My last birthday before the war

Yesterday was 17 March 2020, my 28th birthday. I spent it with my husband and my sister. In the evening when we sat down to dinner together, I saw everything about that moment through the lens of history. In 10 or 20 years, how would we remember this night? Would it be the last time we saw each other in months? Would it be “the good ol’ days before the world changed forever”? I felt compelled to take a photo of Jacob and Julia at that little dining table in her Atlanta studio apartment. “I want to take a picture of this, just as it is,” I explained. “It’s for my war scrapbook”. They rolled their eyes but complied.

I have lived such a safe, privileged life. For years I had a countdown on my phone marking my 10,000th day alive (3 August 2019). When that day arrived, I thought, this is amazing. I have lived a 10,000-day streak of life with no tragedies. Never has someone very close to me died or been in a major accident. Never have I been in danger of living in poverty or having any of my physical needs not be met. There have been several ‘crises’ in my lifetime (September 11th, the 2008 financial crisis, so many hurricanes, etc.) but none of them affected my everyday activities. I was always able to go to school and enjoy life and walk around without fear that my safety was at stake. In stark contrast to my idyllic existence, history is filled with stories of tragedy and danger. War, famine, societal collapse. These are not uncommon in our world. I have always wondered when it would happen to me.

As of this writing, there are just over 7000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the USA (but we haven’t been testing a lot of people so who the heck knows how many cases there actually are) and 100 confirmed deaths. Admittedly, relatively low numbers. But we have all seen the statistics. I understand the shape of an exponential curve. I’m not here to write about all of the factors that are making this a worldwide concern, I’m just here to write about what it feels like to me. Virologists and epidemiologists knew this was coming. Governments around the world are instituting mandatory lockdowns/shelter-in-place guidelines, and considering enacting some form of martial law. It hasn’t happened here in Atlanta yet, but it has in New York and California.

There are so many questions right now. How will society continue to function with everyone staying in their homes and not going out? The economy has all but evaporated in the last week; all events of every sort are canceled. The DOW is losing thousands of points a day. I was looking for a job before all this went down, and now I know I won’t be employed any time soon. Huge swaths of the world population are facing unemployment while everything is paused. How will we get the resources we need? What will happen to the supply chains of food, medicine, and other essentials?

Some people are not nearly as nervous or concerned as I am about what is about to unfold. My sister Julia is studying macroeconomics and public health. She believes this will blow over with (relatively) little impact. My husband Jacob is still going to work at this time, he is a chef at a restaurant down in the city, and although they are not serving customers in the dining room, they are still doing pickup orders. Jacob already likes to live a rather socially isolated life on a normal basis, he just goes to work and comes home and chats with friends online. So besides the fact that traffic is lighter and the restaurant isn’t filled with customers, his life hasn’t been changed much yet. He is not bothered. Meanwhile, I have the TV on and am watching commercials that feature people enjoying sporting events and concerts; it seems like a cruel taunt. The fact that everyone is reacting differently to this pandemic makes me feel confused and guilty. Yesterday did we do the wrong thing by taking a walk in the park and visiting my sister? Of course I wanted to see my mother on my birthday, but I simply can’t visit with my parents right now.

Joking about the ‘impending war’ has been a common jest among young people for years. I know I really started thinking about it in 2014. This, however, is the first time I’ve felt it might be genuinely imminent. I have visions of people resorting to violence because they can’t afford/find food. I see soldiers guarding the streets making sure people don’t move around. I see food, water, and energy rations. I see field hospitals overwhelmed with sick and injured patients, I see so many deaths. These fears are NOT unfounded; as I stated earlier, these things happen all over the world. We have been extremely lucky in the United States, but we are not immune… pun intended.

Will my fears play out, or will this indeed all blow over? Time will tell. I will keep writing while this pandemic is part of the zeitgeist.

A literal waste of life.

This month, legislators in North Carolina and Mississippi have passed anti-LGBTQ+ (emphasis on the T) laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.

In case you are wondering what mental gymnastics are involved in rationalizing actual discrimination, they call it “privacy”.

So clearly, these people take pleasure in damaging other peoples’ lives. But do they not realize they are literally wasting their own lives too?

In 1862, dozens of politicians voted to maintain slavery. 250 years later, they look like fools to us, but at the time they thought they were doing a reasonable thing. They didn’t know any better.

In 2016 we DO know better. We have seen society completely transform and become unrecognizable over and over again thanks to technology. Compare 2016 to 2006. To 1996. To 1986. Completely changed. We cannot picture what our lives will look like in 10 years. In 50 years, technology and society will have advanced beyond our wildest dreams, the same way a person from the 1960s could not in their wildest dreams have imagined Snapchat 2.0 (which is INCREDIBLE btw)

The future of humanity is so, so vast… in time, in knowledge, in population. Each one of us only has one lifetime to be alive. Just one. And then for ALL OF THE LIFETIMES AFTER THAT, we take our true place, in history. You think you are important because you are alive right now, but no! You will be dead infinitely longer than you will be alive. Life is tiny.

These legislators are wasting their tiny stupid little lives trying to deny LGBTQ+ people their rights while anyone who can recognize patterns or execute logic can see that transgender rights will be granted in less than one lifetime. We’ve seen this occur several times in the past 100 years.

For THE REST OF TIME, these legislators will become like the 1862 democrats. Primitive, foolish, shrouded in shame as the passage of time swallows them up like it does everyone else. We are so small! Anything we try to do to stop change is ridiculously futile. Passing these laws is like an ant trying to hold back a glacier. The future is always coming and it is so, so big. And yet they still spend their precious time on this.

What a literal waste of life. Some people’s stupidity knows no bounds.

Just found out my heritage!

As an American, when someone asks “what are you?” sometimes you can only guess.

“Uh, my mom’s Jewish and my dad is white?” was the best answer I could ever give up until now. Being a many MANYth generation American (direct descendant of one of the pilgrims on the Mayflower!) my exact ethnicity has been obscured in time.

Luckily, one of my uncles is super into DNA/family trees/heritage and the like. A couple of years ago his insights led me to find out that I am my own fifth cousin.

Now, I have the full breakdown of my DNA! Here it is!

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Basically, my mother is Jewish and my dad is white.

Pregnancy is FRIGHTENING!!

Recently the internet has nearly completely scared me away from the idea of ever ever getting pregnant or giving birth.

Ever wondered how on God’s green earth a human baby can fit into a body when it’s already completely filed with organs? Have a look at this horrifying gif:

Good lord, where have the intestines gone? The stomach is turned ninety degrees! The bladder is squished paper thin! Even your heart, diaphragm, lungs and sternum get nudged. I’m sorry but this is terribly unnerving. It does not look good or natural or in any way positive.

This gif also doesn’t show some of the other common damage caused by pregnancy. Your skin around that ridiculous abdomen? Destroyed. Your back? Strained to high heaven due to your center of gravity now being shifted to the thirty pound mass sticking out of you. Your feet? Twice their size. Hormones? Entropy is thy name. Your body will never be shaped the way it was before you got pregnant.

I hear that by the end of the pregnancy, women feel like that baby can’t come soon enough. They just want the horrors of pregnancy to be over. But guess what. Birth and post partum SOUNDS EVEN WORSE.

The terrors of post-partum life were brought to my attention recently in this post on ScaryMommy.com. I’ll give you the summary. The post refers to how beautiful the Duchess of Cambridge looked upon exiting the hospital with her brand new born daughter. I mean… look at this woman:

Anyone of course should be impressed with her stunning looks so soon after giving birth, but once I read the Scary Mommy blog post I was frankly… disgusted. Here are some things Kate had just gone through and was still going through when these photos were taken:

  • First pee: the author says the first pee “burns like a thousand suns” and you are crying. Yup sounds about right
  • First poop: apparently much, much worse than the first pee. Quotes include “writhing in pain” and “cursing [her] husband”.
  • A month’s worth of constant vaginal bleeding far more severe than any period you’ve ever had in your life
    • From these three points I think we can conclude that the lower part of one’s body is essentially decimated by the birth process.
  • Other slightly less traumatizing side effects include
    • Incredibly painful breasts that become hard and “spray” (not even a more gentle verb like ‘leak’ or ‘secrete’!) lactation
    • Elephant-sized feet and hands

In conclusion, pregnancy and birth appear to be a process of voluntarily causing very very serious injury to your body both internally and externally. Mercifully, one can make a full recovery from this but I am not at all surprised that death in childbirth was hugely common in the past and is still a real concern today.

So how would I or any woman ever subject themselves to this process after reading these things? Of course the obvious answer is it’s the only way to get a biological child of you and your partner without using a surrogate which is A) too expensive for the average couple to use and B) requires you putting the life of your growing embryo literally into the body of another woman which sounds like a last resort scenario. But still, holy shit!

The men of Buzzfeed Blue seem to share my sentiments. In the video below, four men learn about the third trimester of pregnancy. A key scene comes at 1:26; a pregnant woman and a doctor are listing all the sickening side effects of pregnancy (hemorrhoids, inability to sleep, pain from crushed organs) to these men, to which one asks, “What are some of the positives?” to which the only answer is “the baby.”

“It’s nice to know that your body want’s to destroy you,” one of them quips. Yeah. My thoughts exactly.

And yet, despite all of this, nearly all women will willingly go through the pregnancy process and most of them almost inconceivably will do it more than once. The logical conclusion to draw from this fact is that cheating death by getting pregnant and giving birth is, indeed, worth it. I suppose you suffer for a year and then reap many more years of benefits by having the child in your life, so in the end you do get a good return on your investment.

All women do it, so I guess some day I will do it too. But……. fuck.

I would love to hear thoughts from other women especially if you have been pregnant before.

Edit: wow just found this comic about pregnancy, birth etc that really covers it all: https://thenib.com/mom-body-51fde2bc01f

Biscuit

I know this is pretty random but I just have to post about what I think may be one of the best things I’ve ever done.

I’m a cat person. I have been since my dad got a pair of kittens for me and my sister when I was 7 years old. One of those cats is still alive, other cats have come into our lives as well.

Since I left home for college in 2010, I’ve missed having a cat. I always wanted one but couldn’t have one in the dorm, then even when I was out of the dorm I just didn’t want to incur the cost, plus my boyfriend is a dog person… for a multitude of reasons I never got a cat even though I would lament out loud almost every day “I wish I had a cat”.

For my birthday in 2013, among other items, my boyfriend got me a stuffed animal cat since we couldn’t get a real one. You know, a placeholder. I decided to call that stuffed animal “Biscuit” since that’s a pretty cute word (also my mom’s cat is named Pumpernickel which I think is awesome so I was inspired by bread products).

Then in June of this year, I noticed there was a kitten living under our porch.

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So… I started to feed her.

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And then I decided to keep her. I couldn’t bear seeing her live on our property, not when I had wanted a cat so badly for so many years. So, knowing full well that I was about to bring a wild animal into my home, I trapped her. I named her Biscuit after the stuffed animal that I’d gotten for my birthday.

biscuit1

She was a terribly mangy thing. So thin, skin and bones. I have no idea how old she is. I took her to the vet immediately to get her spayed. Turns out she was in her second trimester of pregnancy and only weighed four pounds. I do not think she would have survived giving birth. Too small, too young, too malnourished.

Then came the domesticating.

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It was scary to have a wild animal in the house! Was I ready for this? Did I have what it takes to domesticate a feral cat? I was very stressed about it. Biscuit stayed in the kennel for about two days before she would yowl nonstop all night and I had no choice but to let her out so that I could get some sleep. Then she took to hiding under the couch. Biscuit did not come out from under the couch for about three weeks except for when I would force her out to socialize with me about once a day. Some people said she needed to socialize and others advised me to leave her alone. I was constantly afraid I was making the wrong choices.

Eventually, Biscuit started coming out little by little. At first it was just for a couple of minutes. Then, only when we were sitting completely still and she would run whenever we moved. Then, she started playing with toys. Then, sleeping with me at night. Now, less than two months after I took the following photo of a mangy kitten…

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…here she is today.


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I saved this little cat’s life, and I think she is very grateful 🙂

Schedule for Spring Semester

 

 

Holla holla hollaaaaa, this is by FAR the most easy semester I will have ever had:

 

Of course, I still have to fit in a voice lesson, a composition lesson, and another composition class on Fridays from 2:30 – 4, but if I play my cards right, I can have Wednesdays OFF! And maybe I can do something productive like have a job!

The schedule you see above is only 13 credit hours. I have been packing in 18 hours a semester to get to this point 🙂 Looks like my last three semesters of college will be smooth sailing!

What I have learned from keeping a food journal, week 1

This is day six of me keeping track of what I’ve eaten. The first four days I was just googling foods and writing down my best calorie guesses on a piece of paper, but last night I found a cool app from about.com called Calorie Count. It not only counts calories, but all other nutrients in your food so you can see if you are lacking in vitamins or going over your sodium, etc.

Let me just say, it is shocking how many calories are in things. I do not know what I ate before on a daily basis, but I’m sure now it was not that good. The good news is, the simple act of keeping track of my food intake has made it so much easier to motivate myself to keep the consumption to a reasonable level.

There are some foods that even though I knew they must be bad, I didn’t realize how bad they were until I started keeping track!

  • Cupcakes: obviously these are no good for you, but a bakery cupcake has almost 600 calories in one!
  • Chicken wings: like 100 calories/wing
  • Powdered donuts: six mini powdered donuts is something like 400 calories
  • Publix fudge brownies: 240 calories in just one of those motherfuckers!

I’m trying to keep my daily intake under 1400 calories. The cupcake day was NOT one of those days! Also, the app has revealed to me that I am stupidly low on all of my vitamins. I should start taking multivitamins every day!