28 April 2006

The Dreaming Tree

I've been having very vivid dreams of late. So vivid that when I wake up, I'm struck with the urge to get up in the middle of the night and write them down. I did that a few years ago, but stopped because in the harsh glare of morning light, they usually ended up looking like so much gibberish.

I have recurring nightmares that I remember all too well, but more positive dreams are not something I end up remembering, so the vivid dreams of the past few nights have been fun. The recurring nightmare, I think, is a manifestation of fears of abandonment that I have. The dream takes the same path, even thought the circumstances change. I'm running away from something or someone, and I'm in a crowd of people, and I can't scream, or the whole crowd is ignoring me en masse. I wake up in the midst of an asthma attack or gasping for breath, which is the beginning of an asthma attack. My darling husband, after witnessing this phenomenon for the first time when we were newly married, told me that I had been making sounds in my sleep. Sort of pitiful moans, low and deep in my throat, not something I can adequately describe with words. I told him about the nightmare, and that I'd been having it for years and years and years, and now he wakes me up when I start making that noise. Thank god for that, it saves me from feelings of utter terror when I wake myself up.

The more fun dreams, though, have been about me meeting one of my idols, although they’re weird dreams as well. I’ve written before about my teenage obsession with a rock band, Def Leppard, and about what a hottie I thought the lead singer was when I was 14. (Well, yes, since you ask, I still think he’s cute, but my husband is much sexier.) The first dream was that I had the chance to meet him, and hubby was right there with me, and just as the rock star turned to speak to me, I woke up. Kind of like the cable going out during a really important scene in a movie, no? But I can tell you all about where we were, the colors on the walls, what the rock star had on, what I had on, what my husband was wearing, even the details of the chairs we were sitting in, what the tickets that we had to the event looked like. The dream itself is not so strange, as I’ve been listening to the CDs my sister-in-law got me a lot. So it seems realistic to me that the band or the music would show up in my dreams when I’m spending more time listening to it during the day. What’s weird to me is the striking colors, the reach-out-and-touch-it quality of the surroundings in each dream. I never remember stuff like that. Wonder what it means? The smart alec side of me says, hey, bright girl, try listening to some DAVE instead. Did I mention that I have tickets to ALLL the shows near my hometown? And I spent the day listening to O.A.R.'s "In between Now and Then", about 4 times or so, and perhaps they will show up tonight.

Soundtrack? Tuesday's Coming, by O.A.R., stuck in my head courtesy of hearing it several times today.

25 April 2006

Random news blurbs and ranting

On NPR's hourly roundup of the news headlines, I heard two things this morning that really pissed me off. Warning: angry young woman ranting to follow.

The first was the president announcing that he's forming a commission to investigate if gas prices have been jacked up illegally. Would someone PLEASE remind Mr. Bush that when you CUT FUNDING TO ALTERNATIVE FUEL SOURCE RESEARCH, you're going to have higher gas prices. Oh, wait, I forgot, he's surrounded himself with former oil industry executives who are not going to tell him that. Silly me. But until we vastly improve public transportation in this country, and until the average American stops looking at a giant SUV and thinking, “Cool!”, we’re going to have high gas prices.

The second was a blurb about the Canadian flag. The reporter said that the new PM in Canada, Stephen Harper, has decided that flags will not fly at half-staff when a Canadian soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, and that reporters have been banned from photographing the caskets of the deceased at the airport as they come off of the airplane in Ottawa. The former PM had personally greeted the planes and been on hand as the honor guard offloaded the caskets.

Here's the thing: I count on Canada to NOT take lessons from us in stupidity. The Bush administration banned photographs at Andrews Air Force Base quite some time ago because presumably, the American public would be all up in arms if they realized how many 19 year olds are dying every day in a war that has been senseless from the get go. I think that the Canadian public has the right to see the caskets, just as the American public should be allowed to, and the current regime’s practice of stonewalling the media makes me sick.

Hey, how ‘bout that, a Google search turns up an editorial in the Toronto Star about this. Doncha love Google? Of course I don’t agree with their stand on the issue, but that’s OK.

I don't actually know if there are federal regs here in the United States for flying flags at half-staff. I remember that after September 11, the flags everywhere were at half staff, and there was an announcement at some point that it was time to put them back up, but if we were lowering them every time a US soldier was killed in either Afghanistan or Iraq, they would never be at full staff because an American soldier dies every damn day.

Which is the root of my anger and the whole problem. It makes me really angry that the vast majority of enlisted troops are kids who haven't had the greatest of economic advantages and join the army for the GI Bill's benefits, because recruiters call them and say things like, "Do you know the army will give you $50,000 for college?" And I know that b/c they did it to me. The recruiter that called me my senior year of high school was probably pretty surprised when I read him the riot act about how much I disliked the military, although I'm sure he was used to getting crap from kids. I remember the telephone call, although I'm not sure why I do. I actually did one of those double takes that you see in the movies, pulling the telephone away from my ear, looking at it, and shaking my head in disbelief. The guy had my school file!!! I was pissed about that. He told me that the army would love to have someone with my grades...and when I asked him who the hell had given him permission to go through my "permanent record", he told me the school had. I told him that he didn't have the complete record...because it didn't say anything in there about my ardent feminism. There was a pause on the line. Then, when he tried again to get me excited about the army, I finally said, "Are you kidding me? Is this a joke? Who put you up to this, my uncle?" No, no, he assured me, he was calling everyone in my class who had a 3.0 or better. “Well”, I told him, “cross me off your list and tell all your recruiter buddies to not bother wasting their time. I don't like the military, and think it will be a great day when my school can afford a properly equipped science lab and you guys have to hold a bake sale for a fighter jet. Please don’t call me again.” Then I hung up.

Advancing age has given me a bit more wisdom, and I don’t “hate” the military anymore, not by a long shot. I now realize that many kids graduating high school don’t have many other options, and I was really lucky to be able to traipse off to college and do exactly what I wanted to for 5 & ½ years. And in my professional life, the ex-military folk I’ve encountered are highly organized, efficient, and at the top of their game, so there’s definitely something to be said for that military training. It isn’t the “fault” of the average solider that the powers that be send them off to war, and I think by and large, we ought to show support for the average G.I., even if we don’t agree about where they are and what they’re doing. The folks who get the majority of my ire these days are Donald Rumsfeld and Condee Rice, not to mention W.

Finally, I put an ad on my blog a couple of days ago because I really liked it. If you haven't noticed, it is from NARAL, and lists the number of days, hours, and minutes and seconds that the FDA has delayed approving the morning-after pill as an over the counter med. Check NARAL for more info.

Soundtrack: "Revolution" by The Beatles

21 April 2006

Another side of the abortion debate

Something I read has me thinking about the abortion debate again. There’s so much I want to say about this, but I’m struggling to find the right words. Also, I don’t want to mention the specific details of the case, because I think the woman is having a tough enough time without the anti-choice league trolls harassing her. She wants to terminate a pregnancy, and she is having a very tough time obtaining an abortion. The fetus that she is carrying has a fatal genetic flaw, and will not survive the pregnancy, nor would it be able to survive outside of the womb in the extremely unlikely event that the pregnancy lasted full term. Let’s leave it at that and see if I can say what I want to say without being any more detailed.

While I firmly believe that you should be able to obtain an abortion with the snap of your fingers, I also firmly believe that this is a decision to not be undertaken lightly. For this woman, I’m sure that the decision she came to involved much soul-searching and an agonizing internal debate. Ultimately, however, the only “right” choice is whatever choice she makes. There is no right or wrong answer here.

What I most emphatically don’t want is for legislators or religious leaders to be able to make that decision for any woman. I’m angry that she’s getting the runaround from her medical professionals, but I know that their hands are most likely tied by laws in her state that make an abortion harder to obtain. Ohio, for example, has laws on the books that require counseling and a mandatory 24-hour waiting period, and we’re not the only one. My source for this information is NARAL, of course. When I first found out that Ohio gets an F in women’s reproductive rights, I had to look at other states to see where they stood, and the states around Ohio also mostly have failing grades as well. Thirty one states have laws on the books that require abortion providers to give women biased counseling, and mandatory waiting periods, so we’re in a majority there. And then there’s the ban on abortions that Ohio passed, we’re the only state in the nation with an enforceable law on the books to prevent D & X abortions. We can thank our anti-choice legislators for that one.

I can understand the anti-choice folks opposing people using abortion as a method of birth control. I don’t agree with that any more than I agree with someone having six babies born addicted to crack. You might maybe wanna get your tubes tied if that’s what you’re doing. If you’re going to have sex, use some protection. For heaven’s sake, you can get AIDS or any number of sexually transmitted diseases besides getting pregnant. But should you find yourself in the position of wanting to terminate a pregnancy, you should not have to jump through innumerable hoops to satisfy the letter of your state’s law.

In my ever so humble opinion, this is yet another reason that abortion needs to remain legal, whether or not you think personally it is ethical or not. How could you ever think that it would be better for someone to carry a baby to term, knowing it couldn’t survive outside of the womb, knowing that a genetic flaw would prevent the pregnancy from coming to a full term? She should just wait for a miscarriage? Give me a break. That’s a serious miscarriage of justice, if you ask me.

I went to school with someone who thought that there was never a case where abortion was justified. I remember talking calmly to her about cases of rape or incest; she thought that it was perfectly acceptable for a 15 year old who was raped by her stepfather to have to carry the baby to term, give birth to the baby, and then give it up for adoption. That’s a wrong answer.

I remember a case that I followed in the news (this was a few years ago) about a couple that forced their teenage daughter to be a surrogate mother for them. They knew that she wouldn’t be able to obtain an abortion under Ohio law without parental consent, so they knew she would have to give birth to the baby. And they thought they’d get off scot-free. They did end up being prosecuted for what they did to her, but by the time they were on trial, she was in her 20s, married and with a family of her own. The news in the case was all about the failings of the child protective services agency in that county being unable to protect her, but I was thinking about her inability to make decisions about her own body, (thanks to the state of Ohio) the whole time the trial was going on.

I can’t help but wonder if our society was different, if men had the babies, if we would even be having this debate. I also can’t help but wonder if I was a man where I would stand on the issue. I like to think that men don’t get an opinion, but that’s because the most strident anti-choice folks I’ve met are men, and assholes to boot, who want to tell me that I’m a baby-killing whore who is going to hell for not sharing their ultra-conservative beliefs. My usual response to that is that when men can have the babies, then they can make a choice. The reality is that men do often have a stake in the process; what if your girlfriend gets pregnant and you want a kid and she doesn’t? Or the other way around, she wants it and you don’t. Mostly, I don’t feel bad for guys caught up in a situation like that, I’m much more worried about protecting the woman’s rights. Which isn't fair, but that's how I feel.

I’m angry that it has to be so tough. I’m angry that we still have to fight about it 30 years after Roe v. Wade. I’m also angry that I don’t see younger women organizing and working to make sure their own rights are protected. I’m 31; where are the 18-24 year olds? If you are interested in doing work for the cause, please check out Save Roe, Planned Parenthood, and NARAL.

Have a nice weekend...it is supposed to rain rain rain rain in Ohio.

Soundtrack: Fight The Power, by Public Enemy, from Fear of a Black Planet

19 April 2006

Ships, shoes, sealing wax, and dreams

That's what I'm thinking about this week. My friend Amanda M over at We Shall Not Be Moved wrote a post about shoes the other day and I was thinking about all of the really silly shoes I own. I admit it: I have a shoe problem. It is an addiction, I'm seeking treatment, really, right after I get some new summer shoes.

I'm being sarcastic about treatment, and the truth is that I love shoes. Tall shoes, short shoes, heels, flats, sandals, boots....love them all. I own a pair or two that are really stupid shoes. They're extraordinarily painful to walk in. So I wear them on days when I plan to stand around and look cute. But really, why the heck do I do that to myself? I dunno. The easy answer would be that I'm not very smart, but I am smart. And the thing is that I buy stupid shoes because I like them. And I will probably continue to do that until I wise up like Amanda has. :-)

Soundtrack? These Boots are made for Walkin', the Nancy Sinatra version.

15 April 2006

Sing me a spring song

...and let me dance

Today's the first day that I've noticed that SPRING has come to Ohio. I planted some daffodils last fall and while I noticed them pushing themselves up, today they're all in bloom. My home has 4 sliding glass doors and we live in a wooded, secluded area. I've taken all the plastic insulation that we had put up in the fall (to keep our heating costs down) and thrown all the doors open. It was already warmer outside than inside when I woke up, so I turned the furnace off too. Spring! Spring! My soul is singing with it.

Soundtrack: Glen Miller Orchestra's "Swing, Swing, Swing"

14 April 2006

Condelezza Rice AND Immigration, but not together.

I've refrained from commenting about politics for a while, and there's so much fodder now that I can't help it. Yesterday, I was listening to my local NPR affiliate, which streams The World Today from the BBC, and I heard Condelezza Rice make the following statement about Iran's nuclear ambitions. "They are using salami slicing tactics." WTF?!? What does that even mean? I called a friend who works in public relations and told her about it and she had the appropriate reaction, which was, of course, WTF?!? You know that someone writes speeches and snippets that she says in public...what the hell were they thinking, let alone her, when that came out of her mouth? I wish I had found the link to that specific sound byte, but I didn't. You'll just have to take my word for it, pfthht.

And then there's the immigration battle. I find it unfortunately necessary to remind everyone that the United States of America IS A NATION OF IMMIGRANTS. On St. Patrick's Day I wrote about my Anglo European roots. Not to repeat myself, but here's the thing. I am descended from 8 people who came to this county in the early 1900s from 7 different countries. I do not know my own family history nearly as well as I should, but I do know this tidbit. My great-grandfather, to be specific, my mother’s father’s father, came to Chicago (The way that we all ended up in Ohio is another story for another day. Stay with me here, people.) from Denmark in the early part of the last century as an indentured servant (look it up) with a contract spelled out according to the laws in the Bible (that’s probably the first and last time I will mention that book ever on this site) and after doing some independent research, I think he probably crossed the border into this country illegally. I defy nearly anyone to look into their own genealogical background and show me an entire family that settled here fully legally.

My husband and I had a discussion the other day where he told me that there is a clear difference between my great-grandfather and those who have crossed the US/Mexico border illegally. I disagree, whole-heartedly. Crossing a border illegally is crossing a border illegally. Breaking a law in 1906 is the same as breaking the law in 2006. That said, I do not agree with those who intend to make being an illegal immigrant a felony. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. Criminalization is always the wrong answer. I don’t know what the right answer is. I like the idea of a guest worker program. I like the idea of an amnesty program. Guest worker programs in Germany and Sweden in the 1960s and 1970s were somewhat successful. Take a lesson from what didn’t work in Germany and what did work in Sweden and go from there.

I do not buy the idea that everyone who crosses the border illegally is looking for a welfare handout. The migrant worker community is full of people who are breaking their backs doing jobs that Americans don’t want. So I also don’t buy the idea that illegal immigrants are taking jobs away from tax-paying Americans. People who tell me that get laughed at. Loudly. Another post that I wrote a while back mentioned that when you think that you haven’t anything in common with someone, start by acknowledging to yourself that people all over the world want the same things. Food, clothes, shelter, a better life for their kids than what they’ve got. Maslow's hierarchy y’all. People who come to the United States from third world countries are doing so in the hope that they will be able to make a better life for themselves and their families. They have my unwavering support in that endeavor.

13 April 2006

A funny.

I've been spending inordinate amounts of time reading Dooce.com lately, and freely admit to totally being a stalker fan of hers. When she opens up the comments, I will sit there and read all 500+ of them, because her fans are funny people too. So I found this in the comments for her recent post on hate mail and laughed my ass off. Enjoy!

aparently, I'm completely an idiot, because I can't get the link to Dooce to work. The website is www.dooce.com. I've tried to fix it twice and it posts as wellbehavedwomen.blogspot.com/dooce.com, which isn't a website at all. Coy and paste it into your browser, please.