Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Liar Liar Pants On Fire

It must be my recent angst over this whole blogging thing, because I consider myself a pretty honest person.

But yesterday, I lied. And it was a whopper.

Pubescent One had a ballgame last evening, and the parents, as usual, made idle chit chat while waiting for the game to start. There are quite a few parents that I don't know, because he is playing on a 14 year old team and I haven't had an opportunity to socialize with them over the course of many years, as I have with most of the 13 year old parents.

So, we are getting to know one another slowly. I will be spending a LOT of time with these folks throughout the summer, so I have been tryong to forge as positive a relationship with them as possible.

One gal, who recenlty left her job, was being flip and funny and asking each person in succession, "Where do you work and are they hiring?"

When she came to me, I said "Sorry, I'm self-employed and my salary doesn't really allow for any staff to speak of."

She politely asked what it is that I do.

And that's when I decided I just wasn't going to give the same old answer I have been giving for 13 years. I decided I just couldn't take seeing one more person's eyes go blank with disinterest. I decided I didn't want to be dismissed again, ever.

So I lied.

"I'm a writer."

"Oh really?" she said interestedly, "What do you write?"

I hadn't really thought that far ahead, but, in for a penny in for a pound, as the saying goes. I was obliged to continue.

"Well, I write parenting and education stuff, some related to learning disabilities, specifically ADD and ADHD. I write slice of life commentary, some social commentary, and occasionally I write about pop culture. I try to stay away from political stuff, but every now and then, I do write a political piece."

"Really? How interesting. What publications do you write for?"

Shit. Think fast, B.A. Think fast. Good lies are those that have a healthy dose of truth to them. Keep it simple, don't embellish too much.

"Well, I mostly publish in the online marketplace. I've built a pretty solid reputation there, and I get a fair amount of positive feedback on my work. But I would like to transition to print media sometime in the near future."

"Wow. That's so cool."

"Thanks. I enjoy it."

I should have felt bad because I lied. But the truth is, I didn't feel bad at all. I felt gratified. I spend an awful lot of time feeling like nothing I do matters and I realize that's just part and parcel of being a full time stay at home Mom and housewife.

I try not to let it bother me. But sometimes it really, really does.

Sometimes, I need to matter. Sometimes, I need to feel important.

Maybe God will strike me down for lying. But maybe...he can understand what its like to be overlooked and underappreciated.

Ummm, Sorry?...God.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stop Thinking and Write

Thanks to everyone who commented to let me know they're still hanging around.

I just want you you to know that it was less about you guys, and more about me. I realize I didn't express that well.

I came off as whiney and needy, and that wasn't my intent at all.

I think every blogger hits that point where they start to wonder if maybe they've just run out of things to say. If maybe, they've reached the threshold of their ability to be interesting and entertaining, and....relevant.

So really, that post was about my dissatisfaction with myself, rather than with my readers. I always thought that if I couldn't write anything meaningful, I would rather not write at all.

And I haven't written a whole lot of anything meaningful lately.

I know that for a lot of you, blogging is just a thing you do. (and I don't mean "just" in a diminishing sense, but more like "just" in a non-defining sense) You're a person who blogs. Just're a person who mows their lawn. Or a person who takes a shower.

But for me, my written words are a reflection of my identity as a writer. And if what I write is inane crap (which, at least one person seems to think it is)....that creates an identity crisis of sorts. It feels like a personal and creative failure.

Which is stupid, I suppose, considering that I am just another blogger, not a Pulitzer prize winning novelist. Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill, eh?

But it is what it is. there a point to this post?

I guess I just wanted to let you know that it's not you, it's me.

I'm not going to hang it up because truthfully, I would miss blogging far too much. I've done that before only to come crawling back looking like a giant horse's ass.

I just need to figure out how to make Blogs Are Stupid interesting again.

There are blogs that I used to read religiously, that I truly loved because they were interesting and different. But then slowly, as they gained more readers, they became very mainstream. The dildo jokes got more plentiful and the meaningful content more infrequent. They began to rely on the easy laugh rather than post the good stuff that really takes some effort.

And it does take effort. So I get why that happens.

But I stopped reading.

And I wonder about people that I no longer see here and I wonder...have I become "that" blog?

I don't want to be "that" blog.

Shit. I hate it when I get all introspective. It rarely leads anywhere I'm truly desirous of going.

Maybe I should just stop thinking and write.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's the Sex Toys, Isn't It?

I was just wondering to myself, where all my readers have gone. Surely one week of less than optimal production and comment negligence is not enough to drive them all away?

Then I got to thinking about the quality and content of my posts this past month and I realized that I've mentioned sex toys in not one, but three separate posts.

Also, the word "pussy" is now in two of my post titles.

AND, I wrote twice of my fangirly fascination with a man 15 years younger than me.

That's it, isnt't it?

You all think I'm sort of slavering, salacious sex maniac. A perv.

I'm going to have to do something really spectacular to restore your opinion of me.

Ummmmm...hey..maybe I'll finish the fourth installment of "Funeral In a Small Town" and post it for you.

Would you love me again then?

Or, I could switch genres and become a sex blogger. There are a startling number of sex blogs out there. There must be an audience.

Or maybe it's the money. Money would be good.

But could I rest easy knowing my children were drinking milk bought with money tainted by porn? $4 a gallon?

Yep. Sure could.

Anyway...come back readers. I won't post offensive stuff anymore. It was purely unintentional. I just haven't had the mental energy for any highbrow stuff and I guess I got a little too comfortable making dildo jokes.

Cause, yannow...a Peter North ejaculating dildo is funny. I mean, honestly who buys this stuff?

Oops, I'm doing it again.

((Sheepish Grin))

Monday, May 26, 2008

Thanks, I Needed That

So, another school year is over for my boys. WHEW.

I apologize for being so scarce here at Blogs Are Stupid, and also for being remiss in my commenting.

That last week of school is a KILLER. And it was all compounded by the fact that Pubescent One's first Allstar tournament started that week. There was a baseball game or baseball practice every single night.

So I want to talk about validation.

You know, everybody says that the second kid is easier because you've made all the mistakes with the first one. They say parenting gets easier with time. Blah, blah, blah, insert trite snippet of wisdom here.

It's not true. None of it. It's always a guessing game.

Because when you do something right, there is no fanfare, no neon sign, no points on a scoreboard. There is no certificate of merit for parenting. There are no VIP's or MVP's. You just have to go with your gut and then have faith that something you did worked.

But sometimes, something happens and you know. It's a rare gift.

I was given such a gift this week amid all the craziness. I sat in a darkened classroom with tears streaming down my face as I realized...I did something right. I made a difference for the better in the life of my youngest son.

One of my co-room parents put together a wonderful movie starring the class, made up of all the special moments that occurred in and out of the classroom throughout the year. It was beautifully done, with captions and graphics and inspiring music.

There were candid photographs, interviews with the kids and video footage of them all in ungaurded moments, being free and exuberant and silly in the way only kids can.

It was beautiful and bittersweet. I doubt there was a single parent watching who didn't feel wistful for those days; sad realizing they are long past, but glad that our children are living them with as much joy as we did once.

For the end of year party, we popped popcorn, drank sodas from bottles and ate star shaped cookies while the movie played.

Every child, without exception, hid their face whenever they appeared on the screen. They ribbed one another good naturedly, and giggled unabashedly. They tossed popcorn at one another while the girls sniffled melodramtically and the boys looked at them agog, wondering what on earth had prompted such a display.

Near the end of the movie, there was a lengthy segment on Field Day. Field Day is a HUGE deal at Diminutive One's school, and a huge undertaking. It lasts all day. It's messy, chaotic, exhausting, and...a hell of a lot of fun.

Now, you may remember that due to a MINOR behavior incident, Diminutive One had his Field Day privilege taken away, in addition to several other consequences. Husband and I both felt the consequences were far more severe than warranted and lobbied successfully to have his Field Day privileges restored.

Watching that movie, and seeing my son's beaming face as he scooted, hopped, skipped, drenched, raced, rolicked and ran....

I have never been so goddamned glad to have fought for anything in my whole life.

He would have been absent from this portion of the movie had he not participated. It would have been a glaring omission that would have served as a lifelong reminder of his humiliation and injustice.

I did something right. And here was proof positive, on a big silver screen, with the smell of popcorn wafting through the air and giggles ringing in my ears.

I was crying, but I didn't even realize it until one of the other Moms leaned over and said in a tremulous voice "I's so amazing, isn't it? I can't believe she did all that." and then she sniffed loudly and dabbed at her eyes.

She had no idea how amazing it really was.

This was more than a movie. This...this was my validation.

My ceritificate of merit.

My neon sign.

Thanks. I needed that.


I'm going to clear my reader, because there is no way I'll ever catch up. But I hope to be more present in the coming weeks. Did I mention our neighborhood pool now has Wi-fi? Sa-weet.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dear God, Thank You For YouTube

I guess this would qualify as a Wordless Wednesay post, no?

(Except I just realized it's Thursday. Criminy, I don't know if I'm coming or going. One more day, one more day....)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Pussy Problem

A while back, I wrote a post called "Real Moms Eat Pussy", as part of a blog thing that was going around about real Moms; what they are, who they are.

I think we all tend to spotlight the more positive aspects of our lives on our blogs; some bloggers more than others.

I do strive for honesty here at Blogs Are Stupid. But I think it's human nature to want to celebrate the good, the uplifting and the positive. Many of us do that by writing. So as a matter of course, our blogs become a reflection of our best selves. I don't think that's deliberate or disingenuous, it's just...the way we work.

The meme was designed to be an exercise in truth and I think it was a good one.

My post, if you haven't read it, was about gay and lesbian parenting. It was about how how gay and lesbian parents are every bit as legitimate as nurturers and caregivers as heterosexuals and every bit as deserving of the titular parental designations we heterosexuals horde so stingily.


The title of that post was intended to grab the attention of my readers, to shock, to titillate, to intrigue.

I didn't stop to think about the unfortunate consequences of that decision when it came to search terms.

Let's just say that it is by far my most viewed page.

However, I don't think that has as much to do with my skill as an author, as it does the lamentable sexual deviance with which a disconcerting number of people in this world seem to be afflicted.

Freud would be so gratified to know that his theories were so staggeringly accurate and profoundly pervasive. Who knew such a large segment of the human collective harbor secretly salacious thoughts about their mothers?

Well I do now, thanks to Monsieur Google.

You people in the Netherlands need help. Lots and lots of psychotherapy should be at the top of your to do list.

I've grown sort of innured to those initially shocking search parameters that show up on my statcounter nearly every day.

YAWN. Another pervy mother pussy search. How predictable.

I suspect those poor horny schlubs are grievously disappointed to land in my decidedly unsexy and disappointingly vanilla little corner of cyberspace.

Anyway, yesterday, I got one that completely stumped me.

"How to make home woman pussy."

Ummmmm. What??

After some discussion, it was decided that this...person...was trying to find information on how to create a vaginal facsimile device from things commonly found in one's home.

This led to a rather risque discussion about all the household items from which one could conceivably manufacture such a thing; among them, cantaloupes. Rather more messy than the real deal, I'd venture to guess, but I suppose, if one is really in need...

You know, Michael's carries a dazzling array of crafting supplies, which can make crafting appealing and doable for even the most uncrafty of individuals. But I can't honestly say I've seen anything there that might serve such a purpose.

So, Dude...I did some research for you. What you need is this.

It has got to be better than a cantaloupe.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


This is the last week of school for my kids. I know, it's early, but they go back ridiculously early too; August 11.

Anyway, this week is crazy making, as the last week of school always is. I just don't have time or energy to be cerebral, witty or deep, I'm afraid.

So, what to say...what to say.

Shall I tell you that Diminutive One needed two stitches in his scalp last night after being brained over the head with a light sabre by a neighbor kid?

Shall I tell you that he had a full on panic attack as he was lying there waiting to be stitched up?

Shall I tell you that Pubescent One is playing Allstar ball this summer, which means baseball at least five days a week and lots of cashola leaving the bank account?

Shall I tell you that apparently, I am the laziest, most undisciplined person on the face of the earth and that after losing over 60 lbs in 2005, I have put it all back on?

Shall I tell you that yesterday, the company that we hired a month ago to paint the house, showed up unannounced?

Shall I tell you that I somehow lost a nearly full bottle of Diminutive One's $200 medication ($60 copay) and that I can't get more until 30 days has elapsed because it's a Class II controlled substance?

Shall I tell you that this is making for a very difficult week for his teacher?

Shall I tell you that I spent nearly $300 at the grocery store yesterday and didn't even get MEAT?

Shall I tell you that I nearly had a stroke when I saw that the el cheapo store brand milk in now over $4 a gallon?

Shall I tell you that I've realized, belatedly, that I can't afford to feed two teenaged boys?

Naaaaah. That's the kind of crap I always said I wouldn't write about; mundane minutaie that matters very little in the grand scheme of things.

So...I got nothin.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

No Smell Of Colitas Rising Up Through The Air

I'm not really a concert person.

I don't like crowds, I don't like stupid obnoxious people, I don't like music that is so deafeningly loud that my ears ring for days afterwards. I don't like paying ridiculous amounts of money to sit so far away that the band members look like lego people.

Despite that, I've been to a surprising number of them. And I've seen some of the biggest and best names in music:

The Police, Duran Duran, Def Leppard (and even though I have never really been a fan of heavy metal, the "In The Round" tour was nothing short of amazing) Prince, INXS, The Cure, Billy Joel and Elton John (who, until now had earned the distinction of "best concert I've ever seen")....and though I'm a little chagrined to admit it, in the interest of full disclosure and perspective, I will cop to having seen Billy Ray Cyrus, Alan Jackson, and Garth Brooks as well.

The Eagles blew them all right out of the water.

It was, hands down, the most amazing concert I have ever seen in my life.

Unfortunately, our evening got off to a rocky start.

On the hour drive to the venue, the boys bickered incessantly. Husband was trying to patient and upbeat, but I could see him slowly deflating like a leaky party balloon. This was his dream come true, and our offspring were ruining it for him.

When we arrived, the weather, which had been warm and mild all day long, had turned cold and windy. None of us was dressed appropriately, and though we had jackets, it wasn't enough. The thought of spending the next four hours freezing to death was making us all cranky, and the boys began to complain.

Pubescent One, who had worn shorts to school, was especially whiney. He had been told by both husband and I to put on pants. He declined, choosing style over warmth.


We had planned to park and then walk across the street to the Varsity to have dinner. That turned out to be not such a workable idea. By the time we made it inside the venue, everyone was starving, which only added to our already somewhat sour mood. We were forced to pay exorbitant prices for barely edible food.

Poor Husband deflated even further.

I wonder if he was thinking about the days when going to concerts meant hours of raucous carefree tailgating, lots of adult beverages, and no whining children.

I know I was.

After we ate our condiment laden cardboard, we took our seats and there we sat huddled, trying to ignore the cold, slowly sipping our $4 bottled water, and trying, for Husband's sake, to pretend we were having the time of our lives.

Looking around, it was kind of a shock to realize that I was among the younger people in the crowd. I'd estimate the average age of the attendees to be around 50. But there were plenty of folks in their 60's and 70's. There was a very mellow vibe and the crowd was probably the tamest I've ever encountered at a concert.

Not that people weren't excited. They definitely were. The amphitheatre was buzzing with an undercurrent of anticipation. But the mood was more one of quiet appreciation rather than drunken revelry. It was really nice.

This was Diminutive One's first concert. He loves music and he loves the Eagles, but I was a little afraid he would be bored and fidgety. He is hyperactive and it's hard for him to focus for long periods of time. His medication had long since worn off, so I wasn't really sure how it would go down with him.

Right on time, with literally no fanfare whatsoever, the band quietly took the stage and began to play "How Long".

Suddenly, all our crankiness evaporated as the music stole over us with sweet, melodic warmth. I actually felt a thrill ripple up and down my spine as I watched the four of them in their black suits standing side by side on the stage, their grizzled heads bowed over their instruments.

I was looking at four men who were living legends. And they proceeded to demonstrate exactly why, when they sang the first few verses of "No More Walks In The Wood" a capella. It was breathtaking.

Now, you have to remember that these guys have been around since 1971. They are all at least 60 years old. Though I hate to resort to a cliche, the simple truth is, The Eagles have only gotten better with age.

Joe Walsh? That man can still JAM. I'd like to see his younger counterparts try to keep up with him. Timothy B. Schmit still has that trademark mane and still sings like a lark. Glenn Frye danced around the stage like a man half his age. And Don Henley still epitomizes cool.

I needn't have worried about Diminutive One. He was absolutely enthralled. The orchestra and the jazz musicians fascinated him. He was incredibly impressed not only with the quality of the music, but the artistry behind it. He watched the big screen in rapt fascination, exclaiming over the fact that you could scarcely see Joe Walsh's fingers moving up and down the fret board, so nimbly did he strum.

My boys sang with gusto, and three different people seated near us commented on the fact that they knew all the words. One man congratulated Husband on raising his boys to appreciate good music.

The concert was a perfect mix of old and new. They started out with some of their more upbeat numbers; classics that everybody could sing along to. Then they switched gears and played some of the slower, more introspective stuff from "Long Road Out of Eden". They finished with a long set of all their rollicking greatest hits. The only thing that disappointed me was that they did not play "Seven Bridges Road" which is my favorite Eagles song.

They played for nearly four hours, and did three encores. Normally, after four hours of blaring music and screaming fans, I would have been counting the minutes. But honestly, four hours went by in the blink of an eye.

I have to say, there are worse ways to spend four hours than to watch middle aged white men in golf shirts get their groove on. Let me tell you, if this crowd was a smidge more reserved, they made up for it by being completely and unabashedly unconcerned about what their fellow Eagles fans thought of their dancing, their attire, or their singing.

When the lights went up, Pubescent One declared that it was the best concert he ever saw. To be fair, he's only seen two, but I daresy it's a sentiment that was shared by most everybody present that evening. Diminutive One could not stop talking about it.

Besides being a whole lotta fun, the evening also turned out to be educational. As we were being herded like cattle in a line for the shuttle busses, we encountered a young man who looked to be only 15 or 16 being dragged along by two people I can only assume were his parents. He was very, very, very drunk, and it didn't take a genius to see that he was on the verge of some major spewage.

Pubescent One asked me what was wrong with that kid, though I suspect he already knew. I told him that the kid was exceedingly intoxicated and warned him to stand back. No sooner had he asked "Why??" than the kid began to vomit copiously. As he leaned over the barricade, ejecting his spleen onto the pavement, his pants somehow worked their way down far enough that his backside was exposed to the crowd.

Pubescent One was horrified, shocked, and disgusted.

"Why would anybody do that to themselves?" he asked.

This led to a very meaningful discussion about how alchohol impairs one's judgement to the point that one does not realize how much one has drunk until it is too late.

At one point, a polic officer happened upon them. I wonder if those people were charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. the time we reached the van it was well past 1 am. We stopped for pancakes at 2 am because everyone was starving. One encounters some very erm...interesting people at 2 am. My boys looked around, clearly fascinated by this new and different sphere of humanity.

The next day the boys talked to anyone who would listen about the concert, as did Husband.

I probably would never have bought a ticket to see the Eagles on my own. Oh, I like them well enough, but they've never been a must see for me. So I have to thank my Husband for an experience I might have missed otherwise.

I can now say that I have witnessed musical history. Cool.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Diva In Me


TMI Warning: read no further if you are squeamish, or have issues with discussing menstruation.

I finally broke down and ordered a Diva Cup.

For those of you who don't know, the Diva Cup is a menstrual collection device made out of medical grade silicone that looks like this:

I used to have extremely sporadic periods. They were light and fairly painless. I enjoyed that a lot until it came time to have babies, and then I realized that periods are good. Because periods mean ovulation. Ovulation means babies.

I did manage to get pregnant on my own, but it took some concerted effort. It didn't really take that long, it just took...dedication.

The first time I got pregnant, I had absolutely no idea until I was 9 weeks along, because the standard and usually reliable indicator of a successfully established pregnancy; absence of one's period, meant nothing to me.

It was only when I began to experience extreme fatigue that I caught on to the fact that maaaaaaaaaybe I was pregnant. the boob fairy when I was 15, the period fairy visited me when I was about 37. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, my periods became like clockwork, which was quite a novel thing for me. But with increased regularity, came increased everything else; cramps, clotting, and flow. My god, the flow.

I went from scarcely needing a pad or panty liner, to needing a full herd of adult sheep to stuff up there each cycle. They would have fit too. I gave birth to a nearly ten pound baby, doncha know.

It got to the point that some days, I could scarcely leave the house because of the heaviness of my flow. A medical exam assured me that there was nothing physically amiss. My doctor, a woman, looked at me sympathetically and said "That's just what happens when our bodies start to age. Things change, and not always for the better."

Great. So I'm not dying of uterine cancer, but I have to put up with this crapola for another 15 years.

Hysterectomy began to look like a very attractive option to me. I don't need the damned uterus anymore, why not just yank it out? This coming from someone who is extremely phobic when it comes to surgery of any sort. Unfortunately, they do not offer hysterectomy as an elective surgery. And if they did, there is no way any health insurance company would pay for it.

Then we'd have backalley hsyterectomies happening all over the place. And nobody wants that, right?

I have several friends who have been using the Diva Cup for a couple of years now, and have raved about it. To hear them tell it, the Diva Cup is the best thing since the Rabbit.

But I was skeptical. I'm not that big a fan of the rabbit, so I know that one woman's Diva Cup is another woman's Peter North ejaculating dildo. Interesting in theory, but in practice, kind of a mess.

So I dismissed the Diva Cup and continued spending ridiculous amounts of money on products that are really terrible for my body and the environment, and really don't do that good a job. Even the Super Ginormous Plus Plus size seemed to leak, even before they were fully saturated. And sometimes they would slip right out at the most inopportune moments.

"Excuse me, do you have any fresh (((CLENCH))) asparagus today?"

Plus, I felt so self-conscious buying them. I might as well have donned a placard bearing the legend...

"My Vagina Is Capacious"

or maybe

"My Uterus Will Be Fully Visible In 20 Years."

I finally decided enough was enough and last month, after my period had ended, I ordered a Diva Cup.

I really had doubts about it staying where it is supposed to stay, due to the birth of the aforementioned ten pound baby and the lamentable need for about a gazillion stitches after his passage into the world.

Did you know that they won't actually "take a few extra stitches"? They don't think it's very funny when you ask either.

It's as if you are asking them to compromise their professional integrity or something. They are reconstructing vaginas, which to them, I suppose, are a very utilitarian part of the female anatomy. They are repairing a piece of machinery, not sculpting a work of art.

Frankly, I would kind of prefer that my vagina resemble a Picasso rather than a Peterbilt.

But I digress....

My other fear was the mess. I really couldn't understand how one could extract and empty the thing without spilling the contents everywhere.

Those fears turned out to be completely unfounded.

It does stay put. The trick, really is finding out where "put" actually is. There is a learning curve with this product, but once you have determined where to position it most comfortably and effectively, it is a dream come true.

I had a trial run before my period started to experiment with where and how to position the cup. I highly recommened doing so to anyone considering trying this product. Everybody's body is different, and it turns out that it works best for me sitting slightly higher in my body than the directions would have led me to believe.

Wearing it lower caused it to tip back towards my spine, breaking the seal. Also, the stem chafed my labia a little. As any woman knows, labia chafage can be a deal killer. It's why I could never really get excited about thongs, lack of panty lines notwithstanding.

But the most disconcerting thing by far was the fact that I could feel the bell sitting in my vagina. It wasn't painful at all, but rather similar to the senseation one gets towards the end of pregnancy that makes it feel as if one is perched atop a bowling ball.

It was just very...evident.

So I tried wearing it higher, after discussing it with my Diva mentor, and found that so positioned, the seal remained intact, I could not feel it at all, and the tail end did not protrude from my vagina. Voila. I found "put".

And it stayed there, even after I relieved myself. Number 2, not number 1.

Geez, here I am talking about capacious vaginas and I can't just say I had a bowel movement? How ridiculous. Well I did. I had a bowel movement with the Diva Cup in, and the sucker didn't move so much as a millimeter. Sold.

I started my period today, so with some trepidation, but a lot of excitement, I inserted the Diva Cup. Insertion was easy, since I had already practiced. And I was a bit smug about that. Until the second time I emptied it.

To insert, one is supposed to fold it into a c-shape, insert it into the vagina, and then rotate it until it pops open and forms a seal. All that happened the way it was supposed to. The first time.

The second time, I could not get the dad gummed thing to pop open. So I just shoved it in unfolded. While this method is perhaps lacking in finesse, it works just fine.

Now, here's the best part. There was NO leakage, whatsoever. The first time I put it in, I wore it for five hours and it was only about 1/2 full when I took it out to empty it. I could easily have gone another two or three hours before emptying; perhaps longer.

Unlike Tampons, there is no risk of toxic shock from prolonged wearing. The Diva Cup can be worn for up to twelve hours if you do not need to empty it more frequently.

The second time I emptied it, I had been wearing it for six hours and it was about 3/4 full. I sat through an entire ball game and did not have to change tampons in the nasty, disgusting park facilities. I did not have to stuff my purse with tampons and pads. I did not have to resort to desperate clenching as a rogue tampon tried to make it's escape from my vagina.

Really, you could be out for multiple hours and never have to worry about emptying it in a public facility.

I found, however, that extraction and emptying were very easy and not at all messy as I had feared. I suppose if the cup was overflowing it would be, (Update: Yes, it is. Do not wear it so long that it exceeds maximum capacity) but as I said, I wore it a very long time and did not fill it up. I think the only time one would come close to reaching capacity would be after a full night's sleep (Update: Yes...and then some)

Anyway, one simply pinches the bell to break the seal, and then pulls it straight out. The sides are rigid enough that they will not collapse when full, so there is no danger of spillage unless you pretty much upend the cup completely. (or, leave it in so long that it exceeds maximum capacity. Lesson learned.)

If I did have to empty it in a public restroom, I would not be nervous about it at all now.

They say that you really need to use the cup for several cycles to know if it's right for you, but after only one day, I'm convinced. I don't know why somebody didn't think of this 40 years ago.

Here's an instructional video that some brave soul put together. It's very informative and helped me a lot. I must also thank my Diva mentor Lisa, for answering all my very graphic questions without batting an eyelash.

If you have questions you'd like to ask about the Cup, please feel free to ask. I'm not the most experienced user, since I've only used it for one day. But if there is something I can't answer, I can consult my Diva mentor and then post her answers here.

Cost effective, good for your body, easy, clean and convenient.

Who could ask for more?

Isn't it time you put a little Diva in you?

UPDATE: My first night with the Diva Cup was slightly less successful than the first day. Apparently, my flow increased dramatically overnight. By 6:00 am, the cup was full, (I went to bed around midnight) and I learned a valuable lesson. When the cup has exceeded capacity, the seal will simply let go. I felt it when I rose from the bed. It won't fall out, but it will make a big, fat, mess as you run for the commode.

Still, I consider the Diva Cup a resounding success. With tampons, I would have been rising every couple of hours during the night to change, despite doubling up with a heavy duty pad. I anticipate that today I may have to empty the cup every 2-3 hours. That's still a vast improvement over tampons. On my heaviest flow days, I would normally change tampons every hour, sometimes even 30 mins.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

People I Think About; Part 1

Several of you asked if I ever think about the little girls in my Post "No Small Thing."

I sure do.

I always did, but now that I am a mother, and the truly perilous nature of their lives has become clear to me, I've not only wondered about them, I've despaired for them. Children who start life like that have little hope of a bright future.

But there are a lot of people in my past that I wonder about.

Those I wonder about the most, are inevitably those that I had perceived to be lonely, hurt, broken, or sad. People who occupied the same space and time as me, but who lived in an world drastically different from my own.

When I was in the third grade, there was one such kid in my class. I still remember his name. I can still see his face.

His clothes and his hair were ragged and unkempt. His sneakers were holey, and he never seemed to have any school supplies. His voice was oddly deep and gravel laden for a boy that age, and when he spoke, he reminded me of a croaking bullfrog.

He wasn't a bad kid, I don't think, but seemed to get in trouble for fighting a lot. I imagine, that when a kid wears second hand clothes, and carries a plain steel lunchbox, the kind with the thermos in the lid, instead of one with The Bionic Man or Puff 'N Stuff on it, that kid has to do a lot of ass kicking to avoid being chewed up and spit out by the playground beast.

One beautiful spring day, he drowned.

He and his younger brother were fishing off of a train trestle suspended over the swiftly flowing Fox River. His brother dropped his pole in the water and when he tried to fish it out, fell in. He jumped in to save the younger boy.

He did save his brother. But he couldn't save himself.

My mother told me what had happened to spare me the shock of hearing it whispered from ear to ear in the classroom or the schoolyard. She knew how tales get twisted and details grow more gruesome with each telling. She wanted to spare me that. But though she was very gentle as she quietly explained, I was, nonetheless, profoundly shocked.

A kid my age, dead. A kid. My age. Dead. Not alive any more.

Cold and blue, cold and blue, cold and blue.

I had nightmares about it for weeks.

At school, not a single word was said about him or his death. One day he was there, and the next he was not.

His empty desk was a shrieking beacon of not alive any more. The first day, it looked much as it always had; Scooby Doo stickers stuck to the metal sides, papers spilling out, a square of dried milk where the carton had sat dripping the day before. It was easy to pretend that he was just out sick, watching tv and sipping Tang on the living room couch.

The next day, that desk was just another anonymous piece of classroom furniture, indistinguishable from the rest. It had been stripped bare of all traces of it's former occupant. Who was now dead. And cold. And blue.

The masking tape bearing his name was gone from the ledge above his hook in the coatroom. The bag of marbles and the lunchbox that had resided on that ledge were both gone.

It was as if he had never been there at all.

And that scared me far worse than the thought of him lying in a dark coffin all alone.

Looking back, I am deeply disturbed by the way he was simply expunged, and how nobody took care to see that the children who knew him were allowed to mourn.

But it's not Brad Mattson that I wonder about. I know his fate far too well.

He lies at the bottom of that river. Cold and blue.

Not really, but that's how I always think of him. Lying in the murky depths, eyes closed, hair waving with the current, open mouthed fish staring at him curiously.

It's his brother I wonder about.

The kid that dropped his fishing pole. The kid that lived when his big brother died. The kid that clawed his way safely ashore after a boost from a small, grubby hand that then, slipped beneath the surface forever. The kid that was maybe reaching desperately for that outstretched hand, trying to help his brother as his brother had helped him.

I wonder if he was ever able to escape the shadow of that guilt. I wonder if he was able to grow up and be who he was supposed to be, or, if he grew up twisted and broken inside.

Or if he grew up at all.

Survivor's guilt can be a powerful and destructive psychological force for anyone. For a kid, it must be all the more devastating.

Did he get help? Did he have parents who held him as he wept, or slept with him to keep the dripping, grinning ghost of his brother at bay? Did he have someone to tell him it wasn't his fault?

God I hope so. I really, really hope so.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

One Of Those Sappy, Heartwarming Mother's Day Stories

Once upon a time, there were two sisters who played with dollies and dreamt of having real babies to care for someday.

The big sister grew up, got married and had two babies without much trouble. The little sister sang at her wedding, brought balloons to the hospital, and dreamt of the day she would find a husband and start a family of her own.

The little sister sometimes thought that might not happen.

She was a heavy girl, and she thought herself unattractive. But she tried not to lose hope. She tried to believe that some day, she would find a man who would love her for the woman she was on the inside; smart, funny, capable and kind.

And she did.

The little sister had a beautiful wedding in a historical church in a quiet little town. The big sister carried her train and cried when the younger sister said I do, and dreamt of the day their children would play together.

But the babies never came, and the little sister began to realize that there was something wrong.

The big sister told her "Relaxe! Don't try so hard! It will happen when the time is right."

But it didn't.

And the big sister's heart broke for the little sister, who so longed to be a Mother. She worried that her own children underscored the heartache. She tried not to talk about how wonderful they were or how much she loved being a mother.

But, in typical fashion, the little sister refused to give up. She did research, she consulted professionals, she sought an explanation and then, a solution.

And she found one.

But it wasn't easy.

The little sister had to face the knowledge that her body was broken and would never work the way it was supposed to. She had to take drugs that made her terribly sick. She had to endure one humiliating procedure after another. She had to spend a ridiculous amount of money out of her own pocket to pay for that privilege.

And just when they were about to give up; bankrupt, disheartened and defeated....

The little sister became pregnant.

The big sister cried when the little sister showed her the stick with the plus sign on it.

The little sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, with fat cheeks and a turned up nose. He was healthy and perfect and she thought that even if she could never get pregnant again, she would be happy.

But she did get pregnant again. Though again, she had to rely on drugs and treatments and planning and plotting.

Next the little sister had a set of boy/girl twins who looked just like her handsome dark eyed husband. They flourished and grew into petite, gamine faced children with devilish grins and sweet, funny dispositions.

The little sister knew there would be no more babies. But that was okay because she knew she had been very, very lucky.

She settled down to the business of raising her family. Caring for twins and a four year old was very challenging and sometimes the little sister felt overwhelmed. Then she would get angry with herself, because she knew she should be feeling grateful.

After a while, it was decided the little family should move back to the sisters' home, which made the big sister very sad. She would miss them so much, but she knew, because of the deep, aching homesickness that was her own constant companion, that it was a good thing for the little sister and her children.

The big sister and the little sister talked on the phone whenever they could, and saw each other once a year at Thanksgiving or Christmas. The big sister was sad every time she saw them, because the children had grown so big, and she had missed so much. And every time, it was harder and harder for the big sister to leave them. Everytime, it was harder and harder for the little sister to watch her go.

But they had to make the best of it, and so they did.

And then, one day, the little sister called the big sister for one of their marathon telephone conversations. And she told the big sister shyly; her voice quivering with excitement and emotion....that she was expecting a baby.

There had been no drugs. There had been no humiliating procedures. There had been no plotting and planning. Her body had simply done what it was supposed to do. It had worked.

The little sister's baby is due on Christmas Day.

And the big sister thinks that sometimes, she can almost believe in God and miracles.

Happy Mother's Day, Mothers of the blogosphere.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

No Small Thing

Before I was old enough to hold a real job, my main source of income was babysitting.

I always had plenty of work, because I was a good at it.

I wasn't one of those babysitters that plunked themselves down on the sofa with chips and soda while the kids ran amuck. Unlike a lot of girls my age, I really liked kids, so I played with them, read them stories, took them to the park. Most of the homes where I babysat were within walking distance of my own house, and sometimes I would pile the kids in a wagon and take them to visit my Mom, who would feed them illicit goodies.

I didn't leave a mess or eat all the food or have boys over or talk on the phone all night or steal beer from the fridge. I did snoop though. Folks, if you think your babysitter is not the type of kid that would snoop, you are deluded. They're all the type; even the nice ones. It's just too much temptation. It's almost like being invisible.

Who, if granted powers of invisibility, would not spy upon their unsuspecting fellows?

We don't have babysitters regularly, but on the few occasions that we have used them, I made sure our extensive porn collection was under lock and key.

I kid.

With the internet what it is today, I can get all our porn on streaming video.

KIDDING! Honestly.

But there are certain things that I made sure were safely away from prying eyes.

Anyway, I was in high demand, and always had a pretty steady flow of cash. It wasn't unusual for me to have more offers than I could handle on the weekends, and often, I had to turn folks down. Of course, I always chose those who paid the most and whose kids were well behaved. Plentiful snacks and amenties such as a VCR definitely helped sweeten the deal.

But I did have dry spells, and during times of economic want, I would be forced to babysit for the undesirables.

There was one woman in particular that I absolutely hated babysitting for.

She was single mother. She was also a boozehound and a, erm...very friendly woman. She was hard. There was nothing soft or feminine about her, and I never understood how or why she became a mother. She wasn't nurturing. She wasn't even nice.

Of course, now, I understand how she became a mother. There was no carefull plotting of her menstrual cycle, I can assure you of that. You can be certain that there were no birth announcements or pink hued baby showers.

She lived with her two young daughters in the upper level of a once graceful victorian that was slowly crumbling into a state of thorough and inexorable disreputability.

There was no television and very little furniture. There were sheets tacked over the windows. There were no rugs on the scarred and worn hardwood floors. There were no homey touches anywhere. It was a cold, barren, depressing place.

There was never any food in the refrigerator, but always plenty of beer. Once, she gave me a knowing look, laughed harshly and said, "Help yourself."

It wasn't beer that she was offering me. She might as well have said...Help yourself to hopelessness. Help yourself to not having any choices. Help yourself to a future as bleak as mine.

I never did help myself.

The girls, who were 4 and 2, slept on a ancient iron bestead in a room that was mostly empty. No toy chest, no toys, no cheery curtains at the windows, no sign at all that little girls lived and played there.

The bed had only a bare mattress upon it, that was stained and sagging in the middle. I hated putting them to bed on that thing. They had no pillows and each had one blanket that was scarcely large enough to cover them. They slept in old t-shirts that were so thin I could see their slender bodies and their drooping, threadbare underpants right through them.

Every time I put those little girls to bed I felt terribly sad. It was a maternal sadness, though I couldn't recognize it such since I was not yet a mother. But the sight of their bare feet poking out from beneath those threadbare blankets made my heart feel like a two ton anchor.

One night, she came home even later than usual; almost 4 am. As usual, she reeked of booze and cigarettes, but tis time, she was drunker than I had ever seen her, and though I didn't realize it at the time, probably high as well.

The man she was with had to practically carry her up the stairs. She giggled and groped him as he tried to wrestle her onto the mattress that served as her bed. He offered to take me home, and looked at me in a manner I knew all too well. As usual, I declined. I walked the two blocks home alone, in the dark.

When I got home my Dad was waiting up. He told me tersely to go to bed and then he put on his coat. As I watched him walk down the street in the pre-dawn haze, I knew that although he was outwardly calm, he was very, very angry. There were many reasons for his anger that I couldn't understand at the time. Naievely, I thought it was because she had come home so late.

But my Dad was no dummy. He knew what was going on in that dingy little apartment. And the time had come to put a stop to it.

I never babysat there again.

Years later I found out that not only had he paid her a visit, but he had called the authorities and those little girls were taken away. He just needed to see for himself that he was doing the right thing. And he was.

So...what is the point of telling that story? know...I read so many posts here in the blogosphere about our inadequacies as mothers.

I feel them myself.

I yell too much. I'm not consistent enough with discipline. I rely on punishments and lectures far too often instead of finding really positive and effective ways to teach my kids. I forget to check agendas, sign permission slips, send in supplies they need. I miss PTA meetings. I skip doctor appointments now and then.

On several occasions, I let my kids stay home from school because I just didn't feel like getting out of bed and facing the Herculean task of getting them ready. In my defense, that was when they were in kindergarten or pre-school. I don't and wouldn't do it now.

I don't always meet the challenges of parenting them with patience or good grace. Sometimes, I resent not having "normal" kids. Oh, they're smart and creative and just...fantastically unique. But they're not easy. And sometimes that pisses me off.

The list goes on. The point is, I can always find plenty to say about what I am doing WRONG as a mother. All of those things make me feel like a bad mother.

But do you know...just the simplest things we do, matter.

Putting fresh clean sheets on their beds.
Washing their clothes when they are dirty.
Making sure they have a coat when they need it.
Feeding them.
Bathing them and brushing their teeth (or, if they're older, making sure they do it themselves)
Reading stories.
Hugging them.
Giving them medicine when they are sick.

They are, to us, things unworthy of praise singing. It's just what Moms do. I don't think we realize that so many children don't have those things. And we don't give ourselves credit for doing something right by providing them.

Every morning, I get up with my kids, fix them breakfast, sit beside them while they eat, pack their snack, give them their meds and a vitamin, and supervise personal hygeine. I wait at the door, sipping my coffee and watching until the bus comes.

I wave.

And sometimes I think...if something happened, if they were taken from me, either by a person or a twist of fate...I know that at least I did that for them. In that small way, in those too short moments...I was a good Mom.

I fixed them breakfast and stood waving.

Such a big small thing.

I don't think to be proud of that, but I should. So should you.

So the next time you're folding clothes, or making a bed, or fixing yet another snack, or ferrying them to yet another appointment, stop and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

And try to remember that when it comes to Mothering...there is no such thing as a small thing.


Thanks to everyone for the terriffic music suggestions! I can't wait to sit down this weekend and go through and listen to all the choices. There's a lot of stuff there I don't recognize, so I'm anticipating some new and wonderful discoveries.

I knew you wouldn't let me down!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Sound Of Music

Well, my last two posts have been kind of deep and philosophical, so enough of that crap.

I need help.

I am in desperate need of some new music, you see.

I have an addictive personality; it's just part of my genetic make-up. So when I find a thing that I like, I indulge my penchant for that thing wholeheartedly.

With certain things, this can be quite beneficial. Being addicted to books is a good thing. Caramel Machiatos? Not so much. It's just a crying shame that I have not been able to foster an addiction to exercise or sex or housework.

The problem is, that after a prolonged period of complete and total saturation, that thing becomes so tedious and tiresome that I have to abandon it altogether.

Such is the case with my current iTunes playlist. Once, I played it so often that my offspring would roll their eyes and plead with me to play something, anything different. Now, it makes me want to clap my hands over my ears. I literally cannot stand to listen to it one more time.

Alas, even my beloved Mika has become wearisome. I wish he would come out with his new album (do we still call them that, even though albums are obsolete?) already.

So I've been browsing. But damned if I can find anything that really moves me. All the toplists seem to be full of hip hop garbage, R&B, and teenyboppers. I don't mind bubblegum, but I absolutely cannot abide rap. And it is dominating the top 40.

Even Madonna has succumbed to this cacophonous musical trend. Frankly, "4 minutes" is about three minutes and 58 seconds too long.

Who the hell is Timbaland and why does he think he belongs on the Billboard Top 100? Why does anybody? And Justin Timberlake? Puh-leez. WHY is he so popular? He's not awful, but he is lamentably mediocre.

I don't just all seems so....done. Nothing new, nothing original, nothing inspiring.

After nearly a week of prowling iTunes, Yahoo, Billboard, and Amazon for ideas, I have found a grand total of 5 songs:

Bleeding Love, by Leona Lewis
When You Were Young, by the Killers
Hey There Delilah, by the Plain White T's
Pocketful of Sunshine, by Natasha Bedingfield
I Don't Wanna Be, by Gaving DeGraw (not new, but I like it and didn't have it)

So. I need suggestions. My taste is fairly eclectic, so don't judge by the above selections. Those are just a couple things that caught my ear. I generally prefer more upbeat stuff, but that's not a hard and fast rule.

Basically, if you like it, I want to hear about it. Unless you're a hip hop/rap fan, in which case, we need to strap you down and subject you to a steady stream of Neil Diamond music until you are sufficiently deprogrammed.

On a related oldest son is cracking me up with his latest musical "finds". The other day he came to me, iPod in hand, and exhorted me to listen to his newest downloads.

"These songs are so COOL." he enthused.

I put the earphones in, prepared to underwhelmed. Often I enjoy his musical discoveries, (he did turn me onto The Killers) but lately his tastes have become much heavier, and sometimes a little too "Shout At The Devil" for my aging ears.

To my surprise, this is what he had downloaded:

Cherry Pie, by Warrant
Cult of Personality, by Living Color
One, by Metallica
Sweet Child of Mine, Guns N' Roses

I laughed.

"Dude...Cherry Pie is so 1987! ALL of that stuff is! I listened to every one of these songs in high school."

"What??" he said indignantly, "You did not!"

"Did so. Google 'em."

He was aghast. But that's what happens when one get one's music selections from Guitar Hero. He took my advice and turned to Monsieur Google, only to find that almost all of his new favorites were 20-25 years old.

"That just means they're classics." said Husband. "They will always rock because they can stand the test of time."

Speaking of classics, did I happen to mention that in 9 days, we will be going to see the Eagles in concert? Yes. THE Eagles.

Husband got a nice bonus not long ago, and dutifully put a substantial portion into one of several investment vehicles we have. But then he spent a ridiculous amount of money on a 50 inch flat screen plasma television. And, then he decided to fulfill his nearly lifelong dream of seeing the Eagles in concert.

All that was fine with me. The man never buys himself anything. I have to be stealth personified if I want to dispose of his holey underwear.

The day, nay, the second, that the tickets went on sale, he was at his computer, credit card in hand. It was touch and go for a while. Those seats were going FAST and every time he pushed submit, his request timed out due to the heavy traffic. But, by sheer luck, just seconds before he processed what he declared to be his very last attempt, they opened a second show, and he scored us some sa-WEET seats.

They were ridiculously expensive and Husband suffered a pretty good case of buyer's remorse afterwards, thinking about all the other things we could have and should have done with the money. see, we are taking the boys, and what we have bought are not merely concert tickets, but memories. Diminutive One will someday be able to say that the first concert he ever saw was The Eagles.

How cool is that??

My first concert was the Violent Femmes. Cool music no doubt, but not legendary.

Anyway, enough rambling. Help a musically bereft sister out here. Pretty please?

Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Question of Freedom

If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a rabid defender of separation of church and state.

I think that here in the South, where religion is particularly pervasive, and sometimes quite extremist, it is especially important to maintain those boundaries.

A while back I took issue with an incident that ocurred at Diminutive One's school, wherein he was castigated by another child for not being a Christian. Ultimately, the situation was resolved without too much drama. But since then, there has been a distinct chill from the other room parents as well as the teacher, and a subtle but unmistakeable exclusion.

This is nothing new to me. I've experienced this kind of thing time and time again.

On several occasions, fledgling friendships that I had hoped would turn into something really special and enduring, fizzled and died when I realized that I was just another soul to add to their tally. Once they found that I wasn't interested in being saved, I was dropped like a hot potato.

And, a time or two, I'm sure I was dropped because it was decided that I wasn't worthy of someone's friendship because I didn't share their beliefs. Because I was being judged as less of a human being. Because it was assumed that I did not have a strong moral bearing.

Sometimes, that really hurts my feelings.

But most of the time, I'd rather not have to deal with people who would judge someone based only on their religious beliefs and I count myself well rid of them.

That's neither here nor there, really. But it is yet another argument for the fact that religion has no place in schools.

What I really want to talk about today is this:

State Legislators Seek Bills to Allow Questioning of Evolution Theory in Schools

Go read it, I'll wait.

You're back? Okay.

This disturbs me a great deal. Because although it is being pandered as "academic freedom" to practice "critical analysis" of evolution, it's really nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to once again introduce creationism and intelligent design into a secular learning environment.

It's tacitly ridiculous.

I have faith that this bill will not pass in most states where it has been introduced. But the really frightening thing is that although I don't think it's likely to pass here either, I suspect that it will get a great deal of support.

Kathy Cox, Georgia's Superintendant of Education, got a LOT of support in 2004, when she proposed the prohibition of the term "evolution" in Georgia schools, in favor of the term "biological changes over time" which would open the door for teaching theological concepts in conjunction with scientific ones.

She was quoted as saying:

"This wasn't so much a religion vs. science, politics kind of issue. This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are getting a quality science education in every classroom across the state."


"This was an issue of how do we ensure that our kids are being taught widely accepted religious theory without violating constitutional precepts that protect against such abuses?"

Thankfully, a coalition of teachers, legislators and parents lobbied successfully to defeat the proposal. But it was too close for my comfort. Frankly, the fact that such a proposal was even made raises my eyebrows. The fact that she wasn't laughed right out of office on a tide of public disapproval and personal humiliation is enormously disconcerting.

I am lucky enough to have a group of wonderfully intelligent women with whom to discuss such things. Several of them are women of faith. They never fail to give some well-reasoned perspective minus the judgementalism and righteous indignation.

One of those women, who knows how to diffuse my outrage by appealing to my irrevent sense of humor, quipped:

"Next they will throw out Einsteins's theory of relativity in favor of 'God did it'."

Another, whom I would love to quote but won't because it was a private conversation and because I have not asked permission to use her words, played devil's advocate by asserting that they are all in essence, just theories. So why not allow other theories to be taught? Not to promote a religious agenda, but to provide a more well rounded perspective on ALL the plausible theories?

That was a good point, and I really had to think about it.

First, I don't believe that creationism or intelligent design are plausible theories. Not to mention that there is not one iota of proof to support these substantiations.

Teaching creationism and intelligent design in schools would be like teaching a course on Fairies. While I certainly believe that magic and whimsy have their place, and a valuable one at that, I most emphatically do not want my children building a belief system upon them.

Evolution is, if not entirely proven, at least supported by the fossil record, human or pre-human remains, and mitochondrial DNA sampling. Though I do not believe in the literal personification of Eve as described in Genesis, I do think that theMitochondrial Eve theory makes a great deal of sense. And, once again, lends credence to the validity of evolution as a scientific reality, rather than a theological flight of fancy.

Which brings me to my real objection to teaching Creationism and Intelligent Design in schools.

Evolution is a SCIENTIFIC theory. It has been studied and advanced by scientists. There is signficant physical evidence to substantiate that theory. It makes sense to teach evolution under the auspices of scientific understanding and awareness of human genesis.

Creationism and Intelligent design are RELIGIOUS theories. They are advocated by theologians. They are not, to my knowledge, supported or substantiated by anything other than faith in the written word of God as interpreted and set down by Man.

The purpose of school is to teach secular ideals, scientific principals, and established academic concepts. It is not for promoting religious theory. Period.

We don't attend church because I am not interested in exposing my children to an environement where those religious tenets are being espoused as irrefutable facts. And I shouldn't have to worry that they, along with children of other faiths, are being force fed a diet of Christian idealism outside that environment.

People often argue that this country was founded upon the principal of "One Nation Under God" and therefore, prayer should be allowed and encouraged in all aspects of our lives and the bodies that govern them.

But that's not true at all. This country was founded upon the right to religious freedom.

You have the freedom to choose your own religious beliefs, and to celebrate those beliefs in your own home, your private life, and the church of your choosing.

I have the freedom to choose differently, or to choose not to believe in anything at all.

And my rights are no less inalienable than yours.

I don't really know how to wrap all this up, except to say that...If you don't teach creationism in my schools, I won't teach evolution in your church.

Fair enough?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

The Last Frontier

The brain is a fascinating thing. I have always been amazed and intrigued by the mysteries that it harbors.

Some people's brains are terribly injured and cannot carry out the day to day tasks that most of us take for granted. But they can play any piece of music after hearing it only once. Or they can do mathematical equations of startling complexity in the blink of an eye. Or they can tell you upon what day of the week any given day in history fell.

Sometimes, people lose half their brain to injury or disease. And yet they live, and even regain some of the function for which the missing half was responsible.

Some people can do things with their brain that truly astound, but which also evoke profound skepticism. ESP has been a hotly debated subject for years. And yet who has not experienced a certain "feeling" now and again? A child in trouble. A loved one ill. Or just an inexplicable portent of doom?

Who has not, on occasion, correctly identified the caller on the other end of the phone?

Some people's brains are terribly dysfunctional; the chemicals and compounds that govern it hopelessly disordered. Once these people were thought to be posessed by the devil. They were subjected to "exorcisms" that broke them body and soul. They were shut away from the light of day and forgotten.

Some people's brains allow them to create masterpieces of astonishing beauty, write music that moves us in ways that are as mysterious as they are profound, solve puzzles and prove theories that have baffled mankind for centuries, and compose poems and stories that chronicle the human condition in all it's wonder and wretchedness. Those things transport us outside of ourselves.

And yet there is evidence that many of those people are "different". There is speculation that Mozart, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, Napolean, Handel, Berlioz, Van name just a few, suffered disabilities such as Asperger's syndrome, ADHD, Autism, and Dyslexia.

Albert Einstein, like my Diminutive One, did not speak until he was three. Thomas Edison did not read until he was twelve. George Washington was barely literate.

How astounding. Some of the most famous, brilliant, and creative minds in history, were "unconventional".

Once, on a particularly bad and hopeless day, I wept copiously in the office of Diminutive One's therapist. What she said to me will probably stay with me the rest of my life.

"Listen..there isn't a famous person out there who wasn't a complete pain in the ass as a child. Artists, authors, scientists and war heroes...every one of them had a mother who tore her hair out in despair when they were young."

I often wonder how my unconventional child will make his mark on the world. I often wonder what mysteries his brain holds. Sometimes I can appreciate his uniqueness. Sometimes, I just wish for a normal kid.

And sometimes, I run across something that reminds me just how complex and uncharted the human brain really is, and illustrates to me that anything is possible, even for those who seem in some ways disabled.

The other night on American Idol, Paula called David Archuleta a "savant", which is a complete mischaracterization. I was trying to explain to Husband the difference between a savant and a prodigy, but I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts.

So I turned to that most wondrous of modern tools; Google.

This is what I found:

I find that so amazing and intriguing, and just...wonderful.

But I'm sure that if you asked his mother, she would rather he have a conventional brain and live a conventional life.

And yet, people such as Steven Wiltshire, Kim Peek, and Daniel Tammet give us a glimpse into the true potential of the human brain.

Perhaps someday, that potential will be realized.

Until then, we can only marvel at those who have a smidgen of true greatness within the dark and twisted runnels of their beautiful brains and hope that one of them will provide the key to the mysteries that lie within.

Space is not the last frontier. I believe that distinction belongs to the human brain.

At least we no longer torture and imprison, disregard and condemn the different, the unique, the retarded and the mad.

Such is the measure of our progress as a human race.