility of the existence of sexism [As another aside, our provost regularly touts the fact that she raised kids AND rose through the ranks of academia without these fluffy work-life policies to help her. Why shouldn't you???]:

Ms. Bourgeois, now 93, rejects the idea that her art has ever suffered from bias. "No, it hasn't," she said assuredly. "I don't see any difference in the art, whether men's or women's."

According to Ms. Peyton "One reason [for the male-female price gap] may be the way women can be marketed by their dealers. There's something about a great male painter; it's an ideal. Also, maybe women are concerned with different things, and so they're making different kinds of work. Maybe the market thinks that's less valuable."

Of all the worlds' markets, the art market is perhaps the most intrinsically subjective. No one calculates the price of a painting by tallying the time it took and multiplying that by the artist's hourly rate. Nor do raw materials count for much: expensive paintings are, more or less, made of the same stuff as cheap paintings. For all the experts and connoisseurs and scholars and analysts, when it comes right down to it, the price of a work of art is based on what buyer and seller agree its worth, and that's all. And as in almost every other field where money changes hands in society, women's production has been and continues to be valued below that of men, except in this field, the differences is sometimes ten-fold or more.

Women's art sells for less because it is made by women.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Eight Weeks, Zero Days

Another post I can't post.

This is how neurotic we've become. I have looked at literally every pregnancy website. What are the symptoms? What does the baby look like? What is developing? What should it feel like if something is wrong? Etc. Etc.

And the pregnancy calendar defies all sense of logic.

Firstly, it starts at the first day of the last period which, while defineable, seems completely illogical as one is not actually pregnant at that point. So, by that standard, we ALL are pregnant for two weeks EVERY MONTH! Even if we're not trying! By the time you find out, you are in your fourth week.

Secondly, if you are 8 weeks and 1 day pregant, are you in your 8th week, or your 9th week according to all of the websites?

Lastly, nothing. . . NOTHING reassures me completely.

I am not the type of person to wish time away but, I can't wait until the end of week 12. Or is it 11 weeks and 6 days?