March 30, 2008

AFTERMATH

The husband is busy finishing up his MBA before he deploys, so that's why I'm writing about so many TV shows. Anyway, today I watched that National Geographic show Aftermath: Population Zero. I wanted to watch it after Lileks wrote about it, but I guess I remembered him writing more favorably about it. I checked his post again during the show and realized that it wasn't exactly a glowing report. What he said was this: "If the Aftermath show has any message, it’s how useless the world would be without people." I thought he meant that's what the program showed. Nope, that's just what Lileks himself took away from the story.

I can't get past the absurdity of the claim that all humans disappeared from the face of the earth in the blink of an eye, leaving their cars and microwaves running, but no animals were touched. I can't think of any scenario that would make that happen, so some of the animal scenes seemed pretty dumb. Though I did thoroughly enjoy watching a skunk eat Frankenberry cereal.

I did enjoy watching the physics of crumbling buildings. But overall I spent most of the time rolling my eyes at how evil and awful human beings have been for the poor earth. Yep, we ruined everything.

Lileks again:

I’d love to read an interview with Gaia in which she says that her goal all along was to come up with a species that could produce Beethoven and make rockets to send the music deep into space.

Now there's something to mull over...

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March 29, 2008

RIP, USS INDIANAPOLIS

I just watched a show on the Discovery Channel called "Ocean of Fear" about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis. I had never heard this story before: the cruiser was sunk by the Japanese, and the survivors floated in the Phillipine Sea for four days, suffering dehydration, injuries, and shark attacks. Shark attacks. Can you imagine surviving a torpedo in war only to float among sharks for days? And then imagine having your hand bit off by a shark and being shoved off the raft to fend for yourself because your crewmates think you'll attract more sharks.

The wikipedia entry contains this sentence:

While the Indianapolis sent distress calls before sinking, the Navy long claimed that they were never received because the ship was operating under a policy of radio silence; declassified records show that three SOS messages were received separately, but none were acted upon because one commander was drunk, another had ordered his men not to disturb him and a third thought it was a Japanese prank.

Imagine if this happened today. I have never heard of this WWII disaster at all -- and perhaps that's just my ignorance -- but it would be a major scandal if anything remotely like this happened today. People like to blame Bush and Rumsfeld for everything under the sun, but it's not like mistakes haven't been made in previous wars.

And a commander getting too drunk to answer an SOS and letting 500 men die floating in the water, well, the word "mistake" doesn't even begin to describe it.

(And shows like this, this is why I usually watch reruns of cop dramas. At least they're fiction. This just makes my heart shudder. It's excruciating. I will probably fret about this story for the rest of the day.)

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March 22, 2008

WHAT NOT TO SAY TO YOUR SUB-FERTILE FRIENDS

I came across a link on MSN to an article called We Can't Get Pregnant and It's Driving Us Apart. I read it with fascination because I can relate to many parts of it. And while our troubles aren't necessarily driving us apart, I can absolutely see how they might for some people. It is stressful, it is all-consuming, and it is heartwrenching. And if you deal with your emotions differently, it can be an awful process. My husband was strong and optimistic all last year, but lately he's been the one who's getting hit the hardest every month. We're trying to be a comfort to each other, but we're both stressed and disheartened. It's really rough.

And this paragraph, this just resonates.

Throughout this three-year ordeal I've felt perpetually sad. I've become a hermit because I don't want to hear friends who got pregnant easily say, 'Just adopt.' I want to watch my belly grow, feel my baby kick and give birth. Normally, my mom would be my support, but she keeps telling me supposedly inspiring stories about women who went through multiple IVF tries before conceiving naturally.

Everyone has a story to tell you. Everyone knows someone who had that Miracle Baby™, and they think that will make you feel more optimistic. It doesn't. And everyone says "just relax and it will happen." Everyone thinks they're being helpful, when really they sometimes cause more pain.

Two weeks ago I was at work when a young mother apologized for her two year old's behavior. I said it was no big deal, and I laughed and said that I like watching parenting styles in action. This girl asked if I have kids, and then followed with, "Well, why not? You have a wedding ring on; why don't you have a kid?"

Ick.

And even the people who are a lot less boorish than this chick, even they can punch me in the gut. My husband and I have finally taken the steps needed to start getting fertility testing done, to see if we can figure out what's going on. We don't mind telling people that we are taking this step, though we have decided that we are not going to discuss the details or results of the tests with anyone. But when I gingerly told a friend the other day that we have an appointment to get tested, she said, "Oh, I bet there is nothing wrong with you." Funny, I didn't realize you have a medical degree. Thank heavens you have determined that there's nothing wrong with us.

Other people have said that we just need to get drunk and have fun. To which I replied that if all we needed to get pregnant was booze, we'd be the fricking Von Trapp family by now. Also not helpful.

There's really nothing you can say to a couple who is disheartened and discouraged. But for starters, don't say things like, "You're lucky; I get pregnant every time my husband and I are in the same room!" For couples trying desperately to have a baby, being told they're lucky is a slap in the face. They don't want to hear about your husband's super-sperm and how fertile you are, because even though you don't intend it this way, it comes off sounding like you think you're a better human specimen than they are. For already fragile egos, hearing you talk about your hardy genetic material is painful. And they sure don't want to hear you refer to your fertility as a curse.

My two-cents is to never speak in declarative sentences. Don't tell them what you did as if it's the surefire way to get pregnant (got drunk, stood on your head, waited for the full moon, went to Hawaii). If it's worth a darn, they've already tried it by now. Don't say that you're sure it will happen for them soon, because you are not at all sure of that. There's nothing worse than having someone tell you they are sure you will have a baby; there are no guarantees in this process. And don't ever ever ever tell them to "just relax." I am ready to kick the next person who says that to me in the crotch.

Instead, play Obama and tell them you "hope" everything works out for them. Tell them you hope the testing brings them more understanding, that you hope that they don't obsess about it too much, and that you hope that they know that you care about them and are wishing them the best.

And then just be a friend. The couples going through this, they are miserable. They think about it constantly, and it is right in their face every two weeks. Their entire outlook on life -- what it means to be a parent, what one's role is on this earth, etc -- has changed because of this process, and it's a very vulnerable time. Please don't make it worse by telling them your best friend's sister's neighbor got pregnant unexpectedly and so of course they will too.

But these are just my thoughts; your mileage may vary. I am ultra-sensitive to anything that smacks of criticism or ignorance these days, and hearing that I should try to time the baby for winter because I'm a knitter just makes me want to slap someone.

Though I did get a big laugh when one friend said that we have too much money and education to get pregnant, and that our best bet is to start doing heroin and attending local high school proms.

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March 19, 2008

MEN IN COMMERCIALS

This is so tangential to her post that I almost feel bad leaping off from it, but after Dr. Melissa Clouthier gives dating rules for women, she ends with this

This is a lot of rules, but what it comes down to, to me, is treating someone else the way you'd like to be treated. Men might be from Mars, but they're still humans. All the male-bashing that goes on is offensive. One of my least favorite commercials features a guy ordering a pizza which will come in 30 minutes. He asks his wife for sex and she bats her eyes and asks, "What are we going to do for the other 28 minutes?" It's meant to be funny, but it just seems like more of the same disparaging of men.

I too hate that commercial. I have also been meaning to say for a long time how much I hate that tax commercial where the husband is trying to use Turbo Tax or whatever and he's frustrated. And the wife comes up and says, "Maybe you could ask for help? Oh, that's right, you used a box." It is so condescending it makes my teeth grit just to write about it. Maybe you could sit down and figure out an insanely complicated tax code, you nagging cow. How dare you condescend your husband as he tries to save money for your family.

Nowadays I look at these commercials and wonder What Would Kim Do? ever since I read his masterpiece blog post on the issue. His least favorite commercial?

The scene opens at the morning breakfast table, where the two kids are sitting with Dad at the table, while Mom prepares stuff on the kitchen counter. The dialogue goes something like this:

Little girl (note, not little boy): Daddy, why do we eat Cheerios?
Dad: Because they contain fiber, and all sorts of stuff that’s good for the heart. I eat it now, because of that.
LG: Did you always eat stuff that was bad for your heart, Daddy?
Dad (humorously): I did, until I met your mother.
Mother (not humorously): Daddy did a lot of stupid things before he met your mother.

Now, every time I see that TV ad, I have to be restrained from shooting the TV with a .45 Colt. If you want a microcosm of how men have become less than men, this is the perfect example.

What Dad should have replied to Mommy’s little dig: Yes, Sally, that’s true: I did do a lot of stupid things before I met your mother. I even slept with your Aunt Ruth a few times, before I met your mother.

That’s what I would have said, anyway, if my wife had ever attempted to castrate me in front of the kids like that.

Commercials where the husband sucks abound, but one year Budweiser tried to turn the tables and made this as a Superbowl commercial:

Hmmm, apparently it wasn't too popular with the ladies. You mean you don't like being made to look a fool on TV commercials? That's funny, men take the abuse every day.

I will say that there is one husband/wife commercial that I do love: the Sonic ice cream mustache one. It makes me die laughing every time I see it. (Maybe you can only appreciate it if you have a lady mustache...)

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March 17, 2008

AT 19

Ever since Bubba said that I'd be lying if I thought I wasn't self-absorbed when I was 19, I have been trying to remember my life at 19. I managed to come up with a few things that I did that year as a freshman in college taking 34 credit hours. I belonged to a Big Sisters program and mentored a little girl. I took high schoolers on a mission trip to rebuild houses. I volunteered for a gay rights group. I ate lunch once a month with the Kiwanis Club. I raised money for the Crop Walk. I loaned a boy in my dorm $600 when he needed to get his car repaired. And I began knitting, starting with a baby blanket for a nice couple who'd struggled to have their first baby.

Was I less mature then than I am now? Of course. But would I have had the sense and common decency to know how to behave and grieve if someone got shot? Get real.

There are 19 year olds out there who have far more responsibility and maturity than I did at that age. Many of them are serving in the military. Some of them are even parents. Those young men and women don't deserve condescension.

Gunnar Becker gave his life for his country at 19. Self-absorbed? Not even close.

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March 14, 2008

WHY YOU?

I just watched a National Geographic special about the shooting of Ronald Reagan, and I got curious and started reading about Hinckley and Jodie Foster. I guess she doesn't like to talk about Hinckley, but she wrote a piece in 1982 called Why Me? about the event and its effect on her life.

Funny how she barely even mentions the people who got shot.

I mean, it's her story and she has every right to tell it in her way, but...how freaking self-absorbed. No, she shouldn't feel any real guilt that what happened to Reagan was her fault, because it certainly wasn't, but in a 5000-word article, she never once mentions how she feels that these men got shot? That's just freaking weird to me. It was all about her and how the media took away her privacy and how having her picture taken feels like being shot. Um, you know what feels like being shot? Being shot. Ask Reagan, Hinckley, Delahanty, and McCarthy.

Look, what happened to Foster is really scary. Some nut thought he was in love with her and decided to reenact Taxi Driver. That's spooky, and I can see how she'd be freaked out. But if some nut who loved me shot the president, I would be wringing my hands about the president, not about myself. Or I would at least mention him in the huge article I wrote about myself.

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